Warm and cordial wishes to all the staff and forum users at Catholic Answers and welcome to 2011.
Dearly beloved brethren, let us hope that this New Year is not merely about health and wealth. Not that these are unimportant, but without taking religious duties and the pursuit of holiness more seriously they are of no great moment and indeed can lead us to becoming very earth bound and hence unfit for God’s use in this fallen world. Let us therefore give our earnest attention, now that the excess of Christmas is past, to daily prayer and Scripture reading, keeping the commandments and to taking Sunday obligation seriously. Many nowadays are missing Mass for no good reason and then coming up to the altar to receive without having first been to confession. Such a practice never brings grace or blessing to any man and it must rank as one of the great sins of our Laodicean age.
For me, as for many Catholics here in the UK, 2010 will be remembered mostly for the visit to these shores of our Holy Father, Pope Benedict. He certainly received a wonderful civic reception and was accorded great respect by H.M. Queen and the British government. However, as regards having done anything of lasting worth for the faith of Catholic people here, I have my doubts. Archbishop Nicholls has been very upbeat and optimistic about the state of religion in the country: “I think our society is characterised as much by generosity and by genuine concern for one another, and I think religious faith is taken quite seriously by probably a majority of people in this country”. With the greatest of respect to the Archbishop, I do not recognize his woefully mistaken description of contemporary Britain.
Having an “upbeat” and optimistic outlook is a relatively new approach in the Church and nowadays if you want to remain in good standing with the authorities in the Catholic Church, then you must be upbeat and positive; do not criticise and be positive even if there is no good reason to be positive. Quite frankly that is utter nonsense and former more sober minded generations would have found it risible, if not downright dishonest. Who really believes that religious faith is taken seriously by the majority of people in the UK when 570 babies are killed every day and well over two million embryos are discarded or frozen, or selectively aborted, to say nothing of the promotion of destructive experiments on embryos. Moreover, we are told that the parents of every baby born today will have separated in ten years time. If this is true then it bodes ill for the future and I forsee many children growing up with increasing behavoural/emotional disorders and becoming more ungovernable than they are already.
Apparently the divorce lawyers have a boom time after Christmas. Thousands of couples telephone their solicitors; their festive season has sadly been marked by much bickering, resentments and recriminations and they feel that the only solution is to end their marriage. Divorce is seen as big bisiness by the divorce lawyers. Divorce greeting cards are now on sale and you can send a “congratualtions on your divorce” card or you can even have a T-shirt to announce your divorce to the world.
Furthermore, the numbers absent from Sunday Mass is increasing continually; in my parish, for instance, there are some roads where not on single individual attends any place of worship on the Lord’s Day. Their first outing on Sunday mornings is to the supermarket or the shopping precinct in the downtown area. Moreover, I am astounded that Catholic children at Catholic schools are clueless about the importance or meaning of the Mass. According to our priest a young girl at Mass this Christmas with her grandmother told Father that she attends a Protestant group on Sunday because the music is better! Obviously she is wholly ignorant as to how unique the Mass is and she will not dicover that in her Protestant group for all their so called contemporary Christian music and “relevant” powerful preaching. Clearly she has an obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and other holy days of obligation and ought to be reminded of this by her parents, quite forcibly if necessary. The Mass is not about being entertained or enjoying oneself but is a very solemn occasion, as former generations seemed to appreciate. Truly, are lot is cast in days of unprecedented spiritual declension and the sooner that Catholics everywhere wake up to this fact the better.
Come, come, Archbishop!, I feel that you entertain a far too rosy picture of the Church in the UK today. All is far from well and I think the young girl interviewed by Mark Dowd before Pope Benedict came nearer the truth when she said, “I do not think the Pope quite understands we are in the 21st. century and I think some of his views are quite outdated, things that he said about abortion and same-sex marriages”. Young people talk such godless drivel simply because they have not been taught Catholic doctrine, or at least only an attenuated version of it. This watered down version, popular since Vatican II, encourages them to adopt a ‘Catholicism Lite’ style of religion which allows them to cling on to that debased sensory material known as rock and pop music, read unwholesome novels such as Harry Potter and to wear immodest attire - even to Mass, when they attend that is. There is indeed a colossal ignorance of authentic Catholic Faith and practice in our desperate times.
Warmest good wishes,