On our way out?

So what has been happening to the Catholic Church in this country and in Western society as a whole? Anecdotally, I encounter a large number of Catholic grandparents who tell me that few of their children, let alone their grandchildren, are regularly practising their religion.

I don’t want to flood you with statistics but I record here a couple of indications which suggest to me that this is widespread. Baptisms per 1000 Catholics in England and Wales have dropped by more than half since the ‘50s and ‘60s. The number of Catholic marriages per 1000 Catholics is four or five times lower than 50 years ago.

In any other context we would see such a collapse as a major disaster. A business which saw such falls in its customer base would know at once that it should take radical action or accept that it was on its way out.

Were we a business we would probably start by opening up two investigations. One of these would be to investigate our customer base and find out what our existing customers see as good or bad in our products and services. The second would be to consult with our own staff with a particular focus on those who deal regularly with customers and potential customers. Knowing that there is often a wide gap between what we believe our business is about and what it is actually doing, we might employ hard headed professionals to help us with this. We would also investigate what other businesses in our field were doing, with an emphasis on the most successful ones.

It may be that such a procedure would not fit the Western Catholic Church. After all, its mission and its values are set by Almighty God and not by the market. But I wonder if a deeper, and thoroughly objective, investigation would reveal some clues. And I wonder if some hardheaded thinking might point to possible solutions.

As far as I know, there are no plans to undertake any such investigation. So I rather fear that we will need to start by asking Secondsight Blog readers to tell us what they think to be the causes of our decline. And perhaps even suggest some remedies. They are a knowledgeable lot, and certainly don’t pull their punches. If they can’t get nearer to the heart of the matter, I wonder who can.

Perhaps we can avoid our hobby horses. (All too often when I see a name I can guess the sort of thing they are about to say.) Here, we must stand back a little, put on our professional hats, and think objectively about what may be wrong and what might be needed to put it right.

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135 Responses to On our way out?

  1. Peter D. Wilson says:

    For a start I suggest
    doubts, encouraged by the current intellectual climate, about the validity of Christianity’s fundamental premises;
    unwillingness to accept the Church’s discipline in a climate where authority in general is widely disrespected (especially, with regard to the Church, in view of the clerical abuse scandal); and
    for those accepting that discipline, difficulty in finding an acceptable marriage partner.

  2. Quentin says:

    One of our regular contributors has sent me the following plea. “Could I make a plea in this important blog that we all make our pieces relatively short so that pertinent points can be picked up , elaborated on, and understood by us all to further a good discussion towards possible answers.”

    I am confident that short contributions have the most effect, and lead to better debate. So I very much subscribe to this plea.

  3. Vincent says:

    My first reaction is that we have (or are thought to have) a reputation for saying what is wrong rather than saying what is right. Thus, to take a simple example, we would talk more about sex outside marriage being wrong, than saying that sexual intercourse is is such a wonderful gift of ourselves to another that it can only worthily be used as an expression of committed marriage.

  4. Brian Hamill says:

    I would suggest that previously the faith was largely handed-down from one generation to the next. This link between the generations has now been largely broken and so the Church and its teaching is put through a more rigorous test – ‘Do I need it?’ ‘What is its value to me?’ ‘Does it reflect my aspirations?’ The answer to each is often the same – No. Jesus is a very acceptable model, but the Church? That is another story.

  5. Gerry says:

    When I met our local MP out canvassing recently he said “Don’t tell! Don’t tell me. Population! Population! Population!” So when Quentin sees my name he will certainly know what is coming. And yet I cannot keep off it because this is by far the greatest cause of the fall off in Church membership: the ban on the use of artificial contraception. It has made people realise that the leaders of the Church do not know what they are talking about. Large numbers do not want to belong to an organization which is led by people so blind – unable to see that repeated doubling of huge populations will cause all sorts of trouble. Coupled with this there is the Marxism or anti-capitalism of a huge number of active Catholics so that poverty is explained by the world economic system as we can see in Laudato si section 50. (Not that the world economic system does not have grave faults.) If we had followed the gospels and not the theologians we would now be a vigorous expanding Church effectively helping the extremely poor. Gerry

    • St.Joseph says:

      Forgive me for saying but you are so naive as to believe that large numbers of people did not want to belong to a Church that was so blind.
      Do you really think that when they were thinking about ‘sex’ they were in the least bit worried about over-population.
      It was the new found sexual reveloution which enveloped the whole world.
      They were not turning their back on the Church but turning their back on God!.
      Otherwise they would have moved over to another Christian Church!!

      • milliganp says:

        Sorry, St. Joseph, but that will not do. The principal reason most people limit family size is because of economics. If you believe people in stable, developed relationships use contraceptives as an enabler for sexual activity you are utterly out of touch. A number of recent surveys show people are getting less sexually active because of economic and work related stress and the loss of stable relationships.

      • St.Joseph says:

        What you say, just will not do either.!
        You completely miss the point!
        The church did not lose people because of the law against contraception.
        That was the point I was making!
        The Church lost the people because they lost their faith.! Please dont mince my words!!

  6. Hock says:

    Perhaps we should at least be giving equal weight as to why the Church is actually growing in many countries and what we can learn from them rather than a prolonged bout of feeling sorry for ourselves.
    However we cannot detach ourselves from the immense harm of clerical child abuse that shows no sign of decreasing. All moral authority has been lost and it is almost a shameful thing to admit to being a Catholic. The blame for this lays fair and square with the hierarchy with it history of offending and cover ups along with staffing of institutions that should have been centres of Christian love but were a safe harbour for criminals.
    We Catholics of the West, will never live it down, or be able to make any reparation, for these evils, which are seen by the wider world as being done in our name.
    It is though now fashionable to be secular; and a lot less demanding.

    • milliganp says:

      Hock, I’m not sure there is anywhere the Catholic church is succeeding, other than through population growth. In Africa and Latin America Pentecostal churches are the growth sector.

  7. Brendan says:

    It may be obvious but it needs repeating , that the statistical evidence posted by Quentin shows conclusively that the steep decline in the presence and influence of the Faith in Britain ( and by association the West ) began post-Vatican ii. One overarching possibility for this is that First World Catholic Bishops were caught napping by the ‘ hysteria ‘ that accompanied the Council reforms , which were unprecedented and hitherto unheard of in the Church ,as the worlds premier religious organisation. Along with radical social change in the 60’s generally lumped under the heading of the ‘ sexual revolution ‘ – counter-cultural to Catholic belief – the misinterpretation of the Councils decisions by Bishops led to rushed changes in hitherto stable parish life. With wide-sweeping changes not fully explained to the faithful , confusion would inevitably boil over into resentment , and radical new ideas from Catholic ‘ liberalising ‘ quarters which gave Church Tradition and Teaching a back-seat, began to take hold and quickly filled the vacuum created through division from high levels in the Church down.
    Ecumenism has played a big and necessary part in breaking down barriers of mistrust among’st
    Christians in Britain. However, It seems very evident to me that our Catholic Bishops ( even if they fully comprehended change ) in their unpreparedness and timidity in managing change at such a seismic level in their diocese’ were frankly, more interested in many cases , of not upsetting non- Catholic sensibilities and were mesmerised by the goal of Christian unity ; at the expense of their primary office of Teaching the Catholic Faith and sanctioning good devotional practices. i.e. Through good Catechetics.
    The resultant lapse has proved disastrous and pretty obvious in young and old alike to this day. The answer as always lies in our own hands as we search our consciences.

    • overload says:

      “Bishops… more interested in many cases , of not upsetting non- Catholic sensibilities and were mesmerised by the goal of Christian unity ; at the expense of their primary office of Teaching the Catholic Faith and sanctioning good devotional practices. i.e. Through good Catechetics.”

      Seems like a fair point. None the less, do you appreciate how important Christian unity is? It is not a matter to be mesmerised by, but to approach with sobriety. Liberal Christians from different denominations can easily meet up and ‘come to agreement’ joyously. More fundamentalist/orthodox Christians might possibly consent to do the same with Catholics… but don’t mention the pope.
      Difference is good if we can confront and accept all things out on the table?

    • milliganp says:

      The council of Trent closed in 1563 and Vatican II opened in 1962 – that’s 399 years without any serious consideration of the Catholic Faith and its place in the world. It’s hardly surprising tat we ended up with a lot of change in such a short period of time.

  8. Geordie says:

    I believe that much of the disillusion in the western Church is due to the mediocrity of the hierarchy and the clergy. We had a parish priest in the 1990s who was hardworking, approachable and prayerful. He was an inspiration to young and old. He knew his flock and when they were missing he went immediately to see them and make sure they were in good health.
    The next priest wasn’t bad. He just wasn’t interested. It was a job and he didn’t let it interfere with his life. Consequently the congregation halved within seven years. Weekly collections went down from over £1000 a week to less than £500. The next one was the same.
    Recently we had a young priest for a short time, who was, and still is, a holy and hardworking priest. Things began to look up. But the bishop, in his wisdom, moved him on. Happily his replacement, although a lot older, is just what we need, so hopefully our parish will begin to grow again.
    When my son was living in London he had problems with the Catholic Church and contacted his parish priest by phone. The priest’s response was, “What do you want me to do about?” My son replied “Nothing”. He is now an active member of the Anglican Church. He hasn’t lost his faith in Christ but he has in the Catholic Church, which causes great sadness to my wife and to me.

  9. Gerry says:

    St Joseph, You are right again. People have given up on religion not only on Catholicism. Nevertheless for Catholics the ban on artificial contraception was a major cause of Catholics leaving the Church and I think the main cause.
    I also agree with your first point. I have to defend myself quite often for having four children and sometimes I attempt a sort of defence by saying that around 1980 when the four arrived the UK fertility rate was 1.7 and falling. Although I have to admit I was not thinking of the falling fertility rate at the time, it always stops the criticism since, for some unknown reason, there is a giggly side to this subject.
    HOCK, Yes, the clerical abuse scandal and the cover up may in fact be a greater cause of Catholics leaving the Church even than the ban on the use of contraception. Church leaders have a lot of trouble with sex. Who hasn’t?

  10. Nektarios says:

    So, what is new in most of the reasons given for the state of the Church- that is all of them? Practically all the sins, sexual issues &c, were all there in the pagan world and well documented in
    Greece and in th Roman Empire. There is nothing new in any of these issues. Man is a sinner, a rebel against God. In a sense, the state man is in, he is in is all but a hopless state.

    How to reverse these trends? Has Reason done it? Has philosophy, science, humanism, secularism, liberalism done it? No it has not, so what does?
    This is a passing world at best. We all have to die, and our time is short. Life is but a breath, a vapor, and the supreme question is, “How should man be just with God?” (Job 9: 2). How can I get forgiveness for my sins? How can I get new life and start living in a worthy manner? How can I lose the fear of death and the grave? How can I prepare for that eternity that is coming? Thank God, the apostolic doctrine deals with those questions, and it answers them. It is the only teaching that does so. The philosophers do not know. They can talk cleverly, but they cannot live so well. There is nothing under the sun that deals with our fundamental and essential problems and questions save this apostolic doctrine.

  11. Brendan says:

    ” I believe that much of the disillusion in the western Church is due to the mediocrity of the hierarchy and the clergy. ”
    If the Catholic Church was a ” business ” a change of direction and the company’s ‘ mission statement ‘ would be announced ‘ quick – sharp ‘ . This would follow after an in-house investigation and new areas of growth would be discovered to redress any faults and halt decline. Heads ‘ would roll ‘.
    But the Catholic Church is not such an organisation – as Quentin reminds us – and is answerable to Almighty God and His infinite Mercy. Just as well the Spirit of God works in spite of our efforts to undermine Christs Holy Church. This is evident in certain areas of Church life in Britain today seemingly providing ” areas of growth ” . Is it coincidental that they appear in Diocese’ where so called ‘ orthodox ‘ and ‘ traditional ‘ Bishops are now ensconced like Portsmouth, Shrewsbury, Birmingham and the parishes where appointees left to take up vacant Sees . ?
    Where I live in Wales , I sense a definite feeling of a ‘ sea change ‘ in certain areas however faint and patchy , where seeds of parish life is beginning to become more inclusive and responsive to the questions being asked of ourselves and society at large. It is now up to our Bishops to capture and discern such areas of a new spirit and present us with a new and radical ‘ mission statement ‘ particularly in this Year of Faith happily encompassing ‘ Proclaim ‘ 15 ‘ and following the October Synod.
    It would be interesting to hear fellow Catholics thoughts on their experiences in this area.

    • overload says:

      “If the Catholic Church was a ” business ” a change of direction and the company’s ‘ mission statement ‘ would be announced ‘ quick – sharp ‘ . This would follow after an in-house investigation and new areas of growth would be discovered to redress any faults and halt decline. Heads ‘ would roll ‘.”

      Is this not what has already happened at VII? But trying to do everything at once…?

  12. overload says:

    dry metalic bitter (repressed)
    ostriches of convenience,
    maintain control position… don’t let go. or free-for-all…?

    me me me me,

  13. John Nolan says:

    I honestly don’t know. I sense that the idea of obligation which my parents’ generation (born c.1920)took for granted would have been compromised in the 1960s anyway. A decade that started in 1964 and culminated ten years later coincided with rapid changes in secular attitudes and at the same time the post-V2 Catholic Church seemed to be hurrying to conform with them.

    My own problem with this concerns liturgical worship. I was told that I had to worship in a different way. I saw no reason to do so. I was told that the theology and ecclesiology of the Mass had changed. I didn’t believe it (and I was right not to do so).

  14. St.Joseph says:

    Two books amongst many more will tell why liberalism crept into the Church.
    Goodbye! Good Men By Michael S Rose, How Catholic Seminaries Turned Away Two Generations of Vocations to the Priesthood.And Ungodly Rage, By Donna Steichen, The Hidden Face of Catholic Feminism.

    • overload says:

      St Joseph, I see that both liberalism and traditionalism—in their respective monstrous manifestations—occupy two extremes of evil in the Church. And, there is a Godly liberalism, just as there is a Godly traditionalism.
      Evil first got into the Church long, long before VII. As indeed the Church began to spread outside of the Church, hundreds of years ago.
      Perhaps we need to “rebuild the walls of Jerusalem” (…”then You will delight in the [altar] sacrifices of the righteous”, Psalm 51)…?

      • St.Joseph says:

        I am not too sure if it is evil, just modernism, and ignorance towards the Truth!

      • overload says:

        St Joseph, we need to accept that we all have evil in us. The Holy Spirit convicts us of this but does not condemn us. We have two natures, although in truth only One. Believing, we are set free of the evil—it has no power over us—however it does, in many respects, still remain alive (for now), and can appear to us (whether it be consciously or not) to be a great and powerful master to whom we are enslaved. So we need to examine if we truly believe or merely think we believe that our Lord was crucified and rose from the dead, for us. Belief conquers unbelief, and is not bound by thought & feeling, but without being honest with oneself, one chooses to remain in the dark, fearing to come into the light of the truth, fear of what the light will expose. This is evil.

      • St.Joseph says:

        I disagree with you there.
        I don’t believe we ‘all’ have evil in us.!
        We are all capable of doing evil deeds, however, we are filled with the Holy Spirit from our Baptism, and we unite ourselves to Him when we receive the Graces through the Sacraments!
        By the Grace of God go ‘I’ ,

  15. Nektarios says:

    Modern men and women have a rooted objection to Christian doctrine and Christian creeds. This is therefore a very serious matter.

    We cannot expect anything from the world except rejection of Christian teaching. There is nothing at all new about this. It was the world that rejected the Lord Jesus Christ and His teaching. It was the same world that rejected the teaching of these apostles. But what is new today-and this is what is alarming and tragic-is that the opposition to Christian doctrine is not confined to the world, but is at the very centre of the teaching of the church herself. The church is now speaking against Christian doctrine. She is saying that doctrine is not what is needed and that it is no longer of any value whatsoever.
    If the Church is only Apostolic in name only, it is nothing, and if it has given up on Apostolic doctrine and teaching then it is a sham.

  16. John Nolan says:

    In my more cynical moments I can see the post-V2 Church with its doctrinal confusion, its wavering bishops, its relativism and syncretism, its banal anthropocentric liturgy, its lack of apostolic zeal, its uncritical acceptance of the pseudo-science of apocalyptic climate change, going to its grave since it contains the seeds of its own destruction.

    ‘And though the last lights off the black West went
    Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs –
    Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
    World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.’

    Drop a heavy object on your toe and the nail will turn black and eventually fall off; when it does you will discover a healthy nail underneath. So with the Church. I see signs of renewal all around me which actually amounts to a repudiation of what has happened in the last fifty years. If it leads to a smaller but purer Church (as Ratzinger predicted) then so be it.

  17. St.Joseph says:

    John Nolan
    So be it!

    • Nektarios says:

      St Joseph
      As far as I know, it follows the same Liturgy and has not changed it essentially
      over the last 60 years.

  18. Horace says:

    To me the most obvious thing that needs renewal/rethinking is the training of priests!
    There has been a shortage of applicants for entry to the seminaries and I suspect that this has led to basically unsuitable young men being accepted and unsuitably trained.
    It is very difficult to know what to do about it. Limiting entry to the seminaries would decrease even further the number of available priests.
    Is there any way in which the priestly life could be made more attractive to youngsters?

    • John Nolan says:

      Horace, until recently it was difficult, if not impossible, to be accepted as a candidate for the priesthood if you had suspicions of being orthodox (wanting to learn Latin, for instance, or vesting properly). This has been mollified somewhat.

      There is little point in someone giving up quite a lot (marriage, family life) unless there is a concomitant benefit. Vatican II was at pains to point out that the religious life was not in itself more sanctified than the lay apostolate; moreover the priest was in the Mass seen as a ‘presider’ over the celebration; analogous in some ways to a chat-show host or, given that most Masses post-1964 were over-the-counter, to a celebrity TV chef.

      Vocations to more traditional orders and societies are now on the way up.

      • milliganp says:

        John, this really is preposterous. If you believe the essentials of our faith are to be found in a language and manner of dress you really have made it a pointless religion.

  19. John Nolan says:

    Nektarios and St Joseph.

    Signs of renewal? I was e-mailed the other day to sing at a retreat for young Catholic adults. I am adult, Catholic but no longer young. It would appear that the liturgy will be according to the Dominican Use, which predates Trent by 300 years. That’s not a problem, since I have sung Dominican chant and know how to do it.

    Signs of renewal? The Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, Cardinal Sarah, recently visited the Abbey of Fontgombault in France (which has a hundred monks and has already founded three other monasteries in France and one in the United States). They use the pre-V2 books.

    Signs of renewal? At the Oxford Oratory confessions are heard before every Mass and actually during Mass. The Provost, Fr Daniel Seward (who was elected in 2011 at the age of 37) has said that this encourages those who are at Mass and intend to receive Communion to receive the Sacrament of Penance. It has worked.

    Signs of renewal? Young Catholics have actually skipped a generation. It’s their parents, who were formed after V2, who have effectively lapsed. Fortunately their children will pass on the Faith to their own children. I’m not going so far as to say they are in a majority but they take the Faith seriously.

    You need to have lived through the 1960s as a Catholic (and many commentators here converted to the Church post-V2) to understand what I am talking about. There were those (a generation earlier than me) who saw the changes as being positive (some of them were) but can’t accept that the grand V2 project has failed utterly. The ruins are all around us.

    • John L says:

      John, I agree with you. As a Mass-server in the Dominican Rite for many years, I am not ashamed to mourn the loss of the earlier liturgy. I am probably, as usual, being naïve, but I still feel I am treated with contempt by some, and called a Latinist or worse, on account of this preference. Letters to the editor in the Catholic Herald, from a formerly regular writer bear out this contempt – I name no names.
      The irony is that I could commend what Paul VI’s liturgy was trying to achieve. Latin is irrelevant, Both forms may be said in the vernacular if so desired. However, the real harm came not from what was documented by V2 but from the free-for-all perpetrated by individuals with their own agenda in the name of the “spirit of V2”, and I remain convinced that this has much to do with the decline.
      We used to be asked by our former Bishop to take the administrative load of our parishes upon ourselves and free the diminishing numbers of priests to be priests. Attitudes of the past meant that many lay-people would not undertake anything new unless “Father says so” and Father was left with the problem that “the buck stops here”. Meanwhile, for others, new Bishops included, any sign of initiative would be instantly seen as a challenge to Authority.
      I’m a life-long practising Catholic, and I’d be hard-pressed to explain why. The development of Faith, and increasing attachment to Christ and to God is a deeply personal thing and despite urging towards evangelisation we lack the language to explain it. A younger generation has a different starting point.
      We were taught that faith is a GIFT of God. Am I being too blunt if I say that where God chooses to withhold the gift we can do little other than to pray?

      • John Nolan says:

        John L

        Unless someone was in a Dominican parish he would not have encountered its particular Use – I only encountered it ten years ago. Its revival and celebration by recently ordained priests of the OP is not simply an exercise in archaeologism. The rite was actually decided by a committee in the 13th century, since the Dominicans travelled a lot and there were a number of local usages. It made sense to have a uniform rite.

        However, it was not a ‘new Mass’ in the sense that the 1970 Novus Ordo is, as any comparison with existing rites and uses will quickly reveal. What happened in the 1960s was a complete deracination, not just in terms of liturgy (important though that is, since it is our contact with the eternal truths of the Church) but in everything else. Very clever people quoted very clever theologians and the parish priests and most of their bishops probably understood little of it. As for the ‘poor bloody laity’ we were not consulted. I was a teenager at the time and so had other interests but by the time I emerged from university in the early 1970s I knew that the Church in which I had been raised was not only unrecognizable but clearly collapsing.

        There were oases of sanity (the Oratorians, Archbishop Lefebvre, some good priests) but they seemed to be bucking the trend. Not any more. The crisis point was 1978 and the slow restoration began then. And it will be slow, not in my lifetime nor in yours, but the green shoots are already in evidence.

      • John L says:

        John N, Mine was a Dominican parish in the sense that the church itself was part of a Dominican convent. The parish was under the care of a secular parish priest (in the Roman rite, naturally) but there was a Dominican chaplain to the nuns and it was his Mass that I served – obviously I served Roman rite too when needed. The most noticeable difference was the differing calendar, so that e. g. a Dominican double might be followed shortly by a Roman feria and servers needed to know something of the sacristan’s work too.
        The Novus Ordo is claimed by some to involve the laity more than the earlier rite. Not so for the poor ****** server!
        Another canard concerns the use of Latin debarring the young from understanding. You mention the Oratorians. I was fortunate enough to attend Mass at the Oxford Oratorio some years ago and the place was packed with participating students. I doubt if many of them were native Latin speakers. Oddly enough the sung High Mass in question was Novus Ordo in Latin.

    • St.Joseph says:

      John Nolan.
      A few verses I heard many many years ago, I post just a few.I changed a few names for privacy reasons.

      1. Our Parish Church-It’s come to pass- 3. A wooden chair takes pride of place
      Has “Sunday Eucharist,” Not Mass” Where once there stood the alter’s base
      The word “Assembly ” does suffice And where one went down on one’s knee
      Where we had Holy Sacrifice. It’s standing only if you please
      Is this from Vatican Two? So that’s what you should do.
      This from Vatican Two? That’s what you should do.

      Where once we learned to celebrate 4, The point of which, you must agree,
      And in the Mass participate, Is something of a mystery.
      Now children leave their mother’s knee The old rite was inimical,
      To follow their own liturgy. To matters ecumenical,
      A modern thing to do And now one’s got the clue.
      Modern thing to do? Now one’s got the clue.

  20. John Nolan says:

    Thank you, St Joseph. Vatican II was the Council of the intellectuals and pseudo-intellectuals who were completely out of touch with lay opinion and indeed contemptuous of it. ‘We don’t give them what they want, we give them what’s good for them’ in the words of a prominent English Benedictine at the time.

    The idea that the Faith of an illiterate peasant was equal to that of a university professor was anathema to them. They were spinning the idea (and bishop’s conferences were going along with it) that the faithful received the new liturgy ‘with great joy’ at the time (1970s) when Mass attendance was in steep decline. Like most intellectuals, pseudo or otherwise, they couldn’t possibly be wrong.

    Time has caught up with them. Those who have yet to go to their eternal reward are now sidelined. Pope Francis was their last hope and even he looks likely to disappoint.

    • Peter Foster says:

      Mary Douglas, in her book Natural Symbols, 2nd Edition 1996 (1st Edition 1970), offers an anthropological insight into changes in the Church.

      “It will help us to understand religious behaviour if we can treat ritual forms, like speech forms, as transmitters of culture, which are generated in social relations and which exercise a constraining effect on social behaviour.”(p.23)

      …those … responsible for ecclesiastical decisions are too likely to be, by … their education, insensitive to non-verbal signals and dull to their meaning. This is central to the difficulties of Christianity today. (p.44)

      There are three phases in the move away from ritualism. (p.7)
      First, the contempt of external ritual forms;
      Second, the private internalising of religious experience;
      Third, the move to a humanist philanthropy.
      With the third stage, the symbolic life of the spirit is finished.
      They are moving with the secular tide … who seek to be justified in their lives only by saving others from hunger and injustice.

      Friday abstinence, though only a disciplinary rule, was the only ritual which brought Christian symbols down into the kitchen …and onto the dinner table in the manner of the Jewish rules of impurity.

      She traces fasting and abstinence as it descends from penitence into ethics and justice and finally in the 1967 Westminster statement: ……each of us to choose our own way of self denial each Friday …… (p.45, 46)

      Similarly, Mysterium Fidei (1965), reiterated the uncompromising doctrine that the deity is located in a specific object, place and time. …Yet [in the 1970s] we find the New Catechism gives to the real presence only as much attention as it gives to the commemorative aspect of the rite.

      These comments are not primarily theological but observational in the context of a theory of all religions.

      • St.Joseph says:

        Peter Foster,
        You say ‘ Yet [in the 1970s] we find the New Catechism gives to the real presence only as much attention as it gives to the commemorative aspect of the rite.’

        Do you mean the new’ CCC’ as that was first issued in 1994?.

      • Nektarios says:

        Peter Foster
        I profoundly disagree with Mary Douglas book, which parts you have related in your posting.
        In stating my disagreement, I will say the following:

        People in Old Testament times faced the problems that the modern world faces. David and Solomon could teach many people who like to play with sin what sin really means— these sniveling people who sin vicariously in cinemas and look at pictures! The people of the Old Testament knew what sin was. They had been through all this before, and they came to this conclusion: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9: 10). No other beginning is of any value. Truth is eternal; it is absolute. Let philosophies come and go; let climates of opinion change; let winds of change blow in every sense— moral and ethical as well as political. Here is the only thing that abides. Ultimately, there is no standard apart from the law of God, which is universal in its application.

        And, of course, it was because it had God’s law that the nation of Israel stood out in the ancient world. They were the most moral of all the nations for the one reason that their teaching was not all speculation and relativity. They had the law of God as it had been revealed to them, and that accounted for their uniqueness.

        I am sorry to say, Peter, I also disagree with your view about `the three phases in the move away from ritualism’ and what you conclude.

    • St.Joseph says:

      John Nolan,
      The way it was changed in the parish I attended since it was built in 1966, was through bullying tacticts,
      The day the diocese took over from a relgious Order, the new priest walked in with a guitar on his back, stoped the rosary circle from saying the last decade for the Order that left, as they had built up the parish, took away altar rails that evening, refused to give Holy Communion on the tongue,(my son refused to stand, and the priest kept telling him to get up, we parishioners stood our ground, we were intimidated, called name. Then came the re-ordering of the Sanctuary.The parish was split,and went to another parish.
      We were in the newspapers as he called the police to us etc etc etc.
      I have all the documentation in my filing cabinet,
      It was an awful time especially for the elderly who were heart broken.
      Then the parish was put on the LGCM Catholic Caucus contact list!!!.
      This was in the 80s and he has now moved.I
      We fought the good fight and lost, and where have all the young ones gone? We as!k.

  21. Peter Foster says:

    St Joseph: They are Mary Douglas’s words published in 1970 without a reference.

    • John Nolan says:

      Mary Douglas talks nonsense. Anyone with half a brain can see that. Hang on, she’s an intellect-chooel whose animadversions must be taken seriously. Not by me, squire,

  22. overload says:

    Garabandal, 18th October 1961: “We must make many sacrifices, perform much penance, and visit the Blessed Sacrament frequently. But first, we must lead good lives. If we do not, a chastisement will befall us. The cup is already filling up, and if we do not change, a very great chastisement will come upon us.”

    Garabandal, June 18, 1965: “As my Message of the 18th of October has not been complied with, and as it has not been made known to the world [(overload: I have read that it was blocked by a cardinal)], I am telling you that this is the last one. Previously, the Cup was filling; now, it is brimming over. Many [cardinals, many bishops and many] priests are following the road to perdition, and with them they are taking many more souls.. I love you very much, and I do not want your condemnation. Ask Us sincerely and We shall grant your plea. ..”

    As for the Vatican 2 council (October 11th 1962 until 1965, compare with dates above), I have heard that this was called by pope John XXIII at the prompting of the Holy Spirit (the pope not knowing where it was heading)—not on the basis some kind of planned intellectual-liberal coup (even if there was also a free-for-all coup of some sort in the eventual mix.)

    What do others make of the above?

    • St.Joseph says:

      The people to answer that question are those who tried to’ change the church’ begining with the liturgy, then the re-ordering,then the femenists then the religious orders Nuns in their mufty,then the schools, then the child abuse, then contraception!
      The smoke of Satan entered the church!
      I have sympathy for those whose marriage broke down through those days of corruption.
      Especially when there was so much confusion around,

    • Nektarios says:

      Garabandal’s scribblings is someone seeking authority when he/she has none.
      This sort of writing is what sects pour out. They make it sound like they really know what they are talking about when they don’t. The spirit of Christ is not in what you have posted.
      Give this person ` Garabandal a wide berth.

      • Martha says:

        Nektarios, Garabandal is a place in Spain where Our Blessed Lady is said to have appeared to some children in the 1960’s with messages for the world. It has not been officially sanctioned by the church, but they do seem quite orthodox, in line with her messages at Lourdes and Fatima, and at Medjugorge. There is more information on the internet.

  23. Vincent says:

    I think Vat II was an excellent thing. And every pope since then has not only approved but encouraged the Church to put it into practice. Of course there are difficulties when you introduce a profound change of a dictatorial culture which has lasted a thousand years and start to grow towards being a community of mutual respect. You have the enthusiastic revolutionaries who make a darn nuisance of themselves. You have the old guard who have a strong interest in retaining power. You have the insecure who find it hard to cope with any change — let alone a change which treats them as adults.

    It takes time, maybe two or three generations, to get to a stage when we have a Church fit for Christians.

  24. St.Joseph says:

    Vincent what do you mean by ‘change’?

    • Vincent says:

      Until the 20th century secular organizations and the Church believed that you managed things by laying down the law and enforcing it. In the 20th century secular organizations discovered that you got much better results through trust and good leadership. The Church has come to this a little late and its authoritarian history is deeply ingrained. But the problems of change, which I outline above, tend to be the same in all such culture changes because they derive from human nature.

  25. John de Waal says:

    We should keep in mind that materialist philosophy and relativism had a very long incubation from the 18th century. These trends undermined belief in anything spiritual or objectively true. The sexual revolution of the 1960s probably had its roots in the work of Freud and others. The authoritarian regimes of Nazism and Communism probably helped to undermine any – even legitimate – forms of authority. All of this provided the back cloth to the post-Vatican II Church. I believe there would have been a drop off from religion even without modern catechetics.

    Newman said that the modern age would challenge the Church with something not seen before – unbelief (on such a scale).

    Instead of blaming everyone in the Church we need to practise the Christian virtues more.

    Pope Francis is right in warning against extreme consumerism and materialism as being inimical to Chritian living.

    • St.Joseph says:

      John de Waal.
      ‘You say instead of blaming everyone in the Church we need to practise the Christian vritues more’
      Do you mean by that- that we ought to go along with every thing that goes against the Wiil of God and stand back to accept everything that disrupts the holiness of our faith and the Sacrifice of the Mass
      Virtues are defending Holy Mother Church from the wickedness and snares of the devil.

      • overload says:

        How can Mass be kept (made) Holy whist divisions within the Catholic Church and ALSO divisions and not in communion with other Christian Churches? “This is how they [the world, and those in the Church] will know you are my disciples…”
        One way to fight evil with the Church is to let the Spirit speak the truth and expose it (and to be willing for Him use us for that purpose according to His prompting), and to live by example. “By their fruits you shall know them”. And to be mindful that evil comes in many forms, not just modernism. The devil is very subtle, and also blatant!

      • John de Waal says:

        There has always been a lack of holiness and truth among individual members of the Church but I do not accept that the Church itself can be in error to the extent some suggest. You cannot be a pick’n’mix Catholic. You are either a Catholic or not. If you are you accept that the pope is the successor of St Peter and that the Mass is the one true sacrifice. You may find certain translations or music better than others but that is irrelevant to the truth of the matter.

  26. Ignatius says:

    For what its worth, I’ve just spent two days on a boat round the Hebrides in search of basking sharks and Minke Whales. The three boat crew all turned out to be lapsed catholics so we had a few chats while peering over the horizon for fins. The skipper was a lovely guy in his mid 30’s. He just didn’t go because work and family commitments had eroded his time and he had just gotten out of the practice over the years. The younger of the crew was a lovely young girl in her early 20’s from Northern Ireland. She told me if she wasn’t up for Mass on a Sunday morning when she was a teenager her aunt would come over and throw a glass of cold water over her bed.. She actively disliked mass for years , found it boring , barren and sterile. The politics and the child abuse confirmed her suspicions and an now she sees Nature as her church. The third guy , in his 60’s just found it irrelevant, he started horse riding instead and never went back.
    One of the other whale watchers on the boat by the way was from North Wales, his Dad had been a Non conformist minister in Bangor. But now, he told me, most of the chapels had closed because the youth didn’t want that particular form any more. Anyway, in his view, the values were enough.

    • Nektarios says:

      Time for another Welsh Revival eh? Let us pray so.
      It seems to me you had an interesting set of discussions on your trip.
      Man has many excuses for not worshipping God, all of them have been
      affected by some situation in life, peer pressure, but most insiduous of the lot
      is the way they were educated – which is essentially humanist and secular.
      The answer to this dearth of interest in the Church, in God, Christ and His Gospel
      is to communicate it with power in the Holy Spirit.

  27. St.Joseph says:

    You are wrong. We keep yhe Sacrifice of the Mass Holy by not allowing every,silly little ditty of songs to take away the reverance that is owed to the worship to God
    We can be in communion with others,but not in Communion with the Eucharist which they do not share with us in the Transubstantiation..except the Orthodox Churches.
    When the Pope summoned the Council he spoke of a new Pentecost and indicated since the teachings of the Church were firm and beyond doubt. the Council would not concern itself with doctrine, but would primarly be a pastoral Council. The goals of the Council would be a renewal of the spirit of the Gospel in the hearts of the people everywhere, bringing Christ to the nations and preparing for the world’s conversion so that a new Pentecost could build on this foundation to reach a higher level of apostolic zeal, spiritual debth and social concern.
    There is nothing in the texts about turning altars towards the people, which to the ordinary churchgoers the two most obvious effects of the liturgical reform of the Second Vatican Council was the disappearance of latin, neither in fact is found in the decrees of the Council.
    Regrettable after the Council certain changes were made rapidly without reflection in a burst of enthusiasm which caused the abandonment of the sacred and the mystical, confusion between the common priesthood of all the faithful and the ordained ministry, and the concept of the Eucharist as a common banquet rather than a re-presentation of Christ’s Sacrifice.Nothing either for standing for Holy Communion, ‘The Congregation in fact. considers any refusal of Holy Communion to a member of the faithful on the basis of his or her kneeling posture to be a grave violation of one of the most basic rights of the Christian faithful; When a parishioner asked our bishop if a kneeler could be used for those who wished to kneel, the answer was ‘ it is against the health safety act’
    So overload there you have it!

    • overload says:

      St Joseph,

      Although I was not alive at the time, I sympathise with what you are saying about the distress at the time after VII. I saw something on youtube about this, and there was one clip of a women in a most uncouth yoga posture (her head not even visible to the priest if I remember correctly), with her arms stretched out to receive the host.

      However, you say to me “you are wrong”… do you believe that it is right in Christ that we should be in communion with other Christians, but not in Communion with them? What does “One Body” mean to you?

      • St.Joseph says:

        You have to understand what we believe in Truth the Real Presence .Look.it up on Catholic Answers.

      • overload says:

        St Joseph,

        1 Corinthians is clear enough about the Eucharist as a real communion in the body and blood of Christ.

        We are told that we should take the Holy family as a model for family life. How ironic this is, if we consider that this model puts a stigma over the husband even sleeping in the same bed as his wife!

      • St.Joseph says:

        There is more to family life than sleeping with each other,
        In marriage we take each other in sickness and in health.
        That means that if one’s husband or wife are unable to have sexual intercourse, they ought to stay faithful to each other,
        Regarding the Holy Family. they were chosen to be the Mother and foster Father of Jesus,
        a bit special don’t you think?.
        They were given a special Grace to remain celibate. As the Church teaches!
        Their Mission in life can still be an example for a Holy Family
        Nowadys, it seems impossible to abstain from intercourse during the fertile period,
        Scripture tells husband and wife to seperate for a time to allow time for prayer!.

  28. John Nolan says:

    ‘She actively disliked Mass for years, found it boring, barren and sterile’. Ex ore infantium.

    I rest my case.

  29. Ignatius says:

    This is an interesting discussion, it would be really great not to get bogged down in arguments over Vatican 2 yet again. My daughter came back yesterday from Youth 2000 at Walsingham where more than 1,000 young persons, 18-30 yrs of age all attended. As far as I know all were there of their own violition. My daughter tells me that one afternoon they were all at Mass and the priest asked all those who were considering religious life formally, to stand. Around 150 young people, men and women, stood and the place was in uproar.. uproar of a good kind mind you. Sometimes I go over to Nottingham to see my daughter at University and she takes me to Mass there, dozens and dozens, and dozens of young people all attending mass of their own violition, I’ve seen it with my own eyes.

    As to the quality of priests and the calibre of the church today, I wonder have any of you any remote idea of how hard it is to put on the clerics garb? One of the things I have learned over these past 5 years of seminary then ordination to the diaconate is that being a priest is an impossible task, Sisyphus, believe me, had it easy compared to your average PP. Pray for them as much as you possibly can every day because, without your prayers and kindness, they will most certainly fail.

    • St.Joseph says:

      You must be very proud of your daughter, we must keep young people in our prayers.
      Can I ask how more difficult is it for priests today than ever before?
      what would you think the difficulties are?

    • John Nolan says:

      Ignatius, rest assured that you will have my prayers and you have my admiration for taking on a sacred ministry which is by no means as easy as it looks. You have actually made a commitment which is awesome in its implications.

      My own commitment is more humble, namely to sing the chant which accompanies the liturgy. Although I am musical I had never sung in a choir (which is actually an advantage when it comes to chant!) and even after ten years of study I realize that there is much to learn.

      Priests, and deacons too, need our prayers and support. Should you need help with chanting the Gospel or the Exsultet let me know – my services come gratis.

  30. John Candido says:

    Determining why people are not engaging with Catholicism is a complex issue. Without doing a proper sociological study, we are taking huge leaps in the dark. I think that lots of contemporary youth and people in general find the Roman Catholic Church as simply repulsive for a number of historical and contemporary reasons. I think it all begins with the Enlightenment’s role of suppressing superstition with the rational practice of experimental science, its ennobling effects on human self-awareness & human dignity, and for these processes eventually laying the groundwork of the secular society and the advent of the industrial revolution.

    Secular society is informed of the crusades in history, sees the advent of the Reformation weakening the church’s authority, and it examines our reaction to Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, with it eventually trumping the Bible’s two creation accounts by not only its own scientific integrity, but by the advent of the church’s eventual acceptance of biblical exegesis. The wealth of the Catholic Church in the midst of world-wide poverty is seen as contradictory and scandalous by not only secular society but Catholics as well.

    Post Enlightenment humanity has access to mass education, public libraries, and a free mass media. With these tools secular society can freely examine the church’s historical role in executing recalcitrant theologians after a trial, and the excessive focus of legalism, moralism and the control of people’s sexual lives throughout history.

    The church’s former authority in sexual matters is in tatters with the revelation of the world-wide clerical sexual abuse scandal. Premarital sex is now viewed, rightly or wrongly as the exercise of personal choice, a reflection of human dignity and nobody else’s business. Papal infallibility is viewed by contemporary society as the preoccupation of absolutists who intend to impose themselves on others.

    There is a corresponding ethos in contemporary society for the enhancement of individual choice or dignity over a social group, which has made life more difficult for the leadership of any group. This includes the church to some extent and this may be behind the fact that people a generation ago were ‘joiners’ while contemporary people are less likely to join clubs or groups as much.

    In such a context it would be foolhardy in the extreme for the church to pursue any theologian in conflict with the Ordinary Magisterium. Individual choice, the sanctity of the human conscience and the academic freedom of theologians is seen as a prime value of contemporary society.

  31. St.Joseph says:

    I read an article long ago by J.H.Gillis,PhD is a retired Professor of Philosophy at St Francis Xavier University, Antigonish,N.S, where he ‘said that some social action is a betrayal of Vatican 11’. He called it The heresy of our day.
    He says ‘Immediately after Vatican 2 and for at least a decade after, nearly all homilies were on love, and mainly on the love of neighbour. Today it is apparent that much love of neighbour was being cut off from what is supposed to be its base, the love of God for His own sake.
    The impression was long being given that the so called ‘spirit of Vatican 11” was to empty the pews of those kneeling there in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and to rush out into the market place to work for the welfare of their neighbours.
    And as a result we find today many young Catholics people who are feverishly active in the cause of liberty and justice, but they think nothing of missing Mass on Sundays or of months, even years
    without confessing their sins; they do not know how to say the Rosary or even an Act of Contrition, they know little about the Blessed Sacrament or to the Sacred Heart or to our Blessed Lady, about Holy Hours, Forty Hours, novenas, days of recollection, meditation and so on.
    Of course JH Gillis PHD, is right in saying what he said, when comparing it with Mother Teresa’s own words, ‘I know I would not be able to work one week, if it were not for that continual force coming from Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament’. She and her Sisters follow closely in the footsteps of another Theresa saint and contemplative, who did so much for the Foreign Missions, that the Church proclaimed her “Patroness of the Missions even though she had never left her convent.
    Years ago before Vatican 2 we had Missions in our parish Church’s it went on for a whole week every evening, It was up to me being 19yrs old.
    They seemed to stop since Vatican 2. In those days we had a good devotional understanding of
    the love of God and vice versa.
    Perhaps this is where the vocations to the religious life has not been nurtured. Especially in our catholic schools!

  32. John Nolan says:

    John Candido, I looked up a conversation we had on this blog three-and-a-half years ago. Despite my attempts to educate you, you still don’t seem to understand the difference between the Ordinary Magisterium and the Ordinary and Universal Magisterium. I suggested you might like to read John Henry Newman on the idea of conscience – but you still don’t understand that conscience and private opinion are clean different things.

    The Enlightenment, so-called, is not is a turning-point in human history. I would not necessarily disparage it, but it is essentially an 18th century conceit. Your unconditional worship of anything you consider ‘modern’ actually makes you look a fool. Get out of the social sciences which are bogus and learn some history. End of rant.

  33. Brendan says:

    I have no idea on how the Conference of Catholic Bishops of England and Wales is run ; but it may be an idea to have informed laity as ‘ observers ‘ in future acting as ‘ peritus ‘ in some field or other to advise and to dialogue with their Bishop as a bridge between himself and his flock present at Conference.
    Whatever may be the calibre of our seminarians in training for ordination now – and I have no evidence to say that they are not in good-standing at present; it seems possible from albeit anecdotal evidence at least that this has not been clear in the recent past. When I hear from a family member relaying to me of a casual conversation he had with a certain Bishop who expressed that … ” he did not do the beads anymore .. ” when speaking of the Rosary ; or a friend of mine , who when speaking to a priest known to us both said that he ( the priest ) could just as well be a Methodist minister .
    What is the ordinary Catholic to make of such things if true ?

    • St.Joseph says:

      That would be good if it happened, however both a male and a female.
      I dont know what the seminaries are like now ,hopefully better than many years ago, !

    • overload says:

      “…a certain Bishop who expressed that … ‘he did not do the beads anymore ..’ when speaking of the Rosary ; or a friend of mine , who when speaking to a priest known to us both said that he ( the priest ) could just as well be a Methodist minister .
      What is the ordinary Catholic to make of such things if true ?”

      Is it not enough to believe in the Name of Jesus, and get Baptised,—aka to be a Christian—to be both Catholic and ‘ordinary’?

  34. Brendan says:

    Additum – 1 Peter, 2:9

  35. Martha says:

    After seeing all the flowers and other gifts on Shoreham Bridge in memory of those killed in the Air Show crash, which has been happening ever since the death of Diana, I am wondering what is behind it all, and whether we in the Church can learn something, and tap into this widespread need to make sense of life and death?

    • St.Joseph says:

      Yes I agree with you.
      Also I try to make sense of all the murders of christians nowadays and the burning of Churche’s.
      Also of abortion and abortfacients.
      Life seems to be so cheap.A saying of my mother was ‘always be prepared to meet your Maker, as one never knows the minute.

  36. Martin Kirkham says:

    Although the analogy can be taken too far, it is a fact that an organisation of any kind that does not evolve over time is likely to ossify and eventually become irrelevant. The Church is not exempt from this truism.
    Our Pope recognises this, but his efforts at renewal are hampered by a reluctance by too many of those around him to join him on his journey.

  37. ignatius says:

    Ok, time for a little bluntness perhaps.

    Why do we not see ‘The Church’ as ‘us’? Why, in my home town is the catholic presence invisible? Why do I never meet a person clearly enjoying their identity as child of God? Why was it an evangelical Christian whose knock at my door brought me into church life and not a Catholic voice? Why, in the twelve years of my catholic life has my family never been invited into any catholic household just to say hello or have a coffee? Why is there not a Catholic voice coming out of Calais? Why have I never seen a catholic stand up in church and suggest a prayer meeting or a house group? Why do we so delight in ignoring our own spiritual lukewarmness while revelling in that of ‘The Church’ Why do I only mainly hear carping about priests? Why have I never heard anyone even start a serious conversation about local charitable work and how to get involved in it around where we live. Maybe I’m missing something here but I do think that ‘answers’ usually rest with individuals answering a call to the teeming world around us. Do not ask for why the church shrinks friends, because it is us who are doing the shrinking.

    PS Peter Foster,
    Thanks for the Mary Douglas reference, I’ve ordered her book.

    • St.Joseph says:

      Yes good thinking, however, Why have you not suggested it or started it yourself!
      We can not sit back and leave it to others.!

    • Peter D. Wilson says:

      Ignatius – “Why, in the twelve years of my catholic life has my family never been invited into any catholic household just to say hello or have a coffee? ” etc.
      Have you invited anyone?
      Have you tried to start a conversation about charitable work?
      Have you suggested a social meeting after Sunday Mass?
      If so, well done; if not, why not start the ball rolling yourself?

      • ignatius says:

        Yes of course I have done all those things in one form of another, I mention the above simply to re frame the debate a little. I am curious to know , after listening to all the reasons given, so cogent and persuasively put, as to why no one mentions any of this basic stuff. Tell me one more thing.. in my normal social life, as a University lecturer, as an osteopath,as a person involved with people in many walks of life.. ..no one has ever. come up to me and shared their catholic faith…I repeat, NEVER. Why might this be do you think Pete?

      • Peter D. Wilson says:

        Ignatius – “no one has ever. come up to me and shared their catholic faith…I repeat, NEVER. Why might this be do you think Pete?”
        Perhaps you have given no hint that you would welcome such a conversation; few people are willing to risk a rebuff by starting one cold on such a subject, and I should certainly think it strange if anyone (other than Jehovah’s Witnesses or the like) did so with me. Among your familiars it’s probably assumed that you know their views and concerns. In any case English people are notoriously reserved about such matters.
        Forgive me if I’ve misunderstood your question!

      • RAHNER says:

        “no one has ever. come up to me and shared their catholic faith…I repeat, NEVER. Why might this be do you think Pete?”

        Many reasons I’m sure. But perhaps one reason is that most Catholics are theologically illiterate (like some contributors to this blog) and can only express their faith in crude fundamentalist terms of which they are ashamed and embarrassed.

      • St.Joseph says:

        Tonight before you go to sleep and amongst your nightly act of contrition- perhaps you would like to offer up a decade of the Holy Rosary for all the catholics who are theologically illiterate, and ask God to give them His Holy Grace to express our faith
        a brilliantly as you do!

    • Martha says:

      We are fortunate in our parish with a number of people involved in local charitable and ecumenical work, particularly helping the homeless, and contributing to the local Food Bank, and we have a regular series of events in our parish hall which is under the same roof as the church, including tea and coffee after the Sunday morning Mass, and a bar open after the evening Mass.
      It has not always been so. We have on occasion been told that “the Church is not a club”, well maybe not, certainly not an exclusive one, but we do need a group or some support to help us use the power of the Holy Spirit to look outwards.
      Things seem to have changed regarding visiting people’s homes. It is often far too formal, though with work commitments and children to ferry round so much since I was younger, there are reasons. Just calling in, without arrangements being made first is far less common than it used to be. “Take us as you find us” is not often considered good enough now, and the other side of the coin is that cliques can form and leave out those who are not naturally very outgoing.
      It can be a minefield, but I agree with the thrust of what you say. Drop In Centres, with generous opening times would be ideal, but who has the time and energy to organise and run them? It should be possible in large cities.

  38. Nektarios says:

    According to many people who are worried about the state of the world and the Church, what we need is a new reformation. I agree with that, but the vital question is: “What do you mean by reformation?” Reformation does not mean scrapping the whole of the Bible and putting up your own ideas and theories. It means the exact opposite: It means returning to the Bible. Now if we are going to use the term reformation, let us be honest. There was a great reformation in the sixteenth century, and there have been other reformations, but what were they? Well, every reformation that has ever happened in the life of the church, every reformation that has led to new life and power and vigor in the church, with a corresponding influence upon the lives of the people, has been based on a return to the Scriptures.

    And it is because I am anxious to show that a return to the Bible is our only hope that I am calling your attention to this whole subject. What we need is a reformation that is in line with all previous reformations. What we need is a restitution, a restoration, of the original pattern. And this pattern, of course, is to be found in the pages of the New Testament and in particular in the book of Acts.
    The problem of the Roman Empire in its decadent days is the same as the problem of the West today.
    This idea that the problem of humanity is different today from what it has been in the past is, of all teachings, the most ludicrous. Different? Men and women are no different at all. They are still exactly what they have always been. They had their feasts; they were interested in eating, drinking, dancing, and sex. It is all there, even the perversions. The world today is exactly what it was in the first century, in the days when our Lord came, and when the apostle Paul and these other apostles were here. We see the same decadence, the same immorality, the same vice, the same hopelessness, the same fear.
    Nothing made such an impact upon the Roman Empire as the Christian church. The Greeks had great philosophers, who, remember, had all lived, flourished, and died before the Lord Jesus Christ was ever born; the best teaching had already been given. The Romans were experts in the art of government, and particularly local government. Even today the legal system of many countries is based upon Roman law. The Romans were famous for law, for order, for government, and they did everything they could to organize society and to improve the lot of men and women and to establish some kind of utopia. Those ancients were very interested in utopias. But they failed completely. And then in that old world appeared this phenomenon called the Christian church.

    I will continue later -this is only background to what is to follow and hopefully answer some of Quentin’s questions and ours.


  39. Nektarios says:

    And then in that old world appeared this phenomenon called the Christian church. It all came out of the tremendous thing that happened on the day of Pentecost. These apostles, and others with them, who had been with Christ, were praying together in a room when suddenly the power of the Holy Spirit came upon them.

    This waAll right, be interested in politics, but will you find a solution to the moral problems of society there? You may

    Lloyd-Jones, D. Martyn (2015-03-22). D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones Collection (Preaching and Theology) (Kindle Location 2554). E4 Group. Kindle Edition. s not due to anything they did; it was not because of their organizing, it was not because they had decided months before to have a great campaign and to set up numerous subcommittees to plan how to do it. Not at all. In their utter helplessness and weakness they were just praying and waiting, and down came this tremendous power, and they began to speak with authority. Three thousand people were saved after that one sermon that Peter gave. Then “the Lord added… daily such as should be saved.” That was the church.

    So what do we know about the church? Well, I have been holding it before you. The first thing we are told is that these people “continued steadfastly” together, first of all for “the apostles’ doctrine,” and we have seen why they wanted that teaching.

    Now we must look at this next reason for their coming together, and this is also vital for us: “They continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship.” I want to give you a picture of what the Christian church is, what a Christian society is, because, let me emphasize again, herein lies the only hope for the world.

    All right, be interested in politics, but will you find a solution to the moral problems of society there? You may perhaps solve industrial disagreements, though you may not even solve those if everybody is going to go on working less and less for more and more. That is how Rome went down. They all wanted to spend their time in their baths-and, of course, if you were very wealthy you had a golden bath! And so destruction came by all these steps and stages. That is how every empire has gone down, and that is how the West will go down. There is only one way of arresting all this, and that is this Gospel.
    Now, unfortunately, as we have seen, a false idea is current as to what the church is and what she is meant to be doing, but here in Acts we are given the true picture— this “fellowship.” Remember again who these people were. They had rejected Christ and had said, “Away with Him! Crucify Him!” But they had suddenly been convinced and convicted by the preaching of Peter, and 3,000 had been added to the church. Here they were, going day by day to this company, to this fellowship, to hear the teaching.

    • overload says:

      Nektarios says:
      “In their utter helplessness and weakness they were just praying and waiting, and down came this tremendous power, and they began to speak with authority. Three thousand people were saved after that one sermon that Peter gave. Then ‘the Lord added… daily such as should be saved.’ That was the church.”

      Some questions I am not completely clear on…
      Was this the Baptism of the Apostles?
      Were the Apostles Baptised before this happened?
      If not, did they get Baptised afterwards?
      What has water Baptism—necessarily, and also experientially (in practice)—got to do with being saved and receiving power and authority?

      • overload says:

        Nektarios, where you Baptised as a child, and in what Church were you Baptised, I wonder?

      • Nektarios says:

        You ask, ` was this the Baptism of the Apostles?’
        Obviously not, but the action of the Holy Spirit on the Apostle Peter and the others.

        As to your other questions – were the Apostles baptised – obviously they were and full of the Holy Ghost too.

        As to you last question. Baptism is an outward manifestation of an inward reality. The person who in faith is baptised before the congregation, is baptised in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost and becomes part of the body of Christ – the Church, with all its privileges and blessings and duties as Children of God.
        I am sorry not to have the time to expand on this together at this moment.

      • overload says:

        Nektarios, thanks for your replies. If you cannot discuss further, not problem, I will however give my research here…

        Nektarios said “were the Apostles baptised – obviously they were and full of the Holy Ghost too.”
        Researching online:
        “What I was taught growing up in the Churches of Christ (1940′s & 50′s) was that the apostles were baptized by John, who taught men to believe on the one who was to come. There is presumptive evidence of this in two things: (1) Peter and Andrew met Jesus at John’s revival and (2) Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John [presumably the same Baptism, Baptism of repentance], his chosen 12 doing the actual baptizing.”

        The suggestion in Acts seems to be that the 120 who received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost were not (at least not at that time) water-Baptised, yet subsequently themselves water-Baptised 3000 others who received their message.

      • Nektarios says:

        You ask if I was baptised as a child and in what denomination.
        I can’t tell you if I was baptised as a child or not. I was brought up in the Church of Scotland.
        I was baptised as a believer in the Brethern where I remained a member for some years and it was where I began preaching all over Scotland.

  40. Nektarios says:

    To continue:
    But what is “fellowship”? This is a word that is much in fashion today, but I think it is a word that is greatly abused. It is popular with supporters of what is called the ecumenical movement. But, as I have been showing you, these people are not interested in doctrine. They say, “Doctrine divides; therefore don’t talk about it— we don’t need it. What we need is fellowship.”

    Today one comes across strange notions with regard to what constitutes fellowship. Fellowship means, as I shall show you, a very deep unity, and there is all the difference in the world between true unity and a coalition.
    The history of every political coalition proves that there was never any true unity, but merely a temporary coming together. But that is not fellowship. You can persuade yourself that it is, but it is all on the surface. Deep down there is disunity; there is division.

    The tragedy today is that people say, “Oh, it doesn’t matter what people believe as long as we all come together— Roman Catholics and Protestants, everybody. Differences don’t matter— we’re all one. Let’s all be together— perhaps even those who belong to all the religions of the world. Let’s have a great world congress. Let’s amalgamate all religions.” The world laughs at that, and I think that for once the world is right. That is not Christianity, that is not fellowship, and that is not unity.
    People’s ideas as to what constitutes fellowship can be quite pathetic. Some people think in purely social terms. This is an idea that is frequently found in the church, and I want to ridicule it because it has nothing to do with Christianity. People even think that fellowship just means having a cup of tea and a biscuit together. I have known others who think of fellowship in these terms: At the end of a service or during a service, the minister says, “Now you must all have fellowship with one another,” and he tells everyone to shake hands with the people sitting near them, and they all shake hands. Marvelous fellowship! Those are some people’s ideas of fellowship— a superficial friendliness, a niceness, a joviality. In these ways that great word fellowship has been degraded.

    Furthermore, let me emphasize again that fellowship is not be equated with institutionalism, and this, it seems to me, is the thing that is keeping so many outside the Christian church at the present time. They look at the church, and they see nothing but a great institution, a great organization. That is not only true of Roman Catholicism— it is true of Protestantism also. Look at
    either the modern Roman Catholic Church or the modern Protestant church in Britain. Can you see it in the Acts of the Apostles? Can you see anybody in Acts corresponding to the Pope? Can you have fellowship with the Pope? Look at the protocol you have to go through before you can even see him. Look at people staring at him in the distance, considering it an honor just to kiss a ring on his finger. Is that fellowship? No, and that is why people are outside the church, and that is why they are not listening to Christianity. They look at that, and they do not want it. Christianity is not a mere institution that all and sundry can use.

    Will continue later.

  41. G.D says:

    Are we equating ‘the Roman Catholic Church’ with the Kingdom of God?

    A quote from page 125 in ‘Catholic Spirituality, It’s History and Challenge’ by James J. Bacik Paulist Press. ISBN : 0809140608 ………………. ” Given all these factors, it is not surprising that the Catholic Church, which relied so heavily in the past on institutional loyalty .. (is) … suffering significant numerical losses. ……. Pastorally, we should not let concern over dwindling numbers dominate our thinking .. … maintain confidence in divine providence. The all powerful God can save individuals who are separated from the institutional church. St. Augustine noted that God has many that the church does not have and the church has many God does not have. ”

    And page 126 …… ” They (the young adult) need to see their Catholic faith as a WISDOM TRADITION THAT PROMOTES FULL HUMAN DEVELOPMENT ” …… (caps mine) … “and encouragement to work for peace and justice in the world ” …. (which is what Jesus’ life of love & faith was about) … ” The looser attitude of young adults toward the institutional church actually presents us with a marvellous motive and a great opportunity to revitalise our faith communities. ”

    While i disagree with ‘God does not have’ , i think the above is valid for this post.

    And, as Bacik say’s the Spirit works through many who don’t have our faith criteria.

    Maybe by getting away from so much ‘doctrinal’ (important as doctrine is!) input and leaning more towards a shared experiential faith of God in the heart, lived out in community, we can grow rather than diminish.

    There are more quotes but in an effort ( failed! ) of being brief i won’t add them. But will cite some of the books that address the issues …………

    ‘The Spiritual Revolution – why religion is giving way to spirituality’ Paul Heelas and Linda Woodhead. Blackwell Publishing. ISBN : 1405119594.

    ‘Do Christians Know how to be Spiritual? – the rise of new spirituality and the mission of the church’
    John Drane. Darton Longman & Todd. ISBN : 023252632X.

    ‘Towards a Truly Catholic Church – an ecclesiology for the third millennium’ Thomas P. Rausch. Liturgical Press. ISBN : 978814651872.

    • Quentin says:

      Can I please ask everyone to be careful about the username and email they use. The system recognises a variance from existing information, and throws it to me for moderation. That means that I have to start up my browser, login, find the comment, discover the problem and correct. And I often need to email the contributor to clarify the problem. I have better things to do!

  42. G.D says:

    And yes Nektarios ………. ‘in unity (‘fellowship’ meaningless word nowadays!) with all peoples of love and good faith of all or no religion. As Jesus clearly accepts in the Bible.

    • overload says:

      G.D. you make this sound so straight forward, are you being humble?

      Why did Jesus give the great commission “go to all nations and Baptise in My Name.”? And why did He say “those that believe and are Baptised will be saved”?

      I am not saying you are wrong, but one needs to ask questions, or otherwise it is a matter of either forming ones own opinions, or depending on blind faith.

      • G.D. says:

        Overlord, i can’t interpret LITERALLY the words of the Bible any more. For me it’s never ‘this’ or ‘that’ particular side of any ‘preferences’ but a ‘both &’ approach …… something my intellect cannot ‘understand’ … that leads to the reality of God’s ‘teachings’ & Presence within all of creation.

        As a young adult convert to Catholicism i had a very Catholic doctrinal understanding of the life of Jesus, the Presence of The Christ incarnate in ‘the flesh’. And i still can express it as such. But it was never ‘complete’ there was always ‘more’ to it for me.

        To “go to all nations and Baptise in My Name.”? Could that not mean to give Christ by inference, give love that others may love.

        The early converts to Christianity, did they know doctrinal expressions as we do now, are they less Christian for it? What baptism did they accept? Certainly not the ‘form’ of baptism as we see it now.
        Did Jesus need to accept baptism from John to be Christ like?

        “those that believe and are Baptised will be saved”? Believe what, doctrinal teaching or in the love of God incarnate in them – whatever form that is expressed in?

        ‘Baptism’ for me is more than a form of words and external action of the Sacramental reality – it’s that as well, for them that are given the grace to see it as such – but also a ‘mystery’ given to all of creation in a myriad of ways. I can’t help but see all creation given that reality to embrace and accept. ( To incarnate God? )

        Doesn’t make for an easy (as in clear cut / definite / nicely sown up) path to follow but the only one that’s ever given me peace. It’s stood me in good stead for all the hassle it brings.

        I see Jesus living that kind of ‘spirit’. And maybe why he can be ‘claimed’ by Christians of differing ‘persuasions’, and not be exclusively ‘owned’ by any of them!

        The biblical teachings taken as ‘wisdom literature’ rather than literal expressions (whichever ‘literal truth angle’ one cares to extrapolate from them) have always seemed lead me on to a deeper and fuller acceptance of ‘truths’ beyond any divisions.
        Ad as far as i can see therein lies the unity ( ‘may they all be one as we are one ) Jesus prayed for.

        And here i am trying to give a (not so brief!) literary expression of it more fool me. – I do not assert only conjecture!

        Don’t know what you mean by ‘are you being humble?’ ………. much to proud of my humility to be so!

      • overload says:

        “The problem that non-Catholic Christians have when they are invited to attend Catholic mass is not that our beliefs are wildly different. It is the Catholic ‘doctrinal clutter’”.

        Ah, you could be right about the indifference of fundamental beliefs, but perhaps not; this is a question which does not to me seem clear in the CCC, nor perhaps even in the personal beliefs of many moderate / ecumenical / charismatic Roman Catholics. (Schizophrenic?)
        To illustrate (a/the) case in point: regarding non-Catholic Christians invited to “attend” mass… does this mean to partake in mass?

      • overload says:

        (Sorry, mistake, my reply above to G.D was intended as reply to Alisdair November 29, 2015 at 10:54 pm )

  43. overload says:

    As I hear it, the RCC teaches that those (and only those) who are Baptised have been, by the grace of the Sacrament itself, freed from ‘original sin’, been made Children of God, been incoorperated into the Church, been given supernatural grace. And yet how can I clearly and sincerely explain this to an unbeliever (or even to myself) if there is no evidence or conviction—or not much—or even just a shadow of a doubt—within myself that this is true?
    It might seem to some that the only real meaning of the Sacrament is one of ownership and numbers for the Church—in colonising and controlling. I am not saying this is what I truly believe however it is one valid way of looking at things, perhaps.

  44. Nektarios says:

    St Joseph
    Yes, and no, for Christianity essentially is the Gospel for all mankind, The Orthodox Church, the RCC and the Protestant Churches who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and working out their Salvation following the Apostolic teaching can truly call themselves Christians and Christianity as it was delivered to us.

  45. ignatius says:


    “..Many reasons I’m sure. But perhaps one reason is that most Catholics are theologically illiterate (like some contributors to this blog) and can only express their faith in crude fundamentalist terms of which they are ashamed and embarrassed…”

    Yes, thanks for striking the nail so precisely. I think you are right. I can find sympathy with this. I struggled mightily with the same thing during the first three or four years of becoming a catholic. The whole edifice I found myself presented with seemed so complex, byzantine almost so as to render explanation very difficult. On the one hand there would be the awe of the altar and of Eucharist but on the other a whole big thick catechism of pronouncements to try and come to grips with. It has taken several years and a training as catechist and diaconate before I’ve become confident enough to drop back to simplicity in talking with people!!!
    Here’s another one for you Rahner, this makes me rack my brain a bit though the answer is probably simple. I find receiving communion to be a profound thing, full of significance. Yet I meet many persons who are ‘lapsed’ as Catholics and who tell me they simply don’t miss church at all. Also there are people I meet who tell me Mass is ‘boring’ etc and who have stopped going for that reason or are on the verge of stopping. I find it hard to compute these two things, I would have thought that if a sacrament is indeed a sacrament then one would notice it as such by its very presence in some form or another. Yet this is clearly not how many experience the process of receiving communion at all….probably naïve of me but I find this odd. Its easy to make the analogy with the crowds turning away from Jesus etc but it does genuinely puzzle me.

  46. Galerimo says:

    How about we have another Vatican Council – Pope Francis calls this one to consolidate the what was valuable in Vatican II. This time for the purpose of identity and direction we talk about the reality of Jesus and our relationship with the Holy Spirit. Two for balance.

    • St.Joseph says:

      Perhaps Three in One for balance..We can not forget the Father!
      We begin the Creed with ‘I believe in God the Father Almighty’……….
      Where does He the First Person of the Blessed Trinity fit into our lives.
      I would be interested on any thoughts on this?..

    • jimbeam says:

      Galerimo mentioned the need to examine “the reality of Jesus and our relationship with the Holy Spirit. Two for balance.”

      Conjecting about this on my bed (theres not much (or theres too much?) to get out of bed for):

      The Godhead is not just two, it is three: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, inseparable.
      But in reality even this is insufficient because a head cannot just bob around (or even maintain existence) without a body.
      There may be such a reality as divine peace without need for person, however ‘God’ is entirely about person and relationship, in the context of the divine.
      So I have ‘myself’, and my relationship to ‘other’ and to the divine, and this is the Word of God: Jesus, or, “God is our (our is my) Salvation”.
      So what I am trying to say is that the Name of Jesus does not refer just to the Son of God, but to three persons of head and one persons of body.

      Jesus—Father, Son, Holy Spirit, and the true Church one Body—hallowed and blessed be Thy name!
      Jesus—Father, Son, Holy Spirit, and the true Church one Body—bless Thou Thy holy name!

  47. ignatius says:

    Peter Wilson:

    “..In any case English people are notoriously reserved about such matters.
    Forgive me if I’ve misunderstood your question!..”

    Thats ok. I ask the question in the light of the topic of this thread, not from any sense of grievance. The point is Pete that we claim to meet with God in person every week….let me repeat that …the point is that we claim to meet with God, in person, every week… So then our natural reserve or our fear of being rebuffed is completely irrelevant, the doctor doesn’t sit in his office doling out medicine only to those who are polite or share his background. When we Catholics grumble on about the failure of the Church it seems to me that what we do is take the great log in out own eye and simply ram it in further. There are many sociological reasons as to why the Catholic church in England hides its head under the parapet but it is simply not sufficient to blame these; in a nut shell might I ask where is the fire and the joy in the heart and the knowledge that the gift of grace is to be shared?

    • ignatius says:

      PS sorry to keep calling you ‘Pete’ by the way, my computer doesn’t seem to like ‘Peter’ very much.

    • St.Joseph says:

      I am sorry to open an old wound, however I do hope that you have got over your nervousness when the old ladies made you feel when they twiddled their fingers on their Rosary Beads.
      As for the priest someone mentioned above (doesn’t do beads) perhaps more Rosaries would be a wonderful improvement in the renewal for our Church.
      This to me is also relevant to Quentins new post,’How was it for you?
      Our Blessed Mother has a big part in Salvation History! Also to remember that She was the first Monstrance that brought our Saviour into the world, long before any priest or Bishop, or Cardinal or Pope!
      That promise was to be the golden thread the promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and Moses, to King David and to Isaiah, Jeremiah and Elijah to quote only a few.
      Those promises began to be fulfilled when Our Blessed Lady consented to God,s word.
      ‘Let it be done unto me according to your word’, at that moment, the Word was made flesh in Her womb and the words of the Canticle of Canticles were indeed fulfilled.
      ‘Arise my love, my beautiful one and come, the winter is over and the flowers have apeared in the land.

      It amazes me when She seems to be almost forgotten to some on Second Sight Blog, as if when She appears with the authority of Holy Mother Church, her messages are either fiction or ignored.
      I rest my case!

      • ignatius says:

        Hi St Joseph,
        I’m not quite sure which case you are resting! I had the privilege of preaching on the Assumption of Mary over the weekend of her feast a few weeks ago now. It does seem to me that many see Mary as an inspiration and assign of our final destination with God, I am one among those.
        Many others have a personal devotion to Mary which is peculiar to them. I say a few lines of the rosary most days and venerate Mary but I do not have the devotion you have….nor do many others. This is essentially a personal matter upon which there is no ruling because devotional behaviour is of the individual heart. I’m strongly attached to the divine mercy chaplet myself. So yes, I would be seemingly among the forgetters here on the blog, though I am grateful to Mary, who wouldn’t be?

      • St.Joseph says:

        Thank you, I am pleased you feel you had the privilege to preach on the Assumption, so you should preach on Our Blessed Mother and it wont be just a yearly privilege.
        I believe that there would not have been so much sex abuse amongst priests if they had a devotion to Their Blessed Mother.
        This is not a personal thing as you say, where ever did you get that idea from! It has always been a teaching of the Catholic Church.
        Inumerable references can be found in the Magisterium of the Church where the Holy Rosary is recommended from Pope Pius V onwards and even more so since LeoX111, a long list can also be provided of great men who were faithful to the Rosary.
        But it has been above all the Mother of the Lord herself who, in Lourdes and particularly in Fatima ‘ has extended Her maternal invitation to pray daily and devoutly the Holy Rosary (John Paul11 25th April 1987)
        For Catholics the example of Saint Pope Paul 2nd is surely most stimulating,The most moving pictures of the Pope with the Rosary in his hands have been reproduced all over the world never more so than the inaguration of the Marian year 1987-1988, the following is the Pope’s own words ‘The certainity that Jesus is with you when you meditate with the Rosary must encourage you to ask Him through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, for peace and justice for the Church and the world’
        If Our lady wants it, the Church asks for it and the world needs it, are we going to reject it?
        So that is where I rest my case!

    • Martha says:

      Ignatius, your raising this aspect of the way we live our lives as Catholics, has reminded me of a friend’s mother, also a Catholic, who lived in a care home near to us at the end of her life. I used to go in and see her sometimes, and on one occasion my husband came as well, and we took her out in her wheelchair to a local park. She was delighted with everything she saw, and had no inhibitions about saying out loud to us how lovely the trees were, and thanking God and praising Him for their beauty, and for giving her the opportunity to enjoy them. It was really inspiring. I have often wondered why we do not react spontaneously like this much more often in our daily lives.

    • Peter D. Wilson says:

      Ignatius – No problem with “Pete”. Regrettably, no doubt, I don’t have a fire in my heart. As a “cradle Catholic” I have remained true to practising the faith (and more than its minimal demands) as a duty; enthusiasm for it is not in my make-up. If anyone wants an intellectual argument for my (often reluctant) persistence, I can give my reasons, but I don’t think that’s going to be very persuasive.
      By the way, I’m about to go away for a week and not taking my computer, so please excuse any failure to follow up further comments.

  48. ignatius says:

    St Joseph,
    “….I believe that there would not have been so much sex abuse amongst priests if they had a devotion to Their Blessed Mother.
    This is not a personal thing as you say, where ever did you get that idea from! It has always been a teaching of the Catholic Church…..”

    St Joseph,

    The level of devotion individuals pay to particular acts of worship IS ENTIRELY a matter for the individual heart. Thus I do not demand of you that you recite the divine mercy chaplet at 4 am every morning and you do not despise me because I don’t pray two full rosaries each day or go religiously to Lourdes. Personal devotions are personal helps. There is remarkably little theology built around Mary but huge amounts of devotional literature. Mary derives all from Christ which means that devotion to her, though highly laudable and productive is not compulsory. Thats what I meant.
    I don’t agree with your thoughts about abuse either but I don’t want to talk about that publicly.

  49. ignatius says:

    ” Look at
    either the modern Roman Catholic Church or the modern Protestant church in Britain. Can you see it in the Acts of the Apostles? Can you see anybody in Acts corresponding to the Pope? Can you have fellowship with the Pope? Look at the protocol you have to go through before you can even see him. Look at people staring at him in the distance, considering it an honor just to kiss a ring on his finger. Is that fellowship? …”

    You do write nonsense at times and this is a good example of it.

    Was the church in Corinth 1.2 billion strong? No. Should the world wide Catholic Church mimic the organisation of a small group of believers in a different epoch? No. Does the understanding and form of the church move over time because of the changing times and the hand of the Holy spirit? Yes. Does someone outside a group usually comprehend the interior workings of that group? usually not…..time to lie in a dark room for awhile methinks.

    • Nektarios says:

      But before you consign me to a dark room for awhile, let me clarify for you one or two important points.
      I am well aware that things change superifically with man – he/she is a clever creature.
      Man was developed technologically, in medicine in physics, and many other diciplines.
      He has done all sorts of crazy things over the centuries, but alas by his own efforts He has not changed – nor `by sitting down and taking thought can he find out God’.

      Here is one important point: Yes, at the linear level, the repetitive level, man has as a clever being invented many changes, but he has not changed.
      It is an error to think that modern, sophisicated, theological and religious thinking is in anyway spiritual. It is different entirely from the spiritual life.
      Do not think that the spiritual life is just a heightened form of our natural processes.

      • overload says:

        Nektarios, you remind me of some research and thinking I have been doing which I hope is not—as you would seem to suggest is, by default,—irrelevant or counter productive in my relationship with Jesus.

        Do not all beings (whether Christian or not) have to some degree or another (whether abandoned, naturally expressed, wilfully developed, or gifted in some special way) both demonic and God given qualities / spirits? For instance:

        1) Sense desire (covetousness)
        2) Ill-will & aversion
        3) Sloth & torpor
        4) Restlessness & discontent / regret
        5) Doubt

        Might these five qualities be a constructive as a mathematical picture for identification and exposing—for full awareness—of our sinful nature (ie. as an implosion of the interrelationship and perpetual increase of these spirits)?

        And likewise:

        1) Mindfulness
        2) Investigation of reality
        3) Energy
        4) Joy / rapture
        5) Calm / tranquillity
        6) Concentration
        7) Equanimity

        Might this be a constructive and encouraging picture of God given qualities / spirits available to all, which are usually either at such a low level of operation that they are—so much as used at all—harnessed by the former 5?
        I am asking if we—the Church—depend upon (in one way or another, regardless of life circumstances, and whether visible or invisible) a divine strength and balance of all 7 of these spirits, so as to grow in knowledge, wisdom and love of Christ—to ‘live the Spiritual life’?

  50. Alasdair says:

    The problem that non-Catholic Christians have when they are invited to attend Catholic mass is not that our beliefs are wildly different. It is the Catholic “doctrinal clutter”.
    To quote the distinguished Fr Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher to the Papal household “Jesus Christ is the obelisk at the centre of the Church; it is to him that all eyes should always be turned and to him that Christians should make people attentive.
    Churches with a strong dogmatic and theological tradition (as the traditional Churches and especially the Catholic Church are) sometimes find themselves at a disadvantage, owing to their very wealth and complexity of doctrine and institutions, when dealing with a society that has in large degree lost its Christian faith and that consequently needs to start again at the beginning, that is to say, by rediscovering Jesus Christ”.
    For this reason, the churches with an uncluttered Christian message (roughly defined as evangelical churches) are making converts and growing, even in traditionally catholic areas like Latin America. It seems improbable to me that anyone who had just “accepted Jesus as their Lord and Saviour” would then be attracted by the distractions of all the baggage that goes with being a Catholic.

    • overload says:

      “The problem that non-Catholic Christians have when they are invited to attend Catholic mass is not that our beliefs are wildly different. It is the Catholic ‘doctrinal clutter’”.

      Ah, you could be right about the indifference of fundamental beliefs, but perhaps not; this is a question which does not seem to be clear in CCC, nor in the personal beliefs of even ecumenical Catholics. (Schizophrenic?)
      To illustrate (a/the) case in point: regarding non-Catholic Christians invited to “attend” mass… does this mean to partake in mass?

      • Alasdair says:

        No, to clarify, it has been my pleasure to “attend” mass but I’ve never “partaken” of the Catholic Eucharist.

      • Alasdair says:

        Oh yes, and in case I forgot to mention, you’re definitely not on your way out – still interesting to discuss though.

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