Saturday, March 27, 2010

My People are Suffering!

My people are suffering, people at work are criticising the Church and they don’t know how to defend her and if they do no one listens.
It is the same with the Pope or the Holy See, whatever is said, no one will listen. One clear answer is dismissed, followed by yet another stream of questions; the questions are always accusatory rarely in search of an answer. Whatever the reply, the questioners only see more guilt or cover-up.

A friend walking to a church in Rome to offer Mass had, “Paederasta!” shouted at him. One of my parishioners has started wearing her crucifix on a longer chain so it is less visible, after one of her customers asked if she was a Catholic, then gave her a long diatribe on the evils of the Catholic Church.

The problem is there is going to be no end to this, it is going to get worst, journalists smell blood, there are going to be more revelations. In England the sophisticated now come out with the same rants against the Church, as the Orange Order or the Protestant Truth Society might have done 50 years ago. It is open season on the “whore of Rome”. In other parts of Europe the old anti-clericalism will arise again.

In Germany and Austria marginal members of the Church are leaving in their thousands, by declaring they will no longer pay “Church Tax”. In Ireland there is a campaign to remove names from baptismal certificates by signing a formal declaration of “opting out”. The faithful are shaken, they will gather in the shadow of the Cross or leave.

During his time as Prefect of the CDF the Pope often spoke of the Church of the future being smaller but more faithful. It looks very much as if that is happening at the moment, the faithful remain, the weak in faith and the unfaithful will depart.

Already that has happened in part, most priests and religious see themselves as the last in the line, when they die no-one will replace them. Every Lent I am shocked by the decrease in the number of Confessions. So many have rejected the Church’s ancient teaching on contraception. Hardly anyone who marries in England is not already living and having sexual intercourse with their partner. Children leave our Catholic schools already indoctrinated with atheism or at best see the sacraments as irrelevant. Even the elderly who have lived a pious life care little about receiving the sacraments before death.

There is no quick or easy solution to this new passion of the Church, catechesis is obviously the answer but where does one begin, who does the catechesis, who will accept it?

Like everything else in Christianity, the answer is the Cross. Who will accept it?

43 comments:

Sirian said...

And so the conciliar springtime renewal continues...

Terry said...

"the weak in faith and the unfaithful will depart."

Let them go. It's not the first time our Lord has been abandoned at the first sign of trouble and it won't be the last.
From the time of the Apostles to today, human beings are the same.

If the future church is to be smaller but more faithful as the Pope predicts, then let it happen now. Let us start rebuilding the church, let us open the windows and ventilate the Vatican so that the smoke of Satan is flushed out. Not just the Vatican, but every Bishops' Conference around the world. Time for some decent housecleaning.

Like you said in your earlier post, God must be mad to love us and I, for one, am thankful for that.

Lord, forgive me for I am a sinner, but thank you for loving me!

Paul Mallinder said...

I agree Father. I will never take my faith for granted again. And now is the hour to defend our faith. It is time to get back to basics, stay close to the Pope and do not let these awful things eat away at our faith. Our faith is the greatest treasure we have been given. It is NOW our hour.

becket said...

And this style of worship doesn't help one bit.

http://www.youtube.com/user/RECongress#p/a/u/1/dO1iLNdQHaY

Neil said...

Please keep faith father. It is to priests like yourself that those of us who feel close to despair turn to for hope.

I can't criticise those who depart, it is hard to sustain one's faith when it is attacked from outside and undermined by those within the Church who should nourish it (whether priest's or 'Catholic scholars'!).

nickbris said...

The Fantisists are having the time of their lives right now,nobody is ever going to doubt them,they are being encouraged by Porn-Journo,s and assorted misfits & malcontents.

Nobody denies that dreadful things have been going on but the main evidence which has caused this massive anti-Catholic vitriole is sadly lacking,there have been very few prosecutions and the perpetrators which have brought about this bally-hoo are all dead.

Anti-Catholic propaganda has always taken precedence in the British Press and it always will while 25% of the population of the World are Catholic.

Marc said...

The church needs to cleanse itself and to be seen to be cleansing itself and then people wouldn't want to leave. I think that a lager mentality with those in the lager laying all the blame for whathas happened on the attackers is both dangerous and wrong. And in talking to priests and faithful Catholics I am more and more struck by the fact taht they just dont get it and continue to blame the Press or the TV or the fantasists or, in some cases, the victims themselves. Then they day "But its not only us" as though that made it any better.
Trust has been destroyed and trust has got to be rekindled. Yes, the Church will be smaller and, please God, more trustworthy.

Patricius said...

There's no point complaining about it; this is exactly what Our Lord said would happen. I think that right now it behoves Catholics to do penance, renew their spiritual lives, pray for the Pope and prepare for Easter as best they can rather than worrying about secular (and therefore stupid) people and their abuse. I had a fair bit myself from a young dispicable "pagan" at work some weeks ago; I just smiled and nodded and thought how very sad for him.

Just another mad Catholic said...

"So many have rejected the Church’s ancient teaching on contraception. Hardly anyone who marries in England is not already living and having sexual intercourse with their partner"

Hence why I shall be looking amongst foriegn Catholics for my wife

GOR said...

Yes Father, difficult times for everyone in the Church and not likely to end anytime soon. But we were never promised that it would be easy. You’re right, we must cling to the Cross and take up our own crosses daily, as Our Lord commanded. Perhaps we had gotten too complacent and this is our reality check. What is our faith made of and how much do we value it?

But as bad as we feel we have it, there are other faithful who have it much worse – living their faith daily in fear of their lives, just as the early Christians did. Now is the time to stand firm and pray that we have a faith as strong as theirs.

B flat said...

The Church is Suffering.
We are entering Holy Week, following Christ to His Passion which is our reconciliation with God.

Hard as it is, to suffer with Him and because of Him, is a privilege. Even the Apaostles fled at that point, in spite of their brave words and good intentions.

It is better to be faithful than to be brave. Accept the Cross as it is given, no matter how bleak the prospect, and be patient.

Fr Ray, you do give comfort, in spite of the pain and perplexity which is tangible in your post. Thank you. May God strengthen you in all your work.

sedevacantist priest said...

I agree with your comment dear Father.
Our Lady of La Sallete predicted that Rome will lost its faith?

Dominic Mary said...

Blass you, Father, for having the courage and faith to say all of this; and may Mother console the pain which is so evident.

That said, though I doubt if I'm the stuff of marytrs, I didn't convert for an easy life : but because, for all my sins, I finally worked out where the truth was to be found.

I'm not going anywhere, and I suspect that goes for many other converts . . . we finally found our way home, and this is where we're staying . . . whatever the future holds.

mum6kids said...

I think we know what's coming. We're getting a storm warning.

Now I know that promise that the gates of hell (or hades-the underworld/land of the dead) would not prevail against the Church, presuming she goes on the offensive; but I do wonder about the gates of the Church. This is a question that is really bugging me at the moment.
(I'm having Tolkeineque thoughts about Gondor and Mordor; Gondor fell before the final attack on the gates of Mordor)
Father what does that prophecy from Christ actually mean?

epsilon said...

"So many have rejected the Church’s ancient teaching on contraception."

Unfortunately, Father, I did but now I repent.

We must all repent - for our own sins and for those of the church!

Moretben said...

Sirian

Grow up.

Volpius Leonius said...

While the world changes the Cross stands firm.

torchofthefaith said...

Dear Father

Thanks for posting on this.

Yes - God's people are suffering and it is very difficult. It is so heartening to be able to read on the internet texts written by priests like yourself who care deeply for their flocks.

Years ago the saintly theologian Fr. John Hardon remarked that 'in the future there will only be two kinds of Catholics - the martyrs and the lapsed.'

It is indeed very hard to catechise when people are already living in sin and have had no religious - or even cultural - instruction on the errors which abound today.

Evangelisation and catechesis is 'what we do'. We are learning more and more that initial proclamation of Jesus Christ is the first thing to do.

We have to work with the Holy Spirit to help people to realise that they have an unquenchable thirst for goodness, beauty, truth - ultimately for love.

Then we have to show that this love is Jesus Christ.

And then we have to explain that He also thirsts for them.

In the end it is the Holy Spirit who is the catechist. All must be in and through Him. Anyone trying to speak about God - especially today - must become saturated in prayer. The interior life is the absolute bedrock of authentic evangelisation and catechesis.

Miracles are still happening but for sure these are dark days. We are each being invited to embrace the cross. The choice to respond is free for each one.

Our prayers are with you and all your parishioners who suffer at work. May they be encouraged by the truth that they are sowing seeds which may well bear fruit later on.

I know because years ago I was not a Catholic. I worked with a man who used to go quietly to Mass every lunch time. People asked questions - not always respectfully. He always answered questions with quiet dignity.

One day he showed me a video of Fatima after work. Then he explained to me about the Mass and what a Monstrance was.

One day I found myself defending the Sacrament of Confession alongside him when he was being attacked by other staff on a tea-break. I recall thinking - 'Where did that come from?!!!'

If you'd asked me then whether I would become a Catholic one day I would have laughed at the outrage of such a suggestion.

I was subject to all manner of sin and of worldy influences. Nevertheless, the reverence of that gentleman stayed with me. Several years later I converted through many different workings of Grace. Yet, the witness of that man was a key element.

So - may your people be encouraged and continue to sow seeds and water them with prayer to Our Lady and the Holy Spirit.

May we all be given strength to embrace and even to brandish the cross.

It may not be until beyond the veil - but in the end all will have been worth it.

Today we do evangelisation and catechesis wherever we are asked. We can travel do to so.

May God bless and hold you
Alan (and Angeline)

Volpius Leonius said...

The treatment we are receiving from the world is the normal experience of Catholics living in a land governed by heretics and pagans.

We have been blessed for a short time, thanks to the centuries of Catholics fighting and dying for Catholic emancipation, with some small amount of legal equality, however we stopped the struggle to soon.

Emancipation and equality which was founded on the sand of the fickle mercy of infidels based as it always is on expediency was always going to be a mere pause in the fight between them and us.

Catholics in attempting to fuse with other people have renounced their own identity. Yet no where have they ever truly succeeded in obtaining from their fellow citizens recognition as natives of equal status.

The world has yet long to wait for eternal peace.

Physiocrat said...

Where else is there to go Lord? You have the message of eternal life.

Those who have misused their position will have to answer for it. It is their responsibility. We have no option but to stick in there.

We should not worry too much about stuff in the newspapers. The headlines will soon be filled up with other things. We have not felt the real force of the economic catastrophe. The deluge will be unleashed after the election, with mass unemployment, strikes, riots, more power for the police, surveillance, inflation. It will be a combination of the 1970s unrest, 1984 and the trouble with the miners, and the financial instability of the early 1990s all at the same time.

And on top of that there is climate change and the strange weather phenomena that are going with it.

Annie said...

All shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.

Well, that's what I think. Might not be easy, but it's all going to be ok.

Volpius Leonius said...

In times of trouble physiocrat the people love a scapegoat, we are that scapegoat.

berenike said...

I second Moretben.

shadowlands said...

"Since I have set right the greatest wrong, you can know that I will right all lesser wrongs."

Jesus words to Mother Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love: 13th revelation: Chapter 29.

Patricius said...

Hang on in there, Father!

RJ said...

Perhaps a thought from St John of the Cross would be helpful:

“Clearly it is always useless to be disturbed, since being disturbed is never any help. Thus, if the whole world were to crumble and to come to an end and all things were to go wrong, it would be useless to get disturbed, for this would do more harm than good. Enduring all with tranquil and peaceful equanimity not only reaps many blessings but also helps the soul so that in these very adversities it may manage better in judging them and employing the proper remedy.

In all events, however unfavourable, we ought rather to rejoice than be disturbed, and bear them all with equanimity so as not to lose a blessing greater than all prosperity.”
Ascent of Mt Carmel Book Three Chapter 6, 4

Perhaps also a quote from St Teresa of Jesus (Avila):
"All things pass; God never changes"

"If the whole world were to crumble..." !

Gerontius said...

It is inevitable that Satan must attack his greatest enemy on earth, Holy Church. We would not be the first generation to think we are living in the days when Satan has been loosed for a little time (The Apocalypse, Chapter 20). But perhaps we are?

Mike said...

Physiocrat said:

“And on top of that there is climate change and the strange weather phenomena that are going with it.”

You mean like that coldest winter for 30 years we’ve just had, for example? Please, Physiocrat, don’t get taken in by the alarmists. It’s nothing like as bad as some of them would have you believe.

Sorry to deviate from the very important topic of this post by Fr Ray but I couldn’t resist that.

On the more important topic of the post let us bear in mind several things.

Firstly, there are Catholics in some parts of the world who are having to bear a much heavier Cross than anything that anybody has to put up with in this country.
Secondly, let us pray for all Catholics who are being persecuted in anyway whatsoever. Let us pray that they are given the grace to ignore their persecutors where this is possible and to bear their suffering where it is not.
Thirdly, let us remember what Catholics and other Christians had to put up with for decades in Communist countries and let us remember what Catholics had to put up with in this country after the Reformation.
Fourthly, let’s remember that “Sticks and stones break my bones but names don’t hurt me.”
Fifthly, yes, this sorry mess (and the unscrupulous accusations in much of the media) may be helping the atheists to reap a larger harvest of souls but that should just mean that we stand up to them more strongly. It should also spur on a more effective catechesis of our Catholic children so that they are better able to withstand the onslaught from those who wish us harm.
Sixthly, let us remember that the Church is a divine institution. There may be people in the Church who have failed to follow Christ but that does not mean that Christ did not establish His Church.
Finally, may I say that I came back to this Church a year ago after an absence of about forty years and I do not see anything in what has been going on to make me feel that I made the wrong decision. I see the evil that has been perpetrated but I see far more good in the Church than any evil. More importantly, none of the evil makes the Sacraments any less effective.

Here’s something which might help to cheer you up, Father. It’s a sad story in one way but heartening in another. One Tuesday, recently, I went to Confession. When I arrived in the church there was quite a number of people waiting to go to Confession. As it got nearer and nearer to my turn the time got nearer and nearer to 12.15, the time when Confession was timed to stop. Which would come first: 12.15 or my turn? 12.15 came and went and still the priest carried on hearing Confessions. But he was due to say Mass at 12.30 so he couldn’t go on much longer. Then my turn came. I was in luck. But the moment I left the confessional he turned the light out and all the people after me were too late. I don’t know that the queue is quite that big every Tuesday but I can say that there are quite a number of people going that day most weeks.

Jackie Parkes MJ said...

Well I met up with a friend mom of 9..5 living children..ardent pro-lifer, radiant, husband ex pharmacist due to conscience..they give talks to young people,..this week in Knock. Their 8 & 9 year old children are so cathechised they live their faith. Somehow God gave me..a weak, scared of pain & suffering, lukewarm Catholic...an enormous strength & gift of 12 souls..10 living..if the Faith can come to me through my wonderful family & all my children practice..well Fr Ray..anything is possible. I think we need to move out of this depressed state..the Lord can work marvels..no use us droning on about some evil priests or others..like the poor we will always have them. But one Cure of Ars down Brighton way could do an enormous amount of good. Chin up..Jackie's back to help you Fr Ray! Oh you find that bit depressing! lol

God bless & Keep the Faith!

Physiocrat said...

Mike, the coldest winter in northern Europe for 30 years is a strange weather phenomenon. Other places have been exceptionally warm at the same time. It proves nothing one way or the other.

The climate has always changed. We appear to be going through a period of more change than in the previous century or so. It will have a social and political impact. Which will get our problems off the front pages.

Most people who get sensitive about the notion seem to think it is an attack on their right to drive a gas-guzzler to the local shop. That is another issue with other consequences which go beyond the fact that people are letting their hard-earned wages go up in smoke.

mikesview said...

moretben.

I am intrigued; why do you bid Sirian to grow up?

religionannarbor said...

The cries of indignation about sexual exploitation from people who have no explanation or justification for any sexual ethic whatsoever is laughable.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Mike
No climate change here.

epsilon said...

"the answer is the Cross. Who will accept it?"

More than you might imagine, Father, and you (and faithful catholics like you) will be one of the reasons that many will fully return to the Faith as Alan of TorchOfTheFaith so beautifully described in his comment here.

Thank you too Annie and Shadowlands for the Julian quotes:

Annie said...

"All shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well."

shadowlands said...

"Since I have set right the greatest wrong, you can know that I will right all lesser wrongs."

Jesus words to Mother Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love: 13th revelation: Chapter 29.

Moretben said...

Mikesview

Grumpiness. Sorry. On the other hand, I do incline to the view that tired, puerile irony in pursuit of weary, dreary, partisan finger-pointing is surplus to requirements, in the context.

Everything is not about the "Council", whether with a plus or a minus. The Trads are no different from their enemies in this regard. Their black-and-white world can accommodate only this single datum, pre- or post-, from which the 'correct' response to every phenomenon imaginable can be instantly arrived at; Gerald Warner and Joan Chittester lobbing bricks over the barricade in an eternal 1968.

Get beyond 'Crisis-tianity'. It's not about the wretched 'Council'.

santoeusebio said...

I think it is time to move on from the paedophile scandals and consider the future.

The Catholic Education Service has written to me giving the following quote from Baroness Morgan speaking in the House of Lords:

“We recognise that a one-size-fits-all approach to SRE will not work. ... programmes of study are written at a very high level and why schools can still teach SRE in a way that reflects parents' wishes and the ethos of the school. ... What we propose achieves the right balance. It does not, for instance, require Catholic schools to teach young people where to access an abortion, ... “Faith schools will still-as now-be able to teach pupils about the stance of their church ..."

The CES went to say that they hoped that I am reassured by that statement. However I looked up Hansard to see what Baroness Morgan actually said:

“We recognise that a one-size-fits-all approach to SRE will not work. That is something that the noble Lord will not be surprised to hear me say. That is why the programmes of study are written at a very high level and why schools can still teach SRE in a way that reflects parents' wishes and the ethos of the school. However, there is a common core of knowledge and skills that all children should receive. It is not right that schools can choose simply not to teach about contraception or same-sex relationships. What we propose achieves the right balance. It does not, for instance, require Catholic schools to teach young people where to access an abortion, but it requires them to teach young people where they can access health information and advice.”

“Faith schools will still-as now-be able to teach pupils about the stance of their church, so Catholic schools, for example, will be free to communicate the Catholic Church's views about the use of contraception, but they will be required to teach that contraception exists, is available, and to say that the church's point of view is not the only one.”


Nothing like half-truths and selective quoting to prove a case.

Nicolas Bellord

Simon Platt said...

Dear Nicholas,

Thanks for publicising this. The "stance" of the CES is a disgrace, and needs to be publicised as widely as possible. I have seen several of your posts recently and have been informed by them. Sadly, I have not been edified. But I need to know.

Lucy said...

I am terrified that I would be one of the weak in faith - and at times I am unfaithful, too. May God have mercy.

Fr Mark said...

Lucy
your comment is the most authentically Christian one here. Most priests are demoralised - please pray for us.

Mariana said...

This too shall pass, and as far as the press is concerned, it will pass very quickly!

"And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold."

I used to think it should be the other way around, because many wax cold lawlessness will abound, but NOW I see it really is BECAUSE lawlessness abounds that people wax cold!

josephmchardy said...

Father, if you want some positive media coverage of Catholics, you could have a listen to this:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00rd4ds/Desert_Island_Discs_Frank_CottrellBoyce/

Crux Fidelis said...

Father: I love your blog and it's one of the first things I log on to when I switch my PC on in the morning.

However, lately I do feel that you have a bad case of the blues and some of your posts have been overly pessimistic. The Palm Sunday Mass I attended in my parish was the busiest I have seen for a while (I was in a good position to judge as I was reading). The priest who celebrated assured me that all other Masses (including the 8.00am) were better attended than usual. Today I was at a lunchtime Mass in the city centre which, from the numbers in attendance, a stranger might surmise it was a Holy Day of Obligation.

Yes, times are tough and our enemies are massing for a great onslaught on the Holy Father and the Church. But we are stronger than them because we have God on our side.

Sobrii estote vigilate quia adversarius vester diabolus tamquam leo rugiens circuit quaerens quem devoret; cui resistite fortes fide scientes

Keep the faith.

RJ said...

A very late contribution to this post:
I don't think we should be too downhearted. These scandalous sins do not follow from what we believe, from what the Church teaches; therefore they cannot invalidate it. It is precisely because of what we believe that we recognise them as sins and reject them.
Christ promised to be with his Church until the end of time; he founded the Church on a Rock and promised that it would not be overcome by the powers of hell (even if they do try to undermine it from within and without); the teaching of the Church is reliable.
It may be that some bishops have not lived up to their commission and have failed. It would not shock me if the Pope had not handled the situation perfectly (he can teach infallibly but Christ did not promise impeccability). As a matter of fact, I believe he is a good man and has done a good 'job'. Whatever the case may be, we know that Christ rules the church through his pastors, despite their human imperfections, and our trust is in Him, who cannot fail us.