than these words; words that have become increasingly fraught with significance with every passing generation. Indeed, we must wonder if they are, in fact, spoken of this generation ... or of one soon — very soon, to come.
For all our insolence and equivocation, we know the answers, and we are uncomfortable with them, for they fly in the face of Christ and all that He taught — to say nothing of Sacred Scripture, Holy Tradition, and the Sacred Deposit of the Faith entrusted to the Catholic Church by God Himself.
Indeed, Christ’s question takes on a greater sense of urgency, for the sheep are scattered and confused as never before. The papacy of Francis has been disastrous for the Church. Why? Because he has taken Vatican II to its logical conclusion: the irrelevance of the Church.
Where is the Shepherd? Who is earnestly addressing this spiritual malaise and religious decay, the indolence and dereliction of the vast majority of American and European bishops who appear far more eager for secular plaudits than the now quaint and discredited notion of “the salvation of souls.” Pope Francis has effectively declared this mandate defunct in favor of the rehabilitation — and sometimes transformation — of bodies, societies, economies, and the environment. That the passing material environment of man is infinitely less important than the eternal abode of his soul often appears to elude Francis. Indeed, it appears to elude most Catholics whose mantra increasingly coincides with the world’s: Social activism! ... not interior conversion away from this world and to Christ.
Shame! Shame on us! By our silence, our fear of being disparaged by “other Catholics” for the sake of Christ, we condone this travesty — are complicit in it ... even promote it! What will motivate us to recognize, and to redress, this frightful and ultimately deadly state of affairs?
There are, after all, other contenders in this world for the souls of men ... seen and unseen! As our own wick smolders, others blaze! The burning Crescent of Islam, poised like a scimitar, and every bit as deadly, glows and grows in the east, and with it, not an ethnic, but a Religious Cleansing to which the world remains indifferent — an expunging of every vestige of Christianity in partibus infidelium.
Even the European Union will no longer
tolerate the inclusion of its indissoluble Christian heritage within
its Constitution. Not only does it thoroughly repudiate its own Christian
cultural heritage — it prohibits it — even banishes it!
Surely, then, in our effort to remedy this impending state of dissolution, we will first turn to our bishops, since they are, preeminently, the “Teachers and Guardians of the Faith”. But more often than not — much more often than not — in the well-appointed office at the end of the corridor we do not find a shepherd of souls but a deeply sequestered, occasionally avuncular, and predictably remote ... “administrator”.
Relegating his prime responsibility as Teacher and Promoter of the Faith ... to others, in the form of Lay committees and subcommittees largely “chaired” by liberal Catholics more concerned with social issues than the salvation of souls, are we confident that the patrimony of our faith will somehow percolate through this strata of already contaminated soil and reach our children authentically and intact?
Is our fear mitigated ... or further exacerbated ... by our bishops’ resolute lack of diligence in being attentive to what Catholic colleges and theologians in their own dioceses are really teaching — and who are teaching the teachers ... who, in turn, are teaching our children?
Do you think that your bishop actually — that is to say, cognitively — is aware of, or even concerned with — what the teachers themselves are actually teaching?
Not in this diocese. Not in Boston. In fact, Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley routinely fetes, praises, and holds up as exemplary the clueless “Catechists” who churn out our children to the Sacrament of Confirmation — with no clue whatever of that in which they are being confirmed. By comparison, even the dismal failure of our public schools in Boston must be deemed a stunning success.
For most of us — especially in the Archdiocese of Boston, but no less elsewhere — the answer is, as they say, a “no-brainer”: it is a universally resounding no. Most of us find, to our growing dismay and deepening cynicism, that our Bishops appear to have “more important”, more ... “pressing” things to do ... than to communicate the Faith to the faithful ... especially the children.
Really, we beg the question: if no one teaches the teachers — who, then, teaches the children? If they are not brought the faith by those to whom it has been entrusted — the bishops, the episcopacy — who will bring it to them?
Will they — how can they — acquire the Faith ... if no one brings it to them? Saint Paul is very clear about this:
“How then shall they call on him, in whom they have not believed? Or how shall they believe him, of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear, without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they be sent ...?” (Romans 10.14-15)
The momentum, as we see,
is inexorable — until it culminates in total ignorance: every generation
knows less of their faith than the generation preceding it. It is, in
the end, the devolution from doctrine to legend, from legend to fiction,
and from fiction to myth.
That is not just a poor, but a stultifying and ultimately deadly patrimony.
This default — at every level — in transmitting the authentic Catholic faith intact ... leaves Jesus question suddenly very real.
“Recently, a Gallup poll was taken on Catholic attitudes toward Holy Communion. The poll showed serious confusion among Catholics about one of the most basic beliefs of the Church. Only 30 percent of those surveyed believe they are actually receiving the Body and Blood, soul and divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ under the appearance of bread and wine.” 4
The problem is more than
mathematical, as we have seen; it is exponential. 70% of Catholics do
not possess this most fundamental, this most essential understanding
of the core article of genuine Catholic doctrine: that “Unless you eat
of the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His Blood, you have no life
in you.” Heavy stuff!
It is not just a matter of the greatest concern, but nothing less than a matter of the gravest dereliction that most Catholics do not realize — do not know — that the very Mass itself is an abbreviation of “The Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass”, and that it is really a Sacrifice, the actual re-enactment of Calvary before their very eyes!
This failure of understanding ... culminates in a failure in Faith. It possesses, in significant ways, the remorseless characteristics of mathematical certainties. Not understanding, grasping — having never been taught — the most elementary features of the faith, how can they be understood to possess what they have not acquired, and how can they transmit, pass on, what they do not possess? It is inescapable.
Prognostication, of course, is for fools.
But the words of Christ are certainties that will come to pass.
“Weep not for Me, but for your children”, 5 Christ told the sorrowing women on the road to Calvary.
In very deed.
Jesus’ question, then — “When the Son of Man comes will He find faith on earth?”, is not a “rhetorical question” at all; it is a question fraught with enormous significance ... the frightful answer to which appears to be unfolding before our very eyes — but that is if you take Christ at His word — and given Jesus’ track record on things yet to come, we would do well and wisely to give pause for more than thought.
Are you worried now ...? Not nearly enough.
And this is all the more frightening still.
Geoffrey K. Mondello
Boston Catholic Journal
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1 Saint Matthew 24.1
2 Saint John 2.19
3 Matthew 28:19
5 Saint Luke 23.28
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