November 09, 2010

Future Church

Tonight, I attended a presentation by John Allen, Senior Correspondent, of the National Catholic Reporter. Mr. Allen is a learned man, a Vatican watcher and a very interesting and dynamic public speaker. The National Catholic Reporter is not viewed by traditional-minded Catholics as a “good” Catholic paper. The National Catholic Reporter’s readership is typically liberal or “progressive” Catholics. Mr. Allen’s columns are moderate and he is a good writer.

The venue for this presentation was my alma mater, St. Catherine University-not exactly a bastion of conservative, traditional Catholicism. I have to wonder if some in attendance, and even the University itself, thought because Mr. Allen writes for the National Catholic Reporter the evening would be chock-full of dissident, progressive, revolutionary Catholic talk.


The presentation was fair-like Allen’s columns. BUT, it was clear from the presentation that progressive Catholicism, the kind of Catholicism usually taught at St. Kate’s is NOT a future trend. It was clear that what Allen terms “Evangelical Catholicism” is the future trend. Moreover, in future, Catholicism will be predominately represented by the southern hemisphere of the globe-an area that is, by and large, conservative in matters of Catholic doctrine-especially sexual morality. The Catholics of the southern hemisphere embrace social justice but when they say use the term “social justice” they don’t mean supporting gay marriage, they mean fair wages and equal trade.

As he laid all this down I could just “hear” the teeth grinding and dismay. If the feminist crowd has not figured out yet what most of the rest of us know-their movement is dying off-they heard it now. Not only did they hear it now, they heard it from an author of a publication that most of them read and subscribe to as the credible voice of their religious idealogy.

However, Allen, possibly inadvertantly, consoled them at the close by saying for the Church to survive we all need to listen to each other, talk to each other and work for communion. He used the phrase that liberal Catholics love “a place at the table”. I could just feel them thinking: “That’s our in.” But, they miss the point because Allen’s slide showed a table with no one sitting at it-there’s the rub and the future church. Everyone thinks their side is right. There is no middle ground. The only ones at the table are all “like-minded”. A visual lesson there for both liberal and conservative Catholics.

In the end, though, I still think the Evangelical Catholics will win as they are, frankly, the only ones breeding. Progressive Catholics, by and large, bought into the birth control movement decades ago. The future church is young.

Or, is it? On my way to my car, I walked in front of two students. The auditorium had several students in it taking notes and I just KNEW (having been there!) they were assigned to go to the presentation and “write about it”. The two students walking behind me said “I don’t know what to write.” “I didn’t understand any of it” When I was their age, Mr. Allen would’ve lost me too. My guess is that if these students have the same poor Catholic diet I had at that age, he would’ve lost me when he started talking about the resurgance of traditional Catholic devotions like: “Adoration” and “Eucharistic Processions” and “Benediction”. Up until 5 years ago I had never heard of any of them.

St. Kate’s , when I attended, always claimed it was an alternate voice. Alternate voice to what? The alternative to the alternative was largely silent in my life. The progressives did their work so well for so long that for many they are the norm.

Recently, I attended a First Saturday Mass in the Novus Ordo. The Mass was celebrated in Latin and English. Many of the attendees appeared to be in their
80s-90s. Now, I would think (and maybe it’s unfair to think so) that many of them would remember the Latin responses. No. Many of them were reading them from the leaflet provided in the Church.

In 40 years, only 40 years, centuries of learning and belief were systematically lost. That’s not a future trend but it’s definitely interesting, and disturbing, history.

I wonder that if colleges and universities are paying attention to the future trends if there will be another Land O’Lakes Conference; but this one will decide that a Catholic institution needs to teach Catholicism.


Blogger nazareth priest said...

Excellent post!
"When the Son of Man returns, will He find faith upon the earth?"
That's the question;
will we respond to this with our sacrifice, faith and love?
There are points of "light" today; we just have to keep struggling to maintain our Catholic Faith under Peter.
And we have a great Peter, don't we?

November 10, 2010 10:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cathy -

I was greatly encouraged when our then-new bishop, Bishop Lennon of Cleveland, wasted no time evicting the Futurechurch coven from a Cleveland rectory. It may have been one of his first public moves, and it certainly made those of us who just want to worship and function as proper Catholics happy.

I think the tide is turning!

Blessings from the Cleveland Diocese

November 10, 2010 12:15 PM  
Blogger not a minx, a moron, or a parasite said...

Woohoo for The Catholic University of America!

November 10, 2010 1:01 PM  
Blogger Bobby said...

There is a term for that type of church in question in the Protestant realm:

"Emergent" or "Emerging", or as I call them, "Life Enhancement Centre".

In Protestant denominations, in the past 40 years (moreover in the past 20), churches have sold out to these "growth gurus" such as Mr. Warren, Mr. Hybels, and others. These Catholic "gurus" want to sell out to the Warrenist types. Most contemporaries do not know the Apostles' Creed, Nicean Creed, or even the sacred songs of centuries as they are trained only in the latest pop/rock tunes, self-help seminars, and themed events based around popular culture, with God's Word ignored.

November 10, 2010 2:28 PM  
Blogger Georgette said...

Wow, a balanced writer at NCR? There is hope yet :)
Sounds like a great lecture, let's hope he planted a few seeds. Thanks for sharing it with us, Cath!

BTW, if I'm not mistaken, the Mass that those elderly ladies would have attended in their younger days would have been the Traditional Latin Mass, which has very few responses from the Faithful--"et cum spiritu tuo" being about the only one, other than "amen". The "Agnus Dei" and "Gloria in Excelcis Deo" as well as all the other responses, are all said by the priest in the TLM. (At least this has been the way I have experienced it whenever I attend the TLM every once in a while.)

The Latin version of the Novus Ordo is a fairly recent invention. I think Mother Angelica popularlized it. I like it a lot, though. But my most ideal Mass would be the TLM said entirely in the vernacular language. The English (as in our case!), I believe, is called the Anglican Use, and it may be available to us all once the Anglicans come into communion with Rome :) I look forward to that!

Love and prayers,

November 10, 2010 5:42 PM  
Blogger FJH 3rd said...

Gette, one minor point -

The Latin version of the Novus Ordo dates to its promulgation by Paul VI in 1969. It was composed in Latin. I think what you mean is that only recently has there been a move to reintroduce Latin into certain prayers in the vernacular Novus Ordo.

November 11, 2010 11:03 AM  
Blogger Georgette said...

oh, yes, FJH, I meant the Latin bits inserted into the vernacular Novus Ordo. Thanks!

November 12, 2010 8:13 PM  
Blogger Terry Nelson said...

Land O'Lakes.

November 14, 2010 4:01 PM  
Blogger ignorant redneck said...

Thank you Ma'am, for a good write up. I find John Allen to be a Catholic, of a more progressive bent--not a Modernist. That's an important distinction.

And I have seen the situation you describe. It's been interesting to see the impact that Hispanic immigrants have had on the Church in my area--you can't teach social justice in some parishes without Our Lady of Guadalupe, and real devotions!

November 14, 2010 8:41 PM  

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