Catechesis and the winning of public praise

Knew a thing or two about proper catechesis: St. Pius X.

Below you will find another excellent product of the religious fervor of Michael Voris: “Teach First”, the “Vortex” message of the 20th July. In my eyes, some points are worth of special mention:

1) More than one hundred years ago, St.Pope X was complaining about the superficiality of catechesis. If I think of Italy, in those times the Catechism was customarily learned by heart and taught to every child, whilst Catholic devotions were so spread and so omnipresent (think of the processions! When have you last seen a proper procession?!) that everyone still able to breathe was exposed, volens nolens, to a massive amount of Catholic teaching. Still, it appears that at times (or in regions outside of the traditionally very devoted Italy) not enough was done.
One wonders what St. Pius X would say if he were among us today. I think he’d feel like kicking some backsides (not few of them purple, or red).

2) Faith itself is, to an extent, dependent from proper catechesis. Faith is like a plant that needs to be watered, not like a painting you hang on the wall and more or less forget there. This an another concept almost completely forgotten today and about which only the best among the priests will continue to insist: Faith is something you work at. If you listen to some atheists, it is as if they would have any right to be angry with an hypothetically existing God because He has not delivered the Faith to them.

3) The reason why the Catechism is at times neglected is, with the words of St. Pius X,

“…because[…] it does not lend itself to the winning of public praise”

It is not popular, the Catechism. It will never make of the priest the darling of the community. It will expose him to accusations of being “insensitive”, “intolerant”, “chauvinist”, “homophobic”, “uncharitable” (yes! Uncharitable!) and possibly altogether bad whilst the friendly Vicar down the road – with his suave smile and his easygoing, easy-to-accept theology of complacent tolerance for almost everything – will possibly not get many sheep, but will be considered by most a frightfully nice chap.

4) This vanity (says St. Pius X) is an obstacle to the salvation of souls (says Benedict XIV), which means that if a priest neglects proper catechesis, souls will be lost. I’d like to know when you have last heard a priest (or a Bishop) publicly speaking of salvation and damnation not in generic, easy to accept term (eg saying that those “destroying the environment” may commit a mortal sin: this is very easy as it is always someone else who “destroys the environment”), but in the same brutal terms used by Benedict XIV: that individual catechesis impacts individual salvation.

The reality of today is that even the most fundamental, most dramatic alternative of our life (in the end it will be Heaven or Hell, simple as that) is constantly pushed away from us from the very same people who should constantly remind us of it, whilst Hell is very often presented as something reserved for the Hitlers of the world, but very far from the reality of the sheep in the pews.

This is dangerous. Dangerous for the soul of the common parishioner, more dangerous for his priest, most dangerous for his bishop.

Enjoy the video


Posted on July 25, 2010, in Catholicism and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Agree 100% with you, Mundabor. But today’s clergy don’t really worry about catechesis. And, I think that your third point above is part of the reason why. We’ve had a lot of spiritually lazy priests and bishops over the past 40 years, which is a shame. Sincere, devout men who wish to be priests have a difficult time. Thankfully, more religious orders and conservative seminaries are around. Even so, it will, as you know, take a long time to reverse this dismal trend.

  2. Churchmouse,

    I have had direct experiences of this. I have come across very many priests (actually, almost all of them) whose first concerned was not Christ’s message, but their own popularity.

    Whilst they might have deluded themselves that this would be a good way to introduce people to the Church, they must have seen that in a country like Italy young people didn;t need to be evangelised, but to be properly instructed.

    Nothing of all this. I had priests at school (we had one religion hour every week) asking the class “what do you want to talk about” week in and week out for the entire year.

    They just weren’t interested in religion.


  3. I think some of them must subscribe to what some Americans call the ‘red letter Bible’ — Jesus’s most popular sayings, e.g. ‘love’, ‘peace’ and ‘judge not’. Yet, He also said much more than that — and often they were difficult things for people to grasp: ‘I come not to bring peace but a sword’ (Matt. 10:34 — the sword of Truth).

    You express it so well with ‘young people didn’t need to be evangelised but properly instructed’. A big concern for clergy should be the numbers of teens who know next to nothing about the Holy Trinity, Scripture or the Church. I have it bookmarked somewhere but a recent survey showed that many schoolchildren think that Joan of Arc was Noah’s wife. Parents also need to be mindful of starting catechesis and prayer memorisation at home.

    I could see the difference between myself and some of my contemporaries growing up. I was amazed at how little some of them knew. Their response was always, ‘Well, I go to Mass, don’t I?’ No wonder Mass attendance is dropping like a stone these days. Mass and devotions have no meaning for many young people because they don’t understand what they are. (Same goes for other churches, too, of course.)

  4. Churchmouse,

    it would have been, in my experience, already something if the priests had insisted on us going to Mass. Nothing of the sort. I can’t remember one priest (of the dozen and more gone through my classes, and the three of the place where I lived) ever talking frankly and clearly of one’s obligation to go to mass, and why. I mean they might have touched the issue very much en passant, but to make the point? Zippo.

    The truth is, they didn’t care how little we knew. They knew perfectly well that they were losing an entire generation to the Sacraments. They could see the pews emptying, and the confession queues becoming thinner. They can’t say they didn’t know, they can’t say they didn’t see.

    Concern for their own popularity, that’s what it was. Utter disinterest for the message of Christ. Betrayal of the mission, pure and simple.


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