The Marketing Of Catholicism
One of the main concerns of the Church in the last 50 years – and I mean, even from good, orthodox priests and laymen – seems to be to make the message of Christianity attractive, or easy to digest, or such that it would appear an improvement in one's quality of life. The idea seems to be that the world out there lures souls with the promise of fun and joy, and a list of prohibitions isn't really the best way to attract people to give Christianity their serious consideration.
I wonder whether the entire concept does not need a re-thinking.
As I see it, the entire idea of why we must be Christians does not revolve around the “fun” and “joy” of following Christ – though it might certainly be so in individual cases, and a life lived in faith has pleasures that wordly natures will never savour – but around our destiny if we refuse to do it.
Christianity isn't a “fun option”, or a “better choice”; similarly, atheism or unrepentant grave sin are infinitely worse than “poor choices”. It is no surprise 50 years of trying to persuade people of this have brought us to the level where we are now.
Christianity is, first and foremost, harsh. Harsh in the brutal commandments – not suggestions of “better choices” -, harsh in the consequences for those refusing to do so, harsh in the crystal-clear warning that no alternative ways are acceptable.
The main issue of the commandments is that God forbids the relevant behaviour. The fact that, say, marital fidelity will lead to a more serene life in the long term than a long string of love dramas outside of the marriage is secondary to the fact that marital fidelity is demanded, and it is demanded before any consideration of how good it is for one's life on the whole. It is demanded because God wants it. Period.
Christ doesn't seem to promise much fun anyway. A sword instead of peace, enmity even inside the family, hate and persecution rather come to mind. Yes, joy is also there, but notice even the joy of the martyr going to his execution is but a result of his unconditional and unquestioning acceptance of God's rules as such, and even when it hurts; the most so, when it hurts.
When we, therefore, spend our time wondering how to make Christ's message more attractive, I doubt we are employing our time wisely. This little blog never tries to sweeten the pill of Catholicism, though if you knew its author personally you would find him, in his private life, far more lighthearted and good-humoured than the unspeakable mess about which he almost daily reports makes him appear. Harsh rules do not make for dour people, but for people honest enough with themselves to recognise the Truth, and adult enough to deal with it to the best of their ability.
The simple truth is that Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life, and those who reject him to the moment of their death will go to hell; yes, they will go to hell, and they will do so even if they are the funniest, most tolerant, most helpful, generous, planet-loving, tree-hugging, cat-stroking, “inclusive” people around.
Not really fun, uh? How many of those approached with the “fun 'n joy” marketing method will ever accept it, provided they are even told at some point? They have started looking seriously at Catholicism because of the implicit promise of harmlessness, because of the untold assurance it will not spoil the fun. When they discover that Christianity, seriously intended, is a huge poop in the middle of their party, do not be surprised if they suddenly start “dissenting”, or say they felt “refused” by the Church. They will, though, feel “accepted” by the likes of Bergoglio, those for whom not to spoil the party – and be popular in the process – is the first and only Commandment.
A Catholic must, if you ask me, rather be promised toil, tears and sweat, with the possibility of blood; and must be told Jesus will recompense him with infinite generosity for all of them, whilst He will be terribly just (I wonder whether Francis knows the expression Rex Tremendae Majestatis) with those who refuse to accept Christ's not-at-all-fun rules to their last breath.
This used to be, in past ages, a rather normal thinking. No fun was ever promised. Life was seen as rather a vale of tears. The Seven Sorrows of Mary were common knowledge. Christ didn't smile from the Cross. The Cross was a calling, not a bad marketing instrument. A good Catholic had no expectation of a bed of roses. Consequently, he did not need the juvenile, stupid pursuit of an unrealistic happiness that today moves so many people not only to divorce and remarry, but even to demand that they be not seen as public adulteres, and even admitted to Holy Communion. Fools born of a fool, “fun” age.
The old mentality – the one without unrealistic expectations, and without divorces – worked rather well for two thousand years, saving countless souls.
Then the age of the aggiornamento began.
A world made for the stupid, the unbelievers, and the Jesuits.
Posted on October 10, 2013, in Catholicism, Conservative Catholicism, Traditional Catholicism and tagged Hell, Seven Sorrows Of Mary, Sin, V II. Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.
One of your wisest and best. Thank you!
My mother (RIP) very much, and with good reason, regarded life as a vale of tears. When, as a child, I told her that I wanted to be rich, her immediate reply was, “But think how hard it’s going to be to die if you are rich.” Wise woman.
Likewise, 10 years ago in Barcelona, a young Priest told me, “People think we are here to find and realise ourselves. We are not. We are here to lose ourselves.”
We don’t hear much of such wisdom from the Bishops.
Wise woman, indeed.
Her son isn’t bad, either… 😉
Reading the Pope’s comments about atheists, I am beginning to wonder if he is a ‘unversalist’. If he is it would explain a lot of the things that he has said.
🙂 I felt the need to share some positive Jesuit activity. I am aware that it is uncommon but I do flinch at grouping all Jesuits (or Franciscans for that matter, or Dominicans, I know you understand ).
I should say that I am not someone who thinks the whole mutual enrichment idea is the best for the faith, however… http://www.newliturgicalmovement.org/2013/10/a-jesuit-in-post-summorum-world-jesuit.html
Yes, there were good people even among the SS. They were merely rare.
This here can say the EF, but he was allowed to celebrate publicly very seldom. No “opportunity” where he is now. He must write anonymously to avoid trouble with his superior.
The Catholicism I was raised on:
“Come to me all you that labor and are burdened, and I will refresh you. Take up my yoke upon you, and learn of me, because I am meek, and humble of heart: And you shall find rest to your souls. For my yoke is sweet and my burden light.”
The paradox – rest for the soul when, under Christ’s wing, His yoke becomes easy and all burdens light. The call to submit our will to His good and perfect will – because God’s ways work for our happiness. A call to surrender our “rights” and all that we are to Jesus – through faithful membership of His Church.
When did it all get so complicated?
When people started to get high on personal happiness, and the Clergy became the pusher of their dangerous drugs.
How bout going back to what worked perfectly for the past 1980 years? While man might change in many ways, inside he’s always the same. The only one’s with successful marketing are the health and wealth gospel preachers. Anyone who doesn’t preach Christ crucified is a fraud anyways.
Mundabor, believe me, I agree with you wholeheartedly.. The only Jesuits I trust as a rule have been canonized. Father William Doyle, S.J. is an exception. The modern Jesuits have even hijacked and warped writings about the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which really makes me upset. But that is another post entirely.
For a really illustrative insight on the immediate fallout of Francis’ words, check out the video of the debate between a homosexual philosopher and a Catholic priest featured on Michael Voris’ Church Militant over the past day or so. The female moderator is so inane it takes your breath away. I’m sure many people, like her, are absolutely convinced Francis’ words mean that we are to embrace the homosexual agenda though the institutional Church remains the world’s biggest big party pooper. The priest, though clumsy, I thought, draws a great analogy, likening the pope to a world famous scientist who tells the world to stop focusing on the law of gravity, that science is so much more than that. The priest says something very incisive when telling the homosexual philospher that he is rallying to legitimize gay marriage to assuage his guilt.
Mundabor my friend,
“The simple truth is that Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life, and those who reject him to the moment of their death will go to hell; yes, they will go to hell, and they will do so even if they are the funniest, most tolerant, most helpful, generous, planet-loving, tree-hugging, cat-stroking, “inclusive” people around.”
Well said! Personally, it is very scary to contemplate the Truth of Hell. Meditating on the numerous personal relations I have who are flirting with the devil …. can bring about a deep sadness and anger. Frankly it was not until I was introduced to the Old Mass that I truly understood that this deep sadness was My Cross. After attending the Old Mass I truly understood that I either act as “Church Militant” and Carry My Cross with Christ or I am laughing at him and his followers. The gray area is a slippery slope towards the devil.
God Bless you and your readers,
A woman named Martina picked up this from the airplane interview:
“Many times I think of Saint Peter. He committed one of the worst sins, that is he denied Christ, and even with this sin THEY made him Pope.” The CAPS are mine.
She has said the German translation also reflects this.
I’d like to hear the Pope tell his audiences that the road to Heaven is hard and virtually impossible for those who are not members of The Catholic Church for only in the Catholic Church can one find the Sacramental System through which God dispenses His Graces necessary to attain to Salvation.
I’d like to hear him speak, as Saint Gregory the Great did, of the Risen Jesus passing over into the Sacraments but I am more likely to hear Habemus Papam and then receive the first blessing of the first female Japanese Pope, Midori.
Keep pounding away, brother. I love the taste of your rhetoric in the morning.
Don’t worry about Midori, though… 😉
(Loved that with the morning…)