“If you do not feel in need of God’s mercy, if you do not feel you are a sinner, then it’s better not go to Mass, because we go to Mass because we are sinners and we want to receive the forgiveness of Jesus, to participate in His redemption, His forgiveness.”
It’s so important to go to Mass every Sunday because that’s where people receive Christ who saves, forgives and unites everyone to his father, church and each other, Pope Francis said.
This man is bewildering, disconcerting, positively disquieting.
The first statement is from yesterday. I have initially read it as a rhetorical matter: “if you weren’t in need of mercy you would not need to go to Mass”; a bit like saying “if you were an angel you would not need to go to confession” – but you are a human, so you do. I have now serious doubts this is how it was meant.
A correction from the usual Lombardi will probably come post-haste. Still, the man has managed to confuse the faithful and send the “right message” to the “wrong people” once again.
Oh well. We have probably all misunderstood him, then; for the 1234th time in this pontificate.
The second statement is saltless in that he does not say that there is something as Mass obligation (in the favela there seems to be no obligations apart from the ones of smelling like the sheep and following one’s conscience), but at least it stresses the importance of mass attendance, and does not invite – or seems to invite; or can easily be read as to invite – to skip mass because one is so good he has no need for it.
I never knew we go to Mass to be “united to each other”, too, as this sounds a bit too “Woodstock” to my ears. The SSPX says it this way:
- the Mass is a true sacrifice, that is offered to God alone;
- this sacrifice is offered for the praise and adoration of God in three Persons as thanksgiving, impetration, and above all as propitiation for our daily sins;
- Christ offers Himself to His heavenly Father under the appearances of bread and wine;
- He, as High Priest of the New Covenant, accomplishes this Sacrifice through human priests and by means of the services of the Church.
I’d say the SSPX hits the bull’s eye, Francis seems to think more in terms of some strange emotional love-in of the community of “each other”. One understands whence the Pinocchio Mass and the Tango Mass come.
Again, at least he stressed the importance of Mass attendance and managed to say the right thing, albeit in the usual V II way .
But that was last week, and this is this week. New week, new world. Pick your flavour.
At times, when I read what this man says, I have the distinct impression that Satan is laughing.
Ah, the New Spring of the Church, what glorious fruits it was supposed to bring!
Armies of contracepting, aborting, sodomising, adultery-ing, marijuana-ing, and many other -ing people (particularly the young! Have you not noticed the enthusiasm in Brazil, most notably at the dancing bishops?) would now flock back to Mother Church, eager to experience the Humble Pope In Black Shoes.
He would welcome all of them: contracepting, aborting, sodomising, adultery-ing and marijuana-ing as they are; stinking of moral favela like it’s going out of fashion, and never ever asked to at least make an effort to clean their lives as much as they can. Why would they? In Bergoglio’s Church there is no place for such “inquisitorial beatings”, such “moralism”, such “doctrinal security”, such “hypocrisy”; in his view it is so, that not the sinner must try to become like the priest, but the priest must smell of the sinners. The implications are clear, though he leaves them unsaid. Everyone is invited, then, and nobody should dare to think he may be excluded. Atheists, Muslim, Jews: Francis has a pair of black shoes – or a wheelchair if needed – for everyone. He will gladly help you to select your kosher food. He will wish you many spiritual fruits from the Ramadan. He will tell you as an atheist you’ll be just fine following your conscience.
Does he want to convert all, or any of them? No, no, no! Come on in, oh you who thirst for self-approbation! Francis’ yoke has just been sold: we are in an age on tenderness, not “hypocritical” rules! Do you think the Blessed Virgin was anything else than luuuv?I mean, when she wasn’t “perhaps” angry at God?
Easy game, you will say. Sell out in this manner, and everyone who wants to feel good with himself will fill your churches and participate in the Great Papal Woodstock. They will stink a lot, admittedly. But Francis is not the Renaissance Prince insisting on the respect of simple rules. Make lio instead!
Did it work? Erm, well, no it didn’t. I have already reported about the United States. We are now informed of decreasing Church attendance in England and Wales, too. Notwithstanding all the media assault of wheelchairs, iron crosses, black shoes, cheap cars (two of them; then the Ford wasn’t cheap enough), kissing of deformed men, half exorcisms, liturgical abuses, breaking of almost every thinkable rule and astonishing bollocks about God the Father (who slaps you in the wrist in the worst case), Christ (who feigned anger, you see; just like Francis feigns faith), and the Blessed Virgin (has she thought: “Lies! I have been deceived!” ? Come on, she must have been rather cross at the foot of the Cross, right? Eh, ah, no?); after all, I was saying, this astonishing bombardment with populist excrement, people leave the pews.
And in fact the case can be made that many of those who stay are those who do not believe what Francis says. Because if they do, what reason do they have to go to Mass? If the worst case scenario is a slap in the wrist thanks a lot, but I’ll choose party-time, fun without end and fornication instead. Feel free to disagree, of course. Who am I to judge?
Francis, therefore, actively helps to empty the churches by sending the clear message that in the end there isn’t any need for them. You read what he says about Jesus and you’d think he is suggesting that you buy a product, or a service, that will improve your quality of life. Oh the joy of Jesus, why deprive oneself of it? But clearly there’s nothing wrong with you disagreeing, and staying by your own religion! He can’t imagine this might have serious consequences. Jesus can give you a slap on the twist, but … gasp…. punish you? No, this he cannot imagine.
This is the sad state of things. If you think Francis cares for how many people sit in the pews, you have not been paying attention.
The church as a place of worship is utterly irrelevant to him.
What he wants, is that the planet cares for himself.
Let us imagine the Church in the US were to say that from now on a free “all you can eat” buffet will be offered to the pewsitter after Mass.
Would there be an increase in Mass Attendance? Probably. Would this be the result of more people embracing the values of the Only Church? Nope.
Already this would be enough to silence every supposed “argument” concerning the increase in Mass attendance that has come from certain probably not entirely disinterested corners. If you take Christ out of the Church and tell them church life is a party, you will get the ear of those interested in partying. With his kindergarten version of something that is not anymore recognisable as Catholicism, Francis has done exactly that: getting the ear of those eager to delude themselves their way of living is fine, and the enthusiasm of the enemies of the Church.
But has this led to, at least, an increase in Mass attendance? No. It just hasn't. Notice, the news is launched from a liberal site; that is, from the people who desperately need to sell this Pope to the masses in order to promote more church devastation. This is no good news for them, for sure.
Surely the US, a country with 60 or 70 million Catholics, is big enough as a statistical sample of the West at the very least. The more so considering that this country, plagued by a huge number of CINOs, should have reacted extremely favourably to such “party time”- announcements, leading to an army of people formerly feeling “rejected” (or so they say) now enthusiastically embracing the end of the age of “narrow-mindedness”.
Alas, it's not happening; and it's very easy to see why.
By all talk about “peace and joy” in the expectation of an unavoidable salvation, as long as no seriously edible buffet is offered most will prefer to go to real parties – or simply to go on with their lives – rather than going to Mass. And why wouldn't they? If salvation is open even to atheists and following the individual conscience is all that is required, the only requisite will be that one's conscience does not demand – with implicit Papal blessing – that one attends; and if one happens to be an Atheist, his despise for the Church and his general unbelief will only grow and be reinforced by the praise of a Pope so much out of tune with Church teaching. They will like, perhaps, the man; they will certainly think even less of the Institution. Most certainly, they will not feel motivated to give Christianity a second, hard thought.
The Francis effect is the V II effect on steroids, and it will yield in the end exactly the same dividend: the banalisation of everything Catholic in the hope of awakening an interest that will never materialise, whilst the Church slowly disappears as a mass religion, and Christianity as the defining religion and mindset of the West.
Such are the fruits of Vatican II. The remedy to such a disgrace is not to further dumb down everything Catholic – embracing a man in a wheelchair every now and then – but rather to recover in its entirety the message preached everywhere before the disgrace of V II.
I am persuaded that the best and fastest way of doing this is to ditch V II in its entirety, making tabula rasa of everything that has come out of it and has happened after it: the new liturgy, the encyclicals, the catechisms, and so on: in short, everything from the children's books to the Ford Focus.
There is no aspect of Church life for which an extremely rich Church tradition, or sound Catholic sources, from pre V II are not available. One could utterly and absolutely ditch every word that has been written during and after V II and discover a far more beautiful Church that he ever imagined, utterly free from the temptation to be loved, or liked, or at least not mocked.
The solution is doing everything the Catholic way, without compromise; and I am sorry to have to say this to you, but the whole V II is nothing but a big fat compromise.
Well, this here makes for interesting reading.
Of course, this is not an official statistic. Of course, this cannot have the same weight as a full research.
But boy, does it not tell the same story we see a bit everywhere, where the credibility of the priest and the size of his congregation is also determined by the exclusive presence of male altar servers?
I wonder what our Bishop of Rome, unluckily reigning, thinks of this?
Father Z has posted a link to this very interesting blog about Mass attendance and more specifically the attitude of many priests toward it. The blog is very good, his author possesses that mix of saying it straight but not being overtly controversial which is the mark of the excellent priest.
I was particularly caught by the author’s opinion that “the eucharist is all-important to most every priest” but at the same time “the element of obligation strikes many priests as well as their parishioners as an outdated and immature notion”. I find it a remarkable exercise in mental gymnastics to understand the first but manage not to understand the second. It is every bit like saying that one fully believes in Patriotism but considers desertion an acceptable option.
For a priest, the aggravating circumstance is added that the very first of the “precepts of the Church” is “to hear Mass on Sundays and on holidays of obligation”. Of all people, a priest should know. It is indicative of the times that many priests just do not get elementary facts like the precepts of the Church. I am tempted to blame the horrible formation in the seminaries (which certainly plays a role), but I do not think that this is the whole truth.
In my experience, at the root of the fact that many priests do not stress fundamental truths of Catholic life is another element: cowardice. This I found, in my experience with priests during my younger years, to be the dominant feature of the category. The assertive and fearless priests were something I had only read about (say: Father Brown) or seen on TV (say: the unforgettable Don Camillo); until very recent years, when by the grace of God the contact with the Brompton Oratory finally put me in contact with the reality of priests not afraid to say it straight.
I blame this collective cowardice for the decline in Mass attendance and, unavoidably, the decline in the feeling of Christian values in the West.
If you think it too hard to tell people that they must attend Mass, it is only a matter of time until many of them skip Mass because they must do something else. If people start skipping Mass more and more often, the constant exposure to Catholic doctrine will slowly but surely fade away. When this happens, “alternative religions” will, in time, start taking form in their brains and extraordinary assertions like “I am a Catholic, but….” (insert here some disagreement with a point of doctrine) are going to be the consequence. At this point Catholicism doesn’t shape the faithful’s life anymore, but it is shaped by it. Say hello to cafeteria Catholicism.
The total failure of Catholicism in stemming the tide of secularism in the West is the result of the total failure of the Clergy in properly transmitting Catholic values. Bad teachers create poorly prepared students, teachers who do not even insist on class attendance create catastrophically prepared ones. At the root of this is the desire to be “liked”, not to be in conflict with the world, not to be considered “uncharitable”, “reactionary”, “backward”. Say it in one word: at the root of this is cowardice.
I do am hopeful, though. The seminaries are slowly producing a better clergy, more orthodox and more assertive; the public opinion is starting to react (witness the strong opposition to euthanasia in Italy or the bitter polemics in Spain); the future generation of priests will produce a better generation of faithful in the pews and from there to the ballot the step is very short. But we need our priests to tell it straight. We need to recover old values, re-appropriate orthodoxy, rediscover our religious and cultural roots savaged by Vatican II.
Starting from Mass attendance.