Sunday, July 24, 2011

Is the Church Imploding?

A dear Catholic and reader here at TTC asked somewhere in the comments section. I didn't get a chance to respond. Now that I have a moment, I thought it would be better to post the response in a more prominent place.

"NO!"


It's just a period in our history where there is a sifting of souls. The period when the tempter works on the elect, the baptized. A period when I/we need to be on our guard. Painful to watch.


Here's a treasure from a book called Prayer in the Presence of God, written by Dom Augustin Guillerand, sent to me by a gracious woman and sister in Christ, among so many of you - both men and women - whom I have had the pleasure to make acquaintance.

Springs gush forth from rocks in the desert. The waters of the sea of rivers divide to allow a vast concourse of people to pass over. The walls of the city fall down, enemies are put to flight and manna descends daily from Heaven. The sick are healed, the lame walk and the dead are raised to life. Hardened sinners are touched by grace, while the minds of men are elevated so that they perceive beyond them perspectives of light by which they almost seem to enter into the very truth of God. Wills are strengthened and at once take control of passions until then unleashed. Divine Love comes so near to souls that He seems almost to consume them and to transform them into His own likeness.


The Church stands, shining on the top of the hill. I watch it as an observer, similar to Paul's last entry in the New Testament.

When you find yourself thinking that it is the 'Church' that is imploding, go there. One day, it will be such a familiar place to you that you'll take up residence there.

Then the angel showed me the river of life-giving water, sparkling like crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb

down the middle of its street. On either side of the river grew the tree of life that produces fruit twelve times a year, once each month; the leaves of the trees serve as medicine for the nations.

Nothing accursed will be found there anymore. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him....


"Behold, I am coming soon. I bring with me the recompense I will give to each according to his deeds.

I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end."

Blessed are they who wash their robes so as to have the right to the tree of life and enter the city through its gates.

Outside are the dogs, the sorcerers, the unchaste, the murderers, the idol-worshipers, and all who love and practice deceit.

"I, Jesus, sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the root and offspring of David, the bright morning star."

The Spirit and the bride say, "Come." Let the hearer say, "Come." Let the one who thirsts come forward, and the one who wants it receive the gift of life-giving water.

I warn everyone who hears the prophetic words in this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book,

and if anyone takes away from the words in this prophetic book, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city described in this book.

The one who gives this testimony says, "Yes, I am coming soon." Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all.

35 comments:

susan said...

SO, SO BEAUTIFUL!!!!!!!! Thanks for the much needed reminder Carol. Time to buckle up the armor again, and go out into the fray. God bless you, dear one.

Anonymous said...

I have a dear friend who, when I'm feeling down about the state of things in the Church, always has the same reply. "Go read the end of the Book again. God wins."

Thanks for the reminder...

Robin

Caroline said...

A great and needed word of encouragement...Thanks, Carol.

kd said...

Thanks Carol, when things are at there worst I just hear, The Gates shall not prevail! But you said it much more eloquently. Enjoy this Blessed NE Summer evening that the Good Lord has gifted us with!

Maria said...

Thanks, Carol. It is easy to grow discouraged but "He is with us until the end of time", right?

Reading Apocalypse 22:4-5 ©

They will see the Lord face to face, and his name will be written on their foreheads. It will never be night again and they will not need lamplight or sunlight, because the Lord God will be shining on them. They will reign for ever and ever.

Anonymous said...

While I generally agree with the statements made here - and I generally do not like to rock too many boats - we need to be careful not being somewhat Pollyannish when it comes to the state of things going on in the Church.

Certainly, Jesus promise is true - He said that He would be with the Church always - even until the end of the age (Mt. 28:19-20).

However, He did *not* say that the Church would continue *here*! (that is to say, in a so-called first world country like ours - that has done most everything in its power to cast Him out!).

Yes, the Kingdom of God is within those of us who frequent His sacraments, and do the will of the Father (i.e. our vocations) - however, there is *no guarantee* by our Lord that the Church will always exist in the good ol' U.S. of A.

Think, folks, of Northern Africa. Once a bastion of the Christian Faith with over 250 diocesan bishops at one time.

Now? Well, as I understand it there are maybe right around 35 bishops with dozens of the aforementioned dioceses extinct in Northern Africa.

Gives us a new meaning to Jesus' words when he said, "When the Son of man returns, will He find any faith on earth?" (Luke 18:8)

It is certainly great to hold to that wonderful virtue of hope and trust in Him. But the virtue of prudence should be in there as well.

Catechist Kevin

Carol said...

Astute observation Kevin.

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

Carol, you have to distinguish between the church as a body of believers and the church as an institution. People use the same word to mean different things.

Will the body of believers implode? Well, a strong core always will remain. So will those who join the faith and then leave.

I'm referring to "the faith" as Christianity as a whole.

Remember Christ's parable of the sower and the seed. Not all of the seed fell on fertile ground and not all of the seed that fell on the fertile soil produced the same yield.

Will the "Christian" religious institutions implode? Not only will they, but they are as I write this. I can't speak for Eastern Orthodoxy but mainline/liberal Protestantism has become irrelevant because of their emphasis on intellectual fashion.

Frankly, I think the Catholic ecclesiastical institution has been imploding for centuries, and for the same reasons that Voris stated in his critique of the Knights of Columbus: preoccupation w/maintaining power and privilege, the exact opposite concerns that Christ wanted His disciples to focus on in John 13-16.

You see this every day when you fight the archdiocese, Carol.

The Vatican long ago discarded its Petrine mandate for power, influence and wealth. The hierarchy followed. The ecclesiastical structure is a whited sepulchre that betrayed Christ centuries ago. We're experiencing at least part of His judgement now.

Jerry said...

The ecclesiastical structure is a whited sepulchre that betrayed Christ centuries ago.

No. Popes Ven. Pius IX, Leo XIII, St. Pius X, and Pius XI took up the fight valiantly. It was Vatican II that threw in the towel. You're right, though, that this current abdication is a chastisement from God.

Anonymous said...

This is what I was apeaking of. The following article writtten by Joanna Bogle appeared in This Rock magazine back in 2004.

It is called "Pollyanna Wins: Why we should be joyful Catholics"

http://www.catholic.com/thisrock/2004/0409fea1.asp

To this fine article Dr. Alice Von Hildebrand wrote a reply - this was my thinking with my earlier post:

In the climate of doom that characterizes our era, Joanna Bogle is to be commended for reminding us that the reasons for joy and gratitude are many ("Polyanna Wins," September 2004). I, however, take exception to her using the word optimism. In common parlance it has the connotation of a natural disposition that sees the glass as half full while the pessimist sees it as half empty.

Optimism is characterized by a buoyancy that minimizes defeats and often is linked to a healthy temperament. As G. K. Chesterton put it, the optimist views everybody as good except the pessimist.

Bogle’s message would be more powerful if she had clearly (and not only tacitly) distinguished between the natural virtue of optimism and the supernatural virtue of hope. My dying husband said to me: "The situation in the Church is so grave that only fools can be optimistic; but I have hope." Hope is the Christian virtue par excellence. Its motto is "from natural defeat to supernatural victory." Calvary is not the word; it is the Resurrection.

—Alice von Hildebrand New Rochelle, New York

Catechist Kevin

Karen said...

Catechist Kevin,
Thanks for those words from Alice von Hildebrand. I was feeling like one of the pessimists that G.K. Chesterton spoke of when I did not agree with Carol's assessment of our current Church. I realize now that I am more like Alice's husband - I have hope! Now I pray for strength, courage, patience (not my strong suit), and perseverence.

Anonymous said...

A Pollyanna I am not nor could I ever be. Am not good at sticking my head in the sand either, or viewing all through rose-colored glasses.

The Church is a mess. It matters not that we know "who" wins, we still have to live through it. Some people have an easier time than others.

Our Lord DID ask if He would find any faith when He returned...why can't that time be now? How much worse does it have to get? Or is it just a refusal to face facts?

The Mystical Body of Christ must undergo the Passion as well. Perhaps these are the days when the Church is in the tomb seemingly dead. For me, Her Good Friday was a long time ago. The Church of 2011 bears no resemblance to the one I was raised in.

Yes, there is all the Hope in the world, yet it is not easy to live through this and is very painful. How often have we cried out "How much longer Lord?" or "How much worse, Lord, will You allow it to get before You step in?"

When the Church has ceased to be a comfort and a refuge from an increasingly insane world, or when you have to travel an excessive amount of miles for it to be so, you know things can't be right.

Veronica

Maria said...

Fr. John Hardon SJ was asked: What is the single most important means for reuniting a dismembered Christianity?

"The single most important means is the restoration of faith in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. One reason for the tragic separation of so many people from the Catholic Church in the 16th Century was the widespread loss of faith in the Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist".

Where priests no longer believe in the real presence, original sin, confession, no longer believe that Christ institued the priesthood, this is what happens. If Christ is not in the Church what can we expect? I think it is doctrinal error that has us to this point. Do you think that if people truly believed in the Real Presence that we would witness the disrespect and nois that we do at Mass? People would not converse with one another beofore/during and after Mass, in the manner that they do. They no longer believe that they are in the presence of God. Hence, no one even genuflects. We see people, priests included, giving short and hurried bows to the altar,where we cannot even see the tabernacle. Even their little bows seem more than they can muster. Jesus is shoved to the side. We should not be surprised.Altar "servers". Women in pants and tennis shoes on the altar "leading us in prayer". Yep. This was my nightmare yesterday. An Indian priest regaled us w/ tales of the Buddha, a la DeMello SJ ( the CDF issued a warning about DeMello) at Annunciation Church in Washington DC. Secular music. Priests that can't be bothered to distribute Holy Communion. Women sauntering up the aisle to receive our Lord in short-shorts. No one believes in the justice of God. But, I don't think you live w/ all of these doctrinal errors for decades on end without punsishment. The love of God is real. So is His justice.

Maria said...

What was the main theme of Christ's long prayerful discourse at the Last Supper?

"He prayed especially for unity among His followers. This unity is to be maintained, fostered, and, when lost, restored through the Eucharist as Sacrifice-Sacrament, Communion-Sacrament, and Presence-Sacrament. That is why the Holy Eucharist has been especially identified as the Sacrament of unity. It is mainly through the Eucharist that the Church over the centuries has been united as the One, Holy, Catholic Church founded on Calvary. Christ remains the Church's foundation even as He was the Church's Founder by His death on the cross".

John Hardon SJ

Anonymous said...

At least they have progressed to a bow; I rememer after Vatican II when genuflections of any kind were discouraged and looked down upon, and all anyone could muster was a nod of the head toward the Blessed Sacrament. Can you imagine? A nod of the head toward He who could at any moment totally anihilate you...the mind boggles.

I agree though, Maria, the lack of reverence for and an apparent disbelief in the Blessed Sacrament is depressing and discouraging.

Our "nightmare" yesterday was a manipulative "homily" related to forking over more of everyone's hard earned money to the parish. I wouldn't mind if the money was going toward making the Church look like was it is supposed to be - Catholic - but I am not contributing any more to the Church's demise in any way, shape or form.

We'll know when the churchmen are serious about correcting all of the errors and abuses of the last sixty years. That time hasn't arrived yet. In the meantime, all we can do is what we are already doing. No amount of "Catholic Action" will save the day as long as those who are in charge continue to be so.

At the end, the most important thing for myself to remember is that God allows all of this. He could change it in an instant. He is not doing so.

Veronica

Maria said...

I know Veronica. He does allow in within His divine and permissive will. It is a purgation. And unless we stop sinning it will only get worse...

Anonymous said...

Heb.12

[1] Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us,

[2] looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

[3] Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.

[4] In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.

[5] And have you forgotten the exhortation which addresses you as sons? -- "My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor lose courage when you are punished by him.

[6] For the Lord disciplines him whom he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives."

[7] It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?

[8] If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.

[9] Besides this, we have had earthly fathers to discipline us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live?

[10] For they disciplined us for a short time at their pleasure, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.

[11] For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant; later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

[12] Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees,

[13] and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.

[14] Strive for peace with all men, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.


I apologize if I sounded trite in my earlier comment. It's a simple truth. It is also true that things are going to get significantly worse, maybe very soon. But that should never take away the hope and the joy that comes from the knowledge that HE is faithful and true.

But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called "today," that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Heb. 3:13

In Christ,

Robin

Anonymous said...

Maria,

Thank you for the posts on Fr. Hardon.

You essentially took the words right out of my mouth! LOL

Expounding on what Fr. Hardon said regarding belief in Christ's Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist....

In Fr. Hardon's 12 tape set titled "The Blessed Sacrament" - Fr. Hardon said that he was called to Rome twice in the 80's by the Holy Father.

Through the Pope's private secratary - he pleaded with Fr. Hardon to go back to the United States and, "Do every thing you can to get the faithful believing again in the Holy Eucharist or I fear *whole dioceses will disappear*."

Fr. Bill Casey, C.P.M (The Fathers of Mercy), who is a Fr. Hardon disciple, said that in his ministry of preaching througout the U.S. - he can attest that there are dioceses that are already in the stages of probably being phased into a neighboring diocese!

Read the following two talks given by Fr. Hardon - they will raise the hair on your head.

Crisis of Faith and the Eucharist:

http://www.therealpresence.org/archives/Faith/Faith_006.htm

How to cope with abuses in the Eucharistic Liturgy:

http://www.therealpresence.org/archives/Mass/Mass_004.htm

Catechist Kevin


Catechist Kevin

Karen said...

Robin,

You did not sound trite, and your attitude is one that I aspire to achieve! For now and for me, my cross to bear is wanting this to end NOW while knowing that it is in God's will, not mine. Patience and perseverence! I need more of both!

Karen said...

Maria and Kevin
Imagine how different the U.S. Catholic Church would be if every parish had a Fr. Hardon in it! If only our priests and bishops spoke with on voice - Jesus' voice - perhaps that smoke of Satan that confuses, deceives, and divides would clear.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your encouragement, Karen. Sometimes I want it to end now too. However, my husband has left the Church and my college aged daughter has turned from God completely. If He ended everything today, how many of my family members would be eternally lost? I offer my trials and the Holy Eucharist for them daily. Lord have mercy...

I read somewhere today that we should try to imagine what the first 10 seconds of thoughts in the mind of someone who has just died and come to the realization that they are eternally damned. And what am I doing about it? Not enough, that's for sure.

In Christ,
Robin

Maria said...

Robin: How beautiful! Thank you so much. How important it is for us to encourage each other, right?

Kevin: I have read the Crisis of Faith, over and over, and how to cope w/ liturgical abuses. Where do you think I learned all this from, lol? RE "Do every thing you can to get the faithful believing again in the Holy Eucharist or I fear *whole dioceses will disappear". Hardon also said that this would happen "unless the laity did something about it". We mistakenly look to re-set the hierarch to set the bark of Peter. Hardon would often quote-"Be strong in your faith"--and then say that this was not a pious cliche. It is real.

Kevin, I think I mighr have to join a clositered convent! For the protection of my soul and the salvation of the souls of others.

You are a great addition and can certainly help us, Kevin. Thank you for your input.

Karen said...

Maria,

I like your thoughts about the cloistered convent...I was thinking of finding a cave myself, but I like your idea better!

Anonymous said...

It is crucial that we encourage one another Karen! I'm convinced that the enemy wants us all curled up in a fetal position feeling totally helpless. But we're not, because we belong to HIM and HE "is able to do exceedingly more than all we could ever ask or imagine."

Just this past Saturday morning in Mass I was feeling the weight of my family situation. While praying afterward, a woman I didn't know came up behind me and gave me a book on the Rosary with the forward written by the archbishop of the town I where I grew up.

It was if God was saying, "I'm aware of your struggles and I am here for you. Be faithful. Pray." I thank God that this woman was sensitive to the prompting of His Holy Spirit, her action totally changed my outlook that day.

In Christ,
Robin

Anonymous said...

This has been an interesting discussion.


Thank you, Maria, for your kind words.

Karen, do *not* let your light be put under a bushel basket! (i.e. cave) Let your light shine before men! (see Mt. 5:14-16)

This brings to mind what happened in the fourth century during the Arian heresy (the denial of Christ's Divinity). Did you all know that *all* but four of the world's bishop's at the time had succumbed to this heresy?

Whoa!

So, the ones that stood true (like Moses the Black and St. Athanasius) went to the laity to find exactly what the laity was taught regarding Christ's two natures - a.k. a. - the hypostatic union.

Then those four took that with them to the Council of Nicea and hammered it out with the heretics.

We *all* know who won that - by the guidance of the Divine Spirit. (see John 16:13, 14:26, 15:26)

Hold firm my friends - The Lord is with all of us out here in the battlefield.

Catechist Kevin

Karen said...

Robin,

I agree with you about encouraging each other and about Satan behind the discouragement. Finding this blog and others like it for me is akin to what happened to you at Mass. I empathize with what is happening with your husband and daughter, and have similar issues with family members. I pray daily to St. Monica, and ask her to 'storm Heaven' for me on their behalf. I cannot imagine Heaven without my loved ones, and believe with every fiber of my being that God will hear our prayers and mercifully convert them prior to final judgement - whenever that is! Prayers for your loved ones as well! I believe that we are all part of the 'small faithful remenant' that Holy Mother Mary spoke of, and we are all being led to each other. Thanks for your words!

Karen said...

Kevin,

Thank you. I pray daily that I always trust God more than I distrust myself, and am a work in progress. Seems that the older I get, the less I know - a priest once told me that that was true wisdom, but I'm not yet convinced. What I do know is that by the grace of God, I will keep trying! I do very much appreciate your insights - please keep your Catechesis coming!

Carol said...

What a pleasure and a blessing it is to read all of your thoughts and frustrations, encouragement.

The Mystical Body of Christ does follow Christ to Her passion and death (and of course the resurrection)...Anyone want to venture a guess as to where we are?

I fell asleep the other night and woke up in the wee hours with the television on CNN to a few people who were testifying about what is happening to Christians in Egypt since the Obama-backed and supported muslim brotherhood have taken over.

We have a lot of nerve complaining or feeling sorry for ourselves and our children. Women can no longer go outdoors. The muslim brotherthood--which is nothing but a cleaned-up name for al queida, is now banging on doors of coptic Christian homes and seizing children for some kind of concentration camp. They are going up and down the street with megaphones and are on public pa systems inciting muslims to kill Christians - all day long.

I guess my perspective is, it really doesn't matter, where or who or how to me, I'm content doing what God asks me to do. Did you ever hear that parable where God asks a man to push a huge rock? He spends his life trying to move the rock and then one day God tells him the job is finished. The man, surprised, reminds our Lord that the rock hasn't moved but God explains that He never asked him to move the rock but just push it, and shows him his muscles to prepare him for something else.

I'm butchering the story, but the point is, our efforts don't have a goal. Mortal hopes are that our children, family, friends, community and fellow Catholics are taught their faith - but who knows what is coming down the pike. All I know is, Christ promised us that the gates of hell shall not prevail against His Church.

The older I get, the more I wear my brown scapular.

Carol said...

All but four Bishops?

yowza....!

St. Athinasius, pray for us.

Maria said...

Karen: You are so right. Even priests proclaimed the gospel without fear, our Churches might now look very different. Hardon talks a lot about how dangerous our need for "human respect" can be. Simply put, we want to be liked by our fellows and thus we take the path of least resistance, straight to hell, it would seem, some days...

Robin: Fr. Hardon wrote soemthing in which he reminds us to remember what the early Christians were able to do in just 300 years. They turned the course of history with their love...I can't find it but I will post it if I can re-locate it.
In some ways I think we are moving toward a time when those who still believe the gospel, whole and entire, will be like the early Christians. I truly believe that there will be persecutions coming to us. I think it was Pope Pius XII who said that the the normal state of the Church is one of persecutionl however, I truly believe we are losing freedom of religion and we will have to fight all over again to re-secure this freedom.

Robin, as far as your family, there is nothing more powerful that reparation and adoration to bring them back. It will happen, in God' time. Robin, the enemy does want us to give up. We can't. There is too much at stake.

Kevinl Athanasius, hammer of heretics. We need men of his ilk now. We surely do...

Maria said...

Here you go:

Our Time: The Age of Martyrs

"If we would know the power of this martyrdom of witness we have only to read the annals of the early Church. The handful of believers whom Peter baptized on Pentecost Sunday were as a drop in the immense culture surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. Yet see what happened. This small group of convinced faithful were able, in less than three hundred years, to turn the tide of paganism in the Roman Empire. For a long time they were deprived even of the basic civil rights accorded other citizens. They were often hunted like animals, and the catacombs tell us that they had to hide when celebrating the Liturgy and hide the tombs of their revered dead.

But their patience and meekness finally prevailed. Yes, but only because it was supported by unbounded courage, born not of their own strength, but of the power that Christ promised to give all His followers that shall witness to His name everywhere. This promise is just as true today. All that we need is to trust in the Spirit Whom we possess, and never grow weary in giving testimony to the grace we received.

This is what Christ was talking about when He told us not to hide our virtues but to allow them to be publicly seen, like a candle on a candlestick or a city on a mountaintop. We should not be afraid that by such evidence of our good works we shall be protected from vainglory by the cost in humiliation that witnessing to a holy life inevitably brings. There will have to be enough death to self and enough ignoring of human respect to keep us from getting proud in our well-doing. God will see to that. On our part, we must be willing to pay the price of suffering in doing good, which is another name for being a living martyr, that is, a courageous witness to the life of Christ in the world today".

It is a beaut, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

Maria, thank you SO much for your words and Fr. Hardon's! This really spoke to me, "All that we need is to trust in the Spirit Whom we possess, and never grow weary in giving testimony to the grace we received."

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight."

My hometown - Louisville, KY, hosts the annual Eternal Life Conference, an organization founded by Fr. Hardon. Cardinal Burke was a guest this year. I wish I could have gone home to attend!

And yes, reparation and Adoration, how I love my Catholic faith...

In Christ,
Robin

Anonymous said...

Robin,

We don't live too far apart!

I live up near Jasper, Indiana - a little over an hour northwest of Louisville.

I wanted to go to the Church Teaches Fourm but had a conflict: I went to see/hear Michael Voris at Mother of the Redeemer Farm - on the grounds of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate - outside of Bloomington, In.

Michael is a humble, good natured and funny man. Despite some of the videos that seem to give him the image of a general crank - he was hardly that at all.

Had a lot of fun that day.

Catechist Kevin

Anonymous said...

Kevin,

I've heard/read that Michael Voris is quite humble in person. I hope to have the opportunity to hear him speak in person sometime.

I don't live in Louisville anymore but try to get home as often as possible to see family. If you're ever in the area, you must attend Mass at St. Martin of Tours downtown. It's one of the most beautiful Catholic Churches I've ever seen. People travel from quite a distance because the liturgy is so beautiful and reverent. Both the OF and the EF are offered every Sunday.

In Christ,
Robin

Anonymous said...

Dear Robin,

I have been to St. Martin's - not for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass - but to hear Scott Hahn give two talks.

You are right - it is a beautiful parish church. I have some friends who are parishioners there. They are active in the Catholics in Action group. Fine folks.

God love you,
Catechist Kevin