Getting back into Warhammer 40,000
Profit as a sacred duty

The return to Catholic orthodoxy

A good rule of thumb is that the conventional wisdom is usually wrong.

For decades the smart folks have urged a dilution of Christianity in the name of outreach and "inclusiveness," and the result is essentially a post-religious world where observant faith is now considered strange and even "extreme."

At the same time, those denominations that have been most aggressive in watering down their dogma and abandoning their doctrines are seeing the steepest decline.

It is against this backdrop that I am heartened to see the Catholic Church rediscovering its traditions and finally enforcing its strictures against bad behavior.

The shockingly lop-sided vote of the American bishops in favor of Eucharistic Coherence is evidence of this.  It should be self-evident that people who openly commit or advocate mortal sin are no longer Catholics in good standing.  Withholding the Eucharist from these malefactors goes back to the earliest days of the Church, and it is about time that self-identifying "devout Catholics" who openly (and gleefully) mock its doctrines and flout its precepts of faith should face some sort of public rebuke.

I noticed that news accounts of this event naturally portrayed it as something sinister, a radical and unprecedented change it policy.  It is neither.  What was unprecedented in the 2,000 years of Church practice was for heretics and apostates to keep coming to Mass while bragging of their sins.

Even sympathetic news organizations noted that this might see a further reduction in Catholic numbers, and while I think this is true in the short term, in the long run I think that the "experts" will once again be proven wrong.

The experience of the last few decades have shown us that people have little interesting in joining organizations that can't stand up for their own beliefs.  The current drop in Mass attendance is partly a function of Covid, and partly the result of ethnic Catholics falling away.   These are largely Baby Boomers who went to Mass out of habit and whose faith is shaped by their ethnicity (Irish, Italian, Polish) rather than any particular interest or understanding of the doctrine.

As those ethnic identifiers faded and the original immigrant family members died off, their assimilated children felt less attachment to either the Old Country or the Old Faith.  Absent any mystery or sense of awe, Mass was as obsolete as the old language, which the grandkids no longer understand.

For the Church to succeed in its mission, a new approach is needed and from where I'm standing, it seems to be working.  The problem is that the trend lines will take time to reverse, but I think it is already underway.

Why do I think this?  I see a lot of young people interested in the vocations, more than I've ever seen before.  My diocese has the highest count of seminarians in decades.  Yes, it will take years of such giant classes to make up the shortfall, but these young men are quite impressive, exactly the kind of person you want to win converts and shepherd the faithful.

I believe many observers have things backwards - they think rising Mass attendance is essential to having more (and better quality) clergy.  I disagree.  I think the way you increase numbers is by inspiring people to come by recruiting determined and zealous disciples to spread the Word.

You know, sort of the way it's been for the last 2,000 years.

I will conclude by noting that even in my liberal college town parish, the church decorations have shifted to more traditional art, the services are including more Latin, and people seem much more engaged.  Our bulletin recently announced that certain activities had all the volunteers needed, thanks for asking.  That's not something one sees every day, and is certainly not what you'd expect a fading and demoralized people to do.


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