Traditional Roman Catholic Thoughts

Traditional Roman Catholic Thoughts

Reintroducing Logic and Reason to the Age of Sentimentalism

Wreckovation

All of the posts under the "Wreckovation" category.

The Rediscover Catholicism Movement Is NOT The Solution

Matthew Kelly is a front runner in the Catholic speaking circuit. He has written numerous books including Rediscover Catholicism and The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic. He is the founder of Dynamic Catholic. Over the last several years he has grown in popularity. While this is great for him, his methods are effective for a minute few, and ineffective for the vast majority of practicing Catholics.

I used to be a huge fan of Matthew Kelly. I have a lot of his talks, a couple of his books, and I would give out copies of Rediscover Catholicism to lapsed Catholics. You can even find many mentions of him throughout this blog. Matthew Kelly has played a role in my desire to learn more about the faith. However, having gained the knowledge I now have, I’ve realized that Matthew Kelly doesn’t teach Catholicism in its entirety. His approach is laced with modernism, rooted in emotionalism, and waters down Catholic identity to appeal to a Protestant mentality.

a15fc-recath

During recent years, parishes across the country have been giving out copies of Rediscover Catholicism to those in attendance at Christmas and Easter Masses. The concept is to re-engage Catholics who are only coming to Mass on Christmas and Easter. The program seemed to have an impact, as many people across the country were coming back to the Catholic Church. While I have no complaints about bringing people back to the Church, I do have a serious concern about methods that use emotion as opposed to logic and reason.

Rediscover Catholicism is a book written for a very specific audience. It’s written for those who hardly identify as Catholic, or who have left the Church completely. It’s an appetizer to the grand banquet of Catholic cuisine. The book’s purpose is to present the case for Catholicism simply and pithily. It only scrapes the surface and doesn’t dig deeply. It relies heavily on emotion and sentimentalism.

The introductory story of Rediscover Catholicism is meant to be a parable of God the Father giving up Jesus Christ, His Only Son. The analogy is incomplete unless the reader has a devotion to Jesus in the Eucharist. In Kelly’s example, the parents decide to sacrifice their son, ignore his pleas for help and knowledge, and leave him questioning as his parents abandon him.

There is a significant difference between Kelly’s tale and the sacrifice Jesus willingly embraced in order to bring eternal life to the world. Jesus knew what was involved and what was to come of His passion. This boy did not know what was going on. Allowing your child to choose to give up their life to save those around them, and volunteering your child without their consent are two vastly different theological choices. With Jesus, we see a sacrifice of choice. With Kelly, we see a forced victim. Jesus laid down His life willingly for others. Kelly’s tale is contrived, an artificial and incomplete analogy.

The Rediscover Catholicism and Dynamic Catholic Institute mentalities are awash in modernism. Modernism was deemed heresy by Pope St. Pius X, and described as the synthesis of all heresies. Modernism reveals itself by presenting something very traditional and recognizably Catholic in one context, and something very non-Catholic almost as a counterpoint, or a contradiction, attached to it. An example of modernism would be an author talking about how important Catholic identity is on one page of his book, and on the next page discuss how each person can worship however they feel brings them closer to God.

StPiusXicon

An example would be this statement on how Matthew Kelly views tradition in Rediscover Catholicism:

Many are calling for a return to the past. These people are reactionaries, not visionaries. Too often their cries are driven by a fear of uncertainty and a grappling for stability. Rather than placing their trust in God and cooperating with his future, they allow their humanity to get the better of them as they try to control things beyond their control.” Matthew Kelly, “Rediscover Catholicism” page 22-23 2010

Pope St. Pius X states in his encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis (1907):

They exercise all their ingenuity in an effort to weaken the force and falsify the character of tradition, so as to rob it of all its weight and authority. But for Catholics nothing will remove the authority of the second Council of Nicea, where it condemns those “who dare, after the impious fashion of heretics, to deride the ecclesiastical traditions, to invent novelties of some kind…or endeavor by malice or craft to overthrow any one of the legitimate traditions of the Catholic Church”.

Many parishes are beginning to switch over from traditional catechetical programs and are using Rediscover Catholicism and other programs by the Dynamic Catholic Institute as their course material. This would be the equivalent of using a hammer to pound in a screw. You are using a tool which has an already intended purpose in a way in which it was not intended.

At one time I was convinced that using Matthew Kelly’s methods would be the most effective way to get people interested in Catholicism. I attended his Living Life with Passion and Purpose event. I was even ecstatic when the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis partnered with him to create the “Rediscover Faith” series which was incorporated in each parish within the Archdiocese. I was thrilled about the “Rediscover Catholic Celebration” conference the Archdiocese hosted in 2013 which was attended by 5,000 Catholics.

Looking back, Rediscover Catholicism is a very basic explanation of Christianity. There is so much more to learn about Catholicism that requires us to engage material which is at a deeper level of understanding. From what I have seen, this program does not encourage the learner to look deeper into the more advanced subject matter, instead, enabling one to keep buying books at the same level of reason. While there is nothing wrong with simple explanations, to keep someone from advancing in their faith is sinful. A pre-school teacher not only gives his students the information and knowledge required to advance to Kindergarten, but also encourages the skills and curiosity to want to learn. Likewise, a Kindergarten teacher teaches the knowledge and skills required of his students to advance to First Grade. Additionally, if the subject matter is mired in Modernist philosophies, then the experience will be confusing at best and discouraging at worst. Heresy leads us further from Christ, not closer.

According to Kelly, 85% of Catholics leave the Church within seven years of being confirmed. Last year, Matthew Kelly released Decision Point, a confirmation program designed to address this problem. Having taught Religious Education to 10th and 11th graders going into Confirmation (confirming children at this age is part of the problem), I was excited.

I recall that in one of Father Robert Barron’s talks, he mentions a problem with Catholic schools. At his niece’s high school graduation party, she had displayed all of her books from her senior year. Included were books on Calculus, Chemistry, Physics, and many books in Latin. When Father Barron got to her religion book, it was a thin book in which all the pages were cartoonish and the subject matter was what was to be expected for a child. We are teaching high school students advanced academic and sociological material, yet we can’t give them anything intellectually challenging or stimulating in regard to the Catholic faith.

decision point

I bring this up because every page of Decision Point is littered with random doodles. Every page. Additionally, the subject matter is light. From my perusal, there was no explanation about the consequences of Hell, nor even mention of Hell. There was no mention of Purgatory. There were no explanations of mortal or venial sin. Zero references to the Devil, but one mention of Satan when Kelly quotes the Renewal of Baptism formula (pg. 259). There is one mention of original sin.

But, rest assured, there are at least 75 references to Kelly’s self-coined “Best-Version-Of-Yourself” mantra to instill a sense of the feel-goods. If this book is meant for Catholics in middle school and high school, why are we treating them like toddlers?

There are no serious reasons regarding why we need to embrace Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church. When asked, “Why should I stay in the Catholic Church?” Kelly responds with:

There are lots of reasons you should stay Catholic and grow in your faith every day, but what is more compelling than to say, “You should stay because Jesus prayed you would”? There in the garden of Gethsemane two thousand years ago Jesus agonized over every person who would think about leaving his Church, and he prayed that they would remain one. – Decision Points pg 223.

Matthew Kelly says “there are lots of reasons” to stay Catholic, but uses a weak reason rooted in sentimentalism to try to make you feel bad. He doesn’t discuss it being the Church that Christ started as the reason. He doesn’t talk about Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus which is the Catholic Doctrine that states there is no salvation outside of the Catholic Church. Instead of using logic and reason to engage the maturing Christian reader into making a lasting decision on why they should be Catholic, he uses sentimentalism and emotions to persuade them to be Catholic. Essentially, “not being Catholic makes Jesus sad” is his reasoning.

Sentimentalism emerges in most of Kelly’s language. “The Best Version of Yourself” is a term Kelly began using after he read the Second Vatican Council’s declaration stating the universal call to holiness. When teaching this declaration, many people would shrug off the idea of holiness. He began using this catch-phrase and people responded positively. While changing the language a bit to help drive a point (Jesus did this with His parables), it’s important to remember that context is needed. This phrase only works when you apply a lens of holiness and God’s law to it. Any other lens and this phrase can be used to promote a litany of sins.

Eventually, this blossoms fully into the mentality of “feel good Catholicism”. If the teaching is too hard, too old, or doesn’t leave you with a feeling of joy, then it isn’t good. This can be seen in 2014’s “Rediscover Catholic Celebration” put on by the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. There was no mention of having a reverent Mass. Everything had to feel good. No classical Gregorian Chant, but plenty of Modernist Praise and Worship tunes. No time for deep contemplation, but enough time to do a “flash mob” to a rendition of Pharrell’s “Happy“. Planners had reserved room for 10,000 people. Only 5,000 came.

At this event, they discussed the brand new program they were going to launch; “Amazing Parish”. Amazing Parish is similar to “Rebuilt” in which we forego most of our Catholic identity in all facets of parish life to appear more Protestant friendly and appeal to those leaving the Catholic Church for Mega-Churches. It is important to note that this “mega-church” mentality doesn’t work. Parishes that embrace tradition and reverent Masses are the parishes which see a boost in parish attendance and tithing. The Church in general has been trying to appear more Protestant for the last 50 years and are seeing the fruits manifest in the problems we face; priest shortages, vocation declines, parishes merging/clustering/closing. Becoming more Protestant won’t fix the problem.

There are plenty of liturgical abuses in many Masses across the world. Taking issue with these abuses is normal and good. Matthew Kelly is a firm believer that those who take issue with these abuses are the ones who have the problem, not the priests who allow the transgressions. The complainers have an imperfect heart for not appreciating Jesus Christ’s presence in the Eucharist. Ultimately, this logic reduces one to accept “clown Masses are okay, and if you have a problem with it, you are deficient in your faith”.

The works of Matthew Kelly were a stepping stone in my faith, but his approach is insufficient. His books are simple, and don’t touch upon the important aspects of the Catholic faith. Each person is unique and different, and each person is entitled to hear the fullness of the Truth. There are plenty of resources written prior to 1965 that explain Catholicism concisely and provide plenty of meat to chew on for both Catholics and non-Catholics alike. I would highly recommend reading St. Peter Canisius’ “Catechism for Catholics” to get a solid understanding of Catholic teaching. There are some good nuggets in what Matthew Kelly has to offer, but due to the Modernism that is laced throughout much of his material, it would be best to avoid it and stick to the catechetical material which has been developed throughout the history of the Church.

Finally, while these novel methods may bring an influx of people into the Church the methods do not have the lasting effects would the methods that the Church has had at her disposal over the last 2000 years. I don’t think Matthew Kelly embraces Modernism intentionally. I believe he’s a product of the catechesis of his day. The Church has suffered greatly these last 50+ years in catechesis and the knowledge and attitude of today’s Catholics demonstrates it. Matthew Kelly has a gentle demeanor which many find attractive. If he would embrace traditional teachings and present them clearly, he would make many Catholics stronger in their faith, a faith which will last longer than the popularity of his latest book.

The Traditional Latin Mass, the Baltimore Catechism, and traditional Catechesis have plenty of substance to feed the faithful and an 80% retention rate prior to 1965. New ways to present classic material come out each year which tries to address the now 15% retention rate, and fail. Perhaps we should use what the Church has always used: good old fashioned Truth.

Jeff June 8, 2015 36 Comments Permalink

A Traditional Catholic Convert Visits a Not-So Traditional Catholic Convent

My wife has a great aunt that was a nun of the order of the Sisters of St. Benedict in St. Joseph, MN. She passed away in 2008, may she rest in peace.

Every year her extended family gets together for a reunion. This year, they decided that they were going to go up to the Monastery to visit the sisters. I took the day off from work to see them as well.

We were warmly greeted when we arrived. There were stories shared and laughs to be had.

After a little while, we ended up going over to their museum and gift shop. We were a big group, so they split us up. I was in the group that went to the gift shop first. This, in hindsight, is probably a good thing.

For being at a Monastery, you would think that the gift shop would have more Catholic items in it. I can honestly say that it was roughly 20% Catholic and 80% odds and ends that you can get at any gift shop. It was rather disappointing. I was looking around and found a couple of heretical items.

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I decided that I would come back and buy my items after the tour.

Instead of going to the museum display that commemorated their 100 years of having their chapel, we ended up going into the back room where they kept all of their old vestments and items that used to be in the chapel.

Angel Vestment

The vestments were some of the most beautiful that I had ever seen. The nuns from the late 1800s-1940s would make the vestments by hand. They would stitch some very intricate and beautiful images onto these vestments. Some of the flowers looked real. They had Angels with detailed toes and fingers. The fingers were maybe a few centimeters long. Very small and intricate.

Angel Vestment Up Close - Copy

The nuns kept referring to all these beautiful vestments as “pieces”, as if they were art.

Another Angel Vestment

I mentioned that we needed more vestments like this as these vestments point back to God in the love that the prior nuns had for making them. Alas, the response I received was along the lines of “oh, no, the vestments of today are far more simpler and easy.” Right, because God calls for us to take the easy and simple path that everyone takes. The Sister who was giving us the tour made a comment about how people ask where the color is in the Chapel these days (they “renovated” it in the 80s). They usually reply back with “in the people”.

Christ the King

Afterwards, we went to the chapel where the nuns would pray the Liturgy of the Hours. We prayed noon prayer in this simple looking auditorium that you would expect to see at a college lecture hall. I don’t recall if there was a crucifix, let alone a cross in the entire room. I counted only 3 of the nuns wearing a habit. Most of the nuns were wearing pant suits with a flowery shirt.

We had lunch. That was good. The lettuce for the salad was from their gardens. This was perhaps one of my favorite things of the entire tour.

After lunch was over, we went up to the chapel. In the 1980s, the order decided they needed to “renovate” the chapel. It used to be very Catholic.

They opened the doors to reveal a magnificently grand and bland chapel. The altar had been moved to the center. No kneelers. Just…plain. There was absolutely no indication that this was a Catholic church. It looked just like the Protestant churches.

The entire time we all were looking around in disappointment, the sisters were just smiling and explaining why they did what they did. My tongue had been getting sore from biting down on it so hard throughout the day. When Sister mentioned that they don’t kneel, but stand reverently, I lost it.

I explained how we are supposed to kneel before God who is truly present. They retorted that kneeling isn’t necessary because in the prayers it says something about “…we stand before you…”. They also used the age-old “Europe doesn’t have kneelers” argument, which is incorrect. Certainly some do, but I explained that the Vatican says that churches are supposed to. “Different books at different times say different things” one replied.

TRIGGER ALERT: HERESY: The same sister also said that the community, along with the priest, bring forth Jesus. I replied that that was absolutely incorrect because without the Priest, we do not have Jesus. Only a Catholic Priest can change bread into the Eucharist. “Well, that’s true, but…” and I honestly don’t recall the rest, I’m fairly certain my Guardian Angel protected me from having an aneurysm.

The main nun pulled me aside after things settled down, and told me to keep up the fire. I’m still not sure what she meant by that. Maybe she agrees with me but is sworn to obedience? I’m uncertain.

Regardless, they kept saying how it was too much beauty for a sacred space, its nice and clean now, but in the same breath would say “Could you imagine how beautiful it was?” I could imagine it much better had you left it alone.

Afterwards we went into the Sacristy, where they make their own bread! Its better because its unleavened (valid consecration stipulates that bread must be made of wheaten flour, mixed with pure natural water, baked in an oven or between two moulds and must not be corrupt). Sister also mentioned that it is made with love! Sarcasm Alert(Not like that hate-filled Eucharist you receive at your local parish!) I question if these nuns believe in the True Presence. If God is Love and the Eucharist is God, isn’t the Eucharist also Love?

Love Bread

We then went to the chapel where the tabernacle is kept (yeah, side chapel) and they have kneelers in there!

Modernist Tabernacle

Also, they felt that the best way to keep the old communion rails was to nail them to the wall.

Communion Rails

We then hung out in the Gathering Space for a bit. They talked about community a bit. I stopped listening. Any Catholic that goes on and on about community being that important has lost all sense of what it means to be Catholic. Community does not come first, but God does.

We went back to the museum and I looked around at what used to be a beautiful Chapel.

Chapel Before Wreckovation Chapel Before

I found this interesting:

Worship Space

Many were upset at seeing this. So much beauty absolutely ransacked. This order neutered Christ and the church that their previous sisters had built out of love for God. To wreckovate a church, let alone a Catholic Church this badly, is not something of God, but of something diabolical. Sacred beauty points back to the Creator. Being physical beings, we need that physical beauty in order to help us understand God better. It isn’t a hindrance, but an enhancement. The churches before the Second Vatican Council reflected our Catholic faith. Even on movies and TV they still use traditional and beautiful churches when they want to show that they are at a Catholic church. Why? Because its part of our identity and who we are.

What the Chapel looks like now.

What the Chapel looks like now.

This picture sums up everything:

Modernist Evolution

If our Sacred Places reflect who we are, what does it say when we leave a blank canvas? It demonstrates that we are not what we are. We are nothing. We are blank. This isn’t a scenario in which “you build what you want to build” or “grow into who you are to be”, but an honest to God reflection of what we are. Blank, sterile, fruitless, void of beauty. It doesn’t bring any hope. It isn’t up to the people to bring forth the color. Having a picture assists those who pray to contemplate and ask the deeper questions about who we are, who is God and why it all matters. Having a blank slate does absolutely nothing.

Um...no.

Um…no.

Look at your wall. Mine is one solid color. Maybe yours is too. How does that bring you closer to God? How are you able to contemplate the deeper questions? You can, to a point, but it is not very deep.

Meanwhile, an icon with multiple images will allow you to contemplate the beauty of our faith and bring you closer to God.

When we sterilize our churches and remove all the smells, bells, whistles, and pictures, we are making them fruitless. Sterilization brings forth no life. In fact, it ends up destroying life as it doesn’t allow any growth to occur. A sterile society can’t bring forth new members to it. Likewise, a sterile church won’t bring forth new members either.

There was also a picture on the wall that mentioned that the wreckovation was in response to the Second Vatican Council. I forgot to ask them where in the documents it is a requirement to destroy churches.

I didn’t purchase anything in the gift shop, as it goes to support these sisters. Sisters who are obedient to disobedience to God. Ironically, I saw this on Facebook an hour or two after we had left.

Taken from Adoremus in Aeternum, a Catholic Tradition's Facebook page.

Taken from Adoremus in Aeternum, a Catholic Tradition’s Facebook page.

I found out that these sisters are actually a part of the LCWR, the same LCWR that was in support of Obamacare and has been in support of abortion, contraception and the like. Sure, there may be some sisters who are not, but you can’t support them.

Meanwhile, here are some Benedictine Sisters you can support. Believe it or not, they actually hand stitch vestments. I find it funny. The order of Benedictines who say that the vestments of today are much easier to make is dying out. Meanwhile, the order of Benedictines who are painstakingly, but lovingly making vestments by hand are thriving.

Beauty and sacredness brings forth reverence and obedience to God. Help parishes and orders that encourage these things.

Jeff July 28, 2014 7 Comments Permalink

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