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What’s Killing American Catholicism – 2
The Deacon's Bench ^ | May 1, 2013 | Fr. Dwight Longenecker

Posted on 05/01/2013 3:10:19 PM PDT by NYer

I’m continuing a series on things that are destroying American Catholicism. They all begin with the letter ‘C’–as does the solution to the problem.

You can use the ‘Categories’ tool to pull up the whole series as they are written. Here is a link to the first article in the series on Cultural Catholicism

If you would like to copy these articles for publication in parish newsletters or bulletins or to re-publish elsewhere you are welcome. Please just email me to discuss the best way to do this.

Cultural Catholicism which blends a particular culture with the Catholic faith is destroying American Catholicism because it keeps the faithful from seeing that Catholicism, by its very definition, should transcend culture and challenge culture.

The second thing that is killing American Catholicism is another ‘C’ word: Complacency. Too many American Catholics are complacent. They are lukewarm, and when a church is lukewarm (as it says in the Book of Revelation) God will spit them out. Why are American Catholics lukewarm in their faith? The problem is not simply laziness. It is linked with the first problem of cultural Catholicism.

Too many American Catholics have soaked up the materialistic spirit of the American age totally uncritically. They have chosen the way of materialism, hedonism, utilitarianism and consumerism, and this has dulled their commitment to Christ and the gospel. What are all these “ism’s”? Materialism is not simply buying lots of stuff at the mall. It is also a philosophy that the physical world is really all that matters. This translates into an attitude about the church in which all that matters is the good works of feeding the poor and doing peace and justice. While these things are important–to focus on them alone makes the church, (as Pope Francis says) no more than an NGO–just another charity.

Hedonism is the pleasure principle. If it feels good do it. You needn’t be a debauched drug addict to be a hedonist. Your a perfectly good candidate for the hedonist party with your dedication to a nice, comfortable middle class lifestyle. If you live for pleasure–even if it is a refined and tasteful pleasure–you’re a hedonist.

Utilitarianism is putting practicality first. It is relying on worldly common sense rather then the Holy Spirit. It is making choices according to the bottom line, efficiency and practicality. Most American Catholics choose birth control, for example, because it is a practical, seemingly common sense decision. While we should be practical and efficient and choose wisely–we are also called not just to be practical, but radical. The saints are never utilitarian. Instead they are devoted to the wild and wonderful and unpredictable love of God.

Finally, consumerism is not just soaking up just as much of the world’s resources as possible. It is also a mentality that one is a customer. It’s Frank Sinatra’s theme song, “I Did it My Way”. It’s the attitude, “I’m paying. I’ll choose.” When this attitude comes into the church everybody is the loser. It breeds discontent, disorder and dissent.

Together these “ism’s” produce a kind of lethargy in the American Catholic Church. There’s a deadness and torpor. Eyes glaze over. Parishes become like yesterday’s porridge: cold and hard to stir. The fire is gone. The Church is complacent.

How to counter complacency? By another ‘C’ word: Compassion. By ‘compassion’ I don’t simply mean feeling sorry for people. Instead I mean what the word means: “Passion With”. Passion is emotion that is disciplined and informed and active. “Compassion” is emotion and fire for God that is disciplined, informed and active. Compassion in this sense is an active nurturing of the love of God which is put into action to counteract the consumerism, utilitarian, hedonism and materialism of our society.

This “Compassion” starts not with a movement or a sermon or a new rule or regulation for religion. It starts in the human heart. It starts in each individual human heart.

It starts now. With my heart. It starts now with yours.

Read the first article in this series here.

TOPICS: Catholic; History; Religion & Culture; Religion & Politics

1 posted on 05/01/2013 3:10:19 PM PDT by NYer
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To: netmilsmom; thefrankbaum; Tax-chick; GregB; saradippity; Berlin_Freeper; Litany; SumProVita; ...
Too many American Catholics are complacent. They are lukewarm, and when a church is lukewarm (as it says in the Book of Revelation) God will spit them out.

I am reminded of the Divine Mercy Novena. Our Lord dedicates the Ninth Day to this group:

Ninth Day
"Today bring to Me the Souls who have become Lukewarm,

and immerse them in the abyss of My mercy. These souls wound My Heart most painfully. My soul suffered the most dreadful loathing in the Garden of Olives because of lukewarm souls. They were the reason I cried out: 'Father, take this cup away from Me, if it be Your will.' For them, the last hope of salvation is to run to My mercy." 

Most compassionate Jesus, You are Compassion Itself. I bring lukewarm souls into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart. In this fire of Your pure love, let these tepid souls who, like corpses, filled You with such deep loathing, be once again set aflame. O Most Compassionate Jesus, exercise the omnipotence of Your mercy and draw them into the very ardor of Your love, and bestow upon them the gift of holy love, for nothing is beyond Your power.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon lukewarm souls who are nonetheless enfolded in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. Father of Mercy, I beg You by the bitter Passion of Your Son and by His three-hour agony on the Cross: Let them, too, glorify the abyss of Your mercy. Amen. 

2 posted on 05/01/2013 3:12:32 PM PDT by NYer (Beware the man of a single book - St. Thomas Aquinas)
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To: NYer
The Parable of the Sower

1 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. 2 Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. 3 Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. 9 Whoever has ears, let them hear.”

10 The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?”

11 He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. 12 Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables:

“Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.

14 In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:

“‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. 15 For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’

16 But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. 17 For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.

18 “Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 19 When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. 20 The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. 22 The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. 23 But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

Matthew 13: 1 - 23


If Christ is in your heart, He will complete the work He began in you.

If He is never invited into one's heart, that process never began.

3 posted on 05/01/2013 3:18:27 PM PDT by SkyPilot
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To: NYer

Socialism to communism. Break down of morality and the family.

4 posted on 05/01/2013 3:27:32 PM PDT by freekitty (Give me back my conservative vote; then find me a real conservative to vote for)
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To: NYer


5 posted on 05/01/2013 3:27:37 PM PDT by HANG THE EXPENSE (Life's tough.It's tougher when you're stupid.)
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To: NYer
But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!
6 posted on 05/01/2013 3:34:42 PM PDT by Chode (Stand UP and Be Counted, or line up and be numbered - *DTOM* -ww- NO Pity for the LAZY)
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To: NYer

To throw in my 80 years of observation of differences-
- confession is out
- everyone goes to communion
- racism and abortion are the only remaining sins

7 posted on 05/01/2013 3:46:14 PM PDT by ex-snook (God is Love)
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To: NYer

I’m just not into singing every 30 seconds like an off key version of Glee. It’s some lame way of “being modern”.

I’m not into shaking hands, but it’s better than singing to them.

I don’t need a bunch of guitars, pianos and musical arrangements.

What I need is nourishment for my soul and a message from the Bible given to me by someone educated in the Catholic religion before the communist and homosexuals took over.

A simple ceremony to gather us, profess our faith, ask for God’s forgiveness and thank him for all his gifts. To pray for the sick, injured and less fortunate and then the two readings from the Bible then the Gospel, the homily, profession of faith, give some charity, get communion and out the door.

Confession needs to be in secret like it used to be and as far as selling annulments to the Kennedy’s and hiding homosexual predators... I hope there is a nice corner of hell next to Hitler, Mengele, Stalin, Jack the Ripper for a little party with those hypocritical piles of feces.

I loved being a Catholic. I was a terrible Catholic and fell away. It took almost 30 years and the way was shown for me to find my way back to the Lord. But when I stepped back into the church it was a shock. I knew most of the prayers and ceremony but all the extra crap was just odd. I figured that it wasn’t a Catholic problem it was a “me” problem. So I pray and hope that God finds a way to show me another way that nourishes me and strengthens my faith.

As my father said when we last spoke of the subject, “ the Church is the Church.. men come and go. They have all the failings and flaws of any man. I don’t worship the man, I worship the Lord and my church is the Catholic Church.”

8 posted on 05/01/2013 4:02:26 PM PDT by Dick Vomer (democrats are like flies, whatever they don't eat they sh#t on.)
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To: freekitty; SkyPilot; HANG THE EXPENSE; Chode
Socialism to communism. Break down of morality and the family.

Yes, these are part of the issue but it runs much deeper than that. When I was growing up, America was a vibrant country, throbbing with faith. Dare I say, we were 'conservative' in makeup. Sundays were spent worshiping our Lord, followed by family dinner. Socialism and communism were political issues prevalent in far off baltic countries.

That was until the feminists began to rear their ugly heads. As American society began to 'progress' in response, other voices materialized. In 1960, Madalyn Murray O'Hair filed a lawsuit against the Baltimore City Public School System, in which she asserted that it was unconstitutional for her son William to be required to participate in Bible readings at Baltimore public schools. In this litigation, she stated that her son's refusal to partake in the Bible readings had resulted in bullying being directed against him by classmates, and that administrators condoned it. After consolidation with Abington School District v. Schempp, the lawsuit reached the Supreme Court of the United States in 1963. The Court voted 8–1 in Schempp's favor, which effectively banned mandatory Bible verse recitation at public schools in the United States. Prayer in schools other than Bible-readings had already been ended in 1962 by the Court's ruling in Engel v. Vitale. God was removed from the American Public School System.

This was the beginning of the slide down the slippery slope. In 1973, in a landmark decision, the US Supreme Court ruled 7–2 that a right to privacy under the due process clause of the 14th Amendment extended to a woman's decision to have an abortion. And the slide continued both on state and federal levels. Today, the issue is gay marriage.

Like any single issue, there are tentacles that extend outwards, some grasping at others to draw them into the larger one. Growing up, we Catholics prayed for an end to communism in Russia. Today, we need to pray for our own nation. May God have mercy on us all!

9 posted on 05/01/2013 4:02:49 PM PDT by NYer (Beware the man of a single book - St. Thomas Aquinas)
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Amen brother.

10 posted on 05/01/2013 4:04:42 PM PDT by Dick Vomer (democrats are like flies, whatever they don't eat they sh#t on.)
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To: NYer

American Catholics mostly.

11 posted on 05/01/2013 4:06:48 PM PDT by Lurker (Violence is rarely the answer. But when it is it is the only answer.)
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To: Dick Vomer
after ending the Latin Mass, it was all down hill from there...
12 posted on 05/01/2013 4:12:36 PM PDT by Chode (Stand UP and Be Counted, or line up and be numbered - *DTOM* -ww- NO Pity for the LAZY)
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To: NYer


13 posted on 05/01/2013 5:14:38 PM PDT by Sergio (An object at rest cannot be stopped! - The Evil Midnight Bomber What Bombs at Midnight)
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To: Dick Vomer

Dick, if you tell me where you are, there may be a Latin Mass near you. I think it would feed your soul.


14 posted on 05/01/2013 5:19:22 PM PDT by VermiciousKnid (Sic narro nos totus!)
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To: NYer

Well, we talked about the Catholic church a little bit awhile back, if you recall. You probably also remember I’m not Catholic, but I will take the liberty to reply since I believe that anytime the name of the Lord is mentioned it’s the concern of every Christian.

I would say that the top thing is how the Catholic church regards God’s Word. Most of all, it doesn’t take some things literally, like the Creation account. But, as I’ve seen it pointed out many times, that makes sense. In both Genesis and the Gospels, genealogies are given. For the Creation story just to be symbolic, that would mean that those genealogies are wrong. And, if death came into the world before the fall of man, then what the Bible says about Jesus as Savior is wrong in many places. To begin with, the world would have been fallen before the fall of man.

As I also told you before, I’m from a very Catholic area in NY state (about 80%). I say this with all humility, wanting to offend no one, but from my experiences here, I’ve grown to not agree with many of the teachings of the Catholic church. I grew up in a pretty liberal Lutheran church, and tried that and the Catholic church when I got older, and even considered it a few years ago, so it’s not like I haven’t been open to it. I also have a Catholic relative so I’ve learned a lot about it and heard a lot of EWTN programs. What I have found is that to me it doesn’t follow the Bible in many other ways, too, and polling has shown that Catholics know very little about it, while evangelicals know much more.

In Ephesians 6 Christians are commanded to “take up the whole armor of God,” including “the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.” The New Testament especially is filled with things that God wants us to know, and by knowing them we know Him better. Being in the church I was, and in this area, we were never told to read the Bible either, and I see that as a great loss and tragedy. This area, too, where the Catholic church dominates, really is like Europe. It’s left Christianity. In all my over 40 years here, I never knew anyone, up until very recently, to bring up the Lord or show a concern for living for Him in any way except one Jehovah’s Witness I knew in high school. Knowledge of God and desiring to do His will just isn’t there, even though many people say that they’re Christian and that they pray about things. They do so, but they also will make the crudest sexual jokes, go to psychics and strip clubs, and believe that even their grandchildren should live together to try a relationship out. Someone who considers sex outside of marriage a sin here will be considered a religious nut or an alien. What does make a difference to many people who believe in Jesus, though, is to see for themselves what God has to say about things. And that makes our relationship with the Lord personal.

Another example of a problem is Catholic Charities. As I’ve mentioned on here a number of times, I lived briefly as a lesbian in my 20’s (and praise the Lord He delivered me out of it). A couple of times I went to Catholic Charities for counseling because of the troubles in my life. You don’t hear of people going to pastors for counseling, and many of them here will just refer you to psychological counseling, even though what you need is to draw closer to the Lord. While in that counseling with Catholic Charities both times, homosexuality was encouraged. Catholic Charities gives psychological counseling, according to the world’s beliefs, many of which go against Christian beliefs. I believe it’s wrong for the government to be forcing employers to provide birth control for their employees, and it really concerns me that they might get away with it, but I have to wonder how Catholic Charities can argue against that policy on religious grounds when they’re offering the worldly counseling that they do.

Other things killing the Catholic church in America are also killing and attacking many other churches, but the Catholic church, like many other churches, seem to be cooperating a great deal with these things.

As I said, I humbly bring these things up, and if I was offensive in any way in how I’ve said things, I apologize and ask forgiveness. But Jesus said that you’ll know them by their fruits, and how this area is and what I’ve experienced here says a lot to me.

15 posted on 05/01/2013 9:56:44 PM PDT by Faith Presses On
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To: NYer

My personal bugaboo is killing American Catholicism! Everyone shape up and join me in obsessing over my personal bugaboo! That will fix Everything!!!

16 posted on 05/02/2013 5:03:20 AM PDT by Tax-chick (Sarah is right.)
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To: VermiciousKnid
I had a good priest at my parish but he was reassigned 2 years ago. I have a fellow who means well, but can barely speak English. Like I said, "It's not a Catholic problem, it's a "me" problem.

Bless you for offering to help. If I was motivated enough I could find my own Latin mass and even tolerate the indecipherable priest that is there now. I am too lazy to put forth the effort to travel to Houston or surrounding areas to find a Latin mass. Between work and sloth I just need to go to church and quit complaining.

17 posted on 05/02/2013 4:29:03 PM PDT by Dick Vomer (democrats are like flies, whatever they don't eat they sh#t on.)
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To: Dick Vomer

Fair enough, my FRiend. Please drop me a line if you need any help at all. I wish you luck, and may God bless you.


18 posted on 05/02/2013 4:35:04 PM PDT by VermiciousKnid (Sic narro nos totus!)
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