Quote of the day

“If only 15% of Catholics go to Mass on a given Sunday, look around and see how many of them are old. Even the 15% who are there won’t be there for very long.

The solution is simple: we must return to the supernatural realities of the historic faith and evangelize like the Apostles of old. The big difference is that the Apostles knew their targets were pagans and the pagans knew they weren’t Christians. We’re dealing with a huge population of Americans (Catholics and Protestants alike) who are pagan but who think they’re ‘good Christians.’ It is very difficult to evangelize people who already think they’re fine just as they are. We don’t know what we don’t know, and the vast majority of poorly catechized, lazy and worldly Catholics aren’t aware that there’s anything wrong.”

– Fr. Dwight Longenecker, writing here.


  1. ron chandonia says:

    Yesterday I was reading a report from a woman who attended the recent March for Life. Since it promised to focus on youth involvement, I expected an upbeat account, but the writer’s object was to ridicule the participants. The youngest, she said, only came to get a day off school. “The older ones are college students who make a road trip of it,” she continued, “knowing that a night on a church floor and a day that begins with mass at the Verizon Center is a good way to meet (do they hook up, one wonders) other young people with similar theo-politics.” I was not surprised to find that the author was Catholic nor that she strongly supported “abortion rights.”

    Here, I thought, is a pagan who considers herself a good (or good-enough) Catholic. But I don’t think she’s the sort of person Fr. Longenecker really has in mind because she at least articulates her dissent from Catholic teaching and disdain for those who take it seriously. I think he’s talking more about the baptized multitude who only remember their Catholicism when they need a venue for their wedding or their parents’ funeral. In general, they have neither disdain for the Church nor hostility toward its teachings. They are simply indifferent, and they do not even suspect that indifference is not enough to get them a place in heaven (if there is such a thing, and if they should ever really die anyhow).

    I’m reading Bonhoeffer’s Cost of Discipleship now, and it seems to me that many of these Catholic-pagans subscribe to the theory of “cheap grace” and see the origin of their well-deserved salvation in themselves. I don’t know how to disabuse them of this notion. If they should happen to make it to a Christmas or Easter mass, they may even find it reinforced by a feel-good homily. And if not, they may think the priest or deacon is just mean.

  2. Deacon John M. Bresnahan says:

    Sometimes I think we put old folks down by the way we talk about their attendance at Mass.
    In the Communist Soviet Union it was the old babushkas that kept the Orthodox Faith alive. And as death took the older generation away, the younger generation (now old) replaced them.
    But through all that time–for near a century–if you looked in the churches–mostly old people were there.
    In fact, I think the big damage Vatican II did–thoughtlessly implemented in some respects— was to undermine the faith of many older people. And in most cultures it is the older spiritually wise people who keep religion alive and are the ones who really pass on the religion to the next generation.
    Possibly this is because older people are closer to hearing the final trumpet call.

  3. pagansister says:

    Would it be impossible to be a Catholic and not attend Mass on a regular basis? IMO, yes, and if those people live life as their faith told them, how can they be considered Pagan? They can follow the teaching without always being in the church or at Mass. At least from this former Christian’s point of view. Of course I was Methodist, so I wasn’t raised in the RCC. Just an opinion.

  4. Mr Flapatap says:

    I have been attending the March for Life for the past 10 years and I wholeheartedly disagree with the woman’s report. Sounds more like wishful thinking on her part.

  5. Such arrogance.

  6. Thanks for sharing this, Greg. The point is well-taken that we have failed to evangelize our own. In the 70′s and 80′s it was by focusing on the God who loves you no matter what… and people really took that message – in the wrong way. They have failed to do what the Prodigal Son did – repent and return. The current backlash that puts doctrine ahead of kerygma is having an off-putting effect as well.

    As long as we fail to proclaim authentically the person and message of Jesus Christ first, and the doctrinal underpinnings only when people have had opportunities which foster true conversion, we are doomed. Kids leave after Confirmation because they have a whole pile of stuff they learned – or at least were exposed to, whether they tuned in or not – but many of them never really got the point. As adults they frankly see little use for anything the Church offers – and small wonder.

    If we do the New Evangelization well, we stand a chance. Let’s pray that the new Vatican committee to lead that gets it right.

  7. If you can be a baker without ever actually baking anything, or if you can be a teacher without ever actually teaching anyone, or if you can be a painter without ever actually painting a picture, or a sculptor without ever sculpting a statue, then I suppose you can be a Catholic without ever celebrating (not merely attending) Mass.

    The Mass is the divine Liturgy. Liturgy comes from the Greek word “liturgia” which, roughly translated, means “the work of the people”. In other words, it’s the work you do that identifies you as what you are. So, a baker’s “liturgia” is to bake. A teacher’s “liturgia” is to teach. A painter’s “liturgia” is to paint, and a sculptor’s “liturgia” is to sculpt. If a baker never bakes, do you call him a baker? If a teacher never teaches, do you call him a teacher? (no, you call him an administrator ;) If a painter never paints, do you call him a painter? If a sculptor never sculpts, do you call him a sculptor? At the very least, you wouldn’t call them active in their work.

    The Mass is the “liturgia” of the Catholic people. It is what we do that identifies us as what we are. A Catholic who does not celebrate the Mass can hardly be called a Catholic, or at least an active one. Also, the Catholic faith is not their faith. It is not my faith. It isn’t even the pope’s faith. It is the faith of the apostles.

    Having said that, I recall the prophesy of Benedict XVI, who said we may have to accept a smaller, if more faithful, Church in the coming age. After all, does anyone go to Church because they have to, anymore? The secret to evangelizing Catholics is parents, especially fathers. A father who worships regularly is the highest predictor of whether or not a child grows up to worship as an adult.

  8. hi guys,
    am from the central Philippines, a small city in an island called Cebu where Christianity was first introduced in 1521. if anyone visit us, you will notice that in a 1-kilometer radius, you will find many catholic churches and most prominent are churches in the Philippines over flowing with people attending sunday masses.

    attending a mass for a materially poor country like us is our solace and our connection to our God and HIs blessed mother who love us even more in our misery.

    we are not exempt to heavenly trials. in fact we have lots of it as you can read in the internet – one after the other. but still we can afford to smile because in our hearts, we know a God that is loving us.

    we are a people who goes abroad to work for our family and if in foreign land we cannot attend masses due to distance or due to absence of catholic churces, we hold tight to our Rosary, novenas or just short prayers, and our strong belief that everything is ok for our love ones at home.

    i met an American protestant pastor before who proudly said that he was an ex catholic but didnt find satisfaction being one. i told him that i am hoping that before he leaves the Philippines, he will revert to his being a catholic, because a religion as old as the RCC cannot be wrong, and he should use his bible learnings to being a good RCC instead. after i said that, he just stopped talking about his new faith…hahaha i hope i made a convert of him ..

    God bless to all of us! Another trivia about us: do you know that the Cebu archdiocese has the biggest number of seminarian enrollees? yes its true. at the last count Cebu has more than 400 seminarians, and priests from here are being sent out to other countries on missions. the church even recalled some still active retired priests for duty to some U.S. parishes when its known that their parishes lack or no priests available.

    thus, if anyone of you would want to make your donations to our seminaries here, please do. we have lots of kids wanting to enroll but our seminaries cannot fit them in due to lack of funding for expansions as well as these kids are from families who cannot afford to send them to a seminary.

    if only America or Europe can send their biiiigggg empty churches and seminaries over here? :) wow! that would be so wonderful isnt it?

  9. pagansister says:

    Good points, BobRN. I do like the teacher who does not teach —is an administrator! But as abstract as it may seem to you, I do think a person can be, for lack of a better word, faithful to their religious beliefs (in this case RC) without always being in the building associated with that faith. IMO, God (or Goddess) is everywhere, not just in that building built for the purpose of worshiping that Divine Being.

    My father(and mother) went to church regularly and the 3 of us were taken along with them. However, of the 3 of us, only 2 still attend. Guess that might back up the statement you made.

  10. “I do think a person can be … faithful to their religious beliefs without always being in the building associated with that faith.”

    Well, that appears to be the hope of modern Western men and women. Only, for most, I fear they would take it to the point of “without EVER being in the building associated with that faith.”

    Modern men and women have abandoned confidence in any authority that comes outside of themselves, at least when it comes to revelation about God. Most are gnostics in the extreme, placing faith only in what they believe about God, which may be one thing today and another thing tomorrow. There is little confidence that, even if there is a God, we can know anything about Him. Or, at least, people hope there is little we can know about Him.

    That may be the hope and promise of modern faith, but it most certainly isn’t the gospel of Jesus and His Church.

  11. I know I’ve written about my own experience many times on this blog, but will do it again to make the point that prayer, especailly the prayers or parents I think, REALLY matters.

    I was convinced in my early twenties that I would NEVER NEVER under an circumstances be “Catholic” despite devout Catholic parents and every advantage given to me in my upbringing.

    On the same note, I wasn’t really a “pagan”, because I did believe in God, just didn’t think I needed him, or at least His chruch, (at least while I was living life of “my” terms).

    It could have only been Grace (as a result I think of much prayer for me). But even then, I remained a “cafeteria catholic”, for a decade, much like Deacon L describes.

    Again, while being the last one into mass, sitting on a widow ledge (no more seats), at a mass in Rancho Sante Fe, CA, I clearly remember a voice in my head, be it my angel or the Holy Spirit, say to me “You are pathetic, either get in or get out, and stop going through the motions. ”

    That was a defining moment in my faith, which made me decide to finally “learn it.” And that is the main point of my post. I was as clueless as the pagans or the going through the motion types who think they are truly Catholic. My poiint to all, and especially to those who pray for conversions, is this: Keep praying!

    While I’m no saint (far from it), I want to be one and I truly love the faith. I now love and understand what (and why) the church teaches ( always much to learn) what it does. Nothing could ever get me to leave the Catholic Faith. In fact, I would die for it if necessary.

    My point is, despite all of my parents efforts to make me into a good Catholic, it was in the end, only their payers and trust that got me back. Since I had rejected or tuned out all that was taught to me, when the grace hit, I pretty much started from scratch. what I know for sure is that when the will is ready, the teachers will appear, in abundance, especially in the age of the internet. All that we need is “out there.”

    I just keep praying, especially for the salvation of souls and conversions, knowing there are a lot more like me out there. IMO, it’s the best thing we can do for the poorly catechized, as I live in joyful hope that many will, eventually, get there, even if not until “old age.”

  12. Interesting, Klaire, I heard the same voice, only in my case it was involving Alcoholics Anonymous. In effect, I either joined and quit drinking or didn’t and died drunk. I think a lot of us have heard that voice over one problem or another.

    But I have also heard a voice that has led me in a much gentler way to a loving God who is slow to condemn and quick to forgive. I cannot prove that it was not my own voice or that it was actually God speaking, I think that will have to be shown by my actions and love of other people then by my constant proclaiming it.

    As for bakers that don’t bake, etc., there seem to be a lot of people in the world that feel free to tell others how to act while not acting that way themselves. There are people that call themselves teachers but only administrate, bakers who are really administrators, etc. Unfortunately, I also think that there are far too many bishops that are administrators and not demonstrating the love of God, His mercy, and His caring. Instead they only see rules and regulations and their own power. They do not lead us to Christ, but rather try to drive us to Christ.

    I also think that BobRN is correct, without the mass being central in our relationship with God, we tend to fall away. I was through the liturgy that He first spoke to me, that I first experienced His heartbeat and realized that I could leave the Church, but there was no place else to go where I could truly experience him.

    Unfortunately, I have found far too often that those who have the responsibility of bringing Christ to us o the alter fail to help us experience him by spending all their time quoting rules, imposing laws (after licking his thumbs to help turn pages, he refuses communion in hand because someone has ink stains on them) and finding mostly evil in the world. If that is all he has experienced in his service to God, I do not want to follow his way.

    One thing the Muslims have right: “God is Great!”


    Mike L

  13. On the same note, there are a large number of Pharisees who believe themselves to be “good Christians”, too.

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