Dear Mark Shea:
Yes there was! A golden age of purity. Before Vatican II. I lived it.
The just published translations of the original schemas of Vatican II (unam sanctam catholicam blog) shows the pure Romanita we have lost. Until 1939 France was the most Catholic country on earth. (In 1880 more than 75% of all Catholic missionaries serving abroad were French, by 1930 this number had only slipped to more than 50%). In 1970 20% of French adults attended weekly mass, in 1995 only 8%, in 2004 only 4.5%. One explanation is “The Devirilization of the Liturgy in the Novus Ordo” by Fr. Richard Cipolla (Rorate Caeli).
The Protestant invasion (Hahn, Ray, Shea et al) has made Catholics sceptical of their own tradition. Fr. John Riccardo recently suspended most parish activities to put his congregation through the Alpha program. Questioned by Teresa Tomeo, he acknowledged that the program was not Catholic. But it works, he said, because it is non-Catholic. Catholics, he maintained, do not trust their Church.
Until the Protestant invasion, “the first seven years were the ones that count”. Every Catholic possessed the short pithy responses of the Baltimore Catechism as their lifelong possession. Newman in the Idea of a University tells the story of three Anglican ministers traveling in Ireland. They were guided by a 13 year old youth who surpassed them in his knowledge of the Catechism.
You and your colleagues in the EWTN marketing network are undermining the authority of the bishops creating a parallel magisterium. Pope Francis recent critical remarks on capitalism were carefully avoided by EWTN. Mother Angelica’s fight for Catholic tradition is only a distant memory.
Notice, yet again, the absolutely consistent habit of mind of the Reactionary: The huge problem the Church faces is *converts*. Riff raff. Impure and unclean people getting into Fortress Katolicus. So all the animus is directed at people like EWTN, who are attempting to do evangelization. And in the effort to shout that down, it matters not a whit that complete nonsense is spoken. So a book devoted entirely making the case that the Church tradition is reliable becomes the launch pad for the charge that “converts” are trying to make Catholics skeptical of their own tradition and the guy glosses over the emphatic insistence of this blog that we listen to pope Francis *particularly* concerning his economic teaching. Somehow, Scott Hahn and Steve Ray, writing in English, become responsible for the state of the French Church and assume blame for some priest somewhere using the Alpha program.
Here’s the governing paradigm: Reactionaries hate evangelism. It explains everything from Michael Voris’ constant attacks on Fr. Barron, EWTN, and Catholic Answers to Rorate Coeli’s stupid attack on Tolkien (who has, the critics claim notwithstanding, been a powerful force for evangelism as any number of converts will tell you) to the intense loathing for Francis’ evangelical witness to this. If anything presents the threat of calling riff raff and rabble into Fortress Katolicus, the unfailing instinct of the Reactionary is to attack it.
Because Reactionaries hate evangelism.