Meeting the Master

Supper at Emmaus by Rembrandt

When discussing the problem of the Catholic Church one of the main culprits is “poor catechesis”. The lukewarmness of the laity, the misguided political correctness, the sentimentality, and bland, suburban do-gooder mentality prevalent in the pews is all blamed on “poor catechesis.”

“If only the people had been taught what the Catholic Church really teaches. Then we’d be okay!”

I’m the first to agree that there has been some very poor catechesis in the church, however, I’m not sure the problem is completely the fault of the religious publishers, trendy nuns, poorly educated Directors of Religious Education, left wing theologians and unconcerned pastors.

There is also a problem amongst the laity themselves. The best way I can describe this problem is an attitude of “I’m a cradle Catholic. Don’t you try to catechize me!” How many adult Catholics have taken the trouble to have any form of religious education after being confirmed? It would be interesting to know. Catholics still make up the largest religious grouping in the United States. Why are Catholic publishers not selling millions of books like the Evangelical publishers do? Because Catholics don’t read about their faith. How many adult Catholics have taken the trouble to go on a retreat, a conference, a seminar to learn more about their faith and grow in their knowledge and love of God? Not many.

Ignorance of the faith? Absolutely. Poor catechesis? Absolutely. Who’s fault is it? Just as much the laity who don’t have the level of commitment or interest necessary to do anything more than turn up for Mass on Sunday (when they don’t have anything better to do)

Underlying this complacency is the lack of a real, life changing experience of Jesus Christ. They encounter with the One who changes everything has not happened. The typical Catholic in the pew has been sacramentalized but not evangelized. They have even been catechized (and often not too badly) but not evangelized. They have yet to be converted. Excuse this former Evangelical from lapsing back into Prot-talk, but many Catholics have yet to “meet Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior”. They have not looked up from the fishing boats of their ordinary lives and heard the call of the Master to leave their nets and follow Him.

Furthermore, there is a deep seated resistance to such an encounter. “I’m a cradle Catholic. Don’t you try to evangelize me!”

The bottom line–and this is a message hammered home by Pope Benedict and Pope Francis–is that the Christian adventure is about the encounter with Christ. All the sacraments, all the catechesis, all the liturgies, all the good works of the church, all the theology, all the spirituality, the canon law, the devotions and disciplines–all of it is a structure or a method or a framework for the soul to encounter Christ, and to walk in the way with  our hearts burning within us.

How does this evangelization take place? I have just been keynote speaker this month at two conferences focussing on the New Evangelization and my talk each time revolved around the way we transmit the faith. Why are you a Catholic today? I’m a Catholic Christian because of the example of my parents and because of a few radiantly alive Catholics. People who lived the faith and loved Christ and his people. They were not especially pious or holier than thou. They were simply alive in Christ, and what they had is what I wanted.

Benedict XVI calls this “attraction”. It is the supernatural attraction of a soul to Christ seen in another person. It is the moth being drawn to the light and the metal drawn to the magnet. It is as natural and real as water flowing downhill or the sun rising and setting. This abundant and authentic life is not something which can be manufactured with a method or produced with a gimmick. It is not something which can be taught, but is something that can be caught.

This attraction happens as a side effect of sanctity. It is the result, not the first aim of the would be saint. Pope John Paul II outlined the way in his pastoral letter Into the New Millennium  where he says that this flows from the heart of contemplation. A person spends more and more time with Christ until Christ’s glory is reflected in that person’s abundant and whole life. They become like the thing they worship, and Christ in them draws others to the everlasting encounter.

  • Augustine

    And the current state of things is not the fruit of the post-conciliar Church. Rather, its roots are found before VII. The difference is that at about the same time as VII ended, there was a major shift in the culture from basically Christian to post-Christian. Before this shift, it was easy to cruise along and pass as a Christian; afterwards, the culture would challenge the believers to take sides and many made their implicit choices explicit. To think that when seminary deans and professors quit overnight after VII, people who had never heard any Mass but the Tridentine one and who had been taught by the Baltimore catechism, were the product of VII is patently false. The Zeitgeist of today was already the Zeitgeist then; they just didn’t have a solid foundation, most likely Fideism, a heresy rejected by Paul VI, which plagues many otherwise good Catholics to this day.

    • Chesire11

      The unprecedented material wealth and power enjoyed by the United States after decades of war and depression seduced the people into a lazy epicurean world view. Authority – especially institutional authority – was discredited in the mayhem and aftermath of the first half of the century.

      Short answer: we began to store up the things of this world.

      • FW Ken

        Absolutely agree. Prosperity has made us fat and happy, self-satisfied and spiritually lazy. Anyway, God helps those who help themselves and I’m getting mine. That was sarcasm, btw.

        The history of monasticism is a testimony to the decay produced by prosperity.

  • $50360981

    I’m an adult convert from mainstream protestantism to the Catholic Church. I have actually read the entire Catechism. And yet I still can’t say I have experienced “Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior” as the protestants say. I still don’t know what that means. The Catechism, in the section on prayer, seems to equate this experience with prayer itself, but that just isn’t connecting inside my head/heart. I accept and assent to all the Church preaches, teaches, and believes to be revealed by God, yet I still don’t “feel saved” if you will. I live as best I can by Christian morality and principles, even to the tithing of my gross income and charity work of my own two hands, yet that feeling is still not there. I am ever so grateful that the Catholic faith is not emotion-driven, yet I wonder: What am I missing?

    • Nan

      Welcome home. You might not be missing anything. Jesus Christ died on the cross to atone for your sins. I don’t think it’s necessary to “feel” saved; I’m on my second round with the Catechism and I don’t remember anything about “feeling saved.” Going to Mass every Sunday and making good confession at regular intervals are requirements. Do you listen for the still, small voice of God? Many hear it at Adoration or if your parish doesn’t have Adoration, sit quietly in a pew; He’s in the tabernacle. He loves you.

  • Chesire11

    I think that part of the problem lies with the instinctual revulsion many Catholics feel toward the vulgar sentimentality that is so often flaunted by some evangelicals, and their immodest assertion that their salvation is already a done deal. Toss in the excesses of the televangelists, and it makes many people leery of the personal encounter.

    • Obpoet

      Their salvation is a done deal. Christ has already paid it forward. Who are you to say otherwise?

      • Chesire11

        Christ has redeemed them from their sins, but they can still refuse Salvation through their choices and actions. Is is premature, and presumptuous for any of us to brag that we are saved, as though we are now immune from temptation and sin.

      • Donna

        Jesus paid the price for our salvation but each one of us has to decided to accept this great gift He has given to us…we need to cooperate in our salvation. We need to leave this earth without deadly sin on our soul. (1John 5:16) Jesus has provided for this also by giving the power to forgive sins, deadly and not, to His successors the Apostles and all presbyterate who succeed from them (John 20:21-23); (James 5:13-15). Read the rest of James also, if there is no need to be healed of our deadly sins, then there would be no mention of deadly sin and a soul being saved from death. Are we assured our salvation? Mt 7:21 says – not everyone saying Lord Lord will inherit the Kingdom of Heaven and Rom 11:22 says remain in His kindness or you will be cut off. So yes, we need to be able to clean our soul of deadly sin, and we need to KNOW absolutely that our soul is clean, that we are forgiven of any deadly sin…we need to hear it from a person of authority…given that authority from God……God gave that to the Apostles and they passed it on to the presbyterate, the priests, who have succeeded them unbroken. Not every pastor is in succession, Martin Luther WAS, but then he broke away from the Church which broke the line of succession.

  • Pat Gohn

    Faith caught not taught is how I got here. Once I knew Jesus, I just naturally wanted to know more about him, his teaching, and the Church. Great post, Fr Dwight! Sharing!

  • Cheryl

    I live in a very Catholic area. But most of these people don’t have the desire to go beyond attending Mass on Sunday. They are apathetic to building a stronger relationship with Christ. They would rather fill their days with the pastimes of the world. I’m not perfect, but I fight so hard not to be like that. And the result is, that I feel like an outcast or a weirdo, because I want more than a superficial relationship with our Lord.

  • OneTimothyThreeFifteen

    Excellent piece! Definitely one of the ones I print off…

    Yet again, you point out it’s a matter of metaphysics, not Epistemology.

    Secularists, Atheists, and Protestants – i.e. anyone who bases their religious or non-religious belief on Ockhamism, and therefore the Reformation and Enlightenment, which are its children – talk about ‘belief in God’, and so they should, because it’s as far as their humanistic/reductionist razor reaches. Ockhamism hits a ceiling through which it cannot pass.

    To ground the debate on ‘believing in Jesus’, as they do, would be the same as always prefacing my comments about my mother in Epistemological terms, e.g., ‘I believe in my mum’ – which sounds stupid, but that’s because to talk about her in that manner is to reduce her to something merely conceptual – yet it’s the way most people talk about Jesus. They ‘believe in’ their religion, as they ‘believe in’ science, but not as they encounter real things in the world. I don’t ‘believe in’ the beautiful woman I just saw walk past me, nor the mountain in front of me, nor the awesome sunset which transfixes me. I encounter them. The problem is that it is legitimate to talk about science in that manner, but not these real things in the world, nor religion (because it’s not a mental construct, projection, or Linus’ blanket).

    To use the language of belief, in this sense, is already to admit to some degree (and therefore concede victory to the secularist/atheist/protestant worldview), the unreality of what one’s talking about, and concur with them it’s a subjective, conditional, and conceptual entity, not a reality. It is, in a sense, to trivialise it completely, because it makes makes ‘Jesus’ something I could be mistaken about, yet I wouldn’t think I’m mistaken about the existence of my mother. That is why the ridicule of ‘blind faith’ by Dawkins and his coterie has grounds, because we see it all around us in anything which smells of Protestantism (Ockhamism). This ‘Modernist’ worldview is as toxic to the fulness of reality (revelation) as Ricin is to humans.

    Paradoxically therefore, I would suggest we need to become far more ‘materialist’ or concrete in our religion: become earthy. At that point, genuflecting, bowing, kissing a crucifix, etc., are visceral, are real, they are no longer ‘as-if’ but are.

    We don’t mistake the wax effigy of the policemen (crucifix) for a real policeman (Christ on the Cross), as Elizabeth Anscombe put it, because we don’t make a category mistake. I can visit Jesus in the tabernacle, just as I am really present at the First Mass at every Mass. In this instance, the issue is one of time, not matter. In the former, it is one of super-nature, and super-nature is exactly that: something super-substantial rather than merely substantial. in other words, it is a greater reality, when most people think of the ‘supernatural’ as some thing less than reality (sub-natural?).

    At this point, one realises the reality is a super-reality, it’s nothing like ‘things that go bump in the night’, which supposedly can move things outside us, but something so real it transforms us sacramentally, and really, within. We are – literally – no longer the same, whilst a change of belief, at best, is simply cosmetic.

    As the Bible implies, God’s own always believe God, they don’t believe in God. That’s the language of encounter.That’s how it should be with us.

    • Augustine

      Bravo! Bl. John Paul II reiterated dozens of times about the need to restore Metaphysics in the formation of clergy and religious and to make it the basis to form the faithful again.

  • Terri

    I was raised Catholic, quit practicing (all forms of organized religion); about 14 years ago I started going to a Baptist church that some friends went to; after getting a good basic bible education I advanced to a mega non-denominational church because I was seeking more knowledge. I am a practicing Catholic again; but I can’t say that it is because of anything the church at large has done. Each step on my journey has been because individuals have taken the time to have a personal conversation with me; and sadly this happens more often in the evangelical churches than it does in the Catholic church. Also avenues for further study seem to be more prevalent in the evangelical church than the Catholic church. The Catholic church has the fullness of the Gospel and yet we don’t seem to want our members to gain that fullness for ourselves. Evangelicals preach relationship with Christ and back it up with ways to achieve it. Most of Catholicism still seems to be focused on learning the rules and parroting them back.

  • Obpoet

    Is it time to introduce Sunday School to the Catholic Church?

  • Alice

    I think many adult Catholics are not willing to study the faith further because there is a reluctance for them to embrace all of the Church’s teachings. I think there is this feeling that Evangelicals are more likely to study the faith as adults cause there isn’t the obligation to accept any hard teachings, like contraception is gravely sinful. Sure, it’s easy to accept Christ as Savior if there isn’t anything hard to do – if your salvation is guaranteed no matter what you do, and that you don’t have to repent anymore once you fall. Teaching watered down Catholicism to a bunch of adults isn’t going to inspire people. If they’re going to learn a watered down faith they might as well go join a mega church down the street.

    • RodH

      Alice hit the nail. I agree with much of the author’s assertions, but coming to the Church from Evangelicalism I can say for certain sure that the teaching of “Jesus as personal Savior” means whatever the individual “believer” wants it to mean. I’ve read enough of Fr Longenecker to agree with HIS definition, but the simple fact is, “Evangelicalism” is chock full of “born again Christians” who have been “born again into easy-listening Christianity” who can “go thru a divorce” as many times as they care to change bedfellows, who can use whatever form of contraception they care to {…except maybe not the IUD…} and who never have to confront the TRUE SINS OF THE AGE. In Evangelicalism today, the “Gate is Wide”…in spite of what Christ said about it. So when you see Catholics en masse marching toward Evangelical Churches, as yourself Why? ONE of the reasons is a wholesale junking of their faith simply because Catholic teaching is so darn hard. And one of the most difficult teachings is the teaching on contraception. Ditto divorce. In fact, I truly believe that the Zeitgeist of the last century; “It’s MY Body” sums up Western thought since Lambeth. So Evangelicals promote a “personal Savior” religion that hyper-spritualizes to the exclusion of belief in the true nature of the Incarnation so the the faith and makes it a faith you can “feel inside your head” and it teaches you to get along with your wife but recoils at the hard teachings of JESUS CHRIST OUR TRUE SAVIOR HIMSELF, teachings the Roman Catholic Church has never veered from. Is the laity to blame? Yes…it is THEIR eternal destiny at state so they better pay attention to every Word uttered from the mouth of God. Is the Clergy to blame? Yes…it is THEIR eternal destiny at stake because “to whom much is given, much is required”. Fr Longenecker has cited some very important reasons for struggle within the Church, but the largest rock to move is the simple difficulty in actually accepting the teachings of Jesus, agreeing with them, and following them, AND THAT EFFECTS BOTH THE CATHOLIC AND THE PROTESTANT! Yes, WE Catholics need to get with it and bring the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ to the lost world, and we need to bring it NOW. And that job may be more and more difficult and indeed, as Pope Benedict predicted the Church may become smaller…BECAUSE PEOPLE LOVE SIN MORE THAN JESUS CHRIST.

  • Faith

    I grew up protestant, and I never ever read a single Christian book, including the Bible. But I knew the teachings of evangelical protestantism inside and out because I heard it all sitting in the pews. I never hear a homily that isn’t “be nice to your neighbor.” If I want to learn what the Church teaches, I have to find out for myself. We never, ever hear the Church’s teachings. Never. And my priest is one of the better ones in my diocese.

    The children’s catechism books are watered-down Catholic-Lite where the children learn what a “hero” Pierre de Chardin was, the post First Communion Children don’t even know the Hail Mary. My son’s catechism teacher didn’t even know if “Thou shalt not kill” included bugs. I went and got my own Baltimore Catechism so at least my children can get the truth at home.

    I can attest to the vast majority of Catholics in the pew being extremely poorly catechized — and those are the ones who show up for Mass. They are mostly over 70 but think that what they were taught as children isn’t what the Church teaches anymore. Their children and grandchildren are long gone. The people in the pew don’t even know that they don’t know their faith.

  • Alice

    Artificial contraception is the elephant in the room. No one wants to talk about it, not even the pope! The state of adult formation in the Church is a joke, not to mention the kiddy classes are a “Sacrament” production line in whichthey learn next to nothing, if not false teachings from dissident teachers!

    • Christian LeBlanc

      Artificial contraception undergirds virtually every cancer that’s destroying the West.

  • jackryan

    oh boy, this made me laugh. it’s the cradle catholics’ fault.

    as Hans urs Von Balthasar has stated, the crisis in catechesis in the Church is primarily the fault of the clergy – - not the laity. The swipe at the anonymous know it all cradle catholic is also a cheap shot.

    • Christian LeBlanc

      Speaking as a cradlecat I don’t find it a cheap shot at all.

  • Babagranny

    I’ve been on the RCIA team now for several years. Each year we have 35-70 actual catechumens and candidates for Confirmation, plus their sponsors, and 2-3 Catholics who want to learn more about their Faith. Those 2-3 are always amazed at how much they learn. I try to encourage Catholics to do this (nobody takes role and they can just show up whenever they want), and I have been surprised that so few do it. I guess it’s just that they think they are satisfied already.

  • DebraBrunsberg

    I don’t have a clue how you draw Catholics deeper into the faith or a deeper relationship with the Lord. God is the one who opens up our heart and fills it, but yes, we have to desire that. I think most people just want to live in their sin so they don’t make too big of an effort at learning exactly what their lives of sin look like. They figure if they show up once a week for Mass and maybe confession once a year, they are good to go. Trouble is, most do not believe in Jesus present in the Eucharist, confession or that they even have grave sins.
    How did that happen? The poor catechisis, the liberal priests, the weak liturgy, the breakdown of showing any reverence to Jesus in the Eucharist, the fifty years of not teaching anything of relevance from the pulpit. Lots of reasons and yes, each person is responsible to learn their faith, but sometimes they need a lot of help.
    Trashing traditionalists isn’t going to resolve it. At least when one attends a Tridentine Mass they are guaranteed silence, reverence, worship, prayer, all those things that say, “We are here to meet God and we want to be here.” Not, we are here because it is an obligation or someone made us come here. If one actually compares the words of the Tridentine Mass to the Ordinary Mass, one will see how much of the Mass was thrown away. When half the worship is trashed, you are going to lose a lot and we are seeing the fruit of that. Handing out Jesus like He was a chiclet hasn’t helped either. Everyone goes to communion, every week. How does tha work? When one sees a Basilica that boasts over 6,000 individuals as members but only offers confession for 1/2 hour a week, you have to wonder what they are being given by their pastor(s) What seeds, if any, are being planted?
    I am 57 years old and I was confirmed 5 years ago. I am blessed. My conversion and being brought back into the Church was a gift from God and it was helped along by being baptized in the Holy Spirit (yes, by the laying on of hands) and attending healing Masses and retreats and conferences, Adoration, daily Mass and frequent confession and a very holy, wise and spirit filled priest. I think every Catholic should be made to attend a healing Mass and that the laying on of hands should be a regular part of at least quarterly worship services in EVERY parish. Laying on of hands is all over the bible and it is there for a reason. Old or new Catholic, everyone needs to open themselves up to the Holy Spirit as that is the only way they will make it to Jesus, unless Jesus just zaps them. Which He has been known to do.
    My Archdiocese has been bringing Rediscover to the people and it is making a difference. Check it out. It has to be done. Souls are in dire need, whether they know it or not. We can’t bring people to God, until we ourselves can find Him.

  • Beefy Levinson

    “I’m a cradle Catholic. Don’t you try to catechize me!”
    That reminds me of a conversation I had a few years ago when I was a freshly baptized convert. A cradle Catholic furiously resented my impeachment of his Catholic bonafides. Who the hell was I, he demanded, to call him a bad Catholic when he dutifully went to Mass every Christmas and Easter?

  • Jason

    “The typical Catholic in the pew has been sacramentalized but not evangelized. They have even been catechized (and often not too badly) but not evangelized. They have yet to be converted.”

    Father, I would not limit the above observations to Catholics “in the pew.” I have seen nothing in my 12 years as a convert to Catholicism that would suggest to me that Catholic priests any more evangelized, any more converted than the laity (or persons in Consecrated life, for that matter). Ordination or consecration is absolutely no guarantee than an individual is any more an evangelized disciple of Jesus Christ than a person sitting in the pew. It’s important to keep this in mind. Otherwise ordination and/or the taking of Religious vows become a substitute for conversion of heart and mind.

  • FW Ken

    At 68 million Catholics, ten to one would make for 680 million protestants. There are about 300 million Americans.

    As to the “nones”, it’s an open question whether it’s really an increase or just that unbelief has become more fashionable. In any case, projecting trend lines out ignores the possibility (probability) of intervening factors. Change is itself subject to change, often unpredictable change.

  • Christian LeBlanc

    No adult Catholic who can read has any excuse for not behaving like, you know, an adult, and tending to his or her own faith formation. Stop whining and take charge of yourself. Your pastor isn’t your nanny.

  • Rebecca Duncan

    I am a convert from being raised a ‘none’. I had to learn everything myself. It is a both and problem. The priests need to actually TEACH during the homily and not just give bland, self help, be nice sermons. The laity need to learn their faith themselves…with the net there is no excuse not to these days. As for the you gotta have your conversion experience, yeah I agree with that…but learning is never bad.

  • ylarryb

    Cradle Catholics, cradle baptist, cradle Judaism, it’s all the same and is the main problem for sure. The fundamental belief that Jesus died for my sins is the other problem. Many Christians do not take their relationship with g-d seriously. Jesus paid the price so lets live it up. Maybe if Christians spent the sabbath like Judaism teaches, not like just an hour long duty, so to speak, they would grow more in their beliefs.

  • profling

    It could also be due to a desacralized liturgy: unconsecrated persons walking around in the sanctuary, mass versus populum, lack of a sacred language, poor hymns, etc.

  • jackryan

    I’m sorry but I find all this discussion of catechized v. “evangelized” to be very, very judgmental, and the pope isn’t helping by constantly acting like no one raised Catholic to date is an authentic Christian, as if we’re not good enough if were not in a perfect state of union with the Trinity at all times. He seems preoccupied with name calling and insulting Catholics who were raised in the Faith. It’s very strange and disturbing.

  • Nan

    Plus, nones often change if they have children.

  • Nan

    Wow! My parish has pre-RCIA programming for those who might be interested in learning about Catholicism. Then they have RCIA, then they have a faith and reason program, and other ongoing catechesis for adults. There’s a program for young adults too. The Archdiocese has a Rediscover initiative and just had a sold-out Rediscover day; they also have a 4-pt lecture series at different parishes, a Catechetical Institute (2-year faith formation for adults based on the 4 pillars of the Catechism) and various events that pop up.

  • Alice

    I also feel that many adult Catholics are unlikely to further pursue a deeper knowledge of their faith because they are embarrassed to show how little they know. They just figure “I’ll do my weekly Sunday obligation and that’s enough!” And this goes right back to the poor Catechesis they received as children. If you don’t even get a basic knowledge of the faith as a child how do we expect adults to be inspired to learn more as adults?

  • DoctorDJ

    The Baltimore Catechism made me the proud atheist I am today.

  • Guest

    Apparently I don’t know the difference between “there” and “their”…sorry English teachers :-)

  • Faith

    Sorry, but you are so far off. I have been searching out those crazy Traddies more and more because they are the only ones who are really teaching the Catholic faith. How can the faith of 2000 years change so completely as the Catholic faith has in the past 50-100 years? I am fed up with the social justice b.s. I hear week in and week out, with never a word about “the four last things.” (Too traditional,the four last things.) I am so tired of my kids being taught this watered down garbage that the Novus Ordo has to offer. I am so tired of everyone like you making excuses for the crisis in the Church. But mostly blaming it on the Traditionalists. How could the “Traddies” be so far wrong if they simply believe in the 2000-year old teachings of the Church, the Church, I am told, which can never change Her teachings.

  • Augustine

    Having been to a Vetus Ordo mass a couple of weeks ago, I was saddened by the gloomy atmosphere before, during and after it.

    Starting with a priest who had no clue of Latin, though the motions were quite fine, going through the faithful who were even more clueless about Latin and mumbled only the shortest responses, though the head bows at the name of Jesus were perfectly timed when said in English, it was akin to an irreverent Novus Ordo mass, only quieter: sloppy and indifferent celebration of the Eucharist by both clergy and laymen.

    It was a sad spectacle of skin-deep fideism in the congregation unworthy of the feast taking place on the altar.

  • johnnyc

    So evangelizing is restricted to only those that don’t know Christ? What about those that do not know His Church and Sacraments? Or our Blessed Mother? We no longer need to evangelize protestants? This is starting to sound very much like that guy in the video who said we only need Jesus and do not need religion or a church.

  • ylarryb

    You bring up a good point about the lack of time people have and are willing to spend on their faith. People are busier today in different ways than they ever have been.

  • Augustine

    Who invented clown “masses” if not those who were ordained before VII?

  • OneTimothyThreeFifteen

    I di_a_ree. To m_, t_e int_rpr_tat_on of th_ tex_s of V_tica_ II is a_ is_ue of go_d w_ll a_d in_egr_ty.

    Anybody can fill in the gaps above correctly because we are capable of grasping the gist of something from its context almost instantaneously. In the same way, the gist, or ‘Spirit’, of Vatican II can either be one in the manner of the example, or one of deliberate and disingenuous misinterpretation. Self-deception plays a big part, but self-deception is not ‘unconscious’, it’s a matter of deliberate denial, a matter of sin.

    It’s amazing what we have the capacity to understand and interpret absolutely correctly in other contexts, however badly expressed, or enigmatic, when we have the will and desire to do so, especially when we know understanding correctly will be to our benefit.

    People only ‘have difficulty’ interpreting something because I’d argue they already intuit correctly, that it goes against cherished nostrums or suchlike.

    In other words, most ‘misinterpretation’ of Church teaching is actually the result of the mind’s capacity to interpret, or join the dots, in the twinkling of an eye, and then repackage and distort it in one’s own favour, ‘on the fly’, because one doesn’t like what one knows is the case or correct interpretation.

  • Christian LeBlanc

    To speak of one thing is not to negate things not spoken of.

  • ForChristAlone

    Re-read what I wrote: “…to evangelize the rest of the parish (and others who do not know Christ)….” Let’s not assume that all protestants are evangelized just as it’s unsafe to assume all Catholics are.

  • FW Ken

    “They are the only ones teaching the Catholic Faith.”

    I’m in general sympathy with people having a liturgy that feeds their souls. The TLM holds no attraction for me, but I’m glad that it’s there for those folks who want it. But the more I read from traditionalist folks, like the quote above, the more repelled I find myself. Apparently, the stereotypes against the trads are true, our, at least, have a basis in fact.