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Tuesday, August 02, 2011


peter l

It pain's me to say it but this is not the Catholic Ireland i grew up in.I remember there being no standing room for Mass on sunday,now,you could pick your weekly seat.So many unmarried mother's who do not seem to care if their children will do the same when they reach adulthood.All is not lost though,when i see there are people who will not only attend Mass but also Eucharistic Adoration without flinching.Parent's need to be example's for their children.


I think what we must never forget in seeking an explanation for Quebec, Ireland, etc. is that any society is always complex, Catholic or secular. And perhaps that is really what those societies in their Catholic heyday forgot as well.

Yes, there was clearly an insularity to robust thought, but I think we make a mistake if we presume that we are looking at an either/or situation. I studied philosophy at a Catholic college of the University of Toronto, not because it was Catholic but because it had the best philosophy program. At the time there was no lack of input from all manner of directions to the philosophical debate.

Yet over the years of life I have found something quite remarkable. Despite the availability of higher education and the great numbers of the populace that take advantage, in the end society tends to stratify, or at least perpetuate the existing strata. In other words, when Jesus said that the poor will always be with you, he might well have added that the peasants will always be with you.

That is not some arrogant statement of an elitist. I am far from it, coming from the lower class myself, and finding social barriers along the way because of it. I am a peasant, and I love peasants. My point is that the old social structures from England that America had tried so hard to do away with has perpetuated itself in America as well as in Canada, and I think will always find its way in any society.

What's the point? Yes, the intellectuals of any society tend to lead the movements within it, but the movements themselves are always populated by those peasants and the middle class. And the movements can go nowhere without popular support, even in a very coercive society.

From the perspective of the Catholic faith the same is true I think. As wide open as their eyes may be, the large numbers of the ordinary peasant faithful will not be moved and swayed by ideas per se as much as by experiences and straight up moral decisions necessitated by circumstances.

Those people are moved away from the Church more by the lack of conversion of heart than by ideas. The ideas are only grasped when it appears they are the way out of the confines of a morality they do not believe in their heart, because they do not know the Christ of that morality, even though they see him every week in the Eucharist.

All of this to point out that it is not just the head or just the heart, although I think that where the heart belongs to Christ, it is less likely to be swayed even by ideas the mind is not prepared for. And why is it conversely that Evangelicals have such success with removing Catholics from their faith? It is because they speak to the heart exclusively, and that is what moves people to act. I know that in my case I was intellectually Catholic before I made the move, before a conversion experience that spoke directly to my heart.

I would say, at the risk of sounding too much like those anti-intellectual Evangelicals, if we ignore the conversion of heart of the young whether in a wide open pluralistic society or in a closed Catholic dominated society, the end result will be similar in my opinion.


LJ, thank you. What you've written is 100%, unqualified truth. You've written a summary of the one truth I emphasize more than any other in teaching my parish-based apologetics and evangelization classes.


But why is conversion of the heart missing? Partly because shortcuts were taken in presenting the faith. People fall in love with the true faith. If we present something else then people will be less likely to embrace it with their heart. They may follow social pressure and look Catholic. But it won't have penetrated deeply. So they are easy prey for secularism.

How should the true faith be presented. Differently for peasants than for intellectuals for sure. But both need the real faith presented to them in a compelling way. The worst thing is when they think they have it and they don't. Then it is very hard for them to be evangelized. They might find something in a protestant church and not know Catholicism teaches all of that as well.


Just a few random thoughts.

Tell me where there is a popular government at the moment anywhere in the world. We have all become ungovernable, self-opinionated, world-savers with no respect for any authority or for the past.

God is therefore either a goody grandfather, if he agrees with us, or a despot, if he makes requirements of us without consultation (meaning if he doesn't allow us to do what we want to do at this moment).

We have no consciousness of human nature as being frail or fallen (aka original sin) and are therefore surprised that it is difficult to get ongoing agreement about peaceful sharing of this good world's riches. Do we need to wonder that we cannot even agree about human rights? Why do some people consider abortion a mercy and others a murder?

LJ, in a perspicacious note above, distinguishes between peasants and intellectuals. Well, peasants is a loaded word - but he/she is right, though I would argue a little differently. Most people do not belong to Christianity (or to any society) with their whole heart and mind. But neither heart, nor mind, alone provides true anchorage. Do we realise that people go for things more often with their hearts than their minds? Only the few know the why's and wherefore's. Intellectuals have always been few. With the media everywhere and most governments taking it out of believers, especially the Catholics, is it any wonder that the non-intellectuals, the half-boiled, should waver and totter?

Leaders do not appear when we're up but when we're down and need direction because we have lost the way. I think God has provided us a leader in Pope Benedict. I see him as "tremendous" in spirituality and intellect. He is a light for a world that has lost its way - temporarily, I hope.

To re-cap:
1. We must remember fallen human nature which requires pushing.

2. We live at a time when we've lost faith in all authority, police, justice, politicians, medical services, priests ..... they have all taken a shaking.

3. Every person is an island (and authority in everything) unto himself.

Just a few thoughts, presented with humility, fearing they will be misunderstood, but pray not.

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