The Holy Father has waved his last goodbye and the visit is over.  The Dawkinsites are busy licking their wounds, having failed to disrupt the visit or to garner much attention for themselves outside the economically illiterate newspapers.

Protesting against this visit, making some real media noise should have been easy for the secularists: they had, in theory, a large constituency of people to draw on – church attendance has plummeted over the last forty years and young people are emerging from years of education fundamentally unchurched and unaware of the Christian underpinnings of their culture.

Why has the Holy Father received such an enthusiastic welcome in the UK and why have his detractors not done better?

There are many reasons behind the apparent lack of enthusiasm for “prostesting the Pope” not least of which is that the “anti-Pope” faction in English society is made up of two entirely inimical groups: hard-line protestants in the Ian Paisley/Chipfat mould; and the essentially middle-class metropolitan alliance of militant secularists, gay rights activists and, of course, the usual suspects; needless to say, there is not much common ground between them.

But part of the reason for the lack of visible protest is something that is less visible and is almost drowned out by society: many people, by no means all, have an appetite that cannot be satisfied by swiping a credit card, by turning on the TV or any of the other methods that people use to distract themselves from their lives.  This hunger is visible in many places and finds many different forms of expression, from the common expression that people are interested in “spirituality” (usually without knowing what the word really signifies) to the popularity of the “wonderful” books by Mr Dan Brown.

If one looks out at our society, we see a gnawing hunger and a sense of alienation, which takes many forms, but seems terribly visible:

The Holy Father recognised this in his visit to Britain and commands us, the Catholic Church in these Isles, to be part of the new evangelisation of Britain and, indeed, Europe.

It is important to remember that we, as laity, have a role to play in this, but that we are right to look to our clergy and episcopate to play a major role; after all, the founder of our Church mandated our shepherds to watch over and nurture His flock:

Feed my sheep

But part of the problem that we face is that, instead of a true exposure to the Catholic Faith, we give our children and young people this:

For the last forty years adults have tried to spread the Faith by patronising children, giving them an adult’s idea of what a child wants, instead of recognising that most children and young people want to be treated as adults.  This is very visible in the contrast between so-called “Family Masses”, which seem to be attended exclusively by grandparents and children too young to object, and the Extraordinary Form, which attracts, in my experience, people from a wide range of age groups (and some of the most enthusiastic attendees at the Extraordinary Form Masses seem to be small children and twenty-somethings).

As Catholicism has dumbed down, other things have filled the gap and it is instructive to see what people are replacing culturally illiterate Christianity with: many of the “New Age” cults and groups have a number of emphases: their worship is often conducted in “sacred languages” (either real or made up on the spot), it often has a strong element of mystery and it does not make space for the “congregation” to “do things” (in other words, it rudely apes the forms of the Extraordinary Form).  In essence, people are trying to sate their hunger with something that apes the forms and modes of the classical Roman Rite: people do not seem inclined to mimic the sort of religion exemplified in the mushy pap of the Ordinary Form as it is said in most parishes.

The Church is mandated by the Son of Man to feed his sheep, let us hope our Bishops heed His words:

“And which of you, if he ask his father bread, will he give him a stone? or a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?”

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11 Responses to Hunger

  1. shieldsheafson says:

    “Man is flawed, and so are his institutions” – Cardinal Strauss played by Armin Mueller-Stahl in Angels and Demons.

    Dan got that right.


  2. Frere Rabit says:

    Oh, Raven! Thank you, thank you, thank you! Stanford Nutting is my way into the problem…

    I cannot say much more. Rabit has been given a very responsible job. Rabit has been given the task of being a kind of Stanford Nutting in a secular school, in once Catholic Spain. Religion, believe it or not, is included within the PSHE and Citizenship remit I have been given to organise for the whole school. I shall use the videos of the Stanford Nutting character in the classroom as an introduction to how I’m not going to treat the subject. 🙂

    P.S. As a frightening afterthought, can I share this with you: Pastoral Studies at the Beda College in Rome is taught exactly like this. If any Beda student was to watch this video, he would automatically say, “My God, it’s Father Dermot!” Pastoral Studies at the Pontifical Colegio Beda is known unaffectionately by the students as ‘Dermotology’. Sorry for revealing that publicly, Father, you didn’t support me much either, so it’s time for the truth, and the liberal regime has to go. I am emailing this link right now to Beda students, and I hope they are honest enough to post here that this video is what they recognise as the way “Pastoral Studies” is done at the seminary! We may not find many who want to put their heads on the block… but it’s still going to amuse them.


  3. Brother Burrito says:

    That music video by Portishead chilled my marrow.

    I don’t keep up with ‘modern’ music, but I have felt the power of videos in reaching very deeply inside one, especially if one is still impressionable. The lyrics were:
    [Spoken Portuguese]
    ”Esteja alerta para a regra dos três
    O que você dá retornará para você
    Essa lição, você tem que aprender
    Você só ganha o que você merece”

    Tempted in our minds
    Tormented inside, lie
    Wounded and afraid
    Inside my head
    Falling through changes

    Did you know when you lost?
    Did you know when I wanted?
    Did you know what I lost?
    Do you know what I wanted?

    Empty in our hearts
    Crying out in silence
    Wandered out of reach
    Too far to speak
    Drifting, unable

    Did you know when you lost?
    Did you know when I wanted?
    Did you know what I lost?
    Do you know what I wanted?

    Those words, the dark music and images. Kids get into Goth nihilism terribly early.
    What a lethal combination. Not a human face to be seen, just cold fractals. Shudder.

    (Raven, where did you find that video?)


  4. The Raven says:


    “Goth” borrows much from classical Catholicism in terms of its mentality and outlook and, shall we say, having been an outsider connected to that milieu I can honestly say that many of the young people attracted to the Extraordinary Form have been or are “Goths”: if the Church would reach out to these people by offering them the full glory of the Roman Rite, with its tenebrous aspects intact, then we would rescue many souls from that nihilism.

    Not entirely sure that Portishead would self identify as “Goth”, though!


  5. Brother Burrito says:

    Now that is interesting! My kids talk about Goths all the time, but none of them are into it. In fact, they are like lambs, perhaps I have been too protective.

    My only contact with youth culture is via them, and they don’t open up to Dad much, about what they see at school, so ironically I am in the dark about such things. What group would Portishead identify with? Is the town they are named after a hopeless place?

    Tenebrous, numinous, dark soul night. Hmmmm. Surely there is a Catholic teenage novel there, somewhere.

    If only there were any decent Catholic novelists these days.


  6. The Raven says:


    If you can bear sci-fi (something I foreswore twenty years ago), Gene Wolf is a decent Catholic novelist.


  7. The Raven says:


    I thought that Goths were out and Emo was in?

    I recall Goth coming in in the late eighties – I liked the music, but wasn’t conformist enough to follow their uniform non-conformity.


  8. Mimi says:

    The Goths go in, the Goths go out,
    They go in thin and they come out stout . . .

    Oh wait, that’s worms . . . !


  9. manus2 says:

    Ah yes, us old’uns trying to keep up with modern music. A few comments from another father of teenagers:

    From what I can tell, the video you’ve posted isn’t the “official” one released by Portishead themselves, but rather something put together by a fan. Panning fractals (presumably obtained elsewhere on the web) is relatively easy to do technically, and very effective, but this doesn’t necessarily reflect what the band themselves are trying to do. However the music and lyrics speak for themselves, as it were.

    The classification of music by yoof seems especially fluid these times, and probably local factors such as who likes whom within the immediate circle will result in iron-cast definitions of musical genres entirely at odds with those found a few miles away. Kids, eh?

    However, for what it’s worth, to my ear this Portishead sounds Emo-ish (certainly rather than Goth) but what it reminds me of mostly is Radiohead, whose work I do know very well and would heartily recommend to anyone. Yes, hunger is at the heart of it.

    From my very limited knowledge, the nearest thing to “Goth” I could in any way recommend is the album “Evanescence” by (you guessed it) Evanescence – released quite a few years ago now. If you can stomach the wall of guitar noise, then the cod-Catholic references are clear enough – obsessions with blood, death, guilt, self-harm, God and the supernatural. Very mild I’m sure by the standards of the genre, with some positive Christian sentiments. This album resulted from the creative tension between the female singer and her evangelical Christian guitarist. Subsequently he got the boot and she described the Christian content as “lame”, which didn’t go down well with the Christian radio stations in the US. Anyway, this is by far the heaviest thing my wife will tolerate in the car, for what it’s worth, and she can’t stand Radiohead.

    Thank-you for this. I will buy the Portishead album. I don’t think my wife will like it either.


  10. teresa says:

    I haven’t paid attention to modern music for 10 years! When I was a teenager and also about 20, I listened to heavy metal but it belongs now to the past!

    When talking about Goths, I remember a fellow student of mine. He was enrolled in the Federal Army and had the position of psychologist for troops, he was a Goth, and dressed in black (as he didn’t wear his uniform at the university). Once I saw him reading a book and that is the “Pope” Johanna. Afterwards we had a chance to talk to each other and he asked me which religion I have, I answered “Catholic”, and then he told me he belonged to a new religion and told me its teachings – it was a mixture of Christian dogma and pantheism.

    At that time I didn’t think much about it, but recently I saw a documentary film on Nazism and Himmler, and it occurred to me that these new religions are very dangerous! In the documentary film I heard that Himmler made up a new religion through combining pagan elements with what he found interesting in Christianity, and he even invested a lot of money and energy to search for the Holy Grail!


  11. toadspittle says:

    “…these new religions are very dangerous!”

    Says Teresa.

    No doubt the Romans agreed.


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