by Matthew Archbold
If there were a Nazarene yearbook 2,000 years ago, Jesus would not have been voted most popular. Maybe “most likely to be tortured and crucified” but definitely not most popular.
He didn’t seem to care all that much about being popular because he knew that if being popular is your goal you may very well achieve it but at what cost? As Jesus said, we cannot serve two masters.
When Jesus said, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world,” it freaked a number of his disciples out. In fact, it freaked them out enough that they bolted.
Now, as they abandoned him, Jesus could’ve said, “Hold the phone” and then they might’ve asked what a phone was. But maybe they would’ve understood through context. But Jesus could’ve said, “Just messing with y’all. Not ACTUALLY my body and blood. Symbolically. It was all a metaphor, you see.”
Nope. Jesus didn’t say that. Jesus wasn’t trying to be cool. He wasn’t concerned with popularity at all. In fact, so committed to not being popular was Jesus that he allowed himself to be crucified. That, my friends, is a strong commitment to unpopularity.
So I’m always a little bit perplexed when I see Catholics arguing that the Church needs to change its teachings in order to be popular. They use terms like “get with the times” or “modernize” but it means the same thing.
We’re told that if you want to be cool you’ll be awesome with abortion, good with the gay sex, open to ordaining women, relaxed about religious freedom, and cool with contraception. And we’re told that unless the Church does these things, churches will become increasingly empty and irrelevant. But what role does that leave the Church, to simply affirm what people already think and do? Is it the Church’s role to make people feel good about their choices regardless of the reality. It seems that modern Christianity wants to avoid the cross but here’s the thing – there is no Christianity without the cross.
As the Church continues preaching the truth, it may very well face empty pews, hatred, and even persecution in the near future. We will be the modern lepers who instead of announcing themselves as “unclean” must pronounce themselves “uncool.” And it will likely get worse than that. When Jesus said He was the living bread, some ran. Jesus was tortured and killed. That’s going on right now in many parts of the world. And it may soon go on here in the Western world.
As Francis Cardinal George said, “I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square.” While this may seem like the beginning of the end, it will not be. This is how the Church is reborn.
It may very well be persecution which will eventually bring people back to the Church. But in the foreseeable future there may very well be dark times ahead. Prepare yourselves. Prepare your children. The cross awaits.
“As the Church continues preaching the truth, it may very well face empty pews, hatred, and even persecution in the near future.”
Well, I agree with the “hatred” and “persecution” for the Church as it continues to preach the truth; that is happening right now, and always has done so. But I completely disagree that She will face “empty pews” for this!! In fact I believe it is quite the opposite.
Yes, OK, there are those who will leave, finding some of the Church’s teaching “too hard” – and the author reminds us of the disciples of Jesus, who found the teaching of Holy Communion too difficult to accept – but the great majority of the millions of Catholics throughout the world want the Church to proclaim the TRUTH, the whole Truth.
Some teachings might be “hard”; they might be challenging; they may require sacrifice and penance…. IOW, the Cross! But they are the pointers to a real and living Faith. Something worth dying for. The Pearl of Great Price.
Not a wishy-washy and banal Church. Not agreeing with everyone (that ends up meaning agreeing with no one!) so as not to ‘offend’. Not the Church of ‘nice’ and ‘easy’.
This type of Faith attracts nobody except the most feeble-minded…. and even then, only for a while. Why? Because it’s spineless and boring.
It was this that emptied the pews in the terrible aftermath of Vatican II.
Let’s hope we have learnt the lesson.
McCavity, a word of advice. You need to spend a short time settling into a new place before you start challenging long established residents with your demands for explanations and justifications. Why not simply ask a polite question instead?
Kathleen is tough enough to take you to task herself, but i find your tone as a newcomer a little too brash..
Perhaps you should challenge issues and discuss with people instead. That is what normal human beings do, who also meet aggression with understanding and fantasy with insight.
Yer. Get them knees brown, Mac. Eh Rabit?
I shall try to tackle Mr. McCavity‘s rather belligerent questions. But you know what….? I don’t think he’s really interested in my answers (that are pretty evident from what I have written anyway) but more in, er…. stirring things up perhaps?
McC: “Are you an opponent of Vatican II, Kathleen?”
Nope, at least not in the official documents that came out of the Council.
“If so, what are your objections?”
Like most Catholics who love their Church with a passion, many things were undertaken after Vatican II that had nothing to do with the Council’s pastoral letters, and Catholics were left feeling confused and bereft. I was only a small child at the time, but I am fully aware of what was inexplicably torn away from us. [To clarify, take another look at our recent CP&S article: Michael Voris’s “What happened?”, which explains the ‘objections’ of most of us.]
One more thing: nothing about the fullness of Faith in the Catholic Church is either ‘boring’ or ‘spineless’, only the weak, light imitation of the true Faith. Sadly one can find this in some parishes that have abandoned the sacred for the banal, both in the Liturgy at Holy Mass, and in its lop-sided teachings of the Catechism of the Church, (e.g. leaving aside anything seen as ‘unpleasant’ or too traditional.) This is where you will find most of the ’empty pews’, not in parishes where the priest is a faithful son of the Church who obeys Our Blessed Lord’s command to “feed My sheep”.