A very interesting article by Fr Richard Heilman (Roman Catholic Man) on a vitally important subject in the Church, but one seldom discussed in depth.
To live well is nothing other than to love God with all one’s heart, with all one’s soul and with all one’s efforts; from this it comes about that love is kept whole and uncorrupted (through temperance). No misfortune can disturb it (and this is fortitude). It obeys only [God] (and this is justice), and is careful in discerning things, so as not to be surprised by deceit or trickery (and this is prudence).” -St. Augustine
Let’s Be Honest
I’ve devoted myself to “men’s ministry” for more than half of my 32 years as a priest. Early on, I recognized men withdrawing from the practice of their faith, and I knew the family would follow. A rather large and important study confirmed this:
1. If both father and mother attend regularly, 33 percent of their children will end up as regular churchgoers, and 41 percent will end up attending irregularly. Only a quarter of their children will end up not practicing at all.
2. If the father is irregular and mother regular, only 3 percent of the children will subsequently become regulars themselves, while a further 59 percent will become irregulars. Thirty-eight percent will be lost.
3. If the father is non-practicing and mother regular, only 2 percent of children will become regular worshippers, and 37 percent will attend irregularly. Over 60 percent of their children will be lost completely to the church!
What happens if the father is regular but the mother irregular or non-practicing? Amazingly, the percentage of children becoming regular goes up from 33 percent to 38 percent with the irregular mother and up to 44 percent with the non-practicing. This suggests that loyalty to the father’s commitment grows in response to the mother’s laxity or indifference to religion
This confirms the essential role of father as spiritual leader, which I would argue is true fatherhood. And, yet, men have been abandoning the practice of their faith in droves. Matthew Christoff compiled extensive statistics in regard to this mass exodus of men (HERE).
In a monumental and powerfully worded apostolic exhortation, Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix, Arizona, put a call out to all men to “not hesitate to engage in the battle that is raging around you.”Here is an excerpt …
“Men, do not hesitate to engage in the battle that is raging around you, the battle that is wounding our children and families, the battle that is distorting the dignity of both women and men. This battle is often hidden, but the battle is real. It is primarily spiritual, but it is progressively killing the remaining Christian ethos in our society and culture, and even in our own homes.
The world is under attack by Satan, as our Lord said it would be (1 Peter 5:8-14). This battle is occurring in the Church herself, and the devastation is all too evident. Since AD 2000, 14 million Catholics have left the faith, parish religious education of children has dropped by 24%, Catholic school attendance has dropped by 19%, infant baptism has dropped by 28%, adult baptism has dropped by 31%, and sacramental Catholic marriages have dropped by 41%. This is a serious breach, a gaping hole in Christ’s battle lines …”
Beyond these statistics, we now know that 70% of Catholics no longer believe in the Real Presence of the Most Holy Eucharist, only 2% frequently go to Confession, only 20% go to weekly Mass and Holy Days of obligation, 56% of Catholics favor legalizing abortion (murder of innocent children), 75% of Catholics are in favor of cohabitation, and 65% of Catholic are in favor of same sex marriage.
We are in crisis!
I wrote an article which posited that we are facing a monumental heresy in our times that equals or surpasses the greatest heresy of all times, which was Arianism. While Arianism openly denied the divinity of Christ, I called this modern heresy “Stealth Arianism.” St. John says, “Children, let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth” (1 John 3:18). While not many today openly deny the divinity of Christ by their words, far too many deny His divinity by their actions.
“Over the past 50 years,” I wrote, “the Stealth Arians have done everything within their power to remove from our lived experience of Catholicism anything that would point to the divinity of Christ, and the supernatural quality of our faith. Everything has been stripped from our churches – sacred art, sacred architecture, sacred music, and the sacred elements of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass – and we are left in the barren desert of the banal. It is no wonder many Catholics think nothing of approaching the Most Holy Eucharist dressed in a t-shirt, shorts, and flip-flops, and grabbing the host like they’re reaching into a bag of chips. As Flannery O’Connor said, ‘If it’s a symbol, to hell with it.’ It’s more surprising that these individuals even bother to attend Mass at all.”
The latest grim Pew Research findings have been released, and Fr. Dwight Longenecker seems to double down on this idea in his recent article: “Why Are The Nones Leaving Religion.” You can read the whole thing over there, but this is the heart of the article …
People are leaving religion in droves because it’s not religion anymore.
It’s become a charity with meetings on Sundays, and the problem is modernism. Modernism is the idea that the supernatural is out of date and unbelievable. The “de-mythologizers” tried to weed out all the miracles and supernatural elements from the gospels. For the last hundred years their influence has gained in seminaries and pulpits across the world.
Tales of the supernatural had to be removed. They didn’t fit with the modern world. Doctrines about devils and angels, heaven and hell had to be quietly excised from the faith because they were primitive and medieval and incredible to modern folk. Transubstantiation? A pious medieval philosophical explanation of what we all know is really symbolic. Supernatural revelation? No. Religion is all man made. Miracles? We know they don’t really happen.
Religious leaders–and I mean Catholics and Protestants alike–turned the Christian religion into an organization that does good works. Instead of the wondrous bread of heaven they were content to hand out Wonder Bread. Instead of the feeding of the five thousand they spoke about the “real miracle” being the fact that everyone shared their lunch.
All the religious talk stayed in place but it was re-interpreted. Father Wooly and Pastor Fuzzy proclaimed on Easter Day, “Alleluia! Christ is Risen!” but what they meant was “in some way the wonderful teachings of Jesus continued to be believed by his faithful followers. They said every Sunday that they believed in the Virgin Birth but what they meant was that “Mary was a very nice girl who was very courageous as she went through with her crisis pregnancy.” And so forth. And so on.
For Catholics? The necessity of the sacraments and a life of repentance and faith? Nah.
You only had to go to Mass if you really wanted to. Lay people who were married were just as able to be holy as priests and nuns. Confession? That’s only for people with low self esteem. Marriage? We can be flexible on that. It’s all about mercy after all.
Well, people aren’t dumb.
They concluded that if religion was really only about peace and justice and social work, then why did one have to get up early and go to church and sing dreary hymns and listen to a long, badly prepared homily by an uncomfortably over fed windbag? Why go to church anyway? If it was really only about social work, then why the early weekend pep talk with music? Why not sleep in?
We have all witnessed how the dry wind of the enemy’s militant secular propaganda campaign has hardened the hearts of so many of our family members, friends, and neighbors. Spiritually speaking, many have crossed into the dry and lifeless valley of the dry bones prophesied in Ezekiel 37. Dead in their sins, with the rigor mortis of indifference hardening their hearts, they are without the breath of the Spirit, destined for eternal damnation, unless some campaign of search and rescue is launched. Moreover, without supernatural grace, they are now being easily manipulated by the devil and his minions. It’s no wonder why so many Catholics agree with abortion, same-sex marriage, etc..
Read on here about the Strategy for the Increase of Catholic Men in Number and Strength
The description of the reduction of those tenets of the faith which are the basic structure show the consequence, not the cause. The cause is the infliction of the Novus Ordo Mass upon the whole of the Catholic world and the suppression of the traditional Latin Mass. Cardinal Ottoviani said, at the time of Vatican II, that if the planned changes went through, all we would have left attending Mass would be women and children. The Novus Ordo Mass didn’t so much as feminize the Mass as ‘demasculinize’ it. It made room for the abuses of which we are all aware, but, more insidiously, it allowed for the creep of the intrusion of the banal – hence the track suits and thongs (flip flops to Americans) and propping up of doctrine by avoiding the supernatural. The supernatural is avoided because it is excised from the liturgy. The liturgy is amputated from its historical narrative in the Jewish temple and the culmination of the Jewish tradition in the Word of God in Christ is lost. The Novus Ordo presents the Christian Mass as an entity with no past and the meaning is therefore reduced to what is capable of being understood with no study, no knowledge of history and no effort. It is therefore if no value in leading the faithful into the divine mysteries because the Mass itself has been flattened into a secular, shallow version of itself – basically, protestantised. When it comes to Protestant services, ironically, the protestants try to draw as much as they can from the Catholic tradition, without attributing it – they call the past, pre-Reformation traditions they pick out as theirs, ‘Christian ‘ and the ones they choose to disallow ‘Catholic.’ It is ironic that they seek to imbue their faith (a recent faith), with a history appropriated from Catholic tradition when the Catholic Church itself attempted to junk her 2,000 year history and impose a committee- formed liturgy upon us by coercion. There is a simple answer to the issue of the exit of men from the faith – it is the traditional Latin Mass. a visit to any traditional parish will reveal a large number of healthy, courteous faithful young men (those whom are best described by some people as ‘rigid’). Similarly, a visit to a traditional Latin Mass will reveal very few, or short-lives, exhibitions of dress in thongs and trackkies, lack of respect for the Real Presence, or those factors which have operated in numerous surveys by those Vatican II fans amongst the hierarchy who are looking to implement the ‘new evangelisation ‘. Quite frankly, if you have the real thing, if you have the Truth, you just need to Be, you don’t need to evangelise like a Protestant. The protestantisation of the liturgy has been followed by a Protestant attitude to ‘evangelising’. It is interesting that the top hierarchy of the Vatican (who do not appear, at a glance, to be holy and faithful men), disapprove of the traditional Latin Mass – I wonder why that would be so?
An enormously perceptive analysis to explain the real reason men, especially young men, fell away from the practice of the Faith after Vatican II’s
destructionchanging of the true reenactment of Christ’s Sacrifice on Calvary, the sublimely holy and transcendant Tridentine Mass. How could the community/priest-focused Novus Ordo Mass ever compare, nourish, or bear the good fruits of the ‘Mass of the Ages’?
Your excellent comment deserves to be made into a post in its own right.