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Catholicism’s Narrative of the World, and How to Rebuild It

(Image courtesy of John Cosmas, Charlotte Latin Mass Community)

In a 2015 interview with the noted atheist Sam Harris, Mark Riebling, another atheist and the author of Church of Spies: The Pope’s Secret War Against Hitler, makes a fascinating connection between the Nazis and ISIS:

[T]here’s a reason that the first books the Nazis banned were not nonfiction, but novels. They wanted to destroy any possible counter-myths.

The word “myth” comes from the Greek mythos, which just means “story.” For 500 years, we’ve seen, in the progress of science, the demythification of the world – or the disenchantment of the world, to use Max Weber’s phrase. The magic’s all gone, but the monsters remain. But myths, or stories, and structures built on them can help fight those monsters.

That’s a lesson I draw from the story of the Church and the Reich. SS documents record the Nazis’ frustration with their failure to replace Christian myths – a failure that ran deeper, for instance, than their inability to remake Ascension Day into the Feast of Thor’s Hammer. As one SS report noted, “In exactly those areas where political Catholicism holds sway, the peasants are so infected by the doctrines of Catholicism that they are deaf to any discussion of the racial problem.” So if you wanted to fight Nazism, there was something helpful in the Christian myth – as also in the communist myth. For half a century, the Marxist myth of the New Man was fairly successful in supplanting the old stories – but the magic’s gone out of that, too.

So you have, unless you are mindful, a banalization of human experience. This banality is going to tempt some people to join ISIS for excitement, for re-enchantment, for remythification. If you join ISIS, you have a story! Your life is numinous – it’s as if you’re living in the Iliad instead of, say, just playing soccer in the dust in a Bauhaus housing project in Basra. Or you’re channeling the Teutonic Knights while you’re horse-whipping Jews in 1930s Nuremburg – I think the personal hunger is the same.

As C.G. Jung said, you can chase out the devil, but he shows up somewhere else – which is one reason why, when Jung was an agent for U.S. intelligence in 1944, he urged propping up political Catholicism – in fact, through the Christian-socialist parties that came to dominate Cold War Europe, whose exiled leaders Pius sheltered in the Vatican. Jung was an atheist, but he preferred Christian socialism to the atheist communism he saw coming. He predicted that the freethinking atheist would fare better under the frowning brow of the Christian myth than under the trampling boot of the communist one.

In other words, the appeal of ISIS is the same as that of Nazism: they both provide metanarratives – stories that define people’s entire worldviews – that many find more meaningful than the disenchanted one of the secular West. When the West lost the Christian metanarrative that gave cohesion to its diverse regions, and its title, “Christendom,” was consequently replaced by the emptier signifier “the West,” it became more susceptible to evil ideologies like National Socialism and violent jihadism, since such ideologies promise to replace the lost sense of transcendence. Indeed, for many people, the current metanarrative of the secular West, which portrays history as the story of progressive liberation from religious and traditional restrictions, is an inadequate source of meaning and consolation precisely because of its lack of transcendence.

Ross Douthat, a columnist at The New York Times, explains:

[A]s Philip Larkin knew early, the “long slide to happiness, endlessly” that allegedly awaits when you drop the old religious scruples often has something else waiting at the bottom, and the reality of death can be put off till a latter day, till tomorrow and tomorrow, and tomorrow…, but never entirely denied. [In the words of the Broadway musical The Book of Mormon,] “We love to dance and shout / and let all the feelings out, / and work to make a better latter day”…that’s a way to live, certainly, but it leaves some pretty big human concerns under-addressed, and when that “better latter day” isn’t all you hoped for fears creep in around the edges, and maybe you respond to them by injecting a little more utopianism into your secular liberalism…or maybe you’re a little more lost than that, a little more desperate, a little more existentially-adrift, and you make some new friends online who believe that God actually has a plan for you, that you aren’t just a mote floating randomly in sunlight streaming through high windows, that the eye that’s on the sparrow is on you as well, and if there’s a price to be paid for that belief, a price in blood and even savagery, well doesn’t everything worth anything come with a price?

So if savage ideologies like ISIS-style jihadism can overcome secular humanism due to their greater sense of transcendence, perhaps the solution is to promote an ideology that feels equally or more transcendent, one that offers fulfillment of the spiritual yearning behind those savage ideologies’ stories, but within a greater, more humane story. After all, as the philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre notes, “that narrative prevails over its rivals which is able to include its rivals within it.” And perhaps that prevailing narrative is the one offered by the Catholic Church, the one that once bound the regions of the West together into Christendom.

Of course, re-establishing the dominance of that narrative would be difficult, since it has fallen far from its former place of power. Indeed, in the Western world today, orthodox Catholics – Catholics who put their faith in all the Magisterium’s teachings, not just the ones that happen to align with the values of secular culture – can often feel like recusants (i.e., the Catholic outcasts during the English Reformation), especially due to their dissent from the Sexual Revolution that currently governs Western society.

But maybe the key to reversing this state of affairs is to bring the Western world’s focus back to the liturgy, specifically the Catholic liturgical calendar. Rituals, after all, play a major – if not the major – role in establishing a story as a culture’s metanarrative; an ideology’s rituals, through physical and verbal repetition and the resulting habituation, can ingrain that ideology’s stories not only in a community’s mind, but also in their muscle memory, as it were, and thus in their total being. The rituals of the Catholic liturgy are no exception.

To persuade Western culture to realign itself with the Catholic liturgical calendar, we must make that series of liturgies seem attractive again, reversing the watering down of it – the banalization of it – that followed the Second Vatican Council. We must bring back the smells and the bells, the rituals that appeal to all the senses in welcoming us to a reality transcending all the senses, a reality tantalizingly out of reach. In short, we must bring back the sense of mystery and enchantment. The more everyday and ordinary the liturgy seems (as it has since the Second Vatican Council), the less it will stand out from the surrounding culture, and, consequently, the less it will attract people to itself. So it must regain its sense of extraordinariness, of otherness, in order to regain its grip on the cultural imagination. Only thus can it reshape the lived rhythm of our culture here in the West along its own lines.

That is precisely why the liturgical calendar is so essential: it ritualistically – and thus physically – maps the mysteries of the Church onto the lived rhythm of a community’s annual cycle. For instance, Sundays’ breaks from work become Masses of spiritual recharging, December’s winter darkness becomes infused with Christmas’s promise of divine light, and spring’s resurrecting vegetation becomes supercharged with Easter’s hope. But the liturgical calendar covers so much more than just Sunday Masses and Christmas and Easter, so much that has been largely forgotten since the Second Vatican Council: Rorate Masses, Candlemas, Septuagesima, Shrovetide, Tenebrae, Rogation Days, Michaelmas, All Souls’ Day, etc. Such days and periods can instill spiritual significance into the communal calendar, consecrating the year’s seemingly senseless series of events by mapping a sacred story onto it. The following true accounts of life before the Second Vatican Council illustrate this beautifully:

German Rorate Masses from My Brother, the Pope by Monsignor Georg Ratzinger:

Generally speaking, our family made a big thing of Christmas. The preparations already began with the First Sunday of Advent. At that time, the Rorate Masses were celebrated at six in the morning, and the priests wore white vestments. Normally violet is the color of the vestments in Advent, but these were special votive Masses that were supposed to recall the appearance of the Archangel Gabriel to the Mother of God and her words, ‘Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to thy word’ (Lk 1:38). That was the main theme of these ‘liturgies of the angels,’ as they were also called, in which the appropriate passage from the Gospel of Luke was read. After we started school, we used to attend these Masses in the early morning, before classes began. Outside it was still night, everything was dark, and the people often shivered in the cold. Yet the warm glow of the sanctuary compensated for the early rising and the walk through snow and ice. The dark church was illuminated by candles and tapers, which were often brought by the faithful and provided not only light but also a little warmth. Afterward we went home first, ate breakfast, and only then set out for school. These Rorate Masses were wonderful signposts leading us to Christmas.

A Slovakian Tenebrae service from A Time of Gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermor:

The candles, spiked on a triangular grid, lit up [the rustic faces] and populated the nave behind them with a crowd of shadows. At a pause in the plainsong one of the tapers was put out. I realized, all at once, that it was Maundy Thursday. Tenebrae were being sung, and very well. The verses of the penitential psalms were answering each other across the choir and the slow recapitulations and rephrasings of the responsories were unfolding the story of the Betrayal. So compelling was the atmosphere that the grim events might have been taking place that night. The sung words crept step by step through the phases of the drama. Every so often, another candle was lifted from its pricket on the triangle and blown out. It was pitch dark out of doors and with the extinction of each flame the interior shadows came closer. It heightened the chiaroscuro of these rough country faces and stressed the rapt gleam in innumerable eyes; and the church, as it grew hotter, was filled by the smell of melting wax and sheepskin and curds and sweat and massed breath. There was a ghost of old incense in the background and a reek of singeing as the wicks, snuffed one after the other, expired in ascending skeins of smoke. ‘Seniores populi consilium fecerunt,’ the voices sang, ‘ut Jesum dolo tenerent et occiderent’; and a vision sprang up of evil and leering elders whispering in a corner through toothless gums and with beards wagging as they plotted treachery and murder. ‘Cum gladiis et fustibus exierunt tamquam ad latronem…’ Something in the half-lit faces and the flickering eyes gave a sinister immediacy to the words. They conjured up hot dark shadows under a town wall and the hoarse shouts of a lynch-mob; there was a flicker of lanterns, oafish stumbling in the steep olive groves and wild and wheeling shadows of torches through tree trunks: a scuffle, words, blows, a flash, lights dropped and trampled, a garment snatched, someone running off under the branches. For a moment, we – the congregation – became the roughs with the blades and the cudgels. Fast and ugly deeds were following each other in the ambiguity of the timbered slope. It was a split-second intimation! By the time the last of the candles was borne away, it was so dark that hardly a feature could be singled out. The feeling of shifted rôles had evaporated; and we poured out into the dust. Lights began to kindle in the windows of the village and a hint of moonrise shone at the other end of the plain.

A Hungarian Easter Vigil procession from Between the Woods and the Water by Patrick Leigh Fermor:

Not a light showed in the town except for the flames of thousands of candles stuck along the window-sills and twinkling in the hands of the waiting throng. The men were bareheaded, the women in kerchiefs, and the glow from their cupped palms reversed the daytime chiaroscuro, rimming the lines of jaw and nostril, scooping lit crescents under their brows and leaving everything beyond these bright masks drowned in shadow. Silently forested with flames, street followed street and as the front of the procession drew level everyone kneeled, only to rise to their feet again a few seconds after it had moved on. Then we were among the glimmering ranks of poplars and every now and then the solemn music broke off. When the chanting paused, the ring of the censer-chains and the sound of the butt of the Archbishop’s pastoral staff on the cobbles were joined by the croaking of millions of frogs. Woken by the bells and the music, the storks of the town were floating and crossing overhead and looking down on our little string of lights as it turned uphill to the basilica again. The intensity of the moment, the singing and candle flames and incense, the feeling of spring, the circling birds, the smell of fields, the bells, the chorus from the rushes, thin shadows and the unreality of the moon over the woods and the silver flood – all these things hallowed the night with a spell of great beneficence and power.

German All Souls’ Day customs from Vertigo by W.G. Sebald:

The village of W., where I spent the first nine years of my life, I now remember, was always shrouded in the densest fog on All Saints’ Day and on All Souls’. And the villagers, without exception, wore their black clothes and went out to the graves which they had put in order the day before, removing the summer planting, pulling up the weeds, raking the gravel paths, and mixing soot in with the soil. Nothing in my childhood seemed to possess more meaning than those two days of remembrance devoted to the suffering of the sainted martyrs and poor unredeemed souls, days on which the dark shapes of the villagers moved about in the mist, strangely bent-over, as if they had been banished from their houses. What particularly affected me every year was eating the Seelenwecken, the special rolls that Mayrbeck baked on those commemorative days only, precisely one apiece, for every man, woman and child in the village. These Seelenwecken were made of white bread dough and were so tiny that they could easily be hidden in a small fist. There were four to a row on the baking tray. They were dusted with flour, and I remember one occasion when the flour-dust that remained on my fingers after I had eaten one of these Seelenwecken seemed like a revelation. That evening, I spent a long time digging in the flour barrel in my grandparents’ bedroom with a wooden spoon, hoping to fathom the mystery which I supposed to be hidden there.

Such communal liturgies could once again bring unity to our fragmented culture; they could once again reconcile the divided West into the more cohesive body of Christendom, the united front that is our greatest earthly hope against violent jihadism and other evil ideologies, the resurrected and magnified Holy League of Lepanto acting as our bulwark against barbarism.

59 thoughts on “Catholicism’s Narrative of the World, and How to Rebuild It”

  1. Wow, this article really hit home. Many young men who turn to street gangs and serious crime do so out of a quest to “re-enchant” their banal, alienated lives. They come from ruined families and don’t see a future for themselves in schooling or the labor force. They yearn for some greater purpose, united together with their brothers following some deep narrative. That’s why I robbed banks when I was 18, and I actually found my “deep narrative” (for a while anyway) when I became a “solid con” in maximum security prison.

  2. Appeals to sentimentality only traps us in the cycle of shallowness we now find ourselves in, and which will only lead to what will inevitably follow, another error ridden council, or theological offerings which appeal to those seeking the novelties which feed sentimentality. The answer is not ritualization, which only guarantees future banality as the pendulum swings between one form of extreme inner artificiality to its direct opposite form. Authentic faith and the proper relationship to the teachings of the Church, Her Liturgy, the Gospel Message and the power of the Sacraments established in those Gospels does not and never has depended on the ritualization of the Faithful, it depends not on the episodic eager anticipation which marks the ever changing show, but on the steady pace set by the inner fire, which is fed by the Grace of God alone, regardless of the distractions which can lead us toward the following of a ritual rather than God. We should never allow ourselves to accept false comforts which serve to replace authentic well ordered worship of the Creator by the creature.

    • I’m not seeing an “Appeal to sentimentality” but rather a return to living a Catholic life. Those of us who lived our lives with a thread of Catholic running through it, understand this. The entire article is not simply the ceremonies but rather highlighting the events by showing the celebrations. Today being a lay Latin Catholic is simply Sunday to Sunday, Christmas and Easter. Families are clueless as to the Saint of the Day or the season of the Church, those simple things that as a child, Mom made dinners around and adjusted the decorations for. We can’t expect Novus Ordo Catholics to suddenly behave that way. We have to start with the beauty of the big celebrations to instruct them of the way of life stolen from them. Ritualization IS how we lived. It’s how the Eastern rites live. It gives Pete and Penny in the Pew something concrete to show that worshiping Our Lord is an everyday thing and much more important than simply the Social Justice focus of so many modern parishes. What you are speaking of, Authentic faith. You’re not going to convince people of what the authentic faith is, pull them from the Megachurches and go back to living a Catholic life unless you show them what makes a Catholic life different from Joel Osteen.

      • Hi Nm – Reading the lives of the Saints is a good and holy practice, praying novenas is a good and holy practice, living a life rooted in devotions and the rosary is a good and holy practice, daily family prayer is a good and holy practice, adoration is a good and holy practice. But these things can become no more than empty rituals in an age of self indulgence, self actualization, the age of psychology,and the age underpinned by the importance of appearance rather than reality. To fight the spirit of this age we must not become the children of self satisfying artifice. We must become first stripped of that spirit, freed from the shallow communal ritualized life, and then the rest will follow.

        • How can they be “empty rituals” if no one knows them? How do you expect to tweak the curiosity of Catholics without presenting them?
          How can people who have gotten “Sunday School” catechism realize that there is something different about being Catholic? Until we act like we are something different, the people in the pews who have been fed fluff won’t understand.
          The Latin rite has stripped itself of the “smells and bells” and with it the visual reason to chose to stay. They have hidden their brand. The Protestant Megaparishes gave them the ritual, whether it’s their concerts or their coffee bars, humans develop a ritual around them. They have the cross without Jesus. We have Jesus but focus, through Rebuilt or Amazing Parishes to be just like them. To those who have poor catechesis, they are interchangeable. We need a way to show we are not.

          Here is an example. My parish is stuffed with young adults, the true barometer of a parish life. Those adults who are no longer driven to the parish by mom They come for adoration, bring flowers, light candles. Our Bible Study is out the door. Yet, we don’t have a coffee shop, nor a concert schedule. What do we have? Ritual. They show up for the ritual. Then our very holy Priest reinforces WHY they do that ritual. Our Catechism is solid so by the time they come for the ritual, they know why they are there. The Latins need to look to the Eastern rites. We’re Catholic and we’re busting at the seams, taking over closed Latin parishes. Time to bring Catholics back. Our history gives us the means.

          So perhaps instead of disregarding ritual for fear that they are shallow, use them for identity and understand that we have to teach what we do. Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi still holds, so why not use it.

          • Hi Nm – I consider the true barometer of a parish to be how many souls are led to heaven. Branding can be geared toward less consequential goals. As to the young being the true barometer of a parish life, I prefer to surround myself with the example of the elderly, that is why I attend the 8am mass every Sunday morning, and have always avoided the masses which tend to distract me. Let’s pray for one another.

          • You’re not going to lead souls to heaven if they aren’t there, my friend. Dying parishes are filled with those who are “cramming for finals”. When they leave us, if the young people aren’t there, the parish dies with them.
            So perhaps the reason why you see ritual as empty is because you don’t see a vibrant parish filled with the young who love what the oldsters hold in disdain. I’m not young myself, so I see both sides of this. People my age want Matthew Kelly. People my children’s age want the smells and bells. They want to be Catholic Christian, not generic Christian.
            While we are praying for each other let’s also pray for Christ’s Church.

          • I think I may be older than both of you; all my youth, the picture of Pius XII hung in my classrooms. Your point, Netmilsmom, about what’s appealing at different ages is spot on. Young people — I was young once & then for 30 years I taught young people in public education — like to be different, and it’s hard to think of anything more different from our disordered current society than the traditional Catholic Mass. Those ”smells and bells” are a firm foundation upon which they can and will build. On the other hand, the weekly Novus Ordo “show” put on by Fr. Feelgreat and other (often well-meaning) “modern” priests is bound to fail them; they’ve seen much better on stage or YouTube. Parishioners my age can see beyond the “I’m OK, you’re OK” theatrics easily, but many who are much younger cannot…and will not. (Oh, and I attend the 7am Mass, Novus Ordo, but if there were even a 4am EF, you’d find me there, regardless of whether the other occupants of the pews were young or old.)

          • The last Latin parish we attended changed from an 80-year-old brilliant Franciscan, who taught history and theology in his homilies to a 50-year-old modernist who gestured his 2nd grade catechism homilies for 45 minutes. I was done.
            We walked into a local Chaldean parish and found Catholic there. Picking up the Aramaic was a bit of a challenge, but their English liturgy is solid and our Priest is a dream. The only thing challenging it is the TLM at the Oratory, an hour away. We go for the holidays to get my Latin fix. If it was the same distance, we would be there more often.

          • My cousin was married in a Maronite Catholic Church. It’s really awesome (in both senses of the word) to hear the words of consecration in Aramaic, the language Our Lord spoke while He was on earth.

          • Hi Nm – We serve a stubborn God, and His Truth is Ancient and Unchanging. May God bless all men with a stubborn devotion to the Truth. The young can be excused for not knowing this, since they have not been tested as the old have been. Spiritual maturity, comes with time. Hopefully.

          • Some are simply stubborn with a disdain for things that are Historically Catholic. Hopefully not!
            St. Thérèse of Lisieux died at 24. It’s isn’t age that simply brings wisdom, nor time, my friend.

          • Hi Nm – Yes, indeed, those who seek novelty can easily be misled. It is a predictable cycle that often is adopted in youth and abandoned as one of the critical stages of spiritual maturity. Unfortunately. Saint Therese, was a Flower, which blooms all too rarely. The same is true for wisdom, it is far more rare in the inexperienced than it is in those who have been tested over a lifetime. Of course the young have much to learn, whether they know it or not, they will. Hopefully.

          • Just remember, the world and The Church are not in the shape they are in because of the Youth, my friend. I’m glad your are in the position of seeing nothing but wise seniors. It’s not that way everywhere. Certainly not where I am.

          • Nm – It is in the shape it is because of those who were once youths, poorly formed. To misquote is to admit defeat, Nm. Perhaps you aren’t as aware of your surroundings as you might think. That would be a recurring reason for the Church remaining in the shape it currently. It is the naïve who have perpetuated the condition in which the Church finds itself. And they will surely stand before God, to answer for that. Not hopefully, but without a doubt.

          • No, my friend, the world and the Church are in the shape they are in, not because of poorly formed people, but rather those who choose to disregard Church teachings. There are many more oldsters than youngsters. If they didn’t disdain Historic Catholicism, we would not be where we are. They are a force to be reckoned with and in time, overcome.
            Either you are an oldster or a youth with an ideal about age.
            As an oldster, well past my middle years, I’ve seen more who willfully chose their own “church” centered on themselves than those who were poorly formed.
            With age can come wisdom. But one must accept that gift.

          • Hi Nm – Those people, you decry had children, and it those children are not disposed to being faithful Catholics. As to the teachings of the Church – How many of the young you admire, consider contraception intrinsically evil? Consider homosexual acts intrinsically evil? And believe that those who divorce and remarry while the first spouse still lives is committing adultery? For that matter are you faithful to the teachings of the Church on those matters?

          • There you are wrong, my friend. Young people, both politically and spiritually. disregard the ways of their parents and are conservative in both. Study after study show that the young adults of today are much more conservative than their parents. The “Pro-Life generation” finds the ways of their parents and grandparents silly and trite. They have watched their families ruined by those who came before and are not want to repeat it. They seek out the teachings of The Church and learn themselves through the internet, not relying on the muck laid before them.

            The young people I know? Of course they follow Church teachings in all of your questions, as do I. I would not be so crass as to ask you the same as I assume you are a faithful Catholic.

            Once the “baby boomer” and “Gen X” generations die out, my own generation by the way, the young people will right the ship. Pity you don’t see it. Perhaps you should consider an Eastern rite or TLM parish and speak to the younger Catholics who will help you to understand them.

          • Hi Nm – Where do you live Nm? I have three children, ages 23, 25 and 26, and I just asked them if what you assert is true. It is absolutely untrue according to them. They suggest you visit a college campus and visit the Newman Center on that campus. After that you can visit the local Catholic School System, and see not only what is being taught there, but how the young adults are actually living. I am afraid you do not describe the experiences they have had. Children grow up in the society they grow up in, and that they imagine they won’t follow in the footsteps of their parents is always the claim, but they usually do, especially when the children of this age are very adept at putting on the face they think will end up with the minimum of conflict for themselves. Shallowness is hard to uncover if you only scratch the surface, Nm. Being optimistic is one thing, being naïve is quite another. It might give you a sense of false comfort, but in the end it only serves to perpetuate the lie that has been told which each passing year – that things are getting better, while in fact they grow worse. By the way I gladly answer the questions I asked – Contraception is intrinsically evil. Homosexual acts are disordered an intrinsically evil. Divorce and remarriage under the circumstances described in Mark10:1-12 is adultery, just as Jesus says it is. Now, your turn. And by the way do the youngsters you know tell people using contraceptives that they are in a grave state of sin? Do they tell homosexuals that they are in a grave state of sin? Do they tell the divorced and remarried, which might very well include their own parents, that they are in a grave state of sin? If not how can we expect them to change anything? Over the past 50 years the young have grown old, over and over again, and in the end the hopes that they would change the culture rather than being co-opted by the culture have proven disappointing. Their formation has slowly eroded over that timeframe, not gotten better. Children are the targets of the culture relentlessly geared toward corrupting them, they are not exempt from the evil agenda under which we have been bombarded for the last 50+ years.

          • Your children need to get to a TLM or Eastern rite too. Their spiritual lives are in danger. I’m not sure exactly who they are hanging around but my University attending children see exactly what I am saying. Maybe you live in a blue state and attend a run of the mill Novus Ordo parish. It would do you good to investigate outside of your worldview. I’ve already answered your questions about myself and my children. Do you always assume the person you’re talking to is not a good Catholic? I didn’t assume that with you, considering we are conversing on 1P5. You’re beginning to look like you wish you were speaking to an apostate. You’re not.

            Go to this link

          • Hi Nm – My children were raised on daily mass, praying the rosary as a family, Tuesday nights of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Devotions, being surrounded by good and holy people and reading the lives of the saints, and year round novenas and triduums honoring Mary. They are quite well prepared to asses those their own age. Perhaps you could repeat your responses to my questions, I missed them. I never prefer to speak with an apostate, and yet it is hard to avoid these days. Those with a pre Francis spirit of schism are all to common as well. The renewal of the TLM was never meant to inspire that spirit and yet it evidently has..

          • Dear Netmilsmom, if you got an up vote and then a down vote from me that was one of my children playing with the computer. Sorry about that! That’s twice they’ve done that to me this week the wee monkeys!

          • What are you saying here? It seems like you are saying it’s time to give up? Give Netmilsmoms suggestion a try ‘get to a TLM or Eastern rite’ and you just may find there something to give you hope. Fair warning though, if you go to the early Mass it’s likely to be full of kids. In which case take a good look at them all and thank God! They’re part of your sanctification and you are part of theirs. Hear a dropped book, someone munches on your favourite holy card. Offer it up! Or better still smile and thank the good Lord for the absolute honour of being there amongst his little ones.

          • Hi Sharyn – What I am saying is this – those with a narrow view or preference for novelty should not make generalizations. The TLM is not a magic bullet for parents, and those that think it is are only setting themselves up for disillusionment.

          • He’s saying what the Modernists say. Sadly, this must be his worldview by his experience.
            We are blessed to see otherwise in our TLM and Eastern parishes.

          • Little Nellie of Holy God was 4 1/2, Blessed Imelda was 11, Blessed Francisco Marto was 10, Blessed Jacinta Marto was 9, St Maria Goretti was 11, St Dominic Savio was 14

          • Hi Sharyn – And your point is what exactly? Why leave Lucia off the list? Feel free to pick any from the list you provide and make the case that the Catholic Children of today are following in their footsteps. Make a list of their modern contemporaries. Our Lady of Fatima warned us that the behavior of the children of this age would be a sign which would mark this age of apostasy, not a source of hope that the children would lead a revival of the Church.

          • As I said if one is in a “blue state” and attend a Modernist NO parish, you may not see conservative young people. Your children sound very holy, but apparently they don’t see young people who are conservative. It must be your area, as young people are more conservative than their parents. See the link.
            If you or your children attend a TLM or an Eastern rite parish, you’ll see young people differently. Pity you see “empty rituals” from your place. We live otherwise.
            Do understand though, most here on 1P5 are attending TLM, correct NO and Eastern rite parishes so your ideas are foreign to them. I’m sorry you and your children have to experience what we do not. Nothing seems to open your mind and you seem to presume others to be less than Catholic. I fear that is based on your personal experience instead of any research. Assuming that those who attend an historically Catholic mass, the mass that your beloved Seniors attended faithfully, the mass of the ages, the mass of saints for hundreds of years, or in my case the Mass of the Blessed Apostles, have a “preference for novelty ” It’s very sad.

          • Hi Nm – My son lived in Baton Rouge, until very recently, while there he attended a TLM every Sunday, and was an active member of their parish. I live 25 miles from the FSSP parish in Quincy Illinois, and my family is very good friends with the woman who facilitated the coming of the FSSP to Quincy, it was her personal plea to Bishop Paprocki, and considerable financial support that was crucial to the FSSP coming to our area. My daughter has found inspiration from Mother Angelica and has watched her many shows, some more than once. I am advising you that you are only one step away from making the same error that those in the SSPX have made. And finally, our priest is very reverent in celebrating the Novus Ordo Mass as it was intended to be, the fact that it is in the vernacular is wonderful, and makes each word of the Rite meaningful and beautiful in a way the TLM can not match, absent knowing Latin. I have know several holy people who loved Jesus and trusted that He was truly present in the Novus Ordo and in fact know of someone who very well may have been a mystic, who defended the Novus Ordo, making the case that though it frustrated some people, it comes from the Church has been guided by the Holy Spirit all through the centuries. I sense a schismatic spirit in you, Nm, I get the feeling that you make shallow comparisons between the TLM and the Novus Ordo, and in doing so reveal a lack of Faith in the Holy Spirit and the designs He has for the Church. The TLM was never meant to be a cocoon, protecting you from the actions of the Holy Spirit in the Church He guides.

          • Oh I’m sorry, you actually show signs of being either a troll or beginning dementia. Both would explain your “sense”.
            You apparently forgot that I attend a Chaldean rite parish and before that a Novus Ordo parish. I’m sorry about your comprehension problems. My MIL had dementia and although our conversations were pleasant, she made little sense because of her ability to comprehend. So our conversation is now ended. God Bless, my friend.

          • Hi Nm – I hope there are still some Chaldeans who work out their own salvation with fear and trembling. I am sure the wise one’s still do. You will receive the reward or punishment your thoughts and deeds deserve. It is good that upon scratching the surface you have proven who you actually are, and in doing so proving my point. It was all too easy, thanks for that..

          • LOL! Sure you did!
            I have to say that I took you seriously for a couple days, you had me going. Good job. Your trolling skills are sublime and I commend you.

          • Hi Nm – Take my posts as you must. Here is a final question for you, Nm – Is petulance a sign of spiritual maturity or a counter sign?

          • My point? That children can arrive at spiritual maturity. Indeed to arrive at spiritual maturity we have to be like to a child, Matthew 18:3

            Why didn’t I include Lucia on that list? She did not die in childhood. She was 97 no less!

            Modern contemporaries? Not if people are going to give up on them. Though I have heard from Fr. Ripperger in one of his talks which I will link below the he has noticed a rise in such things as meditative prayer, amongst the very young. It’s only a sentence or two in a long talk, but maybe you will be interested.

            And why the apostasy in the first place? What has led us here?? Are we to do nothing in the face of this apostasy?
            Sit down, give up, hope for the best for ourselves? Or prayer and penance and giving our best by God’s grace in all.

            Also it is not a total apostasy but a general apostasy. That means not all of us, no matter which generation we belong to. We all have a choice.

            And it wasn’t suddenly the fault of one generation either. Maybe in this generation we’ve reached a point where finally the better majority are in apostasy, thanks to the previous generations, but why can it not be from that portion of this generation who remain faithful that we see a revival?

            btw, would like to respond to your other message to me but have run out of time for now. Shall try again tomorrow.

            God bless!


          • Hi Sharyn -I am sure you realize there is a difference between being child-like(trusting) and childish(immature). I will let your Lucia comment go. I am equally sure that you realize all of the Saints become so due to God’s Grace, and if that Grace is given to young persons in one time, it can also be withdrawn in another, it is All up to God, and His Good Plan. I appreciate your response, and I am quite sure that you and Nm have your heart in the right place.

          • ‘ I will let your Lucia comment go.’

            I’m afraid I don’t understand this at all. I can only think there is some misunderstanding.

            Thanks for your responses too! God bless!

          • Hi Sharyn – Lucia was 10 years old when Our Lady appeared at Fatima. It was to Lucia that Mary communicated. If your point was that saints experience God’s Special Grace at a young age, I was pointing out that Lucia belongs on that list. I hope that helps.

          • Yes that helps! Where’s a blushing smily face when you need one. I have a 3 month old. Obviously I’m still too tired to even know what I’m talking about. Thank you for your kindness!

          • hi Sharyn – God bless you and your family. You are the great hope for a future founded in Truth. Thank you for choosing life!

          • Oh I could hug you now. I am Ukrainian Greek Catholic and we ALWAYS had (and still have) rituals.

            Example: Aug. 29th – Feast of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist. Strict fast and abstinence required (no meat, eggs, dairy products or anything that contains them) AND NOTHING in the shape of a head (lettuce, cabbage, oranges) AND you don’t eat off a plate (cf. the festal Gospel).

            So we eat crackers and tea.

            When I was younger I did rituals just because my parents and grandparents did. Now that I’m older, I have learned a lot (and still am learning) about my Eastern Catholic Tradition.

            On a side note, all those who support Amoris Laetitia should read the Gospel of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist (Mark 6: 14-30) and Mark 10. Maybe they might reconsider their position.

          • I know, and I thank God that He has blessed me and my family with mostly good priests – so many do not.

      • Hi,
        I also grew up knowing the Mass. Still do. But within my soul I can feel a longing for the TLM. Not just for sentimental reasons, although there is a bit of that, but because of the reality of the importance of different services and the link between this life and the next. And because of the clarity of the sacrifice of the TLM. Although I always knew of the sacrifice of Our Lord, the NO Mass is maybe not as apparent.
        So do the things in the article because of what they really, truly are, and mean. I’m a work in progress…
        Viva Cristo Rey

  3. Great article. It very much supports the observation that every civilisation in history that lost its faith in its god, be it pagan or otherwise, fell soon after. We of faith take comfort in understanding that the one true God has the current situation in hand.
    My own faith at this point in my life is in disarray if existent at all, and yet I hope I would die defending what I know to be the truth of a God who loves me, because there really isn’t another alternative that provides my children with a future.

  4. An astute article, for sure. Indeed it is the faith’s transformative power over cultures and civilizations which are among its best defenses for the mystical Truths found within it.

    That said, I would offer a word of caution to the author. Let’s be sure that we use this argument of Catholicism’s cultural narrative because *it is true*, rather than to obtain a desired effect upon a people. I don’t reject secularism or jihadism simply because the Christian alternative is more colorful and less violent. I reject these narratives because they are fallacies, and only in the Catholic narrative is found the totality of Truth.

    The narrative is not a means to an end but the end itself, and the failed narratives of Islam and secularism attract only insofar as they supplant the only True narrative with characteristic elements of the True narrative but skewed to a false conclusion. Things like the unity of Western civilizations are secondary goods, ultimately subservient to the simple reality that Catholicism is True and the other philosophies are not. Accept the primary good for its own sake, and the secondary issues will resolve naturally.

  5. Rorate Masses, Candlemas, Septuagesima, Shrovetide, Tenebrae, Rogation Days, Michaelmas

    I’m 39 this year, raised and been a faithful and devout Catholic my whole life, and I’ve never even heard of these.

    • Imho, that’s because you were robbed of your heritage.

      Luke 10:

      And behold a certain lawyer stood up, tempting him, and saying, Master, what must I do to possess eternal life?

      [26] But he said to him: What is written in the law? how readest thou? [27] He answering, said: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind: and thy neighbour as thyself. [28] And he said to him: Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live. [29] But he willing to justify himself, said to Jesus: And who is my neighbour? [30] And Jesus answering, said: A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, who also stripped him, and having wounded him went away, leaving him half dead.

      [31] And it chanced, that a certain priest went down the same way: and seeing him, passed by. [32] In like manner also a Levite, when he was near the place and saw him, passed by. [33] But a certain Samaritan being on his journey, came near him; and seeing him, was moved with compassion. [34] And going up to him, bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine: and setting him upon his own beast, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. [35] And the next day he took out two pence, and gave to the host, and said: Take care of him; and whatsoever thou shalt spend over and above, I, at my return, will repay thee.

      [36] Which of these three, in thy opinion, was neighbour to him that fell among the robbers? [37] But he said: He that shewed mercy to him. And Jesus said to him: Go, and do thou in like manner.

      In the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, we usually have that Gospel for the 25th or 26th Sunday after Pentecost.

    • Well then, I’d say that you are in for some wonderful discoveries! Go to a Latin Mass Easter vigil this year if you can. So beautiful!!!

      Have you ever been to You might like to read their articles.

      Do you have children? I have a post on lent which you may find interesting, particularly the lovely free lenten calendars which I have linked

      God bless! 🙂

      • Six babies waiting for us in Heaven, but none here, unfortunately. No possibility of having them anymore either, barring a more miraculous result than Elizabeth or Sarah (it is presumed they didn’t know how to do hysterectomies back then…)

        Does anyone have a comprehensive list of parishes that do Latin Masses?

          • Currently in the diocese of Tuscon. Seems like there might be one, but it is a long ways away (3+ hours). I’m not sure I trust that site, though. It lists two in the Diocese of Cheyenne, where I spent approximately 30 years, and I can say definitively there are no latin masses occurring in the diocese.

            It lists Holy Rosary parish in Lander as having Latin masses. They do not. I know the priest there very well. He might be capable of doing a Latin mass, I’m not sure. They have a very small, very young Catholic college there too, and they do have some chanting and some Latin singing during the mass, but they don’t have a full Latin mass (or did not as of 6 months ago or so).

          • I thought you might be in my neck of the woods given you are up at this time 😉 I googled the link and the Australian list, which is where I’m from seemed correct. Try perhaps this link instead. It’s the fssp link. You could give them a call and they would surely know what’s in your area, even if they aren’t. Or hopefully there is someone here from Tuscon who might be able to help?

          • Cetera, forgot to tell you about iMass. Remembered because we (my family and I) are sick and so couldn’t go to Mass. We got up at 5am (in Australia) to watch the Easter Vigil in Fribourg. It helped ease our sadness a bit at not being able to go to Mass. But I thought of you and that you might be interested, if you weren’t able to go to the Vigil, to watch it online instead. (Not of course suggesting this instead of going to Mass, but as something extra if you have the time and inclination)

            Here’s the link They don’t have the vigil listed. But if you try to watch at somewhere like 9.30pm or 10pm Florida time which is when a vigil might begin then hopefully they might live stream the vigil.

            A very blessed Easter to you!

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