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The Protestantization of the New Evangelization

It’s no secret that the Catholic Church in the Western world has experienced a tremendous drop in practicing members over the past 50 years. More troubling—and not unrelated—is the fact that the desire to gain more members via evangelization has declined even more tremendously. In the 60’s and 70’s, evangelization was ridiculed in many parts of the Church, and now we have the almost-empty, graying parishes to prove it.

In response to this sad situation, Pope John Paul II in the early 1980’s promoted what he called the “New Evangelization.” The late pope hoped to reinvigorate the Church with a missionary zeal. What made this evangelization “new” was the focus of this zeal, which would not be non-Christian territories, but rather fallen-away Catholics. It would be an attempt to evangelize the baptized—something that had never happened in the past, for it had never been needed.

Since that initial call, a myriad of activities and programs have popped up under the umbrella term “New Evangelization.” Essentially, any activity with the intention of bringing people back to the Church was tagged with the New Evangelization title, no matter how useful—or Catholic—it was. Some of these programs have been solidly Catholic, but many have simply aped non-Catholic programs behind a Catholic façade. Instead of referring to the target of our evangelization efforts, the “new” in “New Evangelization” has often meant “no longer Catholic.”

The Success of Evangelicals

While Catholics were fleeing for the exits in the 70’s and 80’s, those who remained noticed the success of many Evangelical Protestant groups in attracting members. What was it they were doing that Catholics weren’t? Why did many of the Evangelical churches appear to be resonating with a younger generation, while Catholic parishes continued to wither away? Perhaps, the thinking went, Catholics could learn something from our “separated brethren.”

I experienced the success of Protestant evangelization (which Protestants typically call “evangelism”) first-hand. When I studied at a large public university as an enthusiastic Evangelical Protestant, I noticed that many of the members of our Evangelical “parachurch” organization were formerly Catholic. The stories of their upbringing were similar: there was no enthusiasm for the faith, they didn’t really study the Bible, and no one ever called them to a commitment to Christ. Only when encountering Evangelical Protestantism did they witness a passion and love for Jesus; this passion attracted them and they “gave their lives to Christ”…while abandoning the Catholic Church.

As a Protestant, these stories gave me joy. After all, here were people who had made a commitment to follow the Lord. After growing up in a stale religion, they now knew and loved Jesus Christ. Now that I’m Catholic, these stories bring me sadness and anger. My anger isn’t directed at those students, however; it is directed at the culture within the Catholic Church that made so many believe that one had to leave the Church in order to draw closer to Christ.

Imitating Success

Beginning in the 1990’s, experiences like these led many Catholic leaders to create “New Evangelization” programs that would imitate the methodology, and sometimes even the message, of Evangelical Protestant programs, while tacking on some uniquely Catholic teachings to give them the veneer of being Catholic. The thought was that Evangelicals were properly focused on preaching the Gospel, while Catholics got too bogged down in doctrine. The fact that doctrine had been mostly ignored in Catholic circles since the late 1960’s was apparently irrelevant.

Let me be clear about something here. These efforts I’m referring to are not why we are in the dire situation we are in today. It is not due to these types of programs that so many people have left the Catholic Church over the past few decades. I would argue instead that these were sincere attempts to close the floodgates of people leaving the Church after they had already been opened in the 60’s and 70’s. But these attempts to imitate Protestant tactics, while sincere, make a critical false assumption. That assumption is that Protestantism is essentially “Catholicism Lite,” or, from another perspective, Catholicism is “Protestantism Plus.”

Many Christians today see Protestantism and Catholicism as sharing the same essential teachings and doctrines, such as those on the Trinity, Jesus, salvation, etc. This is the “kerygma,” a Greek word meaning “preaching,” which is today used to represent the core proclamation of the Gospel that makes up evangelization. Beyond the kerygma, the thinking goes, Catholicism has additional doctrines, such as our teaching on the Blessed Mother, purgatory, and transubstantiation. These teachings are important, but not a core part of the kerygma.

This foundational flaw evident in many Catholic evangelization programs plays out in important, practical ways. Here’s a common “New Evangelization” methodology:

  1. Introduce someone to Jesus.
  2. Explain the basic message of salvation:
    • You are a sinner
    • Jesus died for our sins
    • Give your life to Jesus
    • Experience forgiveness
  3. Explain the basics of Christianity: The Trinity, the Bible, how to pray, etc.
  4. Ask the person to make Jesus Lord.
  5. Begin to teach the uniquely Catholic aspects of the Faith.

Note that there is no essential difference in Steps 1-4 for a Protestant or Catholic—that is supposedly just the kerygma being preached, which is shared by all Christians. Catholics merely add Step 5 at the end (and in actuality, a Protestant would include a Step 5, but he would simply teach his particular denomination’s unique teachings). In some circles, Steps 1-4 are termed “evangelization” proper, while Step 5 is “catechesis.” Under this thinking, the Protestant and Catholic evangelization message are essentially identical—the only difference comes later, in catechesis.

Case Study: Alpha for Catholics

One popular New Evangelization program that adopts this methodology is Alpha for Catholics. Many high-ranking Church officials have endorsed this program, including Cardinals Christoph Schönborn, Mark Ouellet, Raymundo Damasceno, Gérald Lacroix, and Kurt Koch. Significantly, it is also endorsed by Archbishop Rino Fisichella, the President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization—the official conference in charge of evangelization for the worldwide Church.

As can perhaps be deduced from the name, Alpha for Catholics is an offshoot of an existing program, simply called Alpha. Alpha promotes itself as “the basic message of Jesus Christ.” It attempts to bring non-practicing Christians (including those who have no experience of Christianity) into the Christian Faith. It was founded by Reverend Charles Marnham, an Anglican priest. As the name suggests, it is meant to be a “beginning,” an introductory course in Christianity in a comfortable, non-threatening environment. It is intended, in other words, to preach the kerygma and leave “catechesis” for later.

Alpha for Catholics is marketed as, well, Alpha for Catholics. However, the content is identical. Here is the structure of the course, both for the main (Protestant) version of Alpha, as well as for Alpha for Catholics:

  1. Is There More to Life Than This?
  2. Who is Jesus?
  3. Why Did Jesus Die?
  4. How Can We Have Faith?
  5. Why and How Do I Pray?
  6. Why and How Should I Read the Bible?
  7. How Does God Guide Us?
  8. Who is the Holy Spirit?
  9. What Does the Holy Spirit Do?
  10. How Can I Be Filled with the Holy Spirit?
  11. How Can I Make the Most of the Rest of My Life?
  12. How Can I Resist Evil?
  13. Why and How Should I Tell Others?
  14. Does God Heal Today?
  15. What About the Church?

From just a surface review of this list, it is apparent that at the very least a number of lessons would be radically different for a Catholic and for a Protestant. Take Lesson 6, “Why and How Should I Read the Bible?” Does anyone really think that Catholics and Protestants read the Bible in the same way? Or consider Lesson 15, “What About the Church?” There is perhaps no greater difference between Catholics and Protestants than ecclesiology; there is no way a Catholic and a Protestant could answer that question in a similar manner. Yet, again, the content of all these classes are identical for both regular Alpha and Alpha for Catholics.

Some might argue that Alpha for Catholics allows presenters to incorporate Catholic teachings in their presentations. This is true. There are two problems with this, however. First, the differences between Catholics and Protestants are so fundamental on certain teachings (such as the Bible and the Church) that there is no way to use Protestant content as a basis to teach Catholicism. Second, anyone with experience working with parish programs knows how woefully under-catechized most presenters are. They may be sincere, but they often don’t know even basic Catholicism. In fact, that’s the reason there are programs in the first place—to assist under-catechized presenters to know what to teach. Yet parishes who use Alpha for Catholics are giving these presenters Protestant content to present.

The Catholic Kerygma

Adapting Protestant programs for use by Catholics is doomed for failure, for Catholic evangelization is fundamentally unlike Protestant evangelism. Space does not permit this article to recount all the ways it must be different, so let’s focus on the role of the Sacraments, particularly the Sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist. After all, these are two of the three “Sacraments of Initiation,” and what is evangelization if not initiation into the Christian life?

Consider first Baptism. In the New Testament, Baptism is proclaimed as the entry into the Christian faith, the entry into the Church. After St. Peter’s sermon at the first Pentecost, he is asked by his listeners, “What shall we do?” (Acts 2:37). He responds, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). In other words, baptism is the essential “how” of evangelization: it is how we, according to St. Paul, enter into Christ’s death and resurrection (cf. Romans 6:1-4). And of course Jesus himself told Nicodemus, “Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God” (John 3:5).

Sacramental baptism, therefore, is not an “add-on” to the message of salvation; it is not extraneous to evangelization efforts. Yet for many Protestants, baptism is extraneous. That’s why you won’t find it on that 15-topic list. For Evangelical Protestants, if it is performed at all, Baptism is simply a “public profession” that does not change the believer. Sacramental Baptism is a core element of the kerygma, yet parishes that use Alpha for Catholics can only hope that the presenter will squeeze the topic into the existing program.

Consider also the Eucharist. Jesus plainly stated, “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life” (John 6: 53-54). There is little wiggle room here: in order to receive eternal life, one must receive the Eucharist. Further, receiving the Eucharist is exactly how we, as believers, enter into the mysteries of Calvary. During the Last Supper, Jesus told his disciples, “This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me…This chalice which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood” (Luke 22:19-20). In other words, the Eucharist is the “mechanism” for receiving the graces poured out on the Cross; it is the means by which we are united to Christ’s salvific work.

Like sacramental Baptism, the Eucharist is not an “add-on” to the kerygma. It is central to it. Yet Alpha for Catholics—and other similar programs—present the message of salvation with no mention of the Eucharist, leaving it to presenters to mention it after the program is over if they wish.

Doctrine Matters

After St. Peter’s sermon at Pentecost, Scripture tells us, “So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:41-42). Note the tight integration of evangelization with essential Catholic doctrine. These first converts were sacramentalized: they received baptism and participated in the “breaking of the bread” (i.e., the Eucharist). They were practicing members of the Church (“devoted to…fellowship”). They adhered to the magisterium, following “the apostles’ teaching.” This was all part of the process of evangelization, with no false separation between the proclamation of the kerygma and the teaching of doctrine.

If a program were to follow the example of the early Church, how would it look? It would have some overlap with the Alpha program, to be sure. But it would integrate teachings on the Sacraments throughout the program (for example, the questions “How Can We Have Faith?”, “How Can I Make the Most of the Rest of My Life?”, “How Can I Resist Evil?”, and “Does God Heal Today?” all touch on different aspects of sacramental living). A truly Catholic program would also include the importance of Sacred Tradition, as well as the need for a Magisterium (the “apostles’ teaching”) to rightly interpret both Scripture and Tradition. This isn’t just catechesis, it’s fundamental to becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ; it’s part of the kerygma.

Catholic evangelization is not simply Protestant evangelism with a Catholic twist. It cannot be reduced to leading people to a non-denominational Jesus, then later catechizing them on the tenets of Catholicism. The Catholic kerygma includes distinctively Catholic doctrines. After all, that is the very purpose of doctrine: to clarify how it is we are to be disciples of Christ. Doctrine is not the icing on the cake, it is the ingredients of the cake itself. Without these ingredients, we present an empty message that does nothing to fill the deepest desires of the human heart.

Eric Sammons, a former Evangelical, entered the Catholic Church in 1993 and has been involved in Catholic evangelization efforts for over two decades. He is the author of several books, including The Old Evangelization: How to Spread the Faith Like Jesus Did

163 thoughts on “The Protestantization of the New Evangelization”

  1. Jesus said, “With all thy getting, get understanding.” But if you’re a Catholic and fulfill the obligatory weekly going to Mass, there is little, if any, teaching that will impart understanding. Especially, the path of the Cross. Catholics have always been hungry for the teaching and “meat” of the Holy Spirit. It is not to be found, but in other churches.

    • Jesus never said that. We would get the meat of faith if our priests and bishops believed and had faith. When the bishops believe and have faith than the Catholic Church will grow again.

  2. Nicely written. Congratulations on such a clear presentation of the pitfalls of hybrid evangelization.

    I always was partial to the old Baltimore Catechism as the base from which to launch an entry-level exposition on the Faith.

  3. A good article with food for thought. It appears we need a Catholic methodology for evangelisation. Better minds than mine should develop one.

  4. I speak only for myself, but I don’t think I’m unique. One fundamental reason I actually did leave the Church for several years (in my early 20s) was that my young adult mind could not reconcile the inherent disconnect between what I was being told Catholics believed and what I was seeing in every Novus Ordo parish I visited. “If we as Catholics are supposed to believe the Eucharist IS the Body and Blood of Christ,” I remember thinking, “we sure don’t act like it.” The inevitably banal liturgy, the utter disregard for Eucharistic reverence, and the lack of anything uniquely Catholic caused me to finally decide the entire thing was a farce.

    Only after a serious personal crisis did I return to the Church some years later, and even then, I tried my best to follow the “conservative Catholic” approach of accepting the Novus Ordo and the inevitable liturgical abuses with a “Well, I wish they wouldn’t do that, but the Mass is still valid, so I should just offer it up and bear it.” Finding the classical rite online is what has allowed me to understand what Catholicism is supposed to be and helped me reshape my spiritual practices to conform to the truths it so eloquently presents.

    Again, maybe I’m unique, but I don’t want to be told how wonderful I am, as the Novus Ordo beats into my head again and again, when I now damn well I am a sinner. I need to be able to open my 1962 hand missal and read the prayers suppressed in the NO that beg God for mercy for our sinfulness, that implore the Almighty to help us to repent. I need the Ember Day fasts, the strict traditional Lenten fast, the beauty of an Advent Rorate Mass, the weekday Mass for the souls in Purgatory, et cetera; without them, I am rudderless and adrift.

    What so many who promote the “New Evangelization” miss is the fact that the traditional liturgy and all its associated practices were precisely how the Faith was transmitted to the (largely illiterate) laity for century upon century. It’s as if a false wall of separation has been erected between belief/doctrine and liturgy (e.g., “Well, the liturgy is all well and good, but what REALLY matters is that you believe what the Church teaches. As long as you do that, you’re golden; liturgical abuse is regrettable, but really not THAT big of a deal.”) that has never before existed in the history of the Church. It seems to me that if we want people to believe in the truth of Catholicism, we need to stop trying so hard to reach the intellect and actually show people the lived experience of what traditional Catholicism is.

    • “we need to stop trying so hard to reach the intellect and actually show people the lived experience of what traditional Catholicism is.”

      This touches on something that really concerns me. Imagination is the practical intellect but how is the imagination of our people, especially our young people, being formed? Not by the lives of the saints, that is for sure.

      They are being given an imaginative formation by many media and in many venues that will greatly assist them in becoming fornicators, sodomites, transsexuals, apostates, single parents and accessories to the murder of their progeny.

      Aside from a very great deal of tongue clucking, nothing, and I mean nothing is being done to address this ongoing unresisted De-Evangelization. Since it entered the Catholic home in the mid-fifties, when has any successor of the Apostles attempted to pry the television out of the homes of his subjects? In light of that enormous lapse, it is simply madness on steroids to talk about the New Evangelization.

      I, for one, am sick to death of it and especially of its monetization, the canned programs, the speakers, the articles, the nagging.. it is utterly and completely beside the point. Our young people are being corrupted by the hour, but our bishops evidently think it is not ‘winsome” to be “negative,” to speak of Hell, of near occasions of sin, of the responsibility of fathers to be the gate-keepers of their homes. No, no, no, smile, be positive, be happy. Be “winsome”- another concept from the Evangelical playbook.

      • I, for one, am sick to death of it and especially of its monetization, the canned programs, the speakers, the articles, the nagging.

        Agreed. It’s turned into a cottage industry for laymen who have declared themselves self-appointed “apologists” without necessarily having any sort of formal theological training, and most certainly not the kind of formation of priests in the pre-Conciliar era, where seminarians were rigorously instructed in the principles of scholasticism, with texts like Jone’s Moral Theology to help them apply Catholic teaching to practical scenarios. Instead, we have people (many of whom were Protestants/Evangelicals in their earlier years) who, while perhaps well-intentioned, simply do not have the lived experience of Catholic tradition to guide them in their endeavors, and thus enter a feedback loop in which their apologetics automatically default to Vatican II/John Paul II as the be-all, end-all of Catholicism. (“But,” says the nice voice actress on Catholic radio, “if you want to book [insert name of apologist] to speak at your church/fellowship hall/bowling alley, call us for today!”)

    • Your situation is not unique – it sounds very much like my own. I left the Catholic Church for the Greek Orthodox Church when I was a teenager, for much the same reasons you described here. I grew up after Vatican II, so had no experience of the Latin Mass, and I never learnt that there was an Eastern Rite in the Catholic Church until years later, when I returned. (And I went to a Catholic elementary school!) I belong to an Eastern Rite Church now, although occasionally I will attend Latin Mass. (I am fortunate enough to now live in a city which has both).

      • Welcome home! I’m also happy that you discovered the Eastern Catholic Churches. Most people don’t know that we have the same liturgy and traditions as the Orthodox but are in full communion with the Holy See.

        You are truly blessed to have both the TLM and Divine Liturgy. I wish there was a TLM closer to me. There’s one outside of Philadelphia but it’s quite a hike to get there from where I live. (Plus, Mom wouldn’t go for it.)

        • There is a church here in Pittsburgh (St. Boniface) that has only Latin Mass – I think I heard that they are the only church in the U.S. that has been having it all along? And a plethora of Eastern Rite churches – but no Melkite. My son is officially Melkite because he was baptized in an Antiochian Orthodox Church and converted to Catholic shortly after I returned. (He was in high school at the time.) We are kind of complicated, LOL.

  5. This is very well-done, thank you! The indifferentism that is afoot today is very grounded in this version of evangelization. That said, it is utterly true that most of the Evangelicals I know are far better Catholics than most of the Catholics I know. Meaning, aside from essential points of doctrine (NO I don’t mean they are irrelevant!!) they have a unified, all-in, “this is my entire life, not just my Sunday mornings,” profoundly charitable approach to life and faith. I admire their tithing. I admire their total willingness to admit their faith in Christ, publicly. Meantime, my official Catholic friends are asking if their Saturday afternoon wedding Nuptial Mass “counts” for Sunday. I really do ponder all this. I have a real problem thinking that my Evangelical friends are damnation bound when my official Catholic friends are sleeping in on Sunday morning, and worse. (OH STOP, please, if you are going to write me about points of doctrine please don’t. Let me ponder in peace. 😉

    • Yes! I too have wonderfully Christian evangelical friends. I pray that they find the True Church. I once heard that many fall away or never join the Church because of the bad example of other Catholics. I pray that I never give that bad example, but I’m sure I have at one time or other.

  6. In addition to my professional Catholic communications work, I teach RCIA. This article is RIGHT ON. The parish-level programs like RCIA and others let unqualified ‘presenters’ teach the material, and they’re poorly or only partially catechized. Many are recent converts who don’t know Catholicism and its teachings well enough and haven’t lived through its cycles in the Church long enough. Sorry to sound dismissive, but this anyone-who-volunteers-can-teach approach is unacceptable … it’s like rotten patchwork. We need PRIESTS teaching these programs, and priests who are fully on board with the whole of Church doctrine and its proper practice. This is no joke — the casual let’s-talk-about-heresies-like-they’re-doctrine approach is seriously dangerous to the catechumens. People mix their personal opinions — on whether doctrine should be changed, which parts of the Bible are to be believed, whether certain behaviors are still sinful, etc. –with settled Church teaching…DANGEROUS and scandalous.
    Catholicism is really ‘the last man standing’ on so many of Christ’s teachings. The Catholic Church is entirely unique because of this — it holds all seven sacraments, and holds to the teaching authority and longstanding doctrine when so many other sects have done away with it. It still calls certain offenses against God ‘sins’ — when others have transformed them into modern virtues. But it takes courage and a mastery of human respect to call a spade a spade and stand firm on it. The teachers of the faith, like the Catholic faith itself, need to be firm, unchanging and ever truthful. They need to know their stuff…which means to espouse it and not knock down the parts they don’t agree with personally. What was wrong with the OLD evangelization? It was unapologetically firm, and didn’t seek to have cake and cookies with everyone. Catholicism isn’t “cool” and its teachings aren’t popular. But they’re magnetic.

    • Seriously, I think the best thing for these parishes to do would be to
      sit people down and play Fr. Ripperger’s and Fr. Wolfe’s sermons
      for as many hours a month as possible. I’m a cradle Catholic and
      revert and I cannot tell you how many things I have learned
      over the last year listening to these 2 awesome priests speak
      on Youtube (Sensus Fidelium channel). Sometimes I’m up all
      night and I just cannot turn them off they are sooooo interesting
      and full of true instruction and Catholic teaching.

      • Agreed! They have been such a blessing to my family and I.

        Just so as you know, as far as I’m aware anyway, the second priest you mention prefers to be anonymous.

        God bless!

        • Thanks Sharyn! I have edited my comment to remove his
          name. Not sure how much longer he’ll be able to hold that
          together though. I see other Youtube channels that have him
          listed by his name. He’s gathered quite a following I would

          • I know, I’ve seen it. There doesn’t seem to be any way to contact them to change the playlist name either.

            They need to be protected from us (you and I) more than anything 😉 If I didn’t know and understand why they like to be anon I don’t know about you but I would have tracked one of them down for, oh, a whole heap of questions, plus could they be my spiritual director, please, please! lol Can you imagine how many of us would do that. I feel tempted as is 🙂

            I’m so so thankful they have shared their sermons. They helped me through a very tough time
            The least I can do is to help them in return if I may. God protect them and give them courage! May they become great saints!

          • Oh, absolutely. When I perused a few of those other channels and saw that it was him I immediately looked to see if he was close to me so I could attend his Mass. He’s moved now within 6 hours of me and I have literally pondered making the ride. Once I saw those other channels spring up I thought the cat was out of the bag and I just put it on here because sometimes his sermons are hard to find on Sensus Fidelium (lots of clicking 🙂 ), so thanks for correcting me. I did just hear Fr, Ripperger say tons
            of people ask him to be their spiritual director. He tells them that they need to go home and meditate for at least 30 minutes a day and remove all venial sin from their life (the habitual more deliberate kind, I imagine, not the surprise kind) , and then come back. Most of them, he said, don’t return. Sort of like the rich young man in the Bible, I guess, who wants to follow Jesus but can’t give up his “stuff”. So, if you want him for a director………. 🙂
            And indeed, may God protect them!!

    • “Catholicism isn’t “cool” and its teachings aren’t popular. But they’re magnetic.”
      Indeed. Catholicism is not cool, but it doesn’t to be. But Catholicism IS the Faith that help poor souls to reach another kind of “coolness”, namely the Eternal Life.

      “Wherefore I also, hearing of your faith that is in the Lord Jesus, and of your love towards all the saints, Cease not to give thanks for you, making commemoration of you in my prayers, That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and of revelation, in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your heart enlightened, that you may know what the hope is of the glory of his inheritance in the saints. And what is the exceeding greatness of his power towards us, who believe according to the operation of the might of his power, Which he wrought in Christ, raising him up from the dead, and setting him on his right hand in the heavenly places. Above all principality, and power, and virtue, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come. And he hath subjected all things under his feet, and hath made him head over all the church, Which is his body, and the fulness of him who is filled all in all.” (Ephesians 1,15-23)
      Yes, the words above goes about the Catholicism!

    • Good on you for your post! Enthusiasm and good will are NOT enough as you ably point out. Trouble is that bad stuff has gone down in the seminaries. In the mid 1990’s here, seminarians were being instructed NOT to mention miracles of Jesus. Think about that! God works miracles to encourage people to KNOW Jesus’ goodness and his authority based on His amazing miracles which NO ONE had previously achieved i.e. curing a man blind from birth (for one). And whoever ? in the seminaries teaches these young men to disregard the miracles. message : human wisdom is wiser than God’s. So that’s why we have such weak flat homilies from so many poor Priests who must be struggling borderline to continue.

    • Yet one can’t assume that any old priest is any better catechized for that matter. Hearing error from the mouth of a priest can be much damaging than hearing it from a lay volunteer.

  7. The photo stirs up feelings of spiritual abuse for so many.
    What is worse, is walking into a beautiful old church, with stained glassed windows, marble floors, etc. and imagining the energy and power it too to rip out the altar rails and what I would imagine, the altar.
    I remember thinking on that once, when I entered a church with sacred statues, glorious stained windows, marble everywhere, except…….no altar rail and no altar. It struck me. What determination it took to destroy those unseen altar rails and altar in that church. What so many had to endure when they came for their churches!

    Such evil.

    • Surely the Church illustrated must win the prize for the most hideous church I have ever seen. Perhaps we should have a competition for the most hideous church with some sort of award to be sent to the priest in charge.

        • Oh yeah, I have too! We have a Catholic Church in our area that seriously reminds you of a Satanic Altar, and I am not kidding!! Of course it’s ‘new’ with all the ‘modern lines’ of an auditorium as well. The Church in the picture above looks BEAUTIFUL comparatively speaking.

        • I was bout to say the same thing. At least the tabernacle is at the front of the church, behind the altar. And they even have an icon of Our Lord!

          • I once was in a RC church that had the tabernacle right next to the door that led to the nave. Honestly, if you didn’t see the Stations of the Cross on the walls (plus statues of Our Lord and Our Lady), you’d never think that you were in a Catholic church. (The church in question once belonged to Protestants before being sold to Catholics.)

      • I’m a member of this church! And fortunately our new priest has made lots of changes … beautiful crucifix, copy of the Last Supper, lovely paintings of Mary and Joseph, and augmented tabernacle, etc. It’s becoming more Catholic! No more banners behind the altar!
        We lost some members over these and other changes, but we’ve gained some, too.

        • I know y’all are trying and mean well, but the prominent display of the Last Supper undermines the image of the Crucifix and the Eucharistic theology it recalls. I know there are many pre-conciliar churches where the Last Supper gets an artistic shout out, but it’s a really bad idea to place the sacrificial and the meal aspects of the Eucharist on an equal footing as is done here.

          I don’t wish to sound snarky because I know how hard it is to reclaim a space like this for orthodoxy, especially when resources are limited and competing interests (indicated by piano, drums, and electric amplifier) are in play. If I were pastor, I’d work towards an altar rail and ad orientem celebration, and hire a music director who knows real Catholic music (chant, polyphony, the graduale, etc). Once the liturgy is properly oriented, people will be moved to open their wallets for more expensive re-ordering of the entire space.

          • The last supper that lies under the crucifix doesn’t bother me nearly as much as the half crucified, half resurrected Christ we have in one of our Parishes. And it’s HUGE. Personally I think they’ve done a half way decent job of renovating the Altar. There is always room for improvement, but I think you’ll find that in almost ANY smaller Catholic Church you walk in to today.

          • If you go to a Byzantine or Ukrainian Greek Catholic church, the icon of the Last Supper (we call it the Mystical Supper) is ALWAYS over the Royal Doors of the iconostas. So whoever put the Last Supper over the altar might be thinking of the Byzantine style.

          • Interesting. The Wikipedia article on Iconostases affirms that the representation of the Mystical Supper is a reference to the Communion of saints. Viewing the photo on this thread with my Latin Rite eyes, that is not what springs to mind.

          • If I walked into a “Catholic” church and saw “drums, and electric amplifier”, there’s no power on earth that could prevent me from walking back out. I want to worship, not go to a nightclub.

        • They are to be congratulated. It reminds me of the priest at our local shrine at West Grinstead who had to dig up the statues which the previous incumbents had buried in the churchyard where Hilaire Belloc is buried. I wonder what he would have thought of that! I can imagine it could the subject of a new Cautionary Tale for Children.

        • I agree with Romulus. I believe you mean well and are doing your best, but we will get nowhere, literally nowhere, as long as we tolerate the Novus Ordo mass as a Catholic rite.

          Please consider whatever sacrifice is necessary for you to attend the traditional Roman Rite of Mass exclusively, and absolutely abandon the new mass forever.

    • Some buildings just don’t deserve to be called churches. As concerning their inside and outside lookout, the arrangement of fitting, etc., and mostly by the fact of the obvious absence of the Catholic word, which means the true Catholic Spirit.

  8. JMJ A timely article as I attended the first of a series of Catechesis in our parish by the neo cathechumen. The first lesson if one could call it that was very boring as the presenters recounted their former sinful and failing lives for 60 minutes and introduced this Greek word kerygma and mentioned 7 steps down then 7 steps up. I am not sure what journey they are taking us on but all I was after was Catechism ?

    • Here’s a quote from Bishop Schneider about them:

      ‘The Neocathecumenate is a Protestant-Jewish[12] community inside the Church with a Catholic decoration only. The most dangerous aspect is regarding the Eucharist, because the Eucharist is the heart of the Church. When the heart is in a bad way, the whole body is in a bad way. For the Neocatechumenate, the Eucharist is primarily a fraternal banquet. This is a Protestant, a typically Lutheran attitude.[13] They reject the idea and the teaching of the Eucharist as a true sacrifice. They even hold that the traditional teaching of, and belief in, the Eucharist as a sacrifice is not Christian but pagan.[14] This is completely absurd, this is typically Lutheran, Protestant. During their liturgies of the Eucharist they treat the Most Holy Sacrament in such a banal manner, that it sometimes becomes horrible.[15] They sit while receiving Holy Communion, and then they lose the fragments because they do not take care of them, and after Communion they dance instead of praying and adoring Jesus in silence. This is really worldly and pagan, naturalistic.’ (Excerpted from an article on Rorate Caeli here:

      Here’s one of my favourite site’s to learn more about the faith: or if you like video’s here:

      There is also The Catechism of the Council of Trent

      • You, somehow, need to make sure the Baltimore and Trent catechisms have not been “updated” – revised to match the neo-catholic modernist content.

        • It can be frustrating trying to find unedited or good edits of books sometimes. I’m was looking for an unedited modern printing of Apologetics and Catholic Doctrine by Archbishop Michael Sheehan, or at least a slightly edited version of which I could be happy with, but at this point I’ve decided to get a 1920’s or 40’s copy instead. It took me ages to find a copy of St. Francis de Sales Introduction to the Devout Life. I find the ‘archaic’ language imparts more meaning to me.

          Sometimes edits can be good, an improved layout, true and necessary additional information etc., but not as you say when meaning is changed or text/illustrations removed.

          I think the books I have linked are okay or at least have not been edited to their detriment. But anyone who knows otherwise please let me know.

          • The “updates” I was referring to are changes to the content so the material conforms to the communist/modernist party line. After 50+ years of “modernist rule” in the Church, most material, including the Baltimore and Trent catechisms have bern so revised.

        • The article is still there. I checked the address and it is correct. I’m not sure why it isn’t working. The article is called ‘EXCLUSIVE: Interview with Bishop Athanasius Schneider’ if you are interested to google it.

      • Christ is not present in a Lutheran service. Only a valid Catholic Priest can consecrate the bread and wine into OOur Lord’s Body and Blood.

    • I attended 2 sessions of the NeoCatechumenate in a nearby Parish. The Parish Priest really saw it as a tool for evangelisation for his Parish. I dont think it turned out to be. I think it was just recruitment for that Neocat movement. The Neocat presenter used a fairly flat presentation, allowed no questions, the accompanying members with him sought no eye contact with the rest of us listening. They stuck to themselves and did not reach out in a welcoming way – no smiles. Maybe they saw their Way as the only way, but from what I have read it seems you need to be willing to accept catechesis from one of their appointed members unquestioningly. You give over your spiritual direction to an unknown person. I was not willing to do that from the outset. For someone who is in grevious circumstances and feels isolated, I think they offer accompaniment but as I say, you have to be willing to hand over your spiritual direction to the group. It’s not for everyone. Plus I have real issues with their liturgy. I worked with the WYD 2008 organisers in Sydney on accommodation for Neocats coming from Poland, welcoming their groups into a local Parish community. I was shocked at the ordinary way they treated their accompanying Clergy. Their Clergy seemed to be unaware of their higher dignity (I thought). Priesthood does not seem to rank higher for this Movement, being called to a supernatural “in persona Christi”. It was just an impression. I didnt join the Neocats so I dont know personally.

  9. In the 60’s and 70’s, evangelization was ridiculed in many parts of the Church, and now we have the almost-empty, graying parishes to prove it.

    By interesting (and sad) coincidence this weekend, the Diocese of Pittsburgh announced that it was consolidating its remaining 188 parishes into just 48. Among the data cited: Between the years 2000 and 2015, Mass attendance, first communions and confirmations have declined 40 percent, according to diocesan statistics. Infant baptisms, church marriages and K-8 school enrollment have declined about 50 percent.

    • It doesn’t help when they do things like moving a high school in the city limits (Troy Hill neighborhood) out to the suburbs (Cranberry). Making the Catholic schools less convenient to get to (not to mention expensive!) doesn’t help parents with limited means.

  10. The author gets close to the truth, but not all the way there. First, as a cradle Catholic who learned the faith long before V2 and as a Catholic theologian who has written religion curricula for high school and college students, when l taught about Christianity, what the author initially separates into kerygma and catechesis were one and the same; living the life of a truly committed and faithful Christian meant being a committed and faithful Catholic, the core beliefs expressed in the apostles and nicene creeds may be repeated by protestants, but they ARE the Catholic Church’s because they had been preached for 1500 years before the protestants came along. They are also doctrine, the fundamental doctrine, and as such they are not easily separated from the Gospel message nor is any of the other dictrines, including the Marian because they all are rooted in and intertwined with the story of Jesus, who He was and is and what He teaches abd more. What most people I’ve known gave as their reason for leaving Catholicism was that it was unfriendly and impersonal – there was no communal fellowship. It was only by chance that you met, talked with abd perhaps became friends with or got to know a fellow parishoner. Abd that was true to some extent. Second, there is only one true Christian faith and it ain’t any form of protestantism. No one is saved outside Catholicism unless that person is invincibly ignorant. All forms of orotestant Christianity are heresies that present a dortorted and erroneous message of the Gospel and a fictional version of Jesus. Catholics started keaving the Church in droves when it was nade clear, from V2, that one didn’t necessarily have to be Catholic to get to heaven and in other “churches” yiu didn’t have to work so hard to get there vecause, after all, once you accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, well thrn, my friend, halleihluia, you’re saved. But tgat is NOT what Jesus tells us! Striving for holiness and being pure of heart is part of the covenants, both old and new. At the same time, one of the functions of the nethods if the new evangelizarion programs is to brainwash and transmute the Catholic fauth into another non-denominational relativistic quasi-Christian religion and, thereby, get as many as possible on board the Modernist train for hell, toot toot.

    • “……. in other “churches” you didn’t have to work so hard to get there because, after all, once you accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior……you’re saved”

      In my opinion this is precisely why these evangelicals are so successful. They appeal to the absolute lowest, minimum standard of belief/knowledge/holiness/devotion and sacramental living. They promise eternal salvation with the uttering of a single sentence; they allow divorce, contraception, and one can continue to cling to his secular life he previously lived — the heavy metal and their fashions, for just one example — upon which they put a Christian veneer, calling it “Christian Rock,” rather than rejecting it outright. I’ve seen it.

      This is very tempting to people who don’t have the fortitude to resist secularisation.
      What religion wouldn’t be successful with such easy conditions? For all its modern-day crises (of which we all know and lament) the Catholic Church has more than one could ever need : the Mass, seven sacraments, Gregorian Chant, priesthood, apostolic succession, bishops, Eucharist Adoration, Mary and saints, martyrs, nuns, monks, holy water, history, popes, pilgrimages, scapulars, Catechism, prayers and devotions, Thomist philosophy, the Rosary, Latin, feast days, Lent, fasting, Sacred Scripture and Tradition, and countless other things.

      They have : the Bible.

      We often hear statistics of how successful these sects are in recruiting members. How long do they stay? Do they remain satisfied? How comforted do they feel on their deathbed without a rosary; with no recourse to Mary, no saints, no Viaticum, no Extreme Unction, no priest, etc. I wouldn’t want to be on that death bed. My guess is they stay a few years, and then either come back to The Church, move on to another sect, or fall away altogether. If anyone has statistics to disprove this please do so.

      • Indeed. It is a long story, but I’ll just hit the highlights. In the late 1960s, about the time the NO was being unrolled, I left the Church (why is a story in itself) abd all religion. Although I still believed in God, the core reason was He seemed so remived and, thus, irrelevant to my life abd the struggles I faced. I had not yet learned that the problem was ME, not God. After many years I returned to religion (another story), returning to Catholicism in a series of steps through various protestant denominations from evangelical to high church anglicanism, each time miving closer to Catholicism. I, too, was searching for something. All the things you mention were part of what I was looking for. However, these were, in a sense, the filigree surrounding the diamond. That diamond is the heart of Catholicism, to love the Holy Trinity so much and with such abiding love tgat you wanted and were willing to work at becoming a replica of the Father’s Son. Only the Catholic Church teaches you, formally and informally, hiw to do that through its theology and spirituality. These tell you not just “what is”, but how and why and how to get from point A to point B and further. True, esoecially these days, you have to look for it, but among all the treasures of the Church, it can be found. None of the other churches truly do this or gave the spiritual tools and weapons to do this; the teachings and Christology if the fathers and dictirs, the writings and sermons of Crysistum, Anthony of Padia and the like, the simplicity and devition of the Poor Man from Assisi, tge deeo thinking theology and wisdom of Aquinas and Augustine, the clarity muxed with humor of Fulton Sheen, the courage of all the martyrs. None of the protestants have all of this, this history, this legacy to learn how to be a true disciple of Jesus and a son or daughter of the Father. They tgrew all that away with the doctrine and the sacrements. Yes, they have he Bible, but they stoke tgat from us abd then revised it to suit their oarticular vusions if God and Christ, just as the post-V2 Church gas done by allowing each epiacopal conference ti cone uo with their version of Scripture, like the New American Bible, whuch is so full of modernist distortions that is almost unrecognizable as Holy Scripture (I exaggerate, but not very much). All of this reveals why protestantism is a false, heretical rendition of Christianity and cannot save anyone.

        • “Crysistum, Anthony of Padia and the like…”

          Are you thinking of two of my favorite saints, St. John Chrysostom and St. Anthony of Padua? ????

      • Evangelical churches are the cannibals of Christianity. Why do I say this? Because they suck in members from other churches, and then slowly spit them back out. Your “hunch” is quite correct. While Evangelicals see, for the time being, good numbers coming in the front door, they are bleeding a large number out the back door. For now the numbers coming in hide the numbers going out, but it might not remain that way for long. You are correct in saying that they often offer the lowest, minimum standard of belief/knowledge/etc. In other words, a very shallow faith with little “sticking” power. People naturally drift away and never come back, or they go through life with a roller coaster sort of faith (sometimes HOT, other times cold for long, LONG periods.). For many there is never any growth in holiness or devotion. As I said in the beginning, they are cannibals. They chew up people looking for more, and eventually they often spit them out disillusioned.

  11. There is a (Catholic?) church in Langholm, Scotland, where here is no altar as such – a row of tables connected lengthways with the (priest?) sat at the head, and congregation along each side. Such was newly developed within an ex Protestant chapel.

  12. I was in an RCIA program run by lay people. It was a total farce. Their policy was NOT to use the Catechism of the Catholic Church. They touted Martin Luther as a wonderful man who was unfairly treated by the Church, and the teaching on Mary consisted in near totality of another lay person passing around her favorite picture of Mary and telling us why she loved her. It was nine months of utterly banal and boring material that was purposeful in its avoidance of anything Catholic. Meanwhile, one priest was moved out after yet again being ‘attacked’ by the ‘gay demon’ and acting out. A parish administrator who hailed from Boston College was brought in, who immediately began implementing Charismatic type healing services after Mass and yes, the Alpha course. Good times. Naturally, the people kept hemorrhaging out of an already clustered and decimated parish. But the local evangelicals just love the Catholics who swell their ranks. You see, the Novus Ordo Church is just a less popular form of Protestantism. The Methodists and Presbyterians have lost out to the Evangelicals too. We need a thousand Cure of Ars.

  13. Does baptism save?
    The Catholic Church teaches…Salvation begins at baptism.
    “Baptism, the gate to the sacraments, is necessary for salvation in fact or at least in intention, by which men and women are freed from their sins, are reborn as children of God, and configured to Christ…” (Canon 849).

    The Bible teaches…
    Faith in Christ alone will save you, not your good works!
    The work of reconciliation was completely finished by Jesus Christ when He died on the cross and rose again. Nothing we add to what God the Son has already done could merit God’s favour. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

    • Susan if you have come onto this site to “evangelize” us to the doctrinal madness which is Protestantism then you have come to the wrong place.

    • please, re-read John 3… (sigh…): how are we “born again” ? Please read it.
      And James 2 (on works)
      And every St-Paul’s mentions of baptism (Romans 6, Titus 3, and others which I don’t remember)

        • my answer was very specific by the way.
          Prayerfully read John 3, everyday, for the next 3 months, praying God that His will be done in your life, and that Jesus might teach you himself (Jesus is talking in most of this chapter).
          Try to find protestant theology of baptism in this famous “born again” chapter.

          Then, go back try to “evangelize” catholic (you won’t be able, because if you really do what I just said, you’ll probably stop being a protestant, by God’s grace.)

    • Comment deleted for violation of the comment policy.

      6. Persistently advocating for unorthodox positions (ie., sedevacantism, the falsity of Catholicism, outright denials of doctrines or dogmas, etc.) will not be tolerated.

      Since this is Protestant proselytism on a Traditional Catholic publication’s site, I’m going to consider this “persistent.” There will be no further warnings. Continuing will result in an immediate and permanent ban.

  14. Your comment is quite interesting and I find that, in certain aspects, I actually agree with you. In others, I vehemently disagree. I’ll try to elucidate what I mean and hopefully keep it concise.

    The basic problem with Catholicism is that it never demands a personal decision of faith of anyone. Generally speaking, Catholics just “go through the motions” in their religion and only a very tiny minority of them has any faith worthy the name of it at all. To me the root error is child baptism. This is never taught in the NT, which always connects baptism with conscious faith and personal conversion to Christ.

    This right here is loaded. I’d like to start at the second half of this, regarding child baptism. You’re right, child baptism as such barely appears in the New Testament. Acts 2:38-39 reads:

    And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children and to all that are far off, every one whome the Lord our God calls to him.” (my emphasis)

    You may or may not agree that the reference to children here refers to infant baptism or not, which is fine, but that is the scriptural basis for doing so. Within Sacred Tradition, however, is where we find the practice. As far as we can see and has been passed on to us, it has always been done. Sure, it’s not in the scripture, but Our Lord never said everything was in the scriptures. And we hold to this Tradition as well as we do to Scripture. This seems silly to a non-catholic (which I assume you are? You seem to be…), with a sola scriptura mentality. I’m a convert myself. But there it is.

    Now, as regards the first part of that first paragraph… that’s a misconception, one enforced by the modern day mess we live in. At baptism, parents make a profession of faith for their infant children, with the intention of instructing their children in the faith as they grow. For many centuries, having a big “conversion moment” simply wasn’t part of Christian life. People grew up on a farm, or in a city, or wherever. They simply believed in God and the Christian faith, because that was life. There was no need for a “conversion moment” because it was never challenged… and many of these became good Christians, priests, whatever they were. The fact that this is how it was during the Middle Ages should speak to the height of Christendom that prevailed during that time… Christianity simply was a fact. It wasn’t until the Protestant Revolution and the subsequent Enlightment that things became questioned. But even at that time, every single person had to make a decision to follow Christ… in fact, they had to make it many many times throughout their lives. Just as we do today. Salvation is not a once and done matter. We need to make choices every single day, every hour, to follow Christ and not give in to sinful urges, or other rebellion.

    Today, though, we do live in a different world. But I don’t think the answer is a change of our sacramental discipline. I’d like to give my children every opportunity to receive sanctifying grace as early as possible. So baptism as an infant, with Confirmation and Eucharist as soon as possible, certainly before adolescence… What is needed is primarily from the parents: we need to make a concerted effort to not only teach the faith to our children, but to live that faith radically. In a world where our beliefs are not only discouraged but openly and viciously attacked, we need to show our kids, and teach our kids, exactly what it mean to be Catholic.

    I volunteer and teach religious education in preparation for Confirmation at a very troubled parish near me. Many of these kids have never heard such things as God entering into time and becoming a man to save us from our sins… some don’t even realize sin is real. They’ve never heard of Our Blessed Mother. They may be able to recite the 10 commandments, or list the Seven Sacraments… but they don’t know why. And that failure lies squarely on both their parents and their pastors. But that doesn’t mean that infant baptism is wrong. It means we aren’t teaching them the faith. We’re teaching them doctrines of our faith (which is by itself good), but not the faith itself. And THAT is why we end up with hypocrites. We don’t bother to evangelize our children… and we need to change that.

    • Two things that are missing from your rebuttal to the original post is the profession of faith us made, not once, but several times during every Mass, even the NO; At the Confeteor (why would we acknowledge our sins and ask for prayers to Almighty God if we did not believe and put our trust and faith in Him?), with our “Amen” (let it be) in response to every prayer, at the Nicene Creed (which is a very direct and specific statement of faith), at the Great Amen (which agrees with and acclaims the Holy Sacrifice which the priest, in persona Christe, just offered to the Father, at the Lord’s Prayer where we acclaim the greatness of the Father, offer our obedience, implore his continued benevolence, serk hus forgiveness abd beseech His protection (if we had no faith these would not be done) and when we receive Holy Communion wirh the firm, unshakeable belief that we are literally receiving tge bidy, bkood, soul and divinity of the living and divine Jesus, the only-begotten Son of God and our Redeener. Second, whike iur Godparents made tge orofession of faith fir us as infants, we ourselves explicitly make that profession when we attain the status of Christian adults at our reception of the Sacrement of Confirmation. And, in a very general and loose way, we make a profession if faith ecery tine we pray, genuflect in front of a tabernacle, bless ourselves with and without holy water.l or nake use if any other sacremental. True, these are informal and non-specific, but that does not nean they are less statements of faith. Furthermore, sn enotional “feeling” of love and faith is not required. Just as a validly ordained, but unbekieving priest may still offer a valid Mass, so too the implicit or explicit action of faith is a declaration. Love, even for God (and faith in Him), is NOT an emotion, it is a decision and act of the will.

    • Of course in Roman times, early Christian times, home schooling was the go – No? So infant baptism had some clout. If the only thing a kid heard was mum and dad describing reality, it took a very hard headed kid to reject it. No doubt they existed : “Cain”. But St.Peter had good hopes that the faith would be passed on. Years ago, Gerry Matatics came to Oz and was frustrated with me because I was sending my boy to a Jesuit school. I had not heard of home schooling then and was overwhelmed when he suggested it to me.My son’s best credential is the Priest following his baptism, carried him straight to Mary’s altar and consecrated him to her on the spot, without any prior notice. Through thick and thin, I figure this is what counts. This battle is a supernatural battle. Can Mary lose one of the children given to her by one of her Priests ?

  15. Someone much more eloquent and knowledgable than myself might address some of your points more specifically, as Jafin has, but I just wanted to make this comment: From what you wrote above, it seems like your observations (which are largely true, with regards to Catholics who don’t know their faith) aren’t so much a proof that Catholic doctrine is incorrect, as simply an observation that they are fallen sinners (as all are) who are too attached to worldly things to take their faith seriously.

    In other words, my overall thought about your comment is, the existence of Catholics not actively practicing their faith (even if it is the large majority of Catholics) is no proof that the teachings/beliefs of the Catholic Church are false or incorrect! Certainly, from the perspective of a non-Catholic looking in, it is less-than-inspiring and, unfortunately, a turn-off for many, but that doesn’t affect the truths which the Catholic Church teaches, and it certainly doesn’t prove that the Catholic Church alone preserves the faith in its fullness as it has been handed down from the time of the apostles.

    As Jafin said, it lies on the parents, who make the profession of faith for their children upon their baptism, and God’s ministers, especially the priest(s) of their parish, to form the children to give their all in conforming their lives to Christ. That they have largely failed in these times is a testament not to any sort of falsity of the Catholic Church, but to the failure of parents and priests to lead their flocks to live a life wholly devoted to Christ without being subverted by the secular world.

    • I agree with you that what I said isn’t proof that Catholic doctrine is incorrect. It was not my intention to attack any point of Catholic doctrine. My point was more about the historical developments and tendencies of Catholic practice. Another example which is part of this history is Pope Pius X’s decision to admit children to Holy Communion before having received the sacrament of confirmation. One can question the wisdom of this decision without entering into questions of doctrine.

  16. Your situation is not unique – it sounds very much like my own. I left
    the Catholic Church for the Greek Orthodox Church when I was a teenager,
    for much the same reasons you described here. I grew up after Vatican
    II, so had no experience of the Latin Mass, and I never learnt that
    there was an Eastern Rite in the Catholic Church until years later, when
    I returned. (And I went to a Catholic elementary school!) I belong to
    an Eastern Rite Church now, although occasionally I will attend Latin
    Mass. (I am fortunate enough to now live in a city which has both).

  17. Fallen away Catholics DO need to be re-evangelized and the Church has done this. St Louis de Montfort fruitfully re-evangelized La Vendée (obviously with integral Catholicism). One hundred years later they were still zealous in the Faith and resisted with their blood the French Revolution.

  18. This is a fantastic article. Sammons has put his finger on a huge problem that I have noticed in a glancing way but now he has helped me see it head on (“I once was blind but now I see…”).

    The idea of “common content” for Catholics & Protestants goes back in part to the idea, found in Vatican II, that certain doctrines are “more central” or “more fundamental” than others, with the ones Catholics share in common with Protestants seen as more central/fundamental, and things distinctively Catholic as derivative, secondary, and supplementary.

    Of course there is a way in which it is true to talk about a “hierarchy of truths”: as the very order of St. Thomas’s Summa theologiae shows, first you must consider the one God, then God as Triune, then the creation, the fall of angels and men, the redemptive Incarnation, the Church and the sacraments, and eschatology. None of these makes sense without the former presupposed.

    But there is a way in which it is utterly false, for (as Sammons argues) receiving baptism and the Eucharist are not peripheral add-ons but the very way we participate in Christ’s redemption, thus in the life of the Trinity, thus in God, and achieve our final end. In other words, there is a danger of confusing the order of knowing, whereby some things are derivative or dependent, with the order of reality, where we ourselves may be more dependent on the things that are conceptually derivative. For example, we are more dependent for our salvation on being members of the Church than on the existence of God.

    This is why the apostles’ actual preaching — the kerygma — started with repentance and baptism, and THEN moved to other things that, in and of themselves, are prior in the order of being. You first have to become a Catholic before you can receive well the rest of the message.

    • “This is why the apostles’ actual preaching — the kerygma — started with repentance and baptism”…

      Spot on.

      Where is the confrontation with SIN…GRAVE, MORTAL, GOD-DENYING SIN in today’s message?

  19. A few things to note for discussion (not attempting to proselytize), I particularly like 1P5 and have received a few direct emails from Steve and Eric. This is the good work of Christ attempting to help people discern the right path. Respectfully, personal outreach is something protestants do much better than Catholics. Please do not take offense to that or what I am about to write (instead follow 1P5’s example on reaching out to your fellow brethren with sincerity). For background, as you likely guessed, I am a protestant. I was raised by passionate Baptists who did their best to read, comprehend and apply the word of Christ. It is sincere to them, it is sincere to me and it is applied on a daily basis. I believe firmly in the statement that we should work out our faith with fear and trembling. With that in mind, you must all remember that questions and arguments about doctrine (child baptism, transubstantiation) are legitimate discussions because we are discerning God’s literal words in the context of physical actions and, sometimes, historical contexts (those things, words and acts, create an imperfect, man-made, gap where the devil does his work). I appreciate tradition and the Magisterium for trying to resolve these things. It is one of God’s gifts to us. I became disillusioned with many “modern” Baptist churches because they substituted flashing lights and “fun” music for the beautiful gospels and profound reverence I grew up with. In truth, my upbringing in a traditional Baptist church was not far off, on a personal level, from what I perceive as traditionalist Catholic life. There is far more in common than not, but large gaps on Biblical interpretation are hard to reconcile. So here is my input on winning converts- live the Faith according to its traditions with passion and apply consistent doctrine. My step-mother (yeah, yeah) was a disillusioned Catholic but a wonderful Baptist. You may say there is no such thing but she was a good woman and I have hard time believing she was condemned to hell for falling away from Catholicism based on what she witnessed and experienced in the Church. She left because perceived hypocrisy (LB236 gives a good example here). 1000’s of years of doctrine ignored, modified, changed on the local level (e.g. no meat during Lent, unless St. Patrick’s feast) but demanding strict compliance otherwise. In reality, it was likely “squishy” Catholicism she experienced. It caused her to lose passion for the Church and then the child abuse came to light on a larger scale than anyone expected. She never abandoned God, she just didn’t feel at home in His Church anymore. From my perspective it is not entirely different than my disillusionment with modern Baptists. The messages ring hollow. You can still find preachers who understand that Christianity requires heavy lifting but the mega churches focus on “fellowship” and light-weight fun. Neither solution is complete. You need both fellowship / community and sincere analysis / substance. That will bring passion. So here is my suggestion, remember us “schismatics” aren’t necessarily bad people. We have different views based on what God has allowed us to experience. Immediate judgment / intolerance will not win us over. It will make us more entrenched. It has taken years of witnessing my wife and her family live the faith that brought me to contemplate conversion. If I had attended a traditional Latin mass (versus N.O.) and been meet with judgment, I would have resisted the notion. It was too foreign for me, knowing limited latin and having strong convictions about child Baptism and prayers TO the saints versus asking for intercession (example, St. Anthony, find my car keys… Blessed Mary- pray for us sinners). It is all the more confusing and distant for someone who is not a Christian. The better emphasis is the tradition of the Church, the eons of scholarly debate, and sincerely, personal dialogue. The reasoning behind Canon law and the Cathecism must be understood and explained. Consistency over time and knowing the reasons for doctrine is what will win converts. Blind application of “rules” without more, is why protestants and non-Christians reject the Church. The “rules” are important but without an understanding of why they exist will preclude any passion for their application. For example, making the sign of the cross because it is what you do procedurally, versus understanding it as a prayer and sacramental that makes “all hell tremble.”

    My path toward discernment continues… be merciful.

    • Thank you for taking the time to write this and go through your thoughts in such detail, I found this to be the most interesting comment on the thread. I was particularly interested in your mentioning a scenario where you had walked into a traditional catholic mass and if you were then “met with judgement” you would have been turned off. If the judgement passed by others was not a part of the equation, would a traditional mass still be more off putting than a Novus Ordo? I have read of non-Catholics walking into a traditional mass and being totally captivated, especially relative to the Novus Ordo rite and have always wondered how universal such an experience is, from your experience are you saying you had the opposite sentiment? Your thoughts about knowing the “why” behind what we do as Catholics strikes home as well, it is actually the reason I have recently become a “traditional” Catholic. For me, it was in a broad sense, the answer to the “why.” Will pray for your discernment, my friend!

      • This is hard to answer because I am looking back in time (and my comment was probably better focused on harsh judgment versus the liturgical form). I have only attended one Tridentine Mass and that was recently whereas I have attended Novus Ordo for more than a decade. I think at the time my general reaction would have been similar– awe and respect for the process. The form is very beautiful but I suspect I may have viewed it as a novelty. I wouldn’t have understood the meaning and may have written it off. Whereas now, I think it is profoundly beautiful and should be utilized more. The TLM forces reverence which is what most Churches are missing. Novus Ordo, if done with conviction, can be blessedly wonderful but there are small differences from parish to parish (and occasionally very large differences…) That lack of uniformity is one of the things that frustrated me with Baptist churches. You had to hunt and peck for the good ones. TLM removes that concern from the process even more than N.O. but I don’t know if, at the time, the form would have brought me to conversion. In truth, maybe if I had discovered it earlier I would already be a formal Catholic! The debate is familiarity (N.O) versus formal reverence (TLM)…. which eases the transition better? Does it have to be one or the other? I don’t think I’m wise enough to answer that, at least not at this point but the big takeaway is — have mercy for those who are sincere in their journey. That doesn’t mean shy away from clear Biblical truths, just apply it with compassion to the extent you can. We must give space for God’s wrath. We must also leave space for His mercy.

        I thank you for your prayers and return them.

          • It was quite beautiful. My biggest concern was that the homily would either be omitted or in latin during aTLM. I was happy to learn the message was still provided in English which is quite important to me. The readings are hard to follow in latin at this point so I had to do them before and after mass (not necessarily a bad thing…).

          • Before and after is not a bad plan!!

            It took me about a year to comfortably and smoothly follow the TLM w/ my missal.

            But first and foremost, the Mass is about WORSHIP.

            It is not primarily a “teaching lesson’ and that, too is a Protestant concept that has crept into the world view of Catholics.

            The Mass isn’t a “service”.

            It is the gathering under the Cross of THE those like st john {the “Church”} with the Blessed virgin and all the Saints to worship the Lamb of god that takes away the sins of the world!

            Just as the “passage that doesn’t belong in the Old Testament” say:

            “For from the rising of the sun even to the going down, my name is great among the Gentiles, and in every place there is sacrifice, and there is offered to my name a clean oblation: for my name is great among the Gentiles, saith the Lord of hosts. ” Malachi 1:11.

            WHY doesn’t this passage belong in the OT?

            Because the Sacrifice was restricted to the Temple and couldn’t POSSIBLY be rendered “in every place”. This passage points to that day when the true oblation would be offered on every altar throughout the world, on every Catholic altar.

            The Protestants deny the Sacrifice of the Mass because they deny the teaching of both the Old and New Testament in order to reap the benefits of some teachings of the Lord while denying those things that make them uncomfortable {St John 6}.

            Christ came not to abolish the Law and the prophets, but to FULFILL them! {Mt 5:17}.

            The fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets is in the work of Christ including and especially including the Mass!

          • Sorry for all of these long replies but I only get a few moments a day to do this. Soooo:

            I think Protestants actually focus very heavily on worship. The problem is, it is more akin to a sing-a-long in some churches. There is plenty of passion for the worship (even in modern services) but the approach does not speak to me, personally. The music is too hip to be reverent. Dancers on stage come across as goofy, not cool. The lighting affects are contrived. It all works to trivialize a sincere moment with God.

            I think the “teaching” aspect has always been a mission of the Catholic church and the readings/homily are critical to the Mass. Worship and the message go hand in hand, from my personal prospective. I would also argue that protestants believe the same principle that Jesus came to fulfill the law (in fact the last time I visited my parents this was the exact message on Sunday). The distinction is they read the tearing of the shroud in the temple as an instruction that there is no longer a separation between God and man that requires an intermediary. It is what allows man to pray to God directly through Jesus’ sacrifice. Jesus removes the need for the high priest. They then take that a step further to believe we approach God everywhere and formalities are man-made but not necessary. Jesus has already taken care of that so while the processes are pleasing to God, they are not the only way to interact with him. The next step of that thinking results in leotard dancers with rainbow flags prancing about. It’s just a different expression of love for God and, if sincere, still pleasing to God in their minds (if not to me…)

            The Sacrifice isn’t denied by Protestants either. However, they read the words “in memory of me” as an expression that the bread and wine received by the apostles was not literally God’s flesh and blood (there is no passage stating Jesus opened his veins and removed his flesh, or Jesus specifically said, “I am turning this into my physical body.” He does say “this IS my body.” I understand that. But Baptist teaching is that the bread and wine are spiritually Jesus’ body. The communion is a memorialization of God’s sacrifice and the bread is the new / true manna. Not as literal but still very similar to Catholic belief in some ways. I grew up with communion in the Baptist church and it was always a profound moment but I never believed I was eating the converted matter of Jesus. I felt it was bread imbued with the holy spirit / Jesus and a sing of the new and eternal covenant (which is why it didn’t taste like blood or muscle). So, for what it’s worth, I don’t think it is intentional denial or selective reading by Protestants just a fundamentally different analysis of both counts. Transubstantiation is one of the hardest things for a Protestant to overcome in conversion. Prayers to the saints are probably a close second. I, personally, struggle more with infant Baptism and confession. Jesus was baptized as an adult, as was every other person in the Bible. People like me then question extremely literal interpretation of Jesus’ words that the bread IS his body against the backdrop that there is no Biblical instruction to Baptize our children or pray to the saints directly for intercession (I note Mr. Sammons point on child baptism but it is not a very clear directive to me and seems more along the lines of an instruction to spread the practice through the generations). Anyways, I do want to say thank you, again, for the thoughts and prayers. I felt it was important to give my two cents so you can better understand Protestant thinking. If you don’t know where we come from it is hard to direct which way we should go.

          • I enjoy your journey here but must take a bit of issue with a few things you say here.

            “I think Protestants actually focus very heavily on worship.”

            I don’t think so. Adoration before GOD is worship. Protestants do not do this. They may at times sing of the wonders of God and His work and enjoy the thoughts of Him in His mercy but there is no actual worship thereof.

            “The Sacrifice isn’t denied by Protestants either. “.

            Yes, they do. I know no Protestant “denomination” that considers the Eucharist {or “communion” or whatever they call it} a sacrifice. In fact, the term “sacrifice” is condemned as Catholics are condemned for killing Christ over-and-over-and-over.

            “Transubstantiation is one of the hardest things for a Protestant to overcome…”

            Nailed it.

            They deny the Real Presence {John 6} just as “Disciples” says the Scriptures of Christ did {one of whom was…Judas} and just, interestingly, as the Pharisees denied the God Jesus as they saw in Him nothing but a person elevating himself as an idol. Because…they cannot conceive of “Emmanuel”, God With Us, TRULY demanding us to believe He would love us so much to become Man…and Bread.

            God bless you! TRULY, may God bless you!

          • Maybe it is different between other denominations of Protestants but the concept of Emmanuel (and Yahweh, Jehovah, etc) are taught and accepted by Baptists. The difference is how it is applied. Belief that God is literally among us is metaphysical and spiritual. The adoration of the Eucharist does not occur as to the physical communion sacrifice but Baptists believe God’s physical presence is in the church (and everywhere). So God is in the chair next to you, at the front door when you enter, in your house when you leave and in the communion wafer (omnipresent and eternal). With Catholic teaching, I think that is accepted as well but there is a “greater” literal presence in the Eucharist. It seems to me that the concepts are fairly close but the doctrinal application is extremely different (both accept God Among Us but view it quite differently in how God is actually with us). So the Eucharist to Baptists is special commemoration but not necessarily different than Emmanuel’s general omnipresence…

            God be with you.

          • I wrote you a long reply and my computer ran out of batteries (bad cord) and did death to it 🙁 Will have to do a shorter version now. Maybe for the best anyway 😉

            I’d like to recommend a couple of books and a website. Divine Intimacy, which I guess you would have seen listed on the ‘squishy’ post. It’s expensive but worth it. Don’t substitute with the ebook as it is not the same. The reason this book is so worth it is that it will help you understand the depths of the spiritual life to which you are called, and which sad to say, even many Catholics in modern times are unaware of.

            The second is on the Mass I haven’t actually read this book. It’s on my ‘to buy’ list. I’m going to trust Professor K and other commenters here who have recommended it.

            And you might be interested in this website

            When it comes to ‘being fed’, if I may be so bold as to say, in the Catholic Faith you will not only be fed but find that which you are longing for.

            I will pray for you, and ask if you would please pray for me too! Enjoyed reading your comments here!
            God bless!

        • “…but I don’t know if, at the time, the form would have brought me to conversion.”
          I believe honestly, that our Lord will bring you to His Home! Then, after that, it will be clear from itself that the TLM is the Holy Mass that prolongs the life of this whole living world.
          You’ve made already one of your very first big steps. Here and now. May God bless you and all yours. From this very day you and your family will be in daily prayers of your Catholic fellow Ivan.

  20. Well, there’s a crucifix. I’ve seen some Catholic churches with no crucifix and no traditional Stations of the Cross, just 14 small crosses with Roman Numerals I to XIV in some back corner. Many tabernacles are behind some wall.

  21. “These baptized and yet unbelieving or undecided nominal Catholics — for that’s what they are — subsequently are constantly addressed as “dear faithful”. &c, &c by their parochial priests or other church officials. This is completely misleading, for the majority of them has no faith.”

    The problem isn’t the doctrine of infant baptism, the problem is a tacit affirmation of the Protestant notion of “once saved always saved”.

    See, Catholic doctrine of baptism includes the notion that it is the first step but not the final step toward heaven.
    And…the baptized may fall away.

    Continuously referring to merely baptised Catholics as “the faithful” as if they are all saved MERELY by baptism is a PROTESTANT HERESY.

    Solution to be implemented by priests and bishops?

    Baptize individuals and whole families as done in the Bible and since then.


    • I agree with the point your make of the tacit affirmation, by Catholics, of the Protestant “once saved, always saved” doctrine. It is remarkable how often one hears Catholics expressing the notion that as long as a person is baptized and remains in the Church, no spiritual misfortune can happen to him. I don’t think, however, that this was a Protestant heresy introduced into the Church, but just a necessary outcome of a long history of “folk Catholicism” which always has found the commandments of God and the Church too severe to live by, and which accepted that the average Catholic almost constantly lives in a state of mortal sin.

      To get around this difficulty, a strong community culture was developed, with the help of the clergy, historically especially by the Jesuits. These priests followed the line that their main task was to prevent under any circumstances that persons fell away from the Church, either of indifference or despair of salvation — which, as is clear, are two extremes which easily evoke each other. This prevention of leaving the Church was considered even more important than the individual salvation of souls. The reasoning behind this was obviously that anyone who left the Church no longer had any real possibility of salvation, while the loads of unbelievers within the Church has still a real chance.

      However, in the long run, this policy has been proved to be disastruous. It created a crowd which had to be pleased more and more by an easygoing pastoral care. And in this the Jesuits were the real progressives since the XVIIth century. They became the popular guys of the confessional because they often didn’t emphasize real contrition and repentance. As long as the penitent continued to consider himself a faithful subject of the authority of the Church there was no real problem with sinning.

      From my perspective this development was preparatory of the complete collapse which happened at Vatican II.

    • Just posted that very thought elsewhere :

      “Continuously referring to merely baptised Catholics as “the faithful” as
      if they are all saved MERELY by baptism is a PROTESTANT HERESY. ”

      What’s coming out of Rome is this reference to “Baptism” – presumably the ritual. This is emphasising the ritual as if the Faith did not matter, but it is the Faith which must accompany it. In Gospel of Matthew, Faith comes first, then Baptism as proof of faith. Go teach all nations, baptising them…..Those who believe and are baptised will be saved, those who do not believe will be condemned”. That is currently what is being “reworked” to the point of confusion of the faithful. Rituals dont save. They did not save the Jews and they wont save Catholics. Faith is what pleases God. Sorry Rod, I know you know this, but I was very encouraged to read your comment.

  22. This has been such a helpful article. I recently facilitated an Alpha group at my parish. The Alpha groups were then followed by Bishop Barron’s Catholicism series. At first I thought Alpha was an awesome idea. But after some time and some reflection, I began to think “What’s wrong with Catholic faith and Catholic teaching. We need a Protestant program to become Christian so that we can then become Catholic? Whatever has the Catholic Church done for all these centuries before an Anglican pastor came along to give us Alpha?”

    The article along with the comments explains exactly where “evangelization” has gone wrong. Also, I think it is important to note that as part of signing up for Alpha, the church and the host agree to not change the program in any way. So the idea of blending Catholic doctrine into the Alpha sessions is taboo. The Alpha script, questions, discussion is tightly adhered to. I had the opportunity to sign up again to facilitate, and I declined. I had a scheduling conflict, but beyond that, I had a vague uneasiness. Now I know why.

    A Protestant program as entrance to Christianity and Catholicism and Discipleship …. did not sit well on a subconscious level — even if I could not articulate my thoughts at the time. When I saw this posting, I had an epiphany. Alpha is the wrong approach for Catholics.

  23. Ultimately, this approach evinces one of two things:
    1. That the leadership of the Church is unintelligent; or
    2. That the leadership of the Church thinks everyone else is unintelligent.

    Regardless of the two possibilities, above, are true, it ties directly back into the controversy over giving divorced adulterers the sacrament of the Eucharist and is, in a way, an infinite regress type issue:
    1. People aren’t culpable because they weren’t catechized;
    2. People aren’t catechized because we don’t have enough intelligent people to teach the faith;
    3. We don’t have enough intelligent people to teach the faith because the faith is too hard to teach and follow;
    4. We need to make the faith flatter, more protestant, so that it’s easier to learn;
    5. People commit sins without knowing the actual faith;
    6. Loop back to 1. (above)

    There are only two possibilities: we’re stupid or the clerics are stupid. If we’re stupid then the clerics should be able to figure out how to pass on the faith using their superior intelligence. Perhaps a better place for them to start may be with Aristotlean philosophy in which we teach people to focus more on the why than the how (we live in a world that knows “hows” but knows nothing of “whys” and which dismisses anything which must be accepted on faith).

    Option two, the Church leaders are unintelligent. If so than they need to hand over all responsibilities for passing on the faith to capable and intelligent members of the laity–and there are many.

    In any event, the Church leadership should be terrified for their own souls. Except….there is a third option….perhaps they don’t believ….uh…never mind.

  24. I was what you might say in paraphrase of St Paul’s “Hebrew of the Hebrews” a “Protestant of the Protestants”. From a long line of Methodist ministers, myself Evangelical Christian college and Seminary-trained and a Protestant missionary in Africa, I came to the Catholic Church essentially through observation of the inconsistencies of Protestant teaching with the Bible and thru reading of the Bible over a very long time. I converted at age 49. So let me say that this is an excellent article in many ways and summarizes many of the issues we face today. I won’t simply repeat what he has written, but I want to add something I think is essential in understanding the popularity of Protestantism.

    The popularity of evangelical Protestantism is NOT going to wane any time soon. It’s beliefs and teachings will continue to change and remain in flux, but that is part and parcel of its “success” as a religion.

    Protestantism is all about popularity.

    Protestantism {that is, all sects that separate themselves from the Catholic faith} is based on offering the blessings of an association with Christ without the obedience thereto. At it’s core, this belief system selects out those aspects of the teaching of Christ that offer something to the “believer”, while avoiding those things that are perceived as unduly costly to the “believer”.

    And thus we see the “joy” that exists throughout the movement. Much is made of this “joy”. It is ultimately a false joy. There was much emotional joy experienced among many in the Protestant world during the late ’60’s and ’70’s in parallel with the experience of that of many Catholics. Many folks saw themselves finally “freed” from the bondage of stodgy “rules” that so weighed them down. Because “rules” aren’t of Christ, you know!! This was as it is now, expressed in effervescent terms associated with a “close personal relationship with Jesus” and “love” for Jesus.

    We read in the Scriptures of the working out of faith in fear and trembling {Phil 2:12}, of humbling and affliction {James 4: 8,9}. These concepts have almost entirely passed away in Protestantism and indeed, many Protestants criticize {especially Traditional} Catholics who might affirm them for lacking the “joy” of the Gospel. Because, so the story goes, let’s face it, what Christ is really all about is “making us happy”. An example of this is demonstrated at almost every Protestant funeral. Where Protestants condemn Catholic teaching on saints and the Church’s declaration that some few thousand souls are certainly in heaven, every single Protestant planted in the ground is declared at their funeral, with absolute certainty, to hold a spot in eternal bliss. A curious dichotomy of teaching indeed.

    As for obedience, Protestantism has remained since its inception to be extremely flexible as to the definition, and the observance, and thus it has always been “popular”. The problem is that true obedience doesn’t offer temporal happiness as a spiff. Sadly, many Catholics have bought into the novel {Protestant} doctrine that it does. Obedience often brings with it suffering. The Cross. LIFETIME Crosses. Christ did not come to steer us clear of suffering. In fact He brought us suffering that will, ultimately, lead to eternal comfort. {1 Cor 1}. But Crosses don’t bring with them much temporal “happiness” of the kind that sells membership cards.

    We hear much of “love” in Protestantism. But what IS love? The Scriptures tell us in no uncertain terms: Love is obedience. {1 John 2:3, etc, etc, etc}

    And what happened to that obedience?

    There are a number of prime examples of this but two in our culture today stand in stark and high relief. Two examples of changeable Protestant teaching that helps make Protestantism the popular religion it is.

    For essentially ALL of Protestantism, acceptance and even celebration of grave evil has been part and parcel of their newfound “joy”, their new religion. Of course they don’t see it that way, and many today don’t even know what teachings were left behind as old-fashioned, but two come immediately to mind; “remarriage” after divorce and use of artificial contraception. BOTH of these were accepted even among Protestants as grave and horrific evils even in my lifetime…until…they weren’t. Ditto many Catholics. Just look at the issues confronting the Church today!

    So even as they then received the blessings of SOME aspects of a walk with Christ, they denied Him in obedience. This is wholly summed up in St John Chapter 6 where we see His DISCIPLES, MANY OF THEM. These are not merely vague associates or distant observers, but…DISCIPLES. And Christ in the same passage demonstrates that He knows who His true followers are, and, dare I say it, lumps Judas with those “separated brethren” who deny Him in refusing to both believe and partake of His Body and Blood.

    One of the things that I had to wrestle with as a catechumen was my realization that I was wrong. not just misguided, confused or questioning, but wrong. Eternally wrong about Jesus Christ and His work and ministry.

    Today it appears that many in the Catholic faith want to sell Catholicism short in order to attract “converts”. In so doing they are selling short Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity, the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world short. And they are, in truth, selling themselves short, too, eternally short. The price of that short sale is the same price it was in Jesus’ day; 30 pieces of silver.

    The Church was correct in condemning with the strongest language possible the evil of Protestantism.

    • A great comment. One caveat. Evangelicals are beginning to smell the coffee. Alistair Begg, who often preaches in mega churches, was on the radio today preaching about sin and yes, confession. He also preaches on the indissolubility of marriage. The Evangelicals are very aware of the revolving door in their churches. I believe they are witnessing the collapse of the Catholic Church and are re-examining some of the doctrines that Francis is so ready to abandon. If Francis is hastening the protestantizing of the RCC then in God’s mysterious ways, it may be causing Protestants to reflect on the foundation of those very doctrines the Bishop of Rome is embracing and/or abandoning. Like you, I converted in my 40s. My journey went from Episcopalian by birth but not practice, to Christian Science and everything in between. A roller coaster for many years.

      • I think there are MANY Protestants who see in their faith the falsity of worldly attraction.

        But the teachings of Protestantism are what I was addressing, not each and every Protestant.

        I suspect it is not the teaching of the Catholic Church that is the true obstacle in the way of these potential converts, but rather the godless living of so many self-described “Catholics” and the effeminacy and vapid leadership of the prelature. Truly an “unwinning” combination.

        A priest just the other day told me: “I believe we would see many evangelical converts to the Catholic Church if they could respect the Catholic Church”.

        Hard to disagree with that.

        And back-pedalling on sound doctrine by Popes and prelates is hardly a way to earn respect.

        Thus we must continue to affirm, clarify, live and defend the true teaching of the Catholic faith.

        • “I suspect it is not the teaching of the Catholic Church that is the true obstacle in the way of these potential converts, but rather the godless living of so many self-described ‘Catholics’ and the effeminacy and vapid leadership of the prelature. Truly an ‘unwinning’ combination.”

          Poignantly this is what brought me to 1p5 initially (out of concern for the SMOM and stories about liberal relativism advancing under Pope Francis). I’m still an “on the fence Protestant” who has spent the better part of a decade debating conversion (first with obstinate contempt to the now, far more sympathetic view). My understanding of God and his word has always been a struggle between obedience and mercy. I desire mercy but seem to have little obedience. I was always taught that God’s law is permanent. With that so are His punishments and rewards. I started to abandon Protestantism as I witnessed the churches change over the years. My poor grandmother barely recognizes a church she served faithfully her entire life but she trusts God and prays He is guiding the church to new, modern souls. Baptists are fortunate enough to still have a strict application of the Bible (as they see it) but even southern Baptists are seeing large political changes. I grew especially concerned about the fate of the world when I began to witness the Catholic church changing and becoming more “merciful” about clear sin. Growing up, the Catholic Church was unique because of its “outdated” approach (as I saw it). When I started reading about large doctrinal changes I questioned if any Church was truly the successor of Peter. My stagnate reluctance today is 100% attributable to abuse by catholics and questionable doctrines leaking from Rome. What’s the point if we are all just blowing in the wind!?! It would be easier if there were clear uniformity coming from the Holy See and College of Cardinals .

          In the end of days (not that we are there yet) but the numbers of faithful will necessarily dwindle. The Church sees this as a problem from a practical perspective and wants to stop the hemorrhaging. So we offer mercy over obedience — but the chaff removes itself when the winds pick up. You cannot nourish wheat with impure water. Increasing numbers at the cost of souls is an empty bargain.

    • Thank you for your effort and time to write this very valuable interpretation here! This is worthy to be read as a separate standalone article, rather than just as a comment. Here or elsewhere.
      “…who deny Him in refusing to both believe and partake of His Body and Blood. Yes, there are Protestants in the Bible!” – This is exactly the same what I very clearly saw, in the same light,- as the very best example of the ancient protestants, pronounced and explained by our Lord Himself! A years ago I’ve used this on some discussion forum with protestants as the best description about who they are, and then even from the mouth of our Lord himself!
      “Amen, amen I say unto you: He that believeth in me, hath everlasting life.
      I am the bread of life.
      Your fathers did eat manna in the desert, and are dead.
      This is the bread which cometh down from heaven; that if any man eat of it, he may not die.
      I am the living bread which came down from heaven.
      If any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever; and the bread that I will give, is my flesh, for the life of the world.”
      . . .
      “Many therefore of his disciples, hearing it, said: This saying is hard, and who can hear it?”
      . . .
      “It is the spirit that quickeneth: the flesh profiteth nothing. The words that I have spoken to you, are spirit and life.
      But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning, who they were that did not believe, and who he was, that would betray him.
      And he said: Therefore did I say to you, that no man can come to me, unless it be given him by my Father.
      After this many of his disciples went back; and walked no more with him.”

      Yep! The Protestants.

    • There’s much food for thought here. Thanks Rod. I will just throw in I attended an Alpha course maybe 10 years ago at a Baptist Church to assess it as a tool for evangelisation. Told the Pastor I was happily Catholic. His 3 assistants were lapsed Catholics – all early 30’s. They sought me out to relate their stories. It was sad to hear how poorly they had been catechised despite all receiving their Sacraments.

        • Quite the issue for us Catholics. Most I know say things like, “I read the Bible already.” Or, “We get our Bible in the Mass readings.” Even, “I won’t study the Bible without a priest to guide me.” The NAB is a scandalous translation, even worse than the NIV Protestant version. Catholic study Bibles are not readily available in parishes. I could go on. You raised a very important issue.

          • So which translation(s) of the Catholic Bible do you recommend?

            And where does the New American Bible translation go “wrong”?
            (How and where is it scandalous?) Serious questions.

          • Where to begin?

            How about:

            “14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign;[a] the young woman, pregnant and about to bear a son, shall name him Emmanuel.”

            Not virgin, but “young woman”. Text notes explain, but of the various interpretations, naturally…and predictably….they select “young woman” instead of “virgin”… There are other versions that use the same pair of words. Versions that even Methodists used to describe as “liberal” translations! {eg RSV}

            And there is more.

            Any of the approved versions of the Bible other than the NABRE are better than IT, tho.

        • Good evangelicals I know are not as widely read as is assumed. They have some few good texts committed to memory but in many ways those texts are viewed in isolation. That Alpha Course : Nicky Gumbel film clip has just finished and he had spken about getting baptised….the Baptist commented “you dont need to do that!” I was flabbergasted. So I asked “what about Jesus’ conversation with nicodemus?” He said he was unfamiliar with it! Amazing considering it incorporates John 3:16! He got out a bible and began reading it, hopefully seeking on the question of baptism!

  25. If anybody thinks I am wrong in my assessment below, take Protestantism and subtract approval for remarriage after divorce and subtract use of artificial contraception from their repertoire of “values” and see then just how popular Protestantism would be.

    Even if you do leave the mini-skirted bass player in the “Praise Band”.

    Protestantism = Immorality.

    And that’s why it’s popular.

    • My Lutheran neighbor likes the “gay marriage” and “embrace homosexuality” aspects of the value system as well. And don’t forget the “pro-choice” stance and the liberal “social justice warrior” stance. It’s all love and tolerance, inclusiveness and unity. Judge not ….. don’t ya know. I do not expect her or her husband to be converting to Catholicism any time soon although both have Catholic families.

      • Yup.

        You nailed it.

        I left out those because the evangelicals tout their doctrines as “moral” and “conservative” and “upholding traditional values” and my thrust was on those teachings. But certainly we can see the same in the liberal mainline Protestant groups as well. And let’s not forget the apostate and heretic Catholic bishops who side more closely with the mainliners than the evangelicals.

        What can be more “liberal” than junking the Mass of the Ages, the Mystical Body of Christ and replacing them with immorality enshrined as virtue?

        Protestantism is popular because it embodies certain popular moral teachings and changes those that are unpopular into new, novel “virtues”.

        Thank God we still have the perennial Magesterium which to fall back on. But more and more the paper teachings of the Church are being assaulted by Catholics themselves.

        • RodH,
          What is happening/ has happened in mainline, evangelical and independent Protestant churches is also what is happening in the Catholic Church. It is happening diocese by diocese and bishop by bishop. There are still pockets of orthodoxy. Divorce and remarriage, homosexual agenda, pro-choice, liberation theology, social justice, open borders/ refugee resettlement, etc. are all up for grabs and up for revisionist history and reinterpretation.

          Yes, the advantage of Catholic faith is to have the perennial Magisterium to fall back upon. As the present day “living Magisterium” has begun to assault, revise and destroy ancient, historic, unchangeable truth, the only place to find solid ground is with Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition and the “paper Magisterium”. What else is there to do? What I fear is there are many in the Catholic laity who want Francis and Friends’ popular new teachings.

      • Because, after all, “‘I’ am the only authority trustworthy enough to interpret Scripture* and establish dogma”.

        * “That is, the ‘Scripture’ that remains after the ejection of books and passages that don’t fit my individual interpretation…”

        {2 Peter 1:20}

      • Oh, yes!!!

        Hips grinding with the praise music to-boot! Gotta get that worship on!

        And not on just one occasion in one “church”! We saw it and the like in our old group and my friends have seen it elsewhere.

        C’mon, wake up! Get with the program!!

        A wee bit of temptation to mortal sin goes a long way toward filling the pews with returning young men and it sure doesn’t stop them from tossing a few extra bucks into the offering plate, either!

  26. Look into the ChristLife Series which is a totally Catholic Evangelization program. 3 series of Discovering Christ, Following Christ and Sharing Christ. It is an excellent series and more than just a program. Dr. Ralph Martin is the producer of it.

  27. I sympathise with your sentiments. But Grace is Grace. You have people testifying today to experiencing deep faith convictions occurring right after receiving a Sacrament to their great astonishment The failure, that of the Catholic institution, is in catechetical formation. We cannot deny free will of course. There is no coercion in faith although a good Catholic would hold to the hope that every prayer is answered by our Good God, nothing is lost and God will save those we pray for even at the last minute because let’s face it, does anyone of us merit salvation? I firmly believe in consecrating specific people to the Blessed Virgin. God will glorify His mother! The great gift of Catholicism is that it puts us in touch with all the benefits, the Graces, the devotion, the Sacramentals so that we can do as much good as we can. Truly I believe many Catholic children were seriously let down by the poor catechesis. But in the end God is judge. Today, doorknocking Downunder to save Marriage, it became apparent to me through feedback, good people vote to retain Marriage or redefine Marriage through gut instinct for Good, or through gut instinct for ‘no one is going to tell me what to do!’.

  28. Perhaps the discussion might like heading toward the exercise of natural virtue so that grace is received, allowing the exercise of supernatural virtue culminating with the commencement of the practice of Christian perfection.

    It’s not rocket surgery.

  29. Well said. I went through my parish’s Alpha course over a decade ago and I was the thorn in the presenter’s side as I questioned the absence of teaching on the Eucharist, Mary, Purgatory. It was so deficient I wouldn’t recommend it.

  30. I actually started an Alpha in my parish not knowing it was something already trademarked. I heard the name and I like it so I used it. However, I created my own content that is distinctly catholic, following pedagogy of the Catechism: God, Man, The Fall, Incarnation, Redemption, The Church, Our Response, and the Last 4 things. After I learned it was something already established I look on their website and saw the curriculum, however, it does say that what they propose is not set in stone. According to the website what makes Alpha Alpha is food, relevant talk, discussion, and retreat, all done in a welcoming environment. These other elements I am also trying to add.

    I may change the name of mine, however, for now I will use it as cover to prepare them to recognize the necessity of the obedience of faith as proclaimed by the Catholic Church.

    • I do agree with the person who posted below. I find it frustrating that our Liturgy does not reflect the substance of our faith. Their is a disconnect between what I teach and what is reflected in how we worship.

  31. It’s intriguing to observe how individuals who were once anti-Catholicism can sometimes adopt a similarly critical stance towards Protestantism upon a change in faith. But it’s essential to recognize that the world is not simply black and white, urging us to cultivate a more discerning awareness. The Kerygma, a core message shared by various Christian denominations, serves as a unifying factor leading believers to develop a profound love for Jesus. This commonality can be a bridge fostering understanding among different Christian traditions. As individuals experience the transformative grace embedded in the Kerygma, they often become more open to responding to the call to receive the sacraments of initiation. This progression highlights the interconnectedness of spiritual growth and underscores the diverse yet interconnected paths that individuals embark on in their faith journeys.


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