Saturday 25th June 2016

Home » Frontpage » Currently Reading:

Pope Benedict XV . . . Poor Preaching Responsible For Fall Back Into Paganism

February 12, 2014 Frontpage No Comments
pope105

By PAUL LIKOUDIS

The horror of World War I, preoccupied with massive humanitarian projects on behalf of widows, orphans, and prisoners of war, engaged in intense diplomatic initiatives to defend the rights of the Church in Europe, Russia, and the Middle East, Pope Benedict XV issued an encyclical Humani Generis Redemptionem on June 15, 1917, which blamed ineffective preaching by priests for the decline in morals and civilization’s backsliding into paganism.
Pope Benedict reminded bishops that their foremost duty is to ensure sound preaching in their parishes, and priests incapable of sound teaching should have their faculties to preach removed.
Poor preaching, today, is taken for granted by most Catholics, though the responsibility of bishops for it is often overlooked.
A Google search for “Catholics & bad homilies” will bring up some 717,000 entries in less than half a second, and a quick glance at the subject lines draws one to the fact that “bad homilies” are the number-one reason why Catholics stop attending Mass.
In his encyclical, now nearly 100 years old, Pope Benedict XV wrote that “it is evident that the preaching of the wisdom taught us by the Christian religion is the means Divinely employed to continue the work of eternal salvation, and that it must with just reason be looked upon as a matter of the greatest and most momentous concern.”
Along with the “other misfortunes of the times,” the saintly Pontiff observed that, while those who are engaged in preaching are, perhaps, more numerous than at any time in history, if “we examine the state of public and private morals, the constitutions and laws of nations, We shall find that there is a general disregard and forgetfulness of the supernatural, a gradual falling away from the strict standard of Christian virtue, and that men are slipping back more and more into the shameful practices of paganism.”
The “deplorable fact” for this state of affairs, Benedict XV stated, is that “ministers of the Word” have failed to handle the Word of God as a two-edged sword.
“If that weapon does not everywhere produce its effect, the blame certainly must be laid on those ministers of the Gospel who do not handle it as they should. For no one can maintain that the Apostles were living in better times than ours, that they found minds more readily disposed towards the Gospel or that they met with less opposition to the law of God,” Benedict XV wrote.
So, said Benedict, bishops “must look for the causes of our deviations from the right path in this matter. They may be reduced to three: for either the one chosen to preach is not the right person, or his office is not performed with the right intention, or in the right way.”
Citing the Council of Trent, Benedict reminded bishops that their primary duty is to preach, but “since it is impossible that they should always or everywhere be able to discharge it in person, distracted as they are by the many cares which they meet in the government of their churches, they must of necessity comply with this obligation through others.”
Lack of oversight over priests who preach under the authority of the bishop, Benedict observed, has led to a situation where too many priests find “easy access to the pulpits of our churches as to a drill-ground where any one may practice at will.”

A Terrible Charge

“Therefore, Venerable Brethren,” he added, “it is your duty to see that such a grave abuse should disappear, and since you will have to render to God and to His Church an account of the manner in which you feed your flock, allow no one to creep unbidden into the sheepfold and to feed the sheep of Christ according to his fancy. Therefore let no one henceforth preach in your dioceses except on your summons and with your approval.”
No priest, Benedict warned bishops, should be allowed to preach who is not “fit,” “i.e., those who ‘can exercise the ministry of preaching with profit to souls.’
“ ‘With profit to souls’,” Benedict emphasized, “well note that the word which expresses the rule does not mean eloquently or with popular applause, but with spiritual fruit. This is the end for which the ministry of the Divine Word is instituted. If now you would have Us define more exactly the qualifications of those who are really to be considered fit, We answer: those in whom you find the signs of a Divine vocation. Whatever is required for admission to the priesthood, is likewise needed if one is to be considered eligible and fit for the office of preaching. . . .
“Such is the meaning of the Council of Trent when it decrees that the Bishop is not to permit any to preach unless they are ‘of approved virtue and learning.’ Wherefore it is the duty of the Bishop long and thoroughly to examine those who are to be entrusted by him with the function of preaching that he may find out the nature and extent of their learning.
“If any one acts carelessly and negligently in this duty,” the Pontiff sternly reminded bishops, “he clearly offends in a grievous matter, and on him will fall the responsibility of the errors which the untrained preacher may spread or of the scandal and the bad example which the unworthy one may give.”
“To make your task easier in this matter,” Benedict wrote, “We desire that hereafter severe judgment be passed on these two points: on the character, namely, and learning of those who seek to obtain authority to preach, just as is done on the character and learning of those priests, who would hear Confessions. Whoever, therefore, is found defective in either regard must without any consideration whatever be debarred from a function for which he is not qualified. Your dignity demands this, since, as We have said, the preachers are your substitutes. The good of Holy Church demands it.”
The priest, as an ambassador of Christ, the Pontiff wrote, has no different mission than Christ Himself. Therefore, they “must diffuse the light of truth made known by God, and in those who hear them they must quicken and nourish the supernatural life. In a word, by seeking the salvation of souls they are to promote the glory of God.
“As it would,” he continued, “be wrong to call anyone a doctor who does not practice medicine, or to style anyone a professor of some art who does not teach that art, he who in his preaching neglects to lead men to a fuller knowledge of God and on the way of eternal salvation may be called an idle declaimer, but not a preacher of the Gospel. And would there were no such declaimers!
“What motive is it that sways them mostly. Some are moved by the desire of vainglory and to satisfy it: They ponder how they can express high rather than practical thoughts, causing weak minds to admire them, instead of working out the salvation of their hearers. They are ashamed of what is simple and plain, lest they be thought to know nothing else. They are ashamed to give milk to the little ones. . . .
“What efforts do such men make to acquire reputation by their sermons from the size and wealth of the cities and splendor of the great churches in which they preach? But since among the truths revealed by God there are some which frighten the weakness of our corrupt nature, and which therefore are not calculated to attract the multitude, they carefully avoid them, and treat themes, in which, the place accepted, there is nothing sacred.
“Not seldom it happens that in the very midst of a discourse upon the things of eternity, they turn to politics, particularly if any questions of this kind just then deeply engross the minds of their hearers. They seem to have only one aim, to please their hearers and curry favor with those whom St. Paul describes as ‘having itching ears.’
“Hence that unrestrained and undignified gesture such as may be seen on the stage or on the hustings, that effeminate lowering of the voice or those tragic outbursts; that diction peculiar to journalism; those frequent allusions to profane and non-Catholic literature, but not to the Sacred Scriptures or the Holy Fathers; finally that volubility of utterance often affected by them, wherewith they strike the ears and gain their hearers’ admiration, but give them no lesson to carry home. How sadly are those preachers deceived!
“Granted that they receive the applause of the uneducated, which they seek with such great favor, and not without sacrilege, is it really worthwhile when we consider that they are condemned by every prudent man, and, what is worse, have reason to fear the stern judgment of Christ?. . .
“Frequently the preachers who avail themselves of these devices do so to attain some other and even less honorable object. Forgetting the saying of Gregory: ‘The priest does not preach that he may eat, but should eat that he may preach,’ there are not a few who, because they think that they are unsuited for other labors by which they might be decently supported, take to preaching, not that they may worthily exercise the sacred ministry, but to make money.
“We therefore see them devoting all their attention not indeed to finding where greater fruit for souls may be hoped for, but where preaching reaps a more lucrative return.
“Now since nothing except harm and discredit can be expected for the Church from such as these, Venerable Brethren, you must exercise the greatest care, so that, if you detect any one for his own glory or for gain, abusing the office of preaching, you should at once remove him from that function. For the man who does not scruple to defile so holy an office by such an unworthy perversion of its end, surely will not hesitate to descend to any indignity, and will bring the stain of ignominy not merely upon himself, but upon the sacred office also which he so unworthily administers,” Benedict wrote.

The Model Preacher

mSt. Paul manifested the three types of knowledge the preacher must possess: “that is to say, the knowledge, to phrase it briefly, which consists of a knowledge of self, of God and his duties. For self-knowledge, We maintain, will lead a priest to renounce his own advantage. The knowledge of God will lead him to make everyone else know and love God, and the knowledge of his office will lead him to discharge his own duties and to teach others to do theirs. If he lacks these three kinds of knowledge, whatever other learning he has, will only puff him up, and will be useless,” Benedict XV wrote.
“[I]f we ask on what subjects [St. Paul] was wont to discourse when he preached, he condenses them all in these words: ‘For I judged not myself to know anything among you but Jesus Christ and Him crucified.’ To make men know Jesus Christ better and better, and to make that knowledge have a bearing, moreover, not only on their faith, but on their lives as well, was the object of that apostolic man’s every endeavor. This was the object of every throb of his apostolic heart.
“Therefore all Christ’s doctrines and commands, even the sterner ones, were so proclaimed by St. Paul that he did not restrict, gloss over, or tone down what Christ taught regarding humility, self-denial, chastity, contempt of the world, obedience, forgiveness of enemies, and the like, nor was he afraid to tell his hearers that they had to make a choice between the service of God and the service of Belial, for they could not serve both, that when they leave this world, a dread judgment awaits them; that they cannot bargain with God; they may hope for life everlasting if they keep His entire law, but if they neglect their duty and indulge their passions, they will have nothing to expect but eternal fire.
“For our ‘Preacher of truth’,” Benedict declared, “never imagined that he should avoid such subjects, because, owing to the corruption of the age, they appeared too stern to his hearers.
“Therefore it is clear how unworthy of commendation are those preachers who are afraid to touch upon certain points of Christian doctrine lest they should give their hearers offense. Does a physician prescribe useless remedies to his patient, merely because the sick man rejects effective ones? The test of the orator’s power and skill is his success in making his hearers accept the stern truth he is preaching. How did the Apostle unfold the subjects of which he treated? ‘Not in the persuasive words of human wisdom.’
“It is perfectly plain, Venerable Brethren, how important for everybody it is that they should thoroughly realize this, since we see that not a few of our sacred preachers overlook in their sermons the Sacred Scriptures, the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, and the arguments based on sacred theology, and for the most part, make their appeals only to reason. Unquestionably that is wrong, for in the supernatural order, merely human resources are of no help whatever.”

Heed His Warnings

Over the past five decades, bishops have taken a lot of criticism for their negligence or malfeasance in their duties, particularly on the never-ending revelations concerning abusive priests.
If the warnings of Pope Benedict XV on the bishops’ grave duty of overseeing the preaching in his diocese, as well as the lifestyles of his priests, had been heeded, so many modern crises in the Church could have been avoided.
Perhaps it is time for bishops — and laity, too — to rediscover this great encyclical.

Share Button

2016 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Catholic Bishops Blast Obama Admin for Forcing Churches to Pay for Abortions

The leading pro-life spokesmen for the Catholic bishops are blasting an Obama administration decision revoking federal protection for chruches in California forced to pay for abortions. As LifeNews reported, churches in California are officially subject to an onerous state regulation…Continue Reading

Church Leaders React to Supreme Tie on DAPA/DACA

Catholic leaders from around the country were expressing disappointment today in response to a Supreme Court tie vote that effectively terminates Obama administration initiatives on immigration that shielded millions from deportation. Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, New Mexico, described…Continue Reading

Catholic universities must insure abortion, Obama administration rules

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 22, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – The Obama administration has ruled against two Catholic universities, upholding a rule issued by the state of California requiring all employers to cover elective abortions in their insurance plans – even if the…Continue Reading

Progressive Catholic groups publish “Pope Francis” voter guide

While the IRS revoked the non-profit status of the George Soros-subsidized Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good (CACG) in October 2013 for failing to file a form 990 for three consecutive years, the organization recently re-emerged with a progressive…Continue Reading

Pope Francis: Most Catholic marriages are null, some ‘cohabitations’ are ‘real marriage’

June 17, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Pope Francis spoke yesterday at a pastoral congress on the family for the Diocese of Rome, and his remarks are causing consternation among faithful Catholics. In off-the-cuff remarks, the pope made the dual claim that…Continue Reading

From Fox News . . .Enough is enough, Pope Francis should resign

By Adam Shaw ·Published June 17, 2016 · FoxNews.com Pope Francis’s three-year-old papacy, marred by controversy from the beginning, has hit a new low. After Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected to succeed Pope Benedict XVI in 2013, he quickly justified his…Continue Reading

Florida Bishop Blames Orlando Massacre on Catholic ‘Contempt’ for Homosexuality

The Catholic Bishop of St. Petersburg, Fla, has blamed Catholic disapproval of homosexual acts for the brutal slaughter of 49 people in the Pulse nightclub on Sunday. In a blogpost Monday, Bishop Robert Lynch said that Catholicism “targets” and “often…Continue Reading

WATCH: Congresswoman Blasts Sales of Aborted Baby Parts in Explosive Speech Filled With Evidence

Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler gave a recent speech on the flood of the House of Representatives blasting the sales of aborted baby parts. The member of the special panel investigating Planned Parenthood and the sales of aborted baby parts provided shocking…Continue Reading

Transgender bathroom debate: Lawmakers in Massachusetts pass bill allowing use of restrooms based on gender identity

The Massachusetts’ House of Representatives has passed a bathroom bill on Wednesday that will allow transgenders to use restrooms according to their gender identity. Voting 116-36, lawmakers passed the bill despite protests from people who went to the House to…Continue Reading

Bishop Schneider: Pope’s exhortation will lead to practice that ‘trivializes and profanes … three sacraments’

June 7, 2016 (Voice of the Family) — Bishop Athanasius Schneider has made his strongest comments yet on the “real spiritual danger” posed by the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia. The bishop said that the document contains expressions that are “objectively…Continue Reading

Kasich admin gives Planned Parenthood waiver to continue abortions in defiance of state law

COLUMBUS, Ohio, June 2, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – A Planned Parenthood abortion facility in Cincinnati can continue performing abortions, despite the fact that it is breaking state law, because Gov. John Kasich’s administration issued a waiver. On Friday, Ohio Department of…Continue Reading

Amoris Laetitia is ‘objectively unclear’ since even bishops have conflicting interpretations: Cardinal Caffarra

ROME, May 30, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — The cardinal tasked by Saint Pope John Paul II 36 years ago with founding an institute to study marriage and the family has criticized Pope Francis’ recent Apostolic Exhortation on the family for lacking…Continue Reading

Newsmax

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 145 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “An Introduction To The Problem Of Euthanasia”

By BRIAN CLOWES Part 2 (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of chapter 23 of The Facts of Life, a 150-page treatise on all of the aspects of euthanasia, e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) + + + We have covered the definitions of the varieties of…Continue Reading

Enter Comments Below

This Weeks Comments And Letters . . .

Today . . .

Pope Francis arrives in Armenia

popef99

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis arrived in Armenia’s capital Yerevan at 12.55 pm Rome time on Friday 24th June to begin his 14th apostolic journey abroad. Armenia is a landlocked mountainous nation which borders with to the west Turkey, to the East Azerbaijan, to the north Georgia and to the South Iran. He was warmly welcomed by the President of the nation’s Republic Serzh Sargsyn and the Catholicos of All Armenia Karekin II. Also present were…Continue Reading

Thomas Aquinas and the Art of Making a Public Argument

taqun

Zenit.org June 22, 2016•Bishop Robert Barron I would like to revisit a time when people knew how to have a public argument about the most hotly-contested matters … There is, in many quarters, increasing concern about the hyper-charged political correctness that has gripped our campuses and other forums of public conversation. Even great works of literature and philosophy – from Huckleberry Finn and Heart of Darkness to, believe it or not, Kant’s Critique of Pure…Continue Reading

Pope: All of Amoris Laetitia is ‘sound doctrine’; ban the death penalty

Francis doubles down on Amoris Laetitia In the wake of substantial criticisms of his Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis has stated that “everything” written in the document is “sound doctrine.” The remarks are especially pertinent in light of the first critical observations on the exhortation issued by Raymond Cardinal Burke which stressed that parts of the document were the Pope’s personal opinion and not to be taken as magisterial. Speaking at the opening of…Continue Reading

Valencia’s Card. Cañizares persecuted for defending nature, common sense against “gender theory”, homosexualist agenda

I was in Spain recently, having breakfast – as one does – and, while munching the ubiquitous toast with tomato looked up at the TV only to see a discussion of Card. Canizares Llovera and the trouble he was in for giving what sounded like a really good sermon in Valencia. I shot a photo of the screen… it I can find it… Since then the Cardinal’s problems have multiplied. BTW… he had the nickname…Continue Reading

Papal comments on cohabitation and civil marriage suggest a direction

June 18, 2016 11:51 EST Edward N. Peters The pope’s most recent comments on marriage point in a disturbing direction but let’s address two important matters first. Point One. Cohabitation is not marriage. Largely overlooked amid the furor caused by Pope Francis’ rash claim that “the great part of our sacramental marriages are null”—an assertion reckless if false (which it is) and brimming with despair if true (which it is not), a claim followed not…Continue Reading

“No Fly, No Buy” Means No Freedom

By JUDGE ANDREW P. NAPOLITANO The people in the government who want to control our personal choices are the enemies of freedom. And the enemies of freedom can be very clever and seductive. This past week, these folks, manifesting their lust to keep us dependent upon the government by rejecting the natural right to self-defense,…Continue Reading

Islam & The West: Irreconcilable Conflict?

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN On Saturday night, June 11, Omar Mateen was a loner and a loser. Sunday, he was immortal, by his standards, a hero. Mateen had ended his life in a blaze of gunfire and glory. Now everybody knew his name. He had been embraced by ISIS. His face was on every TV…Continue Reading

Culture Of Life 101… “The First Time Around: Euthanasia In Nazi Germany”

germ2

By BRIAN CLOWES Conclusion (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of chapter 23 of The Facts of Life, a 150-page treatise on all of the aspects of euthanasia, e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) + + + Step 2: Dehumanization The first…Continue Reading

Fr. Pavone Says . . . Trump Speech “Crystal Clear” Supporting Life, Religious Liberty

By DEXTER DUGGAN Presumed Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has an entire political-party structure behind him that is pro-life, so it’s not a matter of simply having to hope that Trump will follow pro-life principles, Fr. Frank Pavone told The Wanderer after attending an important Trump speech for social and religious conservatives. Pavone, national director…Continue Reading

We Should Not Aim For Purgatory

By JOHN YOUNG “I’ll be satisfied if I get to Purgatory.” I recently heard that statement from a Catholic, and I think that mindset is probably quite widespread. It may be said in a thoughtless way, or may even be a sign of humility, confessing that one is far from the holiness one should have.…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Liturgical Seasons And Cycles

By DON FIER As we continued our consideration of “how the liturgy is celebrated” last week, we saw that sacred art (along with sacred music) plays a prominent role in our worship of God. In his 1999 Letter to Artists, Pope St. John Paul II highlighted its importance by saying: “In order to communicate the message entrusted to her by…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. I just want to ask what James J. Drummey’s qualifications are for answering the questions that subscribers ask. Does he have a title or does he consult with an authority on these issues? — K.C., via e-mail. A. My qualifications for writing the Catholic Replies column for the past 25 years include reading, studying, pondering, praying, writing, speaking, and teaching…Continue Reading

Take Up Your Cross

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Fourteenth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR C) Readings: Isaiah 66:10c-14 Gal. 6:14-18 Luke 10:1-12, 17-20 In the Gospel reading today we hear about the seventy-two men the Lord had sent out ahead of Him. He had given them authority to heal people and to expel demons. That sounds great, but when one actually sees it happen…Continue Reading

Benedict XVI On His 2011 Ordination Anniversary… Long Experience Of The Goodness Of The Lord

(Editor’s Note: Below we reprint the text of Pope Benedict XVI’s homily on his 60th anniversary of Ordination to the priesthood, given at St. Peter’s Basilica, June 29, 2011. The text is from the website of Catholic News Agency. (Pope Emeritus Benedict was preparing to celebrate the 65th anniversary of his Ordination as The Wanderer went to press this week.…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… “Mass, The Musical”

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK I write to you shortly after the massacre in Orlando, witnessing the divisions that some are making in reaction to this great sin in the sight of God. Above all, and first of all, those who died are human beings, created lovingly by God in His image and likeness, and it is this truth we…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . Mother Maria Guadalupe Garcia Zavala

By CAROLE BRESLIN Which basilica in the country of Mexico has been visited by both Pope St. John Paul II and Pope Francis? The Basilica of Our Lady of Zapopan. Like Our Lady of Guadalupe, the story of Our Lady of Zapopan begins in the year 1531. Beginning in 1531, the same year that Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared to…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. John Francis Regis

By CAROLE BRESLIN In the late 16th century, Calvinism began to make significant advances in the Catholic population of France. More and more Catholics left the faith, or simply stopped going to Mass and practicing their faith. Then God sent a man to the French who preached tirelessly and then spent hours in the confessional, helping the penitents return to…Continue Reading

COMPLETE 3 PART Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Insights On The State Of The Church In The Aftermath Of The Ordinary Synod On The Family

Cburke3

By DON FIER Part 1 (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, recently traveled from Rome to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., a magnificent place of worship which he founded and dedicated. (His Eminence graciously granted an extensive interview to The Wanderer during which he…Continue Reading