Friday 24th January 2020

Home » Our Catholic Faith » Currently Reading:

Be Relevant, Be Counter-Cultural

August 28, 2019 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

By FR. SHENAN J. BOQUET

(Editor’s Note: Fr. Shenan Boquet is president of Human Life International. Fr. Boquet’s commentary below first appeared at HLI.org on August 19 and is reprinted here with permission. All rights reserved.)

+ + +

Sign Of Hope

If you listened to certain Catholic thinkers and apologists, you’d think that the most urgent task facing the Church is to figure out ways to become more “relevant.”
Especially when it comes to the youth. We need more “youth Masses” with rock bands and hip, joke-cracking priests; more retreats and conferences filled with fun games, good food, and diverting entertainment; more slick websites and marketing materials; less overt religious symbolism, like cassocks on priests, or habits on religious sisters, which are “clerical” and “alienating” for the youth; and, above all, way, way less talk about morality, especially sexual morality.
There are so many things that are wrong with this kind of thinking that it’s hard to know where to begin. But if I were to make one point, it would be simply this: It hasn’t worked. Not even a little bit.
Since the 1960s, when this “strategy” (if it can be called that) was launched in a big way, things have gotten worse on just about every possible metric by which we could gauge the health of the Church. We have way fewer Catholics attending weekly Mass, plummeting vocations, plummeting catechetical knowledge, widespread dissent from even the most basic moral teachings, and a huge rise in young people who identify as “nones” — i.e., who adhere to no specific religion.
The dismal state of the Church in the U.S. was illustrated recently by the truly discouraging findings of a Pew Research poll. That poll found that fully 69 percent of self-described Catholics believe during Holy Mass that the bread and wine used for Holy Communion are just “symbols of the body and blood of Jesus Christ.” In other words, seven out of ten Catholics do not believe in one of the single most central tenets of the Catholic faith — that during Holy Mass, the bread and wine actually become the Body and Blood of Christ. Ouch.
Now, the proponents of a more “relevant” Church could try to argue that it’s not their strategy that is to blame, but rather the culture. In fact, they might well argue, if the Church hadn’t gotten with the times as it did, the numbers would be way, way worse than they are. After all, it’s not just the Catholic Church that is losing believers; it’s just about everybody.
Well, they could say that. But in order to make that case, they would have to ignore the growing body of evidence that not only are their preferred methods not working, but that pretty much the only signs of health in the Church are found in communities that are doing the exact opposite of everything they recommend — that is, communities that uncompromisingly and unapologetically preach the Church’s hardest and most unpopular moral teachings, and going back to the more formal liturgical practices that we are so often told are a major barrier to growth.

Boom In Traditional
Religious Orders

Nowhere is this made clearer than in the case of religious orders. Since the 1960s, the numbers of priests and professed religious (i.e., monks and nuns) has collapsed in the United States. And I mean collapsed. As Catholic News Service reports, since 1965 the number of women religious in the U.S. has fallen by 75 percent — from 181,000 to just 47,000.
Furthermore, and what is worse, many of the remaining 47,000 are rapidly aging, with 77 percent of women religious being over the age of 70. According to the National Religious Retirement Office, as many as 300 of the current 420 religious institutes in the U.S. “are in their last decades of existence because of aging membership and declining vocations,” as reported by CNS.
However, despite the fact that there doesn’t seem to be much hope that the overall trend of decline will be reversed any time soon, there are some notable exceptions.
As Joanna Bogle recently reported in the Catholic Herald, traditional Catholic orders are “booming.” By “traditional” Catholic orders, she doesn’t necessarily mean “traditionalist.” While some of these booming orders do use the Latin or Tridentine Mass, most of these growing orders are conspicuous simply for the fact that their members always wear a habit, live in community, pray the Liturgy of the Hours together, and are committed to promulgating and defending the Church’s doctrinal and moral teachings without compromise. Basic stuff, really.
This is in contrast to the many aging and dying orders, which long ago gave up wearing the habit, whose members often live scattered in private apartments and residences, and who have often committed their time to fighting for trendy feminist or social justice causes that have little to do with the faith…or are even opposed to the faith.
While orders like this are rapidly dying, rarely boasting even a single new vocation, the younger orders have become — in the words of one sister who researches religious orders — “the only thing going.”
That is to say, they’re the only orders that are attracting new vocations. Consider the Sisters of Life. According to one fascinating investigative piece in the National Post, the Sisters of Life doubled in size between 2006 and 2016. The average age of women joining the order is just 25. Notably, the Sisters of Life exist primarily to support one of the Church’s most unpopular teachings — its teachings on the sanctity of life, especially of the unborn.
Another booming traditional order — the Dominican Sisters of Mary Mother of the Eucharist in Ann Arbor, Michigan — also doubled in size during the same time period.
But perhaps nothing illustrates this counter-intuitive trend more than the growth being experienced in the U.S. by the Discalced Carmelites — arguably the strictest female religious order in existence. Women who join the Carmelites will spend the entirety of their lives within the confines of the convent, receiving visitors only once or twice per year behind a metal grille, and spending their days in hours of prayer and arduous manual labor.
However, despite the fact that the life of a Carmelite is perhaps the single most countercultural life imaginable, they have experienced a remarkable boost in vocations. For example, the Carmel of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph in Elysburg, Pa., located in the Diocese of Harrisburg, experienced such growth in vocations that it has warranted the construction of a new convent in Fairfield; it’s being designed to last hundreds of years. This will be the second monastery in the diocese.
Mother Stella-Marie of Jesus, the prioress, attributes the growth to the convent’s decision to re-embrace the Traditional Latin Mass in 2000 — in other words, to make their highly non-relevant lifestyle even more non-relevant.
“One of the unique aspects of our monastery is that we do have the Extraordinary Form of the Mass,” she said. “We also have the traditional Divine Office. We pray the Office in Latin. We have permission also to pray the traditional form of the Carmelite Office, and young women are very much drawn to that.” Indeed, the average age of women seeking entrance to the monastery is between 17 and 24. She added: “[E]ver since then, we’ve had a great increase in vocations, and the spirit of the community has been one of joy and growth in the spiritual life.”

Jordan Peterson And Bishop Barron

So, what explains the boom in traditional orders, compared with the drawn-out death of the old, progressive orders? The full answer would be complex and long. However, I think that Dr. Jordan Peterson and Bishop Robert Barron put their fingers on the heart of the matter in a recent conversation. Dr. Peterson, of course, is arguably the single most famous and influential academic alive right now.
But what has always struck anybody observing the Peterson phenomenon is that a large percentage of his audience is young men. And this, despite the fact that Dr. Peterson spends most of his time telling them both how wretched and selfish they are and urging them to start doing the difficult things necessary to put their lives together. One of his mantras, for instance, is that we need to stop talking so much about rights and spend way more time talking about responsibilities.
Now, talking about responsibilities is not a very “relevant” thing to do. Or, at least, that’s what we’re constantly told. Young people don’t want to talk about responsibilities — they want to know what their rights are, and to fight for them. However, Dr. Peterson has proven that, in fact, we have things exactly backwards. As he told Bishop Barron, “You know, I can attract audiences of 5,000 people and tell them that the problem with their lives is that they’re not bearing nearly enough responsibility and that’s where they’re gonna find the meaning that sustains them. It’s a pretty rough message.”
Rough it may be, but Dr. Peterson himself isn’t surprised. After decades as a clinical psychologist, he has a huge amount of firsthand experience showing that happiness and self-fulfillment are not to be found in accepting ourselves “as we are,” but rather in the selfless and painful effort to make oneself a better human being — above all a human being who spends his time helping and providing for others.
At one point in their conversation, the pair hit the nail on the head. Bishop Barron had just finished lamenting that the Church, influenced by psychologists like Carl Rogers, has become so afraid of “offending people” or hurting their feelings, that it fails to tell them the truth of their condition (they’re full of sin) and how to fix it (to become holy). Instead of preaching both mercy and justice, “we’ve become just too much of a mercy Church in a way,” said Bishop Barron. “Well, that’s what I think!” responded Peterson. “I don’t think you guys ask enough of your people! You’re not, you’re not giving them hell!”
I think that’s true both literally and figuratively. On the one hand, we’re not telling the faithful that Hell exists — which means that we’re not telling them that the choices they make in this life matter. But we’re also not presenting our flock with the noble ideal of holiness — the high state of moral goodness and intimate communion with God that everybody deeply yearns for. We’re not giving them hell in the sense of chastising their sins and demanding more of them. And as it turns out, that’s what people actually want!
There’s a lot more in their conversation worth talking about. Peterson isn’t Catholic and doesn’t get everything right. But somehow, he has seen exactly what so many in the Church are blind to. People don’t want to be told that they’re fine as they are. Most people know they’re not. They know they’re lazy, weak, and selfish, and that too often they’re leaving a path of destruction in their wake. They have a profound yearning for something higher, and better, and nobler. And they want to be shown how to attain it.
This, I believe, is one central reason why the traditional religious orders are growing. These religious orders aren’t “relevant.” And that’s precisely the point. They’re radically counter-cultural. They demand enormous sacrifices. They demand obedience, and poverty, and chastity. And young people are flocking to them because they’re tired of being pandered to.
Jesus Christ said, “Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect.” Many of the dying orders are dying precisely because they replaced this high ideal with the celebration of mediocrity and trendiness: because they became indistinguishable from the world.
As Bishop Barron put it, we now have a “generation of Catholics that felt like, okay, God is love. I’m okay. Everything will be fine.” The result is that “there’s no energy. There’s no direction. There’s no sense of purpose. There’s no sense of spiritual struggle.”
Thank goodness for the new religious orders that are reversing this trend and giving our young people the spiritual food they need. The whole Church needs to pay attention to and learn from this trend.

Share Button

2019 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Twitter Feed

22,000 people showed up in Virginia to protest an infringement on their Constitutional rights

No buildings vandalized

No journalists attacked

No cops were harassed

Some in the media call these patriots domestic terrorists

Yet they refuse to say the same about ANTIFA

🤔

His Eminence, @cardinalrlburke will be marching for life with the @GuadalupeShrine group in #WashingtonDC this week, giving public witness to the inviolable right to life! #MarchForLife #CatholicTwitter 👶🏼👶🏻👶🏽👶🏾👶🏿🤰🏻🤰🏼🤰🏽🤰🏾🤰🏿

Load More...

Catholic parish will not host Episcopalian consecration

Richmond, Va., Jan 17, 2020 / 11:30 am (CNA).- The Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia will no longer hold a bishops’s consecration at a Catholic parish in Williamsburg, after an internet petition objecting to the event drew national attention. “It…Continue Reading

Cardinal Dolan conducting ‘Vos estis’ investigation into Brooklyn’s Bishop DiMarzio

New York City, N.Y., Jan 18, 2020 / 09:05 pm (CNA).- Cardinal Timothy Dolan is conducting an investigation into Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, following an allegation of sexual abuse. The investigation is being conducted under the provisions of Vos estis lux…Continue Reading

Theodore McCarrick has moved from Kansas friary

Denver, Colo., Jan 7, 2020 / 11:00 am (CNA).- The disgraced former cardinal Theodore McCarrick has moved from the Kansas friary where he had been living since 2018. A spokesman for the Capuchin Franciscan Province of St. Conrad told CNA…Continue Reading

Vatican Archbishop: those who say Judas is in hell are ‘heretics’ and priests may ‘accompany’ assisted suicides

ROME, December 11, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — In a statement difficult to reconcile with Scripture and Tradition, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, has claimed on behalf of the Catholic Church that anyone who says Judas Iscariot is in…Continue Reading

Buffalo’s Bishop Richard Malone resigns after year of scandal

Vatican City, Dec 4, 2019 / 04:01 am (CNA).- Pope Francis Wednesday accepted the resignation of Buffalo’s embattled Bishop Richard Malone. The Diocese of Buffalo will be administered by Albany’s Bishop Edward Scharfenberger until a permanent replacement for Malone is…Continue Reading

Chinese bishop says Catholics must put ‘love for homeland’ first

Beijing, China, Dec 3, 2019 / 04:30 pm (CNA).- A Chinese bishop has said that Catholics in the country must put their loyalty to the state before the faith. Bishop John Fang Xingyao made the statement during a Communist Party…Continue Reading

Canada’s largest newspaper: Catholic schools must back LGBT ‘rights’ or risk losing public funding

TORONTO, November 25, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Canada’s largest newspaper threatened Catholic schools in an editorial that unless they get in line with homosexuality and transgender “rights,” support will only grow for an end to their public funding. The Toronto Star’s…Continue Reading

Pope compares politicians who persecute gays, Jews to Hitler

Pope Francis denounced the persecution of gay people on Friday and compared public officials who stoke hatred and anti-gay sentiment to Hitler. Francis delivered his remarks at an international conference on criminal law at the Vatican City, Reuters reported. “It is…Continue Reading

7-year-old whose mom tried to ‘transition’ him chooses to attend school as a boy

DALLAS, Texas, November 5, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Seven-year-old James Younger, whose mother enrolled him in kindergarten as a “girl,” has finally been able to attend school as a boy for the first time. James’ parents’ fight over whether he should…Continue Reading

Cardinal Dolan on Biden communion denial: ‘I wouldn’t do it’

Washington D.C., Oct 31, 2019 / 04:58 pm (CNA).- Cardinal Timothy Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York has responded to questions about the denial of Holy Communion to former Vice President Joe Biden last Sunday. On an Oct. 31…Continue Reading

Judge blocks Alabama law banning abortions, pro-lifers plan to appeal to Supreme Court

October 29, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Alabama’s ban on virtually all abortions will not take effect on November 15 as planned, thanks to a preliminary injunction issued Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson. In May, Alabama Republican Gov. Kay Ivey signed the Alabama…Continue Reading

Biden denied communion at South Carolina church over abortion stance, report says

Democratic front-runner Joe Biden was reportedly denied communion by a priest at a South Carolina Catholic church over the weekend. Biden, a lifelong Catholic, stopped by Saint Anthony Catholic Church in Florence on Sunday, but was denied Holy Communion by Father Robert E. Morey,…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for 150 years in our weekly print edition.


  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 150 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

Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Discriminating Mercy: Defending Christ And His Church With True Love

Cburke3

  By DON FIER (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and Founder of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., graciously took time out of his busy schedule to grant The Wanderer a wide-ranging interview during a recent visit to the Shrine. Included among the topics…Continue Reading

Developing Lives Of Peace After The Heart Of Mary

By RAYMOND LEO CARDINAL BURKE (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke delivered the address below at the 32nd Annual Church Teaches Forum, “The Message of Fatima: Peace for the World,” Galt House, Louisville, Ky., July 22, 2017. The address is reprinted here with the kind permission of Cardinal Burke. All rights reserved. This is part one of the…Continue Reading

Catechism

Today . . .

President Trump Will Attend March for Life in Person, First President Ever to Join Pro-Lifers

trump

President Donald Trump will address the March for Life on Friday in live remarks to hundreds of thousands of pro-life people attending the event from across the country. He will be the first president ever to attend the March for Life in person, having addressed the March via video previously. March for Life officials told LifeNews.com they were delighted President Trump is demonstrating his commitment to pro-life values by appearing in person –joining half a…Continue Reading

Bishop Strickland says he asked pope about McCarrick report

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Bishop Joseph E. Strickland of Tyler, Texas, said he asked Pope Francis about the Vatican investigation into Theodore E. McCarrick and the release of a promised report on how the former cardinal managed to rise through the church ranks. The bishop, who was making his “ad limina” visit to Rome, drew widespread attention in August 2018 for a public statement saying he found “credible” the allegations made by retired Archbis

Catholic League blasts bill on clergy abuse, accuses lawmaker of trying to ‘police the sacraments of the Catholic Church’

SALT LAKE CITY — A group dedicated to defending the Catholic Church and its traditions is blasting a lawmaker for a bill that essentially removes the clergy exemption for reporting disclosures of abuse. “You are treading on dangerous territory,” Bill Donahue, the group’s president, wrote in a letter obtained by FOX 13. “When the government seeks to police the sacraments of the Catholic Church — or encroach on the tenets of a

">

Benedict XVI .: I am not co-author of Sarah’s book

Vatican City, January 14, 2020 (CAP) Benedict XVI has distanced itself from the authorship of the book on priesthood and celibacy, which Cardinal Robert Sarah published. Archbishop Georg Gänswein, private secretary of Benedict XVI, told the Catholic news agency Kathpress in Rome on Tuesday that, at the request of the pope emeritus, Sarah called early Tuesday morning to ask the publisher to remove Benedict XVI’s name and picture. prompt from the book cover. The signature…Continue Reading

Advertisement3

Mindong’s Bishop Guo Will Sleep On The Street

By FR. BERNARCO CERVELLERA ROME (AsiaNews) — Bishop Vincenzo Guo Xijin, former ordinary bishop of Mindong (Fujian), is now homeless and sleeping on the doorstep of his curia and clergy house in Luojiang, following the January 15 arrival of an eviction order for him and for the priests who work and live with him. To…Continue Reading

The Facts… About The Controversial New Book By Both Cardinal Sarah And Benedict XVI

  By FR. JOHN T. ZUHLSDORF (Editor’s Note: Fr. John T. Zuhlsdorf posted the following on his January 15 blog at https://wdtprs.com/. It is reprinted here with permission. Please visit his blog for the links he mentions in his text.) + + + Edward Pentin has posted at the National Catholic Register [blog dated January…Continue Reading

An NFL Owner’s Final Victory

By TERENCE P. JEFFREY (Editor’s Note: Terence P. Jeffrey is the editor-in-chief of CNSnews.com. Creators Syndicate, www.creators.com, distributes his column.) + + + Fr. Bill McGuire was sitting in the upper level of the press box at Kezar Stadium watching his hometown team play the Chicago Bears. Things were not going well. The 49ers fumbled…Continue Reading

Seth Meyers Likes Neo-Nazi Tactics

By BILL DONOHUE (Editor’s Note: Catholic League President Bill Donohue commented on remarks made January 13 by Seth Meyers on his NBC show.) + + + Brooklyn has been hit with a wave of anti-Semitic attacks, and no one uses this as a pretext to make light of them. A Catholic church in Brooklyn was…Continue Reading

Bishop Sheen Comes To My Home Town

By DONALD DeMARCO The 1960s counterculture movement did much to undo many traditional social values, especially those regarding personal relationships and human community. It served as a kind of stage rehearsal for the 1970s, which Tom Wolfe aptly dubbed “The Me Decade.” Andrew Lloyd Webber’s rock opera, Jesus Christ Superstar, launched the decade which gave…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Catholic Replies

Q. Regarding your comments on the three Wise Men in a recent Wanderer, Fr. Dwight Longenecker has written a book on the subject — Mystery of the Magi: The Quest to Identify the Three Wise Men. Based on his research, he concludes that they were diplomats from the kingdom of Nabatea in northern Arabia coming to pay homage to the…Continue Reading

Focus On The Light

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Third Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR A) Readings: Isaiah 8:23-9:3 1 Cor. 1:10-13, 17 Matt. 4:12-23 In the first reading today, Isaiah tells us that “God first degraded the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,” but then tells us everything is turned around for the people in these lands and that “the people who…Continue Reading

Cardinal Pell Transferred To New Maximum-Security Prison

MELBOURNE, Australia (CNA) — George Cardinal Pell has reportedly been transferred out of the Melbourne prison in which he has been incarcerated for more than a year after a drone illegally flew over the prison grounds. According to the Herald Sun newspaper, Pell was moved out of Melbourne Assessment Prison after a drone flew over the prison garden in an…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: In an effort to promote eucharistic adoration, we published the following article in our parish bulletin. Feel free to use it in your own parish. Come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord. These familiar words from a Christmas carol remind us of our obligation to offer adoration to the Lord. To be sure, we are also to…Continue Reading

God Wants Us To Be Great Saints

BY FR. ROBERT ALTIER Second Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR A) Readings: Isaiah 49:5-6 1 Cor. 1:1-3 John 1:29-34 In the Gospel reading today we have two statements by St. John the Baptist regarding the identity of Jesus. First, he states that Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Second, he testifies that…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Maria Cristina Of The Immaculate Conception

By CAROLE BRESLIN As Mother Teresa of Calcutta said, “God does not require that we be successful, only that we be faithful.” This could certainly describe the setbacks of so many saints before they finally achieved their heart’s desire. St. Maria Cristina certainly had her share of disappointments and setbacks, but she always began again. Nunc coepi. On May 1,…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Henry De Osso

By CAROLE BRESLIN Over the centuries, Spain has yielded many saints for the Roman Catholic Church. At the beginning of the fourth century, St. Maginus was martyred. In the twelfth century, there was St. Raymond of Penafort. In addition, the great sixteenth-century Carmelites, St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila, made matchless contributions to spirituality. In the…Continue Reading

Advertisement(2)