How to Destroy the Faith in Five Easy Steps

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Those of us who write about the Catholic Church, and the liturgy specifically, often speak of the ongoing crisis of faith which has constituted much of the post-conciliar narrative.  What we have seen over the last forty years is nothing less than the widespread desacralization of the holiest act of religion known to man, the Sacrifice of the Mass.  Sadly, the impact upon millions of the faithful, many of whom have simply fallen away from the one, true, Church is staggering to say the least.

It might be good at this time to recall what Fr. Robert Southard wrote in the April 1974 issue of Homiletic and Pastoral Review:

The Catholic Church will survive on this planet til the end of time, believing, teaching and practising essentially what Christ wills of her…But we must understand this promise correctly. The Church in this or that particular place can be destroyed. There are no limits to Christ’s promise; It applies to the Church as a whole, not to every member or parish or diocese, not even to nations as a whole.

Understanding this to be true, we can look to see what post-conciliar practices and attitudes have been introduced to the Mass contributing to a loss of the sacred.  Where a sense of the sacred has been lost, a sense of the supernatural has inevitably been lost as well, leading to a widespread loss of the faith.

Five Easy Ways to Destroy the Faith (in no particular order):

1.  Make the Mass about Man.  Nothing erodes a sense of the sacred more than anthropocentric liturgies.  Versus populum masses, the removal of altar rails, and armies of readers and extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion all feed into our own narcissism, our own incorrect understanding of participation within the Mass, and instill pride when humility is most needed.

2.  Distribute Communion in the Hand.  Bishop Athanasius Schneider has identified this as the major crisis in the Church today.  The loss in reverence for the Eucharist leads to a loss in belief in Our Lord’s Real Presence.  While many have offered compelling arguments in favor of the traditional practice of receiving on the tongue (including Rome itself), no one can offer a good defense of the new practice which (until the 1970’s) had completely disappeared from the Church for well over a millennium. 

3.  Remove Objective Beauty from Churches.  The post-conciliar architectural minimalism has been nothing less than an assault against beauty.  Beautiful high altars and classic statuary were discarded in the years after the Council as parishes began to look more like Quaker meeting houses instead of Catholic churches. 

As the physical beauty of the Church was removed, so was her musical beauty.  The recovery of sacred music, the very focus of much of the twentieth century liturgical movement (from Pope St. Pius X to Vatican II’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy), has been largely ignored in much of the Church. Profane instruments and even Protestant hymns and praise songs were introduced into Catholic worship, as if to add insult to injury. 

4. Innovate. Constantly Innovate. Possibly nothing has been more instrumental to the loss of faith than the incessant drive to continually tamper with the liturgy.  Much as we have seen in the secular realm, the spirit of innovation has been constant, leading to never-ending liturgical experimentation.  A sense of obligation to hand down the tradition that they themselves had received was completely lost upon the innovators. Their hubris told them that they must always reinvent…that they could make the Mass better. 

The greatest tragedy in all of this is that the most compelling arguments in favor of the Church, her antiquity, her immutability, her constancy (Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today, and forever) was undermined by all of the instability.

5. Never Reference the Supernatural. Ever. The four last things.  The fate of our eternal soul.  The reality of heaven. The reality of hell.  The reality of Satan and of demons.  The reality of purgatory.  The sacraments. The wages of sin.  The death to the soul caused by mortal sin. The destruction wrought by fornication, contraception, sodomy, pornography, abortion. The obligation to go to Mass every Sunday and holy day of obligation.  The need to repent.  Sacramental confession. The need for prayer.  The need for contemplative prayer. The need for silence. 

The vast majority of priests and bishops today preach with little to no sense of the supernatural.  (Not surprisingly, they also fail to demonstrate a sense of the sacred when offering the Mass).  There is no urgency in their teaching.  No bold presentation of the truth to counter the lies of the cultural revolutionaries.  They are spiritual fathers who refuse to parent for fear of offending.  They are spiritual doctors guilty of malpractice because they refuse to diagnose the true sickness or prescribe the necessary medicine.

Thankfully in recent years we are beginning to see more orthodox priests recovering this sense of the sacred and the supernatural. The traditional axiom lex orandi, lex credendi is understood and embraced by these holy men. Unfortunately, very few bishops (with only a few notable exceptions) have done anything to address these problems. Until this occurs, we are likely to see a continued loss of faith and with it, the loss of countless souls.

Posted on June 16, 2016, in liturgy and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 21 Comments.

  1. An excellent clear summary, thank you

    Three years ago at the age of 60 I found myself swept to my knees and into the holy Catholic Church as the culmination of a deep personal “time of refreshing” in the charismatic / Pentecostal circles I had spent more than 35 years in. The experience of the supernatural, an ardent interior devotion to Christ through the Spirit, a growing sense of how God fills His creation and speaks to us through sacred places and times – those characterised the changes in me, and once my paths crossed with Catholics, I knew for sure the Church was God’s promise for me, the secret joy hiding in plain sight.

    I arrived, thank God, into a parish where there is great beauty, timeless liturgy, traditional chant, both forms of the Mass, and all face east together. I immediately recognised how much more powerfully the Holy Spirit is at work upon me here, than when I visit the watered-down liturgies elsewhere.

    Deo gratias! Join us at St Birinus, Dorchester on Thames, UK

    • María Procaccino

      Your “timeless” liturgy and can’t is from the 13-14-15centuries and has little to do with the liturgy of the early Church or the Last supper when imperfect men shared a meal (life and sacrifice ) with the perfect one (Jesus) face to face.

  2. Allow me to challenge this. Faith isn’t a building or communion rails or how you receive communion. It’s that you are there, engaged and participating and carrying the faith forward. Did Jesus (or the Disciples) have warehouses of rubrics? Reliance on plaster and metal ignores the reality that they are temporary and capable of easy destruction while faith — and, more significantly, The Faith — are not. Yes, some of the excesses we’ve seen (in both directions) are head shaking, to be sure, but at the core Jesus is the founder of our Church and our faith. He was more concerned about ethics that effigies. If someone requires ornate relics to be a person of faith I suggest that his or her faith was shaky to begin with.

    I remember moving to a new city and going into my church for the first time. It was a cold, concrete place — rather stark, actually — but it was the vibrance of the people at mass and engaging liturgies that provided the warmth. I was also involved years later in a church building project (a new parish that began meeting in a school) and people were constantly asking us “When is the church going to be built.” Our reply is that it is already under construction and will always be because the church isn’t the building — it’s the community of Christ. I suspect Jesus would be pretty upset with people who get so hung up on what is nonessential.

    • María Procaccino

      Well said and on point!!!!

    • You clearly have not yet acquainted yourself with early Church history, nor found out the dates of the various prayers in the liturgy

    • Yours is the common, vitiating, Protestant attitude of reductionism. Just because something is not essential, does not mean it is not important and cherished by God. Just look at His creation, for instance! What an abundance, elaboration, superfluity! So it is in the one, holy, apostolic and Catholic Church, glory be to God!

      • Just because something is not essential, does not mean it is not important and cherished by God. …. That my friends is profound! Thanks for sharing John!

  3. Re-blogged this on Catholicism Pre & Simple and commented:
    “Below is another superb post from Liturgy Guy, bringing us his usual insights into where the root of the problems lie within our lex orandi and how they can be counteracted.”

    https://catholicismpure.wordpress.com/2016/06/22/how-to-destroy-the-faith-in-five-easy-steps/

    • María Procaccino

      And not accurate at all. Liturgy guy is stuck in the pretty brick and mortar and not in the mess that is the Body of Christ!

  4. The Church teaches that there are certain things-The Dogmas/Morality of our Faith-that we must believe/do in order to save-“Quicumque vult salvus esse”- our immortal souls and get to Heaven: “Quam nisi quisque integram inviolatamque servaverit: absque dubio in aeternum peribit” Whenever an issue arises in our Catholic Church that impinges on me, I ask myself “Is it necessary that I believe/do this in order to save my soul?” I check the Dogmatic/Moral teachings of the Church. If it’s a necessity, I do not have a problem. If it’s not a necessity, I might find it interesting-or not-that it’s under consideration.

  5. Dr. Maria Procaccino

    God is, was and always will be… He is not in a communion rail, watching the back of a priest mumble to his hands, a plaster statue or a prayer in a foreign language. The “uniformity” you speak of has done nothing but change and evolve over the centuries and in most cases, evolved far from the actions and intentions of the Last Supper, celebrated in community of imperfect men (people) seeking the perfect(Jesus) face to face. Thankfully, the Church is organic not just rules, it will continue to grow and change and minister to all sinners seeking God who is here today, in everything and ever place… Not just in the confines of a brick and mortar building. We ARE the body of Christ… I read that somewhere…

  6. Maria procaccino, what planet do you live on? I’ve studied the early rite- and the gospel. The Mass in the form of my fathers conforms substantially with the gospel. It is obedient to the command by our Lord- “Do this in memory of me” – it actualises what our Lord asks with an immediacy and not simply a commentary narrative of “what” happened. Get to know the richness of the traditional mass- actually go along to one instead of making harsh judgement and deconstructing it cynically (quite blasphemous really!)Pope John Paul II said it is a valid aspiration to wish for its permanency – Pope Benedict went further and said it was just and right. .Read what the saints had to say about that mass, and read Dr Girh’s book “The holy sacrifice of the Mass”. Finally consider the continuity it is with the eastern liturgy and what a break from tradition we find in the novus ordo… the orthodox and Coptics cannot relate to the novus ordo- they say its a strange culture and too spontaneous. How can they come to the faith when we made such radical changes and forced it upon all catholic communities in the world at the pains of excommunication. Show some charity!!

  7. Have any of you people heard of Pope Francis? You all talk like he doesn’t exist! Tell you what,I was in the hospital for 15days last yr. unable to go to church for months. My pastor never came to see me at home, Iwas very grateful to euchristiic ministers for bringing me communion ( as I believe in the healing power of communion) I don’t care who gives me Jesus. Thankful to receive,and I don’t think Jesus cares if I am standing or kneeling or flat on my back! I am 77 yrs young so I am pre and post Vatican 2 & I prefer post.

  8. This is HILARIOUS! They left out the NUMBER ONE reason that the mainstream Church was destroyed and those holding fast to The Deposit of Faith were shoved into the catacombs (where we remain, today) : SATAN’S WOODSTOCK; VATICAN II. Our Holy Blessed Mother Mary was NOT yanking everyone’s chain when she warned of 1960 !! Ugh… stupid tools of Satan..

  9. Wow Liturgy Guy… Nothing brings out the Catholics out of the cafeteria like talking about the liturgy. I can see several people missed the point of the article. Yes, God isn’t in a communion rail, but he sure is in Eucharist and in the humble heart that receives him kneeling at that rail. True, Jesus is imminently with us, but he is also transcendent. John placed his head upon the chest of the God in love, but he also prostrated himself in fear in the Revelation. Also, people would do well to read a little Justyn Martyr and find out what the Mass was like around 100 years after the death of Christ before deciding they know how the Mass went. Think it doesn’t make a difference? If you go to these churches, look around. Grey hair galore. If the prevailing attitude was that Church isn’t “brick and mortar” in this elderly generation. Then the following generations have responded by not darkening the doorstep of the church at all. After all, Christ is my friend, loves me, and I can worship him how I dictate, not on his terms. Nothing is a sin, and all go to heaven. That’s a fact. The growing churches with screaming babies are the ones that bring on the Sacred, and talk about sin, death, heaven and hell. Otherwise, I can just stay in bed on Sunday and read a good book.

  10. Check out every different biblical reference to the all important words that Jesus uttered at the Last Supper, just look at this link http://biblehub.com/hebrews/9-28.htm
    When the translation from Latin to English was handed out to some Protestants in the interests of ecumenism, nobody bothered to check the translation of “pro multis” to “for all”.
    This introduced a heresy – universal salvation, where we can have a reasonable expectation that everyone can be saved. It took 40 years for the Church to detect and rectify this heresy, occurring during the very miracle of transubstantion of wine into the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ.

    No other Christian denomination has mistranslated the Lord’s words in this manner, only the Novus Ordo of the Roman Cathollic church, for a shameful period of 40 years. So I would add to your list – introduce a heresy into the most significant part of the mass..

  11. Why is watching porn immoral?

  12. “armies of readers and extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion all feed into our own narcissism, our own incorrect understanding of participation within the Mass”

    You left out armies of altar boys, often far more than needed.

  1. Pingback: Revolt against the Authority of the Bible – Relating to God

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