Friday, 21 September 2012

The Catholic Faith: Statues and Candles or Rattles and Drums?

Please click on this image and read the article. See what you think.


Sometimes I wonder if certain Catholics have a self-destruct button. Not in the sense of doing themselves harm via drugs, corruption or similar (though that is bad enough) but in the way the attack or undermine Catholicism.

It may not seem it to the modern mind, but attacks that undermine our Faith (the Faith/Church left to us by Our Lord Jesus Christ, truly God and truly man) are worse than anything a person may do to him or herself.

Sins committed by Catholics are bad of course, but there is always Redemption, Forgiveness, Prayer, Sacrifice/Penance and Reparation. In the afterlife there is Purgatory. God will always give every soul all it needs to obtain Heaven. It is up to that soul (via free will) whether it accepts the Graces of God, especially those gained via the Sacrifice of Christ crucified and the Graces that flow through the Sacrifice of the Mass.

But when a Catholic attacks dogma, Catholicism, the Mass etc. it can have dire effects on others: it can make others lose their Faith, and lead to generations of families, communities and even nations losing the Faith, losing the Sacraments.

That is why leaders of society and religion (and families!) have such a heavy burden on their shoulders, because how they pass on the Faith and show a good example will have many more ramifications than how a lone individual might give in to sin and do damage to his own soul.

Perhaps this is why it always surprises or even shocks me when religious (priests, bishops, nuns etc.) undermine the Faith in others. The changes since Vatican 2 (the vast majority of which were not mandated by V2) are prime examples. Since the altar rails were ripped out, tabernacles placed in alcoves off to one side, statues removed, exquisite workmanship replaced with breeze blocks, and ancient beautiful chants replaced by sickly Kum By Ya style "hymns" - it is no accident that the pews have emptied.

Of course the world has changed since the 1960s, but why have some religious decided to chase after that world, moulding churches and liturgy to fit the world, rather than making the Church, the Mass and all therein an oasis of sanity, reflection, sanctity and prayer that everyone in the world could escape to?

That's why I was so gobsmacked on reading the above bulletin. The Catholic nun seems to celebrate creating an empty, Protestant--style "church" that was acceptable to Protestants, yet which some Catholics turned away from, not even believing that it was a Catholic Church (let us assume that the nun was dressed in Marks & Spencer's slacks rather than a recognisable habit) or at least that a Catholic Mass was celebrated there.

Look at the text again. No statues, no candles, no Stations of the Cross... can we assume a table rather than an altar? It seems Thomas Cromwell himself would have pinched himself with glee to imagine that a Catholic Church could appear as such, with the added joy of Zimbabweans "swaying to the rhythm of their traditional music."

One wonders if they ever pass around a collection plate for fear that a Catholic might vomit into it having to endure such an empty, faithless, vacuous place devoid of everything our Catholic forebears struggled in defence of, paid taxes and faced ruination to celebrate, or even faced the rack and the rope to witness for.

This nun thinks the Gypsy (whoops! Roma) ladies had no experience of the universal church... Oh boy. I am trying so very hard not to swear! The truth is that Catholic churches the world over were full of statues, Stations of the Cross, altars, Latin (but that's another story*) and people!

Watch the film The Mission (based in the South American jungles) now they were Catholic Churches. Go to the Italian Chapel created by Italian PoWs in WW2 on windswept Orkney. Even in Nissan huts and using basic materials those PoWs created a building of beauty, prayer, Sacrifice and Faith (in a protestant country).

What is this celebration of a Protestantised place? I don't want "different ways of worshipping" and if I do I will go out and discover thoroughly Catholic ways full of beauty and prayer (perhaps an Eastern Uniate Church, an ancient Monastic liturgy etc.).

I have been in Catholic Churches in many countries and there are always a wide range of Catholics, from the four corners of the world and of many social stratas. None seem to worry that their Catholic church is Catholic! Yet here we have a nun seemingly chuffed that she is able to point out the wrong attitude of these Catholic ladies!

As always, I must say that I am no expert in cannon law, or a liturgist and my knowledge of Catholicism isn't anywhere near as good as it ought to be. However, all I want -- and I suspect all that most Catholics have wanted, especially when the (spiritual) bulldozers were called into churches in the 70s and 80s -- is for us to have Catholic leaders who promote, protect, espouse and defend Catholicism!

I don't think that's too much to ask!

Many people ask "is the Pope Catholic?" (I won't mention what the bears do...) and we know the answer. Luckily they don't ask us so often about those a little further down the Church hierarchy, those who (as just one example) allow "homosexual Masses" which, in the official church hall afterwards, promote groups which endorse homosexual activity, promiscuity and general celebration of the Sodomitic worldview.

Please! Just let us have Catholic priests, Catholic bishops and Catholic religious and laity who are prepared to defend and espouse the Catholic Faith! So many of us Catholics are weak, frail and lukewarm (and I include myself) and this is why we need strong Catholic leaders to remind us what our duties are.

We don't need empty, Protestant rooms with drums and rattles (albeit hidden under a table).

The writer should be gently reminded that even at the Mass Rocks in Ireland, under the terror of the Elizabthan Protestant yoke, the Catholics gathered would know they were celebrating the Catholic Mass (methinks her idea of a Mass Rock would include guitars and drums). And there wouldn't have been a rattle in sight!

The Mass Rock - An Irish Poem

*I am reminded of Hilaire Belloc's book The Path to Rome. He details the pilgrimage taken through France to Rome. When he stopped to hear Mass he would recognise and be able to join in the Latin chants etc. When a friend followed Belloc's footsteps he found Churches in which he could not follow the Mass as it was in French or Italian... luckily no Tagalog, Esperanto or indeed Klingon! ;)


  1. No need to go to the Orkneys, Gareth; Wales has its own beautiful Italian PoW chapel near Henllan, Newcastle Emlyn.
    Great, great post!

  2. I have tried clicking on the image but to no avail.

  3. Thank God for this article. I couldn't agree more. As a Southamerican catholic, I'm used to praying in all sorts of Catholic churches but even the most spartan ones, do still have Stations of the Cross and images like modern wooden crucifixes and the like.
    I certainly don't understand why it is that many catholic churches in the UK have to imitate their protestant equivalent as if they were embarrassed of the beautiful catholic imaginery, it really makes me both sad and a bit enraged, as if we catholics had no right to worship our own way.
    BTW, I've seen more imaginary in High Anglican churches than in many Catholic ones in the UK.
    God bless you, you have a beautiful blog.
    Merry Christmas from Buenos Aires, Argentina!