Tuesday, December 7, 2010

An Honest Question.

Do you agree with the following statement?

Dogmatic, dictatorial churches do not resound with today's spirituality, and young people are not clamoring to join them. So sending a message that says, in essence, "Follow my rules or go to hell" might be a good way of retaining older parishioners used to such harsh boundaries. But as elderly parishioners die off, they take the church's message with them.

It's from this article by Bonnie Erbe. Her basic point is that the Church is dying off, and it's because it espouses certain beliefs and has a celibate priesthood.

For a moment, let's ignore the colossal stupidity of her overall thesis, namely, that Truth can be whimsically sacrificed in favor of popularity. Just look at the paragraph above. What do you think?

I'm personally a bit torn over the issue. I see the hipster churches roping in lots of people (young and old). "Today's spirituality" is a system of egoism driven by good marketing and vacuous, Oprahish, platitudes. It is utterly bankrupt of substance, yet it seems to be thriving in many circles. Yes, I know that it frequently changes faces, but that's beside the point. It continues to grow. Don't believe me? How many preacher channels are on your satellite dish, with pretty much every person on them specializing in "today's spirituality"?

On the other hand, I look at the places where I go to the traditional liturgies or even the Pauline Masses with strict doctrinairians at the helm. There are youth all over the place. They far outnumber the elderly there. Their priests are all so young, and there seem to be more of them all the time. In so many occasions, it seems that Pope Benedict has young people hanging on his every word. Granted, these are folks who are already Catholic, but I certainly can't see any of them leaving the Church for the Erbe alternatives.

What's it like where you are?


haskovec said...

It's not true for me. I want a church that clings to truth and dogma and not that is wishy-washy with what is trendy.

Philip said...

I attend a conservative Polish parish. While we don't have a Tridentine Mass, there are plenty of traditional rituals including daily prayer of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.

Unfortunately, this parish can be described as nothing other than dying.

We occasionally attend a Franciscan parish that is much more modern in its interpretation of the liturgy. The musicians play guitars and are often seated at the side of the front altar, there's lots of focus on everyone feeling welcomed, lots of Haugen and Haas, usually the only male on the altar is the priest. Many more young people attend this parish, but they don't really participate in the masses.

I don't see these young priests who you're referring to, but I hope that they're out there. The Church might be better off losing a lot of cultural Catholics for a while and closing some parishes if it means that the remaining Church is stronger and we start to see an increase in vocations again. With no vocations, there will be no Church.

Overall, I'm pretty pessimistic about the Church's future, but I don't think it's because of the reasons in the quoted paragraph in your post.

Throwback said...

Interesting items.

The young priests I'm referring to are all in TLM parishes or in rural backwaters. To use Louisiana as an example, the Diocese of Shreveport was a very hipster diocese. It's also produced something like 1 seminarian in the last decade.

Places like Lincoln and Phoenix are allegedly churning out seminarians. They are way more traditional.

Again, I go back and forth on all this. I know that we can't sacrifice for popularity, so this might be another example of things reaching that point where they don't get better.

The definitive word for that, as mentioned throughout Scripture, is "remnant."

Mark of the Vineyard said...

Here where I live (Portugal), it's hard to find doctrinally sound priests. The seminarians that actually are traditional minded (i.e., that adhere to the teaching of the Church) are generally threatened with being expelled from the semminary if they get too uppity. Hopefully it will get better...someday.