Students of history who have studied cause and effect know that Barack Hussein Obama's speech on Thursday, May 19 could very well be the beginning of Armageddon. Time and prayer will tell what will happen in the future. But for the present we are faced with exactly what St. Paul warned of in 2 Timothy 4: 3-5, "For there shall be a time when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires they will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears: and will turn away indeed their hearing from the truth but will be turned to fables. But be thou vigilant, labor in all things, dod the work of an evangelist, fulfil thy ministry. Be sober."
Just how sober are we? Or are we drunk with fables? It would seem so with all the brouhaha about what will happen on this day. You see today is the day some eschatologists are saying the world will end, or that Jesus Christ is coming back, or that earthquakes will rock the earth, or that a comet is going to hit, or that someone will die. Well, the last point is true and that may very well be the crux of it all. We're all going to die someday. When? Only God knows for sure. Next week we will present John Gregory's feature on preparation for death and how so many have been deprived of that grace in the graceless conciliar church of Vatican II. We will include with that a repeat of our feature on Extreme Unction from our series on Catholicism Made Simple.
Jesus warned us in Sacred Scriptures that there would be false prophets and today we're inundated with them. Soap boxes in the square have become million dollar enterprises where people pour money into the coffers to make non-profits very profitable. That you will not find in the traditional movement. We are all stone-broke poor and have only the consolation that "Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven" (St. Matthew 5: 3). There can be no better consolation than that.
Yet, traditional chapels are not teeming with souls because it means taking the narrow, hard path rather than getting on the wide freeway that promises the world. One example is our own small traditional chapel here in San Diego, Our Lady of Fatima, which averages 60-70 parishioners every Sunday in the North Chapel at Liberty Station beneath the flight path of Lindbergh Field. The church easily seats 250 but we can only fill it a fourth. No wonder there is a shortage of true priests because there is a shortage of souls who want the true Mass, want to live as Catholics should, want to follow the narrow path that leads to eternal life. In contrast, a few blocks away stands the new age Rock 'church' in a modern high-tech arena that averages 10,000 people on a Sunday! Disheartening to say the least. But Christ encourages us on "for many are called, but few are chosen."
And it is the chosen who we address in this commentary for even in preaching to the choir there is cacophony for all are not singing in the same key. Hearts have hardened, bishops dig in and will not hear of uniting for the sake of souls. Pockets of traditional sites maintain they are the only place where the true Church exists and deride others who are seeking to save their souls in the best way they know possible - by following the sensus Catholicus passed down and preserved by noble men who dared to defy the barbarians who usurped the buildings, trappings and offices of the hierarchy of the true Church and didn't even have the decency to call themselves other than Catholics. That - Catholic - the conciliarists definitely are not. The world has such a grip on souls today that it shouldn't surprise anyone that 99% of the population still believe that the Catholic Church today is the same as it always was.
We know that is not possible for the true Church founded by Christ upon the Rock of Peter cannot err for she is the Mystical Bride. But what we have seen over the past fifty years and counting is anything but pure. Heresy of every kind has been unleashed just as satan said he'd do in the mystical vision His Holiness Pope Leo XIII had, which prompted him to compose the powerful Prayer to St. Michael. It prompted his successor Pope St. Pius X to establish for every priest the solemn Oath Against Modernism to back up his infallible encyclical on faith and morals Pascendi Domenici Gregis in condemning the heresy of heresies, something the conciliar church has grievously promoted and practiced in direct defiance of the perennial, infallible Magisterium of the Church. Yet so many continue to call the heretics and apostates who have perpetuated satan's agenda as true popes? Go figure.
No wonder a man named paul vi dared remove Christ from the altar with his Protestant 'eucharistic celebration' that contained no true Presence for it altered and sacked the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. No wonder he did away with the Prayer to St. Michael, did away with the Oath Against Modernism, gave away the tri-regno tiara in abandoning God and embracing satan. No wonder he boasted that the smoke of satan had reached the sanctuary. We traditional Catholics know this, but few others do.
We've tried our best with The DailyCatholic over the years to reach the world in shouting the truth. So also have several other sites, most notably Dr. Thomas A. Droleskey who remains the most prolific true Catholic writer in the world today even if only a few recognize that. Traditio tries to keep tabs on a daily basis of just how bad the conciliar or newchurch really is and have documented such as has Tradition in Action who constantly publish proof of sedevacantism, yet don't dare back their words with that admission. Go figure. There are the official CMRI site and SSPV site, Traditional Catholic Sermons, various other sites who publish periodically such as Four Marks, Traditional Mass, and Novus Ordo Watch, but only a few others that can be trusted. How can you trust the SSPX site when they sway with the winds of opinion and purge their sites of words of their own founder and previous criticism of the conciliar church ? Why? To please man. Please read Galatians 1: 8-11. How can you trust home alone sites that condemn everyone else? How can you trust sites that lie and twist the truths to fit their particular views while still claiming to be traditional. How can you trust some guy running a plethora of sites who claims he knows who the real true pope is in the succession of Cardinal Siri, but won't tell anyone else because it's a secret and the man won't be revealed until it's time, but if you don't believe that you're condemned with the rest of them? We maintain our challenge to anyone who accuses us of being in heresy or apostates to prove such slander for we stand by what we have published since 2004 as the unmitigated truth and in full accord with the infallible, perennial Magisterium of the Church. That is something we guarantee and back up. That's important when you realize 80% of what is on the web today is fabricated or exaggerated. But who's to know? Heck, 45% of the population consider Josef Ratzinger a traditionalist. Yeah, go figure! So we know right there you can't depend on public opinion for getting the truth.
Yet other than Traditio, the CMRI who also publish the quarterly Reign of Mary under the direction of Bishop Mark Pivarunas, Traditional Mass site overseen by Bishop Daniel Dolan, Catholic Voice operated by Father Kevin Vaillancourt, and the SSPV which is Bishop Clarence Kelly's island, none of the other regular traditional sites are governed by clergy. And yet those just mentioned are updated rarely. Where are the faithful to turn? To their own parishes? Will they get what they need in their Sunday sermons? The sad fact is with the same predicament of the sites: rarely.
We got into a discussion the other day about Bishop Fulton J. Sheen and how he took the medium of black and white television and turned it into a national pulpit in the 50's and 60's. We wondered where the Bishop Sheens were today. We came to the sad conclusion that there are no dynamic speakers in the traditional movement. Oh, there are a few priests who give great sermons, however, unless you log on to Gerry Keveaney's inspiring site Traditional Catholic Sermons, you wouldn't know because other than Gerry's site there is no real medium to reach the countless souls out there who remain so confused.
In this age of high tech gadgets and social networking where every Tom, Dick and Harry has a computer and every kid is a whiz on texting, wouldn't there be some way to pool resources and cooperation and produce a weekly sermon or pastoral from one or more of our several traditional bishops to communicate with the remnant, so to speak, and boost not only morale, but educate and inspire, and maybe even entertain. Yes, entertain. That's why the Protestants and New Agers are growing so because they're entertained but not fed.
Now before you string me up or tar and feather me, please hear out my rationale of how entertaining can feed the soul. This doesn't mean dancing up the aisle or telling jokes, or having theme days as the Novus Ordo has become famous for... or is that infamous?! Cyndi brought up a point a few months ago and it has merit. Protestants and New Agers, such as those who attend the Rock down the street from our parish (and take all our parking spaces), go for one reason: to feel good. And these non-Catholic preachers know how to make their congregations feel good and stir them into a frenzy where they'll hand over their first born if asked, not to mention their deeds and bank accounts. Whereas traditional Catholics go to Holy Mass to make God feel good. After all we are here on this planet for one reason: "to know God, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him for ever in Heaven." That's basic Baltimore Catechism that every student was weaned on prior to Vatican II. If we know Him, love Him and serve Him then we make Him feel good. At the same time, we are human with that cursed fallen human nature and we need to be motivated and inspired, as well as kept informed on how to navigate through the turbulent waves swirling around us in these tumultuous times.
Yes, "Tumultuous Times" is the title of a book that came out seven years ago by the Fathers Dominic and Francisco Radecki, CMRI and since then there has been a virtual desert of guidance for traditional Catholics in their efforts to evangelize. Few books have been published and even few sermons delivered on why the conciliar church that calls itself Catholic cannot be Catholic. Truth be told, the only regular avenues available to Catholics around the world today are the few web publications that are uncompromising on the truths and traditions of holy Mother Church and give no quarter to the counterfeit church of conciliarism formed at Vatican II and long plotted during the time of His Holiness Pope Pius IX, Popes Leo XIII and St. Pius X. I daresay, had the Fatima messages been presented to any of those three, Russia indeed would have been consecrated and perhaps it's even possible Mary's Immaculate Heart may very well have triumphed by now. But ifs and buts are not realistic and we must deal with what is. And it isn't pretty.
As we were saying, other than a few websites that publish daily or weekly, even monthly, what else do the faithful have? And in 90% of these sites, they are run by laity. Where are the priests and bishops, the religious to evangelize? Yes, we know they are busy in ministering to souls, but are you telling us that they couldn't tape their sermons or Mp3 them and make them widely available to all on the net? Why can't each parish set up a camera and tape for YouTube, if you will, the sermon of their pastor every week and share it with the world. We will be glad to promote traditional sermons on this site and we know Gerry will gladly carry them if they are true to all the Catholic Church teaches.
Yet, this serves another point that few are willing or afraid to admit and that is that many of the sermons given put their congregations to sleep, or the sermons don't tackle the meat and potatoes of the menu most Catholics must digest today to deal in the world while assuring they are not of it. In short, most of the sermons are boring and too long. Yeah, I hear the boos, but can you hear the silent boos each week?
I know, I know, I should talk with long editorials and intros on the main page that sometimes are an article in itself. I stand guilty. But I also seek to wake the orator within our bishops, pastors and priests to examine their techniques and content and ask if reading one's sermon or going on endlessly on esoteric points that prompt the rest of the faithful to drift off is making God feel good. If they are not reaching the faithful, what are they doing the rest of the week in preparing their sermons? I know this may sound harsh but who is pastoring the pastors? Who is monitoring the priests to make sure they continue to practice their pitch, to know tone and impact so that their sermons will have impact. If a sermon has impact, believe me it entertains. And that's what I mean by entertain. Perhaps it's a matter of semantics; perhaps entertain isn't the best word because of what we equate it to, but the definition of entertain is "to hold the attention of pleasantly or agreeably."
Maybe instead of entertain we should use the word maintain. Does it maintain? Does it move one to action, to want to be the best one can be, to go that extra mile for God and for our fellow man? If so it maintains and entertains. In all honesty, there are very few orators in the traditional movement who do that and that is a sad commentary and quite possibly one of the reasons why there is so little growth in the ranks of the remnant.
Yes, traditional Catholics attend Holy Mass not because they have to, but because they want to...want to please God, to make God feel good because if God feels good about what you do, I can guarantee you'll feel good. Yet at the same time the experience doesn't have to be grueling. Our priests today have enough knowledge and experience to either memorize or capsulize in points their sermons. They don't have to practically read their sermons to the faithful. There is nothing more disconcerting than to watch a pastor reading his sermon as if they are just words with little emphasis and very little eye contact.
It reminds me of a few college courses I took where moss grew on the lecterns as clueless tenured professors droned on with little care for what impact they were having on the class and expected us to ace the course when they couldn't even pronounce words correctly or make cogent points. Contrastly, I had a professor in the seminary Father Francis Zachman, OMI, bless his soul, who constantly entertained without telling jokes or getting off subject, but threw himself body and soul into whatever he taught and we were disappointed when the bell rang. We could listen to him for hours.
That's what we need in the traditional movement - bishops, priests, and pastors who we could listen to for hours and learn from. Those who can't do that should not talk for more than ten minutes in their sermons for I guarantee the first point they make is what the faithful cue in on and if more is added, he's lost them by rambling on with too many points. Can you say 'overload'?
Yet I venture to say from the orators I admire over the years that if the preacher knows his subject matter he'll speak from the heart and the words will flow. Every point will have impact and the difference between a true orator and someone speaking from the pulpit is felt in the pews. They know. Too many are too polite or too afraid to say anything to their pastors so consider this my speaking on their behalf. Great orators are not born, they're made. And they're fashioned in the seminaries with speech classes and diction. In this age of communications, the saddest fact is that our consecrated traditional priests and bishops are not communicating to the faithful on a regular basis.
Yes, there are some bishops who are outstanding orators, the same goes for priests, but the majority are dull and boring. There I said it. How many can disagree with that? In our journey back to tradition we spent a few years in SSPX parishes and I can honestly tell you out of five different priests, not one of them inspired me. It sure didn't inspire our sons who, we fear, equated going to Mass with having to sit through such long boring sermons and once they reached 18 they were free to do what they wanted and no amount of cajoling could prompt them to accompany us.
This is a problem today in the traditional movement because, other than the typical few large Catholic families who have remained true and are models of times past, there are very few activities or opportunities for young Catholics to meet other Catholics and form friendships that would hopefully result in courting with the goal of matrimony. Other than a few pockets where traditional academies exist, where are traditional Catholic young women going to meet traditional Catholic young men and vice versa? Very few. The young may come to one or two Masses upon invitation, but unless their faith is rock solid, they're not going to return because for them the Mass alone is not enough by itself. Yes, for us who are older it is, but think back to when you were their age. It is a desert for most and they seek to find like minds elsewhere, thus deleting the ranks of possible parishioners who would foster and perpetuate the faith. While it is encouraging to see young families attending, there are alas so few. Meanwhile, those attending fall into a false security that they have their Mass so why bother with bringing others in. Believe me, we have seen it in so many parishioners over the last ten years.
In short there is a lack of the spirit of evangelization in the traditional movement and that has to begin at the top and trickle down. If we do not have bishops, pastors and priests to actively evangelize, to speak out strongly against the evils so prevalent today in Rome and Washington D.C. and elsewhere, if they don't stand up for what they believe and be willing to make waves, we'll all eventually sink into an ennui of ehh! We need our bishops, pastors and priests to be more dynamic, to utilize the mediums available and not be afraid to speak out. What have they to fear? The IRS? Hardly when blatant politicians speak from pulpits in Protestant churches. The diocesan structures? Hardly for they are no different than the Lutheran or Presbyterian or Anglican or Baptist church down the block. Come to think of it, the Protestants can often be more reverent and much more dynamic than the conciliar clans clamoring in their lodges. No, one should never worry about what a conciliar 'bishop' would say or do. Let 'em attack. It's our responsibility to draw them out and put them on the defense. Make them prove they are Catholic. They can't. Yet we're afraid to confront them. No wonder everything is so static. No wonder Catholics who know something is seriously wrong continue to go along in order to get along because they haven't been convinced they're in the wrong pew.
So what is the answer? Bishops, pastors and priests need to know how to reach the faithful. That means changing tactics. For the most part our bishops, pastors and priests have been on the defensive in explaining why they have chosen the path they have. What they need to do is go on the offensive by utilizing the mediums available today to communicate. And to communicate they must know their subject matter backwards and forwards, not something they rush together Saturday night, but something they can rattle off with feeling and impact. That's what will reach us. That's what will have impact. Oh, I said that already didn't I? Well it needs to be said again. They need to review themselves, watch, listen to their words and work on improving, work on knowing their subject where they don't have to read anything unless they must read a short - and I emphasize that word - short quote from a saint or Scripture that ties in with the point they're trying to make.
One of the great casualties of Vatican II was the loss of true minor and major seminaries. True, there are traditional minor seminaries today, but the major scholasticates have been subjected to rushing them out because of the need for priests. Lost in this is the extensive training in oratory that in the past would turn out priests polished in speech and delivery. I can remember where it was drummed into us in the minor seminary that we should never read our sermons. Never unless it was a letter from a bishop or pastor to the parish. Other than that, make a notecard of points and go from that, something that, from our experience, Father Casimir Puskorius, CMRI, Father Benedict Hughes, CMRI and Father John Trough are masters at...others that we have heard over the years, not so much.
Mind you, we are speaking from our personal perspective. If you know of bishops, pastors and priests who you admire for their oratory, please, by all means share it with us so we can share it with our readers. There are countless readers out there in the world - and we're read in over 125 countries - who are starving to hear or see good sermons. We depend on you who have great orators to find someone in your parish to tape these sermons and make them available in YouTube fashion so we can present them to our readers. We assure we will credit all who contribute. That is the way many can help in the evangelization for a bishop, pastor and priest cannot do it by himself and many times they feel that burden that they have to. That's what the laity - the sheep - are for, to support our bishops, pastors and priests and to charitably encourage them to be the best they can be by helping them in whatever way we can. Can you think of a better way than to broadcast their sermons to the world...if they are powerful and will touch souls? You know, entertain and maintain with impact.
Those who are not as dynamic? Don't give up on them, but help them. True charity is to be honest, to tell them in as tactful a way as possible what they need to hear, not always what they want to hear. But for the sake of reaching more souls and keeping the souls already in the fold, isn't it worth it to make this a priority in your parish? Some truly need to work on their deliveries and enthusiasm.
There are online courses they can take on their own time that will help them improve as speakers. Help them find these aids. Since speaking is something they must do at least 52 times a year and many times more, isn't that worth investing the time and money into doing? Parishioners, we're counting on you to wake the thunder, so they will storm souls with words and delivery that will make God feel good and go a long way to increasing the flock and assuring perpetuation of the true Faith.
Just imagine if every bishop, pastor and priest ratcheted up their techniques and speaking skills how many more souls they would touch. Imagine if they really put their heart into what they wanted to convey to the faithful. Imagine if they were able to dissect the news and garbage spewed on the streets and offices today and deliver a short, powerful antidote to the message most are getting. Do you think that would have impact? We do.
That's why we've taken the time to try to rally the bishops, pastors and priests to examine their own consciences and skills. We all examine our conscience every day before saying an Act of Contrition. Why is it the pupils have to teach the teachers? Maybe it's part of the topsy-turvy world we find ourselves in over the past fifty years where good is bad, virtue is vice and if you want to be liked, you'll like it or be an outcast. Folks, when it comes to making God feel good, there's nothing wrong with being an outcast. But there is little motivation to heed the calling to carry our cross, to be His disciples, if we are not motivated.
That is the sad truth. So on this day when the buzz is that May 21 has arrived and a few kooks have convinced media wags that this is it - no more tomorrow - and the media scarfs it up as must see news which will be forgotten once tomorrow does come, let's take hold of our senses, appreciate that as Catholics in the state of Sanctifying Grace we're ready any time God so deigns to call us home - but let us long to want others to share in that reward. Instead there is an isolationism that stifles conversions. Why? Let us ask ourselves if we would ever have reached this stage had our shepherds been a little more attentive to their flocks back in the '50's, in the 60's, in the '70's, in the '80's, in the '90's, in the first decade of the third millennium and today in 2011.
We close with St. Paul's words again from 2 Timothy 4: 2, "Preach the word, be instant in season, out of season, reprove, entreat, rebuke with all patience and doctrine." Perhaps that is the best definition of entertain and maintain. After all, we are the sheep who baa for nourishment, the kind that is chockful of substance and sustenance from our shepherds. We ask only for them to listen to those who have to listen to them every Sunday. Help God feel good. Feed your sheep from your hearts with heart. We are the sheep who want to baa, not boo.