Monday, March 19, 2007

HOW TO FIX THE CHURCH

Most (not all) readers of this site when they are upset with the “the Church” tend to be agitated by the actions of individuals within her rather than with the Church per se. That is, they love the faith and are disheartened and/or discouraged by the way those who claim to believe practice it. As Avery Cardinal Dulles (who, before he became a cardinal spilled coffee me – an interesting story) said, “In a secular society such as our own, consistently orthodox Catholics will constitute a minority, not only in the society at large but even, I would say, within their religious community. The majority are carried along by the tide of public opinion, which they receive daily in large doses through the popular media of communication.”


So what are the frustrated, faithful orthodox to do? Report every liturgical abuse to the bishop? Call every Christian who does not hold every tenant of the Church on the carpet? Become the “Catholic Police?” There are times and circumstances in which one of these actions might be appropriate, but over all they do not work. Neither do committees, clubs, programs, initiatives, task forces, or banners, at least not in the long run. They might help, but they in and of themselves have never, do not, and will not in the future bring true, lasting, positive change in the Church. Father Benedict Groeschel in his book “Reform of Renewal” points in the only direction that has ever been effective and lasting in the Church; personal renewal.


When one sets out to make the Church more orthodox by fixing others, the effect is rarely great. The peak moments in the renewal of the faith has always been when individual men and women have taken faith seriously, reformed their lives and conformed themselves to Christ. Through study they knew about Christ and His Church, through deep prayer they come to know Christ, and through JOY they made that truth attractive.


It is so much easier to fix others than ourselves because of our ability to observe. (Again the benefit of having a spiritual director.) But a helpful exercise is to imagine yourself as a Church. C. T. says, “If you want to know about a business or institution, don’t look at their mission statement, look at their budget.” We each have a budget of time, talent, and resources. How are they spent? Would someone looking at our budget think we were Catholic? That we were serious about it? That we are striving to become a saint? Where do our resources go? (Being lent and tax preparation season, it is an advantageous time to contemplate this.) How is our time proportioned? How are our talents focused? Are our lives attracting others to Christ? Do we resemble the thankfulness and joy of the saints and martyrs?



Saint Francis was given the mandate to “Save my Church,” not to establish a religious order. So how exactly did he save the Church? By radically following Christ which in turn attracted others to him, and through him to Christ. Look at his budget line compared to his return. No programs, no banners, no pep rallies; and no immediate results, it took time, but the results that he garnered were great and last to this day.

10 comments:

Habemus Papam said...

I couldn't agree more Fr. V with what you are saying. It's so hard to get others to sometimes see what the Church has to offer when they won't help themselves with following the sacraments, going to church, or reading about why the church does what it does....often times they seem to just give up and release themselves from the Church completely or as some like to say they become "Cafeteria Catholics." Its harder to take a deep look within ones self to find out why one doesn't agree with the Church. Watching how someone lives their life toward Christ and with Christ is much more powerful than looking at banners and starting reforms groups! PAX.

Lily said...

Amen.

sattvicwarrior said...

dude. you say about ST FRANCIS!!!...
[he] radically following christ which in turn attracted others to him, and through him to christ. look at his budget line compared to his return. no programs, no banners, no pep rallies; and no immediate results, it took time, but the results that he garnered were great and last to this day.
THATS TOTALLY COOL .

DO YOU THINK ALL THOSE ARROGANT OBESE OVERDRESSED WAR LORDS IN ROME IN THE PAPAL HIERARCHY WHO DROLL AT THE THOUGHT OF MAKING IT TO THE TOP EVER HEARD OF ST FRANCIS AND HIS MISSION?????
DID THEY SOME WHERE ALONG THE WAY LOSE THE MEANING OF WHAT CHRIST CONSCIOUSNESS IS ALL ABOUT AS THEY TRAIPSE AROUND THE GILDED AND MARBLED HALLS DECIDING AT EVERY WHIM WHAT PEOPLE SHOULD DO OR NOT DO TO SAVE THEIR SOULS AND HOW TO FILL THE COFFERS as THE FALSE SENSE OF HUMILITY IS COVERED OVER WITH PILES OF BURNING INSENSE ??
DO YOU THINK BY WEARING RED AS THE CARDINALS DO IT MAKES THEM CLOSER TO GOD AND SEPARATES THEM FROM THE SPIRITUAL SEEKER ??
ST FRANCIS MAY NOT HAVE HAD A “ FASHION SENSE”. BUT HE SEEMS LIKE ONE COOL DUDE!!!!!!!
HE DIDN’T NEED RELIGION[ OUT DATED CENTURIES OF WARPED DOGMA] . HE FOUND GOD!!!!!!!. A TOTAL INTERNAL PROCESS.

Fr. V said...

SATTVICWARRIOR! I thought you disappeared! Good to hear from you! I think of you everyday during my rosary!

I don't think I would paint all of any people - including cardinals - with such a broad paint brush. I don't think anyone is sitting in an office at the Vatican surrounded by piles of gold going, "Ooooh! I wonder what I can make people do next?" It does make for much better movie scripts however!

God bless!

sattvicwarrior said...

I thought you disappeared! Good to hear from you!
THANKS DUDE!!!!!!!
I think of you everyday during my rosary!
NOTHING LIKE " GOOD" VIBES. I APPRECIATE THAT !!!!

I don't think I would paint all of any people - including cardinals - with such a broad paint brush.
STRANGE THO HOW THE "SEE" PAINTS EVERYONE WITH THE SAME " BRUSH" you speak of THAT I USE. !!!![ at least from my observation].

I don't think anyone is sitting in an office at the Vatican surrounded by piles of gold going, "Ooooh! I wonder what I can make people do next?"
YOUR BEING SILLY. THERE IS FAR TO MUCH OF THIER OWN EGO FOR THEM TO WADE THROUGH TO ALLOW THAT TO EVER HAPPEN.
It does make for much better movie scripts however!
AND PERPETUATION OF FABLES AND MYTHS!!!!.[ as exhibited throughtout history of church doctrine]
THANKS FOR THE GOOD THOUGHTS THO:). mine are of the same for you

Adoro te Devote said...

Fr. V, can I just say that you are a powerful witness?

And it is true that committees, etc. do nothing. I was not converted by a committee..in fact, I went out of my way to avoid "groups" of any sort. But when I had questions, I went to individuals, and now that I'm back "home" and speaking to groups, I've found that it's the individuals who can best recieve the message and have their questions directly answered...when they're ready to ask.

The power of one person...is amazing. Look at Mother Teresa! St. Frances (as you pointed out), St. Therese of Lisieux....etc.

What's really amazing, though, is that it's not even one person...it is that one person reflecting and just letting God act THROUGH them as they completely surrender to Him.

And there you go, briniging up the spiritual director thing again. I've been agoizing over that decision for months..to get one, not to get one...and I've determined that although I don't want one, I need one thus the ball is now rolling.

May I ask for your prayers in that regard? I sent a note to someone I very much trust (a priest) and I'm waiting for his answer/referral - whatever is appropriate. (In reality he's probably sitting back and saying, "Yeah, 'bout time you asked that question!") LOL

As usual, great post!

Fr. V said...

Prayers coming your way!

uncle jim said...

and, i am glad to see such an eclectic band of groupies forming at this site ... and that is not specific to only those in this set of comments, but throughout. as fr v was getting this web log going, i knew it would grow in readership because the ideas and comments are real - though it might be that some of we commentators aren't.

Fr. V said...

Uncle Jim!

I wonder where you've been!!!

That last statement was interesting. Hmmm . . .

uncle jim said...

reading you every day ... commenting sparingly ... saving my voice