Contra Mozilla

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

TMM: On Destroying Vocations

Ask, and you shall receive. A few days ago, I mentioned that I wanted to hear/read Fr. Zuhlsdorf's take on Cardinal Burke's comments about the Church's being overly feminized--and the reaction of a variety of folks to those comments. I also mentioned that he had already posted to the story, but offered little in the way of commentary (this was pre-update).

Well, somebody else delivered (though I give credit to the good father for finding this and pointing his readers, including me, to it). It turns out that another of my favorite current commentators, Prof. Anthony Esolen, has done the good work of defending the Cardinal. And he is pretty much spot on:
I sometimes wonder whether we Catholics actually want vocations to the priesthood. It’s reasonable to judge people’s intentions by their habitual actions. If I do something experimental in one of my college classes, and a host of good students flee the course, I might, if I were stubborn, try it again in modified form. But if it still happens that the good students flee, and I persist in what is an experiment no longer, a reasonable observer may conclude that I don’t care if they leave. It won’t matter if I express my supposed intentions all the time, crying out, “This course needs far more students in it, and far more of the best!” Why, I might pray for those students to enroll and to stay enrolled, just as reasonably as I might pray that I could keep banging my head against the wall and not have headaches. In fact, if my actions not only continue to fail me, but begin to hurt many others also, and I still persist, that reasonable observer may attribute to me more than incompetence or indifference. He may conclude that I really want the bad result; I am glad of it.

Our summer diocese, serving more than one hundred thousand Catholics, has no seminarians. I mean that literally: not one. They have ordained two men in the last ten years, one of whom has left the priesthood to get married. Churches are closing everywhere. The stalwart priest who is our pastor has had to say Mass for five churches scattered over twenty miles. The farther-flung diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska, serving not quite one hundred thousand Catholics, has forty eight seminarians, at least two priests in every parish, no churches being shut down, and plenty of schools. The obvious question is, “Why doesn’t everyone try at least a few of the things they do in Lincoln?” Or, more properly put, “Why doesn’t everyone stop doing nine or ten of the things they never have done in Lincoln?”

He then goes on to summarize a few things which can be done to further destroy vocations, not to mention (frankly) Mass attendance, or for that matter the faith of the average pew-sitter. The list includes:
  • Dilute the faith
  • Strip the altars
  • Treat the Sacrament (Communion) like snacktime
  • Be effeminate
  • Shut down the schools
  • Marginalize men
I can add a few more things, most obviously treating the sacrament of Reconciliations as therapy rather than penance, but I am up against the clock. Related.

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