Thursday, August 25, 2005

De Facto Mainline Protestants?

In the debates about liturgy, theology, and when it comes down to social issues such as homosexuality and abortion, and economic teachings, one wonders if a majority of parishes, in the English speaking world, and in probably the West as a whole, have not indeed become, when it comes down to the religous, what people hear from the pulpits, what they know of church teachings much less theology, are de facto mainline Protesant chapels.

Now at this point some people may write about the rotten afthermath of VaticanII, about the radical changes in the liturgy, in poorly formed priests, and they all have points here, but this goes beyond liturgy. I have in fact, seen some parishes that have rather pedestrian liturgy, basic if one can call it it "broad church" Novus Ordo, but still at least try as best they can, authentic church teachings. Now I think that to be fully successful in passing on church teachings and re enforceing theology, the high church approach, either St. Agnes/Brompton Oratory style Novus Ordo or the Tridentine mass is the best, at least some parishes that do not try this approach do try to make an effort to present and teach the Catholic faith.

That said, most of the parishes I have seen, do not even try to make an honest attempt to teach the faith. While I do not deny that their sacraments are valid, because no doubt in the vast majority of cases they area, their liturgical life, what is heard from the pulpit, to what people see in the bullitens or literature in the racks in the front of the church, they do not even come close to being fed church teachings. Like in mainline Protestant churches, there seems to be a fairly big push on social justice, it seems rather than the 10 commandments being pushed, it is the golden rule being pushed, and it seems that Jesus and his teachings are distilled to "He was a nice guy!". The sense of sin seems to be gone, and in fact, when I first returned to the faith a few years back, imagine my confusion when in the confessional, a priest told me the only sin is when one sins against the Holy Sprit(The fundamental option theory). In one of the greatest ironies, even many of the most progressive of mainline liturgical denominations, such as ELCA Lutherans and Epsicopalins, the quality of the liturgy is quite a bit better than what one would find in most Catholic parishes.

I consider myself lucky I managed to overcome this kind of enviroment when I first came back to the faith to find authentic church teachings and to get to know traditions of the faith. For someone who grew up well after Vatican II, well after the 60s and saw the afthermath of what took place, someone who like most of us saw fallen bahavior as the norm, there is little to sustain, there is little of substance to sustain oneselves in such enviroments, and it is of little surprise that many parishes, same as mainline protestant denominations have a greying population base, because if you tell people they are ok, if they tell there is no sin, then what is the goal for people to strive for, what is there to lift people up out of whatever situation they are currently in? What would the point be of going to mass at all?


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