PopeWatch: Anthony Esolen

 

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

 

If the Pope is interested in increasing vocations to the priesthood, he could do worse than to read a post by Professor Anthony Esolen at Crisis Magazine in which he recites the methods by which dioceses can ensure that their priesthood ordinations will remain minute:

 

Dilute the faith. Fighters want something to fight for. Make sure there is nothing to fight for. Do not preach the full doctrine of the Church. Never speak about the terrible sins of our age. Be more sensitive about offending a couple of the people who still show up for Mass, than about offending God. Cut the sixth commandment out of the ten. While you are at it, cut out the second, the third, and the ninth too.

Equate Christian “charity” with rendering to Caesar what is Caesar’s, God’s, your own, your children’s, and your community’s. Assume that everybody who is not named Hitler is going to heaven, because some middling bit of natural pleasantness is enough to please the Almighty. “Be nice,” said Jesus, “even as your Uncle Ronnie was nice,” your divorced Uncle Ronnie who lived with his girl friend, but was good to dogs and small children that were not his to take care of. Lower the bar so that even a moral cripple could fall over it, and at the same time make it seem as if the cripple’s feat of acrobatics, rather than the grace of God, will earn him a place in heaven. Never suggest that the faith is a matter of eternal life or death.

Turn the Sacrament into snack time. Get rid of any remaining altar rails. Make sure that everybody takes the Sacrament into his hands, like a fortune cookie. Tell the people to stand afterwards. Go as far as you can to prevent people from kneeling during Mass. Make it as difficult as possible for people to receive the sacrament of confession. Treat it as insignificant. If somebody does want the sacrament, roll your eyes and make sure that the penitent knows how much it annoys you. Don’t take the penitent’s sin seriously. In fact, give the penitent the impression that he can go on and commit the same sin with impunity. In this way you will make it likelier that a moose will amble down Main Street than that a sin-burdened soul will seek you out, or that a healthy line of them will be making their way to the confessional. And, while you are at it, make sure there are no confessionals. Turn them into closets for brooms, mops, and bleach.

Strip the altars. Are there paintings in your church? Cover them with whitewash, or take them down. Is there an old high altar in the back of the sanctuary? Chop it up and use it for fuel. Better still, tear down two or three old churches and build a new one in the shape of a gymnasium. If you place the stations of the Cross on the side walls, make them so small and ambiguous that no one can tell what they are from more than ten feet away. Put the priest’s chair in the center, at the back wall. Get rid of any trace of genuine folk art, or of the great artistic heritage of the Church. Sing twaddle instead. Wet sloppy twaddle.

Shut down your schools. Give them away to the government to manage, as they have done in Canada. Hire secularists to teach there, or, better, Catholics who hate the Church. If you have an all-male high school, turn it into a co-ed school. If you have a boys’ basketball program, and you don’t have the money for a girls’ basketball program, shut it down. Put RCIA into the hands of laymen of dubious learning and piety. Do the same for religion classes in school. Try to make sure that your classes in history or English will be just like those taught anywhere else. Make Catholic education into public education with holy water—as a stalwart in the battle to restore Catholicity to Catholic schools has put it to me most trenchantly.

Be effeminate. Get rid of every single hymn that has anything to do with Christian soldiership. Castrate the rest of the hymns. Or, better, favor hymns that make Jesus into a kind of safe sweet Boyfriend, with whom you can make out on the couch now and in heaven later. Let the music be led by women, especially women who like to be seen and heard performing it. Put the hand-raising cantor up front, to upstage the priest and Christ. Let girls do silly dance routines up and down the aisles. If you can, have five or six girls do that, in the company of one boy whose mother has obviously compelled his attendance, and who stands there gritting his teeth and fuming. Favor any musical instrument except the organ. Let the piano player tickle the keys like a hired performer at a bar, so that the communicants can, as they return to their pews, slip a fiver into the hat, right next to the long-stemmed champagne glass. Use as many altar girls as possible. Discourage the boys from joining. Give them nothing important to do. Use as many women lectors as possible. In fact, once Mass has become too bland for girls themselves, use the old ladies as acolytes, busying about the altar as if they were laying out the tablecloth and silverware for a party.

Never suggest that the Church needs men for anything. Make “man” into an obscenity. Never suggest that fathers and mothers play complementary roles in the family. Never suggest that Jesus had something important in mind when He chose twelve men as his brothers. Suggest instead that to be a genuine Christian, a man has to stop being a man. Buy the silly feminist notion that Christian women have been “oppressed” for nearly two thousand years.

Go here to read the rest.  For some of the powers that be in the Church during the past half century, the lack of  vocations has been a feature, not a bug

 

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13 Comments

  1. Thomas Carlyle was right. “Forms which grow round a substance, if we rightly understand that, will correspond to the real nature and purport of it, will be true, good; forms which are consciously put round a substance, bad. I invite you to reflect on this. It distinguishes true from false in Ceremonial Form, earnest solemnity from empty pageant, in all human things. There must be a veracity, a natural spontaneity in forms.”

    He adds, “a man preaching from his earnest soul into the earnest souls of men: is not this virtually the essence of all Churches whatsoever? The nakedest, savagest reality, I say, is preferable to any semblance, however dignified. Besides, it will clothe itself with due semblance by and by, if it be real. No fear of that; actually no fear at all. Given the living man, there will be found clothes for him; he will find himself clothes. But the suit-of-clothes pretending that it is both clothes and man–! We cannot “fight the French” by three hundred thousand red uniforms; there must be men in the inside of them! Semblance, I assert, must actually not divorce itself from Reality. If Semblance do, –why then there must be men found to rebel against Semblance, for it has become a lie!”

  2. Thomas Carlyle was right. “Forms which grow round a substance, if we rightly understand that, will correspond to the real nature and purport of it, will be true, good; forms which are consciously put round a substance, bad. I invite you to reflect on this. It distinguishes true from false in Ceremonial Form, earnest solemnity from empty pageant, in all human things. There must be a veracity, a natural spontaneity in forms.”

    He adds, “a man preaching from his earnest soul into the earnest souls of men: is not this virtually the essence of all Churches whatsoever? The nakedest, savagest reality, I say, is preferable to any semblance, however dignified. Besides, it will clothe itself with due semblance by and by, if it be real. No fear of that; actually no fear at all. Given the living man, there will be found clothes for him; he will find himself clothes. But the suit-of-clothes pretending that it is both clothes and man–! We cannot “fight the French” by three hundred thousand red uniforms; there must be men in the inside of them! Semblance, I assert, must actually not divorce itself from Reality. If Semblance do, – why then there must be men found to rebel against Semblance, for it has become a lie!”

  3. “Make it as difficult as possible for people to receive the sacrament of confession. Treat it as insignificant. If somebody does want the sacrament, roll your eyes and make sure that the penitent knows how much it annoys you.”

    Once went to make Confession with my then 10 year old son. Confessions were from 4 – 4:30. Got to the church at 4:10. Priest standing in Church talking to a musician getting ready for 5 pm Mass. Asked if he could hear our confessions. He said no. Even though the time for Confession was as stated, he stopped hearing them as soon as there were no other people in line.

    Such a bad example for my son.

  4. If I understand correctly, the Jesus my Boyfriend genre of hymns is an evangelical vice. Mostly, we get leftovers from the production of Hallmark specials. I have not heard plainchant or polyphony in a Roman-rite Church in ten years.

    Reading between the lines of Andrew Greeley’s memoirs, I’m guessing the American Church was after 1965 crucially influenced in its direction by men harboring a great deal of latent resentment accumulated during their formation. (Greeley himself never had congenial relations with any superior after he graduated from minor seminary, with the exception of Cdl. Meyer, who doted on him).

  5. Art Deco wrote, “I have not heard plainchant or polyphony in a Roman-rite Church in ten years.”

    I am pleased to say that there has been something of a revival in polyphony in France, with a number of choral societies welcoming the opportunity to perform it in churches. They especially favour the early French composers, Guillaume Dufay and Josquin des Prez.

  6. Terrific article by Anthony Esolen!! And he is so right. I remember going to confession years ago after our ‘forward’ thinking Pastor in a Detroit suburb he had removed not only the statues, positioned the choir in front of the altar on a pedestal,and removed the kneelers. It was confession time but no priest available or people waiting. I found him and made a confession and he seemed to suggest that I really had no good reason to be there. Yes, how foolish of me.

  7. I am pleased to say that there has been something of a revival in polyphony in France,

    Fine. Now if more than 3% of the population could be counted on to show up on a typical Sunday….

  8. I have been told “NO” for confession.
    .
    Anthony Esolen’s great work is the word: “pseudogamy” for the gay marriage lie about female husbands and male wives. Perjury.

  9. Enemy #1 are good holy Catholic priests!

    The satanic forces prey upon priests and devour timid lackadaisical priests who have avoided prayer and made a habit of inviting popular culture within the confines of heart and home. Phillip and Michael Dowd’s unfortunate encounters with these poor leaders are testament to the progress the devil makes.

    We are to offer up fasts and prayers for them. If we could see with our own eyes the attacks made by the enemy on these men of God, you wouldn’t be able to sleep. They must have our prayers and sacrifices if they are to survive the promptings of the evil spirits.

  10. What a delight it always is to read Anthony Esolen! It is so pathetic to see some priests becoming low-talent actors “performing” the Mass. And even more pathetic to see hapless girls and occasional boys serving at the altar, clueless as to where to put their hands, or their loose tresses, or to quit twiddling their toes in keds and slippers. How can boys be drawn to such a role, and how can girls not be resentful that they cannot be priests?

  11. Mary De Voe: Precisely. That WAS the point. With a profusion of women “priests” in so many Christian denominations, uninformed and unformed “girl-servers” will not understand why THEY cannot be right up there with Father.

  12. I read this wonderful article the other day and could not comment, dispirited.
    But today I prayed at a wonderful mass offered by a holy and reverent priest and surrounded by prayer warriors. Renewed. I do think we might be on the point of a turn around somehow, a restoration. I am hopeful.
    .
    Our new priest has asked for only male servers. 40 boys from Catholic school expressed interest. Only problem for some was that their parents don’t come to mass, so will need a ride. I think it will be worked out.

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