The Great Papal Visit of 2010!

Its still a hot topic, and hopefully it will remain a conversation starter within the Catholic Church in Britain for the next few years, “where were you when the Pope visited?”

It didn’t change the spiritual map of Britain, it just confirmed to us what I’m sure most Catholics already knew, how warped the perception of that map was that we were being fed by the media, and to an extent by doom mongers within the Catholic Church.

The problem is everyone loves indulging in a little bit of doom and gloom, newspapers are sold by it, and people lap it up.  Jesus warned about people who prophesied the end of the world, namely that they wouldn’t know what they were talking about, since even the son of God wasn’t told the time or date by the Father.

Doom mongering in the Catholic Church in England is best exemplified by the “vocations crisis”. I have read that England and Wales has more Catholic priests per head of population than a goodly portion of Catholic countries…

I don’t know how accurate this link is, but it doesn’t surprise me or sound ridiculous.  Yes our priests are aging, and yes the Catholic Church in England and Wales is “saddled” with numerous parishes left over from more pious generations. But still as a nation where Catholics are a plucky minority, surrounded by the most secular generation in history, I think were are doing rather well.

Also this discussion of doom that is the “vocations crisis”, when I have shamelessly eavesdropped on it with my shinobi skills, seems to me at least  to be completely bereft of solutions to the problem. I suppose that isn’t entirely fair, it is even more tragicomic when occasionally  it is combined with solutions that are of the more heterodox variety.

But anyway, Bishops are worried about it and to be fair it’s their job and vocation to be worried about this issue, not a crisis but a real day to day challenge the Church faces, one which if no better solution to it can be found will involve tampering with the understandably sacrosanct issue of parish closures.

What worries me however is that real solutions to this problem aren’t being engaged with or sought out as rigorously as they could be.

Instead, and it is only my perception so I might be missing something, that rather than re-examining strategy a drawn out rear guard action is being fought rather than a counter-attack being mounted to change the course of the conflict.

Proper Catholic education (especially further education) as propounded by guess who, John Henry Newman. (you see I do get back on topic eventually) could go a long way to re galvanizing the Catholic laity which is where, logic dictates, priestly vocations arise from.

Priestly vocations also need encouraging… and I’m not talking about priests standing up at the notices after mass and emotionally blackmailing every single Catholic male in the  congregation about how they should be a priest because soon there won’t be any left.  (yes I have heard it said and seen it done and I’ve never seen so many men examining their shoes or the ceiling for cracks)

I’m talking about making seminaries ,the most important Catholic higher education centers, more enticing, and you don’t do that by selling out to modernism. In fact I can’t emphasize enough, young Catholics are very weary of the spirit of the age, instead they want to be handed a philosophy and theology that will not wither when they cling to it.

This is where the store of faith held by the Catholic Church comes in handy, it is astounding in its depth and breadth and we should all be encouraged to delve into it. To discover that Catholicism did not begin at Vatican 2 and its history is filled with amazing saints and theologians whose writings are still very much applicable to lives today, just less infested with modern preoccupations or dare I say it theological liberalism.

Talking about conservative and liberal within the Church is a sore point for me, because it shouldn’t exist.  The Church isn’t meant to be politically divided into polar opposites. Indeed thankfully I don’t think in actuality it is either, but there is a certain utilitarian use of ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’ to describe views held by people or groups within Catholicism which we all unfortunately seem to be inevitably drawn into.

Orthodox and heretical is just sooooo, well accurate and pointed… cutting straight to the heart of the matter such that lately people seem to be desperate to relegate these terms to the medieval period. That of course should be a warning sign in itself.

Pope Benedict in his visit however showed by example how the Church should be moving forward, showed the Church in Britain that strong and beautiful liturgy is the great beacon of Catholicism that draws people into the mystery of the mass, if for no other reason than by sheer curiosity.

That good, sound and profoundly orthodox teaching as exemplified by all his excellent homily’s and speeches will prove the foundations of the future of Christianity.

And finally that good solid traditional Catholic devotions are still the best way that people can engage in and own their faith. We get people going to Eucharistic adoration, benediction, saying the rosary and praying the Angelus regularly in addition to the mass and very soon we will have a Catholic Church brimming with vocations.

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