Protestant Attends Mass While Catholics Watch Online – Legacy of Lockdown …

Comment: 

There’s no mistaking the sincerity of the young Protestant Evangelical in the above video.  He very accurately summarises the differences between the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) and the novus ordo (NO). 

One mistake which he makes – a very common mistake – is to think that “the Church” is not “one”.   He misunderstands the difference between the break-up of Christendom thanks to Martin Luther et al, who left the Church, with the Church itself upon which Christ bequeathed unity from the beginning: “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” (John 17:21)  Here Christ was bestowing unity on His Church – it was not some future goal. 

However, this is, as I say, a very common misconception.  Catholics make the same mistake, so we have to cut the young man some slack on this. 

Where there is absolutely NO slack to be cut, is for those Catholics who have not returned to attending Mass since the disgraceful Government ban was lifted, but are choosing instead to stay at home and watch Mass online.  I’d heard concerns expressed that this would happen and I could see the temptation but it didn’t occur to me for a second that any Catholic accustomed to attending the TLM would fall prey to such temptation.   I’ve now heard of at least three such cases – and I remain incredulous. 

Watching Mass online does not fulfil the Sunday Mass obligation.  The notices and announcements in churches at the time of the lockdown stated clearly that “there is a temporary dispensation from the Sunday obligation” – that is, the obligation was temporarily lifted [due to the Government ban].  That ban is no longer in place.  Neither is the dispensation from attending Mass in person.  We are once again obliged to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation. 

So, what does this readiness to skip Mass for the comfort of watching it online tell us?  Well, with this willingness to miss Mass,  remember, is a willingness to live without the benefit of the Sacraments – no confession, no absolution, no Holy Communion.  What kind of Catholic life is that?  Answer:  it’s not.  

If you have any thoughts on this phenomenon please share them in the comments below, but do not name names.  Suffice that we try to work out what is  going on here – are these “Lockdown Legacy Catholics” staying away from church out of a [human but faithless] fear of “the virus”, or is the virus merely an excuse to re-structure life in such a way that God’s law does not interfere too much with their secular lives? Were they always Catholics of weak Faith, or what…  What’s the mentality – I’m genuinely puzzled.  Over to thee…   

And don’t forget to pray for the young Protestant man in the video – he appears to be very open to the grace of God, so it would be wonderful if he were to embrace the gift of the Faith.  Our Lady,  Help of Christians, pray for him!   

Protestantised Catholic Owns Up!

There was a time when I thought I’d never say this, but I’m worried that I’m, how shall I put it, turning Protestant. The awful thought dawned on me when I realised that although my parish church has a Door of Mercy – going through which, with appropriate prayers, would give me an indulgence – I’ve never actually been through it. Not once. I do know about the doctrine of the Church’s treasury of merits which underlies the teaching, but a stubborn little voice inside me says that the mercy of God is boundless, and accessible to all, door or no door, indulgences or no indulgences.

...The religious practice of indulgences reawakens trust and hope in a full reconciliation with God the Father, but in such a way as will not justify any negligence nor in any way diminish the effort to acquire the dispositions required for full communion with God. Although indulgences are in fact free gifts, nevertheless they are granted for the living as well as for the dead only on determined conditions. To acquire them, it is indeed required on the one hand that prescribed works be performed, and on the other that the faithful have the necessary dispositions, that is to say, that they love God, detest sin, place their trust in the merits of Christ and believe firmly in the great assistance they derive from the Communion of Saints. Apostolic Constitution on Indulgences, Indulgentiarum Doctrina, Pope Paul VI, January, 1, 1967

…The religious practice of indulgences reawakens trust and hope in a full reconciliation with God the Father, but in such a way as will not justify any negligence nor in any way diminish the effort to acquire the dispositions required for full communion with God. Although indulgences are in fact free gifts, nevertheless they are granted for the living as well as for the dead only on determined conditions. To acquire them, it is indeed required on the one hand that prescribed works be performed, and on the other that the faithful have the necessary dispositions, that is to say, that they love God, detest sin, place their trust in the merits of Christ and believe firmly in the great assistance they derive from the Communion of Saints. Apostolic Constitution on                      Indulgences,                   Indulgentiarum Doctrina, Pope Paul VI, January, 1, 1967


Of course it’s excellent that people are thinking about mercy – as you go through the door you’re meant to reflect on how to receive it from God and extend it to others – but I’m not moved by the symbolism myself. Not to put too fine a point on it, I’ve come to the pass of going straight to God without the aids extended by the Church.

Being a naturally sectarian Catholic, this is a troubling development. Next year is the 500th anniversary of the start of the Protestant Reformation, an event I propose to mark by wearing funereal colour. But underneath the black and purple, I find myself sympathetic to bits of the Protestant project. The idea of the priesthood of all believers, squarely based on St Paul, is not antipathetical to an ordained priesthood, and never fails to cheer me up, especially when people complain about the dearth of vocations. The priestly character of all the baptised is rather a comfort, don’t you think, when it turns out, yet again, that the institutional church has failed to deal with some egregious scandal.

Actually, the most egregious ones of all, the child abuse scandals, have not had the effect of unsettling my faith in the slightest, notwithstanding my seeing that rather overrated film, Spotlight. I mean, things were worse prior to the Reformation, no? And every human institution is bound to be flawed one way or another.

All the same, now that we know about the inability of the Church, notably the bishops, to recognise the compulsive psychology of child abusers, it does make you question Cardinal Newman’s insistence that because of its longevity, the Church has seen everything and knows everything about the nature of man, which was the same in the 5th century as it was 1500 years later. In fact the Church, notwithstanding encountering the phenomenon of paedophilia again and again over the course of centuries, has been remarkably bad at identifying its character. Making the same mistake over the course of 2,000 years may be consistent but it’s not inerrancy. Secular institutions and other religions were just as clueless, but the Church is held to different standards.

And then there’s the fundamental aspect of Protestantism: the reliance on Scripture. I don’t buy the notion that a believer just needs a Bible, but it does unsettle me that Catholics are so much less scripturally literate than paid-up Protestants. Bishops in the Anglican synod quote cheerfully from the Old Testament; I never hear Catholic priests preach from it. Bertie Wooster in PG Wodehouse won a prize for Scripture Knowledge; I mean, he was bound to be CofE, wasn’t he? The one exception I know is a priest from Kerala in India who baffles the congregation in my home parish in Ireland by actually asking them questions about the Old Testament. Where he comes from, this is normal practice; here, young Catholics are familiar with perhaps half a dozen or so episodes from the Hebrew Scriptures and that’s it.

And what about popular devotion? I respect it, of course, but there are times when I can see why Protestants find it too close to superstition. There are those prayer cards to the Sacred Heart or Saint Anthony that you find in the back of churches which assure you that if you say the prayers specified a given number of times correctly, your prayers are bound to be answered. That’s more like magic than prayer. And while I have an instinctive devotion to Our Lady, I do feel uneasy at the extent to which devotion to the Virgin has overshadowed that historically given to other scriptural saints – John the Baptist, say. And places like Medugorje, which lots of people find beneficial, present the Virgin in a very different guise from the Mary of the Gospels; it puts me off.

Naturally, I’d never actually be anything but a Catholic. As James Joyce said, when he was asked why, given his disaffection with the Church, he did not become a Protestant: “Madam, I have lost my faith; I have not lost my self-respect”. But although I intend to die a Catholic, I’m becoming a Protestant sort of Catholic. Worrying, I know, but there it is.  Source: Catholic Herald

Melanie McDonagh is comment editor of the London Evening Standard 

Comment:

Melanie McDonagh is not alone in her Protestantised Catholicism. We have one some-time blogger who has bemoaned the Catholic custom of venerating relics. Same mindset. However, my first thought on reading the above article in today’s Catholic Herald was: “at last! They’re coming out openly in the Catholic press and admitting that they’ve been Protestantised. It’s a start!” 

Don’t get me wrong.  There is no requirement on Catholics to avail ourselves of the Church’s treasury – whether it be devotions to particular saints, indulgences or the veneration of relics.   Still, I think there is something significant, not to say very sad, about such a public disavowal, perhaps especially in the  case of Melanie McDonagh’s Protestantised view of Our Lady – notable, not least because she selects the unapproved, indeed, hoax phenomenon of Medjugorje, as an example of the kind of Marian piety that she rejects! Still, if she means she dislikes pilgrimages to approved shrines such as Lourdes, Fatima, etc., lighting candles, submitting petitions, taking Lourdes water, buying Fatima rosaries – that sort of thing – then, yes, to quote her own words, she IS “turning Protestant” –  a true daughter of Martin Luther.  

Again, of course, we are not bound to accept or have devotion to each and every approved apparition (although it is important to note Pope Benedict’s statement that Fatima places an obligation on the entire Church). Whatever, it is a very strange Catholic who would express Protestant sentiments towards any of the Marian shrines and devotions.  And it is a very sad thing, indeed, to read an article, penned by a Catholic journalist, in a Catholic newspaper, joining battle with the Protestant revolutionary, Martin Luther, to attack the doctrine of indulgences. 

Click on the image to read Pope Paul’s Apostolic Constitution on Indulgences, and tell us if you agree.  Or maybe you share Melanie McDonagh’s dislike of indulgences, and other Protestant leanings?