The Catholic Church After Quarantine

empty-vatican
Pope Francis delivered a message to an empty St. Peter’s Square on Friday, March 27, 2020.

This is an opinion blog, so what you’re going to read below is my opinion. Take it for whatever it’s worth to you. Anyone who regularly reads this blog knows that I am an advocate for a return to traditional Catholicism, but readers should also know that when I say that I don’t mean turning back the clocks to pre-conciliar times (pre-1960s). On the contrary, the form of traditional Catholicism I advocate might seem very progressive (liberal) to some, but I assure you, my thought process is rooted in Medieval thinking. I often joke with my friends and acquaintances that I’m very hard to define politically, mainly because I’m so far to the Right that it seems like I’m Left. You’re reading the blog of a man who thinks Rush Limbaugh is a bleeding-heart Liberal, and that today’s so-called “conservatives” are really nothing more than the radicals of yesteryear. My retrograde way of thinking doesn’t just apply to politics, obviously, but also to society, religion and culture as well. Below, I will suggest what I think are needed changes the Catholic Church should make in the years ahead, following the COVID-19 pandemic and quarantine. I’m bound to upset both liberals and traditionalists simultaneously. Please keep in mind, this is consistent with my way of thinking on politics too. Left and Right, for better or worse, I tend to shoot people in both directions. Pretty much everyone hates me, but I’m being honest and that’s what matters.

Return to Traditional Liturgy

I am absolutely convinced that in order to move forward we simply must return to a more traditional way of celebrating liturgy. I’m not a hard-head about particular rites and forms of liturgy. That’s less important to me than the traditional way each is celebrated. There simply must be a return to reverence. Emphasis on the congregation must give way to emphasis on the Eucharist. Otherwise, the “virtual Mass” on television and the Internet will become all too comfortable for far too many Catholics.

The idea of “going to Mass” must be replaced with “assisting at Mass,” which is more in line with the traditional understanding that the prayers of those present during the liturgy “assist” the priest in the celebration of the liturgy. If you’re not in the same room, you’re not assisting him in any kind of measurable way.

We must dispense of this idea that Mass should be “fun” and “exciting.” Trust me, if Christians want those things, they’ll go to an Evangelical church, because they always do it better, and Catholic liturgy (no matter how much its revised or “spiced up”) will never be able to compete with that.  Rather, we must emphasize that Mass is a holy obligation to worship God, a divine command and legally compelled by our relationship with Him. In other words, Mass is not for the people. It’s for God. Mass is not about entertainment. It’s about worship. We are the performers, not the spectators. We are not the audience. God is. This is the exact opposite of Evangelical Protestant worship, and it should be, because that’s what Mass is designed to be.

When our understanding of Mass changes in this way, the way we celebrate it should change as well. It’s no longer about “what do I get out of Mass?” but rather “what am I putting into Mass?” Likewise, the attitude of the clergy should change as well. No longer is the Mass about keeping the congregation entertained, but rather focusing solely on the worship of God. No longer is the priest the center of attention, but rather the Eucharist is. No longer does the priest project a cult of personality, but rather he becomes in persona Christi. Jesus Christ becomes the center of attention.

Practical ways this can be accomplished is primarily through the priest, and he must lead the way. Without his leadership, things always tend to fall apart. However, once good leadership is established, the congregation can then cooperate toward accomplishing these goals. First, the priest really should celebrate the majority of the Mass, especially the Liturgy of the Eucharist, ad orientem (facing liturgical east) with the congregation. The way this affects the mindset of what’s happening should be obvious. The priest is no longer the center of attention. Christ is. When we celebrate Mass with the priest facing the people (versus populum), a subconscious things starts to happen. The focus of attention turns inward, toward the congregation, wherein the attention of both the priest and the laity starts to focus on each other. The laity focus on the priest himself. His personality becomes the emphasis. Whereas the priest focuses on the laity, wherein their participation becomes his focus. There is very little focus outward and upward toward God. Now, turn that same priest around, wherein he faces the same direction as the people, the focus changes radically, toward something outside the congregation.

To those who understand what’s happening, the focus turns toward God. To those who don’t understand what’s happening, they feel slighted, and you can always tell who those people are very quickly. They’re the ones complaining that “the priest turned his back to them.” That they “couldn’t see what was going on at the altar.” That “the priest couldn’t even see them anymore.” These are telltale signs that those complaining have no freaking clue what the Mass is about, and are looking at Catholic worship in a very Protestant way. Rather than cave into their demands, this is a grand opportunity. The uncatechized have just revealed themselves! So now you know who needs the most catechesis. For heaven’s sake! Catechize them!

This brings me to the topic of liturgy itself. What is liturgy? It’s many things. The most obvious thing being the organized worship of God. However, it’s far more than that. As a trained catechist, I look at the liturgy as the zenith of catechesis. The liturgy is catechesis in motion. It’s the teaching of the faithful put into action. In fact, I won’t even agree to catechize an adult unless that adult first agrees to attend Mass weekly. Nothing does more to catechize the Faithful than traditional liturgy well done. Sloppy and irreverent worship will produce sloppy and irreverent faith. Meanwhile, orderly and reverent worship will produce orderly and reverent faith. It really is as simple as that. I hear Catholics often lament the poor state of catechesis in the post-conciliar era (1970 to present). Well, I say, look what happened to the liturgy during that same time. There is a connection here folks. It doesn’t take a theologian to figure it out. After Vatican II, the quality of orderly and reverent liturgy went downhill, and with it, so did the state of catechesis in the entire Western Church. Lex Orandi Lex Credendi, or the “law of prayer is the law of belief.” How we pray (worship) determines how we believe.

I’m not advocating for a particular rite or form of liturgy here. While the Traditional Latin Mass (Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite) has a reputation of being much better at presenting orderly and reverent worship, we all know it doesn’t have a monopoly on it. Prior to the Council of Trent, the Western Church consisted of multiple rites, forms and uses, all of them highly reverent and orderly. The same can be true today. Order and reverence is just as possible in the Regular Mass (Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite), and there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be. Once the priest has made the decision to go there, the laity will follow, because that is the natural order of things. Once the priest goes to an ad orientem position, and catechizes his congregation as to why, what will follow in time will be the reintroduction of altar bells, incense, Gregorian chant, and so on. Will priests encounter some push-back? Yes, of course, but only from the least catechized in the parish. The degree of their push-back will demonstrate just how “Protestant” their thinking has become, and how desperately they need to hear the truth. Will some leave in disgust? Yes, possibly a few will leave, and when they do, some will likely go to a Protestant church, because that’s where their hearts have been all along.

I must address the issue of communion. We simply MUST return to the traditional practice of communion on the tongue while kneeling. This is for two reasons. The first is catechesis. Belief in the real presence (transubstantiation) is at an all-time-low, and there is a reason for this. Lex Orandi Lex Credendi, or the “law of prayer is the law of belief.” How we pray (worship) determines how we believe. When one receives the Eucharist in the most reverent and humble way possible, it has the effect of burning this into one’s belief system. The action produces the catechesis. When accompanied by the help of a trained catechist, or good teaching materials, that catechesis can be achieved much faster. Without the aid of reverent liturgy, however, catechesis is very difficult. It really is as simple as that.

Second, on a practical level, however, in the post-quarantine world, communion on the tongue will likely prove to be more sanitized than communion in the hand. The hands have proved to be the primary carrier of germs, even when a person is not yet sick. Furthermore, priests who distribute communion both ways (hand and tongue) report that their far less likely to touch the recipient in any way when distributing on the tongue. Thus, communion on the tongue results in less physical contact, and is likely more sanitary than communion in the hand. This may seem counter intuitive at first, but the truth usually is. If the congregation wants to receive under both species, and the priest is willing to accommodate, the method of intinction (by the priest) can be employed. There are special ciboriums designed for this specific purpose.

That being said, the use of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion (EMHC) probably ought to stop entirely. The reason why is simple. When they are used, we put more hands on the Eucharist and the Cup. It’s unsanitary. I know the Body of Christ and the Blood of Christ does not hurt us, but germs can. I’ve been told many times that the Body and Blood of Christ can never hurt us, and there has never been a documented case of an epidemic being traced back to a communion cup. Well, that’s nice, but lack of documentation doesn’t always reflect reality. The notion that its impossible for a germ to travel on a Eucharistic Host, or on the Cup of Blood, is just silly. Germs can travel on these things, and they do travel on these things.

The more hands you put on these things, the more germs you put on these things. Sorry to burst your bubble, but to suggest that a germ can’t ride on the Sacred Host is like saying a germ could never ride on the hand or foot of Jesus Christ during his earthly ministry. If he consisted of regular matter, and he did, then his material body was subject to the same forces of nature we all are. If we say a germ can’t ride on the Cup of his Sacred Blood, then it’s like saying a germ could never ride on the clothing of Jesus Christ during his earthly ministry. It’s silly, and it’s illogical. I don’t know if Jesus ever caught a cold or the flu. The Bible doesn’t tell us about that. But that doesn’t mean he was magically impervious to the very presence of cold and flu viruses. If he consisted of material elements, and he did, then viruses are a normal part of the natural world. Yes, he carried them. Just like we do. The transubstantiation is real, and the presence of Christ in the Eucharistic elements is real too, but so are germs. They’re also real. Acknowledging the possibility that they could potentially ride on the consecrated elements doesn’t deny the reality of the transubstantiation. Rather, it just further confirms it.

There is more. During the liturgy of the Mass, the priest ceremonially washes his hands before handling the bread and wine. This is important. While the washing is ceremonial in nature, and hearkens back the the Jewish Temple rituals and the Jewish Passover Seder, it is still a hand washing. That means his hands are clean prior to handling the bread and wine. Is this also true for EMHC? No. There is no ceremonial hand washing for them, nor is there even time for that during the liturgy. Unless they all made a quick trip to the bathroom, to wash their hands prior to being called up for duty, the best we can hope for is the use of hand-sanitizer before walking up to the altar. That, however, doesn’t kill viruses, and studies show that hand washing is always preferred.

The bottom line is this. Aside from the theological and instructive reasons for kneeling and receiving on the tongue, there is a sanitary reason for this as well. In a post-quarantine world, this has to be taken into consideration. When the communicant kneels and receives on the tongue from a priest, only one set of washed hands have touched the Eucharist. When the communicant stands and receives in the hand, three sets of hands have touched the Eucharist. The first set was washed. The second set may (or may not) have used hand-sanitizer. The third set most likely has remained unwashed and unsanitized since before Mass began. Then of course, during this method you’ll have two people standing face to face with each other, exchanging words (the Body of Christ… Amen) which is a great way to spread an airborne virus.

Lastly, the exchanging of the peace during Mass, and holding hands during the Our Father. These just have to stop completely. There is no reason for them, and it just can’t be done anymore. It is possible to omit this during the liturgy, and I think it’s in everyone’s best interest to remove it from the next edition of the Missal. I’ve got some bad news. COVID-19 may subside during the summer months, but it’s coming back in the autumn and may be with us still into the winter of 2021. Hopefully, it dies out after that, and we can all pray it does. Even still, we have the influenza virus which kills thousands of people every normal year. Occasionally we get virulent strains of that which kills hundreds of thousands and even millions. Furthermore, whether COVID-19 returns seasonally or not, there will be more strains of Coronaviruses coming out of China and other places. So welcome to the new normal. Asian cultures have proved they know how to handle these things very well, and in addition to wearing masks everywhere during an epidemic, they minimize physical contact in public. The Catholic Church must give up this 1970s notion that we all need to be touching each other during Mass, and move on.

Return to Traditional Theology & Morality

Guess what? The social-justice-gospel just died. That’s right. It’s dead. In a post-quarantine world, where pandemics kill millions of people and shut down global economies, producing widespread unemployment and poverty, nobody gives a hoot about the ecology-gospel anymore and social justice is just a “pie in the sky” dream. The rain-forest and climate-change can take care of itself, because the only thing people want to hear about now are the four last things: judgement, heaven, hell and purgatory. All of a sudden, our mortality has just smacked us all in the face, and the purpose of Catholic religion has been made crystal clear. That is to prepare us for the next life, not attempt to make some kind of social utopia out of this one.

Priests, bishops, cardinals and even popes will soon find their teachings becoming irrelevant if they cling to this ecology-gospel and social-justice nonsense. It’s been a miserable failure anyway, especially in recent memory. Pope Francis’ Amazon Synod (October 2019), in which the ecology and the social-gospel took center stage, turned into a public relations nightmare from which his papacy will never recover. While Francis himself did not engage in indigenous Pagan idolatry, he did allow it in the Vatican gardens and he allowed it to continue in the streets of Rome and in Vatican churches. The worship of the Mother Earth goddess (Pachamama) has forever stained his papacy, and he will forevermore be known as the “Pachamama Pope.” This cannot be undone. The ecology-gospel attached to him will also be remembered as a form of idolatry coddled in the appearance of Catholic teaching. It’s over. Nobody cares about the ecology-gospel or social justice anymore. It’s just that the clerical peddlers of these things don’t realize it yet.

Probably the most “social justice” we’ll ever see is the creation of more small business and worker-owned cooperatives. Outside of that, the world has watched socialist systems fail miserably in the wake of a pandemic. Capitalist systems (while strained) have managed to limp along. Obviously, the only economic system that can weather a worldwide pandemic is the free market with strong nationalist (patriotic) direction. Globalism is dying, borders are going up, national sovereignty is returning, massive-migration is going away. This is the new normal in the post-quarantine world. The Church needs to get used to it.

What the people need right now is the original gospel. You know? I’m talking about the one preached by Jesus Christ and his apostles. Yeah, that one. It’s the one that defines sin according to the Ten Commandments, and then calls on people to repent of their sins and trust in Jesus for salvation. Remember that one? That’s the gospel that people are interested in now, because it’s the only thing relevant when a pandemic threatens to rob you of your job, life savings, elderly family members, and maybe even your own life!

Ecology-gospel and social-justice clergy are about to get a rude awakening shortly after the worldwide quarantine comes to an end. It’s hard to listen to a priest who tells you “homosexual behavior is okay” when you’re constantly reminded that God chastises those whom he loves, and that plagues have always been considered a form of divine chastisement in the Bible. How can a priest, who claims to represent the God of the Bible, say that what the Biblical God clearly defines as sin is no longer sin? The same goes for clergy who say that communion for divorced and remarried couples (without and annulment) is not a sin anymore. These clergy risk becoming a public joke, hucksters who represent a popular god that constantly changes to “get hip with the times.” The only people who want a god like that are those who really don’t believe in the Biblical God at all. Liberal Catholic clergy already have a hard time hanging on to those people. They eventually move on to other religions, and if not them, then certainly their children.

In the years ahead, the only Catholic parishes that will grow and see success will be those where the priest teaches the original gospel, the one taught by Jesus and his apostles. Meanwhile, the social-gospel preacher will at best face the yawns and eye-rolls of their parishioners, and at worst face the empty pews of a dying parish.

Return to the Neighborhood Parish

The megaparish model, designed after the megachurch model in the Evangelical world, is favored by liberal clergy, but entirely impractical (and potentially dangerous) in a post-quarantine world. Liberal clergy love the megaparish model because it allows the bishop to close the doors of multiple neighborhood parishes and put all these people into one large building, where they can be preached to simultaneously by one liberal bishop or priest. This simultaneously removes the pastor from the average parishioner, making him less accessible, and therefore less accountable as well. The megaparish was one way liberal clergy were able to hold control of the Church for so long. That needs to end, and it will.

In this post-quarantine world, the entire global economy will be restructured. Business will become more localized. Carryout and delivery will become the norm. Theaters and public gatherings will become more cautious. While Evangelicals will gradually be forced to adapt by deconstructing their megachurches into multiple smaller neighborhood churches, probably connected via technology. Catholic megaparishes will have to do the same, but technology won’t work for us. Catholicism is a sacramental religion, wherein telecommunication of the sacraments is not possible.

Megaparishes will have to be deconstructed, and broken back down to small neighborhood parishes wherever they can be. Spreading out our numbers insures that Catholics don’t “put all their eggs into one basket” as the saying goes. When another pandemic breaks out, and it will again soon, we will want to be spread out into a larger number of smaller parishes, so as to minimize our losses and contain the contagion. So when an epidemic breaks out at St. Joseph’s on the east side of town, the members of St. John’s on the West side will have time to mask-up, glove-up, and add more Mass times to allow for parishioners to spread out in the pews.

Return to both Married and Celibate Priesthood

Because deconstructing megaparishes, and returning to the neighborhood parish model, is absolutely necessary in the coming post-quarantine world, and because telecommunication of the sacraments is simply not possible under Catholic teaching, there will need to be more priests. We will need them quickly, and we’ll need a much more steady supply than we’ve seen in recent history. I believe the best solution is to return to the Medieval practice of allowing married men into the priesthood, just as the Eastern Catholic (Uniate) churches continue to allow them today. These would be secular clergy alone, not connected to any monastic order, and tied exclusively to the local diocese or jurisdiction, called upon totally at the local bishop’s discretion.

As in the Middle Ages, married and celibate clergy will need to serve simultaneously, to keep these smaller neighborhood-parishes staffed. It is the only solution. The only reason why married men were ever permitted into the priestly state is precisely because of clerical shortages in the past. There was never a time when married priests were permitted “just because.” Since the time of the apostles, clerical celibacy has always been the preferred state, but even the apostles recognized that a few married priests, here and there, was occasionally necessary. So it was in Apostolic times, so it was in the early to middle Medieval times, so it is again in our own Modern times. The Catholic Church (in the West) briefly enjoyed a period of abundance of celibate clergy that lasted approximately 800 years. It may happen again someday. But that’s not the case right now. The Catholic (Uniate) churches in the East have never experienced such a luxury at all. It’s time to bring back the veri probati.

Whenever writing anything about the veri probati (older, married men allowed to enter the priesthood), I am usually assailed by traditionalists who insist it’s not Catholic and I’m a “liberal modernist” for even suggesting it. To which, I will remind them of what I wrote above. I am a retrograde Medievalist. When it comes to the modern world, I shoot in both directions, Left and Right. They were warned. As for married priests; it is Biblical, it is orthodox and it is Catholic. If you question my Catholicism on this, then you question the Catholicism of St. Paul the Apostle, and every Catholic bishop for the first 1,200 years of Church history, as well as every Eastern Catholic bishop today. Call it whatever you like, but don’t call it unorthodox, un-Catholic, liberal or modernist. It is none of these things, and it’s insulting to suggest it.

By the same token, the veri probati have never been a gateway for the creation of female clergy. Again, to even suggest this is an insult to the Medieval Church of old and Eastern Catholics today. Don’t do it. Liberal modernists obviously will try to make this connection, but they try with everything else too. So nothing is new here. The more intelligent modernists in the Church also hate the idea of allowing married men into the priesthood, because they know it will shore up the supply of priests, and make the ordination of women even less plausible than before. So intelligent Modernists actually oppose the veri probati. Only the less intelligent modernists think married clergy will lead to female priests. Apparently, their arithmetic skills are lacking. Married men in the clergy = more priests available = no need for female priests = case closed. Traditionalists embrace the thinking of unintelligent modernists when they viscerally react against the veri probati with claims that it will lead to female priests, lending legitimacy to what is clearly an illegitimate way of thinking. Modernism should never be dignified in such a way, and modernists should never get so much clout, especially the stupid ones. When it comes to veri probati and female clergy, one does not lead to the other. It never has. It doesn’t now (in the East). And it never will. When it comes to the veri probati and female clergy, we’re talking about apples and oranges here. If the Western Church ever wants to put the final nail in the coffin of the female clergy agenda, ordain the veri probati.

Return to a More Accessible Diaconate

In the Early Church, men of good reputation were ordained as deacons, who clearly did not have as much education or training as those ordained to the priesthood or bishopric. The diaconate of the Early Church was an opportunity for regular men (both married and celibate) to serve the Church at a lower clerical capacity, so they would not need to invest nearly as much time and training as those in higher clerical capacity.

When the Second Vatican Council (1962 – 1965) sought to revive the office of the permanent diaconate, it was an attempt to restore this ancient and venerable order. However, it’s become painfully obvious now that the vision of Vatican II was never fully fulfilled. There are not nearly enough permanent deacons now, and there won’t be nearly enough for the future if/when we dismantle the megaparishes and return to the neighborhood parish. The problem is investment of time and money. Permenant deacons are usually required to attend a five-year study program. Sometimes this is by distance learning, and sometimes by actual attendance at a Catholic university or seminary. In today’s world, where two income families are often required to make ends meet (either by the man working two jobs, or his wife helping out), the requirements are too much of a discouragement for too many otherwise qualified men. It is understandable why the Church would want educated men in this clerical position. That being the case, it is reasonable to make sure they seek some type of theology degree. However, this need not take five years. It could be reduced to a certification program of lesser time. It should always be available by distance learning, and it should always be funded by either the parish or the diocese, unless the candidate is wealthy and just wants to pay for it himself.

In the Early Church many deacons simply received on-the-job-training (OJT), preparing for the order by volunteering to perform many of its non-sacramental functions as a layman. Perhaps something like this can be made more readily available today, combined with simplified distance learning where applicable.

The point here is that we have to make this office as accessible as possible, to as many called men as possible, understanding that this is an unpaid (volunteer) position in the Church, and priests need as much help as they can get in these times. We also need to remember that strict academic requirements for admission to the diaconate were simply not present in the Early Church. By no means does that imply we should simply strip all requirements now. The requirements are useful and there for a reason. But at the same time, we should make every effort to make the permanent diaconate as accessible as possible to those who are called to serve.

Return to a Modest Papacy

I’m not advocating for this here. I’m simply saying we must prepare for it, and its consequences, for better or worse. In many ways, sadly, Pope Francis has already accomplished this. I would have hoped this could have been done in a more dignified way. Nevertheless, it is what it is. Whatever trace of ultramontanism (hyper-papalism) that was left in the Church, has now been thoroughly purged. No more do Catholics believe that every word that falls from the lips of a pope is infallible. While the First Vatican Council (1869 – 1870) clearly spelled this out, with the infallible decree that the pope is only infallible on matters of faith and morals when he speaks ex cathedra, many Catholics still assumed his infallibility stretched beyond this. I’ve seen this error both among modernists and traditionalists. Some traditionalists asserted that a pope could not commit heretical error without forfeiting his office. So it would seem now, that is not the case at all. While some modernists insisted the pope spoke infallibly only when he sided with modernism. Such an assertion is obviously flawed, in addition to partisan.

Whoever the next pope may be, it’s doubtful he’ll be able to overcome the damage Francis has done to the office, no matter how holy and wise of a man he may be. The papacy has been reduced in the minds of the Faithful. The mystique is gone. The pope is human again. I do not foresee the return of ultramontanism (hyper-papalism) during my lifetime, or the lifetime of my children for that matter. I suppose this is both a good and bad thing all at the same time. Poorly catechized Catholics are no longer idolizing the pope, but on the flip side, the way the papacy was brought down by Francis was grossly humiliating to Faithful Catholics.

The next phase of the Francis pontificate, if he survives that long, will be the full implementation of synodality. This process will formalize what Francis began by stripping the papacy of its mystique and centralized position. It will insure that the papacy remains modest even after Francis is gone. The next pope will no longer be in a position to rule the Church as a monarch. Collegiality will become the method of the papacy moving forward. I foresee problems arising from this, but they will be short lived. The problems will arise in the form of local synods taking too much control and attempting to rewrite doctrine. When (not “if” but “when”) that happens, the only power the pope will have will be excommunication. Collegiality and synodality will prohibit him from taking management of national bishops conferences into his own hands. He will dialogue with them, plead with them, even implore them not to make changes to doctrine. But they will have the right to conduct their own synods any way they see fit. When they go too far though, and they will, the only recourse the pope will have to pastoral orthodoxy will be excommunication. I foresee a day, in the not-too-distant future, when entire bishops conferences will be excommunicated, resulting in formal schism. This will be traumatic at first, with more than one bishops conference getting the boot, but when it’s over it will be over for a very long time. Once the heretics have left the establishment, there will be more room for the orthodox to govern effectively.

Return of the East

With the weakening of the papacy we can expect to see a warming of relations between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox churches. For all the talk about the filioque and other doctrinal issues, everyone knows the real heart of the dispute is the authority of Rome. Most of those Eastern Orthodox churches willing to resubmit to the authority of the papacy have already done so, creating what are called the Eastern Catholic (Uniate) churches today. The rest of the Orthodox (most of the rest anyway) will not return to Rome so long as the pope retains the power to rule over them like a monarch. Sorry, it’s just not going to happen — ever. Only when the Orthodox can see that the pope no longer retains the civil and ecclesiastical powers he once had, will they begin to consider reunification with Rome. In the mean time, Catholics should endeavor to better understand their Eastern Catholic (Uniate) brethren, to help prepare for this eventual reunification with the rest of the East. It’s coming, and yes, Pope Francis is playing a role in this, painful as that may be for some of us. God is working it together for our eventual good.

Conclusion

As I said above, all of this is my opinion. I foresee some things we can work toward, and other things already in motion. I don’t know what the final outcome will be, but I’ve not been shy about putting down in writing what I think it ought to be. One thing is certain, the great quarantine of 2020 is being used by God as some kind of “reset button,” and changes will result from it, both in the secular world and in the Church. I am also certain that God loves us, and he has a plan for us that is good. We just have to trust his processes. In the meantime, as I’ve said many times, when we emerge from this quarantine we must prepare to make changes ourselves, and I outlined those changes in this essay here.

I don’t believe the solutions to the Church’s problems lie in traditionalism, even though traditionalist do have some good characteristics that every single Catholic should adopt. These include their fidelity to doctrine and reverent liturgy. The form of the liturgy is not nearly as important as the reverent and traditional way it’s celebrated. The rest of us can learn from them on this. As for doctrine, they’re 100% right. Catholic doctrine does not change — period.

I don’t believe the solutions to the Church’s problems lie in modernism. The so-called Liberal Catholics of our time are really nothing more than liturgical Protestants who don’t realize they left their Catholicism behind long ago. Those days of Liberal Catholicism, or Cafeteria Catholicism, or Seamless-Garment Catholicism are rapidly coming to a close. The worldwide quarantine caused by the Wuhan Virus (COVID-19) was perhaps it’s fatal blow. Liberal Catholicism was already on the ropes, taking one beating after another, from the sexual-abuse crisis, to homosexualist scandals, to financial malfeasance, to papal blunders of epic proportions! That beating is nowhere near over, and now the worldwide quarantine is taking its toll as well. The Catholic Church will survive all this, of course, but it will emerge on the other side very different from what it is today. It’s already very different from what it was just seven years ago. The Church will never be the same again, and that’s not always a bad thing.

9 thoughts on “The Catholic Church After Quarantine

  1. Wonderful points. I love to see this. When Novo Ordo first came out priest still faced away from the people. There was no altar at the front of the sanctuary as there is now. Altar rails were still being used.

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  2. If this patrimony that you describe so eloquently was ALL returned under former Cdl Bergoglo, it seems to me that without a ruling after an examination of the evidence surrounding the events in the Vatican of February-March 2013 robustly making available the beauty of our Catholic patrimony would be akin to Judas’ kiss of Christ. In fact, the whited sepulchre analogy seems even more apropos.

    When Christ Himself teaches through His Bride that the Pope, Bishop of Rome and Peter’s successor, “is the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity of the whole company of the faithful” (CCC 882), shouldn’t we get WHO that is right first so that the foundation for what you propose in this post–in this time of apostasy–will not not be of sand?

    882 The Pope, Bishop of Rome and Peter’s successor, “is the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful.”402 “For the Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, and as pastor of the entire Church has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered.”403

    883 “The college or body of bishops has no authority unless united with the Roman Pontiff, Peter’s successor, as its head.” As such, this college has “supreme and full authority over the universal Church; but this power cannot be exercised without the agreement of the Roman Pontiff.“404

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  3. Very good post Shane. Just a couple of points:
    First the issue of “ad orientem (facing liturgical east)”, Jesus (albeit he is God), faced his disciples at the last supper, and the priest acts “in persona Christi”, that is in the person of Christ, he takes the place of Christ, and therefore faces the congregation.
    Jesus broke the bread and gave it to his disciples in the hand. Plagues have come and gone, and Coronavirus will go, so although for practical reasons we might have to change things temporarily, that is not the end of the story. As an EMHC I can tell you that it is very easy to distribute communion on the hand without touching the congregant’s hand, but much more difficult to do so when placing the host on the tongue, as there is a constant concern that the host may fall to the ground, anyway that’s my experience,
    As for the “ceremonial” washing of the hands by the priest I thing it serves no hygienic purpose whatsoever, and is merely symbolical. All EMHC’s should wash and sanitize their hands before distributing the Eucharist, under the present circumstances.
    The same goes for the exchange of peace. Extraordinary measures are needed now, but things will eventually come back to normal. We are human beings and are in need of physical contact. Jesus constantly touched people, even mixing his own spittle with mud and putting this on people’s eyes and in their mouth.
    John 9:6 “6 Having said this, he spat on the ground, made a paste with the spittle, put this over the eyes of the blind man,”
    Mark 7:33 “33 He took him aside to be by themselves, away from the crowd, put his fingers into the man’s ears and touched his tongue with spittle.”
    Mark 8:23 “23 He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. Then, putting spittle on his eyes and laying his hands on him, he asked, ‘Can you see anything?'”
    We are at the same time material and spiritual. Any tendency to deny one of these aspects in favour of the other is ipso facto in error. I wish that both liberal and traditionalist Catholics could get that.
    Another issue is the “veri probati (older, married men allowed to enter the priesthood)”, this is a kneejerk reaction. The church in this crisis has the opportunity to witness a return to God by many who are by force of circumstance forced to look inward and rediscover a sense of the spiritual, and if inspired, some may discern a call to the priesthood. I am sure that God is at work in all this, it is not what we do that will reverse the fortunes of the church, but what God does in our hearts. We only have to be attentive to his promptings.

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  4. Some excellent points. I would caution however that it’s not just opposition from some of the faithful that may prove difficult. At least some of those dissatisfied may complain to their bishop, who hopefully, will back his priest. But some may not. That reportedly happened in my own archdiocese. A priest who was well known to say a very reverent mass was ordered to stop doing so ad orientem after complaint by a parishioner.

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  5. I liked the part about married priests! Well-articulated! However, I have not seen much in the way of sources for married priests being common in the MIddle Ages. Could you direct me to some sources?

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  6. A glaring omission is the fact that married men who became deacons and priests in the middle ages were expected to abstain from sexual activity. The reason that celibacy was made a universal rule was a greater appreciation of the holiness of marriage.

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    1. That appears to be the case in some instances, but the practice of married continence was anything but universal in the West, and never the norm in the East.

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