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Desiderata for 2012 Print E-mail
By Fr. C. John McCloskey III   
Wednesday, 04 January 2012

Way back in 1989 (my, how the years fly by), I wrote an an article for the Christmas edition of the old Crisis magazine entitled “Good Guys Finish First: Ten Reasons to Smile This Christmas.” Over two decades later, I remain bullish on the Catholic Church in America for the New Year of 2012, especially if the year includes persecution and further societal decline.

That’s because the Church flourishes in bad times. Why? Because it is the answer to humanity’s problems, which are in their roots moral. No country can flourish or perhaps even survive if it kills its babies, indulges in pornography as its favorite entertainment, and neglects to protect the institution of marriage.

But, “bullish” as I am, my optimism needs some elaboration. The good news for the Church in America and, indeed, in the world is that the sequential pontificates of Blessed John Paul and Pope Benedict have dealt a death blow to the Long Purgatory afflicting the Church from the close of Vatican II. 

In another piece written some years ago, I suggested 2030 as the target year for a generally healthy Church running on all spiritual cylinders in our country. I projected this recovery because the authentic teaching of the Second Vatican Council is gradually being revealed, enforced, and practiced.

Bl. John Paul saw a “new spring time for the Church” and a new civilization of love and truth in the new millennium. Pope Benedict on the other hand has posited “a small creative minority” of members of the Church, at least in Europe and what was known as the West. Which prophetic view will be correct (or whether in fact they are both aspects of the same reality) will become apparent in the decades ahead.


            America's first Mass in St. Augustine, Florida, 1565

So what does the Church in the United States need right now, in 2012? Here are some suggestions, in no particular order:

1. Large numbers of new priests who will celebrate the Holy Mass reverently, spend hours in the confessional, preach the evangelizing and life-giving truth to the faithful, and strive in their prayer and ascetical life to imitate the Holy Cure of Ars.

2. Thousands of men and women religious who will bear witness to the eschatological life by their poverty, chastity, and obedience and – by the habits they wear in public – will give glory to God and attract additional vocations. This includes those in monasteries who spend their lives in prayer.

3.  More bishops who put their interior and ascetical life before anything else (including meetings and dinners), so that they can be true spiritual fathers to their priests, shepherds to their flocks, and examples of holiness and sound preaching. These bishops should also be willing to firmly discipline those Catholics-in-name-only, who operate in the public square and give scandal to the faithful and our fellow citizens.

4. A laity that takes seriously Vatican II’s universal call to holiness and evangelization through their family lives, friendships, and presence in workplaces and public affairs. The local parish is very much in last place. It exists to provide opportunity for worship and reception of the sacraments, Catholic formation and catechetical education. Ideally it should be a launching pad to change the world, not a place to hide from it.

5. Truly Catholic colleges and universities. In fact, I hope by this time next year that they all qualify for favorable mention in the list of Catholic colleges maintained by the Cardinal Newman Society, even if their average SAT scores and college athletic rankings decline. (As it happens, the Angelic Doctor does not mention these in his Summa theologiae as necessary for salvation.)

6. A Catholic laity prepared to be confessors and/or martyrs for the faith in the decades ahead in our country. Ah, you say, it can’t happen here! I reply: You bet it can!  For the vast majority of us it would be the quickest if not the most comfortable route to canonization. The best way, however, is to live your family, professional, and spiritual lives so faithfully and attractively that the many hundreds of people you know are drawn to wonder what you have that they don’t, and then to receive from you the reply, “I am a Catholic.” That should generate the response, “How can I become one too?”  And then you can bring them to Christ and his Church through your local parish. That is how the Church spread from 64 to 312 A.D. among the first Christians, who exercised a one-to-one, family-to-family apostolate to the pagans around them, and gradually converted the Empire. It is due to their perseverance that we are here.
 
7. As long as we are wishing boldly, a newly elected, well-formed devout Catholic president would help, as would Catholic voters, judges, and legislators who strive to live both their public and private lives according to the moral and social teaching of the Church. If that were to happen . . . well, we might find ourselves in a truly exceptional country of citizens attempting to order their lives according to the natural law and divine revelation, and respecting human dignity from conception until natural death. We might, in fact, become what our American founders intended, “a shining city on a hill.”

Happy New Year!

 
Fr. C. J McCloskey III is a Research Fellow at the Faith and Reason Institute in Washington, DC.
 
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Comments (13)Add Comment
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written by Manfred, January 04, 2012
"I projected this recovery because the authentic teaching of the Second Vatican Council is gradually being revealed, enforced, and practiced." Those who wrote the 16 documents of the Second Vatican Council have admitted the documents are ambiguous because they had to blend two irreconcilible positions: the Church of the last two millenia, and the Church now designed for Modern Man. The Catholic Governor in N.Y., with Catholic legislators, passed a law last June which made same-sex "marriages" lawful. None have been excommunicated. Some 50 to 80 Catholic scholars wrote a letter to the Pope just recently asking that a commission be empaneled, and with the full force of the Magisterium, in writing, tell the faithful what the "teachings" of Vat. II were, if any.
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written by Dan, January 04, 2012
"7. As long as we are wishing boldly, a newly elected, well-formed devout Catholic president would help..."

Fr. McCloskey must have been pleased with the near victory in Iowa last night.
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written by John, January 04, 2012
Thank you, Father!
After reading so many negative Catholic blogs about how bad persecution of our faith is getting, I hit upon your blog which tells the truth: persecution is a good thing because it breeds Christians. It is when times are safe and prosperous that faith withers. Yes, we are heading into a time of growing attack from a sick culture that knows it is dying, but as (if I remember correctly) St Augustine said, the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church. We have nothing to fear - victory is assured. God Bless you and all like you working for the true faith!
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written by Achilles, January 04, 2012
Ideology is the tail wagging the dog. The “traditionalist” has a tendency to use the tail they call “ambiguous” and wag the dog of Orthodoxy with it far more than is appropriate.
Manfred your understanding of history, not to mention the concept of development leaves much to be desired. Beating the dead horse of the “spirit of Vatican II” and applying it to the true intentions of the Vatican II council within the understanding of the “hermeneutic of continuity” belies an unhealthy obstinacy marinated in error.

Happy new year Manfred! I hope charity in the form of “turning the other cheek” will not become you preferred method of evasion. Achilles
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written by John, January 04, 2012
You might have mentioned Permanent Deacons as a reason to smile. They are fastest growing faith-witness in the Catholic Church worldwide. The power of Holy Orders is made manifest in them and they are making a difference in the Church everywhere.
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written by Manfred, January 05, 2012
@John: When these Permanent Deacons are finally told that from the moment they accept the diaconate they are to be celibate, it will be interesting to see what their response will be. The celibacy issue is the reason their spouses were/are obliged to sign a statement of agreement as they are giving up their nuptial rights as well.
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written by Thomas A. Szyszkiewicz, January 05, 2012
I would also hope for renewal in the health care and social justice sectors of the Church. These are the two most largely unreformed areas in the U.S.
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written by David, January 05, 2012
Manfred, Permanent deacons don't forgo sexual relations with their wives. That is completely false. Look it up. Deacons who are married, are permitted to continue with their normal relations with eachother just as before.
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written by Deacon Jim Stagg, January 05, 2012
Thank you, Father McCloskey, for such a positive outlook for the Church. Those of us who have struggled with our deteriorating culture need a few good words of encouragement, and these are those.

And, Manfred, where DO you get such ideas?
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written by STEVEN YDE, January 05, 2012
NICE COLUMN FATHER CJ. JUST BY SOME OF THE BACKHAND AND FOREHAND COMMENTS I CAN SEE THAT POPE BENEDICTS SMALL BUT FAITHFUL CHURCH ARE THE FIRST BUDS APPEARING IN THE SPRING. IT WOULD BE JOYOUS TO SEE SOME OF THESE HEARTS AND MINDS TURN TOWARDS THE LIGHT BUT AS YOU SAID PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS AND LEADING BY EXAMPLE IN YOUR COMMUNITY WILL BE THE KEY LONG TERM. 'FAIRY TALES ARE NOT TRUE BECAUSE THEY TELL US THAT DRAGONS EXIST, THEY ARE TRUE BECAUSE THEY TELL US DRAGONS CAN BE BEATEN.' GKC. KEEP BEATING BACK THOSE BEASTS.
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written by Bil Russell, January 06, 2012
Re: Deacons - (CNA).- Permanent deacons should not preach at Mass often. Rather, they should preach at other services and serve the Church in the course of their daily witness to Christ, Bishop Alexander Sample of Marquette, Mich. has said in a new pastoral letter on the deacon’s role in the Catholic Church.

Bishop Sample’s 19-page letter, titled “The Deacon: Icon of Jesus Christ the Servant,” cited the principle that the one who presides at a liturgical service or who is the principal celebrant at Mass should also give the homily.

“This should be the ordinary practice,” he said.

Deacons should preach the homily at Mass “for some identifiable advantage for the faithful in the congregation, but not on a regular basis,” the bishop wrote.

The Bishop of Marquette had stopped accepting new deacon candidates until a study of their role had been completed.
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written by deacon bill nagle, January 08, 2012
The Bishops may come to more fully understand that preaching is a gift from the Holy Spirit for the Church.The preaching in the Church today ranges from pathetic to prophetic leaning toward the pathetic side. Whoever preaches,priest,deacon,or bishop should be preaching "In persons Christi".Wake up brothers, the pulpit/ambeau belongs to Jesus.Do all have the gift of preaching????Do not quench the holy Spirit! sent by a deacon, a forgotten person of the Blessed hierarchy!
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written by Joan, January 13, 2012
I read something a week ago and I cannot recall where I read it, nor can I recall which pope was quoted, (I am recovering from breast cancer surgery at this time). But I DO remember the quote, and I believe that it is one that Fr. McClosky will recognize. A Holy Father said:
“It is a great mystery that the salvation of many is brought about by the holiness of a few”. Instead of looking about and wondering who is listening to Fr. McClosky, and the Holy Fathers, we need to be seeking, knocking, and asking at the door of our Holy Triune God, for the grace of being one of those few; even if we think that it is too late, even if we have thought we are closing the barn door after the horses have run away, even if most of our life is in the past, no matter.

The man in this Parable, who was begging for a Loaf of Bread, i.e., the Holy Eucharist and ALL of the Promises of God, and Restoration of soul, family, marriage, religious community, was knocking at the door of a man who had already closed it for the night and locked it, who had already put on his night clothes and tucked his children into bed, who had already shuttered his windows and blown out the lamps, and who had already told the man, NO! That it was TOO LATE, the DOOR WAS SHUT, and told him to GO AWAY!.

But the man had faith. He knew and believed in the Mercy, the Goodness, the Good Will, the Compassion, the Loving Generosity of that Man on whose door he was knocking, and so he persisted, and received his reward. Let us follow the example of the man in this parable, as Jesus desires us to do. Let us never give up and always keep begging God for this HOLY BREAD, the Source and Summit of our Faith and ALL it empowers us to do. Let’s be in solidarity in our determination and firm resolve to NEVER GIVE UP. All for the Sacred and Eucharistic Heart of Jesus, all through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, all in union with St. Joseph.

All my love in the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
Joan Haselman

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