by Fr Richard Heilman | September 10, 2015 2:33 PM
There was an article going around today from Patheos, “Why the Catholic Church Must Become More Protestant.”
The title alone got my ire up. Then I read the article. I’d like to hear what the author of this article contended that Dr. Kreeft said, exactly. Here’s what the author wrote:
Without compromising the integrity of the Catholic Church, and the truth of Catholic doctrine, Kreeft said, simply, that if Catholicism is going to have any hope of attracting our non-Catholic brothers and sisters the Catholic Church must become more Protestant.
I’m convinced he’s right, and his remarks, his solution to the problem of ecumenism, has had a significant impact on my orientation towards Christian unity and the tenor of my prayers ever since.
The author believes Dr. Kreeft was, specifically, referring to Evangelical Protestantism, as they are said to have a serious market cornered on relationship-building, discipleship, and evangelization.
“That is, Evangelical churches the world over are great at making people feel welcome (like they’re part of something bigger—because they are), teaching them how to become “little Jesus’s”, and equipping them to go out into the world and act accordingly.
Through successful programs of Bible Study, Sunday School, youth groups, and enriching fellowship, Evangelical churches build up a community that feels like a community. They’re accessible and welcoming.
Through this kind of dedication and devotion to study and fellowship, Evangelicals are equipped to live amongst the world and witness to Christ—to live a life oriented to Christ and make it known.”
We don’t need to become more Protestant … we’ve been “trying” that very thing for the past 50 years. No, instead, we need to jettison the cheesy, kitschy, secularized and protestantized liturgies, and restore beauty and awe and sacredness and wonder. We need to become “more serious.”
Evangelicals are exploring their faith more because they are *inspired* to do so … plain and simple. Evangelicals, as a whole, take their faith more serious because they are inspired by the seriousness with which their leaders are “investing” in them. This “seriousness” is contagious. While at your typical Catholic parish they are trudging through yet another “All Are Welcome” sing-song, as they stand there in their exercise attire, looking at their watches.
What do I mean by serious?
They are doing high tech concerts, they call liturgy, while we are doing a bad version of Hee Haw. I’m not saying we need to go high tech. In fact, I think we need to help our Evangelicals to know the beauty and wonder of sacred music; of *quality* and *sacred* liturgy as a way to inspire our people (I’ve had many Masses in my parish where I wanted to run 6 miles down the road to the big box Evangelical church and beg them to come and experience it). In other words, whatever they are doing (while I disagree with it) they are doing it well. They seem to care, while we seem to care less.
I don’t know about their claim to be doing evangelization, if they mean proselytizing. I think they have *quality* entertainment and a strong sense of community, and that attracts.
This was the Church of my boyhood! We had a 30 member choir that would make your eyes roll back in your head … elevating your soul to the throne room of God. Liturgy was a serious matter, with great precision and reverence … it helped us mere mortals *believe* that was God on that altar.
We were best friends with all of our parishioners, and we would stay a long time after Mass and chat (the kids would play); we would hangout at each others’ houses; and we had dinners and breakfasts and festivals and a whole lot of celebrating our “Catholic friendship.” The parish was our second home.
All of that ceased when, as they say, “the day the music died” (along with the liturgy). With the “unserious music and liturgy,” we all became very “unserious” and we quickly made our faith and our parish low man on the totem poll in our list of priorities.
No, I wouldn’t call it a need to become more Protestant, but a need to take our faith as “seriously” as the Evangelicals do, and as we once did.. We need to do what we had done *before* our desire to become Protestant (and all the post-Vatican II nonsense) … and we need to do it well!!
I just have to share this beautiful comment from a Facebook friend, Mary Regina …
“I’m reading about church history and the Mass from the beginning. Those saints and early Christians never needed entertainment or social fraternity. They were united already in faith, lifestyle, and discipline, even if the mass was said in a language they didn’t understand like Greek, Latin or Arabic. It is otherworldly and holy. Gregorian chants, Latin, High Mass, reverence, sanctity and solemnity draw you in. If it doesn’t, then maybe you prefer worldly things instead and Christianity isn’t for you.
The Mass of Paul VI got introduced when I was 5. I was raised with a lifetime of exposure to modern Catholic liturgy and Protestant worship. They mirror each other. I was nagged by a constant feeling of emptiness in these services and didn’t know why. There’s so much diversity in these places, the person standing next to you may be pro-choice and you’re pro-life; or they might believe in contraception, gay marriage and cohabitation, but you don’t. The style, language, dress and music are all different.
Then at age 50, I went to a 15-day European pilgrimage with a traditional Catholic tour group. I went to shrines where martyrs died, and saw the real shroud of Turin. Latin Mass and Communion every day. I was converted on the spot, and so was my family member who accompanied me. As soon as I got home, I signed up to be a committed weekly Eucharistic Adorer and switched to a TLM parish in the Chicago suburbs. I came away with a feeling that this is the religion I’m willing to die for, the one the martyrs believed in.
Mine is not a choice that has anything to do with a preference for smells and bells. That’s what some people would like to think. But I find the modern liturgy and ecumenical man-centered worship, the novus ordo, is far too scrubbed of reverence and otherworldliness. I’m reading a scholarly book (400 pages) which explicates how the liturgy council changed the mass and why. The book helped me understand why I always felt something was missing for 50 years, and I’m glad I changed my prayer life because of it.”
This is our patrimony that helped us all become “inspired” enough to make our faith a very serious matter.
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