We Have a Bad Parenting Problem in the Church

by Fr Richard Heilman | July 31, 2018 8:16 PM

 

Given that the Mass is both spiritually and practically the primary interaction Catholics have with their Faith (“the Eucharist is the source and summit of Christian life” – Catechism of the Catholic Church 1324), allowing it to subsist in this deformed, “disintegrated” and diminishing state will only ensure the ongoing malformation of congregants, the disaffection of those seeking the one true faith and the eventual collapse of the institutional Church.

President George W. Bush once coined the term, “soft bigotry of low expectations.” The term implies that we should not expect too much from the other; that it is assumed they are not capable of rising to new heights.

I’ve always contended that the “poor catechism” problem reflects a more serious problem in our Church: “The ‘bad parenting’ of Church leadership has left few who are inspired or, better yet, ‘hungry’ to learn about their faith.” When faith was alive and fervent (let’s say, prior to 1965), Sunday school was only a primer to all the ways the faithful gobbled up everything they could to know God more. Not so much, in most of the baptized today.

Souls need to be “captivated” and “challenged” … caught up in the Awe and Wonder of God and eager to do all they can to please God. They need to be led through the doorway into the Divine Life. Once there, they are smitten with an intense desire to know “the more” about the One they have, NOW, dedicated their entire lives to serve and obey.

The problem is that the inventors and promoters of modern liturgy, and the teachers of the faith, seem to want to play to people’s worldly wants. This has been the mode of the weak leadership – bad parents – within the Catholic Church for the past 50 years. Don’t make too many demands on the faithful, don’t confront any hot button issues that may “trigger” some, don’t offer a Mass that is too reverent – too intense – that actually points to the Real Presence of God. No, Catholicism, and weekly Mass attendance, must be a kind of “safe space” where we are told that our sins are not that bad, but rather a “normal” condition of every man who is incapable of living a superior life. Oh, and by the way, God loves you “no matter what.” Yes, the “soft bigotry of low expectations.”

These past 50 years of “bad parenting” from Church leadership has left us weak and easily manipulated by the world and the prince of this world. As a result, there is little or nothing there that inspires any “total commitment.” God, in fact, is portrayed as the proverbial “bad parent” who lets the kids run wild while making sure they still like Him … “Do whatever you want, as long as there is no tension in our relationship.”

Like the children of bad parents, we then “abuse the relationship.” We believe we can do anything we want – get away with anything we want – and the parent will always “be there,” stroking but never admonishing. Therefore, there is nothing that beckons the “child” to want to learn and study more … no hunger for catechesis. In fact, let’s just blow off the Mass, because, you know, God loves me just the way I am, no matter what I do.

Poor catechesis is reflective of “poor leadership” (bad parenting) and “man-centered, watered down liturgies that do little or nothing to inspire souls to Awe and Wonder; nothing that compels them to “seek the more” of God.

Fr. John Zuhlsdorf is exactly correct: “Save the Liturgy, Save the World.” Pope Benedict XVI famously said, “I am convinced that the crisis in the Church that we are experiencing is to a large extent due to the disintegration of the liturgy.” 

Unless and until the “bad parent” leadership in our Church awakens to this and begins to challenge their sheep with clear teaching, and insist on “Sacred – Awe Inspiring – Liturgies,” the sheep will continue to act as the proverbial spoilt child, easily manipulated and devoured by the wolves of the world.

I am praying that the current shake up in the Church leads to the remedy of weak leadership/bad parenting in the Church.

All that being said, my Bishop Robert Morlino should be the next pope. His teaching is clear and strong and he is unafraid to confront the culture. And, if that wasn’t enough, he promotes “Sacred” liturgy. It’s no wonder vocations have increased 500% since he has been here. Tomorrow we “celebrate” his 15th anniversary in our diocese.

Please pray for our Church leaders! Please pray for Bishop Morlino!

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