Thursday 25 May 2017

The Mission That Could Be, But Isn't...

St Francis of Assisi before the Sultan
A well known story concerning St Francis of Assisi recounts the time the poverello went to meet the Sultan to convert him (through forthright "dialogue") to the Holy Faith of Christ. It became the stuff of legend, the greatest miracle being that St Francis, having survived the challenge of fire he presented to the Sultan, escaped with his life.

By all accounts, St Francis and the companions who he took with him were ready, eager even, to die a martyrs death for Jesus Christ, their love for Him knowing no human limitations. They had already embraced humiliation and poverty, scorn and contempt of the world for the love of Christ crucified and were ready to hand over their lives knowing they would exchange mortal flesh for incorruptibility and glory. To be certain, among Christians, Francis and his companions were then as rare as Saints always are rare, yes even within the Church. But to the Muslims of his time, St Francis had something to say. And they were very impressed because he was not only holy but told them the truth without fear, with no hint of terror.

Quite what St Francis would feel about the current state of affairs in the Church I shudder to think. Quite what he would have to say about me, I also shudder to think. What he makes of the the nature of the 'dialogue' between Islam and the Church, I shudder to think. Just like the Church's 'dialogue' with Judaism or with any other religion, the nature of the dialogue currently proposed by the Church takes the form of a photo-opportunity and a handshake.

The Manchester bombing marks a defining moment in the life of the United Kingdom. At the moment, things are understandably raw. How could it be anything but? Rhetorical slogans are being thrown across internet forums and on social media that suggest that we in some way stand 'united' and that we will not be daunted by terror. They range from any sentiment of anger and defiance to stubborn English grit, to an appeal for unity in the midst of hatred and violence, yet natural as these responses are, they show us no vision of hope for the future of our land and offer to the Muslim community no response that can challenge them. We want change, but we are happy for things to remain the same because change is also daunting.

The Catholic Church - and only the Catholic Church - remains in a supreme position to bring aid to the people of Great Britain. In fact, she is the only force, the only body, that can bring both solace and hope to our people, but if she is to do so, hard truths have to be once again proclaimed. Our leaders once again must find within themselves or rather from God, the courage to speak to our people - including Muslim people, about the saving love of Jesus Christ, the only Saviour of the World.

Our country is heading into an abyss, a never-ending spiral of violence and pacification, appeasement and death. Nobody of God would condone the torching of mosques or retribution towards the Muslim community from which sprung the terror that was visited upon Manchester. Equally, however, pious platitudes and secular slogans of 'We stand united!' too ring hollow in the wake of this tragic attack on human life, when little to nothing unites the people of Great Britain but an understandable aversion to terrorist atrocity. However, the Church in the United Kingdom needs to enter into a genuine dialogue with Islam which challenges Islam's most fundamental tenets and in which these tenets are questioned. In fact, Islam's most fundamental tenets need not only to be questioned, but refuted, for we Christians know that teachings that underpin the credibility of the Islamic religion are false. The refutation of the claims of Islam should be announced to Muslims not in order to provoke Islamic anger but because the Catholic religion is the true religion and the Islamic religion contains error, errors which have led many to join the ranks of Islamic militia and spill blood for their cause.

The Church, while respecting Muslims and their faith in the God they profess, can never concede, for example, that the Angel Gabriel, having announced to the ever-Virgin Mary that she was to be the Mother of the Incarnate God, appeared to Mohammed centuries later wishing that he would start a new religion to rival that of Christ. The errors of Islam and the errors of the Prophet Mohammed must be confronted. These errors are Christological in nature. Such was the nature of the dialogue which St Francis held with the Sultan, the truth of which could have cost him his life at the time. Many more Saints, Martyrs have given up their lives for just this truth. In fact, Christians around the world are dying regularly for this truth. Why should the Church in the West live comfortably by refusing to offer to Muslims this truth? There can only be one reason and that is that the Church is afraid to speak it.

We need to tell Muslims, who profess to believe in God, that in the appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Word was made flesh. God became Man. This God-Man, Jesus Christ performed Miracles because of his divine nature, the Son of the Everlasting Father of Heaven and Earth. There were witnesses to this and to His glorious Resurrection from the dead. In His human nature, He suffered and permitted Himself to be crucified at the hands of the wicked and to die in order to save us from our sins. Jesus Christ is in Heaven not as a mere prophet but as the only Son of God, co-equal with God the Father, God from God, light from light. Having ascended into Heaven, Jesus Christ sent to His Church the Holy Spirit to embolden her to teach mankind to be baptised and to follow all the Commandments Christ laid upon His disciples.

In order for Muslims to inherit that which God desires to give them which they themselves claim shall be theirs, they do not have to perform attacks upon those who they believe insult the majesty of God. In order for Muslims to inherit the Kingdom of Heaven they must become disciples of Jesus Christ and fulfill all the commandments that He, the Son of God, enjoins on His followers. We must find within the Heart of God, the zeal to announce to Muslims in both charity and truth that while there is much that is good within their religion the very foundations of their religion can never be deemed to be true and their proclamation is indeed an insult to the sublime and ineffable first coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, at whose Second Coming, all shall be judged according to their deeds, words, acts and even thoughts. The final revelation of God is not the Prophet Mohammed but the Lord Jesus Christ, the Eternal Son of the Father, the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity. We have it on the authority of the Son of God that Salvation, which all Muslims profess to desire, can only be found in professing belief in Jesus Christ not merely as a prophet but as the Lord God Almighty.

If England is to be subjected to terror then let it be announced to the Islamic community which, like any religious community contains men both good and bad alike, that those members of their community (be they a small minority) who wish to visit death upon the citizens of our land visit their evil upon a people who stand unafraid for good reason. Let us not lie and say that we are unafraid when we are afraid. Let us proclaim to the Islamic State who wish to terrorise us, just as Christians do in Syria and Iraq and other countries, that we remain without terror only because Jesus Christ is God, He is the Lord and whatever they wish to do to our bodies, the Crown of Life belongs to those who remain loyal to Jesus Christ until the end.

If they who wish us evil do not repent and turn to Jesus Christ they will perish not only at the end of this life but in eternity. It will be the fate they have secured for themselves and their deeds will go with them into eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his fallen angels. Before any Islamic terrorist even considers committing a bombing or a terrorist attack in our land, let the Gospel ring in his ears, may the Church's warning be heard, that Jesus Christ is the Lord, that whatever good their religion contains, their Prophet was a false prophet who brazenly dared to rival the final revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ after His first coming. Mohammed is as useful to the salvation of the Muslims as Joseph Smith is to the Mormons, that is, of no help whatsoever. Mohammed can lead no man to Heaven. Only Jesus Christ can do that since it is He who by His Death and Resurrection has opened Heaven to those who believe in Him. Those who do not join themselves to Jesus Christ in this life and who die without Him excluded from His Holy Catholic Church will not stand at His glorious Second Coming when He judges the world in justice and righteousness on that day when terror will seize all who willfully rejected Him. His verdict will be final. His sentence, eternal. Let every man know this!

Let every man prepare himself to battle in this country, not with swords or with fire or with torches, not with bombs or knives or guns or insult for these weapons are the weapons of the enemy. No, let every man prepare himself for death, for if terrorists teach us one thing, it is that we know not the day, nor the hour when we shall have to render an account to the Supreme Judge, Jesus Christ, for our deeds and omissions. Let every man pray for the grace to die, not for the cruel delight of those who with malice take our lives and the lives of our sons and daughters, but for the love of the One who by dying opened Paradise to us. Let every Muslim hear that Mohammed, being only a man, could never by dying bring life to anyone, though he visited death upon many and spread his religion by the sword and captivated many with his teachings as many false prophets have done. Let us treat every Muslims with respect, but let no Muslim be left in any doubt as to the reason for the hope that is within us.

No politician offers this country any hope whatsoever. No pop singer does either. It is all theatre. Only Our Lord Jesus Christ can save this poor nation. Only Jesus Christ can offer to our country that hope which never fades, the hope of being forever with Him and His Saints in Heaven. This is the hope which every Islamic terrorist mistakes as his reward for murder, but those who commit murder and die unrepentant will never see God. These senseless men die perceiving that their reward will be Paradise but little do they know that murder merits eternal punishment and murder has no justification. Murderers will not inherit the Kingdom of God!

If the Church in this country truly loves Muslims, then we must preach once more the Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ undaunted and unafraid. Then, should death come at the hands of the wicked, let us die with the name of Jesus on our lips and forgiveness of our murderers in our hearts. We must prepare ourselves because our Government will not protect us. With every terrorist atrocity, we move closer and closer not to unity, but to the Police State and totally controlled society that is the quest of the hidden hand of Freemasonry within Europe. Those Muslims who are peace-loving will respect us for preaching our religion undiluted to them. Those Muslims who are not peace-loving will react in whatever manner they choose, but we cannot control their choices. This is England. We are free to tell the other religions the truth about Jesus Christ and His Holy Catholic Church. This is not Saudi Arabia. Not yet!

We must respect Muslims enough to tell them what we know to be true and give them and ourselves the opportunity to obtain the Salvation for which they and we profess to desire. If they truly desire Salvation, they will accept the Lord Jesus Christ and turn from their Prophet who has led so many of their community so far astray that they are willing to murder children in order to attain the Paradise which eludes them. If they do not desire Salvation, they will follow their false prophet and receive the sentence that the Lord gives them at their death for their decision. We can commend each and every Muslim to the mercy of God, we can pray for all, but we cannot tell a Muslim that Heaven will ever be theirs unless they turn to Jesus Christ and seek the forgiveness of their sins in His name, binding themselves to His One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

This we must do, in love, for every man, for every man and woman is loved by God and God, loving us all, desires every man and woman to be saved. If we in the United Kingdom cannot tell Muslims that in order for them to attain the Salvation they long for that they must embrace the Faith of Jesus Christ and be baptised, for fear of attack, reprisal, of giving offense, of provoking another terrorist atrocity then indeed, there is no hope for this country. If we cannot proclaim our Faith without fear, then we may as well all acknowledge that we stand united only because we believe that there is safety in numbers. If we are afraid to proclaim the only Faith that saves, then we should acknowledge that terror, despite all our imaginative Twitter slogans, has already won.

Pray, pray, pray for the conversion of the Muslims.

Pray for the conversion of the United Kingdom.

Only in Jesus and Mary will this country ever attain peace!

May Our Lady of Fatima pray for all Muslims, 
for Manchester and for the world. 

Monday 22 May 2017

The New Pentecost

I think we can all agree this is what it was like.

Though I suppose nobody had a tape recorder at the time.

But let's not let that get in the way of the charismatic renewal embraced by various dioceses.

Sunday 21 May 2017

Pope Francis: The H Question

Fr John Hunwicke has at his blog 'Liturgical Notes' been running a series (here, here and here), yet unfinished, on the important matter of whether the Pope known as Francis is a heretic. Already he has come to the conclusion that it cannot be the case. As always, Fr John takes a reasonable, razor-sharp, logical and exquisitely light-hearted approach to a serious question and leaves his readers considering some serious implications to mull over.

Without wishing to put words in the mouth of Fr Hunwicke or misinterpret them, I would like to add some questions and thoughts of my own. The Church can only judge as heretics those who are her own. If a Catholic, even a Catholic who had risen to the Office of the Papacy literally believes in nothing then can that person be judged a heretic? Am I being harsh?

Recalling Rorate Caeli's prophetic post on the election of Pope Francis, one phrase stands out:

'Famous for his inconsistency (at times, for the unintelligibility of his addresses and homilies), accustomed to the use of coarse, demagogical, and ambiguous expressions, it cannot be said that his magisterium is heterodox, but rather non-existent for how confusing it is.'

The pin-point accurate Rorate report on the then unknown figure of Jorge Bergoglio in 2013 elucidates for us just a little the mysterious man who is now on the Chair of Peter. It illustrates that for as long as he has been publicly known, Jorge Bergoglio has been vague, ambiguous, ambitious, self-contradictory, demagogic in his employment of language and that it cannot be said that he has a heterodox magisterium (that he is a heretic) because no real comprehensive magisterium can be found. After four years of Francis, I thoroughly concur with this assessment.

For this reason it is most unhelpful for Francis's most loyal supporters to place too much weight on the teachings of Francis the Pope. Equally, however, the unintelligibility of Jorge Bergoglio's actual beliefs make it very difficult for people to lay the charge of heresy against him. All that is known is that his teaching is 'strange' or even 'foreign'.

Cardinal Maradiaga, has for example, recently laid into Cardinal Burke in a most unseemly manner, a manner unworthy of the Cardinalate, but clearly the Honduran prelate is able to somehow discern in a quite miraculous fashion the magisterium of Francis while to so many it remains enigmatic and utterly confusing. Somehow Cardinal Maradiaga is able to talk in glowing terms of the Pope's 'teaching'. Referring to Cardinal Burke, the Cardinal says:

'“He’s not the magisterium,”...
He goes on...

“The Holy Father is the magisterium, and he’s the one who teaches the whole Church. This other [person] speaks only his own thoughts, which don’t merit further comment.'

All of which begs the question: If someone close to the Pope like Cardinal Maradiaga is able to tell us that Pope Francis is the Magisterium, he must know what Pope Francis's magisterium is. Or perhaps not. I don't. Does anyone else? Perhaps Pope Francis has laid it out to him privately or perhaps more likely there is in operation a secret doctrine so secret that it is passed telepathically by people of like minds. It cannot actually be spoken clearly, pronounced, but it is itself a mysterious 'spirit' that pervades the corridors of no less a place now than the Vatican itself.

It cannot realistically be called the spirit of 'heresy' because in order to be a heretic, you actually have to believe something. It cannot be said to be the spirit of 'apostasy' because in order to be an apostate, you have to have at some point belonged to the Church or professed Her teachings, believing something.

Indeed, not believing in anything of substance provides the individual with a vantage point to look down upon those who do and His Holiness takes advantage of this with relish, yesterday adding to his repertoire of insults the ludicrous charge of 'fanatics' against those who wish to see the Church's teachings - already solemnly defined - proclaimed and championed. Of course, one who believes in nothing can never be called a 'fanatic' because a 'fanatic' has to believe in something in order to believe it fanatically or in a way that people can paint in terms of mental illness and/or an attachment to evil (whatever that is!). Fanatics, remember, are also those who blow up buildings and people for the cause of their religion/beliefs.

Yet the nullification of Jesus's teachings (doctrine) and the Church's teachings (doctrine) which are His own (doctrine) by the believers of nothing, more commonly known as nihilists, requires some assent of belief by those who instigate it. Believing nothing of substance concerning faith and morals, they do at least have to believe one thing - that they are right. And this, it can be said, they believe most passionately. They do believe that they are right, but ask them what they believe and the answer, as all the ends of the earth have heard, will be most confusing, unintelligible.

However, there is one thing they believe you must do and you must believe and that is to adhere to that magisterium which is Pope Francis, even if you don't know what Pope Francis really believes, because he is the Pope and the Pope is right because the Pope is always right. Of course, if a future Pope taught something different to Francis, or suggested he could have been wrong in some areas, that Pope would be wrong in his potentiality, especially if he believes things as Popes previous to Francis have taught. And if that Pope elucidated Catholic teachings in the manner of Cardinal Burke, well, should you follow that Pope's magisterium? I expect that Maradiaga's position would be: If a future Pope believes anything of substance concerning faith and morals and announces it clearly and intelligibility, do not follow him. Right?

The good thing about the dubia submitted by the four Cardinals was that it politely asked His Holiness to enlighten us on what he actually believes concerning the Deposit of Faith. The dubia touched on the nature of divine and objective truth, marriage, morality, you know, a lot of important matters of Catholic teaching. For doing so they are perhaps to be found among the 'ideologues of doctrine', among the 'fanatics' that displease the Pope. So we know that their appeal is not met with much approval by the Pope, but as to what the Pope actually believes, should we really be told that the Pope is the magisterium, while we await news of his magisterium? Perhaps after all, it takes more faith to be a nihilist than it does to be a Catholic.

Friday 12 May 2017

Pray for Priests, Pray for Holy Priests

Some prominent dissident (that's what we used to call them before we became 'dissidents') Catholic priests and speakers should probably be simply ignored than given extra publicity but that is harder to do when they've just been promoted to the Vatican communications team in an age of instant communication.

Up to the period of the Church we can term 'March 2013 to the present day' a figure such as Fr James Martin S.J would be considered an annoyance or more likely an embarrassment for the Vatican. Now, he's been given a prestigious role in communicating the Gospel (according to Fr James Martin S.J) at, yes indeed, the Vatican.

As a chap with some same-sex experience under my belt, at the memory of which I blush, rather than boast, I find Fr James Martin S.J scandalous not because he is 'reaching out' to the 'LGBT community' or 'building bridges' with 'the LGBT community' (whatever that is) but rather because 'the bridge', once stepped upon by those being ministered to, does not appear to lead to the eternal Salvation that Jesus Christ offers to His flock.

Fr James Martin's latest video released on Facebook attacking his critics is a cringe-fest of epic proportions, but there is nobody now to restrain him. He's been set loose with Vatican approval to propagate his message at will and with the blessing of no less a figure than the Pope himself.

Fr Martin routinely makes controversial statements on Twitter and Facebook designed almost uniquely to both seduce the unfaithful or wavering and antagonise the faithful. I say 'almost uniquely' because this is actually a habit he shares with Pope Francis. But he's actually better at this than Francis. He's even more effective in ambiguity than his patron. Pictured below is the latest tweet that provoked many responses, some of which were critical on Facebook.

As with many Fr Martin quotes, an element of truth is  retained in order to propagate a greater untruth. One Walter Maczynski takes Fr Martin up on his 'bridge building' ideas by saying that no canonized Saints would be impressed by Fr Martin's reasoning. The reply comes as follows:

'Some of them were probably gay.'

Depending on what is meant by 'gay', if he simply means 'of a homosexual orientation' this is can be conceded to Fr Martin. If by 'gay' he means 'militantly set against the Church's teachings on human sexuality until death', then one may raise the question of how those souls may attain Salvation. Next comes...

'A certain percentage of humanity is gay.'

This is true. No problems here.

' were most likely some of the Saints'.

This is true. No problems here either. While we have no known Saints who embraced the homosexual lifestyle or who claimed the homosexual orientation, one can speculate that there are Saints in Heaven who were, note 'were', in modern parlance, 'gay'. The real problem comes here:

'You may be surprised when you get to heaven to be greeted by LGBT men and women.'

This is a sickening lie for two reasons.

Firstly, we can categorically say that the Saints in Heaven have been purified either on Earth or in Purgatory of all disordered affections and desires that may have afflicted them in their earthly exile. Enjoying the vision of God now, they care nothing for any 'identity' other than that glory which is theirs as those who behold the Triune God. Nor do they glory in themselves but in the eternal redemption won for them by their Lord, the merits of whose Passion and Resurrection gained their Salvation and with their co-operation claimed their place among the Elect of God.

To say that now there are 'LGBT men and women' in Heaven is to deny what Heaven is, as if the Saints consider within themselves such earthly cares as the intricacies or perversities of human sexuality they experienced on Earth while beholding now the Face of God. It would be to them like reminding a man madly in love with a woman that once he was terribly lonely. The loneliness is forgotten now. All he knows now is the love of his beloved.

If these men and women were 'gay' on Earth, they are only now 'gay' in Heaven in the sense that they are happy, more fulfilled, happier than we can know, because they enjoy God and see Him as He truly is. Fr Martin should recall that attraction to people of the same-sex such men and women will have considered a Cross or an affliction, rather than a noble thing of itself. And even those who persisted in a sinful lifestyle and gloried in it until the end, if they repented and sought Confession before death, even they who would be numbered among the reprobate, by making their Confession before death will have disowned those fleeting pleasures and attractions which they had hitherto gloried in. For the Saints, that which will have made them noble on Earth and will be their glory in Heaven will have been their resistance to their temptation and/or their penitence if they fell.

Secondly, it is bad enough for Fr James Martin to suggest that there exists within the Church Militant an 'LGBT community' since not only are we, in Christ Jesus, 'a new creation', but in Christ there is neither slave nor freeman, Jew or Greek, male or female, 'gay' or 'straight'. It is however a double insult - blasphemous indeed - to suggest that such a society exists in Heaven. There is only one Society in Heaven. Citizens of Heaven are precisely that. They are God's army of sons and daughters in the company of the Angels. There are no divisions there which unnecessarily mark, in an exterior fashion, the Church on Earth.

In truth, as St Augustine says in his work, 'City of God', there are but two 'communities'. There is the City of God and there is the City of Man. The Church in Heaven is nothing but the City of God. Those outside of the Church on Earth consist of the City of Man. The Church on Earth is composed of the two cities, one of which is on its way to the eternal dwelling of God's City in Heaven and even on Earth, if they die in God's grace are members and shall be members of that City in Heaven. This is the City of God.

St Augustine maintained that within the Church, too, is the City of Man, destined for Hell, composed of those who are called to be members of the City of God, but who by obstinacy in sin or sheer willfulness in error have fallen away from the City of God and will never see it if they die impenitent. This is true of every age until the End of Time. It is not possible to achieve, but it can be so that a man tries to have one foot in each city but he will have to eventually choose, since how he dies will determine to which City he will belong forever. If he dies impenitent, he can hope no more. If he dies penitent, he may hope to dwell eventually in that City where God reigns and joy is complete.

For most of my adult life, I have struggled and struggled with same-sex attraction but the most wonderful community I have found is not an 'LGBT community' at all. I found a Catholic parish, where I am fortunate to have found a very wise and very kind confessor and pastor and great friends. I have a wonderful wife who I love and consider myself fortunate in many ways. I have met and still meet many wonderful priests and religious. Online, there is much support and friendship also. I am so happy that the Lord led me into His Catholic Church and I know that this Church is the Ark of Salvation, where if I persevere in God's grace and strive with that grace to do His will, I can hope to receive the Eternal Life that Christ came to give me, but as for the 'LGBT men and women' of which Fr James Martin S.J speaks, I see none in the Church on Earth. I only see men and women, each struggling like myself with life, love, faith, sin, prayer, at times struggling with God, sometimes perhaps even against God. I do not see the eternal destiny of the community I go to Mass with, or my own, or anyone else's, but I know that the community to which I belong is called by the Lord to be a province in His City, where He reigns as King. May we help each other to reach the City which is above.

Which City will we all inhabit when all is made manifest? Let us pray for each other that we shall meet happily in Heaven. If I get there and Fr James Martin S.J is there, I will rejoice, but if he gets there, he will look for the 'LGBT men and women' in vain, since each one of them will have thrown off forever the garment of corruptibility and been clothed in a garment of immortality, righteousness, justice and holiness. There is only one community in which a man is known by his sin, the knowledge and despair of which torments him forever day and night. That community is Hell. May Fr James Martin S.J and all of us do all we can to avoid that City ourselves and never lead God's children to its gates. May the bridge that is extended by the Church to all men and all women regardless of their sexuality lead us to the City of Heaven and carry the warnings about sin and its consequences which are Christ's own. Without moral guidance, clear direction and exhortations to reject sin and embrace virtue, such a bridge cannot lead men to Eternal Salvation, since how will they find Heaven if nobody shows them the way?

If Fr James Martin S.J was a priest after the heart of Jesus Christ, his ministry could indeed be very fruitful, gathering in a harvest of penitent members of the 'LGBT community' who wish to be citizens of Heaven rather than denizens of Hell, those who desire to do away with the old man and put on the new, those who instead of championing their sexual deviancy and their temptations of the flesh wish to be heralds of the new Heavens and the new Earth, building a civilization of pure love and holy friendship - the kind of holy friendship available in many Catholic parishes.  Unfortunately, this does not appear to be what Fr James Martin is interested in doing. Many are being led astray along the broad road to destruction that Our Lord warned us about in the Gospels and Our Lady of Fatima warned us of in 1917. Pray that more of those who provoke the just anger of the Lord because of sexual impurity and sexual licence will find the true bridge to Salvation provided to the Faithful by good and holy priests who love Jesus Christ and His Blessed Mother and wish others to discover the depth of love that God has for us and the love that God desires from us.

I would like to congratulate one such priest today, Fr Ray Blake, whose 33rd anniversary of Ordination to the Sacred Priesthood is today. May the Lord give him long life, many more years, good health and every grace in his ministry. Pray for him and pray for those clergy who wish to extend to poor sinners that bridge which is the bridge to Heaven, the bridge that is Jesus Christ Himself and Him crucified for love of us. May God raise up more priests who wish to make known the God of love and the love of God.

Monday 1 May 2017

Catholic Parishes Now Embracing Protestant Catechesis

Those were the days that were...
I walked away from a local Catholic parish rather disgruntled that the parish priest has decided to run the Alpha Course and I am quite sure that this stridently Protestant catechetical programme is being wheeled out in many Catholic parishes in the English speaking world.

I wonder how it is that the Catholic Church could have dumbed down so much as to accept this course as material suitable for a Catholic or potentially Catholic audience. Why did the Fathers of the Church bother? Why was the Reformation resisted? Why do the Dominicans bother? To me it suggests that the 'great miracle' envisaged by Pope Francis of a no-questions answered, grand unification of various denominations with the Catholic Church, or a lady of ill-repute masquerading as the Catholic Church, is not terribly far off.

The Catholic Church, having shed centuries of 'liturgical baggage' is probably just about ready to unload its 'doctrinal baggage' under Francis and do whatever is necessary or expedient to unite with the various Christian denominations under one fraternal roof of dialogue, but I expect that those Catholic priests who put on Alpha in good faith, seeking to inspire faith do it because 'it works for the Anglicans'.

Why Catholic parishes should not promote the Alpha Course

Priests should be made aware that Alpha has been successful only in creating more Protestants with few ties to bind them to a particular Church, denomination or 'ecclesial community'. Alpha might create more Christians but it won't create more Catholics. Nor will it provide Catholics with a deepening of their Catholic faith or identity. It will not teach Catholics to love the Mass. Content on the Sacraments is negligible. Catholic priests and bishops should be made aware that Alpha is designed from beginning to end to teach those who come to the course as enquirers that there is really no reason to be a Catholic or an Anglican or a Protestant Evangelical either and whatever floats your boat really...its all about you and Jesus (and the speaking in tongues gift-giving Holy Spirit) and that's really more or less it. The Church is those who believe in Christ and you can find that Salvation anywhere in any Christian community. That's why the Alpha course is run by Methodists, Anglicans, Evangelicals etc and now Catholics. This, however, is not the faith of the Catholic Church. 

It can be said, too, that this programme of catechesis on the 'essentials' of the Christian faith with a light garnish of Catholicism on the side is not being turned to by Catholic parishes because there is a dearth of catechetical resources in the Catholic world to promote the 'new evangelisation', nor is it implausible that such material can be taught using the successful meal, DVD, group discussion model that Alpha uses.

In the UK, both 'Evangelium' and 'The WHY? Course' are very good DVD based overviews of the Catholic Faith that include very persuasive and sound apologetics with training material for lay leaders. I am sure it wouldn't take too long to find some very high quality US material also. There must be loads of Catholic material out there.

However, we live in a time when love for the True Faith, the Faith of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church and the Catholic Faith in general is not promoted at now very high levels of the Catholic Church and I expect that this informs a great deal of the Alpha promotion that is going on. Many priests don't see any problems with a stripped down, Protestantised theology. Indeed, the parish that is promoting it in my region had its Confessional box removed. Nothing replacing it has returned. The use of the bell at the Hanc Igitur and the Consecration have been stopped for no reason. Generally speaking, Catholic worship has become so protestantised even unto the imitation of Evangelical style 'praise and worship' that the Sacrifice of Calvary has become trivialised. Extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion are utilised unneccessarily, Communion in the hand, standing, is the norm, much of the sacred nature of the Mass has been rejected across the World. All the average parish needs now is an Alpha course and the triumph of Protestantism will be nearly complete.

The problem is that many bishops and many priests privately are very worried that Catholicism is in crisis in this country, which it certainly is. They cannot see any areas of growth in the Catholic Church, unless they are looking at an immigrant community who boost numbers in the pews and baptism figures. Presumably, they look at those things which record some kind of tangible success in other 'ecclesial communities' and think they can take good things from that and perhaps the results will be good for the Catholic Church. They need only look at figures in Latin America, however, to see that where Protestantism succeeds, it does so to the Catholic Church's detriment and despite the Catholic Church in Latin America having tried to imitate what Evangelicals and Pentecostals do, it seems to only have seen a compounding and consolidation of the loss of baptised Catholics to those other 'ecclesial communities', because once the Catholic Church apes those other communities, there is only as much reason to go to a Catholic Church as there is to those other communities. That is, as much reason, at best, but certainly not more. Let's face it, if you're into Christian worship music, those Pentecostals probably have superior sound systems anyway, because they have loads of money in the kitty.

There seems to be a circular loop of destruction in process in as much as whenever the Catholic Church tries to ape other denominations, people see even less reason to be Catholic or remain Catholic. Yet this is common sense. Do bishops understand this? Do priests not see this? If what is on offer is the same as what is on offer in other denominations - and the message is more or less the same - 'the so called 'essentials of Christianity' - then why would we attract converts to the Catholic Church or retain those who are members of Her? Why consider the Catholic Church if its the same as the Methodist Church or the Baptist Church with a couple of additional things that 'we can discuss later in the course'? The justification for the Alpha Course seems to be that it explains in simple and reasonable terms the 'essentials' of the Christian faith. However, its employment by Catholic parishes is utterly confusing to me, because unless it is explained quickly why membership of the Catholic Church is essential - rather than an additional feature which you may wish to consider in Alpha Course meeting 11 (if, indeed, at all), then why bother considering the Catholic Church and why bother even doing the course in a Catholic Church?

Something I expect is overlooked by even a 'Catholic' Alpha Course...

Catholic parishes who use Alpha are setting up a bizarre situation, a situation in which Christians who have done the Alpha Course and have realised, like I eventually did, that there must be one Church, one Church established by Christ wherein the fullness of Divine Revelation could be found, will go looking for that One Church having already wandered like a lost sheep around every denomination but the Catholic Church, only to find that the Catholic Church, instead of telling me I have come to the home that God has in His great mercy prepared for me, tells me that, in fact, that search is still ongoing, because the Catholic Church is too embarrassed of Her Lord and Her Faith to tell me that this is the One Church established by Christ for the Salvation of mankind, outside of which Salvation is, at the very least, unlikely, and that all those other ecclesial communities, despite the good that can be found within them, are deficient because they are not the Church founded by Jesus Christ.

Anyway, on a lighter note, despite what Bear Grylls says in his advert for the Alpha Course, the curvature of the Earth cannot be seen at the summit of Mount Everest. It cannot be seen either at 121,000 feet. But I don't think either you, or I, are ready for that blogpost yet.

It is heartening to know that the Catholic Evidence Guild are still going, not, I suspect, with the support of many Bishops...

The Pope Who Won't Be Buried

It has been a long time since I have put finger to keyboard to write about our holy Catholic Faith, something I regret, but which I put larg...