Aug 20, 2006

Writing the Story for the Boston Vacuum

Carrie Tomko has identified the coming vacuum in the Church as liberal Catholicism ages and dies. Who and what will be poised to enter the vacuum? How can the vacuum be filled with a renewed Catholicism?

The story of filling the vacuum must be written now, as a historian would write from at least 100 years perspective. Some call 'writing the story' a vision or a long-range plan. Whatever it is, you pretend to be a historian, decide what year you want to start, choose the environment, and decide what should happen to achieve a future goal--in this case, restoring the Catholic Church.

Let's start with the Boston Archdiocese, arguably the most notorious un-Catholic environment in the world. With God's help, how could Boston be revived from its dissolution and desolation? Yes, this may be the most difficult environment in which to develop a vision of the future!

What does the Boston Archdiocese have in 2006?
  • Total lack of confidence in the Archdiocese by Catholics who still want to remain faithful to the Church founded by Jesus Christ
  • Bitter memories of the homosexual sex scandals affecting the priesthood
  • Loss of property similar to church confiscations by Communists in foreign countries
  • Terrible demoralization of the priesthood, leading to further losses of existing priests and few candidates for future priests
The only successful story that a historian of 2100 could write for Boston would have to start with a few great saint(s)--preferably the Archbishop himself and a small group of very saintly priest(s) given special responsibility to restore the Catholicity of Boston. Only saints can identify the path Boston really needs to follow and could motivate other priests and laymen to become saints and rebuild the Archdiocese.

Assume the remaining faithful Catholics of the Archdiocese pray fervently to God who answers their prayers by giving them a very few saintly priests and at least 10 saintly laymen--not just good men, but SAINTS. In order to succeed, the Archbishop would have to publicly state that these priests have been given a special charge to rebuild the church in Boston. [An alternative would be to bring in a great traditional order of priests (e.g., FSSP) and give them the responsibility.]

For the first two months, small groups of rotating pastors would be required to attend a special 4-day retreat given by the saintly priests to prepare the pastors and their people for a special Lent of mortification, fasting, and penance. The pastors would be told by the Archbishop that the saintly priests would be given special responsibility for restoring the Catholic Church in Boston.

After the retreats, the saintly priests would travel to key churches in the Archdiocese to say Mass and give sermons--at the prime Sunday Mass times and as the special representative of the Archbishop. On four days every two weeks, each saintly priest would choose a parish in which to give a retreat or mission. And it would be a hard mission that required confession, significant meditation, and sacrifices (not an eat, meet, and retreat conference). The mission would clearly identify the problem with the Boston Archdiocese are SINS of God's chosen people, their own sins and omissions and those of others that allowed the Boston Archdiocese to descend into chaos. The priest would promise the people that if they did sufficient penance their local church would be restored. During a 6-day rest period each month, the saintly priests would be recharged with their own retreat and days of recollection. The Archbishop would listen to their stories and encourage them to continue their important work.

At first there would be a lot of complaints and even further, possibly major losses of priests and money, if I read Boston correctly. The Archbishop, even in the face of initially adverse results, would continue to actively and publically support the saintly priests that he had given his special charge. At the end of a year, the Archbishop would receive a status report from pastors of parishes where the saintly priests had given retreats--to determine the trend in the number of daily communions and weekly confessions--which should definitely increase! However, money receipts during this period might have fallen.

[to be continued in "Boston, Filling the Vacuum"]


Anonymous said...

Greetings from Boston.

I'm sure Boston looks odd from the outside, whether talking about the weather, the Red Sox or matters of religion. As a lifetime New Englander, I'd like to add a comment.

First of all, I am not yet a Catholic. I'll be in an RCIA program in September. I'm 54, I've been a Christian since I was 19. The very difficulties you describe here really got my attention. It got my attention because it was so obviously a great calamity and at the same time a grand witch hunt. I began to think that there must be something the Catholic Church is doing right to attract this kind of resistance. But be of good cheer: I'm quite sure I'm not the only one who took another look at the Catholic Church and found Jesus there in the Word and the breaking of the bread and decided that no mere scandal would keep me from Him.

I don't mean to suggest that what happened was anything less than catastrophic - only that God brings great things out of catasprophe.

And one last thing: Boston's not nearly as bad as you might think. Some of us wouldn't live anywhere else.

God bless you, and thanks for your time.

Charles Hall
Newburyport, Massachusetts
Former Presbyterian
Future Catholic
Lifelong Red Sox fan

Dust I Am said...

Dear Charles,
I hope you are going to be part of the solution to the 'great calamity' in Boston. Certainly, there will always be scandals, but I wish you could live where the scandals are far fewer and the local Church better represents the bride of Christ.

While you are now planning to fully enter the Church, many Catholics in Boston have left it because of the scandals.

You are blessed with new eyesight that is full of grace and understanding. Others have been scandalized and become blind. Should not the ones responsible be held accountable? Not damned, because God does that, but there is a Catholic notion of accountability that must be present to reflect God's justice on earth. Yes, I also believe in mercy for those who are clearly sorry for what they did.

The Catholic Church will always be the city on the hill that attracts both sinners and saints. Welcome!