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On the Silence of Pastors and a Call to Prayer

August 26, 2010 31 Comments

One of the more consistent concerns I hear expressed here on the blog about priests and bishops is the problem of too much silence from us. There seems to be quite a hunger from many of you to hear from us more cogently and consistently on matters of the faith, moral law, and the cultural breakdown. There is frustration that more is not said about critical matters.

Although I know of many heroic exceptions to this problem I will admit that the big picture does no always look too pretty. Too many Catholic preachers are content to speak in abstractions and generalities and fear offending with too many specifics. This has meant that important moral issues go unaddressed and that the faith has been poorly handed on for many decades now.

That said I also want to express a little frustration from the clergy side of the equation. While it is true that many people want us to say many things about many issues they still want Mass to be out in 45 minutes and the sermon to be 7-10 minutes. This presents a challenge in covering all the many issues of our day and it seems a little more time has to be taken to effectively address matters of the faith and the meltdown of our culture. Seven minutes a week to hand on the faith compared to dozens of hours per day of  exposure to worldly influence is hardly a good balance. I am not asking for interminable sermons but we do have to have more time thatn merely to present a “thought for the week” if we are going to win this battle.

But I’d like to get out of the way and let a Saint speak on this matter of the silence of pastors and ask your prayers for all our Catholic clergy as you read this instruction of Pope St. Gregory the Great to his Clergy. These writings are excerpted from two sources: Pastoral Rule Book 2.4; and Homily. 17.3 and 14.  The boldface introductory phrase is mine otherwise all the indented text is his:

Discretion is good, fearful silence is not – A spiritual guide should be silent when discretion requires and speak when words are of service. Otherwise he may say what he should not or be silent when he should speak. Indiscreet speech may lead men into error and an imprudent silence may leave in error those who could have been taught. Pastors who lack foresight hesitate to say openly what is right because they fear losing the favor of men. As the voice of truth tells us, such leaders are not zealous pastors who protect their flocks, rather they are like mercenaries who flee by taking refuge in silence when the wolf appears.

Silent Pastors are dumb dogs who leave the flock unprotected – The Lord reproaches them through the prophet: They are dumb dogs that cannot bark (Is 56:10). On another occasion he complains: You did not advance against the foe or set up a wall in front of the house of Israel, so that you might stand fast in battle on the day of the Lord (Ez 13:15). To advance against the foe involves a bold resistance to the powers of this world in defence of the flock. To stand fast in battle on the day of the Lord means to oppose the wicked enemy out of love for what is right. When a pastor has been afraid to assert what is right, has he not turned his back and fled by remaining silent? Whereas if he intervenes on behalf of the flock, he sets up a wall against the enemy in front of the house of Israel.

Silent Pastors are false prophets – Therefore, the Lord again says to his unfaithful people: Your prophets saw false and foolish visions and did not point out your wickedness, that you might repent of your sins (Lam 2:14). …The word of God accuses them of seeing false visions because they are afraid to reproach men for their faults and thereby lull the evildoer with an empty promise of safety. Because they fear reproach, they keep silent and fail to point out the sinner’s wrongdoing.

Scripture says the Clergy must Speak…..Paul says of the bishop: He must be able to encourage men in sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it (Titus 1:9). For the same reason God tells us through Malachi: The lips of the priest are to preserve knowledge, and men shall look to him for the law, for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts (Mal 2:7). …..

Every Priest Must Preach – Anyone ordained a priest undertakes the task of preaching, so that with a loud cry he may go on ahead of the terrible judge who follows. If, then, a priest does not know how to preach, what kind of cry can such a dumb herald utter? It was to bring this home that the Holy Spirit descended in the form of tongues on the first pastors (Acts 2:3), for he causes those whom he has filled, to speak out spontaneously.

The People must pray for the clergy – Beloved brothers, consider what has been said: Pray the Lord of the harvest to send labourers into his harvest (Matt 9:38). Pray for us so that we may have the strength to work on your behalf, that our tongue may not grow weary of exhortation, and that after we have accepted the office of preaching, our silence may not condemn us before the just judge.

Poor preaching is not ONLY the fault of the clergy – For frequently the preacher’s tongue is bound fast on account of his own wickedness; while on the other hand it sometimes happens that because of the people’s sins, the word of preaching is withdrawn from those who preside over the assembly. With reference to the wickedness of the preacher, the psalmist says: But God asks the sinner: Why do you recite my commandments? (Psalm 50:16) And with reference to the latter, the Lord tells Ezekiel: I will make your tongue cleave to the roof of your mouth, so that you shall be dumb and unable to reprove them, for they are a rebellious house (Ez 3:26). He clearly means this: the word of preaching will be taken away from you because as long as this people irritates me by their deeds, they are unworthy to hear the exhortation of truth.

It is not for us to assign the full blame – It is not easy to know for whose sinfulness the preacher’s word is withheld, but it is indisputable that the shepherd’s silence while often injurious to himself will always harm his flock.

Many clergy are not only silent or poor preachers, they are absorbed in worldly matters – There is something else about the life of the shepherds, dearest brothers, which discourages me greatly. But lest what I claim should seem unjust to anyone, I accuse myself of the very same thing, although I fall into it unwillingly – compelled by the urgency of these barbarous times. I speak of our absorption in external affairs; we accept the duties of office, but by our actions we show that we are attentive to other things. We abandon the ministry of preaching and, in my opinion, are called bishops to our detriment, for we retain the honourable office but fail to practice the virtues proper to it. Those who have been entrusted to us abandon God, and we are silent. They fall into sin, and we do not extend a hand of rebuke. But how can we who neglect ourselves be able to correct someone else? We are wrapped up in worldly concerns, and the more we devote ourselves to external things, the more insensitive we become in spirit….They made me keeper of the vineyards, but my own vineyard I have not kept (Song 1:6). We are set to guard the vineyards but do not guard our own, for we get involved in irrelevant pursuits and neglect the performance of our ministry. 

Pray, Pray Pray! Well you know what you need to do. Pray for us who are clergy and leaders. An old saying is true, corruptio optimi pessima (the corruption of the best is the worst) or again, I will strike the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered (Matt 26:31). It is easy to criticize the clergy and well we deserve some of it. But realize this too, Satan has targeted the clergy, your bishop and your priests. It is easier for him to knock out the leaders than to go after the whole flock. Hence he targets bishops, priests and deacons. Send up your prayers as a hedge of protection around us. Pray for clergy who have become distracted and worldly. Pray for clergy who fear man more than God. Pray for clergy who have fallen under the burden of office. Pray for clergy who have been deceived by the evil one. Pray, pray, pray!

Pope Gregory’s feast isn’t until next week but here is an anticpation of it:

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Comments (31)

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  1. Bender says:

    If I might presume to offer some suggestions to priests out there —

    At the risk of stating the obvious, perhaps insultingly so, remember that, just as it is for us laity, the faith is a continuing journey for priests. And just as Confirmation is not the end of learning the faith for us, so too is the seminary not the end for you.

    So, while it may not be necessary to constantly engage in formal “study,” do continue to read more and more on the saints, on theology, on apologetics, on catechesis, on history, etc. Adopt the “lectio divina” method of prayerful reading, reflection, meditation, etc. Let the topics be on wherever the journey leads you.

    Then, when it comes to homilies, don’t necessarily think that you have to make a big effort to find topics and figure out what to say. Rather, let the Spirit guide you. When you give a homily using the Mass readings as a springboard, just open yourself up and let the Holy Spirit speak through you. Don’t give us your personal views and opinions, rather, in paradoxical humility (the topic of this coming Sunday’s readings), tell us what the Lord and His Bride the Church have to say. If you have prepared the soil and watered it with prayerful spiritual reading (hence learning and understanding), then you will find yourself providing astounding insights to the people. They’ll say, “wow, I didn’t know that,” and they’ll take something home to ponder. The meaning of the scripture, with contemporary examples or application to issues, will come naturally without you thinking it takes a heroic effort.

    I know what I’m saying is rather obvious, but sometimes priests can get “absorbed in worldly matters” and think that they have to do it all themselves. Just remember, you don’t have to do it all yourself.

    • Bender says:

      One point I meant to make about regular spiritual reading is that often various topics and talking points will suggest themselves from whatever you happen to be reading at that time. Something from the Mass reading will then jump out at you, and you will be able to say to the people, “I was just reading about Saint So-and-so, and on this point, he said . . .”

      If you just let the Spirit guide you, it really is eerie how many of these “coincidences” will happen. Like St. Augustine just randomly opening to a page of scripture and it is exactly the passage that finally pushes him over the hump of conversion.

    • Carlos says:

      “Don’t give us your personal views and opinions, rather, in paradoxical humility (the topic of this coming Sunday’s readings), tell us what the Lord and His Bride the Church have to say”

      I agree with this. Several times I’ve asked priests questions starting, “what does the Church teach/think about …?” This way I’m hoping to get the official teaching, and if for whatever reason the priest doesn’t know what that teaching is, then I expect him to be honest about it, do research, and then we both will learn.

  2. Chase says:

    Msgr. Pope, I understand what you mean about only having 7-10 minutes, and that can be tough. On the one hand, I’d say go ahead and preach as long as you like, just make sure it’s good. But on the other hand, 7-10 minutes may be enough time to say something that can plant that “well, maybe this is something I have to think about” seed. I think for many people, if they heard the priest address an issue that hits home (such as contraception or fornication), it’s going to make them really uncomfortable and they’ll either leave and go to another parish or maybe. just maybe reconsider the path they’re on.

    • Jim says:

      Excellent point! Sadly, I have never heard a priest preach about the sin of contraception from the pulpit. If
      he did it in my parish there would be an outright revolt. Many of our Eucharistic Ministers are divorced and remarried and this does not bother anyone either.

      My pastor has told me that his biggest concern is to keep the congregation donating $$$ so he can make payments on our parish mortgage.

  3. Leonard says:

    Obviously the cross is heavy and the wound on the shoulder bleeds freely. God of All, Bless all Catholic Priests and Bishops and give them strength daily to fight the good fight to “conquer all mens’ souls so they may be fulfilled.” Even when they fall, grant that we the Church Militant might pray for them and stand by them. They stand often alone on the front line facing the evil one toe to toe. May Mary the Mother of God in terrible battle array protect them with all her Heavenly Hosts of Angels and lead them to Victory, through the Sacred Heart of Jesus we pray. Amen.

  4. Terence Filmore says:

    Msgr,
    Perhaps we can all think outside of the box here. Preaching need not be confined to a homily (irrespective of the length) during Mass. Could not a priest decide to lead Bible study of an afternoon or evening? Or preach on a pre-determined topic (for example, the central theme of Sunday’s readings)? Or just have an hour to invite parishoners in, and preach according to the topics they raise? I can think of several priests that I’d love to hear more from in such a setting.

  5. Anne says:

    Love Leonard’s prayer!

  6. A says:

    I know this is really out there.

    But what if the “priest’s” before they did their homilies asked the Holy Spirit to speak through them and touch the hearts of all listening. And trust Jesus will do what he said! Matt 10: 19-20 “do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” Whether a priest or lay person is being brought up before a court, unbelievers, or believers, it is the Spirit that has be given to us to be our advocate, our guide in matters of Truth. We need to call on the Holy Spirit ALWAYS!

    I know as a lector I NEVER read without asking the Holy Spirit to speak through me! And I have to say, when I do, I get a tingly feeling inside.

  7. Dismas says:

    Great Article! I love the use of the video from the Apostleship of Prayer. I hope everyone that views it will enroll. ( http://apostleshipofprayer.org/enrollMember.html ) It’s easy to fullfill the duties of the Apostleship by including a Pater, Ave and Gloria at the end of your daily rosary for the Popes intentions, the Church, all Priests and Religious and the Laity.

    By the way, did everyone read Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver’s address to Catholics in America and Europe at the 15th symposium for the Canon Law Association of Slovakia on Tuesday? DAZZLING!

  8. Michael Brandon says:

    Father:

    I have combined your article with some thoughts from Father James Farfaglia on charism of celibacy, into a call for prayer here at my own blog site.

    http://freethroughtruth.blogspot.com/2010/08/be-holy-for-i-am-holy-jesus.html

    God Bless You

    Michael Brandon

  9. Wade St. Onge says:

    Most Catholics would have no problem with 20-25 minute homilies – if they were engaging, insightful, relevant, and spoke to the specifics of our daily lives. But if they are going to consist of “abstractions and generalities”, like about 98 percent of current homilies, then it should be 10 minutes tops.

  10. christian says:

    Longer homily, less singing!

    • Rod says:

      AMEN!! It seems like the singing is taking over the mass in our parishes. Msgr. Pope, Will the introduction of the new Missal address order of Mass and use of singing? I saw some notes on returning to chants but little about the overabundance of singing in our Masses at this time.

  11. RMuLICAN says:

    I have wondered if frequency of confession by us as parishioners might encourage the clergy as well, in the sense that, as we seek the Lord in the sacraments and hunger for holiness, they, too, will find strength and perhaps even a source for the message that is most needed in our congregations.
    The Holy Spirit uses everything.
    Would it violate the seal of confession for a priest to preach on the particular sin he finds prevalent in our lives at any given time? I suspect most of us are experiencing very similar temptations, from age to age, and need to hear many of the same upbuilding (and convicting) exhortations.
    I echo the message given by Bender above: Praying with the Scriptures will allow the Father to speak to our hearts and guide the Word (and words) that we most need.
    God bless you and all our priests, Msgr. Pope.

  12. Vijaya says:

    I wanted to share that around our supper table we are often thankful not just for the food but for the Church and our Fathers. God bless you all.

  13. Sherry says:

    Once again, Msgr. Pope, you have graced us with another terrific article – a million thanks! It makes me happy to see that priests and bishops seem to be writing more books these days. There are four books that I have recently read that I think are excellent:

    1. Ecce Fides – Pillar of Truth — by Fr. John J. Pasquini (Vero Beach, FL)
    2. Effective Faith — by Bishop Tobin (Rhode Island)
    3. Doers of the Word: Putting Your Faith into Practice — Archbishop Dolan (New York)
    4. Render Unto Caesar — by Archbishop Chaput

    Your blog is invaluable. It would be great to compile your offerings into a book if you have not already done so. Whether pastors communicate the Truth via books, articles, blogs, bulletins, etc., it all helps – especially to augment faith when, perhaps, not all pastors offer the meat we need and are hungry for. Thank you again for all you effort and time to share with us your insights and to stimulate our thinking.

  14. charlene says:

    Ah, Msgr. Pope, you are so wise. I love your blogs. I just wonder why it has taken so long for you and your brother priests to realize that each of you is only one phone call away from an accusation which can ruin your life! Why on earth haven’t more priests stepped up to the plate and said, “Wait a minute! Why are the bishops paying any and all accusers without asking for one iota of proof?” When I was growing up, I learned that an accuser had the burden of proof. Has that been thrown out along with Canon Law? Shame on all the priests who never visit, send a card, or ask for prayers for priests in prison. Some of us DO care about them and ask for prayers for them. I don’t ask anyone to help me to purchase books, or commissary items, or telephone cards, or Catholic publications for our priests in prison. I do these things from my heart because I firmly believe that this is what our Lord wants us to do. The wounded priests in prison suffer. More than anything they want to apologize to those they hurt, but that is forbidden. Pray for the innocent priests who are in prison because somebody lied. That is the most hurtful! Ah, I could go on and on, but if you or any of your brother priests are ever interested in writing or sending cards to priests in prison, please contact me. I must tell you that some bishops and archbishops write to some priests in prison. These men have set the bar high for their brother bishops and archbishops. They KNOW what Christ would do, and they are doing it.
    Blessings, Msgr. Pope.

  15. JJ says:

    As a convert, I think priest at times are very scripted. Not all but some are almost robotic in their homilies as Bender suggested not relying on the Holy Spirit to guide them but on a peice of paper with jotted notes. Notes are good as a guide, but one should also “let go and let God”.

    A priest should apply the readings to his particular congregation – get specific. There are also many other ways to preach to a congregation and as others have said on this blog it is not always on Sunday morning. I think at the end of the day the key factor in any homily is the relationship the priest has with the congregation. Once that is established in trust and in love a priest can have the confidence to admonish and to love in the spirit of charity.

  16. TeaPot562 says:

    It has been said that we, as a people, get the politicians that we deserve. Maybe not you and me individually, but as an aggregate, we voted them in.
    Similarly, we may also get the priests that we deserve. If we fail to pray for them, they will be less protected in time of temptation, and less likely to give enough time to prayer and study before the Sunday (and daily, for that matter) masses.
    Pray for your pastor and parochial vicars. If possible, participate in Eucharistic Adoration, and pray for the priests and bishops called to serve you.
    TeaPot562

  17. esiul says:

    Msgr. Pope, you’ve done it again! I’m not giving up hope, because of you there is light at the end of the tunnel. You are much admired!!!!

  18. Robertlifelongcatholic says:

    Universal teachings and laws of the Church mingle with cultures, customs and national laws and the conflicts begin. The clergy sometimes does not assimilate with this environment due to being implanted from a foreign country, or different culture. The Church often seems to see it’s position as given authority from God to neutralize such cultural and national borders or boundaries at the risk of offending or declaring social reformation against the very flock which they are supposed to be watching over.This is at their own or the flocks detriment. I would dare to say that the constitution of which our country was founded and established upon as rights given not by man but by our Creator, has been under assault by socialist political factions of which left leaning clergy have supported when convenient for their own misguided motives only to turn around and call for a pitcher of water and towel to wash their hands in public display when the dog they are hunting with turns on them. This has been a major fault of the Church as well as members of the flock. Good fences make good neighbors. Beyond the basics of dealing in avoidance of sin and treating life and your fellow man with respect in order to fulfill the will of the Father to achieve salvation, I feel some bishops shouldn’t encourage dissent against law abiding citizens trying to preserve the last vestiges of responsible, compassionate, law abiding God fearing people.There are those bishops and clergy with an elitist mentality that find a more conducive audience outside the boundaries of their own diocese because they can avoid admitting the errors of their actions and plead Father, Father, why has Thou forsaken us. They lack respect and humility while attempting to rebel rouse followers to counter causes against the very beast they help to create when they felt it advantatious and rightious. This is human nature but it’s not nice to ignore this common thread that runs through us all. The Church would do better to teach men to fish, not have them eating out of your hand.

  19. Dr. Terry W. Dorsett says:

    Perhaps we should start helping priests? Particularly in small parishes. There is a book about how to develop leadership teams in the small church to help clergy with pastoral care and some lay preaching. It can be found at:
    http://www.amazon.com/dp/1615072527

  20. Brian says:

    I have high praises for homilies from priests in my region! (eastern pa)

    They seem to follow a standard format which i like. First, they explain the old testament reading, then the new testament reading and then the saint for the day history. And then avent garde, if necessary. The priests i have heard are so smart, well spoken and knowledgeable. I always learn something from them!

  21. Lizzy S Falnikar says:

    Dear Father, A big round of applause for another article well written and well timed too. At the risk of criticism(perhaps), you are taking up very daunting subjects, both for the clergy and the laity as well.As, I was speaking to a dear priest on these same issues, I must confess that most of us laity, to be honest, want our priests to be more robotic. They want crisp sermons and can allot only 45 mins for a Sunday Mass. Priests too are caught in their own web of confusion and yield to short and sweet sermons. Most of us, unless it is a retreat hear less on uncomfortable topics like fornication, contraception etc from the pulpit. We are in a terrible hurry to throw most of what the Universal church has prayed over and pondered and given us, out of the window because we are not in sync with it. We want it all our way and not in the Way of the Lord because it might mean discomfort.I hardly hear priests talking about why it is also important to visit the confessional more frequently.Yes, I agree that the ‘lectio divina’ is an effective way for all of us priests and laity to allow the Holy Spirit work. As someone shared, I too as a lector have always felt a silent churning in my own sould when I ask the Holy Spirit to do the Reading for the day rather than me. It works. I use this priests to exhort priests to accept less of this world and more of the Holy Spirit because what the flesh desires is completely opposed to what the SPirit desires. Be holy for Jesus, whom you represent is holy.

  22. Richard G. says:

    If I become a priest, God willing, I’m going to start every homily with a Hail Mary prayed with the whole congregation….or is that not allowed?

  23. Ricky Vines says:

    Finally, the post that the Church has been waiting for – specially here in DC. I love it and will repost at my FB account & http://divine-ripples.blogspot.com/ specially with November 60 days away. I applaud and salute you Msgr. Pope. Thanks and God bless.

    • Dismas says:

      Ricky,

      I was pleased to see the Rally and am encouraged by its message, but lets not forget that Glenn Beck is a convert from Catholicism to the Mormanism, Church of Latter Day Saints (LDS). We should probably proceed with caution here:

      http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/catholic-commentators-weigh-in-on-glenn-beck-restore-honor-rally-and-tea-parties/

      Catholic commentators weigh in on Glenn Beck ‘Restore Honor’ rally and Tea Parties

      The ‘Restoring Honor Rally’ drew large crowds to the National Mall

      Washington D.C., Aug 28, 2010 / 05:26 pm (CNA).- A well-attended Saturday rally in Washington, D.C. which linked U.S. patriotism and religiosity has sparked comparisons to a religious revival. Two Catholic commentators have offered different views of the rally’s possible effects while discussing the place of religion and social issues in the Tea Party movement.

      The “Restoring Honor Rally,” organized by radio and Fox News talk show host Glenn Beck, was held at the National Mall in D.C. on Saturday. The rally featured prayers, Scripture readings, music and patriotic references to major figures and events in American history such as the Founding Fathers. It was reportedly inspired by the National Park Service’s alleged silencing of a group of young people who tried to sing the U.S. National Anthem at the Lincoln Memorial.

      Early estimates of rally attendance ranged from the tens of thousands to 500,000.

      Speaking at the rally, Beck claimed that the United States had “wandered in the darkness” of divisive politics, “but America today begins turning back to God.” He said the religious leaders in attendance disagreed on religion and politics. However, “what they do agree on is that God is the answer.”

      Alveda King, niece of civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., told the rally that America still suffers from racism. She called for prayer in the public square and in public schools. A pastoral associate of Priests for Life, she also alluded to her opposition to abortion.

      Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin spoke to the massive rally about her son’s military service and said people should remember the perpetrators of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

      The rally helped raise funds for a group which assists military veterans and their families.

      Beck gave out three awards with the respective themes of faith, hope and charity. One awardee was St. Louis Cardinals baseball star Albert Pujols.

      The rally’s date coincided with the 47th Anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

      Rev. Al Sharpton and several other African-American leaders held a competing rally before an audience of thousands at a Washington-area high school. According to VOA News, some of the competing rally speakers criticized the chosen date of the rally and accused Beck of race-baiting.

      A former Catholic, Beck is a convert to Mormonism. First Things magazine’s web editor Joe Carter recently criticized the commentator for expressing indifference toward same-sex “marriage” and towards a federal court’s overturning of California’s marriage-defining Proposition 8.

      Two Catholic commentators took different views of the rally and the Tea Party movement, which some associate with Beck.

      Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of the conservative website National Review Online, commented on the rally in a Saturday e-mail to CNA.

      “God and Caesar were very much appropriately represented on the National Mall on Saturday at that ‘Restoring Honor’ rally,” she commented.

      In her view, much of the rally had a good focus: “challenging people to be good, to seek the good, sacrifice for the good, and pray for the good.”

      “It was a bit of a mix of religious revival, country-music concert, and Independence Day celebration. And its end goal was to rally people to stay and be more engaged in politics, but to not get lost in it, as Beck put it. There was a clear balancing of the importance of politics while never ever losing sight of our real citizenship.”

      Lopez said that the rally recognized “real threats” to the United States’ freedom and sustainability which are “fruits of messes of our personal lives and decisions and of bad policy.” It did this without being “explicitly partisan or political,” she claimed.

      Seeing “prudence and humility” at the rally, she thought the event was “realistically positive” in acknowledging political and religious differences while seeking a “unified focus.”

      She thought Beck’s focus on foundational issues should be encouraged without putting him “on a pedestal.”

      CNA also discussed the rally and related issues in a Saturday phone interview with Mark Stricherz, author of the book “Why the Democrats are Blue” about the place of Catholics in the post-1968 Democratic Party.

      Stricherz, who did not comment on the rally itself, questioned the characterization of Tea Party-related movements as religious revivals.

      “It’s not led by religious leaders, its participants don’t say they’re religious. None of its tactics are claimed to be religious,” he commented.

      The present-day action is not comparable to the civil rights movement, he also contended.

      “The civil rights movement was the gold standard of social movements. Its marchers prayed for their enemies and sought equal justice.”

      In contrast, Stricherz suggested, Beck’s political movement has been “the bronze standard” of social movements.

      “Supporters exhibit disapproval and jeer at their enemies, and seek the end of runaway spending and domestic debt.

      “They just want to tame federal domestic spending and don’t want to pay higher taxes through the health care bill. Sometimes federal intervention is godly, and sometimes it is not.”

      Beck’s invocation of the U.S. Founding Fathers is “a little more complicated question,” Stricherz told CNA, saying the push for American independence from Britain incorporated elements of religion “but it certainly wasn’t a religious movement per se.”

      “There is an argument that the Founders were linked to the First Great Awakening, but the Founders’ appeals were much different than Martin Luther King, whose appeals were explicitly religious and spiritual.

      Asked about the possible political consequences of the rally and related movements, Stricherz responded:

      “There’s no question that Tea Party supporters will vote disproportionately in the fall midterm elections, but whether those Tea Party supporters are voting out of religious convictions is doubtful. There’s some evidence, based on the statements of Tea Party supporters, that they don’t care about social issues. They care about economics.”

      While economic issues also can incorporate religious appeals, he told CNA, these appeals are “not as strong.”

  24. susan s. says:

    Our latin mass priest gives wonderful homilies every time, and I pray for him all the time too.

    I especially like it when a priest begins with the sign of the cross. It’s like a signal, bulletin announcements over, this is serious business now.

  25. David says:

    Hi, Father,

    Thank you for your articles. I enjoy your willingness to engage the people of God on important matters and to help us understand the position the Church takes on such issues.

    I wanted to comment on the third paragraph of this article where you express your frustration with the fact that on the one hand, the faithful prefer a shorter Mass, and on the other, many of us yearn to hear the life-giving voice of the Church in the midst of a culture that empties and destroys all that is human. What comes to mind, Father, as I consider the difficulty of your position is this: the truth is not defined by the masses. In other words, what matters here is not whether your flock will complain that you celebrate too long a Mass, but your judgment — not their judgment, your judgment — on the objective importance of the education and protection of the Christian people. The role of the homily in such an education cannot be minimized, for it is the moment when the authority of the pastor is most clearly aligned with the authority of the Church; there is no time when the laity understand better that the pastor speaks to them in the name of Christ. Can the power of such a moment really be surrendered to the petty demand for a more convenient Mass?

    Respectfully, Father, I submit that this is your decision, not the decision of laymen. The priest should decide what is important to him, and allow his people to decide what is important to them.

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