What does Remnant Theology have to teach us about the Church Today?

Yesterday on the blog we pondered that Mass attendance has held steady for Catholics at around 25% for at least a decade now and that there is a lot of coming and going in the number. So it is helpful to understand that things may be currently more stable than many of us presume.

That said, as a Catholic and a priest I remain quite stunned at the decline in Mass attendance during my overall lifetime. When I was a little child I remember jam packed Masses, get there early or stand. In those days of the early to mid sixties if you put up four walls Catholics would fill them. There were waiting lists for the parochial School, lots of Religious Sisters, and there was not just an associate pastor or curate, there was a first, second, third and fourth curate.

But this is largely gone. Yes, as we saw yesterday in the comments there are still some large parishes in suburban areas, and some are even growing. But overall in my lifetime, weekly Mass attendance has gone from 75-80% to 25% Vocations are beginning to rebound but the usual experience these days is empty convents and largely empty rectories. An Associate Pastor is unknown in many parishes and in some parts of the country even a resident pastor is often missing.

There is no other way to describe this than “stunning.” And I can hear all the usual arguments about why swimming in my brain. We abandoned tradition! No! Say others, we are not progressive enough!…..There are too many rules! No, say others our problem is that we abandoned all the rules!….I could go on. Everyone has their human explanations and there are lots of disagreements about them.

But what might God be doing or allowing? Now I know I am on difficult ground in attempting to ponder this question. But please be sure, I am merely pondering it, not proposing a complete answer. But I have often asked the Lord, “What’s up with the Church?….What has happened Lord?” I do not claim a bolt from heaven came in answer but just a gradual and increasing awareness that what we are experiencing is not really new. There does seem to be a Biblical precedent that, in the past, God has frequently seen fit to thin his ranks, to prune and purify his people.

Remnant Theology – In the Old Testament as well as the New, there seems to be a kind of “remnant theology” at work. That is to say, of the many followers of God, many if not most fall away, and only a small remnant remain to begin again. Perhaps some examples from Scripture will help:

  1. There were Twelve Tribes in Israel. But ten of them were lost in the Assyrian Conquest of the northern kingdom of Israel in 721 BC. The Prophets had warned the Northern Kingdom of its wickedness but a refusal to repent brought the destruction promised. Those who did not die in the war were deported and disappeared by assimilating into the peoples around then. They are known as the Ten Lost tribes of Israel. Only a remnant, the Tribes of Judah and Levi survived in the Southern Kingdom of Judah.
  2. A remnant of Judah – Judah too, grew wicked and prophets warned of destruction. The Babylonians then destroyed Judah, and Jerusalem with it, in 587 BC. They deported the survivors to Babylon. Eighty years later the Persians conquered the Babylonians and allowed the Jewish people to return to the Promised Land. But only a remnant went back, most chose to stay in the Diaspora, preferring Babylon to the Land promised by God.
  3. Gideon had an army of 30,000 and faced the Midianites who had 60,000. But God said to him, “Your Army is too large. Tell the cowards to go home.” So Gideon told the soldiers who didn’t think they were up for this battle that they could leave. 20,000 left. Now with only 10,000 God said to Gideon, “Your army is still too large, lest you think you would win this battle on your own.” So God had Gideon observe the men at the stream as they drank water. Some drank leisurely and others lapped up the water like dogs! “That’s your army,” said the Lord, “300 men and I will be with you.” Gideon won that day with three hundred men whom the Lord had chosen. God thinned his ranks, and chose only a remnant as his true soldiers. (cf Judges 6 & 7)
  4. Jesus too didn’t seem to trust big crowds. Some of his most difficult sayings come when there is a “large crowd.” In fact, anytime you see a mention of a large crowd in the Gospels, fasten your seat belt, because it is a practical guarantee that a hard saying is coming! Once when there was a large crowd, Jesus taught against divorce (Matt 5 & 19, Mark 10). Another time spoke to crowds and declared that no one could be his disciple unless they renounced their possessions took up a cross and followed him (e.g. Luke 14). Yet another time Jesus taught on the Eucharist and many left him and would no longer walk in his company (Jn 6).

These are just a few examples of remnant theology in the Scriptures. There are many more. I would like to quote one last one from Zechariah because it also gets to the root of what God may be doing in our times, if my hunch is right. First the quote:

“Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, against the man who is close to me!” declares the LORD Almighty. “Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered, and I will turn my hand against the little ones. In the whole land,” declares the LORD, “two-thirds will be struck down and perish; yet one-third will be left in it. This third I will bring into the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The LORD is our God.‘ ” (Zech 13:6-9)

A stunning passage to be sure. But it also show the purpose of God thinning his ranks. There is something very mysterious as to why God allows many to stray. And yet it is true that we are free to stay or go. There seem to be times in the History of the Church and Israel that God allows many to depart, even “causes” them to depart as this passage describes it. It is a hard mystery to stomach. But I suppose I understand one aspect of it.

Image of why – It is currently pruning time here in the Northeast. My mighty rose bushes, eight feet tall have been pruned to one foot off the ground. And I did it on purpose! But if my roses are to thrive next year and be beautiful, the pruning has to be done. The roses do not understand what I do, but I know of what I do. It is necessary, though painful. And God too knows of what he does and we cannot fathom it any more than my rosebushes fathom me. But he does it. And the 1/3 who remain in the passage above must also be purified, refined as in fire. But when it is done: they will be pure gold. Those who remain and accept purification will call on God’s name. They will be a people, a Church after his own heart.

To me it has become clear that the Lord is pruning his Church. He is preparing us for spring. And we do in fact have a difficult winter we are enduring. But we’re being purified, cleansed. These are tough days for the Church but as we have discussed, I already see signs of a great springtime ahead. There are many wonderful lay movements and growth areas in the Church. I am very impressed with the calibre of men entering the priesthood. These are men who love the Lord and His Church and who deeply desire to speak the truth in love. In my own Convent we had 25 young sisters of the Servants of the Lord, a wonderful new and missionary order. They had to leave to find a biggger convent because they were growing. They too love the Lord and his Church and want to spread his gospel everywhere.

Though our overall numbers of practicing Catholics are diminished, I see greater fervency in those who remain. In my own parish there are many who are devoted to prayer, bible study and praise of God. Eucharistic piety is stronger in the Church today through adoration, daily mass. On the Internet there are many signs of excitement and zeal for the faith. Many wonderful blogs and websites are emerging to strengthen Catholics. EWTN is doing wonderful works and many Catholic Radio Stations have begun.

I could go on, but I think you get the point. God has pruned and is purifying us as Church. I have no doubt that there are still some difficult winter days ahead before a full springtime sets in. But God never fails. He is renewing his Church and preparing us for whatever lies ahead.

Frankly it is going to take a stronger and purer Church to endure the cultural tsunami that is and has been rolling in. The first waves hit in the late 60s, and successive waves look to be even more destructive as Western culture is gradually being swept away. The Church will have to be pure and strong to endure the days ahead, to rescue those we can, and to help rebuild when the terrible waves have worked their last destruction.

I realize this post will not be without controversy. I do not propose it as the only answer to the times. Neither do I claim that fallen-away Catholics have simply been pruned as though we could know they will never return and be grafted on again. We should continue to Evangelize and seek to grow the Church by Christ’s own mandate. We cannot know the size the Lord wants us to be nor should we ever stifle the Spirit of Christ’s mandate, Go and make disciples of all the nations….

35 Replies to “What does Remnant Theology have to teach us about the Church Today?”

  1. In the Old Testament . . . of the many followers of God, many if not most fall away, and only a small remnant remain to begin again

    When I grew up and heard or read of the people of Israel, of how they would repeatedly go through these periods of infidelity, I had assumed that they were a single cohesive group that was either more or less faithful as a complete group.

    But later I realized that they were probably not much different than we are today, completely disjointed — one segment was rock-solid deep in the faith, another segment was pretty strong in the faith most of the time, but with some straying here and there, a third group was more or less observant for the high holy days, but usually not the rest of the time, another group was pretty much non-believing and non-observant, and then there were probably some who were observant, yet non-believing.

    Much of the problem, and again I did not factor this into the equation growing up, is the large population of Gentiles who either lived in or traveled through the region. Notwithstanding Israel’s attempts to drive out “foreigners” from the Promised Land, the fact is that that region was basically the only highway between Egypt and the rest of the world. All other land routes were largely unpassable desert. Hence the reason that so many conquerers wanted to occupy that stretch of land. But of course, when you are living in a trade route that conquerers have fought over, you get a lot of outsiders moving in and staying there. And they bring with them all of their worldly, non-Jewish ideas and practices, resulting in a lot of Jews deciding they like the non-Jewish culture more than the Law, or they merely go along with their non-Jewish neighbors because they want to fit in. And then comes inter-marriage.

    So, this is just a long way of saying that the more things change, the more they stay the same. The current state of affairs is apparently normal from a historical viewpoint. So while we should never be satisfied with this being the norm, neither should we beat ourselves up too much about it, thinking that we are to blame, that it is all our fault, that is, all the present-day Church’s fault. Indeed, if you look at the Catholic Church, we are doing a lot better than many other social institutions — many of the mainline Protestant denominations are going the way of Hostess; the Evangelical mega-churches can initially attract, but holding them is another question; and secular Jews probably outnumber the Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox put together.

    Even beyond religion, social groups as a whole are disappearing — when’s the last time dad took you to the Elk’s Lodge for dinner? how many kids are eager to join the 4H Club? are the Rotary and Kiwanis clubs still around? even the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts are mere skeletons of their former selves. Bowling leagues are down, people rarely get together anymore for a regular game of pinochle or bridge. Ha — even the political parties have so lost their social appeal that fewer and fewer people join them as card-carrying members. And as I noted the other day, many people do not even know the names of their neighbors any more, much less have them over for dinner.

    The bonds of society are coming apart everywhere. And seen in that light, actually we are doing pretty good. More and more people see the Church as an oasis in the dry desert. We need to understand that and invite more people into the shelter we provide. But if we instead continue to see the Church as being part of the problem, if we continually trash the Church, complaining about the bishops, complaining about the priests and the homilies and the music and what people are wearing and what language we are using at Mass and what direction the priest is facing (the altar or the altar) and on and on and on with the endless whining and complaining about how lousy things are, then of course there are going to be plenty of people who stay away.

    How many of those branches got lopped off in the pruning and thrown in the fire because we did nothing to keep them green, because we kept the water from flowing up into those branches by our complaints, such that they could see nothing good in the Church and so they withered and turned brown? In the face of the on-coming waters, how many did we implore to come into the shelter of the Church built on rock, rather than kick them out because they were not good enough, only to be swept away in the tsunami? How many of us are brave enough to tie a tether around us and go out into those dangerous waters to grab others and bring them to safety? Most of the other structures in town have been washed away or are soon to collapse into the rushing water. Yet we need to see that the Church remains and that, notwithstanding all our troubles, we are the only hope of survival.

    1. Thank you I am getting a lot better in learning of my faith. I will not be talking about what is happening in our church. I will think positive and know I will be of some help to others and my self.I am reading the Catechisim
      on the internet with Flocknote . It is truly a learning experience for me and making me a better person and closer to our Lord and church.
      Thank you
      ellen myers

    2. “The bonds of society are coming apart everywhere. And seen in that light, actually we are doing pretty good. More and more people see the Church as an oasis in the dry desert.”

      Thank you for this. You are right on. This is 3 years since you commented on this post and you are more right than ever. This explains a lot. It isn’t so much that the Catholic Church is falling apart but EVERYTHING is falling apart. The world seems to have gone mad and is convulsing. Spiritual warfare is high. We need to perhaps revisit the story of Jesus expelling the demons from the naked man. He was mad, superstrong and his nudity could relate to today’s obsession with sex. Yes, we need to meditate on this and participate in fasting. Our world needs every bishop to do an exorcism on his diocese. And not just once.

  2. Excellent analysis, Monsignor. It’s also impressive how frequent your blog posts have been lately. Thank you for your time, concern, and wisdom.

    This is a question many people ask while ‘reverting’ so we need a good answer. The Church may have had 75% Mass attendance prior to the sixties, but were they really there? If the faith was strong prior to the Counsel then why did the ‘spirit of Vatican II’ destruction happen so swiftly after?

    Perhaps salvation has always been sought by a remnant. Jesus told us the path is narrow. Many saints have warned most people go to Hell. Moses left the people for forty day to receive the Ten Commandments; upon his return he found them worshiping a golden calf.

    When our Lady appeared to St. Bernadette in 1858 one of the reasons was people weren’t fulfilling their Sunday Obligation. Our Lady has appeared many times with warnings that go largely ignored.

    When a forest fire occurs naturally it is to clear out old, dead stock so that new growth can emerge. Maybe that’s what the past forty years was – maybe it was better for the Church to burn on Earth rather than too many souls burning for eternity. As pointed out there are signs of renewal but you have to make an effort to see them: in a perpetual adoration chapel, Saturday afternoon Confession, Sunday afternoon Latin Mass, etc.

    In a way it’s comforting knowing Jesus only chose twelve; knowing one would betray Him. Salvation isn’t a popularity contest nor is the Church a democracy.

    1. I ponder lately why things are structured so that more are lost than saved.

      We have a choice between God and not God, and I wonder why the majority choose not God.

      One would think that if the playing field were level (by God’s providence) and if God is the stronger power, most would choose God and good – it is something of a mystery why things are the way they are.

      1. Jim, maybe this will help:
        Rev 12: “And there was a great battle in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon, and the dragon fought, and his angels. And they prevailed not: neither was their place found any more in heaven. And that great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, who seduces the whole world. And he was cast unto the earth: and his angels were thrown down with him. And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying: … Woe to the earth and to the sea, because the devil has come down unto you, having great wrath, knowing that he has but a short time.”
        So, if this prophesied incident is now past, then Satan is seducing us, the way he seduced Eve. 2 Cor 11:3 (Some translations say “misleading”; either works for me.) It also explains Paul’s prophecy of satanic behavior in “the last days” at 2 Tim 3:1-5. It also matches our Lord’s prophecy about even the elect (the saints) being in mortal danger. Mt 24:22
        If Satan’s attractions are of the world we live in, and if the faith of many in an invisible God is weak or non-existent, shouldn’t we expect the behaviors noted?

  3. I love this article, especially the part about ” all the usual arguments about why swimming in my brain.”

    And I can hear all the usual arguments about why swimming in my brain. We abandoned tradition! No! Say others, we are not progressive enough!…..There are too many rules! No, say others our problem is that we abandoned all the rules!….I could go on. Everyone has their human explanations and there are lots of disagreements about them.

    Few things are more painful for me than the constant finger pointing and blaming that occurs, especially when it comes to placing all the responsibility for our current state of affairs at the feet of our Bishops or VCII. The use of the word swimming brings to mind Exodus and the parting of the Red Sea. It seems to me the Red Sea could represent our Church. One wall of water represents one group of arguments, the other wall of water represents another group of arguments, Pharaoh’s army represents our culture and politics. It occurs to me that if I choose to remain swimming in the sea or to be a member of Pharaoh’s army, if I personally choose not to cross the sea on the dry land that God currently provides me in His Church, it’s no ones fault but my own.

  4. Wonderful article. These thoughts first were planted in me when I read Roy Schoeman’s excellent book Salvation is from the Jews. An entire section gives example after example in how there is always a faithful remnant … The church will always stand.

  5. Great post, monsignor. It always amuses me when people claim the church isn’t progressive enough. Have these people never heard of Anglicanism? The more “progressive” denominations are dying, why would anyone (save those who wish to see the Church destroyed) want the Church to follow that path?

  6. Father, these kinds of issues, especially going from 80% Mass assistance to a changing mix of 25% of Catholics, keep harking back to decades of very poor catechesis.

    But, too, on the remnant idea, if we are to seek a valuable assessment of God’s ‘remnant’, Jesus Christ did define it when He gave His last orders to His apostles: “Go . . . make disciples . . . baptizing them . . . teaching them to observe [catechize to obey in action] all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20, RSV-CE). And, that is elaboration of His insight that “if you love Me, you will keep My Commandments” (John 14:15) noting that “He who has [been taught] My Commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him” (verse 21). Further on, Jesus continues to define His remnant with “If you keep My Commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love” (John 15:10)

    It is indeed but a remnant of believers who so completely give themselves over to the Lord’s will, and so profoundly love our Lord and Savior, His Father and Their Holy Spirit. All very sad, all too true . . . it is not for nothing that Saint Paul urges us “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12).

  7. At least we have a remnant to work with. The mainstream Protestant Churches have worked to gut themselves out to be “welcoming” that they are becoming irrelevant. Man wants to believe in something real and worthy of belief. Read the Old Testament up to the Psalms and then slowly read the Psalms. These were written by someone passionately wanting to believe in something True and Real. We have to be welcoming but welcome people home to the Truth and not to a big warm building full of nice people.

  8. One reason to support the remnant idea is that we don’t have to blame low attendance on ourselves. About the video: Orsen Welles used to say that the long, slow shot is what separates the men from the boys. The maker of music videos can decide for himself to what extent that dictum applies to music videos.–food for film thought.

  9. I understand the “peace” that comes from “letting go” of the lukewarm and dissident Catholics, so that a smaller stronger Church remains to face the coming difficulties. I do not disagree at all that this is what is happening. The faithful Catholics in my parish, diocese, and larger region are beautiful and devout and give me hope for the future; their presence here is unwavering, and gives a picture of heaven’s joy.
    My inner Mennonite (I have only been Catholic 10 years), is sorrowful because having a smaller, stronger Church means that many have fallen away, not only from the Church, but from Christ. It is an unpopular idea among Catholics that souls may be eternally lost, but I believe in that reality. These fallen away souls are in peril, and deserve our prayers and efforts in retaining them and retrieving them.

  10. Will HE find faith when HE returns? Will HE find it in the glorified media? Will HE find it in the powerful governments and their arrogant politicians? Will HE find it in the intellectuals and so-called elite of astute minds of the academe? I believe HE will find it but not from the above but in the hearts of HIS people, humble and meek, working tirelessly his daily grind of helping others and praying unceasingly for HIS return, not only HIS second coming, but HIS return in the hearts of men and families. These are the remnants. CHRISTUS Vincit, CHRISTUS Regnat, CHRISTUS Imperat!!!

  11. Yes, yes I too think there is something to your thesis. Lets not forget that there are many more options open to people as well. Look around you at the need that retailers (and shoppers) evince at this time of the year with all the “door buster” sales. At one time, the idea that stores and other businesses would be open on Thanksgiving or even Christmas, would have made people laugh. Also I tend to think television has been a problem with mass attendance. With the plethora of stations available, the remote control and the pausing inherent with the viewing, mass like theatre has seen a downfall of attendance

    As for the lack of religious, it can be argued that with the advent of the 20th century; with world wars, and enhanced education the ties that bound many to church faith and family came undone. Vatican II wasn’t the blame as much as some traditionalists would love to blame it for everything. Women found that there were other jobs opened to them than being a nun, nurse or schoolteacher. Men found the same, and didn’t have to choose just between priest, police or milkman. The church started to throw open her doors, and then slammed them shut because people started to have contradictory ideas.

    I would propose that the church once again try to join the 20th century. But I also know that the 22nd century will probably be here before that happens. I’ ld love to see it happen again, but will not. So i guess I’ll just have to see what does happen to holy mother church while I’m still here.

  12. Excellent points, Monsignor!

    As an RCIA Director, I often feel a ‘failure’ when so few seem interested in post-sacramental engagement of Holy Church. But I am just a lay Church employee. It breaks my heart that our pastor must wrestle with this on a deeper level than myself. Pastors are responsible for the souls of all. They know that the souls of their parishioners are in mortal danger by their absence from Mass. But when do you broach the subject? You are either ‘preaching to the choir’ or it’s the Christmas/Easter folks. (I was in the later group for 25 years and believe me, it was not preaching that brought me back.)

    The Scriptures you quoted above have been ones that have sustained me. Thank you for the reminder!

    And I compliment and pray for my pastor every day — sometimes many times throughout the day — rosaries, too.

    Refined as silver is refined — through the fire, we willingly go.

  13. Great article. Didn’t John Paul II, in his book, Crossing the Threshold of Hope, say that the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, would go through a mystical passion just as He did, and when it looks like all is lost the Church will resurrect and be more glorious than ever?. If this is true, then the ones who will not be part of the remnant you speak of will be those who are unable or unwilling to endure until the end, as Jesus told us in the gospels we must. I agree with your assessment of the new priests. They are very impressive. I do lament the diminished number of both nuns and priests. When i was growing up in New Orleans, our parish had 9 priests, and our parish school was staffed by almost all nuns. Today, we are lucky to have 2 priests, and our parish schools seldom have any nuns. The situation also seems to be a function of how solid the bishop is. A priest friend of mine in Erie is a pastor of 4 parishes because of the shortage of priests. In Arlington, Virginia, there is no such problem.

    1. Yes it is true what you pointed out about the Church following the Messiah through a passion, death and resurrection of its own. Not only do we read about this In the book CROSSING THE THRESHOLD OF HOPE by Blessed John Paul II but read in your catechism ( # 675- #677 what our Church actually teaches. It would appear that we are there in our time, place and culture. But perhaps those in our Biblical past felt the same.

  14. Msgr Pope,

    I agree wholeheartedly with this post. God is indeed pruning the Church Militant of the faint hearted, who are no longer willing to walk with Him and have lost their faith. Those who choose to be obedient to God will be strengthened for the upcoming struggles. Those who love Him will see Him in His Glory forever.

  15. God knows the value of a junkyard dog. You can do a lot with less if it’s loyal, dependable and convencing.

  16. Let us remember that back when we had the draft, young men were given exemptions if in college or seminary. Seminaries for all religions, were filled to the rafters. And then after a period of years and the end of the war(s) many of them emptied on out. As did many churches and synagogues. After the draft ended, and young men no longer needed to worry about a letter from Uncle Sam,seminaries just weren’t needed as a sanctuary to spend a couple or ten years in.

  17. On spot Msgr. Pope. May God keep me. May God keep us. May we always please the Lord and very well and “bear fruit that will last.”

  18. God will restore most, but as of now, only a faithful few will be used to manifest His Power; God must be glorified, and will be glorified by most.

  19. I left the Church for thirty years in the wake of the confusion of Vatican II. By the grace of God I returned to the Church in 1998. I pray that I may be part of the Remnant. Excellent analysis Msgr! it sheds light on the current situation.

  20. Thank you Monsignor! What a great way to put the current situation into perspective. My wife and I are trying, with God’s help, to pass the faith along to our four children and we often worry about the future of His Church and their souls. Your words provide great comfort. Please keep us in your prayers, you certainly will be in ours.

  21. Dear Monsignor –

    I so appreciate your solid, thoughtful posts; they are spiritual food for a hungry remnant. Thanks for your generosity and openess to the Holy Spirit. I can only guess what it costs you – writing is hard!

    May God bless you a thousand-fold for your efforts –


  22. Excellent posting.
    We never really know what surprises God has in store for His Church. The important thing is to be hopeful and trust in His creative guiding hand.
    As an ordained “permanent” deacon I am hopeful that our ministry will help invigorate the Church for we deacons can do subtle missionary work at our places of employment, in our kid’s schools, in our neighborhood in ways not possible for priests. We also undercut the complaint from some that the Catholic Church does not have a married CLERGY to give insights on marriage and family within the hierarchy of the Church (while priests continue to give witness to the value of celibacy.)
    Note: I put “permanent” in quotations because there is only one order of deacons but with different tracks so to speak. I have a lot of Eastern Catholic and Orthodox Christian friends whose churches have a married priesthood. And, of course, married priests in those churches cannot become bishops. Yet their married priests are not called permanent priests

  23. There are similarities between the Chosen People entering the Promised Land and the Europeans populating the New World. We entered into a land flowing with milk and honey in 1492. If we now read from the book of the prophets after the downfall of David’s Israel we can know why there is a great apostasy happening today. Jesus even makes it more clear when he says it will be like in the time of Noah, people were putting their hope in marrying, or in the time of Lot when people were buying and selling. It will be dreadful when all this comes to pass, but for those who have kept their faith we will not be overcome by the flood or burn’t by the fire.
    Bob H.

  24. But when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth? (Lk. 18:8) For unless the apostasy comes first and the lawless one is revealed (2 Thessalonians 2:3). So indeed these times have been foretold. But if we listen to the messages of Our Lady and make the First Saturdays with devotion, pray the rosary and fast, great evil can still be averted. Even if our prayers and sacrifices united to the passion of Christ on the Cross only save a few, at least those few will still be saved. But if enough of us act, Our Lady promised at Fatima that in the end her Immaculate Heart will triumph, and there will be a period of great peace on the earth.

  25. I haven’t read every comment in great detail but it does seem that nobody has referred to the loss of Catholics to Evangelical or Fundamentalist Protestantism. I’m not an American but from what I read I understand that this is a big problem in the USA. On the other hand I have read a number of stories of people who have converted from Evangelicalism to Catholicism. But it seems that the former movement is largely due to the efforts of Protestants while the latter has little, initially at least, to do with anything which the Catholic Church has done. This is something which people in the USA will know far more about but I wonder if (a) the Catholic Church should/could be doing more to prevent Catholics falling away to Protestantism and (b) the Catholic Church could be doing more to win Protestants over to the Catholic Church. I also wonder how far the falling away from Mass attendance is due to ‘Catholics’ not really being brought up to go to Mass but still calling themselves ‘Catholic’ and how far it is due to people actually stopping going to Mass. Can I also say that from what I see from the UK there’s an awful lot of good things going on in the Catholic Church in the USA.

  26. Excellent article. Please Lord, make me part of the remnant. Purge away pride, the devils master stroke. Bless us all. Ray Ryan

  27. How does someone stay faithful to the Church when they are, quite literally, stuck in a parish that is stuck in the sixties and personifies the “spirit of Vatican II”? We cannot go elsewhere, and I was on the verge of returning to the sedevacantist chapel I used to attend; that is – until I saw this article.
    So, Monsignor Pope, do you see how Our Lord uses what you write to help others? If you have any advice to give me, I will be eternally grateful.

  28. From time to time it is necessary to separate the wheat from the chaff; to separate, if you will, the men from the boys (figuratively speaking); to gather the true believers and true disciples from those who are hangers on or sho may, in fact, be instruments of the Evil One. The former, those who are the truly faith ones are, though not sinless, the Elect whereas the others, the unrepentant are the apostates. It is our call and our obligation to raise the alarm like the watchman on the wall, to call those gone astray to return to the Lord or face the consequences. If we do not, then we will be held accountable for their souls. Yet, sadly, most of our shepherds fail in this duty. They speak of the warm and fuzzy things, but no longercall us to task for our own straying and acts of rejection of God, our sins. We need to remember that striving to be ever more sinless, through God’s grace is nota burden. Ir should be a great joy to obey Him not out of fear but because WE LOVE HIM!

  29. I read this sermon by St. Leonard of Port Maurice for the first time the day before last, and it was an eye opener: “The Little Number of Those Who Are Saved”. In it he makes a fairly persuasive case from sacred scripture, sacred tradition, the Fathers of the Church, and private revelation that the number of those saved, even among faithful Catholics is shockingly low. Here is a link to the text of the sermon:

    The Little Number of Those Who Are Saved

    I pray and hope that I will one day be in heaven with God forever, but after reading this sermon, I will no longer be smugly confident of that conclusion.

  30. Msgr,

    Great read and very informative…wish I would have had this about two weeks ago as I asked my Freshman Theology class about how the Remnant in the OT could foreshadow the Church today…this will definitely help in further lessons on the Remnant! Thank you for all your very informative posts!

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