Monday, May 20, 2013

Pope Francis = Peter The Roman = Antichrist ?

WARNING: The above video is sensationalist hype!!!
It is an advertisement for a non-catholic book written about the alleged Catholic prophecy of Saint Malachy. A few Evangelical Protestants have put their own apocalyptic spin on this prophecy that equates the Pope with the Antichrist.  The authors of the book advertised here are sensational conspiracy theorists.  They have since released another book, wherein they claim the Vatican is preparing for the arrival of extraterrestrial aliens.

As I'm writing this it is May 20th, 2013, and it has been over three months since I published the article: The Pope, The Antichrist and Peter the Roman.  At that time, Pope Benedict XVI had just announced his retirement and the identity of the next pope was still unknown.  Also, at that time, various Evangelical Fundamentalists were going insane with speculation about an alleged prophecy from a medieval Catholic bishop, which they had reinterpreted to mean the election of the Biblical Antichrist as the "final pope" was upon us.  In my article, I warned my readers about the questionable legitimacy of the prophecy itself, and then of course the ridiculous interpretation some Evangelicals were imposing upon it that was completely out of context.

[CC-BY-SA-2.0 (] via Wikimedia Commons
Pope Francis
So now we know who the next pope is, and we've had a little time to get acquainted with him.  He is Jorge Mario Bergoglio, native of Argentina, and former Cardinal Archbishop of Buenos Aires.  He is known as a humble reformer, who lives in a small apartment, rides the bus, and is frequently seen in the slums of the city ministering to the poor.  Though he is officially of the Jesuit order, he has chosen the pontifical name Francis after Saint Francis of Assisi, who founded the Franciscan order.  Is this Pope Francis the alleged prophesied "Peter the Roman?"  Worse yet, is this apartment dwelling, bus riding, minister to the poor the dreaded Antichrist of Biblical prophecy?

As I pointed out in my previous article on this topic, there is no way we can know if the alleged prophecy of Saint Malachy is true.  Circumstances seem to point toward a forgery.  However, even if it is true, the man we have seen so far is just as much a match as anyone can expect, namely because the alleged prophecy of Saint Malachy specifically says this "Peter the Roman" will NOT be the Antichrist, but rather a good Christian leader...
"In the extreme persecution of the Holy Roman Church, there will sit Peter the Roman, who will nourish the sheep in many tribulations; when they are finished, the city of seven hills will be destroyed, and the dreadful judge will judge his people. The end."  -- source
Now let's look at this prophecy carefully....
  1. It specifically says this "Peter the Roman" will nourish his sheep during many tribulations.  That means he's a good guy.  He's helping the "sheep" (Christians).
  2. After the tribulations are finished, the city on seven hills will be destroyed.  Notice it doesn't say when the reign of "Peter the Roman" is finished.  It says when the tribulations are finished.  This could mean anything, because Christ specifically said the Church will suffer tribulations until the end of time.  The city on seven hills can only mean Rome or Jerusalem.  Rome has already been destroyed many times in history and so has Jerusalem.
  3. The dreadful judge will judge his people.  This "dreadful judge" could mean anyone.  It could mean Jesus Christ.  Or it could mean a revived European monarchy.  Who knows?
As I said above, there is a fairly high degree of probability that the alleged prophecy is a fake, and we definitely should not rely on it based on that one reason alone.  For now the whole thing is a curiosity and nothing more than that. There are many other prophecies from saints and mystics that are far more reliable.  If you want to study them, a good place to start is the prophecies (secrets) of Fatima, and then branch out from there, using only Church-approved sources.  As for this alleged "Peter the Roman" prophecy, supposedly from Saint Malachy, it is helpful to remember it has three strikes against it.  Strike 1: it has never been approved by any jurisdiction within the Catholic Church.  Strike 2: it has a questionable history, in that it only surfaced some five-hundred years after it was allegedly written.  Strike 3: on the surface, it doesn't appear to agree with other prophecies uttered by canonised saints and approved mystics.  All of this was documented at length before the election of Pope Francis in my previous article: The Pope, The Antichrist and Peter the Roman.  If the prophecy turns out to be true, it will be a surprise.  However, if it does turn out to be true, Pope Frances will be one of the greatest popes in history, and will be regarded as a hero by both Catholics and Protestants alike, for he will "nourish the sheep in many tribulations."

However, this interpretation won't sit well for many Evangelicals who are looking for the Antichrist, namely because this alleged prophecy has been plucked out of Catholicism by some non-Catholics hell bent on looking for a villain.  Since the days of Martin Luther, Protestants have searched desperately for an Antichrist in the pope of Rome.  They needed the papacy to be linked to the Antichrist in some way, so as to justify their schism with Rome, as well as the theft and violence through which it was accomplished. These things can be morally justified if the man who occupies the Chair of Peter is the Son of Perdition.  However, if he is not, then what does that say of the Protestant Reformation?

For those looking for an Antichrist, they will not find one in Pope Francis, or any pope for that matter.  It is clear from the writings of the early Christians that the last and final Antichrist will arise in Jerusalem not Rome, and that he will be Jewish not Catholic.  Think about this for a moment.  The term Antichrist literally means "false messiah."  He is a counterfeit to Jesus of Nazareth, and his purpose is to lead the world's Jews, and the world itself, into believing he is the true messiah promised by the Old Testament, making Jesus of Nazareth a fraud of course.  Now how can this happen with a Catholic pope who's very office is founded on the proclamation that Jesus of Nazareth is the promised Messiah?  It's ridiculous!  Since when are Jews going to start following a Catholic pope?  Since when is a Catholic pope going to say the very thing that makes him pope is a fraud?  Seriously?  People actually believe this stuff?  There is no way the world's Jewish population is going to follow the pope. They haven't for 2,000 years.  What makes you think they're going to change their minds and start now?  Likewise, there is no way the pope is ever going to say his office is a fraud, just before he proclaims himself the real Jewish messiah.  It's never going to happen.  Anyone who says this nonsense doesn't have the first clue of what Catholicism is or what it teaches.  Anyone who says this is pretty ignorant of Judaism too.  Anyone who says this is ignorant of history, logic and the Bible itself.

Yet there they are, on our television screens and behind the pulpits all over America, teaching that very thing.  I suspect the alleged "Peter the Roman" prophecy of Saint Malachy is going to turn out to be a huge embarrassment, for which those non-Catholics who pushed it will quickly gloss it over and try to pretend it never happened.  They will act as if they never heard of the thing, or else they will say it doesn't matter.  Catholics can learn a lesson from this.  There is no authentic Catholic prophecy anywhere that says this pope, or some future pope, will be the Antichrist.  Likewise, there is no Biblical prophecy, whatsoever, that says the pope will be the Antichrist, the False Prophet or the Beast.  It's all made up.  It's a lie, concocted in the mind of Martin Luther 500 years ago.  To my Protestant fiends, of all denominations, I plead with you.  Abandon this insanity that Martin Luther started with his fairy tales about the pope and the Antichrist.  There is no Biblical reason, whatsoever, to believe the pope has any connection to the Antichrist, and I defy anyone to prove me wrong about that.  There are millions of Protestants who remain Protestant but have abandoned the Papal-Antichrist cabal.  There is no reason to believe this stuff any more.  Please, it is time to rejoin the world of the sane.  I leave you with this short excerpt from my upcoming book "CATHOLICISM FOR PROTESTANTS"...
QUESTION: Is the pope the Antichrist? 
ANSWER: While this question may seem ridiculous to many people, you might be surprised to discover just how many Protestants actually believe it, or are at least suspicious of it.  The notion comes from the first Protestant reformer himself – Martin Luther – in the sixteenth century, who asserted that the office of the papacy is the Antichrist.  That's not to say any particular pope, but the office of the papacy itself. So when German Protestants began to mix with English Protestants in the United States during the nineteenth century, you can imagine what an explosive combination this created.  As new American-style Protestant denominations were formed, the office of the papacy went from being the Antichrist on a purely philosophical level, to the actual incarnation of evil itself!

This notion has become very popular among some Baptist, Evangelical and Pentecostal groups in the United States, and is a bit humorous when you really stop and think about it.  Before we start levelling the accusation of "Antichrist" at anybody, or any office, it might help to actually understand what the Bible has to say about it.  After all, the whole idea of "Antichrist" is a Biblical concept.   
So what does the Bible say about the Antichrist?  Well, for starters, the Bible tells us that the "spirit of antichrist" was alive and well even during the Apostolic age (1st John 2:18).  It also tells us that in order to be antichrist in any way, one must deny that Jesus of Nazareth is the promised Jewish Messiah (1st John 2:22).  One must also deny that God the Son came to earth in the form of flesh and blood (1st John 4:3; 2nd John 1:7).  These are the only four times the word "antichrist" appears in the Scriptures.  So based on the Biblical definition, to be an antichrist (or even THE Antichrist) one must deny that Jesus of Nazareth is the promised Messiah and one must deny that God the Son came to earth in the form of human flesh.  Sorry, that's just the Biblical definition, and since the term "Antichrist" is a Biblical term, just like the term "Christ" itself, it has no real meaning outside this Biblical definition. 
Now since every pope since the time of St. Peter has affirmed that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messianic Son of God, that sort of disqualifies every pope in history from being an antichrist.  Of course, the office of the papacy itself was literally founded on Saint Peter's affirmation that Jesus of Nazareth is the promised Messianic Son of God (Matthew 16:15-19), so that disqualifies the papal office from being antichrist.  Since the pope literally teaches, and his office is literally founded upon, the belief that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messianic Son of God, it is literally impossible (in every Biblical sense) for the pope, or his papal office, to be the Antichrist in any way.  Again, sorry, but the Bible speaks for itself here.  To assert that the pope or the papacy is somehow, in any way, the Antichrist, is to completely deny the plain and clear teaching of the Bible on this matter.  Now, if some people want to go ahead and call the pope the Antichrist anyway, then they can go ahead, but in doing so, the rest of us need to understand they are directly contradicting the Bible when they do this.
You can read more answers to questions like this in my book CATHOLICISM FOR PROTESTANTS.  As this section from my book points out, it is literally IMPOSSIBLE for this pope (or any pope) to be the Antichrist, or any agent that assists the Antichrist in any way (such as the supposed "False Prophet" for example). The entire purpose of the papacy is to give glory to Jesus Christ of Nazareth as the promised Messiah of Israel and Saviour of the world.  If a "pope" ever failed to do that, by corruption, heresy or apostasy, he would be declared an "antipope" which means, under Church law, that he was never a pope at all.  The Catholic Church has had antipopes in the past.  They were dethroned and replaced.  Is it possible for the Catholic Church to have an antipope in the future?  Sure it is, but this isn't what the Evangelicals are talking about with their "Peter the Roman" or "Petrus Romanus" hysteria.  What they are talking about is the actual pope becoming the prophesied Antichrist, because in their view, all popes are "antichrists" (small "a") by virtue of the papal office.  As I said above, they NEED this to be the case, in order to justify the history of theft and violence that surrounds the Reformation Age and the venomous anti-Catholicism that has permeated Protestant nations throughout history.  How else does one justify the criminalisation of Catholicism in England for hundreds of years?  How else does one justify the persecution of the Catholic Irish by the Protestant English crown?  How else does one justify the criminalisation of Catholicism in America during the English colonial days?  How else does one justify the creation of an anti-Catholic political party in the early days of the United States?  How else does one justify the continual anti-Catholicism in American politics all the way up until the early 20th century?  If the pope is not the Antichrist, or at least "an antichrist" (small "a") then the history of theft, violence and bigotry looks rather silly -- or dare I say "unchristian."

There is more.  It's not just about history.  It's also about the future, specifically their future.  You see, within many Evangelical circles (not all but many), there is a very unhealthy interest in future prophecy, to the point where that's all some Evangelicals think about.  They are obsessed with the Book of Revelation and the end of the world.  Now granted, such obsessions do bring in new members, and they know it.  Many of those new members are former Catholics, and they know that too.  The early Protestant Reformers knew that in order to get the majority of Catholic Christians in northern Europe to follow them, they would need to scare them into obedience.  Martin Luther discovered that the best way to do this was to frighten them with tales that the pope is the Antichrist.  It worked so well that Protestants have been frightening people with these tales ever since.  More talk of the pope as the Antichrist, or having some connection with the Antichrist, creates more frightened members in the pews.  While keeping members in the pews frightened, insures they will stay in the pews.  It's the perfect scam, and it's been going on for five centuries!  Now granted, not all Protestants are guilty of this, and a good number of Protestant churches that used to engage in this have stopped.  That's good, but it is nowhere near over.  These pedallers of pope fiction can still be found behind the pulpits, on the airwaves and especially on the Internet.  It's a very lucrative business.  Just ask Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins (Left Behind Series), or Thomas Horn and Cris Putnam (Petrus Romanus & Exo-Vaticana).  These authors are just the tip of the iceberg of what I would consider the "more respectable" pedallers of pope fiction.  Many of their claims are highly speculative, or just outright false, even outrageous, but at least they show some civility in making them.  All too often however, these people, and others like them, never consider the consequences of their actions.  By slandering the papacy the way they do, they leave millions of unsuspecting Protestants with the impression that Catholics follow the Antichrist, and millions more innocent Catholics with having to deal with more harmful propaganda against their Church, their leaders and their faith in general.  It would seem that many of these pedallers of pope fiction, in their zeal to find the Biblical Antichrist, have forgotten a very important part of Scripture in the process...

"Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour."
-- Exodus 20:16

Shane Schaetzel is an author of Catholic books, and columnist for Christian print magazines and online publications. He is a freelance writer and the creator of ' -- Apologetics and random musings from a Catholic in the Bible Belt.'

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Is Pope Francis A Socialist?

Last Thursday Pope Francis condemned the "cult of money" as a form of idolatry in the Western world which is increasing poverty in the third world, while simultaneously creating spiritual poverty in the industrialised world.  "We have created new idols," the Holy Father said. He continued: "The worship of the golden calf of old has found a new and heartless image in the cult of money and the dictatorship of an economy which is faceless and lacking any truly humane goal."  He concluded by calling for more state control of economies and reminded world leaders that: "Money has to serve, not to rule!"

Of course this led the political Left to laud the pope's words.  Self described socialist, Senator Bernie Sanders (Independent - Vermont) immediately praised the pope (read here), while the capitalist publication "Investor's Business Daily" had quite a lot to say in criticism of the pope's words (see article here), even going so far as to openly suggest that the pope has been influenced by Liberation Theology and the socialist policies of his native country Argentina.  The article even goes on to correct the Vicar of Christ, by pointing out that libertarian capitalism prevents poverty and the pope should take a lesson from his native country's neighbour Chile.  Of course the problem here is that socialists like Senator Sanders, and capitalists publications like the "Investor's Business Daily," really have no clue as to what the pope is talking about, namely because neither one apparently understands Catholic social teaching.

Pope Francis was critical of capitalism because you see, Pope Francis is not a capitalist.  Of course, in the narrow-minded world of Left verses Right politics, that leads people to immediately assume that if he's not a capitalist, then he must be a socialist -- right?  After all, that's all there is - right?  You're either a capitalist, a socialist, or something in between -- right?

WRONG!  While it is true the pope is not a capitalist, it is equally true that he is not a socialist either, nor is he some kind of freakish hybrid (fascist) in between capitalism and socialism.  The problem here is that when the pope calls for more government control of the economy, it is not state-run socialism that he's calling for.  Rather, the kind of state control the pope is calling for has more in common with Teddy Roosevelt than Barack Obama.  It has to do with breaking up monopolies, oligopolies and money cartels.  You see, the pope is not a capitalist, nor is he a socialist, and he's certainly not a fascist.  The pope is Catholic, and if he's Catholic then that can only mean one thing economically.  The pope is a distributist.

Now distributism is the opposite of both capitalism and socialism.  It's on the opposite end of the spectrum entirely, which is why neither capitalists nor socialists can recognise it.  Frequently, capitalists will accuse distributists of being "socialists," while socialists will do the same in reverse, calling distributists "capitalists."  This is because both sides lack imagination.  The capitalist is stuck in his libertarian rut, thinking that unregulated markets produce economic stability, when it fact, what they really do is create more wealth for the rich, all the while increasing the gap between the rich and poor.  Stability has nothing to do with it either, as unregulated capitalism produces wild swings in the economy, shifting between market booms and busts, that hurt the poor and middle class more than anyone else.  Meanwhile, the socialist throws his hands up in the air, says there is no solution to the problem, and advocates a complete government takeover of various industries as well as wealth redistribution in the name of "mercy" and "compassion," in the hope of producing more "stability."  Of course what this really causes is market stagnation, massive government debt and ultimately rationing of goods and services.  The problem here is that both sides are ideologues, and both sides are advocating the exact same "solution" -- just two variations of it.

You see the problem with socialism is that it concentrates productive property (industry) into the hands of a few government bureaucrats. While the natural tendency of unregulated libertarian capitalism is that, over time, it naturally concentrates productive property (industry) into the hands of a few corporate plutocrats. No matter which system you choose, a small handful of people end up sharing most (or all) the productive property (industry). Under a hybrid system (fascism) the government bureaucrats and corporate plutocrats share this ownership. Under both systems, or under a hybrid system, the common man ends up working for somebody else -- either the state or else a large corporation. Under both systems, the common man becomes little more than a cog in a machine which is easily replaced once it gets used and worn. Both systems are an affront to human dignity.

Now many American neoconservatives, which are often socially conservative but economically libertarian, will object to my description of capitalism above. This is mainly because the vision of capitalism they were sold doesn't completely jive with reality. They envision a world wherein any common man can go start a business and turn it into an empire eventually, with good ol' fashion hard work and grit. Sorry, but it doesn't work that way any more. The truth is, it never really worked that way to begin with. In the beginning, there were many manufacturers of automobiles in America. Now there are just a handful. In the beginning, any "mom & pop" grocery store could support a family and supply a town. These are gone now, replaced by big-box megastores and super-markets. The transformation of the American economy has always been rather rapid, and if you think that's fast, you should have seen how quickly capitalism transformed the third-world into virtual slave labour. No, capitalism doesn't produce freedom. It never has. What it has produced however is a wealthy class of people who benefit from the slave labour of everyone else. Large corporations control everything. All productive property eventually belongs to them. In time, a man just can't make a living unless he works for somebody else.

Socialism is not much better, even through many of America's neoprogressives are enamoured with it. The exact same problem exists, albeit there is one difference. When the government runs things it doesn't always do it according to the "bottom line." Often times government employee benefits are better than corporate benefits, which is why so many people are attracted to government jobs, but let us not forget, the same problem exists. It isn't long before a man cannot make a living unless he's working for somebody else.

Distributism is the opposite of all this. It's based on property ownership, and the basic principle is that productive property (industry) should be spread far and wide, among the masses of common people. This is done both through small family-run businesses, and large cooperatively-owned corporations. The government regulates this by making sure no one person (or persons) gets too much control of any given market. Yes, that does require government to determine how much is too much, but the purpose of this is to make sure the market remains open enough for other worker-owners to jump in, either as private businessmen or else cooperative workers. Distributism is about an "ownership society," wherein the rich and powerful are prohibited by law from blocking access to the market to poorer competition, whether they want to start their own business, or else gain cooperative ownership of another. This creates a more stable economy, with less market swings and wider distribution of property, based on supporting people rather than using them. If there was ever a Christian form of economics -- this is it!

So both the socialists and the capitalists got it wrong on Pope Frances. The pope is neither a capitalist nor a socialist. He's a distributist, just like all popes before him, who wrote about the principles (solidarity and subsidiarity) upon which distributism is based. There is a difference. (To learn more about distributism click here.)

So the socialists can settle down now.  The pope has not given his blanket approval of Liberation Theology. Likewise, the capitalists can stop lecturing the Vicar of Christ as well, because "more government control" does not always mean socialist takeover of industry and wealth redistribution.  Sometimes "government control" simply means making everyone play by the same rules, and making sure those rules don't favour one class of people over another.  In a distributist economy, everyone has a right to own productive property (some form of industry), but at the same time, this right to ownership is not absolute.  People (whether as individuals or acting through corporations) do not have the absolute right to acquire most (or all) productive property over a certain industry, to the point of driving most (or all) competitors out of business.  There is a limit to how big a business can get, and that limit should apply equally to all businesses.  Likewise, larger businesses should have more employee control through cooperative ownership, so as to prevent a vast amount of productive property being controlled by a tiny handful of individuals.  All of this puts productive property (industry) back into the hands of common individuals and families.  It gives everyone a shot at "owning a stake" in the market, and that gives the most people the greatest chance to improve their lot in life based on their own efforts.  In effect, the empty promise made by capitalism can only be fulfilled in a distrbutist economy.  This reduces poverty of all types.  This is what the pope means when he condemns the "cult of money" and talks about more government control.  How do I know?  It's simple really.  All you have to do is read the social encyclicals of previous popes going back over a hundred years to Pope Leo XIII.  Put this current pope's words into that context and there you go!  These papal encyclicals on economics are:
  1. Rerum Novarum: On the Condition of Workers, Pope Leo XIII, 1891
  2. Quadragesimo Anno: On the Reconstruction of the Social Order, Pope Pius XI, 1931
  3. Mater et Magistra: Mother and Teacher, Pope John XIII, 1961
  4. Populorum Progressio: On the Development of People, Pope Paul VI, 1961
  5. Laborem Exercens: On Human Work, Pope John Paul II, 1981
  6. Sollicitudo Rei Socialis: On the Twentieth Anniversary of Populorum Progressio, Pope John Paul II, 1987
  7. Centesimus Annus: The Hundredth Anniversary of Rerum Novarum, Pope John Paul II, 1987
  8. Caritas in Veritatae: Charity in Truth, Pope Benedict XVI, 2009
Everyone would be wise to consider papal context when commenting on papal statements.  The mainstream news press seems to be completely oblivious to this.  Likewise, ideologues like socialists and capitalists seem to be clueless as well.  They are so clueless in fact, that it causes socialists to salivate at the latest words of the current pontiff, and capitalists to write embarrassing essays lecturing the pope on economic morality.  Both parties are so completely "out to lunch" that they don't even realise how silly they look.


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    Thursday, May 09, 2013

    Traditional Trends

    The bishop of the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau celebrated a traditional
    benediction following a traditional Eucharistic procession on the Feast of Corpus Christi in 2012
    Photo by Katie Newton
    The Economist...
    The Latin Mass Society of England and Wales, started in 1965, now has over 5,000 members. The weekly number of Latin masses is up from 26 in 2007 to 157 now. In America it is up from 60 in 1991 to 420. At Brompton Oratory, a hotspot of London traditionalism, 440 flock to the main Sunday Latin mass. That is twice the figure for the main English one.... read more
    The above article is highlighting general trends in specific places, which are duplicated pretty much everywhere, and it's turning out to be more than the "passing fad" many initially thought it would be.  You can spin the data any way you want, but the facts are the facts, and cannot be denied....
    1. Attendance at contemporary vernacular masses is declining in the Roman Rite.
    2. Attendance at traditional Latin or Anglican Use masses is increasing in the Roman Rite.
    3. Attendance is more stable at vernacular masses celebrated according to to older traditional customs.
    The last point isn't mentioned in the article above but the data can be found elsewhere on the Internet.  When priests celebrate the new vernacular (ordinary form) mass using older liturgical customs, they tend to hang on to greater mass attendance.  The moral to this story is something I've pointed out frequently on this blog.  The future of the Catholic Church lies in her past.  Traditional celebrations of the liturgy will become more common as contemporary (modernist) celebrations of the liturgy will slowly fade away.  As I've pointed out in a ridiculously popular article on this blog (now read by over fifteen-thousand people), Protestant converts to Catholicism prefer more traditional celebrations of the liturgy -- the more traditional the better.  Now, as the above article points out, younger Catholics also prefer the more traditional liturgy.  Between these two groups (Protestant converts and Catholic youth), we have the whole future of the Catholic Church mapped out for us.  Traditionalism is in, and modernism is out.

    So what happened?  Why are Catholic youth, and Protestant converts, rejecting modernist interpretations of the Catholic liturgy?  It's simple really, and I touched on this in my unexpectedly popular article on Converting Protestants -- A Secret Method.  The whole world is modernising, and for the most part, people embrace it.  People want modernity in their cars, shopping malls, office buildings and sometimes even their homes!  However, the whole world can't be modern, and even in the most modern mind, there has to be an anchor to tradition.  People may seek modernity in most things, but when it comes to religion, what most people really want (whether they realise it or not) is an anchor to their past.  When it comes to liturgy, they want to worship God the way their ancestors did.  When it come to doctrine, they want something that is challenging and timeless.  This is human nature enlightened by the Holy Spirit.  This is what it means to be a Christian in the modern world.

    This news has not set well with the mainline Church establishment who have gone to great lengths to update and modernise the Catholic Church over the last forty years.  For them, watching these trends unfold is like watching their entire life's work go up in liturgical smoke to the sound of Gregorian chant.  Some have reacted to this in very visceral ways -- even with open hostility.  To them I would like to give a reminder.  Perhaps they should stop and remember, for a moment, what kind of visceral reaction their generation got to their attempts to modernise the liturgy back during the 1960s and early 70s.  They should remember the opposition, the contempt and the resentment.  This is what their generation encountered back during those days.  Now they are repeating it with the next generation.  The whole thing has come full circle.  The younger generation and converts are calling for "change" and it is the 1960s - 70s modernisers who are obstinate.  At first it might seem like an irony that things should turn out this way, except when you consider that based on the changes that were made, this was inevitable.  There is nothing more "dated" than contemporary worship.  By the time the 1970s modernisations were completed in the liturgy and music of the mass, society had moved on to the 1980s.  Slowly, liturgical music, style and architecture caught up to the 1980s, only to be left behind in the 1990s.  By the time the year 2000 rolled around, the reforms of the modernisers were considered "dated" and "old fashioned" to the new youth in the Church, while many Protestant converts simply considered some of the music and worship styles "quaint" and even "amusing."  Now here we are in 2013, and by now the modernisations of the 1970s and 80s are so ridiculously antiquated that they've become a bore.  By now it should be painfully obvious to everyone, Modernist and Traditionalist alike, that there is no way the Catholic Church can possibly keep up with the modern world.

    Why should it keep up?  Is that its mission?  It's not according to the Bible I read.  Jesus instructed his apostles to go and make disciples of all peoples and nations, not to keep up with their latest fashions and novelties.  There are those who ask: "How can we make disciples of all people if we cannot relate to them through their latest fashions and novelties?"  This question reflects a common mistake that is not limited to the modernisers in the Roman Catholic Church.  Protestantism has made this error too, but for them, the trend is much more profound and with more dire consequences.  When it comes to modernising and updating, Protestants do it better.  They always have and they always will.  Lacking any real apostolic authority to hold them back, they can actually keep up with the fashions and novelties of our time, and they do so with passion and zeal.  As a result there has been a massive exodus from mainline Protestant churches into more modernised Evangelical churches.  It's worked wonders for creating contemporary mega-churches; based on marketing techniques, tailored sermons, and music customised to the exact beat and metre of the surrounding culture, complete with stage lights, theatre seating and the latest surround-sound acoustics.  In terms of modernising -- it's perfect!  The next generation will certainly include fog machines, laser shows and holographic images.  (You laugh?  I've already seen two out of three of those in one Evangelical church.)  However, what is the cost?  The normal behaviour of the average Evangelical is what many have called "church hopping," wherein a certain segment of the Evangelical population simply jumps from church to church, looking for the latest new thing, and never settles down anywhere.  This produces children who quickly get burned out on the latest fashions and novelties, eventually seeing through it as mere marketing gimmicks.  This creates a disillusionment with the faith.  Some in this younger generation call for doctrinal updates (usually relating to sexual morality) to match the worship updates.  Most however, simply drop out of church all together.  What is lost is a sense of connection to one's Christian heritage and roots.  What is lost is the sense of timelessness.  What is lost is the sense of mystery.  It's all gone to the flash of a strobe light and the beat of a drum.  The mystery and awe of Christian worship is drown in the noise of thunderous applause.  Is it any wonder why the younger generation eventually just gives up?

    Modernisation is a perfect example of giving the people what they want as opposed to what they need.  It can at times result in the worst of consequences.  To the modernisers in the Catholic Church I do have a word of consolation.  No matter how much the upcoming generation returns to older and more traditional liturgies, the Catholic Church will never return to the pre-Vatican II days.  Vernacular translations of the liturgy will always be made widely available to the people, regardless of what form of liturgy that comes in.  Contemporary praise and worship songs will always have a place in the Catholic Church, even if it's not in the liturgy of the mass.  Youth groups will continue to make use of them indefinitely, even if it's just for bus trips and youth camp sing-alongs.  Charismatic Catholic prayer groups will always find a place for them.  The new Catechism of the Catholic Church will remain the definitive instruction on the Christian faith for generations to come.  The same goes for the new Code of Canon Law.  In other words, the modernising of the 1970s "hippy generation" has made its mark, and that mark is here to stay, even if the fashions and novelties of that generation fade away.

    The best advice I could possibly give to the 1970s modernisers is this.  Don't be like the pertinacious generation you so vigorously battled in your youth.  Lead the next generation by example.  Give in to the new  traditionalist trends, and by doing so, demonstrate your progressive character.  In the Evangelical tradition I came from, we had a saying, which ultimately helped me to convert to Catholicism eventually.  We called it the "Great Proverb" and it goes like this: "He who is flexible shall not be easily broken."  I repeated that mantra to myself constantly when converting from Evangelicalism to Anglicanism and ultimately to Catholicism.  I prayed that constantly too: "Lord, make me flexible so that I will not need to be broken."  The stubborn pre-Vatican II generation would have done wisely to mediate on such a saying during the 1970s, while the 1970s modernising generation in the Catholic Church today would do well to mediate on it now.  The traditional trends in the Catholic Church today are not so much about a rejection of modernisation, but rather a sign that the Church has embraced the necessary parts of it (the parts that are faithful to orthodoxy and will stand the test of time), and is now enfolding them into her centuries-old traditions to take with her into the future.  1970s modernisers in the establishment of the Catholic Church should take this as a complement and a sign that the mission of their youth is now complete.  They've changed the world.  Now we move on.


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