Tips for pastoral effectiveness

Lots of homilies about the evil of contraception

When I say a strong parish-level assault on contraception would be “pastorally effective”, I don’t mean in the sense that a good pastor, caring for the souls of his flock, would want to focus a lot of attention on an unrepented sin of some 90% of them before they find themselves in the pit of Hell.  The new definition of “pastoral” is “doesn’t make practitioners of a politically approved sin feel negatively singled out”.  The sodomites feel that, to the extent we resist their agenda at all, we are singling them out, but there is a way to alleviate such feelings.  It turns out that the heterosexual population is guilty of exactly the same sin!  Contracepted sex and homosexual buggery are just two forms of the same unnatural act.  (Masturbation is a third.)  Our condemnation of the latter is a corollary of our condemnation of the former.  Thus, we can concentrate all our fire on the politically safest target, who also happen to be the most numerous and thus the most deserving of attention, safe in the knowledge that a Church known for its stand on nonprocreative sex won’t look like an easy target for pro-sodomy subversion.

Lots of homilies about Hell

Suppose you’re a Kasperite who thinks religion is just a way to provide comfort and community; what doctrine could be better than one of universal salvation?  We could all relax in the conviction that everyone is going to heaven, except for those who are already there.  It doesn’t work.  The moment people stop believing in the danger of punishment after death is the moment they stop believing in an afterlife altogether.  Universal salvation just can’t be believed.  It’s too obviously a sappy wish fulfillment fantasy.  Men don’t believe in anything they don’t have to worry about, plan and prepare for.  It’s almost our definition of reality; only dreams and fantasies don’t make these demands on us.  In fact, I strongly suspect that the universalist theologians themselves don’t believe in an afterlife.  One can tell from how they criticize people who believe in a non-empty hell of being cruel pharisees who are sure they’ll be one of the elect and are gratified by the thought of most of humanity in torment.  They themselves choose their beliefs about the afterlife based on what seems most pleasant, so they assume the beliefs of non-universalists must be wish fulfillment as well.  That one might believe in a populated hell because this is the most natural reading of Jesus’ own words, regardless of what one wants to be true or how good one imagines one’s own chances of salvation to be, is inconceivable to them.  They can’t even imagine treating beliefs about heaven and hell as if they were beliefs about objective reality.

One of these days, priests must get around to giving
something distinctively true about Catholicism.

At some point, it’s got to occur to parishioners that if the whole message of Catholicism is fighting poverty, protecting the environment, and fighting racism, there’s no point to it.  Atheists are already leading the socialist, environmentalist, and anti-white movements, and churchmen offer nothing distinctive to these conversations (at least, post-Vatican II churchmen don’t).  One almost suspects that the clergy accept the Marxist/neoreactionary belief that Christianity is just for manipulating stupid people into doing things they can’t see the real reasons for.

It is ominous indeed that on those doctrines where Catholicism clashes most obviously with everyone else–on contraception, divorce, and Christ in the Eucharist–the majority of Catholics don’t believe Catholic doctrine, and the minority of clergy who are still orthodox don’t talk about them.  So, to the extent Catholicism has anything distinctive to offer, it is what the majority of practicing Catholics regard as falsehoods.

5 Responses

  1. Luther considered contraception a sodomitic sin so, in this regard, he was more Catholic than today’s liberal Catholics.

    You didn’t mention it but artificial contraception isn’t the only form of sodomy practiced in the marriage bed by many (most?) people, including, I assume, Catholics.

  2. I can’t say that I’ve heard contraception condemned from the pulpit, but neither have I been chastised for harboring censorious and hurtful opinions of persons who practice contraception. I have been chastised for harboring censorious and hurtful opinions of homosexuals, though; so by that measure it would appear that the Church sees contraception as less forgivable. Of course it may be that the priest, knowing something about natural fertility rates, scans the congregation and deduces that, when it comes to contraception, there’s nary a censorious not a hurtful opinion to be found.

    My oldest son is preparing for confirmation, and part of this involves the two of us attending a series of two-hour classes. They really could be worse, but I don’t believe there has yet been a mention of H E double toothpicks. The funny thing is, my son has a lively–which is not to say morbid–appreciation of Hell. I suspect that belief in Hell is natural, and a child only looses it if it is beaten out of him.

    Jesus did not suppress his “hard sayings” out of fear they would drive many people away, although they certainly did drive many people away. There’s a place for Sermon on the Mount and the warm fuzzeys that accompany it; but there is also a place for the “drink my blood” and the cold creepies that accompany it. Maybe we should equip each pulpit with one of those clocks that chess players use, and this to ensure that for each minute spent talking about love, another minute is spent talking about sin.

  3. […] Source: Throne and Altar […]

  4. JMsmith
    Perhaps some get the ‘warm fuzzies’ out of the Sermon on the Mount; I certainly don’t, it strikes me cold for realizing what I haven’t done.

  5. Am I alone in finding an eerie similarity between the “Truce of 1968,” as George Weigal calls it, when the Congregation for the Clergy decreed that Cardinal O’Boyle of Washington should lift canonical penalties against those priests whom he had disciplined for their public dissent from Humanae Vitæ and the “Peace of Clement IX” during the Jansenist controversy?

    In both cases, after the Church had been riven by a decade-long dispute, a papal document was issued that was intended to be definitive.

    In both cases, the original quarrel was immediately forgotten and argument raged over the scope of papal authority to decide the question. In the Jansenist case, peace, of a sort, was achieved, when Pope Clement IX brokered an agreement that neither side would argue the question, at least, from the pulpit.

    The “Peace of Clement IX” lasted for about 35 years and ended in 1705 when Clement XI declared the clergy could no longer hide behind “respectful silence.” Eventually, in 1713, he issued Unigenitus and demanded the subscription of the clergy to it. There was enormous resistance, with bishops and priests appealing to a future Council (and being excommunicated for their pains, in 1718). As late as 1756, dissenters were still being denied the Last Rites.

    Will the “Truce of 1968” end in a similar fashion?

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