Concerning Lay Preaching and Such
(12-28-2009, 07:51 PM)Patrick Madrid Wrote: I appreciate the opportunity to comment on a couple of things said on this thread. First, I'm glad to know that at least some of you wouldn't want to see me unemployed! My wife and children will appreciate hearing that. The funny thing is, I never had any inkling growing up that I would eventually be doing the work I'm doing. In fact, when the door first opened for me to enter the world of full-time Catholic apostolate, I (stupidly) said "no" to it and tried to do other things. But it seems that God shut those other doors pretty firmly in my face and opened the door I wound up going through. I thank Him for his patience and generosity with me.

I am glad you are blessed enough to have felt a discernment in your life.  The funny thing with discernments, however, is that it is often difficult to know which are of God, which are of common sense, of circumstance, etc.  I have no reason to doubt your sincereity in discernment, but it reminds me of a situation of Notre Dame playing Georgetown where both sides are Catholic, both love God, and both ask God for victory believing they are "His team".  Of course, we know God likes Georgetown better because it is a Jesuit school, but I digress.  The point is that you have discerned something, and others such as Cdl. Mahoney  and Cdl. Bernadin both have has as well.  As did Abp. Lefebvre, and so did Mother Angelica, and so did I.  Can they all be "from God" if there are these differences between all of us to different degrees?  Anything is possible, but some things are less likely than others.  So, while I am glad that you have felt a discernment and have the peace of soul to know in the internal forum you are doing God's work, you will have to excuse me if at the current time that only bears the weight of an anecdote for me, and I will certainly excuse you if my discernment only bears the weight of an anecdote for you.  :)

Skipping ahead...

Quote:Also, I would agree that it's vital that those who are in some way making an effort to publicly explain and defend Catholic teaching and practice, should be properly grounded and trained in the theology and history of the Church. For my part, I have tried to be as prepared as I can be in this area, and in 2010, I hope to begin either an STL or Ph.D. program in theology, having already received my training in philosophy and theology. There's always a vast amount left to learn, and  have really enjoyed the last 23 years of learning as much as I can about our Faith, but I know that there will always be much more to learn for all of us, however far we may progress in that direction. I'm reminded of St. Thomas's comment, after a vision he received shortly before his death, that everything he had written up that point (he wrote nothing afterward) was just so much "straw."

That's great!  Good luck to you on your STL or PhD.  I wish you success! :)

Back to the story...

Quote:As someone here mentioned, it would be excellent if large numbers of priests and bishops were taking up the cudgel for the Church (as many did in "the olden days"), making it unnecessary for laymen like me to do so. But as all of you know, a huge priest- and bishop-shaped vacuum existed for several decades and there was virtually no one making an effort to publicly and systematically defend the Faith in public. So, out of necessity, some of us stepped forward to try and do what we could to respond to those who attacked the Catholic Church and lured many of our Catholic brethren out of the Church. Something had to be done, and since I and a few other laymen, like Karl Keating, didn't see anyone else doing much of anything, I figured I had better do what I could.

Well for sure Karl Keating was right to be outraged at Jack Chick tracts on windshields (I believe that was his prompting) and wanting to do something about it.  That is for sure a good and noble motivation.  Nor do I question your motivation or your love for Christ; as a fellow Catholic, I assume it about you.

While I agree with much of what you say, there is an important difference.  I agree that there is a huge priest and bishop vacuum, and I will go further and say many of the ones that we have are not that hot. Deo volente, this will change.  And I also agree that every Catholic has the duty to stand and defend the Faith.  But when one looks at the involvement of the laity in the greater Church, the fruits have not been so hot.  Once can go to many RCIA classes, and the majority of them are taught by either 1) well-meaning but undereducated lay persons, or, 2) lay persons who teach heresy and all kinds of vile falsehoods.  And even if we give the pastor the benefit of the doubt, one man cannot police a horde of 20 ideological heretics that run the various "parish ministries".  So, the real solution is not more laity, but more orthodox priests and bishops.

That said, we have what we have, and until prayers and sacrifices bring more orthodox priests and bishops, I agree that some of the laity need to step forward and roll up their sleeves and help out.

Which brings me to the meat of the issue, at least for me.  My opinion, as I stated elsewhere, is that lay apologetics should restrict itself to defending and teaching what the Church has given us.  For example, I see no problem with someone saying, "Here is what the Church teaches about the purpose of our Creation" and pointing to the Baltimore Catechism.  I see no problem with having a call-in show and answering a question such as: "What is the current fasting requirement during Lent?"  The reason is that a layman can point to a relatively clear Church statement on the topic.  We are just parroting what the Church teaches.  That is apologetics.

When we say one liturgy is better than the other, that is opinion.  It may be educated opinion with logic behind it, but it is still opinion.  And certainly there is room for opinion in Catholicism.  Not everyone has the same charism.  But then when we say one type of action is "the Catholic way" then things get sticky.  And I will come back to this below.

Quote:On my "Open Line" radio program carried on EWTN, I do my best to explain what the Catholic Church teaches and why, and when I don't know the answer to a question,  I say so openly. And when what I am going to express is simply my opinion, I also say that as clearly as possible. I am not sure why some would fault Catholic laymen for doing that, given the current need for public defense of the Faith.

Well, of course I don't fault you for explaining what the Seven Sacraments are or the process to perform an emergency baptism.  I wouldn't fault you for explaining how to light an Advent Wreath and explaining, truthfully, it probably came from the Lutherans.

But, here is what I fault you for.  Conveniently, a recent blog entry of yours helps me define what I think the problem is (emphasis mine):

Quote:But I've heard that same claim before about EWTN-esque Catholic radio being "distorted," and I personally don't buy it. True, I play a very minor role in the larger Catholic radio enterprise, so I am biased, but I really believe that networks like EWTN are, far from distorting Catholicism, actually projecting the Catholic Church, at least in its American, Latin American, and European experience, as it really is, and has been, and should be, and could be. ... I would argue, what EWTN strives to purvey is historic, orthodox Catholicism. I know that for a fact.

One small problem is that you go from "I believe..." to "I know that for a fact" (after all, it is a quickly written blog entry and not a thesis so I'm not going to split hairs), I will assume the proper characterization is "I believe this to be fact"

Well, I would expect nothing less of you if you are the honest Catholic I assume you to be.  After all, you would not promote something, in this case the EWTN-sque (your term) / Neo-Catholic (my term) way of Catholicism if you did not believe it to be true and right.  But that's the problem.  It is no longer apologetics - i.e., defending and promoting the faith as the Church teaches it.  It is promoting and defending your opinion of what the Church should look like.  It is lobbying and marketing.

There is no basis for the EWTN-sque / Neo-Catholic way of looking at the V2 documents, the liturgy, etc., except in the opinions of those who look at it that way.  Let me explain what I mean.

Mother Angelica and EWTN show Masses a certain way. I think even the most hardcore of trads would have to begrudgingly admit those Masses are at the very least respectful of the Real Presence.  Then, we can look at diocese X and see Cdl. Unholywater with liturgical dancers and a laser show in his cathedral.  Who does the Church say has the authentic historic orthodox Catholicism?  Answer: She doesn't.  You can't even point to a Papal Mass, especially under JP2, and say "See the Pope does it this way all the time just like EWTN!"  The GIRM allows wide latitude, the bishops allow wide latitude and are all over the map themselves, and the Vatican hasn't set a clear and consistent example either.  There are no hard documents past the GIRM and the USCCB fights over translations ad nauseum when even a 1st year Latin student can figure out that "pro multis" is translated "for many".  Assuming there are no liturgical abuses, who, with authority, says the EWTN way is right and the Cdl. Unholywater way is wrong? 

The EWTN-esque / Neo-Catholic way of reading the Documents of Vatican 2 are a specific way.  For the sake of this discussion, let's say it is "with an eye to tradition".  Fine, but we have to realize that what is happening here is that you are imposing a view on the documents that the Church has not.  The Church has never said "This is the way to read Dignitatis Humanae".  EWTN-esque apologists sure have told us a certain way to read it, but Mother Church has not.  And that's the problem.  Fr. Murray told us to read it one way, EWTN tells us to read it another, and when people look to Rome there is silence.  At least so far.

The EWTN-esque way is not "The Catholic Way" simply because the Church has not said it is.  The Church has said the traditional way is "The Catholic Way" for the 1900 years leading up to Vatican 2, and continues to do so after Vatican 2 through Motu Proprios etc., so the same problem does not hold there - the Church has already given "It's the Catholic Way" stamp to the TLM, the Rosary, etc..  What you promote is your opinion and only your opinion until the Church says "Yes, the Neo-Catholics are right on how the documents should be read, how the liturgy should be implemented, etc."  Then it's "The Catholic Way" until then, at best, it is "a Catholic way" maybe even the "most orthodox Catholic way" but it is not "The Catholic Way" in the sense it is what the Church Herself promotes and teaches.

Which brings me back to my point.  Sure, definitely you and Karl et al. engage in true and rightful apologetics.  However, you also engage in the marketing and sales of the EWTN-esque view of Catholicism which is exactly that and only that: the EWTN-esque view of Catholicism.  The problem is the two are often mingled and your promoting your opinion and view of "The Catholic Way"  is often confused as the promotion of what the Church says "The Catholic Way" is, and it is not.  For example, your book with Pete Vere is in no way straight apologetics as much as the promotion of the EWTN-esque view and the denigration of the traditionalist view, is it not?

That's the gist of the first problem, but now I'll go onto a few other problems that aren't directly related to you but to lay apologetics at large.

Dr. Hahn comes to mind.  He is clearly a great apologist and has brought many people into the Church.  Vox, the other owner and the one who wrote all the webpages on this site, loves Dr. Hahn and credits him in a way with her refinding the Faith.  So, clearly Dr. Hahn does some really good things.  However, and this is a big however, he has a cult of personality around him.  I do not blame him for this - these things rise of their own accord, though obviously a cult of personality around Bishop Sheen is better than around a lay person by virtue of his office.  Where I do call foul is when he engages in speculative theology (e.g., Adam and the Dragon, feminine Holy Ghost, Prima Scriptura, etc.) in books and articles that go to the masses.  It is irresponsible because he has a cult of personality about him.  If I were to say "Oh, I think the fecundity of man is a direct result of Cain's killing Abel" someone would look at that and say, "Who the hell is Quis Ut Deus?" shrug and walk away.  But when someone who has a public prominence engages in speculative theology - and as a theologian he should be able to in the proper academic circles - among the masses, it is problematic.  His role as a speculative theologian is merged with that of the apologist in the minds of people, and when they read that Dr. Hahn said in his latest book that X is Y it must be so!  It can't be that way.  Speculative theology belongs in the realm of academia, peer review, etc.  When it is offered to the wider Church in the hands of someone who is respected as an apologist - i.e., someone who explains and defends Church teaching - it gets labeled wrongly.  What happens is his opinion or speculation is perceived as Church teaching when it isn't the case.  This would not happen if he were 1) a lay apologist who stuck to the "script" or 2) a speculative theologian who wasn't a lay apologist out in the public.

Another problem is the self-proclaimed authority of some lay apologists.  Catholic Culture comes to mind.  Here is Dr. Mirus who has no degree in theology, no advanced theological training that I know of, running a website part of which - the reviews section - proclaims websites to be orthodox and heterodox.  I'm kind of wondering when he received the mitre that allows him to proclaim a virtual Nihil Obstat / Imprimatur on other people's Catholic websites.  You know, if he had a DD I might take him more seriously, but unfortunately lots of people do take him seriously and respect his opinion even though he has no more training (and possibly less) in theology and phlosophy than I.

So, here we have a bunch of layman running around saying: "This is the Catholic Way" when really it's what their opinion of what the Catholic way is.  From promoting the EWTN-esque notion of what the Pauline Liturgy should be as the Church notion of it (at least implicitly) to putting speculative theology in front of the masses, to stamping other Catholics as heterodox.

You don't think any of this falls under "A Bad Idea" ™?  And, really, it is most dangerous with laymen because since the Church currently lacks temporal power, what can a bishop really do to a layman, temporally, to stop him?  Pretty much nothing.  But with a priest or religious, they are Property of the Vatican in a real sense, and their superior or Ordinary at least has a chance of stopping them.  There is a real and definite temporal enforcement of responsibility that does not occur with a layman.

Really, teach people about the Sacraments, kick Jack Chick where it counts, encourage people to become, re-become, and remain Catholics and you won't hear me complain.  But, that's not where the lay apologists have drawn the line historically, and I find that a huge problem.  People who go past that line shouldn't label themselves - or allow themselves to be labeled - apologists.  They are pundits, critics, thinkers, philosophers, theologians, etc., but they are no longer engaging in apologetics.

I myself am clear that I am here to promote traditional Catholicism - the TLM, traditional practices, etc. that have been considered The Catholic Way ™ for 2000 years (give or take depending on the item in question).  I do not label myself an apologist, but a promoter of traditional Catholicism who helps answer questions about Catholicism when asked.  In the same way, I think many so-called EWTN-esque / Neo-Catholic apologists are really just promoters of EWTN-esque / Neo-Catholicism who happen to answer questions about Catholicism.  So maybe I shouldn't be complaining about lay apologists, but the way some lay apologists are engaging in misleading advertising...

But here's what I believe to be the objective fact that drives my opinion:

When I post a stupid idea here, I'm called on it.  Heck, I may occasionally post a brilliant idea and I'm called on it (rare that I am brilliant, but sometimes it happens).  I'm not speaking from a virtual pulpit in the form of an EWTN radio microphone, a podium in an auditorium, or a best-selling book.  My opinion counts for the nothing opinion it is, and no one mistakes it for what the Church says.  People such as yourself who are well-known apologists should be aware that while internally you may be humble and not trying to speak for the Church, the people listening to you often don't realize that, and I don't direct this at you Patrick, but I find some of the lay apologists are aware of this and frankly don't care because it helps them promote their view of Catholicism.  And that is the real danger of lay apologetics when this happens: layman who come across as speaking for the Church whether they intend to or not.  When Bishop Sheen gives a talk, by virtue of his office he is speaking for the Church.  If you or I get behind a microphone, unless we are parroting Rome, we are not speaking for the Church because we are laymen, and those who are behind microphones should be careful if they are billed as apologists and at the same time promoting their personal version of what the liturgy, the practices, etc., should be like.

I'll close with this quote from your blog and my comment on it:

"Patricks Blog" Wrote:The problem, as I see it, is that there has been so much genuine distortion within the American Catholic experience over the past 50 years or so, with plenty of obscuring and redefining and outright denying of orthodox Catholic teaching and piety, that now, after looking through badly scratched lenses (or listening through ears badly clogged with the earwax of dissent and confusion), many today who are finally coming into contact with real Catholicism find, at least at first perhaps, that their eyes and ears hurt a bit from the experience.

Exactly.  Next time you go to a TLM (i.e., "real Catholicism"), and your eyes and ears hurt, go at least two more times. As my friend Scipio says, you have to go three times in a row to "get it".

Yes, that is an unabashed promotion of the Traditional Latin Mass.  After all, I'm not an apologist.  I stick with what I know. :)

Messages In This Thread
Re: Concerning Lay Preaching and Such - by Credo - 12-25-2009, 10:12 AM
Re: Concerning Lay Preaching and Such - by SCG - 12-25-2009, 10:22 AM
Re: Concerning Lay Preaching and Such - by glgas - 12-26-2009, 08:36 AM
Re: Concerning Lay Preaching and Such - by SCG - 12-26-2009, 11:38 AM
Re: Concerning Lay Preaching and Such - by SCG - 12-26-2009, 11:58 AM
Re: Concerning Lay Preaching and Such - by SCG - 12-26-2009, 12:29 PM
Re: Concerning Lay Preaching and Such - by SCG - 12-26-2009, 12:34 PM
Re: Concerning Lay Preaching and Such - by SCG - 12-26-2009, 07:45 PM
Re: Concerning Lay Preaching and Such - by SCG - 12-27-2009, 05:51 PM
Re: Concerning Lay Preaching and Such - by SCG - 12-27-2009, 06:27 PM
Re: Concerning Lay Preaching and Such - by glgas - 12-28-2009, 09:03 AM
Re: Concerning Lay Preaching and Such - by SCG - 12-28-2009, 11:52 AM
Re: Concerning Lay Preaching and Such - by SCG - 12-28-2009, 08:01 PM
Re: Concerning Lay Preaching and Such - by Historian - 12-29-2009, 07:50 AM
Re: Concerning Lay Preaching and Such - by SCG - 12-29-2009, 12:16 PM
Re: Concerning Lay Preaching and Such - by SCG - 12-29-2009, 02:18 PM
Re: Concerning Lay Preaching and Such - by JayneK - 12-29-2009, 03:51 PM
Re: Concerning Lay Preaching and Such - by JayneK - 12-29-2009, 11:08 PM
Re: Concerning Lay Preaching and Such - by SCG - 01-02-2010, 12:55 PM

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