Shea, Voris and Amazing Grace

Monday, July 25, AD 2011

An interesting spat has developed between Catholic blogger Mark Shea of Catholic and Enjoying It and Michael Voris of RealCatholic TV.  In the above video Mr. Voris attacks the use of the Protestant hymn Amazing Grace at Mass.    Amazing Grace was composed by John Newton, an eighteenth century captain of a slaver, who converted to Christianity, was ordained in the Anglican Church and became an abolitionist.  The song is used frequently at Mass in my parish.

Mark Shea, who has never had any use for Mr. Voris as far as I can tell, attacked the video in a post at his blog:

Voris’ sole message is “I am the measure of Real Catholicism and those who agree with me have the right to call themselves Catholic, while those who disagree are liars and lukewarm fake Catholics”.

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131 Responses to Shea, Voris and Amazing Grace

  • Imus on Fox Business just played Billy Joe Shaver’s “If you don’t love Jesus go to hell.” Truth. How appropriate is that?

    Was Shea staring at his own reflection in the screen as he typed that?

  • Truthfully, I have no use for Shea. Now perhaps I don’t agree with everything Michael Voris says in his video. Still, 99% of what he puts out is right and correct. Shea’s self-glorification is however different and the less publicity given to him, the better.

  • Shea ought to commit himself to writing exclusively for publication. When his utterances are not redacted by Brian St. Paul, they can be just godawful.

  • As far as singing Amazing Grace at Mass is concerned, I might have some stylistic qualms with it, but it is certainly not heretical hymnity as Voris would lead us to believe. I think Voris is becoming way too invective prone for his own good.

    As far as Shea is concerned, I agree with Paul. I find Shea to be a calumnious windbag. Although I agree with Mark in this instance, he is lobbing grenades from a glass bunker in going after Voris.

  • This whole Amazing Grace thing started on Dave Armstrong’s blog. He didn’t like Voris’s take on AG either. I defended MV by saying if we are Catholic, we should be singing our own Catholic songs and hymns. Why bother with music from a tradition that is hostile to us? Armstrong labeled me a Pharisee and another commentator told me that we would be barren without those Prot songs and hymns! We have a 2000 year heritage of sacred music, and we would be barren without those Prot thingees? ROTFL!

  • I’ll stick with Voris. Never heard of Shea. Just As well.

  • Shea’s a pompous tool… of all people, to criticize someone because they put forth themselves as the measure of Catholicity. Physician, heal thyself.

    Look, I think it’s silly and stupid to have Prot hymns at Mass. But un-Catholic? Eh…. there are so many hymns in the Catholic arsenal that we can BOTH get rid of the modern pablum AND the Prot stuff. We do it at my parish, there are plenty of good hymnals to make it work.

  • Most Catholics today ARE protestantized. It began in the 50’s and was revved up by the liberal apostates at V2.
    An informed, orthodox Catholic–say Cardinal Burke–could sing A. G. and, knowing what it means, find nothing heterodox. The general run of the laity, who see little distinction between one denomination and another (“Hey, it’s all the same God”) understand AG as linking them with the general anglophone population who are nice people who support the place of worship of their choice.
    If Catholicism is not adherence to the one, holy, catholic (universal) and apostolic (Pope-run) it is not too much, just another church. This has been the theme of Voris: let’s be truly and wholely Catholic.
    Voris is trying to reverse the protestantizing trend and start a Catholicizing on.

  • Nothing like a catchy Gregorian chant to get toes tapping. I like Amazing Grace, especially when sung a capella by a great soprano. It’s like Auld Lang Syne, an oldie but goodie.

  • As for ‘dressing like a Protestant,’ would this include wearing Calvin Klein? 😆

  • I don’t track Voris or Shea, but I’ve heard the first part of Voris’s argument from others. “Wretch” means “unhappy or vile person”, from the Old English word for “outcast”. That sounds about right. The argument is that “wretch” indicates that man is rotten to the core, which is a Protestant view. And maybe the word had that meaning at one time. Heck, maybe it has that meaning *now*. I just don’t make that association.

    I’ve never heard the second argument before, and it sounds valid on first hearing. But the hymn doesn’t deny the existence of actual grace. It says that we recognize the value of grace in our first moment of belief, not that grace appears in our first moment of belief.

    Could a person hear the hymn and come away with a Protestant understanding of grace? Sure. A Catholic understanding of grace? Again, sure. Are there better hymns in the world? Yup, a bunch of them. But as Donald points out, in an average four-hymn mass, there are at least two hymns worse than this one.

  • I think the explanation that Voris may be suffering from overly Protestant hair would actually clear up a number of issues.

  • Don’t like Voris — he annoys me. I do think he’s right about the song, although I like it. It’s a protestant song. And I too have sung “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” in church and found it hilarious. There’s another one we sometimes sing that talks about being “the elect.” I forget which one it is. But we are definitely NOT “the elect.”

    However, yesterday I had to endure a hit parade of awful contemporary songs, ending with the execrable “Anthem” (“Who is justice to the poor, Who is rage against the night, Who is blah blah blah blah blah blah, Who is light…” That is TEN THOUSAND TIMES WORSE than “Amazing Grace,” which one can at least choose to interpret in a Catholic way no matter what it actually means. There is no way to interpret crap like “Anthem” except as crap. “We are question, we are creed” — WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN????

  • I specifically requested “How Great Thou Art” for my uncle’s funeral Mass last year, not being the least deterred by its Protestant origins. There is no reason why Catholics and Protestants cannot share hymnody as long as they do not present theological problems. It is important to remember that Protestants are our brothers and sisters in Christ, and we are in communion with them even if that communion is imperfect.

    Amazing Grace is a fine hymn, even if it suffers a bit from over-use. The complaint regarding the word “wretch” has had currency in Catholic circles for well over 40 years, but I find it unconvincing. When one examines Newton’s life, his self-description is entirely apt.

  • I’d sing “How Great Thou Art” any day.

  • Funny, the referring to oneself as a wretch was what I considered the best part of the song. There’s humility, an admission of sinfulness, and acknowledgement of God’s mercy and grace in that line. Very Catholic, in my mind. The problem with it though is the “saved” – as in it’s a done deal. I know one can sing that line with a Catholic sensibility, but I have no idea how most Catholics think about it, if many even do at all (it is possibly just one of those rote things for many).

  • If Voris is complaining about the casual attire that people wear to church, I can’t fault him. I’d like to see people show more reference to the Blessed Sacrament in their manner and dress. Then again, Protestants used to dress up for church too. The problem isn’t the Protestantizing of American Catholicism; it’s the casualizing of American culture.

  • The hymn Amazing Grace is one of Christendom’s favorites. It’s been exported all over the world. It resonates because its message is simply Christian. It moves from the beginning (conversion) to the end (glory). It expresses a very basic experience shared by all Christians. Such a universal hymn is universally well loved.

  • I attend the 0730 Mass. Then, I don’t cringe through a protestant hootenanny.

    I prefer “Holy God We Praise Thy Name”” and just about any hymn in a 1956 Catholic Hymnal.

    AG is clownish on the pipes. That’s when I speculate what’s under them kilts?

    Yes. Many people come to Mass dressed like they’re going to the beach, and too many don’t know about genuflection or proper reverence for the Holy Eucharist.

  • AG is clownish on the pipes? How so? I think the pipes give it further dignity.

  • I agree, Pat. In some contexts it can be a bit cliche-ish, but cliches often develop for sound reasons. Years ago, when my daughter was a toddler, I decided that Pachabel’s Canon in D would be played at her wedding. Little did I know that since that time it would so dramatically increase in popularity that today it could fairly be described as a cliche. Still beautiful though. And hardly clownish either.

  • Donald:

    How good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell together in unity. FWIW, I hold no brief insisting that any Catholic *must* sing AG. I merely draw the line at calling it “anti-catholic” and implying that any Catholic who sings it is a protestantized semi-Catholic as distinct from Michael Voris, STB, Real Catholic.

  • Mr. Shea,

    While I might be inclined to agree with you that there is nothing really offensive about Amazing Grace, you still act very arrogantly and appear to be very full of yourself. I recognize this so well because it is one of my own chiefest defects of character. It’s sort of like looking in a mirror. Remember: you are NOT the spokesman for what’s Catholic and what isn’t. I suppose Michael Voris isn’t, either. And I am certainly not. But the fact that you closed down comments on your little piece about Michael Voris indicates you can’t take the criticism. Perhaps I am wrong. Nevertheless, I hope this will be my last interaction with you because you are best when you ignored. PS, feel free to ignore me, too. 😉

  • “How good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell together in unity.”

    Agreed Mark! Catholic blogdom is just one big happy family! 🙂

  • Donald: I love you man! 🙂

    Paul: “But the fact that you closed down comments on your little piece about Michael Voris indicates you can’t take the criticism. Perhaps I am wrong.”

    Yes. You are wrong. I closed down comments because, as I have said repeatedly on my blog, I’m super busy. I didn’t want to net.nanny the flood of hysterics coming in from pewsitter and elsewhere, so I closed comments. As a cursory glance at the out of control combox war which has broken out over at Creative Minority Report in the thread about me and Voris illustrates, the tongue is a flame. I decided to save myself the hassle while I’m trying to get other work done.

    Seriously, dude. My comboxes are full, every day, of criticism. I get it all the time. Most of the criticism is fairly rational. Corapi/Voris hysteria quickly becomes insane. When I’m busy, insane people are serious times sucks. Mystery solved. If you are going psychoanalyze my inmost motivations at least pay attention to obvious evidence that you are wrong. Thank you.

  • Oh! One other thing, Paul. You write: “Remember: you are NOT the spokesman for what’s Catholic and what isn’t. I suppose Michael Voris isn’t, either.”

    You know, I couldn’t agree more.

  • Shea certainly has been making a lot of noise lately via ad hominem attacks directed here and there…often against those who either cannot or won’t reply. What I don’t understand is how such a one of such a “brotherhood” gets paid for doing such.

    And ever notice how, in the comments afterwards, he has to react immediately against anyone who just might have a differing opinion! How dare they!

  • Rosie,

    Lest I be accused of an “ad hominem attack,” I am not saying this applies to any specific person. Just draw your own conclusions and apply the lesson therein as you see fit.

    If I act like a baboon, behaving as though I am God’s gift to the Catholic blogosphere while making a sanctimonious pretense at pious objectivity, the best thing you can do is to ignore me. Paying attention to arrogant buffonery gives it its power. Denying it publicity is truly the best that one can do.

    In the meantime, we should pay attention to people like Michael Voris. True, he makes mistakes on occasion. But by and large he is quite orthodox and that is exactly what irritates certain self-appointed so-called Catholic experts in the Catholic blogosphere so much. Being by nature heterodox, they get jealous, especially when the orthodox have a better media outlet than they do. I imagine that irritates them no end, and I couldn’t be happier. I believe the saying is “green with envy.” Hmmmm…..doesn’t the last Commandment say something about that?

  • PS, I do like how Michael Voris really doesn’t pay much attention to what people say about him. In fact, whatever defects of character he does possess, being envious of someone else’s reach into the Catholic media doesn’t appear to be one of them. And he doesn’t seem to have this constant need to quote himself. By all appearances, he is quite Catholic and does indeed enjoy it!


  • “Lest I be accused of an “ad hominem attack,” I am not saying this applies to any specific person.”

    Profile in courage.

  • I tend to get the cringes when i hear ‘Amazing Grace’ sung during Mass. I guess its because I remember the song coming out as a hit record back in the late 60’s by Judy Collins, and followed up not too long after by Joan Baez. I loved their renditions of the song and the religious tone of the lyrics, but to me, it was a secular ‘hymn’ – not some sacred music. I also loved the bag-pipe instrumental – stirred that part of my blood which retains a strong but distant Celtic Highlander strain.

    To me, its not sacred or holy (old English for ‘set apart’) music, even though the lyrics have been slightly modified from its originally ‘folksy’ format. i recall many years ago at Mass one Sunday, when no organ was available at the church at Mt.Maunganui, one of the choir members started singing ‘Amazing Grace’ for the communion hymn. The priest at the altar interupted him and asked him not to sing it. Undaunted, he again commenced with the opening lyrics, and the priest again interupted him and told him not to sing that song, as it was not a proper or appropriate hymn to welcome Christ in Communion. I agreed with the priest, despite the offended looks on the faces of the ‘touchy-feely’ bunch – mainly women. 😉

    With regard to Michael Voris, I like the guy and get his daily e-mail and
    video clips. IMO he is a bit extremely orthodox, but that is certainly needed today in the battle we have to combat secular humanism and atheism, and the errors in the Church – that is why he is critical of the bishops, our leaders. I do recall many saints in the Church being extreme at times – St.Francis of Assisi comes to mind.

    And if anyone doesn’t like Mark Shea’s pugnacious boisterous style, don’t visit his blog. I quite like him, actually, but nowadays only a lurker rather than a commenter – that may change. Everyone doesn’t have to agree with everyone, as long as the Truth of the teaching of the Church is not being meddled with.

  • “And if anyone doesn’t like Mark Shea’s pugnacious boisterous style, don’t visit his blog.”

    I visited only once or twice. That was sufficient to see my worst defects of character in simultaneous action: arrogance, pride, ego, envy of others, intolerance of orthodoxy in others, etc.

    PS, if it were pugnacious style that was offensive, then I would never have listened to either Fr. Corapi or Michael Voris, both of whom Mr. Shea derides with impunity. I rather like pugnacious orthodoxy. Apparently Mr. Shea does not.

    I shall now go back to ignoring him. He merits not the publicity of even talking about him. 😉

  • As an objective observer with no dog in this fight, can’t help but wonder why Catholics are bashing Catholics over such a trivial matter whether a hymn composed in 1779 is suitable in church. Aren’t there bigger fish to fry? The last thing Catholics need right now is more disunity — especially over mundane matters. Where is the brotherhood that you so famously claim to have?

  • I really liked Mark’s book By What Authority? and because of that I started following his blog. The one time I posted something wasn’t in agreement with his view on the matter and was quickly slashed with his razor sharp pen. I have a feeling that if I were to ever meet him I wouldn’t like him. Or rather, he wouldn’t like me. He’d probably call me an oaf or something like that.

    I started listening to The One True Faith podcast some years ago and really liked Voris’ direct approach. That got me to look at The Vortex. I commented on one video and was dealt the same pen sword that Mr. Shea likes to use. If I ever met Voris he’d probably call me a lemming or something worse.

    Big EGOs at play here.

  • Joe,

    Remember the story wherein the mother of James and John (the Sons of Thunder) asked Jesus that they might sit one at His right hand and the other at His left when He would come into His Kingdom? The Scripture tells us that afterwards the other ten disciples were indignant over this. Truly not much has changed in 2000 years, and I speak as a guilty party. Yes, I need to go to Confession – again.

  • For the life of me I do not see how Judy Collins or Joan Baez covering “Amazing Grace” renders the song secular. Its lyrics are plainly Christian and stirring, as the song’s history makes abundantly clear. Why a Catholic pastor would be offended by the song is beyond my comprehension, but disobeying his instructions during Mass is inexcusable.

  • While I understand that some people may not like Shea’s style, as far as I can tell, the man has never said a single heterodox thing since becoming Catholic. Claiming that he does not like Voris and Corapi because they are orthodox is silly, and it ignore the point he is trying to make (a point that I actually quite agree with), which is probably why he gets so frustrated by the responses he gets — they miss the point. So, for the record, does discussion about whether Amazing Grace is a Catholic hymn or whose side you take.

    She’s point is that Voris’ attempts at being Catholic are primarily focused on cutting down and attacking, as if orthodoxy were primarily a sword and not primarily something beautiful and life giving. Sure, orthodoxy has to defend itself from heresy or fake orthodoxy. But its main job is to help us have life and have it abundantly. And when the self-appointed guardians of Catholicism — and the ones who tend to make headlines — focus primarily on destroying this or that evil thing (especially when the thing is only questionable) they make converting the culture that much harder by presenting an entirely unattractive and mostly false picture of what orthodoxy looks like.

    Shea is sensitive to this fact. So are all of us with friends who don’t understand why one would want to be Catholic but are open. People like Voris make the task of talking to those friends that much harder. And that is a far worse thing than singing Amazing Grace.

  • We know that arguments on the internet tend to (a) get personal, and (b) escalate. If we can do so, let’s keep the conversation about hymn-good versus hymn-bad, rather than Voris versus Shea. We’re Catholics; we’re supposed to be charitable.

  • I apologize. “AG is clownish on the pipes? How so?”

    I think the pipes once were called “war pipes.” I prefer the pipes for “tunes of glory,” for funerals to tunes of adoration, and for the Sword Dance. The pipes were meant to get the blood up when war was “up close and personal”: cleaving assunder the other clan’s gallowglass with a claymoor or battleaxe. “Clownish” probably is the wrong word.

    Does AG express a confidence (arrogance is opposite of humility) of salvation (justification by conversion/Faith?) which may not comport with Catholic teaching: Hope for Salvation, the forgiveness (repentence, confession, penance, amendment of life) of sins, etc.?

  • I agree, Pinky. For whatever reasons, argumentation over the blogosphere tends to become much more sharp-elbowed much more quickly than argumentation over a Guinness. When participating, I try always to have a Guinness either in my hand or on my mind.

  • I disagree, T, on both counts.

    Hymns are types of prayers, of which their are 5 types: adoration, contrition, love, petition, and thanksgiving. AG falls into the last category — no need for it to touch the other bases as well.

    The use of the pipes for reflective prayer is effective precisely because they are powerful and associated with getting the blood up. It is the reason why the hard rock group Nazareth’s most popular song was the ballad “Love Hurt,” and why Steppenwolf’s subdued “Another’s Lifetime” was the most moving version of that song ever recorded. There is something very powerful in restraint.

  • Opinons are like noses. Everybody has one.

  • A competent musician, and certainly any composer, will offer that music itself conveys a message, one that altogether bypasses the analytical filtering faculties of the listener: “Music is language without words.” Hence it requires a scrutiny perhaops more careful than the lyrics, which we presumably scrutinize as a matter of course. With few exceptions, Protestant music exhibits a characteristic style or range of styles, styles which appear in not a few post Vatican II ‘Catholic’ hymns. The style is marked by a relatively heightened celebration of sentiment (‘enthusiasm’ in Fr. Knox’s sense), which, given the non-sacramental nature of the ordinary Protestant life of faith, stands to reason. Our religious experience must be as sensory as it is spiritual because we are physical creatures no less than souls, and where physical instruments of grace are rejected, an emotional experience of worship must compensate. Given that the musical message is assimilated along with the lyrics, and Amazing Grace is the product of a radically Protestant sensibility, its view is obviously averted from the sacramental life of Catholicism. We are obliged to ask as well, does the message of Protestant music comport with Catholic faith?

  • The problem with Shea’s blogging is not so much his “style”. It is the fact that he often engages in calumnious swipes at those he disagrees with particualrly in matters of politics and national security issues as well as capital punishment. On the latter he accused Tom McKenna of wanting “death, death, and more death” simply because McKenna supported the execution of Saddam Hussein. He has also portrayed Mr. McKenna’s support in general for capital punishment, a position that is perfectly legitimate from a Catholic moral perspective coupled with the fact that Mr. McKenna has specific expertise on this subject as a prosecutor with experieince with capital cases in like fashion. You can also read Shea’s despicable attacks on good Catholics like Marc Thiessien for daring to make the case for the Enhanced Interrogation Techniques employed by the Bush Administration to glean intelligence from high level terrorists when other means failed. These are only two examples, but there are scores more.

    Even worse, MArk has been given a pass on this by the entire Catholic apologetics and writers establishment including outlets like Catholic Exchange, Catholic Answers, and Crisis Magazine. This is a problem that makes whatever failings Voris has look like small potatoes in comparison.

  • Since the Church teaches us that we can only be saved through God’s grace, I simply cannot see any real theological issue with AG.

    And while I find J Pelham’s comments regarding the music itself interesting, I find them far too speculative and subjective to be instructive in assessing AG.

    On the other hand if I were to speculate, I’d say Voris’s assessment of AG is largely a function of his rather notoriously disproportionate animus toward Protestants and Protestantism. If the very same hymn had been written by Newman rather than Newton, Voris and others would have no issues.

  • J. Pelham – I understand the argument, but I don’t think it reflects the history of our hymns, in which Protestant and Catholic tunes and lyrics are mixed. I’ve noticed that a lot of the great hymns from my youth were written by Charles Wesley, for example. There was also an Anglican hymnist, William Chatterton Dix, who wrote “Alleluia, Sing To Jesus” and “What Child Is This”. I mean, “here on earth both Priest and Victim / in the Eucharistic feast”? Are you going to find anything more Catholic than that? We’d also have to give up Bach for not being Catholic.

  • Greg,

    I can’t disagree more; Shea isn’t engaging in calumny when he goes after Marc Thiessen. He is doing exactly what pro-lifers argue our apologists should be doing more of: pointing out the hard truth that one cannot favor certain policies and be a Catholic in good standing. And it was frustrating to see supposedly orthodox catholics bend over backwards to be orthodox Republicans first, trying to twist their Catholicism to justify whatever policies Bush could come up with next. I think what you are calling calumny was merely Shea’s frustrations boiling over.

    As for the death penalty stuff, I don’t recall what you are talking about so I’ll take your word for it. But Thiessen was doing exactly what pro-choice politicians do all the time and he deserved to be called out for it. And pewsitting Catholics deserved to know that one cannot advocate with Thiessen was advocating and remain a Catholic in good standing.

  • There is no comparison between the death penalty and abortion. Romans 13:1-7 gives the State the power of the sword to execute justice. It is ludicrous to make capital punishment and abortion morally equivalent. Quantitatively, there is no comparison between 60 million murdered innocent babies and a few thousand hardened criminals who received what a jury of their peers determined that they deserve. Qualitatively, there is a world of difference between a murderer or rapist being sent to God for final judgment, and an innocent baby being mortally evacuated from his mother’s womb by the most tortuous methods possible. At least the criminal is treated more humanely.

    No I did NOT say I support the death penalty. I prefer (as my father did) solitary confinement for capital offenders with perpetual Bible reading and hymn singing (even Amazing Grace) under a continuously illuminated 100 watt light bulb with no respite. Let the criminal have his bed and blankets, and feed him, and give him a clean toilet with toilet paper. But keep him forever in solitary till God calls him to stand before the Throne of Justice. Of course, all the bleeding heart liberals will hate that just as much as capital punishment. Too bad. Regardless that that is ever unlikely to be done, it’s what I support in lieu of simply sending the criminal to where he belongs.

  • Hymnody doesn’t always represent theology. Poetry can’t be fully faithful to one’s set of views or philosophic points. I find Amazing Grace to be an extraordinary hymn. Sometimes a poem or lyrics manage to capture something. I think that’s what Newton did.

  • I think, too, there comes a time in one’s life when one can say, justifiably, that they possess salvation. Amazing Grace, if it offers that level of confidence at all, is better for it.

  • “I think, too, there comes a time in one’s life when one can say, justifiably, that they possess salvation.”

    That is the sin of presumption. Not as deadly as the sin of despair but a sin nonetheless.

  • I think it CAN be presumptuous if one really isn’t saved. But if one IS and has been so, to acknowledge the obvious signs and reach the correct conclusion is merely a reflex.

  • It’s not presumptuous to say that I have been saved from dying with a heroin needle in my veins (hopefully my detractor won’t yell at me for violating my anonymity again). That’s a reality for which I am grateful. And it’s not presumptuous to say that every day when I ask God for help, I am being saved. As for whether or not I will be saved, I’ll simply be happy to make it as far as Purgatory (because everyone who gets to Purgatory ends up in Heaven).

  • I believe one can reach a point, and will reach a point, where they know they are a child of God. John the epistle writer wrote that his readers may know that their sins were forgiven and that they passed from darkness to light.

  • Isn’t “once saved, always saved” a Calvinist doctrine? I thought Catholicism teaches otherwise.

  • If Pat’s point isn’t correct, then I may as well go back to using heroin and cocaine, and frequenting prostitutes, and stealing and lying as I used to.

  • No, it’s not a Calvinist doctrine, although it’s shared by Calvinists. It’s simply the way it goes. If God calls you home, then a point will arrive where that’s evident to you.

  • No one is saved until after death and safely in Heaven or Purgatory. Even the greatest would be Saint can fall prior to death, and even the greatest sinner can taste God’s mercy prior to death. The proud Pharisee and the poor sinner at the Temple is a telling parable about the dangers of presumption.

  • But I think poor man Divies really did look forward to the promised land. The Pharisee was the one kidding himself.

  • Even the greatest would be Saint can fall prior to death, and even the greatest sinner can taste God’s mercy prior to death

    How so, Don?

  • What you are stating pat has never been Catholic doctrine. It is the false doctrine of Eternal Assurance, or Eternal Security, and has never been taught by the Church.

  • John, the epistle writer, told his readers that he wrote in order that they may know who they were, what they experienced, and what that meant. It’s implications, both temporal and eternal.

  • “Even the greatest would be Saint can fall prior to death, and even the greatest sinner can taste God’s mercy prior to death

    How so, Don?”

    Very easily indeed Joe. The great sinner on his death bed humbly turns to God and asks for forgiveness of his sins, in bitter regret for a mispent life. The lost lamb that is found is ever pleasing to God.

    The great Saint commits a great sin and does not repent of it before he is called before God for the Particular Judgement. The use by Our Lord of analogies of the first being last and the last being first indicates that this may happen more frequently that we humans reckon. On this Earth, no one is ever so high that he cannot fall, and no one is ever so low that he cannot rise.

  • Don, so save the best for the last, right?

  • There is an interesting article at Catholic Answers about assurance of salvation:

  • DOnald, I think the writers of the New Testament bear this out: patterns exist in the lives of those called home to God. Christians should indicate that God’s Holy Spirit is at work in them through holy living. Progressive sanctification is the direction I believe it takes. Deathbed conversions occur. Those people know they are saved and die peacefully.

  • How can one have peace with God? They know their sins are forgiven. Christ died for them. He rose again and they will be resurrected in Him. This is reconciliation through the cross.

  • I think pat that anyone who presumes to know his eternal destination in this life is a fool, and such has always been the teaching of the Church.

    From the Council of Trent:

    “CANON XVI.-If any one saith, that he will for certain, of an absolute and infallible certainty, have that great gift of perseverance unto the end,-unless he have learned this by special revelation; let him be anathema.”

    Unless one is promised paradise, as the kids were at Fatima for example, by a special revelation, assuming that one is saved is sinful nonsense. It isn’t as sinful as assuming that one is damned, but it has always been rightly condemned by the Church.

  • “Don, so save the best for the last, right?”

    Rather Joe we should all live as if today will be our last day, because for some of us, present company excepted I trust, it will be.

  • Which is why, Don, I suppose, that there will be people in heaven whom we thought we’d never see. Who knows? Maybe Hitler made a deathbed confession?

  • I disagree. I’m aware of numerous N.T. passages that deal with knowing one is a child of God. Like most else, it remains a matter of faith. But it is a faith that says I’m saved forevermore.

  • Kind of makes a mockery of Pascal’s Wager, doesn’t it, Don?

  • “How can one have peace with God? They know their sins are forgiven. Christ died for them. He rose again and they will be resurrected in Him. This is reconciliation through the cross.”

    Christ died for all pat, including the souls burning eternally in Hell. Our lives determine our eternal destination as Christ stated time and again in the Gospels.

  • I think we live by faith in the Son of Man and what he did. He died for the whole world. Whosoever will may come forth to take the free gift of life that inevitably bears fruit.

  • “Maybe Hitler made a deathbed confession?”

    Considering his last will and testament which endorsed his appalling crimes, the accounts of witnesses to his last hours, and the fact that he put a bullet through his brain, I think the chances of last minute repentance by the Austrian Corporal were minimal. However, not being God I will not presume to guess what happened in the very last instances of Hitler’s life.

  • If one doesn’t know what road he’s on (e.g., the one to heaven), then perhaps one ought to rethink where one is headed. I am NOT saying we should presume that we will stay on the road to end up in Heaven. But we should know what road we are on by doing an examination of conscience and going to Confession. Additionally, we can and should take comfort in knowing Jesus loves us and is a merciful and just Judge. Lastly (at least in my case) we can be grateful that we are saved from a life of self-destruction. Again, I don’t say we should presume we make it to Heaven, but if we can’t look forward to that as our goal, then what’s the point?

  • 31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
    34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

    37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

    40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

    41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

    44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

    45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

    46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

  • “Again, I don’t say we should presume we make it to Heaven, but if we can’t look forward to that as our goal, then what’s the point?”

    Oh look forward to it all you want Paul, just don’t presume that you’ll get there until you get there.

  • I don’t believe God plays games with us. If he calls us home, then at some point we will find ourselves on the path that leads there. It’s not presumptious to recognize what street I’m on when driving to my physical home, is it?

  • And if I’m called to my spiritual home, I should be aware that I’m heading there. Otherwise I’m going in no particular direction at all, or perhaps zigzagging.

  • I don’t so presume, Donald, because I know what I deserve, and I am well aware I am but one drink or drug away from screwing up royally.

    BTW, I would suspect you, too, are on the road to Heaven. But like any imperfect human being, you too could screw up and not make it there.

    Someone somewhere in the Catholic blogosphere wrote a little essay explaining from Scripture why salvation is a process, i.e., “I have been saved, I am being saved, and I will be saved.” The point wasn’t the doctrine of blessed assurance that the Protestants profess, but the idea that salvation is a journey.

  • Salvation is a destination, rather. We are saved from something. We are saved to something. We find salvation in Christ. Christ died for the salvation of the world. ‘Whosoever will’ represents all those who do come. But I think God initiates this. We also knwo that “He who has begun a good work in us will bring it to completion.”

  • I read in Romans:

    If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.”[e] 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

  • Yes, I think it really comes down to faith in what God has done. Do we really believe it? THen we are included, and we will bear the inevitable fruit.

  • A few random thoughts of my own:

    All other things being equal, a meal served on fine china with cloth napkins and real silverware will be more pleasing and indicate a higher degree of respect for the guest than if the same meal were served with plastic or paper plates, plastic utensils, and paper napkins. However, if one is starving or really, really hungry and only gets one decent meal per week, one is probably not going to complain too loudly about being served on plastic vs. china as long as the meal is edible.

    To me, a Mass done with perfect reverence and with strictly “Catholic” hymns and chant would be like the meal served on china; a Mass done with a four-hymn sandwich that included “Amazing Grace” would be served on plastic; a Mass done with “Ashes” or “City of God” would be served on used paper plates. Yes, it would be much more pleasing served on the elegant china, but as long as it’s a valid Mass and Eucharist and I don’t hear or see anything grossly heretical or liturgically forbidden — if the “food” is not contaminated or spoiled beyond palatability — I’m not going to complain.

    I really don’t see where being excessively picky about liturgical correctness if you are not one of the persons responsible for the conduct of the liturgy (i.e. the priest or the parish music director) is any sign of superior intellect or virtue.

    As far as the doctrine of “eternal security,” obviously no one can be 100 percent certain they will be saved or 100 percent certain that they will be lost. However, there is a lot of range in between into which most of us fall.

    “Living saints” like Mother Teresa might have a 99 percent chance of being saved whereas a hardened criminal or serial killer may only have a 1 percent chance of being saved. Neither is absolutely 100 percent, but the probability can be pretty strong one way or the other.

    Assuming that most of us on this blog are practicing Catholics who are conscientiously attempting to avoid mortal sin, grow in holiness and conform to the mind of the Church — or in the case of Joe, someone open to the truth and sincerely striving to find it — I’d say we have about a 60 to 80 percent chance of being saved. However, that is not absolute certainty, any more than a weather forecast of a 70 percent chance of rain guarantees that you personally will get wet. Hence we neither presume nor despair of our salvation.

  • I probably should clarify that my reference to Mother Teresa as a living saint refers to the way she was perceived during her lifetime, of course, and not to the present, since she is now a Blessed on her way to sainthood (100 percent chance of salvation).

  • I think the tenor of scripture has been that those whom God calls respond and do so with their lives, bearing out that pattern. John, the epistle writer, wrote that we may know our sins are forgiven and that we are children of the light, that we walk in light and are part of the kingdom of light. There is almost a dichotomy, and perhaps there is, in his first epistle.

  • In other words, one is either on one side or the other, and if one is ‘in the light,’ one should realize it at some point.

  • ““Living saints” like Mother Teresa might have a 99 percent chance of being saved whereas a hardened criminal or serial killer may only have a 1 percent chance of being saved. Neither is absolutely 100 percent, but the probability can be pretty strong one way or the other.”

    True Elaine and throughout most of her adult life Mother Teresa endured a long dark night of the soul where she felt no sign of God. If her confessor had asked her about whether she thought that she was saved I doubt if he would have elicited a positive response. Yet another aspect to me of the greatness of Mother Teresa in that she persisted in her wonderful service of God when she did not feel His presence at all.

  • “Not every one that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doth the will of my Father who is in heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

  • Yes, to perist in the Christian life apart from those feelings is difficult. But the conviction that one is a Christian, a saint, and bound for heaven can actually remain amidst that darkness and silence. It is only important that the life continues to be characterized by holiness.

  • “It’s not presumptious to recognize what street I’m on when driving to my physical home, is it?”

    It certainly is if you have no idea when the trip will end and whether you will persist in the journey until you arrive home.

  • Quoting Elaine: ‘As far as the doctrine of “eternal security,” obviously no one can be 100 percent certain they will be saved or 100 percent certain that they will be lost. However, there is a lot of range in between into which most of us fall.’

    Not exactly the certainty I was looking for, Elaine, which I remain a doubter. As a sometimes gambler, the odds don’t look good for me. I’m probably in the low single-digits, percentage-wise. Now if I could get up to 70 to 80 percent I’d feel pretty good. So it comes down to a numbers game, I guess.

    All my life I have been seeking just one certainty. Who was it who said, “Tell me of your certainties. I have doubts enough of my own.” Which is why I am stuck in that worst of all places — agnosticism.

  • “But the conviction that one is a Christian, a saint, and bound for heaven can actually remain amidst that darkness and silence.”

    I can think of few things more spiritually poisonous pat than presuming that one is a saint on earth. For me, I hope I will meet my maker as I am, a poor miserable sinner praying for a mercy that I do not deserve.

  • “Yet another aspect to me of the greatness of Mother Teresa in that she persisted in her wonderful service of God when she did not feel His presence at all.”

    My father, a Pentecostal (Assemblies of God), used to paraphrase a certain verse of Scripture to state, “We do not live by feelings alone, but by every Word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”

    BTW, my Dad died at 72 years of age where he wanted to die: in church on a Sunday night worship service. The place wasn’t exactly Catholic, but God granted him his wish and if he doesn’t make it / hasn’t made it to Heaven (and none of us know for certain), then my chances are quite minimal.

  • Donald, I don’t find it presumptuous to say where I’m going when I die if I’ve believed and confessed, and if this has been borne out over a long period of time (in a progressive way). I just consider that ‘naming’ the experience. Salvation in Christ. Faith in his work. A life that bears fruit as a result of the Spirit’s work. Forensic justification and future justification on the basis of all that God accomplishes throughout that timespan when judgement comes.

  • God judges us pat, not us. The human capacity for delusion is limitless when it comes to judging oneself, which is why the Church condemns both presumption and despair as sins.

  • I think God reveals himself to his people. I think those people can know what He decides to reveal to them. I believe the tenor of the Bible bears this out: Noah, Abraham, the Prophets, the early Disciples, Paul, believers generally who are called by Him.

  • God encounter us. He initiates a response. There’s a dialogue. If it’s real, we ought to know it’s occurring. Don’t you agree?

  • Presumably Judas thought he had an inside track on salvation when he was chosen by Christ as an Apostle. Martin Luther and John Calvin thought they were assured of their salvation. We are often the very worst judges of our own spiritual state. In any case we do not do the judging, but pray for God’s mercy. Lucifer fell because of his pride, and the Church has always regarded such spiritual pride as a very deadly sin.

  • I think you’re confusing different things. If a person has confessed with their mouth that Jesus is Lord and Messiah, and believe that in their heart, they are saved. They can go forth confidently knowing God loves and forgives them, and that they are his children.

  • “If a person has confessed with their mouth that Jesus is Lord and Messiah, and believe that in their heart, they are saved. They can go forth confidently knowing God loves and forgives them, and that they are his children.”

    And throughout that person’s life they can still fall into mortal sin that can send them to Hell. That is precisely why we say in the Hail Mary:

    “Holy Mary, Mother of God,
    pray for us sinners,
    now and at the hour of our death.

    In the Our Father Christ has us pray:

    “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

    Until we are dead we all feel the lure and temptation of sin, and it is possible for any of us to fall, no matter how cock sure we are of our salvation.

  • Well Donald, if we have salvation through Christ, then it is precisely the mercy of God that has met us. It intersects at the point of our deepest sin, all of which is atoned for. The Holy Spirit, the Comforter, has been sent, given to empower and enable, through Christ, to accomplish the will of the Father. The Christian, then, is one who has been called by God, saved in Christ, and is led by the Spirit. To accept this knowledge is not presumptious. It is merely to acknowledge what God has already revealed in the Scripture and in our own life.

  • So I think the following is a good quesion to ask: Do our lives accord with the Scripture?

  • “Well Donald, if we have salvation through Christ, then it is precisely the mercy of God that has met us.”

    God’s mercy is always available to repentant sinners pat. Until death, anyone can die a repentant sinner, and, conversely, until death anyone can die an unrepentant sinner.

  • In this dialogue on salvation, the one word that is missing, is HOPE .
    We cannot say we are saved because we are living according to Christ’s teaching – that is not our call. What we can say is that by following Christ’s teaching, we live in Hope of salvation.
    Hope is, after all, one of the three Theological Virtues – Faith, Hope and Charity.

  • Well said as usual Don! Christ is our Hope.

  • Exactly, Don.

    Pat, there have been some saints who have spoken with confidence about their afterlifes. There have been others who professed no confidence. A good number struggled on their deathbeds. Joan of Arc was asked if she was in a state of grace. She answered, “If I am not, may God put me there; and if I am, may God so keep me.” Paul, who late in life said that he’d fought the good fight and would possess the crown of righteousness, also warned us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling.

    We are repeatedly warned against both despair of salvation and certainty of salvation. We are told to hope in salvation.

  • Chris:

    Mark Shea’s attacks on Marc Thiessen most definitely ARE calumnious. There is nothing in the Enhanced Interrogation Techniques employed by th Bush Administration that are inconsistent with Catholic morality. If they were then Catholic teaching is inconsistent with itself. Think about it, the Church teaches that it is morally licit to put a criminal to death to protect the common good (i.e. the death penalty), but not impose discomfort to a terrorist to get him to cooperate so he will divulge intelligence that save innocent lives is a clear contradiction. This is what people like Mark Shea are positing as Catholic teaching and equating anyone who disagrees with such idiotic reasoning with pro-aborts as he does Marc Thiessen here:

    As far as his dispicable attack on Tom McKenna, you can read that here:

    And this is only the tip of the iceberg. Any intelligent Catholic who does not regard Mark Shea’s conduct as the scandal that it is shows they have absolutely no respect for the integrity and credibility of Catholic apologetics and evangelization. This is especially true about the apologetics and writers establishemnt who make their living off of that very thing.

    American Catholic’s own Chris Blosser has a good piece on Shea’s behavior here:

  • We are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. And we are told to make our calling and election sure. Sure, here, means certainity in the realm of faith, as far as that goes.

  • Greg,
    I am no fan of Mark’s style, but I think you are on very weak ground as to the morality of torture, and yes while the definitional boundaries of torture might lack perfect clarity, the notion that waterboarding is not within those boundaries is simply not reasonable. The comparison to the death penalty is inapt for all manner of reasons, and a fair-minded analysis of Church teaching leaves little room for doubt. I say this even as one who admits a discomfort with (i.e., lack of complete understanding of) Church teachng in extreme cases, such as the proverbial ticking time bomb scenario. The waterboarding of prisoners is not humane, and the Catechism plainly and expressly demands humane treatment.
    All that said, our Church’s teaching in this respect is not especially intuitive despite being grounded, presumably, in natural law. In this respect it is more like the death penalty than abortion, not because the death penalty can be admitted in exceptional cases, but because the case against it as an ordinary matter is not intuitive to most people despite its natural law origins.
    In the end, you are simply mistaken in saying that waterboarding prisoners is not against Catholic teaching. Notwithstanding my discomfort with Catholic teaching in this respect, the teaching is clear to anyone who approaches it fairly and objectively.
    All that said, I do think that given Catholic teaching’s somewhat counter-intuitive nature in this respect, exceptional charity is called for when judging those who refuse to assent to such teaching by basically stubbornly distorting it.

  • And I should have added that I do think that Mark has occasionally failed to display such charity in my view, though in some of these cases his intemperate assertions were themselves responses to intemperate assertions.

  • Shea is clearly in the wrong, and Voris’s orthodoxy offends him.

    If you’ve been banished from Shea’s comboxes, join the support group at:

  • Why create a Facebook web page on a pompous donkey full of himself and what he thinks? It is always best to ignore such people and continue to give credence and publicity to any and all whom they think they can deride with impunity. Michael Voris makes mistakes sometimes, and it is his very orthodoxy which the envious hate. Ain’t nothing orthodox about him who edifies himself as God’s gift to the Catholic blogosphere.

  • I think there are lots of folks who are not aware of Shea’s methods. It’s not just his blustering and foaming at the mouth whenever a “Rad Trad” shows up….It’s the way he censors his comboxes so as to hide the weakness in his arguments. He doesn’t just kick out the obscene and the blasphemous; he ruthlessly puts down well-informed and well-documented objections to his drivel.

    And, satire is inherently fun:

  • All this convinces me more than ever that the real patron saint of the Catholic blogosphere ought to be St. Jerome, who was known for being irascible.

    St. Paul could get kind of snarky when he wanted to as well. In Galatians he ends an extended rant about the “Judaizers” who insisted that Gentile converts to Christ had to first become Jews (which included, for male converts, circumcision) by saying “Would that those who are troubling you would mutilate themselves,” or in my favorite version — think this is from the Living Bible or one of those more “modern” translations — “Tell those who are troubling you (about circumcision) that I’d like to see the knife slip !”

    If the Church survived those two it can probably survive a few combox flame wars, even though flame wars are not my style at all and I actually prefer Shea to Voris (since Shea does at least have a sense of humor).

  • I think Amazing Grace was found troubling because it communicated a level of certainty: it assumes that the Christian person has passed from death to life, that they are a new creature. I frankly embrace that. After all, St. Paul tells us that that’s what it means to be in Christ.

    The writers of the epistles addressed their audiences as people redeemed in Christ. True, some of them had yet to make their calling and election sure. Others were warned or said to be in need of discipline. Still others were considered outsiders. But the writers assumed that the bulk of them were already in Christ and bound for glory. The writers possessed confidence that many or most of those addressed believed, bore fruit, and in doing so, had revealed that heaven was their destination. Confidence and assurance of salvation was sought, encouraged, and acknowledged in numerous ways throughout the epistles.

  • Pat – A theme on this thread is the proper way to argue and/or challenge someone who’s presenting theological error. With that in mind let me say that as far as I know, the teachings of the Catholic Church have consistently spoken against the kind of certainty you suggest. I don’t know if you’re Catholic or if Catholic doctrine carries any weight with you, but you should look into this issue more seriously than we’re likely to get on a comment thread.

  • Pinky, it seems the hymn found disagreement with someone because of its message. What I suggest is that the Scripture witnesses to the theme of grace and that one could reach assurance of their salvation. This has been my experience too. Your thoughts?

  • Mike:

    To say that waterboarding, which cause no permanent injury, is not within the boundaries of Catholic morality because it is inhumane, but capital punishment is, would mean Church teaching contradicts itself. In the case of waterboarding terrorists who we know have actionable intelligence upon whom innocent lives depend and refuse to divulge it. In both cases, legitimate means are being employed to protect innocent people from an unjust aggressor.

    By the way, the Church DOES NOT I repeat DOES NOT teach that torture is intrinsically evil. No, Veritatis Splendor #80 doesn’t teach that either. If you read it closely, along with torture it lists deportation, unsuitable living conditions, etc. You mean to tell me that deportation is wrong under any circumstances? That’s what intrinsically evil means. You cannot define something as intrinsically evil if you have no clear definition of what that something is. Furthermore, if the Church now teaches that torture is intrinsically evil it would contradict her own past since she had no problem with it in past ages.

    Even Mark Shea unwittingly admits that waterboarding is not intrinsically evil when he says that it is morally acceptable for our military to use it to train troops. If it is intrinsically evil that means it cannot be employed under any circumstances, including the training of troops.

  • Greg,

    You are wrong from beginning to end. AMAZING

    Church teaching does not contradict itself.
    Yes, Veritatis Splendor teaches that torture is intrisically evil:

    “Whatever is hostile to life itself, … whatever violates the integrity of the human person, … whatever is offensive to human dignity: … all these and the like are a disgrace.”

    Yes, Veritiatis Splendor teaches that deportation is intrinsically evil. (It not the same as exradition, which Paul VI himself spoke well of.)

    Whether or not members of church practiced or approved torture in the past has no bearing on the intrinsic nature of the evil. (A lively discussion on the matter you may be familiar with:

    No, what’s-his-name does not “unwittingly admit” that torture is a-ok because the military uses it to train troops. If you read anything at all about the SPECIFIC nature of what was done to KSM and the other terrorists, and compare it with the SPECIFIC nature of waterboard training — as so many of us in this debate already have done — you would know how different they are.

  • Larry Coty, Math Professor at Georgia Perimeter College and stalwart defender of the courage of Josef Mengele and the SS! Have you shared with the folks here your vigorous and enthusiastic encomiums to the greatness of the SS? Or your sympathies with David Irving, Holocaust Denier?

    Really, if you are going to go around trying to gather a little group to help you in your Hate Mark Shea project, you really at least ought to tell them a little about your background. They do have a right to know. So sad you pulled down your little bookstore chocked with encomiums to the “great” Adolf Hitler.

  • Hmmmm….are you going to do an expose on everyone who recognizes the kind of person you are?

  • Shea,

    1. You told me in a private email that you “couldn’t care less” whether I left up my “Big Fat Phony” blog, as long as I “stayed out of your comboxes.” I have done so; but apparently the “Banished by Mark Shea Support Group” on Facebook is too much for you. You continue to run your silly little mouth while censoring those who effectively disagree. I am interested to see just how many of us “banned” people are out there. Link here, folks:

    2. I have never defended the greatness of “the SS.” I have tried to explain to you that many Waffen-SS units fought in the field admirably and against tremendous odds. This is a matter of history, not opinion. I have also tried to explain to you that the “camp guard” units were not drawn from the Waffen-SS but from the Allgemeine-SS, which was a completely separate organization and which was *not* under the control of the OKW (Oberkommando der Wehrmacht). These distinctions seem too difficult for you to process.

    3. I have not defended Mengele’s entire career. I merely pointed out that the record shows that, *before* he was sent to Auschwitz, and *while* he was fighting the Russians in the 5th W-SS Division “Wiking” he apparently acted heroically in rescuing two crewmen from a burning tank. He got the Iron Cross for this. You, though, insist on a comic-book version of history in which the “Angel of Death” Mengele must have been a crazed villain at every moment of his life. [By the way, folks: This all started when Doktor Shea attacked some Tea-Party candidate simply because he took part in a battle re-enactment group which identified itself as the 5th W-SS Division. These groups are very common, and can be found re-enacting battles from many wars. It seems silly to me; but Shea treats it as a hanging offense.]

    4. I do not have a “bookstore.” I have used an on-demand service to reprint a number of out-of-print books, including two by Savitri Devi, who was a rabid National Socialist. She is an important writer, and has been the subject of a number of scholarly studies (such as Goodrick-Clarke’s “Hitler’s Priestess.”) I have also reprinted books such as “The Divine Liturgy” by Nikolai Gogol, a collection of essays dedicated to Hilaire Belloc, and Dante’s essay “De Monarchia.”

    5. Your repeated efforts to embarrass me or to cause trouble for me (such as by calling the “ethics hotline” of the University System here in Georgia) are doomed to failure. I have written nothing that I would not proudly defend in any public forum. I think it is very significant that you would go to such lengths to try and silence one of your critics. I guess you are afraid that if the word gets out to your fans that you manipulate your comboxes to exclude not only the “wild stuff” but also clear challenges to or refutations of your theses, then you might be seen for the addled egomaniac you so clearly are.

  • Mr. Shea,
    The Hate Mark Shea project was created by you and only you. No one can disagree with you or you corner people to death or you delete our comments or you call their bosses??? NICE. We aren’t the ones that run our mouth and post a blog at everything that comes into our minds like you do. Again, that project – you created. Maybe if you thought first and investigated before you posted and then thought of possibly being charitable in your posts, then more people wouldn’t feel so strongly about your rudeness! My advice? Grab a mirror and take a hard look at thyself. Seriously!

    oh and BRAVO Paul Primavera!!! Perfectly said, “Why create a Facebook web page on a pompous donkey full of himself and what he thinks? It is always best to ignore such people and continue to give credence and publicity to any and all whom they think they can deride with impunity. Michael Voris makes mistakes sometimes, and it is his very orthodoxy which the envious hate. Ain’t nothing orthodox about him who edifies himself as God’s gift to the Catholic blogosphere.”

  • Oh for crying out loud, are we headed down yet another torturtous torture debate rabbit hole? (Having to scroll through or moderate one of those threads would be my personal idea of blogger purgatory 🙂 )

    And how does participation on the German side of a WWII reenactors group make someone a “defender” of the Nazis any more than participating on the Confederate side of a Civil War reenactment automatically makes one a secessionist or traitor?

  • “Your [Mark Shea’s] repeated efforts to embarrass me [L. Coty] or to cause trouble for me (such as by calling the ‘ethics hotline’ of the University System here in Georgia) are doomed to failure.”

    It seems that someone behaves worse than my atheist ex-wife. I am not, however, in the least surprised. Yet it is dismaying that such a person should escape with impunity for criticizing his better – Michael Voris.

  • Well, I am glad I have internet connection this morning as the comments in this thread seem to be devolving into a back and forth on Mark which was not the intention of my post. I am therefore closing the comments and getting back to my vacation. Three comments before I do:

    1. Jasper, I didn’t delete your comments or anyone else’s comments on this thread.

    2. The Waffen-SS had a habit of massacring POWs they captured. They did this for example to American troops at Malmedy. The myth of the simon pure Waffen-SS is just that, a myth.

    3. Writing about Mengele receiving a medal for courage is rather like mentioning that Hitler served with courage in the First World War, both strike me as utterly besides the main point. Both men were monsters and the world was a vastly worse place due to their having lived.

Gather Us In, A Bad Song Is Playing

Friday, May 6, AD 2011

A reader writes into Fr. Z to ask why Gregorian Chant is to be preferred at Mass to hymns like “Gather Us In” which the reader, a newly minted Catholic, happens to like.  Fr. Z responds here, and the commenters also chime in with responses that hit the mark.

Fr. Z writes:

As a preamble, music for liturgical worship is not a mere add on or decoration.  It is liturgical worship.  Therefore the texts used should be sacred texts.  The texts of those ditties mentioned in the question are not sacred, liturgical texts.  They are not the prayer of the Church.

He then discusses the quality of the hymns under discussion.  This is a more subjective argument.  After all, there are people who think the hymns located in the Gather hymnal are quite extraordinary.  I question the sanity of such people, but that’s neither here nor there.  This is a country that consistently puts American Idol at the top of the ratings, so I’m obviously a bit out of the loop with my musical tastes.

Besides, even non banal hymns seem out of place in our liturgy.  On Holy Thursday I attended Mass at St. Mathew’s Cathedral.  As always, it was a beautiful, reverent, and yes, Novus Ordo liturgy.  I don’t remember the entrance hymn.  It was a nice hymn – something more fitting than one of the turds from the Gather hymnal.  And yet there was something a bit off.  It was a fairly upbeat hymn, and as Cardinal Wuerl incensed the altar it just felt jarring.  Here is this solemn moment marking the beginning of the Triduum, and the accompanying music just does not fit what is happening up there in the sanctuary.  It’s the sort of thing that just snaps you out of the moment, and that’s the problem.

The liturgy is prayer, not entertainment.  The reason that these hymns are generally inappropriate, no matter the quality, is that they simply don’t fit in with what’s supposed to be happening.  Instead of amplifying our prayers they drown them out.  That’s why I find the incessant need to have some kind of music playing at all times whenever there is more than five seconds of silence so frustrating.  You’ve all probably heard organists vamp when the hymn ends before the Priest has reached the sanctuary, or after Communion when not all have returned to their places.  Why can’t he or she just let silence reign for a few minutes?  Why is there such a need for constant noise, especially when it does not fit in appropriately with that moment in the liturgy?

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44 Responses to Gather Us In, A Bad Song Is Playing

  • Thanks a lot, Paul. Now I’ve got Gather Us In stuck in my head. “The lame”, indeed.

  • @Pinky,

    It’s even worse for me. I despise that “hymn” (and I think it’s granting it too much to call it that) so much that I only know the melody and the first few lines. Now I find myself mentally composing inappropriate hokey lyrics that better fit the message of that song! And all while I should be studying for final exams, which begin tomorrow!

  • The worst one for me is a hymn (I don’t know the name of it) which is set to the music of Holst’s Jupiter. Now, Holst wrote some great music, and I enjoy The Planets, and he even wrote hymns…but “Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity” is about the god Jupiter. It really messes me up. It’s like starting a Mass with a Hare Krishna song.

  • Shame of place for me in the worst hymn category will always be: “Sing a New Song”. Shudder !

  • The real issue here is a complete and deliberate ignoring of church teaching. The rubrics in the GIRM clearly indicate a preference given to the Gregorian Propers for the Mass. These are ancient chant pieces that have been passed down, most over a thousand years. True, the GIRM leaves room for “a suitable hymn” but lists it as the very last option. Why, then, are we such minimalists in our liturgy so as to make the last option the standard? Eliminating official Mass texts across the board in virtually every parish in the country is nothing short of a tragedy. It would be like deciding to get rid of Collect (Opening Prayer) and replace it with an off-the-cuff prayer.

    My apologies for the abruptness of this, but this really gets me fired up. Why can we not simply do what the Church asks? “Sing a New Song”? Please, God, let’s.

  • No apologies needed, Jake. You are absolutely on the money here and in your post as well.

  • May be at work is Neuhaus’ Law: “Where orthodoxy is optional, orthodoxy will sooner or later be proscribed.”

  • @ Pinky and Kevin: If you can forgive the singer his shaky voice (it’s not me), then you might appreciate this parody of the Gather Hymnal: Especially you, Kevin, since you find yourself composing inappropriate lyrics for it — well, it’s already been done for you! (I died when I heard what he’d done to “Here I Am, Lord”.)

  • Anthony – Great video. The same analysis (no spoilers) of “Here I Am, Lord” is in the book, Why Catholics Can’t Sing. You’ll never hear that hymn the same way again.

  • I especially dislike “Take and Eat.” For some reason it makes me think of cannibalism instead of the Eucharist. There are some hymns I enjoy from my school days at an Episcopal school. I really like this one for children, and the Catholics I know don’t seem to know it. Not appropriate for mass, but maybe for religious education classes.

  • I am new at being Catholic, having come into the church 4 years ago from a protestant background. I have been and continue to be puzzled by the shallow nature of the hymns I find in this profound church – how can that be? In my former Episcopal church, shallow theology reigned, but we sang some deeply meaningful, historical and lovely hymns. Oh, well, clearly converts are not here for the music, but for the Eucharist!

    But a main concern I have is that when this subject is discussed, the fallback position seems to be Gregorian Chant. Everything would be better if we had Gregorian Chant back! GC may be beautiful and profound, but for the convert, it is incomprehensible. I know, I know, we can learn. But I am overwhelmed with learning, and I may not have time to learn another language in the time I’ve got left. Could the church not unleash a creative and profound new form of hymnody/chant combining music AND Theology – maybe a whole new form that feeds our prayer through use of the vernacular. Isn’t that what Gregorian Chant did in it’s day?

  • You have named the leader on my most despised hymns list – not so much because of the words as the terrible “melody.”
    The nastiest of all Communion songs, though, has got to be “There is plenty of bread at the feast of life………” It’s appropriate for dancing in to a bacchanalia – not receiving Our Lord in Holy Communion!

  • “I have been and continue to be puzzled by the shallow nature of the hymns I find in this profound church – how can that be?”

    The short answer Dawn is that the Church in this country and much of the West has undergone a musical “Babylonian Captivity” by some Catholics who came of age in the Sixties and the Seventies and are intent on their banal gibberish being almost the only music heard at Mass. Time will take care of this problem. (Since I came of age in the Sixties and the Seventies I may not live to see it, but I assume if, by the grace of God, I reach Purgatory there will be magnificent hymns, not to mention the beatific sounds of Heaven. In Hell I suspect the musical taste will reflect…best not to go there in both senses of that phrase!)

  • Oh Thank you Fr Z…THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!! I so much long for sacred silence during Mass and after Mass as well when currently the second miracle is performed and the sanctuary is miraculously turned into a social hall. As for the music…I truly miss the sacred liturgical music now only heard either during Tridentine Masses or when listening to Masses on TV usually celebrated by the Holy Father. I am a revert…six years now having been away for 45 years and now near 64y/o. I long for reverence in Mass and in Church generally. I long for the space to encounter Christ that sacred silence affords. I long to forget myself and relish in the person of Christ before me. But my question to you is ‘How or what can anyone do to bring this back? Our pastors seem disinterested and more influenced by what is perceived as the will of the congregation. It is not enough to just complain or say only if.. What concretely can we do?

  • Volunteer for the choir and begin exercising an influence over song choices. I truly believe that a lot of the atrocious hymns are deeply unpopular but too many Catholics are content to stay in the pews and do a slow burn as they hear a hymn they hate endlessly recycled Mass after Mass.

  • Pinky

    It’s like starting a Mass with a Hare Krishna song.

    you neveer heard of the Christmas Caroll
    “We wish you a hare Krishna”

  • George Weigel on bad Catholic hymns:

    “For classic Lutheran theology, hymns are a theological “source:” not up there with Scripture, of course, but ranking not-so-far below Luther’s “Small Catechism.” Hymns, in this tradition, are not liturgical filler. Hymns are distinct forms of confessing the Church’s faith. Old school Lutherans take their hymns very seriously.

    Most Catholics don’t. Instead, we settle for hymns musically indistinguishable from “Les Mis” and hymns of saccharine textual sentimentality. Moreover, some hymn texts in today’s Catholic “worship resources” are, to put it bluntly, heretical. Yet Catholics once knew how to write great hymns; and there are great hymns to be borrowed, with gratitude, from Anglican, Lutheran, and other Christian sources. There being a finite amount of material that can fit into a hymnal, however, the first thing to do is clean the stables of today’s hymnals.

    Thus, with tongue only half in cheek, I propose the Index Canticorum Prohibitorum, the “Index of Forbidden Hymns.” Herewith, some examples.”

  • An excellent discussion on bad Catholic hymns:

    I love this comment:

    “The problem with these hymns is that they date very badly: they may have been passible in the 60?s or 70?s (though even as a kid in the 70?s, I remembered these hymns as sounding pretty “dorky”), but they sound even more pathetic today – sort of like the aging hippy trying to “get down” with the kids. Really good hymns, like those of Gregorian chant, are timeless. But if one were making a list of the best Catholic hymns, I’d probably put “Holy God We Praise Thy Name,” near the top of the list along with hymns I remember singing in my childhood during Benediction service, “O Saving Victim,” and “Tantum Ergo.” They still send shivers up my spine!”

  • Way up there on my list for worst hymn would have to be the “We come to tell our story, we come to break the bread” one. Ack.

    I’d put that down as significantly worse than Gather Us In.

  • Unfortunately, “Taste and See” seems to be a popular Communion song in these parts.

    I am not proud of having been a lapsed Catholic for many years, but after a long absence you do notice changes in liturgical fashion. “Sons of God, Hear His Holy Word” – named the worst hymn by the FT writer – was a ’70’s staple at my parent’s old parish. I haven’t heard it since then. But to my mind, it’s far from being the worst. I haven’t heard “Lord of the Dance” in at least 30 years and for that I heartily thank God. Like a FT commenter said, I used to hear versions which sounded like Michael Flatley and crew were going to run out of the sacristy any second and start line dancing.

  • Dawn: “I am new at being Catholic, having come into the church 4 years ago from a protestant background. I have been and continue to be puzzled by the shallow nature of the hymns I find in this profound church – how can that be?”

    I am a convert myself and wondered the same. Most of my favorite hymns of youth seem far more substantial and reflective than what I typically grew up with. Thomas Day’s Why Catholics Can’t Sing: The Culture of Catholicism and the Triumph of Bad Taste was helpful reading.

  • “I have been and continue to be puzzled by the shallow nature of the hymns I find in this profound church – how can that be?”

    It’s even more puzzling when you consider the legacy of fantastic classical music inspired by — and written for — the liturgy by the greatest masters of the Western hemisphere. Not only a triumph of bad taste but also the victory of historical short-sightedness and an absurd worshipping at the Altar of the Trendy. … Or, at least, what was trendy almost fifty years ago.

  • My earlier post was written before I scrolled up and saw Mrs. Zummo’s. So it’s “Take and Eat,” not “Taste and See,” I guess. My bad. I confess to trying to block the song out of my brain whenever I hear it and to focus all my attention on the Real Presence. I suppose I’ve been successful, since I couldn’t even recall the actual name of the hymn – only that I dislike it for exactly the same reason Mrs. Zummo does.

    I’ve never heard “Anthem.” From all accounts I should consider myself lucky.

  • Even at Churches which otherwise have good music, most Communion hymns are quite awful. Are there any good Communion hymns? And I second my wife’s take on “Take and Eat.”

  • That is indeed a beautiful hymn. Unfortunately I rarely if ever hear it as a Communion hymn.

  • We have a volunteer cantor who loves singing it at communion. The advantage of being in a small parish: no budget for “professional” songsters.

  • I have to wonder – is the problem of terrible hymns an issue throughout the Catholic world, or just the Anglosphere part of it? Are churchgoers in Rome, Paris, Manila and Rio suffering through tripe produced by their own versions of Marty Haugen? Somehow it’s difficult to imagine parishioners in, say, Munich or Vienna droning along to the Germanic equivalent of “On Eagle’s Wings.” I doubt that the Holy Father distributes Communion to the strains of “Take and Eat.”

    It would be nice to have a reader from or familiar with the liturgy in a non-English speaking country enlighten us. Mundabor?

  • @Donna V:

    I’ve lived in Spain for some years and spent some time in Mexico and Argentina, as well. I can assure you that bad liturgical music is also widely present in Hispanic countries’ Masses, as well. There are always parishes with excellent music, of course, and perhaps even more than we have here in the States (percentage-wise), but I’ve heard a number of these awful “hymns” by Haugen, et al translated into Spanish and accompanied by guitars and poor singers–UGH! “Pescador de hombres” (“Fishers of men”) is an especially egregious and insipid hymn, which I believe was actually composed in Spanish first, then translated into English some time ago. But I’ve heard “Gather Us In” and “On Eagle’s Wings” in Spanish masses in those countries, as well.

  • Thanks for the reply, Kevin. Yuck, how depressing to think of “On Eagle’s Wings” spreading into the non-English-speaking Catholic world as well.

  • I am in my early 60’s and have little hope that this will change in my lifetime or even soon thereafter. So much has been undermined by my generation in our Church, it would take a revolutionary Pope to fix this mess or a lengthy series of Popes gradually changing so many things that need to be changed. Sadly, I seriously doubt such changes could come from below. The laity is too weak (and this is not necessarily a bad thing) and much of the clergy is wrong headed and still trained to be. The so-called music ministers seem hopeless and/or impotent. The entire abolition of singing at Mass would be preferable to the current situation, in my view. A (short) list of the only songs permitted would be an alternative but, even at that, I can only shudder to think what the US bishops’ bureaucracy would put on that list. Sigh! When the end comes closer, I will put together my list for my funeral and that gives me some comfort but must leave it to my wonderful wife to make sure nothing weird gets in.

  • Dear Pinky: You’ve got it backwards, I think. Holst wrote the hymn tune “Thaxted” first and then incorporated it into The Planets as Jupiter. In my diocese we sing it as “O God, Beyond all Praising” and the words are actually pretty good – “we worship you today, and sing the love amazing that songs cannot repay.” Try learning the words to a decent version and singing along with Jupiter.

  • …and to the lady in her 60’s – so am I – how do you like “Taste and see” sung to a slow version of the Wyatt Earp TV Theme? yggg.

  • The hymns I remember from my youth were different in two respects. First, they were more theological (even though some of them were written by the Wesley brothers). They were hymns about the Trinity and Mary. I think half of them rhymed “Son” and “one”. The other thing that stands out about them, I don’t know exactly how to describe. Musically, they were more baroque than romantic. They were 3/4 or 4/4 time, solidly built. They weren’t written for impassioned songleaders to interpret.

  • I am an organist/accompanist in a local parish. It seems like due to circumstances beyond my control, my task not to help facilitate a good liturgy, but to try and make it the least horrible as possible. That’s very hard to do. Can anyone relate to the following?

    1. The Gather hymnal reigns supreme. Why are we required to sing the awful stuff within its pages, just because GIA publishes it?

    2. I do not make the musical selections. They are given to me by the others…liturgy planners…etc. Because of the wide array of options in Gather, any liturgy can and often does have a mix of: a song by Marty and company, maybe an African American style piece, a tradional hymn (protestant or Catholic) and maybe something scored for drums/bass/keyboard that sounds more like happy hour at the Leopard Lounge than church. The result is that there is no continuity, no unified sound. What is the music supposed to sound like…who knows?? Proponents of this would say it represents “diversity” but I would say it represents the church having lost a musical identity.

    3. The songs are always “lead” by a cantor at a microphone, creating a very artificial sound. Why is this necessary? Why is the organ not deemed suitable to lead the singing? What’s even better is when there is a deacon who is very zealous for singing, but somewhat off pitch and always behind the beat, who has a very hot lapel mic. Then it becomes a contest between the deacon and cantor for who to follow.

    4. The insipid, banal and borderline blasphemous lyrics of some of the songs. Last week, being Mothers Day, we had to sing “Hail Mary…Gentle Woman.” Ugh. What about the part that references Mary as “morning star” and “gentle dove”…um, the last time I checked, Jesus is the Morning Star and the Holy Spirit is the Dove. Does anyone ever read these lyrics?
    What do they even mean sometimes? Usually they just mean some lame brain is trying to come up with some stupid rhyme that matches the equally lame line that just preceded it. As long as were talking “worst songs”, “All that we Have, and all that we offer…” really ranks up there.
    Ugh. But it is a favorite for the presentation of gifts….simply because it has the word “offer”. BUT, the congregation squaks out a few of the insipid lines, and so boom…”active participation” is achieved…therefore…SUCCESS! No matter if everything is horrible musically, stylistically, and theologically.

    I could go on and on but I’ve probably said far too much already. Initially, back in my naive days, I wanted to be a force for creating a better liturgy, but across the boards in US parishes, I think that goal is beyond hope.

  • Very well said James. Your comment hits the nail right on the songbook of so much that is wrong with the truly bad music prevalent in Catholic parishes today.

  • I left the church specifically because the Masses are simply not uplifting and the music is dreadfully depressing. I call it dying cow music. My daughter has changed to a Zion church and I’m considering a Baptist church. Just can’t sit through another unmotivating, soul sucking Mass. White, old men in charge, you’re not going to make very much progress in change.

  • Gee, Helen — I can’t help being white, and I can’t help being in my fifties. It’s puzzling and sad that you’d give up Jesus’ presence in the Blessed Sacrament because of songs sung by old white priests. If your pastor apologized for his age, skin color, and musical taste would that keep you from leaving the Church founded by Jesus? Almost as importantly, does being judged “by the content of your character rather than by he color of your skin” include everybody, or only for folks that aren’t old white men?

  • Well this while old man agrees with Helen insomuch as the music of so many Masses really is depressingly bad. But I suppose that is where our agreement ends. First, leaving the Church because the Mass is insufficiently uplifting is unthinkable. Even I’m not that ego-centric — and I’m a lawyer! Second, I sort of doubt that Helen and I would be moved by the same tunes. I like jazz ok and blues a lot, but not for Mass sorry. I’m not there to be entertained really, but I realize I’m odd that way.

    Now for some goodies:

    Now Thank We All Our God
    Holy Holy Holy
    Holy God We Praise Thy Name
    Come Holy Ghost
    How Great Thou Art (ok not strictly Catholic, but orthodox anyway)
    Immaculate Mary
    Faith of Our Fathers
    Oh God Almighty Father

    My final semi-rant: I have no problem with a choir reserving one song which they offer as a gift to God and his people, but I really do wish choir directors would choose hymns that are singable by normal folks — you know with normal octave ranges and with recognizable melodies. Even some outstanding choir directors are so intent on choosing the most perfect song for that day’s readings, we end up hearing it at most once every three years — in which case it is unrecognizable and therefore unsingable. End of semi-rant.

  • And I forgot to add: Oh God Beyond All Praising. Disagree with Pink on that — Agree with MEW. When properly done, very powerful hymn.

  • Hate Hate Hate the Taize music. As a 20 year member of several choirs, I dread singing that insipid “We have come to share our story…” ad nauseum. I would not, however, leave the sanctuary of the Blessed Church and the Holy Eucharist, for a church with a better playlist.

    At masses where we sing some of the classics hymns as well as spectacular choral peices (Ave Verum, Ave Maria, Panis Angelicus), the parishoners take notice. Sometimes I wish that the choir directors would take more notice, and change.

    PS – I don’t want to “Sing a New Church Into Being”, I like the one Jesus created, thank you very much.

Gather Us In?

Tuesday, November 10, AD 2009

Bad Music

Hattip to the eagle-eyed Father Z who found this on Facebook from a group called SLAP (Survivors of Liturgical Abuse in Parishes).

Gather Us In […to the tune of, that is!]

Here in this place, our comfortable parish,
All of the statues carried away,
See in each face a vacuous visage,
Brought here by guilt or by R.C.I.A.

Gather us in, by Beemer or Hummer,
Gather us in, so we can feel good,
Come to us now in this barren Zen temple,
With only a shrub and an altar of wood.

We are the young, our morals a mystery,
We are the old, who couldn’t care less,
We have been warned throughout all of history,
But we enjoy this liturgical mess.

Gather us in, our radical pastor,
Gather us in, our unveiled nun,
Call to us now, with guitars and bongos,
Hang up your cellphones and join in the fun!

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6 Responses to Gather Us In?

  • Awesomely creative! And terribly sad. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry!

  • Agreed Kevin.

    It is sad. Even though we have a similar problem in Godzone, I don’t think it is as serious as in your great country.

  • The “Our Father” of the Novus Ordo Missae:

    BIG DADDY’S RAP (The Lord’s Prayer):

    YO, BID DADDY UPSTAIRS (Our Father, who art in heaven)
    YOU BE CHILLIN (Hallowed be thy name)
    SO BE YO HOOD (Thy Kingdom come)
    YOU BE SAYIN’ IT, I BE DOIN’ IT (Thy will be done)
    IN THIS HERE HOOD AND YO’S (On earth as it is in heaven)
    GIMME SOME EATS (Give us this day our daily bread)
    AND CUT ME SOME SLACK, (And forgive us our trespasses)
    SOS I BE DOIN’ IT TO DEM DAT DISS ME (As we forgive those who trespass against us)
    DON’T BE PUSHING ME INTO NO JIVE (And lead us not into temptation)
    AND KEEP DEM CRIPS AWAY (But deliver us from evil)
    ‘CAUSE YOU ALWAYS BE DA MAN (For thine is the Kingdom, the power and the glory forever and ever.)
    AAA-MEN (Amen)

  • Hilarious e.!

  • Hi Kiwi Don,

    Which part of N.Z. do you live in? I visited there for a month in 2007 and REALLY loved the whole country, but especially Wellington and much of the South Island (not so much Christchurch or Auckland, to be honest!) I went to a Mass said by the bishop of the Wellington diocese (archdiocese?) at the cathedral and found it bland, but not irreverent. It was certainly packed for a Sunday evening Mass, in any case. However, the secularism there was and is rampant, much like here.

    Great to hear from Kiwi Catholics–keep the faith!

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