Saving the Church
At the present time, in many countries the Church is in grave danger because of the contraceptive mentality and many other evils. To save the Church, many reforms are necessary. I am listing some suggestions for this purpose.
Build a Culture of Life
Father John Hardon SJ (died 30 December 2000) was surely one of the greatest theologians of the last century. Near the end of his life he gave a lecture entitled “The Greatest Moral Responsibility: to convert the Contraceptive Mentality.” The Contraceptive mentality has led to the suicidal birthrate in many parts of the Church. The Church cannot survive where the suicidal mentality prevails. A number of factors are involved in countries where there is a suicidal birthrate. Chief of these is the use of contraception.
- We need to overcome the contraceptive mentality.
- Be strongly pro-life, pro-family, pro-chastity, pro-modesty in every diocese, family and parish.
- Have faithful and regular pro-life preaching in all parishes: the doctrine of the Church on Humanae vitae should be taught two or three times a year.
- Catholic hospitals (and medical professionals) should not permit and must be ordered to stop doing direct sterilizations, allowing the prescription of contraception, abortion referrals etc. in accordance with Canon Law. Otherwise, the hospitals should not be called Catholic.
- The encyclical Humanae vitae must be known and taught by every seminary professor.
- Priests must only be given faculties to hear Confession when they show in their Jurisdiction Examination that they adhere to the teaching of Humanae vitae.
- In pre-nuptial instruction, the couple must be taught and assent to practice the Church’s teaching on Humanae vitae.
- In marriage counseling the doctrine of Humanae vitae must be taught.
- Catholic physicians, medical professionals, nurses, and societies of these professions must be taught and must teach and adhere to Catholic teachings.
- Catholic sexual ethics and morality must be preached and taught, in accordance with Catholic teachings on marriage, homosexuality, fornication, etc.
- It helps to have a place where faithful Catholic books and pamphlets are available for sale.
- Of help also is a lending library where good books are on loan.
- Have societies/groups e.g. altar society, children, youth, adults, a group to visit the sick and those in hospitals.
- A social affairs committee could help to arrange such matters as parish picnics, welcome to new parishioners, and special events.
- A committee could help with inter-parish affairs.
- A parish history group could be formed to make regular reports.
- Male members could be encouraged to join the Knight of Columbus or other men’s groups.
- A considerable help would be annual retreats with a visiting speaker, perhaps one week given for male and one for female parishioners.
- Use all the means of social communications in a digital age.
- Have parish websites with Mass times and other orthodox information.
Provide Authentic Liturgy and Sacred Architecture
- Every Church should have a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Joseph and other statues and the Stations of the Cross.
- Restore central Tabernacle placement and Communion rails, including cathedral.
- Have a chapel or Altar for Exposition and Eucharistic Adoration.
- Implement Ecclesia Dei with more parishes to also provide traditional sacraments.
- Therefore, train seminarians also to provide the Sacraments in the traditional Latin Rite.
- Priests can celebrate Mass ad Orientum, facing the Tabernacle/Altar to worship God with the congregation.
- Renew Holy Communion on the tongue and rescind Communion in hand.
- For Novus Ordo Masses, in accordance with liturgical regulations, only allow extraordinary ministers for extraordinary circumstances.
- Restore Sacred Music and Gregorian Chant to have “pride of place.”
- Provide a Parish Book of Chant i.e. The Parish Book of Chant.
- Have choirs in the choir loft whenever possible. In every church there should be a place for an organized choir.
- Use the organ when possible.
- Recite the St. Michael the Archangel prayer after Masses to protect from and combat evil.
- As one of the ways to encourage vocations to the priesthood, only allow/have Altar Boys.
- Have the Rosary and prayers of the Divine Office in parishes.
Be faithful and orthodox
- Faith and morals do not change. A Catholic hierarchy must be doctrinally faithful.
- Put the salvation and sanctification of souls as a priority.
- Request an Oath of Fidelity and Profession of Faith be made by all clergy, religious, seminarians (and teachers of the Catholic Faith) in accordance with Canon Law.
- If I were a member of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, I would invite all members to unite and make a statement specifically revoking the former erroneous CCCB Winnipeg Statement. If no supporters, I would issue my own statement stating that it is invalid and must not be used anywhere.
- Instruct pastors to give homilies on moral and doctrinal teachings of the Church.
- Defend marriage: only true annulments should be granted (not “Catholic divorces”).
- A condition for receiving Holy Communion is being in the state of grace. Therefore, Catholics living in a state of sin (e.g. who were validly married in the Catholic Church, then divorced and then remarried outside the Church without an Annulment) cannot be permitted to receive Holy Communion until they right their condition and repent.
- The Church is the guardian of Divine Law. The Church cannot change Divine Law or Church Doctrine/Dogma (i.e. the Church cannot marry a man to a horse). Pastoral practise must be in accordance with the Truths of Divine Law (Dogma/Doctrine). For example, Catholics should be in a state of grace to receive Holy Communion. This cannot be changed. The Church can only change Ecclesiastical Law (e.g. increasing the number of witnesses at a Catholic marriage) and Liturgical Law (e.g. insisting that a wedding take place at a Mass).
- Promote true ecumenism/evangelization (try to convert non-Catholics to the Catholic Faith).
- Bishops should reject any government mandate that contradicts Catholic moral teaching.
- Invite only authentic religious congregations to establish foundations. (The average age of declining religious left in Canada is 80 years old).
Renew Consecration and Devotion to Mary
- Consecrate myself, the diocese, country, Russia and the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and try to live it.
- Promote the praying of the Rosary in parishes, families, schools etc.
- Promote total consecration to Jesus through Mary in parishes, families, schools etc..
The laws governing Catholic education and schools are given in Canons 793-806.
Provide and Restore faithful Catholic Education and curriculums:
- Of signal importance is Canon 804.2 which states, “The local ordinary is to be careful that those who are appointed as teachers of religion in schools, even non-Catholic ones, are outstanding in true doctrine, in the witness of their Christian life and in their teaching ability.”
- In Canon 805 we are told that in his own diocese the local ordinary has the right to appoint or to approve teachers of religion and, if religion or moral considerations require it, to remove them or to demand that they be removed. Teachers who are not faithful in their religious practice should be removed. There should be no compromise in this matter.
- Religion should certainly be the primary subject in Catholic schools.
- Prayer should be said at the beginning of teaching. Along with the manner for going to Confession, prayers should be taught and known e.g. the Rosary, the Angelus, etc.
- All teaching should be in accord with the Catholic Catechism.
- Remove the “Fully Alive” family life (sex) education program currently used in Ontario Catholic schools. It is harmful and not faithful to Church guidelines, by teaching explicit sexual information to children before puberty. As another Canadian bishop once stated: All that is necessary can be taught in the context of the Sixth and Ninth Commandments with formation and teaching in the virtues of chastity and modesty and the means of grace through the solid Faith and Life religion series and are treated magnificently in the second and third parts of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The proper authority in the area of family life education should be with the parents.
- Remove the “Born of the Spirit” religion series (also currently used in Canadian Catholic schools).
- Replace the above two programs with a faithful catechism in all Catholic schools and parish RCIA etc. For example the “Faith and Life” religion series available here, the “Catechism of the Catholic Church,” and the Marian Catechist program.
- The rights of the Catholic Church, schools, parents, and teachers to uphold and teach the Catholic Faith should be protected by bishops and governments.
Restore and revive the use of the Sacraments
A thriving Church makes full use of the Sacrament of Penance. At one time four confessionals at St. Michael’s Cathedral in Toronto were kept busy on Saturday afternoons from 4:30-6:30pm. After a break for supper they were again kept busy from 7:30-9pm. They were intermittently busy until 10pm. Children in primary schools went to Confession monthly. Now confessionals are often without penitents and sometimes children go a year without Confession.
- It is important to speak and teach on the benefits of this great sacrament.
- Times for Confession should be greatly lengthened. Encourage increased Confession times.
- Frequent Confession should be promoted even if there is not mortal sin. The benefits of frequent Confession of devotion should be encouraged when there is no serious sin.
- Taught at all levels should be the manner of Examination of Conscience. Very often the examination of conscience is taught with no mention of the difference between mortal and venial sins and the necessity of confessing the number of times when mortal sins are committed. All school children should be taught how to make a good confession and encouraged to confess frequently.
- A detailed, thorough and proper Examination of Conscience, should be published, provided and promoted for children, youth and adults. An examination using the past tense, noting what is mortally sinful, stating that the number of times when mortal sins are committed should be confessed. If the person is not sure how many times or if it is really not possible for them to remember, then they should give an approximate estimate of that number (e.g. once a week for a month or “multiple” times).
- All deliberate sexual arousal outside of marriage is objectively mortally sinful.
- Stop sacrileges, Holy Communion is not for those in mortal sin.
Obligatory Attendance at Mass:
The Church cannot thrive where there is not general attendance at Sunday Mass.
- It is necessary that the importance, beauty, and meaning of the Mass be taught in the parishes and at Catholic schools.
- Parents should be taught the obligation of seeing that their children attend Sunday Mass.
- Children and young people should be taught to encourage their parents to attend Sunday Mass. It is obvious that many parents neglect the duty of seeing that their children attend Mass. Likewise, it is evident that many parents do not consider Sunday Mass a grave obligation. What is said about Sunday Mass attendance likewise refers to when Saturday evening Mass attendance is permitted to fulfill the Sunday obligation.
- It is helpful if Missals are possessed by parents and children.
Frequent Communion/daily Mass:
- Encourage frequent Holy Communion.
- By making daily Mass available at times convenient to the laity, perhaps ensuring that there is an early morning or evening Mass in each parish or family of parishes, more people will be able to attend daily Mass.
Provide extended Eucharistic Adoration
- Establish Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration, extended exposition up to 24 hours a day, “in every parish and Christian community” as requested by Pope John Paul II. Chapels can be set up in a room in the church basement, vestibule, main floor, rectory, or have the exposition in the main body of the Church. Help is available to start or organize this program in parishes (e.g. schedule a missionary).
- Revive Forty Hours devotions in parishes.
Be faithful to and implement Canon Law
- In accordance with Canon Law, excommunicate public obstinate heretics after warning.
- In accordance with Canon Law, refuse Holy Communion to pro-abortion politicians.
- In accordance with Canon Law, bishops and clergy who are public unrepentant dissenters must be disciplined and suspended when required.
- In accordance with Canon/Moral Law, where it becomes evident that there are practicing unrepentant homosexuals (or lesbians) in clerical or religious states, they must be removed from active ministry. Every case is different and to be judged individually.
Reach out to and save the Youth
- There should be parish youth groups and activities.
- This includes Holy Hours of Eucharistic Adoration, confession, catechesis, prayer and the Rosary, praise/worship, formation in all virtues especially chastity and modesty, vocational discernment, exposure to authentic religious congregations, pro-life, social and other events.
- A one-word homily is “Repent.”
- Love God, yourself, and others.
- Live according to the Ten Commandments and Catholic teachings.
- God is merciful. Be merciful, yet don’t fall into the sin of presumption.
- Have peace with God, within yourself, and with others, in your family and in the world.
- Know God and the Catholic Faith. Believe in and trust God. Live your Faith. Study the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
- Be faithful to the Church teachings including Humanae vitae—never use artificial contraception. Be pro-life.
- Frequent the Sacrament of Confession (weekly, monthly).
- Frequent Holy Communion (daily Mass when possible).
- Pray with your heart: daily Rosary, the Divine Office, Scripture reading, Grace before and after meals, basic prayers.
- Live out and be totally consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus: “To Jesus through Mary.”
- Wear the Brown Scapular. Our Lady promised to St. Simon Stock that whoever dies wearing it shall not suffer eternal hell.
- Do orthodox spiritual reading, Scripture, lives of the Saints, Papal Encyclicals, etc.
- Practice penance, mortification, fasting, and other forms of self-denial/discipline.
- Have a blessed Crucifix, sacramentals, holy water, and holy pictures in your home.
- Have devotion to the Saints, Holy Angels, and your Guardian Angel.
- Discern vocations to the priesthood, deaconate, religious, consecrated or eremitical life, consecrated virginity, the single state, or married life.
- Belonging to faithful groups and movements for the laity are helpful to fulfill the universal call to holiness.
- Be prepared for death and your final judgment at all times.
Originally posted at the Selected Writings of Rev. Msgr. Vincent Foy on 27 May 2015.
Of note: The television premiere of the 1/2 hour documentary “Msgr. Vincent Foy, Champion for Life” will air on Eternal Word Television Network on Wednesday, 3 June 2015 (Msgr. Foy’s 76th Ordination Anniversary) at 6:30pm ET and in a repeat broadcast on 14 August 2015 (Msgr. Foy’s 100th birthday) at 6:30pm. Thanks to EWTN, Dunn Media & Entertainment, and all who helped with this production.