The Decline

This silver crucifix that I wear, I wear in reparation. I was in a Jewish jewelry store one day in New York, where I had known the jeweler for twenty to twenty-five years. He said to me, “I have some silver crucifixes for you.” And he gave me a bag of crucifixes, over a hundred of them. I said, “Where did you get them?” “Oh,” he said, “from sisters; they brought them in. They told me, ‘We’re not going to wear the crucifix any more; it divides us from the world. How much will you give us for them?'” The jeweler said, “I weighed them out thirty pieces of silver.” Then he said, “What’s wrong with your church? I thought that meant something to you.” so I told him what was wrong. Three months later I received him into the church .Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

Before discussing what was wrong with the church, Archbishop Sheen would first, most likely, have shown the jeweler what was right with it. What is right with the Church is its head; Jesus Christ. What is wrong with it had been wrought by a schism among its custodians. The Church is both mystical and institutional. It is living in that it’s founder is living as the Mystical Body. It is institutional because it is in this world and was left to men to run. That which is made by God is sacred and unchangeable. Those who, like the sisters in Sheen’s story, think that the Church divides them from the world are correct. When Christ was crucified there were two divisions of humanity in attendance. Those who wanted Him to come down and those who understood that he could not. Those who are of the world and wanted Him to come down only see the pain in suffering. (This is why G.K. Chesterton said: “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting, but, rather, has been found to hard and left untried.”) Those who are in the world and understood that He could not come down see the love in suffering. These sisters saw the pain. The jeweler saw the love.

[According to the most recent data from solid sources, in the year 2000, 18 million Americans identified themselves as former Catholics — those who had left the Faith. One generation later, as of 2016, that number had swelled to 30 million.

Eleven million more Catholics have left the Faith since the turn of the century. There are more Catholics over 50 than under 50. And there are more Catholics over 65 than under 30. And the percentage of young people — those under 30 — in the Church is a smaller percentage than almost any other religions.

Although there are conflicting data on the actual number of Catholics in the United States, a safe number is about 73 million. Thirty million Catholics, as we said before, no longer call themselves Catholics. Just another 6 or 7 million leaving the Faith, and there will be more former Catholics than those who still identify as Catholics. Eleven percent fewer parishes since 2000; 18 percent fewer priests; and only two thirds what priests there are in active ministry. The other third are too old for active ministry. Graduate-level seminarians essentially flat lined. The slight increase in the numbers of priestly ordinations is nowhere near enough the number needed to replace those dying — not by half, in fact.

Infant baptisms off by a third. Adult conversions down by 40 percent. First Holy Communions and confirmations also both down. And marriages — perhaps the most significant barometer for the future life of the Church — down almost 50 percent since the year 2000. In fact, the only two sacraments that there aren’t officially horrible numbers for are the only ones no official records are kept for: confession and anointing of the sick. But any Catholic with working eyes knows the number of confessions has also fallen off the cliff. Even the number of Catholic funerals since the year 2000 has dropped by 16 percent.

This entire disaster — and that is what it is — must be placed squarely at the feet of the U.S. hierarchy, who have done nothing meaningful to arrest the decline and have in many ways helped speed it along. What business would tolerate such horrible results from its managers and directors? It would have fired them more than a decade ago for complete incompetence.

This is a Church in full-blown retreat.]  – Michael Voris (Church Militant)

The Church’s doors are always open to the world. But the world’s ways are not the Church’s ways. Once the Church begins adjusting to meet the ways of the world, then it no longer can be the refuge sought by those lost souls who have been discouraged by the world. For the world cannot save souls; Only God can. This is why the Church cannot, in the least, allow the poison of politics to pervert Her doctrine.

When the three wise men left Bethlehem, after paying homage to the new-born Christ, they returned by a different route than the one by which they came. Their literal purpose was to keep the murderous Herod from finding the child. So then, figuratively, it can be said that anyone who comes to Christ, with a contrite heart, does not return by the way he/she came. They are transformed. They do not retrace the paths of their old lives, but, rather, take on the path of Christ; “Deny yourself, take up your cross and come follow me.”  However, if a desperate one decides to come to the church for a promised steadfast answer to the chaotic world, only to yet find the world; then neither does that one find the answer to chaos, nor a steadfast Church.

A religion that does not hold fast to its doctrine is like a bar that begins to serve watered down liquor. Neither will faithful patrons remain, nor new ones enter in.

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About Alan A. Malizia: Contagious Optimism! Co-Author

Retired mathematics teacher and high school athletics coach. Honors: 1988 Ct. Coach of the Year for H.S. Girls Voleyball and 2007 Inducted into the Ct. Women's Volleyball Hall of Fame. Since retiring have written two books; "The Little Red Chair," an autobiography about my life experience as a polio survivor and "A View From The Quiet Corner," a selection of poems and reflections. Presently I am a contributing author for the "Life Carrots" series primarily authored by Dave Mezzapelle of Goliathjobs.com.
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