We all know the Catholic hymn, Faith of our Fathers written by Frederick William Faber back in 1849. It has been standard fare in the Catholic Church since that time and (with modified stanzas) in some Protestant churches as well. It was written in memory of the faith of the Catholic martyrs from the time of Henry VIII in England and we could easily think of these fathers as all of those who stretch back to the Early Fathers of the Church and even to the Apostles and their followers. The 3rd stanza below is the original though many of us know the new one, especially if we grew up in a Protestant Church. Here are the stanzas minus the refrain for those who are not familiar with it:
Faith of our fathers, living still,
In spite of dungeon, fire and sword;
O how our hearts beat high with joy
Whene’er we hear thy wondrous voice!
Faith of our fathers, we will strive
To win all nations unto Thee;
And through the truth that comes from God,
We all shall then be truly free.
Faith of our fathers, Mary’s prayers
Shall win our country back to Thee;
And through the truth that comes from God,
England shall then indeed be free.
Sadly, Faber’s hymn was not enough to save England from her continual slide from the faith: probably due to a lack of prayer or by dismissing the intercession of our Holy Mother.
I am starting to think that we also need to start asking Mary to intercede for us as well. We are in a precarious situation and in sore need of saintly men and women to emerge from our midst. We need people who will rally the Church and Her flock back to our sacred traditions and that deep commitment to faith that was passed on flawlessly these past 2 millennia. What we have lost in just the past 50 years is indescribable: it is a Church that at times reminds us of the pictures of Hiroshima shortly after the war. Just look at the gains that the Father of All Lies and the Mystery of Evil has wrought!
God is banned and mocked in society. We cannot express or even study our faith in public schools. Our media professes an atheistic bias, as do our colleges and universities. Our parishioners are among the poorest formed Catholics in the history of the Church. Few know the teachings and even fewer have any idea that they made a commitment at Confirmation to hold to all that the Church teaches.
How can you blame those who came into the Church without proper education and training? You can’t. It wasn’t their fault.
Novel ideas and a laxness in faith and all the particulars of faith was promulgated by those who wanted to “free” us from the old stodgy ways that had served good Catholics and many a saint for countless hundreds of years. So we have those who are effectively Protestant Catholics on the most part, teaching our children in religion classes and also by their acts and deeds. They do not genuflect before the Blessed Sacrament; they laugh, clap and give “non-sacred” talks in the Church without first removing Christ from the tabernacle. Most churches have unveiled the tabernacle as if it is no longer the Holy of holies wherein resides our Lord and Savior. Many a priest (perhaps by instruction of his bishop) has decided to face us instead of the Orient (to the east) where Christ is to return, or to the tabernacle in which He now resides. They allow the laity to touch the sacred linens and the consecrated vessels, not to mention the Holy Species. Holy music has all but disappeared in preference for feel good songs about God which are in large part; how I love Him and how He saved me and now I am saved etc. They are typically songs about me, me and me; and now I’m saved. Sound familiar: sure, it sounds like the Protestant churches I left to become Catholic. It’s the same type of music. Where are the sacred hymns of the past about Christ’s suffering and gift of Self for our redemption? Contemplative music praising our Lord or Mary or the Saints? They have almost vanished and when they appear, usually it is among many other tunes that have annihilated the meaning of the Mass itself. The Gregorian Chant is almost extinct.
But I could go on about symbols and art and architecture all day long. I could write tomes about the ineffectiveness of our Novus Ordo Mass to convey the proper reverence and respect to our Lord and to the Holiness of the moment. And all of it is true. In far too many parishes our faith is desolate. There is no other word for it. It’s become a “nice” church; “welcoming” and loads of fun for all: but to make gains in friendliness, fellowship and busyness, we have thrown away the orderliness, the reverence and the holiness that we once prized and cherished.
The problem first and foremost is what we are being taught: by the world, the present American society and sadly, by far too many theologians, scripture scholars, parish priests, DRE’s and lay catechists. My next post will explore how our children are now falling away in droves or perpetuating the lukewarm faith of their poorly catechized parents: in short, poor Catholics. Something needs to be done: and we must ask, who is it that should be fixing it? Can we ever get ourselves back to the Faith of our Fathers if we continue on our present course? To be continued . . .