Can we Preserve the Faith of our Fathers in this Modern World?

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 . . .

10 thoughts on “Can we Preserve the Faith of our Fathers in this Modern World?

  1. RomeTome

    Is Christ present in the Mass?

    Can we return to the way it was? In the 8th century when Christians complained that no Holy People were left, yet to come were Aquinas, Francis, Teresa, John and others. Did they return to a previous time? No but they renewed their yearning for God.

    As has been pointed out by every young theologian, things are always worse than ever. We face difficult times.

    But do we not have God? If so, should we not hold out hope?

    Reply
    • servusfidelis Post author

      Indeed everything you say is true. But in every case, the first step to the recovery was good men and women recognizing the corruption of the faith and morality and stepping up to the plate with God’s help. These men and women became great saints because they resisited the corruption and while on their knees before God enlisted the help of God and the heavenly hosts to accomplish what we can not do by ourselves. I will continue tomorrow . . .

      Reply
  2. JessicaHof

    It is good to remind ourselves that the times welive in are not uniquely bad – if it inspires us to make them better :). Good post, and I look forward to reading more.

    Reply
    • servusfidelis Post author

      Yes, Rome Tome above spoke well but every single age needs a clarion call to holiness. It is always the effort of good men and women to fight corruption and immorality in society or in the Church, Thanks Jessica.

      Reply
  3. 8 kids and a business

    My Scottish father-in-law grew up in Scotland at a time when Catholics were denied jobs, education, and generally seen as second-class citizens. His favourite hymn was Faith of our Fathers and he held on to his faith and love of Holy Mother Church to his dying day. At his funeral Mass, the recessional hymn was Faith of our Fathers. We need to get back to the faithfulness and zeal of my father-in-law.

    Reply
  4. Betty

    A lot of this was caused by false interpretations of Vatican II. Laxity became the new by-word; “let’s not be so strict about rules,” such as women covering their heads and receiving the Holy Eucharist in the hand. Reverence was kicked to the side. I know a few American churches where the Eucharist must be received on the tongue while kneeling at the altar rail. And just like in the old day, patens are used in case the holy host falls or if crumbs drop. Believe it or not, only male alcolytes serve the Mass and they do not step foot on the altar with the priest.

    Let’s start a movement to bring back Gregorian chants.

    Reply
    • servusfidelis Post author

      I’m with you. The Vatican II documents say that Gregorian Chant should take pride of place in the Mass. But I guess “in the spirit of Vatican II” they thought Amazing Grace with guitar and bongo accompaniment was a better choice.

      Reply
  5. ...

    OK … help me…if the Church made the decision to make these changes to Mass then as “good Catholics” shouldn’t we be happy with how the Church is asking us to celebrate it? If a Bishop instructs a Priest to not turn a tabernacle then why isn’t that ok- shouldn’t the hierarchy count or is there something more important? If Catholics are becoming Protestant Catholics then you are right to ask why but is it really the lay people veering off course or is the Captain (Church) not steering the ship? Am I about to be struck by lightning?

    Reply
  6. servusfidelis Post author

    Hello. When the Bishops in union with the Pope declare a doctrine concerning faith or doctrine it is an infallible teaching. Vatican II was not a doctrinal council but a pastoral council that had to do with the practice of the faith only not the teaching. We must abide by them but they do not necessarily have to be the best decisions for the Church and we may dislike and speak out against these teachings. An individual bishop or priest also has authority to tell his priests what to do but his advice is not necessarily the best advice either, they make mistakes as we all do. The fruit of the changes will tell us of those things that were decided well and those things that were not decided well. The Captain of the ship (the Pope – the ship is the Church) is doing fine. What we are seeing is the confusion that often comes after a Council until it all settles out. This is a common occurrence after a Council.

    For instance, the New Mass has for its instructions a point where it says turn and face the people (at that particular moment) but if he is already facing the people then why is the instruction there to tell him to turn? There are many other examples and in time I could cover each but the point is that many things that have been done to the Mass and to our worship were done not to the letter of the Council Documents but were done “in the spirit of Vatican II” and that is just tinkering around with “novelty” which the Church condemns. However, much tinkering was allowed after the Council, I believe, to determine what might be useful and what might not be useful. Our present Pope is not happy with facing the people and is also opposed to giving communion in the hand (which is only an indult in the country). But even as Pope he respects the individual Bishops in their own diocese. He only tries to set a good example and the last 2 Popes have been trying to do this.

    You’re jumping ahead in the story when you talk about the laity and their problems. I’ll talk about that in some detail tomorrow. ooops, later today. Thanks for the questions, and don’t sweat the lightning.

    Reply

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