Cleansing Fire

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Preparing ‘for success in a rapidly changing world’

October 1st, 2010, Promulgated by Mike

Andy Piacente is angry.

Andy lives in Yonkers and has something important to say to Archbishop Timothy Dolan.  Andy, however, cannot seem to get his message past the censors surrounding His Excellency.

So why do I care?  It’s really quite simple: Andy and I share at least one major concern.  I’ll tell you what that is after you read Andy’s letter.

[I tried posting this on Bishop Dolan’s blog but it was censored. I seek anyone who knows anyone who can possibly get this to His Excellency as I believe those around him censor his mail. I just have the need to know that he saw this. Can anyone help? Maybe if people I know print it out and mail it to him at 1011 First Ave, NY, NY 10022 it might get to him – thanx – Andy]

September 15, 2010 at 6:31 pm

Quote from Catholic New York – “Father Mark Vaillancourt told me of the school’s soaring SAT scores, and that every graduating senior last year went on to college, with the class earning over $12,000,000 in scholarships.”

Your Excellency Bishop Dolan,

I took this quote for a reason as it reminds me of the anger I have at the NY Archdiocesan educational establishment Your Excellency.

My question is, besides these glowing statistics, how many of these students are still Catholic? How many will continue to remain Catholics?

My anger stems from the fact that I have raised three children and along with most of their friends who attended our Catholic schools from grade one through high school and on to college and they graduated as young Catholic eunuchs knowing very little about their faith, believing even less.

My anger is also directed at myself for not seeing what was happening. I mistakenly thought that our schools would teach my children their faith. I was wrong.

I started studying my faith daily close to 30 years ago. No I do not have any degrees, master or otherwise. No Phd’s, no doctorates, just self study. immersion in reading everything Catholic I can find, apologetics (which is sorely lacking in Catholic eduction), The Catechism, the Bible, and most importantly the early Church fathers.

IMO , it’s the “experts” or too many of them that are killing this Church in the West. They have modernized our Bibles, taught our children Catholicism “light” and we are paying the price for this lack of good solid orthodox Catholic thought as the original Fathers taught. In the 1950’s over 75% of Catholics attended weekly Mass, now it’s down to less than 25%. Even less confess their sins at all anymore. Of course our culture has changed but the Church was to be unchanging and it changed too.

Surveys show that very few of us believe in the actual Presence of Our Lord in our most holy Eucharist. My daughter once said to me, “I knew Communion was special, but nobody ever stressed how important, how awesome, how holy it is until you (speaking to me) stressed it.” I have a copy of an exam my daughter took at our local IONA College which refers to God as Him/Her. This is outrageous.

I expect our youth to question things. I expect some rebellion, but when the inevitable questions arise we MUST have answers for them and our beautiful Catholic faith supplies these answers through our rich history, our Catechism, and our Bible.

Instead, what we in NY give them is CRITICISM. Literary criticism, form criticism, historical criticism, etc. etc. etc.

They are surrounded with Markan priority, fantasy world Q source theories, and the mythologizing of all Bible study. I have taken these courses I have seen it first hand.

I took what was once called the Denver Bible Study Program in my old parish in Yonkers , NY . I was shocked at what Catholics were being taught. No wonder Protestant Fundamentalist communities are bursting at the seams with former Catholics.

I wrote to Archbishop Chaput in Denver and one of his assistants wrote back and told me that His Excellency unceremoniously dumped this heterodoxy and redid his whole educational establishment.

Now, who gets stuck with this program. That’s right we, in NY are stuck with it. Only now it’s called the NY Catholic Bible Study. I have written to Cardinal Egan, and a few times to you, Your Excelency – Nothing – No response from anyone. Meanwhile, our young adults are leaving in droves, we are closing parishes, we are closing schools. all this while we are experiencing the largest increase in new Catholic immigrants ever from Central and South America . I read where Latinos are now leaving us too. Deja Vu all over again.

I pray, no I beg you to look into these things I have written above. Don’t believe me, see for yourself. You, as Shepherd of one of the largest Archdiocese’s in the world can affect the whole country by what you do. I pray for your courage to do the right thing.

May we, as an Archdiocese one day say that we have lost our last Catholic to groups who target unsuspecting Catholics because they know we are easy prey.

Andrew Piacente aka Doria2 – Yonkers , NY

HOSEA 4:6

A lot of Andy’s concerns about the Catholic faith in the New York City area will resonate with those of us living in the Diocese of Rochester, but this one in particular struck a strong chord with me:

My anger stems from the fact that I have raised three children and along with most of their friends who attended our Catholic schools from grade one through high school and on to college and they graduated as young Catholic eunuchs knowing very little about their faith, believing even less.

[Warning: Rant ahead.]

“Catholic eunuchs” is a perfect description of my two sons and many of their friends.  Back in the 1980s Aquinas Institute took an awful lot of my money and, in exchange, promised to give my children a solid Catholic education.  That, at least, was my understanding of our deal.

It turns out that I should have asked for a definition of “solid Catholic education.”  What I had in mind was something similar to what I had received in that same building back in the late ’50s and early ’60s and what my dad and uncle had received there way back in the ’30s.  What Aquinas had in mind, however, was something substantially different.

Today my two sons – and far too many of their classmates – know little of the rich heritage that is their Catholic faith and much of what they do know they reject.  They are Cafeteria Catholics on a severe diet, accepting very few of the truths of the faith.  When asked about it they will say that they are merely following their consciences, just as they were taught to do at Aquinas.

If you have been following some of the other posts on this blog you will be aware that little has changed at Aquinas in the last 20-something years.   And that’s not just us running off at the mouth; Aquinas itself seems to be saying the same thing.

For example, my Aquinas “Annual Fund Commitment Form” (it used to be called the “Alumni Fund”) showed up in my mailbox earlier in the week.  The accompanying brochure tells me that “Contributions to the Annual Fund help provide our students with the resources to prepare for success in a rapidly changing world.”  It says absolutely nothing about the only success that really matters – and the word “Catholic” is no where to be seen.

Needless to say, it quickly found its way into the round file (from whence I had to resurrect it to get the above quote correct).  Aquinas will get no more of my money until they are once again a true Catholic school proudly teaching the orthodox Catholic faith:  Sicut erat olim sic iterum.

[End of rant.]

Andy ended his letter with a reference to Hosea 4:6, an especially good choice given his subject.  Here is that verse, with parts of verses 1 and 4 as a contextual preface:

Hear the word of the LORD,
for with you is my contention, O priest.

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge;
because you have rejected knowledge,
I reject you from being a priest to me.
And since you have forgotten the law of your God,
I also will forget your children.

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6 Responses to “Preparing ‘for success in a rapidly changing world’”

  1. avatar Abaccio says:

    Mike,

    EXCELLENT post, thank you for bringing this to my attention. It saddens me greatly that this is so often the case–I’ve heard the same thing (trusting our schools, or just trusting the diocesan formation in general to form their children in the faith…) from dozens of friends within the diocese.

    In addition to the lack of CATHOLIC in my education at a DoR school, I can tell you that the DoR’s retreat program bred a whole lot of lapsed Catholics. We’re talking people who the DoR had in youth groups, and spent 2,3,4,5 weekends per year bringing together. This is not to say that EVERYONE who went through the program was worse for it, but simply that a shocking number of former “staff” and Diocesan Youth Committee members have religious views such as “not religious” or “we have life, take it or leave it” or “I was programmed to be Catholic, but I ran!” or “Good Question” or “I believe in ME!” or who attend Spiritus Christi currently or…

    WELLLL, you get the point…

  2. avatar Bill B. says:

    I remember reading a number of years ago that it was our (the parents) responsibility to educate our children in the faith. OK, where do you go…church. It seems like the dumb down began and “we” just continued it because we ourselves became dumbed down. I’ll have to look in one of old boxes for where I read of my responsibility. In the grand scheme of things our inaction brings about the current situation.

  3. avatar Mike says:

    Bill,

    I’m not sure what your precise point might be, but I’ll take a stab at one of the several possibilities.

    If you are reminding me that Church law says that parents have the responsibility to educate their children in the faith, then I could not agree with you more:

    “Before all others, parents are bound to form their children, by word and example, in faith and in christian living. The same obligation binds godparents and those who take the place of parents” (Canon 774, ¶2).

    This is often loosely paraphrased as “Parents are the primary educators of their children.” But that paraphrase is only partly accurate. And it is only partly accurate because it ignores the second sentence cited above.

    Those who voluntarily agree to help parents educate children in the faith (i.e., Catholic schools such as Aquinas) also take on the same responsibility as the parents.

  4. avatar Nerina says:

    And I would add, Mike (to your reply to Bill B.), that our local churches should be helping parents in this mission to educate our children. Bill B., have you seen the curricula that pass for graded faith formation? Some are absolutely deplorable. My local church uses the “Blest Are We” series which is perfect for instilling a very diluted version of the faith. Have you attended any adult faith formation classes? Again, if an ecumenical, syncretized faith is what you’re after – then you’ll be satisfied. But if you are looking for an authentic, dynamic and challenging presentation of the Catholic faith – IN FULL – you’re out of luck. Keep in mind that many of the parents today are so poorly catechized that it would be almost impossible for them to properly catechize their children without some exceptional effort on their part.

  5. avatar ppfm says:

    Andy Piacente aka Doria2 (author of letter above) passed away yesterday morning (Sept 5th) from cancer and the treatment applied. Andy has been publicly fighting for the Faith for years and came to Tradition because of it. He was a soldier. Please pray for his Catholic soul.

  6. avatar Mike says:

    ppfm,

    Andy sounds like a remarkable Catholic Christian. I wish I had known him.

    My parish is holding a Rosary and Benediction this evening. I’ll be praying for him.


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