The lay shepherds truly must face the fact that they have been part of the weakening of the Church as well. The "blame game" needs to start in the home.
Over and over, I have tried to encourage the laity to see that the call of the Holy Spirit in this age of the laity is a real call, not a liberal trend. God knew from all time the weaknesses, the sins of the clergy which would happen in these times, and led the Church to emphasize the role of the laity. There is a reason for this. Just as Pope Francis wants more emphasis on the local Church, so too, we must have a mindset of building up the local Church.
We may very well not have clergy in our parishes, or even in our dioceses. I wrote a long time ago that dioceses may disappear, totally.
We must rise to this challenge, and stop moaning and complaining about bad clerical shepherds.
There are just as many, if not more, bad lay shepherds.
We have witnessed the collapse of the protector lay shepherd.
That churches will close, that schools have compromised the Faith, that liberal Catholics have seized the centers of catechesis is not merely a problem of the clergy, but of the laity.
That men complain of too many women in chancery offices. Stop complaining and get the degrees necessary to work in these offices. Decide to let your family live more simply in order for the wage-earner man to work in the Church.
The key to understanding the process of all these decisions may be located in one word, sacrifice.
A good man may have to decide to allow his family not to follow the American Dream, which is a false construct and not based on Catholic Thinking.
Yesterday, I was discussing family dynamics in this day and age with a holy priest. He noted that the main impetus pushing decisions of fathers in even so-called good Catholics families has been materialism, (or consumerism). Catholic dads have fallen into the trap of putting financial decisions, or decisions concerning status of the family, before those necessary decisions directly involved with developing a spiritual life of the family.
To clarify this point, and to show the faulty thinking of many Catholic dads, one can look at five areas of the corruption of Catholic thinking into complete materialistic thinking.
The first area of concern has to do with where some dads have chosen to live. My father moved into a neighborhood so that we could easily get to Catholic schools, both elementary and secondary. Having access to good Catholic schools may be a priority to some Catholics who would not consider how important the entire Catholic school community may thrive simply by people living in close proximity to one another.
This ideal may be connected to the fact that people do not move near one another for the sake of community.
We did this in the 1970s, by watching when houses came up for sale in a neighborhood and phoning those in the community to consider the houses. That many families would move into a neighborhood was called "banding", as in banding together. Many community relationships were built up simply by people not having to travel any distances to see each other during the week.
Dads must consider not merely the status of living in suburbia, but the larger needs which the families will face in hard times. Living close to real Catholic families must become a priority again. Status must bend to the needs of the domestic church.
A second area of concern is the choosing of jobs for a higher wage rather than considering family time as a necessity. The domestic church take time to build up, time which must be a priority as we all face the growth of persecution. The formation of children in the virtues has to be a priority of the father, not merely the mother.
I have spoken with a father in recent days whose jobs has odd, irregular hours. He cannot always be home at the same time. Without a set schedule, his children suffer from the lack of the family rosary and even attending Mass together on Sunday, as he must work on Sundays.
Sadly, this state will not be able to be rectified in the near future. The domestic church cannot grow in chaos. Sometimes, a dad may not have a choice regarding jobs, but if he does, family prayer time and the formation of virtues among children must take precedence over all other considerations. This may mean the dad allowing the family to live a lower standard of comfort.
A dad must choose not to waste free time with trivia, as the days of trivia are quickly passing.
This note leads to the third area of concern. One dad I have spoken with in the past three months told me that he was cutting out computer time, reading blogs and twittering in order to give more time for prayer and leading his family. I admire his decision. He said that he realized that his own spiritual growth had to be a priority if his family would be able to grow in virtue. The shepherd must be purified to lead the sheep to such.
The proverbial "couch potato" dad cannot be a true shepherd. Children do not automatically become saints.
Another area of concern has to do with the sad, sad ideal of American families which involves a gross type of independence, which keeps them from being open to other Catholic families.
I have written before about the fact that family relationships can become idolatrous-the Kingdom of God comes first, not extended non-religious families. Those who choose to build the Kingdom sometimes must leave family members behind for a greater good.
The last area of concern, which can stop real community building in a parish, and I see this particularly in TLM communities, is an snobbery concerning the poor. Too many trads fall into the horrible habit of judging those in their churches. I have seen this again and again. A middle class couple may judge someone who wears jean skirts, or needs a ride, or does not socialize by eating out at restaurants, as the persons cannot afford this. Instead of inviting and even paying for lunches, people are excluded from discussion groups after Mass attended by the middle class. I think part of the problem is the loss of the large families of the past, which gathered people in. Adults raised in small families have problems reaching out.
I am not sure of all the reasons why many of the TLM groups or other faithful Catholics, are not forming into real communities, where people relate on a daily basis and help each other both spiritually and physically.
But, unless this happens, many people will be swept away in the horrible times to come either out of fear, or from a lack of support.
Dads, how you lead your families to God when your local churches look like these photos?
See the other posts on community building and on men.....