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Canadian Anglicanism: One Generation Away From Extinction? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Wednesday, 10 February 2010 20:26
I've been reading e-mail, which has piled up at a fearful rate, and cruising favorite blogs and interesting links, trying to catch up on all that has happened in the larger world during the past 6 weeks while I have been rushing about.

And came across this, which may have been discussed elsewhere about St. Blog's but I still find stunning:

From the yesterday's Globe and Mail:

"The Anglican Church in Canada – once as powerful in the nation's secular life as it was in its soul – may be only a generation away from extinction, says a just-published assessment of the church's future.

The report, prepared for the Anglican Diocese of British Columbia, calls Canada a post-Christian society in which Anglicanism is declining faster than any other denomination. It says the church has been “moved to the far margins of public life.”

According to the report, the diocese – “like most across Canada” – is in crisis. The report repeats, without qualification or question, the results of a controversial study presented to Anglican bishops five years ago that said that at the present rate of decline – a loss of 13,000 members per year – only one Anglican would be left in Canada by 2061.

It points out that just half a century ago, 40 per cent of Vancouver Island's population was Anglican; now the figure is 1.2 per cent. Nationally, between 1961 and 2001, the church lost 53 per cent of its membership, declining to 642,000 from 1.36 million. Between 1991 and 2001 alone, it declined by 20 per cent."

Since Fr. Michael Sweeney, co-founder of the Institute, is a native of Vancouver, BC, we spent a lot of time in Vancouver and the lower mainland of British Columbia in the early years. His mother was an Anglican until Fr. Michael received her into the Catholic Church himself at his first Mass after being ordained..

Fr. Michael always made sure that I knew that everything Canadian was better than in the US. According to him, my native Seattle was Vancouver's ugly step sister. Canadian drivers were better, Canadian laws, government, even Canadian hamburgers (White Spot!) were superior to those south of the border. I know that Fr. Michael lathered it on to bait me (what else do you have to do when driving hundreds of miles from workshop to workshop than harass your Yankee partner-in-crime?) but the emotional energy behind it was real.

But the collapse of Christianity in Canada is no laughing matter. And I don't think that even Fr. Michael could turn into into another proof of northern superiority.

As the Globe and Mail article continues:

"Regular attendance is declining at all Canadian Christian churches, except for the Roman Catholic Church, whose small increase is attributed to immigration. But Anglicanism's problem is aggravated because it is primarily a tribal church, the offspring of the Church of England. It has traditionally been home to Canadians of Anglo-Saxon descent who increasingly have no ethnic identification with the church, said religious studies professor David Seljak of St. Jerome's University in Waterloo, Ont."

Or as an Episcopalian rector put it to me when i asked what the Anglican communion was for (other than Henry and his wives), he responded: "It's a cultural coalition". A "tribe" on the verge of extinction, it seems.

As I reported to the Companions of the Cross last month in Houston, the Canadian and US Catholic Churches have more in common than I had realized:

United States

Catholics are 24% of the population
(65.2 million and growing mostly due to immigration)
40,666 priests with a 1,603 Catholics/priest ratio
36% attend Mass weekly (averaged across the nation and across generations)

Unaffiliated” (claim no religious affiliation): 16.1%
Atheist: 1.6%
Unaffiliated/atheist together: 17.7%

Evangelicals are 26.3% of the population.


Catholics: 46% of the population
13 million (growing due to immigration)
8,000 priests or 1,625 Catholics/priest
27% attend Mass (national average - varies significantly from area to area)

“Unaffiliated”(claim no religious affiliation): 19%
Atheist: 7% (438% higher than in the US)
Unaffiliated/atheist together: 26%

Evangelicals: 12% (half the size of the US but the number of Canadian evangelicals has grown nearly 50% since 1981)
What Do You Love? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Michael Fones   
Wednesday, 10 February 2010 10:18
While in Westford, MA, I was in the beautiful parish church of St. Catherine of Alexandria and I ran across this quote from Fr. Pedro Arrupe, S.J., the former head of the Jesuits, on a slip of paper near the confessional.
“Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in a love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the mornings, what you will do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.”
We fall in love in a contigent way any time we love something or someone else to the exclusion of loving God. That thing or person we love in such a way will always disappoint us. We will experience betrayals large and small. Mainly we'll be disappointed because they can't fill that desire for infinite love that our Creator has placed within us.

Fortunately, God realizes this, and so allows us samples of His love; His presence in those fleeting moments when we give or receive genuinely selfless love, when we allow ourselves time to reflect upon the words of Scripture, and when we fruitfully participate in the sacraments, among others. But Fr. Arrupe's quote raises the questions that we all must address honestly:
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
What do you do when your time is your own? Or what do you fantasize doing if you ever had "free time."
What do you read, and why?
What are the criteria you use in choosing and keeping friends?
When was the last time you were present enough to your own being-in-the-world that you succumbed to the world's beauty and goodness?

Finally, and most importantly, have we forgotten we can ask God to help us love Him? Do we ask for His Spirit to dwell in us, expanding our hearts, directing us away from transient things to that which really lasts: God himself, primarily, but also the immortals we encounter in what we mistake as mundane moments at the grocery store, the office water cooler, the airport gate area?
A Pause Amid Powder Snow PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Tuesday, 09 February 2010 15:40
We jetted back from Boston Sunday evening and have been in strategic planning sessions ever since. Done.

For the first time since December 26, I have a bit of down-time ahead. And no traveling for 2 1/2 weeks. It snowed the last 24 hours and this morning was classic Colorado:

Fluffy piles of powder heaped on evergreens below a stunning blue sky.

Blogging will commence soon. First a home made skinny Irish creme latte is in order, I think.
St. Dominic and Evangelization PDF Print E-mail
Written by Michael Fones   
Friday, 05 February 2010 09:23
This was in the Vatican News Service a couple of days ago.

In the general audience of February 3, held in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall, Pope Benedict XVI spoke about the life and work of St. Dominic de Guzman, founder of the Order of Preachers, or Dominican Order.

St. Dominic was born in Caleruega, near the Spanish city of Burgos, in the year 1170. While still a student he "distinguished himself for his interest in the study of Sacred Scriptures and his love for the poor". Having been ordained a priest he was elected as canon of the cathedral of Osma, however "he did not consider this as a personal privilege, nor as the first step in a brilliant ecclesiastical career; rather, as a service to be rendered with dedication and humility. Do not career and power represent a temptation to which even those who have roles of leadership and government in the Church are not immune?" the Pope asked.

He then explained how the bishop of Osma "soon noted Dominic's spiritual qualities and sought his collaboration. Together they travelled to northern Europe on diplomatic missions. ... On his journeys Dominic became aware of ... the existence of peoples still un-evangelised, ... and of the religious divides that weakened Christian life in the south of France, where the activity of certain heretical groups created disturbance and distanced people from the truth of the faith".

Pope Honorius III asked Dominic "to dedicate himself to preaching to the Albigensians" and he "enthusiastically accepted this mission, which he undertook through the example of his own life of poverty and austerity, through preaching the Gospel and through public discussions".

"Christ", the Pope went on, "is the most precious treasure that men and women of all times and places have the right to know and love! It is consoling to see how also in today's Church there are many people (pastors and lay faithful, members of ancient religious orders and of new ecclesial movements) who joyfully give their lives for the supreme ideal of announcing and bearing witness to the Gospel".

As more and more companions joined him, Dominic established his first house in the French city of Toulouse, from which the Order of Preachers came into being. "He adopted the ancient Rule of St. Augustine, adapting it to the requirements of an itinerant apostolic life in which he and his confreres would move from one place to another preaching, but always returning to their convents, places of study, prayer and community life".

St. Dominic, the Holy Father continued, "was keen that his followers should have a solid theological formation, and did not hesitate to send them to the universities of the time". There they dedicated themselves to the study of theology, "founded on Holy Scripture but respectful of the questions raised by reason".

The Pope encouraged everyone, "pastors and lay people, to cultivate this 'cultural dimension' of the faith, that the beauty of Christian truth may be better understood and the faith truly nourished, strengthened and defended. In this Year for Priests, I invite seminarians and priests to respect the spiritual value of study. The quality of priestly ministry also depends on the generosity with which we apply ourselves to studying revealed truths".

Dominic died in Bologna in 1221 and was canonised in 1234. "With his sanctity, he shows us two indispensable means for making apostolic activity more incisive", the Pope concluded; "firstly, Marian devotion", especially the praying of the Rosary "which his spiritual children had the great merit of popularising", and secondly, "the value of prayers of intercession for the success of apostolic work".

Let me add a couple of quick observations before I get back to work.

1. The Holy Father asks, "Do not career and power represent a temptation to which even those who have roles of leadership and government in the Church are not immune?" This is most certainly true. One can claim power, especially a kind of spiritual power, over others that allows one to bend the will of another to my own. The power of Jesus, however, is found in service that puts the genuine needs of others first, openness to God and creation, humility that recognizes one's limitations, and magnanimity - a desire to do great things for and with God. It is a power "not of this world." St. Dominic had a spiritual power, as do all the saints. They evoke a response on the part of others, just as their Lord did. Some will oppose them, others draw inspiration from them and want to follow in their steps. But they cannot be ignored.

2. Pope Benedict, following Pope John Paul II, sees evangelization as an act of love and justice. Love, in that if my life has been transformed by the Gospel and the "surprising" encounter with Jesus, I should want others to experience that transformation, too. It flows from my love for Jesus and what He has done for me, to the love I bear for the good of my neighbor. Evangelization is also an act of justice because every human being has a right to know the truth: that they are loved by God, have dignity because they were created by Him, and have been redeemed through an act of love for them by Jesus' death on the cross.

3. Returning to the theme of the famous lecture in Regensburg, the Holy Father reminds us that faith and reason must go hand in hand, since God is the source of both. There is no room in the Christian faith for anti-intellectualism or the fear of the human mind's questions. Faith without reason leads to fundamentalism. Reason without faith leads to materialism and selfishness. Study and prayer must be a part of the life of the priest, if he is to be an effective minister.

4. St. Dominic was a great intercessor, as well as one who was devoted to another great intercessor, the Virgin Mary. It is a tremendous temptation to Christians, but especially Christian ministers, to forget the power of intercessory prayer. In our age of crowded schedules and a "do it yourself" approach to life, it's too easy to neglect the reality that all really significant positive change in the world happens only when we choose to be God's collaborators!
What's That You Said? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Michael Fones   
Friday, 05 February 2010 09:15
At the Saturday night tent revival the preacher announces,
"Anyone with ‘needs’ to be prayed over, come forward, to the front at the altar.”

LeRoy gets in line, and when it’s his turn, the preacher asks:
"LeRoy, what do you want me to pray about for you?”

LeRoy replies, “Preacher, I need you to pray for help with my hearing.”

The preacher puts one finger in LeRoy’s ear, and he places the other hand on top of LeRoy’s head and prays and prays and prays, he prays a blue streak for LeRoy.

After a few minutes, the Preacher removes his hands, stands back and asks, “LeRoy, how is your hearing now?” LeRoy says, “I don’t know, Reverend, it ain’t ‘till next Wednesday."


hat tip: Ralph Silva
Cheers from (and in) Boston PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Thursday, 04 February 2010 08:25
Cheers from Boston.

It's bright, sunny, and cold today. Fr. Mike and I marched a large part of the Freedom Trial yesterday: Bunker (Brede's hill), the Old North Church (very evocative - my favorite), Paul Revere's house (from 1680, oldest surviving urban house in the US), Quincy Market, real Italian cannollis, (yum!) and real New England clam chowdah.

Not to mention real New Englanders . . . and the intrepid Christine from Raleigh, North Carolina, who wins the distance prize. It is amazing how many parishioners were not only born nearby but have spent their entire lives in this parish. So different from the hundreds of other parishes we've worked in.

This is an enthusiastic, vibrant parish that is doing some very creative things with Generations of Faith as you can see here. We gather at 6pm (along with a simple dinner provided by the parish) and spend the evening together wrestling with charisms. A fun, enthusiastic group.
What is the object of human life? PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 03 February 2010 16:46

Written by Winston Elliott III

kirk-classic poseWhat is the object of human life? The enlightened conservative does not believe that the end or aim of life is competition; or success; or enjoyment; or longevity; or power; or possessions. He believes instead, that the object of life is Love. He knows that the just and ordered society is that in which Love governs us, so far as Love ever can reign in this world of sorrows; and he knows that the anarchical or the tyrannical society is that in which Love lies corrupt. He has learnt that Love is the source of all being, and that Hell itself is ordained by Love. He understands that Death, when we have finished the part that was assigned to us, is the reward of Love. And he apprehends the truth that the greatest happiness ever granted to a man is the privilege of being happy in the hour of his death.

He has no intention of converting this human society of ours into an efficient machine for efficient machine-operators, dominated by master mechanics. Men are put into this world, he realizes, to struggle, to suffer, to contend against the evil that is in their neighbors and in themselves, and to aspire toward the triumph of Love. They are put into this world to live like men, and to die like men. He seeks to preserve a society which allows men to attain manhood, rather than keeping them within bonds of perpetual childhood. With Dante, he looks upward from this place of slime, this world of gorgons and chimeras, toward the light which gives Love to this poor earth and all the stars. And, with Burke, he knows that "they will never love where they ought to love, who do not hate where they ought to hate."--Russell Kirk

In the paragraphs above, from A Program for Conservatives, Dr. Kirk addresses conservatives. However, I believe he also describes the calling of the Christocentric Life. His words remind us of our pilgrim status in this world of tears. We are not called to material success. We are called to obedience. We are called to love. We are called to love He who is Love Himself. A society where a large number of Christians know and live this calling will be transformed. The True, the Good, and the Beautiful will find their true place in our culture only when many more of us are obedient to Love.

O my God, I love Thee above all things, with my whole heart and soul, because Thou art infinitely worthy of love; I love also my neighbor as myself for the love of Thee. Amen

(cross posted to The Christocentric Life)

Conversation with a Survivor PDF Print E-mail
Written by Michael Fones   
Wednesday, 03 February 2010 05:46
This morning I concelebrated the 6:30 a.m. Mass at Immaculate Conception Church in Malden, MA with Fr. Richard Bakker, SMA, a Dutch priest who prepared to be a missionary in Africa, but was conscripted by the Dutch Air Force as a chaplain three weeks before his intended departure, and who then spent his life teaching French and Greek in seminary.

He grew up in Amsterdam, and was eight years old when WWII began. He lived just a five minute walk from the house where Anne Frank and her family hid. He told me how of the 253 Jews in his neighborhood, only three survived the war. "I grew up in a Jewish neighborhood. All the children I played with were killed." His father was a Dutch diplomat in England who brought his family to the Netherlands for a vacation during the summer of 1939, and wasn't able to return to England because the war began. At the age of eight, he was told by his father to never speak English again. "I thought it was stupid! I didn't know Dutch. My father said, 'Don't even say stupid. It's English!'"

He recalled with great fondness how the Dominican sister who taught him in kindergarten (he repeated that grade because his language skills were so poor) told him, "Here, I'll help you learn Dutch." At the time he probably thought she was just being kind. She may well have been trying to save his life, and the life of his family.

He told me a story of Edith Stein. In 1939, the Carmelites moved Edith and her sister, Rose, from a convent in Germany to one just across the border in the Netherlands, which was a neutral country. When she arrived, it was cold, and the Carmelites didn't have the heat on. "Begging your pardon, sisters" Edith asked, "Why have you not turned on the heat?"

"We don't have heat. Holy poverty, you know."

Edith discovered the abbot of a local monastery was German, and she spoke to him of the Carmelites' situation. Soon they had a heating system. It worked for over sixty years, until a couple of years ago. The Carmelites still were very poor, and couldn't fix or replace it. "Let's ask for Sr. Edith's intercession," the Carmelites said. Sure enough, the heat came on again, and has worked for the last two years.

"I didn't talk about the war for decades," Fr. Bakker told me. "Then one day I was asked by a rabbi I know to speak at his synagogue about the war. A woman sat crying in the back throughout my talk. Afterward, she came up and said to me, 'It's all true. I lived in Amsterdam during the war, too.'"

Many, many Catholic Dutch men entered the seminary after the war. "There were 72 in my minor seminary class alone! But of the 18 men I was ordained with, all the others left and got married." As in this country, many Catholic soldiers during the horrors of the war made promises to God. My mother once told me a long time ago, when my father was still working as an engineer and had to fly occasionally to Europe or Japan, how guilty he felt about flying at all. "Why?" I asked. "Because during the war, when he was navigating B-25s over Japan, and so many of his friends were being killed, he promised God that if he was spared, he'd never fly in a plane again." How many other Catholic men made promises along the lines of, "Get me out of this hell, and I'll become a priest." Who knows how many of them who survived kept their promises? I've heard enough stories to believe their numbers were not insignificant.

People often look at the exodus of priests that occurred after the Second Vatican Council and blame it on the Council itself, or in the way it was interpreted. But men who entered the seminary after the war and were ordained in the early to mid-50s would have had been priests for 10-15 years by the time of the Council. They might have been in their early to mid-40s; still young enough to be husbands and fathers, and mature enough to realize the choice to become a priest may not have been entirely free.

Some people will think I'm just making excuses for men who should have persevered, or who gave in to human weakness, or who just decided that being a priest was too hard, or no longer fulfilling.

Rather, I think it's sad that we - or at least I - haven't heard their stories. Why did they become priests in the first place? What happened that made them choose to leave? These and other questions, as well as the answers we could glean, could go far in helping us help young men today discern their vocation. Such a discussion could also help us improve our seminary formation process, too, so that we don't experience another exodus in the future.
Bunkie to Boston PDF Print E-mail
Written by Michael Fones   
Monday, 01 February 2010 18:47
Sherry and I had a wonderful time in Bunkie, LA. Fr. Jack, the pastor at St. Anthony of Padua, and Bonnie and Karen, two of his staff, were great hosts. About 100 people attended the workshop, and it's great to know the staff is 100% behind it. I hope to keep in touch with them to help them as they attempt to follow-up on some of the ideas we presented.

It was also great to sample some wonderful Cajun food: boiled crawfish, fried catfish, hush puppies, crab cakes, stuffed shrimp, crawfish etouffe. It was all delicious. My cholesterol's through the roof, I'm sure.

Tonight I got picked up at the airport by Margo Morin, a staff member at Immaculate Conception in Malden, MA. The parish is focusing on evangelization this year, and it sounds like some great things are happening. During our dinner conversation she mentioned that although they're a large parish, they only had twenty weddings last year! "Funerals definitely outnumber baptisms" she said. I think this will be a good workshop.

Oh, when you're in Boston, try the Harpoon 100 Barrel Ginger Wheat beer. It goes well with baked schrod (the fish of the day) and sweet potato fries. The locals pronounce it "Hah-poon."
Home for a Day PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Monday, 01 February 2010 07:18
Back in CS - for one day. In Bunkie, Lousiana, the camellias are blooming, we ate crawfish and etouffee and about 100 attended the Called & Gifted from as far away as Baton Rouge. Tomorrow Boston. Hopefully, more later.

Gotta take Fr. Mike to the airport now. He's flying to Boston early to pack in a little sight-seeing.
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