What is Church without children?

What is Church without children?

Should young children be allowed in Church? Too many have commented on this question in recent times to skate through them here, but it’s been a big debate on the Catholic internet, with serious questions being raised about what actually happens at Mass, what we believe Mass is about and about whether a Church without children is a living Church at all.

For American comedian Jeremy McClellan, who tweets at the rather conveniently titled 
@JeremyMcClellan, the question’s a rich source of humour, as the video he posted on the subject on February 1 shows well.

In terms of the extent to which the Church is living, it’s well worth looking at the brutally realistic take of Fr Matt Fish – @FrMattFish – who on January 31 observed: “Said it before, and I’ll say it again: working for the Catholic Church in America in 2019 feels something like working for Blockbuster Movies in 2005. We’re still arguing about how we should display the DVDs, and meanwhile our current model and customer base is about to collapse.”


Holding desperately to true teaching?

Sadly, analysis of the modern Church is too often skewed by what Mike Lewis, on the wherepeteris.com blogsite, describes as a devotion to the ‘Imagisterium’.

Pointing out that “the Magisterium is the teaching office of the Church” and that the Church holds that “orthodox teaching is to be found in the official teachings of the pope and the bishops in communion with him”, Lewis draws attention to a bizarre and dangerous version of dissent too common in the current Church, where opposition to the Pope and bishops relies on claims that the Pope and bishops are wrong, and that those opposing them are holding to the Church’s true teaching.

“They proudly insist upon their doctrinal orthodoxy, while boldly asserting that official teachings from the Church are not orthodox,” Lewis writes. “Rather than listening to the Magisterium and simply assenting to the teachings in the way that the Church instructs us, many Catholics instead adhere to a different authoritative body of teaching, which I’ll call the ‘imagisterium’.”

Lewis’ analysis of this ‘imaginary magisterium’ sketches out how those who clearly despise the Pope while claiming loyalty to the Church’s teaching office kick away the logical foundations upon which apologists have always claimed to stand. Sedevacantist in effect if not in name, too often nowadays ‘loyal to the magisterium’ is a slippery euphemism for ‘waiting eagerly for a new Pope’.


Desert monks ‘tame the demon’

Elsewhere on the Catholic internet, ‘Taming the Demon: How desert monks put work in its place’ by Jonathan Malesic at commonwealmagazine.org is an enthralling piece on how a group of American web designer monks got their priorities right, and what we can learn from them.

“Abbot Philip and his brother monks manage to tame the demon of this work ethic, though, by limiting their labour while they pursue higher goods,” the article notes

“We who live in what monks simply call ‘the world’ need to learn their strategies for spiritual combat. I don’t think we all have to join monasteries to live the good life. But the monastic principles of constraining work and subordinating it to moral and spiritual well-being might help us keep our demons at bay and recover the dignity in our labour and in ourselves.”

Staying with the positive to finish up, when these islands’ leading young Catholic sociologist of religion says something testifies to the “most cheering signs of hope” he’s seen in the Irish Church in a long time, it’s definitely worth paying attention.

Writing from his @SSBullivant Twitter account, Prof. Stephen Bullivant has given a powerful imprimatur to ‘Risking Enchantment’, an impressively thoughtful podcast.

Each episode entails Rachel Sherlock – who tweets at @seekingwatson – and a friend discussing an aspect of art, literature or culture and how it informs their Catholic Faith.

“Hugely enjoying this: binge-listened most of afternoon,” says Prof. Bullivant. “Engaging and erudite – worn lightly and supremely likably – Catholic commentary on all manner of bits of culture. A wonderful (and v cheering) initiative coming out of Dublin. Massively recommended.”