(Photo from Father Lawrence Lew, O.P. - God’s Excessive Love - Used With Permission)
" “The trouble with the world is me.” - St Catherine of Siena

Monday, January 5, 2015

Monday Musings - To Scold or Not To Scold

Not to beat a dead horse but I believe this is worth repeating: Love and Justice require us to share God's Truth unambiguously but lovingly with our fallen-away or non-practicing Catholic family and friends. 

Sharing His Truth is always in season but there is no more appropriate time to do so than during Christmas and Easter when our Churches are filled with infrequent visitors.

I must admit that I have failed on occasion to follow my own advice. It is a difficult thing to do. But we must! The salvation of souls is at stake.

For the past few years around Christmas and Easter, I have chosen to deal with this vital issue on my blog, posting what I felt was a truthful and loving exhortation to those who have chosen not to attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation.  (If you have not yet read those posts and wish to do so, you can view a the most recent ones here and here.)

A few individuals and parishes have chosen to share those posts and the reflection they contain. For the most part, there have been few takers. In the eyes of some, including priests and laity whom I deeply respect, my articles comes across as a scolding. These individuals are not comfortable sharing them. I am still prayerfully evaluating their concerns and trying to discern the appropriateness of my writing style.. 

As part of that process, I ran across the following short video which Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in San Diego, California posted on YouTube.. It is well done and similar in substance and tone, I believe, to my posts.

What do you think?  Is the type of "scolding" embodied in my writings and this video useful or counterproductive in the battle to save souls?


  1. It may reach some, so I'd use it. However, I think it's too long. It's preachy, too. But what works for some, won't work for others. Even some disciples left Jesus, Himself!
    Let's take this story further. You're swimming and not getting any closer to shore. You try and try and you realize that you're not getting any closer because you're caught in a rip tide. How do you get out of a rip tide? You swim in it, parallel to the shore. In other words, you meet the current where it's at (meet people where they are). You swim with them until they're ready to turn towards shore. They do it themselves. You accept them, encourage them, don't give up on them, and pray for and with them.
    It's up to them to develop a relationship with God. They have to fall in love with Him, like you do. And God gives them that grace, not you, nor any priest, or anyone. And Jesus said, "No one can come to me unless he is enabled to do so by my Father." John 6:66

    1. Faith:

      I appreciate your taking the time to comment and to do so frankly and constructively.

      You are certainly correct: each individual must choose to develop a relationship with God and it is only God who gives them the grace to do so.

      But sometimes God uses others as His messengers to help penetrate the deafness of some. The purpose of the reflection was to penetrate the silence that often pervades our parishes - to be the messenger for those ears hungry to hear...

      A happy and blessed New Year

  2. Michael, I didn't take your posts as scolding but rather speaking facts. I am appalled that priests wouldn't feel comfortable telling people not to present themselves for Holy Communion if they are conscious of grave sin on their souls.

    That said, we have to take into account that the vast majority of Catholics today, even those who do attend Mass regularly, are not well catechized in their Faith. They may even believe that attending Mass is optional. They may not even know what mortal sin is. Most likely, they don't know the Bible. Probably they don't have a relationship with Jesus and have no idea why they should be grateful to God for anything. Perhaps the only time they pray is when they want something or are in trouble.Maybe they have sins they want to continue committing. Maybe they once needed help and consolation and someone in the Church failed them.

    The video does a great job of encouraging people to think about why they should be attending Mass and reconciling to the Church.

    We are incomplete as a body when those who should be with us aren't. We miss them and want them to be a part of our body. We want to laugh with them, cry with them, and share the great wonders of being loved by God with them. We want them to know that they are so important that Jesus would have died for them even if they were the only human ever created since Adam. Sometimes it takes many repetitions before people respond to an invitation. We should not be discouraged by this. We must continue to invite them.

    I don't think your message was scolding. It did assume that people receiving it would know what the Church teaches and I think that may be why some people aren't comfortable passing it on. Maybe it would help if on these feast days the priest would say something like, "Welcome to all present, especially those who aren't normally attending Mass. Please don't make this the last time to be present for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass wherever you live. If you are a local person, we welcome you to become a part of our parish. I will be happy to meet privately with you about this. To all who wish to receive Holy Communion, I remind you that those who are conscious of mortal sin on your souls should not approach Holy Communion today but rather go to Confession first. If you haven't been practicing your faith, please make an appointment to see me and let's solve the problem. You have no idea how much Jesus desires to have you know Him and to heal whatever is hurting in you."

    1. Thank you Barb once again for commenting and offering encouragement.

      As you know it is impossible for a writer to be objective about his/her own work.The tenor of much of what I write, and I believe this passion has been placed in my heart, is to stir souls out of complacency and to re-ignite zeal for the salvation of souls - all souls not just my own. Salvation of souls is the reason God created His Church and that is probably the most forgotten Truth.

      Your suggestions are all excellent. Would that it would be more frequently followed.

      Anyone who has attempted to share the Truth knows that neither It nor its messenger are always welcomed.

      St. Dominic, it is said, cried nightly "Lord, what will become of sinners?" Of course, he was referring to all of us - himself, you, me and any human who has or ever will breathe the air of this earth.

      We all need to ask that question - over and over!

      God be merciful to this sinner. Grant us the courage to share and defend Your Truth.

  3. I just read an article by Charlotte Ostermann at Catholic Spiritual Direction that uses the phrase about Mass: "sacred encounter". Who doesn't want a sacred encounter? Well, maybe some people don't, but most people would be struck by this phrase if they have showed up at Mass for Christmas.


    The words we use to convey our points are important.

    1. Barbara:

      Thank you for bringing Charlotte Ostermann's article to our attention. I have already begun the process of sharing it. "Sacred encounter" is indeed a compelling phrase - one we should share and with God's grace experience.