Homiletics and Pastoral Review has another naive article promoting adult formation.
The author is trying to promote it because his business depends on it, but he surely realizes that nobody really wants adult formation.
Look at it from the perspective of the priest and the bishop - who are the only people that really count in a parish. Nothing happens in a parish or diocese unless the priest and bishop permit it. If they don't want it to happen, it won't. If they do want it to happen, it will.
If the ordained men think something might be unpopular, they will structure it in such a way that other people take the blame for it, but those other people would never have been able to implement it if the bishop and priest didn't originally want it. The parish secretary/business manager/whatever is a witch because the pastor likes it that way. Lay employees in a parish are employed because the ordained men actively like, or at least are willing to tolerate, the way those lay people operate.
They system is designed to do EXACTLY what the system is doing.
That's why the system does what it does - it is designed to do what it does.
So, from a priest's perspective, all adult formation does is stir up trouble.
Something Wicked This Way ComesIf you do serious orthodox adult formation in the parish, there are only three possible outcomes, and all three happen simultaneously:
A lot of adults will be upset and insulted to find out that anyone actually expects them to follow Church teaching. They will complain to the priest, to the bishop and stop throwing money in the basket.
How dare you expect them to give up their contraception, abortion and homosexuality?
How dare you expect them to make the Mass more important than their sports?
How dare you expect them to teach their own children about the sacraments?
Every parish program has one of two purposes: babysit children or comfort retirees as they approach death.
CCD is not about educational support for families, rather it is primarily meant to provide babysitting for parents who need to go shopping.
Everyone agrees that passing on the Faith is the parish's job. How they will get it done given the family's busy recreational schedule is a mystery, but that's their problem, not ours. We're just parents. The parish staff just needs to get it done in time for the post-sacrament party we've scheduled.
And to be fair, the lay employees don't WANT the parents involved. If the parents actually got involved, all the parish employees would lose their phoney-baloney jobs. It isn't very difficult to prepare your own children for the sacraments. If anyone realized that, the women who work at the parish would have to go find real jobs as secretaries or something.
From Father Pastor's point of view, this would be a disaster. If the adults got educated, the lay parish staff would become superfluous, Father Pastor would lose his harem. Notice that nearly every parish in America is staffed entirely by women. The only men who survive in such an environment are ordained, metrosexual, homosexual or janitors. Sometimes even newly ordained men don't survive.
Father Pastor doesn't like men because men argue with him. Men call it discussion, but it is argument. Father Pastor knows. Father Pastor does not brook that kind of dissension. Father Pastor much prefers women, metrosexuals and homosexuals because these groups primarily complain about each other. This allows him to be the arbitrator, the impartial judge who is above their petty fights, the Father pastoring his children.
Men "discussing" things with him makes him feel small, ignorant, common.
Women and homosexuals bringing their cat-fights to him makes him feel adult, superior, special.
Father Pastor likes his harem.
The harem likes Father Pastor.
But if you teach adults, really teach them, all of this goes to hell. If the parish adults all really knew the Faith, they would teach their own children and each other. The parish staff would disappear, it would consist of Father Pastor and one secretary, maybe. Father Pastor won't feel important, won't look important to the bishop and to other priests. It would be demoralizing for everyone.
On the other hand, if you don't teach the adults, they throw money in the basket, the harem takes care of the kids, the parents can go shopping once a week, Father Pastor feels special - everybody wins.
Why disturb this beautiful arrangement?
Those who aren't insulted by the idea of living the Faith will actually attempt to learn something. Some will learn it badly. These people will complain to the priest and the bishop about things happening at the parish level which do not violate any tenet of Church teaching. Unfortunately, the complainers won't understand that because they don't understand the teaching. A lot of unnecessary noise follows.
Who needs that?
If you do NOT attempt to teach them, they won't get any crazy ideas. They will just pray, pay and pretend to obey, which is all that matters. A peaceful parish is a happy parish. Everybody knows that.
Some parishioners will learn well and will correctly understand what they are taught. These adults will notice that there are things going on in the parish which violate their rights, canon law, liturgical rubrics and Catholic doctrine.
Like the other two groups, this group will also complain to the priest and the bishop.
But this group is different.
This group is dangerous.
The earlier two groups can be accommodated because they are in the wrong. If any higher-up questions what is going on with either of the first two groups, Father Pastor can say, "Well, *I* don't like doing this, of course, but the people insist on it. They are ignorant and stupid and don't realize their error. I am wise and merciful. I indulge this little nonsense in order to keep them happy. I will eventually correct it, but it will take me time to pastor them into the truth. This little accommodation will keep them happy until the proper time for education arrives."
Of course, the proper time for education never arrives.
But the point is that Father Pastor can use the first two groups of parishioners the same way he uses his parish staff - they are CYA which allows him to do whatever it is he wanted to do to begin with. He does what he wants, they are the 'scape goats. Father Pastor likes the first two groups a lot.
But this third group - this group is pure evil.
They are evil because they are right.
They can demonstrate from Church documents and Scripture that what Father Pastor is doing is a complete violation of what it means to be Catholic. They have the goods on him. They may take it to a higher level. They must be killed before they damage the status quo.
If they are not killed, generally by assassinating their reputations, the priest and the bishop will actually have to change the way they do things in order to avoid the heat this third group will generate.
The bishop doesn't want to change how he does things.
Neither does the priest.
Lay people don't have a right to tell ordained men what to do!
Who needs this kind of dissension?
So, we can see that it is better if this third group never learn what they need to know in order to complain about Father Pastor.
Adult formation does not take place at the parish level because ordained men fear that this third group will suborn the priest's authority. It is better that orthodox lay people be kicked out or destroyed than a priest be shown to be in the wrong. It would be terrible precedent. It cannot become established, lest Father Pastors everywhere be forced to change their lives.
And this is the real problem with adult formation.
Forcing parishioners to change their lives is acceptable.
Forcing Father Pastor to change HIS life is NOT acceptable.
Better that no one know the Faith then that Father Pastor be forced - by commoners, no less! - to change HIS life. It would almost be as if some lay people knew and lived the Faith better than the priest! Absurd!
So any reasonable person can see adult formation will NOT happen at the parish level.
There is absolutely no up-side to adult formation, only various degrees of BAD.
Remember, real adult formation causes all three of these groups to form simultaneously. They all complain at the same time to the same people.
So, obviously, if you attempt to really form and disciple adults in what the Catholic Faith actually teaches and in how Catholics really are supposed to live, it will cause absolute CHAOS in the parish - civil war!
From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”Dissension is most certainly NOT what Christ intended!
Bishops and priests HATE dissension.
So no one is ever going to implement adult formation.
Instead, you will just get variations on Christ Renews His Protestants, because Protestants are easier to deal with than Catholics are.
A reader asks a very relevant question: are FSSP parishes better than Novus Ordo parishes in this regard?
No, there is no substantial difference between the two.
Now, there are cosmetic differences, and these are two-fold: (1) the "doctrines" the priests push and (2) who does the pushing.
For instance, the leftist heterodox priests overemphasize things like women's ordination and We Are Church nonsense.
The FSSP-types, on the other hand, overemphasize private revelation, or turn Limbo or creationism into dogma (both are really only theological hypothesis), or become semi-Feeneyite and imply that baptism of blood/faith is not really salvific.
Teaching Limbo as if it is doctrine is an excellent case in point in how FSSP priests often engage in teachings that are just as problematic as Novus Ordo priests. CCC article 1283 explicitly says, "With respect to children who have died without Baptism, the liturgy of the Church invites us to trust in God's mercy and pray for their salvation."
Now, it is a violation of the Faith to pray for those who are definitively in hell. So, if Limbo is the first circle of hell, if unbaptized infants definitively go to Limbo and if both the liturgy and the CCC "invites us to pray for the salvation of unbaptized infants," then both the liturgy and the CCC are inviting us to pray for the salvation of those in hell. That is, if Limbo is truly a dogma of the Church, then both the liturgy and the CCC are advocating apokatastasis. Apokatastasis is a formally condemned heresy of the Church. Given that both the liturgy and the CCC are promulgated by an apostolic constitution, the highest expression of the infallible ordinary Magisterium, that would not only make the Pope a heretic, it would also violate the teaching on papal infallibility.
Despite this fact, I have heard at least one FSSP priest teach from the ambo during Mass precisely the idea that Limbo is a dogma of the Church. When I privately questioned him on exactly these points, he insisted that he was correct and refused to retract his error.
How Best To Promote Error
Similarly, while the leftists have their parish surrogates push the falsehoods (thus "empowering the laity"), the FSSP has the priests push the falsehoods from the ambo (thereby promoting the heresy of clericalism - "the priest is always right"). It doesn't really matter - in both cases you have priests who are attached to doctrinal error, and in both cases any attempt to question or correct their errors is met with ostracism of the person who dares question such their teaching.
And both sets of priests, FSSP and Novus Ordo, traditionally maintain admiring harems.
But none of this should be a surprise.
FSSP priests aren't any more saints than anyone else, including me and you.
We all like to have sycophants, and we all have our pet theories that we like to dogmatize.
Priests certainly aren't any more infallible, no matter how good their theological training.
Martin Luther had a Ph.D. in theology.
John Hus was the rector of a Catholic university.
The greatest, most effective heretics have always been ordained men - priests and bishops. They are better heretics than lay people precisely because they have greater knowledge, and can promulgate their errors in a more bullet-proof way than those with lesser training.
So, entering an FSSP parish is no guarantee against heresy.
Indeed, one is arguably at more danger of heresy there, if only because one is less likely to be on guard against it with the FSSP than with the Novus Ordo.