Phenomenological Soup for the Catholic Soul

January 2009By Richard & Elizabeth Gerbracht

Richard and Elizabeth Gerbracht, who have retired after operating their own research and consulting firm, write from Hudson, Ohio.

That which simmers on the stove of the Catholic Church perplexes the should-be diners. Some sixty percent now seek nourishment elsewhere, so we might wonder about a problem with the recipe. Muddled chefs dump in one ingredient after another, without getting a mix that pulls the multitude back to the table. The soup suffers from ingredient overload: A mess of Cartesian, Kantian, Hegelian, and Heideggerian bones; shavings and bits of modernism, existentialism, decon­structionism, and countless other seasonings; all slow-cooking in the presently preferred broth, Jung Juice.

What should we name the current concoction? It's difficult to determine due to the conflicting additives, but let's call it Phenomenological Soup. Dished out for all of us, we're encouraged to accept this subjectivistic blend as soul food. But since quite a few of us find it hard to swallow, we might benefit from asking a simple question: Is this soup really good for us -- or is it just a big pot of mumbo gumbo?

Ordinary Catholics like us aren't equipped to debate the upsides and downsides of each ingredient, the philosophical twists and turns with endless reinterpretations of meaning. Splitting the Catholic hair to accommodate a further step into subjectivism leads to the thought that one day soon the philosophical hoodwinkers will turn God into our own image and likeness. But let's forego the philosophical theories and dwell on results.

As parents concerned about passing on our faith, we sent six children to feed at the trough of Catholic grade schools and high schools, and then off to Catholic colleges. Four years later, the Catholic colleges sent us back six heathens. Catholic academia, post-Vatican II, relishes those philosophical twists and turns, and the endless reinterpretations of once-settled doctrines that allowed our children to rationalize a faith position we barely recognize. Today, more than fifteen years after our last child graduated, only one lives a truly Catholic life. We could have purchased heathen education at a state school for a fraction of the price! Results of the Catholic college experience for our family: Religious indifference, eighty percent; Catholicism, twenty percent.

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This article is absolutely CORRECT. I was fortunate to have attended a Jesuit University in the middle 1950’s when the Jesuits were entirely faithful to the Church; and in addition to my formal bachelor in science degree studying Accounting, I was required to take four years of the philosophy courses. In the end I believed in the Catholic Church and all of its dogmas, and I could defend that truth to others.

I began to teach high school CCD classes in the early 1960’s, and occasionally taught adult education classes on specific religious subjects involving moral issues of current modern life. This leads me into my subject matter.

In California, and nearby States, it was routine for parishes to send CCD teachers to the annual Anaheim CCD Congress sponsored by Roger Cardinal Mahony. My first class was sometime shortly after Vatican II was completed. It is difficult to properly describe how warped and misleading some of those classes were since initially the decay was gradual. For example, one of the early classes was by a theologian f rom Notre Dame, and he described how it was wrong to describe an abortion as “murder” since society was unable to judge the motives a nd reasons why t he Mother would incur this procedure; and his entire focus was that abortions are not right but it is a personal matter. After class I spoke with this priest and reminded him that he neglected to properly inform this class that abortions are always “objectively murder”; and only in the “subjectiveness” are we unable to absolutely conclude the Mother is guilty of murder. In our brief discussion he agreed with me, but felt this “technicality” was not appropriately for a workshop discussion.

What I eventually discovered over a period of about 10 years thereafter that this annual CCD workshop sponsored by Cardinal Mahony was designed to have some of the most radical instructors and heretics teaching certain subjects, all of which were either completely contrary to heretofore church dogma or moral theology. I even wrote letters to Mahony some years to condemn some of those classes, but never once did he respond. It was not until years later that I realized these were programs all designed by some “Church Shepherds” who had their own deceitful motives to misguide their flock.

Now, because of those annual CCD workshops, which I believe still take place, one only has to see how they have infiltrated all aspects of religious training in our local parishes. Of the thousands of persons who attended this CCD Congress annually, my guess is that 90% or more were lay individuals who were involved in teachings t heir individual parish programs; and of those, the vast majority were women rather than men. From the volunteer's from my own parish and ot her parishes in my Diocese, the CCD volunteers were generally women who had no formal or advanced religious education, and many were simply described as good women who were generally housewives. I can attest that our local priest did not attend that Congress, and from observation I would estimate that no more than 10% of the attendees were priests or religious.

How, how has this affected religious training in our parishes. Speaking from my own parish and those of my diocese, the religious training that evolved was so simplistic it was on the borderline of being “benign” for learning religious dogma. In addition, many of the things taught to adult catholics, either formally or in discussion groups, contained much of t he warped theology learned at those CCD Congresses. I have heard so many wimpy and wrong things discussed by Catholics that I have come to believe t hat one could not today find 5% of any parish that can defend church dogma, let alone them personally believing in all of our faith dogmas.

We have gone way beyond the understanding that we need more religious training at a parish level. W hat we first need is to have a core of lay teachers who know how to teach, and also know the faith and dogmas to be taught. Then, it would be a miracle for a parish priest to devise a programs where most of his parishioners would be able to attend any formal workshop class for that teaching. Short of that, most homilies would have to be redesigned to work in the scripture readings of the week into a structured program that focused on t he full religious belief s of our church; and over a period of some years this would eventually again allow the “Sheep” to know their faith. As it now is, the understanding of a “mortal sin” and those acts that comprise that sin are only left in text books, since the faithful have become unaware of many actions that comprise a grave sin against G od. Just look at how many go to Confession; yet all walk up for Communion. Never have I heard in the past 20 or more years the sin of fornication, masturbation, not attending church, adultery or all remarried catholics who have not, or could not, obtain an annulment, and on and on.

As for our Catholic Universities, I believe that only a handful are teaching what the Magisterium says. The rest could again become true sources of training our youth merely if a local Bishop who has jurisdiction of that University acted as some of our past Saints and insisted on eliminating all of those heretic teachers and professors, as well as insuring a religious program that was obedient to the Church; otherwise strip the name “Catholic” from that institution. This should take place immediately, and my guess is that within a short time those Universities that remained “Catholic” would again start on a path as existed prior to 1960. The alumni a

Wilbur Goolkasian
Posted by: wilbur006
January 12, 2009 01:48 PM EST
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