Will the Church Ever Be Loved & Trusted Again?

June 2006By Archie Salerno

Archie Salerno is a retired Director of Industrial Relations for ITT, an avionics and defense space group. He writes from Florham Park, New Jersey. For Part II, see Mitchell Kalpakgian's article in this issue.

Before those Catholics of my generation disappear from this world, I would like to describe the experience -- the glorious experience -- of what it was like to be a Catholic in the early part of the 20th century. It is the experience of the average Catholic in the pew secure in his knowledge that he had arrived at the Truth and was striving to live it.

The experience seemed to be the fruition of, or result of, or reward for 1,900 years of martyrdoms, fastings, prayers, hair shirts, Masses, offerings, pilgrimages, contemplations, beatifications, and all the good works of all the Catholic faithful over all the centuries.

The sufferings and trials and tribulations were all behind us. We were the heirs to all the stored-up graces that the Church had earned throughout these 1,900 years. We had all the answers (it was futile to question the wisdom of 1,900 years guided by the Holy Spirit); our task was to search out this knowledge and give our assent.

A good place to begin is the daily first Mass at a typical city church. Before automobiles became the main form of locomotion, we used to rely on our legs. As a young boy I would marvel at all the "old" ladies (probably in their 50s or 60s) wrapped in their black shawls, as they plodded down the deserted streets, except for a few milk delivery men, to attend the first early-morning Mass at daybreak. As one entered the darkened and hushed church, the only light would come from flickering candles in the blue candleholders. Dozens of shadowy statues of saints and angels would lovingly beckon us to come in and pray with them.

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Back to June 2006 Issue

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You know the author is right about the instructions given by priests on confession given after Vatican 2. Have they talked, preached or instructed on sin since? I cannot think of where their new teaching came from, certainly not the council. Yet their instructions must have fallen on fertile ground for these errant seeds to grow so swiftly. What is not generally known is that confessions were falling off rapidly before Vat 2 and the hierarchy aware of this never discussed it at the council. This information is from an article in the Tablet soon after Vat 2. Another problem for me is so many of the working class parishes in the diocese I grew up in were praying for the mass in the vernacular. Vat 2 granted this act of charity for us. Many parishes I found during a time in the Armed Forces did likewise. I also found many parishes did immediately offer the Tridentine Mass in the vernacular. How dissapointed we were as the Church later changed to the Novus Ordo. A mass that is not schismatic in its own right, but I do not know of a church today where it is not celebrated schismatically; full of people's private revelations of how it should be offered. They are private revelations as they are not promulgated by the Church. It is the same with the receiving of the Body and the Blood. The reception of the Eucharist in the Church today puts aside the teachings of the Council of Trent, which states Christ is present under either kind alone.
Posted by: mike hurcum
July 06, 2006 12:41 PM EDT
Yes, it was beautiful---the Tridentine Mass is the closest thing to Heaven on Earth. And, of course, you can still find at the Indult, the SSPX, and at Independent chapels. Posted by: Chapman
July 06, 2006 10:02 AM EDT
Thank you for writing this wonderful article. I am 70 yrs & drive 40 miles one way to be able to pray the Traditional Latin Mass each week, and it is in another diocese,in a very small town -- Flensburg, Mn. Fr. Art Hoppe is the wonderful 85 yr-old priest, and tells us to pray for a priest to pray our Latin Traditional Mass. I pray for Benedict XVI also,that he will allow a full indult for any priest in any parish who wants to pray the Traditional Latin Mass. We in the Duluth diocese have none. Posted by: ssoldie
June 07, 2006 07:47 PM EDT
This is why I attend a church run by the SSPX. I love it. Posted by: sgraessle
June 13, 2006 10:23 PM EDT
I am new to the faith, but I must admit that I am often a bit jealous when I hear people tell the stories of how the "old" Church was. Luckily, there are still a few older Churches around here that have maintained a very distinct Catholic architecture, and the parish that I attend daily Mass at is full of people raised in that era. Being in the setting of an unabashedly Catholic Church, amongst others who lovingly embrace their traditions, I am blessed to get a small glimpse of that "old" Catholic Church of the past. Posted by: miniarnold
June 05, 2006 09:20 PM EDT
Thank you so much for this article! Both my mom and I read this, and then we spent the rest of the afternoon remembering - almost crying over - our "old" Catholic Church. Since my childhood memories (the changes happened when I was in my teens) of the Church are so fond, so central to my entire being as a young person, I couldn't help but wonder what kids today will remember about their church experiences? It's hard for me to believe that it will be anything like what I was lucky enough to experience. And that makes me very sad. Posted by: nrobert2
June 05, 2006 09:38 AM EDT
Reading Cardinal Ratzinger's critique of the new liturgy (The Spirit of the Liturgy), I had high hopes when he became Pope. But more than a year after his election, one must wonder: did Cardinal Ratzinger have more freedom to express his views than Pope Benedict XVI has? Posted by: blueskies
June 07, 2006 10:41 AM EDT
I grew up in the 1950's and the 1960' in New York City and the Church that Archie Salerno remembers is the same church that I remember. It was a time when the church had great leaders and highly respected teachers, like Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen. It was a time when masses often overflowed in attendance and people were standing in the street. It was a time when the traditions of the Church mirrored and supported its beliefs. It was a time when the church knew it mission and stuck to it … and that mission was saving souls. I now have three sons and it so saddens me that they will not be able to experience the Catholic Church that I experienced. The Church back then stood its ground. Core beliefs were not compromised. Its leaders were courageous. Just like Jesus, they were not afraid to speak truth to evil and they were not afraid to face the consequences. They lead the flock; they did not cower behind it. Vatican II has been a disaster for the Church in America. It was supposed to be a great “liberating” action that would rejuvenate the Church. All it has succeeded at is liberating Catholics from their faith, a faith that evolved from 1900 years of refinement. Posted by: Oberst
August 25, 2006 07:12 AM EDT
The Temple of Jerusalem was destroyed twice. Believing Jews as well as believing Catholics see each destruction as the consequence of Israel's unfaithfulness. In 1958, when Pius XII died, the Church looked solid, but ten years later, when Paul VI issued Humanae Vitae, the Church was in disarray. Things could not have collapsed so quickly if the Church really had been solid. Underneath the exterior many bishops, priests, sisters and lay people were unfaithful. I'll give one example, and I'm sure many readers won't like to read it. In 1958 most white Catholics were indifferent to the fact that most blacks, Catholic and non-Catholic, couldn't vote in the Deep South. I lived in liberal New York City where everyone could vote and no one had to ride in the back of the bus, but there was discrimination in housing and in employment. Unacknowleged sins of any kind lead to sins of a different kind. Posted by: macroom2
October 19, 2011 02:58 PM EDT
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