September 26

The “hidden exodus” of Catholics from the Catholic Church, Part II

first_imgPhoto credit: telegraph.co.ukBefore reviewing the Pew research data further, a word of clarification about my remarks on Catholic identity. A friend of mine remarked to me that the issue of identity can hardly be regarded or dismissed as ‘academic,’ as I put it. My choice of expression was not the best. I did not mean to imply that concerns about identity were unimportant. Let me explain.Every list of marks of Catholic identity starts with ‘sacramentality.’  This means that Catholics tend to think of or imagine reality in the way the sacraments signify their referents. Thus bread is the sacrament of Christ’s body; wine the sacrament of his blood. Oil has its own special referent, and so do the host of ‘sacramentals’ familiar to Catholics — crosses, medals, rosaries, holy water, etc. The referents are for the most part supernatural realities.  Things in the natural sphere, in other words, are made to signify realities in a realm quite beyond their reach. That’s the Catholic ‘mode’ of thinking.The toll that greater secularization today takes on the religious consciousness lies in just this area. The signifying power of sacramentals is now considerably diminished, if not sometimes completely absent. This is why on special occasions liturgy is often so didactic. We have to keep explaining what this action or symbol ‘means’. “Now I’m going to pour water on the baby’s head, and what this means is…” We have to keep speaking and explaining because the actions or symbols no longer speak for themselves.  Signification is silent or mute.I do not see much point in talking about identity when the more important question is the underlying lack of signifying power — and that, to my mind, is the connection with absence in our churches.At any rate, that is how I look at the matter.  The Pew research diverges from me at this point, as I said. I wonder, as I will say later, how far its conclusions can equivalently apply to us.The reasons given for leaving in the Pew data have little to with disagreement over the Church’s position on today’s hot button issues: abortion, divorce, homosexuality, and so on. The percentage of those who leave over these issues ranges from 16 to 23%.Catholics leave because the Church does not meet their spiritual needs; they find interest in the Bible and the Protestant worship service more attractive. Further, those who become Protestant are not lax or indifferent Catholics. In fact, they attend worship services at a higher rate than those who remain Catholic – 63% to 42% in respect of weekly attendance.Seventy-one percent of Catholics who become Protestant also say that their faith is stronger than when they were children or teenagers, compared with forty-two percent of those remaining Catholic.  Thus, Reese concludes, “both as believers and as worshipers, Catholics who become Protestants are statistically better Christians than those who stay Catholic. We are losing the best, not the worst.”This covers the substance of Reese’s account.  The main lessons from the data in his estimation are three: First, those leaving are more concerned with spiritual nourishment than with doctrine.  “Tinkering with the wording of the creed at Mass is not going to help. No one except the Vatican and the bishops cares whether Jesus is ‘one in being’ with the Father or ‘consubstantial’ with the Father… People are longing for liturgies that touch the heart and emotions.”Secondly, “thanks to Pope Pius XII, Catholic scripture scholars have had decades to produce the best thinking on scripture in the world. That Catholics are leaving to join evangelical churches because of attention to the Bible is a disgrace. Too few homilists explain the scriptures to their people…If we could get Catholics to read the Sunday scripture readings each week before they come to Mass, it would be revolutionary. If you do not read and pray the scriptures, you are not an adult Christian. Catholics who become evangelicals understand this.”Finally, “the data shows that two-thirds of Catholics who become Protestants do so before they reach the age of 24. The church must make a preferential option for teenagers and young adults or it will continue to bleed… Current religious education programs and teen groups appear to have little effect on keeping these folks Catholic…although those who attend a Catholic high school do appear to stay at a higher rate.”How much of this research applies to us is difficult to say. Of course, we too know the experience of exodus. We do not yet, however, have any real sense of why our ex-Catholics remain “unaffiliated,” as I feel many of them do. I also do not think that Catholics here leave to join evangelical Protestantism in quite the same large numbers. While it is true some Catholics have become Pentecostal, it’s difficult to guess how many or what percentage.The character of our liturgy is obviously something we must attend to. I would personally not emphasize that improvement should focus on a greater emotional register. My sense of our deficiency tends to go in other directions, for example, the lyrics and melodies of many of our hymns. The theology is often awful and the lyrics quite vacuous.  I also think that many of the Collects (Opening Prayers) at Mass make terrible sense as prayers. Liturgical language on the whole is quite pedestrian, and some of the Gospel passages allocated for weekday readings are chopped from larger texts in the strangest places. I say “chopped” because that’s the only way to describe it. It often makes preaching from one day to the next quite difficult.My overall conviction is that the lack in liturgical experience today is a sense of the sacred. I do not mean by this an absence of pious associations (or organ music). I mean that what we lack is a self-evident sense, vital as the air we breathe, that there’s a living connection between heaven and earth. That we do not have today. What we more often have are feelings of severance or absence. The result is flat, prosaic liturgy, which only generates (can only generate) flat, prosaic feeling.By: Father Henry Charles Ph. d Share Tweet FaithLifestyleLocalNews The “hidden exodus” of Catholics from the Catholic Church, Part II by: – July 3, 2011 Sharecenter_img 69 Views   no discussions Sharing is caring! Sharelast_img read more

September 16

From strength to strength: Offense awakens in 2013 to tune of 25 goals in 11 games

first_imgAfter years of defensive play, the Wisconsin Badgers have shifted gears — and it’s worked.The Badgers have what is arguably the conference’s most impressive offense, scoring a staggering 25 goals this season in 11 games. The Badgers not only lead the conference in goals this year, but have already scored more goals this season than any other season in the head coach John Trask Era.Wisconsin scoring is led by senior Nick Janus who has recorded six goals this season second only to Northwestern’s electric forward Joey Calistri who leads the field with 10 goals on the season, averaging nearly a goal a game. The Badgers Jacob Brindle and AJ Cochran also have made the top ten scorers list for the Big Ten this year scoring four and three goals respectively.Janus is clearly the Badgers’ most consistent threat, however Brindle and Cochran’s offensive prowess is nothing to overlook. Brindle has been able to post four goals while coming off the bench in nearly every match including a goal in each of the last two games before yesterday’s matchup with Western Illinois.Cochran, an All-American defender, is one of the country’s most dominant players on set pieces. This year Cochran has been able to make his mark on the offensive side of the ball on set pieces — most recently scoring the game-winner with his head against Indiana Oct. 11. His ability to make plays on set pieces has added an extra dimension to the Wisconsin attack.“If AJ is not the most dominant player in the air in the country,” Trask said. “ I would like to see who is. He never loses a ball in the air.”Wisconsin’s goals are quality goals as well, often time being set up through extensive passing in the midfield. The Badgers boast the top two assist leaders in the conference in Drew Conner and Tomislav Zadro who have tallied six and five assists, respectively. The two control the center of the field and help create offensive opportunities every game.Zadro started off the year strong in his returning season after an ACL injury. As the playmaker of the Wisconsin offenses, Zadro tallied a goal and an assist in each of the Badgers first two home games. His performance continued into their five game road trip until falling to a meniscus injury before Wisconsin’s matchup with Penn State.“Yeah [Zadro] is huge for this team offensively, but Conner has been absolutely incredible filling in,” Cochran said. “He has shown some ability and has held his own against some of the best in the country.”After Zadro’s injury, Conner made the move to offensive center midfield and began to use his creative ability to make goal-scoring opportunities for the Badgers. Debatably Conner’s best performance came against Marquette where he matched up against one of the country’s top center midfielders in Bryan Ciesiulka and controlled the field.Zadro and Conner split time at the position in Zadro’s return to the field last Friday against Indiana. The two combined for three assists in the game with Conner setting up two and Zadro one. The two shredded Indiana’s defense, one of the top in the country, to help the Badgers overcome a two-goal deficit to take down the defending National Champions.“They haven’t had the best luck this year, but [Indiana] is an incredibly good defensive team,” Trask said. “They didn’t give up a single goal in the NCAA tournament last year.”The Badgers have been able to make the most of their scoring opportunities this year, having taken the third-least shots in the eight-team Big Ten. Seventeen percent of the Badgers shots end up in the back of the net making them the most efficient offensive in the conference and one of the most efficient offensives in the country.“The coaches have been talking about not squandering goal-scoring opportunities this year,” Janus said. “I think we have been doing a really good job of being efficient offensively this year.”Wisconsin has been making their mark on the national stage as well. Their 2.27 goals per game average is seventh in the country this year behind soccer powerhouses such as UAB, Winthrop and Cal Poly. They are also ninth in assists and eighth in points per game.Making the stats even more impressive is the fact that Wisconsin plays in what is arguably the best defensive conference in the country. The Big Ten has always been known for its hardnosed style of play and low-scoring match ups. Wisconsin’s ability to break into the country’s top-10 offensives is something that has surprised and baffled many in the collegiate soccer community.As the weather gets more unpredictable, cold and wet in the coming months, Wisconsin’s offense will be tested. And though Trask’s philosophy is still focused on team defense, if the Badgers offense continues to perform, Trask will not be able to ignore what has become the Badgers top strength this year.last_img read more

August 28

Germany rebound to crush Italy as England fall to Netherlands

first_imgGermany rebounded from Saturday’s defeat to England in emphatic fashion by thrashing Italy 4-1 on Tuesday.Thomas Muller assisted on both of Germany’s first goals, first as Toni Kroos gave the Germans the lead in the 24th minute and then with a chipped pass for Mario Gotze to head in.The rout was on in the 59th minute when Julian Draxler raced in on goal and fed across for Jonas Hector to score Germany’s third, and Mesut Ozil added a fourth from the penalty spot in the 75th minute after Italy keeper Gigi Buffon tripped up Sebastian Rudy.Italy found a consolation goal through substitute Stephan El Shaarawy, whose speculative 83rd-minute effort took a big deflection off of Antonio Rudiger and looped into the net.England were brought back down to earth with a bump as Netherlands came from behind to win 2-1 at Wembley. The opening goal came in the 41st minute as Jaime Vardy scored for the second successive game. Adam Lallana fed in Kyle Walker on the overlap, and the Spurs defender unselfishly cut a pass back to Vardy who calmly sidefooted home.Netherlands were level in the 50th minute after Danny Rose was penalised for handball in the area. Janssen should have scored when Stones slipped and allowed the striker through on goal, but Forster made a good save — only for the loose ball to run wide and Rose block the cross illegally. Janssen made no mistake from the spot, picking out the top corner.The Dutch turned the game on its head in the 76th minute on a controversial play. England were furious that Janssen was not penalised for a foul on Phil Jagielka by Janssen, and the scorer of the first goal squared the ball for Luciano Narsingh to net the second with ease.Cristiano Ronaldo scored as Portugal held on to defeat Belgium 2-1. Belgium keeper Thibaut Courtois made a number of early spectacular saves to keep the game level but Nani found the breakthrough with a curling shot in the 20th minute.Ronaldo added a second on 40 minutes by heading in a cross from close range. That proved to be the difference despite Belgium getting a goal back in the 62nd minute when Jordan Lukaku sent in a cross for his brother Romelu to head home.France were happy to be back home in the first game at the Stade de France since November’s attacks on Paris as they defeated Russia 4-2.Leicester’s Ngolo Kante opened the scoring on nine minutes before Andre-Pierre Gignac doubled the lead. Alexander Kokorin got a goal back for Russia after the break, but Dimitri Payet restored the two-goal advantage.Russia kept fighting and scored through Yuri Zhirkov in the 68th minute but Kingsley Coman sealed matters in the 76th with France’s fourth of the day.Matt Ritchie scored the only goal of the game in the eighth minute as Scotland defeated Denmark 1-0.It ended 2-2 at the Aviva Stadium where the Republic of Ireland faced Slovakia. The home team’s fortunes varied after Slovakia went a goal up in the 14th minute thanks to Miroslav Stoch. They were then awarded two penalties three minutes apart — both providing goals by Shane Long (21) and James McClean (24).Slovakia equalised in the 45th minute when Ireland’s Paul McShane put the ball in the back of his own team’s net.Manchester City’s Aleksandar Kolarov scored from a free kick in the 81st minute at the A. Le Coq Arena, to lead Serbia to a 1-0 victory over Estonia.Bulgaria’s winning streak continued against Macedonia, securing a 2-0 victory thanks to goals from Dimitar Rangelov (65) and Aleksandar Tonev (87).It was goalless at the Stadion Pod Goricom as Montenegro drew 0-0 with Belarus. Georgia drew 1-1 against Kazakhstan at the Dinamo Arena, with a goal from Tornike Okriashvili (38) for the home side and Azat Nurgaliev (36) for the visitors.Iceland came back from a two-goal deficit, at the hands of Greece’s Konstantinos Fortounis’ 19th minute penalty and a subsequent goal in the 31st minute.The visitors ended the goal 3-2 up thanks to Arnor Traustason (34) Sverrir Ingi Ingason (70) and a late winner by Kolbeinn Sigthorsson (82).Latvia scored five goals — Janis Ikaunieks (46), Kaspars Dubra (53), Valerijs Sabala (57), Aleksejs Visnakovs (82), Janis Ikaunieks (84) on the scoresheet — for a very comfortable win against Gibraltar.Norway beat fellow Scandinavians Finland 2-0 with goals from Stefan Johansen (83) and Jo Inge Berget (57). Turkey beat home side Austria 2-1 with goals for the victors from Hakan Calhanoglu (43) and Arda Turan (56), while Austria’s goal came from Zlatko Junuzovic (22).Sweden drew 1-1 against the Czech Republic with goals from Marcus Berg (14) for the home side and Matej Vydra (26) for the visitors.Edin Dzeko (14) and MIralem Pjanic (57) scored for Bosnia and Herzegovina to beat Switzerland 2-0.Albania scored twice to beat home side Luxembourg 2-0 thanks to Armando Sadiku (63) and Sokol Cikalleshi (75). –Follow Joy Sports on Twitter: @JoySportsGH. Our hashtag is #JoySportslast_img read more