Everyman Today Call Rome
Publisher: Tumblar House
Publication Date: September 15, 2011
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This is the book that put Charles Coulombe on the map, as a force to be reckoned with! It is comprised of three sections. The first and largest section outlines the history of world events which have shaped our world and have ultimately led to the current crisis in the Church. The second part discusses changes in the approach to the Mass, the Sacraments, and Christian life as a whole. Mr. Coulombe closes the book by explaining how a person can safeguard the integrity of his faith amidst all the challenges of today's world. Everyman Today Call Rome is a historical narrative that is loaded with wit and insights in typical Coulombe fashion that you will not want to miss.
Many priests, in these new age days, would prefer to relinquish their mystic power. They would rather be presidents of the assembly than offerers of the altar; initiators than baptisers; counselors than confessors. So be it. But let them give up also their salaries and sinecures, their cooks and Cadillacs. If we laymen forced them to consider, the question not in terms of theology, but in terms of revenue, orthodoxy would bloom.
The time is coming when we young people will hold the Church in our hands. If we are to do our duty to Christ the King, we must accept the challenge of Catholic reconstruction. To do that, we must each of us acquire the education denied us. We could not help being robbed; we can blame only ourselves if we remain poor.
This bebop “rebel without a cause” attitude affected every sector of Catholic practice in the 1960s and 70s, and is with us yet. But by trivialising the Church in their care, our predecessors did more than gratify their own egos. They made the Church appear to be less than worth dying for, and thus less than worth living for. And in doing so they lost the greater part of our generation.
There is to our generation a nihilism: that is, a nothingism. For us, there are no absolutes, no morals, no vices, and no virtues. We have been raised to believe that our own desires are the only goals we need. But it is not so. We have been taught that all desires can come true. But that is a lie. Our unachievable quest for constant gratification becomes a mere flight from pain that is as unrealistic as it is useless. That flight can go only into a dead end. Contrary to what our mentors, either at home or on the boob tube, have said, there is no happiness without responsibility, and there is no responsibility without pain.
It follows, then, that before we can do anything constructive, we must rid ourselves of certain mental preconditioning bequeathed to us by the factors mentioned above. Of all the generations ever spawned in this land of the free and home of the brave, ours has been the most nourished by lies. Falsehood throbs, pumps, and flows through our thought. Getting everything we want will make us happy. Sex will make us happy. Drugs will make us happy. We alone can determine what is right for us. If only we push hard enough, total freedom and total indulgence will bring total joy. We have been sold a bill of spoiled goods, and for lack of learning, wisdom, or age, we have bought them.
But we can only get so close to another person, and no further. As we were created for loving union with our Creator, it follows that union is the unconscious model for all of our relationships. In the Eucharist, that real and total union we hunger for occurs, and fills us with life. The lack of that union is eternal death.
If we, the youth of today, can congratulate ourselves on our superior intelligence, we may also think about our greater indifference. If a hostile government persecuted the Church in America, would we drop all our hopes of career, family, and rush off to the barricades? Would an American counterpart of the Mexican Cristero or the Austrian Heimwehr spring up, vowed to save Catholicism or die in the attempt? Would we be like the brave Knights of Gondor, who rode against Sauron’s legions to defend Minas Tirith, despite certain defeat? Prudence and insight often conceal a tepid, weak heart.
If we wish to free our Church and our country from the evil ideas and the evil men who enslave them, we must first become people of prayer. Otherwise, it would merely be a case of substituting one set of scoundrels for another, of corrupt young fools for corrupt old fools. Are not most (if not all) political revolutions like that? The only method of avoiding becoming the mirror images of the enemy is that of prayer, penance, and humility.
Beware, however, of theologians who try to “interpret, nuance, or rethink,” infallible statements. Had Pope or Council meant something different from what they clearly said, they would have said something else. Often this “nuancing” is done to remove uncomfortable doctrine. But if the doctrine is uncomfortable, it is the theologian who must be “nuanced.”
We have been robbed. By “we” I mean those Catholics born after 1956. By “robbed,” I mean raised with little or no understanding or knowledge of Catholic doctrine, practice, or heritage. What does it mean to be a Catholic in the 1980s? Why are we not Protestants? How are we different? Does it matter? And most of all, why were we not told the answers to these questions by priests, nuns, or our parents? We will try to find some solution to these problems and, coincidentally, include some tips on rebuilding Catholicity in a hostile environment.
To start with, we must take stock of ourselves. Since we are all going to die, and since the time spent dead is much longer than that spent alive, it follows that our religion, our Church, must be the most important thing in our lives. Is it? Are we more concerned with securing eternal happiness, or with temporary pleasure? Will an MBA from a really good business school provide salvation? Is possession of high grade cocaine a plus in the day of judgment? If you answer affirmatively, then you will pardon my preaching and proceed to heaven via Club Med.
For those of us left behind, the question remains: How necessary to us is our religion? The litmus question is this – would we die for it? Could we, like St. Thomas More, sacrifice everything in its defense? If the answer is yes, the question becomes “why?” If no, it is time to join our Club Med-bound brethren.
The “why” here is most important.
The most common perceptions of the Church today are either that it is a very wealthy and flawed organisation which is somehow important, or (for the more devout) that it is the assembly of believers gathered together to celebrate the Lord’s Supper and heard the word of God. This last is very nice, doubtless, but I would find it very hard to die for either idea. Really, it would be too much to put off a ball game, let alone die, for the Church. Luckily, neither is true.
The first definition is held by those individuals who are misinformed about the history of the Church, and about human psychology. While Christ did not appoint Monsignori, or prescribe the shape of the host, he didn’t sit under a tree expect his teaching to be maintained through racial memory either. In the setting aside of Peter, and the delineation of apostles versus regular disciples, we see the main outlines of the hierarchy of today. If Christ saw fit to establish a structure, He must have had a reason. He was God, after all. One might say, then, that the Church is worth our attention and study, at very least, if He put so much time into its creation. A manufacturing company in existence under the same management since the time of the Roman empire would excite our interest, so why not the Church?
The second definition is partly true, and thus much more destructive. One assumes that the reader of this book is sincerely interested in his religion or, he would not have picked up the book. And having perhaps been active in his local parish, parochial school, or Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, this is the definition he has most likely been taught. But it is only a part of the truth. It is as misleading on its own as being taught that the U.S.A. is merely the strip of land separating Mexico from the Dominion of Canada. The concomitance of that teaching – that priests are merely presidents of the worshipping assembly with no quasi-“magical” powers of transubstantiation; that the Eucharist is merely a memorial of the Last Supper; that all forms and doctrines are changeable according to the whims of the day; that the Pope is merely the chief bishop, and the papacy is optional in any case; and worst of all, that truth is dependent upon man’s understanding, rather than God’s will – is not merely Protestant or Modernist, but satanic. If you assault the teachings of God’s church, you assault God. And the wages of that sin are certainly death. What is truly inexplicable is why people would reject the filet mignon of Catholicism for the Big Mac of pseudo Catholicism. Yet this is what a large part of the generation of Catholics which preceded us have done. Still, what is one to expect from the generation who brought us Mood Rings and Pet Rocks?
To truly understand the extent of the damage done to the Catholic Church as a human institution, we must examine what wreckage is left from the attempt of our fathers and elder brothers to remake the Church in their own, admittedly somewhat tacky, image. If you can obtain a pre-1960 missal, one of the things that will strike you is the mystery, the depth, of the liturgy described there. A detailed and complete missal is a very good guide to authentic Catholicism, and is uncommonly good literature as well, but what did the beat generation, in their great haste to be trendy, leave us? A watered down rite that is as uninspiring as it is insipid. What reflection of the glory of God is it? Even a junior high student would know that “All glory and honor is yours...” is poor usage. Not content with stealing the majesty and solemnity of the mass, they took its grammar too. Even Luther and Cranmer stopped at that.
This bebop “rebel without a cause” attitude affected every sector of Catholic practice in the 1960’s and 70’s, and is with us yet. But by trivialising the Church in their care, our predecessors did more than gratify their own egos. They made the Church appear to be less than worth dying for, and thus less than worth living for. And in doing so they lost the greater part of our generation.
In the following pages, we will attempt to put before your eyes some of the now not-so-trendy concepts our aged father-in-the-faith propounded, and the truths they abandoned. The time is coming when we young people will hold the Church in our hands. If we are to do our duty to Christ the King, we must accept the challenge of Catholic reconstruction. To do that, we must each of us acquire the education denied us. We could not help being robbed; we can blame only ourselves if we remain poor.
Charles A. Coulombe is one of North America’s most respected and sought-after commentators on culture, religion, history, and politics. A specialist in the history and government of the Catholic Church, Coulombe’s influence and expertise extend far beyond matters religious. He has written on topics ranging from the history of rum to haunted houses to a history of the United States.
Mr. Coulombe is a social and political commentator of note. In 2005 he provided narration and commentary for ABC News during the funeral of Pope John Paul II and the subsequent election and installation of Pope Benedict XVI. A former journalist, Mr. Coulombe served as a film reviewer and Contributing Editor of the National Catholic Register, during which time he received the Christian Law Institute's Christ King Journalism Award. Coulombe's work has appeared in over than 20 journals, including regular columns in Fidelity (Australia), PRAG (London), Monarchy Canada, and Creole Magazine (Louisiana). He has also been a frequent contributor to such publications as Success, Catholic Twin Circle, Gnosis, FATE, and the New Oxford Review.
As an informed and passionate speaker on a wide variety of religious, social, political, historical, and literary topics, Mr. Coulombe has appeared on lecture circuits throughout the North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. In 1992 he lectured at Oxford University and the following year embarked on a lecture tour of Ireland and Great Britain, returning to Oxford and Cambridge in 1995. Coulombe has also delivered lectures at the University of Southern California on the history of Rock & Roll and at Cleveland's John Carroll University on the history of medieval monarchy. In February 2011, he was invited to take part in a debate on the abolition of the monarchy before the prestigious Oxford Union.
I really enjoyed seeing how Mr. Coulombe wrote as a young man. His writing is filled with such passion, energy, and spunk. As a young man myself, I find it to be an exhilarating read. There's a lot of zingers and one liners in here that really resounded within me in a special way. One of my favorites was "you're going to be dead a lot long than you're going to be alive." That is a brutal perspective on reality that really shakes one out of apathy, and pushes one to search for answers and truth.
As a young man born well after this book was originally written, I certainly don't think I was audience Charles had in mind when he wrote Every Man Today Call Rome. Nevertheless, I can say with the upmost certainty that the book has provided me with an outlook on history from a Catholic perspective that twelve years of Catholic school education did not even come close to.
I personally love Mr. Coulombe's writing style; the sarcastic, passive-aggressive jabs are right up my alley. Non-fiction history books can be monotonous, but not when Charles pens them. Having listened to every Off the Menu episode, I can tell that Charles has not changed a bit in terms of his humor in the past 40 years (which is a good thing!).
Every Catholic must read this book in order to know what they are up against. Society has slowly been reaching the point it is currently at by the gradual adoption of liberalism and modernism. We must arm ourselves with knowledge to "fight the good fight."
I recently read Mr. Charles Coulombe's book's and found it to be an excellent, easy and enjoyable read so typical of Charles' writing style. If every Catholic High School were to assign this book as a book report we may be able to turn the tide yet! I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a concise Catholic perspective on where Catholics stand in America, how we got here, what has been lost - and make no mistake, much has been lost as I have been learning over the past several years - and what do.
Bona Tempora Volvant!
There has not been a book I've read by Mr. Coulombe that has not surprised. A tiny little book with an ambiguous title - despite my respect for the author, I was not expecting much. Again, how wrong I was. With few words and a biting tongue, Mr. Coulombe takes us on a detailed, yet concise whirlwind through Catholic history, showing how the problems of the Church extend centuries back, and arguing forcefully why we must recollect what was lost. Written when he was in his mid 20s, this book has the energy of youth but the knowledge of an aged scholar. This work builds a historical and theological backbone with which we can use to further study and contemplate where we went wrong, and what we must do to fix it. The extensive Suggested Reading List at the end is worth the price of the book alone.