On the blogosphere at large you hear talk of a Benedictine Marshall Plan. Some of you who did not live through the 2nd World War and the recovery of Europe through the help of the American General George C Marshall (pic), who became the post-War Secretary of State to President Truman and the Europe Recovery Program, nicknamed the Marshall Plan, may have no idea what it's all about. Well, Europe was in a state of almost total devastation, especially areas of Germany and France where the war took it's heavy toll. So General Marshall came up with a plan to get Europe back on it's feet again and in it's basic essence, that's what the Marshall Plan is, to assist those countries who were down and out and give them the tools (in Europe's case, cash and credit) to get back to a certain level of stability, and then prosperity.
The Marshall Plan for the Catholic Church of our day stems from the realization that the Church, especially in areas of Europe and in other First World countries most severely and almost everywhere else as well, is pretty much a devastated landscape after the post-Conciliar period. In my own country, Malaysia in the years prior to the Council, numerous Churches were being built and immediately packed to the brim with converts and young Catholics from large families. The Church ran schools and hospitals and was a presence and a force in society. However, since the immediate post-Conciliar buildings of Holy Spirit Church in Green Lane and Risen Christ Church in Air Itam were constructed in 1969, a 40 year period elapsed before the Church of the Divine Mercy was consecrated last year. The old seminaries which were bursting at the seams and the host of nuns and brothers from the religious orders have all dissipated in the years after the Council when the hope of a New Springtime spiralled into not only a demographic winter, but more rather the clutches of a new Ice Age.
These pictures of the German city of Dresden before and after the bombing can be an analogy of what has occurred in he Church in the period after the Council.
A general view of the City, once known as the Florence of the North, before (above) and after (below) the bombing
The corridor within the Stalhof, before (above) and after (below) the bombing
When people think of the Church, in it's pre and post-conciliar forms, the images below, of a Papal Mass in the Traditional Latin Rite celebrated by the optimistic Blessed Pope John XXIII and a clown Mass in the Novus Ordo are often what comes to mind.
Papal Mass celebrated by Blessed John XXIII
You know this, you're not stupid. What then can you, a mere layperson do? That's a good question and one that I asked myself, many many moon ago when I was less old. In this series of posts, I hope to provide some concrete ideas of what you (who we shall call a Papal Ninja because you're quick, fast, agile and effective, working in secret behind the scenes) can do. We shall stick to the doable, in the here and the now.
The image below, of Pope Benedict XVI celebrating the Papal Mass in St. Peter's Basilica is the goal of the Benedictine Marshall Plan, a restored, vibrant and growing and most importantly, faithful Church.
Let our plan be a smart plan. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound. We are not Pope, or Cardinal Prefect or Archbishop or Bishop. We are not in Holy Orders and neither do we walk the Corridors of Power as movers as shakers. But besides offering up our prayers and sufferings in a spirit of reparation and asking the Lord to help us (which is indeed essential! and of the utmost importance and must never be forgotten or set aside no matter how 'busy' we think we are) let us take the words of Our Lord to heart when the told His Apostles: "You give them something to eat yourselves".
Let us be one among the many in this slow, brick by brick effort to recover our Catholic identity. Let us begin with ourselves. We shall see how in the coming posts. Lamenting (ranting) can only do so much good. After a while, we should let the whining stop, pick ourselves up and do something about it.
Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.
Theodore Roosevelt 26th president of US (1858 - 1919) quoting Squire Bill Widener, of Widener's Valley
Hope for the future: Dresden today.
The rebuilt and restored Stalhof and a general view of the City of Dresden today.