Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A Visit to a Catholic Bookstore

Visiting a Catholic bookstore to buy a few appropriate items might usually be thought of as a pretty safe, non-confrontational exercise.  Logically, where else would you go if you wanted to purchase something "Catholic" as a gift for a friend or family member?  That's a fairly non-controversial activity.

Or so one would think.  I visited a local Catholic shop the other day and upon entering I was greeted by a slew of statues, literature and other paraphernalia related to the Medjugorje phenomenon, all artfully laid out for the consumer who wanted to indulge in this "dicey" story. Interestingly, the store, and by implication its Medjugorje fixation, is wholeheartedly endorsed by the rather clueless Archdiocese of Milwaukee which apparently find nothing untoward about the promotion of this alleged Marian apparition, which has been soundly debunked not only by perceptive writers such as Frere Michael, Hamish Fraser and the late Brother Francis, MICM but by two local Bishops of the diocese of Mostar where these events are said to have occurred. That's the Milwaukee Archdiocese for you.  They are well aware that the store promotes these so-called apparitions but is unwilling to apply fraternal correction.  Of course there is the possibility that the Milwaukee Ordinary believes in it himself.

This all led me to believe that I was off to a bad start in the store.  But I decided to move on to another room only to be confronted by a life size photo cutout of Pope Francis glowering at me (a disconcerting sight at any time).

If I had had calm-down pills with me I might have taken a few at that moment.  However, we trudged on to locate and buy the items we wanted.  The store was filled with a combination of some lovely Catholic items and books sharing space with some of the more revolting pietistic junk which has become a commonplace in places like this: badly drawn pictures of Christ playing baseball with a "little leaguer" or chatting amiably with Santa Claus, pasty-faced Catholic writers whose books are nothing but the most puerile drivel adorn their book covers delighting in forcing us to read about their "encounters" with Christ, whatever  that is supposed to mean (I don't really want to know).  Atrociously designed and painted statues shared shelf space with one or two pleasing ones.  A few copies of the traditional missal were buried beneath a pile of current missals which one should never spend money on because a) they go out of date the minute some new update occurs to the liturgy specialists in Rome and, b) because most priests today don't follow even those restless rubrics anyway.  In a word the store was...depressing.

When taking the items we wanted to the checkout counter another and worse jolt was waiting for us. Prominently displayed on their "must buy" book shelf was a copy of a little horror titled "Gay and Catholic".  The author informs us on the book's cover that she is now at peace after having "accepted her sexuality" and continues to masquerade as a practicing Catholic.  This, one supposes, is what passes for uplifting Catholic witness today.

Having to be cast as the fly in the ointment yet again it is necessary to point out here that this poor woman who authored said book is living in a state of mortal sin and receiving Holy Communion in that state, and, if we are to take her at her word as noted in the book, no priest has bothered to have a chat with her about her disordered life or the sacrilege she commits every time she approaches the Communion rail.

As the store was becoming busy at that moment it did not seem like a good idea to start a discussion with the hapless clerk over the appropriateness of such a book available at an ostensibly Catholic bookstore.  A calmly written and friendly note to the proprietors would seem the prudent thing to do and certainly it will be an interesting exchange of letters when one considers how many endorsements of the book from various Catholic personalities appear on the book's cover.  Logistics permitting a personal chat would be even better.  How tragic it is that Catholics have to correct other Catholics on something so basic as the mortal sin of sodomy.

But the fact that a Catholic bookstore, and a conservative-oriented one at that, feels no qualms about presenting such a book for sale is a telling description of the state of the Faith today, a state made worse by a Pontificate that prefers to speak in banal generalities, without clarity and without a firm grasp of the needs of the Faithful to have the unchanging message of the Gospel presented to them in a solid and unambiguous manner. A Church incapable of spreading the teachings of its Divine Founder is a Church that will soon become an irrelevancy.  Our recent Popes indeed have much to answer for.

To keep our religion from becoming engulfed by the fuzzy thinking of the world it would seem that one of our (the laity's) tasks would be to find a way to sit down with our fellow Catholics who operate bookstores like the one described and engage in a tactful tete-a-tete, encouraging them to be courageous and to avoid a conformist attitude that would transform Catholicism into just another debating society.  A good place to begin would be to take this homosexual bull by the horns for once and not sit quietly while the world tries to warp us on this issue.

Catholic book stores or some websites or newspapers and magazines, and even Churches, have become a sort of vast wasteland where confusion and imprecision rule, a definite sign that the ship of Faith is, as one Cardinal hinted at, rudderless.  With no clear instructions from the Captain I don't see how it could have been otherwise.


Anonymous said...

I had to smile, well actually laugh, on reading your description of the 'Catholic' bookstore. They are all like that, complete with the obligatory poster of Frankie.
Some years ago I had to attend an interview with a senior HR consultant, on entering this guy's office, right behind his desk was a poster of Mao. Some things don't change!

AMDG said...

I have been correcting other Catholics on the basics for twenty years. Some will listen and understand, but most understand and reject it like a Protestant jettisons all Christ's "uncomfortable" teachings.

AP, write that letter but stay away from any bookstore on the street that claims to sell Catholic books because they are lying. Even the old online stores such as Paulist Press and Ignatius Press who were once thought to be Catholic are now purveyors of bullsh*t and evil. Don't take my word for it. Check their websites to see for yourself. Take note also of what they do NOT have. The Devil is in the details.

You stayed in that store much longer than I would have, AP. If I would see one New American Bible or Scott Hahn book and I'd gag my way out the door immediately. I can only imagine what I would have done had I seen what you just described. The test questions upon entering a Catholic labeled bookstore should be, "Where can I find the Douay-Rheims?" and "Do you sell the Encyclicals of Pius V, Leo III, Pope Saint Pius X and Pius XII collectively or are they sold separately?"

Play it safe when it comes to the Faith. Buy used Catholic books from ebay, abebooks, etc. Buy the ones with an Impimatur you can trust. I don't even look at anything printed after 1958. If you want new Catholic essentials then buy from Angelus Press. To my knowledge it is the only seller of uncontaminated Catholic material in the world.

Elizabeth said...

I feel your pain :) I quit on "catholic" book stores entirely other than online. And then, only Angelus Press, some Tan/Saint Benedict Press books and books offered through Our Lady of Guadalupe Monastery (SSPX) (

Happy New Year!

Anonymous said...

And a happy new year to you, "aged parent" Perhaps you should stay out of those offensive bookstores, not good for the health. I'm sure we can all expect more of the same for 2015, rabid hatred!!

Damask Rose said...

"A good place to begin would be to take this homosexual bull by the horns for once and not sit quietly while the world tries to warp us on this issue."

Too late. The Holy See would have to sack an awful lot of priests/prelates. I think we're moving toward 'no Real Presence' in the wafer everyone goes up for at Communion time. That way they can sin any which way they want. The Abomination of Desolation.

Anonymous said...

In defense of local Catholic stores, I must say they're NOT "all like that." I'm sorry your store in Milwaukee is that way. But have a chat with the owner. Please don't discourage people from shopping in all local stores just because a few booksellers are unfaithful. Most of them are already struggling due to the online propensity. Our local Catholic store, New Covenant Bookstore in Winston-Salem carries books from TAN as well as Angelus and other traditional publishers. And there are almost always 1962 missals as well as the current ones.

Aged parent said...

That's good to know, Anon (@10:56) and I know thre are other good stores out there. W actually have three or four in Milwaukee but they're mostly an iffy proposition.

But the article is an example of my sometimes mordant sense of humor as well as my usual lamentations about the state of sanity in today's Church.

Saint Revolution said...

SSPX in Mukwonago WI has an library, an bookstore, and regular book sales of used books, as well as an BOOK OF THE MONTH recommended new book, such title listed in the bulletin.

...and the hellfire-and-brimstone Homilies are ALWAYS worth the trip.

Telephone for hours: 1.262.363.5967.

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