21 October 2008

Church is not Wal-Mart (UPDATED)

[NB. Permission to repost/copy with proper attribution is given.]

I had a much longer piece, but I scrapped it for something a lot shorter and more to the point.

1). The Roman Catholic Church isn't WalMart or Burger King; it's the Body of Christ.

2). Catholic priests, nuns, sisters/brothers and laity aren't employees; we are members of the Body of Christ.

3). The doctrine and dogma of the Catholic Church are not consumer products that the Church's employees sell to those who want them; Catholic doctrine and dogma express the unchanging truth of the faith.

4). Life in a Catholic parish is not a trip to Disney Land or Target or McDonald's where your consumer needs and whims are catered to by the whimpering clergy and lay staff; parish life is the life of Christ for the local Catholic family.

5). You do not come into the Catholic Church b/c you like the building better than you like the Methodist chapel; or because the priest at the Catholic parish is cuter than the Baptist preacher; or because you heard that the homilies are shorter at St. Bubba's by the Lake than they are at the Unitarian Church. You come into the Catholic Church because you believe that the Catholic faith is the truth of the gospel taught by Christ himself and given to his apostles.

6). Leaving the Catholic Church because a priest was mean to you, or because sister whacked you with a ruler, or because the church secretary looked at you funny is as stupid as giving up on the truths of math because you hate your high school algebra teacher. Why would anyone let a crazy priest or a cranky nun or anyone else for the matter drive you out of the faith you believe is true? My only conclusion: you never thought it was true to begin with; or, you have a favorite sin the Church teaches against and crazy priests and cranky nuns is as good an excuse as any to leave and pursue your sin all the while feeling justified b/c Father and/or Sister are such jerks.

7). Anyone who comes in the Catholic Church thinking that they will find clouds of angels at Mass dressed as parishioners; hordes of perfect saints kneeling for communion; seminaries packed with angelic young men burning to be priests; a parish hall stacked to the ceiling with morally pure people eager to serve; and a priest without flaw or blemish, well, you're cracked and you probably need to go back and try again. Telling Catholics that they aren't perfect makes as much sense as telling fish they're wet. We know already. Move on.

8). Of the hundreds of priests and religious I know, I know two who could count as saints right now. The rest of us are deeply flawed, impure, struggling creatures who know all too well that we fail utterly to meet the basic standards of holiness. For that matter: so do you. Get in line.

9). The Catholic Church owes no one a revision of her doctrine or dogma. She didn't change to save most of Europe from becoming Protestant, why would you imagine that she would change just to get you in one of her parishes?

10). If you want to become Catholic, do it. But do it because you think the Church teaches the true faith. If a cranky priest on a blogsite is enough to keep you from embracing the truth of the faith, then two things are painfully clear: 1) you do not believe the Church teaches the faith; 2) and you care more about expresssing your hurt consumer feelings than you do for your immortal soul.

Fr. Philip, OP

UPDATE: Yes, I am a priest, and a huge part of my ministry is to console, to be present, to advise, and to try my best to shine out the light of Christ. As a Dominican friar, I do all of that first and best by telling the truth! The best pastoral approach is always to tell the truth, so please, forget the notion that "to be pastoral" is somehow opposed to "telling the truth" or "teaching the faith."

The Truth is Always Pastoral.

74 comments:

  1. kathy8:21 AM

    As someone in the process of converting to Catholicism, I just have to say...


    Yes. Yes yes and yes.

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  2. Thank you! Always good to have that reminder out there.

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  3. Amen, and amen, and amen.
    Well said.
    God Bless You.

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  4. Here, here.

    "You do not come into the Catholic Church b/c you like the building better than you like the Methodist chapel..." That's a really bad reason anyway, given the state of many of our buildings.

    "...because the priest at the Catholic parish is cuter than the Baptist preacher..." Also will not be a problem an any parish I'm sent.

    If I could be so bold to add bishops aren't CEOs (just don't tell some of them) but successors to the Apostles.

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  5. Excellent post. Love #9. Hooray.

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  6. I think with #6 you underestimate the psychological devastation priests and nuns are capapble of. Of course people who have been driven crazy by Church authorities do crazy things; that's how you know they've been driven crazy.

    Telling someone who leaves the Church because a priest was mean to them, "You never thought the Faith was true to begin with," won't get anyone a seat closer to the Head Table at the Eternal Banquet.

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  7. Thank you for this. As someone who has several family members who have left the church, I appreciate this article. Again, thank you!

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  8. A correct point Tom, but a truistic one. Yes, grave and serial betrayal by Churchmen can drive someone to disbelieve, but that is not the usual experience. What I encounter most of the time is hostility to the Faith and then the laundry list of greivences whether they have personally experienced it or not. That is, they've already drawn the graph and just select the points that can be plotted on it.

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  9. As someone who just had this exact diatribe with a staff member, it feels good to think that I am not the only guy who potentially "gets" it.
    This will be going in the bulletin this week. Have I permission to reprint?

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  10. Anonymous11:31 AM

    You have a bully pulpit. And you're a bully-ing kinda guy. A perfect fit.

    And, I hadn't countenanced the idea before but...ADIOS.

    If this is what being CLOSEST to the sacraments gets you, I'll opt out for a different venue.

    And, no, I don't need a "see-ya" post. You're just obnoxious.

    As a rule: priests shouldn't be obnoxious and so venal.

    Look within. That's what I'm going to do and I don't need the likes of you to assist me.

    Physician, Heal Thy Crazed Self.

    Jack Yeager

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  11. you have a favorite sin the Church teaches against and crazy priests and cranky nuns is as good an excuse as any

    I suspect that one is about 90% of the "leave-ers."

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  12. Right on, Father! Thanks for telling things straight.

    I've known quite a few people who've complained about "not being fed" in the Catholic Church. In talking with them, I usually find that they have not even presented themselves at the table... especially where Confession is concerned. They've gotten offended whenever I've suggested, or even mentioned, Confession. They refuse to avail themselves of what the Church does provide... and then complain that the Church does not provide them anything.

    The problem is never with them... always with the Church and/or other Catholics. If you try to help them, they accuse you of being a zealot or a judgmental pharisee... There seems to be a kind of victim mentality about it. It's very passive-aggressive.

    Anyway, thanks for this excellent and straightforward post, Father!

    God be with you,
    Heather

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  13. This is an excellent blog entry. I salute you. Thanks a lot. Laus Deo!

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  14. RE: Jack's comment

    Now I know why the Spirit lead me to work in mental hospitals for 5 years...I've been called far, far worse than "obnoxious" and "a bully."

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  15. I liked your post! You don't beat around the bush!
    The next time my priest says he doesn't like me, I am either going to say, Stand In Line, or What took you soo long, I haven't been liking you for a long time now! Well, I am still catholic and we could all use a dose of reality and really, our faith is tested at times, isn't it?

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  16. Father: I know I'm not alone in being annoyed by anonymous posts. If a person isn't brave enough to stand behind their words, they don't deserve to be posted. IMO. And I'm not afraid to put my name to it.

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  17. Gregg_the_Obscure1:10 PM

    Reluctant as I am to call into question a comment of Tom's, I must distinguish that Father didn't say directly "you never thought it was true to begin with", but preceded it with an important "[m]y only conclusion", which allows for a demonstration of some other reason. I think it's literally thought-provoking.

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  18. Thank You. I do not want the Church to lower the standards (as if it could) to meet my sinful actions so that I "feel" better about myself. Rather, I seek and pray that through the guidance of good shepherds, God's grace will raise me up to be that which He created and calls me to be. If our shepherds do not set the example of speaking truth in the face of criticism, how is the flock expected to do.

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  19. Last sunday in DFW parishes a joint statement by both Bishop Kevins was read. Next day the local media was outraged that the Church was intruding into the electoral process by influencing voter's (forget the fact they are human first than voters) in favor of a specific candidate. The local news maliciously pointed out that a couple of dozen people had left the parishes in scandal. A man, being interviewed, angrilly commented: "I come to church to hear about love, god is love, and this is just hatred"
    The posture of this man seems very similar to the annonymous in this discussion. According to both, a Church that preaches a God of love should ignore the wrongdoings and wrong concepts of the people who want to "be" catholics. How can a Catholic think that he can have God's love without defense for the unborn? So for persons like these two, the Church should catter to their personal beliefs, right?
    And to the guy on TV, someone should tell him, that precisely because God is love, the Church strongly defends the innocent life as sacred and upholds the sempiternal truth given by Chirst and transmitted to us by the Apostles.

    The Church is not a cafeteria, where you can pick your beliefs as in a menu, for sure. And yeah, It is neither a "feel good" sacraments kind of church.


    Blessings in St Dominic
    Adolfo

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  20. I know I'm not alone in being annoyed by anonymous posts.

    It would be less annoying if there was even the slightest indication of what exactly is goring his ox.

    I believe in the Big Tent. But not in the way many people think of it. Usually when someone says "Big Tent" they mean that Kabala-practicing pop-singer Madonna is just as good example of Catholicism as St. Maximillian Kolbe (I'm not making that up, I read it in the Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Catholicism). What I mean is that while there is room for the "soft positioning" approach, there most decidedly needs to be plenty in the camp that serve up 180-proof Truth with no chaser. Imagine soft-position barginers during the Arian heresy. Blech!

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  21. I think Father is pastorally addressing a particular problem for some folks, and, of course, he's good and right to do it. As a mom, I do the same thing with my kids from time to time. I 'get on their case' when I see a certain trend toward laziness or lack of taking on responsibility for themselves. It's important to see that He's not saying that every single person that leaves the Church falls into this whiners category. I'm sure he know of people who leave because their faith was never given the chance to deepen - maybe because the faith wasn't lived at home, or they had kumbaya teachers or whatever. Think of Jesus' parable of the sower. There are many reasons why people don't grow in faith and holiness. This post addresses just one of them with a challenge to "get over yourself." Anyone who says that there is NO-ONE who needs to hear that message, they are mistaken. We ALL need it to one degree or another.

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  22. You make me proud to be a wannabe Dominican! Amen Father! :-)

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  23. Anonymous3:31 PM

    Heresy, whether in mass or in one person, is the emphasis of one truth at the expense of the whole truth. For example, some who favor the direct style of this piece may rightly claim they are "instructing the ignorant, counseling the doubtful, and admonishing sinners" – and they are right. For those of us with that inclination, let us remember St. Thomas Aquinas at the end of his life, after years of in depth and remarkable study of God said, "It is all straw." Let those of us like me also live the rest of the spiritual works of mercy to balance our conviction of the truth in the Church: "bear wrongs patiently, forgive offences willingly, comfort the afflicted, and to pray for the living and the dead."

    Father is right; hiding the Truth under a basket is not pastoral. Speaking the Truth in Love, is. Jesus living in deep communion with God (duh) didn't slap the woman at the well with His words. He followed the prompting of the Holy Spirit which blossomed a much greater work in His restraint than his power.

    Look at Mother Teresa - she spoke the truth so profoundly in her actions NO ONE DARED counter her words. She came to the US and lectured the more powerful nation in the worlds history. How do you argue with a living saint about right and wrong? No one has any grounds to stand on to argue with her. They just tried to ignore her.

    Like Father said, if some thing like a terrible person can keep you from seeking God, perhaps you weren't all that interested. God doesn't offer us heaven in this life, but a cross. Suffering can tell us quite a bit about ourselves. I was "very catholic", but I have found that apologetics, study, philosophy, logic, reason, etc. have been wonderful crutches and aids, but it is in my recent suffering that I have found more doubt than ever. So far, no logic or reason has dislodged the problems of my heart. So far, my heart is not in the faith. My head is, and I stay, simply because I and no other religion have any better ideas than the Church, even if they seem incomplete to me.

    So for those that take delight in his words, don't forget to live the words in love. For those that take offense, realize that if you want to change the world, write a pamphlet. Few read nuanced and in depth approaches to the truth. Even if his approach is rough, the choices to reach the world are limited.

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  24. Anonymous3:34 PM

    Magnifique!
    -Br. Bruno

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  25. Fr Joseph Mack3:41 PM

    Amen my brother!!

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  26. Anonymous3:45 PM

    WOW! Father, our prayers for you when you were in your funk produced some fruit...and what fruit. Keep telling the truth. The ears that can hear will hear.

    Dennis

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  27. I am a Director of a Newman Center, If I cite you properly may I reprint this in this weeks Mass Bulletin?

    Thanks

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  28. Anonymous6:12 PM

    "Fr" Phillip,

    With regret, one can almost sum up this blog post in one sentence, "We stink, we have rotten fruits, but tough: we are Christ's church and you do what we say and don't expect anything more!" I suppose this prideful misguided attitude on the part of Catholic clergy, only benefits, the Great Commission more, as more people realizing something is missing and seek after God, rather then empty rituals.

    As to this sentence, "The rest of us are deeply flawed, impure, struggling creatures who know all too well that we fail utterly to meet the basic standards of holiness. All of us are sinners in need of a Savior but that is not good. If one has a relationship with Jesus Christ, they are to be growing in the Lord via the Holy Spirit. Where are you at with that?

    Biblically, people are not supposed to follow religious leaders that do NOT meet basic standards of holiness: 1 Timothy makes this quite clear: "A bishop must be blameless"

    I suppose one could say this is a result of being deep in a false religious system. My Bible tells me something quite different :Mat 7:16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? I dare say thistles would describe someone who is CRANKY...:)

    You do not seem very happy. I would surmise the priesthood is a very frustrating profession, full of loneliness, repetitive Masses and rituals, and other hardships, but one of the main thing that stands out me is the anger you seem to hold towards the people in your own pews. Instead of desiring to serve them in Christian love: seeking to have compassion for their hurts, troubles and more, you seem to be blaming them for whatever results a very cranky priest is garnishing!

    I pray one day, that you will trust in Jesus Christ alone as your Lord and Savior, and realize that it is not about church membership or how many show in your pews every Sunday morning {obviously you are very frustrated by something--lowering numbers} but about having a relationship with Jesus.

    Thank you and God Bless,

    An EX-CATHOLIC CHRISTIAN

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    1. Anonymous7:26 AM

      Ex-Catholic Christian, me thinks you are the one who is angry and worse.... bitter.

      Or maybe you just did not get the post at all.

      To Fr Tom. - Excellent piece. Have forwarded to my friends.

      Marc Alcan

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  29. Thanks for that Padre. Bad preists are a sad reality, but introspecting we are all not that great in our vocations are we, so why then do we have a different standard for ourselves and for priests. Its like trying to remove the speck form someone else's eye when we have a log in our own don't ya think

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  30. Trad Tom6:21 PM

    Father,
    A number of us have run into Mr. Yeager on other blogs and most often, unplesantly. He has chosen to say "ADIOS" --- this is not a bad thing.

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  31. Augustine_Was_Calvinist6:38 PM

    You said:

    "Leaving the Catholic Church because a priest was mean to you, or because sister whacked you with a ruler, or because the church secretary looked at you funny is as stupid as giving up on the truths of math because you hate your high school algebra teacher."

    I agree, the reason to leave the Roman Catholic religion is because it preaches a false gospel and does not have the truth. It is a false religion, that is a counterfeit of genuine Christianity.

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  32. What a great post - I'm going to link to this at my blog and if it's okay with you, Father, use portions of it in a forum discussion I'm engaged in with some NCR readers.

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  33. Anonymous7:14 PM

    Regarding #6: Algebra is evil. Jesus never said "Solve for X." So there!

    -- Mack

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  34. Thank you all for the support and especially for the prayers...I will address one post here directly, quoting from Anon (of course!), "You do not seem very happy. I would surmise the priesthood is a very frustrating profession, full of loneliness, repetitive Masses and rituals, and other hardships, but one of the main thing that stands out me is the anger you seem to hold towards the people in your own pews."

    I am very happy doing what I do. Being a priest can be frustrating...especially when dealing with anti-Catholic prejudice from so-called "ex Catholilcs." I live with almost 80 other priests! Loneliness is simply not an issue. "Repetitive masses and rituals"?! Uh? What is this? 1570? Give me a break! And finally the catch-all accusation that cannot be refuted b/c refuting it only confirms the accusation: you are angry. No, I'm not angry. People who know me well know that I am an idealist who often gets aggravated with himself and others for willfully failing so often. But I am not a fundamentally angry person.

    As my students often say when someone judges them w/o really knowing anything about them: "You don't know me!"

    Fr. Philip, OP

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  35. Anonymous10:34 PM

    Where is this anonymous post everyone is quoting? I fell behind. I'm sorry to be anonymous. I just found this thing and I don't know up from down. Looks interesting.

    I didn't see the original to which Fr. is responding...

    The Other Anony-Mouse

    I'm genuinely stumped.

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  36. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  37. Anon: "seek after God, rather then empty rituals." Like Baptism in the Baptist church? Which they themselves admit accomplishes nothing. Or "the Lord's supper," which the church itself admits is just a symbol and not the true Body and Blood of Christ.

    "If one has a relationship with Jesus Christ." Can you cite a Bible passage that requires Christians to "have a relationship with Jesus Christ?" Peter said we needed to repent and be baptized, two of the Catholic Church's sacraments.

    "Biblically, people are not supposed to follow religious leaders that do NOT meet basic standards of holiness." Biblically, we follow the Rock, Cephas, who himself sinned in denying Christ three times (denied his personal relationship?) but had the authority at the Council of Jerusalem. Which "religious leader" do you follow? From whom does he derive his authority, keeping in mind that Peter, Paul, Barnabas, et al. commissioned followers through the laying on of hands to maintain apostolic succession.

    "deep in a false religious system...Ye shall know them by their fruits." The fruits of ex-Catholic Christianity is 33,000 denominations and growing, hardly consistent with Jesus' wish that "they be one, Father, as You and I are one." How do you judge a "true religious system?"

    "the anger you seem to hold towards the people in your own pews." I'm a college professor, not a priest, but I can sympathize with Fr. when he tries week after week to impart a message when his audience barely tries to consider it let alone live by it. Frankly, I would worry about a parish that swooned over every word of its pastor; concupiscence means that more often than not, the Gospel pricks a sinful area of my life that the devil would rather leave unexposed to the light, left to fester on its own. Priests should routinely cause parishioners to squirm, leading them next Saturday to the confessional.

    "it is not about church membership." Two words: Joel Osteen. Why is the mega-church phenomenon strictly Protestant? I doubt you would naysay a Catholic's relationship with Jesus who just completed a holy hour of Eucharistic adoration.

    To close, where in the Bible does it teach Sola Scriptura?

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  38. Thank you Father, and God bless you!

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  39. So many people have copied this and posted and/or linked it to their blogs that I feel very much at the end of the line...but I'm tempted to do it anyway.

    And I'm intrigued by how your commenter is going to answer the question about Sola Scriptura--because the LACK of a Scriptural reference to it is one of the things that drove Scott Hahn to investigate more deeply into Catholicism, praise God!

    happily,
    Janny

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  40. Absolutley wonderful post! I loved it, especially
    "The Catholic Church owes no one a revision of her doctrine or dogma. She didn't change to save most of Europe from becoming Protestant, why would you imagine that she would change just to get you in one of her parishes?"

    So true. Posts like this serve to remind me why I love the church.

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  41. Preach it O.P.!

    Even Christ used tough love from time to time.

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  42. Janny, sola scriptura is nonsense. I always retort when someone brings this up as a legit position: "What was Paul's favorite gospel?" IOW, Paul didn't have the bible to do his work among the Gentiles. He wrote large portions of the N.T., meaning that not only did he evangelize w/o the N.T., millions came to Christ w/o ever having read the O.T. or any book of the N.T.! So, if it is "sola scriptura," how do we account for all those who had no access to the bible yet managed some how to become Christians? The answer: the Church given to Peter to govern.

    Fr. Philip, OP

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  43. Father,

    * When I see Cardinal Egan sitting and eating dinner with a man who openly advocates slaughter of children on a massive scale

    * When I read the tepid and ambiguous instruction given by the USCCB to voters in this important election

    * When I read about Cardinal O'Malley refusing to publicly oppose Gay "marriage" in Massachusetts

    * When I read about the case of Fr. Stephen Foley, and am reminded yet again of the nauseating evil of what is euphemistically called "the scandal"

    * When I listen to yet another homily that refuses to engage with the readings and settles for telling us about the niceness of being nice.

    * When I look at our parish council and note that every single member is divorced and remarried, and I think on my best friend's mother who lived alone for thirty years after being abandoned by her husband for a younger woman.

    * When I am unable to find a mass anywhere within 45 minutes of my home that doesn't meet the most minimal standards of faithfulness to the Missal and reverence.

    * When I meet with young couples about to be married in the Church who are openly cohabiting and plainly have no intention of adhering to Church teaching on married life, yet are receiving a "sacramental marriage" anyway.

    * When I'm told that my children will have to go to CCD and receive the inane, content-free "religious education" mandated by my Archdiocese because the Catholic school they attend isn't "approved" - even though it is the only Catholic school in the area that actually teaches Catholic doctrine.

    In short, when I am constantly bombarded by evidence suggesting that virtually nobody takes this "Catholicism" stuff seriously enough to actually act on it, then I get very, very discouraged.

    At some point, doesn't the abject failure of the Church to even try to live what it professes detract from it's claim to be our only reliable earthly teacher?

    I don't know why I'm taking this out on you - I basically agree with everything you said above. And I do still believe that the truth, in its fullness, is only to be found here (if I didn't I would leave), but I am, as I said, very discouraged these days.

    Thanks be to God for the men and women that are still there for us to draw encouragement from, like the Holy Father, and Fr. Benedict, and my father-in-law, and my wife.

    And for you as well, Father. I'll keep praying for you. Sorry for the rant.

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  44. Anonymous3:34 PM

    Amen, Thank You Father, I have never read the truth as well as you present it. Too often people ignore the fac we are infac the Body of Christ. Again, I say to you Amen!

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  45. Anonymous3:34 PM

    having once been a member of the church and once a seminarian I finally saw the light and left.

    Why? Because I realized all religions are total nonsense based on fables and fantasies designed to give meaning to life and help ease one through the passage of death into nothing.

    So if you are all smart you will abandon this nonsense and move on to a better life here on earth and not into some future that does not exist.

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    1. Anonymous7:30 AM

      Saw the light? Seems more like you have decided that wallowing in the darkness is much better. The light can be blinding for those who have been in the dark for so long. And some prefer to go back into the darkness rather than admit that they need to gradually adjust themselves to the light.

      Marc Alcan

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  46. Thomas--"When I look at our parish council and note that every single member is divorced and remarried, and I think on my best friend's mother who lived alone for thirty years after being abandoned by her husband for a younger woman."

    Your best friend's mother is a wonderful woman and to be commended, I am sure. But please, don't judge divorces & remarried Catholics. (Not that you do, but if you did...) There are plenty of people in such situations that wish to be reconciled to the Church but their spouse does not, and plenty more that don't even know how to be reconciled to the Church. Still more did not know of its sinfulness at the time of their remarriage and did not rediscover their faith until decades into their marriage. Many educate wonderful children in the faith, and some raise families of saints. So please, don't judge them by one small action. Take it from someone too close to the situation: it hurts everyone involved.

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    1. Anonymous7:37 AM

      Did not know of it's sinfulness? Really? A Catholic did not know that divorce is wrong? Of course they knew. They just went ahead anyway because they wanted to have their own way.

      Perhaps if they were Protestant before then I can understand that they did not realize it was a sin considering that Protestants seem to be permitting just
      about everything that was prohibited in Christianity before.

      Marc Alcan

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  47. Amen. I especially liked #9. The Church is the Body of Christ and like Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.

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  48. Anonymous9:32 PM

    As a convert in the year 2000, no one could make me leave the True Church that Jesus started. Please always remember who is in the Tabernacle of every Catholic Church.... Jesus! If you are having any problems with the teachings or people from the Church go talk to him he will answer and guide you, he will not fail you!
    Robin

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  49. "I used to be a devout Catholic..."

    As Mark Shea put it, this is nature's way of warning you that what is said next will be a raving farrago of nonsense.

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  50. Catherine,

    I'm not judging them (or at least I'm not meaning to).

    It's simply this: my friend's mother suffered for thirty years, because it was vitally important to her to obey God. Having eight people who are divorced and remarried as the "lay leaders" of the parish is a scandal. A scandal in the worst sense, as what it says to my friend's mother is "you've just wasted thirty years of your life obeying this stupid rule, because clearly we here in the Church don't actually believe it."

    And to suggest that all sixteen of their previous marriages were actually defective, such that they were not in fact bound together as one flesh by God, is laughable.

    I am not pointing fingers at them - for all I know, any or all of them could be entirely without guilt. It certainly wouldn't be hard (in this diocese) to spend a lifetime "active" in the Church and never be presented with Church teaching on marriage. More importantly, I know my own heart, and I am in no position to point at anyone and scream "Sinner!". Except to myself.

    It's just this - I am a Christian because the Lord Jesus saved me, and I love Him. I became a Catholic because the Roman Catholic Church is the only one that could be trusted to remain faithful to Him, the only one that seemed to be willing to hold fast to the faith handed to the Apostles and their successors, the only Church that didn't bend and twist to meet the fashion of the times, but said (in effect), "We will proclaim the Way, the Truth, & the Life, whatever comes, whether anyone listens or not, we will not cease to proclaim this saving Truth to the world."

    So I'm not just grousing; this is a cry from the heart. It is so painful to see the Church refusing to be the Church. And I seem to be confronted with that refusal so often, in so many ways, that the temptation to cynicism and despair is awful.

    May God bless you! I ask please for one quick prayer for me, if you have a spare moment.

    thomas

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  51. Scott W.,

    Well, then... let me share with you another "raving farrago of nonsense."

    I used to be a devout Catholic. After growing up Pagan, I converted to the Church in 2004. I was so relieved to have finally found my way home, and out of the darkness I had known for most of my life.

    It wasn't easy, of course. I lost all but one of my former friends -many of whom I had grown up with- when I became Catholic, and, ultimately, my father (he disowned me the summer before last).My life fell apart in pretty much every other way, as well, but I'll not bore anyone with the details. I didn't mind, exactly, because, as St. Therese once wrote... there's no greater joy than to suffer for the one you love. It was exhausting, though, and God was so very absent. It hurt.

    I was quickly becoming disillusioned, too. Like Thomas, I had a terribly difficult time understanding how, if the Catholic Church really is all she says she is, then why don't more people take her at her word? If Christ is who he says he is, then shouldn't people at least try to put him first? How come, then, so many Christians live their lives as practical atheists?

    I know that's no excuse, since, ultimately, I sure didn't put him first, either. I gave in to despair. I haven't been to Mass in over a year, and I wish so much that I could go back. I just... don't know if I can believe anymore. I don't think I can.

    Maybe it is because I never really thought that Catholicism was true, although I sure thought I did for a long time, and, yeah, I remain attached to all sorts of sins and imperfections. Maybe I'm "cracked," and have unrealistic expectations for Catholics, and maybe it's true that I care more about my hurt consumer feelings than I do for my soul. I don't know.

    What I do know, though, is that as much as I miss being Catholic, as much as I wish I could go home... I can't, and, frankly... that's largely because the behaviour of Catholics -especially when dealing with fallen and struggling members of the Church- are a pretty good indication to me that there's just no home to go back to. So, thanks for the reminder, I guess.

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  52. I didn't mean to suggest that you personally were judging anyone, Thomas. I meant to warn against it, that is all. My parents are in a similar situation. My mother wishes to be reconciled to the Church; my father ignores it. So you can see that I am sensitive to the situation.

    It definitely does hurt to see Church leaders (in your case, the parish council) not actually following the rules of the Church. I agree with you on that. I just had to point out that many of the people in such situations are well-meaning and in good conscience, but some aren't. As you said, we cannot know which are and which aren't.

    However, you are right. It does cause unnecessary scandal for such people to be in leadership positions in the Church, and to avoid such scandal, they should not be in such positions.

    Sad thing, too. But unavoidable.

    My prayers are with you, and I beg that yours be with mine. Mostly for patience. :-)

    be fearless & be God's. verso l'alto!

    Catherine Lucia

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  53. Hi Catherine Lucia,

    Please come back home you do have a home. We are all broken and hurt and sinners. Come back please . I am not eloquent I don't know what else to say. I shall pray for you that is one thing i can do.

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  54. mrteachersir12:33 PM

    Veronica,

    The Church never claimed to be full of saints. "For all have sinned... ."

    The Church is more than just the hypocrites and sinners that parade themselves around in full view of everyone. The Church is the body of Christ. Therefore, She is is far more perfect and far more elegant that those that enjoy fellowship in her will ever be.

    It is the joy knowing that the Church is upheld by the Rock of Peter, by the Grace and intercession of the Blessed Virgin, adn full of the Grace of Christ that should excite you. Nowhere else can you engage in the most intimate of relationships with Christ: the Blessed Sacrament.

    As a preist friend of mine said: "At Mass, the Word will be spoken, despite the best efforts of some of us."

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  55. Catherine, I was referring to our anonymous brickbat hurler here:

    "Why? Because I realized all religions are total nonsense based on fables and fantasies designed to give meaning to life and help ease one through the passage of death into nothing."

    And remarking on the pattern: that of trotting out Catholic creds, and then launching into a rant.

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  56. jarhead4622:00 PM

    Anon- "My Bible tells me something quite different"- are you talking about the Bible that the Catholic Church gave you? (Find the passage where Our Lord says to the Apostles: "Make sure you guys are writing this down")
    Jack- will opt out ...for sacraments??....where will he find them? at the local pentecostal worship service??
    Catherine- Don't leave. remember what Mother Thersea went through. If you can't bring yourself to Mass, spend some time before the Blessed Sacrament, and talk to Our Lord. You will be tested, but You will pull through. I will pray for all of you.
    Father P- Great post!

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  57. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  58. Anonymous8:56 PM

    i am a recent convert to catholicism. I am still ofeten trying to sort out how this applies to my life. Vote issues, daily issues, and more are often anxiety provoking and confusing for me because most of the people talking about .. say. the candidates are so busy yelling how i am obliged in one direction or another that they forget that maybe they should actual deal with the fact that i am just learning a lot, and trying to balance the fact that "abortion is wrong", with "i need to have a job, and my husband needs health care"

    its a real plus to hear basic outlooks and Catholic doctrine astated without assuming that someone just getting started on this path is stupid, evil, or willfully ignorant.

    oh, and please pray for all those folks who did leave the church because of those reasons. my husband is one of them. he never got a proper education in the faith, and wont even talk about it now......

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  59. Recent Convert Anon., (I think I might have to start disallowing anonymous commenting)...

    I'm right there with you...though I am firm in my convictions and loud in their proclamation I am not always 1000% sure that the reasoning behind some of the Church's teachings makes perfect sense to me. However, despite my obvious arrogance and pride, I try to take a humble position with regard to the Church's teachings I don't quite understand by saying, "I'll assume that I'm either too stupid or lacking the right info in this case." What I do NOT do is begin with my opinions, compare "My Truth" to the Church's truth and then decide whether or not the Church is right.

    The balancing act is difficult on most issues. However, I have to say that the abortion issue just isn't one of them. Here's a thought experiment for you: President Obama comes to you and says, "I will guarantee you and your husband well-paying jobs with full benefits for life if you agree that Susie should kill her unborn child." What do you say? Now, change the offer of a job, increase the price. Kill 1.7 million unborn babies. What do you say?

    Easy cheesy.

    Fr. Philip, OP

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  60. Anonymous8:01 AM

    Jesus was deserted by the apostles in the garden. The same thing is happening today with many so-called "devout" catholics. Things aren't going so hot right now for Christ's Church, so a lot of His followers are abandoning Him. Christ Himself told us to expect this very thing. He also blessed those who would hold fast in the faith despite the inner and outer turmoil. We are safer to remain with Him so we recieve the graces to withstand the enemies within and without.

    Barb of Indiana

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  61. Anonymous4:27 PM

    Thank you Father for the blog. I enjoy going to Mass every day and being fed with both the word of God and His own Flesh and Blood. Faith is something you have to work at and looking up at the Cross gives me the incentive to do this. There is nothing sweeter than the word of God. We all have crosses to carry but following Jesus makes them more bearable.
    Patsy

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  62. I apologize if I have come across as troll like. It was silly and of me to post as I did when, ultimately, I try not to begrudge anyone the faith I can't share.

    I'll stop harassing you, Fr. Powell, and your commenters. Sorry, again.

    -Veronica

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  63. Anonymous12:38 AM

    Veronica, I'm a convert, too. I'm adopting you... I've got you wrapped up tight in my
    practically-perpetual-prayer
    for my sons and other daughters. Daily. Truly. With love, Anonymous

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  64. I enjoyed this post when I first saw it, and then lo and behold I saw it again in my church's Sunday bulletin! (St. Peter Chanel, Hawaiian Gardens, California, run by the Oblates of the Virgin Mary.)

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  65. Rachel, you have a very brave pastor! Congrats...

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  66. Great thread, I'm glad I found it. I left Athiesm and found catholicism 9 years ago. I haven't been to Church for 3 years now. I didn't abandon Christ, I abandoned those destroying the one true Church. I abandoned those lay persons who believe Priests should be female... I abandoned those who run the Churches around me who believe Mass should be accompanied by rock-and-roll music as loud as can be... I abandoned a diocese who believes homosexuals should receive communion... I abandoned those who believe "Catholic for Abortion" is a caring group who needs to be promoted... I abandoned a Church that tried to deviate from the GIRM as much as possible including "liturgical dance", the priest leaving the altar, laity giving the gospel, etc...
    I am tired of trying new parishes hoping to find one that actually follows the GIRM, one that actually follows the teaching of God, one that actually doesn't believe in Abortion and Homosexuality. I can't, but I continue to look.
    Until then the Church as abandoned me, I haven't abandoned God.

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  67. Greg,

    where are you? we could suggest some :-)

    CL

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  68. Amen, right on Father. Now how about addressing the immodestly dressed both men and women that come to the Lord's banquet table dressed like an outing at the beach.

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