January 05, 2008

The Basics: A Post for A Dissident Catholic Friend

Adrienne has a post that inspired me! I know, be afraid, be very afraid...

Anyway, Adrienne's post is an excellent reminder of using the New Year as a check on how we are doing following the Precepts of the Church.

Here they are:

* You shall attend Mass on Sundays and on holy days of obligation and rest from servile labor

* You shall confess your sins at least once a year.

* You shall receive the sacrament of the Eucharist at least once during the Easter season

* You shall observe the days of fasting and abstinence established by the Church

* You shall provide for the needs of the Church.

I don't think we hear the 5 Commandments (Precepts, if you prefer) of the Church enough. In an old prayer book I own, the Commandments of the Church are nestled in an entire, dead serious, section about "Examining Your Conscience" "How to Make a Good Confession" "The 10 Commandments" "The Form of Confession"

Dissident Catholics, on the rare occasion they even hear about these "rules", roll their eyes and say something like: "Those are from the old days, we don't have to do that anymore" WRONG!!! I know I sure laughed back in my superbad days.

I don't think Catholics hear enough about the Precepts of the Church. What's to be done? As Adrienne suggests there is too much "fluff" in RCIA, too much about our "feelings" Blech. How about the feeling that the flames are coming closer? We don't hear enough about Hell and Damnation anymore either. It works both ways too. If you are going to teach the Faith, teach the Faith!!!! If you don't you are in trouble too. How can people trying to learn the Faith, through no fault of their own, be held to what they never learned? Whose fault is that? That right: you, teacher!!! I'm not singling out only RCIA instructors either. We are ALL supposed to be teachers of the Faith. In our daily lives, at work, at school, shopping, gardening, everywhere.

Is that list hard? Really? Is it asking too much to, in essence, only do a very few things during the year to still be considered a Catholic? I'm astonished to realize that as I'm embarking on my journey towards some semblance of spiritual maturity how EASY the list seems to me now. Absent from it is the truly difficult stuff (at least to me) like: spending time each day with Christ, praying every day and often, avoiding near occasions of sin, evangelizing, avoiding gossip and unfairly judging others.

A true dissident will seize upon the last part of my paragraph just concluded and say: "Ah-ha! I do that!" Understand, I am NOT saying that you do that part without the Precepts. Christ is not saying that either. You need it all. The whole package. The rulebook AND the spiritual growth. Without BOTH you are ill-formed which is the opposite of well-formed. The phrase "well-formed" is in the Catechism section on "conscience". This is the section that every dissident Catholic has only a vague notion of its existence in the Catechism they never read. They just know they hear a lot about "primacy of conscience" from the dissident Catholic authors and speakers around (don't feel bad those folks only read enough of the Catechism to keep their speaking calenders full).

They are told, by these dissident "authorities", conscience is defined by the Church as meaning you can still consider yourself a good Catholic if you just follow YOUR OWN moral code based upon some general outlines (helpfully defined by those dissident "authorities" of course!)like: don't kill anyone, be nice to your parents, give money to the homeless, vote Democrat, pray occasionally, be happy, show up at Mass once and a while. These are not, necessarily, all wrong. They are not all right either. That's the bewitching part of the dissident agenda. It contains just enough Truth to be partially right.

The Church's teachings on conscience do not mean you get to dump what you find unpalatable and still be a full member of the Body of Christ. To do so is to not be in Communion. Do you get an inkling now of why some Catholics get upset when you present yourself for Communion at Mass? When you receive the Body and Blood of Christ you are making a public statement that you are a full member of the Church on Earth. To do otherwise, is to be a public liar. The Church is telling you, you don't HAVE to be a member of Christ's Church if you don't want to but you better be FULLY AWARE of what you are doing before you reject it or even part of it. To reject part of it, is to reject all of it. "Well-formed" in the Catechism means you've been WELL-FORMED. Your conscience must be WELL-FORMED. How can you be well-formed if you don't even know 1/2 of it to begin with?

Don't whitewash and weaken the fullness of Christ's teaching thru Holy Church. That is a violation as well as an offense to God. Why should He have bothered sending us His Son to be crucified and redeem us if you aren't going to bother to even try to live a FULL Christian life? There is no such thing as 1/2 a Christian. We are not a race. If you aren't going to bother can you see that only "many" are going to be saved but not "all"?


Blogger Adrienne said...

Darn girl, I love an "on fire" Catholic!!!

Precepts are, according to the Catechism the "minimum" we are to do. Who the hell wants to lead a "minimum" life or have a "minimum" connection with God.

This Catholic wants "the corners of her toast buttered" which will be the subject of my next post.

January 05, 2008 4:58 PM  
Blogger japhy said...

I was going to correct your spelling of "Catechism", but I think I've just been inspired...

"What's a dissident Catholic's guide to the 'faith'?" "The 'Cataclysm of the Catholic Church'."

January 05, 2008 5:57 PM  
Blogger Adrienne said...

Oh thanks - You think that spelling is bad you should have seen me trying to spell "Epihanny" today. Every time I wrote it was not only wrong but different than the last time. How the heck many ways are there to misspell "Ehphanney", anyway???

January 05, 2008 6:18 PM  
Blogger Adrienne said...

Oh my - you meant Cathy had it spelled wrong. Well, think on this - Isn't it odd that we study DOGma in a CATechism.

Besides, I think her spelling is "very, very unique", "irregardless" of how it makes you feel.

January 05, 2008 6:57 PM  
Blogger Tom in Vegas said...

Good points made here, Cathy. I wish the Kennedys would read your blog (and others).

I think Auntie Adrienne is picky and gets annoyed with people who use "irregardless." I think I'll use it just



January 05, 2008 7:09 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

japhy: Oh my goodness! I DID spell it wrong. Not once but several times. See, what happens when I get all wound up!

Adrienne: Thanks!

Tom: Yep, she's called me on that too-quite a while back. Oh uh, I hope I did not use that word somewhere. Let me check....

January 05, 2008 7:53 PM  
Blogger Terry Nelson said...

It is the minimum - but wow - it is not hard to do - and you can get into heaven if you just do that much - well, keep the 10 commandments too. Anyway - that is what I always tell people - and I remind them 'only God is holy' - or at least, that is what His Son said.

January 05, 2008 9:12 PM  
Blogger Adoro te Devote said...

Yes, well stated!

"Primacy of conscience"

How that term is misunderstood, both deliberately and ignorantly.

I wrote my paper for Vatican II on "Conscience" partially because of the abuse of the term.

I must edit my paper...there is a really important passage of Lumen Gentium which I omitted, and which, if I add it to the paper and follow some suggestions of my prof, may provide a good objective answer to the dissenters.

After all, when I began the paper, I didn't actually KNOW what Vatican II actually stated about conscience. What I learned is that "primacy of conscience" is about being "well formed", is about the hermeneutic of continuity (whereas the dissidents are operating on the hermeneutic of discontinuity), and the V2 documents, over and over again emphasize what has ALWAYS been true.

Conscience is most certainly not relative, as some would like to make it.

January 05, 2008 10:11 PM  
Blogger Mrs Jackie Parkes MJ said...

Great post...

January 06, 2008 3:07 AM  
Blogger ignorant redneck said...


1) for what it's worth, (and I think it's worth a lot!) FR. Stephanos, OSB has written that when people come to him sor spiritual direction, the first thing he tells them, the starting place, are the precepts of the Church and Ten Commandments.

2) I just did a google search for "dissident catholic" and your site came up first!

January 06, 2008 8:00 AM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Adoro and Jackie: Thanks!

Redneck: That's good to know!

January 06, 2008 10:15 AM  
Blogger Angela M. said...

Cathy, you wrote this for me today.

Nikki has asked if I can come down for the Rite of Election. I pulled out my catechist manual and read that the bishop is going to ask me, as godmother, to swear in front of God, that she is ready. Cathy - I don't know if she is.

All they ever talk about in her RCIA is the Sunday readings and their "feelings." Last year she was dimissed as per usual during Mass and the catechist (a male) admitted to her that he was living with his GF. This is the sort of CRAP she is exposed to. When I correct what they are teaching she gets upset thinking I am too political. She says, "I just want to love Jesus."

This morning at Mass Father said Jesus loves us and meets us where we are and works from there. I believe thast and I also believe Nikki will be "illuminated" once she is baptized but how do I approach her RIGHT NOW and not turn her off but at the same time stay true to the Church.


January 06, 2008 2:36 PM  
Blogger Angela M. said...

Oh, I should mention that Nikki DOES know what the Sacraments are and believes in the Real Presence 1000%. So, we do have a good "canvas" to work with.

January 06, 2008 2:41 PM  
Blogger Ray from MN said...

Well, I'm finally getting to my "blog route."

I hate being the resident geezer amoung you wonderful people and I really hate being the one to point out that the "Precepts of the Church" were originally Six in Number.

The Sixth was to "Observe the Laws of the Church Concerning Marriage."

I have not seen any of them in print or mentioned in a rabbits age. (Do rabbits live a long time? Probably not when Cathy has her cookbook out!)

I'm not sure why that one has been dropped in a Church that is seeing a 50% divorce rate, just like other Christians.

I think in the olden days it was not possible for a Catholic to get married in a protestant church, even with a priest "assisting."

To show you how long it has been since the Sixth Precept of the Church has been enforced, I cannot find no details on it in Google, or even on the Catholic Answers website.


January 06, 2008 5:15 PM  
Blogger japhy said...

Ray, NewAdvent knows about the sixth precept, but I don't think it means what you think it meant:

"not to marry within a certain degree of kindred nor to solemnize marriage at the forbidden times."

January 06, 2008 5:38 PM  
Blogger Ray from MN said...

Good catch, Japhy!

Just a minor quibble, though. The Catholic Encyclopedia on New Advent.com is the 1913 version, the one that is "out of copyright."

I may be old, but I'm not that old. I can't remember if that is what we were taught in grade school or not. I don't believe that we spent a great deal of time on that precept.

One would think that the Church would still have "kindred" rules. I know my ggf's brother had to get a dispensation from the Bishop when after his first wife died about 1890 he wanted to marry the sister of his oldest son's wife.

The "forbidden times" rule must have related to Lent, Advent, etc.

January 06, 2008 7:08 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Ray and japhy: Yep, I knew about old #6 and my original post included that but I thought it was too much of a digression from my main point so I dropped it.

It has to do with not marrying a non-Catholic. not marrying before witnesses, not marrying at improper times and not marrying within the 4th degree of kindred. Ray, I agree that PC related reasons are probably why it was dumped. I agree that was unfortunate.

Angela: I recall on your blog back when mentioning this problem with her RCIA. Is there a way you can raise the issue of the Precepts, the 10 Commandments etc, weave in her feelings but find some way to, at the end, remain true to the teaching? I think you are right to be concerned. I don't remember if you said you mentioned any of these concerns to the pastor before or not.

January 06, 2008 7:22 PM  
Blogger Angela M. said...

Cathy, I am going to write her a letter. It's going to take a few days to get it together and pray over it,etc. I don't want to come on too strong but I know she appreciates the Truth.

The pastor is part of the problem and so is his assistant (whom I supspect is a lesbian, though not practicing.)Our bishop is also way to soft.

January 06, 2008 8:46 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Angela: I thought later that perhaps straight up presentation could be best. I think the letter is a good plan. At least, then, you've done something and said something.

I will pray for you and Nikki.

January 07, 2008 6:15 AM  
Blogger Angela M. said...

Thanks Cathy.

At this point all I can do is present her with the facts. The Holy Spirit will do the rest.

January 07, 2008 11:47 AM  

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