September 26, 2009

In the World but Not of It

Recently, a Catholic friend was invited to a wedding that she was not comfortable attending. Not only was she invited, she was asked to participate in the day by giving a prayer before the meal.

We've all been there. We are invited to events we are not comfortable even being invited to much less attending.

Wedding for couples that have been cohabitating for years and already have kids together out of wedlock. Blessing ceremonies rather than wedding Masses. Weddings at shopping malls. Halloween parties. Sporting events on the Sabbath. Dinner at your Aunt's on Good Friday. Catholics who opt to have their children baptised in an Evangelical church. Requests to be godparents to kids whose parents you know are barely following the faith.

What do you do?

Do as we must do. Prayerfully consider each request as it comes. Sometimes you feel you can attend with your core integrity and beliefs intact, sometimes no; you decline and stay home.

As living, believing Roman Catholics we are set apart from the world. We believe and live, daily, in ways that are foreign, strange and, yes, weird to many others in society. Yet, we have to live within the world. How else can we evangelize?

If we only live with and for people who think exactly as we do, how many lost opportunities for evangelization are there? "Go and make disciples of all nations" said the Lord. He didn't say "Go home now and rest, your work is done"

Don't get me wrong. Living with and spending a lot of time with those who think and believe as we do, is a great way of bolstering each other and helping each other in our faith. However, to do so, to the exclusion of all others is to fail the Lord.

Disapproval and absence are strong messages. However, attendance and modeling Catholic behavior and belief is a strong message as well.

When the community of Ave Maria formed in Florida, I supported it in some ways. But, in other ways, I was unconvinced it was the way we should live. It seems bequiling to live exclusively with people you can freely share your faith with. However, that's the point. We may not feel free, but we should freely share our faith-even to those who don't want to hear it.

Maybe Ave Maria fails because of the hubris of one man. Maybe it would've never worked. I know that I believe persecutions are coming and that a dispersed target is harder to hit than a single one.

Be in the world and prove to it that the Gospel is worth living for.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

In your mind, where do enclosed contemplative nuns and monks rank then vis a vis?
"Don't get me wrong. Living with and spending a lot of time with those who think and believe as we do, is a great way of bolstering each other and helping each other in our faith. However, to do so, to the exclusion of all others is to fail the Lord."

September 27, 2009 6:33 AM  
Blogger Adoro said...

Uh...I don't see that Ave Maria has "failed." They are still developing, and one of my professors now lives there (as he has a position in the Classics dept.)

Nothing wrong with having Ave Maria the town. From what I see, it only changes the battle a little...doesn't eliminate it.

And...I like anon's comment...about a comparison to contemplative communities. Granted their status is far different, but one can be strengthened by being set apart and given the ability to focus....and then going forth.

I think we have to wait and see what happens with the town before we call it a "failure". I hate to use the cliche' but for once it actually applies: Rome wasn't built in a day. Nor was Ave Maria.

As far as the rest of your post...I agree.

September 27, 2009 7:30 AM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Anon: I'm focusing on lay people with this post. Perhaps I should've said that up front.

Adoro: I'm not putting the final nail in Ave Maria's coffin but it's clear that in its current state, it's failing. It will fail (or "failed" the past tense I deliberately didn't use), if things don't turn around soon.

September 27, 2009 9:25 AM  
Blogger Terry Nelson said...

Good post - and I totally understand what you are saying.

I know a woman who would not go to her daughter's wedding because it was not a church wedding. We all know of stories like that, as you mentioned.

That said, we then have Church leaders, bishops and cardinals, giving communion to non-believers, performing public funerals for public sinners, and so on.

This is my big beef - family relationships and friendships are sacrficed by the simple believers, while Church people provide loopholes and excuses for the elite. It doesn't make sense.

September 27, 2009 10:50 AM  
Blogger Adoro said...

Cathy ~ I stand your position. I don't live there and really don't care about the town as I do the University itself, so am pretty neutral on this.

But...what are you TALKING about?

What do you MEAN it's "failing" and "has to turn around"?

Seriously...what is this "coffin" of which you speak upon which is written "Ave Maria town"?

September 27, 2009 10:05 PM  
Blogger Sanctus Belle said...

I don't know a thing about Ave Maria Town's finances, and I checked them out a bit when they were starting out - but was instantly dismayed by the plethora of VERY expensive 3 bedrooms houses. What came to my mind was this: so...this is a Catholic town?? Where are the large, not rich Catholic families supposed to live?

September 28, 2009 10:56 AM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Adoro: You are completely seizing upon an extremely minor part of my post. I still stand by my assertion that lay Catholics living in Catholic ghettos (it's not a ghetto as we understand it for the most part today but you get my drift-I hope) is not, imho, the way we should strive to live as evangelists.

In any event, the news has been full of stories of Tom Monaghan's hubris causing all kinds of problems both at AMU, AMSOL and the town itself. Recently, there was a 4 part series in "The Wanderer" by a resident of the town. In fact, I think she also blogs at Roman Catholic blog. Marielena Montesino de Stuart

September 28, 2009 7:55 PM  

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