October 15, 2009

Family: Redefined

Today, Ray sent me an email of a gathering (they called it a synod) of the usual suspects at a place that Ray and I like to have breakfast at on occasion. I thought it was a joke, because Ray is kind of a trickster. It, seriously, looks like an educational session on senior citizen healthcare that your doctor may force you to sit in on. You know; your doctor tells you that you need to lose weight so you should take this two hour free seminar on nutrition.

I see photos like this and I'm sad. REALLY sad because I personally know some of the the people in the photo from back in the day. What do they think to accomplish? Deepening of the faith or deconstruction of the faith? Are they helping us or helping themselves? I already know the answers: deconstruction and helping themselves. You will not see any of them asking me or most of the people who read this blog what their feelings are on their efforts to push women's ordination or gay "marriage" or popular election of the Pope. Yes, they probably already know the answer. But, they don't care. It's not going to stop them. The fact that millions are perfectly content with the faith the way it is and the way it must be, is irrelevant to them. When you don't really want to know the answer or have an honest dialogue you are only going to ask folks sympathetic to your issue the question.

I know that can happen on both "sides". Any side. People tend to associate with like-minded folks. However, in Catholicism there is no such thing as "conservative", "liberal", "traditional", "progressive". Catholic is Catholic. Period. Didn't Jesus remove all these labels? Galatians 3:28

One of the best recent commentaries on "just Catholics" that I've ever read was in the October 8, 2009 Catholic Spirit by a parishioner at St. John the Baptist in Savage, MN named Luke Bearth. You can read it here

I look at these photos and wonder if they realize that "Call to Action" is beginning to look like it means the fiber is working for you! Seriously, I think almost everyone in the photo is in their 50s-60s. The youngest person may be within 5 years of my age: 41.

We all know there is a huge gap in the demographics of the Church. There is a large demographic in the 40s-50s who are, largely, unchurched. Their religious instruction was appalling. They subscribe to the prevailing winds of social mores, rather than those of the faith they claim to still hold. In many instances, I'm not even sure it's entirely their fault. If their religious instruction was as bad as mine, then they often have no idea, honestly, what the church really teaches. They think they do and they read and cite a lot of stuff that backs them up (some of it written by highly credentialed folks); but as I've said before, if it's contrary to the true authority than it's not authority. How can you even recognize Truth if you've never been exposed to it?

The leaders of these groups spend a lot of their time getting around this issue of "by whose authority" by doing all they can to try to deconstruct the authority we already have. What better way to come up with your own stuff than by getting rid of and undermining the Magisterium? Marginalizing and browbeating priests until they give in? Ridiculing the faith and it's existing leadership? Feeling sorry for those of us poor saps that are not as "enlightened" as they are by taking it upon themselve to "free" us?

Their movement is going nowhere. I see the photos of these aged people and realize that their movement is not catching on with the young people. Now, we all know that sometimes the youth are too busy or too involved in their own lives to care about much of anything, but I've also known a lot of young people who are really fired up about causes. Want to know why Jesse Ventura was elected Governor of this state? The young voters turned out for him in droves.

Consider our Catholic youth here in the cities. Many of the seminarians and the young people enrolled in the colleges Catholic programs are there in spite of their own families. Many of them come from divorced and seperated families. Some from parents that were never married. Some from families that are totally opposed to them being there because the families are not Catholic. Some from families that believe in the "Spirit of Vatican II"

Yet, these young people, small but potent, are on fire for the faith. Many say they were intially touched by a World Youth Day or a procession or a meeting with a priest or nun or a prayer vigil or just having pizza with other seminarians.

We need to keep up the outreach to the young. We need more outdoor processions, youth days, Theology on Tap, Catholic young adult groups.

We need to be their families. It's tough to embrace the faith when you've been ostracized or criticized by your nuclear family. Jesus said "My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act upon it" Luke 8:21.

Today, as the traditional family is under siege, we may want to think about, on occasion, expanding the definition of family a tad ourselves. However, I'm not talking about Adam-Adam or Eve-Eve pairings or cohabitation, I'm talking about being true brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers to our young people who are interested in deepening their faith but are not getting support at home. I don't mean this in a cult-like way or forcibly taking people away from their families; but just be there for them when they have questions, when they need help, meet their families and prove you are not a nutcase but a charitable and kind Christian.

Social media makes it easier to be brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers to the faithful thru the online network. I'm grateful for all the family I've met online. I'm blessed in that my blood family has not given me that much grief about my reversion, but it's great to have the prayerful support and educational help from my Catholic network. I have family all over the world.


Blogger Ray from MN said...

Well done, Cathy.

Another interesting aspect to this group is that without a doubt they are all Democrats when they go into the voting booth. They really believe in "power to the people."

But when you remind them that the Catholic Church in the US is about 6% of the total worldwide and ask them if they want the Hispanics and the Africans and the Asians can vote on their issues, they become like the Democrats in Washington.

They know what's best for everybody. They prefer to make the decisions without a vote. Or only voting on issues that they select.

October 15, 2009 8:38 PM  
Blogger Terry Nelson said...

Kumbaya people. Sway to the music.

October 15, 2009 9:16 PM  
Blogger Shirley said...

Well written post. I am in that demographic, and as a child, I didn't receive much in the way of instruction in my Catholic faith, and fell away from the Church. However, since my return, I have gravitated to the old ways, as it was about the time of Vatican 2 that I stopped going to Mass, so what I remember is the Tridentine form. I truly think that the mess most parishes are in is because of all the liberal women of my age group who are running the parishes. I sure hope that the younger generation does it's usual rebellion and does not follow their ways!

October 16, 2009 9:04 AM  
Blogger nazareth priest said...

Absolutely. Our "communion in the Body and Blood of Christ" is stronger that any blood-relation, not that the nuclear family is not important.
God is working; I can see it more and more. The powers of darkness are working overtime...but they have been defeated by the blood of the Lamb.
We just have to do what we can do in the present moment and entrust everything to our Lady and Saint Joseph.
The Lord is King!

October 16, 2009 11:02 AM  
Blogger Ray from MN said...


Good points.

And since women do run most parishes, maybe we can give them a uniform and a jaunty cap suitable to their authority and those uniforms ultimately will be deemed as "religious habits."

October 16, 2009 11:22 AM  
Blogger For The Sake Of Him said...

Please excuse my youth and inexperience, but what exactly happened after Vatican II in the U.S. that caused all the liturgical, abuses, declines in vocations, and rampant dissent among the faithful. As a not-quite 23-year old who, God willing, will serve as a Catholic priest in a religious order someday, it'd be helpful to know what happened that caused the spiritual and moral void in the U.S. that we're dealing with now. I know that Vietnam and Watergate were partly to blame for the Counterculture movement, but why was there such a rebellion against the Church's teachings by the youth in the 60s, 70s, and even the '80s?
If you'd prefer to communicate via e-mail, my e-mail address is terogamusaudinos@gmail.com.
God Bless,
Michael B.

Formerly "Landolakesjesuit" of Minnesota Catholic blog.

October 16, 2009 11:32 AM  
Blogger nazareth priest said...

Michael B.: I know you didn't ask me, but I'll give you a hint: "the smoke of Satan has entered the Church".
Now that sounds scary and a bit hard to believe, but Jesus is ever-greater, more powerful than Satan.
There has been so much confusion because people who wanted to put across their "agenda", in other words, what THEY wanted to see happen, had the media and the control to confuse the ordinary faithful.
Read the Vatican II documents; the encyclicals of Pope John Paul II and Benedict XVI; the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
You will find in these anointed words the Truth, Who is Jesus, the Way and the Life. God bless and keep you. And be assured of my prayers and the prayers of our monastic community. Fr. John Mary, ISJ

October 16, 2009 5:25 PM  
Blogger Ray from MN said...

Michael B. (and Father - Nazareth Priest)

Please read the Pastoral Letter that Bishop Nickless of Sioux City, Iowa, put out yesterday on the Spirit of Vatican II and its debilitating effect upon the Church. 9,000 words

Father Z and His Hermeneuticalness in England have both quoted it.

There is a link to it on Stella Borealis.

I haven't read it yet. That's for tonight. But I sense that this will be a major, frequently cited, entry in the history of the Modern Church.

October 16, 2009 6:47 PM  
Blogger paularuddy said...

Hi, Cathy. You did us the favor of visiting our blog, The Progressive Catholic Voice, so I am returning the favor. Thanks for initiating conversation. You are right we are mostly elders. I'm wondering, does that make us less worthy of respect?

I would like to have a serious conversation on some questions of conscience. Would you be open to that? We probably have many things in common (I majored in English at St Catherine's and lived in Whitby and studied Gerard Manley Hopkins with love too.)

Maybe we disagree about respect for authority. We are no doubt products of both the Western liberal democratic tradition and the Roman Catholic tradition. I think they each have valuable critiques to offer each other. I believe very strongly that the Roman Catholic tradition has valuable contributions to make to the Western liberal democratic tradition and I am gratified when the Roman Catholic leadership is heeded in our civil society. But I also think that the Gospel values of freedom and equality and self-direction are more evident in the Western liberal democratic tradition and should be humbly acknowledged in the Roman Catholic tradition. Is this unreasonable in your view? Paula

October 17, 2009 6:10 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Michael B: I'm sending you an email.

October 18, 2009 1:51 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Paula: By no means does being an elder make anyone less worthy of respect. I was just making the point that without the youth, your movement will ultimately lose traction and die out. I'm sorry if I sounded disrespectful of anyone's age for it's own sake. I have an often, lamentable, tendancy to heavy sarcasm.

I'm sure we DO have many things in common.

The current Roman Catholic Church is, often, termed the Catholic Church of the "west" because of the Great Schism. Faith teaches us that any division in The Body of Christ is wrong. That said, to expect the Roman Catholic Church to accomodate to the Western liberal tradition is not only divisive but restrictive.

Where does such an accomodation leave US? Christ wanted "that all would be one".

We should pray and work for the day that all are one. That there are no labels like: progressive, traditional, liberal, conservative, western, latin, orthodox, eastern to describe the Faithful.

The Church is under no obligation to accomodate itself to us. It is we who must accomodate ourselves to it. Asking the Church to accomodate itself to what we personally think or find most palatable is the same as asking Christ to change to conform to us.

Again and again in Scripture, Christ gave examples of how we have to change to follow Him. He did not give examples of how He would change so we would find following Him any easier.

No one, certainly not Christ, said that to be His follower would be easy. Many left Him because they would not change themselves.

It's bewitching to fool ourselves into thinking we can "keep the faith and change the church". I know. I used to live and believe that to. It will not happen. A house divided against itself cannot stand. I've come to believe that a person divided within themselves can't stand either.

The biggest battleground of faith is interior.

October 18, 2009 2:26 PM  
Blogger Paula said...

Thanks for the thoughtful response, Cathy. I believe much of what you say. Especially the part about growing to manifest the Christ life. That is what I want to do too. I am not talking about the Church "accommodating" to the Western liberal democratic tradition. I think that both traditions have valuable contributions to make to human development and can offer each other valuable critiqe. Maybe our difference is that I look upon the Church as a human institution more than you do. If an institution in its practices is not fulfilling its mission, we ususally try to make adjustments to rectify the situation. If your kid's school was not turning out educated children, you'd get in there and see that adjustments were made. Same thing with the Church, I think. I think the baptized in whom Christ dwells are responsible for making the institution as supportive of growth in the Christ life as possible given our human finiteness. Does this view seem wrong to you?

October 18, 2009 9:56 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Paula: I agree that the faithful have an obligation to make sure the Church is fulfilling it's obligations to the faithful. However, I suspect that you and I differ on what that means.

For example; the Church in the late 1960s-1980s often failed to adequately and accurately pass on the faith. Many Catholics have no idea what the Church teaches or why.

However, it is not just the Church in the sense of clergy and religious who failed. We failed too. Many of us who call ourselves Catholic failed (and fail) to adequately and accurately pass on the faith as well. We, too, have the same obligation to instruct.

I support the institution (as you call it) deepening the life of Christ by educating the faithful in Scripture, Tradition, Magisterium and what those mean and how they fit together. There are instances where the institutional Church has failed to do so (there are instance when we as individual members fail too). But, rather, than calling for a changing of the teachings, I'd call for a return to the core understanding and meaning of them.

For example; some clergy abused minors. It happened. However, rather than taking that to mean that we can solve that sinful conduct by ordaining women or weakening the clerical celibacy requirements is not the answer. If we had not lost the meaning of the truths of what it means to be ordained and what sexuality is and is not (contained in Church teachings), many of these abuses would not have happened.

October 19, 2009 12:29 PM  
Blogger Shirley said...

Bravo, Cathy.

October 20, 2009 2:56 PM  
Blogger nazareth priest said...

Ray from MN: Thanks for the tip. You are absolutely correct. This letter is a treasure!

October 21, 2009 4:15 PM  

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