August 25, 2006

Me and My Dissident Friends

After 15 years of hard-core dissenting Catholicism, how are my still dissident Catholic friends taking my reversion? I have many friends and probably only a handful are practicing Catholicism at all, liberal or not. My remaining friends are: atheists, new agers, agnostics or Protestants. Despite Minnesota being a large Lutheran state, most of my Protestant friends are Methodists. I have one good friend of many years who is a Mormon and another who is Jewish (Reform)

I am still in contact with most of my dissident Catholic friends. But, I can feel almost all of them slipping away. Faith plays an important role in our lives, and after a while it's really hard to talk about the weather every time you get together. Even if you are in Minnesota!

There are a couple of women that have been friends of mine for over 20 years. They have seen me go thru a lot of difficulties and they have remained steadfast and loyal friends. These 2 friends are technically Roman Catholics but they are big-time dissenters. They believe in relativism. "I believe x, but if you don't that's ok" or "You may believe y, but I don't and that's ok" One of these friends is a life-long Catholic, the other is actually a convert from Methodism.

We all used to belong to an infamous parish in South Minneapolis on 45th St. and 3rd Ave S. Said parish is in the local and, dare I say, international Catholic news a lot. I don't feel like talking about it right now. My two friends are still members of that parish.

You can imagine what our brunch conversations are like now, eh?

Please bear with me because I think I'm working up to a point here.

Anyway, now that I have left my former parish and officially transferred to my neighborhood parish in St. Paul, some of our get-togethers can become a little awkward and tense. For a while, they were constantly "working" me to come back to my former parish. I have steadfastedly said no. "Oh, come on, just a visit". I no longer feel like the Mass is valid at that parish so why would I waste my Sunday Obligation on it?

Lately, we have had some really interesting long silences about Sin, Hell, Purgatory and Confession. To me, they all fit together. My 2 friends don't believe in any of it and fall back on their relativist comments of: "YOU may believe in Hell, but I don't", "I only have to confess straight to God", "You can't tell me my dead children are in Purgatory" In response to some of their comments, I can't always help but get angry and retort that they are speaking "like true Protestants". I get nowhere with that one. I think it's an insult to call a Catholic a Protestant and they could care less. I mean people have been killed in Belfast for that kind of talk. Doesn't faze them.

What spurred all this talk amongst friends of Sin, Hell, Purgatory and Confession? On April 2, 2005, the day Pope John Paul II died, I made my first Private Confession in over 15 years. I told my friends and they were stunned. Stunned. Over a year later, I think they are still stunned.

I'd been floundering about in late 2004-early 2005. I'd been doing a lot of reading (on the sly) of Catholic Apologetics literature. I'd even purchased a Catechism! I was at the point in my life where I felt like a phony. It was time to either put up or get out. If I was going to call myself a Catholic, then I better be one or leave. My Mormon friend, of all people, was the one who was always asking me: "How can you call yourself a Catholic if you don't believe it?" Of course, she has long been trying to convert me to the Mormon faith. In spite of her wishes that I convert to Mormonism, she has always been a good, honest friend. She was perfectly right, of course.

I believe my 2 friends feel betrayed by me. Here I was talking the good liberal Catholic game for OVER A DECADE and then in one day (so it must seem to them) poof, I'm gone. Wasn't I the one who loaned them my Ruether, Brock, Fiorenza and Starhawk books? Wasn't I the one who was a small group leader at RE-Imagining? Wasn't I the Goddess of Feminist Biblical Exigesis?

I also think that on some level my buddies are scared. If I have gone over to the "other side". What does that mean? What if I'm right and they are wrong?

I continue to pray for these two friends and I have seen some small signs of hope. We have had some conversations on the Real Presence, in which they are now (mostly) on the same page as me. It may not sound like much, but in the parish we used to be in together the Real Presence is barely acknowledged. It's a big start.

I may have lost many of my old friends but I have found many new ones. Friends that share the same beliefs as me. God has truly blessed me.

And so to bed.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cathy - I look forward to reading more blog entries in the future!

Were you a member of St. J of A? I promise I won't hold it against you haha! In fact, it's a miracle you got out of there - thanks be to God! He is truly merciful!

August 26, 2006 12:19 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Angela: Yes, I was a member of St. Joan of Arc for over a decade. I'll blog more on this someday.

He is, indeed, great and merciful!

August 26, 2006 4:06 PM  
Blogger Adoro said...

I can't wait to hear the rest of the story, about your New-Age-feminism, etc.

It takes courage to stand up and do the right thing, and special courage to follow where the Lord leads...God bless you for responding to Jesus!

August 26, 2006 4:33 PM  

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