April 18, 2007

I am Peter

I'm still in contact with some of my dissident Catholic buddies. The tension level at these get-togethers has ratcheted up considerably once it became known that I was going to be Confirmed at the Easter Vigil. Furthermore, that I was NOT going to be "confirmed" at a dissident parish.

I was at a birthday party a few weeks back where you could have cut the tension with a chainsaw. I expected to be railroaded because certain people would be there and I was.

Questions that were asked and my responses:

What did you learn in these Catholicism courses that you did not already know? Teachings straight out of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Did you learn what the 7 Gifts of the Holy Spirit are? Yes.

Why is Confirmation important to you? Because I am finally ready to make an authentic commitment to Christ.

Why are you being Confirmed at that Church? Because my Pastor said it was fine. I'm taking my courses there and I wanted to be with my classmates.

Why didn't you take Confirmation classes at our parish? Because said parish does not teach Catholicism. Look at their website, the Confirmation group learned about Native Spirituality and went on an inner-city field trip to see what it was like to be poor. Not bad things, but not what I think we need, as Catholics, in courses that are supposed to teach us the fundamentals of our Faith. You can learn Native Spirituality somewhere else, some other time. Pretending you are poor for a day is important, but if the point is to learn the tenets of the Faith is it as important as learning what the Catachism REALLY says about conscience? No.

The people asking the questions are all members of a certain parish in Minneapolis that I used to belong to.

The implication behind all their questions was: What's wrong with our parish? Why did you leave? What are you learning that we don't know? What's wrong with us? At the end of the day my inquisitors think: There's nothing wrong with us, it's you, Cathy, who has a problem.

One gal was getting really angry. She has a lot of major issues and bitterness about various aspects of her life going way back. She's frequently angry about a lot of things. I've come to believe that the Church is her convenient scapegoat because IT can't talk back and she chooses not to listen to it anyway. She feels that the Church wronged her throughout her life. Why? I've come to see that it's because the Church or a Priest told her something she was doing was wrong. She does not want to hear that and doesn't think anyone or anything has the right to tell her anything she does or believes is right or wrong. But, she gets ticked off the minute you try to point out to her that she is wrong. She shuts down and dialog is impossible. It's funny, because her parish advocates dialog 24/7 but its impossible to dialog with someone who is so bitter her mind is closed.

You hear a lot of talk in the dissident set about the necessity of "dialog" in order to reach an understanding of divergent viewpoints. What they really want is for you to agree with them as a result of the dialog. If not agreement, then that you'll agree to just go away and leave them alone.

Honestly, I ask myself: If you put two Catholics in a room and one really hates the Church and almost everything it teaches and the other loves the Church and everything it teaches. How is dialog even possible? You aren't even starting from the same page.

However, I remind myself that dialog may be possible if both Catholics really KNOW what the Church teaches. Dissidents have been fed so much distorted garbage by folks who should, and probably do, know better, that they, in many cases, have no real understanding of Catholicism. In my humble opinion, real dialog can start with the Catachism. Both of us will read the CCC in its entiriety first and then we can dialog.

The response to my back and forth with the gang at the party was silence. They can't, at the end of the day, deny anything I said. They know they are: a) ignorant of and/or b) willfully choosing to ignore Church teachings.

The discussion finally drifted into the mindfield of Confession. I know I told some of you that some of my buddies had a major problem with me when I announced a few years ago that I had gone back to Individual Confession. It all fell apart at this point. They don't think they need it, general absolution twice/year is good enough, there shouldn't be First Confession for kids before First Communion etc. etc.

At this point, we all went, unsaid, into a safer topic. We all realized we were there for another purpose, that being, to honor a friend on her birthday not to have a big fight at her house.

Lest everyone reading this think I'm post-Ascension Peter traveling straight into trouble, defending the Lord before the Sanhedrin and all that, forget it. With a few shining exceptions, I take the safe route of not saying anything in the interest of keeping the collective peace and saving my own big butt. I'm Peter after the arrest of Jesus, denying Him. Much more then 3 times, let me tell you.

I know I should not be like this. I should have the courage of the martyrs. I should have the courage of St. Catherine of Alexandria but I don't.

You read a lot about Catholics who are upset because they don't hear enough tough truths from the pulpit during the Homily. I agree, we don't. However, I have to ask myself: How much tough truth am I telling? Should I be worried more about myself then whether my priest is courageous or not? Don't get me wrong. It is critical that our priests be lions for the Faith, however, it's just as critical that we are too. That I am too.


Blogger Kasia said...

I understand the difficulty of your position, although the tensions between me and my old friends have a slightly different tenor because they are almost all not Catholic. I, too, need to be a lion for the Faith. It's much easier said than done, I know. I will pray for you.

(Just wait'll you have a Customs officer ask you why you would want to be confirmed into the Catholic Church. The power imbalance there *really* makes for some fun times... :-) )

April 18, 2007 1:20 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

How you got on that topic with a customs officer I'm sure I don't know. :-) But, it's probably quite a story!

April 18, 2007 2:44 PM  
Blogger Kasia said...

Well, considering the frequency with which I cross the border, it's not surprising that there are very few topics I haven't discussed with customs officers!

I had driven myself and my boyfriend across to Windsor to meet up with his mother and grandmother, who were coming for the Easter Vigil. Boyfriend rode back with his mom and gram, I drove back alone...and my habit with customs officers is to provide more information than they actually expect me to give - as a rule, it tends to convince them that I'm not hiding anything. In this case, however, it backfired, as I explained the situation and that they were coming to see me be confirmed. He started asking questions, and it just got progressively worse...

April 18, 2007 3:49 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Wow! I'm glad I wasn't at that "party."

Religion almost never comes up when I am with Protestants. And with my "Catholic" Progressive Buddies from my college days, we talk about the same things we talked about in the old days, anything but religion.

Actually, we did talk religion now and then, even though we didn't practice it. And one of us ended up in Immaculate Heart Seminary for four years or so. And another is a Professor of Theology at St Kate's, former head of the Department.

But our relationship is indeed estranged. If they read my blog, it probably would be over.

When I do get together with them occasionally, I have to make sure that I do say some "liberal" things so that they will be aware that I haven't gone completely off the deep end.

But maybe not. They are getting to be geezers too. I should prayer for them more often.

April 18, 2007 5:53 PM  
Blogger Histor said...

"They don't think they need it, general absolution twice/year is good enough,"

What planet are these from?

By the way, notice the dehumanized form of Confession they have, as if Jesus said, "I died for all those nameless faces out there, whoever the heck they are anyhow," rather than "I died for YOU, the man who just hauled off into a quiet corner and spoke face-to-face with Me asking for forgiveness."

Just my vitriolic opinion.


April 18, 2007 7:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I seem to be quoting St. Francis a lot these days...preach the Gospel always, if necessary use words.

Cathy - you are doing everything right.

April 18, 2007 8:03 PM  
Blogger Cathy said...

That was a great post.
God love ya.

April 18, 2007 8:30 PM  
Blogger Adoro said...


Don't be so hard on yourself. One of the things I learned at class this weekend had to do with the gift of knowing when to remain silent. Remember that Pilate asked Jesus questions, Herod asked him questions....and he chose not to answer. At his "trial" where he was accused, he did not explain or defend, but only said that he had spoken publicly.

There is a time to remain silent; remember about "casting your pearls before swine." Not to call your friends "swine", but if they have chosen the muck they are in, then it is the same thing. If you were to cast your pearls before them, they would not have benefitted, for as you observed, they were closed off.

Jesus recognized this in the people, too.

Another point to remember; you are now in the role of the prophet, so don't expectto be respected in your "homeland."

Just pray for them, do your best...and let the Lord handle their stony hearts. It's not your job to convert them...it not necessarily your job to defend the Church verbally. It is your job to live a life of authentic holiness and to, through example, express your joy. People are not converted by words, but through example, usually.

Just be that example and entrust the rest to the Lord who created us all.

God bless you!

April 18, 2007 9:08 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Thanks all.

Histor: Your "vitriolic" opinion is straight on. That IS exactly their position. Christ died for someone else, I did not kill Him etc. etc. Someone else's sins did it, blah, blah.

Adoro: Nice perspective, thanks. See, how much you are learning?!. I will tell all my dissident buddies you think they are swine. just kidding!

April 18, 2007 9:15 PM  
Blogger owenswain said...

All, that's all, but one of my former Protestant minister peers dropped me an my family like a led communion wafer when we became Catholic.

Now, we have a 'host' of new friends the caliber of which I never could have imagined before.

God bless you.


April 19, 2007 8:00 AM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

onionboy: I agree. The new friends I've made since my reversion are wonderful. I feel like I can be my true self with them.

April 19, 2007 11:10 AM  
Blogger Sanctus Belle said...

Just the fact that you ARE orthodox and are honestly seeking Truth is a very powerful witness to dissident Catholics! I was once a lukewarm, cafeteria Catholic and the silent witness of Catholics living their faith well drew me in. The fact that you 'bother' them means you ARE witnessing to them. Worry not! Your strong example is worth more than a million words!

April 19, 2007 12:53 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Sanctus Belle: That's why I've decided that I will not just cut ties with them. Sometimes it's tempting but maybe we can learn from each other. If nothing else, how to dialog in a civil way.

April 19, 2007 5:30 PM  
Blogger Adoro said...

Cathy, you are an example to us all. I wish I had the same courage, but I fear I would shrink away in such a situation.

April 19, 2007 7:27 PM  
Blogger Terry Nelson said...

I meme'd you for favorite saints!

April 19, 2007 10:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You said, "It is critical that our priests be lions for the Faith, however, it's just as critical that we are too. That I am too." - good point.

What I have noticed is that priests are a whole lot stronger when they get support from us.

It's very effective to say within his hearing, "I admire him when he just comes out with the truth, without getting hung up about how I might feel about it." The next homily you hear after doing something like that is usually a really good one. :-)

April 22, 2007 3:25 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Judith Teresa: Good plan!

April 22, 2007 7:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Cathy,

I'll point out something that Scott Hahn learned from his Opus Dei spritual director in regard to this. It's not just that we need to be charitable in our dialog with dissenters, its that we have to remember that not everyone's eye is unblocked, not every one can see the truth. The reality is that the orthodox need to be prayerfully greatful that they *can* see the truth! That is a gift. Not everyone will get the gift. Some folks are lucky to be doing well with the sight that they have. So I think there is a lot to be said for just being greatful that those folks we disagree with are praying beside us and striving towards the light as best they can see it.

April 26, 2007 2:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also check out #11 of the Gargoyle chronicles:


A good admonition for us high church folks.

April 26, 2007 2:07 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...


April 26, 2007 7:09 PM  

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