August 03, 2010

Inferiority Complex

Gentle Reader: I try really hard to follow the recommended devotional practices of our Church. I try especially hard and with great diligence to follow the mandated periods of fast and abstinence during the liturgical year.

I fast from food and abstain from meat on Good Friday and Ash Wednesday. I abstain from meat on Fridays during Lent. At one point, I always totally fasted on First Fridays in reparation and hopeful prayer that the sin of abortion would end. I should start that practice up again, especially, as our local friends at Planned Parenthood want to build a bigger abortuary in St. Paul.

Anyway, I’ve periodically been met with resentment by my fellow Catholics when they hear what I’m doing-especially during the two years I had my First Friday fast going on. Usually, I’d hear: “Why are you doing that? Do you think you are a better Catholic than I am?”

Are they thinking: Is it possible they are missing out on something? Is it possible I’m judging them? Is it possible if they don’t do it something bad is going to happen to them?

I decided, after a period of annoyed reflection, the motivation behind these statements was their own unease and anxiety; not some effort to put me down. Though that may have been part of it, it was not all of it.

I would usually comment back to them, in all honesty: “No, I don’t think I’m better than you. In fact, I know I’m not which is why I’m doing it” End of story. I’m still the biggest sinner I know.

Why then do fellow Catholics get so upset and act like you are the one who is crazy when you cross yourself as you pass a Catholic Church (to reverence the Blessed Sacrament inside) or when you are walking around Como Lake carrying your Rosary or when you are abstaining EVERY Friday or fasting on Ash Wednesday?

Part of it may be embarrassment; after all it’s more “hip” these days to act like a Catholic who doesn’t give a damn and probably is damned than one who is actually acting and living like one. So, there goes that old throwback making us all look like Vatican II never happened blah, blah, yadda, yadda. What an embarrassment, why doesn’t she just join us in our fortress of indifference and eye-rolling superiority?

When you buy into this line of cr---, uh, reasoning that’s the point you start crossing over to the dark side. Once you are ashamed of devotional practices that you practice openly, it’s a short step to suddenly being ashamed you are going to daily Mass and then oops, why do you really need to go to Confession and why should you feel bad about being too busy for Sunday Mass. On and on

After you’ve crossed over then you want others to join you too. No one wants to feel shame and it’s easier to not feel shame when as many people as possible are on the Sin Train with you. When you surround your self with people who think like you then you can avoid those awkward encounters with people like me who tell you they make it a spiritual practice (some of which may be mandates and some not but to those who are far gone there is no distinction) to go to Confession before First Friday, to pray the Rosary daily, to go to Mass every Sunday.

If there is anyone who is selfish in these scenerios it’s probably me because I’m not buying the dissident line of baloney anymore. I have to admit I do not always use these opportunities as teaching moments. Some times I just have to walk away because I already know what’s coming. It’s not that I’m afraid they will revert me, it’s more like I just don’t want to hear it anymore. I’ve been there, believed it, lived it, spoke it, spread it. I’m removed from it. I’ve removed myself from it.

This is probably an erroneous response. I should be in the thick of it. There are few better qualified then me to go right into the trenches. There are days I amuse myself with the thought of going back to my old parish in a chapel veil. I don’t know-maybe one day I will. Maybe one day I’ll have to. But, for now, no.

But, I know if a priest I know and respect and like were assigned there and I know he’s going to need help I’d be over there in a shot. Then, I ask myself in all honesty: “So, you’d go back there for a friend, but not for the Lord?”

/me hangs head in shame

Who’s inferior now?


Blogger Joe @ Defend Us In Battle said...

Cathy... you nailed it here.

I was trying to express a similar idea the other day and failed.

I think the most salient point is the one you made about the fade into the "no big deal" camp. It is a descent that happens with just a small step or slide.

August 03, 2010 1:39 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance." (James 1:2-3)

Of course, thanking people for persecuting you for your faith could just *possibly* be considered a teeny bit snarky....


August 03, 2010 1:48 PM  
Blogger Subvet said...

Screw 'em! Your salvation is your business.

I've also run into the "ashamed of my faith" Catholics. A couple of years ago, when the Life Chain was forming up at a local parking lot, the Protestant leader asked all to join in prayer. Yours truly was the only Catholic making the sign of the Cross, even though several other men were obviously Catholic (who else wears a K of C ballcap).

God won't be judging us in groups, each will stand or fall alone on their own merits. May He have mercy on us all.

August 03, 2010 2:43 PM  
Blogger Just another mad Catholic said...

Just over two weeks ago I was at a fundraiser when a guy I know (distently) said he was going to a jim morrison concernt the next day (a Sunday); when I tried pointing out the fact that he should set Sunday aside for God he kept saying that we live in 2010 not 1958, I tried throwing the Denzinger at him (metaphorically) but he just shrugged it off.

August 03, 2010 3:42 PM  
Anonymous victoria said...

Cathy, you are doing fine.Those who react negatively are being convicted by the Holy Spirit. Due to the state of the world, practicing our devotions is an absolute necessity to gain merit for souls, grace for the world.


August 03, 2010 5:16 PM  
Blogger TLW said...

I often struggled with saying just the right thing when someone who doesn't share my fervor tries to tell me a particular practice is antiquated or no longer necessary. I used to joke back about how I have a lot of lost ground to make up for. I've concluded it's best to let actions speak for themselves. Continue doing what you're doing, with a smile, and folks will start to wonder what you've discovered. They may even get so curious they decide to give it a try for themselves. I used to bury my Rosary in my pocket so no one could see I was saying it while I walked to work, etc. Now I carry the Rosary where it can be seen so perhaps I'll ignite a spark in someone else. The fact that we've been where we have gives us an "in" that others may not have, and rather than apologize for our piety, we are called to display it, not out of pride, but as a means of spreading the joy that it is ours and can be theirs, too. HOWEVER... One thing that does lead me to get a little short with people are those nosy women who don't veil but continue to ask me why I only wear a veil to the TLM and not the Novus Ordo. "How does it affect you and how will it help you to know the answer?" is now my pat response. Effects silence like a charm.

August 03, 2010 5:20 PM  
Blogger Fr. John Mary, ISJ said...

Our lay members in our association of the faithful get this criticism they were "uber Catholics"...they're just trying to be holy, faithful, loving the Lord and the Church in the time-tested manner of the saints.
I agree with subvet, "Screw 'em!" (Am I being irritable today:<)!)

August 03, 2010 6:08 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I don't think it is necessary to hide prayers and sacrifices, but it probably isn't necessary to announce them, either.

If you decided to abstain from meat on all Fridays (some form of penance or sacrifice is still required; for us older folks, abstaining from meat is easy, if we remember).

It was rather amusing last week when I had to look hard in the cafeteria to find a non-meat dish that I liked. As I was finishing my tuna sub, I all of a sudden realized it was a Thursday!

August 03, 2010 7:26 PM  
Blogger Fr. John Mary, ISJ said...

Ray: Jesus gives you extra "points" for that...really...I mean it!

August 03, 2010 7:49 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Mea Culpa, Pater!

I'm not very good at evangelization. That would be a good way to practice.

August 03, 2010 8:15 PM  
Blogger Fr. John Mary, ISJ said...

Upon further reflection, CofA, better get Adoro, Terry, and Ray as bodyguards when you go back to "your former parish in a chapel veil" with Vincezo ready to snap a pic or two!LOL!!
I'll even come to do the Asperges with copious amounts of holy water (consecrated in the Traditional blessing with salt and all)...I'll even bring Sr. P and Br. J along for moral support.
We'll have a picnic afterwards!

August 03, 2010 10:25 PM  
Blogger Tom in Vegas said...

Very nicely written, Cathy.

Here comes a cliche moment: I don't think you ought to let what other people think of your devotional practices impact you in the least bit. More importantly, I don't think YOUR perception of what people MAY be thinking of you impact you either. In the scheme of eternity, neither one of these two things will be around long enough to matter:0)

August 04, 2010 1:42 AM  
Blogger Larry Denninger said...

Cath - when you're assailed for being "too" Catholic, just smile and say "well, if you want to know what I really think, just read my blog!" Then watch the sparks fly!

August 04, 2010 8:55 AM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Good comments here from my militant and surly readership! Is it true that readership is influenced by the author?

Fr NP: We'd need Sister to keep the van running by the exit!

August 04, 2010 10:57 AM  
Blogger Fr. John Mary, ISJ said...

CofA: Absolutely...but she'd probably want to be involved in the "Skuffle":<)!

August 05, 2010 10:13 PM  
Blogger Adoro said...

nazareth priest ~ I'm IN! Let's plan it!


Cathy you've reminded me of a post I've been wanting to do on self-hating Catholics. Thanks!

August 07, 2010 5:44 PM  
Anonymous J said...

Story of my life right there...

August 07, 2010 9:39 PM  

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