Any place for individualism in Catholic spirituality?


#1

I have begun to realise recently that my spirituality since my conversion has been characterised by a rejection of anything I had in common with my previous Protestant understanding of the Christian faith.

So where before I was tolerant and believed Christianity to be compatible with a liberal democratic society, I have begun to yearn for a strict Catholic theocracy.

Where before I believed in a forgiving and all embracing God, I have begun to think in terms of a lofty and distant God who desires only strict adherence and submission.

Where before my prayer life was mostly free and spontaneous, now it is almost entirely limited to the performance of set prayers (rosary, angelus, liturgy of the hours).

While it's important to embrace a genuine Catholic understanding of God, I do worry that I'm going too far in the opposite direction. I suppose my question is, is there any authentic place for liberty, tolerance, individuality, in an authentic Catholic culture, or is modern Catholic culture only grudgingly forced to concede these principles in the face of protestant and secular forces?


#2

Hi, I think that yes, there’s room for that…

I also think that this part:

Where before I believed in a forgiving and all embracing God, I have begun to think in terms of a lofty and distant God who desires only strict adherence and submission.

is not Catholic… :confused: it seems more calvinist, or perhaps Muslim to me. There’s so much in Catholicism about God’s love and mercy. Maybe you could look into the Divine Mercy or the Sacred Heart devotions :slight_smile:

God bless


#3

Mother Teresa The Catholic nun of Calcutta quotes

“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”

“We have not come into the world to be numbered; we have been created for a purpose; for great things: to love and be loved.”

“I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world.”

“Intense love does not measure; it just gives”

“I know God will not give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish He didn’t trust me so much.”

“Peace begins with a smile.”

“True holiness consists in doing God’s will with a smile”

“Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls.”


#4

Some of this is the convert syndrome. One tends to react against former spiritual practices and outlooks, even if they were good in themselves.

Keep in mind that EVERYONE is, at bottom, a cafeteria Catholic.

There are devotions, forms of spirituality, saints, and other things in the Church that appeal to some people more than they appeal to others.

But this is why the Church is Catholic: there’s something in it for everybody.


#5

Try going apophatic.


#6

10 lepers were healed, but only 1 returned to Christ to give Him thanks. Let that be your image for the next few weeks. In your own words, just turn to God and give Him thanks and praise. Keep it simple. Do not become a robot. Do not surrender the love you Jesus that you had as a protestant to be replaced by rote prayers, keep the love going and over time learn to meditate on the prayers so they become more like reading from the Bible than praying from memorization.


#7

[quote="Monica4316, post:2, topic:181198"]
Hi, I think that yes, there's room for that...

I also think that this part:

is not Catholic... :confused: it seems more calvinist, or perhaps Muslim to me. There's so much in Catholicism about God's love and mercy. Maybe you could look into the Divine Mercy or the Sacred Heart devotions :)

God bless

[/quote]

Don't get me wrong, I do believe in a loving and merciful God, but His love is a desire for us to be totally conformed to Himself in inapproachable purity, His love is a refiner's fire, and His mercy is the fire of purgatory, without which none but the saints would reach Heaven. Our Lady said to the children at Fatima, in response to their questions about a teenage girl who had died having repented of a mortal sin (as far as we are aware, a single mortal sin) 'that little girl will be in purgatory until the end of time' :eek: - this is the awesomeness of God's purity, and is, we must make ourselves understand, not cruelty, but His love and His mercy.

God is our Father, but He is also a king; Mary is our Mother, but we should still kneel before her as her slaves (have made St Louis de Montfort's Total Consecration to Our Lady, am happy to be called her slave).

Freedom, in the Catholic understanding, is freedom to do good. The freedom to do evil is in fact no freedom at all. I've increasingly found myself moving from a political (not theological) liberalism which embraces diversity to an anger that our land, a land where the blood of martyrs was spilled for the holy faith, now permits the building of temples for the public worship of false gods. I find myself almost wishing that the Catholic Church was still persecuted in Britain if a strong Christian church (albeit a heretical one) would at least prevent the building of mosques and mandirs and the prozelytisation of false religions. Persecution would draw attention to the noble martyrs of Holy Church, whereas indifference treats us no different to the pagans, and, lo and behold, many of us (myself included) much of the time act no different to pagans. That sounds deeply arrogant and intolerant, bigoted, perhaps even racist, and I almost feel like I shouldn't publish it, but it's part of how I feel at times. I don't know if I ought to think differently, but I know there is still a big part of me that feels ashamed to write or even to think such illiberal things.

I am writing my doctoral thesis in education, and I want to be a lover and promoter of a more enlightened society, at the same time I can't help but notice that a prosperous and enlightened society is a society which forgets God and neglects the Holy Sacraments. Were things better in the age of famine and black death and infant mortality, petty monarchs and their wars, illiteracy and hard graft, where people lived in the constant awareness of death and lived for God and feared Him? To even ask the question makes me sound like a Catholic Pol Pot. I'd like to think there's a via media, a way between the two, a way to have both the prosperity that modernity can bring and Christian piety, and yet that was precisely the flawed idea that motivated the Protestant reformers, to use modern ways to re-found the Church, to remove what seemed to be the 'bad' side of being Catholic. True Catholic reformers such as St Francis of Assisi, St Alphonsus Liguori or St Josemaria Escriva didn't shy away from what appears, to our fallen human intellect, to be the harsh side of a life devoted to following Christ. There is no bad side to being Catholic:
"You have given them bread from heaven; having all sweetness within it."

There has been, at the level of the hierarchy, a move away from a militant Church, a Church which supported regimes where Mass attendance was a legal requirement and the public worship of other religions was banned (which happened well into the 20th century in Latin America), a Church which opposed democracy and press freedom but supported Crusades and Inquisitions, to a more tolerant Church which is happy to engage in ecumenical dialogue in the modern liberal democratic age. Is this move something the Church has willingly embraced because it is an objective good, or is it merely something the Church has been forced to concede in the face of prevailing secular conditions? I want to know if the kind of views I have expressed above are in fact fighting for the Church or fighting against it?

I'm at a crossroads...


#8

I'm at a crossroads. One path leads to total obscurity, embracing a path of such austerity that few even in the Church will listen, indeed a rejection of any point of contact with modernity, to the point that my writing will barely have an audience or an impact, writing which may have a prophetic impact, writing for God alone, writing best undertaken under obedience within an austere traditionalist Religious order, but only because there is no other place where I could make a living with such writing, writing which bolsters a side of my personality which I don't like, a life which says God has use for a Catholic Pol Pot, but which, even if not edifying, is not likely to contradict 'Tradition', if for no other reason than the obedience required of a Religious. The other path leads to a writing which speaks of hope, a Catholic input in the modern social sciences which engages non-Catholic thinkers where they stand, seeks to change the world as it is, to make it better, which says if we thought the past was bad, maybe it was bad, maybe even if everyone in the Dark Ages attended the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, maybe there were still more important things they neglected, which says the future can be better then the present or the past. A life lived as a lay person, lived in the married state because I feel that's the state I'm called to, lived at the heart of academic and political circles of influence in social policy, a life which will have an immediate policy impact, but which may stray into error, and which may, on the last day, leave only a trail of good intentions and compromises with secularism and failed ideas grounded only in intellectual pride and not the safety of the Church's centuries of solid Tradition. The choice is pretty stark, and can be based only on Truth, not personal preference.

Is it better to be called a 'liberal' by a few on the conservative fringes of the Church, better to try and to make mistakes, better to try to make something new, or is it better to stick to what is safe, maybe even to fall into the more severe error of lacking in love, which is far worse than error or even heresy, even if nobody can ever accuse me of being 'liberal' or a 'cafeteria Catholic'?

Compromise - is Compromise Catholic? St Paul quotes the pagan poets and philosophers when he stands before the Areopagus. St Patrick made use of druidic and celtic traditions in preaching Christianity to the Irish. But also: 'Homines per sacra immutari fas est non sacra per homines'

St Anselm described God as that of which no higher thing can be conceived. If the presentation of God I have described appears to be an angry, narrow-minded despot, that must mean that I've misunderstood Him. The question is, have I misunderstood Him because I'm mistaken about the value of 'progress', 'diversity' etc, or have I misunderstood what He in fact wants?
"Go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy and not sacrifice'."


#9

Sorry about the previous post, it was a bit of an angry rant. :imsorry:


#10

Funny, much of my experience was just the opposite. In Catholicism they were teaching love all the time and I finally had to stop and deal more seriously with that “concept”.

And the freest thinkers in Christianity have been Catholic. St Augustine & St Teresa of Avila come to mind first-who’ve contributed immensely to a deeper knowledge of God and His will.

No one ever said Catholics can’t pray freely and spontaneously. But we also have rote prayers which serve as expressions of our faith and pleas so we don’t always have to be so “spontaneous” when we’re not particularly feeling that way.

“A strict Catholic theocracy”, meaning a Church that knows and proclaims Gods will, is a good thing, and cannot conflict with “liberty, tolerance, individuality”. In fact, I’d maintain that those qualities are valued in our culture mainly because of the influence of the gospel, via Catholicism’s spreading of it out in the world. The light of Gods Word will do its thing regardless even of how fully the Church, herself, may understand it at the time.

And at this time, she understands it better than ever. Read “Spe Salvi” and some of the hundreds of other documents written in the last 50 years by Catholic thinkers. Nowhere is social justice or human dignity proclaimed like it is through the teachings of the Catholic Church. This is why a Catholic has a harder time aligning with any political parties platform-he’ll come off as conservative on some issues, liberal on others. This is also why the CC never “grudgingly” concedes anything to anyone. She simply does not dance to anyone’s tune. I’m surprised you haven’t found this, after so recently converting.

The wealth and variety of spiritual experiences of the Church’s people down through the ages is rich and vast. Study the lives of the saints and the writings of the ECFs and concilliar decrees and encyclicals. Read Vat II documents and the CCC. You can’t help but be progressively impressed with her wisdom, IMO.


#11

I think we need to consider whether or not the injunction, “Thou shalt Love”, is an unfair one or not. Is it born from love, itself, and impossible to argue against, or is it born from the mind of a whimsical God who would bind us to an arbitrary law of some sort that we could never live up to?


#12

DL82. .

It is safe to say that you are definitely struggling. While I honestly do not agree with most of what you have said previously, I am not going to fight with you, nor condemn you. I will tell you this. .

As a Protestant who is looking into the Catholic faith, I too have questioned whether or not there is room for individuality within spirituality. However, please consider this. Are you still hanging on to any misconceptions that you might have had as a Protestant? -One of them being that everything in one's faith must be structured, one must question nothing, and that prayers must only be recited from the mind and not spouted from the heart, under the Catholic Church?

This is what Protestantism has told me. I know it is not true, but there is one thing that I have to sympathize with you on.

I have never been to Mass, and I question as to whether or not it will fulfill me the way that "contemporary Protestant" services have. I am still seeking the answer to this question. I guess part of my finding the answer is talking knowledgeable, understanding Catholic Christians and actually going to Mass to see for myself. I intend to do both those things before I rattle off an opinion.

Now, I can also tell you that I have prayed to God to reveal to me the truth about the Catholic faith. For Him to help me "cut through the bull" that the world has spread about Catholicism. So far, I'm slowly but surely finding out that Catholicism is wonderful, beautiful and quite fulfilling. Also very intellectually stimulating. (Despite its blemished past. What faith/system of belief *can *boast a past that is totally free of some corruption?)

The more I learn about the faith and read posts from how shall I say. . Veteran Catholics--ha ha--the more I find that Catholicism is freeing. This is just my opinion, but. .

I think you're feeling caged in by "rules." "Laws." Yes, the Church does have things in which it permits, and things it doesn't. Yet, so does society in general. Secondly, it is your choice to follow along with what the Church--or even society, for that matter--suggests that you follow. But. . here's the catch. . and this catch is virtually found everywhere.

TNSTAAFL. There is no such thing as a free lunch. You must give up something to gain something. A simple fact of life. You play, you pay, DL82. You do have freedom.

You can do whatever it is you wish, given that God wills it, of course. But, my point is that you can go out and defy the Church. You can go out in sin. It's just that. . you have to make the choice. Are you willing to deal with the consequences of your actions?

Perhaps you are viewing the faith in a very "legalistic" manner? If this is so, no wonder why you are struggling so much.

I am not telling you this because I think you do not know this; on the contrary, I know that you know very well. I tell you this because perhaps you have forgotten this simple truth. Perhaps you've forgotten it, and so all of these new things that you are learning and adjusting to in your new-found faith are making you feel smothered.

It is not the Church that smothers you. That makes you feel as if you do not have any freedom. It is your perception of the situation.

Don't be heavy-hearted, DL82. God knows your heart. He loves you so much. He created you--everything good and wonderful within you, every good **desire you have in your heart, that's all from God. Just please do not forget that He paid the ultimate price to save you from sin. He gave up His son to die for you. Also please do not forget that He sent Jesus to die for **everyone. Christian, Jewish, Daoist, Muslim, Hindu, Jain, etc. etc! They're all His children too. They just have to make the choice to accept Him, or not. That's their business, and not anyone else's.

Just because you have the truth--the truth we find in Christ--doesn't mean you have the right to look down on those who are not aware of that same truth.

Please do not forget that. Please do not be angry, or heavy-hearted. I tell you these things because I see you struggling, and I am your sister in Christ, who wishes to help you. Even if I am only a little help.


#13

What she said :thumbsup:


#14

DL82, you are having a bad day; it happens to everyone.

First I have to say, concerning kneeling to Mary, we do not worship Mary, that is just Baptist propoganda. Probably Southern Democrat Southern Baptist Yella Dog propoganda, but I digress :slight_smile: We bow or genuflect during the Creed in recognition of the Incarnation, not to imply that Mary is a diety.

And forget about that liberal/conservative business. Those shallow labels are completely inadequate to express anything worthwhile. Just remember, Jesus and the Republicans have always been agin’ slavery, while the Romans and the Democrats were for it :slight_smile:

Let’s go back to your original question, is there any place for individualism in Catholic spirituality? The answer is YES, OF COURSE! Read five lives of saints at random, and you will see examples of five different spiritualities!

Concerning liberty, tolerance and individuality, the answers are yes, maybe, and yes. MAYBE, because it is important to understand that you have a moral responsibility to exercise your LIBERTY to take a stand as an INDIVIDUAL against things that are EVIL! We respect others, based on their human personhood, recognizing that they are created in God’s image and likeness, but we do not endorse immorality. Tolerance is kind of a dangerous concept; it depends on what you mean. Do we tolerate our friends’ imperfect table manners? Of course. Do we tell them it’s okay to have an abortion? Of course not!

Keep praying and don’t get distracted by silly labels or by expectations that you know are wrong. You will find your spirituality.

Come Holy Ghost, Creator blest, and in our hearts take up Thy rest.


#15

[quote="crm114, post:14, topic:181198"]
DL82, you are having a bad day; it happens to everyone.

First I have to say, concerning kneeling to Mary, we do not worship Mary, that is just Baptist propoganda. Probably Southern Democrat Southern Baptist Yella Dog propoganda, but I digress :) We bow or genuflect during the Creed in recognition of the Incarnation, not to imply that Mary is a diety.

[/quote]

Yes

And forget about that liberal/conservative business. Those shallow labels are completely inadequate to express anything worthwhile. Just remember, Jesus and the Republicans have always been agin' slavery, while the Romans and the Democrats were for it :)

:whistle: I never thought about it quite like this :newidea:

Let's go back to your original question, is there any place for individualism in Catholic spirituality? The answer is YES, OF COURSE! Read five lives of saints at random, and you will see examples of five different spiritualities!

:yup:

Concerning liberty, tolerance and individuality, the answers are yes, maybe, and yes. MAYBE, because it is important to understand that you have a moral responsibility to exercise your LIBERTY to take a stand as an INDIVIDUAL against things that are EVIL! We respect others, based on their human personhood, recognizing that they are created in God's image and likeness, but we do not endorse immorality. Tolerance is kind of a dangerous concept; it depends on what you mean. Do we tolerate our friends' imperfect table manners? Of course. Do we tell them it's okay to have an abortion? Of course not!

Keep praying and don't get distracted by silly labels or by expectations that you know are wrong. You will find your spirituality.

Come Holy Ghost, Creator blest, and in our hearts take up Thy rest.

:tiphat: Nice post


#16

[quote="lareinatortura, post:12, topic:181198"]

As a Protestant who is looking into the Catholic faith, I too have questioned whether or not there is room for individuality within spirituality. However, please consider this. Are you still hanging on to any misconceptions that you might have had as a Protestant? -One of them being that everything in one's faith must be structured, one must question nothing, and that prayers must only be recited from the mind and not spouted from the heart, under the Catholic Church?

This is what Protestantism has told me. I know it is not true, but there is one thing that I have to sympathize with you on.

[/quote]

Thanks, I think that's a fair assessment. I know I drove my ex to distraction, I think initially I was resentful of the rules my new faith imposed as it sought to humble my intellectual pride. I think I acted out the worst stereotype of an intolerant Catholic bigot that I had held as a Protestant rather than accept the faith with humility. Maybe the same is true here. The problem is, that would suggest God's path lies in the 'easy' way of humbly accepting the joy He has given me, also accepting my natural limitations, accepting that I am probably condemned to the joyful and humble and objectively lower life of a married lay man.

[quote="lareinatortura, post:12, topic:181198"]

I have never been to Mass, and I question as to whether or not it will fulfill me the way that "contemporary Protestant" services have. I am still seeking the answer to this question. I guess part of my finding the answer is talking knowledgeable, understanding Catholic Christians and actually going to Mass to see for myself. I intend to do both those things before I rattle off an opinion.
...

The more I learn about the faith and read posts from how shall I say. . Veteran Catholics--ha ha--the more I find that Catholicism is freeing. This is just my opinion, but.

[/quote]

GO TO MASS! You have offered me some valuable advice, now I'm offering some in return. Go to Mass, but go in the knowledge of what it is objectively, the Holy Sacrifice of Calvary, not expecting to be entertained. If you have the chance to visit different Catholic Churches, to experience a sung Latin Mass, a more contemporary Mass, a Charismatic Mass, maybe even an Eastern Catholic Divine Liturgy, that's great, but even if you only have one Catholic Church nearby, and even if the music that accompanies the Mass leaves much to be desired, go, and pray asking Jesus to reveal Himself to you, truly present, body, blood, soul and divinity, in the blessed Sacrament.

A good book which may be worth reading on the Mass is Scott Hahn's 'The Lamb's Supper', Hahn, himself a former Protestant, explains the Mass in Biblical terms, with particular reference to the worship of heaven described in the Book of Revelation.

When you get what the Mass is, it's mind-blowing. I'd been attending a Catholic Church for about 4 or 5 months when it finally happened. It was Corpus Christi 2007, the priest had begun the procession with the Blessed Sacrament, and it finally hit me, someone who had struggled as a Protestant for 7 years to understand how the Cross related to me, this really is Jesus, the same Jesus I had been trying to worship for all those years. It's awesome! He's awesome.

Now I think about it, that 'moment' took place inside a very traditional Church, after a Latin Mass, with the priest all dressed in his gold humeral veil, and everyone on their knees. Maybe the image I have in my head of Christ, since that moment of conversion, is of a king who expects His people to kneel in His presence. He is also the king who chose to be born in a humble stable, and I need to remember that.

You mention the idea that the Church has had its' low moments in history. I don't know whether there ever were such low moments. The Church is the infallible judge in matters of faith and morals, whatever it has permitted in the past was *de facto *the right thing to do.

[quote="lareinatortura, post:12, topic:181198"]

TNSTAAFL. There is no such thing as a free lunch. You must give up something to gain something. A simple fact of life. You play, you pay, DL82. You do have freedom.

You can do whatever it is you wish, given that God wills it, of course. But, my point is that you can go out and defy the Church. You can go out in sin. It's just that. . you have to make the choice. Are you willing to deal with the consequences of your actions?

[/quote]

I appreciate what you are trying to tell me. If it's a simple question of sin or obedience, I choose not to sin. However, when it's a choice between two apparently good courses of action, one of which brings both joy and the possibility of real spiritual fruit (and possible sacrifices along the way, but ones which I am willing to face with joy and trust in the Lord) and the other brings only sacrifice and sorrow, one of which is what many good people in the Church today tell me I ought to do and the other seems to represent the worst excesses of the spiritual masochism of the Church of old, which even many devout Catholics today would reject, but which held sway during the most triumphant period of temporal power for the Church in the medieval and pre-modern period, and led the Church to temporal glory in spite of the plight of its' laity, I don't know which to choose. Again, I can see much of the worst stereotype of the Franco-loving, freedom-hating 'papist' of Protestant stereotype in this answer, and I think that helps me to make up my mind.

Thanks again, you are wise beyond your years. The Church needs people like you. Get yourself to RCIA and get yourself to Mass! :hug1::tsktsk: :aok:


#17

You are too kind, DL82 : )

Firstly, I went to Mass last night. I will admit to you, I was a bit unsettled inside because it was out of my “comfort zone.” However, it was still a good experience for me. Secondly, you told me something that I really needed to hear!

I need to keep my perspective of Mass in check. I am still overcoming ignorance of the Church’s basic principles and beliefs, so I need to continue to read and speak with people such as yourself. Also, I think it would be a good idea to see different services, as you suggested. I didn’t even think of that! Thank you!

As far as yourself on your journey, you sound as though you are feeling a little better. If you are feeling at least somewhat better, I’m so glad for you. It’s like some of the others said, we all have our “bad days,” our days where we feel down or angry, etc.

I must say that when I read your posts, the first thing I noticed was your intelligence. Not just your obvious potential to gain knowledge, but what you’re aware of! It seems to me like you know your stuff. I also suspect that you have experiences with writing. Are you a writer?

I also noticed your drive to question. I personally think that is a good thing. Something you posted earlier also caught my attention.

I too, have felt this way. When I was 17, I walked away from the Church. I pretty much ditched Christianity spiritually. When I entered into college, I professed that I had no religion. I was always open to the idea of a “higher power,” but I didn’t take to any systems of belief because, well, they couldn’t provide me with what I–at the time–felt was “concrete proof” that such things exist.

I also entered into my university’s College of Science, as a Biology major. Now, I’m not against learning these things as a Christian, honestly. But, I do have to say that what I learned in school fueled my “intellectual pride,” as you said. Even as a Christian, I was attracted to the sciences and quite knowledgeable about them.

Before my leaving the Church, I had just kept my knowledge of say, evolution, separate from my spiritual beliefs. It was like, "I’ll go ahead and tell these non-Christians what they want to hear so that they do not fail me, wreck my education, and then run me out of the classroom, or something. . " I’ve realized that this divide gets tiresome, and even maybe a little dangerous?

So, when I left the Church, I felt really free at first. At first. I felt free because I didn’t feel guilty about indulging myself in the academia–I still will refer to myself as a “scholar.” Or should I say “philosopher?” I love to learn. Pretty soon, I began to feel empty.

After I married my husband, I think God began to work on me. He slowly drew me back to the Church. My life changed drastically, and it was wonderful. I’ve never felt this way about God and Christianity in general in my life. Now, it doesn’t feel restraining, and it doesn’t make me feel so guilty. But. .

I still struggle with the intellectual side of myself. To this day, actually. And a pitfall of mine is that I absolutely hate to feel and be perceived as “irrational” and “illogical.” Feeling that way, or being treated as though I am “irrational,” bothers me to no end.

But, I realize that I cannot pride myself on it. That’s something I have to work on. I still study and learn though. It’s very hard for me not to do that. There’s something in me that’s just gotta know! Everything about everything! Sigh. o.O

How 'bout yourself?

(Or yourselves, for anyone else who wants to chime in)


#18

DL82 and lareinaatortura, I have a book recommendation! :slight_smile: “How the Catholic Church built Western Civilization”. I’m sure it’s available on amazon.com. It shows how the Church built modern education, economy and the sciences. It delves into how the Church built modern knowledge and how during those supposedly terrible Medieval Ages, it was a great beacon of light. Don’t buy into the anti-Medieval perspective that is so popular in modern society. That point of view is built largely upon lies and ignorance. When you dig into the time period in a more serious way, the illusion Satan has set up to attack the Church falls apart.

DL82, I sympathize greatly with your situation. I went through a similar struggle during my conversion process, though with less rigid extremes. I don’t think your choice has to be as stark as you’re thinking, and that’s partly because your view of the Medieval Ages is flawed. The Church in that time period was generally, according to secular historian William Durant, tolerant of small groups of intellectuals who embraced heresy. Individuals who became heretics were generally tolerated. The Church mainly took action when people tried to spread their heresies to others, especially in a public setting.

The Inquisition’s goal was also not to kill heretics but to convert them back to the true faith. Every person they sent to the death penalty, they looked on as a great failure on their own part, for they failed to bring that person back to Christ. The death penalty was also one of the rarest tools of the Inquisition. About 2% of people tried by the Inquisition were executed. More commonly it would use confiscation of property, a whipping or banishment to punish heretics, and much more commonly than that, it would have the guilty party recite a set of prayers, give money to the poor or go on a pilgrimage.

The inquisitors, by and large, were just and merciful men who were sincerely trying to do God’s will. The popes ordered that only just men well known for their righteousness be appointed to such a position. Some people in secular courts would actually purposely blaspheme just so that they would get transferred to the Inquisition, because the Church was much more merciful a judge than the secular courts.

I do see the prostyletizing of false religions as frequently creating evil and I believe the state has a responsibility to uphold the true religion. However, in the early days of the Reformation, the Church pointed out that states have a right to establish religious freedom if it’s necessary given the conditions of their societies. As Vatican II pointed out, we live in such a time today. If religious freedom were removed, vast numbers of Christians would be persecuted. So we have to uphold religious freedom because of the evil times we live in. But even if we lived in the past, in an era where Catholicism is everywhere, I would support the removal of religious freedom only in the sense that the Church supported that removal. This was to keep people of other religions from prostyletizing and leading others to damnation through their false teachings, and possibly preventing public worship of false religions that could lead people astray. There is no necessity to prowl around looking into people’s homes to root out the heretics, unless they are spreading evil doctrines to others. We need to be concerned for everyone’s soul, and the government has the responsibility to protect its citizens from destruction.

The Church has always been on the forefront of scientific discovery and education. She developed the most effective theories of economics. Also, it might surprise you to learn that during the Medieval Ages, people had a higher standard of living than they have had at any time since. There was a smaller gap between the rich and poor than during the Reformation or Enlightenment, and people could put a good meal on the table, most of the time. In fact, studies have been done comparing the heights of people from the Medieval Ages with periods afterward, and the peasants of the Medieval Ages were found to be taller than people of any of the later periods before the 20th century. People were the shortest during the Enlightenment, because that’s when food was scarcest. When people don’t have as much to eat, they can’t grow as tall because their bodies need to reserve fuels. But throughout the Medieval Ages until the last few centuries, the High Medieval Ages, peasants were growing to six foot and higher on a regular basis. They had good livings, good food, and they needed it because they had a whole lot of work to do! We do have more leisure time now than people had in the Medieval Ages, but until the High Medieval Ages, when food resources depleted substantially due to the Little Ice Age, people were eating well.


#19

I think you’re looking at the issue incorrectly because you’ve still bought into the lies Satan has propagated about the Medieval Ages. There was a definite high regard given to mercy and love. Spontaneous prayer was perfectly acceptable and encouraged. The Inquisition tried to be as mild as it could, and was more just and merciful than secular courts. The governments upheld Christian morality through law.

There was evil back then too, of course. There was corruption and governments sometimes imposed unjust and cruel laws. Nobody will claim it was perfect, but I think it was better than modern society, which is built on sand since it is perpetually ridding itself of Jesus more and more.

You don’t have to choose between liberalism and “Dark Ages.” There were no “Dark Ages” except before Christ came into the world. You’re looking at the “choice” the wrong way, in my opinion, which is why it looks so extreme to you. Liberalism is not so good – in the modern context it has a whole lot of evil and the press is definitely too free. And the conservative realities of the past are not perfect, but neither are they bare bones like you’ve been imagining it, or desperate darkness. There is a lot of good back then as well, a whole lot more than is commonly thought because modernity’s views of that time period, except among experts and historians focused on the period, are so distorted.

The “Journey Home” television network had a professor once speaking about the book, “How the Catholic Church built Western Civilization,” and he said there is no job so frustrating as being a historian of the Medieval Ages, because you know how huge a number of modern perceptions are baloney and you can have such a small impact on changing them.

I suggest doing some careful research into the Medieval Ages, and the book I recommended is a good place to start. This choice you’re making doesn’t need to look at all like what it looks like to you now.

Then Catholicism is definitely the place for you :D. An apologist on this forum once said, “I love Catholicism because I get to always be on the winning side of the argument!” Lol. It was well said. The more you delve into the faith, the more sense you’ll see it makes. Every other perspective falls away in irrational shambles beside Catholicism. I am deeply attracted by the intellectual wisdom and beauty of the Catholic faith and as you study each point of doctrine, you’ll find yourself more attracted to it too.


#20

newadvent.org/cathen/03744a.htm
"The primary purpose of those actual graces which God bestows upon those outside the Church is to draw them within the fold."

You are much closer to God now than you might think, as we are the one body, one spirit -with Jesus Christ as our Head.

We are one with Jesus through the Body of the Church – and Jesus is one Body with God and the Holy Spirit through the Trinity…

WE are so closely linked to God it is amazing… Not to mention, God lives in you every time you receive the Holy Eucharist…

Through prayer, you will develop a more refined view.
–You will learn that tolerance of sin is unacceptable, while tolerance of sinners is encouraged.

–You will learn that individualism as a member of the Holy Church, is completely different from the individualism you have come to know through “society”.

–As for Liberty… Not sure how liberty is in question here, as you do obviously have free will in all of your personal decisions. God has given us all free will to decide for ourselves on any/every issue… But we should strive to do our best and remain faithful to God by doing the will of Jesus. :slight_smile:


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