Are They Being Duped?

I have been finding a common theme among some of the Catholic blogs I read.

It seems there are more than a few people who have explored the Catholic faith and fallen in love with it, and all its rich traditions, beauty and mystery, only to be turned off and away by what they actually receive in the way of indoctrination when they enroll at their local parish.

They write about how they decided to become Catholic, and have been mystified at the vastly different experience they encounter from what their expectations were, at the parishes they enrol in. Some of them leave the faith, and others suspend their initiation out of disappointment with the Catholic education they are receiving, while they contemplate the SSPX or the Eastern Orthodox Churches.

Here is one story

Here is another who sought the SSPX to avoid the innovations

Here is another who speaks of many such people and his experiences with them

Why is this happening to these new converts? Their disappointment is evident in what they feel they are not receiving at the hands of the Church they came to believe in. The tradition they were seeking and expecting was replaced with innovation. If there were more indult parishes available to the Catholic faithful, this would not be such an issue.

It’s sad, but this is one of the greatest demonic deceptions–it keeps those out of the ark of salvation who at one time might have joined her or who may even have been linked to her by desire. It is incredibly unreasonable to judge a religion by those who do not follow its precepts, instead of its objective truth/doctrine and by those who do adhere to it.

Psalm 79:5 O Lord God of hosts, how long wilt thou be angry against the prayer of thy servant? 6 How long wilt thou feed us with the bread of tears: and give us for our drink tears in measure? 7 Thou hast made us to be a contradiction to our neighbours: and our enemies have scoffed at us. 8 O God of hosts, convert us: and shew thy face, and we shall be saved. 9 Thou hast brought a vineyard out of Egypt: thou hast cast out the Gentiles and planted it. 10 Thou wast the guide of its journey in its sight: thou plantedst the roots thereof, and it filled the land. 11 The shadow of it covered the hills: and the branches thereof the cedars of God. 12 It stretched forth its branches unto the sea, and its boughs unto the river. 13 Why hast thou broken down the hedge thereof, so that all they who pass by the way do pluck it? 14 The boar out of the wood hath laid it waste: and a singular wild beast hath devoured it. 15 Turn again, O God of hosts, look down from heaven, and see, and visit this vineyard 16 And perfect the same which thy right hand hath planted.

I see it as a lot of false advertising but there are probably other explanations for this. People see the Pope on TV and how reverent he is and all that, but when they go to the local parish, they don’t see any of that grandeur or nobility. When they go, they see people clapping, cheering, laughing, dancing, then receive the Host everyone else receives, and rush to the parking lot even before the Mass is over.

I mean if they really wanted all this, they could have just as easily joined the Seventh Apostolic Church; at least the hearts of the people there seem to be in the right place.

How true!

Anyone who reads The Screwtape Letters will see that!

I find that it really doesn’t matter what parish they attend. Ours is a very traditional parish with a Latin Novus Ordo and a TLM and people still go off in search of what is perfect to them. I’ve found that is seems some experience a couple of things. #1 Some people suffer from a pendulem effect. They were so far away from anything remotely Christian that they swing right past the Church and off to something super, ultra, radical, whatever. #2 They still really haven’t let go of their protestantism and want something that they consider the true Church and not what really is.

People sometimes have unrealistic expectations. Often all we can offer is a few old ladies, a guy with a beard who can just about play the guitar, a crumbling church hall, and an elderly priest who has got rather intolerant and set in his way.

By going for ultra-orthodoxy you can create a tiny church with a very committed, resourceful membership. However the energy is largely an illusion, and it is parasitic upon the Orthodox church. If it gets big, it develops exactly the same problems.

It seems as though they had what one of my candidates calls “a head conversion, but not a heart conversion.”

I think the problem may be that they were not enculturated - somehow, they managed to get to the Easter Vigil without ever becoming connected to their parishes, and finding out why things are as they are (or even noticing that they were that way).

For this reason, I am strongly in favour of requiring all would-be converts to attend Mass every Sunday for at least one full year (illness excused) before being received at the Easter Vigil, just so that they can get a sense of how the written word plays out in real life, in their particular corner of the world.

This would give them the chance to: a) accept the fact that nothing ever happens in the Catholic Church according to the written directives (probably a feature of our Roman ancestry) and also that each parish has its own unique personality, for good or for ill, or b) find a parish that most closely resembles their preconceptions and hope it doesn’t get a new pastor or a new director of liturgy before the end of RCIA, or c) realize that whatever they are looking for can’t be found in the Catholic Church, and save themselves a few steps to look for it elsewhere.

Something else to be aware of, too, is that although the 'bad" parish depicted in the first one seems spartan compared to our North American standards, there are Catholics in other parts of the world who would consider it a luxury to be allowed to celebrate Mass indoors at all, regardless of the decorations.

Some of us act like spoiled brats, complaining about things that many people would like to have, if only they could.

I was thinking that it may have more to do with the quality of the RCIA program and the people who are instructing it. How many RCIA programs are led by the parish priest? There are so many stories about the instructors teaching false doctrine, whether knowingly or unknowingly.

Why aren’t the priests more involved in teaching adult catechism? And what about the quality of the program itself? Surely that has much to do with the dissatisfaction of these people.

Good thread paramedicgirl.

Here is a perspective offered by Fr. George William Rutler (I believe he appears at times on EWTN) in his book, “A Crisis of Saints” (Ignatius Press). He is also a Priest who is old enough to have experienced the liturgy both before and after the changes. The emphases in bold are mine:

A Liturgical Parable

The Hard Truth

…We seem to slip out of that golden sense of ultimate truth in two ways. The first is by losing any real awareness of the holy. The second is by denying that it has been lost. Without lapsing into cricitism that would be out of place, suffice it to say that the worship of holiness is weak in our culture, and the beauty of holiness has been smudged in transmission through the revised liturgy. For without impugning its objective authenticity in any degree, its *bouleversement *[Complete overthrow; a reversal; a turning upside down] of the traditional Roman rite marks the first time in history that the Church has been an agent, however unintentionally, in the deprivation of culture, from the uprooting of classical language and sensibility to wanton depreciation of the arts.

…It is immensely saddening to see so many elements of the Church, in her capacity as Mother of Western Culture, compliant in the promotion of ugliness. There may be no deterrent more formidable to countless potential converts than the low estate of the Church’s liturgical life, for the liturgy is the Church’s prime means of evangelism. Gone as into a primeval mist are the days not long ago when apologists regularly had to warn against being distracted by, or superficially attracted to, the beauty of the Church’s rites. And the plodding and static nature of the revised rites could not have been more ill-timed for a media culture so attuned to color and form and action.

(pp. 107-108)

I think if people found a parish such as yours, they would love it, rather than leave it. It sounds like what they were expecting to find when they enter the Church.

This is exactly what I think is happening. The beauty is gone, along with the attraction and appeal it holds for these people.

I think in most parishes, the priest is not able to spend the time teaching the RCIA program. It’s a year-long commitment and they just don’t have the man power.

They should, however, be looking for someone for that position who believes in the Magesterium of the Church, not someone who has Kung, Groome, etc on their bookshelf. :eek:

It would help, too, if they used a good book/manual. Now there are some good RCIA programs out there, i.e. they’re not all junk…

I’m not sure this is the case in these three examples, since all three of them seem to be reasonably well-catechized - they just somehow didn’t make the connection from the RCIA class to the larger parish community.

Why aren’t the priests more involved in teaching adult catechism? And what about the quality of the program itself? Surely that has much to do with the dissatisfaction of these people.

The most common reason cited is lack of time. A lot of priests also don’t understand the RCIA process and aren’t really very interested in new converts.

We are very lucky this year that our associate pastor makes time to come to the RCIA meetings on a regular basis, and also give talks from time to time.

Yes, I agree. To me it is as if one took a woman, stripped her of her feminine beauty, and then wondered why she did not have as many men courting her as before.

It’s exactly the case in one of them, and there are others that I did not link to who are experiencing the same thing.

When people are well catechized, and they get the whitewashed version of the Catholic faith at RCIA, and they know more than the instructor who is teaching the class, it must come as a real shock and disappointment to them.

It is sad, but true for RCIA and CCD for our young people. This has been on my heart and in my prayers lately, that the quality of catechesis is so poor.

My daughter, who is 15 and in preparation for confirmation, told me a shocking story. A girl in her class was being verbally abusive to other children, making remarks that were racial epithets, and threatening violence. I asked about the teacher’s response and she said, “He didn’t notice. He was sitting in the corner working on his laptop.” Apparently, he attempts to “teach” them for about 30 minutes of the 90 minute class, then it’s a free-for-all for the last hour. The kids run wild and the teacher surfs the net. Yes, I reported this to our director of CE, who promised to ‘look into it’. That was about a month ago, and DD tells me nothing has changed.

In praying about all of this, I feel certain that the Lord is asking me to step up to the plate. He keeps reminding me of what He told St. Francis: “Go and rebuild My Church”. I think that’s the message for all of us who are passionate about our faith. Since He has given us a zeal for His truth, we are obligated to pass it on. He gave us the gift for sharing, not just for our own edification. So, let’s get moving! :yup:

But how would they get through RCIA without noticing that, and either coming to terms with it ahead of time, or electing not to proceed? That’s what I don’t get. Or are we talking about people who were considering conversion, but didn’t go through with it? (I read the blogs, but I was assuming they had actually become Catholic at some point.)

By the way, what the RCIA instructor has to know and teach is how to be a regular Catholic. RCIA is not a theology class, or a class in Canon Law, or even a Scripture study group. The expectation is that the candidates and catechumens will assent to “all that the Church teaches me,” and the RCIA is supposed to present the essentials (the precepts, the basic prayers, the 12 tenets of the Apostles’ Creed, the concept and practice of the Sacraments, etc.) at the level of the regular parishioner.

A year or two is hardly enough time to do these few things, so if an individual is making a personal study of theology, Canon Law, etc., then yes, it’s likely that he’ll “know more” about some specific area than the RCIA volunteer. I don’t consider that a bad thing, unless we are somehow expecting our RCIA volunteers to be world-class theologians, or that they are supposed to know everything that there is to know in the Catholic Church (while somehow also holding down full time jobs and caring for their families).

But even at that, many RCIA participants come out having a better grasp of the Catholic faith than many regular parishioners, too.

This is exactly why I teach Catechism. I want the kids in our parish to grow up really knowing their faith, and I kept remembering the words of St. John Vianney the Cure of Ars when a woman asked him what she could do for the Church. He told her the most important thing she could do was to teach the faith through the Catechism.

JM, this the part the struck me about RCIA on one of the blogs I referenced:

But then they join a local Catholic parish …

The process usually begins with a desert experience called RCIA (Rite for the Christian Initiation of Adults) – a series of meetings and classes in which they are treated more like preschoolers than intelligent adults, spoon fed pathological doses of hand-holding and introspection, and treated to ample quantities of shared feelings. If they survive that, they’re welcomed into an Amchurch parish, whose music is Haugan and Haas, whose homilies are psychology tips from Dr. Phil, whose art and architecture is a combination of bog Bauhaus and degenerate Art Deco, and whose members never read traditional Catholic authors but whose discussion groups can’t stop talking about Richard Rohr, Thomas Groome, Anthony Tambasco, Sr. Joan Chittister, Andrew Sullivan, and John Dominic Crossan.

But then they join a local Catholic parish …

The process usually begins with a desert experience called RCIA (Rite for the Christian Initiation of Adults) – a series of meetings and classes in which they are treated more like preschoolers than intelligent adults, spoon fed pathological doses of hand-holding and introspection, and treated to ample quantities of shared feelings. If they survive that, they’re welcomed into an Amchurch parish, whose music is Haugan and Haas, whose homilies are psychology tips from Dr. Phil, whose art and architecture is a combination of bog Bauhaus and degenerate Art Deco, and whose members never read traditional Catholic authors but whose discussion groups can’t stop talking about Richard Rohr, Thomas Groome, Anthony Tambasco, Sr. Joan Chittister, Andrew Sullivan, and John Dominic Crossan.

Even in a situation that’s that bad (which of course I hope is rare) wouldn’t they notice?

Wouldn’t they say to their sponsor or to one of the leaders, “Hey, this isn’t what I thought it was going to be. Where is the church with the Latin and the incense and all of that?”

What’s even more mind-boggling is that the parish would even accept someone into full communion who thinks (whether rightly or not) that they’re all a bunch of heretics.

I guess what I’m stuck on is how they got through one year or two years of discernment in RCIA, became Catholic, and then noticed that their parish wasn’t using incense or doing the Latin Mass. (Or whatever their expectation was.)

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