My brother and his wife left the Catholic church a couple years ago. Allegedly the priest at their parish wanted $1,000 to baptize their second born, and they felt it was extortion. I cannot confirm or deny that this happened, but I have my doubts. Furthermore, just before they left the Church, they would complain about the Church by saying things such as, "You know the only reason they make you eat fish on Friday is because the fishing industry in Italy was suffering way back when, so the Pope at the time just wanted to boost the industry to get more money from the fishermen." HUH??
They joined a non-denominational pastor centered church. I figured it would only be a matter of time before my brother started to evangelize or should I say propagandize me?
Shortly after, my family, who is Catholic, was asked to attend a "recognition" for their third born, since this church does not baptize children. When we walked in, there was Starbuck's coffee for everyone. Then when we walked into the main room where the chairs were set up in front of the stage along with 3 large screens. A band began playing Christian rock, then the pastor was introduced like he was a late night talk show host coming out to do his monologue. This is where it got uncomfortable. The pastor started throwing out little nuaces such as, "we don't need boring rituals and ceremonies to love Jesus" and "we don't need someone to tell us what to believe". There were other things said that I can not recall and this pastor knew he was speaking to a mixed audience. I'm sure he was trying to recruit members, but the only thing he succeeded at was insulting the traditions of my Church. So much for making guests feel welcome.
The evangelization finally happened last week between viewings for my grandmother who passed. We me and my brother were on our way to the funeral home,he tuned the radio to his favorite christian music station and began quoting a poorly rehearsed bible verse petaining to those who "sow dischord amongst family members" and how "God hates them". He was referring to a relative (our aunt) who is a constant troublemaker, but family nonetheless. I simply responded by stating that the bible addresses judgement also, and that God does not judge us the same way that we judge each other.
My brother further stated that my aunt's Catholic upbringing was to blame, because Catholicism teaches people to feel guilty and to hate themselves. I responded by saying that guilt may have been used in our family, but guilt is not a Catholic teaching, especially since guilt only causes poor self-esteem. I further explained that I was corrected on the myth of "Catholic guilt" about 12 years ago by a priest who I learned a lot from.
I went on to say, "I understand there is a lot of propaganda about the Catholic Church, but it helps to listen to both sides." He became defensive by saying, "You think I'm down on the Catholic Church!!??. . .I'm not criticizing the Catholic Church!!. . .I mean. . .Catholics are *like *Christians too!??" I responded with, explaining that the Catholic Church is a Christian Church, and was the only Christian Church for centuries, then gave a historical summary of the compilation of the bible by the early church, apostolic succession, what "Catholic" means, and how many centuries passed before the first protestant church, and the origins of the traditional mass that he felt was so needless. Needless to say, he was very quiet, and when we reached our destination, he got out of the car and walked away as if there had been no conversation at all. Not in an angry manner, but in a way embarrassed and surprised that I knew so much for someone who goes to "a church that doesn't teach anything."
The highlight of all of this is that my brother, who has so much against the Catholic Church is the best man in my full mass Catholic wedding next month, and I am now concerned as to how much he has bought into the "us vs. them" mentality that he has been surrounded by the last couple of years. His wife was making excuses as to why she and their children (my nieces and nephew) may not be able to attend the ceremony, but this remains to be seen.
I guess I don't really have a question, but any thoughts would be helpful to me at this point. I think that it's just becoming upsetting that their resentment for the Catholic Church is causing a rift on what is supposed to be a very special and sacred day. :(