Catholic but unchristian


#1

I would appreciate your thoughts on a matter of interest. Ill try to make it brief.
Take two friends. Both catholics. Mary never misses mass at her church. Jane lights a candle every Sunday and waits for the mass to start on the radio. Mary will then phone Jane, remind her of the mortal sin of missing mass at church and has told her that she'll burn in hell. Mary constantly talks about the comfort she has in knowing she'll be in heaven one day and will be looking down so to speak, on Jane. Everyone knows when Mary donates to the church, everyone knows that Mary prays for six hours every day. Mary admits to being a racist and that shes not wrong to have these views. Without going on a on. The behaviour could never be called 'christian'. On the other hand, Jane is the epitomy of 'christianity'. Opening her home to strangers, from all walks of life. Worked with the vulnerable and infirm most of her life, and hates the 'gossip that comes up in all conversations with Mary. Although aware of the sin of missing mass ( i know that Jane suffers with her nerves and avoids crowds) Mary has convinced Jane that her 'radio mass is a complete farce and so has not tuned in for the past two Sundays. My question is: Does anyone have any words of comfort and wisdom for Jane.


#2

[quote="vstead, post:1, topic:216021"]
I would appreciate your thoughts on a matter of interest. Ill try to make it brief.
Take two friends. Both catholics. Mary never misses mass at her church. Jane lights a candle every Sunday and waits for the mass to start on the radio. Mary will then phone Jane, remind her of the mortal sin of missing mass at church and has told her that she'll burn in hell. Mary constantly talks about the comfort she has in knowing she'll be in heaven one day and will be looking down so to speak, on Jane. Everyone knows when Mary donates to the church, everyone knows that Mary prays for six hours every day. Mary admits to being a racist and that shes not wrong to have these views. Without going on a on. The behaviour could never be called 'christian'. On the other hand, Jane is the epitomy of 'christianity'. Opening her home to strangers, from all walks of life. Worked with the vulnerable and infirm most of her life, and hates the 'gossip that comes up in all conversations with Mary. Although aware of the sin of missing mass ( i know that Jane suffers with her nerves and avoids crowds) Mary has convinced Jane that her 'radio mass is a complete farce and so has not tuned in for the past two Sundays. My question is: Does anyone have any words of comfort and wisdom for Jane.

[/quote]

I'll try but along with the comfort there might be something that, no matter how loving it is meant to be, may hurt. It is not meant to hurt though.

A. It does not matter in the least how Mary is 'unchristian' in so many ways. The fact that Mary is so 'nasty' and 'prideful' in other areas does not make her going to Mass somehow less valid. IOW, just because Mary 'fails' in other areas of Christian behavior doesn't make her successes (attending Mass) less worthwhile.

B. Now for Jane, having a legitimate nervous condition (such as agoraphobia) which makes it imipossible for her to deal with crowds. . .and I'm going to presume that Jane doesn't leave the house to go grocery shopping or to the local mall either. . .would make her missing Mass something which she absolutely physically/emotionally must do to maintain sanity.

Now comes the hard part.

Jane listening to the radio mass is not doing the 'equivalent' of attending Mass like Mary. It is not a bad thing, but radio Mass does not 'make up' for not attending Mass. It is not a substitute. IOW, Jane cannot think of the radio Mass as being equal to actually attending Mass.

IF Jane truly cannot go to Mass due to overwhelming psychological fears, then Jane is excused from Mass. Period. She is excused. God does not hold us to the *impossible. * Of course, Jane needs to *talk to her priest. And to abide by the priest's decision. This is not something Jane can decide on her own. *

And Jane (or Jane's friend) needs to stop 'demonizing' Mary in order to make herself feel better about her own failures. Rather than getting all defensive about how Mary (who goes to Mass) is so much less Christian than Jane (who does not), Jane needs to get authentic and authoritative answers on** her own situation from a priest. Not from an internet forum. **

Mary needs to work on her own faults, true. . .but so does Jane.

If Jane's priest tells her that she is excused from Mass due to legitimate psychological issues, then Jane can participate in the acceptable way: She can receive the Eucharist from the priest or an EMHC (you know, one of the reasons this ministry was pushed so was in order to bring to shut-ins and home bound!) at least once a year. She can 'listen' to the Mass on the radio or TV, knowing it is not a 'substitute' but appreciating the feeling of community by seeing and hearing others celebrate while being herself 'protected' from the feelings of psychological upset she'd experience at her 'local' Mass. She can pray for MARY (without however doing the 'oh god I am so thankful not to be like that gossipy nasty Mary'), she can continue with her good works.

It is up to Jane. Jane needs to talk to a priest as soon as possible and to abide by the priest's decision.

Yes, there's a lot Mary should be doing differently, but you asked for words for Jane. As I said, some might seem harsh but they are not meant to be. The thing I cannot stress enough is that *Jane needs to speak to her priest and to abide by his decision. *


#3

:yup: exactly what tantum ergo said. :yup: prayers for you.


#4

How is Jane receiving the Eucharist?


#5

per tantum ergo,*** rem acu tetigisti.***

in other words: the nail was hit squarely on the head.


#6

[quote="vstead, post:1, topic:216021"]
I would appreciate your thoughts on a matter of interest. Ill try to make it brief.
Take two friends. Both catholics. Mary never misses mass at her church. Jane lights a candle every Sunday and waits for the mass to start on the radio. Mary will then phone Jane, remind her of the mortal sin of missing mass at church and has told her that she'll burn in hell. Mary constantly talks about the comfort she has in knowing she'll be in heaven one day and will be looking down so to speak, on Jane. Everyone knows when Mary donates to the church, everyone knows that Mary prays for six hours every day. Mary admits to being a racist and that shes not wrong to have these views. Without going on a on. The behaviour could never be called 'christian'. On the other hand, Jane is the epitomy of 'christianity'. Opening her home to strangers, from all walks of life. Worked with the vulnerable and infirm most of her life, and hates the 'gossip that comes up in all conversations with Mary. Although aware of the sin of missing mass ( i know that Jane suffers with her nerves and avoids crowds) Mary has convinced Jane that her 'radio mass is a complete farce and so has not tuned in for the past two Sundays. My question is: Does anyone have any words of comfort and wisdom for Jane.

[/quote]

Jane needs Christ and his salvation as much as Mary does. It is not through simply being a good person that gets us to Heaven. No one can earn Heaven. If you take a philosophy that you'll get to Heaven by going through the motions of attending weekly Mass or by opening your home to strangers and doing social work, you're missing the point. The point is we are all sinners and till the day we die, we're going to continue sinning. We must be completely dependant on Christ, almost as your body is dependant on water. Our primary way of receiving Christ's grace (life-giving water) is through the reception of the sacraments. This will nourish Jane so that she can grow closer to Christ and progress on her spiritual journey. She may even find that Christ's grace will help her to overcome her anxieties around crowds. Jane also should pray for her friend Mary when she sees Mary's flaws and strive to look for Mary's good qualities. Both friends can learn a lot from each other and can potentially help each other on the road to Christ so long as they're humble enough to recognize that the other person can teach them something. It seems where one person's spiritual weakness is, the other person's spiritual strength is.


#7

I'll offer some words of comfort to Jane, and a respectful disagreement with Tantum Ergo.

Jane sounds angelic. Mary sounds evil.

So what have some of us done when Jane needs comfort? Made this about her own sins -and told her, "go see a priest."

I'm sorry, Tantum Ergo, repeated bold citations to "abide the priest's decision," over and over again, are unhelpful.

Why? For the same reason it is usually unhelpful when posters, in response to all moral decisions others struggle with on this forum, say, "talk to a priest ASAP!," as if a priest has all the answers one would ever need. He does not. "Talking to a priest" will generally get a wide variety of answers depending on the exact question asked, how it is phrased, etc...

...and on the priest!

I had a parish priest once who, in every Mass, announced before the Eucharist, "if you are not Catholic, that's okay, you should join us anyway and receive communion." TE, would you like to tell someone to abide that priest's decision?

Here, TE, you've gone way beyond "talk to a priest!" -- you've ORDERED (by saying Jane "needs") the OP, OVER AND OVER AGAIN, to not just "talk" to a priest, but also to do WHATEVER he says, no matter WHAT he says,

And for that, I'm sorry, but most respectfully, shame on you, for going way, way overboard. None of us -- me, you, Jane, whoever, is ever under an obligation to abide a priest's decision 100% of the time, on anything, since God gave us our own consciences too. Seek wise counsel? Fine. Talk to a priest if you want? Fine. Or a nun. Or a trusted authoritative person who knows you? Fine. But to order someone to ''abide a priest's decision," across the board, no matter what it is? That's going overboard. I've known priests like the one above...and one who belived there was never, ever, an excuse for missing Mass - ever. Ever.

It sounds to me like Jane is living a Christian life. Mary sounds like the typical "unchristian christian" who I meet a lot of. As to offering "comfort and wisdom" to the OP, the greatest wisdom I can offer Jane is to live according to the spirit of God's LOVE for all of us...and to pray deeply and reflect over how she can meet her obligations to God, and to those she meets on the road of life, given her station in life -- and to never ever listen when anyone says she's going to hell (because only God knows that). And to pray for Mary. And for me too, please.

With charity,
-VdT


#8

It sounds to me like Jane is living a Christian life.

it sounds to me like jane is living a protestant life. the fullness of the faith, the source and summit of the christian life is the eucharist and the eucharistic liturgy is the highest form of prayer.

if jane helps everyone she meets, presumably she's leaving the house. if she leaves the house she is obligated to go to mass. if she hates crowds she should choose a 6 am mass somehwere.

and maybe Jane sould stop running with Mary. Mary's uncharitable religiosity is a scandal to Jane.

2176 The celebration of Sunday observes the moral commandment inscribed by nature in the human heart to render to God an outward, visible, public, and regular worship "as a sign of his universal beneficence to all."109 Sunday worship fulfills the moral command of the Old Covenant, taking up its rhythm and spirit in the weekly celebration of the Creator and Redeemer of his people.

2179 "A parish is a definite community of the Christian faithful established on a stable basis within a particular church; the pastoral care of the parish is entrusted to a pastor as its own shepherd under the authority of the diocesan bishop."115 It is the place where all the faithful can be gathered together for the Sunday celebration of the Eucharist. The parish initiates the Christian people into the ordinary expression of the liturgical life: it gathers them together in this celebration; it teaches Christ's saving doctrine; it practices the charity of the Lord in good works and brotherly love:

You cannot pray at home as at church, where there is a great multitude, where exclamations are cried out to God as from one great heart, and where there is something more: the union of minds, the accord of souls, the bond of charity, the prayers of the priests.


#9

Just to clarify, as a person who has suffered with anxiety issues and panic attacks, its important to understand that the more you give into your anxiety by avoiding your fears, the bigger your fears become. Running away from fears only puts you in a confined corner. You're less and less able to do things you used to do. As such, while I sympathize with anxieties about being in crowds in Mass, running away it is not the answer. If it is anxiety issues, I can also understand how talking to a priest or asking someone to arrange to bring the Eucharist to "you" can be difficult. I used to refuse to order my own food at resteraunts and if I wanted say BBQ sause or ketchup, I was petrified of asking and often went without unless I could get someone to do it for me.

If the anxiety issues are big, I would suggest coming to the church when its empty and finding a personal quiet spot. Sometimes there are smaller pews on the sides. I used to particularly like sitting in the crying room. At my old church, we were allowed to sit in the chior loft that was primarily used for extra seating. This kept things smaller. You can also look for smaller Catholic Church's in the area. If you find a Latin Mass, typically the crowds are smaller (unless you're at St. John Cantius in Chicago in which case they're huge). The Latin Mass also doesn't have verbal or singing responses. Active participation happens more interiorly. When I attend Latin Mass, I bring my husband's grandmother's Mass prayer book. There are meditations for different parts of the Mass.

Basically you have to take babysteps till you're comfortable enough to be at Mass and this can help a lot with anxiety issues.

If a person is truly homebound, than a parish should be informed so that they can get the Eucharist to that individual. Perhaps Mary could offer to make this arrangement for Jane.


#10

[quote="Tantum_ergo, post:2, topic:216021"]
I'll try but along with the comfort there might be something that, no matter how loving it is meant to be, may hurt. It is not meant to hurt though.

A. It does not matter in the least how Mary is 'unchristian' in so many ways. The fact that Mary is so 'nasty' and 'prideful' in other areas does not make her going to Mass somehow less valid. IOW, just because Mary 'fails' in other areas of Christian behavior doesn't make her successes (attending Mass) less worthwhile.

B. Now for Jane, having a legitimate nervous condition (such as agoraphobia) which makes it imipossible for her to deal with crowds. . .and I'm going to presume that Jane doesn't leave the house to go grocery shopping or to the local mall either. . .would make her missing Mass something which she absolutely physically/emotionally must do to maintain sanity.

Now comes the hard part.

Jane listening to the radio mass is not doing the 'equivalent' of attending Mass like Mary. It is not a bad thing, but radio Mass does not 'make up' for not attending Mass. It is not a substitute. IOW, Jane cannot think of the radio Mass as being equal to actually attending Mass.

IF Jane truly cannot go to Mass due to overwhelming psychological fears, then Jane is excused from Mass. Period. She is excused. God does not hold us to the *impossible. * Of course, Jane needs to *talk to her priest. And to abide by the priest's decision. This is not something Jane can decide on her own. *

And Jane (or Jane's friend) needs to stop 'demonizing' Mary in order to make herself feel better about her own failures. Rather than getting all defensive about how Mary (who goes to Mass) is so much less Christian than Jane (who does not), Jane needs to get authentic and authoritative answers on** her own situation from a priest. Not from an internet forum. **

Mary needs to work on her own faults, true. . .but so does Jane.

If Jane's priest tells her that she is excused from Mass due to legitimate psychological issues, then Jane can participate in the acceptable way: She can receive the Eucharist from the priest or an EMHC (you know, one of the reasons this ministry was pushed so was in order to bring to shut-ins and home bound!) at least once a year. She can 'listen' to the Mass on the radio or TV, knowing it is not a 'substitute' but appreciating the feeling of community by seeing and hearing others celebrate while being herself 'protected' from the feelings of psychological upset she'd experience at her 'local' Mass. She can pray for MARY (without however doing the 'oh god I am so thankful not to be like that gossipy nasty Mary'), she can continue with her good works.

It is up to Jane. Jane needs to talk to a priest as soon as possible and to abide by the priest's decision.

Yes, there's a lot Mary should be doing differently, but you asked for words for Jane. As I said, some might seem harsh but they are not meant to be. The thing I cannot stress enough is that *Jane needs to speak to her priest and to abide by his decision. *

[/quote]

Thank you for that most informative response.
Two points to make. I was unsure if Mary is right to 'hound' Jane for her wrong doing in missing mass. And in honesty Jane does go grocery shopping which is what Mary points out to her, as Mary is obviously aware of the exceptional circumstances when one can make other arrangments. However, Jane has spoken to her priest and it is absolutely clear that not everyone understands the strange nature of anxiety and panic. Jane will only shop in the evenings when she is sure to be the only person in the supermarket, sometimes near midnight. Im going off track here i know but my point is that its clear that trying to explain the intracacies of this illness can be extremely hard to understand, even by a priest. Many thanks


#11

[quote="bkayw, post:4, topic:216021"]
How is Jane receiving the Eucharist?

[/quote]

She isnt.


#12

[quote="VonDerTann, post:7, topic:216021"]
I'll offer some words of comfort to Jane, and a respectful disagreement with Tantum Ergo.

Jane sounds angelic. Mary sounds evil.

So what have some of us done when Jane needs comfort? Made this about her own sins -and told her, "go see a priest."

I'm sorry, Tantum Ergo, repeated bold citations to "abide the priest's decision," over and over again, are unhelpful.

Why? For the same reason it is usually unhelpful when posters, in response to all moral decisions others struggle with on this forum, say, "talk to a priest ASAP!," as if a priest has all the answers one would ever need. He does not. "Talking to a priest" will generally get a wide variety of answers depending on the exact question asked, how it is phrased, etc...

...and on the priest!

I had a parish priest once who, in every Mass, announced before the Eucharist, "if you are not Catholic, that's okay, you should join us anyway and receive communion." TE, would you like to tell someone to abide that priest's decision?

Here, TE, you've gone way beyond "talk to a priest!" -- you've ORDERED (by saying Jane "needs") the OP, OVER AND OVER AGAIN, to not just "talk" to a priest, but also to do WHATEVER he says, no matter WHAT he says,

And for that, I'm sorry, but most respectfully, shame on you, for going way, way overboard. None of us -- me, you, Jane, whoever, is ever under an obligation to abide a priest's decision 100% of the time, on anything, since God gave us our own consciences too. Seek wise counsel? Fine. Talk to a priest if you want? Fine. Or a nun. Or a trusted authoritative person who knows you? Fine. But to order someone to ''abide a priest's decision," across the board, no matter what it is? That's going overboard. I've known priests like the one above...and one who belived there was never, ever, an excuse for missing Mass - ever. Ever.

It sounds to me like Jane is living a Christian life. Mary sounds like the typical "unchristian christian" who I meet a lot of. As to offering "comfort and wisdom" to the OP, the greatest wisdom I can offer Jane is to live according to the spirit of God's LOVE for all of us...and to pray deeply and reflect over how she can meet her obligations to God, and to those she meets on the road of life, given her station in life -- and to never ever listen when anyone says she's going to hell (because only God knows that). And to pray for Mary. And for me too, please.

With charity,
-VdT

[/quote]

Thank you so much for your view, you seemed to look at it from the same angle as myself. We all know what we should be doing as catholics and clearly we cant compare our wrong-doings. I would say rather than being evil, she is domineering and dogmatic.
Now i cant abide the pointing out of less than perfect priests, even the awful ones who have done terrible things. These things are not done by the church. However, when your told to do exactly what your priest tells you, then its hard not to point out the difficulty you may sometimes experience. In this situation for instance, Jane was told many years ago to pull herself together by the priest. (Her doctor advised against going to church again) After an illness some years ago before her anxiety took hold, she asked the priest to visit. Four weeks went by and when she phoned again, the priest was very curt with her telling her that 'Not to bother my housekeeper who has enough to do. Please no-one remind me that they are only human. These things have to be said only in defence of some of the advice. Lastly, someone suggested other churches, earlier times. latin masses.
There are 3 churches in a 10mile area of where i live. We've never had latin masses. The churches are closed. open only sat evening 6-7. Sun 9-10 there is no sunday evening mass. Therefore there are no options for other services as suggested. I hasten to add that i live in a protestant country. One cant even drop in to a church for moment Sorry for going on a bit. Kind regards


#13

I think Jane should keep talking to priests about the situation. There may be some creative alternatives where she can at least attend mass from time to time. Perhaps she could attend weekday Masses where she can sit 20 feet or more away from others. Perhaps she can attend private Mass from time to time (perhaps at a religious community). Once she gets used to going to Mass, she may find that she becomes more comfortable there.


#14

[quote="vstead, post:12, topic:216021"]
Thank you so much for your view, you seemed to look at it from the same angle as myself. We all know what we should be doing as catholics and clearly we cant compare our wrong-doings. I would say rather than being evil, she is domineering and dogmatic.
Now i cant abide the pointing out of less than perfect priests, even the awful ones who have done terrible things. These things are not done by the church. However, when your told to do exactly what your priest tells you, then its hard not to point out the difficulty you may sometimes experience. In this situation for instance, Jane was told many years ago to pull herself together by the priest. (Her doctor advised against going to church again) After an illness some years ago before her anxiety took hold, she asked the priest to visit. Four weeks went by and when she phoned again, the priest was very curt with her telling her that 'Not to bother my housekeeper who has enough to do. Please no-one remind me that they are only human. These things have to be said only in defence of some of the advice. Lastly, someone suggested other churches, earlier times. latin masses.
There are 3 churches in a 10mile area of where i live. We've never had latin masses. The churches are closed. open only sat evening 6-7. Sun 9-10 there is no sunday evening mass. Therefore there are no options for other services as suggested. I hasten to add that i live in a protestant country. One cant even drop in to a church for moment Sorry for going on a bit. Kind regards

[/quote]

I'm sorry that Jane has had difficulties with the priest. I am a little confused as to how Jane would be talking to the housekeeper. Usually such arrangements to have someone bring you communion are done through the parish secretary and doesn't involve multiple appointments. Definitely finding a Latin Mass is difficult. Most people I know who go to them travel 45 minutes to an hour to go attend them. Currently my husband and I drive a half hour to Mass every Sunday because we prefer the parish that is further away than the parishes are are near us. I am aware the south can be harder. I know while I was visiting someone down there, there was only one missionary parish around and it was a half hour away. However, because it was Protestant land, that parish really wasn't that big.

Since it does sound that Jane is mostly homebound, I would advise Jane to see if Mary can work on Jane's behalf to arrange someone to bring Jane the Eucharist. I know when I've been ill, I usually watch the Mass on EWTN. It definitely is not a substitute, but if one is truly physically unable to get to Mass, is homebound, etc, it is not a mortal sin. Such sins are only our sins when they are through our own fault.

As for getting Mary to back off a bit, Jane should express to Mary how she feels (that she feels misunderstood, that her illness is not being acknowledged etc). If Mary doesn't back off a bit with that, I would advise Jane that when Mary starts up to simply request Mary just to pray for her if she is that concerned.


#15

[quote="whm, post:13, topic:216021"]
I think Jane should keep talking to priests about the situation. There may be some creative alternatives where she can at least attend mass from time to time. Perhaps she could attend weekday Masses where she can sit 20 feet or more away from others. Perhaps she can attend private Mass from time to time (perhaps at a religious community). Once she gets used to going to Mass, she may find that she becomes more comfortable there.

[/quote]

I like this suggestion. I know some people at my old parish who had anxiety issues and got permission from the priest to get used to attending Mass by attending the daily Masses. We however should not be doing this without the priest's permission.


#16

[quote="vstead, post:1, topic:216021"]
I would appreciate your thoughts on a matter of interest. Ill try to make it brief.
Take two friends. Both catholics. Mary never misses mass at her church. Jane lights a candle every Sunday and waits for the mass to start on the radio. Mary will then phone Jane, remind her of the mortal sin of missing mass at church and has told her that she'll burn in hell. Mary constantly talks about the comfort she has in knowing she'll be in heaven one day and will be looking down so to speak, on Jane. Everyone knows when Mary donates to the church, everyone knows that Mary prays for six hours every day. Mary admits to being a racist and that shes not wrong to have these views. Without going on a on. The behaviour could never be called 'christian'. On the other hand, Jane is the epitomy of 'christianity'. Opening her home to strangers, from all walks of life. Worked with the vulnerable and infirm most of her life, and hates the 'gossip that comes up in all conversations with Mary. Although aware of the sin of missing mass ( i know that Jane suffers with her nerves and avoids crowds) Mary has convinced Jane that her 'radio mass is a complete farce and so has not tuned in for the past two Sundays. My question is: Does anyone have any words of comfort and wisdom for Jane.

[/quote]

This post seems to be more about how bad a Catholic Mary is in your opinion, and less about helping Jane. Why even put the other detraction about Mary, which doesn't relate to Jane, in your post? Is not this the same type of gossip Jane does not like engaging with Mary? We are supposed to compare ourselves to one person only, Jesus Christ; not Mary, not Jane or anyone else. Mary may have all these issues, from your claim, and she should address them. But pointing out issues, which do not relate to Jane, will not help Jane.

If someone was calling me, and harassing me; I would drop them as a friend, tell them to stop calling me, and if the calling persisted, report it to the police. Secondly, I would focus on my issue of missing mass with the medical condition, and see if this is a valid reason or not by seeking the correct answer from the Church.


#17

On the night before He died, Christ told us, "Do this in remembrance of me." That was very important. He told us a lot of other things which are also important. If Jane is doing the best that she can, then she is an awesome Catholic.

Nothing to say about Mary.


#18

Thank you all for your advice. God bless


#19

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