Catholic lack of practice of their faith


#1

(This is just an outsiders observation, and not meant to offend.)

I have met and known many Catholics in my life (my fathers side is Catholic). I can think of two where I could see that they knew and practiced their faith. Two people (out of hundreds), where there faith made a difference in their life! My brother in law is a life long Catholic, who I have explained what the Eucharist and Transubstantiation are to him (he knew not even the basics). I have been to Catholic services back when I was really searching and was shocked (not a modestly dressed girl attending, people in and out, no one paying attention, etc…). In the parking lot an old woman pulled me off to the side and asked how much money she was expected to give for the new building as she was very broke (this was the sermon topic). I told her I was just a visitor and had no idea, and she began to talk my ear off as she later confessed how lonely she was. I suggested she join her churches bible study, she replied that they had none or that she wasn’t welcomed. I suppose I could go on with my experiences, but you get the point.

Why is there an apparent spiritual death in Catholic circles? My wife and I really have Christ as the center of our home, and I fear if I were ever to be fully convinced of Catholic doctrine that I would have to abandon my faith and closeness to Christ.

-Tim


#2

[quote=timz]My wife and I really have Christ as the center of our home, and I fear if I were ever to be fully convinced of Catholic doctrine that I would have to abandon my faith and closeness to Christ.

-Tim
[/quote]

Dear Tim:

Why do you think you’d have to abandon your closeness to Christ if you became Catholic?

Peace
Fiat


#3

I’ve asked myself, why do people keep coming to Church if their knowledge of the Catholic faith is so lapsed? Then I encountered the Eucharist again and I understood.


#4

As a convert myself, I can say that I truly believe God is sending thousands of converts into the Catholic Church – people on fire with the love of Jesus Christ and burning with zeal for his Holy Church – just to address the lassitude you describe.

When I was talking with a priest about organizing a conference to reach out to fallen away Catholics, he looked up at me and said: "I’m not half as worried about the fallen away Catholics who don’t come to Church as I am about the ones I see every Sunday!


#5

The “apparent spiritual death in Catholic circles” is just something seen at first glance. There is a strong revival of serious Catholics who really love God, especially among the young. Haven’t you ever heard about World Youth Day?

Granted, some parishes are better (or worse) than others, and that is a very unfortunate fact. Many do not live as they should. They are the weeds growing among the wheat. But not all are weeds. Look at this forum. There are hundreds here who are on fire for God. So don’t think the faith is dying, it is still very much alive.


#6

Sorry to hear about your bad experience. Although it is much too common, believe me when I say it is not universal. Some parishes (or even areas of the country) are more enthusaistic in thei practice and grateful for the riches of the Faith than others. When I was a Catholic in California (LA area) it frustrated me to tears to see all the lukewarm and unconcerned. I live in the Phoenix diocese now and, though we still have our share of benchwarmers, I have no trouble finding knowledgable, devout, and caring Catholics who are on fire for the Lord and do all they can to make known his name.

So don’t be discouraged or put off. If you ended up becoming a Catholic, it might be God’s will that you might be part of the solution. :slight_smile:


#7

I have met many protestants in my life–my husband’s entire family and nearly every one of our acquaintances…none of them are particularly “spiritual” and with the exception of two of them, are not Christ-centered (don’t even attend their services). Of the two that do, I find them to not be very charitable to their own friends let alone others…but I don’t make the assumption of all protestants…so please don’t make the assumption on the Catholic side.

I’m friends with many good Catholics who live a faith-filled life. I’m also aware of my own family who are Catholic and do not…but it certainly is not limited to only Catholics who aren’t faith-filled.

I’m also very grateful to the Catholic faith as not only is it Christ-centered, but we may adore him in so many different and beautiful ways, as well as RECEIVE Him, body and blood, soul and divinity–which no other religion can lay claim to. Right there is enough reason to convert.

Penitent


#8

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.

-Phil. 2:3

As a Catholic, you’d be called to do the best you can with what you know, but be careful not to judge the hearts of others. Sometimes a great spiritual wealth can hide behind an unexpected exterior. People may be doing the best they can with what they know or have been given. We all have to start somewhere.

If you feel you have a spiritual zeal, God may be calling you to put that gift to use within his Church.


#9

It is called ritualism, rather than spiritualism. Many Catholics are cradle Catholics. They came from Catholic parents, went to Catholic schools and attended mass as did their parents. They learned their faith from practice and memory rote. Do the right thing and say the correct responses.

                               Most Catholics do not have lots of history, doctrinal and apologetic books in their homes that they study at home. They simply attend mass and do all the right things and say the right words. Most do not understand the doctrines of their own faith. Why do you think so many jump ship into evangelical faiths and many become Jehovah's Witnesses? Because they go through the religious rituals, but don't understand WHAT they believe and WHY.

                                I personally believe Protestant converts to Catholicism understand the basics of Catholicism and it's history more than cradle Catholics. Because we had to look this stuff up, before we converted. We went through RCIA as adults and asked questions as well.

                                  I even been at parishes where priests when giving a homily from the gospel, never referred to the text at all, but spoke about some worldly activity not even related to the gospel reading. Some priests cannot even give a meaningful homily to the members period. So all these factors contribute to why Catholics as a whole are indeed a mixed group. :)

#10

Fiat,

Why do you think you’d have to abandon your closeness to Christ if you became Catholic?

Because of the spiritual death within the church.

Marantha,

I’ve asked myself, why do people keep coming to Church if their knowledge of the Catholic faith is so lapsed? Then I encountered the Eucharist again and I understood.

Could you explain further?

Mercygate,

As a convert myself, I can say that I truly believe God is sending thousands of converts into the Catholic Church – people on fire with the love of Jesus Christ and burning with zeal for his Holy Church – just to address the lassitude you describe

Do the numbers support that view?

PhilNeri,

The “apparent spiritual death in Catholic circles” is just something seen at first glance

I was expecting the reply that my observation was just my experience, but I can’t agree with that. Take for example that self described Catholics have almost universally rejected their church’s teaching on contraception or how faith is a factor in American politics (because Evangelicals are present there) and is not a factor in Europe (all Catholic).

Look at this forum. There are hundreds here who are on fire for God. So don’t think the faith is dying, it is still very much alive

I live in one of the largest Catholics areas there is (I have been told) and I can only find those who practice online or on the radio.

Thanks for the replies,
Tim


#11

I understand what you are saying. My husband, who is protestant, says I am the only one he really knows that knows their Catholic faith and takes it seriously. How sad. He sees the difference as you see it. That we do not live our faith - we do. We just do it differently than protestants.

We Catholics do not “announce” our faith as other denominations do in such elaborate fashion. I do see a distinct difference in how Catholics and Protestants “practice their faith”. We tend to lean more towards offereing our services to Catholic societies and organizatons and different committees within the parish and we don’t vocalize our beliefs - I think partly because up until the about the 60’s (at least in my mind) pretty much everyone was Catholic and it was assumed you were Cathloic and that you knew your faith so therefore there was no reason to speak about it as is done today. I think we are just now getting to the point where we realize we are going to have to start vocalizing because we are getting questioned so much more here lately about our beliefs. The other denominations are making themselves known and they are taking issue with what Catholics believe.

Unfortunately, they misinterpret and misunderstand our beliefs. Catholics take for granted what they believe and why so it’s hard to explain to someone else who has memorized the bible. Catholics are not bible Christians. That’s not a bad thing. It’s just that there’s so much more to our faith and beliefs than the bible like the early church fathers, history, etc. Thank goodness for this site because it teaches us how to put things together so we can help others understand and we can learn to announce our faith as other denominations do!

My husband, on the other hand, is Portestant and loves Jesus very much and has a personal relationship with Christ but he doesn’t do anything about it. He does not offer his time to help others less fortunate, he doesn’t particpate in anything offered at his church - bible study, committees, etc. In fact, he doesn’t really attend church much anymore. I think he believes that because he is saved, he doesn’t need to DO anything else - as in works. He doesn’t think it is necessary.

Unfortunatley, I think it also depends on the parish. My parish, for instance, is extremely active. We are welcoming, involved and love seeing new faces in our parish. We have many committees and projects going onn all the time. Our youth is very active and strong. So many people in our parish are very involved in many ministries. I think if you came to our parish you would find a totally different senario.


#12

Let me again mention that this thread was not started to offend or attack anyone (as I can see how it may wrongly be perceived that way). I greatly appreciate all the replies so far.

-Tim


#13

[quote=timz](This is just an outsiders observation, and not meant to offend.)

Why is there an apparent spiritual death in Catholic circles? My wife and I really have Christ as the center of our home, and I fear if I were ever to be fully convinced of Catholic doctrine that I would have to abandon my faith and closeness to Christ.

-Tim
[/quote]

Tim,

What you experienced had nothing to do with the Church but everything to do with individuals and their Faith or lack of. The Catholic Church is loving and full and spiritual and Christ centered, Trinity loving, adoring of Mary and the Saints and so much more. I wish you had gone to my church. Our Priest is a true Shepherd of Christ. He never lets “his” flock go too far. He preaches the teachings of our wonderful Church as Christ originally taught and still teaches today.

Many americans call themselves Catholic…but are only perhaps Christian if that. In America, the Faithful are few but in the world (look at Africa!) the Faithful are many.

For now, look for a better Parish and pray for the one you visited and its Priest.


#14

[quote=timz]Mercygate,

Do the numbers support that view?

[/quote]

I believe they do (although I don’t know where to pull them for you). In my archdiocese, over 800 people were received at the Easter Vigil this year. But my point is more that the calibre of many converts is very high in every way. The combination of intellectual assent at a high level and zeal for Christ is sometimes almost scary for the homeboys.

Many of us struggle for years, even decades, with all kinds of issues. By the time we convert, we’re READY!

The thing that puzzles me most about “outsider” impressions of the Church is this idea that Catholics do not have a “real” or “personal” relationship with Jesus Christ.

Nothing could be further from the truth. If one explores the spiritual literature of the last 2000 years, the most compelling devotional work chronicles the living relationship between God and the individual soul – starting with the Desert Fathers. In the Middle Ages, you have works like The Cloud of UnknowingI, and the writings of St. Bernard of Clairvaux – not to mention Thomas Aquinas, who turns theology into a seraphic spiritual adventure. I also think of modern writers, like St. Ignatius of Loyola (16th Century), St. Francis de Sales (17th Century), Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross (both 17th Century). Great 20th Century writers like G. K. Chesterton can’t be ignored. A great read, for anybody – not just people looking at the Catholic Church – is Thomas Merton’s The Seven Storey Mountain. A popular book right now is Rome Sweet Home, by two reluctant Converts, Dr. Scott and Kimberly Hahn.


#15

[quote=timz](This is just an outsiders observation, and not meant to offend.)

I have met and known many Catholics in my life (my fathers side is Catholic). I can think of two where I could see that they knew and practiced their faith. Two people (out of hundreds), where there faith made a difference in their life! My brother in law is a life long Catholic, who I have explained what the Eucharist and Transubstantiation are to him (he knew not even the basics). I have been to Catholic services back when I was really searching and was shocked (not a modestly dressed girl attending, people in and out, no one paying attention, etc…). In the parking lot an old woman pulled me off to the side and asked how much money she was expected to give for the new building as she was very broke (this was the sermon topic). I told her I was just a visitor and had no idea, and she began to talk my ear off as she later confessed how lonely she was. I suggested she join her churches bible study, she replied that they had none or that she wasn’t welcomed. I suppose I could go on with my experiences, but you get the point.

Why is there an apparent spiritual death in Catholic circles? My wife and I really have Christ as the center of our home, and I fear if I were ever to be fully convinced of Catholic doctrine that I would have to abandon my faith and closeness to Christ.

-Tim
[/quote]

I could introduce you to some Baptists I know who haven’t seen the inside of their church in a loooong time.

Why is it you perceive this as a uniquely Catholic problem?


#16

[quote=DianJo]…That we do not live our faith - we do. We just do it differently than protestants.

We Catholics do not “announce” our faith as other denominations do in such elaborate fashion.
[/quote]

This is a really good post…I think of what I do to live a life in Christ, and most people who do not know me well, would just think I were a nice person (probably)…I try to live as Christ wants us to live, yet I don’t announce it verbally…I don’t loudly evangelize. I don’t announce “I am Catholic” in my daily life which I hope I am living in a fashion pleasing to Jesus.

Thanks for phrasing your post as you did. I think many Catholics are “producing good fruits,” but I guess unless we’re doing it and simultaneously announcing “we’re Catholic” it will remain unseen (except by God). And as far as numbers go, my parish is consistently growing, as well as one of the Indult TLM parishes in our area. I’d have no idea on numbers in other parishes, but I can only speak for the 2 I attend.

Penitent


#17

[quote=timz]Let me again mention that this thread was not started to offend or attack anyone (as I can see how it may wrongly be perceived that way). I greatly appreciate all the replies so far.

-Tim
[/quote]

Dear Tim:
No offense taken, and as a convert to the Church from a very close-knit protestant community, I too notice the lack of zeal of far too many Catholics. The important news, though, is that Christ is on our altars! Christ is in our confessionals! Faith and reason led me to the Catholic Church, and the grace of the sacraments keeps me here, in spite of the weakness of some of her members.

I guess if I were chosing a religion based on the zeal of its members, I would probably be a Mormon, but my criteria is something beyond that.

God bless
Fiat


#18

[quote=timz]I was expecting the reply that my observation was just my experience, but I can’t agree with that.
[/quote]

I was a little over the line in what I said. You obviously have been observing closely.

I live in one of the largest Catholics areas there is (I have been told)

That’s great! Where is that exactly? A point to be made here is that there is a difference between being a Catholic and being a practicing Catholic. Just because someone calls himself something doesn’t mean he actually fits the bill.

Your point is true. Sometimes it seems like faith is dying and it gets rather depressing. However, to quote Monty Python and the Holy Grail, “I’m not dead yet!” The youth are coming back. I ask you again if you have ever heard of World Youth Day. It is a great example of the faith of the young in action; it shows we do care.


#19

[quote=timz]Take for example that self described Catholics have almost universally rejected their church’s teaching on contraception or *how faith is a factor in American politics (because Evangelicals are present there) and is not a factor in Europe (all Catholic). *

[/quote]

I’d have to diagree with you there, Tim. Political activism among Evangelicals is a recent phenomenoa, only dating back to the early '80’s with the rise of the “Moral Majority.” Most Protestant leaders (like James Dobson, for example) admit when Roe v Wade came out, Evangelicals largely sat quietly while the Catholic Church spoke out forcefully and mobilized to try and stem the tide. The Church has always spoke out and been active in social justice issues, many of the labor and other reforms we now take for granted were brought about by Catholic activism.

As far as the moribund state of Europe is concerned, it isn’t accurate to state that it is “all” or even most of Europe is Catholic (England, Germany, and the Scandanavian countries are mostly Protestant) and there is no evidence that Catholicism is the cause of that continents decline, rather, it is rooted in the cynical and secularist attitudes that arose after the World Wars.


#20

[quote=timz](This is just an outsiders observation, and not meant to offend.)

I have met and known many Catholics in my life (my fathers side is Catholic). I can think of two where I could see that they knew and practiced their faith. Two people (out of hundreds), where there faith made a difference in their life! My brother in law is a life long Catholic, who I have explained what the Eucharist and Transubstantiation are to him (he knew not even the basics). I have been to Catholic services back when I was really searching and was shocked (not a modestly dressed girl attending, people in and out, no one paying attention, etc…). In the parking lot an old woman pulled me off to the side and asked how much money she was expected to give for the new building as she was very broke (this was the sermon topic). I told her I was just a visitor and had no idea, and she began to talk my ear off as she later confessed how lonely she was. I suggested she join her churches bible study, she replied that they had none or that she wasn’t welcomed. I suppose I could go on with my experiences, but you get the point.

Why is there an apparent spiritual death in Catholic circles? My wife and I really have Christ as the center of our home, and I fear if I were ever to be fully convinced of Catholic doctrine that I would have to abandon my faith and closeness to Christ.

-Tim
[/quote]

The same reasons for what you have experienced exist in Protestant denominations that have the same kind of spiritual desert - for some Christians going to Church is a social obligation. I live in the Bible Belt of California - more Southern Baptists, Pentecostals and Assembly of God members than where I grew up in California. These same Christians are wife-beaters, methamphetamine addicts, child molesters, drunkards, thieves - and when confronted with their sins will tell me it doesn’t matter because their names are all ready in the Book of Life and they are assured a place in heaven.

I think, Tim, that though your question was not meant to offend it reflects the same kind of prejudice I fight within myself when it comes to non-Catholics. I have to remind myself that Churches are for sinners and are not filled with perfect people. For all the people you met at Catholic Mass that seemed to not know their faith there were those who were there solely because they love their faith - just like there are Southern Baptists, Pentecostals and Assembly of God members who have never hit their wives, had sex with their children, taken illegal drugs or wasted a week’s paycheck on gambling or booze.


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