RCC -1st impression - Why move to a desert?

On Christmas Even I visited a RC church just to see what it was like. My impressions:

  1. Tone/atmosphere: My church (Espicopal) - formal, reverent. This RCC -like many protestant churches - modernish, more like a social get-together.
  2. User friendly? Hmmm… No programs to follow, no missals in the pew.
  3. Sermon - generic (“Love your family”), 97% of it could have been delivered in a temple or a mosque.
  4. Ratio of parishioners to priest: Pack 'em in, say the mass, move 'em out. Then another mass with another huge crowd.
  5. Bored or distracted people (a higher % than in most Protestant churches I’ve visited).
  6. Attitude of priest: Seemed very overworked, in need of a long vacation.
    Because of the liberal positions of the overall Episcopal church, I’ve started reading and learning about the RCC. Why should I leave an oasis (my own local church, which is not liberal) for a desert (my first impression of this local RCC)? Even if I should someday come to an intellectual agreement with all that the RCC teaches, what are the chances that other RCCs (twice as far away) would be the same?

Be cautious about making a judgement on a sample of one. As a former Catholic, I’ve seen some parishes like the one you mentioned, but others that were very reverent, with great liturgies, pastoral care etc. Likewise, as a current Episcopalian, my experience has been similar (I’ve seen some of the good, the bad, and the ugly).

Now sit back, and see what kinds of nice things folks here have to say about the ECUSA.

Hello Alyssa:

It is unfortunate that parishes like the one you mention are all too common. We Catholics have been putting up with them for years. I knew of one guy who had a supply of wooden nickels made with the inscription “No Doctrine–No Dollar!” and used to put these in the collection basket. Most of us vote with our feet and go elsewhere, even long distances, to find a solid parish. On bigger cities this is not hard to do.

But I would submit to you that the fact that you ask that question tells me that you don’t have a good reason for converting. I maintain that the one reason you should have, stupid parishes or no, is communion with the See of Peter and the inerrant teaching of the popes. This communion has always been the mark of belonging to Christ’s flock, and isn’t that what we are called to belong to?

Regards,
Joannes

Whoops, I just noticed that you said it was a Christmas Eve service. That of course will not be typical even for that parish, since many folks make it to Mass (or Protestant service) only then and perhaps Easter.

Still, one point you made (about the the ratio of parishioners to priest, and the waves of people coming in and out) was one concern I had re: Catholic parishes. Again, this is a bit of an overgeneralization, but I found especially in the city that it was difficult to get a good sense of community in any one parish. With so many different Masses said during the day, combined with the fact that some folks tend to go when and where it’s convenient during the day, you hardly ever bumped into the same person twice. Likewise, it was nearly impossible to get to know the priest. Again, similar problems can plague large Protestant congregations, tho in general even a mid-size Catholic parish is likely to have several services on a given Sunday.

[quote=Joannes]Hello Alyssa:

It is unfortunate that parishes like the one you mention are all too common. We Catholics have been putting up with them for years. I knew of one guy who had a supply of wooden nickels made with the inscription “No Doctrine–No Dollar!” and used to put these in the collection basket. Most of us vote with our feet and go elsewhere, even long distances, to find a solid parish. On bigger cities this is not hard to do.
[/quote]

Hmm, I like it! :thumbsup: As parishes go, ours isn’t bad, which is a good thing, since it’s the only parish in the county. On the other hand, if we had to vote with our feet, we’re only 20 or so miles from the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament.

DaveBj

Hi Alissa,
Thanks for posting here. I’m sorry you did not enjoy the mass and YES I understand what you are saying. As a former Episcopalian and now Catholic, I too see the differences in the services. But I have also seen very reverant Catholic churches too. I have heard sermons so powerful that I haved cry in the pew.

[quote=As to your question:]Why should I leave an oasis (my own local church, which is not liberal) for a desert (my first impression of this local RCC)?
[/quote]

  1. Actively and openly Homosexual Bishops, even if the Bishop was not gay, he is still have sexual relations outside of marriage which is wrong in both Churches.
  2. Women priests!
  3. “Do this in the rememberance of me” and no real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
  4. Break away child from the Church that Jesus started. Your oasis is just a mirage not the real thing
  5. The Espicopal Church ruled by a King or Queen not a religious leader.

Your parish may not be liberal but the Episcopal church is. My parents belong to a parish like yours, their priest is very spiritual and consertative. However, he too will leave and they fear that he will be replaced with a liberal. My father says if that happends, he too will leave the Episcopal Church.

But the real question is this: “WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR?” What drew you to the Catholic Church? Just to see or seeking something?

Catholicism makes no converts on the basis of the beauty or spiritual ‘feeling’ of today’s liturgy.

But perhaps the silver lining is that there ARE a good number of converts. Since you’ve seen that it is NOT for a great feeling Sunday experience, keep looking for why!

The draw of the catholic church is not emotional or relational. It has nothing to do with feelings. The draw is that the catholic church is the church JESUS intended all his followers to come to. Judases, doubting Thomases and denying Peters included.

That said, there are better and worse parishes. You want community? Scour the daily masses of local parishes. Find a good one and get to know the regulars.

[quote=Alissa]On Christmas Even I visited a RC church just to see what it was like. My impressions:

  1. Tone/atmosphere: My church (Espicopal) - formal, reverent. This RCC -like many protestant churches - modernish, more like a social get-together.
  2. User friendly? Hmmm… No programs to follow, no missals in the pew.
  3. Sermon - generic (“Love your family”), 97% of it could have been delivered in a temple or a mosque.
  4. Ratio of parishioners to priest: Pack 'em in, say the mass, move 'em out. Then another mass with another huge crowd.
  5. Bored or distracted people (a higher % than in most Protestant churches I’ve visited).
  6. Attitude of priest: Seemed very overworked, in need of a long vacation.
    Because of the liberal positions of the overall Episcopal church, I’ve started reading and learning about the RCC. Why should I leave an oasis (my own local church, which is not liberal) for a desert (my first impression of this local RCC)? Even if I should someday come to an intellectual agreement with all that the RCC teaches, what are the chances that other RCCs (twice as far away) would be the same?
    [/quote]

Oh. Someone else noticed this?

Try locating an Eastern Rite church (Orthodox liturgy, in communion with the Pope). Or an Orthodox Church. Or a ‘Continuing Anglican’ communion such as the Reformed Episcopal Church or AMiA. Or a Polish National Catholic Church. And may God bless you in your search.

You should have come to my parish. A very very beautiful church. Wonderful music. Great preaching, hee hee. A fine handsome young pastor, of course. We are a huge church and you will find all kinds. Join us and help us improve.

Dear Manualman:

Thanks for the excellent post. I would much rather be in a desert with Jesus Christ than I would in a rain forest without Him.

Your brother in faith,
Fiat

Just a thought, but usually the local Cathedral has a better ‘feel’ to it than many parishes. It seems that many of the newer (ie built post 1970) parishes tend to be more like protestant churches in design and feel. Try to find an older parish if you can. I’ve found that they tend to be the most beautiful…

Pax Vobis

Alissa,

I urge you to give it another chance. I am a Byzantine Catholic, and since we have a smaller number of churches than the Roman Catholics, I must drive 20 miles each way to attend divine liturgy. But let me tell you–I’d drive 100 miles each way if I had to! God Bless you on your journey!:slight_smile:

Since I focus on the mass itself trying to hear God’s lesson for the day so to speak, I really do not pay attention to what’s going on around me in that much detail. Sure a loud cough or cry may turn my head for a moment, but then I focus back on what’s going on during the mass itself, towards the readings, homily and prayers. The most attention I pay to those around me comes in the “sign of peace” part of the mass.

I admit that I find some masses more inspiring than others. Sometimes I have to work harder to pay attention (and not always due to the mass itself, sometimes I am not feeling well or feel tired and so on). Hope you find a spiritual home that’s right for you, but for me, I found one that’s just right.

My thanks to each of your for your comments. I had been curious as to whether or not my experience was an anomaly. Regarding the practical issue of a good church to worship in, driving a bit farther is, in a sense, relatively easy. It’s the intellectual pursuit that is more difficult. And with limited free time, it will take some time before I can settle the doctrinal issues to my own satisfaction. However, continue I shall! Thanks again. Alissa

Hey Alissa,

Hope your last post does not mean you are finished reading the replies, but I wanted to say that perhaps the reason that God is pulling you to explore your faith AND he gave such a lukewarm experience in your first Mass, is because he intends on using
YOU as his tool to help improve the atmosphere in this particular parish! A friend of mine had a similar experience, in that he was leaving the Catholic church for this same reason, had been attending very lively Baptist services, and then came back very strongly to his Catholic faith with the intent to be God’s tool and help revitalize some of the lackluster Catholics he had once worshiped with. Maybe the reason you would leave the oasis to go to the desert is because YOU’RE BRINGING WATER WITH YOU.

Best,
Spencer

[quote=Alissa]Because of the liberal positions of the overall Episcopal church, I’ve started reading and learning about the RCC. Why should I leave an oasis (my own local church, which is not liberal) for a desert (my first impression of this local RCC)? Even if I should someday come to an intellectual agreement with all that the RCC teaches, what are the chances that other RCCs (twice as far away) would be the same?
[/quote]

I think you are confusing the Church (or the Catholic Church, if you prefer) with a particular parish in your neighborhood. The Church is a universal community of believers. A church is a building. If you believe the faith of the Church, it matters not what the experience was at a particular church. Following what you believe to be the teaching if Jesus is more important than personal preferences or the accomodations or ambiance or whatever that was provided at one specific Mass. I go to several different churches from week to week. I have my primary parish, which I like, but occasionally, for convenience or for a different experience, I go to one of the other churches in my area. If I encounter an unpleasant homily or a priest who seems out of sorts (which I have experienced - they are human too) I would not abandon my faith. I’d either have a talk with the priest, or simply choose another parish.

The difference between the Episcopal church and the Catholic Church is the difference between a zircon and a diamond: one is an imitation of the True Church, one is the Real Thing. The Episcopal church wins the Catholic “look-alike” contest. But the Catholic Church was founded by Jesus Christ. The Episcopal Church was founded by Henry VIII, thoroughly Protestantized by Edward VI, and exported to America by Samuel Seabury in 1789, minus the King or Queen.

The Episcopal church may dress itself up in the finest liturgy, but it’s only a dress rehearsal – opening night never comes. The
"priest" goes through the motions, but nothing happens. The bread and wine remain ordinary bread and wine. The priest remains unable to confect the Eucharist. Or, if by chance his ordination is valid, it is illicit.

Underneath the beauty of the liturgy is moral decay. Since 1930, the Episcopal church in America has brought us

  • approval of contraception, and all “Christian” denominations followed the leader;

  • the “right” of a woman to kill her unborn children through abortion, and many “Christian” denominations have followed the leader;

  • women priestesses, and some other “Christian” denominations now ordain women as well;

  • practicing homosexual clergy of both genders who have permission to keep their “partners” handy in the rectory in case their “services” may be desired. That “right” has now been assured for homosexual bishops as well, but fewer denominations want to go there;

  • liturgies blessing homosexual “unions” – and now they’re pushing the legalization of homosexual marriages in the United States.

The Catholic Church is the only beacon of Truth – the only hope for a dying civilization.

JMJ Jay

[quote=Alissa]On Christmas Even I visited a RC church just to see what it was like. My impressions:

  1. Tone/atmosphere: My church (Espicopal) - formal, reverent. This RCC -like many protestant churches - modernish, more like a social get-together.
  2. User friendly? Hmmm… No programs to follow, no missals in the pew.
  3. Sermon - generic (“Love your family”), 97% of it could have been delivered in a temple or a mosque.
  4. Ratio of parishioners to priest: Pack 'em in, say the mass, move 'em out. Then another mass with another huge crowd.
  5. Bored or distracted people (a higher % than in most Protestant churches I’ve visited).
  6. Attitude of priest: Seemed very overworked, in need of a long vacation.
    Because of the liberal positions of the overall Episcopal church, I’ve started reading and learning about the RCC. Why should I leave an oasis (my own local church, which is not liberal) for a desert (my first impression of this local RCC)? Even if I should someday come to an intellectual agreement with all that the RCC teaches, what are the chances that other RCCs (twice as far away) would be the same?
    [/quote]

I’m in RCIA. My responses to your points (same #s):
1. Years ago I used to go to an interdenominational meeting about once a week. Each week had a different pastor (but no Catholics). I really liked the Episcopal pastors. When I visited an Episcopal Church I was surprised to see how much they seemed to be like the Catholics.

2. I think the missal content can change every few years. In my local RC church, there is a section of the hymnal that has the Sundays’ missal material. So maybe the missals were there. And a lot of Catholics who like missals get a monthly subscription to “Magnificat”. It includes morning and evening readings along with mass readings.

3. Same here. What do you expect on Christmas Eve? The pastor is probably only trying to get people back into coming each week. Our local parish pastor is about my age (50). He loves to talk the Redskins. But his homilies are good. However, if you heard a mid-week homily, you would find their homilies to be more specific and not so generic.

4. That is Christmas Eve for you.

As for the crowd, you went to church at the most crowded time. Christmas is a day of obligation, and most like to get the obligation over with on Christmas eve. At my RC church, on the way out we feared to even genuflect in the aisles because one might easily get trampled. Similarly, I found that there was no time to bow in the lines for the Eucharist. That experience was a first for me – usually it isn’t that way even on mid-morning Sunday services.

There is much less of a crowd if you go during the week. And this is what I love about the Catholic Church. Any day you think you might like to go to Church, you can. And during the mid-week services there is no offering collection (unless it is Christmas or some major holiday). It is at the mid-week services that I find myself more relaxed and very able to receive the word and the homily.

5. Again this is because they are obligated to be there. And perhaps some of them only come Christmas Eve or Easter. If you come to a mid-week Mass, you would find it much different. If you really want to see a hard-core group of enthusiastic faithful at my local RC church, come to a first-Friday evening (1st Friday of each month). Or come to the 7:30am Sunday service.

6. Maybe he was overworked. After all, this Christmas was a bit hard on Priests. Christmas Eve services (Friday). Christmas Day services (Saturday). Both because Christmas is a day of obligation (attendance at Christmas Eve counts as Christmas Day). And then Sunday services (Sundays are also a day of obligation). At my local RC church, we also had simultaneous Christmas Eve services at a local school auditorium in addition to services at the church. So everybody could get through.

In some parishes, a Priest may be handling more than one congregation. Can you imagine how the Christmas weekend might be for that Priest?

This weekend is also another big deal. January 1st (Saturday) is usually a day of obligation and the next day is Sunday. There are also Friday night services that count the same as going to Church on Saturday.

The novelist Flannery O’Connor once wrote that

I write the way I do because (not though) I am a Catholic…I think that the Church is the only thing that is going to make the terrible world we are coming to endurable; the only thing that makes the Church endurable is that it is somehow the body of Christ and that on this we are fed. It seems to be a fact that you suffer as much from the Church as for it but if you believe in the divinity of Christ, you have to cherish the world at the same time that you struggle to endure it.

I think that this admirably sums the matter up. It really does not matter how awful the choir or how banal the church decor or how cravenly unctuous the syncophant of a priest at your parish may be, the Catholic Church is the one Church established by Jesus Christ for the salvation of souls. All others, no matter how tasteful or charming, are mere counterfeits. No matter how crummy the local Catholic parish may seem (and believe me, I have seen some crummy ones), it is still the only game in town. Meanwhile, those who have to suffer through the nonsense that Rome persists in inflicting on the faithful can take consolation in the knowledge that they are working off time in purgatory. :wink:

To Awfulthings9 - yes, I do continue to read the posts. I read much more than I post. --Alissa

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.