Separateness and Integration


#1

I am always amazed by the lives of Orthodox Jews, they live and work, often spend their whole lives, in very close proximity to their synagogue so that they can attend prayers 3 times a day. Most of them work for other Jewish employers who can give them the flexible employment they need for this, eat at Jewish restaurants that keep the Kosher food laws, are willing to sacrifice anything and to separate themselves from the secular culture completely for the observance of their faith.

In this country, many of our Holy Days of Obligation are transferred to Sundays so that we don't need to take time off work for our faith. Wouldn't it be better to let our faith come first, even if that meant not having enough holiday days left over to have an annual summer holiday? Even the Sunday obligation is transferrable to Saturday or dispensable if work commitments get in the way. Wouldn't it be better to lose a job with a secular employer and work for a fellow Catholic who would make provision for Sundays and Holy Days, even if it meant the entire Catholic population being poorer, as the Jews often were in their ghettos?

I realise there is a difference between Jewish and Christian concepts of holiness, Jewish holiness is about being 'set apart', a small chosen race, observing a ritual purity which is not expected of others, while Christian holiness is about being 'salt and light', being in the world but not of the world, living an infectious holiness which could reasonably be practiced by all. Nonetheless, have we begun to compromise too much? I guess the question is really whether the current capitalist democratic secular society can be Christianised from within or whether we ought, as the Church, to be a kingdom apart, living a Christian culture and inviting others to come out of the secular culture and join us. I sense there are many who have a separatist mentality among the Traditional Latin Mass community, while the 'mainstream' of the Church, including the hierarchy, seems to prefer to seek out new ways to witness within a new and evolving secular world. Is one approach right, the other wrong?


#2

:clapping: That is an amzing post!

I would be the one who leans towards separation. But not total separtation of course.

That's funny, on EWTN(I think) two days ago was a great elaboration on the phrase "crossing the Tiber." The Catholics literally lived "across the tracks" if you will, and it was sort of like a ghetto, it was to poor side of town. And imagine the rich pagans and the courage it took to drop everything and cross the river for good to become a Catholic. It's far more powerful imagery than you'd think!


#3

Hi DL,

Great post.

I am always amazed by the lives of Orthodox Jews, they live and work, often spend their whole lives, in very close proximity to their synagogue so that they can attend prayers 3 times a day. Most of them work for other Jewish employers who can give them the flexible employment they need for this, eat at Jewish restaurants that keep the Kosher food laws, are willing to sacrifice anything and to separate themselves from the secular culture completely for the observance of their faith.

One can’t help but admire the dedication these people have. I know what you mean. However, I have always been far more impressed with cloistered and semi-cloistered Catholic Religious.

In this country, many of our Holy Days of Obligation are transferred to Sundays so that we don’t need to take time off work for our faith. Wouldn’t it be better to let our faith come first, even if that meant not having enough holiday days left over to have an annual summer holiday? Even the Sunday obligation is transferrable to Saturday or dispensable if work commitments get in the way. Wouldn’t it be better to lose a job with a secular employer and work for a fellow Catholic who would make provision for Sundays and Holy Days, even if it meant the entire Catholic population being poorer, as the Jews often were in their ghettos?

IMHO opinion, you (and many, many others, including many clergy) are correct that it kind of “waters down” the seriousness of our faith to “move around” Holy Day observations for convenience sake. But I also see the other side of that. Remember that a Holy Day of Obligation is binding on all able Catholics, and to miss Mass on such a day without good reason is a mortal sin. Maybe the heirarchy have in mind an idea that they want to keep as many otherwise good (if maybe a little lukewarm) Catholics in a state of grace? I don’t know. Definitely a debatable point IMO, though I tend to side with the way you’re thinking :thumbsup:

Nonetheless, have we begun to compromise too much?

On the official level, I would say ‘no’, but at the level of the daily life of the average Catholic, I would say ‘yes’. IMHO (which should always be taken with a large grain o’ the proverbial salt) we could use more rules from the top-down (like in the pre-conciliar days).

I guess the question is really whether the current capitalist democratic secular society can be Christianised from within or whether we ought, as the Church, to be a kingdom apart, living a Christian culture and inviting others to come out of the secular culture and join us. I sense there are many who have a separatist mentality among the Traditional Latin Mass community, while the ‘mainstream’ of the Church, including the hierarchy, seems to prefer to seek out new ways to witness within a new and evolving secular world. Is one approach right, the other wrong?

Can it be? Of course! God is infinitely more powerful than our goofy little political systems down here on earth.

While I understand the draw of a separatist mentality (especially in the current Western culture, which is often blatanly satanic), I think we are still expected to “work from within.” It should always be kept in mind that we will never totally suceed in changing the world. Only the return of Jesus will accomplish that. Remember, “the mystery of iniquity already worketh; only that he who now holdeth, do hold, until he be taken out of the way.” Things will get a lot worse before they can get better. Our task is save souls, not societies. It’s all about bringing individual people to salvation. I think this is very important because there are still many, many people currently “outside of us” who are open to the message and God expects us to bring it to them.

The Holy Apostles didn’t set up a camp in Jerusalem with signs around saying “come to us and we’ll be here for you!” They went out into the hostile, pagan world as lights to shine in darkness, facing certain suffering and martydom.

On a sidenote to this, I often wonder if in a similar manner, God expects us to be pouring into countries where martydom is certain, like Saudi Arabia, to proclaim Jesus to those who will listen :eek:

Maybe some of this made sense? :o


#4

Definitely makes sense :thumbsup:
The part you said about going to a country to be matryred has really got me thinking…


#5

I'd be wary of the attitude that we should be going anywhere TO BE martyred. The saints never went to a place to be martyred, they went to preach and to proclaim the gospel, and if martyrdom came, they accepted it in steadfast hope. Martyrdom is the crowning achievement of a life lived in holiness, refusing to compromise on what is right in the face of oppression, showing that the Spirit is stronger than the flesh.

Our attitude to martyrdom mustn't be like that of the suicide bomber who declared 'we love death like you love life', that's a sign of mental and spiritual instability. We ought to love life, but we ought to love the true life, which is life in Christ, which death cannot put an end to, more than anything else.

I remember reading somewhere that there were once ships which took hundreds of martyrs from Italy to the Ottoman Empire. Rather than try to land secretly and establish a mission, they arrived openly in ports, where they were immediately martyred before they had had the opportunity to preach the gospel to anyone. I'm not sure how reliable the source was, or whether this ever really happened, but if it did, it strikes me as an abuse of martyrdom, not a correct Christian understanding. Those people, it would seem, went to Turkey TO BE martyred, not to preach the gospel, accepting martyrdom when it came. That's not an attitude we ought to be taking today.


#6

Very interesting topic. I agree with DL82’s post mostly. We do have an obligation to to appear to be “seperate” in the sense that all can see the Life of Christ in us and thru us. Sometimes this must be done in a physical way, by not participating in certain activities or organizations. Sometimes we need to stand up for the right things in a positive way, regardless of cost. We all can find these opportunities everyday in our lives. There is no need to “go” somewhere special to live correctly. Some are called to indeed “go” somewhare special, these are missonaries.
I too think that somehow Catholicism in America has lost some of it’s saltiness. Due to many factors I’m sure. I am also sure that the call to pray, and the call of conversion in my daily life is a very good way to respond to the topic of lukewarmness.
I think I am in agrreement with most posters here though, in that I think we could also restore or institute more traditions and habits that are easily observable to our expression of Catholic life.
Peace,
Tom


#7

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