Stuck In The Past?


#1

As a returning Catholic, I am determined to practice my faith with knowledge and awareness. I have chosen to fully assert myself to “do it right” this time.

While purchasing the catechism and other source material, I have also purchased several historical references. I intend to make my return one of dedication while adhering to church law.

However, I do have a dilemma. It is one of disenchantment and disbelief. And shamefully, I think I’m reacting with conflict due to a “judgmental” opinion.

I returned to Christianity through Protestantism about 1 year ago. After realizing that I never gave Catholicism the fair shake that I gave to Protestantism, I decided to reinvestigate my Catholic roots and return to my faith of birth. Part of the reason was a desire to return to the reverence and piety that Catholicism seemed to offer; or, that’s how I remembered it anyway.

But upon my return, I must admit that I’m experiencing a bit of culture shock.

I was encouraged along the way by Catholic radio and EWTN television broadcasts. However, the church that I saw portrayed to me isn’t necessarily the church I’ve actually returned to.

After studying Pope Gregory VII’s attitude toward corrupt, wayward, and lackadaisical clergy and lay people, I sometimes wonder if we aren’t in need of a Pope G7 type of reformation.

There is something to be said for Catholicism’s history of humility and lessons of submitting to church law and to God’s authority. Catholicism’s heritage of reverence towards all things sacred and the Church’s fostering of virtue are things I remember as major factors in the make up of one’s “Catholic bearing“.

Not that I’m completely opposed to live rock bands thumping away prior to an Evangelical church service, but that’s just not for me.

I seldom rely on Hollywood to provide lessons in humility, but I hearken back to a mindset that was portrayed in the movie, The Mission. While I can sympathize with Deniro’s character (Capt. Mendoza) during his state of sin and repentance, I am even more attracted to the attitude encouraged by Iron’s character (the Jesuit missionary) that demanded full submission and servitude from Deniro’s Capt. Mendoza.

I gotta’ tell you, I have observed more of an unforeseen laid-back/lax attitude than I cared to encounter upon my return to Catholicism. I believe I am witnessing an intentional “facelift” that is meant to keep pace with that of the currently “hip” Evangelical Protestant movement that I left; partly because I was disenchanted with such a style.

I’m not coming back as a hard-core traditionalist and, in fact, I am very fond of many Vatican II changes. It’s mainly this perceived disregard for good old fashioned Catholic reverence and humility and the Church’s desire to keep in step with contemporary appeal that has struck me as odd. Admittedly, it may simply be the churches and parishes I’m attending.

Again, I admit that I’m probably coming off as judgmental. That’s because I am, in fact, judging the church that I have returned to.

I think I can get used to the extinction of nuns and the appearance of parish priests who don the “off duty” civvies instead of the black shirt and collar….(that’s a lie, forgive me, I don’t think I can actually get used to either one of those scenarios)….but I do see a change in “seriousness” that concerns me.

I know that I can’t change the Church, and if I must change instead, than so be it. But I think I’m looking for a little assurance that the Church has not adopted a personality that taunts the legacy of dedication that was formerly encouraged by some of its forefathers, such as Pope Gregory VII.

I know that my stint (very brief stint) with Protestantism has probably made me paranoid of all things “progressive” and that I am possibly reading waaaaaay too much into all this (after all, I’m the one who left the Church and became detached, not the other way around).

I am just curious, has anyone else who has recently returned to Catholicism experienced this “culture shock”, or am I being unfair and possibly ignorant of the Church’s intent? I am open to criticism (which I expect is forthcoming).

*Also, as a “rookie”, let me know if this is the wrong forum for this post…thanks.

Joseph

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#2

As a cradle Catholic, I can’t answer your question about “culture shock”. But I can give you a few reassurances that I hope will help.

First, nuns are not becoming extinct. Maybe not as many young girls are joining as used to, but there are definitely still enough nuns to continue on many orders for another generation.

Second, there will always be a number of Catholics who do take faith lightly and who really don’t care about what it means to be Catholic or the Mass or anything else. But there will always be a number of Catholics who DO care and who are educated in the faith and who take their lives as good Catholics very seriously. I’m sorry if your particular parish is full of lazy Catholics, but know that there are many, many great parishes of faithful laity out there! The word “Catholic” means “Universal”. It is a church open to anyone who cares to come. We cannot throw out the lazy ones, but should welcome them in and be an example to them to show them how fulfilling a good faith is! God may have sent you to a particular church to help others get more fired up about their faith!

Third, beware the devil. Granted, this is an obvious one, but it still applies. He is not above using dirty tricks. He may be trying to discourage you about your recent return to the Catholic church by saying, “It’s not as good as it was! Forget about it and move on to something else!”

Forth, the church will never be perfect. It is a church full of sinners and run by sinners. But part of faith is trusting in God that He will somehow keep us on the right path! All we have to do is pray and follow where He leads us! You sound like you’ve made a good start! Don’t give up!

I hope this was some help! Welcome back home!

:heart:


#3

Looking from the outside, I think the CC is having some major problems with internal conflict and debate over controversies such as contraception, abortion, women’s ordination, etc, as well as conflicts due to the liberal vs the conservative wings of the church.

I think the church needs to keep doing the valuable work that was being done by theologians such as Balthasar to recover the patristic heritage, particularly from the Eastern wing of the Church, and this needs to be vigorously renewed and updated with strong philosophy and respect for scientific achievements. I think the CC needs to dump scholasticism once and for all; St Thomas was a great philosopher, but notions like the ‘soul being the form of the body’ are very widely rejected by the mainstream of science and philosophy.

Certainly I also think a lot needs to be done to better catechise the laity and bring Catholics back to the Eucharist, especially in the West, where only about 20% go to Church on Sundays. Quite often the best witness is sound, intelligent apologetics combined with sincere and loving practice of what they believe. Quite often there is no better advertisement for a religion than a member who is holy, loving, and seems to have the divine dwelling in them.


#4

I think the CC is having some major problems with internal conflict and debate over controversies such as contraception, abortion, women’s ordination

Whats nice though is that these aren’t controversies. Arbotion will never be OKed by the Catholic church, Contraception will never be ok, and nor will Womens Ordination. The Controversy lies not in the Church, but in the people who think the Church is wrong for sticking to it.

In Christ


#5

Pretty much what I was hoping to hear…though I don’t think I realized it.

One of those “it’s all how you look at it” deals.

I was looking through a lens of discouragement.; not opportunity. And definitely not evaluating a possible adversarial challenge (Satan).

It short, I’m letting disappointment and selfishness prevail.

I don’t know if I can accept some things “happily”, but I think I can try and accept some of them “gracefully” and with resolve. I should have recognized that opportunity, but I didn’t.

Very sincerely……thank you.

I hope it means something to you when I tell you I will have this in mind when I next go to mass.

Joseph

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#6

I disagree. While the Church clearly condemns these things in an official way, there does seem to be considerable debate and emnity about these issues, both within the church (mostly between liberal and conservative Catholics) and also between the church and outside secular society. Just because the church decides a certain position on an issue, doesn’t guarantee it goes away, within or without the church’s walls.


#7

Greetings to you in Christ Greg

While it may appear as such, thankfully, this is far from the truth. Women ordination is Dogma, It will never happen. If it does happen that means the Church has changed on a position that deals with Faith and Morals. If this actually happens, this would mean that the Catholic Church is not the true church. For very similar reasons, Abortion and Contraceptives will never be retracted. They are not opinions subject to change. The only one that is even close to being able to be modified is Contraceptives. but with a small caveat.

IF a form of contraseption can be used that does not frustrate the act of Procreation, it is borderline OK. This i why NFP is sorta accepted. Things like Condoms will NEVER be accepted.

Rule within the church is not subject to opinion and popular belief. The three topics you mentioned are not popular at all within the church goers as a whole… but they will not change.

If Abortion is oked by the Church, Contraceptives like Condoms, and BC pills, or women are ordained. this would mean the Catholic Church is NOT the church founded by Christ and (no insult meant) no better than any particular protestant church.They are not matters of opinions, but matters of Morals and Faith, and therefore, there church CANNOT change its view. So, no, these are not controversies within the church, but only controversies to those that disagree with the church.

Think about it another way… TO a catholic, when we say the church has a position with regards to faith and morals, it is equivalent to saying 2+2=4. Nothing can ever happen to change it… If someone came along and said. 2+2=5, would there be a controversies over whether 2+2=4, or 2+2=5? Of course not… It shows more someone lack of knowledge than anything else. And that is what you are seeing.

In Christ


#8

Well, I do hope you are aware of the Social Justice history in the church that goes beyond a list of rules in the CCC and beyond.

usccb.org/sdwp/projects/socialteaching/excerpt.shtml

That is often what differentiates us from some Protestant sects (not all though), is getting out there in the world.


#9

Joseph,

You sound a lot like me, my brother! (I hesitate to say if that’s a good or bad thing, though!!! :smiley: )

Seriously, though. The Church is the Church. The saying “here comes EVERYBODY” is a cliche because it’s TRUE! We’re always going to have nutcases in the laity, in the religious orders and in the clerical leadership. Heck, we’ve had em in the Chair of Peter before! Don’t get too discouraged. There are a LOT of Catholics (both cradle and convert) who feel as you do (some take it way too far and wind up falling off the OTHER side of the barque of Peter, IMO) and fight for clear teachings, beautiful liturgy, and devout pious observances. Try to find a parish where you feel comfortable and a Priest or Brother who can advise and help guide you. Also, try to make sure you get involved with some of the work of the Church like volunteering your time, etc. It’s easy to become one of those “armchair Catholics” who spend their days critiquing everything from the anonymity of cyberspace while never really doing anything in the real world about it.

(btw, I’m with you on the Mission! Jeremy Irons’ character was a magnificent portrayal of a good Jesuit Priest! If only we had a thousand of him! Good soundtrack too.)


#10

I agreed with most of your post; I wanted to respond to this, and yes I realize it is WAY off the thread. Just one quick post and then I’ll be quiet.

There are some current philosophers (I think of Wolfgang Smith in a 1999 issue of *The Thomist *and Simon Oliver in his recent book Philosophy, God and Motion) who are arguing for a return to “substantial form” language (soul being the form of the body). I think it’s still valid even for biological animation, for a lot of reasons, but these two look at quantum-level behavior of particles. They argue that the idea of a substantial form taking on corporeality out of a non-corporeal physical phenomenon is one way to make sense of why “super-position” and “bi-location” happen at a particle level, but not at a macro-level—the particle level has no substantial form, but has the “potential” for substantial form-ness. When it takes on a form / becomes corporeal, its behavior and motion become stable and it no longer exhibits bi-location when measured. It loses that potential when its “form” becomes the first “act” of its corporeal “body.”

You are right in one sense; neither in quantum theory nor in biology is this the mainstream view. But it does explain some observations of quantum behavior, and I think it is also the only good explanation of how corporeal bodies can come alive and begin to develop. It is also, in my opinion, the best way to argue on social issues (see Robert P. George, for example).

Okay, back to the OP!


#11

Maybe I’ll re-post the above in a different thread. Sorry, everyone.


#12

Involvement is key. I totally agree.

During the Protestant pit-stop I made (about 8 mos. total) at my specific Protestant church of choice at the time, I got involved in several ministries and a fellowship. Though at this particular church, the ministries seemed to be a bit cliquish (that is definitely not a broad brush generalization of Protestants…just an observation regarding this church in particular).

I actually owe quite a lot to Protestantism’s perseverance for my return to Catholicism. It was a Protestant chaplain that counseled me back to practicing Christianity. From there, it was my personal observations and investigations that lead me all the way back……to Catholicism. I continue to pray for that chaplain. I owe her more than she realizes.

I was amazed by the Protestant fire and passion, the feel-good atmosphere, the willingness to worship without inhibition, and by far……the “Fellowship” ideal can be quite welcoming. But it was when I was involved in ministries that I realized how much I was missing in regards to helping others. The ministries caught my heart. I personally wondered why I never experienced these opportunities in Catholicism.

Hear that? That was the led anvil striking my head after about 8 months at this church. (Left quite a mark, too…).

Protestantism seemed so easy and accessible because I had a tutor (the Chaplain). And I was a willing student with an open heart.

I realized I treated Catholicism like a beautiful, unused vehicle. After trying to drive it once (without dedication and guidance) I collided with everything and rebelled by putting it up on blocks in my front yard.

Eventually a very kind person offered me a different model that they assured was simpler and truer. They provided guidance and confidence. I eventually mastered all the controls. I obviously enjoyed a beautiful road trip…for about 8 months.

That’s when I decided that my hardened heart never gave that original model the same fair opportunity. Upon doing so I discovered truth and identified my previous faults (and horrible misconceptions). Back in the driver’s seat!

I’m grateful for my awakening (God’s anvil, I mean) and the second chance. And I can’t say enough for Catholic radio and EWTN…trust me, those resources are huge!

Also, I checked on opportunities to get involved before I even came back……and I’ve located my “contact” already.

And one more note of thanks to that Protestant Chaplain…may God Bless her kind heart.

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#13

Joseph-

I’m a new convert to Catholicism myself, so I won’t be gauche enough to welcome you back but rather congratulate you.

One of the first things my deacon impressed upon me in our initial conversation was to not expect perfection in the Church. It is an assembly of people, all of whom are sinners, and claims no such perfection. What we do have is the eternal Truth. Converts such as myself should therefore learn as much about the Church as possible before joining, using RCIA, study, Mass attendance, and deacons and priests to extend our knowledge and so make an informed choice. He cautioned us that the biggest difficulty with converts was that many had been spiritually abused in their prior churches, and sometimes sought out the Catholic Church expecting a sort of spiritual and religious perfection that we have no right to expect. What should matter to us is Truth.

My wife and I were profoundly greatful to our deacon, who took great pains to welcome but challenge us throughout the 13 months it took us to join the Church (believe me, we wanted to do so earlier).

In response:

There are many in my church who are poorly catechized, but I love the Church.

There are many in my church who behave sinfully without visible repentance, but I love the Church.

There are many in my church who do not appreciate her, but I love the Church.

There are many in my church who act irreverently, but I love the Church.

And I hope that if I fall down and fail to set the best example possible for my fellow Catholics that I will not cause anyone else to love the Church less.


#14

The question to ask oneself (after figuring out that the Catholic Church is, indeed, the one that Christ founded) is not “Am I surrounded by the best possible Catholics?” but rather, “Am I the best possible Catholic that I know how to be?”

We can’t change others, and it’s usually considered obnoxious to try. The only person we can change is ourselves.

Welcome back!! :slight_smile:


#15

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