To Be Or Not To Be


#1

I grew up Catholic and up untill 6 years ago that is about all I was -Catholic by default. However, 6 years ago I finally accepted Christ’s calling and I now find myself in a relationship with Him (Praise God).

Now that I have God in my heart I have no trouble seeing my own sinfullness and seeing the injustices in my Church. Our Church ministries are lead by individuals who take ownership and only allow those to participate who are willing to do things their way. Several of these ministry leaders didn’t like the way our DRE was running the CCD Program so they conspired against her and asked the Doicese to remove her. Being that my wife and I had been Catechists for several years we knew that while the program wasn’t perfect - Sister had a genuine love for the Lord that covered the children and the Catechists. It was a very painful way for our DRE of many years to be ousted! Our Pastor knows of these and other ongoing situations and yet refuses to do what’s right.

I once referred a friend to confession so he could obtain forgiveness and possibly a chance to start up his faith but he was asked to leave since he hadn’t performed the official sacrament. I was explained the sacraments as “God’s gifts to us” by one of our earlier Pastors and I thought they were not only subject to Catholic Rule. “Where was the mercy, where was the grace?”, I thought to myself!

I now find myself troubled if this is truely where I belong? How can I lead my family to Church where so much of what happens here contradicts what I have learned from God’d word?

Please help.


#2

[quote=rucatholic2]I grew up Catholic and up untill 6 years ago that is about all I was -Catholic by default. However, 6 years ago I finally accepted Christ’s calling and I now find myself in a relationship with Him (Praise God).

Now that I have God in my heart I have no trouble seeing my own sinfullness and seeing the injustices in my Church. Our Church ministries are lead by individuals who take ownership and only allow those to participate who are willing to do things their way. Several of these ministry leaders didn’t like the way our DRE was running the CCD Program so they conspired against her and asked the Doicese to remove her. Being that my wife and I had been Catechists for several years we knew that while the program wasn’t perfect - Sister had a genuine love for the Lord that covered the children and the Catechists. It was a very painful way for our DRE of many years to be ousted! Our Pastor knows of these and other ongoing situations and yet refuses to do what’s right.

I once referred a friend to confession so he could obtain forgiveness and possibly a chance to start up his faith but he was asked to leave since he hadn’t performed the official sacrament. I was explained the sacraments as “God’s gifts to us” by one of our earlier Pastors and I thought they were not only subject to Catholic Rule. “Where was the mercy, where was the grace?”, I thought to myself!

I now find myself troubled if this is truely where I belong? How can I lead my family to Church where so much of what happens here contradicts what I have learned from God’d word?

Please help.
[/quote]

It sounds like you are upset about two different things.

  1. You say that your pastor “refuses to do what’s right”. Clearly, you believe your perception of the situation is right and the only or best solution is the one you think the pastor should do. But perhaps the pastor is aware of other things that you don’t know about or has reasons for not doing what you think is right. We Catholics are called to view others with charity and to subordinate ourselves to the spiritual leadership of the Catholic Church. And if the pastor is doing something immoral, unlawful, or otherwise inappropriate, your best plan is to work through the diocese. Otherwise, you should give him your respect and defer to his authority and judgment.
  2. The sacraments, including Reconciliation and the Eucharist, are not for anyone of any faith. They are for Catholics.

You seem to be unwilling to submit to the authority and direction of the Catholic Church and its priests. Prayer and study would seem to be in order. Please think long and hard about distancing yourself from the Catholic Church. “Harden not your hearts.”


#3

I am sorry that you have seen injustices in the church. I to have seen many yet I know in my heart after talking to some really good priests that these are unfortunate circumstances. There are many in the Church that do abuse their gifts. But if we look at humanity as a whole the Church would look Saintly compared to the everyday abuse of talents that God has given us.

So what can we do? Report these issues to your local Bishop’s or Cardinal. The Pope has an email address now. Unfortunately we do not live in a perfect world and so there are many of us who make mistakes.

I particulary remember an instance with a Priest that I helped run out of town.
Many thought he was a holy priest and was fun loving etc.
But many did not know that he had molested boys and his teaching on the Blessed Virgin and many other things were blasephomous.

In dealing with the closing of our Exposition in our Parish I have had a very difficult time dealing with the unfairness . Yet I look at our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament and could never imagine leaving Him for another faith.
So I pray for the Church and all her leaders.
I get involved and teach catechism and religion in a school to save the little of humanity that I can.

A big job but with many hands much lighter work.
Don’t give up on the Church. Every Church has errors. Yet your’s has the Living Bread that came down from heaven.


#4

I am a convert to the Catholic faith after twenty years in evangelical Protestantism. Why did I become Catholic? Simply because it’s true. I haven’t found better homilies or more beautiful music or better fellowship in the Catholic Church than I did my evangelical churches. I have been dismayed by many things I’ve seen in the Church since becoming Catholic, particularly widespread apathy, ignorance and even dissent from Church teachings on faith and morals. The Church is human and divine, and if I spent all my time looking at the weak, sinful human side of the Church I would get quickly discouraged. I keep my eyes on Jesus, and Jesus in the Eucharist is worth everything, a priceless treasure.

Just read the history of the Church and even the lives of many of the saints, some of whom suffered at the hands of the Church (think of St. Joan of Arc), yet they never sought Jesus outside the Church. When we see wrongdoing by people in our church, we need to pray, fast and seek God’s wisdom on how to respond. My prayers are with you!


#5

The Church has its problems, and nobody knows how to deal with them.

The typical response is to say, “the Church is perfect, but she is run by imperfect people.” OK, well maybe theologically and/or theoretically that makes sense, but it gives no practical advice on what a person who loves the Church can do other than sit there and grieve at the sight.

One thing I think we finally can get out into the open: all is not right in the Church. Whether scandals, cover-ups, or whatever are the work of individuals working within their job description or just acting as renegades, we still have the Church and her officials making bad decisions that are morally wrong and legally risky. Of course, that risk has turned out to be very real.

Consider you may be called to a prophetic ministry. People who are both aware and sensitive to the things of the Church, and people who are aware and sensitive to the things of the world both, and are able to articulate these issues across boundaries, are very important to this Church.

Most sighted men (I suppose anyway) use a mirror to shave. Note that shaving is not a direct indicator of character, but doing it right determines how you will appear (in reality) to the world. The prophetic ministry, IMO, supplies that “mirror” to the Church and her people, so that they can see to make such corrections without cutting themselves up.

The problem I see with all this is nobody knows where to go to start the problem. Well, you start it by separating the theology from the practice, and refusing to get defensive about any attack whatsoever on the Church, because even if the “attack” is 90% false, there still could be that 10% grain of truth in there that serves nobody to have killed the messenger instead of using that precious information to form an action plan for our own lives or to keep in mind the next time it becomes apropos.

A friend on this forum once sent me a document, “See, I am Doing Something New: Prophetic Ministry for a Church in Transition” which has been instrumental in helping me accept my grievances, and to become more productive about the way I think of them and speak of them. I do not need to get defensive or feel threatened anymore by those who are trying to protect the Church but are in fact protecting her false-face instead by scaring off anybody who would say things are not all right.

I was particularly impressed that last Sunday’s first reading included the statement, “See, I am Doing Something New.”

A sample from the article:

Bishop Richard Sklba has just given us a masterful description of the prophetic vocation as it is found in the Scriptures. I would summarize his insights with the following description: The prophet is both a keen observer of the signs of the time and is acutely attuned with the heart of God. Out of these deep sensitivities the prophet speaks truth . . truth that is often uncomfortable and unwelcome yet always essential and life-giving. My task is to ponder the significance of this insight for us as priests here and now. Our question is: What does it mean to exercise a prophetic vocation in the Church in a time of transition? What I offer is simply one perspective, one attempt at prophetic listening to the voice of the presbyterate; and one effort at articulating what the Spirit might be saying to and among us today.

The prophet’s role:

Walter Brueggemann argues; is to propose alternative visions and possibilities than those that are officially endorsed. He states that the biblical prophets have a twofold task: first, in light of God’s word, to express the people’s deepest hopes and lead them to embrace God’s promise of new life. Isaiah’s words have haunted my prayer for the past year; and now echo within me as a summary of this dual vocation: “See; I am doing something NEW.” Thus I believe that the prophetic vocation is first, to help the faith community to embrace a loss it does not want to admit, and then to proclaim to the people a hope that they cannot dare to image.

Part One: “I have heard the groans of my people.” (Exodus 3:7):

The prophetic vocation begins with listening to the community’s groans and giving them voice. A “groan” is different from a mere complaint or gripe. By definition, a groan is inarticulate. It is a cry of deep distress or pain that does not always reveal its source or cause. The prophetic consciousness is peculiarly sensitive to “groans”,” the inarticulate cries of a people’s distress, because such groans are the initial and indisputable signs which announce: “all is not well!! Something is terribly wrong! This is not how God wants things to be!”

Alan


#6

You are right, but on the other hand to ignore or even disclaim that side of the Church does not help her.

The problem is, people like me who consider themselves problem solvers see these “problems” that really don’t have to be and can’t help but speculate, “what can we do about it?”

You are right it can be discouraging, so in order to actually get to where somebody can work the problems, one has to ascend completely beyond being discouraged and pick up the pieces and go. The Lord has given me a series of so-called “worldly tragedies” in the past five years that have given me such a lesson on discouragement that I’m beginning to feel empowered to get beyond it for the first time in my life, and address issues both in Church and in my life without fear of the job being too big.

After all, how are the gates of hell to be held back? If we all band together we have nothing to fear. We need not always shout defenses, as Peter cutting off the soldier’s ear, but that is the kind of passion that will keep people together and thus not sinking. After all, the Church is her people, so how can the Church herself do anything except through her people?

My wish if for all of us who love the Church to realize she needs our devotion but not our combative, defensive posture toward those who speak – correctly or incorrectly – of her ills. It’s really about fear of letting go. We are programmed emotionally to object to things that go against our beliefs, and that raises a barrier to conversation. If we accept those things instead without judgment, we can more aptly see how to redirect those things (even if only in our mind) to make them a non-threat and return our minds to peace. IMO, if we fear or act as a reflex to clobber all anti-Catholic sayings, then we have chosen to fight as the world has taught us to fight. For most of us, I don’t think we ever are lucky enough to see another way to fight. In my case I had to lose pretty much everything comforting to me, job, mental health issues and involuntary lockup – followed by forced leave and layoff – house burned down – bankruptcy – ending a was-lucrative 21 year career, you know, the usual discouraging stuff. At some point the Lord shows us what all these things mean and how we can quit relying on worldly security and promises for the future that the world cannot deliver despite all the insurance payments.

At some point, the Church is all we have and when we see her weaknesses, we have to be willing to embrace her with them and not be afraid that we will lose our own personal serenity just because others see those problems too and just because we can’t imagine how we – as individuals – can do anything. Well, we, as individuals, ARE the Church so I am energized (interspersed with some discouraging “moments,” I’ll admit) to go out and live, speaking when prompted and able to hold still when not. For me, it takes more faith to shut up than to speak, as I speak automatically from the heart and don’t even know what I say or type until I see it in front of me. To shut up means I understand what is being worked and have the faith that this particular issue (the one at hand) does not need my two cents.

Alan


#7

This is the kind of attitude and maybe even vocation that I think many of us are ready, willing, and able to take on. Why not quit brooding and get about the cleanup?

From last Sunday’s Mass:

Is 43:18-19, 21-22, 24b-25

Thus says the LORD:
Remember not the events of the past,
the things of long ago consider not;
see, I am doing something new!
Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
In the desert I make a way,
in the wasteland, rivers.
The people I formed for myself,
that they might announce my praise.
Yet you did not call upon me, O Jacob,
for you grew weary of me, O Israel.
You burdened me with your sins,
and wearied me with your crimes.
It is I, I, who wipe out,
for my own sake, your offenses;
your sins I remember no more.


#8

I hope my initial post didn’t give the impression I was advocating ignoring the problems in the Church by just focusing on the divine. My point was that we have to keep our eyes focused on Christ, who alone provides us with the guidance, charity, wisdom and strength in which to know how to respond to the problems we see. Jesus is Lord, and when we remember that, we realize no problem in the Church is too big for Him to handle. If we try to address problems in our own strength, we can quickly succumb to frustration and anger, which can derail any attempts to solve problems we see.

As I see it, we need to first of all be in prayer for the Church, and specifically pray about those problems we’re aware of, both in our own parishes/dioceses and around the country/world. We need to ask God to show us how to respond. We can take action within our own sphere of influence as God directs us. And sometimes that will involve joining together with other Catholics, or acting alone. It will all depend on the situation. Sometimes the problem won’t go away, no matter what we do. If we make it our responsibility to “fix” every problem we encounter, we will wind up very frustrated. We simply have to strive to be faithful to whatever God is calling us to do and leave the results up to Him. Sometimes we will see immediate change, sometimes not. Whatever happens, we should trust that God works all things out according to His good purposes.


#9

We should not be surprised about the abuses or sinful actions of others within the Church, because Jesus said it would be so. Read the parable of the weeds and the wheat.
I do think we should pray for those who are responsible for those sins and for those who take scandal at them. We should also voice our concern to the proper authority within the Church about these, but when all else fails just Trust in God for the gates of hell shall not prevail.


#10

[quote=Veritas41]I hope my initial post didn’t give the impression I was advocating ignoring the problems in the Church by just focusing on the divine. My point was that we have to keep our eyes focused on Christ, who alone provides us with the guidance, charity, wisdom and strength in which to know how to respond to the problems we see. Jesus is Lord, and when we remember that, we realize no problem in the Church is too big for Him to handle. If we try to address problems in our own strength, we can quickly succumb to frustration and anger, which can derail any attempts to solve problems we see.

As I see it, we need to first of all be in prayer for the Church, and specifically pray about those problems we’re aware of, both in our own parishes/dioceses and around the country/world. We need to ask God to show us how to respond. We can take action within our own sphere of influence as God directs us. And sometimes that will involve joining together with other Catholics, or acting alone. It will all depend on the situation. Sometimes the problem won’t go away, no matter what we do. If we make it our responsibility to “fix” every problem we encounter, we will wind up very frustrated. We simply have to strive to be faithful to whatever God is calling us to do and leave the results up to Him. Sometimes we will see immediate change, sometimes not. Whatever happens, we should trust that God works all things out according to His good purposes.
[/quote]

I think you have thought this through, and I didn’t find your initial post to be against dealing with problems. It sounds like you have a very balanced view over the Church, her divinity, her problems, and your role in it. :slight_smile:

Alan


#11

[quote=tdandh26]We should not be surprised about the abuses or sinful actions of others within the Church, because Jesus said it would be so. Read the parable of the weeds and the wheat.
I do think we should pray for those who are responsible for those sins and for those who take scandal at them. We should also voice our concern to the proper authority within the Church about these, but when all else fails just Trust in God for the gates of hell shall not prevail.
[/quote]

I completely agree with this. There is one thing that I think we would like not to be the case, though, and that is that Christ criticisms of certain leaders in the Church back in his day, IMO, still apply. The awesome power the Church has over its individual members is just itching to be abused – even if subconsciously – by men. Even good men, trying to do a good job and teach Christianity, cannot devote full attention to each individual in a parish at the same time and thus is open to making decisions that affect people in ways he may never know.

When I look at the life of Christ, practically every time he was bothered by people to where He set them straight, it was the Church leaders. He actually befriended the sinful, and though He did not condone their sins, nor did he shun them or look down at them. It seems that His ministry was a grass roots effort to empower the people to experience a certain feeling of freedom under the oppression of Church authorities given the way the Church was run at the time. All this judgment he spoke against was most often judgment against sinners by the Church. I believe that fallible men have a propensity to take certain things for granted – such as the loyalty of the flock or their ignorance at times as to how they come across to a segment of Catholics – because they simply cannot know everything.

What is different between then and now? Well, we have been teaching about Christ for two millenia, but the Church structure has not changed much, nor do I believe the hearts of men are intrinsically more or less evil now than they used to be. What has changed are the actual teachings and the specific Church rules, and the concept of forgiveness was introduced. The differences in dogma or whatever it was called then are not likely to be at issue, because Christ Himself knew how to correctly interpret the law before He came, to show that the law itself was being abused by the practices of Church leaders.

My wife used to say that we need to really pray for our priests because they are in a very precarious situation. As ostensible leaders and teachers, they will be judged according to a higher standard. We need to support our priests, but I think many of us pedestalize them from a very young age, and probably for good reason as we see these men as critical to our own salvation so we hope they are the supermen we want as intercessors between us and God. Christ showed us how to have a “personal relationship” with God (hopefully not to sound too Protestant) whereby we can dare pray to Our Father directly, in Christ’s name. Basically, he showed that God does not hold other men in this relationship. From the gospels I read, it sound like He was killed for being an anarchist more than a blasphemer. Blasphemy was the stated crime, but the real one is that He was empowering the people to have a sense of well being and connection to each other and the Lord, despite whatever the lawyers and pharisees and Church officials said.

Alan


#12

I would recommend the book* Forgive me Father for I am Frustrated* by Fr. Mitch Pacwa. It is a helpful guide for when you are confronted with unsatisfactory situations in your parish.

Also, it’s been my experience that if you vent frustrations of your parish programs on these forums, you will get both supportive responses and “get over it” responses. Both types of responses come from the same love of the Church and just reflect different personality types.

Sometimes in the Catholic Church, you have to look beyond the frustration of the moment, and fall in love with the universal Church throughout the world and throughout time. It will give you strength. Also, if you read St. Paul’s letters, you can see there were a lot of parish problems even then.

God Bless you and your parish.


closed #13

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