"Too Catholic"


I debated whether to put this in the apologetics thread, but I think it is relevant here because my background in apologetics is what is at the root of this story, which I have to share. I am in my first year as principal of our Cathedral school, and aside from all the great things we have going on acedemically and athletically, we’ve started several programs to better prepare, not just the students, but the parents to know, love, and defend the faith. Things are going great, and I got a wonderful complaint today.

Someone complained anonymously to the school board president that I was being “too Catholic”.

Isn’t that so cool?


That is awesome! Congrats! haha:p


I’d hate to think what the complainer would have said about Christ. :wink:


I’m trying to pinpoint exactly where I went wrong. Maybe it’s from putting stuff like this in my e-newsletters:

[LEFT]Last week our second graders participated in their first reconciliation. I can remember the anticipation, nervousness, and excitement that I experienced when I made my first confession as a child, but also as an adult when I came back to the church after haven fallen away several years ago.[/LEFT]

[LEFT]For many Catholics, the sacrament is one of the first practices to go as elements of our childhood faith fall away. There are many rationalizations that people tend to make to keep themselves out the confessional, and I will look at a few of these:[/LEFT]

Why can I not just confess straight to God?

The short answer is because this is not the way that God planned it. Paul writes that Christ gave them the ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:18), and we witness this happening in John 21:21, when Christ told the leaders of his Church that what sins they forgive are forgiven and what sins they retain are retained. We simply do not have a right to tell Christ that we prefer to do it a different way. Christ understood that, as physical creatures, we have a need for physical interaction. Think about Peter, after all – he was not repentant of denying Christ until he looked across the crowd, saw the eyes of the Lord and wept (Luke 22:60). Christ understood the power of actually sitting down and humbling oneself before another individual, hearing another human voice tell us that we are forgiven.

The priest is a sinner, just like I am.

Pope John Paul II went to confession weekly. If he was this conscious of his sins, we can be assured that our parish priest is conscious of his. Yet, this does not invalidate the sacrament of reconciliation anymore than having an overweight doctor invalidates the medicine he prescribes. The power of the sacrament comes through the grace of Christ, not the merits of the confessor.

I am not aware of any serious sins. I have not killed anyone.

The three conditions for mortal sin are that it must be grave matter, one must have knowledge of this and consent to the act. While killing a person is certainly a grave sin, so is missing Mass on a Sunday or Holy Day of obligation. Contracepting a marital act is also a grave sin. Once we have participated in a mortal sin, we have removed ourselves from a relationship with God and put our soul in danger of eternal separation from him in Hell.

And if we receive communion while in this state, our condition becomes even worse. Paul tells us in 1 Cor. 11:27 that to partake in communion without examining ourselves is to sin against the body and blood of Christ.

The good news is that, no matter what sin we have committed, the sacrament of reconciliation is always ready to bring us back into a right relationship with Christ. Not only do we receive forgiveness for our sins, but we receive graces that help us from sinning again. In addition, when we sin, we have wronged the entire body of Christ, which means even our most private sins affect those around us, and the priest sits as a representative, not just of Christ, but of our fellow man, and we can offer him our apologies in that regard.

I was reluctant to return to the sacrament of reconciliation for some time after coming back to the Church, and I offered a number of excuses and arguments for why I did not need to. In time, however, I realized the real reason I was resisting had everything to do with personal shame and that my intellectual arguments were only distractions from that. When God finally called me back into the confessional, though, I realized the magnificence of his grace and left feeling a hundred pounds lighter.

I think that many of our second graders had a similar experience. One girl in particular got home with her parents and, two hours later, told her mother she wanted to go back again … that night!

If you have not been to the sacrament of reconciliation in a while, please do so before receiving the Eucharist this Saturday, which is a Holy Day of Obligation, recognizing the Immaculate Conception of Mary. While the rest of us were not conceived immaculately, what better way is there to celebrate the Advent of Christ by striving for her holiness by having our sins wiped away and presenting ourselves pure and without blemish to receive our bridegroom Christ in the Holy Eucharist?


One of the reasons this person gave was that non-Catholics who are thinking about our school but who don’t agree with Church teachings might be scared away.

I guess this is true. Probably, we should be watering the teachings down so we can get more non-Catholic tuition.


Well I think you’re doing a great job!

When I have kids I hope to find a school run by someone like yourself. If not, I guess I will just have to move to Missouri!


This doesn’t make any sense to me. When a parent, Catholic or not, considers sending a child to a Catholic school, wouldn’t they know that there would be teachings of the Church presented in the school? Or am I missing something here, and is my thinking too old-fashioned?


“Too Catholic”! That’s rich. I love it! I once had a guy tell me that I was the “most Catholic” guy he’d ever met. Thought that was a compliment then too.:rotfl:

His buddy didn’t like it much and actually threatened to punch me out and then apologized later.

Just keep doing what you know is right and watch the Lord bring the fruits and meet all the needs.:thumbsup:


Yes! I also know of a religion teacher at a Catholic school who was told that they were “Too Catholic”. Why do they think that the word “CATHOLIC” is in the name of the school?


He was too CHRISTIAN!


I’ll pray for them, as their own words muddy them by comparison.


It depends, I suppose, on whether the objective of Catholic education is to educate Catholics or to make money.

Given that we refer to it as “Catholic education” and not “moneymaking opportunity”, I presume your understanding to be the correct one and your complainant to have misplaced priorities.

I am reminded of an anecdote Father Richard John Neuhaus relayed in “First Things” about a priest who complained about the “riches” of the Church and how they should be sold off and given to the poor, until his bishop asked him how long he had been stealing from the offering plate, at which point the priest broke down and confessed.

One’s misplaced priorities tend to be rather self-revealing.


Accept this complement and know that you are succeeding in doing your job. i.e., being principal of a CATHOLIC school.
Deacon Ed B


Good job! :slight_smile:


high praise indeed
when they start complaining to the bishop about you, you really will know you are doing things right

we have had concerns in the past about our grandchildren’s Catholic school, but since their new principal came on board, and we have heard similar criticism of him as being “too doctrinaire, too Catholic, intolerant of differing views” I no longer worry about their education in the faith at this school.

I got turned down by the first 2 parishes I applied to, because my training was at a college considered “pre-Vatican II” and “too Catholic”, until my current parish hired me precisely on the basis of this credential.


Good job!

A number of years ago before we crossed the Tiber, my wife was assisting with a “Vacation Bible School Art’s Camp” at a local Episcopal Church. One of the other instructors refused to say anything relating directly to Jesus. Her concerns were similar to what was said about your school. My wife never assisted again, and we left that church a short time later.


Ah, but you see in many school districts the Catholic School may have a more restricted curriculum, but they teach the basics and they teach them well. Many parents both Catholic and non-Catholic choose the school because of the superior academics and its emphasis on good behavior. They are not really interested in the “Catholic” part and in some cases are actually rather anti-religion. For the middle class, a Catholic school is usually an affordable better option for their children.

I think that the student body of our local Catholic School is almost half non-Catholic. Not being members of the parish, they pay a little more. It is also interesting that it is not infrequent that the non-Catholic partner in a mixed marriage is drawn to the Catholic Faith through their children’s experience in the school.


That’s a silly objection. My wife and I have talked about perhaps sending our daughter (years in the future–she’s only 1!) to a Catholic school rather than a public school (or a private Protestant school, which is likely to be run by fundamentalists). If we did that, we’d expect the school to be, well, Catholic. We wouldn’t expect them to water down what they believe. This is just another example of how our society doesn’t understand the difference between respect and tolerance on the one hand and muzzling religious distinctives on the other. If you were denouncing Protestants as hell-bound heretics, or even spouting propaganda about how evil Luther was, I’d understand why Protestants might be offended. (I would be myself.) But simply doing some catechesis about a basic Catholic sacrament is surely appropriate.



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