I was studying with some new friends tonight, both of which consider themselves Catholic. I was talking to this one (very nice) girl about Catholicism. She had mentioned that her boyfriend was not very religious and I asked about what kind of affect this might on their relationship.
Her, answer: it didn’t bother her because she does not go to Church everyweek and he believes in God in some ambigious way. She was telling me that she does not attend Mass everyweek and feels it is not neccessary because her religion is between her God. “You do not need to go to church to be a good person” she said and disagreed that missing Mass was a sin. For this reason she also strongly disagrees with the idea of Confession being required of Catholics.
I responded that Catholicism is a community oriented religion. Not going to Mass does not make you a bad person, but it does not make you a good Catholic. I said to be Catholic means being part of a community- the Church. Salvation is not solely an individual affair and this also explains the neccessity of the Sacrament of Confession. Not only is Confession the most potent weapon against re-occuring sin that I have ever experienced, it and the obligation to Mass every week, prevents a dangerous spiritual individualism. Sin is not solely between “you and God” but between you, God and humanity. This is why Confession involves “you, God and a priest”.
She said she does not think a community is neccessary for a relationship with God. While this may be true, I said Catholicism is not an individual posession that you can carry off on your own. We share the faith as the Church, and while you are to make it your own in the sense that each person is to be completely unique and themselves in the communal life of the Church, it is not “your own” to practice without participation in the Church.
I also said that if you think Confession is not neccessary and do not make use of it, then you should refrain from the Eucharist. You can not refrain from Confession and in doing so declare one’s sins to be solely and individual affair, and then in the same breath go to the altar and recieve the most important Sacrament that declares the unity, community and inter-relationship of all Catholics in the Body of Christ! It’s a sheer contradiction in logic.
Anyways, sorry for my rant. Even though I do not agree with everything the Church says and does, I am trying my best to bring myself into full communion with the Church on the issues that had separated me from communion during my spiritually experimental years. I felt like asking her to not identify as Catholic if she actually believes this, but I figured that would be rude.
Does anyone feel that there are far too many Catholics that just think like Protestants but call themselves Catholic anyways? How can this girl think she is Catholic and at the same time deny the neccesity of going to Mass!?