Response to complaint about “Converts’ Zeal”


This comment to "Converts’ zeal" was posted at 11:34AM EDT: 

I will apologize right upfront if I sound at all judgmental (the cardinal sin of the secular world), but I feel the need to point something out.

First, my credentials: 33-yr-old American cradle Catholic (I would have said Irish, but that’s not accurate, because I’m only a 1/4 Irish – I also happen to be Czech, German/Danish/French-Canadien with a dash of Cherokee somewhere).  I considered the priesthood for a while (about 3 years of serious discenrment), but God had other plans for me.  I’ve also sponsored a friend into the Church, through the RCIA program.

That said, I’d like to point out thatI’ve detected a pattern, based on the comments of Josh, Heather, Robyn Banks, Kyra, Joe, punkrockhockeymom, kristied, Sarah S, Lucy Snowe, Ron Sullivan, Stellanova, et al.  The pattern seems to be this:
 – lapsed Catholic
 – attended liberal parish
 – some form of abuse (either from alcohol or verbal or over-bearing strictness) at home
Let me address each point in turn.

I’m sorry to tell you, but being a lapsed Catholic does not necessarily qualify one as being Catholic anymore.  It’s not like a nationality (like Irish), but it is rather a state of being and membership.  It’s nice that some of you still have sentimental feelings toward the customs and culture of the Catholic Church, but I’m sure there are plenty of divorcees who still have sentimental feelings toward their ex-, but wouldn’t dare go around saying they’re still married to them.  Another way of looking at it is this: I may think of myself as a computer programmer, but if I haven’t even sat in front of a computer in years, does that make me a programmer?  Of course not!  Maybe once, but not anymore.  It wouldn’t make sense for me to attempt to correct currently active programmers by reminiscing about punch cards and ENIAC.

My 2nd point, which probably explains a lot, is this: liberal parish or loose teaching.  The main problem most practicing Catholics have with people like Teddy Kennedy is that they claim to be Catholic, yet don’t follow the precepts of the Church necessary for membership.  As a priest has commented: It’s like an environmentalist saying "I’m a member of Greenpeace, but I don’t like their teaching about not clubbing seals."  Doesn’t work that way.  Granted, the Church has a lot of diversity (a "big tent"), but the tent flaps have to end somewhere, and certain things (like being against abortion and believing in the True Presence of Christ in the Eucharist via transubstantiation) define those borders.  This is also why the most conservative (doctrinally, not politically) seminaries and religious orders are seeing increases in vocations, while the most liberal and lax are closing.

The 3rd point is why I am trying not to be judgemental:  past hurts and abuses.  I understand that the past (either historical or personal) contains lots of instances of pain and hurt for many people.  Most of this, in recent history, has had to do with alcohol abuse.  Now, I am no teatotaller (I am Catholic, after all!), but the abuse of alcohol (like the abuse of anything) has had devastating effects on families, on the Faith, and even many priests.  This does not, however, make the Church wrong or evil.  The acts of individual Catholics can be detrimental, but that’s because the Church and it’s members are not perfect – if it were or people were, there would have been no need for a Savior!  The Church is Holy only because Jesus has said so, and because it is His Bride that He loves to the end of the world. 

I can sympathize with the hurt feelings and such (my parents – even though Catholic – divorced, partly due to alcohol abuse), but this is why one of the chief lessons of Christianity is forgiveness.  Unfortunately, the most overlooked sacrament is Reconciliation (a.k.a., Confession or Penance), yet it is so very vital and crucial to the Faith.

It is also important not to identify the Church with any individual, nation, or culture.  The Church is labelled "Catholic" because it is Universal – it encompasses people of every nation.  On the flip side, there may be a shortage of vocations to the priesthood, but there is no such shortage of vocations to the Papacy – everybody seems to want to be Pope (thinking that they can then make up their own rules).  The rules of the Church are meant for all, and all the rules are meant for each one in the Church.  This is true for the "new on-fire convert" as well as the "lapsed/cultural Catholic".  There’s no such thing as a "second generation Catholic" (every one of us who claims to be Catholic must be born-again and convert daily), but there’s also no such thing as a "cafeteria Catholic" who is allowed to pick and choose what they will and won’t follow.  This is not a new concept, but rather one from the beginning, with the first Council of Jerusalem, called by St. Paul and presided over by St. Peter.

Again, I’m trying not to be too preachy, because I believe more in touching the heart with the Truth, rather than bashing the head with the Bible.  Unfortunately, words in print (even electronically) come off as cold, sterile, and legalistic.  Therefore, I will end this lengthy comment by saying that I will remember you all in my prayers tonight, and if you feel so inclined, could you please pray likewise for me, that God will continue to feed my mind, strengthen my body, and open my heart?  Thank you, and God bless.

—————

The only feedback I received about this post was this and the deletion from the moderator.  The comments from Dawn Eden herself, though, tend to echo my own, so I’m guessing that’s why my post was deleted.

CORRECTION 4/26/2006 12:27PM EDT:  The comment was not deleted.  I had searched for it before it was accepted by the moderator.  Mea culpa.

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