Saturday, May 01, 2010

Are We Scaring Away the "Good Enough Catholics?"

DotCommonweal has an interesting article on B+ Catholics--What Will Become of Them?  Oddly enough, I've been thinking something along the same lines recently, myself.  Will we be judged on the quantity  or type of our piety?  Do we judge ourselves, or others that way?  Does God?

We are a liturgical and sacramental church.  The years after Vatican II saw the pendulum swing so far away from traditional piety that it was often openly decried by teachers and priests.  Generations of the faithful were left standing out in the cold, wondering where the Rosary went.

Now, however, I think it may be swinging a bit too strongly in the other direction. In the DotCommonweal article Cathleen Kaveny asks what will happen to the "B+ Catholics in a church run by Millenials" (who tend to be more conservative in their piety) "and ecclesiastical movements" (which often insist that salvation depends on a particular style of piety or type of prayer).

She also asks an important question.  Do we want a "purer, smaller" church?  It is (and was for me) comforting in a rather contemptuous way to think that the Church would rid itself of all those "troublemakers" until I realized that a large majority of my own family falls into that category of the fallen away.

Personally, I can no longer rejoice when we seem to be deliberately running off so many who are hurting and so many more who just feel "not good enough" to remain in the Church because they "only" go to Mass on Sunday and can't manage much more, or because they struggle for years with sin .

Jesus came not for the well, but the sick.  He is the Divine Physician.  We need to welcome all to the Church--even the "good enough Catholics" and particularly those who do not meet even that standard.


LC said...

I don't see the Church swinging to far back. I still see the Church as swinging towards the middle where traditional piety will be upheld but that the need for a personal relationship with Jesus is also recognized. I also see the traditional piety being married with the knowledged that we are deeply loved by God. Forgiveness is what we need to make sure the "good enough" Catholics (which I believe I'm one)know. Neither Traditional piety nor feel good liberalism amounts to anything without the grace received through reconciliation and forgiveness.
IMHO, lets stick to the teachings of the Church and make sure that all know the forgiveness that comes through Jesus.

Dymphna said...

I admit, the original article was written from quite the so-called "liberal" perspective. I also think it depends, in part, on the individual parish.

I think you are right. Forgiveness really should be the focus and not worship style or politics or anything else.

RAnn said...

I've always wondered how much most people pay attention to all this anyway.

Barbara said...

I think the article writer set up a false proposition, and "either/or" situation. It seems presumptuous to speak of "B+ Catholics" as if any of us have the right to pass judgment on others. Jesus is always the one who welcomes the sinner back, and the Church in the name of Jesus. Our job as Catholics is to pray for each other and the world so all will come to know Christ and live accordingly. Sometimes we have to speak inconvenient truths, though. It is wrong not to admonish the sinner (a spiritual work of mercy). The priest from the pulpit and the bishop from his cathedral are obligated to do this. The rest of us have to set a good example and show the joy of our love of Jesus in daily life. Comparing ourselves to others is an excuse for pride or for maintaining an attachment to sin. Our spiritual life is a personal matter between us and God and if we're lucky we have a trusted spiritual director who helps us to avoid deceiving ourselves. I agree with LC, stick with the teachings of the Church because the truth will set us free. Glad you posted this.

Dymphna said...

RAnn--those are interesting articles--and you bring up a good point. I wonder if this latest pendulum swinging is really an affect of the internet which tends to skew things to one side or the other. Perhaps, thankfully, we don't usually get into heated discussions during Mass about various theological minutia.

Barbara--admonishing the sinner is essential for catechesis, absolutely. I think my thoughts on this can be summed up by the quote by St. Augustine: "In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity."

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"Slavery ended in medieval Europe only because the church extended its sacraments to all slaves and then managed to impose a ban on the enslavement of Christians (and of Jews). Within the context of medieval Europe, that prohibition was effectively a rule of universal abolition. "— Rodney Stark

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