Friday, November 26, 2010

SPIRITUAL NOURISHMENT, FELLOWSHIP AND FALSE ECUMENISM


An earlier post here showed that the primary reason Catholics leave the full communion of the Church and join Protestant Churches is because they found the Protestant "parish" to be more nourishing of their faith. The second reason tied into the first reason is that they like the Protestant parish better. I suspect that fellowship and evangelical zeal found in many Protestant parishes are tied into the reason for joining them.

While it is true that Catholics leave the full communion of the Church over issues such as artificial birth control, marriage, and the sex abuse scandal, the main reason for the majority of those who actually join Protestant denominations is "nourishment" issues and "likability" issues. I'm surprised at this. I would have thought the sex issues would have been the primary reasons.

So if this is true, in what ways do Catholic parishes fail in nourishing parishioners?

Is there no distinction between various protestant traditions and the Catholic tradition. In other words has the Catholic Church lost its distinctive character and identity in terms of liturgy, prayer and spirituality and become so united with protestant denominations in this regard that many ask "what's the difference?"

How can Catholic parishes be more friendly and what suggestions do you offer?

20 comments:

pinanv525 said...

People are suckers for emotionalism and sentimentality. They confuse it with spirituality. This was a serious early Church heresy (Enthusiasm/Spiritualism) and continues to raise its head periodically. They want Church to be a continuation of the sentimental, melodramatic slop they watch on television. I don't know how you make a Catholic parish more friendly. I have found the people at St. Jo's to be quite friendly and enjoyable...in the social hall, at the KofC fish fries, at committee meetings, picnics...all the places that are appropriate for socializing. However, Mass is not the place for all of that stuff. Protestants make no distinction between church and social activities. Preachers crack wise form the pulpit, use a lot of down home talk, and generally act like your dear old Uncle Jack. The church members never cease visiting during church and never drop their social pretensions. That ain't spirituality or nourishment to me.
Maybe if parishioners took part in the social activities of the parish more they would make lots of new friends.

Also, I have never asked anyone at St. Jo's for assistance with an activity or help planning something who did not respond immediately and helpfully. Catholics may be a bit more matter-of-fact than Prots, but they are certainly not unfriendly or unhelpful. Ya' got me, Fr.

Bill Meyer said...

The Religious Ed. dept. in my parish is much enamored of Fr. Richard Rohr, Sr. Joan Chittister, and others of dissident mindset. I have had a few chats with my pastor about it, and tried to suggest that it is at best a deep disservice to inquirers to present other then true Church doctrine.

I think that more traditional teaching is called for, and if applied to all classes in the parish, would restore the sense of morality too often lacking in these "spirit of Vatican II" catechists.

Frajm said...

At one time I was very much opposed to Catholics who home school their children. However, I have changed my attitude and find that their children are very well informed about the Catholic faith because the parents as primary educators of their children actually teach them the faith. The Seton Home School program uses the Baltimore Catechism as the basis of its religious education program. While there might be some nuances that need adapting, I would say that the Baltimore Catechism without any updating is far superior to anything under the guise of Fr. Richard Rohr or Sister Joan.

pinanv525 said...

I believe that Christians, and specifically Catholics, and patriots everywhere who are concerned parents are going to have to begin looking seriously at alternatives to public (government) education. Also, choices among liberal arts colleges and universities are grim. I have actually told parents that they may want to consider sending their college age child to a technical school or some kind of specialized vocational school rather than college. It is huge for me to say that, for I spent eight years in college and grad school and love literature, philosophy, and the arts, but I'm not sure Shakespeare and Plato are worth the steady diet of anti-Judaeo-Christian, anti-Catholic, anti-American, Left wing vitriol and propaganda that they will receive in most of these so-called universities. You can't avoid them if you want a career in medicine, law, or the sciences but, thankfully, the science departments are not quite as tainted with the stuff. This isn't going to change any time soon. The requirements for changing it would be considered too extreme and no one has the political courage to employ them. In fact, the requirements are so extreme that we would run the risk of losing the very values we are trying to recover. It has gone that far. So, we pray and do what we can.

Anonymous said...

My parish is your same diocese Father and it is bleeding members. Religious education is lacking and the leadership is incompetent. If anyone teaching the young people dared mention the Baltimore Catechism, they would be out. It's all about authority and power. Teens and young adults are actually encouraged to go to protestant churches for fellowship, which is why so many end up leaving. In fact, there is little, if anything for young people offered by the parish.

The people in charge don't seem to care. They are very comfortable and will not tolerate anyone rocking their boat.

OpusVeritas said...

Well... I took a bit of time (and space)in a previous post to list what I believe are some legitimate reasons why the Catholic Church is not 'meeting needs'. Fr AJM may feel free to re-post my thoughts if he so desires.
Jesus is indeed present in the Eucharist & we certainly all wish this was 'enough', but there is more to Church LIFE than Mass attendance, though the Body, Blood, Soul & Divinity of Christ should always be our first & final resting place. If our dear Brothers & Sisters who leave Communion with the Catholic Church really understood this, then all of the rest pales in comparison. Still - as my previous comments indicate - it is difficult when the Catholic Church operates as she does in so many cases & places...

SqueekerLamb said...

If parishioners would smile at each other before Mass starts and again after Mass (instead of making a mad rush to get out) that would really help. A smile is God's love for one's fellow man, and it works wonders.

The Mass itself is the highest prayer I have learned. If the majesty and wonders of the Mass were catchized better it would go a long way. It's the ONE thing that no protestant church has. (Some one will argue about high Anglicans and some eastern Orthodox churches here I bet).
Convey, over and over, the wonders that are uniquely Catholic.
On the surface folks want to feel good, and as mere humans we all need that between each other, so we as Catholics need to do better about that before and after Mass, for sure.
But to stay in the Church there has to a greater reason. I think Catholics in general, and also priest at the pulpit need to brag on the Church more.

I basically agree with pin, as we are in teh same parish and my experiences have been his.

I'm so sad to hear about Bill Meyer's church. It's frankly downright heartbreaking.
I'llnever forget the first time I saw a Joan Chittister book. It was in the possession of a Sister. the cover had a testimonial by none other than Martin Sheen...gee whiz if that's the best she can do for a testimonial...
Then I learned about Richard Rohr...aargh.
These folks don't even put "Sr." or Fr." by their names as authors...

Another thing we need to do is more unquely Catholic activities, devotions, etc..
Our parishes should drip with Catholicism, not be more protestant-like.

The Catholic Church is the ONE place where the fullness of Truth resides on this earthly palnet. The guidance of the Catholic Church's doctrines is the ONE reliable guide out there through lifes obstacles and sufferings. Once one truly understands that, why go anywhere else, and furthermore why not JOIN!
I know we gotta love our non-Cathlic brothers, but their 'religion' or their 'spirituality' is NOT equivalent. If it were, then what would be the point?

Oooh..I think the courage to don the mantilla (chapel veil)is 'bout ready!

ABLD said...

I attended Catholic school from grade 1 - 12 and also attended a Catholic college. Most of my friends have been Catholic. More than 1/2 of them are no longer Catholic. Of those probably 80% are protestant. One good friend who attended school with me for 12 years found herself in the unfortunate circumstance of an unplanned unmarried pregnancy. She and the father married and later divorced. She was lonely and dabbled in the prot churches for fellowship and because she "didn't get anything" out of Mass. She wanted to FEEL such swelling of emotion each and every Mass and often found that with the music and preaching in the prot churches. Her daughter attended Catholic school for many years. My friend married again in the Catholic Church. Where is she now? The touchy-feely Bible study "once saved always saved" fundamentalist, socially acceptable, pass the wafer and grape juice Evangelical church. UGGH!

Why isn't she worried about her soul? Why doesn't she want to receive our Lord, body blood soul and divinity? Why doesn't she believe in the Real Presence? Why? I truly believe that the lack of strong catechesis is to blame. In high school, catechism was replaced with social justice. Mass was a rarity during the week. And devotions had totally gone by the wayside; they were almost a joke if they were even brought up. The drivel we were fed was bland. No wonder so many leave or left! And fear for one's soul wasn't enough to keep them from leaving either. Truly I believe that it won't matter how "fun" the social side of a parish is if the catechesis is lacking.

SqueekerLamb said...

ABLD,
Your story of the friend who left because she was lonely and didn't feel such a swelling of emotion at Mass, like she did at a protestant church simply reinforces my first line thta was inresponse to Father's question, " How can Catholic parishes be more friendly and what suggestions do you offer?".

Mother Teresa came to understand that the poor are all around us. The lonely. The unloved. Your friend was one of those poor and needed to feel loved and to feel love at that time. She didn't give up on God, she went where she thought she could simultaneously do both: worship God and feel loved. Her hurting heart got the salve she needed.
Now if she had been faithfully attending a Catholic parish, and had been involved in tht parish by giving of her time on some regular basis, then she would have had the human support network already in place when her unmarried, unplanned preganancy occured (or maybe it wouldn't have occured, but that's a different discussion). She might have gone to confession for fornicating, found God's forgiveness and spirtual healing, and the human support from the friends she'd developed by giving of her time and talent to the parish that brings her the Eucharist.

Instead of realizing how her failures caused the whole situation and her need to get back on track, she wanted others to soothe her without her taking responsibilty for her own spirtual demise. The Mass didn't make her 'feel good', and since most every message in society is all about 'make ME feel good' these days, and don't hold me accountable for my mistaskes, who wuld expect anything different from her? On top of that, if she had poor catechesis and little devotional activities in her home when she was growing up,does any one really expect anything different from her?

Yet, every Sunday there a people attending Mass who are hurting inside and for various reasons really need to feel God's love presence. They really need to know that God loves the and is there for them. That's one reason it is up to us to share a smile and say hello to a stranger.

The exodus from the Church is a wake up call for each of us to do better, and be accountable for our slackness that has contributed and to start to remedy the situation!

Catholic Curlew said...

Smiling and saying hello are certainly things we could use more of, at least if it's done sincerely and not part of some contrived program.

But what do we as laity do when the people in charge don't even care about our identity as Catholics? Our parish has a pastor who is indifferent and just goes with the flow. We have a Director of Religious Education who is a divorcee, walking around town with her midriff exposed and flashing her implants by wearing plunging necklines at parish events. And our pastor just assures us that she is doing a wonderful job. We need a St. John Vianney in our parish to fumigate it. Any ideas?

pinanv525 said...

Curlew, One thing some people could do, if their location permits and there is a "real" and devout Catholic Church nearby, is to start attending Mass at the other Church. If there is a large group of you who are unhappy with the sloppy behavior and indifference, go together and tell everybody exactly why you are doing it.

Bill Meyer said...

SqueekerLamb, it makes me want to cry, too.

When I joined the parish, we had no crucifix over the altar. That deficiency was remedied a little over a year ago, and the entire Rel. Ed. Dept. nearly quit in protest. the parish would have been the richer for their departure.

Our DRE has publicly expressed the hope that she may die before the new Missal goes into effect.

This parish needs the prayers of many.

pinanv525 said...

Do Bishops ever get directly involved with things like this to correct them?

Frajm said...

Some bishops do and some don't. I suspect much of what is done is behind the scenes.

SqueekerLamb said...

Something is not right here.
A pastor cannot place a kneeler for communicants for fear of being reprimanded by the bishop, but there can exist no crucifix at the altar plus other assorted mayhem with no fear of reproach. There is certainly something very wrong with this picture.

Apparently Bill and Curlew, your parishes need you badly. But if you're not the guys for the job, drive a distance to get to a real Catholic church. Many people I know do exactly that!

And keep in mind, that the Eucharist is valid regardless of the shenanigans of the priest or parishioners. Be grateful for the Eucharist, as I'm sure you are.
Some people have to face persecution, verbal or physical, just to get to Mass. If you've never been starved of the Eucharist, then you may not understand.

I love the EF Mass and everything that is unique to the Catholic Church, but I gotta tell ya', I'd do anything to get to any Mass celebrated by any priest at any church that I can. And I often do exactly that. And I know it's a luxury to have a parish where the Mass (OF Mass)is celebrated in such a way that the awe is present in a most obvious way.

Starving folks love Filet Mignon as much as the next guy, but they're just as grateful about Peanut Butter & Jelly sandwiches too.
Pray and ask God if He wants to use you for the betterment of your respective parishes somehow.
There may be a silent majority there that actually feels like you do, but are too shy to speak up.

And be prepared to rack up the mileage on your cars.

Bill Meyer said...

Squeeker,

With respect, when the bishop appears to be unconcerned, and the problems I describe manifest at numerous parishes, then what is left is prayer.

When the bishop routinely makes no mention of such important messages as Summorum Pontificum, then it is hard to seek redress through appeal to his good offices.

And when the EF is offered at only one parish in the rather large diocese, and the tabernacle has been nowhere near the altar, despite diocesan norms, then it is hard to imagine that such things are taken as important matters.

Frajm said...

I have to share frustration too that a priest who abuses the liturgy in a "progressive" way will not be admonished by his bishop but if a reform of the reform minded priest asks people to kneel for Holy Communion he would be reprimanded. How odd, especially now that Pope Benedict and others distribute to kneeling communicants.

pinanv525 said...

You mean that you could not just begin routinely putting out kneelers for OF Communion without getting reprimanded? How odd...even Presbyterians can do that if they wish.

SqueekerLamb said...

So, let us pray for our new bishop to be...whomever he is to be.

To Bill and others, I am not walking in your shoes, but you recall the old expression,"Stand for something or you'll fall for anything"? Not that you're falling for anything, but are you standing for something?
Would you consider taking a few important points (like the position of the Tabernacle) gently one-on-one with your pastor in a private meeting? or with the bishop? Who knows, perhaps he'd like to do something memorable in his final stretch.

It's also frustrating when when people give up.
Typing on a blog is one thing, but what about some additional sort of action? Are there no others in your parish that share your sentiments? You might effect change gradually from the inside, or at least get to be in the company of like-minded fellow parishioners, regardless of the 'old guard'. Perhaps I'm dreaming here in fantasy land..it's just that if you've got nowhere else to go, then if not you,...then who?

Just waiting around for someone else to step in and make change seems like waiting for something that is highly unlikely to happen. Meanwhile, what about the formation of the children of your parish?

Anonymous said...

Squeekerlamb:

Your first point should be one of the TOP prayer priorities of every Catholic in this diocese. As long as we are not moving forwards, we are really moving backwards and the status quo cannot continue as it is without devastating losses.

Pray and fast, pray the rosary, keep the strong intention that God will send us a new bishop with a hunger for souls.