Wednesday, February 16, 2011
WHO SHOULD WE REACH OUT TO WITH MORE VIGOR, THE IGNORANT OR THE AMBIVALENT
In a post below this one, I posted John Allen's piece on the Pew Report concerning Catholics who leave the full communion of the Church. Some of these leave and join no other denomination or religion, they are "agnostic" or become "atheists" preferring the social trends in terms of secularized morality. This hinges on free access to artificial birth control, abortion based on choice, a denial of the need for natural law to guide morality, the desire for equal rights for homosexual persons especially as it regards marriage and equal rights for active homosexuals in society and even the Church.
This group is really a minority who leave the Catholic Church. By far the great majority that leave for Protestant denominations, a smaller number do so because they join the Protestant denomination of their spouse and do so for marital and family harmony.
The larger group leaves because they are not properly catechized in the Catholic Church's sacramental theology and spirituality, especially as it concerns the Sacraments of Holy Orders and Holy Eucharist. They are also looking for more traditional, conservative family values which they see lacking in their experience of post-Vatican II "spirit of Vatican II" parishes.
This group, the largest by far, join Protestant evangelical denominations that have lively worship, strong fellowship programs that connect people to each other and a strong sense of conservative, traditional family values and how to live one's life in the world. In other words, based on the Word of God, they nourish people who are looking for strong direction in their lives, a sense of conversion and redemption from the values of the world and a strong sense of fellowship and community.
Has the post Vatican II Church as experienced on the parish level let these Catholic down, the ones who have joined Protestant conservative, lively evangelical traditions?
Let me put it another way. If a Catholic truly believes in the necessity of the Sacrament of Holy Orders for the valid celebration of the Mass; if a Catholic truly believes that Almighty God is present on the altar through the ministry of the ordained priest at Mass and that this comes about through "transubstantiation"; and if a Catholic believes that in the presence of God one should be in awe and wonder and give God one's best and seek God's mercy where sin has corrupted the soul; and if one receives God in a humble fashion, free of mortal sin, with the utmost reverence (which is emphasized when one kneels) then would a Catholic leave the Church for fleeting emotions and strong fellowship with others? Wouldn't that be idolatry to place feelings and fellowship above Jesus really present on the altar, "Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity" as well as His one Sacrifice made present too and all through the ministry of the Sacrament of Holy Orders?
And if a Catholic doesn't know the traditional, conservative family values of the Catholic Church and the direction these give us in the world in which we live, just why is that? What has happened to Catholic catechesis on the Word of God and Sacred Tradition these past 50 years?