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?

9 comments:

Vianney1100 said...

I can tell you what a priest who teaches at our local seminary said on this subject. It is the priests of the last 40 years fault. When you are a priest you are shackled to a huge gorrila called the Catholic Church. A good priest understands this and brings the gorrila with him wherever he goes. Those other priests have sought to unshackel themselves from the gorrila. They don't wear their clericals and they make the Mass all about them and they certainly don't want to teach anyone about the gorrila. We have had bad catechesis because too many priests are embarassed by the gorrila and are enfatuated with themselves.

pinanv525 said...

I believe that, Scripturally, we are called to reach those who have never heard the Gospel first. I would imagine lapsed Catholics and Christians would be next.

Atheists are a waste of time if they are of the academic type, and "agnostic" is just a polite, cocktail party way of saying, "I'm an atheist."

Granted, there is that small segment of scientists, logicians, astronomers,and Yale Divinity School graduates who genuinely can't decide either way.

SqueekerLamb said...

I guess I'm a minority.
Growing up in the church of the 1970's left me poorly catechized.
Even though I was taught that the Eucharist was really Jesus present, and not just a symbol, what was there to awe when we finish siging Kumbaya and Micheal Row Your Boat Ashore at Mass?
It was to easy to drift away and be untied from 'obligations' that seemed to oppress and depress one.

Acatually I think I'm not the miniority.
From those Iknow, most just drifted away and wanted to be unshackled.

I think those surveys are sckewed.

I blame both the priests and nuns, and my parents for not bringing the church into the home.

Templar said...

I believe the ignorant. They are at least not as guilty as the ambivalent, who have heard and rejected. Granted as Lamb says, many of the ambivalent were poorly prepared (myself included) by what I can only describe as an utterly pathetic catechism in the 1970s.

But talking about "who" to reach out to is less important in my mind than the "how" to reach out to them.

The outreach must be bold, hard, and unyielding. Right is right, wrong is wrong, and stop all the fuzzy dialog. The resulting Church will shed the weak like water off a duck's back, but at least it will be the True Faith. The Catholic Church need's some of St Ignatius' Jesuits to return.

Where can the Church find such Priests in large numbers today?

skshah said...

Right On!

Who to reach out to more? I say the ambivalent, because they are in more danger of making huge errors than the ignorant.

Anonymous said...

I feel the atheist is closer to being converted, in many cases, then most as he is actually thinking about it and sees the weakness in man's attempts to define God. The trick is to get him to stop letting that stand between him and the great I Am.

rcg

pinanv525 said...

RCG, I think you are giving the atheist too much credit.

Anonymous said...

Could be. But I have experience, as you know, with a prominent agnostic/atheist organisation and my observation is that they have to work very hard to remain atheists. It is similar to the behaviour I see when people want to diet: they will exhibit elaborate rejection of some food, displaying revulsion, when all they have to do is not eat, if they don't want it. I think these people know deep inside they want to eat.

rcg

pinanv525 said...

"The fool hath said in his heart "there is no God."