Saturday, February 8, 2014

ANY WAY TO RECOVER OUR UNITY THROUGH A STRONG CATHOLIC IDENTITY?


As a Catholic old enough to remember the elements that made for a strong Catholic identity with that unity in Christ, then the Pope and then our bishops and priests, we seem to be today very fragmented and divided and only loosely united in our belief in Christ.

Do we need a strong catholic identity and unity a la 1950's or is the way things are today better than then and thus the status quo should be seen as the ideal?

21 comments:

Henry said...

"Do we need a strong catholic identity and unity a la 1950s?"

Surely this is one question to which all--believers and progressives--can agree on an affirmative answer?

Gene said...

Speaking of which, apostate theologian Hans Kung has a new book out…LOL…about "saving the Church."
Yep, no hock, Sherlock. My comment: If what Kung says is what it will take to save the Church, it ain't worth saving. I'll go back to Calvinism somewhere, assuming from that evidence that he was right, after all.

John Nolan said...

Catholic identity means different things in different countries. In the USA it is one denomination among many, in a state founded by eighteenth century deists, enlightenment radicals and freemasons, to whom the idea of an established Church was anathema. As a child in England in the 1950s, where the established Protestant Church of England was still vigorous and culturally dominant, one was seen as somewhat of an anomaly, particularly as Catholicism was very much identified with Irish immigrants. Not long before, the Catholic Church was dismissed by the Anglican Establishment as "the Italian mission to the Irish". History as taught in schools betrayed a confessional bias; what I was taught at Catholic primary school was contradicted by the Whiggery of non-denominational secondary school. It is only since the 1990s that academic historians (at least most of them) have challenged the old assumptions.
The main problem with English Catholicism at parochial level is that it is clique-y, complacent and boring.

France on the surface appears religiously indifferent, and modern Catholic liturgical practice there is generally abysmal and attracts few people. Yet traditional Catholicism has been on the increase for at least twenty years and can no longer be ignored as a splinter group attached to the SSPX. The Church in Germany and Austria is well-off but its main supporters are heterodox, along with most of the bishops. The Italians might cheer Papa Bergoglio as one of their own but few go near a church except to show visitors around.

So there you have it. I know enough like-minded Catholics to have a common identity, and have connected with many more on the internet. I don't have to put up with bad liturgy, and attend EF and OF in equal measure. I admired JP II, loved Benedict XVI, and as far as Francis is concerned I might have misgivings, but he is the successor of Peter and we shall have to wait and see.

Unknown said...

I am well old enough to remember Catholics in the south employing a number of little public Catholic cultural markers like making the sign of the cross at the sound of an emergency siren, wearing a chapel veil to Mass (and if forgotten, having to bear the indignity of wearing Daddy’s handkerchief on my head!), having fish served even at public school every Friday, just all sorts of silent little witnesses to our faith, sometimes prompting questions, sometimes prompting challenges, and sometimes even prompting critical put-downs from non-Catholic friends. I think for me it was helpful in solidifying my Catholic identity and encouraging me to learn and know some answers to the inevitable non-Catholic’s questions. My children and grandchildren have grown up without nuns in habits (who could jolt one into a complete examination of conscience within nanosecond with only a sharp snap of her fingers) or any of the small Catholic cultural markers I had. My observation is that absence of even the very small actions has only diminished reverence and respect and even consideration of what each of the actions meant - not just in the case of my children, and grandchildren but in me as well. St. Joseph’s fosters reverence, silence and prayer in preparation for Mass as well as after. That helps me to focus on speaking to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. When I attend Masses with chatter and socializing in the pews, it seems to me that it is at the expense of fostering reverence for Blessed Sacrament. Not all agree with me, I know.

Joe Potillor said...

The destruction of the liturgy was the beginning of the loss of the identity of the West.

Cameron said...

Huh?

Anonymous said...

We do need a stronger identity, but not the sort of identity that's based around insularity, ultra-conservatism, Obama-hating, and so on...

Joseph Johnson said...

Very well said both John Nolan and Unknown!

John Nolan's observations about European Catholicism, based on my readings and personal observations, are generally quite accurate. I can also very much identify with some of the things that Unknown describes in her growing up experiences and I especially agree with her about the need for quiet and prayer just before Mass. Priests who don't understand the importance of this special time shouldn't be surprised when their parishioners develop a casual and apparently indifferent attitude towards the Eucharist.

Anonymous said...

We will never have Catholic unity as long as high-ranking Cardinals and bishops can question the very teachings of the Church while those who seek to preserve her liturgical traditions are treated with suspicion and containment policies.

JBS said...

George Weigel's "Evangelical Catholicism" does an excellent job answering this question.

Christ is our Catholic identity, and so our worship of the Father through Him, and our works of mercy prompted by Him, should grow into a solid cultural edifice. We can make periodic adjustments to this cultural house over the centuries, but we should probably learn to avoid tearing it down and starting over again.

JBS said...

It's true that Americans have never liked the idea of established religion (although some US states kept theirs for several decades after Independence), but it's also true that religion has always played a vibrant part in American public life. Religion competes openly in the "free market" of ideas here, and it is very common for Americans to changes religious communities at least once during our lifetimes. Since Catholicism has the fullness of truth, it is best placed, objectively speaking, for this competitive environment. However, Catholics of the Latin Rite need to become a little more appreciative of our particular religious culture within Catholicism, so that we can offer it with greater enthusiasm to other Americans.

John Nolan said...

JBS

Interesting point about denominations competing with each other for customers. In Brazil (which has the largest number of lapsed Catholics in the world) the Church has been losing out for some time to Protestant pentecostalists. In an ideal world there would be the Inquisition to deal with these people, who prey on the gullible and uneducated, but the best the modern Church can come up with is to try and match their style of worship.

Which won't work, of course, as well as doing violence to the Liturgy. These heretics are professionals, and what they do, they do well. Microphone-wielding charismatic priests and dancing bishops are just an embarrassment.

qwikness said...

We should have a talk on Evangelization. Not to call it the "New Evangelization," call it "How to Evangelize." A three or five part series. Get some former evangelical protestants to give tips.
Evangelize everybody, Atheists, Protestants, Fallen away Catholics. In my experience, a good way to begin a conversation is asking, "Do you have any questions about the Catholic Church?"
Come to think of it that might be a good bulletin section each Sunday. Have a question box in the back of the church. It might be the same questions over and over but keep doing it.

Gene said...

No, Quickness, that is not how prots do it. They usually preface their harangue with something like, "Do you know Jesus?" or "Have you been saved?" or "Brother, are you washed in the Blood?" If you answer yes, to any of these questions, the next question is, "Yes, but is he Lord of your life?" This is followed by a request to pray together or an invitation to a service, or a request for money (or all three)…unless the questioner is male and you are an attractive female, in which case you will be invited for "private prayer."

qwikness said...

Give out buttons that say, "Ask me about the Catholic Church."

Gene said...

Re: buttons Yeah, but then you get stuff like, "Why do ya'll worship Mary and pray to Saints?" I have also gotten the following: "How is the Catholic Church different from Christian churches?" Lordy, lordy. Just invite somebody to Mass and explain after..,.

qwikness said...

Those are exactly the questions that need to be answered! Hopefully it won't be "Why do your priests love little boys?"
When I invite to Mass the very first thing I explain is the Real Presence. It blows their mind. They then understand its not Open communion.

qwikness said...

Those are exactly the questions that I am talking about. Invite them to Mass. The very first thing that needs to be explained is Transubstantiation.

Anonymous said...

If you invite a Protestant to the current Catholic liturgy, they will feel right at home. I'm not sure it would inspire any questions aside from, "Why should I convert when this is the same as what I do now only less reverent and inspiring?"

Gene said...

Anonymous, A couple of years ago, some protestant college students who were coming into the Catholic Church went and visited Ignotus' Church for Mass. When they returned to RCIA, they were asked which Church they preferred and they said they preferred Ignotus' Church because it was more like what they came from. I'm sure Ignotus takes that as a compliment. LOL!
PS They attend St. Jo's…we fixed them in RCIA, thank you very much!

Gene said...

I am teaching RCIA tomorrow night. I am going to start with the question (which is a paraphrase of a Presbyterian minister's sermon topic I heard once), "If they accused you in court of being Catholic, would they find enough evidence to convict you?" We'll go from there...