Sunday, July 12, 2009

How do I remain Roman Catholic? Simple but not easy.

Love my God, love the Lord, grateful for the grace-filled gift of faith. The Roman Catholic church? Not always thrilled with that institution. Over the years, I've discovered a few things that help me keep attending.

Whenever I'm feeling bummed about what is -- or isn't -- going on within the RCC at this point in history, I do one or all of the following:

  • pay more attention to other liturgical churches. This past week, for example, I've been following (via Twitter) some of what's happening during the Episcopal Church's triennial General Convention. I've been enjoying tweets from Episcopal clergy and lay leadership about the mixed blessing of participatory democracy. Church governance skirmishes among Lutherans also provide a comforting perspective.
  • reread key passages in scripture. Depending on what's bugging/bumming me about the Church, I either go directly to Chapter 15 in Acts of the Apostles or Chapter 3 in St. Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians. For the long view of human agency, I reread Genesis in its entirety. Sometimes twice.


  1. Hi Meredith,

    Thought I'd add my proverbial "two cents" on the topic. :-)

    My perspective has been shaped by years of indoctrination within non-denominational churches, most notably the Vineyard Christian Fellowship, which became a blueprint of sorts for many other non-denom churches.

    I'm sure age and maturity have something to do with it, but I have found spiritual nourishment within the liturgy - a place I never thought would give me such a thing. I've been reacquainting myself with the Magisterium, and goodness knows I have a mountain of material to scale regarding church history - but again, I find my bearings within the liturgy.

    The challenge for me (and maybe for you and others) is to keep my eyes on the prize. There will always be territorial skirmishes, petty dramas, and flat-out heresy within the church. But I remember a verse from Ezra that spoke of a remnant.

    "But now for a brief moment favor has been shown by the LORD our God, to leave us a remnant, and to give us a secure hold within his holy place, that our God may brighten our eyes and grant us a little reviving in our bondage." (Ezr. 9:8 RSV)

    God is always looking for His faithful ones. And we also have the promise that the gates of hell shall not prevail against the church. So I take heart in small successes, like looking around me at our weekly Sunday Tridentine Mass and noticing so many young people, many of the younger women wearing the traditional mantilla upon their head. Outward symbols communicate thought and intent. I take a great deal of peace from that.

    There are younger seminarians who are devout and not afraid to show it. Little by little, they are making inroads. I believe our Holy Father is slowly turning the wheels and getting us back on track.

    Trust and obedience. Very difficult to do while surrounded by every sort of of anti-trust and disobedience possible. But yet God is control of it all and He loves the prayers of a contrite heart.

    Finally, believe me: after years of being involved in self-indulgent church programs that emphasized pop-psychology more than Scripture; the traditional liturgy of the RCC is like water to a woman who wandered long enough in a desert. At one time I thought I discovered an oasis. An illusion. Now I'm where rivers flow. :-)

  2. Ah...a Vineyard survivor. Interesting!

  3. Interesting indeed. This was one of my favorite of your posts. because faith in this age with so much to discourage us is really faith - no different than the martyrs or anyone else in the history of the church. I just love your honesty, and I am so glad you posted it. It's not easy to be in the "family".

    But we do it. It is so painful. But I am conforted when I remember that Jesus promised to save us, and that we are in the middle of that salvation, when we cannot see it. He is real. He is alwyas there, even when it is so hard to believe.

    After working for a year in the front lines, I can say honestly that the very good priests in the world are truly miracles of grace - but there are some. I wish you could meet my Father Jay, who is humble and kind, and puts up with all of my shenanigans without betraying any frustration whatsoever. Now, that man is a saint. I'm just saying.

  4. My mainsail, my backstay, my keel, my rudder, my compass, my chart ...

    1. The Eucharist
    2. Daily Mass (Novus Ordo done right is perfectly valid, folks)
    3. Confession every two weeks
    4. Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary
    5. Militia Immaculata
    6. Regular reading of the Bible

    (If you'll pardon the nautical references from an old sailor.)

  5. For me it's always about home and family. I may not always get along with my family, may not always agree with what is done or what is said. Sometimes the petty squabbles get in the way of an honest and authentic expression of love and fidelity but at the end of the day, this is family, this is home.

    No person, can every really take that away from me.

    Nice post.

  6. Nice, honest post, is interesting to see where do we get our resources to believe, to fell closer to God. I have my disappointments too with my Church, but I try to remember what's important, my faith in Him, not necessarily in the institution.

  7. Bill, I enjoy the Novus Ordo, too. I love how the liturgy prepares us, leads us, and allows us to kneel while we pause in silence and meditate God's amazing grace given to us in the form of His Son, Jesus Christ, who is our spiritual nourishment. I think a new liturgical translation is due soon. It will be interesting to see what that looks like. :-)

  8. What a lovely explanation of why you adhere to the Roman Church. Thanks for writing it. Here in Iraq where every flavor of belief worships in the same room, I attend the 9am traditional Protestant service because it is closest to my current practice and the 5pm Catholic service because the priest is a brilliant New Yorker who taught philosophy at Fordham. I suppose I will become Greek Orthodox when i return to America.

  9. Cura: I completely understand the "home" and "it's family" argument and sometimes invoke it!

    Neil: I've long thought any of the Eastern Orthodox churches would be a good fit for you. Very strenuous liturgy on many levels.


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