Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Blogalogue with Paul Brian Campbell: Day Two

My conversation with Paul Brian Campbell, S.J. continues with his response to my comments about choosing to stay in the Catholic church these dicey days. Meanwhile, over at People for Others, I respond to his question about why I think Catholics ought to pay attention to the "Emerging Church" movement.


I asked you to write on the question, “Why do you choose to stay in the Catholic church when it appears to be in crisis?” I was moved by your thoughts and wanted to respond immediately.

The line that leaps out at me is: “I actively, consciously choose to walk by faith and not by fright.” I needed to hear that from someone. I have been so angry at the hierarchy and frightened of impending doom for so long that I have all but overlooked my calling “to walk by faith.” Not blind faith, not stick your head in the sand faith, but a calm and steady-eyed trust in God made manifest in Jesus Christ.

You believe that Holy Spirit-generated change is coming and point out that the challenge is believing that we can “all be changed in a moment, in a twinkling of an eye.” Tell me about it. I am old enough to (just) remember the turmoil and excitement that followed Vatican II. Lots of change and hopes for a more participative laity and responsive hierarchy. And then it all seemed to be clawed back as the Church’s innate conservatism emerged victorious once more.

Is it possible that this crisis will lead to real and lasting change in the way the Church sees itself and operates among us?

What gets me is that individual Catholics, whether clergy or lay, have no apparent difficulty in standing up at Mass and humbly stating, “I confess to almighty God, and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have sinned through my own fault, in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done, and in what I have failed to do; and I ask Blessed Mary, ever virgin, all the angels and saints, and you, my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord our God.” Why, then, as an institution can our hierarchy not summon up the guts to make the same Confiteor collectively?

You stay because you “know God is bigger and the Holy Spirit more powerful than anything humans might muck up.” Meredith, I believe. Help my unbelief.



  1. I am weeping. I am so furious at the Church today. And I am not easily made furious in this way and have held it together until today.

    Thank you. I prayed for help in my anger and then I read this. I am not suggesting that "vending machine God" sent me here, just that the Holy Spirit moves where She will.

  2. Father, to summon the guts to make the same Confiteor collectively would mean for the Pope and the Bishops to show, to admit to, the world of the faithful that they were wrong.

    Very hard to do.

    It took the Vatican (not the Catholic Church, for We Are The Church) several centuries to admit that Martin Luther was right. Galileo, etc.

    Maybe this crisis is needed for the true Church to stand up.


  3. I feel immensely proud of you Paul because it cannot be easy to put this on a blog and if only the upper eschalons were as humble and honest in heart as you then our Catholic Church might get itself out of the pit it seems to be in at the moment. Fran, Claire, Fr Austin over at A Concord Pastor Speaks and myself have been haunted by the state of our Church these last few weeks ( and longer) and yet we all love it so much. It is tearing at us. I feel like we are all of us, in that upper room together, pretty scared. Claire wrote in her post today about the early church sharing all its belongings and how they were all united, one in heart and desire. I do not know if this is just a dream for us in the 21st Century and like you I am of an age when I can remember the hope and fire of the Holy Spirit burning inside me after Vatican II reforms. I really did hope that the Church would emerge as a beacon for the world. The fact that we are able to share the space of our blogs together is something I have come to value immensely and my heart goes out to you because I think you are in a lot of pain and distress as we all are but yet...... but yet.... we cling on and hold on so God be with you and keep the faith !!! If good people like you can't then what hope is there for the rest of us !!
    Apologies if this is a bit over sentimental -it is straight from the heart!!
    Blessings Paul. "Do not be afraid"- that's what the risen Christ said and yes Meredith has got it right. We have to believe that. Pentecost is coming.

  4. We need to pray for the holy father, and surround him with our shield of prayers,from all these demonic attacks and accusations. Please go to knights of columbus website (kofc.org) and print out a novena/prayer for the pope. We need to trust in God and looks with the eyes of eternity beyond our present dilemma. As Saint Julian of Norwich said, the Lord told her that in the end , all things shall be well . For me , this is very comforting and I am very much assured as to who is really in control of it all.

  5. Julian of Norwich also wrote, "He did not say 'You shall not be tempest-tossed, you shall not be work-weary, you shall not be discomforted'. But he did say, 'You shall not be overcome.' God wants us to heed these words so that we shall always be strong in trust, both is sorrow and in joy."

    Like many I've been struggling with this question, why do I stay? I came back last year from making St. Ignatius' exercises with that question front and center. I keep coming back to St. Paul - nothing can separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

    That and I truly believe that God will not be thwarted by mere humans. When God calls us there will be a way to respond that call, though it may take shape in ways that surprise us. And make no mistake, we are all called.

    Thanks, Paul and Meredith, for thought provoking questions and deeply reflective answers.

  6. We were never promised an easy path when we are faithful. The Church is so much more than the sum of its members and what they have done in their lives. No one is perfect and the higher up you go in an organization the more imperfection you find.

    It is during the toubled times that you are called to stand up be counted upon to correct the situation not abandon it. This is the path of humanity.

  7. I empathize with those who are torn up inside about the "should I stay" question; I confess I don't share it.

    If the Church were primarily a human organization, I would be tied up in knots. But, as a revert to the Catholic Church, if all the Church did was serve as a steward of the deposit of faith and a vehicle for the transmission of grace in the Sacraments, it would be enough for me. I grieve at the sin, the harm, and the damage, but it's God's grace that I'm Catholic. "Lord, to whom shall we go?"


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