Friday, May 13, 2011

Wrestling within the Church

Where am I in my faith?  I love God.  I love the role that God the Son, The Father, and the Spirit have played in my life; indeed I likely would not be alive had it not been for my faith.  As a Christian, I could not be anything other than Catholic; the Sacraments and sacramentals, the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, the reverence, the beauty, etc.  I've not seen this or experienced this in any Protestant church. There are not many local Orthodox churches about, so I haven't experienced that brand of worship (I'm also not in a position to learn Greek or Russian at this time, so the point is moot.)  Catholicism is the Church of my Clan and always has been.  We are raising our sons as Catholics.  We take part in a vibrant parish community.

So what in particular is the angel I am currently wrestling with?

I have had it up to "here" with the exclusionary mindset of many of my
brothers and sisters in the faith.  Some of the more glaring examples
for me:

- Open, unguarded contempt of homosexuals; not homosexuality as an orientation or homosexual acts, but the people themselves.  They do this through ridicule, scorn, name-calling, and ostracizing, either under the guise of "correcting the sinner" and "winning souls for Christ" or just out of naked unmasked malevolence.  Unjust discrimination of homosexual persons, which all of the aforementioned can rightly be identified as, is something expressly to be avoided according to our Catechism (CCC 2358).  

- The idea that a Catholic ought not to present himself or herself to receive Communion if one has voted or supported a candidate that supports so-called "pro-abortion" policies -that a candidate's position on Roe v. Wade is an all-or-nothing litmus test defining whom we are "allowed" to vote for.  Never mind if the social policies of the candidate in question may actually reduce the number of abortions. Never mind if you simply do not believe the opponent's supposed "pro-life" stance, whose policies have not demonstrably prevented one abortion, whose social policies force women in crisis pregnancy into a place where they feel they have no other choice but to abort.

- That "outside the Church, there is no salvation", also known
as "Feeneyism" after Leonard Feeney SJ and his strict interpretation of
the aforementioned doctrine known as Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus.  Plenty of Catholics, many of whom I am acquainted with online and offline, continue to hold this view to a greater or lesser degree. They pay ecumenism with other Christian and non-Christian faiths lip service, but in fact look on them with contempt.  This is in spite of the Catechism's teaching which states that "those who nevertheless seek God with a
sincere heart and moved by grace, try in their actions to do His will as
they know it through the dictates of their conscience" may be saved as
well (CCC 847).

Many of my brothers and sisters with these mindsets simply label me a
"victim of the culture", a "cafeteria Catholic" or some derivative
thereof.  That may well be true.  However, I will not ignore that my
conscience becomes disturbed when these topics come up, when my brethren
trumpet these "unwavering" Church teachings from the rooftops.  Whether
I am right or not - and I certainly allow for the possibility that I am
NOT - I cannot and will not remain silent at these mean-spirited,
uncharitable pronouncements.  

In the words of Saint Thomas Aquinas, it is "better to suffer the pain
of excommunication, than to act against one's own conscience."  I pray
that my conscience is properly formed, but until that day of certainty
(likely the day I die), I must operate as my conscience dictates.  I can
do no more.  I will do no less.  

Friday in the Third Week of Easter
Daily Mass Readings
Acts 9:1-20
Psalm 117:1,2
John 6:52-59