Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Examples of Catholics who don't know their faith

A friend of mine who is a deacon related a story to me the other night. He has a prayer group of about twelve people. A discussion ensued during one of the meetings one night during which he suggested that the group review what the Church says about the subject in the Catechism. Only three of the twelve knew what the Catechism is.

His next objective was to work the Catechism into one of his Sunday homilies, which, I understand, he did quite successfully. Several people after Mass were moved in such a way as to go to the parish office and purchase a Catechism. I suggested that a table be manned in the vestibule of the Church where we could offer Catechism for sale. That may yet be a possibility. It would require, however, more than just one homily in order to direct those who are yearning for answers and the Truth. The priests of the parish must be more supportive of promoting the Catechism as a means to truly learn what the Church teaches. This would be a necessary prerequisite.

And this brings me to the focus of this post. It is an embarrassment when one who professes to be Catholic and attempts to prove his Catholicity by stating all of the organizations he belongs to and all of the activities he does as proof of his faith. These are merely externals which may demonstrate a desire of Faith but do not, by themselves, prove that a man possesses the Faith.

Faith, as the Catechism tells us, is:
the theological virtue by which we believe in God and believe all that He has said and revealed to us, and [all] that Holy Church proposes for our belief, because He is truth itself.
A necessary element of faith is that we must believe in all that Holy Mother Church proposes for our belief. If one denies some truth which the Church proposes for our belief, one does not really possess the fullness of that virtue. One sins, objectively, by refusing to assent to that which must be believed.

And this brings me to the point of the post. A Letter to the Editor today reveals:
What it means to be Catholic

I am 40 years old and have been Catholic all of my life. I attended Catholic schools. I belong to the Secular Order of the Servants of Mary. I belong to the Knights of Columbus. I teach Rite of Christian Initiation and Baptism classes at my parish. My children have attended Catholic school. I coach and referee CYC sports.

The experiences I've had and the relationships I've built are an integral part of who I am. Archbishop Raymond Burke has stated that war and the death penalty "are not intrinsically evil," but abortion and same-sex marriage are. That appears to me a very human judgment from someone people look to for spiritual leadership.

I do not support abortion and I am not gay, but I do know that God creates all life. Is it up to humans to judge and grade the innocence of that life? I voted for George W. Bush in the last presidential election. I am not happy about how he has handled our relationship with the rest of the world and would not consider his actions "pro-life." I will vote for Sen. John Kerry, hoping that he'll do a much better job.

Does the act of voting make it a sin, or should I repent now for my intention? I believe that Bush and Burke are good men doing their best to lead their people, but I must disagree with their methods. They throw around words like "evil" to devalue the humanness of those who are different from them. They then use fear and blind patriotism to justify the destruction of humans both physically and emotionally and then discredit those who disagree with them. I want this to end.

The stand that my church's leadership is taking makes me question what it means to be Catholic. Am I Catholic because I was born into the faith and attend services in a Catholic church? Am I Catholic because I toe the party line?

God's presence does not end or begin at the doors to the church. It does not end or begin in the womb or on the battlefield or in the bedroom or in prison.

How we live our lives illustrates our respect for life. It does not boil down to where we stand on a couple of issues. My decision to vote for Kerry is based on my faith. I am who I am, and if my beliefs make me "not Catholic," then so be it.

Bob Kozlowski
South County
The teaching of the Church as expressed so eloquently in Archbishop Burke's Pastoral Letter will not be heard by those whose ears will not listen nor seen by those whose eyes are closed. Some have hardened their hearts and closed their minds to God, to His Church and to those whom He has appointed to lead us on our journey to the heavenly kingdom.

Next we see another letter from one who professes to be Catholic. These people talk of experiences which make them "Catholic". Being Catholic is more than 'experiences' - like true love, it is an act of the will - a conscious effort that the believer makes to know and do God's will. What we are witnessing seems to be the result of decades of failed doctrinal and spiritual formation which apparently was replaced by the "feel good" fuzzies of experiential modernism which leads to the rejection of the authority of Church and to a denial of fundamental doctrines required for true Faith.

The Catechism further states about faith:
Service of and witness to the faith are necessary for salvation: "So every one who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven; but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven."
Burke's priorities

After reading Archbishop Burke's letter, I must think otherwise when it states he is not endorsing a particular candidate. My inferential reading skills are quite good after 12 years of Catholic school education. This education and my faithful Mass attendance embolden me to vote for Sen. John Kerry.

The archbishop's plea for President George W. Bush using this relatively new prioritization of Catholic-values rhetoric does nothing to influence me. Shaped by 35 years of Catholic experiences, I will not let Burke guilt me into a confessional for my Catholic beliefs.

In the spirit of Christ's love, I am for the poor. I am for health care for all. I am for economic justice for blue-collar workers here and for workers abroad who are paid a pittance by big U.S. businesses. I am pro-public schools and believe it is our government's responsibility to give each of Christ's little ones, rich and poor, a quality education. I am for energizing the government's efforts to protect Social Security benefits.

I am pro-life, and that means I am against capital punishment, too. I am antiwar, and I will not apologize for believing Bush deceived us about Iraq, subsequently killing thousands of innocent people.

I respect Burke's prioritization for himself, but I will not let him nullify the Catholic person I have become with the help of his own Church's schools, teachings, clergy and lay faithful.

Tracy Fisher
St. Louis
Those who wish to reject the teaching of the Church should recall this:
Mindful of Christ's words to his apostles: "He who hears you, hears me",[49] the faithful receive with docility the teachings and directives that their pastors give them in different forms. (Catechism #87)

Source for the various letters.

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