punchy line

...and he (Simon Peter) saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the face-cloth ... not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself. - Jn 20: 6-7
-Jn 20: 6-7

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A Third Category of Catholic?

I want to get your feedback on a topic that I've been ruminating over for some time, one that closely reflects my own experience as a "cradle" Catholic.

As someone who never left the Faith, I nonetheless found myself bathed in disillusionment the day that I discovered the 'Catholic Church' which I assumed I knew so much about, it turns out, had been a concoction of some well-meaning, but poorly formed dissenting theologian.
Speaking of equality, a confounded faith means equally
confounded Catholics.

Let's put it this way: some people, and perhaps, especially those from my post Roe v. Wade generation, grew up on some very bad catechesis, if you can even call it that.

So for those of us that fit into that category: we're all "cradles,"  none of us are "converts" or "reverts" but we were told things about the Church that were brazen and bold faced falsehoods. 

We're the Elmo-loves-you generation presented with a happy clappy version of  the "true," "tolerant" and "compassionate" 'Catholicism of the gospel," mainly because it was assumed that we couldn't handle concepts like sexual purity and distinctive gender roles within the family.

This is the Catholicism of Catholics for Choice, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, "women priests"and a host of others that are now so lacking in valid arguments for their cause that the only move they have left to play is the "I'm a victim!" card.

But what category do we, "I was told, and I believed that I was being a good Catholic" types fall into?

Well, what do you think?

I would say, for the sake of alliteration, another "c" word is in order.   How about "Confounded" Catholics?

That definitely applies to me: the sheer confusion, surprise and frustration associated from having all that I thought I knew about the Faith dispelled as wrong fits my experience. 

Because it's all dilly-dally all day long at the Vatican...

I was, for the majority of my life, a Confounded Cradle Catholic.  Judging by the prominent Faithful holding political office, and the sound bytes of Catholics against their own Church in recent history, I can tell I'm far from being the only one.

Pray for Confounded Catholics.  Many of us don't even realize our confoundedness.  How can we? We're  already stuck in our assumption that we're the correct ones.

The cure for this condition is simple: proponents and those knowledgeable in Church teaching need to continue in their apologetics ministries, in putting forth rational arguments and appeals to the facts.  They make a greater difference than they perhaps realize.

I changed because I was confronted with the naked tenets of my Faith, with the truth about abortion, contraception and homosexuality.  No one was intolerant or mean or vindictive - they were just more informed than I was.  And, if anything, I was the venomous one emotionally attached to some bizarre idea of free will and human relationships.

I owe everything to the simple, un-sentimentalist,  and truly compassionate attitude of certain authentically Catholic professors.  I'm thankful to have become acquainted them when I did because the rhetoric that becried the witness of those good faithful people as bigoted, archaic and fearful became just angry clamor that signified the nothingness or nihilism to which their perverse causes inevitably culminate.  And sadly, the most vociferous of these 'conscientious objectors' were other Catholics.

So pray for those who are lost and cause others to run astray as well.  They're not bad people, they're just unknowing; they have not been fully educated in the Faith they are dissenting from. They keenly feel the call radical charity, but they've haven't been shown how to properly execute it.

Just like the rest of us, they're trying to be 'good' Catholics. They acutely thirst for the redeeming waters of Christ, just like we all do.


  1. Yes, I think that describes me. I knew some tenets but was not ever told why. And there are things I never understood until most recently. And there are things that I'm still learning about.

    When I was a teen, the focus was on social causes, which are all well and fine. However, very little theology was ever taught. I'm sure that I'm not the only one.

    1. You're definitely not alone. I think I was in college before I learned this new word I had never encountered before: Magisterium. That's right. I had received all of my sacraments and attended Catholic school, but I had to go to college before any mention of this thing called a Magisterium came up!

  2. The Body of Christ here on earth is immense - more than a billion of us would be my guess. My hunch is there always have been the dissenters and "rabble rousers" among us. One thing to consider: could it be the Holy Spirit is calling each and every one of us? That we can no more cut off those with whom with disagree than we could cut off our own leg?

    I too get frustrated when I feel like folks are taking bits of the faith with which they feel comfortable and dismissing those pieces with which they feel uncomfortable. Frankly, the church is so complex and so full of difficult truths that I think anyone who takes faith seriously has done that from time to time.

    We are all in this together as baptized Christians. One expression I heard that I like is "The Catholic Church is full of saints and sinners." And sometimes, folks can be both saints and sinners in teh very same day.

    The bit with politicians angers me. I don't like it that they have a bully pulpit and misrepresent our beliefs and doctines. That is very damaging.

    Peace to you.

    1. Peace to you, Allison. Yes, the damage is immense but therein lies a huge call to those who know the truth to let it be known. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Marissa,

    I love it. I shared my story on the "The Journey Home" awhile back; and when they asked me how I should be identified, revert or convert from ________, I was stymied! "Confused Catholic" casts a wide net. I hope it catches on!

    1. Shane, that's been my experience exactly! Stymied Catholic...that's a good one too!

  4. I agree, though I am a convert. But I researched the Church and dived into the history of Christianity for years before I became baptized. I was enamored, and still am, with the richness of the faith. But after having become baptized, I feel like I have entered a civil war. The church in the West is fraught with ridiculous new-age fluff, people who seem entirely desperate to escape any whiff of being told what to do...it feels like teenage hell.
    It's tragic. But I think things are turning around. I really do.
    I've put lots of my own thoughts on my blog too:

    1. I've met only a couple of Confounded Converts (I've experienced that converts tend to know more about the Faith than many 'cradles') but I'm sure they have an interesting story to tell. Thanks for sharing yours! Wonderful blog title, by the way!

    2. In reading your comment Idler, I think of the attacks on from the Holy Roman Empire from the tribes outside it's boarders. While those were wars of sword and steel and people dying, it can be seen as an image of our modern war on Sin and Evil, such as abortion. When the tribes break through the harden walls, they will spread to each corner of the empire breaking it down from within. As humans, we will always cause problems to each other and ourselves, but the battle is really a battle against Evil itself. Even if as soldiers we must fight against other human beings, the general behind them is Satan and his lies.

  5. Marissa, I'm given you a solid 'yes' on this category. Thanks for that!
    Most of the people who are chosen as sponsors for Teen Confirmandi and RCIA, fall definitely under the 'Confounded Cradle Catholics' -- I would even venture to call them 'Confounded and Angry Cradle Catholics.'
    As RCIA and Adult Confirmation Director at our parish, I spend just as much time 'sorting out' and gently putting forth the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Magisterium teachings to the sponsors as I do the actual students.
    I've had sponsors openly challenge me on the Church's documents as if I don't know what I'm talking about. This effects Catholics who came of age in the '60's, '70's, '80's, 90's, 00's and today. We have quite a LOT of confoundeds in the Church today. Yet they refuse to read or study further because 'they know what they know' and think it's 'backwards' to study the Magisterium teachings and the CCC. Sigh!

    1. Confounded and angry... yes, definitely. I was once that way. Keep up the good, charitable witness you are giving. People do remember that! God bless!

  6. I think a majority of cradle Catholics were not taught the faith properly. The question is, do they want to know the faith? Do they want to live the faith? The Catechism was published 18 years ago. There is no excuse for anyone not knowing what the Catholic Church teaches. There are literally tens of thousands of books out there if you want to learn about the faith, the history, the saints and how to grow closer to God. When so many can see how the world is in opposition to the Pope and the Bishops, they need to educate themselves on what they profess to believe. Are Catholics confounded or lukewarm? Is their practice of religion a habit or a desire. Do they live and die for the Lord or do they just presume to know him? Every person is responsible for how much they want to enter into their faith and as adults, they need to make that decision and badly catechized or not, they can no longer blame anyone for their ignorance. That is like saying, I am 20 and no one in the schools ever taught me to read. It isn't like you can't be taught now.

    1. I know, anonymous, it is hard to believe. But some of us were literally raised in a horrible, liberal vacuum which tried its best not mention any version of the truth except its own. And it's possible for people to isolate themselves even further in bubbles of their own 'convenient' though flawed truth. Why search if you don't even know there is something else to search for? That is the reality for some of us and it's a shock to learn that there is more we were never told of.

    2. Amen, Anonymous! Currently I'm in the RCIA process to be received into the Church. A number of Church sources are trustworthy: first, the Catechism. It's incredibly well written. Next, the writings of the early Fathers of the Church explain a lot. Then, there's the Divine Office - praying the Psalms and meditating on the selections from Scripture and the writings of the early Fathers, Doctors and Saints in the Office of Readings. These ground me. I get nourished by the Liturgies in the Mass (on RCIA days, I'm dismissed after the homily in the Liturgy of the Word; on other Mass days I attend, I go up and get a blessing while others are receiving Communion, yet stay for the whole Mass). All of this activity doesn't leave me confounded. I can readily tell when I'm hearing fluff about what the Church is doing or not doing, or "should" be doing. Seems to be a lot of misunderstanding and misrepresentation both inside the Church and without.

  7. I'm old, a Pope Pius XII generation kind of Catholic. I'll give you all a cheap easy and simple way to get it right. Go to Tan Books and buy Fr. Connells Baltimore Catechism. Teach your children and in the process you and the children will learn. That Catechism kept American Catholics Catholic for years. It lays a foundation of granite, and skyscrapers can be built on it.

    1. i was a 13-yr-old Benedictine postulant in 1957. After 3 years i was required to keep the schedule of the Divine Office (now the Liturgy of the Hours) and chant/recite the hours in Latin, no less and observe the scheduled feasts and fasts of the seasons of the Liturgical year. Now I grasp at those memories and merge them with our beloved Catholic Church of today. I vote for being called a Retrofit Catholic.

  8. The theologians who dissented first from Casti Connubi (in the 1930s) and Humanae Vitae in 1968 and later will have much to answer for at the Particular Judgment. Their dissent and rationalizations for that will have led many astray - not that human beings are not capable of marvelous rationalizations for something that seems attractive, and that they'd like to do anyway.
    "So I looked at the apple, and it looked tasty; (and the serpent said, "Did God really say . . ."), so I took a bite out of it."
    We reject truth if truth seems inconvenient, or seems to require sacrifices. We prefer something that seems good RIGHT NOW, and reject something better that requires deferred gratification.
    We need to pray more, for our children, our grandchildren and our nation.

  9. I can find myself overwhelmed by the truth of what you are saying about the ignorance of myself and our brothers and sisters. My protestant father spent 65 years married to my Catholic mother, with 10 Catholic children longing for his conversion. Perhaps we ourselves weren't living in the real Truth. But, because of the pure childlike faith of his dear ones, entrusting him constantly to the Blessed Mother, the last days of his life brought him to believe! "You never cease searching for me, Jesus...so that I can allow You to find me and eventually be filled with Your Eucharistic Love." - from Amazing Nearness by Fr. Tadeusz Dajczer. The conversion of my father has given me tremendous HOPE that Jesus will find a way for each of us to come to the TRUTH...may we be willing to accept His Mercy when He does!

  10. I know exactly what you mean. Religious Ed. gave us all kinds of Signs & Symbols, being nice to your neighbors, and hymns you wouldn't even play in an elevator. But it felt like I had to put in a Freedom Of Information request to learn anything about Who this God person was, or what He might want of us. Even in sacramental prep, they seemed more interesting in asking your opinion than actually telling you what we believe.

    I'm sure there are plenty of us ill-formed faithful out there. How many don't get the faith, and how many don't *want* to get it, I can't say. But as long as we pass on what we know in venues like this, at least we can say we tried.

  11. Three categories could be:
    1. Authentic catholic; following the successor of Peter very closely.
    2. Dissenting catholic; working for change from the inside. Also known as catholics with Judas Iscariot as their patron saint.
    3. Lukewarm catholic; sort of don't know and don't really care.

  12. I am also a Pius XII generation natal Catholic. Things were no better then than they are now. Really bad catechesis came from clergy and religious orders just as it always has. Perhaps it was divine providence or the Holy Spirit that directed my steps toward an education in sacred music and liturgy. The curriculum included lots of history and theology... a real eye-opener. The recurrent question was always, "why weren't we taught this?".

    The Church has always faced the incursion of the secular world, always had its dissenters, but has fastly held to a doctrinal core that connects us to the divine, each other, and our brother congregations in the East. The problem is a very human one... politics in the earthly machinery. Where a simple, logical, straight-forward idea emerges, there will always be a flock folks who will do their best to complicate it. The more mystical the idea, the more frantically they will work to "explain" the mystery.

    One of the major roles of the early church was as educator. We've lost much of that, even with our fine universities and schools. We've simply failed to teach the simple lessons of "why we believe", "why we do it this way", "how we are connected to that great sacrifice", and "where is my thread in the great tapestry".

    Our practices, our symbols, our history, have all become nebulous afterthoughts in a world of glitter and pleasure. Strange that, since they are our roots and foundation. Read the Fathers, read the output of the major councils, and read scripture... Old & New.

  13. i guess the church failed to grow with the human spirit for the past 500 years, thus leaving us the faithful confused and even dumbfound on terms and symbols which are products of earlier philosophies and theological reflections. much of our doctrines trace itself from Trent and earlier Church traditions, valid they may seem, their relevance to our modern life seems to have disconnect - thanks to vatican ii, we are asked to listen and dialogue to the modern sciences and to humanity itself unfortunately there are some who still want to cling to the old order since it was a comfort zone to start with...all of Christianity is on its path to a paradigm shift, where we see our faith as no longer based solely on philosophical or even theological reflections - - we are more becoming aware that all life is sacred, and we need our faith to dialogue with it and no longer end what to believe but how to live our faith..

    our confusion / anger / angst in all these events - historicity of our humanity vis-a-vis our faith is but a beginning of the true faith which the first generation of christians seems to ask...carry on, and begin to discover salvation in our earthly life..

    peace to all

  14. Thanks to everyone for the wonderfully rich discussion on this topic! I'm amazed at how similar our experiences have been. I know I'm taking a lot away with me from this discussion.

  15. Thanks. This article helps me a lot. I've been Catholic 2 months, but to become Catholic, I had 9 months of catechism, 2-3 hrs a week. I swore an oath before God and all the Church that I agree with all the holy Catholic Church teaches and I will uphold that. I spent months reconciling my beliefs in order to do that. I go online and see nuns (supposedly married/consecrated to God) wearing "nuns for choice" t-shirts and think, "Where is your loyalty? Where is your shame?" Articles like this help my confoundedness about their confoundedness.

  16. I'm glad I stumbled into your blog. I was a confused Catholic too (and thought myself a good one!) and am still learning more and more as I homeschool my kids. I post apologetics in my blog from time to time and cannot believe the other confused's running around out there (who don't understand they are confused). I'll be coming back here for sure.