Monday, December 14, 2015

Regular Catholics redux

Again, regarding the "Are you Catholic?" humorous chart: I can assure you that many Catholics wouldn't consider themselves aligned with any of these groups or their ideas.

I hear you. My guess is most Catholics (a.k.a. "the people") are neither interested in a crusade to preserve Western culture such as Latin and chant nor in "reforming" the church to better promote justice and peace, man. Regular Catholics often don't live up to the church's teachings (such as the commandments) and rules, and sometimes think they're a pain (the sexual teachings when you're a teenager with your glands screaming at you, for example), but they try, going to Mass, whatever it happens to be, whether they like it or not, for the good of their souls and to ask God special favors for themselves and maybe others. They hope to get to a priest before checkout time. Regular Catholics think Pope Francis is a nice guy like John Paul II was and aren't interested in the church's worship war (liturgy war) nor in hokey attempts to create "Christian community" (pseudo-intimacy that doesn't suit a religion for the crowd: "here comes everybody"); they have their families, significant others, and friends for that at home. But, even though their old neighborhood's probably long gone, they have community in that they're proud of being Catholic: in America, from the St. Patrick's Day Parade to cheering for Notre Dame football to the Feast of Seven Fishes, etc. Don't get me wrong: the "professional" orthodox are right. It's just that most Catholics aren't like that.


  1. This sounds about right. In almost all narratives--from mainstream media to freelance web stuff--the Catholic Church consists of two groups, "progressives," (a/k/a "liberals") who dissent from the Church's sexual teaching, and "traditionalists," (a/k/a "conservatives") who dissent from the Church's social teaching. The idea that there might be Catholics who don't dissent from something seems to have passed entirely under the radar.

    Part of the problem is that most of us who don't dissent from Church teaching don't exactly live by it either. But that's not dissent, that's just plain old sin, which most of us recognize. What has always struck me most particularly about the Catholic Church is that it combines extremely strenuous demands with an enormous capacity to forgive our failure to come very close to those demands. In that way it's very much like Jesus.

    Most of us are far from devout, sober, chaste, charitable, patient, generous, forgiving--but we accept that we ought to be those things, and, far from dissenting from those demands, we think they are worth striving for, at least in those rare moments when we can transcend our own particular rat races.

  2. It always depresses me to see a beautiful high altar in disuse behind the piddly little table the church actually uses. Notre Dame du Paris was especially painful.

    1. It sure is depressing. In the '80s it was worse. But just like the high churchmen including Anglo-Catholics were patient, transforming services and the sanctuary arrangement, what matters now is Pope Benedict's English Novus Ordo is sound; the return to a traditional sanctuary arrangement, high-churchifying, is happening in American Catholicism but very slowly, having started about 25 years ago.


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