Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Open Letter to "Catholics"

This is a short, open letter to those who claim the name "Catholic" in all but their actual beliefs (such as this fella).

Dear folks, I encourage you to discover your Faith. Somehow you managed to be raised in the Church without ever learning what it is we believe. That's sad. I'm sorry for you. No, really, I am.

The restoration of Catholic identity based on the tenets of the faith that is now occurring under our Holy Father Benedict and other upstanding bishops must be very confusing for you. It clearly upsets some of you who have wrongly come to think that the Church is some kind of social club or only some kind of social charity service.

The truth is that our social justice work and even the sacraments and liturgy itself that bind us together as a (social) community flow from our Faith. They do not exist on their own. You cannot cut off the Church from the Faith of the Apostles and just keep the feel-good, do-good parts. If you do, we are no longer a Church or a Faith but rather a club. If all you want from the Church is that--a club--I suggest you join one of the many that have no religious affiliations (or even those that do but that have creeds aligning more with your own).

The defining characteristics of the Catholic church are that She is One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic. There's a lot wrapped up in those words, including things like visible unity (Oneness) with our bishops and, especially, the Pope (i.e., submitting in obedience in matters of faith and morals and not, e.g., attacking them when they defend the Faith), and living not just a good life but working toward perfection in our lives (Holiness), and not just thinking and doing what I want as an individual but believing what has been believed by all, everywhere (Catholicity), and not just going with what feels good in modern culture or what we personally interpret Vatican II as saying but accepting the Faith handed down to us from the Apostles by word of mouth or written word (Apostolicity).

Why go through all the trouble, heartache, and (I promise) ultimate failure in trying to change the Church to conform with your own interests and preferences? If you don't believe the Church is who She says She is, the effort just doesn't make any sense. If you do believe, then you shouldn't be trying to change Her.

So the answer seems simple, either discover the Faith, humble yourself, and accept it, or just go on about your business and leave the Faith and the Church to be truly what they are. I don't want you to leave--the Church has the Sacraments, which confer grace you direly need, but it seems like you should be honest with yourself. I think it's worse to continue living in self-deception and potentially put your soul in more danger by receiving the sacraments unworthily.

That's all.

I truly hope you can come to know the Truth. He can truly set you free from all your worries, confusion, and pain.