Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Absurdity of Our Thoughts as Reality

It's been an interesting couple of days.  I've watched the facebook conversation that followed the headcovering debacle of "are Catholics Christians?" unfold.  In the threads that has publicly spun off from the original post via a "share" I've seen Catholics referred to as "dogs."

Unsurprisingly I have witnessed the typical Jack Chick type of lie mongering that people who know nothing of Catholicism but who possess a rampant hatred feel a need to spread, including typical comments damning all Catholics to Hell and that sort of thing (I always want to ask people like that when being Catholic became the only unforgivable sin!  After all everyone but Catholics can apparently be saved with a few words, but by virtue of being a practicing Catholic it's straight to Hell in their books!).  I've also witnessed hundreds of Catholics (and people of other faiths too!) standing up for their beliefs and speaking eloquently about our faith.

One anti-Catholic comment that I read yesterday (on a post that had spun off the original post) basically said that the things that he believed about the Catholic Church were true to him because he believed them.

Hmmm... I thought as I read the words.  That sounds awfully familiar.  Where have I heard that before?

And then I remembered: RCIA.

I rewound the past five years in my mind and could practically hear the words, that had bothered me so much when I heard them spoken, echoing in my ears.  I don't remember what we were talking about beforehand, my guess is it had something to do with misconceptions about the Catholic Church, but the RCIA teacher, in a very kind voice, began to explain that some people didn't know what the Church teaches about various practices and traditions.  The moment was set.  She could have talked about evangelizing and spreading our faith.  It was a great launching point.

Instead we went in another direction:  "Some people don't know what the Catholic Church teaches.  They believe that we worship Mary and the saints.  And that's okay too.  Because that's their truth.  It's true to them."

Now I didn't know much about theology.  I didn't know much about Catholicism.  I had my toe in the water and had had more negative education on Catholic teaching than positive (like when the former Christian Brother who taught my Biblical Literature class repeatedly stated that Jesus never claimed to be divine...  That he never said he was the Son of God... And he repeated that throughout the entire semester at the CINO college I attended).

But at the very least I had a brain and logic and that brain rebelled at the point she was putting forth.  Did she realize what she was saying?  That she was spreading the same form of moral relativism mixed with New Age thought that we often see in the world today?  That thinking something is true makes it true, regardless of what the world around us demonstrates is actually reality?

Instinctively I rejected the words.  I wasn't Catholic but I knew that there were such things as reality, truth, good and evil in this world.

It's not true that we worship the saints, and it doesn't magically become true just because some person poorly versed in Catholic theology believes that we do.  It's not true the Catholics believe that we work our way to heaven.  Things in this world don't exist just because we think that they do.  They exist because God created this world.  Our motivations can make our actions good or evil.  But thinking a certain way doesn't alter reality.

I am a Christian because I love Christ and know that he came to bring salvation to all those who were willing to follow him.  I am not a non-Christian because some crazy person somewhere declares it.  There are not two conflicting realities.  Some statements are true.  Some statements are false.

Christ is the Word made flesh.  God spoke our world into existence.  We don't think our world into existence.  But I have a feeling I know where that idea comes from.  After all Lucifer's sin was pride.  He wanted to be God.  And that sort of logic, which is apparently alive and well in our world today, reeks of that particular rebellion.


  1. I've been following the commentary as well, and this morning, I found that I simply couldn't go over there. It's just too distressing. I think that some people do an excellent job of representing the Church, but I get too emotional and upset in such debates. So I'm just praying for all of them.

    And on those specific comments...I get so mad just thinking about it. I can't help it, I'm human. :) But that poster is so self-righteous it makes me see red. And it's so hard to get through to people with that viewpoint. Unless their heart softens, they won't truly see a word anybody writes or says to them in defense of the Church. We just have to pray for their heart to become open. They're not bad people of course, but their bias against Catholicism really makes their behavior a bit ugly. It's all very sad.

  2. Cam, I also completed RCIA almost 5 years ago now - confirmed September 2007. And, I also listened to some comments that just made me cringe, from such people as deacons. Sigh. Did you know that it is actually very rare from someone to commit a mortal sin? So many different things...

    I read daily devotions from a book called Mediations written 100 years ago by a Father Hamon, and also sometimes from Magnificat. What really strikes me is how very DIFFERENT it is to read from such devotionals and to hear some homilies now. In Meditations, that priest tells the truth clearly - how incredibly bad ALL sin is, including venial, etc. etc. Read him and you realize how much we need forgiveness. Too many times today I read/listen to modern things and it becomes a 'feel good' session.

    Personally speaking for only me - my pride is such that I don't generally need to be made to feel good about faults, or told they aren't really faults. I need to hear someone explain to me how my pride has blinded me to the truth I NEED to know, even if it doesn't feel good at the time.

    Stepping off my soapbox....

  3. What ever happened to ABSOLUTE truth? (Which the Catholic Church teaches. ) I often want to flip out because of what I hear about RCIA classes. I know that I'm pretty traditional (and my mother hates it) but really people just teach WHAT the Catholic Church REALLY teaches not what you want it to teach or think it should teach. It's not really hard to find out what it teaches either. Just pick up a Catechism of the Catholic Church, or even the YouCat. The basics are all in there.

  4. Nice post.

    I still find it interesting I begin the journey toward Catholicism and immediately we have the HHS mandate, the Presidential race... and now GoG-gate!

    A heck of a time to convert. :)

  5. Cam, For the last couple of days I've been reading a book about the Elizabethan period in England. It's made me better understand my own English religious roots. Before my children and me there were virtually no Catholics on either side of the family since the Reformation. One uncle married a Catholic, but he died when I was a toddler. One cousin also became Catholic on his marriage, but has since lapsed. I've always wondered why, in a family that were mostly pretty serious about their faith the tradition had been Protestant rather than Catholic. I still don't completely know why (nor will I probably ever this side of Heaven). What I do know is that apparently none of them ultimately ended up as Anglicans. But, I digress. What went on in the time of the Tudors made Catholicism pretty nearly untenable for most people. It started by making it legally difficult, but it continued with the worst sort of brainwashing about what the Church taught. A country which had been one of the most faithful to the Church became a place where rosaries became contraband and even the suggestion that you might have papist tendencies became a danger.

    The people who are leveling the criticisms against the Church are people who either grew up with all of that anti-Catholic garbage as part of their heritage (as I to a degree did), or they are former poorly catechized Catholics who were persuaded of this nonsense by the polemics of Protestants who did grow up with it. There are generations of ignorance at play here, and family loyalties as well.

    The Sunday School teacher who taught me that praying the Rosary was vain repetition, who taught me that Catholics believed in works righteousness taught me that because she'd been taught it. In her elderly years she actually apologized if she'd taught me things that were incorrect (although she remains a Protestant).

    These people simply don't know the truth. If we bash them in return we aren't helping the situation. They need our prayers, our honest answers, and our compassion. For them to give up that position and even think of becoming Catholic would be at a tremendous cost. Many of them would have to do so without their spouse, without their families, certainly without their friends. Those of us who have found the truth need to ask for the intercession of people like the Forty English Martyrs who understand better than you and I ever will why it is these people are anti-Catholic in the first place.

  6. As a person who taught RCIA for several years and felt very discouraged because I was the only person on the team who was quoting from the documents and the CCC, and the Scriptures, and from the Saints, etc. with regularity in order to share the orthodox teachings of Catholicism from her own writings, I am grateful to you for posting this!

    I live in the Bible Belt and there is so much anti-Catholic BIGOTRY in my area. When I entered the Catholic Church nearly every practicing Christian I knew dumped me as a friend. I had become an untouchable.

    My mother once ordered me out of her house because I refused to take my crucifix off and leave it outside. I had forgotten to hide it under my shirt when I came in, having totally forgotten I was wearing it.

    My new neighbor when we moved into our house came by to invite us to the nearby Baptist Church, and I said we liked where we attended, she asked where and upon hearing "Catholic" in the name, this nice lady blanched, her mouth hung open, she gasped, and excused herself to escape as quickly as possible-- oh no, a CATHOLIC had moved into the neighborhood, Satan was going to walk the streets!

    I laugh at it more as I get older but sometimes it bothers me a lot.

    As a Bible Christian I knew people who befriended Catholics in order to get them to come to our Bible studies where the "correct" interpretation of scripture could be presented so that eventually their faith would be undermined and they would leave the Catholic Church for REAL Christianity. Their duplicity bothered me, but it was what MANY of my serious Christian friends DID.

    It is nice to see a Catholic standing up for the Faith. You do it so nicely and firmly that you remind me of Trudy Krise, a wonderful zealous, joyful, Lay Carmelite who before her death would come to the RCIA classes and share the Faith correctly and with so much love and enthusiasm that even the most heterodox person on the RCIA team would smile back at her corrections of the errors they started to teach. She was marvelous and I hope I grow up to be like her! The zeal of a bulldog done with joy and love and enthusiasm that attracted people even to the more difficult teachings.

    Keep up the good work!

  7. Great post, Cam! I read some of the Garlands of Grace facebook thread, and it just made me so mad...the ignorance, the misinformation, all of it. My tendency is to want to jump in and correct it all and try to make everyone understand and untangle the mess...but it's probably better that I pray instead.

    I'm a cradle Catholic, and I've been attending the Extraordinary Form of the Mass since I was 3 years old. It hurts to see our faith so misunderstood and bashed! Thanks for standing up for the truth. :) I know I've said this before, but gosh I wish we lived closer! I think we'd be good "real life" friends. :)

  8. I followed for about 200 comments and then stopped. It is their page and there were too many people uninterested in truth or Christian charity to distress myself with it.

    But I can't help but think of an Archbishop Sheen quote. He said, "There are not more than 100 people in the world who truly hate the Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they perceive to be the Catholic Church."

    May God save us from arrogance. It is understandable not to know everything but other religions. But it is inexcusable to deceive yourself that you do.

  9. Moral relativism is creeping up every in the Church these days. I've found it in Catholic schools and universities, best-selling books, and from the pulpit. Cass, I have no doubt that the Holy Spirit was guarding you from this dangerous belief. God bless you. +


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