August 17, 2008

Unbelievability

When I went upstairs to get my cereal this morning (in our house the kitchen and dining room are upstairs, one thing among many that are backwards) one of the brothers had left one of the newspapers open to an article about celebrities and famous people who had dismissed their Catholic faith. Displayed were some of their sarcastic incredulities and criticisms.

To me it just pointed out the sad fact that, from what I observe, many Catholics were simply never introduced to a faith that an adult could believe in. You can tell a child that there is such a thing as "God" or make them tell you that the Risen Lord is present under the appearance of bread and wine, but if that's all they ever have, of course they will reject and mock it when they grow up.

Utterances like, "I believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth," or "Take and eat. This is my body," are exceedingly complex and subtle, filled with a history of reflection on what it means to be a human being, what it means to exist, what it means to realize there is something rather than nothing in the universe. If someone only knows these things as data, they will soon be rejected as unbelievable or at least irrelevant.

This is why I believe so strongly that everyday Catholic preaching needs to move away from a light moralizing on daily life that is functionally unitarian, and get into the central mysteries of the faith, in such a way that people can be helped to step into them.

3 comments:

Lee Hamilton said...

One of the things I've noticed that celebrity renunciations sometimes (inadvertently) point to is appallingly poor catechesis. It's something I can relate to, and I think a lot of Catholics of our generation do too. I had to "read my way back" to Roman Catholicism as an adult, and in the process I discovered just how inadequate my formation in the Faith had been.

Some things were done right - communicating the colourful narratives and parables, the Golden Rule....but there was no follow-up after Confirmation. There was nothing to guide a child (adolescent) through the transition to a mature, adult faith and connect them to the philosophic and metaphysical bedrock of the Faith. They needed a mature Faith that could withstand the aggressive ultra-conformist vein of secular liberal humanism today. Speaking for myself, I reached a real turning point when I read Joseph Ratzinger's "Introduction to Christianity". It connected the dots in a lot of ways, and I haven't stopped reading since.

jake said...

i was brought up in the Anglican church, one of the things that I remember really puzzling me was "how do you pray". How do you get/ try to get connection to the divine. this was never really explained.

Anonymous said...

I am a convert of only 6 years. I'm not sure where my faith was born, except perhaps in the School of Hard Knocks and aloneness. I grew up in a Presbyterian family which attended church weekly, however there was no faith in my parents and no faith was taught in the home, no prayer said. I grew up rather rejected by family and though very social, outgoing, and optimistic, am not liked. Even clergy rather distance themselves from me.

But the Lord has not. He has done amazing things for me. I believe the more I am ostracized, the closer He is to me.

I took a Methodist Bible class a decade or so ago, Discipleship II. I finished only the Old Testament but that was all that was necessary. I loved and have since loved the Bible. I see every word as totally applicable to my life.

I have been disturbed by how superficial the faith is of many Roman Catholics I have known, though not all.

Faith takes a lot of work. It's not easy and it's not simple. My kids reject the church and teachings now, upsetting to me, but I see their lack of comprehension.

Depth of faith knowledge requires time and knowledge. It also requires inquiry and openness and lack of fear- fear of loss of pleasures, fear of losing one's comforts, fear of losing one's present lifestyle. It can be very scary to give up one's way of life for another, less popular way of being.