Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Scratch a Catholic

Life Site News features a story today about a study on Catholic women's attitude toward contraception.  The most telling quotes are here [emphasis mine] ...

... church-going Catholics have been influenced far more by popular culture than by Catholic teaching on sex and reproduction. Fully 85 percent of all the women believe they can be “good Catholics” even if they do not accept some of this teaching, including the 37 percent who completely reject it. ...
The authors perceive two main dynamics shaping these views: the influence of a cultural mindset that divorces sex from procreation and promises “sexual pleasure without consequences”, and a deficit on the church side in presenting Church teaching.
The latter can be deduced from the fact that 72 per cent of women surveyed said they rely mainly on the homily at Sunday Mass for learning about the faith, and yet just 15 per cent of that group fully accept the Church’s teaching on sex and reproduction. The weekly Mass homily, the authors say, “seems to represent a lost opportunity when it comes to conscience formation on the contraception issue.”
You think???

Have you ever heard a homily that explained Church teaching on contraception?  Never in 12 years as a catholic, and some 650 Sunday homilies, have I heard anything resembling that. 


But this phenomenon speaks toward a larger problem in the Church today. 

Scratch a Catholic - even a Devout Catholic - and you'll typically find a Protestant or Secularist underneath.

I know many Devout Catholics - Catholics who never miss Sunday Mass, often attend daily Mass, pray regularly, make devotions, are actively pro-life - and yet even some of these most deliberately self-defined Catholics are very Protestant and Secular when their guard is down and they're just being themselves.

This shows up when they're off the clock, so to speak.   It's noticeable on this blog, when Devout Catholics advocate torture, usury, lying, teen sex, and so forth, but it's more pernicious day in and day out in unguarded moments.  Casual attitudes towards various forms of adultery, engaging in premarital sexual activity shy of fornication, compromising one's faith when the situation calls for it, relishing pop culture shows or songs that are far from wholesome, excitement over Protestantized liturgies and authors, and above all a matter-of-fact self-assurance for rationalizing sin - these things show the true character and the everyday life even of many Devout Catholics.

Well, we all sin, but it's that rationalization for sin that troubles me - especially how glib we've become at it. 

Yes, Devout Catholics have little blips and tics that reveal a troubled conscience over the compromises they make, but in general even Devout Catholics have imbued the secular attitude that We Have a Right to Do What We Want, and if What We Want contradicts Church teaching, well it's easy enough to explain away - we either expand the teaching to cover our behavior, or define our behavior in such a way that it fits Church teaching (for example, either the Catechism doesn't condemn lying in sting videos, or lying in sting videos isn't really lying).  After all, we've always got good intentions, don't we?

Every single rotten scoundrel and secret sinner on this earth has good intentions.  Even I have good intentions, except when I honestly examine them.

So this problem is across the board.  It's not just Christmas and Easter Catholics who use the pill and enjoy a little porn and bend all the rules when it comes to money - and who will admit they're not particularly religious if you ask them.  It's Every Day Catholics who cheat their neighbors, betray their friends, mess around a bit with their boyfriends or girlfriends in ways that aren't technically "sex" after all - but insist that they're very religious if you ask them.

Sometimes we all seem to be characters in a Dickens novel, odd parodies of actual people stretched out of shape by our singular devotions to our lives of comfortable sin.



Anymouse said...

This is a perpetual problem. People should have a horror of sin rather than accepting it. There is a bit of hypocrisy that goes on as well. People justify their own lack of morals by pointing to other people who are worse.

Joey Higgins said...

And you also have the problem of priests sometimes not explaining well or flat out contradicting teaching.

A few months ago I heard a priest tell people in his homily that they didn't need to go to confession that much, as in, once a month was pushing it. I don't know if he meant confession was not necessary, but to make a statement so ambiguous about something so important...

Mark Holgate said...

Well, this is the difference between regular Christians and saints, isn't it Kevin? But also, isn't there an issue of sanctification here? That what is critical is the question "do I do this less than yesterday?"

Holiness is a big deal isn't it? How few of us "get" that.

Terry Nelson said...

After all of these years I've discovered that very few people are as holy as Catholic bloggers.

Kevin O'Brien said... - my follow up.