May 30, 2011 § 2 Comments
One of the main things that drew me, at an early age, toward the Catholic Church, was the incredible solemnity, beauty, and reverence of the Mass. Not just any Mass, but the one that they still celebrated in my grandfather’s parish- the Latin Mass. Eventually, the ‘reforms’ brought about due to confusion about the meaning of the Second Vatican Council, took away the high stone altar, the communion rail, the beautiful Latin prayers, and the reverence of the Mass. My grandfather hated the changes and, though he remained a faithful Catholic to his death and assisted at Mass every Sunday, he never again felt the pure joy that he used to feel at Mass. I didn’t even know about any council or changes- I was not Catholic. My mother was a lapsed Catholic, and my father a Southern Baptist. It was my father’s church that I was raised in and taught about. The only experience I had at a Catholic church was when I would visit grampaw in the summers. He would take me to Mass every Sunday, and these times were my favorite part of my visits. I stopped visiting every year for financial reasons (we lived several hundred miles from El Paso, where my grandparents lived), but I never forgot the beautiful liturgy of the Catholic Church.
During my teenage years I gave up on religion. I had no use for it. I was a teenager, after all- I knew everything, and I knew religion was a sham. However, I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of my Bible, or to outright condemn religion. And I, thinking myself learning of all the fallacies of religion, began an in-depth study of the Scriptures. Later, in my mid-twenties, I joined a very fundamentalist, evangelical church. I couldn’t find peace there with their doctrines. Though they held the Bible up as almost a Eucharist, Christ in the form of a book, their doctrines were based on a few cherry-picked verses and were negated by the very book which they seemed to hold in such regard. So, after much reading about Christian history, and especially the Catholic Church, and, helped along by God’s word, I had a renewal of faith, and decided that Christ lived, and that He resided in the Holy Catholic Church. So I decided to convert. That was the beginning of my struggle. Upon going to Mass for the first time since my youth, I didn’t recognize the Church. It was not the same Mass that I remembered with such fond affection. There was no Latin. There was little reverence. Guitars and drums distracted me from the state of worship I tried to maintain. I honestly didn’t like it.
Nowhere in this new church could I see the signs of those things I had read about in classic works by the Saints and other Catholics, nor even the Catechism. Reverence for Christ in the Eucharist was gone, almost as if nobody knew the doctrine of the Real Presence. In fact, there was little reverence at all. People came in dressed as if they were ready to go and enjoy their weekend- as soon as church was over. Jeans, football jerseys, short skirts- all the clothing we wore to our evangelical church, because, hey, God doesn’t care what you look like, man! Maybe not, but I do, and I want to look my best for Him. But whatever, I kept it up, and entered RCIA. It was in RCIA that I discovered the instructors didn’t even understand the Church! I continually found myself having to correct the teachers! Our class was told that baptism was just a symbolic thing, for instance. They did still understand the Real Presence, but in a kind of watered down form. They knew nothing of traditional prayers and beliefs. I wanted to quit. This wasn’t the Church I had learned about and been drawn to!
But I didn’t quit, because, like it or not, the Church is, and will always be. Just like in the days of Luther, the church was in turmoil, with Satan trying his hardest to divide it. That same Satan that my RCIA instructors laughingly said was more of a “symbol of evil” than an actual entity bent on the destruction of Christ’s church. But, just as in the days of the misguided monk, were I to leave the Church, to give up on her, I’d only be doing the Devil’s work for him. You see, the Church in Luther’s time had problems, just as she has had since day one. But she was already in the process of reforming herself. Luther, had he taken an example from St. Catherine of Siena, could have worked for change while still being loyal to Christ and His Church. Instead, he gave the Devil a hand and left, taking millions of misguided souls with him, their itching ears wanting to find an easier way to Christ. So I realize that being a “traditional” Catholic means remaining loyal to the magisterium, the pope, and the Church. After all, Christ promised that Satan would never destroy His Church. Don’t I trust Christ? Of course I do. That’s why I patiently wait for the Church to reform herself again, ridding herself of the taint of the Satan-inspired few who, misunderstanding the documents of Vatican II, proceeded to Protestantize the Church. And it’s going along nicely, I think. Our Holy Father, Benedict, is bringing back the traditional Mass for those who want it, just as his predecessor had begun. The dogmas of the Church are still set in stone, just many Catholics are no longer educated about what it is the Church actually believes, and this is in part due to the influence Satan has exerted over many Bishops and priests. Child molestation is a fruit of the spirit of Vatican II, for example. As is an ecumenism that doesn’t attempt conversion, and a modernism which leaves sound doctrine on the bookshelves. But if I want to be truly Catholic, I must be like St. Catherine, not Martin Luther. There is a reason that Luther is called a heretic and Catherine a Saint and Doctor. St. Catherine worked for change from within, guided by the Holy Spirit and trusting in Christ, while Luther did the Devil’s work and caused a schism that the world still reels from. I do want the Church to return to the right path. But I want to guide her and help work for change from within, rather than be another source of division. That, in my opinion, is true traditional Catholicism.
May 14, 2011 § Leave a comment
Amnesty International, the organization that releases a yearly report on human rights violations all over the world, has added the Vatican, for the first time ever, to its list of human rights abusers for 2011, claiming the Vatican to be culpable in the cover-up of child abuse by a few priests with no true vocation. In a Catholic News Agency article, the Catholic League exposes this charge for what it is: political axe-grinding from an organization that has lost Church support. The human rights agency Amnesty International reports on current rights violations every year, but according to Catholic League president Bill Donohue, there was not a single case of abuse reported in 2010. Thanks to the efforts of the Vatican and Catholics the world over, abuse allegations have significantly decreased since the 1970’s, which saw the most allegations.
So why did Amnesty International make such a dishonest claim in its annual report? Donohue sees it as a kind of payback from an organization snubbed by the Church. The organization, which was founded by a Catholic convert, used to enjoy the support of the Church until it began calling abortion a ‘universal human right’ and supporting gay marriage. Now Amnesty International seems to be lashing out in retribution with these absurd charges. It is interesting that the organization does not include protestant churches in its report which, if lumped together, have consistently seen and still see many, many more abuse allegations than the Catholic Church; a fact that is largely ignored by the media, who see no benefit in attacking organizations with so little power or influence. The fact is that the Vatican is seen as having ultimate, iron-fisted authority over every Catholic diocese, when in reality the Bishop is the head of a diocese and has the responsibility for reporting cases of abuse within his diocese.
However, attacks against the Church of God are to be expected- Jesus Christ himself warned us it would be. But Christ also made a promise that the gates of hell could not stand against his Church, and Christ never spoke a lie. But woe to those through whom scandal comes- they shall have their reward. The handful of priests who, having no vocation and using the Church as a cover for their sins, will be judged just as every soul is. And in the same way, those who, like Amnesty International, seek to scandalize the Church for their own twisted political motives, will be judged, too.