Friday, December 10, 2010

Leaving the Church

Here Fr Barron speaks about people leaving the Church.
So many people regard the Catholic Church as just being one amongst many; a denomination. People seem to fell free to be part of it or not, to practice as Catholics or Anglicans or Charismatic Evangelicals, or not to practice at all. There is casualness about practice. So many liberal Catholics seem to see the Church as being something they can reshape, whereas fo most people it doesn't matter whether one belongs to it or not.
thanks to CM


Sixupman said...

The very BCEW has evinced the ethos complained of, including the issue of a document which states it is alright to worship within other churches.

A priest friend of mine in Scotland, stated that his parishioners, now, discerened no difference between The Church and the Protestant ones. That in a country with, still evident, a marked strand of anti-Catholicism.

johnf said...

My daughter showed me a recent newsletter from a church in Cardiff run by the Redemptorists.

One of the articles gave space to a 21 year old young woman who went to a Catholic school. It relates that she's not sure about the need for an organised religion but she likes to know that God loves her. She is happy to pick and mix the bits of her Catholic upbringing that still make sense to her and to blend with different cultural elements she has encountered.

The article goes on to say that like 32% of young Catholics, she believes Jesus was a very holy /wise man.

She is quoted as saying 'I think belief is a really personal thing ... you're the only person who can decide what's right for you'

The point I want to make is not about the beliefs of this young woman (many of us go through these phases), but the tacit endorsement of this wishy washy philosophy as a sort of role model.

Paul, Bedfordshire said...

Unfortunately this appears to be a growing problem, with some people thinking attending a protestant church service on Sunday is good enough.

I've gone to a High Angligan weekday "Mass" before, attending with an Anglican friend, (but NOT receiving communion) so I don't have a problem as such in worshiping in an Anglican church, but don't regard it as a suitable alternative to a Catholic church other than for certain fraternal or special occasions.

The problem is perhaps that the Church has lost authority. "Thou shalt not" now means "we would rather you didn't but it is up to you." I can't help thinking that if Friday abstinence was returned and enforced by making its breach (without very good reason) a mortal sin, it would, in the short term outrage some and frighten some off, but in the long term help rectify the problem.

I personally would hate a return of Friday abstinence. I don't much care for fish or having to do things differently from everyone else, but unless the Church puts the Cross back into daily life decline will continue.

georgem said...

The point missing is who taught that the grace of God and salvation is universal and automatic.
The laity didn't dream it up.

Anagnostis said...

Paul and George beat me to it!

It's interesting that the Bishop who has called in the past week for a return to Friday abstinence (for, as I've said elsewhere, all the worst possible reasons)is the same bishop who was quoted quite recently on the "uselesness" of speaking to the young about salvation.

This goes to the very heart of the matter: indifferentism in relation to the Church, and to Christ Himself, arises directly from a loss of understanding of "salvation" - what it means, what it consists of, why it should be desired, how it is mediated - which is to say, a loss of understanding of the Gospel itself: Christ's victory over sin and death.

Instead, what we have in the west is a functional paganism, tricked out in notionally Christian images and categories. "Spritual development" is all, conceived almost entirely in terms of finding "whatever works for you", so that you can "grow" into the kind of person your sense of self-worth demands; or of an activistic morality, focussed on improving this world, also as an end
in itself.

"Eternal life", if it comes into the picture at all, is conceived in wholly non-Christian terms, of souls released from the captivity of the body, floating off to a "better place" to be reunited with one's mum and dad. The Resurrection and Glorification as the culmination and purpose of Christ's sacrifical death are therefore utterly lost (transfer the Ascension fo the nearest Sunday), while the scandalous stupidities of modern Fundamentalism have made it all but impossible to read the opening chapters of Genesis as the Fathers read them. A Second Adam is not required if the First Adam has been sent into necessary retirement, like an embarrassing grandparent; nor is an Ark of Salvation required by those who suspect that Arks belong only in the nursery.

Finally, people do not want Eternal Life. They want the longest possible draught of the pleasures of this world, and then they want painless, hygeninc death.

Anonymous said...

Blame the Bishops...Blame the Laity...What we need are good priests to inspire us. Holy men who instead of constantly moaning and groaning about the BCE&W and the failings of the local Bishop, are prepared to buckle down and teach by example. Men with a modicum of charity and humility in their hearts.

georgem said...

There are many such inspiring priests, Dylan, who have fallen foul of their bishops for those very reasons.

GOR said...

Leaving aside all the polemics about availability of grace, relative merits of assorted communions, sola scriptura, private and public worship etc. etc. – the central point about our Faith in the Catholic Church, is made by Fr, Barron in that here we have the “fullness of Truth”. Only in the Catholic Church are found all the means of grace and salvation which Our Lord bequeathed to the world. That’s it - full stop.

Nowhere else will that be found. Yes, some of the means can be found in varying degrees in other religions - but never all of them. So in the end when someone leaves the Catholic Church, he or she is always going to be losing something. They have turned aside from the best and whatever they find or wherever they end up, it will always be something less - though they may not realize it and may strenuously deny it.

We often talk about wanting the best – for ourselves, our children or for society in general. So why would anyone settle for second-best or worse? Some may feel that the Church has failed them, but the reality is that they have failed the Church.

Or to paraphrase Chesterton: “It’s not that Catholicism has been tried and found wanting. It is that it has been found difficult and left untried.”

Physiocrat said...

I thought this was going to be a comment about leaving the church meaning what people do immediately after mass.

There is too much talking in most churches I go to and I wish people would wait until they got outside.

Physiocrat said...

Is this a case of "Lex orandi, lex credendi"?

Anagnostis said...

Speaking of "lex orandi, lex credendi", here's another occasion for bringing up those solemn Good Friday prayers in the so-called "ordinary form" of the Roman rite, recited by Roman Catholics everywhere since 1971, on the very day of the commemoration of Christ's saving death.

Read them. I defy any reasonable person to exculpate their authors, or the authority that promulgated them, from the charge of insinuating indifferentism. They, as much as anything, perhaps, are the reason why this ex-RC concluded that the Catholic Church, the unique Ark of Salvation "subsists" elsewhere.

Independent said...

Yet, as Newman said "For myself, I would simply confess that no doctrine of the Church can be rigorously proved by historical evidence" (Letter to the Duke of Norfolk Section 8 The Vatican Council).

What is the position then of someone who, taking Newman's statement seriously, finds a lack of evidence in some cases disconcerting? Should he or she obey his or her conscience and leave, or should he or she stay and become a reader of The Tablet?

Or should he or she conclude that it is not conclusive evidence but converging probilities which, as in all other spheres, provides the basis for living?

Anagnostis said...


If one is convinced that something proposed at the level of dogma is definitely untrue, one must inevitably conclude that the communion proposing it can't be the Catholic Church.

You can't resolve such questions by "historical evidence" merely - Newman is perfectly correct. All such "evidence", considered as "evidence" merely, becomes layered over with perspectives and agendas.

However, "there is no argument with a fact". If something is proposed (for example) as the indispensible guarantee of certainty and stability in the Tradition, where in fact none persists; whereas it does persist elsewhere, by virtue of having resisted the proposition in question, then the thing speaks for itself.

However there is every difference in the world between leaving because one doesn't think it matters very much, and leaving because one believes it to be a matter of Life or Death.

Victoria said...

Paul, abstinence on Friday doesn't mean that we have to eat fish it means that we don't eat meat. I abstain from meat every Friday and on Wednesdays in Lent and Advent and don't find it a problem at all. It is more difficult on a Friday since that is a day when many of us go out for dinner but I just "offer it up."

Pablo the Mexican said...

«... “Divine Providence often permits even good men to be chased out of the Christian communion through the unruly activities of carnal men. If they bear this undeserved affront with great patience for the peace of the Church, if they do not foment any new heresy or schism, they teach the world with what true attachment and with what sincere love God must be served. Their desire is to re-enter the Church when the trouble has passed. If they are forbidden to do so, if the storm lasts, or if their return were to arouse a similar or even more violent storm, they continue to wish well even to those through whose machinations and intrigues they have been chased out. Without ever forming separate conventicles, they defend to the death and they confirm with their testimony the faith they know to be preached by the Catholic Church. Then the Father crowns them in secret, He who sees them in secret. Such men are rare, yet examples are not wanting: and they are even more numerous than might be thought.»

(Saint Augustine, Liber de vera religione, 11)



Savonarola said...

Fr. Barron seems to imply that because the Catholic Church claims to have the fullness of truth, people who leave it are somehow wilfully not seeing it that way. Why does he not consider that they might leave simply because the Church has not convinced them of its claims?

Independent said...

Savonarola -It depends on what you mean by fullness of truth. It certainly does not claim the fullness of scholarship in matters religious. In his books Pope Benedict draws freely on the work of Anglican and Lutheran scholars as well as that of Catholics. His personal seminar has been addressed by Lutheran Biblical scholars. He sets an example of one willing to learn from others.

Anagnostis said...


Well, exactly.

The Lord’s descent into the underworld

At Matins/the Office of Readings on Holy Saturday the Church gives us this 'ancient homily', I find it incredibly moving, it is abou...