Thursday, December 19, 2013

My Journey as a Catholic, Pt. 9: Over-Zealous Convert Syndrome

Over-Zealous Convert Syndrome - it began to set in like a plague in my spiritual life.  Whereas beforehand, I had been more or less just frustrated and intellectually prideful on my journey into the Catholic Church, I now began to be angry, uncharitable, and ultimately headed down a slippery slope.

I had started writing this blog back in 2011, and one can see the progression.  Even then, I lamented the fact that the online Catholic catechesis courses I was in were advocating "centering prayer", which sparked a massive rant about the influence of the New Age on Catholic spirituality.  My rants became more frequent as I encountered more and more strange things - spiritualities, events, and experiences.

I became less-and-less concerned about my relationship with Christ, and more concerned about venting over all the spiritual and liturgical problems in the Church.  My spiritual life began to die.  If you want to see what this period was like, read my earlier posts on this blog - though, I did take some down out of sheer embarassment at who I had become, there are a few left.

I generally kept more to my interior prayer and tried with all my might to not notice all the little things that I had not noticed before - things that indicated that there had been a force in the Church that was eating away at its insides like a horde of termites.  I just hoped for a renewal, a kind of resurrection, a chance to help "rebuild the Church."  Some said to me that it was a product of a dying generation that would soon be gone, which to me always sounded far too harsh: "just wait for the people who changed it all to die, and then we can be really Catholic again."  I couldn't hold to something that cold, no matter how frustrated I was. 

And yet my eyes widened at all the tribal in-fighting in the Catholic Church between "Trads," "RadTrads," "Semi-Trads and Half-Trads," "Progressivists and Liberals," "Modernists," and the vanguards of mainstream Catholicism which I found out were derisively referred to by some as "Neo-Catholics."  It was a sad picture, and one that only served to cause a great despair in me.  None of it should have really mattered I suppose - it's not like the Church never had periods of crisis before - but it was definitely difficult to sit back and observe it all.

Now Church politics, of course, is an inevitable cross that every Christian must bear because we are human.  It is a tiring phenomenon that has existed since the very first days of the Church's existence - witness St. Paul's exasperated cries of whether we are of Cephas, Apollo, and the like.  Protestantism has seen all manner of church-shopping, poaching of churchgoers, and personality cults surrounding pastors who all try to outdo each other in being more "relevant", more "cool".  As I pointed out in the Catholic Church, the tribalism and bickering especially since Vatican II has been exhausting, and has seeped into daily parish life; Eastern Catholics, as some themselves have said in my experience, often seem to feel marginalized, treated as "second-class Catholics".  In Orthodoxy, the same issues seem to rear their heads - issues over calendars and jurisdictions, etc.  Frankly, at this point, I no longer care about anything to do with daily church politics.  It's an inevitable pain, a moot point.

But it pained me to death to see a faith and a Church so beautiful come to such a point where it seemed like everything I had learned about and studied no longer existed outside of isolated traditional parishes.  But I want to emphatically state that if one is only looking to externals as the pillars of their faith, then they will have truly built a house on sand.  This is precisely my complaint, ironically: the obsessive focus on externals that clouds and cripples the average Christian in the pews by making them lose sight of Christ.  This is what happened to me.

So I eventually turned my back on all the drama going on in the Catholic Church largely due to its devastating effect on my spiritual life, digging deeper and deeper into the writings of the saints and fathers of the Church, especially of the East, and kept writing and working as though nothing was really happening.

After joining up with Catholic news aggragator Big Pulpit in order to manage Byz Pulpit (a news aggregator covering all things Eastern Christian, both Orthodox and Catholic), I found myself immersed in the world of Eastern Christianity.

I noted that most of the mainstream blogs and news I read in the East were of an entirely different calibre than the West's (and here I speak of the mainstream, not of the many quality Catholic blogs out there that seem to remain criminally ignored) - Eastern writers, either Catholic or Orthodox, by and large were not engaged in endless debates over every little thing the Pope did or didn't say, but writing about the things that had initially brought me to the faith in the first place: the interior life, the saints, CHRIST.  Yes, there were still the politics and everyday issues present in the mainstream Eastern Christian world, but at least I didn't feel like I was reading celebrity rants or battles between egos, but writings on the actual Christian life.

I began to turn East with greater force of spirit than before.  Beforehand, I had suppressed it often, regarding the Orthodox writings as just a nourishing supplement to my spiritual diet; often, I would shelve all of my Orthodox books entirely.  The Eastern Catholic world was incredibly difficult to find writings in, but I did everything I could to make the Latin West realize that there was a whole other world out there - perhaps, I was only answering myself (after all, I never knew of Eastern Catholicism in my many conversion years, other than a brief mention during RCIA). 

I attended the Ukrainian Greek Catholic parish usually once a month for awhile, mostly because of issues surrounding my status as a parishioner at my normal parish; apparently, I was expected to settle in to a particular parish.  But my heart became more and more Eastern in every way as the time flew by.  I never forgot The Way of a Pilgrim, that wonderful little book that opened the door on a whole new world for me.

Thanks be to God, I ditched the rants, the venting, the frustrations and anger at the usual issues in the Catholic Church, and began to dig deeper into my own spiritual life.  One friend said I wrote as though nothing had happened to the Church since Vatican II, as though I was living in some other forgotten era.  I think this is partially true, part of the "bubble" effect.

Now I knew about real life in the Church, outside of hagiographies and theological texts.  Truly, being a Catholic is not about being in a perpetual spiritual honeymoon.  But my spiritual life had taken a beating, and despair was setting in harder than before. 

40 comments:

  1. "But I want to emphatically state that if one is only looking to externals as the pillars of their faith, then they will have truly built a house on sand. This is precisely my complaint, ironically: the obsessive focus on externals that clouds and cripples the average Christian in the pews by making them lose sight of Christ."

    This is what I've been facing for the past 3 years. Thank you so much for writing about your experiences and putting it in perspective for me.

    Also, I too have been feeling a pull towards the east. Perhaps in the future you could do a short post on some of the eastern books you have found spiritually helpful? Thanks again. -che

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    1. Dear Che,
      I would be happy to oblige. Here are some of my personal favorites:
      Beginning to Pray by Metropolitan Anthony Bloom
      Little Russian Philokalia series
      Treasury of Russian Spirituality by GP Fedotov
      Anything concerning the Desert Fathers
      The Art by Prayer: An Orthodox Anthology
      The Way of a Pilgrim
      Turning the Heart to God by St. Theophan the Recluse
      The Orthodox Way by Metropolitan Kallistos Ware
      God's Revelation to the Human Heart by Fr. Seraphim Rose
      The Communion of Love by Matthew the Poor
      Anything by the Optina Elders

      Peace.
      Jason

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  2. What you hit on is a common chord; however, don't miss the forest through the trees... It is Christ himself that said to be obedient in the little things so as to be trusted in the bigger things... Therefore, the "externals" as you call them, may in fact pale in the light of our personal relationship with Christ, they nevertheless are in fact, the Spiritual Thermometer of the Church you attend and the Church at large..disobedience, large and small is the indication that the actors themselves are more important than God. You want holiness? Be obedient. The Four Pillars of the Creed/Sacraments/Moral Life/Prayer are rooted not only in doctrine, but the very fabric of the Liturgical life. Every abuse of the Liturgy/Sacraments, etc, is itself an attack on Christ which should be fought vigorously, not at the expense of our own holiness, but rather for the sake of "other's" holiness. Remember, it is an act of SPIRITUAL MERCY, commanded by the Church, to "Admonish the Sinner" and "Instruct the Ignorant." God love you!

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    1. John,
      I definitely agree about the thermometer reference - very well put.
      Jason

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  3. Thank you for this post! Thank you!

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  4. Timely piece. My experience shares similar elements. I married an Eastern Catholic (formerly Orthodox), and recognize the Roman rite as one among many, each with their own beauty in the Catholic and Christian mosaic. Seeking to stay rooted in Christ and His truth above all else will not win the friendship of those whose comfort zone is uncharitable groupspeak and shared blindspots. In fact, it tends to strip us of these crutches and leave us feeling perhaps isolated, but never alone. In this certain kind of solitude, there is freedom to live as icon of the Trinity, less encumbered by false expectations and ideological alliances, with Christ and his Mother shining in our darkness, accompanied by a cloud of earthly and heavenly witnesses. This is our true life, far removed from politics and factionalism, and you are blessed to have these illusions exposed and stripped. Your Galatians reference is one that often comes to mind for me as well. Christ is not divided. May he continue to lead you in his luminous path that shines all the brighter in our darkness. Bob Smith

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    1. "Seeking to stay rooted in Christ and His truth above all else will not win the friendship of those whose comfort zone is uncharitable groupspeak and shared blindspots."
      Thank you for this - I'll remember that.
      Jason

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  5. Thank you for expressing the current crisis within the Church. You are right that all this, unfortunately, has developed since Vatican II. The faithful within the Church are certainly struggling.

    For me, well, I have found a sincere "spiritual life" within the great books of Catholicism, especially the more mystical teachers of the past. Clearly, Louis de Montfort, St. Teresa de Avila, St. John of the Cross, St. Louis of Granada etc. inspire in their students a tremendous love for God, Mary and the Church. Through them you can hold your faith outside the clerical and political infighting found within the institution of the Church. I know it is tough with so many agenda's being run, but your faith will be fed by these great giants of Christianity.

    In practical terms, my approach to the various groups within the Church is to challenge their thinking by always taking the side of God in the debate. Recently, for example, I visited the National Shrine of Elizabeth Anne Seton in Emmitsburg, Md. It is a beautiful church with all it's grandeur including a pagan style altar with a huge cross hanging over it (quite striking). The problem was, and is, that the tabernacle is no where to be found. After some "where's waldo" searching, I found Jesus in the tabernacle next to the altar where Mary's statue historically would be placed. They obviously knew there was a problem for the faithful to find it because they actually put a sign up to identify this location as the tabernacle. My suggestion to the priest after Mass, politically incorrect as it was, was to place Jesus in his rightful place of honor, front and center on the altar. "After all", I emphasized to him, "this is what it is all about, right?"

    One other thing, if you get to Emmitsburg, be sure to visit the Grotto of Lourdes over by Mount Saint Mary's University. It is very spiritual and you will find the Blessed Virgin Mary there if you seek her.

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    1. I agree Gary, though my fault was focusing so hard on the lives of the saints that I forgot about the life of the church. It is sad to have to play "where's waldo" when it comes to the tabernacle - I have never understood why it was changed, and why it was allowed to continue. To me, even when the Pope says to do things one way, the Bishops do it another way. The Catholic Church may have external unity, so to speak, but in my view, I feel it has no internal unity at all sometimes.

      God bless Gary.

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  6. As my mother told me when I was in first grade, "just walk with Jesus in one hand and Mary in the other and you will be okay". Robert

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  8. Idler,
    I want to thank you for sharing this with us. A lot of what you say resonates with me. Unlike you I am a cradle Roman Catholic but I've been through a lot of the struggles you shared with us and have come to a lot of the same conclusions in how to live out the faith. I do think it's very important to have a faith community where you can share the sorrows and joys and struggles of life and I have searched for years and years. I am presently in a Latin mass community staffed by the Institute of Christ the King and although it ceased to be a perfect community when I first set foot in it (;-), I am trying to be loyal to this community.

    I have been greatly influenced by the Byzantine Rite and I cherish the richness the exposure to this Christian experience has blessed me with. I am also trying to focus more on my prayer life and my spiritual life and being faithful to the fullness of the faith handed down as seen thru the lives of the saints and the liturgical prayer of both East and West that has been handed down. I think this has helped me achieve some inner peace. I also have benefited from some Orhtodox books on Prayer you recommended me in another post (the Art of Prayer and On the Prayer of Jesus).

    I embrace fully the official and magisterial teaching of the Catholic Church but it pains me that in practice, or the praxis of the faith in the average parish is sometimes seemingly antagonistic even to the fullness of faith that has been handed down. This is a great stumbling block for me. I think the Orthodox have had less upheavals or alterations to the practice of the faith of apostolic times.

    I hope you will continue to share with us all your insights into the Christian faith and your personal experience of living out the faith in this blog.

    John

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    1. Thank you John - I pray that you keep on keeping on. As Fr. Seraphim Rose said, "The more you are in suffering and difficulties and are "desperate" for God, the more He is going to come to your aid, reveal who He is and show you the way to get out."

      Peace.
      Jason

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  9. This year, I learnt that Mas is an offering of one self. All of it. Your sins, your good works, your past, your family, your heritage, your culture, your ancestries, your interest, your people, your country, your country's history, your traditions, and understanding of life. The different Masses reflect all of this. By offering ALL, God is glorified and honored. One person cannot glorify all of who God is. So you offer back who you are. I now smile when someone says that the only music should be the organ and chant. Really? Would that fit in an African Mass? It is not who they are. It is not the music they understand or developed. They've developed wonderful drum music. Asian music is also very different. I went to an Eritian Mass. It was beautiful, completely different, I understood nothing, but it didn't matter. I was in the midst of God's people offering themselves, who they are, their gifts and their faults. I love the Eastern rite too, and the Latin, and the New Mass. Yes somethings grieve me, but Jesus is there and I ask Him to help me to love and to show me what He wants and I am at peace. Mass is individual but collective at the same time.

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    1. Yes - the liturgy of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church is quite the different experience! What is an Eritian Mass incidentally?
      Jason

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  10. I have been enjoying reading about your journey. As a cradle Roman Catholic both I and my family were also blessed to have been introduced to the Divine Liturgy of Sts John Crysostom and Basil the Great when our local RC parish allowed an Eastern Rite priest to say Liturgies for the Sunday vigils ! We built a Catholic Byzantine Mission Church and during the twenty or so years we went there we did have two very good pastors. Sadly, we also had three who were not so good thanks to the lack of vigilance on the part of the now deceased bishop who eventually sold the church to pay off serious abuse cases.
    Also, your experience in the sspx was similar to our brief time there, having exited after listening to homilies praising Hitler who,"saved Catholic Art." We also heard rants against Pope John Paul Two from the pulpit for returning the Filioque prayer to it's original according to the ancient Liturgy and the Scriptures. Finally , the crime that Pope John Paul Two was accused of returning some of the stolen relics to the "schismatics' was beyond our belief and convinced us that the politics of these self proclaimed traditionalists lacked any historical intellectual academic accuracy.
    A recent book written by a Vatican Library Archivist for her Doctoral Thesis testifies from the Vatican Secret Archive documents of the time that the Shroud was among the relics stolen from Constantinople along with the desecration of the Basilica of Hagia San Sophia during the infamous Fourth Crusade and that the Pope at the time excommunicated all Catholics who stole or trafficked in these Eastern relics!
    http://www.amazon.com/Templars-Shroud-Christ-Barbara-Frale-ebook/dp/B004W3UJUC
    A Catholic Archamandrite and an Orthodox priest both recommended we read this teaching Bible with commentaries from the Early Church Fathers because they are free from the politicial correctness and inclusive language prevalent in so many current Catholic and Protestant Bibles today.
    http://www.amazon.com/The-Orthodox-Study-Bible-Christianity/dp/0718003594
    God Bless you on your journey to Know Love and Serve the Lord !
    Pray for us too as we seek another Eastern parish home with a like minded Christian community.

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    1. I will keep you and anyone else who asks in my prayers.

      Jason

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  11. Idler, I can certainly relate to your journey. I see it also in the Church today – the brokenness. I believe the most serious spiritual disease affecting the Church is rationalism, thinking we know it better than the Holy Father and the Magisterium. It affects both laity and religious. Sometimes you go to a parish, and you wonder what church is this? Catholic? The faith according to Fr. ………….. I suffered from that disease for a number of years. It’s not that I was a bad man. In my intellectual arrogance, I just thought I knew it better.

    Some 20+ years ago, a nun introduced me to True Life in God, the mystical work thru the Greek Orthodox woman, Vassula Ryden. It changed my life and is helping me see God’s desire and will for us more clearly. I became an orthodox, obedient Catholic – no small miracle for me. I try to follow the instructions of the Church. My faith has become much simpler.

    Wishing you a blessed and holy Christmas and a New Year filled with His love, peace and joy.

    Theofile

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  12. I can relate as a revert, as well. I, too, love the Eastern Church, and had I a choice, would opt for it. I have found consolation in the Franciscan order, though, I must say. I think balance is the key, all the way up the ladder, and that is what I find in Franciscan spirituality. It is reverent, careful to conserve all that is good and holy in the liturgy. It is mystical, but cautious in that regard, too. It is loyal to the Magisterium (keeping in mind there are many Franciscans in the Eastern church, and they are fabulous). Charity is held up as the master status, and anything beneath it must subjugate itself to it. Orthodox, and Eastern Christianity can be sour and sarcastic sometimes, as well. I am not saying anyone is perfect. But, I think the spirituality has to be very humble and deferential to all things to be truly approved by God. Who can say for sure?

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    1. Ceilia,
      You do have a choice - this was also my mistake in a sense, though I regret nothing in my journey; thinking I couldn't, or didn't have a choice when it came to the East. One finds human failings, politics, and all the rest in Orthodoxy and Catholicism - thus, we can't base our decisions on those things. As Fr. Seraphim Rose says, "A person must be in the religious search not for the sake of religious experiences, which can deceive, but for the sake of truth."

      Peace to you.
      Jason

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  13. The path of holiness in the Western church is still very well traveled by those who are obedient. I found that one can be an authentic catholic despite the shortcomings of members of the faith community who engage in bickering, disobedience etc. It's real simple, live one day at a time, be respectful towards others, pray for all, the good , the bad, the ugly, be of good cheer & ask God daily to help me see beyond what seems to be.

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    1. The faults we see in others, the things we dislike in others, are often those of our own selves. This thought I have used to try and keep me humble.

      Jason

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  14. Are you still going to the Ukranian Byzantine church or did you become Eastern Orthodox ? My family is Roman Rite but go once a month to the Maronite Syryac Catholic liturgy and we love it's beauty,peace and reverence ancientness. We have many people who were Catholics that are now Orthodox.Our friends are wonderful and we have become very close and we admire their zealousness for their faith.Thanks for sharing your testimony.

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    1. Hello Marimer,
      I have in a state of major transition, with all the pain that comes with it, and have been attending an Orthodox Church since late November. Pray for me - already I have been accused of much, misunderstood, and all the rest. But I have consoled myself with those words of St. Maximilian Kolbe - "For Jesus Christ, I am prepared to suffer still more," no matter what happens.

      Peace to you.
      Jason

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  15. Now we realize why Jesus had to pray for our unity in His Priestly Prayer, moments before His Passion. While we have to be part of a political parish community, our personal relationship with CHRiST is always politics-free. I think that we can attain perfect community life only in Heaven. We can always aspire to live in one, but given our proclivity to sin, it could be a difficult find.

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    1. Our personal relationship with Christ is always politics-free. I love that, truly. I'll never forget that - thank you!

      Jason

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  16. This year, my son was denied the sacrament of confirmation by a catholic school principal and the assistant superintendent of catholic schools from the diocese. A certified letter with return receipt was sent to the bishop that detailed the aforementioned event was sent four months ago and we never received any response. The catholic church is no longer a priority in our lives.

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    1. I understand. I really understand. Unfortunately, sometimes circumstance trumps belief. There is no excuse for how you were treated, as stated. Keep in mind, Jesus left the very sinners he came to save in charge of his institutional Church. Pope Francis is aware of the issues, especially this type of clericalism where form destroys substance.

      Try to contact your Diocese directly, in person if necessary. So you know, they usually have Confirmation at their Cathedral separate from the local parishes. Seek help and advocacy from area priests and be sure to get to the Bishop, directly if necessary. Without placing any accusations or threats, express sincerely what has happened and let them know what you seek and why. Be sure to tell them if your son has a learning disability, emotional issues or has other impediments to the parish preparation program. Remember, Confirmation is a Sacrament and the formal preparation, although necessary, is not the only SAT test necessary for admission to it. After all, they are good and caring people. Jesus and Mary will help you.

      Trust in God. I will pray hard for you and your son.

      One more thing, instead of pulling away from the Church, why not use this issue as motivation to draw closer to Him and His Church. After all, your souls are as important to God as those that blocked the Confirmation. It is your Church too. By your Baptism and faith you are a member in good standing. Test that premise.

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    2. This is truly sad. My answer in situations like this is always the same: never base your faith in God on human beings, who fail and sin, but on God who never fails.

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  17. As a poor working class cradle Catholic...it would be wise to remember that we all sons and daughters of Adam and Eve...we are all broken...yet Christ has given us a light yoke( the Holy Mass is perfect for this). Many of us make it out to be more difficult or complicated than it really is...be still and listen the voice of the Father (Eucharistic adoration is perfect for this). How can the sacrifice of the Mass leave us empty...if it does...we need new eyes to see and ears to hear (Confession is perfect for this) This is a lifelong call...it is the call for the conversion of heart. Every human being alive must carry this sacred Cross. The externals are a means to the end...not the end in themselves. I ask the Holy Spirit give us all the peace of Christ that we all seek ( the Rosary or Chaplet of Mercy are perfect for this).

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    1. The externals are a means to the end...not the end in themselves. Very true.
      Jason

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  18. Don't be too hard on yourself, after all Jesus commented on the Pharisees and the Saducees, two groups in Judaism, throughout the gospels. I can't find the right words to say it but I think you were doing what Jesus did and that's not so bad. I guess that's why Jesus took himself off to quiet places just like what you did. I know it's hard but you have done and are doing the right thing. Don't give up.

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    1. Thanks anonymous for your encouragement - I won't give up.
      Jason

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  19. Great post. Ohh how I can relate. :)

    I'll never forget a meeting of the St. Thomas Moore Society when someone said "converts" and everyone in the group rolled their eyes and let out a sigh, lol. We are such an excited bunch. We love Holy Mother Church so much, and it rightly pains us to see it attacked, especially from within. Sometimes, however, I think we are quick to be Peter and pull out our sword when we think we are being Jesus at the Temple with the money changers. The sin of pride is so easy to sink into. All of a sudden we see a problem and a battle at every turn. We look for the enemies of orthodoxy at every Mass and Church event. The truth is that the Church has seen better days but it has also seen much, much worse days. When we are always looking for the negative, we often fail to see the positives that are truly all around us. The Church survived the Arian heresy and the reformation. Closer in time, the Church survived the 70s and 80s when there wasn't a post Vatican II catechism or the internet to point to when those hell bent on changing the Church were all around.

    Ultimately, I think the biggest struggle within the Church right now is a lack of faith. Most problems relate to this. St. Theresa said something to the effect that if sinners knew how much sins hurt our Lord, they'd never commit one, even a venial sin. The reason that only 20ish percent of American Catholics meet their Mass obligation and 45% of American Catholics never go to confession is simple: they just don't believe, either in the Church or in the Gospel at all. We need to reevangelize these people and bring them home. It's a slow process but it often starts with setting the example, one day at a time. As someone told Scott Hahn one time after he gave a talk on purgatory, "Sometimes it takes the foreigners to teach the natives." Your blog is a blessing to the Church! Don't forget that!

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  20. As a life-long Catholic, I, too, was finding it difficult when seeing or reading about any division within the Church (or within ANY Christian Church - Eastern included) or how the secular media has always purposefully misinterpreted our faith and our Pope. It was quite literally a physically heavy and emotional upheaval in my soul. I prayed on it a lot, and with the help of the Holy Spirit, I came to clearly realize (remember is more like it) that we need to leave behind the sins of man and of the world, the "trappings" of the world and don't get caught up in them. Questioning one's faith and striving to learn more or understand more about one's faith is normal. But when that questioning - the Catholic Church, your faith or spiritual path - to the point where you are feeling divided, despondent and disunited is EXACTLY what the evil one wants you to do to claim you - divide or separate you from the Truth - make you second guess your faith and our Church (which is second guessing Jesus Christ) - wander around looking for something that makes you FEEL better about how you worship and how your neighbor worships. Are you questioning the Truth and veracity of the Catholic faith and Her teachings, or are you questioning how you worship or how you see other Catholics worship? Keep the emphasis on the TRUTH of the Catholic Church - not material beauty or what "feels" right. Remember the reason for the Catholic Mass -- to WORSHIP our Lord and RECEIVE Him in the Eucharist. Remembering this really helped me find peace in my soul. Yes, sometimes our mass can feel "dry" and it's always unsettling and upsetting to hear the division of Catholics in general, but then I always remind myself what the mass is for and what is extraordinarily happening there. We are truly partaking in Christ's body and divinity! Everything else is secondary! As Catholics, we are receiving the same body and blood of our Lord whether in a huge, resplendent cathedral full of colorful vestments, beautiful paintings, marble carvings and angelic-sounding choirs or in a small, stark room devoid of any material beauty or in a cave hidden in the mountains and whispered because of persecution. We are participating in the same mass and in the same beauty and glory as every other Catholic, and we are receiving the same miracle in the Eucharist!!! When I pray in mass, I am shutting out every material, worldly artifact around me until it's just Jesus and myself. Plus, always keeping in the forefront of my mind - Jesus commanded us to love and forgive each other - has helped me get through any division I may see in our fellow Catholics. Through much prayer and studying our Catholic faith (not to mention reading about the martyrs who have been horribly persecuted and died for our Church), I have come to know with absolute certainty that the Catholic Church is the ONE TRUE CHURCH of Jesus Christ, and within it He has given us EVERYTHING we need for salvation and to join Him in His heavenly kingdom. There is much peace in that, and I haven't questioned or felt bothered by the "noise" of the outside world since. I am more and more in love with our Lord and with the Church He left us every single day! Praying that you find that same truth and peace!

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  21. My own journey as a baptized Roman Catholic has taken me far into the depths of the problems within and without the institutionalized Church and I have become well acquainted with Catholic writers lecturers and authors of distinction along with several Cardinals Bishops and many priests .Some are popularly quoted on the internet and still others have newspapers magazines appeared on television and now even blog.
    What frustrates me is that their Catholic readership does not know these people personally as I have done.
    I am old now and tired.
    Especially tired of research I once did for many Catholics.
    The absolute best advice I can give Jason is to follow your heart inspired by the Holy Ghost through prayer, to really get to know Jesus as personally as you would any human being you would consider as a spouse to live with for the rest of your life, You must believe you want to be with God for all eternity.
    Before you can love Him you must know Him and then you can serve Him and be with Him forever. That was the basic Catholic Baltimore Catechetical instruction and it is Scriptural too.
    My journey as a Faithful Catholic brought me to the East.
    Jesus Christ is my forever friend and Saviour and it is here where I choose to adore Him.
    You WILL KNOW when you enter the deserts in this life and are truly alone. Your soul will long for the Liturgy wherein you felt without any doubt that your heart was lifted up to the Lord.

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    1. Dear Anonymous,

      This comment of yours could not be more timely. I needed this today, desperately. I am being raked over the coals by some for all of this, almost to the point of tears today, but I keep going. In the end, it is the Truth Who is Christ that matters. Pray for me. I will pray for you.
      God bless you, whoever you are.

      Jason

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