Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The non-Read Catholics

I've always been knowledge hungry and book crazy, so topics that I get into something (whether it's history or guns or brewing or Catholicism) I invariably read a lot of books. Indeed, if anything, I'm sometimes in danger of knowing more about a field than I actually practice it. (My ratio of Go books to Go games is pretty scary -- and I'm still not that strong a player, doubtless for that very reason.)

Some years back, when we lived in California, MrsDarwin and I were on the RCIA team for our parish. We helped out there for two years -- and in the process made a couple of very good friends. However, I tended to instinctively sort people into two groups, the very small group of converts who were reading their way into the Church (and thus reading many of the same books that I also found so fascinating) and the much larger group of "others".

It was only after a while that it penetrated my categorization system (or perhaps more precisely my intellectual pride) that while some of these "others" were entering the Church "for family reasons" -- a sort of ecclesiastical marriage of convenience which nonetheless can blossom, over time, into a love match -- other were doing so for deeply felt reasons. Some of these converts had found Catholicism through admiration of some particular friend or relatives devotion -- others had been seeking something, and had recognized what they were looking for when they found the Church. But because of the differences between us it took me a while to catch on that you could love for itself without reading about it all the time.

That old lady kneeling over in the side chapel might not spend her spare time reading up on Benedict/Ratzinger's corpus of the last thirty years. She might now know about the filioque controversy or have an opinion on the derivation of the various Eucharistic Prayers. She may well just believe -- finding God in at least as deep, indeed perhaps a far deeper way, through simply praying.

Something I occasionally need to step back and remind myself when I get a little too in among the trees with regards to liturgy debates or parish politics or what have you.


The Pigeon said...

On the one hand, what you said should remind us that we need patience in dealing with the average parishoner who goes to mass out of love, and on the other hand it remind us of the need to make sure that those in charge are doing what they need to be doing.

If the Mass is celebrated illicitly or invalidly, there is no sin upon the average pewsitter, and we must remember that. But nevertheless, we must work to have liturgical abuses prevented because those same Catholics aren't getting the spiritual benefits that they should be.

Darwin said...

I'm very much in agreement with you as regards to liturgical abuses. I was more thinking of some of the "what should the missal be like" debates that happen at times.

I sat down the other night to read all four Eucharistic Prayers closely, because I'd been reading a lot about how we should do down to just I (the traditional Roman Canon) or I and III. The thing that struck me was: even in the current rather regrettable ICEL translation -- these are good prayers, beautiful prayers.

I'm open to, probably even in agreement with, the idea that throwing in so many (I didn't even have a handy source for the others beyond the standard four) was a bad idea. I'm not saying that I think that Bugnini and his committee were right in all their choices.

But they're there now, and they are beautiful prayers which bring Christ (literally: body and blood) into our presence. When one gets all angry about them and starts calling them "banal" or saying that they bring into question the sacrificial nature of the mass -- I think that begins to suggest a intentional hardening of oneself.

I'm not laying off talking about liturgical change, or reading those who do, but it did serve to remind me that it's possible to get so caught up in the flaws as to miss the good that is truly there in the mass.

Anonymous said...

Totally agree with taking a step back every now and then to reflect on the "Faith" part of "Faith and Reason".

As much as the intellectual Catholics out there need to be diligent in defending beliefs, orthodoxy, etc., we need to remember that the ultimate source of revelation is God Himself and He may reveal some things directly to people or through many indirect means.

Good meditations.

Anonymous said...

When I took my foray into non-denominationalism, I looked down on my father's simple Catholic faith. But,one day, on my journey back to the Church, it occured to me that while he couldn't quote chapter and verse, my father truly exemplified Mark 16:16-those who believe and are baptized shall be saved. Like the bumper sticker says: Jesus said it, I believe it, that settles it. Though he wouldn't have put it that way either. He just quietly lives it.