Because Catholics Are Dead

Why Aren’t You Catholic? is still going strong! If you are not Catholic, and would like to explain why you have found that to be the best choice in your life, feel free to share! I will post on anything that isn’t incoherent.

In the meantime, from an Anonymous (how I wish he were otherwise, so I could send this to him).

“…you can’t possibly know how badly I wish I could believe like you guys. I know these 4 things with unshakable certainty. There has never been an extended time in history when Rome was not immersed in some kind of loud public Christ dishonoring corruption. 2. The gospel, Jesus and epistemology I find unmistakably staring me in the face in the scriptures answers sweetly to the Spirit of the most high God who never fails to meet me in prayer. He’s there first. Not to mention His faithful walk with me through my days (and nights too). That gospel, Jesus and epistemology by their very nature utterly preclude the slightest possibility of Catholicism having anything whatever to do with them, except as a hostile adversary. (I don’t mean individual people). They cannot both be true 3. There is no possible way, just NO WAY, the God I know as per the above could ever sanction anything like the romish bureaucracy and most especially that abhorrent and abominable vatican city. 4. Catholicism displays absolutely no transforming power of the living God in the lives of it’s people whatsoever. They are with few exceptions just as dead as the world and for good reason. The church has taken the very Greek pagans that Paul denounced in 1st Corinthians as the basis for their belief system. I have seen that blindingly displayed before my very eyes times too numerous to count right here in these forums. To say nothing of the rest of my life. I don’t have all the answers at the moment, but I will go my earthly grave believing what I just said. You’re a decent man and a sharp guy and very well educated, but do not fool yourself into believing you have that magic info I’ve never heard that will change my mind.”
Tiribulus – Detroit

Good stuff. I admire you for speaking your mind, and I thank you for taking the time to write.

I post it here, not to answer all of your charges, for I fear I don’t understand the first, and 2 and 3 seem very personal. (For instance, I could very well say there was “no way” that Christ would have sanctioned our current state of denominationalism, and that “the God I know” would never leave us without the sacraments he instituted in Scripture, or the Church he founded on St. Peter, but who could contend with “the God I know’ anymore than they could with the-secret-I’m-not-telling?) I ask any readers who feel called to answer those complaints to do so, in love.

First, my friend, I’d ask that you do not feel compelled to take your denunciations ‘to your grave’, lest your faith be a forced effort to stick to your guns. Why not be open? Only if something has the possibility of being false can it have any satisfaction in being actually true. If there was utterly no possibility of God not existing then what would become of the gift of faith? What love would there be in our belief? In reality he could technically not exist, but we know and have found, through experience, reason and faith, that he does; and thus we are joyful, not forced, in our belief. To put it in terms of your argument then: if you allow no possibility that God might have had his Church in Rome, to the point that you’d go to your “earthly grave” denouncing the idea, what joy could you possibly have in knowing – as you are assured you do – that it is elsewhere? Be open to to the possibility that you may be wrong, and I will too, lest my Catholicism be nothing more than stubbornness and pride.

Now to the point: I am sorry. I am sorry that your experience of Catholics has been that they are as dead as the world, white-washed sepulchers. As honestly as one can over typed words and in the eyes of others, I apologize. I apologize for the times that I, personally, have been that Catholic, that walking corpse who has not let Christ shape his life. I used to live in Germany, and I attended a parish that I believe would fit your description, to the most extent. But when you’re talking about the largest religion in the world, you must understand that your sample – like my German sample – is not the whole. When I moved from Germany to America I was absolutely blown away by the faith of my new parish, by her piety, charismatic gifts and yearning for the Holy Spirit. I have been witness to healings, miracles, abundant and authentic worship, coming from the heart of the Catholic Church. I, like you, have been moved by the scriptures, and even more moved by the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. No matter how far I fall into sin, the grace that comes from that Sacrament pulls me out, as I know it tenderly pulls all my friends into greater holiness. Seeing as I took you at your word when you said “Catholicism displays absolutely no transforming power of the living God in the lives of it’s people whatsoever” I ask you to now take me at my word: Catholicism absolutely does transform the lives of its people. It has transformed me. It has transformed the thousands upon thousands of fellow young people striving to be Saints, the beautiful Church that has begun its rise, and is uniting the Christian world as we speak.

So I offer you no “magic info”. I offer you contradiction. I offer you my experience in contradiction to your own, only to show that any argument against the Catholic Church must – in the end – be over her teachings. For  the less transformed a Catholic, the less of an example they are of Christ in the world, the less obedient they tend to be to their Church’s teachings. Have you noticed that? I would venture to guess – and I could be wrong – that the “dead” Catholics you speak of are dead, not because of their Catholicism, but their lack of it. So once again, I am sorry for the lameness, as I am sorry for the lameness of Christians in general. But experience is subjective. If you’d like to continue this conversation, please do email me! I may not know how badly you wish you could believe like us, but I can show you why I do.

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  • Practicing Mammal

    I think its also worth mentioning that any Church that has been around a while is going to have more time for complacency and lukewarmness and Cultural Christianity to become deeply rooted.Generally within the span of a generation, a new protestant church is going to have a fair number of lukewarm members.The New Springtime that Pope John Paul II spoke of, I believe, was prophetic, but more than that, a call to fervency and a renewal of faith on personal levels as well as the universal level.That new springtime, in both the personal and universal setting, ALWAYS starts with that humble, "its me. I'm the lame one. I have to start over and I'm responsible. For my own holiness and cultural virtue." Great post, Marc. Great humility. Thanks for living the gospel.

  • Katie

    Yikes. That seems like a pretty harsh condemnation of the billions of Catholics that have lived over the last 2000 years. I'm also wondering what he means by "dead." Go look around the world, where the poorest, the sickest, and the most alone are, and who is with them? Almost without fail, it's Catholics. How can anyone who's not alive in God do what those people do? Does he mean we don't outwardly display the "life" of God he thinks we should? Not sure what that means. Are we supposed to be strumming guitars and and stomping our feet to "praise music." Should Mass be a hootin' and hollerin' event (like, well…the video posted) Is that what it means to be alive in Christ? The Mass is a sacrifice, not a piece of performance art. Seems horribly superficial to me, frankly. I go to the Latin Mass once a month (all that's offered in my area), and it's usually a Low Mass, which is probably the epitome of "dead and boring" according to anonymous. But it electrifies me, and more importantly, the Blessed Sacrament electrifies me, and I don't see it as a negative at all that I can bow my head and kneel quietly after Communion and have my soul be absolutely on fire with my love for Christ. Are outward appearances really that much more important than what's happening in the interior of our souls? I don't know, just seems very presumptuous to proclaim that nearly every single one of the billions of Catholics who have existed over the last 2000 years have been "dead." Personally, I appreciate that I don't always have to be "on." My husband has a Pentecostal friend, and every Sunday is just one big competition to see who can out scream and out dramatize every one else, because for his church, the louder and more "alive" you are, the more proof you have that you love God (and He, you) more than those around you. Seems like an awful burden, to me.

  • Wine in the Water

    "I don't have all the answers at the moment, but I will go my earthly grave believing what I just said."I think this is a common sentiment. But this is a deeply flawed approach to faith in two major ways: it diminishes God and it exalts the self.It diminishes God because it reserves something away from God, it prescribes a limit on God's power in our life. It is to say: "this piece of me, this belief to which I hold so dearly, it is off limits, God cannot touch it, I will not allow God to change it, I withhold it from God, and in doing so withhold part of myself from God, I set a limit on the power of God in my life.It also exalts the self. It espouses a personal infallibility. It is to say: "I am not wrong about this, I am incapable of being wrong about this, I am, contained within myself, an infallible guide to Christianity." If ecclesiastical and papal infallibility are a tough pill to swallow, how can one hold to this kind of individual infallibility. Where is the infallibility of the Christian individual to be found in scripture?

  • fr jim

    "I don't have all the answers at the moment, but I will go my earthly grave believing what I just said."'relative' meet "ism"

  • Marc

    @KatieThe video I posted was of some of the Steubenville conferences. The jumping and general ruckus was not footage of the Mass, I can guarantee you that the Masses at the event were given the upmost of solemnity and reverence for the Eucharist. In fact, we young people gave the Mass more attention and desire than I have ever experienced. You are absolutely spot on in that there should be no burden of 'appearing' alive, only authentic worship.Having said that, outside of the Mass, at events filled with dynamic worship, with joy and praise and the charisms of the holy spirit, I ask that you forgive us children for looking so undignified. ( :

  • Katie

    Thanks for clarifying, the footage was a little confusing since it was cut in with shots of Mass and Adoration, so I wasn't sure what was occurring when. Nothing undignified about expressing our joy loudly and physically, as long as it's at the appropriate time ;) (And gosh, I'm "only" 28, you're making me feel old with this "us children" talk, lol).

  • J.A.I.

    Tiribulus-Since no one else mentioned it, how about being Catholic BECAUSE of #1? What man-made institution so riddled with scandal, intrigue and corruption could last a generation, let alone two millennium? Despite wars, plagues, famine and every human attempt to subvert and destroy her, the Church endures just as Christ promised. The Church is at once temporal and mystical. If you dislike "the Vatican" you can still love the Church. It's easy to throw stones at the bureaucracy and apparatchiks in the curia, but I'm still waiting for a better proposal to govern a 2,000-year-old global institution of over 1.2 billion present members.God love you brother. Duc in altum.

  • catholicunveiled

    "I ask you to now take me at my word: Catholicism absolutely does transform the lives of its people. It has transformed me. It has transformed the thousands upon thousands of fellow young people striving to be Saints, the beautiful Church that has begun its rise, and is uniting the Christian world as we speak."I second this. Amen :)

  • Anonymous

    Roman Catholicism has transformed me. Prior to my reversion to the Holy Roman Catholic religion and faith: I was wretched sinner; enslaved by vice and sin. I was chained and bound by it. By Christ's grace, God led me to return to His Holy Roman Catholic Church. Through the holy sacraments; particularly, the Holy Eucharist and the sacrament of Penance: I have known in the depths of my heart and soul the peace, humility, forgiveness, kindness, benignity, and loving-Charity that our Blessed Lord could provide. Our Holy Saviour Jesus Christ died upon the altar of the Holy Cross to save me from sin, the world, death, concupiscence, and the Devil. He has freed me; not only I, but all from Sin and the Devil, who but repent of their wicked ways and turn to God. May the Holy Trinity bless and keep thee, friend:sincerely yours,"Virgil the Roman"

  • Sara Renee

    Hey Marc, I’m a long-time reader and a first-time commenter. Thank you for this post. I’m a Catholic student at a Midwestern university, and I’d just like to express my appreciation for what you write. I’ve been struggling- more than ever before in my life- with ethical issues lately, both personal and public, and it’s posts like these that tend to lift my spirits. A few months ago, one of my best friends (an ‘enlightened’ ex-Catholic-turned-non-denominational-Christian) made the comment in conversation that the Catholic Church is dying. She didn’t intend to hurt my feelings as a Catholic, but words like that can temporarily crush my hopes for people in the world. I’m not as strong in my faith as I want to be, but I’m taking Christian and Catholic theology classes to help change that. I actually cried when I read this post; I needed to hear what you had to say in response to those who doubt (including myself sometimes). The point is, thank you for so often writing what I’m sometimes unable to speak. True Catholics are anything but dead, and the same goes for the Church.

  • Jared Clark

    I know you posted this awhile ago, Marc, but I just wanted you to know that it was beautiful. Around the time I started college, I grew lukewarm in my faith. I’d go home on weekends and attended Mass, of course, but I wasn’t really living it in my day-to-day life. For a couple of years, I was one of those dead Catholics.

    After changing my major to nursing, I transferred to a community college not far from home. Now, I had time to get involved in more Church activities. Today, I am getting as involved as I can. I haven’t felt this alive since I was a small child, slowly learning my faith!

    Anonymous, if you happen to read this, I can back up Marc’s claim. It is not Catholicism that makes us white-washed tombs, it is a lack of truly living our faith.

    My fellow Catholics, listen to me! Learn more about your faith. Get involved with your Church (men, there is absolutely no reason not to join the Knights of Columbus!), look into the great Catholic art! We have an amazing Church that can impact every aspect of your life if you just let Her!

  • Anne

    I can also back Marc up too! Over the past year I have been relearning my faith as a Catholic, and because of that I am becoming more and more alive! I am on fire with passion for our faith. I was one of those ‘dead’ Catholics for most of my life, but then I began studying and asking questions about our faith. I am honestly insulted when Anonymous says that “Catholicism displays absolutely no transforming power of the living God in the lives of it’s people whatsoever.” Uhhh whatever happened to people like Mother Teresa and all the Saints! Mother Teresa gave up EVERYTHING to become what God wanted her to become! Anonymous, if you read this, I challenge you to read about the lives of some Saints and then tell me that Catholicism does not transform the lives of its people. Yeah of course there are people who just go through the motions, but a lot of people have a connection with God that is deeply personal in the Catholic Church. Just because were not screaming and our hands aren’t in the air and singing “Awesome God” (not that there’s anything wrong with that song) doesn’t mean that were not deeply changed by the work Christ has done for us in our lives! For us, it is in the heart, and its between me and God how I feel not between me and the congregation.

  • Greg Smith

    I just saw that you ever responded to this. I am Tiribulus. I assure you I have heard and reheard every fathomable defense of Catholicism there is or ever could be and could defend it myself better than most Catholics. I KNOW what I am rejecting and why. Here is a post of mine from a couple years ago at another website where someone was asking “why be Catholic?”

    “Lemme give it a shot. VERY short version. The key is where the authority to declare doctrine at all comes from. Jesus told the apostle Peter that that he would build His church upon Peter, the first pope, thus depositing His authority and the gospel itself into what would become the “magesterium”. That is, the body of ordained men operating under the authority and unction of God Himself that are to be alone looked to for final arbitration on what is and what is not accepted dogma. There was no bible until 300 ad and actually the final canon wasn’t authorized until around 500 so any appeal to the bible is automatically an appeal to the church who was entrusted by Christ to canonize it, in other words, the Catholic church.

    Christ left us a church and a gospel out of which came the sacred scriptures and not the other way around. Either the Catholic church is the bride and original apostolic church of Christ or there isn’t one and Christianity is a lie. What the Church fathers who lived RIGHT after Jesus and the apostles believed is either exactly what the Catholic church believes or laid the groundwork directly for it so yes, once again the Catholic faith IS the original apostolic faith held by those directly in contact with the first century church.

    Sacred scripture (the bible) is only authoritatively interpreted by this church, commissioned by Christ Himself so any dispute about scripture is moot because there is no such thing as a private interpretation, meaning any interpretation not authorized by Christ through His true apostolic church. Since the church holds this God ordained authority it also alone has authority to more fully reveal the divine mind through sacred tradition which is THE only way the gospel was propagated before the aforementioned canonization of sacred scripture. Hence the church, far from adding to scripture per se, simply stewards the whole of divine revelation including scripture and tradition which together represent the faith once for all delivered to the saints.

    Once all this is established, the discussion of any particular doctrine is meaningless because the debate is already over. If it isn’t established then where was the church for 1500 years? SO, Mary, purgatory, papacy, eucharist, mass, relics, icons, _____________________, whatever, are accepted or rejected as whole along with THE CHURCH, but rejecting THE CHURCH is rejecting that there is any church… or gospel at all because the only way protestants or any non Catholic can be saved is by the grace in the earth through THE CHURCH so once again. Either Catholicism is true or Christianity is false, because it IS the ancient faith and any objective study of the early church will bear this out.

    Close enough.”

    To Katie. Dead means pews, especially in the western world, FULL of carnal abhorrent flagrantly sinful pagans who show no more evidence of transformation in Christ than any debauched atheist. Debauched atheists who in many cases are just as outwardly “charitable” as the Catholic church. Charitable works mean less than nothing if not grown out of the soil of the glory of the most high God alone which your church is the very worst possible alleged Christian example of. The fact of your throwing it at me in a pharisaical attempt at legitimacy is itself proof of what I just said. There is not even an anemic attempt at cleansing and discipline as prescribed in the 5th Chapter of Paul’s 1st epistle to the Corinthians, but we give people stuff.

    You can tell me whatever you want. 99 percent of all the Catholics I have ever heard of could not possibly care less what their priest, their bishop, their cardinal or the pope says about anything they don’t feel like believing or doing. They show up, plant their cheeks in a pew for an hour going through some meaningless sacerdotal ritual and go back to looking, speaking, acting and being just like all the rest of the unredeemed dead and damned world they love so much. Mark my words. That abortion supporting, gay marriage promoting, Muslim loving, Marxist, God hating abomination in the whitehouse will get hyyyoooj Catholic support AGAIN. Even after his direct attacks. As an example. Why? Because your church HAS NO POWER my dear friends. B16 could stand in his window the day before the election and command every American Catholic as the self proclaimed “vicar of Christ” to not vote for Obama and millions will do it anyway. He has a nifty uniform and a cool house, but no real authority. The true church does not suffer from this stomp heavily and carry no stick at all syndrome.

    If Marc or anybody else is interested, here: is where a discussion is hopefully starting which will illustrate the further reasons why I am not now nor could I ever be, while the risen Christ beats in my heart, a Roman Catholic. I would sing praises to my blessed Lord in the flames beside Latimer, Ridley and Cranmer before that could ever happen. Feel free to register there and participate. Anybody. In fact I dare ya. DO NOT mistake my hatred for your church with hatred for YOU. That would be a most grievous error. You have just heard from a man who loves Catholic people more than anyone you will ever meet. Whether any of you folks believe that or not is beyond my control, but God knows it’s true. I will say one more time in closing. It is not possible that anybody will ever utter that magic argument in my direction where I fall to my knees and proclaim “OHHHH LORD HELP ME THAT’S IT!!!! This IS the one true holy and apostolic church”. The great pyramid of Khufu will long have returned to the dusts of Giza first. I know what kind of VaticanII response to expect in response to this so go right ahead. For the record I would respect the Trent response much more.