A Returning Catholic Expresses Her Gratitude for Holy Church

She writes:

You did a masterful job in your reply to this poor soul who expressed his questioning faith. As a Catholic who left the Church( regretfully)  almost 50 years ago and have now  returned, (I must say joyfully). My questions, my searching, my reluctance –all have evaporated in the face of once again being able to receive the Eucharist and experience Reconciliation.  After wandering through a different faith venue, graduating from seminary and being an active pastor in the United Church of Christ, finally of an age to retire I began to ruminate about the sense of absence in my life and finally concluded that  the Holy Spirit was leading  me back, and believe me it was a long  road.

Pope Francis is the first to call himself a sinner. However, the Holy Spirit has given us just what we have needed. Someone who smells like the sheep he tends which he  does so well. He loves all of us, cares for all  of us, wishes for all  of us to achieve the  goal for  which God has destined us.

P.S. Regarding that  “Cross”  It did just what the giver intended, stirred up a hornet’s nest among “believers.” Bad JuJu!

I think the thing that strikes me most about the Faith is the fact that it places the act of Thanksgiving–Eucharist–right at the core of life.  What has made it impossible for me to take the Francis-haters seriously is the radical absence of gratitude, of a sense that there is anything at all about the Church to be grateful for.  Don’t get me wrong.  I get that there are people who are confused and afraid and for such folk I have nothing but empathy.  The thing is, such people want to find peace and hope.  And as my correspondent makes clear, peace and hope are there in Christ Jesus and in his holy Church.

When I encounter people like my correspondent, people are just tickled pink to see the immensity and plenitude of gifts God is pouring into their lives, I find myself resonating with that.

But when I hear, not from the Francis-confused, but from the Francis-haters–people who have committed themselves to waging bitter  war on him and on almost everybody in the Church as unworthy of their massive spiritual superiority–the subliminal (and often not-so-subliminal tone) is that a heart of thanksgiving–for life, for the faith, for the wonders of creation, for the wonders of grace, for the obvious goodness of a good man in the chair of Peter, for the very struggles we face–is ridiculous and contemptible “Kumbayah Catholicism”. Gratitude is instantly and constantly derided as pollyanna “All is Well” denialism.  Gratitude is spat upon as ultramontanism.  Gratitude is derided as Novus Ordo Happy Face Catholicism.

It is the perpetual commitment to the refusal of gratitude–to the need to go on complaining even when it endangers the souls of people like the guy I replied to–that convinces me that the willed commitment to that way of living the Faith is devilish.  We do well always and everywhere to give God thanks and praise, says Holy Church.  Period.  End of story.  Those who labor to fight against that labor to fight against God, whatever they may think they are doing.

Friend, I am glad you have found your way, by paths known only to our amazing God, back to Holy Church and the incredible mystery of his Church in all its messy, screwy, astonishingly human grace.

And his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ; so that we may no longer be children, tossed back and forth and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the cunning of men, by their craftiness in deceitful wiles. ¶ Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, ¶ from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every joint with which it is supplied, when each part is working properly, makes bodily growth and upbuilds itself in love. (Eph 4:11–16).

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  • Mike

    why do ppl who disagree with prudential judgement s of francis have to be haters in your opinion?

    you seem to exhibit the very same un christian attitude that you point out in others.

    isn’t there some saying about a log in ones eye?

    • chezami

      They don’t *have* to be. But they very often are. And very often their “prudential judgments” are massively and dangerously wrong and their disgreements with Francis are massively and violently uncharitable. When you are routinely declaring the pope a heretic and an enemy of the Faith and praying for the pope’s *death*, you are doing it wrong.

      • Mike

        i have honestly NEVER come across anything even close to that but then again i stick to patheos ncregister and strange notions.

        if ppl are saying those things or doing them then they should be ashamed and called out but strong criticism is not hate.

      • iamlucky13

        “They don’t *have* to be. But they very often are. “

        I think you’re very mistaken on that point.

        The number of people confused or concerned by the way Pope Francis is leading the church is large. The number who voice objections about his broad generalizations or off-the-cuff remarks and especially about the way they are often interpreted in the secular world as changes in teaching is significant.

        The number who actually hate him is very small. I occasionally visit some of the sites you consider hotbeds of anti-Francis sentiment. I have yet to to run into somebody willing to admit to praying for Pope Francis to die, much less do so routinely, and the only people I see calling Pope Francis a heretic are professed sedevacantists.

        Maybe due to the popularity of your blog you get have an disproportionate tendency to get messages from such people, but the overwhelming majority of people I encounter who are critical of Pope Francis still respect him as the legitimate head of the Church on earth.

        • chezami

          The audiences of those who listen to FOX (“The pope should go back where he came from. The Pope is the Catholic Church’s Obama, God help us”) is in the millions, as is the audience of Rush “The pope is a Marxist” Limbaugh. Read the hundreds of comments in support of Maureen Mullarkey’s lunatic slanders: https://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2015/09/no-more-tirades This is not a fringe problem on the right.

          • iamlucky13

            I had assumed you were referring to Catholics who hate the pope. Your generalization to Fox news and Rush Limbaugh indicates I was mistaken. I’m not aware that Catholics make up a significantly larger fraction of their audiences than the population in general.

            I never had any expectation for non-Catholics to like the pope, nor am I shocked when people who reject Catholic teaching hate the leader of the Church.

            As for the First Things link, there’s a handful of posters who are condemning Pope Francis, but they’re posting repeatedly in response to those who dare post more moderate comments. One of the most vociferous I see on there is openly promoting sedevacantism, and a few others step in to defend sedevacanstism whenever anybody suggests those who ascribe to it are not Catholic.

            There’s certainly not hundreds of unique posters calling him a heretic or Che Guevara’s pope, and you had to link to an extremely right wing blog just to find the examples you just offered. I’m sure we can find a couple more at ChurchMilitant or TheRemnant, but again, we’re sifting through the extremes.

            Basically, your link confirms what I previously said.

            Which I already knew, because I generally sit pretty far to the right, and yet in the circles I run in, I encounter attitudes very similar to my own, which despite some concerns and frustrations flatly contradict the caricature of conservative Catholics you frequently portray.

            The same and far worse occurs at the opposite extreme, such as the National Catholic Reporter (aka – The Fishwrap, not to be confused with the Register). It takes a lot of prayers to steel myself for the vitriol I see spilled over there – mostly against other successors to the Apostles like Pope Benedict, Pope John Paul II, Cardinal Burke, etc, but there are some with unkind words for Pope Francis, too. I remember a criticism Pope Francis made of modern gender theories turned quite a few folks over there against him.

            The wrongs promoted at these extremes most certainly should be challenged, but not falsely raised to the stature of the mainstream among either conservative or liberal Catholics.

            • chezami

              Here’s a quote from a “faithful conservative Catholic” who rejects all manner of things the actual Magisterium teaches in favor of the Right Wing Noise Machine Magisterium. I gotit just today: “I can safely say that God himself has directed me to the radio shows of Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin.” This stuff is not fringe. This stuff is normal in the Party of Crazy.

              • iamlucky13

                Mark, stop being a fool. You’re still cherry-picking comments from a handful of people in order to justify stereotyping tens of millions of people.

                Think about what you’re doing, because it not honest.

    • Mike Blackadder

      I don’t interpret that those who disagree with Francis’ judgement are being called haters. Though you’re right that sometimes Mark is attaching particular negative intentions to what people say that cannot possibly be known.

      • Mike

        i just wish that the name calling would stop.

        • chezami

          You mean like “heretic”? “Worst pope since Alexander VI”? “senile boyfriend”? “Catholic Church’s Obama”? “Communist”? “Marxist”? “Stalinist”? “Che Guevara’s pope”? “The Horror”?

          Yeah. Me too. But that is the ambient noise among the Francis haters. And yes, if you say that somebody loves and supports and ideology responsible for the murder of millions of people, you *hate* that person. That’s not mean and that’s not “name-calling”. That’s clinical accuracy.

          • Mike

            again i’ve honestly NEVER come across those things. also the cc’s obama is that even an insult? seems most ppl really do believe that and love it.

            well yes i agree 100% to accuse francis of being a communist is evil but again how many ppl know what actually happened in the gulag archipelago? many ppl think ‘communist’ is maybe only alittle left of bernie sanders or something like that. marxist is not necessarily an insult if a person honestly thinks that francis believes that marxist theories are not the worst alternative.

        • Husky Fan in Mass

          You can wish in one hand and…., you know the rest.

  • Mike Blackadder

    “Friend, I am glad you have found your way, by paths known only to our amazing God, back to Holy Church and the incredible mystery of his Church in all its messy, screwy, astonishingly human grace.”

    Well said. Indeed, welcome.