Join the Club

Remember Groucho Marx’ quip that he wouldn’t want to join a club that would have him as a member…

It reminds me of a curious fact about belonging to the Catholic Church. there is a desire in the human heart that want wants to belong to the club. We want to sit at the high table, belong to the inner circle, fit in with the establishment, belong to the ‘in’ crowd, and be among the ones who make the decisions, call the shots and rule the roost. On the other hand, we also desire just the opposite. We rightly suspect the inside circle. We don’t want to compromise our integrity to get in, and believe those who are ‘in’ have done just that. Instead we want to belong to the outsiders, identify with the little guy and be a revolutionary. We want to be subversive, overturn the smug, complacent crowd and we cheer when Jesus turns over the tables in the temple.

The delightful thing about being a Catholic is that you can have both at once. As an ordinary Catholic you are part of the biggest, oldest establishment in the world. Here’s an outfit that has been around since the time of the Roman Emporers, been in the position of power in the world for the last two thousand years. As a Catholic your top man is a world class religious leader, theologian, philosopher and spokesman for all that is beautiful, good and true.

On the other hand, you belong to a church which has always, somewhere and at all times been a persecuted minority. As a Catholic you belong (from the world’s perspective) to a dangerous subversive sect. You stand up for justice, for peace and against the culture of death. You belong to a group who go bravely to their death as they stand against the tyranny, idiocy and cruelty of humanity’s regimes. As an ordinary Catholic you are called to be at once a child of the King and a follower of the most dangerous revolutionary the world has ever seen.

Viva Christo Rey!

"Catholicism has always defined the ideal but there are no limits on God's mercy and ..."

Tony Palmer: Is There Salvation Outside ..."
"With all due respect, Shaun, are you relegating the actual Faith to whatever the local ..."

Notes on Tony Palmer’s Funeral
"There are good parking valets and bad parking valets. There are good housesitters and bad ..."

The Case for Conversion to Catholicism
"did you vote for Bush Fr Longenecker? would you have?"

Understanding Iraq

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Dear Reverend Father Longenecker (soon, I hope, to be Reverend Father Longenecker):Through the kindness of Fr. Alvin Kimel of Pontifications, I was informed of your article in the National Catholic Register entitled, “On Priests, Marriage, and the Sacraments”.I would like to thank you for writing that article, as it is an excellent corrective to the Roman Catholic mindset of an exclusively celibate clergy. I particularly appreciate you giving your personal experience as a member of the married clergy.I am an Eastern Catholic myself, and I hold no brief as regards the movement among RCs to press for a married priesthood. I think it sufficient to state that with the East, a married diaconate and presbyterate has been present since the days of the Apostles, and should be restored among Eastern Catholics where it has been permitted to lapse.As regards the claim (presented but not held by you) that a married clergy would be less able fully to serve the Church, I think that you could perhaps have been more forceful in presenting the case that many married clergy, especially in the East, are “tentmakers”, following the example of the Apostle Paul, and making their own livelihood. Thus, they are not only less of a burden upon the Church, but they are also able to bring their own experiences of work and life to their sermons and to their service of the Divine Liturgy. I would suggest that you may want to incorporate this idea in later iterations of your otherwise excellent article.Finally, (and for your information) the word “Uniate” was originally developed as an insult by Eastern Orthodox towards Eastern Catholics. By using the word “uniate” in your article to describe Eastern Catholics, you were (no doubt, unintentionally) causing offense to Eastern Catholics. While I have nothing but contempt for the sort of politically correct people who seek to find offense in anything, I also believe, as did Lord Peter Wimsey, that a gentleman never causes offense unintentionally. Just a word to the wise here.Again, thank you for your article, and congratulations on your upcoming ordination to the presbyterate. Tu es sacerdos in aeternam, secundum ordinem Melchizedek. Very truly yours,Bernard BrandtP.S., you have a lovely website and weblog. May I link to them? By the bye, my weblog address is pauca_lux_ex_oriente.blogspot.comP.P.S., I tried to post this, privately, on your website, but the e-mail device repeatedly failed. Sorry.

  • DwightI’ve just discovered your website. I hope you have managed to equip yourself with suitable vestments. The best suggeston I read on your comments page was that you should have your ordination videoed. Just wish I could be there.Francis

  • My Protestant days were filled with only “either or.” How blessed are we who rejoice in “both and.”

  • Very interesting perspective. I have recognized the “counter-culteral” position of we Catholics in this secular world, but you have defined it well. Incidentally, I’m a member of “parish leadership” at my parish (still can’t figure out how THAT happened), so as far as being “inner circle” of this “inner circle”…I just hope it’s worth time in Purgatory.