Happy Catholic

I’ve had a very nice email from a hermit in Maine who tells me he likes reading my blog because I’m happy and not always grousing about the terrible state of the Church.

He’s right. I am happy to be a Catholic, and I think the chuch is going to be just fine. So we have abuses and corruption and incompetence and poor liturgy and awful catechesis and immorality and we’re broke because we’re paying off lawsuits, and the big fine churches in the Northeast are empty while all the Hispanics in the South don’t have churches and are being lured away by the Evangelicals etc.etc.etc.

What good does moaning and complaining do? Nothing. I think we should just get on and do what we can do. Thomas a Kempis wrote, ‘Why do you want to change the world when you cannot change yourself?’ About right. Why do you want to make the church perfect when you can’t make yourself perfect?’ If all of us simply prayed more, loved more and lived life to the full with joyful abandon, think of all the people who would be converted!

Now the really strange thing about this happy hermit noticing that I basically a happy and opimistic fellow is that I have a reputation for being just the opposite. My family tell me that with my bald head and beard and my intense mannger that I’m, well, kind of scary. Because I don’t do lots of chit chat and small talk people have always perceived me as ‘difficult’ and ‘aloof’. Furthermore, because I call a spade a spade and don’t mind having a hearty criticism from time to time I’m perceived as grumpy.

Perhaps what matters most is our underlying philosophy. I think lots of outwardly chatty and ‘happy’ people are just phonies. They paste it on like their dress for success clothes and their happy face make up. On the other hand, some of the most fun people to be around are those who are curmudgeonly. They see life clearly, see the vanity, the absurdity and then poke fun at it.

Those who have faith, however, should always bounce back. If they see the foolishness of life they should also see that each of the fools is also a divine masterpiece. That’s the joke. We’re dumb asses, but we’ve been chosen (as on Palm Sunday) to bear the King of Kings into Zion.

About Fr. Dwight Longenecker
  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00553184194930512732 Mephibosheth

    You mean joy isn’t based on our circumstances? Say it ain’t so!ON THE OTHER HAND, may I grouse a little? You happen (interesting word) to work in a liturgical, catechetical, and evangelistic Shangri-La COMPARED TO many of us. Some of us face those ecclesiastical abuses much more directly and more frequently (a mutual friend of ours described my diocese as “one of the worst in the Universal Church” in such matters).So, Father, be patient with and pray for those of us who breathe not such rarefied air. I’m not angry or thankless, just a little more…stoic.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    Good point. I do know what it’s like being a layperson and not being able to do much about the problems

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17970851228593550726 Lynne

    You make some wonderful points, Father. But you can’t call yourself Happy Catholic. That name is already taken… But I, too, am happy to be Catholic.

  • http://www.defensorveritatis.net Brad Haas

    Amen! I try not to be negative about things in the Church. My negativity is saved exclusively for the Royals, college professors, and other paragons of ineptitude. :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09011063783466945979 Michael

    A hermit that sends e-mail. Now your getting crazy. You made me laugh with that one. See your not so grumpy.

  • Anonymous

    Alice Thomas Ellis had much to say about the modern Christians with the obligatory smile…they frightened her. SF

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07168723389553636372 John

    A hermit with email access? Does that make him a virtual hermit? Or an iHermit? The mind boggles.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    Why shouldn’t a hermit have email? Is the objection that he is communicating with people or that it is hi-tech? Can a hermit have a phone? electricity? Where do you draw the line?

  • Jeron

    Fantastic post – best in a while IMO. Have a safe & relaxing Memorial Day Weekend filled with blessed boredom!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11025027062474092896 Schultz

    “I think lots of outwardly chatty and ‘happy’ people are just phonies. They paste it on like their dress for success clothes and their happy face make up. On the other hand, some of the most fun people to be around are those who are curmudgeonly. They see life clearly, see the vanity, the absurdity and then poke fun at it.”Bless, Father!I’ve been saying this for years and it makes me glad that I’m not the only one…well, I knew I wasn’t the only one, but I’m glad to see someone else going public with it! :)

  • http://thesheepfold.typepad.com/ The Sheepcat

    Heh.I’ve looked at pictures of myself from my Baptist days, and I have to say there was something a little bit unreal about my smile, almost as if I was trying too hard to show I was on good terms with The Big Guy.Funny, though, Father, I wouldn’t quite have pegged you as curmudgeonly from what I’ve read. I guess people can come across differently in person than online.


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