Dear Catholics: Unsolicited Advice from an Evangelical Convert

Dear Catholics: Unsolicited Advice from an Evangelical Convert June 9, 2015

Photo Credit: Martin O_ob.
Photo Credit: Martin O_ob.
I am a recovering Evangelical. I became a Catholic this year at the Easter Vigil. I’ve been attending Mass, every Sunday, since I began RCIA (the training wheels program for non-Catholics) and all told, I’ve been being Catholic for about nine months. Precisely the time it takes to gestate a baby before giving birth.

And I think I’m finally ready.

Finally ready to provide a healthy dose of creative criticism, to unabashedly compare the tradition I left for the tradition I left it for, and to point fingers at the pew warmers who are selling us all up the creek for a nickel.

This is for the Catholic scallywags—of which I am heartily in league with—and this, I hope, is useful.

And, yes, please be patient: I’m giving humour a bit of a go.

 

Catholics, Figure Out What You Believe Already

Some blame a wave of poor catechesis in the “Spirit of Vatican II.”

Some blame a Latin liturgy which didn’t encourage parishioners to take an active role in their faith.

Some blame the Popes, the government, or a multi-national secret cover-up (although aren’t all cover-ups, by their nature, secret?).

And whether you blame a haunting, a dead language, or an international conglomerate you’re making an excuse and, ultimately, the time for excuses has long passed “Go.” Do not collect $200 dollars.

Catholics, get your stuff together.

Not only are poorly catechized Catholics bad for the whole of Catholicism they aren’t doing themselves any favours either.

I wasn’t raised an Evangelical, I found Jesus at the impressionable age of fifteen but even I, within months of meeting Christ, could talk circles around the average Catholic I bumped into on the street (as a good Canadian, I always apologized).

Fundamentally, Catholics are awful at explaining and defending their faith and whatever the excuse is it’s a poor one. St. Peter, the first Pope for goodness sake, was unequivocal when he wrote,

Always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence. (1 Peter 3:15)

He wasn’t out for a lark, he meant it, and poor faith formation is giving all Catholics a bad name. We need to take steps to understand and live out what we believe, or get out of the way.

 

Catholics, Take Off Your Coats and Stay Awhile

Here’s a heart-warming true tale.

I was praying that our local parish, where I’d been taking RCIA classes, would make a good impression on my long-suffering Protestant wife so imagine my disappointment when it did not.

After one of her first experiences of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass she turned to me and said, with a measure too much glee in her voice, “I saw a miracle happen at Mass!”

“Love,” I said, with a measure too much condescension in mine, “that always happens.”

“No! Not the consecration,” she said, “The miracle of the coats! After the Eucharistic Prayer suddenly everyone around me miraculously had their coats on!”

I sighed, not only outdone in the humour department, but dismayed at the truth of the situation as well.

Catholics, we need to get better at being together.

In far too many of the Catholics parishes I’ve visited in our seemingly fruitless quest to find a “good” parish community I’ve seen a disappointing lack of loving, welcoming, community-minded Catholics.

I’m beginning to wonder if such an animal even exists.

As an Evangelical, I was fortunate to find myself in an incredible Christian community. We actually lingered on a Sunday morning in the church gym to chat about the morning’s sermon (hint: Catholics would call it a homily and it would be much more poorly done).

In our community we had small groups, monthly lunches after church, prayer networks, community outreach, and people looked like they actually liked each other if you were to stumble into one of our gatherings after your Sunday morning coffee.

During what we called “welcome time,” and what the Catholic liturgy rightly calls the “Sign of Peace” we greeted each other with genuine affection—and I don’t mean merely kissing our spouses. We shook hands, and meant it.

“Are you new here? Cool! Let’s chat after the service.”

As a Catholic I love going to Mass, I love meeting my fellow sojourners but for goodness sake, am I the only one?

 

Catholics, Sing Like You Mean It

A close cousin to the stony-hearted approach to the Mass in many of the Catholic communities I’ve visited is the completely disastrous approach to worship music.

I recently got myself in a spot of trouble for suggesting that Catholics ought to act more like Protestants but I think I was largely inarticulate (I’m clearly doing so much better now!).

What I meant then, and what I mean now, is that Catholics, among other things, need to sing like they mean it.

Whether it’s Gregorian Chant, hymns from the folk revival in the 80’s, time-tested organ stuff from the 18th century, or contemporary worship tunes there’s a certain level of “singing it like you mean it,” that I’ve found sorely missing in the Catholic Church.

Russell E. Saltzman, himself a convert from Lutheranism, and a contributor to First Things magazine, writes with a clarity that I couldn’t muster at the barrel of Liam Neeson’s P226. On hymn singing in the Catholic Mass Saltzman says,

“The hymn singing I hear hardly amounts to a “joyful noise.” Sounds more like plaintive squeaks from depressed marmosets.”

Saltzman is right, and this will bear no excuse.

Catholics, we’re joining our songs with the choruses in Heaven, singing in the unimaginable presence of God. Unless we’re handing out sets of earplugs to the celestial choirs we’re going to have to at least put in a little effort.

As my aforementioned wife says, there’s a distinct difference between doing something and doing something well. God deserves the latter.

 

 

Catholics, You’re in the Very Presence of God (Act Like It!)

OK, so you’re too bored to sing.

Too placated.

The liturgy drones on and on and the homily was slumber-inducing (many are but that’s a different problem there) and you’re checking your watch to see how much time is left in the Countdown to Denny’s as you try to decide between the All-American Slam or the Grand Slamwich.

All told, poor faith formation, a lack of genuine community-building, and a disappointing commitment to belting out the baroque boils down, I think, to a complete lack of understanding about what’s really going on in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Catholics, we’re in the actual presence of God.

As an Evangelical who intentionally, wholeheartedly chose to leave behind an incredibly fulfilling faith tradition for the fullness of the Catholic Church this cuts me right to the core.

Do we get it?

As a freshly minted Catholic I can’t wait to get to Mass. When I’m there, I can’t wait to do everything humanly possible short of dragging my corpus across the nave like a prostrate snail to show God my utmost reverence and love.

But, in my experience, we’re a few-and-far-between breed. Or am I wrong?

Too often I’ve seen my fellow Mass goers pass by the altar or tabernacle like they’re passing by the dining room table with nary even a bodily tremor, nevermind a bow or, for goodness sake, a genuine genuflection.

Too often I’ve heard lectors read from the Bible like they’re reciting a poorly-conceived grocery list, awkward after having mispronounced “jalapeno” for a second time.

Or cantors who offer up a responsory psalm as if they were a semi-finalist for world’s most boring poetry recitation. Congrats, you’ve just won first prize!

Catholics, at its core the Mass is an incredible time-bending, grace-giving, mind-blowing experience of God. So why don’t we act like it?

We should be the most excited, enthusiastic folks on the planet but instead we slink through the whole event, punching the clock as if it’s our last shift at Taco Bell before skipping off to college (and who cares if we put in any effort, what’s the boss going to do, fire us?!).

 

It Starts with Me, And You

In the end, there’s a rather mind-numbingly simple, and disappointing, solution.

It starts with me, and you.

I became a Catholic for a reason. There was an unbelievable appeal in the Church’s two thousand years of beautiful, seamless theology, liturgy, and worship that drew me in like a fat old horsefly to one of those zappy lights (ouch!).

As Catholics we have access to the abundant fullness of the Church Christ founded and we should have no doubt of that. Nevermind the winds of change that blow in every age the Church stands and, as Christ promises, will never falter. We can feel safe, secure, and possess hope in abundance.

But we need to get ourselves in order, and no one’s going to do it for us.

Disappointingly, it’s down to us.

We’re the ones to begin the Bible studies (which help us learn our faith), we’re the ones who begin to hang about after Mass (to get to know each other and make newcomers feel welcome), we’re the ones to sing off-key like we mean it (because we’re singing with the angels after all), and we’re the ones to bow, deeply, to the Eucharistic Minister because in that moment we’re giving all honour and reverence to God.

Catholics, I write to you as one of your own flock, and I say that with unbridled satisfaction and love. I write because what I see is disappointing, depressing, and down-right crummy.

And it needn’t define Catholicism.

There’s nothing Catholic, after all, about poor faith formation, a lack of community-mindedness, lousy singing, and an absence of reverence and respect. On the contrary.

We have to be the change. I have to be the change. And something certainly needs to change.

Thank God for His grace, in abundance, because we’re going to need all the help that we can get.

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  • This 74 year old cradle Catholic has to agree with you Albert. We have sat back and allowed Satan to rip the heart out of our Church. Today, new Catholics learn much more in the RCIA, than children learn about the faith (our kids have NO grounding). Indeed even more than many seminarians learn. I know young priests who do not believe in Satan’s existence, and laugh at Jesus’ miracles. Many bishops are quite clearly agents of the ‘Evil one’.

    All this points to the work of Satan himself. He always attacks his greatest threat; and we are that. God has groomed you and other great converts like you, Albert to move us along. It’s already almost too late, let’s hope enough of us will awaken, and make use of the enormous resources of the Church. It saddens me immensely to see how really ignorant most Catholics are of these great treasures.

    Keep up the good fight Albert. May God continue to bless you, your family, and the great work you are doing. Don’t give up – that’s what Satan wants you to do.

  • Connie

    I am a convert of 32 years and I originally had many of the same thoughts. Some I still hold. Most I either changed my mind about a long time ago, or have come to understand why things are the way they are. Focus on the Eucharist and give yourself some time about the rest.

    • mairemartello

      It is all about the Eucharist. It is not about bad songs or shaking hands or hanging out after church. Give me the quiet, meditative Church of old. Luckily, there are still some communities in the USA that still encourage that.

  • Churrinche

    I totally agree with you, Albert.

    Yes, there are parishes that are alive. There’s a beautiful one on my city. Some years ago it was just a little chapel, where was sent by our bishop a good permanent deacon. In few years of work, it became a parish where now are two young priests (and the deacon of course). They have a beautiful community, the parishioners give catechism to children, young and adults, there’s a rosary group, a St. Pio prayer group, monthly short retreats, a group on charge of the music of the celebrations (and they do it seriously) and a group of “eucharistic friends” for men (with a time of prayer and then a time for sharing in community).

    I know that this is not mainstream. But there are some parishes like that. And yes, i know many parishes that are just like you are describing here: luke-warm, boring, and depressing. The question i asked myself (and i continue to ask) is: What’s the first step? Where to start? with the priests or with the parishioners? what to improve the first? Formation? prayer life? community life? liturgy?

    Because, of course, we can give the example; but are very few the people who are going to take notice of that. Maybe those who are already on the same path of us.

    Some years ago i was a pew warmer (indeed), and everything that was happening there said nothing to me. In fact, i never listened nothing of the readings, or the homily, or just of the prayers of the liturgy. Nothing. The pew warmer hardly will get in any formation opportunity. Often he or she goes to Mass on sundays just because they feel that God is going to be dissapointed if they don’t go, and maybe he is going to chastize them.

    I think that the lonely examples can do little to help with all this mess. I think we have to focus on a point and work hard on it, at least for a while.

    This is what i was trying to say when commenting your last post.

    ¡Blessings!

    • Where to start? I have been asking that quesion for years since my reversion. L have come up with a simple plan that I think could help a great deal to “help” all, especially parents do more of what they should be doing. If a few laity could ask their priest to try the following, and then other churches (especially non-Catholic ones) could be publicly asked to join with their own similar poster, would any publicly decline?

      June 7, 2015 Eph. 5:23, Husbands, love your wife…..

      To build up the foundation of civilization (the family) with a simple, new paradigm for helping spouses to do what they should be doing but many are not, to wash each other with a “bath of water with the Word” (Eph. 5:23) (truths that God has revealed that He wants all to know and believe)” and by helping them demonstrate a true love of (all) truth so that they may be saved (2Thes. 2:10)

      How can this be improved?

      Suggested Poster for all churches to put up and (strongly) remind people of periodically:

      “All truly good parents are seen wanting to pray ever more perfectly, are seen washing each other with a “bath of the water with the Word” and committing themselves to a lifelong effort at being open to all Truth from God, through anyone, and All truly good parents are seen eager to know and believe whatever it is that God wants everyone to know and believe and therefore these parents, in order to share them with others but especially with their children, are looking for the best verifiable information and GOD’S ANSWER to the best sequences of questions from people of all faiths who are eager to share such in the sure faith that God’s answers for these questions will lead all, by peaceful means, to the one Faith God must will all to have and for them to thereby reject violence and all man made additions to this Faith.

      There are many in this church eager to help and encourage all spouses to wash each other with a “bath of water WITH the Word) the way GOD WANTS IT DONE to help anyone start or continue in this quest to pray as perfectly as possible and in the lifelong search for Truth and to help any who are now seeking to find everything God wants everyone to know and believe, one step, one question at a time.” (names, telephone numbers, email addresses)

      Do you see the potential for good if a few lay Christian groups (Knights of Columbus, St. Joseph Society, and non-Catholic groups) started working together and expected their ministers to support this idea? What minister would explicitly say, “I do not want to publicly, explicitly encourage husbands and wives to wash each other with a ‘bath of water with the Word’ the way God wants it done”?

      I have developed a very simple idea that, I believe, cannot be publicly opposed by any leader of any faith, and all will publicly support it (maybe some because they will not want to be seen not supporting it) once a few religious leaders PUBLICLY call on all other religious leaders to support this.

      How has your Priest or Minister explained the practical implementation of Ephesians 5:25?

      “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her to sanctify her, cleansing her by the bath of water with the word”. What does God want husbands and wives to do in order to bathe each other with “the bath of water with the word” and to pass the desire for such bathing onto the next generation and all their friends and their children?

      Are there any problems facing families today that a healthy dose of Husbands and wives washing each other with a “bath of water with the word” would not help alleviate because of the graces God would likely send in response to such washing?

      Whether or not anyone is Christian and believes that Jesus was really pierced with a lance and “out gushed blood and water”, will they dispute the concept that this exemplifies the concept of voluntary, self-sacrificing love to the point of freely giving every drop of blood (until none is left and only water comes forth) and that husbands should be ready to follow this example (even if they do not believe it really happened) and be willing to shed every drop of their blood in voluntary self-sacrificing love, to do all they can to help their wife and children believe and do God’s will?

      What about the bath of water with the “word””? The “word” could be the Word of God (the one single, infinite, always in the present tense thought of God), it could be the Bible, or Jesus or it could be all Truths that God has spoken, revealed, and wants everyone to know and believe (again Jesus, IF He is the Way, the Truth and the Life). For Catholics it would also include all that the Church teaches authoritatively in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and other authoritative documents. What minister of any religion would publicly say that husbands should not be expected to try to share with their wives and children all Truths that God has spoken, revealed, and wants everyone to know and believe, and that this must be a lifelong effort because for anyone to stop doing this, they must at least implicitly be telling God that they do not care and are too busy with other concerns to spend time on this even IF there are more truths that He wants everyone to know and believe? Whether or not a person is Christian and accepts 2 Thessalonians 2:10 as the inspired Word of God, all should agree with the concept expressed therein that God will give a deceiving spirit to those who “do not accept the love of (all) truth (that God has spoken, revealed, and wants everyone to know and believe) so that they may be saved”.

      If all ministers of all faiths should be expected to publicly support the idea that husbands should try to bathe their wives with a bath of water with the word, should not all laity try to bring about this public agreement in the sure faith that God will be pleased as more and more spouses actively seek (all their lives) to know and believe all truth that God has spoken, revealed, and wants everyone to know and believe (whatever this is)?

      What possible ways has your minister mentioned as suggestions for wives and husbands to try as they attempt to help each other give and accept help, rather than the minister simply allowing them try to “reinvent the wheel” for themselves if they are eager enough and persistent enough without public encouragement from the minister from the pulpit? Obviously there will be variations, depending on each family’s situation, of the general plan God has for all.

      Has your minister suggested something more workable than children need to see the spouses “washing” the other with voluntary, personal sacrifices, and agreeing that each needs to be helped to love all the truths that God has revealed and that God wants all to try to know, believe, and understand His Way and therefore they will agree to share one “truth” each day hopefully, possibly, at the main meal, with the question and discussion of, “How does it seem that God wants all to understand this consistently with all else He has revealed?” Do you agree that for each family there is a different balance (which will vary over the years) between voluntary sacrifice and sharing of truths, and hopefully no couple will end up at either extreme (all sacrifice and no dialogue, or all dialogue (preaching) and no sacrificing)? Do you agree that all churches could and should try a poster similar to the one on page 8-9, if they really want to do all they can to help parents wash each other with a “bath of water with the Word?

      Has your priest/minister pointed out that spouses who are not eager for something like the above need to examine the appearance they are sending to God (and children) that they are too busy and do not care if He wants them know and believe more than they currently do and they are willing to set the example of complacency in this matter for their children to follow?

      Can people of all faiths agree that:

      Husbands who really love their wives will “cleanse her by a bath of water (real, voluntary, personal self-sacrifice) with the word of God (the truths that God has revealed)”.

      Wives who want to do God’s will will encourage their husbands to voluntarily sacrifice for them and others and to share all of God’s truths with them and others because this is how good wives help their husbands be holy.

      All Good Priests and ministers will explicitly, from the pulpit, encourage all husbands to “cleanse her (their wife) by a bath of water (real, voluntary, personal self-sacrifice) with the word of God (the truths that God has revealed)” to wash their wives with the words of God and the good Priests and ministers will encourage wives to ask for such washing for their own sake and for the sake of their husbands.

      The devil wants husbands and wives to fall into the trap of complacency (which leads to presumption) and to gradually slack off in their zeal in seeking for all the Truths that God wants all to know and believe and to implicitly place their trust in either themselves and their judgement directly and what they already know and believe, or in themselves indirectly by their judgement of the priest or minister they directly place their trust in, trusting that that priest or minister will tell them everything they need to know.

      All good ministers and all good parents of all faiths are eager to do all they can to help engaged couples and all youth start to develop the good habit of washing each other with “the water with the word”, voluntarily sacrificing their wants in order to help others grow in holiness and sharing the words of truth from God and not gradually falling into a cult of any person. Priests and ministers who do not want to encourage spouses to wash each other with “water with the word” will not speak from the pulpit about various ways others have tried to accomplish this mandate from God, although they will discuss it privately with those who insist upon discussing it with them.

      Young people who have a new, lively faith (that has not been deadened to complacency by the world yet) will see the need to develop the virtue of wanting to be washed with “water with the word” by both their parents and will strive to develop that habit so they will be better parents, better people when they are adults having built good habits and not having to start by breaking bad habits when they are older.

      Cult of love of (all moral) truth vs. cult of a person (minister)

      God wants all to accept the cult of love of all moral Truth, to seek Truth (especially truths concerning God), to be open to all such Truth, to want to believe whatever God wants everyone to know and believe (2 Thes. 2:10), to understand Truth the way God wants it understood and to not despise prophetic utterances, to not quench the Spirit, to test everything and retain what is good (1 Thes. 5:19-22) (to not say or behave as if saying, “I do not care what truths God wants all to believe.”) and to try and do all they can to instill this cult of love of all moral truth in all others.

      The devil wants us to be in a cult of some person, to be lazy and place our trust in somebody (especially and essentially ourselves when we place our trust in any “other man”) by not questioning the reasons or evidence for a decision, just simply saying (or thinking implicitly) “so and so says “______“ and that is all I am concerned with. I do not care to think or investigate further, even if I am wrong about one thing I already believe, or even if God wants me to seek to know and believe more” and the devil wants us to implicitly encourage others to be part of a cult of some person, any person other than Jesus Christ.

      Obviously, no minister or priest can teach all the Truths that God wants all to know and believe in any one sermon, or even in a lifetime of sermons and adult education classes. God does not expect anyone to know, in this life, all the truths He has revealed. What God does want is for our hearts to yearn for Him, to yearn to learn all that He wants us to know, and for our hearts to be open to all truth, not closed to it, not uninterested. God does not want us to place our trust in men or their institutions (Jeremiah 17:5) and good priests and ministers of all faiths frequently insist that their flocks test everything they say, retain what is good, and do not bring upon themselves God’s curse by placing too much trust in any “man”, especially their minister because the devil wants people to fall into the trap of getting complacent (leading to presumption) after finding a “good” minister and therefore not be in the cult of love of all moral truth that God wants all to know and believe. The devil also wants people to give up because they have failed in the past, whereas God wants us to honestly throw ourselves on His infinite mercy and ask for His needed help to start again to honestly try to do His will in seeking and sharing whatever Truths He wants all to know, believe and try to share.

      All good husbands and wives are seen striving to be in The right cult, the cult of loving all truth and always seeking to know as much of what God wants everyone to know and believe and to understand it the way God wants it understood and therefore not placing their trust in any person. All good Priests and ministers do all they can to help all people find the best questions to seek God’s answer to and thereby help them to not place their trust in any “man”, but place it in God’s truth He reveals with his answer.

      What else can be done to help spouses to demonstrate their acceptance of the love of truth so that they may be saved (2 Thes. 2:10) and to help spouses “wash each other with a bath of water with the Word”?

      “A Poster and slip of paper” idea: (Latest version, May 31, 2015) to help all ministers of all faiths to publicly support this Poster and slip of paper idea in the sure faith God will lead all to the one Faith He wants all to have.

      Should not all Muslim and Christian adult and youth groups support the following even if some of their ministers fear what Faith God will lead all to?

      Would you agree that it would be a very good result if someone could develop a very simple plan that should be publicly supported by all major religions of the world, that each individual church can implement on it’s own, and that would help all spouses to grow closer to each other by growing closer to God? Will the following do that? Can you imagine the change in everything as more and more young people, of all faiths, have at the center of all relationships the desire of helping each other to know and believe whatever and everything God wants everyone to know and believe, to follow the Spirit of God and to let the chips fall where God wills, without “being in your face” or “shoving anything down another’s throat”, just freely offering questions for the other to seek God’s answer in the privacy of their heart and home?

      Starting verifiable fact:

      I, along with many others, believe God IS so infinitely good, merciful, and powerful that He Wills to, and therefore must be, turning the whole world right side up, by His peaceful means, to the one Faith He wants all to have, without violating anyone’s free will, by His grace, through verifiable evidence and His questions that He wants to give His answers to.

      Do you, and/or your ministers, believe God is infinitely good and powerful enough to convert the whole world to the one faith He wants all to accept, by His grace and His peaceful means of verifiable evidence and His questions that He wants to give His answers to, without violating anyone’s free will and therefore all ministers of all faiths should be expected to publicly reject terrorism done “in the Name of God”?

      To help ALL parents be better helpers of their children, ONE STEP AT A TIME.

      This idea has three aspects:

      1. A poster (similar to the one on page one above) in all churches, put up by their minister for passive but powerful reminding of what everyone can know for certain.

      2. Superb questions (God’s questions) that will improve with each succeeding generation with verifiable evidence on slips of paper with a web address

      3. all ministers of all faiths will be expected by their flocks to publicly show they trust God’s answer to all such questions will lead people, by God’s grace, to the one faith God wants all to know and accept (or explain why they do not), and each minister will be expected to make available their own sequence of questions or endorse another’s sequence.

      Hopefully, people will be more and more expected to enter the market place of theological ideas armed with critical thinking skills and work to make those skills better. What minister will fear this will lead all away from their faith and therefore publicly state so and refuse to support it?

      What minister will publicly dispute any part of the suggested Poster (page one) idea that can be improved and/or shortened and is to be put up in every church as a silent reminder to parents and children so each thinks about demonstrating better and better that they have accepted the love of all truth so that they may be saved (Thessalonians 2:10)?

      Obviously people will eventually know everything in the poster no matter how long it is if the minister makes a monthly, strongly worded comment reminding all that there are members of the church who are eager to help anyone find God’s answer to all questions from anyone. Parents and children will each know (because the poster and the monthly reminders puts a “spotlight on the parent’s actions”) whether or not the parents are, or are not, doing what they should already be doing but many times today, in this world, are not doing. Is this not a good way for ministers to frequently remind all (without pointing a finger at any one person) of the importance of truly accepting the love of, and therefore being open to truth, from God through anyone and eagerly seeking ALL the truth that God wants all to love so that they may be saved (Thessalonians 2:10)? If you cannot think of a better way, and this idea might help many, many parents, and many children, should you pass this on so others can help improve it?

      Second aspect of Idea: Slips of Paper to help evangelize others and especially children?

      The second aspect requires the minister or a moderator (or team of moderators) who will write, or find, and post suggested sequences of questions (with verifiable, unassailable evidence) on a particular part of the church webpage (numbered and grouped according to topic) for people to be able to read and print out the questions on slips of paper and carry them in their wallet or purse. Then, when a person has an opportunity to dialogue with someone, (for spouses to share as they wash each other with “a bath of water with the Word, or when a parent and child have “one of those” discussions) they have these carefully worded, superbly well thought out questions, that they can hand to the other person and ask them if God might want to give them HIS ANSWER to this question and if they should therefore seek and find God’s answer to that question in their heart in the security of their home. The intent of each question will be to help people (spouses) take one step at a time, one issue at a time, towards believing whatever God wants everyone to know, believe, and understand the way GOD WANTS IT UNDERSTOOD BY ALL, rather than trying to get them to read an entire book (which is a very good thing but few do this today) and there will be services (almost always free) where many different approaches to questions on each particular “step” are put side by side for comparison purposes. Parents, especially fathers, will be expected to arm their children with the best examples and to demonstrate being open to knowing and believing everything God wants all to know and believe and to help their children check out the arguments, questions, posted by other faiths to see if they have any questions that God’s answer to seems to appear to lead to this other faith only. Hopefully, many people will include related questions to be found on the web page also listed at the bottom of the slips of paper.

      Think if all religious schools made sure that all children knew where to go for the best questions for people of any faith.

      This idea does not negate everyone’s responsibility to know their faith and be eager to share it. It merely helps them be better armed, gives them a sense of confidence, so that even if they do not have all the answers at any given time (fear of which keeps many from engaging in dialogue) they know that they are armed with several well worded questions that the other would know they should seek God’s answer to, and which we can be hopeful will lead them to the One Faith God wants all to have when they find His answer to all questions, hopefully checking out the web address on the slip of paper.

      What minister would want to be seen not enthusiastically supporting these two ideas once others publicly endorse them, once the ball gets rolling?

      I have the beginning of a list on my blog at eternalvisionfarmer.blogspot.com and I hope people will make their own lists, suggest their own questions to me and try to improve mine

      Should you trust GOD to be able to give HIS questions to those people He chooses and should you hope that many young people will seek and try to share the best questions they can find and, should you trust GOD to be able to help all find His answers and the one Faith He wants all to find, by His Grace?

      What reason can you give for not passing this on to others (maybe without endorsing it) who may be interested in helping make it better?

      Can you see how this plan will help many parents do a better job of demonstrating true love of truth and love for their children because of the poster, the monthly reminders, and the people in each church eager to help all to find God’s answers and the slips of paper with superb questions that people of all faiths will eventually be expected to carry which will help future generations quickly find (without having to personally reinvent the wheel) the best questions that God wants to give everyone His answers to?

      Should not all ministers believe such an approach would help lead all to the one faith God wants all to have, to their faith?

      Should not all ministers enthusiastically support this?

      Should anyone put any trust in any minister who does not have a better idea and who does not support this publicly?

      Can you imagine the change in everything as more and more young people, of all faiths, have at the center of all relationships the desire of helping each other to know and believe everything God wants everyone to know and believe?

      Do you, and/or your ministers, believe God is truly infinitely powerful enough to create free will such that He can give us, at the end of time, the truly infinite graces needed to be like Him because we see Him as He infinitely IS?

      Do you, and/or your ministers, believe God is infinitely powerful enough to share Himself completely with those He created in His Image and likeness for His purpose that He could share Himself and all His goodness with them?

      If God must be the infinite perfection of every good virtue we can (by His Grace) know, then, God being the infinite perfection of what any good father would strive to do, to share all his good possessions with his children: must God not then accomplish what He has eternally intended, to share Himself totally with His creatures, even with those in hell for ever and ever and ever and…..?

      • Churrinche

        Well, I really can’t understand the relationship between the topic of Albert’s post, my comment and this…

        We were talking about the Mass, and the communities at the parishes.

        There’s something we cannot forget, and that is that the wrong and the split are consequences of the original sin.

        And something else: most of the parishes i know are full of widows and widowers… 😀

        • Christopher Schaefer

          One of the interesting renewal movements in the Catholic Church is the “Catholic Man” movement, which tries to dispel the notion that religious activity is a “women’s thing”, for example:

          http://www.catholicgentleman.net/ (I don’t smoke, but I love the pipes in the logo; evokes an image of Chesteron.)

  • Rachel

    Yes. So much yes. Thank you for this, I’ve so often wondered if I’m the only one troubled by this!

  • Rachel

    Do you think it’s fair to say that fellowship and community play almost the same role in evangelicalism that the sacraments play in Catholicism? It’s not a perfect analogy, but I think those aspects thrive in evangelicalism because people so deeply crave a physical, practical connection with Christ’s actual body. The best we can do without the sacraments is to act as that body for each other.

    I gained the Sacraments when I converted, but I lost that physical, day-to-day connection with Christ’s body that comes through fellowshipping with His people. (I do still have plenty of wonderful, supportive evangelical friends, of course–I just don’t get that support on Sunday mornings anymore. That’s pretty significant for this handicapped homeschool mother with very young children.)

    From where I stand (I converted a year ago and don’t know many Catholics well, so I’m still a bit on the outside), it looks like Catholics take it for granted that the Eucharist will do all their work for them, and they don’t need to bother to serve one another. Does that sound fair? I’m new here, after all, and there ::is:: a lot of good stuff going on in my parish that I don’t want to downplay; it’s just so anemic compared to what I’m used to.

    I’d always been told that Catholics try to earn their way into heaven. That’s probably true for some Catholics, but it seems to me that the problem is worse than that. There’s no question of earning here; there’s not enough effort expended for even that.

    • Wow, Rachel. Thanks again for another thoughtful contribution.

      I hadn’t thought about it the way you put it, but I think you’re totally right.

      I once had a pastor tell me that eventually all Protestant churches will disappear, leaving only the Catholics behind because Catholics MUST come to Mass to receive the Eucharist, meanwhile there’s no “good reason” Protestants MUST go to Church on a Sunday morning.

      But, you’ve nailed it on the head: my objection to him was that Protestants find the value in fellowship and community.

      I think this is what you’re saying, and I totally agree!

      I keep all my readers in my daily prayers, but I’ll be praying for you in a special way, as we both try to find our way towards good Catholic communities. I’m grateful for a number of parishes in my community to choose from, and I think we may have finally found a parish “home” but time will tell.

      There’s also much to be said, and I’ve said it before, about staying in place and STARTING the fellowship and community that’s sorely lacking from our parishes. Ironically, I was out for coffee last week with a priest friend talking about our parish (he’s visiting it) and how we’re really lacking in fellowship opportunities and a gentleman at a table behind us turned around and introduced himself. Apparently he was a fellow parishioner who had JUST THAT WEEK started up a new out-reach ministry trying to connect new parishioners to small groups.

      God’s working; pray we let Him.

      • A very interesting read. I was thinking about your comment here that Protestants stick around their churches for the fellowship and community (redundant?). I think it’s much more than that for many of us. Beyond just community, many of us are deeply committed to pursuing the glory of God in all we do. We love to worship, to be fed by God’s Word, and partake of the Lord’s Supper as a genuine means of grace. Would I be off the mark by suggesting that the percentage of regenerate people in a solid protestant church is higher than in a tradition which teaches salvation from birth? When people have been conditioned to believe (for centuries) that the mass is the means of remaining in grace rather than genuine personal faith, isn’t the likelihood that there is a higher percentage of folks for whom the preaching matters little, the singing is simply perfunctory, and the presence of God is more verbiage than reality? Please don’t misunderstand – I know there are a great many Catholics who love Jesus and have a genuine faith rooted in His substitutionary death and glorious resurrection. Nevertheless, the majority I have met hold their faith as simply a marginal and obligatory part of their lives – not the soul stirring, God exalting, focus of living.

        • Christopher Schaefer

          “people have been conditioned to believe (for centuries) that the mass is the means of remaining in grace rather than genuine personal faith”. Catholics NEVER have been “conditioned” to believe such. In fact, one of the Catholic “slogans” of the Counter Reformation was “fide et opera”/”faith and works” (Cf. James 2:14-17), in contrast to one of the Reformation slogans “sola fide”/ “faith alone”. “the majority [of Catholics] I have met hold their faith as simply a marginal and obligatory part of their lives”. I’d totally agree with you on that, but it was not always so. See my comment below and the link to my excessively-long comments on Albert’s previous post.

    • This is an excellent analogy and one that should challenge us. We need sacraments AND we need fellowship and community. I’m a relatively recent convert (6 years) and noticed early how much room Catholics leave in the pews between themselves and others, when they can, and frankly I liked it. I like that Catholics go to Mass to have a personal experience with our Lord and not just a group hug with our fellows, but this leads to what I’ll say is a surface coldness. If you reach out to anyone, and play down your feeling like an outsider, you will come to realize that most Catholics love to be drawn out and will answer for their faith. It’s weird, but that’s a 2000 year old faith for you. Anyway, my response is that yours is an excellent observation. If you look at Catholic apologists, very many of them are converts, because we are the ones who came to love the Church. We are what enables the salt to retain its savor.

  • Christopher Schaefer

    “a complete lack of understanding about what’s really going on in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.” I’ll not repeat my 2 lengthy comments under your last post for background on why this is so, but for other readers here they are: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/albertlittle/why-the-catholic-church-must-become-more-protestant/

    “two thousand years of beautiful, seamless theology, liturgy, and worship”. Yes to the theology; a resounding “NO” to the notion of 2,000 years of “seamless liturgy”. Pope Benedict spoke frequently of the lack of a “hermeneutic of continuity”. See my aforementioned 2 comments. When I was a teen and the “new Mass” was being introduced, they constantly reminded us that “the Church hasn’t changed its teachings al all, but the Mass is not an unchanging doctrine so it CAN be changed—even radically—without changing the Faith”. Technically, that’s quite correct. HOWEVER, when the Mass is the ONLY contact that most Catholics have with the Church, then when you change it almost beyond recognition, the EFFECT is that you HAVE changed the teachings.

    The result is that in most parishes Catholic life is barely functioning. So what to do? First—take care of yourself! A few suggestions:

    You have a neighbor who is a “traddie” blogger : http://kwtraditionalcatholic.blogspot.com/ I love his/her slogan: “Actually being Catholic isn’t easy, but it’s simple if you know how.”

    Find a parish that will nourish you. A few suggestions:

    Waterloo is 90 minutes away from St. Michael’s Cathedral, Toronto https://youtu.be/9xNdlFX7tPo (My wife went to Mass here several years ago while attending a medical-related convention; she said the Mass, preaching and music were outstanding.)

    Waterloo is 1 hour, 10 minutes from The Oratory of St. Philip Neri/Holy Family Church, King Street West, Toronto. http://www.oratory-toronto.org/spn_holy_family_church.html

    Oratorians are all about renewal. Which is why John Henry Newman founded an oratory at Birmingham, England. OK, Toronto probably is too far to go every week: so make a monthly pilgrimage. (My wife and I drive 35 minutes to get to a parish we can call “home”; some of our fellow parishioners drive 2 hours each way. Every Sunday!)

    Do a search to see if there is a monastery (men or women) within a reasonable distance (including across the border into the USA). Monastic liturgy (particularly if it’s a thriving community with a steady influx of new, young members) sometimes can be an extraordinary escape into another realm. Which, in fact, is what the Mass is: making “now” what “was” and eternally “is”.

    Most converts leave the Catholic Church after about 3 years. Don’t become another statistic!

  • Aed

    ‘Sing it like you mean it, like the serious Christians do

    If your down and broken hearted and you’ve got good reason to.

    Sing it like you mean it till the bottom of the Mass.

    Wiith resolve and strong intention sing it right down to the last.’

    The results of a first pass of tweak Corb Lund’s ‘Drink it Like You Mean It’ to the issue at hand.

    I agree with you on this topic, though.

    • As a Cord Lund fan, I salute you!

      Thanks for raising the bar, my friend. Cheers!

  • JoyInTheLord

    Albert, there was a reason why you had to be taken captive first by the Evangelicals, before you found the fullness of the Truth: you had to found a blog such as this. In truth, I learned to appreciate the Catholic Faith, and fell in love with It, because of converts like you, and because of EWTN. I pray that you don’t lose your fervor, and that your love for the Faith grows stronger even more! It is a grace from the Holy Spirit, and we must thank Him for it.

  • Your love of the Holy Rosary and Mother Mary will get you all the strength you will need to stay faithful even amidst all doubt.

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  • MRR

    Welcome home! the good, the bad and the ugly. And called to love them ALL. Stay a while, you’ll learn to love more and judge less.

  • Albert,

    You are definitely not alone in this, so don’t despair! Take heart! Keep in mind that this issue is quite multifaceted. It is cultural, spiritual and emotional in nature. There is no single answer. It is 2000 years in the making and will not make a 180 degree turn on a dime. I see it as an opportunity for great saints to spring forth and inspire the Church. (Be one of them).

    I believe Rachael hit on something important in her comment about the Sacraments. Yet, there are other pieces to this puzzle, including an overall dulling and commandeering of people’s imaginations in general (for example see my post http://reflectiverevert.com/2015/06/09/why-mass-is-boring-or-is-it/).

    Keep fighting the good fight. Be the change you want to see!

  • Oh, I wish you could come to our parish! We are totally not perfect! But I just love it and we are experiencing some revivals on certain fronts. It is so heartening to see young couples and young singles move to Sleepy Eye, MN who are here for a great faith community and a great family community. And we are really working on some of your concerns. The article about the Irish is true. The Irish bishops formed this country dominant parish life experience and basically banned the Continental High Mass experience of extravagant music in the Mass, considering it too emotional and even bawdy. Try reading Why Catholics Can’t Sing – although I don’t agree with everything, I do find his anthropological observations a’propos. The coat thing has more to do with habits aquired from a certain style of architecture and from that fact that at most parishes 2 generations ago, you would leave Mass to spend time with your big families, not with your neighbors. Now, it is just a bad habit since there are so few big families left. I remember cramming into grandma’s house almost every Sunday after Mass.

    Congratulations on your full communion with the Church. You are a gift from the Holy Spirit to the Church! 🙂

    • Thanks for this, Sarah!

    • Christopher Schaefer

      ha ha. My late Irish mother never would have understood my love of the Solemn High Latin Mass with chant and all the “smells and bells”. However, to be fair, we must remember that the Irish preference for ‘quick and quiet’ was a remnant from the Penal times, when Mass HAD to be celebrated quickly and in secret.

      • mairemartello

        Interesting! While I’m a fan of High Mass, I’m also a great fan of quick and quiet. In fact, at least 5 years of my childhood spent every morning at a Mass that was about 20 minutes long – a homily, Communion and out of there. I still remember the quiet and seemingly reverent atmosphere among the parishioners.

  • I wish that Catholics could hear how they separate themselves into a high school clique by referring to other Christians as “non-Catholics”. I noticed immediately on EWTN’s program Vaticanus that clergy in the Vatican speak to Christians in the generic sense rather than to only Catholics.

    • I think this developed partly due to so many years of being told by certain Protestant groups that Catholics are not even Christians. It’s like saying, “Yes, we ARE Christians. We are Catholic Christians and you are non-Catholic Christians.

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  • Rosemarie kury

    You are so right about Catholics. However, our parish is pretty close. We have coffee and doughnuts after Mass and people are friendly. But yes catechezation is bad, but we’re working on it with Bible classes that bring our Spanish and English congregation together. I do hope that you find a parish like ours.

  • There’s a joke that goes like this:

    What’s the difference between Baptists and Catholics?

    Catholics say hello to each other at the bottle store. Baptists say hello to each other at church.

  • GIancarlo Taliente

    You gotta come to our Parish, St Martha’s in Kingwood,TX. Many of the issue the writer had, don’t exist in our Parish. There are almost always issues with traffic and parking when some people come early to Mass and others stay late in the Narthex chatting and catching up (except for the earliest Mass). We have the words to the songs projected on to giant screens and most people sing (even the teens), most people will bow or genuflect before receiving the Holy Communion, we have over 100 ministries run by the laity. It is truly a blessing to see so many fathers taking their kids to Church, and a incredible blessing to have the pastor we do. One who openly encourages participation of the laity as he, himself, and his vicar participate jointly in so many of these ministries.

  • St. Martha in Prestonsburg, KY. First of all, it’s in a subtropical climate, so most of the year we don’t even wear coats. Second, we eat together after every Sunday Mass. Third, everybody sings. There is a nice combo of reverence, devotions, and sociability. One convert friend says he realized people here were just themselves, and he struck the “church face” and voice that he used to use as an affectation when he was formerly a Protestant. (Very funny, and true.) Pretty serious outreach to the poor, too. We provide personal hygiene and household products (not covered by the EBT card) to all EBT recipients in the county every month. Pretty special parish. Pretty special diocese (Lexington, KY)–highest vocations to the priesthood per Catholic capita among all US dioceses.