You know the old story about G.K.Chesterton. There was a series of articles and letters in the paper about what was wrong with the world. So he writes, “Dear Sir, What is wrong with the world? I am, Yours Sincerely, G.K.Chesterton.
The same might be answered about ‘What’s wrong with the Church?” After rather a lot of discussion about liturgy and reverence and what’s wrong with the Church a couple of commenters have asked me what to do about it. It seems to me that the first thing to do about it is to develop an attitude shift. Instead of blaming everybody else I should blame myself. Accepting the blame has the wonderful triple effect of confounding one’s enemies, accepting what seems to be an outrageous absurdity (which is always a tonic for the mind and soul) and helping one to nurture that most elusive of virtues: humility.
There seems to be an awful lot of sour grumbling about the Church from both liberal and conservative Catholics. Yes, I know there are liturgical abuses. I also lament the deplorable state of modern American Catholic architecture. I share your antipathy for Sister Sandals and Fr Folkmass. We a could go on and on and yawn and yawn. It’s so easy to blame everybody else. If you’re a grumbling conservative have you ever stopped to consider that the liberals grumble just about as much as you do? They go on and on about ‘this conservative, reactionary papal regime and the misogynistic, corrupt hierarchy and the homophobic, medieval anti democratic bishops who cover up pedophilia etc. etc. etc. You think you’re right and they’re wrong. Guess what? From their point of view they’re just as convinced that they’re right and you’re wrong.
So maybe you are a conservative and you have the church teaching on your side and you really are right and they’re wrong. So what are you going to do about it? The first thing we can do about it is stop complaining so much and be a bit more philosophical.
You know, the church has always been troubled with corruption from within and persecution from without. In different ages the corruption from within has taken different forms. There has been sexual scandal, financial corruption, heterodoxy, complacency, worldliness, liturgical abuse, bad music etc. etc. etc. in just about every age in one way or another. You only have to read the New Testament the apostles criticizing the various churches for their inconsistency, false teaching, immorality etc. Guess what? It’s all part of being Catholic. It’s all part of being human.
The most ordinary source of disappointment in life is having the wrong expectations to start with. If you thought it was going to be all marvelous and to your liking in the Catholic Church you had the wrong expectation in the first place. If you thought all the bishops and priests were going to be perfectly moral, upstanding, totally orthodox saints you were suffering from a major delusion. If you thought every parish would be straight down the line and have wonderful liturgy, saintly pastors, fine music, exemplary architecture and all the rest, you misunderstood. Correct your expectations and you won’t be so disappointed.
So I’d say, “Stop whining and get on with it.” Be positive. There’s far more that’s good in the modern Catholic Church than bad. Continue Reading
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