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August 31, 2003


James Freeman

Oh, Lord, ain't that the truth!

Or, as oddly enough, I JUST wrote to a friend about some local more-Catholic-than-the-pope types:

"What they're doing is piling the cultural and intellectual (if you can call it that) pathologies of evangelical and fundamentalist Protestantism on top of Catholicism's already-existing pathologies.

"Yep. They're PROTESTANTIZING the Catholic Church in their blind quest for this 'authentic,' puritanical 'Catholicism' that doesn't exist and never did, except in these folks' imaginations. A lot of what they see as 'authentic' is actually deeply heretical -- Jansenism, that Catholic version of Puritanism.

"And in chasing after the latest and greatest apologists or speakers or teachers -- like the near deification of Scott Hahn and Mother Angelica, for example -- this type of Catholic is just aping another evangelical Protestant pathology . . . following the newest and trendiest 'guru.'"

Tom Mohan

I am learning the importance of evaluating the tone of what is said by my fellow Catholics and my other Christian brethren, not just the content. I think every God loving/God fearing woman and man wants to be on the side of truth. But I get annoyed when the tone of the message obscures the Lord, especially if it involves piddling over minutiea. Correct doctrine has its value, but it also can distract if it becomes out of balance.

fr. jim

This bit of LUMEN GENTIUM cribbed from the Catechism goes a bit deeper than "tone", Tom, but it's cutting in a similar direction: "Even though incorporated into the Church, one who does not however persevere in charity is not saved. He remains indeed in the bosom of the Church, but 'in body' not 'in heart'" (paragraph 837)----fr. j.

Rod Dreher

I've been told by several people in a position to know that Rome has, at least for the time being, largely given up on parishes as a center of spiritual life outside of the sacraments. Instead, it looks to the various movements. I can understand this; often, when I meet a Catholic whose faith is vibrant and orthodox, he or she belongs to Opus Dei, Communion and Liberation, Regnum Christi, the charismatic renewal, etc. And folks involved in the movements are the only ones having large families, or so it seems to me from my corner of the Church. We have friends involved in the movements, and we have the highest respect and affection for these folks.

But I am not cut out for the movements. I have deep concerns about some of them, and others just leave me cold. I find stories about how a particular movement has come into parishes and tried to take them over to be chilling in the implicit gnosticism present (you know, we're the *real* Catholics). It's a real dilemma for Catholics like me. I just want to be a plain Catholic, but wanting that leaves you adrift in parish life; it's hard to find any kind of unity and to be fed spiritually when there's so much disarray. IOW, what kind of unity can you have when you can't be sure the person next to you shares the same basic convictions about the doctrines of the faith, or *knows* those doctrines, or even thinks that's important? On the other hand, what if you don't cotton to the authoritarianism in some of the movements' spiritualities, or don't find the founder's writings to be all that profound or interesting? You end up on the outside, permanently, functioning as a sort of Protestantized Catholic ("just me and God and the Sacraments"), and waiting for better times. The scandal has just about done me in for good on the idea of ever getting more involved in parish life. My wife fusses at me for this, but I have been left so filled with anger and mistrust by the scandal that I don't have it in me to trust parish life, especially parish life with my son. I have such anxiety over this.

If anybody's got a better idea, I'd love to hear it.


I've been Catholic for 18 years and it's been an interesting trip indeed!

There is no such thing as a "just plain Catholic" who is Catholic at all. There are just plain Quakers, just plain agnostics and just plain Buddhists, because that's how those things are, but no "just plain Catholics."

Usually the people I meet who claim to be "just plain Catholics" are seeking to:
1) avoid any discussion, growth, challenge or commitment whatsoever (as in I like my ideas, they're as good as your ideas--all ideas are equally good, and that's howcome I can be a "just plain Catholic." It is "just plain because *just plain* is all I accept of it."

2) OR seek to disobey everyone outside their little circle of confreres at the local beloved parish (as in "just plain me, I don't see why I can't use birth control; Father so-and-so lets me because he's so modern; what does the Pope know about sex; I dont mean any evil; how can it cause any harm; that doesn't apply to me anyway, I'm not meant to be a saint; I'm just me and God loves the stuff I do even if the Church teaches otherwise but they're WRONG, etc.)

3) OR don't know anything, not anything, and think that's ok, even when non knowing extends to not knowing the basics of the Faith. (as in it's just as simple as "love one another" and that's it--so I can cheat, lie, fornicate, cheat the living heck out of everyone as long as I can say I love them emotionally at the end of the day?)

The fact of the matter is that being Catholic is not a tiny little cozy thing that is "just plain." It's not a "little ol' country-boy-me thing."


Rod, that's exactly what drives those Catholics into some of the movements. You are not a *just plain* Catholic seeking to deny everything for the sake of comfort and acceptability and they usually aren't either. However, not everyone belongs in one of those movements....

I am a convert, and like you, have a trust problem nowdays. It's hard not to anymore. I'm still working this one out myself...


There is some help in the loosely strung together local *network,* which includes some people from the movements as well as others. We work/pray/help each other calmly to get some improvement and understanding across in our diocese and enhance fidelity, knowledge of the Faith, and love of God. It's not a political thing really--it's more of a labor of real love. Maybe this sort of thing is what you are looking for.

David Markham

Actually, there are some Catholics who think. As Gary Wills said in his book, "Papal Sin" it is hard to believe in and represent an organization with some of the positions of the Catholic Church. The scandal of the Bishops handling of the pedophile priests should give any sensible person pause. I think the observation that there are not any "normal Catholics" anymore is a sign that the Holy Spirit is working in the church.


David Markham

Oengus Moonbones

Rod Dreher: "I have such anxiety over this."

Indeed, Rod, you express yourself very well. From reading what you say, your deep anxiety is very palpable for me. It makes me sad how some people harshly criticize you.

How I wish there was something that I could say that would help you, but alas there isn't.

James Freeman

Rod Dreher writes:

"I've been told by several people in a position to know that Rome has, at least for the time being, largely given up on parishes as a center of spiritual life outside of the sacraments. Instead, it looks to the various movements. I can understand this; often, when I meet a Catholic whose faith is vibrant and orthodox, he or she belongs to Opus Dei, Communion and Liberation, Regnum Christi, the charismatic renewal, etc. And folks involved in the movements are the only ones having large families, or so it seems to me from my corner of the Church. We have friends involved in the movements, and we have the highest respect and affection for these folks."

If this is indeed the Vatican's position, the score at the end of the third quarter is Gates of Hell 27, Catholic Church 10.

It's gonna be a close one, folks.

What this position will encourage is a fracturing of the Church even more profound than the present situation, which we thought couldn't get worse. Well, ah reckon it can.

Obviously, the answer to the question "Who is my neighbor?" is a group of people who generally look like me, think like me and have the same spiritual and theological predilections as me. And this is the kind of thinking that will lead to an even more profound Protestantization of the Church.

No longer is Jesus enough. No longer are tradition and scripture enough. No, now we're just going to be chasing after gurus and having such snippets as "Oh, he's so GOOD!" and "Do you have the latest (fill in the blank) tape?" and "Well, (fill in the blank) came out against (fill in the blank), you know" become a regular part of Catholic conversation.

What is happening in the Church today (and this is something that's been going on a long time now) is the dissassembling of all the checks and balances that are supposed to keep us from going off the deep end. What we're going to end up with are a bunch of "popes" and no accountability to (or unity with) each other or Catholic doctrine.

Rod, listen to your wife and get involved in your parish. After 20 years of marriage, I can tell you that it is easier to listen to your wife now and make it look like your idea than it is to admit you were wrong later.

Parish life -- living in COMMUNITY -- is how we live out the sacraments. And if we find ourselves unable to engage or evangelize in our parishes, how then can we ever hope to impact the world?

Parish life is what the Church started with, and the way things are going, it soon enough may be all we have left. I ASSURE YOU that my parish, at least, is CHOCK FULL of people just as pissed-off at and mistrustful of our corrupt hierarchy as you and I are. It is together that we commiserate and find ways to endure.

And it is together that we suffer for the sins of the bishops and the chickenhawk priests. For example, at my parish, a whole bunch of us now have to take "safe environments" training and undergo background checks because we work with young people as staff or volunteers.

And it is together that we find this state of affairs deeply galling and deeply ironic, given that we are being given these edicts by an archdiocese that hasn't exactly busted a gut protecting its youth from deviant priests. Especially when many of us now put in the position of proving our "fitness" HAVE gone to the wall to blow the whistle on the archdiocese concerning this subject in at least one instance.

In short, what the Catholic Church desperately needs now is accountablilty. Accountability begins in your parish.


David, your comment betrays a deep trust in God and His Holy Spirit. I think you are right. We are in a time of turmoil and transition, and must walk by faith and not by sight. Charity is lacking in so much of what I read and hear on every side. I hear many pharisaical voices.
James, that very word--"jansenism"--has flitted through my head when the Pope is being "out-Catholiced" by some over the top sort or other. That is sad to me, because then I think that their vision of God is not the God of amazing, fathomless mercy--(and that falls so far short)--how I wish that we could love each other more and obsess less!
Just a thought, Rod, but in "movements" are you including more traditional oblate, lay or third orders, such as Secular Franciscans, Lay Carmelites, etc?

Gerard Serafin

One of the great pastoral initiatives of this pope has been to not only foster the various movements (many of them lay) but to work to bring them together as well so that they know they are just part of a bigger whole: the Catholic Church. I think the Church has had "movements" and "ways" since the earliest centuries and holding them together in unity hasn't been easy at times but has been accomplished in a remarkable way as well.

If one reads the Pope's Apostolic Letter written as the New Millennium began he speaks of parishes as centers - but of prayer and mysticism and HOLINESS. I don't think "Rome" has given up on parishes at all; but has decided to foster the movements and ways as a major manifestation of the grace of Pentecost in our own times.

And even if one doesn't "join" one can nurture one's own faith by some of the insights brought forth and lived by each. And, as someone else suggests, there are the traditional groups of Third Orders that are quite strong today, thanks be to God.

Joe Marier

Scott Hahn and Mother Angelica as gurus ushering in a new Age of the Antipopes?


Charlotte Allen

I'm with Gerald on the centrality of parish life for Catholics, but I understand very well Rod's distress and Amy's. I myself, while I admire many of the trans-parochial "movements" (and I've got good friends in Opus Dei), I don't feel especially drawn to any of them. For one thing, many of them strike me as very much fixated on the personalities of their founders and prime movers. There is something distastefully cultish about even the best of them, and the movements tend to foster the position that if you don't belong, you're not a real Catholic. The aggressive apologetics about many of the movements turns me off as well; their leaders, many of whom are converts, seem to devote most of their energy into proselytizing more converts, and they sometimes betray an ill-concealed disdain for the overly tolerant ways of us cradle Catholics who have to deal on a day-to-day basis with Uncle Dave's newfound atheism or Sister Sue's blithe announcement that she's on the pill.
Furthermore, many of the movements have interlocking directorates and operate as mutual backscratching societies for each other's power-brokering goals. Related to this problem is the fact that many of the movements are perpetually in search of money, trying to tap into the same small pool of rich conservative Catholics with funds to donate. For eight months I edited a conservative Catholic magazine, and I quit and decided to return to graduate school when I realized that I would never be able to escape the pressure from the movement people to tailor stories to promote their own interests--not to mention the huffy phone calls from movement celebrities when I'd run a book review that didn't admire their latest book unreservedly. I believe everything the Catholic church teaches, from the divinity of Christ to the ban on artificial birth control. Yet I felt lonely and quasi-heretical because I couldn't buy into the movements and like Rod, could summon up no interest whatsoever in the writings of their founders. Mother Angelica's a fine woman, but frankly, I'd rather watch "Seinfeld" reruns than the talking heads of EWTN. For spiritual reading, I'll take "The Imitation of Christ," thank you.
Contra Rod's observation that the Vatican has pulled its support from the parishes to foster the movements, it strikes me that the future of the life of the church--not to mention the sanity of non-movement trad Catholics like me--lies in reinvigorated parish life. And I don't know who's behind it, but this reinvigoration seems to be occurring at least in places, as more parishes revive traditional devotions and there seems to be an honest effort to improve the dignity of the liturgy. Nearly all younger priests these days are religious conservatives, and that's a good thing. What we Catholics who are not professional Catholics need desperately is the liturgy and the sacraments, and they are things that only the parishes can provide.


I don't quite know how to take the comment that spawned this thread, but I agree with those who have commented that the parish remains the key structure to the Church's mission in society. Alas, it is true that parishes are often moribund but I think that is beginning to change. It will change very quickly if lay catholics take up the Pope's challenge in his letter Novo Millennio Ineunte referred to by Mr. Serafin. Indeed the parishes would no longer be recognizable. As for the various mouvements and gurus, as long as they are in line within the magisterial teaching of the Church I think the proper catholic stance should be live and let live. If it is not your cup of tea, it's not your cup of tea, what of it? On the other hand, I have little patience for Spirit-killing dissent which does no end of harm to the the Church founded by Jesus.

Jeanne Schmelzer

I was a member of the Charismatic Renewal Movement and it gave me a good foundation and teachings. But as time went on, I found prayer meetings to be burdensome and would rather go to Mass instead. So I did. Daily Mass. There, a community can begin because the same people tend to go. But community has been tried doing this and that. In the end, community happens when we are involved in each others' lives. The question is how to get there. I would like to be with people who have the same focus as I do. Otherwise there is no connection. I think the movements try to renew people so they can then go out and be community with each other and others. The fault lies where the movement itself becomes the most important thing. Not what the movement stood for to begin with. In the Charismatic Renewal, we were taught about making Jesus the center of our life instead of anything else. We needed to learn what that meant, and that would be to go through a period of practical live-out instruction by mentoring with someone. Once we have our feet on the ground, we can move into our world. So now I would say that I belong to the Charismatic Renewal but not the movement. I need people for support, though, and the most likely people would be those who were in the movement also. There's a whole group of us that are scattered around and who keep in touch with each other in support. But we don't do any structured things. We have tried to bring our faith into the Church body and Sacraments. But there is a place for people to be able to go to to be renewed in their Catholic Faith. Somebody has to do the Cursillo thing, or the Life in the Spirit thing. That is one ministry. There needs follow-up. Those who go through RCIA need follow-up the same for a long time to come. They are babies in the Lord and they need support and guidance. Something the Church doesn't stress. It becomes the focus of the movements then to take up that call. The temptation is to form a closed group which becomes its own "church", if you will.

The Church tends to take for granted that the people who show up for church know how to live-out their life as Christians. They don't. They are formed by the world, the media. There is so much work that has to be done that maybe the movements are very necessary to hopefully bring it about, as long as they move out beyond themselves so that the movement then almost dissolves itself and blends into the parishes.

John Sheridan

With regard to the Vatican's statement on parish life, I recall reading somewhere that one Vatican official observed that in parts of Western Europe, parish life was "essentially dead." This observation was made about places like France, Belgium and Austria where, unfortunately, religious observance has fallen so far that the old communities were no longer cohesive or workable. I think this observation was made as sort of a realistic assessment of sad situation. I don't think the church is "pulling its support" from parish life. And I don't think the observation is really valid for the US or Latin America or even Poland.

Charles A.

The parish church is what it's all about. Let's face it: to have good parishes, you need good priests. To have good priests, you need good bishops. To have good bishops, ... well, I'll leave it at that.

If Rome is ignoring the Real church, and focussing on "movements," ecumenical pep rallies, jubilee celebrations, world tours ... then we'll hafta hand it to the radtrads: things are pretty bad in the Magic Kingdom

Dale Price

The diagnosis of the "guru" phenomenon is dead on, but a little harsh on the followers. The origins of it, like everything else in the post V2 Catholic crisis, came from a huge segment of the faithful getting cut adrift by the cultural revolutionaries bent on changing everything. There was precisely bupkis for these folks to cling to from circa 1967-1988.

Consider what was being served up by diocesan and parish religious ed. If you can stomach it.

They were told that everything they knew was wrong, outdated, or going to change, guided by that ever-adaptable Spirit of Vatican II: The Mass was a communal meal, and needed a whole lot of repairs; "scriptural scholars" revealed that Jesus didn't do or say a lot of what the Good Book said he did, and he sure didn't found a church, poor guy; the devotions had expired and were being suppressed, the sacraments had been misunderstood; when the Church spoke it was offering but one opinion among many, etc. One dizzying, badly-reasoned change followed another, year after year.

As a result, it was/is natural for the guru chasers to cling like a drowning swimmer to the first person who at least sounds like he or she finds something worthwhile in Catholicism. "The Mass is Jesus, presenting Himself on the altar;" "Here's the biblical basis for the necessity of Penance;" "I love the 2000 year tradition of the Church on its own terms," etc. Of course people are going to leap at it--a generation in the wilderness will do that to you! If the sheep aren't being fed, or are offered Wills & McBrien brand Dissenter Chow™, they'll look for someone--anyone--who will feed them, even where it may lack essential nutrients. At least the guru fans stayed in the Church. Uncounted thousands are Protestants, or late sleepers on Sunday.



This is noteworthy w.r.t. youth groups such as Newman clubs on college campuses, "Theology on Tap", etc. The people you meet at these things are either "Catholic overdrive" or "church ladies" in training...

This is what you get when looking for "normal Catholics". Perhaps "normal Catholics" can't be picked out from "normal people" *because* they're innocuous!


3 Easters ago, I became Catholic, but I've always known Jesus was real. I was truly surprised to find that in the Catholic Church, the Body of Christ truly existed, both in the Eucharist and in the pews, in a way much more tangible than I had suspected.

I now find my heart often breaking over the issues identified and explored in this thread. I certainly did not realize a few years ago how fractured the Church was over such things. Having finally seen the light of Truth in the Church, it never occurred to me that there would be such battles within it. Naive? Of course.
Nevertheless, I long for the innocence about Catholicism that I had the first time the Body of Christ was placed in my hand, and, weeping, I said "Amen."


I fear that this string is falling into the same negativity that it criticizes others for. I'm not a member of any extra-parish lay group, but as long as they remain devoted to the Pope and the orthodox Catholic faith (as they certainly do), I see no harm. Gerard Serafin has it right: The beauty of the Catholic Church is that it allows multiple, different forms of spirituality to co-exist under one cohesive Faith, and if some people practice their faith by joining Opus Dei or supporting Mother Angelica's EWTN ministry, let it be. I'm sure St. Francis was doubted by some and accused of being a "guru," but thank God there was room in the Church for him to grow to holiness.

If you don't want to be a member of Opus Dei, fine, but then you'd better get involved with your parish or some other ministry or apostolate. Everyone needs to get back to the vineyard and serving Christ and stop worrying about what the other workers are doing. The Master could be returning, you know, any day.

Mike Petrik

Good post, Cornelius. The Body of Christ comprises millions of people each with a unique charism that should yield a special vocation. Too many folks worry about the shortcomings of others -- me too. Is Opus Dei perfect? Hardly. Is it, on balance, one version of a healthy and encouraging expression of our faith. Sure. Similarly, ETWN may not be everybody's glass of bourbon -- it's not mine -- but my mom loves it. I have no problem with that.


Rod, you wrote, "I find stories about how a particular movement has come into parishes and tried to take them over to be chilling in the implicit gnosticism present (you know, we're the *real* Catholics)."

But don't you see the irony here? You fear that Rome has abandoned the parish. And yet a new movement that exists only in parishes -- to the point of closing in a parish if the pastor doesn't support it -- is "chilling in [its] implicit gnosticism." (I presume you're talking about the Neocatechumenal Way).

The parish is collapsing because Christian faith has we have known it is collapsing. Read John Allen's Word from Rome column shortly after the Holy Father went to Spain -- practically the only people who still go to Church in Spain are involved in the "movements." The same is increasingly true of Italy. But some of these movements are parish based. I honestly think they're the future of the parish, not its nemesis.

Charles A.

Spain, Italy, France, Belgium, Austria ... parish life has collapsed in these traditional Catholic countries ... Why? How? Under whose watch?

Was it the great conciliar renewal, a work of the Holy Spirit?

Mike Benz

I am in a parish in the Chicago area. I am on the parish council. In the Fall we are scheduled to have a series of parish-wide meetings. We are currently trying to decide the agenda for the meetings, but we have tentatively agreed that the issues to be discussed should focus locally on our parish, and not more widely on the Church at large. No doubt we will have some parishioners coming to the meetings to say that they are not fed by the parish experience, and others who will say that they are. Probably more the latter than the former, though it will be interesting to see.

As I have thought about all of this I have tried to think about parish experiences that all parishioners have in common. Though it seems painfully obvious to me now, it took me some serious reflection to conclude that the Liturgy (both Sunday Liturgy and during the week) is the center of the parish--and should have a prominent place in the discussion at the meetings. If the parish is a circle, then the Liturgy is at the center of the circle. If it isn't, then the parish is just a neighborhood.

It makes sense to me that renewal in the parish must begin with renewal in the Liturgy. That's why I am so heartened by the Vatican's focus on the Liturgy. The seeds sown today by this focus will take time to blossom, but with God's help they will blossom someday (who knows when, really) and parish life will have a new stronger center.

I can't believe that the Vatican doesn't have it in mind to regenerate parish life through the Liturgy. The idea of Rome "writing off" parishes as building blocks of the Church doesn't ring true to me.


James, the parish is community on the geographic model; there are other ways to have community. Indeed, cloistered nuns don't belong to *parishes,* but rather to communities with a description primarily not geographic (ie. they're nuns in a community NOT ONLY because they live in the same building but because they share a charism and the Faith).

The difficulty of parish life is really the change in social structure. Our social structures are different; our communities will be different. It's a big change from an old model.

Added to that, we have this outrageous dissent going on in some parishes and many people need (not desire, but NEED) to drive across town to find another parish. There is no point in belonging to a parish at all if that parish worships some she-god with no doctrine, or worships itself. =) I laugh because of the stupidity of it, but it's not really funny--this junk happens and it happens often.

People have to go looking for the Faith now most of the time. It's hard enough without making them be pagans, protestants, narcissists, etc. etc.


James, people are leaving their parishes because they want to hear the Gospel, not some sociological nonsense about tables, hugging and symbols or just nonsense. Personally, I didn't attend my local parish for years simply because once you've heard one tiny little woodland animal story you've heard em all. Every Mass a kids' Mass. Hey, it's easy and avoids controversy, right? That went on for almost 10 YEARS. I still drive to another parish.

People leave their parishes to lessen the amount of screeching racket they have to endure from the liturgy *experts*. People leave their parishes for a lot of reasons, and some of them very good ones.

People listen to Scott Hahn, Fr. Trigilio, Fr. Corapi, Fr. Groeschel and Mother Angelica because often their priests and religious ed directors are full of self-serving bosh, progressive distortion or too often flat-out lies and people get sick of it. People listen to these teachers because their priests either can't teach or don't know the Faith sometimes. People listen to these teachers because they really do want to know their Faith. Is that bad? At some point, about the time they tune into EWTN, they really do want to know something about their faith. Is this bad?

I don't think it's bad. I'm a convert and I was told the most astonishingly loose and bland stuff in RCIA, but I knew that there was more to the Faith than that. I do listen to EWTN and I am much richer for it.


And James, when the parish is all you have left, then you will be a protestant by definition--a congregationalist.

Steve Bogner

I suppose 'normal' is in the eyes of the beholder. What is a 'normal' Catholic anyway? We each probably have our own picture of what that person is like.

In my previous parish, 'normal' was a family of 6 that sent their kids to the parish school, volunteered for PTA and the festival, and went to the same Mass (almost) every weekend.

In my current parish, the 'normal' person doesn't have children in school, is active in social justice work, and is very active in the Liturgy.

Maybe when we long for more 'normal' Catholics to be around, we are really longing for a sense of connectedness and family that we once had, that a parish once provided.

We Catholics - like it or not - are a diverse group of people. I would propose this is a good thing - it's a sign of collective spiritual growth. And in this diversity there is also unity in our common call to Christ and the Church.


Gerard, yes, the Church has always contained movements and charisms. The Church has also always worked hard to keep them working in cooperation with each other and keep them orthodox. But they have always been important to the Church. For an example, I remember the whole story about St. Francis and the papal approval for his first rule. Do you recall the story and why it was almost not given?

With that goes the story of the birth of the Franciscan order in the vision at San Damiano. "Francis, rebuild my church" said the vision of Christ on the Cross to Francis. And through St. Francis, the horrible abuses (much like ours today, homosexual abuses, etc.) of the 11th/12th centuries were finally diminished because of the devotion and obedience of the people who followed him.

The newer movements (and orthodox sectors of older movements like some religious orders and 3rd orders) are behind much of the support and protection that seminarians are receiving now. They are behind much of the best Catholic education that people, including children, college students and converts, are receiving now. They make it more difficult for dissident bullies to get their way and that makes dissidents angry. These new movements are quietly building a new infrastructure and that also makes dissidents angry when they realize that the Faith is not rich buildings and mans' power, but God's work and it will go on.


So what is a "parish" anyway?

In my diocese, you don't have to attend or register at the parish in which you live. I understand the historic concept of a parish as the geographic area where one lives, but my first parish after converting drew 85% of its active membership from outside the parish boundaries. I was part of that 85% because my local priest was crazy as a bed bug. Currently, I'm not sure of the parish in which I live, but there are three possibilities: one might as well be Episcopalian: white middle-class, gay friendly, and nice liturgy. The other two present cultural challenges, i.e., I don't speak Spanish. As a result, I alternate between a parish where I like the pastor and another parish set up for ex-Anglicans. In neither parish am I active beyond Sunday Mass.

Obviously, I am not casting stones in any direction: my own house has too much glass. Besides, it isn't like my friends and activities are in the neighborhood where I live, anyway. I have a car and I'm not afraid to use it.

But it's a legitimate question in my mind as to what a parish is when it isn't a geographic entity.


Rod wrote:

But I am not cut out for the movements.

Maybe we can be a community of two? I'm not cut out for the movements either. They leave me wanting to run in the opposite direction, and the more I read about them the faster I want to run.

I just want to be a plain Catholic, but wanting that leaves you adrift in parish life; it's hard to find any kind of unity and to be fed spiritually when there's so much disarray. IOW, what kind of unity can you have when you can't be sure the person next to you shares the same basic convictions about the doctrines of the faith, or *knows* those doctrines, or even thinks that's important?

More to the point, what kind of spirit divides what Christ has united? Parishes did not used to be like this. The history of the Pentecostal Movement is a trail of broken congregations. It's no different in the Catholic Church.


Why do you all choose to belong to anything or one, other than the Father, himself?

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