Surfers, I would like to introduce you to Gerald Warner. Gerald is a dyed in the wool Catholic, as am I. Gerald has a strong opinion and a strong desire to fight against the injustices he sees in the Catholic hierarchy, as do I. Railing against a bureaucratic leadership and screaming into the stiff breeze that drowns out the cries for a Christianity that represents good faith is a common platform Gerald and I share. With all of this said, why, when I read the words Gerald writes, do I hang my head and sigh?
The world and his dog knows that the Second Vatican Catastrophe was the worst disaster ever to afflict the Church. It led to the abandonment of their vocations by half a million priests, monks, nuns and religious, the apostasy of countless millions of laymen, the loss of any familiarity with basic doctrine and, due to the rejection of all moral discipline, a massive sexual scandal. This they called “Renewal”. Vatican II renewed the Church in the way that the atomic bomb improved the environment of Hiroshima.
– Gerald Warner
You better believe that I was prepared to write a blog post that was scathing and loaded with facts. Then I realized that I was not going to be leading others to God if I continued down that path. I try to always lead others toward God and not cause any crisis of faith. Where I live I have chosen to raise my family within a Parish comprised entirely of Geralds. I grew up here within this tradition and family is more important than my personal ideology. Oh, but it leads to bouts of frustration.
I tell you all this because you, dear surfer, may have the same frustrations that I do. I want you to know that you are not alone. I don’t have any data to support this contention, but I believe there are more of us than there are of Geralds within Catholicism.
I know what you are thinking; “how do I bring the Geralds of this world around to my way of believing?” Catholic worship would be so much better. It is certainly not by acting out your frustrations in anger, including a blog filled with vitriol. There is no reasoning or argument that will sway Catholics who want to go back in time. John Shelby Spong tells us that a belief system like Gerald’s “grows out of fear and insecurity and can only be engaged when that fear level is lowered and the insecurity needs are calmed.” He goes on to say that we need to love them and bring the principles of justification and sanctification to bear in our relations.
…starting with a radical acceptance of where a person is (that is what I believe justification means) and then loving that person into being all that they can be (that is what I believe sanctification means).
John Shelby Spong
In order for us to radically accept where Gerald is currently in his faith development, I have brought you a quote.
A frightening transformation in the faith and life of Catholics has taken place and is called Protestantisation. As Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci wrote to Pope Paul VI in their Brief Critical Study:
‘ […] we consider the innovations implied or taken for granted which may of course be evaluated in different ways, the Novus Ordo represents, both as a whole and in its details, a striking departure from the Catholic theology of the Mass as it was formulated in Session XXII of the Council of Trent. The “canons” of the rite definitively fixed at that time provided an insurmountable barrier to any heresy directed against the integrity of the Magisterium.”
An editorial from Radicati nella Fede
Suffice it to say that the Council of Trent took place a long time ago. Gerald’s Catholic faith development is fixed in time, 1564 to be exact. The concept of the arrow of time is defined in the 2nd law of thermodynamics. Even the stars cannot shine forever, and time only runs in one direction.
Our psychological sense of time is based on the second law. It summarizes what we have seen, what we have experienced, what we think will happen. Unconsciously, you are mentally comparing what you see now with your past practical experience — and that has all followed the second law.
… the second law is blocked by the strength of chemical bonds.
The Second Law of Thermodynamics!
Surfers, understand that Gerald, and the Catholics like him, have done everything they can to block the 2nd law, freeze the practices of faithful Catholics, and maintain the glory that was the Council of Trent.
As the chemical bonds weakened over the years(scientific discovery / advancements in theology) the arrow of time moved forward and the fears and insecurities of Catholics like Gerald increased.
There is a desire among these Catholics to restore Catholicism to its former glory. This requires the arrow of time to move backward, but the 2nd law tells us this cannot happen. Time moves in one direction only.
He [Diocletian] and leading intellectuals of his regime believed that the old world could revive in all its glory, if only social and spiritual unity were restored. (as it relates to Rome’s final attempt to limit the expansion of Christianity.)
– Richard E. Rubenstein
I don’t fault them for trying, but others have tried to restore the past, to no avail. I believe it was the novelist George Santayana who said “Those who cannot remember the past, are condemned to repeat it.”
Surfers, if you can radically accept Gerald, with all of his fears and insecurities, it is time to move on to the stage where we love him to be the best he can be. This requires a mature, or maturing faith on our part.
Here are the top signs of faith maturity. (taken from here)
A mature faith allows a person to cope well with change. A person who’s faith is mature will not resist change. The change may be difficult for that person to make, but someone with a mature faith will realize that this change is necessary. A mature faith can handle changes and will adjust for those changes.
When a person with a mature faith becomes angry, they avoid verbally or physically hurting someone. They can handle criticism, and do not feel attacked every time they receive criticism of their beliefs. They are able to forgive others and do not hold grudges for past actions. They have patience for mistakes that people make.
A person with a mature faith will seek solutions to problems in their worship. When faced with challenges, they do not show self-pity and take little action to improve their situation. They are willing to find different solutions to address the challenges in their worship.
Persons with a mature faith are hopeful. They believe that worship can change and get better. They understand that with faith, effort and acceptance, things can improve.
A person with a mature faith is a giver. They are able to give back to others. They believe in returning favors to others. They happily do kind things for love of neighbor. They are willing to sacrifice some of themselves to help someone grow in faith.
A person with a mature faith is resilient. When times get tough, they learn to adjust and handle those difficulties. This may be a lengthy process but resilience happens.
A person with a mature faith can step out of their comfort zone. They are willing to worship in ways out of the ordinary and gradually get away from a situation that may seem secure. They can take risks in worship practices, doing something that feels a bit uncomfortable at first.
Persons with a mature faith live in the present. They don’t allow past circumstances to strongly impact their faith life now. They are able to realize that worship practices change, and can learn to adapt.
Perhaps after reading through this you realize that you might have an immature faith in some areas of your worship. I know that I do. I also know I can increase my maturity, with Jesus and John Shelby Spong as my guides, and better accept Catholics where they are and love them to be the best they can be today. You can do the same.