Journey into the Heart of


Journey into the Heart of the Church

One of the things I found so impressive about Mr. Nixon's post noted yesterday is the trajectory it traces from our own willfulness toward obedience. I had resolved the issue of abortion and capital punishment before I entered the Church, and I entered partly because the Church spoke with a firm voice and with no hint of equivocation on these matters.

But as I entered, I thought that the Church was wrong in a great many of its provisions and understandings. I could not for the life of me understand why women were not priests and deacons. I could not fathom why there was such a focus on sexual teachings and why homosexual relationships were not acknowledged as loving and giving support relationships. I did my RCIA in a community associated with a University and so often these questions were not directly addressed. I moved to another state and joined and helped an RCIA director whose views approximated my own. We often had gay speakers at meetings and people pressing for married clergy and female clergy.

Through time, as I studied what the Church taught, and came to a clearer understanding of biblical revelation and teaching, some of these issues faded away. When I read the reasoning behind the question of why there are no female priests, I understood and assented. When I fully understood the Church's teaching on homosexuality, I understood, but could not quite assent. I have subsequently bowed in obedience, but still wonder about it sometimes. It puzzles me. The teaching on sexuality I have long pondered and wondered about the truthfulness thereof. I was involved for a while in a Charismatic community that saw no problem with birth-control and were highly suspicious of all manner of Marian Devotions. When I had escaped these influences and studied Humanae Vitae, Casti Connubii and Love and Responsibility I became more aware of my own pride and my own agenda driving much of what I thought.

I have great respect for those who come to the Church or belong to the church and have strong reservations about some of the teachings. I understand people who want one thing or another, but continue within the Catholic Church because that is the Church where truth resides. Sometimes it is difficult to draw the line between doctrine and discipline. This can be a source of much of the difficulty many people have. Is a celibate clergy a discipline or is it doctrine? Is it core and essential to Catholic Practice? (Those are rhetorical questions. I understand better the answers given by traditional and conservative Catholics.)

Ms. Knapp encouraged everyone some time back to have charity, compassion, and patience for all Catholic brothers and sisters, not to put up artificial "us and them" boundaries, but to accept them at their word--they are good Catholics in the sense that they adhere to all the dogma and practice of the Church. But they wish to see change that would completely alter what the Church is. We need less of division and more of strong nonconfrontational apologetics so that all will understand WHY the church teaches as it does and what the meaning of that is for each individual.

Yes, we often react in fear. There is a certain amount of fear of those who would change the very foundations of our Church. But we need to hear and understand what is being said in the way that the speaker understands it. We need to understand the most articulate proponents of views we do not hold and we need to gently but firmly respond with Church teaching. We need to continue to do this in all charity and respect engaging each individual as an individual and not as a cell in a hive-mind all focused on the utter destruction of what we love.

Perhaps we need to be proactive rather than reactive. We need to see the love that many who hold opposite views have for the Church and encourage them to explore more and seek to understand the underpinnings of the issues. We need to address dissent and disagreement, but we need to do so in a loving and logical fashion, bearing patiently with people who are struggling with the perceived injustices and flaws of the Church as She stands now.

So once more: we should all encourage each other to "stand ready to give reason for the hope that is within you." Sometimes those of us not skilled in argumentation might give simply the reason that it is church teaching and direct the person involved toward the catechism for further information and research. Those of us better equipped to discuss these things reasonably and logically should do so. But all should pray before speaking--for greater damage is done by uncharitable (but perhaps correct) apologists than by all the silent doubters in the pews in our Churches.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on January 28, 2003 10:20 AM.

Recidivism: Beginning to Understand Mortification was the previous entry in this blog.

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