Tuesday 15 May 2007

Response to Vehige: The 10 Most Important Issues Facing the Catholic Church in America

Response to: Vehige at Thursday Night Gumbo Who wrote an excellent post. My responses are the blue to his points in black.
Monday, May 14, 2007
Vehige: The 10 Most Important Issues Facing the Catholic Church in America

In alphabetical order . . .
1. Biblical illiteracy -- Not only for the sake of defending the faith against Protestant fundamentalism, but for the sake of spiritual health, for the Bible teaches us something that nothing else does: that though we may not be the center of the physical universe, we are the center of the spiritual universe . . . and that's all that matters.

I completely agree. I have read the bible cover to cover a number of times. In the last few years I have read a different translation each year.

2. Birth control -- Sooner or later, Catholics will realize that they do not have a choice when it comes to contraception, and they'll have to face the fact that contraception is the handmaiden of abortion and the culture of death.

I agree but did not till after we had our first baby.

3. Catechetical illiteracy -- We're never going to have a mature Church that can stand up and respond to modern ideas until we have an educated one.

I am a Confirmed Catholic who attended Catholic School from Kindergarten to grade 13(It was an Ontario thing) and have never read a Catechism until 2 years ago. Now I did have a very good knowledge of the Bible and the faith from having religion classes from grade 1 to grade 12. Here is a link to a reading plan to read the Catechism in a year. I am also planning on reading the Baltimore Catechism's this year when I can afford to get them from this site.

4. Ecclesial indifferentism -- Perhaps the worst of all ten, because it makes people forget why they're Catholic, and why they should be thankful they are Catholic.

5. Education of the youth -- How should the Church meet the needs of young people today, particularly when their Protestant friends have such fun on Wednesday and Sunday nights. Is Life Teen really the answer? I think not.

I would go so far as to include education of adults. Especially here in Canada, there is often a sense that once you are confirmed your done. You are now a Catholic adult, and there is nothing more to learn. Spiritual reading should be part of everybody's life, each day.

6. The Laity -- Just what is the role of the laity? So long as it's defined by volunteering to be lectors, Eucharistic ministers, ushers, and parking lot attendants, there's a serious problem.

We are called to be Prophets, Priest and Kings, We are adopted brothers of Christ and as such should life as witnesses to our Fathers love.

7. Liturgical reform -- The Mass is what the Church says the Mass is, and I don't see how permission to celebrate the old Latin Mass is going to help matters any; but, then, I'm not the Pope . . . and let's all say a word of thanks for that.

I agree, I was born post Vatican II, have never seen a Latin mass and do not have much interest. Some churches do a great job of a reverential holy mass, and some are not very different from evangelical services. If I wanted to be an evangelical I would. But I love Mass, especially when it is more reverential.

8. Married priests -- We'll see an increase in the clamoring for a married clergy so long as the priesthood is advertised as a job and not a vocation.

This is a bit of a stickler for me. I find the double standard hard to take. It you were a minister or priest in another denomination sometimes you become ordained as a Catholic priest and can serve mass and everything, and have your wife and kids. Nothing against any men who fall into this category; but there is more than just a bit of jealousy on my part, for they seem to get their cake and eat it too. I struggled for years with a desire to serve and not believing I had the gift of celibacy. I even left the church for a while and served in an evangelical organization. Yet I could not stay away from the Rosary and Mass.

As an aside, back in the mid '90's I confessed this struggle between wanting to serve as a priest and not believing I had the gift of celibacy and not wanting to hurt the churches name by becoming a Priest and then messing up. In confession I was told 'All it's going to take is a puff of white smoke!'

9. Parish administration -- Should the Church start requiring their priests to get an M.B.A. instead of an M.T.S.? When are priests going to be pastors again? There's an easy solution to this: hire and train retired businessmen to run the parish, and let the pastors be pastors again.

Here in Canada you can do a M.T.S. with a specialization in Church Admin, I believe that churches should have priests and then have administrators as a separate roll. Free up our priests to minister and have other people do the books, the maintenance schedule … A few local protestant churches with multiple pastors on staff even now have a Pastor of Administration who oversees the physical and financial elements of the church. I would love to do this it is part of the role I had when I worked for the Navigators of Canada.

10. Pop-psychology vs. authentic spirituality -- I've heard enough talks that claim that birth order, family of origin, the four humors, journaling, etc. are legitimate means of spirituality that if I have to hear another one I'm going to superglue my ears shut. Whatever happened to prayer, almsgiving, fasting, self-denial, and advancement in the virtues?

The spiritual disciplines is a specific field of interest in my study over the years. Here is a list I compiled as part of a hand out in a series of talks I gave years back. I find that at different times in my life different disciplines are more central than others. But bible reading and work on developing the virtues and prayer are constants.

According to Foster, 3 Types

According to Willard, 2 Types, with both corporate and personal components:
Disciplines of Abstinence
Disciplines of Engagement:

Finally According to Whitney: A list and study of disciplines:
Bible Intake, Prayer, Worship,
Evangelism, Serving, Stewardship,
Fasting, Silence, Solitude,
Journaling, Learning.

Selected Bibliography: (For further reading or Research)
On the Disciplines:
Spiritual Disciplines For the Christian Life, Donald S. Whitney (NavPress)
Spiritual Disciplines For the Christian Life Study Guide, Donald S. Whitney
The Spirit of the Disciplines, Dallas Willard (HarperCollins)
Celebration of Discipline, Richard J. Foster (Harper Collins)
Spiritual Discipline Series, Richard peace (NavPress)
Spiritual Formation Series, Richard peace (NavPress)
Practicing Our Faith, Dorothy C. Bass (Josse-Bass)
The Reflective Life, Ken Gire
Healthy Habits for Spiritual Growth, Luis Palau
The Aesthetics of Silence, Susan Sonlong

Biography's Pertaining to The Disciplines:

The Practice of the Presence of God, Brother Lawrence
Interior Castle, St. Teresa of Avila
The Knowledge of the Holy, A.W. Tozer

These responses are just off the cuff as I thought about Vehige's post.

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