Saturday, August 29, 2015

Catholics make me cry

A few months ago, I was on here proclaiming that I wasn't going to read anything religious unless it was from a Catholic source.  No Protestant apologetics, no atheist blogs, nothing.  I thought it would help my doubts.  It didn't, of course -- the problems were never something from outside, but from inside the teachings themselves.  Too many things seemed to be glossed over with the sort of vague explanations that people would use if they wanted to convince themselves they weren't experiencing any cognitive dissonance.

So I gave that idea up after a few months, and I read all kinds of stuff now.  I hang out a lot on Patheos -- Catholic, Progressive Christian, Atheist, and Spirituality channels.  Because it's all of interest to me, and the different perspectives help to construct a clearer whole.

However, I'm beginning to feel maybe I'd do better to stop reading the Catholic stuff, just because it upsets me.

First, there's the old outside-looking-in problem.  When you're in a group of people who fervently believe something, and you don't, it's uncomfortable.  There's this strong urge to either join the group or leave.  That was the main reason I joined Regnum Christi -- because I wanted to be friends with those people, and there was nothing more uncomfortable than feeling like I didn't fit in.

Second, there's the beauty of it.  Every once in awhile a Catholic blogger gives some glimpse of what drives their love for the Church, and I can't help but admire them.  Take Mudblood Catholic's vision of nonviolence, inspired by Jesus.  It's beautiful stuff.  As a celibate gay Catholic, he sacrifices a lot to stay in the Church, but it seems to be worth it to him.  And I daresay if I felt a deep connection to God, it wouldn't seem too much to do the same, even if, like him, I didn't understand why God was asking so much of me.

But most of all it's the suffering that I hear from people.  I'm not directly quoting or linking, because people often share their suffering in places where they can't be seen by too many people, but maybe you've seen the same sort of thing.

It's the woman who feels called to be a priest, who wonders why God is saying one thing to her inside her heart and another through the Church.  Which one can be trusted?  Never her heart.

It's the gay Catholics, bearing the burden not just of celibacy, but also of general loneliness (because our culture doesn't really know how to do friendship or extended family very well).  And if they handle those okay, they still have to deal with being treated as suspect by other Catholics for something they didn't choose and can't help.

It's the mother of a gay child, who is torn between wanting to empathize with her child and wanting to fix him.  Trying to get him back in the church, while sad she can't admit she sees a lot of goodness and love in his relationship.  Trying over and over again to convince herself missing his wedding the right and Christian thing to do.

It's the divorced-and-remarried couple that tries to live in celibacy, knowing that there is no fixing their situation, ever.

It's the woman who stays with an emotionally abusive husband because it beats a life of loneliness.

It's the woman who practices NFP despite her husband not being on board, as her priest told her she was morally required to do, and her husband leaves her.  When she tells her priest what happened, he blames her for not keeping her marriage together.

It's the mother who's overwhelmed with many small children, suffering many small health problems from repeated pregnancies, but none of them seems like a sufficient reason to use NFP.  After all, what can compare to another soul in heaven with her for eternity?  So she gets pregnant again, and the difficulty of dealing with her children is compounded by months of fatigue and vomiting.

It's the woman with a serious medical reason to avoid pregnancy, but her signs don't make sense like they are supposed to.  A single misinterpretation results in a life-threatening medical complication.

It's the couple whose marriage is on the rocks.  They decide it would be madness to get pregnant right now, considering the strain on their marriage.  They go to counseling and the counselor suggests that it will help to have sex more often.  No can do, not with NFP.

It's the scrupulous teenager who can't seem to give up masturbating, but also is too embarrassed to say so in confession.  For years he worries about dying suddenly and going to hell.

It's the priest who finds himself alone, day after day, night after night, because there are too few priests now to have several in a rectory, but the parishioners are too much in awe of him to ever invite him over for dinner.  God's company is supposed to be enough, but somehow it isn't.  Soon he takes up drinking, just to numb his feelings of isolation.

It's anyone who dearly loves a non-Catholic, wondering if they will be able to see their loved ones in heaven, and whether it will really be heaven if they can't.  Is it possible that they are more merciful than God is?

It's the mother who loses a baby before birth.  The church tells her emphatically that her baby has a soul, but doesn't know if that soul gets to go to heaven without baptism.  She can hope, but she doesn't want to hope, she wants to be sure.

None of these stories is made up -- some of them have happened to people I know more than once.  And there are so many more.

I hear people's stories and I just want to cry.  It's hard to be Catholic.  I appreciate that most Catholics don't gloss this over -- they tell it how it is.  No one gets a free pass; every state of life comes with suffering.  Some suffering is unavoidable and some comes directly from trying to follow Catholic teaching.  But either way, it's really hard and God doesn't swoop in very often to fix things.

A part of me thinks: these people should seriously reconsider their religion.  Odds are, they're not really sure it's true.  And shouldn't they have a high level of certainty that something's a good idea before going for it -- all the more so when it causes pain and suffering for themselves, and sometimes for those around them?

Another part just says: I hope it's true.  I hope God is keeping their tears in his bottle, like he promised.  I hope he will one day wipe away every tear.  I hope that, even if the Catholic Church isn't 100% right, that God is the sort of person who will accept their gifts to him in the spirit in which they were meant -- acts of love which they did for him.

Because the thought that all that suffering is for nothing, will earn no reward, is very distressing to me.  I hope it is false.  And I have been paring down my readership of Catholic blogs and my participation in Catholic groups, not because I dislike the people or their ideas, but because that thought haunts me.


Anonymous said...

Perhaps you should try to focus on simply growing in Faith to help your unbelief. Christ always gives the grace of conversion. A few visits to the Blessed Sacrament ( a few times a week) begging our humble Lord, there present, to quiet you heart and mind might bring you some (much needed) comfort.

Meditation, as per St. Ignatius method, might help you reflect more on your questions. However, even if one can not understand in his finite mind the ways of God, we are still called to believe.

St. Therese showed us the little way. The daily work, prayer, and sacrifice to give glory to God. Man was made for God. Showing our love for Him can be difficult sometimes, but it doesn't mean we shouldn't try to know, love, and serve him.

We are to be like little children, simple and innocent trusting in the Father's love.

A sweet prayer is: Lord, I believe, help my unbelief. I would say it over and over all day. He will help you. He will not forsake you. Go to Him and ask, He will listen.

-A Reader

Sheila said...

I tried this approach for years with no success. I know that you believe that "Christ always gives the grace of conversion" but he has not done so for me. And how long must a person try to force herself to believe when there is no reason to believe? I could spend my whole life waiting for the gift of faith and trying to act as though I had it, yet never receive it.

My point in this post is that living a Catholic life comes at significant cost for many, and I am not sure it is right to pay the price when you have no good reason to think it is a worthwhile bargain.

Anonymous said...

I was part of the Christendon/Front Royal scene long, long ago and left because I lost my faith. It may seem like everyone around you is such a devoted, unquestioning Catholic because they all play their roles do convincingly. Lemme tell you: they're not. You are incredibly brave not only to truly question your own beliefs, but to be so open about it.

Anonymous said...

Yes – but for each of those stories of trial and suffering, how many are there of people whose Catholicism makes their lives happier? Not (just) "spiritually" happier (finding peace by embracing the Cross, that kind of thing), but happier in the ordinary human sense, more fulfilled, more enjoyable, containing more consolation. I think there are many, many people for whom this is true.

I live mostly among nonbelievers in a very secular society, and from what I see and hear around me the grass is a lot browner on that side.


Anonymous said...

I have a long comment, so I will have to post in multiples - forgive me:-(

Dearest Sheila,

A dear friend of mine kindly referred your public thoughts to me. So I deeply apologize, in advance, for not being aware of the history of your thoughts via your blog.
First, I strongly beg you continue to keep the Faith! (I apologize if I misunderstand your blog.) I will definitely keep you in my prayers, and I also ask you to continue to ask the Holy Spirit for the gifts of understanding and Faith. Remember that it is okay to honestly, in humility, seek out answers within our Faith, so as to know and understand more. As human beings, we naturally have a desire to know – we would not be fully “human” if we failed to seek out the reasons for our restless heart (bearing in mind that our hearts will be restless, until they rest in Him).
Many times throughout our life we are asked to trust Our Lord more and more, in hopes to come to know Him more and more – as He is where we find the ultimate happiness. In fact, that is the very definition of faith – accepting what is not understood by the limits of our human intellect. Remember, we are not asked to completely understand (or know, beyond a shadow of a doubt), as this is logically impossible due to our finite nature (though, simultaneously, we are also asked to keep an openness to seek further understanding). We are, on the other hand, obliged to say “yes” despite the fact that we might not understand, in this case, suffering and teachings of the Church.
I, most times, find myself having to imitate Our Lady when, in my limited intellectual capacity, fail to understand suffering (especially in the line of work I do as a nurse, and on a personal level with the current struggle of infertility between my spouse and I). Our Blessed Mother is the most perfect example of this “yes” to being the Mother of God. Despite knowing all that would happen to her Son (far more suffering than ANY ailment that plagues our finite lives), even watching Him be crucified and wipe His Precious Blood – she, like yourself I’m sure, did not understand in detail all that this meant and why. Yet, she freely, and with such love, accepted God’s will and suffering – she thought it was worth “paying the price”! I only pray that I have that much strength!!

I ask you to bear with me in trying to get my thoughts out about what you have expressed:

Anonymous said...

First, to respond to your longing for the gift of Faith: this very much reminds me of St. John of the Cross’ Dark Night of the soul, which I encourage you to look into reading (forgive me, if you have already). In his Dark Night, the soul must empty itself of self in order to be filled with God – it must be purified of the last traces of earthliness before it is fit to become united with God. St. Therese of Liseaux experienced this, as well as Mother Teresa - lasting almost all the way up until her death! Take comfort in knowing that He is always with you, even though you may not feel it, believe it, or know it. The same applies to not understanding the truths of the Faith. A beautiful image comes to mind that all Christians identify with, and that’s the image of a man walking in the sand, forming his own set of footprints; yet right beside him is another set, but no “being” is to be found – that, of course, being God. Despite these “dark nights”, these Saints continued to prevail, believe, and accept – though they did not understand. You could even go as far to say that they “acted as though they had it”. So, yes, you very well might spend your “whole life waiting” (though you are still very young to believe that it is impossible), but how much more beautiful will it be to receive it in the end? It will be like that of 2 Tim 4:7 – I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.

Anonymous said...

You are 100% right! Living a Catholic life does come at a significant cost – the cost of your own life (either through martyrdom or through life’s everyday sufferings, both of which are opportunities for more grace and getting to know and love Him more). For instance, I especially as I nurse, see people suffer everyday! Furthermore, I on a more personal level, am fully aware of all of the fertility options available, outside of conjugal intimacy. I could certainly go and get artificial insemination or IVF in order to have children (in fact, my insurance would pay for it all!), or even cheat on my husband – but I don’t for many reasons. First, my Catholic Faith tells me not to; second, I fully understand the reason why – our Faith is so sound in logical reasoning, that it is (praise God) easy for me to assent to the idea that it is wrong; third, I love my Lord and my husband! That does not change my strong (very strong) desire to have children biologically, but it does provide comfort that for whatever reason, God (in His infinite omniscience) knows what really makes me happy, and knows what is best, and what will draw me to Him ever more close – to think otherwise, is to do what Adam and Eve did: they rejected God, as they thought they “knew” more. I don't like to admit this, but if this helps you in any way, it is worth it: After my husband and I heard of this diagnosis, I was inwardly very, very sad – even felt less than human (though my intellect told me otherwise). We had accepted the diagnosis and with open hearts proceeded to figure out God’s will. At the same time, I thought to myself: I did everything right. I tried to be a devoted Catholic – pray daily, go to daily Mass when I can, give as much as I can – I waited until marriage, gave-up on politics for growth in my Faith by majoring in Theology, went and got another degree in science and became a nurse – because it allowed me to “serve” the ill, the sick, the vulnerable, I aided in my own husband’s conversion, I’ve always been open to life – what did I do wrong? I must not be perfect enough. (This is often a prideful question/assertion that plagues many Type A’s/perfectionists). The common word in those questions was: “I” – it was all about me, when in reality, it was not about me – it is not about you or anyone (including those whose stories you listed) either (and I mean that in the most humblest way possible). I had always tried to be so humble, so charitable, so patient, etc.- but He was asking for more. Does this mean that all of those actions I listed were selfish or for naught? No, as they were all rooted in the love of God – but it was my thinking about them after that made those current thoughts selfish. So, do you know what I did? (Might I suggest you try this too:) I sat quietly in front of Him during Adoration, and just cried – and I mean literally balled my eyes out! I felt like such a child! How I yearned for Him to just appear in a “father-like” form and take me in His arms, never let go, and just take me away! This happened at least a few more times before I realized how selfish I had been – how prideful, and then I begged for forgiveness for the thoughts inside my contemplative head in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Since then, I felt that a huge weight had been lifted – yes, there is still pain there, but there is such peace. Point being, that it is right to "pay the price" – even though you might not be able to think of a “good reason to think it is a worthwhile bargain”.


Anonymous said...

To answer anonymous: I am so sorry that you lost your Faith, and I hope it was not because of Christendom – though, bear in mind that no one is perfect – we are all on a journey to holiness. I pray that you find your way back – and maybe you have (praise God). Forgive my frankness, but you are right and wrong: right in the sense that the students at Christendom all struggle, yet “appear” to be otherwise – though this, in and of itself is a judgment, so I caution how far it goes – only God knows what lies within our hearts; wrong in the sense, that that is the case for all of us – we all go through motions until one day, we are asked to give just a little bit more and then find that we are even more happy than we were before. I would also posit that playing “roles” are not necessarily bad – as long as they are rooted in love. Mother Theresa, St. Therese, John of the Cross all “played roles” in the sense that they continued to keep the Faith, believe and follow the truths of the Faith, even though they struggled. Sometimes, “roles” are all we have to keep us on the straight and narrow, and keep our eyes on God – again, as long as they are rooted in love.

Anonymous said...

To respond to the main body of your post: Have you considered not reading all of the “Catholic stuff” or the “other stuff”, and go to the basics of the Holy Bible, or just plain, old (yet beautiful) prayer? I would challenge you to do that for a whole three months – and then pray about where you are within your journey of Faith. Sometimes we can be too knowledgeable of everything that we don’t really need to know. Please don’t misunderstand, I commend your desire to understand and “construct a clearer whole” – but sometimes God asks of us to just trust, rather than understand.
Second, it is important to be mindful that the “out of place” feeling that you have is natural. This could possibly mean one of two things: either your friends make you feel this way, or you make yourself feel this way by judging how they would think of you – my guess is that is it a combination of both, as at times we all feel this way. We have to remind ourselves, that it is not about them or what they think, but about God and what He thinks. After that is acknowledged, nothing else matters.
Third, here is where I humbly ask you to keep an open mind for what I am about to say: as Catholics, we are called to help others understand (even ourselves) how we are to live out our Faith amidst our everyday sufferings; how we are to see where our suffering fits into our Faith; how we must recognize the difference between “feelings” and the intellect, etc. Most of the time this is primarily done through honest and humble prayer, participating in the Sacraments, and spiritual direction, etc. This also means being willing to let go, and tell yourself when your thoughts or feelings are being prideful and selfish. Is it an easy thing to do? Heck, no! But will it make us happier in the end (the example shared about the struggles with infertility are a huge testament to this) by following God’s will and precepts – yes, a thousand times yes!

Anonymous said...

The questions and situations you listed are all very real struggles and by no means are they easy to address in a simple way. The Church, in answering them, does not belittle them in any way either or disregard them, like most seem to believe – simply read the Encyclicals that beautifully address the issues that mankind struggle with, better yet, read the lives of the Saints to see how they handled them! No one ever said it was easy – keep in mind that it is not the Church that complicates things, but us. Also, if you noticed, the one common thread among all of these you mention is that they are all connected to the plague of sin (aka: disordered desires) and sufferings brought about by “leaders” within the Church, not the precepts or Truths of the Faith. For instance, if the woman who desires to become a priest was honestly seeking to understand the elements of the Faith, she would recognize that this strong desire to serve God in a public way like this is not discounted by any means, but the way this action is lived out should be ordered accordingly – as it is not about what “she” feels called to, but what God is calling her to be. In a sense, we are all called to be “like” the High Priest, but these callings are lived-out in more fitting ways – ways that not only reflect nature, but our soul and that of the intimate union among the Holy Trinity. I would ask her to reflect on that of Our Lady. After all, it was a female who was chosen to be the Virgin child-bearer – not a male. Therefore, she would be the perfect way to imitate and lead with the same amount of importance and desire to serve. For the gay Catholic, I would ask for forgiveness on behalf of other Catholics who treated him a certain way. I would also ask for understanding and being mindful of the fact that no one is perfect, and everyone has their deepest burdens to bear. The only thing we can do is lay them at the foot of the Cross and know that, again, nothing compares to what Christ put Himself through. I did not choose or can I help the fact that my husband and I can’t have children at this point – sometimes, I feel that other Catholics judge us, but then again – that is rather judgmental of me to think this way, and in the end, God, family, and friends are the only ones who knows of our situation – and furthermore, in the end, we only care about what God thinks. So, I accepted the burden as a beautiful blessing and gift, and found ways to serve the Church until we either adopt or by some miracle have children of our own. Either way, it is still a burden.

Anonymous said...

To the divorced and “remarried” couple: living in celibacy is at this time is meritorious!!! And there might be ways to amend (you don’t know until you try) – the process is long and difficult, but worth it - and there are beautiful reasons for this, if we only humbly seek to understand! My husband, before I even agreed to date him, had to go through the same thing. His previous marriage was a civil union, and therefore "easier", but nonetheless, when people are honestly trying to be holy – what appears as burdens to most, are indeed blessings to themselves. To the woman who stays with an abusive husband: the Church does not shame this woman! The Church asks her lay her broken mind and heart in the hands of Christ, Who will lovingly pick her up and give her the strength she needs to heal her woundedness. Forget the way Catholics will look at her – we are humans with faults – but look at the way Christ would look at her. Go to a priest – a really good priest will embody how Christ would be, as a human being. To the woman who practices NFP, and her husband then left her – that priest should not have blamed her (if that truly did happen), and venues to aide this woman in the process of an annulment are available. To the mother who is overwhelmed with many small children – that sometimes in and of itself is sufficient enough for NFP - did she see a priest to explore this? To the woman with a serious medical reasoning to avoid pregnancy, but the signs don’t make sense – there is a solution that is offered via the Creighton Model. I've had to use it in order to try and acheive. To the couple whose marriage is on the rocks: have they considered going to a priest for help? A counselor is not the best source to go when in spiritual marital distress. And actually, you can have sex a lot with NFP – just not on 5-8 days out of a month. Here, maybe children are the solution to their marriage. Maybe giving of themselves, in love, via children is what God is asking of them at this time…. While it appears that the solutions the Church gives to these examples are simple (and they are), what makes them hard is our own sinfulness – our own lack or desire of really trying to be holy and love/serve Him.

Anonymous said...

Finally, dearest Sheila, God is always swooping down to fix things – maybe not on our time or in the ways we want, but our ways are not important – as God knows what is best. Take comfort in the fact that he has wiped away every tear through the giving of His Only Begotten Son. He hears the cry of those who are really suffering, and understands – but in the understanding, asks us to trust and follow Him. He meets each of us where we are at, and makes us more fully human and, therefore, more “divine”.
The Church is 100% right on matters of faith and morals, and the Church also recognizes that only God knows what’s within our hearts and accepts acts of love that are honest and true. The thought that all “that suffering is for nothing, will earn no reward” is haunting! It should be if those who know the Faith suffer without uniting their sufferings to Christ, and elevating it to a higher level. What they are feeling is the possibility of a life without God by not taking up your cross – and that is very real, as that is another name for Hell.
The Church has answers to all of these situations, but remember that we are the ones who complicate them. Suffering does come from following Church teaching, but rather God-given opportunities to grow in love and Faith through the instrumental Church. I could go on and address each of the difficult sufferings you listed, but because the Devil is around to tempt and lead others astray, the questions will become more and more difficult to give a response. The only answer to all of them is God knows of your suffering, and the solution is in Jesus Christ - manifested in the Sacraments and His teachings, via the Church. Are they easy to answer? Yes and no. Are they difficult to accept? Yes and no. Are they worth the fight, struggle, the burden? Again, a thousand times, yes! After all, Christ thought so when He allowed Himself to be whipped, scorned, betrayed, tortured, nailed, and then pierced! If He thinks it’s worth it – then it is! Take comfort that He hears your cry and the thousands of others cry for understanding – all you have to do is let go by laying it at the foot of the Cross. Finally, take comfort that the battle has already been won and Eternal Life is possible! All He asks is for your faithful love and trust!
Much prayers and love!

Sugar Coater said...

Wow. Though that response was long, it is singularly one of the best and well written responses ever. It helped ME with some areas of my faith that I've always felt were a little shaky. It helped remembering that St. Theresa, St. Pio, Mother Teresa all had a "dark night of the Soul".

You say you're a nurse - bet you're a great one. You should consider a side line as a writer if you haven't. You're really very good.

I have become acquainted with some young people who went to Christendom. I, at one time, thought they were the answers to the problems of the world. Truly, some of them still might be. I am of the opinion that Sheila has come through a difficult period in her early life, and though she still faces her doubts, lives a good life as a homemaker, wife and mother - her vocation. Sheila and her husband have grown more mature, and now have much practical "life experience" as a result of marrying, moving, finding jobs, raising a young family, owning a house and making it a home.

Some of the other "graduates"... well, I have my doubts about some of them for being impractical and judgmental, especially when it comes to the tolerance of human differences - whether it's a "gay" person, or someone who is remarried. Some of them seem to make it their job to be "above" everyone else, and are quick to judge whether someone is going to heaven or hell, as if it's their job to judge others.

Anyway, I'm getting a little far afield here. Thank you again for your great writing, your career as a nurse, and for making me think a little more deeply about my faith.

Sheila, I hope you don't mind my "hijacking" your blog response - and I hope that some of what "anonymous" has said will help you in your faith.

Meredith said...

Sheila, this is why I only take Patheos in very small doses now. I talked to one of Sean's non-Catholic friends who had stumbled across an atheist blog on Patheos, and she was like, "there was so much anger and hate! It made me really depressed!" Like I said, not Catholic, not ultra conservative, barely acquainted with Patheos, and it made her feel lousy. The site has the critical mass to support a typically hostile, troll-ridden comment section, and even though it sometimes achieves its goal of bringing understanding between different religious groups, too often it becomes a bloodbath where a sensitive agnostic mom is getting kicked by bombastic Christians, while a sweet Catholic blogger is getting piled on by a bunch of furious atheists who left the Church after they were molested by priests/nearly died after having their eighth kid etc. etc. The whole scene makes me want to fade away into the forest dim. INFORMATION OVERLOAD is our problem today. After getting my ass kicked by every doubt and disillusionment, I have concluded that God probably gives us help with our own problems and our neighbors problems... but I doubt he gives us the strength to deal with the problems of every blogger who has ever blogged. After you binge on a ton of blogs, you start to think that you have a God's eye view of all human misery. May I suggest that we are biting off more than we can chew?

Sheila said...

Meredith -- yes. Patheos can be like drinking out of a firehose, only the firehose is 50% sewage. Not a healthy diet, so much. I've cut way down, and am reading more dead-tree books -- which is how so many comments manage to stack up on my blog without my seeing them, oops.

Anonymous, I am glad your words helped some others. They didn't really help me. Everything you recommend, I have tried. But I think there ought to be an intellectual, rather than a devotional, answer. If a policeman knocks on my door, I ask to see his badge. If a Nigerian prince wants my banking information, I want some proof that he is who he says. But when God comes knocking, he says, "Undertake the life I offer. It might be good for you, it might be terrible and involve great suffering. And I will give you no proof that you will be repaid, or even that it is, in fact, what I want of you. Take it on faith."

Isn't that a little much to ask?

The whole issue with not having proof is that when you don't have proof, you might be wrong. What if you found out you had been wrong all these years, that Catholicism wasn't true? Would you feel angry about some of the life choices you'd made, hoping that God appreciated them, now knowing he does not? Would you feel upset for some of the people I mentioned, offering all their sufferings to Jesus and it turns out, there's no Jesus to appreciate the gift? I would be angry. I think that the Catholic Church pushes us to make massive sacrifices and isn't willing to ante up with some evidence that it's the right thing to do. It *claims* to be able to be intellectually demonstrated ("with certainty," says Vatican I!) but when you push for the proof, all of a sudden people start saying you should shut up and have more faith.

And you do the same, when you seem to be asking me to stop asking the question of "is it true?" and skip to urging me to try to force myself to act as though it is. That troubles me. I feel it's important to answer the question "is it true?" first, but it seems no one does this! Instead, they see themselves as extra virtuous for not asking.

I do want to thank you for going to the trouble of typing out all that, and like I said, I'm glad it helped others. And if you're happy in the Faith, I'm glad of that too. The trouble is that there are people who are *not* happy in the Faith, and also don't know it's true, and that doesn't bother anyone, because sacrificing your whole life's happiness for something you don't know is true is considered a virtuous action.

Just a little side note here, not completely relevant, but you brought it up: whoever is spreading around the marketing that Creighton solves all NFP problems needs to stop. It is a method like any other method. If I were to follow all the rules properly, I would have 1-2 safe days a cycle. No thanks. I find that people with easy cycles and those who never need to avoid much are much too quick to assume that those of us who don't have it so easy are doing it wrong. For some of us, it really is that hard.

Belfry Bat said...

Goodness but Meredith is ever (et semper et tantum) so sensible...

What most strikes me in all the preceding is that Catholicity is largely incidental to the general pattern of how, gosh darn it, but people have Principles that they'd rather try to keep than be just a bit more Comfortable. The particular Principles you mention are more or less Catholic, I suppose, but as often as not sound exaggerated.

But people find themselves amidst conflicting feelings everywhere --- consider Japan's long suicide trouble, for one: no-one is happy about it, but it has been such a fixed idea there that that's what they do sometimes. C.S. Lewis mentions this universality, that every culture that can write has a written code that they can't live up to, in his survey of the histories of religion on the one hand and ethics on the other.

I can tell you things that would make me cry or holler if I weren't so tired: unhappy young men doing violence to themselves and others, and calling it "martyrdom"; a small country tossing missiles at their neighbors' slums and more-or-less calling it "jewish"; a large country unseating all the tigers, letting the jackals run rough-shod over the Mediteranean; just enough people frightened out of their homes who have so little History they believe "Europe", or "Germany", is an imperturbable realm of calm and plenty; another large country buying up vast tracts of family-worked farmland in Africa so they can dig mines and tell the farmers to grow rice somewhere else...


Hm. I seem to have let that run away from me. I'm certainly not pointing these out, any of them, as things you should worry about rather than the Patheites' problems. Just... you know, lots of people do things we'd rather no-one did, and it has much less to do with Catholicism than with a too-narrow view of things. Lots of people prefer what looks like unhappiness from the outside, and it has much less to do with Catholicism than the ordinary way of being human.

Sheila said...

Yes, and I want to STOP all the things you list. The human condition is very sad, but shouldn't we try to stop the sad parts?

Admittedly there are many kinds of sadness. There is sadness that is a result of evil, like many of the things you list. And there's sadness that's a result of good -- that is, the good choices have bad results, but the bad ones would have had even worse results. And there's sadness that is just a fact of life.

Which is why I'm not saying, "the fact that these things are sad is a reason to stop doing them." I'm saying, "People should be sure that the things they do, which have such sad results, are really the morally-good kind of sad results and not the morally-bad kind."

Belfry Bat said...

Of course I also want them to stop, but to stop any of them is, as it happens, beyond my reach, but would also require a partial conversion on the part of someone else — and that is ordinarily beyond anyone's power. One isn't bound by any duty to do what is impossible.

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