Saturday, November 1, 2008

Catholicism Is For Grown-Ups

I'm feeling a little sleepy at the moment, so forgive me in advance if this entry meanders. I've been reading an article by someone who was a leader in "The Prophetic Movement;" and why he left it. My heart went out to him as I read his words, because it brought up many memories I had of being involved with this particular movement, myself.

I was prayed over by Bob Jones since our ministry school often had him minister to the students. Rick Joyner, Bobby Connor, Mike Bickle, Jack Deere, and Paul Cain are a few of the lions whose roaring will continue to echo in my ears. Not everything I experienced was bad. But enough of it caused me to have deep concerns which eventually led to disillusionment and confusion. When I left the "prophetic ministry" in 2000, I was burned out. The constant hype of the "next new thing" had drained me. When I returned to my hometown, a friend from my former church took one look at me and said, "What has happened to you? You look so old."

I didn't realize at that point what had happened to me. I just felt tired. The never-ending shifts of leadership responsibilities, the ever-increasing expectations of what I called "The Inner Sanctum" of that leadership, and the extreme hopefulness and spiritual ambition of the congregation all weighed heavily upon me. As a woman leader who was exhorted to "take up the mantle," I tried to walk the fine line of submission to this leadership while encouraging the students to place God first and to test all things. It didn't take long for me to realize that I was dealing with the Christian equivalent of "Sesame Street." The teachings of this ministry seemed to create an environment of dependency upon the leaders, squelching any questions or concerns because after all, the leaders knew better than the people.

It was that sense of spiritual elitism that I believe finally broke the proverbial camel's back for me. And it's colored my world ever since. Indeed, here I am, years after the break, still mulling over the influence this movement had over my life. Some would rightly ask if such movements are a cult. I don't believe it is a cult, but yet there are "cultish" ways about it. Those who are weak-minded will give in to the majority of a circus operation. But if you're a thinker, you'll either be branded a heretic or someone who "lacks faith."

Still, in the end, it is milk that is given to those in such a movement. Not meat. Meat is for grown-ups. Which brings me to yet another fresh understanding and appreciation for Catholicism.

True Catholicism is meat. A child enters into the faith through baptism but yet from the very beginning, they're not given a sugar-coated version of Christianity. They are told of the saints and how they were martyred for the faith. They are told about suffering and sacrifice. They are taught how to think of others before themselves and issues such as social justice. They are taught that abortion is wrong, just as euthanasia and murder. They are taught there is a place for holiness.

All of these things and more require discipline and determination. Those are two words a toddler does not understand. They need a good parent to teach it to them but spiritual movements such as "The Prophetic Movement" do not have such figures. They have pseudo-celebrities, but very few fathers. They have ambitious women but very few spiritual mothers. In some places, it is the inmates running the asylum.

Catholicism is so radically different but yet its unique position is that it's the original pattern for Christians. The Mass, which is seen by so many as boring and predictable, serves as a strong deterrent toward spiritual fads and trends. There is no "hot trend" in the Mass unless you count the Novus Ordo and the "personalization" of the liturgy. There are no "New Mystics" because (Praise God!) we've not tired of the old ones. If I could get a hairs breadth of the passion that St. Teresa of Avila had for her Lord, I'd have evangelized my entire neighborhood by now. If I had the compelling compassion of Mother Theresa, I'd be volunteering more of my time at a shelter.

Our saints instruct us and guide us to the One they follow - Jesus Christ, our Lord. They forever point the way to Him, His supreme goodness, love, and holy obedience to our Heavenly Father. Even our Blessed Virgin Mary forever points to her Son. Yes, there are new saints in the making, but we only mimic what the saints of old have endeavored to do - seek Him and obey. There really is nothing more.

The various movements to me seem much like the frivolous chattering of children. If you ever listen to children, they will talk about the most mundane and irrelevant pieces of information with great passion - even getting upset with their peers if they're not taken seriously.

But grown-ups know there is a time to put away childish things and get serious about life. Those who have been Catholic their entire life may know nothing else but to act responsibly. However, I can vouch for the fact that this perspective is far from being common among non-Catholic churches. Catholicism stands alone in her conduct, expectations, and fulfillment of living a life pleasing to God. As my non-Catholic family would say: "It's all about Him."

Catholicism makes sure of it by the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, an adherence to her seven sacraments, an allegiance to her doctrines, and obedience to God and His chosen instruments of authority. No other church has the entire package. Catholicism does.

How very grateful I am to God that He has allowed me to finally see the truth.


joannaB73 said...

How true this is, having come from an evangelical/prophetic type church which I believe has 'cultish' properties in the subjugation to its leaders and the 'spiritual elite'. There is no judgmentalism in catholicism and all come to the sacrament of reconciliation. I think also when you are in this environment, like a cult, you are blind to some of its inconsistencies and even 'false prophets' like the recent Todd Bentley movement in some churches. And like a cult when you come out - you might need some time for all of that to fall away so you can embrace the truth and the True Church. But what they are definitely lacking is the meat that we have in the eucharist.

owenswain said...

As a former pentecostal minister who reconciled with the Church Jesus instituted I can only agree with every word you've said here.

I am presently leading a group in our parish through a course called Catholicism 201, not RCIA but not unlike it, intended to help ground people. Could I ask permission to share this article with them when I meet this Tuesday evening as it illustrates the topic of The Church that we looked at two weeks ago? Look forward to hearing from you.

Elisabeth said...

YES!!! This is so much along the lines of what another friend and I were discussing, earlier (she's a "revert") that - we felt isolated in our experience; you've proven we are not!
Thank you so much!

Mary Rose said...

How dear is our precious Lord's sacrifice, given to us in His Body and Blood! I believe the same thing, Joanna. I also believe that confession, which I used to scoff at (because we were supposed to confess our sins to one another, but interestingly, that actually rarely happened within my charismatic church...), is another safeguard for us. Keeps us honest. :-)

Owen, I'd be honored. I'll say a few prayers for you and the class. How awesome that you have this opportunity! Yay!

Laura, I'm glad to hear it because I have often wondered how many "prophetic refugees" are in the pews again. Many of us left because the grass seemed to be greener on the other side. What a surprise!

owenswain said...

Thanks. I'm also the speaker for a mission in another local parish. Not sure how that happened but it has the bishop's approval so, off I go.

Janny said...

Yet again, a great insight, well expressed. There's so much conviction out there among non-Catholics that the Catholic Church holds us all to these strict standards just "because," and that the Catholic Church added things to Scripture that were never there, etc., etc., etc., that it's hard to "break through" that shell and ask people simple questions about what they're being taught on Sunday. Once one does that, it's amazing how much many nondenominational churches are NOT teaching anyone...

The saddest thing of all is the Catholic parishes where the Faith is being consistently watered down as well, to the point that, yes, if a Prod friend of mine goes to THAT parish, it ISN'T going to feel or sound much different than what she can get at the local nondenominational high-school gym. This is the time we all need to pray for a revival not only of our country, but of our Catholic Church itself--so that her children return to her roots and lose the idea that they have to be "inclusive" to be "as loving as Jesus was." Jesus wasn't "inclusive." He was EXclusive: the narrow way. The "camel through the eye of the needle." That's not "inclusive" or mamby-pamby language--it's tough love.

But there really IS no other way to embrace all that the Faith IS, all that Jesus IS, and all that we were meant to be from the beginning. In the end, "tough love" is the only kind worth hanging onto, and it's the only kind that sees us through a tough world.

Here's to solid nutrition coming back to our churches!