Thursday, October 21, 2010

A #Catholic Challenging the Culture: Blindly Following?

A recent article from NBC Chicago, featured a poll showing younger people as more devout to Catholicism than older people, referencing a story in The Chicago Tribune. The poll was conducted by Fr. Andrew Greeley, based on 500 respondents in Chicago's Cook and Lake counties in 2007. The newspaper story led with the youth angle, but in the NBC piece, there was a paragraph that said more than the words chosen (emphasis mine):
"The study also discusses “Cafeteria Catholics,” those who still revere the sacraments, but don’t blindly follow the church's teachings on moral, religious and political issues."

Why the phrase "blindly follow?" And how presumptuous is such a statement? I have seen this phrase used frequently, usually by those who have no understanding of the Catholic Church or her doctrine.

I am Catholic. As a Catholic, I am to trust the wisdom and authority of the Church. Does this mean I have checked my brain at the door? Of course not. Catholics are not known for "blindly following" anything. Catholicism has given us some of the brightest and most intellectual minds throughout history and have questioned everything from faulty science to prickly social justice issues. But to assume that since I follow the church's teachings on moral, religious, and political issues means I'm "blind," and by inference, incapable of thinking, is to assume several things. First, that the Church is wrong, and second, that trust and obedience are for suckers. It is highly offensive and insulting to those of us who know full well what we follow and why.

I am weary of these attacks on the Magisterium. There is something that goes deeper with trusting in the Church's teachings and it is a topic I've covered before. Trust requires surrender. It requires putting aside my doubts and asking God for the grace to believe. "I believe, help my unbelief!"

This isn't just a cry from a man thousands of years ago who pled with Jesus Christ for the ability to trust Him, but it is for all of us. Who wrestles with the Church's teachings except those who have not yet reached that level of trust? It certainly isn't easy to trust when we live in a culture that promotes sexuality without responsibility, religion on our own terms, and politics that aggressively pushes an anti-family, anti-God humanism no matter what the cost. These beliefs and philosophies have infiltrated the Church with an agenda that is not God's. It is actually an agenda that promotes, as Pope John Paul II said, a "culture of death."

I'd like to suggest a different phrase: "trustingly follow." I trust that those who in authority over me know what they're doing. If not, they're the ones who have to answer to God. Our hierarchy of Church government has a solemn job to do. They seek God for direction and make choices. I am called to trust their wisdom and to continually pray for them. They do their job. I do mine.

"Blind" is not even remotely a part of the equation.


kkollwitz said...

Doubt is the handmaid of Faith.

My impression is that whatever the subject, the Church has the most comprehensive understanding. Thus to think in concert with the Mind of the Church is to tap into that great reservoir of knowledge and reflection.

Janny said...

I have only one question. Why is Andrew Greeley even REMOTELY considered a Catholic priest anymore?

The moment I saw that name associated with any survey, I had a sneaking hunch it'd be nothing more than cooperative pap with an anti-Catholic press. Unfortunately, that appears to be precisely the case. Or has "Father" Greeley written to NBC and protested their unfortunate wording?

Yeah. Right. Two chances of that happening.



Mary Rose said...

Doubt is the handmaid of Faith.

Christian, you have some wonderful and profound gems. I meant to say earlier that I loved this and your response. :-)

kkollwitz said...

"Doubt is the handmaid of Faith."

Just to confirm this isn't my line; it's at least 130 years old.

Mary Rose said...

It is just a beautiful line! I need to remember it when talking with someone who is experiencing it, counting myself. :-)

kkollwitz said...

I finally remembered something I'd read about faith & doubt, found it.

B16 says:

"Just as the believer is choked by the salt water of doubt constantly washed into his mouth by the ocean of uncertainty, so the nonbeliever is troubled by doubts about his unbelief, about the real totality of the world he has made up his mind to explain as a self-contained whole . . . [He too] remains threatened by the question of whether belief is not after all the reality it claims to be. . . . Anyone who makes up his mind to evade the uncertainty of belief will have to experience the uncertainty of unbelief, which can never finally eliminate for certain the possibility that belief may after all be the truth. It is not until belief is rejected that its unrejectability becomes evident."