Sunday, November 09, 2008

The old cliche

Long ago I learned something important about myself. It has to do with honesty. Some may call it bluntness, but being honest often means being perfectly blunt. I admit I have difficulty sugar-coating my responses to personal questions, and there is nothing I take more personal than my faith.

Today I went to Mass at a Novus Ordo Church on the Sunshine Coast while visiting one of my sisters. This particular sister is not a Catholic, but she is a Christian. After Mass when we were having lunch together, she asked me if I liked the "service." I told her it was all right, and when she pressed me to tell her why I said it was just "all right" I told her I wasn't very fond of two of the songs the choir had sung. Of course, that piqued her curiosity and she wanted to know what I didn't like about the songs. I told her it was the words; that sometimes hymns end up praising the people instead of God, and I explained horizontal and vertical worship to her. One of the songs, I told her, was Bread of Life, and the objectionable words go like this:

I myself am the bread of life
you and I are the bread of life
taken and blessed, broken and shared
by Christ
that the world may live.

I told her I found the song heretical, (we are not the Bread of Life) and told her that the song celebrates ourselves rather than God as we reach out horizontally and praise our neighbour. It is a travesty to sing this song at Holy Communion; it totally misrepresents the meaning of the true Bread of Life. The other song whose words I objected to was Sing a New Church, and the example I used was this:

Let us bring the gifts that differ
And, in splendid, varied ways,
Sing a new Church into being,
One in faith and love and praise

I told her these songs do not accurately reflect proper worship of God, but sing the praises of the congregation instead of God. (What is wrong with the old Church that Jesus established? I asked. Why do we need to sing a new church into being?) To which she responded:

"Catholics are so judgmental. They go to church on Sunday, then sin all week and go back to be saved again the next Sunday. They don't live their faith the other six days out of the week."

I'm not sure what made me cringe more - the accusation of being judgmental (maybe she sings those songs at her church and really likes them!) or the old cliche about Catholics going to Church on Sunday and sinning all week until the next Sunday.

I told her that she must know some marginal Catholics, the ones who have a really poor grasp on their faith to give her that impression of the Catholic faith. I didn't carry on the conversation past this point, but chose to change the subject. There were other people at the table, and we had a ferry to catch. It would have taken me quite a while to explain, first of all, that Catholics are not "saved" rather, we are sinners who work out our salvation in fear and trembling in hope that if we endure to the end we will be saved, and secondly, that Catholics do try to live the Ten Commandments, and when we fail in that regard, we avail ourselves of the Sacrament of Confession. Now that last one would have really been a hot topic. I love my sister dearly, but religion is not something that makes for easy conversation.


Joe of St. Thérèse said...

Well, all of us sin and go to Church on Sunday. If either one of us were perfect, we'd be Jesus or Mary.

Thank goodness for Confession, which is the guaranteed way of forgiveness of sins :)

Any Catholic who says they perfectly live their lives M-Sat is crazy (let alone any Christian)

Sorry about the NO parish :(. I heard those songs at a NO Mass (the I (am not) the Bread of Life song). I brought it up with the person singing music, and told them the implications of singing a song in the first person. The Maronites when singing a song in first person will say Jesus said, which makes it better.

The NO is a last resort for me, if I can find a daily TLM, that's where I am, but fortunately, the NO at the 2 parishes I usually go to is very reverent and done strictly by the books.

Tom in Vegas said...

The sis has a lot to learn about what it means to be catholic.

Indeed, we do not consider ourselves saved, as some of the Protestant denominations claim to be. We are NOT the church of saints, but rather the Church of sinners STRIVING to be saints.

Cygnus said...

Unfortunately, your sister has fallen into that postmodern way of thinking that everything is okay, and the worst possible sin is to be intolerant or judgmental.

IMO, we need more intolerant and judgmental people in the world.

Shirley said...

I wonder if M. knows that she was being judgemental?? And if she really thinks that born-again Christians are free of sin just because they have been "saved"? How simple life must seem for them! Being a Catholic is very hard: My yoke is heavy, but the burden is light! I love being Catholic.

+JMJ+ said...

We have all had this conversation, haven't we.

Those are two of the songs that bothered us most too and we are grateful not to hear them now in the Latin Mass.

We love our siblings and it is so sad when we can only have superficial conversations with them because they are so blind to the faith. :(

ignorant redneck said...

"Catholics sin all week, go to confession on Saturday, Mass on Sunday, and start over".

Well, yes--all of us are struggling with sin. Our Lady was free of original sin, and probably didn't have to struggle. Jesus was sent into the desert and sent Satan packing after he tried to empt him. The rest of us, not so much.

Try this: "Protestants sin all week, don't bother to confess their sins, and go to Church on Sunday." Just as accurate, but emphasises the lack of willingness to confess ones sins.

Anita Moore said...

Two other "songs" I loathe and despise (ooh, how judgmental of me) are "Women of the Church" and "In These Days of Lenten Journey," both of which (especially the second one) are just psychobabble.

It's interesting that Protestants (at least of the once-saved-always-saved persuasion) are convinced that we can and should know the state of our souls for certain (even while acknowledging that our capacity for self-deceit in less serious matters is endless); but yet, they reject the very helps by which we can come closest to "knowing." For instance:

-- When a baby is baptized, you can be absolutely certain that, if he dies before reaching the age of reason, he goes straight to Heaven, do not pass go, do not collect $200.00. I don't think unbaptized babies go to Hell, but I also can't be 100% certain they go to Heaven either, in view of the necessity of Baptism. (I got into trouble with some people on a miscarriage support forum who found my post on this subject from a couple of years ago and threw a fit.)

-- When you make a good confession (not deliberately hiding mortal sins, firm purpose of amendment), you can be absolutely certain that your sins are forgiven.

-- When you frequent Holy Communion worthily, you can be certain that your venial sins are remitted and you are being strengthened against mortal sin.

-- When you worthily receive the Sacrament of the sick, you can be certain that your soul is prepared to meet God if you die right then.

Even with all these, we still have to work out our salvation in fear and trembling, as St. Paul says. But it's amazing that no one is so certain about their ultimate fate as those who do without these helps!

Terry Nelson said...

Next time tell her that we Catholics would be even worse if we didn't go to Church on Sunday and frequent the sacrament of penance. Oh, and knowing the Truth helps one to recognize heresy even in pretty songs.