The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench


Why aren’t we like the Muslims?

posted by jmcgee

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How many Catholics do you know who are as dedicated to religious fasting?

Take a look:

Pakistani flood survivors already short on food and water began the fasting month of Ramadan on Thursday, a normally festive, social time marked this year by misery and fears of an uncertain future.

The U.S. announced a navy ship with 19 helicopters and 1,000 Marines on board was close to the southern coast of the country and relief flights would soon begin. The U.N. launched an emergency appeal for international assistance for Pakistan after the already-poor nation was hit with one of its worst-ever natural disasters.

Damage to crops, roads and bridges have caused food prices to triple in some parts of the country, adding to the pain of those marking the fasting month.

“Ramadan or no Ramadan, we are already dying of hunger,” said Mai Hakeema, a 50-year-old who sat alongside her ailing husband in a tent outside the city of Sukkur. “We are fasting forcibly, and mourning our losses.”

Observant Muslims fast from dawn to dusk each day for a month each year to control their desires and show empathy for the poor. The month is marked by increased attendance at mosques, a rise in charitable giving and family gatherings that coincide with the evening breaking of the fast.

While millions of flood-affected people were performing the fast, Mufti Muneebur Rehman, one of the country’s top religious scholars, said victims living in difficult conditions dependent on charity could skip the fast and perform later in the year.

“I am sad to miss the first day of fasting,” said Ghullam Fareed of Gormani village in eastern Punjab province. “Later, when we reach home, we will compensate for this.”

In the northwest, where many are especially devout, many refugees said flood or no flood, they would fast.

“I cannot disobey God, so I am fasting as it is part of my faith no matter what the conditions are,” said Fazal Rabi, 47, who was staying in a tent village in Akbarpura.

Check out the rest.

UPDATE: Okay.  Comments are closed.  Can’t people have a civilized discussion anymore?



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dymphna

posted August 12, 2010 at 10:46 am


I guess ’cause we aren’t fanatics?



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Dana MacKenzie

posted August 12, 2010 at 10:47 am


We are not that dedicated to fasting because we have not been TAUGHT that dedication to fasting.
Also, material prosperity distances us from God; we do not feel as dependent upon him and therefore don’t see the point of fasting.
Also, fasting requires sacrifice, which is a concept increasingly unknown in the west, and not even much taught in the church. And it causes discomfort. We don’t like discomfort.
Also we’re lazy. But mostly, we’re just too prosperous for our own good.
Thankfully, Obama is helping us out, there.



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Klaire

posted August 12, 2010 at 11:01 am


Dr. Peter Kreeft, often makes the case for the Muslims never missing a chance to point out that even as flawed as their religion is, most are faithful and obedient to it, unlike many Catholics. The point being, obedience is what God seeks (and rewards). The other thing they really have right is Mary, they LOVE Mother Mary.
For a fascinating read, goggle Bishop Fulton’s Sheen’s chapter of the Worlds First Love, “Mary and the Muslems.” It’s a jaw dropper, easily found free on line.
(For clarity, this has nothing to do with the radical terrorists who have hijacked the Muslim faith)



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Panthera

posted August 12, 2010 at 11:29 am


“Thankfully, Obama is helping us out there….”
Why is it, when I point out something the Republicans did in violation of Christian principles, everybody screams how unfair I am and how tired they are of ‘me’ attacking the Party of God.
When you do it, it’s just fine and dandy, Dana?
What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.



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Romulus

posted August 12, 2010 at 11:33 am


Dymphna, what you think of as fanaticism was part of Christianity centuries before Mohammed was ever heard of. Nor is it obsolete today.



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MARTIN S>

posted August 12, 2010 at 11:33 am


We need not try to measure our devotion
by what we do without; rather by love
that calls us to sacrifice and self-
denial!!



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RomCath

posted August 12, 2010 at 12:39 pm


I think the popularity polls for the current president speak for themselves.



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Russ Emrick

posted August 12, 2010 at 12:52 pm


Perhaps it is because Christians follow a living person and not a fanatical Old Testament type religion. Perhaps we learned nothing from God’s word telling us he is more interested in charity and love than religion. “Depart from me for I NEVER knew you” I think someone important said.
Yeah, lets be more like the religion of peace. Oh, by the way, who is providing the majority of relief, food, and support? Who always does. Could the answer be, lets see…Christians?
I am so offended by this article. I get your point: why aren’t we as committed to our Lord as Muslims are committed to theirs? Glorifying religious fanaticism that intensifies human suffering doesn’t please God and isn’t something Christians should emulate. Why not ask: why can’t Muslims be more like Christians and give money, support and aid to the suffering?
Please tell me a Pastor didn’t write this.



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romancrusader

posted August 12, 2010 at 12:55 pm


I think that in our efforts to understand Islam and the thought process of Muslims, the dualism of its teachings can be befuddling. Sometimes, I think that that this dualism renders dialogue or debates with Muslims circuitous and unfruitful.



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Klaire

posted August 12, 2010 at 1:09 pm


Russ are you aware, and it’s even cited in the Catechism of the Catholic Faith, that Muslems worship the SAME God as we do?
Also, Scripture and Catholic teaching CLEARLY teaches that obedience is more important than sacrifice (any day of the week for sure, (my words), because Scripture also tells us that without obedience, we cannot get the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Indeed many Christians and non Christians do charity work, and without quesiton the CC leads the way in the world as far as charity, as does the US, but the bottom line is still, obedience over sacrifice.
I would also argue that many “get their reward” by their boasting, and although they are ‘charitable’, it’s often for the wrong reasons. Besides, did you know there is no spiritual merit for our good deeds if we are not in grace (God can’t coexhist with sin).
As I often say, I think we are all going to be shocked and trembling on the big judgement day.
To confuse “radical islam” with the peaceful Muslems is as silly as it is erroneous. I say, “Don’t ever bet against the Muslems”, as God is wonderous and mysterious, and always rewards obedience.



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SMooner

posted August 12, 2010 at 1:14 pm


It is not your works that saves. If fasting is done because someone told you to do it then you are working you way to salvation. That is what is incorrect with lent, giving something up to gain favor and Ramadan.
Show me in the Bible, not some edict where we are supposed to fast and required to fast. Meatless Fridays? Where did that come from man or God.



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romancrusader

posted August 12, 2010 at 1:18 pm


Smooner,
Try Luke 5:35 But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, then shall they fast in those days.



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Rudy

posted August 12, 2010 at 1:19 pm


“If I speak in the tongues[a] of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames,[b] but have not love, I gain nothing”.
‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[b] 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[c] 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
I think in the end the rule of any sacrifice is Love; of God and of neighbor.



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Romulus

posted August 12, 2010 at 1:29 pm


I don’t think any Christian should despise fasting, seeing that our Lord himself both practised it and recommended it to others.



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Romulus

posted August 12, 2010 at 1:43 pm


SMooner: it is interesting that you demand a prescript for fasting from the bible. Have you considered that the bible would have no authority at all if not for the Church? The bible is neither self-authenticating nor self-interpreting.



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Teena H. Blackburn

posted August 12, 2010 at 2:07 pm


The Eastern Orthodox Churches keep four fasting seasons a year: Great Lent, the Apostle’s Fast, the Dormition Fast (going on now if you’re new calendar) and the Nativity Fast. We also fast on Wednesdays and Fridays, and from Midnight on Saturday if we are going to take Holy Communion on Sunday. Do all Orthodox do this? No, but the rule is there if you want to embrace it and try to grow into it. Fasting on Wednesdays and Fridays dates back at least to the Didache. You don’t have to look to Islam for serious fasting-look to the Christian churches that still keep historic, in some cases, apostolic practice. Fasting is necessary for spiritual growth, and I am surprised to read so many well-fed Americans dismissing it as if it’s of little or no importance. It is not an end in itself, but I don’t recall anyone saying it is. That doesn’t mean it’s to be disregarded. I have long argued that the major problem in the American Roman Catholic church is not catechesis (although that is a problem), but rather the lack of a rigorous, corporate ascetic life. Christianity is an ascetic struggle-if you take the asceticism out, where is the growth in love and charity? One Coptic leader recently remarked that no church that fasts as little as the contemporary Roman Catholic church can be considered apostolic. Not a particularly “nice” remark, but perhaps something to think about. Rather than just dismissing fasting, ask why an ancient church finds itself so far from the apostolic and historic paradigm on ascetic struggle?



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Roman

posted August 12, 2010 at 2:59 pm


I’ll take a lax approach to fasting over a strict approach to murdering ‘infidels’ any day.



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NAMVET527

posted August 12, 2010 at 3:17 pm


Religious FASTING is a very minor religious RITUAL. GOD cares more about the HEART than some very minor religious RITUAL.



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Gerard Nadal

posted August 12, 2010 at 3:22 pm


Interesting comments here from all. A few generalized responses and observations.
First, regarding obedience being greater than sacrifice. See Isaiah 58 on the acceptable fast. Jesus fasted. He instructed us by saying WHEN you fast… and goes on to describe how to do so in order to be heard by the Father. For Jesus, it was a given that we would. Both obedience AND sacrifice are necessary. Without sacrifice, which focuses us inward on that which keeps us from God, and outward on those to whom we need to be more charitable, obedience begins to suffer as well. The real question to answer first is WHY sacrifice is so very necessary.
Next, In response to Deacon Kandra’s question, I believe that fasting exists where the concept of sin exists. We don’t fast because sin is no longer preached for the most part. It says something when Karl Menninger had to write a book in 1978 entitled, Whatever Became of Sin? Islam still focuses on sin, albeit with an appalling sense of retributive justice overlaid with some hefty misogyny. But those errors can only find their resolution in High Christology. Nevertheless, where the Muslims get it right is in the area of the existence of sin and the need for ascetic practices such as fasting that focus us on God and His role in our lives.
While Islam has Ramadan, our Orthodox brothers and sisters have a pretty stringent fast of their own during Lent.



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Gigi

posted August 12, 2010 at 3:47 pm


Re: Fasting:
When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 17But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.



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Teena H. Blackburn

posted August 12, 2010 at 4:50 pm


Yes, Namvet, God cares about the heart. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” The question is how do we get a pure heart. Historically, it has been understood that we achieve a pure heart by such things as repentance, prayer, fasting, almsgiving and receiving the sacraments. If human nature is wounded by sin, which is a teaching of the Roman Catholic church as well as the Orthodox, then we have to ask ourselves what means God has given us to heal that wound. Fasting has always been seen as one of those means. It is an aid to the healing of the passions. To dismiss fasting is to suggest that we have no need to deny ourselves, or to suggest that the state of our body has nothing to do with the state of our soul (as in the old patristic maxim that one cannot pray well on a full stomach). To fast frees up money to give to the poor and reminds us of our dependence on God. We don’t do it to gain favor with God-we do it because we need it. Roman Catholicism is a sacramental religion, and I don’t think it would give much time to the idea that we could be “pure in heart” without some physical discipline. Holiness is not an idea or a set of attitudes-it is a life-long fight with our own disordered desires, the fight aided and made possible by cooperation with the freely given grace of God.



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Gerard Nadal

posted August 12, 2010 at 4:58 pm


Amen, Tina!



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Gerard Nadal

posted August 12, 2010 at 5:25 pm


NamVet,
First, thank you for your service to our country during war. Next, you are quite correct in what you say, but that’s where the rituals come in: Prayer, fasting penance and almsgiving are all actions that are meant to temper the heart.
You’re a war veteran and can relate to how behavior sculpts the heart/character. Men who seem to be screw-ups stateside surprise everyone with their selflessness and heroic virtues. All are tempered by the experiences of hardships induced by extreme heat, tropical disease, fear, fury. Men and women come home forever changed, some for better, some for worse.
In a controlled manner, prayer, fasting, penance and almsgiving are actions that are meant to temper the heart and soul for the better. The more we engage these, the greater our capacity for more. It’s like the soldiers who go off to war terrified of what they will face, face more than they expected, and reup for another tour.



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Teena H. Blackburn

posted August 12, 2010 at 6:07 pm


Clarification:
I would say for those of us in the Orthodox faith, asceticism is not even seen as discipline in the same way as it is commonly viewed in the West. It is seen as part of the process of deification, in which the body and soul are healed so that we might become “God by grace.” Perhaps fasting and other forms of asceticism can be given another chance by the West if there is clarity on the purpose of such exercises and clarity on the goal. What is the purpose of the Christian life? If it is to be like God, if it is to live the divine life by grace, then I think fasting and such things fall into place and make great sense. That is why even as we admire Muslims who are pious, we have to keep in mind they do not fast for the same reasons. We also do not fast because we hate the body, but rather because we know that its final end is to share in the glory of God. “God became man so that man might become God.”



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george

posted August 12, 2010 at 6:07 pm


The path to being ‘in’ the world but not ‘of’ it may require some to observe certain ascetic rituals. Once a person attains self-realization, enlightenment, nirvana etc., there is no longer any ‘required’ set of ‘rituals’ to practise. One is free to do or to not do.



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Romulus

posted August 12, 2010 at 6:08 pm


Namvet: God cares a great deal about ritual, because he has established some and ordered us to retain them. Ritual is important in our lives because we’re created that way. You cannot dismiss ritual from your life without dismissing God’s will for you.



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RomCath

posted August 12, 2010 at 6:54 pm


“One Coptic leader recently remarked that no church that fasts as little as the contemporary Roman Catholic church can be considered apostolic. Not a particularly “nice” remark”
I found this remark rather offensive. As a Catholic I don’t need to be told how unspiritual we are because we don’t fast as the Orthodox. As for not being apotolic, the Church of Rome pre-exists the Orthodox.



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Ceile De

posted August 12, 2010 at 7:15 pm


In case anyone has forgotten, we still have Lenten fast and abstinence, as well as (Wednesday and Friday abstinence in the Roman Catholic Church. Further, there is a minimum one hour fasting requirement before receipt of the Eucharist – a ridiculously short time unless one is stuffing one’s face while walking into Church but the rule is still there. Fast and abstinence beyond what is required by our Church is a wonderful gift for those who wish to pursue it – but fasting and abstinence as required by the Church is still binding on all. People just need to remember it. I get tired hearing, in answer to almost any quesiton of practice, belief or devotion: “That went out with Vatican II”. Some things did but any such claims should always be backed up with clear documentary evidence. Not as much changed as is generally assumed.



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Teena H. Blackburn

posted August 12, 2010 at 7:58 pm


RomCath:
Sorry if you were offended. I’m not Coptic, by the way. I was simply pointing out that the current level of ascetic discipline (or lack thereof) in the contemporary Roman Catholic Church is noted by other churches as something not particularly healthy for its members. Your own Church, by the way, would not say that you pre-exist the Orthodox. We were all the same Church for the first 1,000 years and then we diverged. I didn’t say you were unspiritual. I said the contemporary practice of your church diverges from the practice of the historic and apostolic faith. Fasting has been a part of the Church since its inception. Laws and disciplines change, but as I noted, fasting on Wednesdays and Fridays has been normative since apostolic times. The Roman Catholic Church dropped Wednesdays a long time ago. I understand there is some effort to restore fasting on Fridays. If some people do it, great, but it is not the corporate practice of your church, which makes it harder to do because you’re not doing it as a body. I said nothing about whether you’re holy or spiritual. If the Roman Catholic church’s departure from ancient practices causes other bodies to question its adherence to the apostolic faith, well, so it does. You can’t blame people for noticing.



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Klaire

posted August 12, 2010 at 10:08 pm


Teena with all respect don’t you think it’s a big presumptious to “know” how much any of we Romans fast? After all, the most spiritual fasts with the greatest merit are ones that aren’t talked about, or even better, ever noticed.
I know many Roman Catholics who fast both on Wed and Fri, especially the Medjedgorie followers. As well, we still have devotions and novenas and depending on our prayer requests,can fast ANY time, as many also often do in praying novena’s for the right to life, etc. Bottom line, there are many R Catholics doing much fasting, just not “announcing it.” Furthermore, Friday is still a required penetential day in the Roman Church. I personally still abstain from meat as my “Friday Penance”, but if I didn’t, I would need to come up with another type of Penance. Not eating meat on Friday was a church disipline, which unlike dogma, could, and was, changed to comply more with cultural means, as for many, NOT eating meat is no sacrifice at all.
Funny that so many, as someone earlier in this thread did, bring up, the “meat on Friday”, often being clueless that the only thing that changed about “not eating meat on Friday”, was that we were given a choice of our penance. Most of the Catholics I know stick with the meat penance.
I don’t discount the severe fasting of the Orthodox’s, which IMO, is one of the reasons your church has probably not gotten as “wordly” as much of ours has. That said, we are for the most part “down to the remnant”, in terms of Catholics who truly live the faith, and I can assure you, that remnant “gets” the power and importance of fasting, in fact more now than ever.



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Teena H. Blackburn

posted August 12, 2010 at 10:26 pm


Klaire:
Well, since you asked. :) I was Roman Catholic from the time I was 18 until I was almost 40. I have a MA in Theology from the Franciscan University of Steubenville and worked professionally for a Catholic diocese for 11 years in three different parishes. I don’t know how many Catholics personally fast, as I do not know how many Orthodox actually keep the fast. That was not my point. My point was about the corporate call to Fasting. I am sure many Catholics in fact fast more than some Orthodox. My guess. I am talking about the corporate, church-wide expectations of fasting rather than private devotions. I know Friday is still a day of penitence in the Roman Catholic Church, but the point is, you get to choose the penance. That is not the same as having a corporate fast-that doesn’t mean you can’t get spiritual fruit out of it. Frankly, my experience in working with Roman Catholics in three different parishes over a period of eleven years is that many of them heard the part about being able to eat meat on Friday. They did not hear the part about needing to do some other penance. For those who do, more power to them. I wish more Roman Catholics would take up the Wednesday and Friday fast-I wish for the sake of the faithful that it was encouraged more widely. I’m not trying to insult you or claim any knowledge about your personal holiness. I do, however, know this practice from both sides. In the Roman Catholic Church, there is no Nativity Fast, Dormition Fast or Apostle’s Fast. During Lent, there are two fast days-Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. All the Fridays of Lent are days of abstinence. That’s it. The Communion Fast is an hour before receiving Communion. I watched people walk into Mass with the coffee cups from the McDonald’s breakfast they had on the way to Church. Does this make them bad people? No. I would say, however, that it doesn’t give much of a chance to prepare for the reception of the Holy Eucharist. Frankly, I’m lousy at fasting. What I’m grateful for is that Orthodoxy didn’t lower the bar. The standard is there to strive for, and my failure reminds me that I am a sinner in need of grace and further ascetic struggle. That was my whole original point-that a lack of a substantial corporate (not private devotional) ascetic life is not good for the long-term spiritual development of the members of your church. America is a materialistic, well-fed and self-centered society. The fasting rules were relaxed at the point in history where they were perhaps needed more than ever. That’s my whole point.



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Klaire

posted August 13, 2010 at 12:46 am


Fair enough Teena. Your quote:
“The fasting rules were relaxed at the point in history where they were perhaps needed more than ever. That’s my whole point”
Actually, I think we are much on the same page. I probably didn’t write well, but my point as well was that, at least the devout Catholics, DO get that fasting is necessary, and many do it quite often.
I would have to think that even if the Roman Catholic Church doesn’t require it, there certainly has to be considerable merit in those who do it when not required.
I agree with you that it is very hard; I’m not very good at it either, but when I do manage to pull it off, it’s VERY rewarding.



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Will

posted August 13, 2010 at 1:54 am


For the last several years, I have kept a strict fast for Lent and have begun fasting on Fridays all year long…



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RomCath

posted August 13, 2010 at 7:29 am


Teena, So after working for and milking the Catholic Church for 11 years, you decide to leave and join the Orthodox Church, not in communion with Rome and now you lecture Roman Catholics on the ascetical life. Please spare the lecture and tell us the real reason you left the true faith.
[RomCath ... I can understand your passion, but please strive to treat Teena with the same courtesy, respect and thoughtfulness with which she has been treating the rest of the commenters here. Thank you. Dcn. G.]



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Steve P

posted August 13, 2010 at 9:06 am


Wow– IMHO, it’s time to issue a warning to RomCath.
Even if one doesn’t agree with them, I have found Teena’s comments here to be insightful, well-worded and courteous. In contrast to so much of the crap that gets posted here. The only reason I bother wading through the comments is to find things like what Teena has written.
But instead of appreciating her clarity and respecting her, despite differing opinions, she is accused of some heinous crime, tantamount to embezzlement and betrayal.
Give me a break. And don’t tell me “she started it” by accusing Roman Catholics of being ascetical wusses. She mentioned the rather harsh criticism of an Orthodox (Coptic) leader, and noted the connection to her own extensive experiences in Church work. And frankly, working as much as I do in Catholic circles, I find very little off-base about her observations, and I don’t take it as some sort of personal insult.
[Steve: Amen. I think Teena and others with her degree of thoughtfulness and seriousness of purpose need to be encouraged around these parts, not discouraged. Dcn. G.]



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Teena H. Blackburn

posted August 13, 2010 at 10:31 am


I would have probably become Orthodox in the first place, but there were not Orthodox churches where I was raised. I knew there was “The” Church, and I knew it was either the Roman Catholic or the Orthodox. Being a Westerner in a rural area, I converted to the Roman Catholic Church, thinking (I must say) that I was converting to something far different than I actually was. I went off to Steubenville desiring to work for the Church, and I came home and did so. Over the years I found that I no longer believed the claims of the Roman Catholic Church about itself. I was told by neo-conservative Catholics to just be faithful to the Pope. That was an abstraction without a lot of meaning when I dealt on a daily basis with an impoverished liturgical life and a diocese full of heresy all the way up to the bishop’s office. When I looked at the early Church, I saw Orthodoxy rather than Roman Catholicism. I had doctrinal issues, but also issues of how to live a Christian life. I needed Vespers and Matins. I needed a liturgy that wasn’t full of guitar strumming and banality. I needed to be able to get up in the morning and not be afraid that the teaching and practice of my church had shifted again beneath my feet. I needed a church that was less Protestant-I don’t know how to say it any other way, and I don’t mean to be ugly, really. I found Roman Catholicism in practice, as opposed to theory and lovely books, to be a rather watered down, almost determinedly ugly thing that worked very hard to distance itself from historical belief and practice while claiming to hold onto the same. There were and are blessed exceptions to that, but I didn’t see it or experience it for the most part in my diocese. Simply put, RomCath, I didn’t believe the doctrine, I did not see or experience the opportunities for a full, undiluted, traditional spiritual and ascetic life, and I found the liturgical life frankly unbearable. Lex orandi, lex credendi. I used to be very disturbed when I heard of Catholics converting to Orthodoxy, and I would try to talk myself into reasons why I should stay Catholic. It hit a nerve. I watched (and was) one of those good, faithful Catholics who tried to hold onto what is good, true and beautiful in Catholicism. I had great respect for old customs and practices, and watched in sadness as young people converted, expecting and wanting these things only to be told, “Oh, we don’t do that anymore.” I gritted my teeth as a visiting priest ad-libbed through the canon. I dealt with the feminist nuns and the obviously gay, theologically heterodox priests as they mocked the doctrines and practices of the less enlightened. All for under $15,000 a year-so much for milking the institution. I have friends and family who are Catholics. I have great respect for what is good in the Roman Catholic Church-mostly the good and decent people you find who still strive mightily to serve God.



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Ceile De

posted August 13, 2010 at 10:52 am


Teena wrote:
“I watched (and was) one of those good, faithful Catholics who tried to hold onto what is good, true and beautiful in Catholicism. I had great respect for old customs and practices, and watched in sadness as young people converted, expecting and wanting these things only to be told, “Oh, we don’t do that anymore.” I gritted my teeth as a visiting priest ad-libbed through the canon. I dealt with the feminist nuns and the obviously gay, theologically heterodox priests as they mocked the doctrines and practices of the less enlightened.”
I think Teena has hit the nail firmly on the head. We rarely go to a Novus Ordo Mass any more for the same reasons but, Teena, while I respect and have a lot of sympathy for your choice, the corporate Catholic Church which you wished to join originally is alive and well among those of us who attend the Extraordinary Form pursuant to Summorum Pontificum (I am not talking about SSPX or other groups in less than full union with the rest of the Church). My wife and I were recently in Japan and had to go to the Orthodox Church there for sustenance from the shock of the liturgical abuses at the Novus Ordo Masses there (both said by Western, not Japanese, priests, I may add.
Teena, if people like you hadn’t left for the Orthodox, th Catholic Church mightn’t fele the pressure to rediscover who she is. I am so confident that both our Churches may reunite some day. We need you.



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RomCath

posted August 13, 2010 at 11:49 am


“I dealt with the feminist nuns and the obviously gay, theologically heterodox priests”
Where charity and love prevail!!!!!!!!!!!!!
One might realize there are Eastern Rites in union with Rome that mirror the Orthodox rites. Further any Catholic who has read Paul VI’s Paenetemini knows that fasting in the Church has not been abandoned.
Ubi Petrus, Ibi Ecclesia.



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Teena H. Blackburn

posted August 13, 2010 at 11:57 am


Thanks for your kind words, but as I said, I ceased to believe the doctrine. I think Western theology went off the rails several centuries ago. The liturgical life was just one more thing, but it was a huge thing. What you end up with is an abstract, intellectual assent to a set of propositions without an embodied sacramental life that lives out those propositions. I read books about the glories of Catholicism (lots of Chesterton, Belloc, English martyrs-you know the stuff), while realizing that none of these people would recognize what was going on at a typical Sunday Mass. Orthodoxy has its own sins and sinners (chiefly me), but most converts seem to want the traditional Christian life. Roman Catholicism has fallen into Protestant dualism-you see the fear of having “too many images” lest you distract the faithful from the enforced “active participation.” Good grief. Lots of emphasis on the intellectual as if the body doesn’t matter. You have liturgical reform imposed from on high rather than organic, slow, mostly unnoticed development. The Roman Catholic Church started tinkering with liturgy and the spiritual life long before Vatican II, and I think what you have ended up with is a very American, quasi-Protestant, bland entity. I went to Mass with a friend at the diocesan cathedral a couple of Lents ago-she was coming back to the Church. No incense. Loud, overbearing music ministers, singing “Ashes” or some such monstrosity. No chant. Ugly vestments. Ugly music. A worship service focused on “me, me, me.” We spent an awful lot of time singing about ourselves, it seemed to me. Look, I’ve been Orthodox long enough to be over the honeymoon. We have lots of problems, because like all churches, we are full of sinful people. I have, however, found a place where the struggle is honored. We’re not looking to reinvent the wheel. I can cover my head and prostrate myself without being thought a weirdo. I never get up on Sunday thinking, “Oh God, what is Father going to do to the Liturgy today”? I spend more time repenting, and less time being angry. I was a very angry Catholic, and that fed my own pride and self-centeredness. Bad for me, and for those around me. It led to a lot of sin in my own life.



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Teena H. Blackburn

posted August 13, 2010 at 12:09 pm


Last comment. RomCath: Since when is speaking the truth uncharitable? I didn’t say I hated those people or did not pray for them. I didn’t say that I’m not more a sinner than they are. I just spoke the truth. You might want to investigate that quote a little more-I did. That’s all I’ll say about that. I spent years convincing myself that I just needed to be faithful to the Pope (whatever he said that week, month, year), while trying to live a liturgical life that bore little or no resemblance to anything popes in previous centuries would recognize or approve of. I have striven to be polite here, out of charity for good Catholics that I respect very much. I have to say, however, that your outrage seems to suggest that I’ve stricken a nerve. I don’t have to lecture you about fasting, and won’t. I would not presume to know the status of your soul. Good way to send myself to hell. I have been on both sides, however, and I can honestly say that there is nothing (except perhaps the practice of daily liturgy) about Roman Catholicism that I miss. When I go to Liturgy and bow down I thank God from the bottom of my heart that I don’t have to deal with the mess of American Roman Catholicism anymore.



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RomCath

posted August 13, 2010 at 12:19 pm


I don’t know exactly what doctrine you disagree with but what seems to attract you more than the truth are the trappings… Incense, music, liturgy. That isn’t where our faith is. The core teachings of the Catholic Church as received from God’s Word is where our faith is and what is most important.
Have a happy life.



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Antonius Magnus

posted August 13, 2010 at 12:57 pm


The fact that you think the Holy Liturgy is a trapping rather than the manifestation of the truth Christians believe says it all. It sounds as if this nice lady has hit some kind of soft spot with you, RomCath!



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RomCath

posted August 13, 2010 at 1:36 pm


The Holy Liturgy is an expression of our faith and worship. A beautiful liturgy can be celebrated without any incense or music whatsoever.
“Nice ladies” don’t call the Catholic Church a “mess”. It doesn’t bode well for ecumenism. So the soft spot has not been hit unless with you “Magnus”. lol



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romancrusader

posted August 13, 2010 at 1:51 pm


Teena,
“I spent years convincing myself that I just needed to be faithful to the Pope”
It’s easy to throw in the towel and give up isn’t it? Reminds me of what our Blessed Lord said,
Luke 12:48 “But he that knew not, and did things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. And unto whomsoever much is given, of him much shall be required: and to whom they have committed much, of him they will demand the more.”
Something for you to think about. Why didn’t you become part of the solution?
“I can cover my head and prostrate myself without being thought a weirdo.”
Seems to me you fail to understand that those who persevere to the end will be saved. If you wanted the Mass to be more reverent, why didn’t you try being the example you want other people to be?
You really need to reconsider what you’ve done.



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Antonius Magnus

posted August 13, 2010 at 2:44 pm


@RomCath: Nice try. You mentioned liturgy as a “trapping” your own self, not I. Quote,
“…what seems to attract you more than the truth are the trappings… Incense, music, liturgy.”
And by the way, the Catholic Church is a mess. Sorry that you are one of the few people who doesn’t know that. Are you 100% OK with all the Roman Church does and is right now? If you are, great. But to attack some faithful believer that only wanted to put in her two cents on an issue in such a accusatory and petty way is ugly, and not very Christian. That is why I mentioned that it seemed a nerve was struck with you–if it’s just someone else’s opinion, what’s that to you? Your comments belie a deeper dissatisfaction with something; my guess is you know Teena is right, and are just too stubborn to admit it, and too rude to just drop the whole thing.



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Teena H. Blackburn

posted August 13, 2010 at 2:56 pm


OK, really last comment. This post has become about me, and I’m not interested in that. I made some remarks about Christian fasting, and somewhere along the line, this has become about my faith. romancrusader: You do not know me. You do not know whether it was easy for me to “throw in the towel” or not. Unless you’re an old acquaintance under an alias, where do you get off? You don’t know whether I tried to be a good example or not. You don’t know whether I was reverent or not-now do you? I was looking for the apostolic faith. I thought I would find it in the Roman Catholic Church, but instead found it in Orthodoxy. If I’m wrong, that doesn’t change whether what I said about Catholic fasting is true or not-which was supposed to be the point. I mentioned the Orthodox because the Deacon appealed to the Muslims as an example. I was simply saying that there are still Christian bodies with stringent, corporate fasting. I didn’t even say all Orthodox are faithful to it, or that no Catholics fast. I didn’t say all Orthodox are good Christians, nor did I say Catholics are damned. I just said I think the modern Roman Catholic church is a mess. My opinion. Not trying to be “nice.” Not trying to be ugly. But, just fyi, I’m not very ecumenical-at least not in the formal sense. I have good relationships with individual non-Orthodox, but as to organized, “formal” ecumenism-wouldn’t give you two cents for it. The scandal of division is unChristian and against the will of our Lord, but I think any unity has to be based on a unity of faith and not some political agenda of our respective beloved leaders.



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RomCath

posted August 13, 2010 at 3:40 pm


Antonius, I think the “Magnus” part of the name has gotten to your ego. If it is your opinion that the Catholic Church is a mess that is your opinion. It is not mine. I find it offensive and obnoxious of you to say that on a Catholic blog. I am 100% OK with the RCC.
I didn’t “attack” any faithful believer–how do you know what she is? I expressed my dismay particularly at the “gay priests” crack. My “deeper dissatisfaction” as you put it is with those who make it a habit here of knocking something that I and many people hold dear. Get it? If the Catholic Church isn’t your cup of tea, go where you feel warm and fuzzy.
If I thought she was right, I would flee too, but nothing would drive me away-not the lack of incense, poor music, the scandals, the Pope or even you.
I would rather continue on the tree rather than on a branch that broke off from it.



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Antonius Magnus

posted August 13, 2010 at 4:11 pm


So much for ecumenical outreach! You get upset when a non-Catholic suggests that maybe the Catholic church’s ascetic life may need some work. Also, she mentioned specific gay priests that she dealt with; no one can deny that non-celibate gay clergy have caused problems in the Roman church–if the truth hurts you, so be it.
If you are a faithful Roman Catholic, you might want to read your church’s stance on the Orthodox churches. They are not seen as broken away branches, but as legitimate churches with valid sacraments lacking only visible union with the chair of St. Peter. This is the official Roman Catholic ecumenical stance.
Teena is a faithful believer–if you would take the time to read what she was saying instead of getting all blown up like a balloon at the mere suggestion that someone somewhere doesn’t like the RC, you’d realize that–and by the way, if she wasn’t a faithful believer, does that make your snide insinuations acceptable in your mind? Are you only polite to people you consider faithful? She criticized the organization, and you impugned her personal integrity and honesty without proof or cause.
And, yes, by the way, I do know Teena, and I know no one who struggled harder to stay Roman Catholic, and who on a daily basis tries to live a Christian life and remarks on issue blogs very sparingly. If she says it, she means it. Is this a public blog or not? Why do you think that this is your “turf” and non-Catholics should go away? I didn’t hear too many other people getting angry at what Teena said; only you and some other person decided to make this personal. If your behavior on this blog is indicative of the crap that Teena had to deal with as an RC, no wonder she left.
One last thing: it was the Romans that left the Church; the Orthodox look most like the first century church Apostolic, not the Roman. But what do I care? I’m a Jew.
Shabbat Shalom!



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romancrusader

posted August 13, 2010 at 5:14 pm


Uh Magnus,
We aren’t “romans”. We are Catholics. You will call us by our proper name.



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Mike L

posted August 13, 2010 at 5:18 pm


Deacon, it may be time to go back to monitoring mode on this blog. The constant use of personal attacks by a just of few of those that post comments here is not only damaging the blog but, in my opinion, the entire Catholic Church as well. I understand the urge to be nasty when others do not agree with my beliefs, and to strike out at those people, but I do try to be civil. I believe you have a few that are not even trying, or do not recognize that their comments are as venomous as they are.
Perhaps it is time to exclude a few people.



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Rick

posted August 13, 2010 at 8:36 pm


For any Catholics who are interested in living a traditional, penitential life here is the link for the Confraternity of Penitents, a group that strives to live the original rule for the Third Order of Saint Francis. You will note several days of fasting each week, before Christmas, and during Lent. There is also a well developed formation for prayer and spiritual direction with the goal of making sure that fasting doesn’t become “a work”. There is a related branch in the Mid-West called the Brothers and Sisters of Penance.
http://www.penitents.org/statutesref.html



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