An Eye On The Faith

Small post today. Just a few observations related to church and Christianity in general.

  • I passed by a church a few days back and noticed that there was a single spot near the front that wasn’t handicapped parking, yet had some sort of writing on the asphalt. Curious, I went over to see what it said. The message? “Reserved for Pastor’s Wife.” Ah, those little status symbols, can’t forget them, can we? Hypergamy, like greed, never sleeps.
  • I attend both Latin and non-Latin Masses in several different Catholic churches, depending on what my schedule permits. The most striking difference is age- the median age at the Latin Mass Parish that I attend is probably a third that of the Novus Ordo parish I usually attend.
  • On a similar vein, that same church proves the importance of having lots of kids. When I attended Mass there last, I was one of the youngest people there (second or third youngest, and I’m no spring chicken). Looking around, I realized that any church which doesn’t encourage large families is a church that is doomed to die. The standard 2-3 kids of most Catholic families these days just doesn’t cut it. Given the low retention rate these days, plus general population stability numbers, that kind of family size means a church will die out over time. And that is exactly what I see when I attend that church- at least, at the non-Spanish masses. Those are very different, at least for the moment. But of course it should be mentioned that their family size is much higher.
  • I’ve attended good services and bad services at Latin and NO Masses. The whole gamut? I’ve seen that. And however bad a Latin Mass turns out, it isn’t nearly so bad as an awful NO Mass. Worst case scenario for a Latin Mass is the priest stumbles over the words at points. But for an NO mass, the worst is unbearable: a butchering of Amazing Grace by the choir, off-key and tone-deaf parishioners trying to sing along, a long-winded homily that not only repeats itself but also is devoid of substance, and a dress code that wouldn’t be acceptable at a Mad Max audition.
  • Very few Catholic churches make real efforts to be inviting to newcomers. Over my lifetime I’ve attended Mass at many, many parishes. And only a few have ever been truly inviting. I’ve heard the same from others as well. Most churches don’t seem to care, whether we are talking about the clergy or the laity. Part of this is the utter lack of community at most of these churches. Some were better, but even those with a sense of community never seemed all that inviting to newcomers. Or at least newcomers who were single men.

That’s enough for now. If anyone has any observations of their own, feel free to contribute.

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39 Comments

Filed under Christianity, Marriage, The Church, Women

39 responses to “An Eye On The Faith

  1. Your last point is something that I have really been struggling with in attempting to stick with Catholicism. Most cradle Catholics don’t understand it, but if you’ve ever spent time in Evangelical circles, it’s impossible not to notice how much more difficult it is to develop a real sense of community within Catholic circles. Find a Spirit filled Evangelical Protestant church and you will have a group of people eager to carve out a cozy spot for you in their community. There’s a deep sense of togetherness that I have been completely unable to find in Catholic parishes, regardless of my own level of involvement.

  2. Neguy

    I’m a Protestant who occasionally attends Mass. It’s definitely extremely difficult to welcome a non-Catholic to the service. Unlike a Protestant service, which is an assembly, the mass exists to celebrate the Eucharist, of which non-Catholics can’t partake. Being the only guy in the church who doesn’t go forward is definitely awkward. Also, the liturgy is formal and formulaic, and you can feel like an idiot if you don’t know it.

  3. happyhen11

    Not Catholic so can’t speak much to this BUT as much as our priest’s wife is at church giving of her time and energy and as much as she does to secure the health and well being of her husband so he can do all he does, I would never begrudge her a definite and closer parking spot (parking is a premium at our church as we are growing faster than our parking lot) though I doubt Presvytera would accept it.

  4. A Visitor

    It’s interesting that (if I read correctly) the median age of the Tridentine Mass goers is less than the NO Mass goers. There’s one parish (well, there’s two but only one is in good standing with Rome, the other may (per a listing) utilize folk from SSPX but I wouldn’t know as I’ve never attended there) in town that says the Tridentine Mass. The ages seem (granted, haven’t been there in a few years, sorta bounced around the states before coming back) pretty similar with the parish I attend NO Mass having a slightly younger crowd (that’s due to infants more than anything else). It’d be great if Tridentine Mass attendance picks up in my neck of the woods.

    I’ve been to Mass in four different countries on two continents and the only parish I found that was truly welcoming (aside from a Maronite rite parish in L.A.) was one Nebraska. If I can ever find a decent lady to marry, I plan on having a large family.

    My NO parish is making attempts at formulating a stronger sense of community but whether or not that pans out remains to be seen. At least those of us that are Knights recognize each other. I suppose that’s something.

  5. mdavid

    Nearly 100% agreement here. Still LOL with wife at your Hypergamy, like greed, never sleeps..

    I’m not bothered by poor singing or dress (Mad Max, that’s funny). But I am greatly disturbed by bad sermons and no families/kids (or boomers in general, it’s all the same trade). I do like the NO better, but attend Latin for the people/sermons. Priests preach to the crowd they have. Sadly.

    As usual, I also agree with Denise. I have a lot of opinions why this is true, but that can await another day/post.

  6. @ Denise

    Thanks for that comment. It really exemplifies much of what I was trying to carry across.

    There’s a deep sense of togetherness that I have been completely unable to find in Catholic parishes, regardless of my own level of involvement.

    This is the heart of it, really. I have never found that sense of togetherness, or been able to connect to it. The Latin Mass parish I attend does have a strong community… if you can break in. But I cannot. As a man who isn’t young anymore, doesn’t have a wife, doesn’t have kids… I just don’t have any means of connecting to the other parishioners. It has proven rather disheartening, really, because I sought that Church out for the community. Yet I remain an outsider there.

  7. Elspeth

    The lack of or very few pregnant wives.

  8. @ Neguy

    Yes, Masses can be very uninviting for non-Catholics. I’ve long thought that there are ways this could be fixed, but am in no position to implement any changes.

  9. @ Happyhen

    I think the situation is somewhat different for Orthodox, as a man has to be married before he becomes a priest. So the same kind of pull of marrying a pastor isn’t there. Plus being a priest isn’t as high a position in the Orthodox church as it is for many Protestant sects.

  10. Mrs. C

    When I was younger (late teens and early twenties), I wanted to leave the Church because I didn’t feel there was anything there. The music was uninspiring, the homilies seemed canned, no one was welcoming. I decided that before I left the Church that I would look for information written by those who converted to the Church to see what they saw that I wasn’t getting.

    I remember reading a book by Scott Hahn describing his first experience at Mass when he was discerning whether to convert. He was amazed at the ordinariness with which the Catholics went up to Communion. He thought he would see more zeal, more devotion or emotion at receiving the Real Presence. The thing that struck him as rather beautiful in the lack of emotion was that we all are kind of more ourselves with those whom we are closest. We don’t have to put on that happy, social, glad-to-see you face with those we are most familiar. Not that we aren’t those things with those we love, but the familiarity leads to a natural dropping of pretenses. He also said that no matter how terrible the music or how great, no matter how boring the homily or how wonderful, it didn’t change the fact that what we are really there for is the Real Presence.

    There are definitely areas where the Catholic Church could take the example of growing Protestant churches in being more welcoming to those who are visiting and including everyone.

    Donal, have you ever tried to join a men’s group or Knights of Columbus or volunteer in order to find more inclusion in parish life? Mass doesn’t always lend itself to building social connections just because it’s designed to keep everyone’s focus on the Real Presence rather than on each other.

    One last thing about big families. I agree that as a cultural observation that there is a definite limiting of children to 2-3 these days. However, as a mom of 3 who would have liked to have had more, I often wonder if those with bigger families are assuming the size of my family was by choice. We have to be careful to not look at any specific family and assume they are limiting by choice. We never know anyone’s personal situation.

  11. happyhen11

    Ah, I see now what you are saying. The “status” of snagging a minister for marriage. Interesting. Would not have ever thought of that. Just didn’t even go through my brain.

    Forgive me. My reverence for our parish priest, his wife, and his family runs deep in me, so well, yes, it colors my thinking. They are like family to me. A pretty common feeling in our church. Yes, the journey to priesthood in Orthodoxy is one made by a man and his wife and many times a few kids. I don’t really separate Father from Presvytera in that regard. They are both afforded a huge amount of respect for their sacrifices for our parish.

  12. happyhen11

    “One last thing about big families. I agree that as a cultural observation that there is a definite limiting of children to 2-3 these days. However, as a mom of 3 who would have liked to have had more, I often wonder if those with bigger families are assuming the size of my family was by choice. We have to be careful to not look at any specific family and assume they are limiting by choice. We never know anyone’s personal situation.”

    So true Mrs. C. We are a family with one wonderful son and 2 baby girls in Heaven (and we are still praying for more). You never know what others have experienced or the secret grief that tugs at their hearts every single day. It is best to tread carefully and always approach this topic with compassion.

  13. @ A Visitor

    The Latin Mass Church is much younger in population. I think that is key. If you have younger Traditional Catholics together, they are more likely to have more children than non-traditional Catholics. This skews the population range even younger. But if you have few or no young families, then there won’t be much of a difference between NO and Latin parishes.

    @ mdavid

    Glad I was entertaining.

    I do like the NO better, but attend Latin for the people/sermons.

    I am not one of those who despises the NO Mass, each has something going for them. However, my biggest draw is yours as well: the people, and the sermons.

  14. James and the Giant Peach

    The sense of “togetherness” in an evangelical church also has more ups and downs. You end up spending so much time with the church it is almost obsessive.

    It becomes a dangerous in group. Take Pentecostals, if you aren’t Spirit filled then you are a lesser Christian in a sense. And how they know this is that you speak in tongues of course. Everyone with the Spirit “knows”.

    Other evangelicals if you don’t go to Bible study at least twice a week, you are immediately a “Sunday Christian” and your faith is flawed. Prayer groups where ministers, pastors, and even laity tell you something that God told them to tell you (actually what they want, not what God wants). Almost all of which end up being false.

    The fake enthusiasm. Yes you should have zeal for Christ, but a certain cheesy almost fake enthusiasm comes from some circles of evangelicals I have been in. Every tiny thing is ascribed to God’s plan from what food you ate for lunch to the message you were taught that day (How many times do you hear after Sunday service or Bible Study “I was reading that exact passage yesterday OMG”

    Yes Catholic Churches might not have that sense of “togetherness” whatever that actually means, but sometimes that is the type of church we need. I, as a man, cannot walk to my neighbor’s house and become a part of his family immediately. It takes great amounts of trust on both sides that develops over time, continual interaction, and for me to understand how my neighbor lives and how he conducts his life. Perhaps I can gauge his personality immediately, but not his character. Neither can he gauge mine. So how much more when you enter the family of Christ, a larger and more divine family?

    Paul was converted by Christ, yet even though he accepted Jesus Christ, most of the 12 disciples did not meet with him for quite some time because of his past. I don’t think the disciples were sinning, I think they were being careful. I’ve seen a lot of things go wrong because some evangelical churches decided to immediately accept people who were not ready to be integrated into the family of Christ, or the other way around.

  15. @James and the Giant Peach As a Roald Dahl fan, I adore your screenname. You do raise a lot of good points. There are plenty of pitfalls in the way fellowship is conducted in Protestant circles, and you are not exaggerating in talking about the problems that arise in Pentecostal/charismatic congregations when it comes to discerning words from God and whatnot. I was also thinking earlier this week how much I appreciated the lack of an expectation of emotional frenzy at Mass and how you can listen and meditate and pray with a clear mind and spirit.

    But I think the main issue is when that sense of togetherness never develops regardless of how much time is spent. If the people in the congregation are not looking to live in community in that way, it will simply not be available, not now and not later. I would be interested in hearing people’s thoughts on why Catholic parishes seem oblivious in this regard. A former professor and convert did note that for many devout Catholics, fellowship happens mostly within the immediate family, as for many generations the importance of passing the faith on through the family (as opposed to evangelism) dominated Catholic culture. But if your family is either not Catholic or not devout, well…

    I also wonder if this issue of community is a large part of the Church’s retention problem. There are tons of lapsed Protestants, so that’s not just a Catholic thing, but I do think that many Catholics who end up Protestants (or Evangelicals, really) describe their experience in the Catholic Church as dead and uninspiring because Catholicism can be so abstract and interior. There’s a ton of good in that, but we are all made of flesh and that is not a bad thing necessarily.

    I might have to write a post. There’s so much to say about this.

  16. @Donal It is tough. But I do find it somewhat heartening that more young people are at the Latin Mass. Even amongst the religious, it is the traditional orders that are attracting more novitiates, rather than the more contemporary ones.

  17. @ Denise

    I look forward to your post.

    And yes it is tough. I’m not sure if it makes me selfish to find some comfort in knowing that I’m not alone in all of this.

  18. happyhen11

    @ Mrs. C
    “Mass doesn’t always lend itself to building social connections just because it’s designed to keep everyone’s focus on the Real Presence rather than on each other.”

    I think that is a valuable point. It is the same with the Orthodox Divine Liturgy. It is social but not a social event. It is communal but not a place to meet and greet and make “connections.” It is a common table to be approached “with fear of God, faith, and love.” When the religious services are oriented toward God and His presence in the sanctuary, in those attending, and in the very Mysteries “offered on behalf of all and for all”, the service shouldn’t be entertaining or a social event. I too found volunteering and offering my time and energy as the best way to meet others and find my place in our church family. We, like many smaller Orthodox churches, have a communal meal after liturgy on Sunday as well. Nothing stimulates good talk and good will like good food. :p

  19. feeriker

    Very few Catholic churches make real efforts to be inviting to newcomers. Over my lifetime I’ve attended Mass at many, many parishes. And only a few have ever been truly inviting. I’ve heard the same from others as well. Most churches don’t seem to care, whether we are talking about the clergy or the laity. Part of this is the utter lack of community at most of these churches

    By no means is this unique to the RCC. Most Protestant churches in Amerika are stained by this too. I think the word “community” is the key here. As there is very little sense of community anywhere in the nation at large anymore, the churches reflect the larger society.

    [DG: This is a very good point. It is society-wide, not just in the Church. Although I think that there is something about the Church which amplifies the problem.]

  20. @ Mrs. C and Happyhen

    As I have friends who are having trouble with fertility and children (which I’ve blogged a bit about before), I am careful not to make judgments on an individual family level when it comes to family size. However, I can make judgments concerning the overall membership of a church. When few, if any families, have more than 3 children, I can tell that for most of them this is by choice. As Elspeth noted:

    The lack of or very few pregnant wives.

    That is my observation as well. At least, at non-traditional churches. At the Latin Mass church I attend it is a completely different scenario. The majority of women of child-bearing age are pregnant or nursing.

  21. Donal, have you ever tried to join a men’s group or Knights of Columbus or volunteer in order to find more inclusion in parish life? Mass doesn’t always lend itself to building social connections just because it’s designed to keep everyone’s focus on the Real Presence rather than on each other.

    Unfortunately that parish has none of those kinds of organizations. I am going to try and find out how to volunteer, but there frankly don’t seem to be a lot of opportunities for someone like me.

    And in case it wasn’t clear, I didn’t mean or expect for Mass itself to create the sense of community. You are right about its orientation. But before and after Mass is another story. At the Latin Mass church there is a lot of socializing afterwards. But not of a kind that I can join.

  22. We, like many smaller Orthodox churches, have a communal meal after liturgy on Sunday as well. Nothing stimulates good talk and good will like good food. :p

    This sounds great, especially if there was a place for singles there.

  23. Mrs. C

    @Donal

    What you originally stated about family size was the type of cultural observation I was speaking about and I agree with you. Your observation was perfect. I’d like to see bigger families too. I only mentioned about assuming a small family was intentional was because I often wonder if I’m judged by larger families for not having one.

    I’ve also noticed that some larger family blog groups can come across a little like it’s a competition to see who can have the most kids. I often see flippant, judgey type comments about 2 child families, which I had for 8 years until my third dd was born, that often stung. I guess it’s just a pet peeve of mine.

    [DG: If people want to look down on others, they will find a way. No surprise people would do that here.]

    As for after Mass, you’re right. There could be more socialization. I love our parish and there’s tons of groups to join but as far as getting to know anyone outside joining a group, there’s not much. Just a once a month doughnut and coffee Sunday. Even that is served in the gathering space with people standing and wolfing down their food really quick before they leave. If it was moved to the cafeteria at least it would encourage people to sit together and talk longer.

  24. mdavid

    I’ve read the comments on this thread with great interest. Observations:

    1) The lack of community in churches stems from not living out the religion. RC/EO love to point out the Eucharist, but ignore that it doesn’t seem to be doing anything tangible and this is a frightening reality…1 Cor 11:27 comes to mind…

    2) The lack of children in churches is merely an effect of sin; of course nobody likes it, but nobody wants to give up or even acknowledge the sin, either. Late marriage, chemical birth control, abortion, lack of fitness, poor diet, obesity, unneeded female employment, and expectation of wealth are the primary causes I’ve seen.

    3) There has been a huge generational war in this country that has spilled into churches. We have seen the largest transfer of wealth ever in human history from the young to the old in the last 50 years. One side effect has been the young have no stable places to mingle and no intact families to base from when looking to marry. It’s a frightening time for the young, and the middle age and old really don’t give a *hit. Until, of course, they see how it effects them.

  25. Mrs. C

    “One side effect has been the young have no stable places to mingle and no intact families to base from when looking to marry. It’s a frightening time for the young, and the middle age and old really don’t give a *hit. Until, of course, they see how it effects them.”

    I can’t even begin to tell you how right you are about this. I lived it. We had grandparents (our children’s grandparents) on both sides who offered little help or advice and didn’t really seem to get the importance of having a larger family cohesiveness. There seemed to be little interest in getting together for holidays or visiting. There was no mingling of the generations, which is nothing but a benefit to young children when they have that. We often felt like our family was an island. We did have a relationship with the grandparents and sometimes visited but often felt like we were an inconvenience rather than welcomed. My husband and I have accepted this eventually after wondering what happened that our own grandparents played such a big role in our lives but our parents rejected that way of life for their own grandkids. Our parents aren’t mean to the kids and they do give them gifts for holidays and birthdays but outside of that the interest is low. Of course, our parents don’t really go to church anymore so that right there is probably the key.

    Dh and I have come to the conclusion that we will have to be the ones who make this different for our own children and grandchildren.

  26. Elspeth

    There seemed to be little interest in getting together for holidays or visiting. There was no mingling of the generations, which is nothing but a benefit to young children when they have that. We often felt like our family was an island. We did have a relationship with the grandparents and sometimes visited but often felt like we were an inconvenience rather than welcomed.

    And:

    Dh and I have come to the conclusion that we will have to be the ones who make this different for our own children and grandchildren.

    So much of this I can relate to. To be fair, when we first married 20 years ago, during the first 10-12 years, there was much more family cohesiveness. In recent years however, that has all but dried up. We would extend invitations, try to make plans weeks in advance, and a plurality of people have some kind of excuse why they can’t make it.

    It used to be that they preferred gatherings here because our house has more space. Then the excuse was the drive, even tough we make the same drive in reverse to visit family every weekend. Since both of our extended families are clustered in an area of town a half hour drive from our house, we started trying to make efforts to get things happening over there. No dice. It’s disheartening to say the least. Our younger children have no memories of all the family get togethers that our older children reminisce about from their early years. We have all but given up.

    And it’s pretty much standard with most families. We were stunned to realize that a neighbor of ours has a sibling right here in town. We just assumed his family was on the other side of the country. He admitted that the only time he sees his brother (who lives right here in FL) is when the whole family gathers in Minnesota at his parents’ house!

    And that goes back to what Mdavid said: when people are this disconnected, this turned in on themselves, the idea of setting things in place to make it easier for our children to find suitable spouses is almost impossible.

    Okay, rant over.

  27. Feminine But Not Feminist

    I’ve delayed in commenting because I wanted to think through my answer, because this is a bit of a touchy subject for me. This lack of community / not being very welcoming to newcomers thing is really the only thing I very much despise about my decision to convert to Catholicism after being non-denominational Protestant for about 10 years. The first time I attended a Mass (out of curiosity) several months ago, I was completely dumbfounded by how cold it was there (among other things, considering I had no clue what to expect). I walked in and took a seat in the back row, and even though nothing was happening yet, it was so quiet you could’ve heard a pin drop! Only 2 people seemed to notice me being there: the door greeter, and a woman nearby who didn’t go up for Eucharist either (meaning she wasn’t Catholic yet). The second Mass was over with, everyone seemed to be in a hurry to get out (and actually, many people headed for the door like a minute or so before it was over), and they still weren’t talking to each other. Having been to so many Protestant services where people would chat before, and hang around for up to an hour after to chat some more, this made no sense to me at all. If I hadn’t had my perceptions of Catholics changed by a Catholic, and weren’t convinced of the truth of the doctrines (even though I’m still learning them), I never would’ve decided to convert, all because of this cold unwelcoming attitude. (on a side note, I wonder how many lost and searching souls have wandered into a church hoping to find the answer they’ve been searching for, and after being ignored at best, treated like they aren’t welcome at worst, then decided that they wouldn’t find what they are looking for there, that their chances are better out in the world somewhere…)

    I think there’s plenty that can be done to change this without taking it too far too early. People could be kind to the newcomers that walk into their churches / parishes. Something as simple as a smile, a warm and pleasant hello, an attempt to let the newcomer know that they aren’t seen as an unwelcome intruder, a “so, what brings you to (insert church’s name here)? :-)” can make a big difference. It’s not the same as asking them to teach, etc (without learning about them first and putting them where they might not be suited to serve).

    I wish I had a solution for how to be included in the community, but I struggle with that myself. Meaning that even if I’m around people and involved with the things they’re doing, that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m part of their community. You can be right there, be involved, and still feel like the outsider, like you’re being kept at arm’s length, no matter how much you want and try to get closer. Or at least, I do. Maybe it’s just singles in general aren’t wanted in the more traditional / familial communities?

  28. mdavid

    I’m a cradle Catholic, and could have written almost verbatim what DG, C, Elspeth, and FBNF wrote above. We aren’t imagining things. It’s real. And to make a quick addition to what I said before: …the middle age and old really don’t give a *hit.

    As somebody middle aged, I’m as much at fault as anyone for the current mess. My excuse: I was born into it and have had zero help (no, active resistance) from family, church, and nearly every institution. Nobody even seems to notice things are broken. So we tend to our own, and that is no trivial thing since we fill the roles of grandparents, parents, church, school. I figure we are heroic to merely survive this era. Let alone expect great community. I sometimes look on FB and all people I grew up with have few kids and fewer marriages. It was a war, and we are the survivors.

    I do think the Evangelical world is simply more transient so the community there has little real depth, plus it avoids hard moral issues to keep unity. But that’s no excuse for Catholics. We will be judged for this.

  29. @ mdavid, all

    1) The lack of community in churches stems from not living out the religion. RC/EO love to point out the Eucharist, but ignore that it doesn’t seem to be doing anything tangible and this is a frightening reality…1 Cor 11:27 comes to mind…

    Actually, I think it’s because people are living out religion instead of relationships.People are more concerned about rules than other people. See: the greatest commandment and the second like it.

    In America is generally a product of wealth and richness. The more you have your needs (see: food, water, shelter, and the like) easily met the less you consider God. God becomes an “accessory” who is only called upon in the hard times, and the other times He is ignored by everyone.

    The only place I’ve REALLY seen true community is in charasmatic churches, but even though charasmatic churches have their problems because though they focus on relationships and acceptance they have people veering off out of the Scripture.

  30. mdavid

    DS, The only place I’ve REALLY seen true community is in charasmatic churches

    Try a monastery (very rule based). Or an extended Mennonite family (again, rule based). Charismatics apart from Church doctrine and obedience? Truly loons when you dig deep enough. Actually, anyone relying on on Scripture alone (which itself violates Scripture) soon falls into disarray and disunity as their relationships become damaged over time (generally due to fighting over what Scripture means, natch). Lots of data to verify this.

    Great community follows only when the culture reflects the Gospel. In America, the richest country in the history of humanity? The results are completely predictable.

  31. Mrs. C

    It’s funny this topic should come up right now about lack of community and finding a way to follow the Gospel and create community. I’m a reader of a blog called Like Mother, Like Daughter. They are a Catholic family (grandmother, mother, daughters and new grandchildren) who originally created their blog to keep in touch with their family as the 7 children are growing up and leaving home. They have a ton of followers and it’s become a group of like minded people. One of the laments are from readers who say they love the blog but would like to have real live community.

    A few weeks ago, the blog owners came up with the idea of connecting their readers in real life. They have set up what they call St. Greg’s pockets. The idea is to set up a facebook group in your area which will be listed on their blog banner under the heading St. Greg’s Pockets. You look up your state to see if there is a pocket near you. If not, you can set one up yourself, and see if any other readers are nearby.

    Because of the lack of community, it’s a grassroots attempt to do it yourself. It says this: Instead, it’s to use that platform to find each other and meet in real life, in real time, making real friendships. Your own little pocket.

    The facebook accts are closed to the public but not private. Meaning they can be seen but you can only join by contacting the admin of the acct.

    They said you could create women’s groups, men’s groups, and couple’s groups. They say “We are hoping that we are helping you remember what can so easily be forgotten in today’s world: a community isn’t just made up of those who think similarly. It’s made up of those who will just be neighbors to each other in practical ways. We will take each other meals, watch each other’s kids, visit each other in the hospital, and mourn each other’s dead. We will do that whether we are best friends or acquaintances, just because we are thrown in together. But somehow, we have to get to know each other first!”

    The husband of the woman who runs this blog is Phil Lawler. He is the editor of Catholic World News and writes articles for the Catholic Culture website. He has also written many books.

    There are so many people lamenting the lack of community but here are people who are actually trying to do something about it! The idea has taken off like hotcakes for only being a few weeks old. It just shows how hungry people are for community. Even if you wouldn’t want to join their community, it would be a good model for anyone wanting to start one of their own.

    The website is http://www.likemotherlikedaughter.org/ Click on the banner heading that says St. Greg’s Pockets to see if there is a group in your area.
    The website for Catholic Culture is http://www.catholicculture.org/index.cfm

  32. “Try a monastery (very rule based). Or an extended Mennonite family (again, rule based). Charismatics apart from Church doctrine and obedience? Truly loons when you dig deep enough. Actually, anyone relying on on Scripture alone (which itself violates Scripture) soon falls into disarray and disunity as their relationships become damaged over time (generally due to fighting over what Scripture means, natch). Lots of data to verify this.”

    Don’t agree with this. See: house churches in China or any of the otherwise persecuted Church. The simple fact is that the Holy Spirit and the Scriptures is enough to guide people. However, in most places where religion can become extremely organized (see: wealthy countries such as the western hemisphere) I do agree that it will turn into complete garbage the vast majority of the time.

    But I’m not willing to get into a Sola Scriptura debate as I don’t like Sola Scriptura either even though I’d probably be best described a non-denom/charasmatic Christian.

  33. mdavid

    The simple fact is that the Holy Spirit and the Scriptures is enough to guide people.

    This statement is empirically false. If it were true, then we would see “one” main unified church believing in Scriptures alone, with most others drifting towards it. This doesn’t exist (how could it, since Scripture itself contradicts SS). China? Sheese.

    Instead we have >25,000 “sola” churches who all have different statements of faith…all claiming “Scripture Alone”. Christians who ignore Tradition (a violation of Scripture) cannot remain unified for long. This isn’t an opinion, it’s fact based upon 500 years of data (since the SS heresy was first invented).

  34. Novaseeker

    @mdavid —

    Harsh, but true.

  35. Peter

    Neguy “Unlike a Protestant service, which is an assembly, the mass exists to celebrate the Eucharist, of which non-Catholics can’t partake. ”

    The Mass is actually divided into two portions, the Mass of the Catecumens and the Mass of the Faithful.

    In the early Catholic Church, non-Catholics were invited to attend the Mass of the Catecumens, but the Mass of the Faithful (the Holy Mysteries) was reserved only for Catholics (the Faithful).

    Perhaps we need to re-institute the distinction, and move the visitors and non-Catholics elsewhere during the Mass of the Faithful, so that they can learn more of the Faith and Church, and so become a part of the Faith community.

  36. Peter

    donalgraeme “I just don’t have any means of connecting to the other parishioners. It has proven rather disheartening, really, because I sought that Church out for the community. Yet I remain an outsider there.”

    Have you considered joining the parish Knights of Columbus. There are usually a number of unmarried guys there, as well as the married. This promotes community.

    Also, consider starting a men’s group, bible study group, etc. that breaks the ice and gets you into more of the inside of the parish.

  37. @ Peter

    I like this suggestion:

    Perhaps we need to re-institute the distinction, and move the visitors and non-Catholics elsewhere during the Mass of the Faithful, so that they can learn more of the Faith and Church, and so become a part of the Faith community.

    I rather think that a fair number of Catholics could benefit from it too.

  38. @ Peter

    Have you considered joining the parish Knights of Columbus. There are usually a number of unmarried guys there, as well as the married. This promotes community.

    My parish doesn’t have a branch, as far as I can tell. I am considering starting a men’s group, but I might not be able to, as the FSSP is very select in what groups it allows to be connected to its parishes.

  39. Pingback: Eastern Hospitality | Donal Graeme

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