Today I met a very kind woman while waiting in the Geek Squad line at Best Buy. She was a Dominican Sister from San Antonio visiting the area. Her name escapes me but I remember everything else during our brief-but-open conversation. Our conversation highlighted the opening rift in Christian philosophy that seems to separate many Baby-Boomer-aged Catholics (especially in the Religious Order) from younger Catholics (both laity and fresh out of the seminary).
The Sister was ahead of me in line while we waited for an employee to return from the back room. She was sitting at the desk and I was standing behind her at the “please wait to be called” sign. She moved over to another stool and said that if I sat by the main computer area that maybe I would be helped quicker. She looked to be in her 60’s and spoke with a very pleasant tone. After some small talk, she mentioned that she was a Dominican Sister and our conversation became more substantive. I mentioned (read: shamelessly plugged) that I had a Catholic blog and she had me to write the URL down so she could take a look later. She asked me what exactly the blog was about. Thinking quickly, I explained by saying, “well, it’s a blog about orthodox Catholicism and how it relates to modern society in America.” She raised her eyebrow at “orthodox” and asked, “what do you mean ‘orthodox‘”. Knowing that people often equate this word with a sort of stone-aged, fire and brimstone mentality, I was quick to respond, “orthodox in the true meaning of the word: non-heretical, traditional.”
Sister was quick to say how she views herself as a more progressive Catholic and pointed out that she believes in the evolution not only of our biology but of Christianity (to which I told her that I was embarrassed that she would take the assumption that an “orthodox” Catholic would somehow be at odds with biological evolution or, as she later suggested, the Big Bang, I would expect this assumption from the media and secular culture but not a fellow Catholic). After citing how the Dominicans came out of the time of the Inquisition, she said that we must evolve our minds to move forward. After quickly responding that indeed we evolve through time but God is objective and doesn’t change with time and that is a big difference. Before I could finish my thought, she asked me, “tell me, do you like Pope Francis?”. I responded that I do indeed. She said, “good, I do too, now how about Pope Benedict [XVI]?”. I said I liked him too. She shook her head and mentioned that she didn’t care for him too much. I told her that I think a lot of people are misguided about Pope Francis, thinking he’s something that he’s not. He’s not going to somehow change church doctrine in a way that suits popular culture’s current appetites.
She conceded that she’s probably a bit to the “left” of many in the Church and then asked me what I feel about women priests. I told her that I think it’s a break with the sacred Tradition of the Church and how Jesus formed his Apostles. If I had more time in our quick back-and-forth, I would have pointed out that men and women have very different but equally important roles in the Church–that priests give life to the world by ministering the Eucharist and women give live to the world one soul at a time; that women are considered sacred. She quickly asked me how I felt about divorced and remarried Catholics receiving Communion. I told her that it indeed is a sensitive subject because I can see how someone could make a mistake earlier in life before they took their faith seriously and, now that they want to live a holy and Catholic life, they are unable to just confess and move on like with most past mistakes. I told her that I made mistakes in my past and am very understanding of others’ need for mercy. However, just because it’s difficult for us, we cannot change what marriage is: a covenant not only between two souls but also with God. So, I told her I understood the pain it might be causing some people but that is no excuse to change this Sacrament to artificially lower the bar for humans or to in any way encourage a lack of seriousness about holy matrimony.
I wrapped it up by noting that the Church doesn’t exist so we can change it, it exists so it can change us. I went on to say that part of the reason so many young people are disinterested in what the Church has to offer is because too many people think it should offer the same message popular Western society offers: relative morals and all behavior being equal. This is why the Anglican church in particular is dwindling at such rates. Why would anyone want to be a part of something they can get anywhere else?
The time came when we had to part ways and she told me how nice it was to meet me, I responded similarly and thanked her for the fun conversation. But I left with a sense of just how deep this “progressive” mentality is in many Catholics that came out of the Baby Boom era. The relativist mindset that thrived in those decades eroded the Church; not only does it seek to take liberty with sacred Liturgy, it quite literally is physically eroding churches in how they are built and renovated. “Progressive” (read: heretical) Catholicism can not thrive because the people who are attracted to this message, typically the political and social leftists in American society, have no need for the notion of God or religion no matter how watered down it is. There are two main types of these people. The first type is someone that’s not religious and would never consider all-of-a-sudden joining the Catholic Church even if it did claim to represent the “values” they espouse–what would be the point for them to join this “progressive” form of Christianity? The other type of person are the ones that are still Catholic-by-association but hardly practice it and have children that will not be carrying on the faith (if they even have children)–they have no desire for bells, incense, and kneeling to get in the way of their paramount virtue of ‘liberating’ individualism.
While I obviously have my philosophic differences with this kind-hearted Sister from San Antonio, I very much enjoyed my spontaneous conversation with her. Sister, I hope you did indeed check out this website and you’re reading this. I encourage you to comment on this post and on other posts whenever you’re in need of a discussion or really disagree with something I have to say! I want you to know that I’m going to be praying for you tonight and ask that you please pray for me in return. God bless you!