Saturday, October 13, 2012

This morning began with mass at Our Lady Help of Christians in Abington, a few miles from the hotel. Like last year, the Holy Name Society was on hand to pray the rosary outside after mass.1 And just like last year, I forgot to bring a coat, a penance on Our Lady of Fatima. There was still frost on the grass as we walked along a circuit of stepping stones in front of a statue of OLHC. I caught sight of a banner stretched near our path which declared our prayer intention, for the traditional family. One cannot be too careful when casually joining other Christians in prayer.

At the completion of five decades, someone interjected a request for a sixth decade - never heard of such a thing! - for the "deceased and living members of OLHC." Well, fine but this is going to make me late for my 9 am appointment!

In fact, I was able to remain for the pope's intentions then cut out as the prayers switched to birthright. I just feel the pro-life intention is well-covered and my voice isn't needed.

My friend presented this morning on Col. 1:24 - 2:15. Her worksheet was handwritten. She nailed the main points of the passage, a very long passage, and I had nothing to add. Maybe I was just tired from thinking too hard the day before. After her, someone shared on Col. 2:16-3:4. Her worksheet was also handwritten - in pencil - and I began to suspect that these were prepared only last night! Imagine writing out five or six copies of the same thing! The final question asked for a real world example of the passage. Our friend left this question blank because she did not want to offend anyone. However, this one who grew up in the "Roman Catholic tradition" - her words - claimed that she was told to pray only to saints and never to God or Jesus. This deprivation won her a great deal of sympathy with the others. "'Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!' I've lived this!" she declared.

If I'm raging now, I wasn't then. There's nothing to say that doesn't sound defensive. And I've no reason to be defensive. Instead, I thanked God for the time at adoration yesterday and mass with rosary this morning, activities that gave me assurance of truth. I was just a little amazed that my friend didn't even throw me a compassionate glance or afterwards ask how I felt. Maybe she believes I'm not really Catholic deep down.

More than this, though, the former Catholic expressed concern for all her neighbors who are Catholics. She wants to witness but can only think to criticize their devotional practices. The study leader, who was also Catholic once, said it's better to allow Jesus to bring a halt to such activities. "Just introduce them to Jesus." I had to agree that there's nothing offensive about speaking to a Catholic about Jesus.

After a noon meal that felt initially tense, I presented on Col. 3:5-17 after another woman presented on the same passage. Ideally, two participants cover the same passage but with one no-show and a desire to go over most of the epistle, ours was the only redundant duo. Her presentation was well-done and I couldn't improve it. I received no feedback on mine, either. Maybe everyone was tired, a drawback of going last.

I had read the passage aloud from Msgr. Ronald Knox's translation which is available online. Everyone asked which translation it was, so I said "Ronald Knox" to distinguish from John Knox. But no one understood so I added his title and everyone clammed up. In the ensuing silence, I told them that the translation was made in the 1950's but that the version will be republished soon. I didn't say the translation was made primarily from the Vulgate. The cat had mostly taken their tongues but the study leader affirmed how good to read from numerous translations.2

1 Two years ago, a small group of us prayed the rosary indoors and it was the first time I'd ever recited a decade aloud in public. A wonderfully inclusive group of Catholics there.
2 Of course I compared Knox's translation with, say, the ESV and it checks out. Baronius Press seems a bit behind on their fall release of this republication, as usual. Thanks to Matt for tipping me off.


Barbara Schoeneberger said...

Knox's translation is beautiful English.

Your experience is so interesting. There seems to be an almost collective amnesia in lapsed Catholics - faulty memories maybe, or maybe they really experienced some of the lunacy of those responsible for catechesis post Vatican II. I just can't imagine any Catholic being told to pray only to the saints and not to God or Jesus. This shows we have a serious obligation to know our Faith - really know it. Pope Benedict knew what he was doing in establishing the Year of Faith. May it bring forth great fruit.

kkollwitz said...

Catholics who know the faith badly (if at all) rarely remain Catholic.

Moonshadow said...

If I'd been in a position - and since this was a part of her formal presentation, I really wasn't - to ask whether anyone'd ever taken her to mass as a child because nowhere is that a prayer to saints.

But it's possible that she's fortified her decision in her own mind by telling herself that her experience was such. That's an easy enough thing, we are all capable of it.

RAnn said...

I think part of it is "group think"--those who are not being fed spiritually in a Catholic parish (likely because they aren't attending) remember bits and pieces---the statutes, the mentions of Mary and the saints, and then when those they have joined talk about Catholics only praying to Mary or the saints get drawn into nodding "me too". Kind of like the experiment where the test subjects were allowed to overhear people giving the wrong answers to some simple questions. The more people they heard give the wrong answer (they thought those giving the wrong answer were fellow subjects, not part of the experiment) they more likely they were to give the wrong answer. Group think is a powerful thing.

Moonshadow said...

It would be negligent to gloss over the fact that belief in the more profound tenets of Catholicism - e.g., Real Presence - calls for supernatural faith, as a gift. Many just don't have that gift. (Agreed, some also have squandered it.) We can't tell one from the other.

OLHC Parish said...

I love this picture of the inside of OLHC. Would I be able to use it for their website?

Liz (webmaster for OLHC)

Moonshadow said...

Oh, sure, Liz. None of my photos are copyrighted, so go ahead.

OLHC Parish said...