When many of us come to the mature realization that prioritizing our Catholic faith and God’s will for our lives is paramount, we don’t envision the pending fallout.
But the quiet seeds of opposition and pushback await – even among our ranks. As spiritual
reading expands and prayer life deepens, we naively feel we’re ready for anything. The excitement and intrigue of learning more about God and the faith begun by Christ – perhaps accurately for the first time in our adult lives – blind us to certain potholes that can puncture our resolve.
Life is still comfortable – we’ve got businesses and careers humming along, enjoyable friends professionally and locally, plenty of hometown involvements, and a busy family – even a few grandkids. Heck, life is good.
Why not help more at the parish? RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) – for those converting to Catholicism – had sounded good. Our parish advertised for additional teachers, and the deacon running the program accepted my offer straightaway.
On the night of my overview of Catholic sacraments and what each means, one of the catechumens asked why the Church doesn’t sanction cohabitation before marriage. “I lived with my husband before marriage, and I don’t feel guilty about it. We just need our marriage blessed in the church,” she decreed. I began to explain, until I was sawed off mid-sentence by the sputtering deacon.
“Oh we don’t worry about that so much these days,” he chattered. “We see all kinds of couples in all kinds of situations.” He chuckled and told her not to sweat it, and said “we’ll get ya through, God embraces all,” and nervously motioned for me to continue on. Say what?
I sensed he didn’t want me to explain why Catholics should approach marriage in the state of grace – to receive the intended benefit of the sacrament. I studied his expression, now contorted and disturbing. Since I’d just introduced Confession previously, I pulled a fast one and went back to it – reviewing the importance of receiving the Sacrament of Matrimony worthily. Now he was red-faced and scowling. Was this guy for real?
And then I got it … this class wasn’t about imparting full truth of Catholicism. It was the bring-‘em-on-in-to-the-parish-in-numbers game. Make hard truths softer so they don’t prick sensitivities. And keep things moving.
But I hung in for years. Every time I presented a provocative topic for which the Church had settled teaching – homosexuality, same-sex ‘marriage,’ gender identity, etc. – the deacon drove a tank through it. He was in greater opposition to Catholic doctrine than those attempting to learn it. One evening, one of the catechumens, a Lutheran attorney, stopped me afterward and said, “What you’re putting forth is interesting and astonishing, yet he won’t let you finish your sentences.” So I distributed detailed multi-page handouts to every person for each lecture, with full text as insurance (including a reading and reference list).
It was tempting to try and get along with him. But I opted for staying on the thinning team of Truth instead.
CHRISTINE VALENTINE-OWSIK is Legatus magazine’s editor.