Thursday, July 24, 2008

Non-practicing Catholic?

"Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what little he has will be taken from him" (Matthew 13:12). I went to morning Mass with the kids (who knew you could make three trips to the bathroom in 30 minutes?), and heard the priest apply this Gospel reading to our efforts to live out our Faith. And it got me thinking about so many of the people who are dear to me, who describe themselves as "non-practicing" Catholics. They talk to God, but don't attend Mass to enter into the Eucharistic prayer. Their hearts have retained so much of the Church's moral teaching, but in some instances the Church's voice (which in all actuality is Christ's) has come to be considered just one among many - and often enough an outmoded, guilting voice.

If the Church is meant to be Jesus' Family here on earth though, then what does being non-practicing mean? What would a non-practicing member of a typical American family look like? She would have grown up in the house with her brothers and sisters, but now she's got her own apartment. Even though she's just a couple of miles down the road, the only time she visits with Dad is over the phone. She misses the Sunday dinner every weekend - except for maybe at Christmas and Easter time. She's a good girl, with a good heart; but some of the small things she says has me worried that she's starting to believe the cultural hype. And I wonder how long this satellite can stay in orbit.

If you're reading this, and have been away from the Church for awhile, please come back. "Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what little he has will be taken away." That's not me, that's Jesus.


  1. A friend of mine once posed that a practicing Catholic is a Catholic and a non-practicing Catholic simply is not Catholic.

    He had a gift for seeing many things as very definite black-and-white situations instead of as intervening shades of gray.

  2. Casper,
    Thank you for the comment. In this particular case though, your friend's gift of black-and-white doesn't coincide with the Church's own vision on the matter. She views all baptized Catholics as being Catholic unless/until they formally denounce their Faith. We see this at a very surface level when, just this past May, the Vatican Publishing House published a new copy of her Statistical Yearbook,and included the "non-practicing" in her figures. Baptized as Catholic, these brothers and sisters remain part of the Family until they verbally reject their Baptismal identity.