Thursday, June 10, 2010


... my best friend is fond of referring to Catholics as private club members. I try to tell her, while yes it is a club to some extent, it isn't exclusive. Maybe she just doesn't understand the intrinsic nature that Catholicism enmeshes itself into your very core. It's not something to do on a Sunday or simply a preference for liturgical styles. Catholicism is so much more than just another denomination to chose from in the spiritual gumbo of religions.

It's the Truth.

To her this declaration sounds arrogant. I am not really sure what to do about.


Joe (Defend Us In Battle) said...

I think that is a common wall to get over with others.

A co-worker and I recently had this discussion and he kept flipping it to the Relativism argument... "Well it's YOUR version of TRUTH, but I don't believe it, so it isn't true for me."

Sometimes you have to start at the base. Are their moral truths... and usually folks will diverge at some point. That is why I have found that our job in evangelization is less about CONVINCING or CHANGING minds, as it is planting seeds, watering those seeds, and being a great example.

skeeton said...

Don't back down from your assertion. It is the Truth! After all, our Church was begun by a Man Who referred to Himself as the Truth. So in Mass, when we purge ourselves of our urges, our desires, and our sins - when we die to self - and we go forward to receive Him Who is Truth, we are transformed into His Presence. And we become witnesses to the Truth for the rest of the world. So when your friend expresses exasperation, give her this little bit of sacramental theology. Soon she'll come to understand that her problem is not with the Church. It's with the words and intention of Her Founder.

I'm with you, though, this is not an arrogant assertion. Nor is it elitist. This life of grace is open to anyone who wants it. And it's FREE!!! It doesn't matter if you're a CEO, homeless, a white male heir, a single black mother, a virgin, a promiscuous heterosexual, a struggling homosexual, American, Samoan, 9 years old, 99 years old, or 199 years old... this life is available for anyone who wants it. The Catholic Church truly is "Here Comes Everybody!"

Also, remember in John 6 that Jesus repeats His teachings on the Eucharist multiple times and in different ways, but at the end of the day, some people just couldn't accept it. And because Jesus is Justice incarnate, He allowed them to walk away. We, too, must be willing to give people a chance to embrace the Truth, but we shouldn't be surprised when some of them turn and walk away.

Anonymous said...

What sounds arrogant to me in that statement (especially "the Truth" line) is that it sounds like the Roman Catholic church has a lock on holiness. Whether one believes it or not, it comes off as a pretty arrogant statement when said to someone who doesn't believe the same.

That said, being from a tradition that gets referred to as "the country club at worship", I have to say I highly dislike such "private club" statements because I find them to be poorly informed generalizations about who we are as Christians.

Tim said...

The first step is to find out if they believe in objective truth. You may have to explain to them what objective truth is. If they don't believe in objective truth then ask them if their belief that "all truth is subjective" is true for everyone. If they say yes then tell them they believe in an objective truth. Then let them stew on that for a while.

Marcus said...

The whole notion of religion being a "private club" matter, or, to use another example, the notion of "shopping for your philosophy" seems entirely postmodern in its approach and assumptions. It's tantamount to attributing the characteristics of fashion and societal fancy to that which is concerned principally with "the way things are."

Heaven forbid we should appeal to the existence of a correspondence between reason and reality in this day and age.

Anna Williams said...

Have you read Evelyn Waugh's great novel Brideshead Revisited? In it, a young Catholic named Sebastian and his then atheist/agnostic friend Charles have a funny conversation, which your post reminded me of. Here it is:

[Sebastian:] 'I wish I liked Catholics more.'
[Charles:] 'They seem just like other people.'
[Sebastian:] 'My dear Charles, that's exactly what they're not...It's not just that they're a clique...but they've got an entirely different outlook on life; everything they think important is different from other people. They try and hide it as much as they can, but it comes out all the time. It's quite natural, really, that they should.'"

Julie D. said...

What about this approach?

That if you don't believe your religion reflects the most truth then you shouldn't follow it. So naturally Catholics believe their faith is Truth.

(Which she should be able to relate to, one hopes.)

That then opens the door for a question about what exactly she means by "country club" since anyone can join who believes those Truths? Just as with any other religion.

It isn't the Catholics fault if they love and believe in their faith. It is the fault of those who belong to other religions if they don't believe their faith is the Truth. We can't help that.

And you'd, of course, be happy to help clear up any questions about which part of the Truth she doesn't understand from the Catholic POV.

Anyway, that's what occurs to me.

Just another mad Catholic said...

too true, we die to ourselves and the faith takes over

Anonymous said...

I am not really sure what to do about.

Nothing, really. Because referring to Catholics as private club members and calling the virtue of zeal or conviction arrogant isn't an argument, it's a canned potshot. If she fomulates an actual point in sincerity, try to answer as best you can, but let the insults just roll off your back.

joan said...

See Real Catholic TV.
"Catholics Don't Play Nice 05-05"

3puddytats said...

Having being raised Protestant I can relate to the "country club" or "private club" is rooted in hard-core Protestantism which oftentakes a "minimalistic" approach...Protestant churches are often plain, with very few decorations. The resounding snark that I was taught growing up concerning Catholics was how could they have such expensive churches etc when there are so many poor people around....Jesus was born of poverty in a manger in a stable, and never had any form of wealth even as an adult..and it is hard to justify expensive churches, golden chalices, and elaborate artwork. I still have problems with it even now...
That is why I guess plain jane monasteries and little poor mission chapels are so calm and peaceful to me, very little visual distractions..


The Crescat said...

I know her well enough not to take her claim of arrogance personally. We have a relationship where we can be completely candid.

Anna; your illustration is PERFECT for the dynamic we have. Catholics to her are very weird and our faith influences everything we see, feel and think. I think that is what she refers to as the "club" mentally of Catholics.

The arrogance she refers to is the self assured way we can never be convinced of anything other that what we know as Truth.

I would appreciate some charity in the comments toward her, she is like family to me. We talk about religion all the time and she is genuinely curious. I just think I frustrate her in my immovable faith.

I think the whole view on life that Catholics have baffles her. It's not just a religion, it can't be separated from our personalities.

To her it's just another preference... republican or democrat, liberal or conservative, baptist or Lutheran.

I just wish I could explain it better to her. I can't even articulate it myself.

Jamie said...

Just a quick comment to 3puddytats: A former Southern Baptist on EWTN said that our churches should look like palaces, since the King of Kings resides there in the Blessed Sacrament. :) I thought that was a beautiful thought.

Anyway, I find it extremely hard to understand a Protestant mindset. I think the best thing you could do would be a good Catholic witness and pray for her like crazy! :) I will be too!

gretchen said...

Wow, I could have written this post as I have struggled with the exact same thing.

My friend in question is Lutheran. She feels "put out" that she is not welcome to go to communion at a Catholic church. She attended my oldest daughter's First Communion, but kind of under protest and hurt feelings, decided to attend only the party for my second daughter's First Communion.

In three weeks my oldest two daughters and I will be going to Italy with this friend and her husband and son. I have gotten tickets for all six of us to see the Pope (thank you for the info on that, Kat!) and we have lots of Catholic things planned. I know it will be interesting!

I love my friends as family, too. Please pray that the Holy Spirit gives me the words I need when I need them!

Lola said...

My baptist brought up daddy can't fathom why a Lutheran or an Evangelical could be 'put-out' about not being able to recieve communion at a Catholic Mass, "They should know better. They shouldn't want to get communion at Mass, because they're not in communion with what you belive."

Your sweet friend probably does appreciate the fact that you are unmovable on your faith. It's part of your charm and sparkle. And yes, being Catholic permeates our whole being, as insense lingers on my clothing after mass at the Abbey.

By comparison so much of the world is so movable it "wiggles like a jello on a plate" as my Bacie used to say.

Rick said...

The Church's teachings now are as unpopular it they were then - as skeeton referenced. But the Lord did not mince His words, water them down, make them inclusive or politically correct. It's light or darkness, salt or soil, life or death, high road and low road - no middle of the road, compromised tepid humanly engineered serendipity hogwash.

3puddytats said...


I've had several "traddies" comment that I wasn't a "real" Catholic since I was a "convert" takes "generations" to be a "real Catholic."

I'm still too "contaminated" by my Protestant upbringing...


I wonder what "THOSE" folks think of the ongoing missionary work in Africa and the Far East...Not "Real Catholics" either...even though those areas are BURSTING with vocations..

I wonder what the Holy Father would think of comments such as those..

Sign me Sara the Unreal Catholic...I guess that gives me a good reason to love the NO Mass :)

Anthony S. "Tony" Layne said...

I have one of those "my truth/your truth" friends myself. I've learned to let it go, although I have a hard time keeping from needling him when, in discussing capital punishment, he forgets he's a subjectivist and starts treating murder as objectively evil.

With all respect to the former Protestants in the audience, I think it's much more than the material richness of the churches ... er, "worship spaces". The orthodox Catholic culture and viewpoint is so different that a person not completely enculturated will feel excluded even when and where she's explicitly welcomed. I'll have to work that one through on my own blog.

TCN said...

Oh for Pete's sake, if we didn't think it was THE TRUTH we wouldn't be Catholic. I do wish folks would quit apologizing for their faith. Jesus said we would catch hell for it, and that's often just the way it is going to be.

Charity does not lie in watering down the Truth.

Dominic Mary said...

'The Church is the only Club that exists for the benefit of non-members' !