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There was a thread not too long ago where someone mentions how historically, one could more easier be a "bad Catholic". It had to do with the relative infrequency of receiving Communion, I think. If I remember, it was how one could attend Mass, be in a state of sin (such as a prostitute) but because they weren't receiving it wasn't a big deal that they were there? vs. today where everyone received every week so even the fact that you were at Mass could potentially be scandalous?

I've been wondering, what exactly is a "bad Catholic" when used in that historical context, and who are some prolific Catholics that we could consider to be "bad Catholics"?
As far as a historical perspective of "bad Catholic," I'd say probably the same definition as now; one who knows, but doesn't try to reform their life to follow Church teachings and God's law, or who knowingly leads people astray from the Church.  I understand the example you're using, but I could see the flip side of that being a very nonchalant attitude, essentially, "Oh, well, I'm going receiving Communion, so whatever." 

As far as an example; Henry VIII (obviously right before he split from the Church, not after).
I believe you're referring to a post by SaintSebastian, isn't it ? In it he linked to this text.

The way I see it a bad Catholic is a Catholic who confesses the faith, believes it in its entirety but has many shortcomings, even voluntary and habitual ones, or who persist in sinful situations (say, the guy with that particularly tempting nonreligious girlfriend or the gayman). But the key point, it seems to me, is that they don't pretend they are good. They don't go lobbying for the Church to change its rules to accommodate them. They don't think « well, I'm basically good, » but are rather occasionally, haunted by grace.

With the « meal theology » now people go to Mass to communicate—otherwise, why go ? So they either leave the Church or become one of those « I'm basically good » Catholics, or worse, go on a crusade to change the Church.

The article is very good. I believe, if there's a law of graduality in any sense, it describes it best.

Quote:Is there a place in today's Church for the man who washes the wounds of the diseased and lights copious candles, faithfully tells his beads, yet has a penchant for a particular vice and then goes on a bender, throws his beads in the dustbin and a few weeks later, horrified is found kneeling outside the confessional or weeping before the statue of Our Lady? Is there place for the priest addicted to drink, or maybe nowadays porn, who claims he has lost his faith, yet is actually heroic in his fidelity? Is there a place for Saint Mark Ji Tianxiang, the opium addict, forbidden the sacraments for thirty years, yet had the courage to die for Christ?
I think it has to do with penitence. One can be the most sinful person in the world but if they truly are contrite and go to confession then that's all God really cares about. Afterwards we go to communion to strengthen us and to prevent us from sinning again. If we stumble and are unable to receive communion because we do something like break the communion fast or commit a mortal sin, in my experience no one bats an eye if you don't receive.

For a just man shall fall seven times and shall rise again: but the wicked shall fall down into evil. Proverbs 24:16

(04-11-2016, 02:43 PM)Renatus Frater Wrote: [ -> ]I believe you're referring to a post by SaintSebastian, isn't it ? In it he linked to this text.

The way I see it a bad Catholic is a Catholic who confesses the faith, believes it in its entirety but has many shortcomings, even voluntary and habitual ones, or who persist in sinful situations (say, the guy with that particularly tempting nonreligious girlfriend or the gayman). But the key point, it seems to me, is that they don't pretend they are good. They don't go lobbying for the Church to change its rules to accommodate them. They don't think « well, I'm basically good, » but are rather occasionally, haunted by grace.

With the « meal theology » now people go to Mass to communicate—otherwise, why go ? So they either leave the Church or become one of those « I'm basically good » Catholics, or worse, go on a crusade to change the Church.

The article is very good. I believe, if there's a law of graduality in any sense, it describes it best.

Quote:Is there a place in today's Church for the man who washes the wounds of the diseased and lights copious candles, faithfully tells his beads, yet has a penchant for a particular vice and then goes on a bender, throws his beads in the dustbin and a few weeks later, horrified is found kneeling outside the confessional or weeping before the statue of Our Lady? Is there place for the priest addicted to drink, or maybe nowadays porn, who claims he has lost his faith, yet is actually heroic in his fidelity? Is there a place for Saint Mark Ji Tianxiang, the opium addict, forbidden the sacraments for thirty years, yet had the courage to die for Christ?

Ah yes! That's what I had read... I'm glad you remembered because I couldn't remember enough to go hunting for it.


It was precisely this idea, which is expressed so eloquently in what you quoted, and also this:

Quote: I fear accommodating VII's teaching of 'universal holiness', we either exclude sinners who are unable to live virtuously, which means excluding those in need of Christ or else we turn a blind eye to sin, pretending it doesn't exist, which means excluding Christ, as some seemed to desire at the Synod. The problem is that sin is writ large in our consciousness and so is virtue, by stressing holiness, and having the expectation of holiness, has the Church become a place which no longer welcomes sinners?

What I bolded above of yours too is exactly the difference between that sort of historical "bad Catholic" and a modern one. One is "I believe it and I embrace it even if I'm really, really piss-poor at this", while the other is a sort of "who are you to judge me?".
PrairieMom, I think that you have captured the anecdotal meaning of "bad Catholic."

You know, I was actually thinking of this very topic yesterday. It's all quite the paradox: back when society was culturally Catholic, one did have more wiggle room for a lack of devotion than one has now. For instance, even not too long ago, if a parish priest saw a young male parishioner at Mass on a regular basis, the priest would probably not have thought too much of it--after all, that's where the priest should see him on a regular basis. Now, as probably many young(ish) *single* male posters/lurkers know, if one attends Mass with any regularity, especially if one receives the Eucharist with regularity, he's going to be approached by a priest and asked to consider a vocation. He will have some old lady fawn over him, telling him how great it is to see such devotion in the young (he actually prays before and after Mass—unless he needs to talk to a pretty parishioner before she gets in her car). By the way, have you ever considered a vocation? You’d be a great priest. He is going to be asked to join the Knights of Columbus and then be expected to get involved, for, after all, he must not have much else going on in his life given his ability to attend Mass regularly (weekly, with a scattered daily Mass here and there). Also, given that most Catholics, it would seem, receive the Eucharist out of habit and social standing, those who conscientiously abstain, whether one time or on a regular basis, will stand out. If such a person sits in the middle of a pew and has to get out to let others pass, that person is likely to get a few looks of pity or a pat on the arm as his fellow parishioners march up vibrantly toward the Altar.  The contemporary Church no longer seems to have a safe (heh heh) space for bad Catholics as we have informally defined them to be. The contemporary Catholic Church now wants only those who receive the Eucharist every week--if not daily, regardless of how frequent they may visit the Confessional, leading either to hyper-vigilant, if not scrupulous, lay Catholics or hypocritical Catholics. The contemporary Catholic Church now wants only those who are willing to join the one or more of 101 various parish ministries, council committees, prayers groups, Bible study groups, activities group, etc.--basically, those who give all their waking moments to the Church, though not in its employment. In the other words, Catholics now seem to be in this disorienting position where they are expected to become superficial saints without the assistance that has historically produced saints: the Latin Mass, daily Confession opportunities, trustworthy catachesis, communal religious festivals that actually allow time for leisure, the contemporary example of saints who are allowed to disrupt in order to inspire others, a Church pension, etc. 

Where am I going with this? I don't know---I'm a rambling kind of man. Imagine this and consider what type of Church such a one might best find eventual salvation:

An average young man, with nothing to recommend himself to most casual observers and with no real strong drive toward devotion (AKA: a lot people), simply wants to eke his way toward heaven as assisted through the Church and hopes to find a wife along the way.  He starts to date a local young woman, and they put themselves into situations that no pre-Vat II moral theological instruction would countenance for two people who possess romantic desires for each other, but he realistically knows that she is his best shot for a mildly happy life and that if he doesn't move quickly the chums down the street surely will. Perhaps those two don't even go "all the way," but they go far enough to set them on the road for a confession.  Yet, they continue their rambunctious ways, growing closer to each other, and besides, his Easter communion is still a few months away; by then, they could be married (pre-Pre-Cana counseling).

A). A Church that allows for, though does not encourage, such weakness. A Church where our young man knows that he won't be pressured to communicate weekly because his family and all his friends (who are just as weak as he is) don’t.  A Church that has NOT asked him to be holy like its priests or deacons by asking him to serve as extraordinary host of Holy Communion without giving him the necessary societal safeguards that are afforded those in such positions.

B). A Church that encourages him to receive weekly regardless of any firm purpose of amendment, just as he sees all his family and friends do. A Church that encourages him to date, explore his romantic possibilities--if not his body, spend quantity time with his beloved, listen to lectures on the transcendent joys of holy sex, but---hey--keep those thoughts pure, hands away from the fun time areas,  and fluids in their proper containers. A Church that has called upon him to distribute Holy Communion and lead the singles' Bible study, a study attended by one young woman whose body he knows better than the catechism.

Okay, test time: one may convict and anger, but not estrange. One may lead to despair, pulling such a person apart with an incoherent but inescapable sense of tension.

ETA: Sorry, meant to modify, not quote myself. I don't think that I'm that quotable---yet.
(04-11-2016, 05:38 PM)Bourbon Apocalypse Wrote: [ -> ]PrairieMom, I think that you have captured the anecdotal meaning of "bad Catholic."

You know, I was actually thinking of this very topic yesterday. It's all quite the paradox: back when society was culturally Catholic, one did have more wiggle room for a lack of devotion than one has now. For instance, even not too long ago, if a parish priest saw a young male parishioner at Mass on a regular basis, the priest would probably not have thought too much of it--after all, that's where the priest should see him on a regular basis. Now, as probably many young(ish) *single* male posters/lurkers know, if one attends Mass with any regularity, especially if one receives the Eucharist with regularity, he's going to be approached by a priest and asked to consider a vocation. He will have some old lady fawn over him, telling him how great it is to see such devotion in the young (he actually prays before and after Mass—unless he needs to talk to a pretty parishioner before she gets in her car). By the way, have you ever considered a vocation? You’d be a great priest. He is going to be asked to join the Knights of Columbus and then be expected to get involved, for, after all, he must not have much else going on in his life given his ability to attend Mass regularly (weekly, with a scattered daily Mass here and there). Also, given that most Catholics, it would seem, receive the Eucharist out of habit and social standing, those who conscientiously abstain, whether one time or on a regular basis, will stand out. If such a person sits in the middle of a pew and has to get out to let others pass, that person is likely to get a few looks of pity or a pat on the arm as his fellow parishioners march up vibrantly toward the Altar.  The contemporary Church no longer seems to have a safe (heh heh) space for bad Catholics as we have informally defined them to be. The contemporary Catholic Church now only wants those who receive the Eucharist every week--if not daily, regardless of how frequent they may visit the Confessional, leading either to hyper-vigilant, if not scrupulous, lay Catholics or hypocritical Catholics. The contemporary Catholic Church now only wants those who are willing to join the one or more of 101 various parish ministries, council committees, prayers groups, Bible study groups, activities group, etc.--basically, those who give all their waking moments to the Church, though not in its employment. In the other words, Catholics now seem to be in this disorienting position where they are expected to become superficial saints without the assistance that has historically produced saints: the Latin Mass, daily Confession opportunities, trustworthy catachesis, communal religious festivals that actually allow time for leisure, the contemporary example of saints who are allowed to disrupt in order to inspire others, a Church pension, etc. 

Where am I going with this? I don't know---I'm a rambling kind of man. Imagine this and consider what type of Church such a one might best find eventual salvation:

An average young man, with nothing to recommend himself to most casual observers and with no real strong drive toward devotion (AKA: a lot people), simply wants to eke his way toward heaven as assisted through the Church and hopes to find a wife along the way.  He starts to date a local young woman, and they put themselves into situations that no pre-Vat II moral theological instruction would countenance for two people who possess romantic desires for each other, but he realistically knows that she is his best shot for a mildly happy life and that if he doesn't move quickly the chums down the street surely will. Perhaps those two don't even go "all the way," but they go far enough to set them on the road for a confession.  Yet, they continue their rambunctious ways, growing closer to each other, and besides, his Easter communion is still a few months away; by then, they could be married (pre-Pre-Cana counseling).

A). A Church that allows for, though does not encourage, such weakness. A Church where our young man knows that he won't be pressured to communicate weekly because his family and all his friends (who are just as weak as he is) don’t.  A Church that has NOT asked him to be holy like priest or deacon by asking him to serve as extraordinary host of Holy Communion without giving him the necessary societal safeguards that are afforded those in such positions.

B). A Church that encourages him to receive weekly regardless of any firm purpose of amendment, just as he sees all his family and friends do. A Church that encourages him to date, explore his romantic possibilities--if not his body, spend quantity time with his beloved, listen to lectures on the transcendent joys of holy sex, but---hey--keep those thoughts pure, hands away from the fun time areas,  and fluids in their proper containers. A Church that has called upon him to distribute Holy Communion and lead the singles' Bible study, a study attended by one young woman whose body he knows better than the catechism.

Okay, test time: one may convict and anger, but not estrange. One may lead to despair, pulling such a person apart with an incoherent but inescapable sense of tension.
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(04-11-2016, 04:02 PM)PrairieMom Wrote: [ -> ]What I bolded above of yours too is exactly the difference between that sort of historical "bad Catholic" and a modern one. One is "I believe it and I embrace it even if I'm really, really piss-poor at this", while the other is a sort of "who are you to judge me?".

There is certainly a place in the Church for the first kind of "bad Catholic."  The second, well, there's a place for them, but unless they experience a conversion they will find it unbearable to remain there.
I'm a Bad Catholic. A Bad Catholic is someone who fails to live a good Catholic life but still assents to the truths of Catholicism.
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