Concerns about Catholicism
#1
This is going to be a long blog-post, forgive me for that.

In the past few months I've had some issues surrounding Catholicism. Now, this isn't really a question of whether the Catholic Church is the true Church, because based upon the witness of the saints, as well as the spiritual and missionary aspects of the Church one can plainly see the truth therein. No, it comes down, again, to the splintering within the Church since Vatican I, really, and the rise of papalotry.
I remember discovering the truth of Roman Catholicism, converting, and not really seeing too much of an issue with how the Church was in my own diocese (the parish I attended was a more "reverent" NO). It wasn't until I was introduced to traditionalism that the anxiety quickly mounted as to whether what I had been attending was true Roman Catholicism.

Now, as I've read more and more theology, the Fathers and mystics, I fluctuated from a hybrid indifference to NO and TLM, then became very interested in Eastern Catholicism and at one point came close to despair when I read more about Eastern Orthodoxy and questioned if I made a mistake in entering Catholicism. After being talked down from that ledge by a good NO priest, I decided to omit the NO almost entirely and attended a diocesan TLM (Fr. Z's parish actually). That was great, a TLM done correctly with great reverence. But months later, as I read more, I began to have serious questions about the post-conciliar Church and the NO. Once I came to Fisheaters I delved into Lefebvre and the SSPX to find that it may be spiritually dangerous to attend the majority of NO Masses due to abuses and questionable liturgical liberties taken.

So now I've found myself cornered into a situation where I am aware of the abuses and liturgical issues with the NO, and therefore in good conscience cannot attend them with this knowledge. Soon I noticed some issues with the orthodoxy of the diocesan parish I attended surrounding Vatican II and the "participation" of the laity in the Mass, so often being scolded by Fr. Z for not being 'audible' in our assistance at Mass, when most there were clearly in prayer or praying along in their Missals.
So I defected from the diocese entirely and now almost exclusively attend a wonderful SSPX parish, with an overall avoidance of the NO.

Now, to the crux of the issue I am now facing has to do with this splintering of various traditionalist factions. Clearly, I think the SSPX is right in their stance with Rome. But the biggest issue I have now is the spurious position they have in the Church. There is no clear determination as to whether they are actually in the Church, informally outside of the Church, in a state if disobedience (which is worrisome from a moral perspective), etc. In a way, it's almost as if the SSPX occupies a role like that of the Orthodox churches, who are in communion with one another but also their own church-inside-the-church under the heading of a bishop (in this case the SSPX Bishops and superiors).

I guess my issue is that of simple exhaustion. I found the Church looking for the truth, and inside of Her walls I have to seek even further for the truth in an institution which proclaims to be truth itself. And now I seem to have found the truth in the confines of a society which may or may not be in the Church, with the Society proclaiming it is and others in the Church saying they aren't. It all seems spurious to me for a Church which is meant to be the visible presence of Christ on earth.
"The Heart of Jesus is closer to you when you suffer, than when you are full of joy." - St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

"But thanks be to God through our Lord Jesus Christ, who has transported us out of darkness into his marvelous light when through these lights exteriorly given we are disposed to reenter the mirror of our mind in which divine realities shine forth."
-St. Bonaventure, Itinerarium
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#2
Quote:Now, to the crux of the issue I am now facing has to do with this splintering of various traditionalist factions
Yeah that's a problem, though I see it getting better. The correct stance to take, in my opinion, is that the SSPX, FSSP, ICK, and all other traditional groups are all on the same team. Unite the clans as Michael Matt would say...

Quote:But the biggest issue I have now is the spurious position they have in the Church. There is no clear determination as to whether they are actually in the Church
It is a 100% certainty that they are "in" the Church. Rome will admit this much when pushed on the issue. Even if you grant the original excommunication of the bishops as valid, which I do not, those excommunications were rescinded by Pope Benedict. Hence, the bishops from the SSPX are IN the church. Even if you accept the validity of the suspension a-divinis of Paul VI, which I do not, the SSPX has nevertheless been granted ordinary jurisdiction to validly and licitly hear confessions by Rome; and to witness marriages with the permission of the local ordinary. So they do officially exercise official ministry IN the Church. Rome has further said that in a lay person attends a chapel of the SSPX for a love of the traditional mass, and not with the intent to "separate from Rome", there is no sin in that. Those facts ought to remove all concerns of conscience you may have. Further, any penalties they may face on Judgement Day due to their "canonical irregularity" would fall on their members, which are ONLY bishops and priests. Laity are not and never have been, and cannot be, members of the SSPX. Laity merely hear mass where they say mass. There is no sin in desiring to assist at mass and go to confession with an orthodox Catholic priest, and if one can only find that in the Society, then there you go!

Quote: in a state if disobedience (which is worrisome from a moral perspective)
That's exactly the case, but it is not worse from a moral perspective. They are in the Church, fully Catholic, but they disobey the authorities when those authorities try to compel them to embrace heretical positions. The entire history of the SSPX is a history of them facing injustice on the part of Rome. For example, Rome permitted the FSSP to exist on the basis of the May 5 Protocol, which did NOT require them to assent to all of Vatican 2, but merely to keep an open mind and to avoid polemics. But when it comes to the SSPX, Rome insists that they accept the whole thing without exception. Its absurd, honestly. No Catholic priest is morally bound to accept error, even if the order to do so comes from their superiors. If the Pope tells you to shoot your wife, you obviously have a right and duty to disobey him. If the Pope tells you to assent to heresy, you also have a right and duty to disobey. No one, not even the Pope, can compel you to sin against faith.

Quote:It all seems spurious to me for a Church which is meant to be the visible presence of Christ on earth.
A body infected with cancer doesn't cease to be a body, the Church infected with modernism doesn't cease to be the Church.
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#3
Your words are consoling, thank you for that. Just now I was brought comfort while reading Matthew as well: "For where there are two or three gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."

I just need to humble myself and accept that although the Church may be but a small remnant, Christ will still be present.

I think maybe I need to take a break from the current news cycle and forums for a bit and focus on more spiritual reading and prayer...
"The Heart of Jesus is closer to you when you suffer, than when you are full of joy." - St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

"But thanks be to God through our Lord Jesus Christ, who has transported us out of darkness into his marvelous light when through these lights exteriorly given we are disposed to reenter the mirror of our mind in which divine realities shine forth."
-St. Bonaventure, Itinerarium
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#4
I have had similar thoughts myself, although I haven't progressed as far as you have. Yet. I'm going to an ICK Mass most Sundays now and see the reverence that was lacking in my local NO parish.

While I have nearly every concern you've mentioned, I have a problem supporting an institution that is so obviously corrupt. I've done a lot of traveling and have attended Mass at many different churches. It doesn't seem that the Catholic faith is that universal. All "Catholics" clearly don't believe the same things. Even the 1992 catechism appears just to be a suggestions to some folks who call themselves Catholic. That would be OK, but what I see coming out of the Vatican isn't any better.

I read my Catechism of Saint Pius X and know that's what I believe. But I seem to be in a minority.

I had an online discussion with a pro-LGBT Catholic and he firmly believes that whatever the prevalent practices of the Church are today is what the Church is. So if the Pope publicly entertains Father James Martin without rebuke, attends a pagan rite in the Vatican gardens, supports liberation theology, socialism, and Islam, that's what the Church is. If the majority of Catholics follow along with this, he's not entirely wrong. It becomes a exercise in semantics on what "The Catholic Church" means. To the world, it's what this gay Catholic claims it is.

It's kind of like the world "liberal". It doesn't mean what it used to mean. You now have to specify "classical liberal" if you want people to understand that you believe in what the word used to mean. If you just leave it at "liberal" folks will think you support modern progressivism, another vague term.
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#5
What you're going through is what probably every person here has experienced.  I could have written your exact post a few years ago, word for word.  The incessant back and forth and restlessness you are feeling has to do with the fact that you are treating movements of the heart, soul, and feelings as intellectual problems.  You cannot do that.  You are displacing your true dilemma into a realm that will allow you to spin your wheels eternally.  Catholicism is a highly rational, intellectual religion, and I like that quite a bit.  But don't for a second think that religion is a movement of the mind.  You will not find a place of peace by hearing a well-wrought theological argument for where to go to church.  That's where the back and forth from Orthodox to SSPX to N.O. comes from.  No one on the planet, regardless of what they say, decides to go to church because they heard a great argument.  If that were the case, the entire world would be a heterogeneous mixture of religions as each person individually assented to a particular creed.  Instead, in real life people go to the church that their family and friends go to, and make such decisions based on complex sociological patterns.  If you were born in Greece there is a 99.9% chance you would be Greek Orthodox and you would be able to present a fantastically compelling theological/intellectual argument for that decision.  But your affiliation would have f*** all to do with that line of reasoning.  I could give you an extensive set of blog posts about why sedevacantism is the most convincing form of Catholicism at this very moment if you wanted to make yourself even more confused.  

Instead, what you need to do is cut the BS and figure out why you really want to go to church and what you are hoping to get out of it.  You need to discern what you really feel.  Take comfort in knowing that whatever feels right to you, there is an intellectual justification for it.  1Faith already presented one for SSPX.  Here's one place to start your honest search:  What is close by and how far are you willing to drive?  Have you talked extensively to not just the clergy, but the people who attend that church?  Could you see yourself becoming friends with them and getting enmeshed in the community?  Is it a good, healthy place for your kids?  Would you want to hang out there and get involved doing something in your free time, just for fun?

I mentioned in one post that when I cut through all of my BS and got down to it, what really mattered to me was having from the top down absolutely zero liberal garbage from anyone in the church hierarchy.  Intellectually I thought Orthodoxy was right for me until I saw the same liberal lines coming from the metropolitans that I saw coming from Catholic bishops.  And I knew deep down that despite all that theological and historical discernment I did, this wasn't the place for me because I would never be truly at rest hearing those sorts of things, and what I actually wanted was to not hear cucked good goy political positions coming from clergy.  It made me feel small and stupid because I had placed such a premium on theological rigor only to be turned off by something like that.  But I was finally getting to the heart of the matter.  

So be honest with yourself.  What do you really expect from a church?  What really pisses you off and makes you want to storm out of the pews?  What is a deal breaker?  And what is convenient and local and feasible?  

I don't think you need to "take a break" and I actually definitely don't think you need to withdraw more into yourself and your own mind.  What you need to do is sit your ass down in a few pews for all of your possible options and picture yourself with your kids there in a few years when they start asking your questions about why you go to church there.  Think about where, discarding all the heady stuff, you like the decor and the people you sit next to and the feeling you get when you walk through the door.

EDIT: I know you are a convert. Were you ever a part of a church before? Have you ever belonged to a real life, local group where you were closely connected to others, likely your same age, who attend the same parish and share your faith, i.e., that you can talk to and hang out with and do church stuff together? Where your kids can play with their kids, etc.? These are the kinds of things that you need to look for, and which will make all of that wandering in your head space seem small in comparison. There is such a wonderful, warm, fulfilling component to belonging to a parish that transcends literally all of the stuff we discuss here. And for you, ESPECIALLY because you have kids, this is what you need and need now as they are growing up.
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#6
1Faith said it all.
Augustinian, have faith, hope, and avoid desperation.

(10-16-2019, 10:51 AM)1Faith Wrote:
Quote:Yeah that's a problem, though I see it getting better. The correct stance to take, in my opinion, is that the SSPX, FSSP, ICK, and all other traditional groups are all on the same team. Unite the clans as Michael Matt would say...
And he's correct!
This division is mainly caused and sustained by modernists, for they fear the day all traditionals will come together as one, regardless their little differences, for this will be the day of their defeat. We, the laity, need to end this horrible sectarianism, and pray that those in the hierarchies of all sides do the same thing.
We all have our diferences and problems, sure, but this crusade to restore all things in Christ, to restore the Church is far more important than this.
Ite ad Ioseph
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#7
(10-16-2019, 12:47 PM)jack89 Wrote: I had an online discussion with a pro-LGBT Catholic and he firmly believes that whatever the prevalent practices of the Church are today is what the Church is.  So if the Pope publicly entertains Father James Martin without rebuke, attends a pagan rite in the Vatican gardens, supports liberation theology, socialism, and Islam, that's what the Church is.  If the majority of Catholics follow along with this, he's not entirely wrong.  It becomes a exercise in semantics on what "The Catholic Church" means.  To the world, it's what this gay Catholic claims it is.

I find this so baffling that it has to be just evil. So this guy sees an institution like the Church that believes something and says that can never change. Why would you then try to change It? Either you're deliberately conducting sabotage or you actually are stupid enough to feel good about an institution telling you what you want to hear because you strong armed it into saying that. Daddy issues doesn't even begin to describe that kind of insanity.
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#8
(10-16-2019, 12:47 PM)jack89 Wrote: It's kind of like the world "liberal".  It doesn't mean what it used to mean.  You now have to specify "classical liberal" if you want people to understand that you believe in what the word used to mean.  If you just leave it at "liberal" folks will think you support modern progressivism, another vague term.

Be careful there... even 'classical liberals' were/are far from being Catholic, or holding what can generally be labelled as views consistent with Catholicism.

For example, from Wikipedia...

Quote:Core beliefs of classical liberals included new ideas—which departed from both the older conservative idea of society as a family and from the later sociological concept of society as complex set of social networks. Classical liberals believe that individuals are "egoistic, coldly calculating, essentially inert and atomistic" and that society is no more than the sum of its individual members.

Classical liberalism was also quite anti-Monarch, which is arguably also anti-Catholic.
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#9
Bonaventure,
I was simply pointing out that with enough influence and enough time, a word can lose it's original meaning. I wasn't trying to endorse liberalism in any of it's varied meanings. It was an analogy.

My great-grandfather helped form a Knights of Columbus council in 1906. Would he recognize the Knights of today? Would he recognize a modern NO Mass as Catholic? Does "Catholic" mean the same in the eyes of the laity as it did in 1906?
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#10
(10-16-2019, 02:15 PM)Bonaventure Wrote: Classical liberalism was also quite anti-Monarch, which is arguably also anti-Catholic.

Arguably explains everything going on in the Church.  As argued in the Dictator Pope, I believe the plan was for the Catholic Church to be the church of modern multicultural globalist capitalism in the same way that the Church was connected to, for instance, the French Monarchy in the past - and Francis in particular saw his opportunity by latching on to Hillary's "sure thing."  The plan was for the 2016 election to be THE moment when the Church resumed its role as the spiritual institution of the world's ruling elite.  And then Trump happened and the Curb Your Enthusiasm soundtrack has been playing in the Vatican ever since.
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