Being Catholic is hard
#1

I live in a household of apostates from various denominations and one avowed, "neo-pagan," who is absolutely unwilling to talk about the near-ubiquitous practice of human sacrifice among pagan cults.  She's a big-believer in speaking, "her truth", and is very selective in the history to which she exposes herself.  They're all faithless, though some are unaware of their faithlessness, and they’re all my family-Uncle, Aunt, and Cousin.  I love them.  I care for their eternal destination, and I'm almost certain they hate my guts because of that.

Come to think of it, I'm pretty sure the Catholics I know hate my guts, too.  Ok, ok.  That's hyperbole.  They don't hate my guts, but these groups and I regularly disagree over essential matter, and everyone walks away unsettled.  Take the definition of, "love".  I suggested to my RCIA group that love is an act of the will which wants and enacts the best for another.  Many of you will recognize this as a paraphrasing (albeit poor) of Aquinas’ definition. A catechumen, "felt," Aquinas and I were wrong, insisting instead that love is a feeling.  The director stepped in to let us know that everyone’s different--so it was settled.  And I was unsettled.  And I’m pretty sure I failed to love my neighbor. 

I don’t think I know how to love the way I should.   

So today like many days, I’m thinking about the passion.  I’m wondering if I meant it last Friday during the Stations when I told God and everyone present that I wanted to nail my heart to the cross.  I’m thinking about how I’m a trouble-maker, and a sinner.  Most of all, I’m thinking

Incline unto my aid O God!
My Lord, hasten to help me! 
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#2
Just as bad is living in a house of non-practicing Catholics, all ignorant of even the basics of the Faith, which is my situation. Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation are violated, no peace between some. My dad likes to make fun of some of the practices I do, like not eating meat on Fridays or going to Mass on First Saturdays (or any day other than Sunday), which I think is more out of ignorance rather than any malice. They're all indifferent here, some going as far as considering the different Christian denominations as different "approaches" rather than complete deviations, and still don't get it despite my explanations. I write to the FSSP seminary and the Benedictines of Mary with long prayer requests whenever I make donations to them, including in the list the conversion of all the members of my household. Yes, even among Catholics, being Catholic is hard, but I wouldn't trade it for the world. I fell into long periods of sinful living twice, but my heart would not, by the grace of God and the intercession of the Blessed Virgin, completely abandon the Faith. Even in those dark times, I would not embrace the homosexual lifestyle despite my other sins feeding from such unnatural lust.

Now I have enrolled myself, as well as my parents in two perpetual Mass associations (one with the Universal Living Rosary Association, the other with St. John Cantius Society), and pray that at least they, getting old (into their late 60's) will convert and be saved.

Since I have to deal with certain inclinations, I have decided to focus more on my own sinfulness but not excluding the intentions for their conversions.
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#3
Living the Catholic Faith is all that truly matters.  It's not easy, especially when those around us don't seem to understand or want to understand, but nothing that's really worth doing is easy.  Scripture says that those who sow in tears shall reap in joy.  The Catholic Faith is our greatest treasure, but we must be tested regularly if we hope to keep it until the end.

Consider the example of Sister Mary Wilhelmina Lancaster, the foundress of the Benedictines of Mary Queen of Apostles.  She is almost 93 years old, and has been a professed sister for 73 years.  I've met her a few times, and it's been such a blessing.  She is a very holy woman.  The Benedictines of Mary Queen of Apostles is a traditional community of Benedictine sisters located in the diocese of Kansas City-Saint Joseph.  They are perhaps best-known for their chart-topping sacred music albums such as Angels and Saints at Ephesus.  They also make outstanding vestments for priests, and their primary purpose is to pray for priests and seminarians.  Sister Wilhelmina was a teacher for many years, belonging to the Oblate Sisters of Providence for most of that time.  She had trouble adjusting to the liturgical changes in the 1960's, although she continued to persevere.  Eventually, she had the opportunity to found a contemplative religious community that was devoted to the way of prayer she had known and loved in her youth.  What an inspiration she is.

Yes, being Catholic is hard, but it wouldn't be worthwhile if it was easy.  When you think about it, the Church has made it easier to be Catholic nowadays with shortened fasts, fewer holy days of obligation, less talk about tough issues, Mass in the vernacular, and less discipline in general, yet it draws and retains fewer people nowadays- not more.
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#4
Love can be defined as a passion and as an act of the will. Aquinas and Aristotle discuss love as a passion meaning attraction or desire when we see something good. We see the good and love it, i.e. are attracted to it.

But love can also be defined at the level of will, and since we have free will, free will requires rationality, and the key note of reason is the ability to see the objects of our experience as things that exist in themselves, subjects, with their own natures and necessities. This is seeing the objects of our experience beyond their simple utility or pleasure they afford us, their goodness as something that attracts us and benefits us. We recognize through our reason the goodness proper to an object itself and can then understand what would be good for IT and not for ME.

Then at that point, our wills can choose--I can choose to honor this object and its necessities and help it thrive. I can aid in the creative and providential process of God as a caretaker of the world and the keeper of my brother. That is love as an act of the will, which follows upon a rational recognition of the intrinsic goodness of the other irrespective of its relation as beneficial or not to me.

Yes, the Faith is hard, but so is life. And as others said, anything worth doing, that is, anything meaningful, anything with value, comes with suffering. And you will always have a million reasons to be resentful and become bitter and cave in on your suffering. But that will only make not only your own life a living hell but everyone else around you as well. In the face of suffering, which is inevitable, there are only two choices: to get better or to get bitter. To go up towards heaven or down towards hell. It's a choice we have to make.

If our life is meaningful, and it is, then that means every action is meaningful, but that means we are responsible for everything we do, say, and think. And we have to bear the consequences with the assumption of FAITH that if we do our duty of speaking the truth and loving our neighbor, then all will work out for the good of creation because God has so arranged it to be so. He has told us this Himself through St. Paul. Everything works for our good; our duty is to cooperate and not frustrate it.

Depending on circumstances, I might talk to the RCIA director. At least pray for them and continue to insist in subtle and different ways how love is more than a mere feeling but an expression of the intelligent order and goodness of creation and something that we have to choose freely if we want to live meaningful and flourishing lives. Sometimes hearing a principle expressed in different concrete ways can illustrate its truth better.
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#5
I am a convert and I married a cradle Catholic.She and all our children have fallen completely away from the Faith. I pray for them every day, for their health and salvation', and they know I do. As you might know from the Oratory, we have been 'divorced' for twelve years, but we are making tentative moves toward a reconciliation. Yes, it can be difficult, but at least when I visit her, I don't need to worry about Friday abstinence, since she's become a vegetarian!
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#6
                                                          It is hard if you try to follow what the church has traditionally taught throughout history. After V2, it was pretty much decided that just about everything we did was too hard and so it had to be made easier. A great many people decided the easiest thing of all was to not even bother.  I can't ever remember a Lent in my life where at least one person who identifies as Catholic, didn't try to discourage me from my Lenten Fast.
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#7
(03-16-2017, 10:44 AM)Eric F Wrote:                                                           It is hard if you try to follow what the church has traditionally taught throughout history. After V2, it was pretty much decided that just about everything we did was too hard and so it had to be made easier. A great many people decided the easiest thing of all was to not even bother.  I can't ever remember a Lent in my life where at least one person who identifies as Catholic, didn't try to discourage me from my Lenten Fast.

Truth is that it started even before V-II. V-II was just the wheels falling off and everything going into disarray. Prior to the 20th Century meat wasn't allowed at all and there was only one eight ounce collation allowed per day. Also, meat byproducts such as eggs, dairy, butter, etc. were not allowed. That eventually became two collations which combined can't add up to a full meal (whatever that means). Then after that meat was allowed once per day with partial abstinence. Meat byproducts were no longer considered part of abstinence. This all happened prior to V-II. V-II took it way further and said that there would only be two days of fasting in the entire year and Fridays of Lent + Ash Wednesday were the only days you had to abstain.
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#8
                                                  Good points Gang Green. Also prior to V2 the fast before receiving communion was only 3 hours, not long before that it was from midnight on. One of the many reasons I like to say that at one time, the Catholic Church mass produced men and women, who metaphorically speaking, could get run over by a train and get back up.
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#9
(03-16-2017, 11:27 AM)Eric F Wrote:                                                   Good points Gang Green. Also prior to V2 the fast before receiving communion was only 3 hours, not long before that it was from midnight on. One of the many reasons I like to say that at one time, the Catholic Church mass produced men and women, who metaphorically speaking, could get run over by a train and get back up.

The fast from midnight necessitated Mass being a morning thing. If people want to do something at church in the afternoon, they have Benediction, the Stations of the Cross, or something else. If people want to do something at church in the evening, they have vespers, a sodality meeting, a novena, or a 40 Hours devotion.  Eventually, parishes cut out all those things, supposedly to focus more on the Mass, but it just led to people growing lax in their faith and eventually losing it. Now, our priests have Mass on Saturday evenings, sometimes on Sunday evenings, and sometimes on weeknights. Having that prayer, the Mass, at so many different times throughout the week has got to be difficult on priests.
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#10
In America, I think one issue with how things in the modern day are how towns are constructed. The push of people moving to suburbs with large properties and everything spread out moved people further and further away from central locations. Many suburbs that are closer to major cities were still compact and allowed for people to walk everywhere necessarily for their daily life. As the automobile became more common, the sprawling out of populations became more common. There's a huge difference between a town where you can walk to the nearest church within a few minutes vs. one where you need to get in your car and drive 10+ minutes to get to a church. In the latter case someone may not be as willing to go to church at random times throughout the day to pray or take part in various activities. Instead, you have more and more people who only go for Mass and that's it.
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