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Monday, May 18, 2009

Recovering Catholics

Fr. Pelletier has two things to say about this.  I have a few more, (you know me!) but let me start with his first line:

"I know it is meant to be funny, but I do get a little offended when someone declares themselves to be a ‘recovering’ Catholic."

I couldn't agree more!  Even when I wasn't much of a Catholic myself, whenever I heard this term, I'd inwardly cringe. The derision was obvious, and even if that person's statements about the Catholic faith was otherwise...well...relatively benign, it was THAT expressed attitude that revealed their souls.  

I was offended. Deeply offended, in fact, especially after I made a full return to my Catholic faith.   I always could you "recover" from something that God intended to save you, body and soul?  How can you "recover" from Truth...unless you never knew what the Truth was to begin with?

There are a lot of Catholics out there "recovering", or rather, REFUSING to recover, not from being Catholic, but from being fed bad theology at the hands of other Catholics who apparently didn't know any better, and some that probably did.  

Yesterday this very thing came up in our Ecclesiology class. Our professor, a convert to the Catholic faith, said that there is NO other religion that, if the devotee leaves it, says they are "recovering" from it.  You don't hear someone claim to be a "Recovering Methodist" or "Recovering Evangelical" or "Recovering Lutheran".  No. The terminology is RESERVED to the Catholic faith, for only someone who is TRULY a Catholic can so thoroughly denigrate it. 

We always hurt the ones we love the most.  And we are the most hurt by them. 

Those who claim to be "Recovering Catholics" know, on the spiritual level (if not the intellectual) that God has placed a mark on them through their reception of the Sacraments.  They might be rejecting something they don't understand, but God in His grace, designed us so that His hand, once upon us, cannot be erased.  

We can't "undo" sacraments, or their effects.  Those effects are eternal, and they are real. The soul can recognize what the intellect and will may not.  

As offensive as it may be, we have to recognize this fact about people who claim to be "Recovering Catholics."  They aren't recovering;  they're battling against God calling them back to the fold.  Maybe they're bitter and angry and all that, but no matter what they denounce, all their pitiful cries amount to is the temper tantrum of a child who screams repeatedly that he hates his parents and he hates YOU.  Those cries mean nothing. The fact that they are children of God (albeit crabby ones)...can't ever change.  No matter how much they want to object. 

Father Pelletier's second comment addresses those who apparently are asking for "recovery" from being Catholic:

"Sorry, my goal is to help you become a devout and deep believer through the faith."

Amen, Father!  And thanks!

Actually...I STILL need help with that...because I'm a recovering sinner. 

Wait...sorry, no. I'm not yet in recovery...just trying to get there....


Unknown said...

Adoro, thanks for putting all the things I wanted to say together for me. I was tongue-tied when the person said it, and that is a new experience for me.

Adoro said...

Father, forgive me but I can't imagine you being tongue-tied! And really, it was only this weekend, thanks to this wonderful professor, that made ME able to finally tie it all together! (I'd give you his name but I'd prefer not to name people in comboxes). a wanna-be recovering sinner...don't ever be afraid to tell me that I've posted something that is just WRONG!

Melody K said...

I've always found that phrase offensive, too. As you pointed out, what they're really rejecting is bogus theology. Too bad they also throw out what is true and authentic.
Our parish started a program called "Catholics Coming Home" in which it is attempted to correct the bad theology, and answer their questions. So far there's only 5 people coming to the classes, but it's a start.

Alex said...

I have to say that I have heard people refer to themselves as a recovering evangelical, or at least a recovering fundamentalist.

But not nearly as often.