Earlier this week, I made a serious error in judgment. I defended Catholicism on Facebook. Let me explain. A traditional Catholic friend had made a simply stated post about the suicide of the country music singer, Mindy McCready. As one who doesn't listen to modern music or watch reality television, I know absolutely nothing about Mindy McCready other than what the news reported. So, personally, I had no comment. It was of absolutely no surprise to me that another celebrity took their own life. It shouldn't be to anyone else's surprise either. I suppose my friend was simply commenting on the sadness of it all, the wasted life, and the consideration that two small children are without a mother. Whatever her motives, my friend mentioned she wished she had prayed harder for the country music star before she killed herself. That simple statement unleashed a chain of Catholic friends hoping to console their trad Catholic friend by offering her hope and education by reminding her that "the Church doesn't think that anymore" and "Christ is so merciful!" Whatever.
I admit, I should had left it alone, but I can't control my choleric nature sometimes. I NEEDED to defend the Church. Let me clarify that. I didn't particularly put in my two cents just to defend my friend. While that was part of it, certainly, my main motive was to defend Christ and His Church. The fact is simple--most Novus Ordo Catholics have no idea what the Catholic faith teaches. And they don't know it because no one, not their families nor their priests, have every explained it to them or defended it. Oh sure, they go to Mass every Sunday, but they can only tell you what Pope John Paul II said or what Pope Benedict XVI wrote about. Begin discussing the true doctrines and dogma of the Catholic faith and they take the same approach---the Church doesn't teach that anymore. What???
Since I have become a traditional Catholic, I have learned something about Novus Ordo Catholics. They feel sorry for us. They think we are stupid. They think they need to go around all the time and "correct" us. Every single time we say something, whether it is insignificant or not, they take it as an opportunity to chastise us for "leaving" the Church. And when we attempt to defend ourselves, defend our position, defend our reasons for being traditional Catholics, they criticize and condemn us. They even shun us.
I used to think it's not worth it. The debating and discussing with Novus Ordos Catholics seems to go no where sometimes, with no one willing to concede. But does that really matter? Eventually, if we keep telling the truth, defending Our Lord and His Church, something will make sense. A few Sunday's ago, our priest gave a sermon about the Master and Workers in the Vineyard. I thought about my own path to traditional Catholicism. I wasn't "hired" in the beginning of the day. In fact, it took me a long time to become even a Novus Ordo Catholic much less find tradition. So I have to believe that is true for so many others.
I also considered for a short while, that it wasn't my place to help Catholics find tradition. I believe that's a temptation from the devil. If we truly believe there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church, then how could we not try to convert people, especially our Novus Ordo friends who may have lost or be in jeopardy of losing their faith? Is it really Catholic to have the attitude that "I have mine, you get yours on your own?"
It's hard today to be a traditional Catholic. Many times, our adversaries are our own fellow Catholics who think we have abandoned our faith and the Church. We risk, at any moment, losing our friends and, sometimes, our families. And since we are still human, these broken relationships can be very painful. I think that is why a lot of traditional Catholics just decide to remain silent about the faith or not to "make waves" when discussions, like the one about Mindy McCready's suicide, pop up.
I don't regret stepping into my friend's Facebook conversation. In fact, I saw it as my duty to defend my faith. The Baltimore Catechism says this regarding this matter:
326. Q. Are we obliged to make open profession of our faith?
A. We are obliged to make open profession of our faith as often as God's honor, our neighbor's spiritual good, or our own requires it. "Whosoever," says Christ, "shall confess Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in Heaven."
It is not necessary for us to proclaim in the streets that we are Catholics; neither need we tell our religion to impudent people that may ask us only to insult us; but when a real need of professing our faith presents itself, then we must profess it. You must keep up the practice of your religion even if by so doing you have to make an open profession of your faith and suffer for it.
Does this mean we have to go around telling everyone how Catholic we are? Absolutely not. Does this mean we have to constantly engage people in "teachable moments?" Of course not. But does this mean we have to clarify Church teaching, doctrine, and dogma when having conversation with Novus Ordo Catholics, Protestants, or non-religious? Yes, most especially with our Catholic friends. Even if that means they argue with us or stop inviting us to parties.
So be brave! You never know when some lapsed, indifferent, or confused Catholic is touched or motivated by our good examples. After all, the Master is always out calling for workers for His Vineyard.
St. Peter, ora pro nobis!
Our Lady of Good Success, ora pro nobis!