notes from my class i'm teaching at Trinity, part one of four. feel free to answer the questions yourselves! i'd love to know!
What do you know?
What do you think you know?
What would you like to know more about?
In Roman Catholicism, a lapsed Catholic is a Catholic who has ceased practicing the Catholic religion. Such a person is said to have lapsed from the faith.
According to Catholic belief, if you are baptised as a Catholic you remain a Catholic forever. A comparison with Judaism can be made, where even though a Jew may not practice their faith, they are still Jewish by birth. Baptism is said to seal the Christian with the indelible spiritual mark... of his belonging to Christ. No sin can erase this mark, even if sin prevents Baptism from bearing the fruits of salvation."
If a Catholic leaves their faith but returns later, they are not required to "reconvert" but often go through RCIA for a refresher education in the faith.
The term "lapsed Catholic" is favored over "ex-Catholic," especially in cases where the person has merely stopped practicing the faith (such as going to mass or confession) but has not actively adopted a new religion. Such people often still nominally identify their religion as Catholic. Even repudiating the entirety of Catholic faith does not make a Catholic un-baptised, but rather an apostate. Likewise, a Catholic who rejects an essential part of the Catholic religion is a heretic, and a Catholic who refuses to submit to the Roman Pontiff is a schismatic.
(from Wikipedia “Lapsed Catholic”)
I LOVED the church. It was easy to understand and I knew who was in charge and where to go to when I had problems. However, the problem of being in a structured society is that you must first fit the structured society from the get go. Being from a “broken home” is an automatic deduction of social points in an all-Catholic crowd. To be poor and not wear the latest trend is even worse. The biggest sacrifice my mom made was to put my sister and I through 12 years of Catholic school. It was expensive but the local school system didn’t cut the mustard in my mom’s eyes. But I never fit in. Then, at 16, my grandparents divorced. I found out over my summer break that my grandfather was having an affair. This was devastating to me as my grandfather was my father figure. My grandmother and I dove deeper into religion, going to church even more.
This need blinded me to a lot of things the church was saying. I never really questioned church doctrine; I did as I was told. I even got mad at my classmates who would question the dogma--it was unthinkable to question the Bible. But something started to give around my junior year. The new priest at my parish seemed to care more about the bottom line than our souls. He didn’t answer or clarify anything for me as the old priest had. His first priority was getting the parish out of the red, so we felt as if we were shunned in favor of the richer families. To get back at him, I started asking more questions in his religion class. This questioning started as just something to annoy him, but it jump-started the critical thinking process. I soon began seeing things I took at face value in a different light. The straw that literally broke the camel’s back was a sermon about a camel.
We were covering Matthew 19:24, where Jesus says, “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of the needle, than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God.” I thought this was the perfect thing to challenge the priest on as it showed to me the exact error of the priest’s ways in shunning the poor families of the parish. I ran home, and my mom and I both looked it up and what I found completely blew me away.
The “eye of the needle” in Jesus’ time was a small alleyway between the long streets in the city. For a camel to pass, he must be unpacked and, in some instances, crawl through the narrow opening. Jesus was saying that a rich man must be unburdened by his belongings, not that it was impossible. I was floored. I went looking for fodder to throw at the priest and instead God gave me a whole new way of looking at the world. At that moment my thinking changed, and I realized I was no longer Catholic. I felt that God spoke directly to me—I didn’t need the priest to intercede on my behalf. The whole experience really showed me that God is all around and in everything, not the Bible exclusively. I relied less on dogma and more on logic. I became more outgoing and friendlier.
Until the Second Vatican Council, Catholicism taught that there is no salvation apart from the Catholic Church, its sacramental system, the priesthood, and the Pope and this was the party line given to me by this priest. (Since Vatican II, there have been a variety of teachings about salvation. These range from saying that there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church, to saying that salvation can be found in non-Christian religions.) That blew my mind. I then started questioning everything including the set up of the liturgy itself. Here’s a doodle that pretty much sums up my feelings at that time:
(found at http://indexed.blogspot.com/)
Now I view systems and structured societies with extreme caution and skepticism. I reject the Roman Catholic hierarchy as I believe in the priesthood of all believers. As for systems, I feel, at least now that ultimately we fit in NO boxes completely as there are always exceptions. Some respond to this by cutting off those limbs that stick outside the box, or lying, or making concessions, or realizing that there is no box. The box is constructed by us for us to keep us safe from the CHAOS of the natural world. Those of us to see order in the natural world are less in need of boxes.