Friday, 30 March 2007 08:02
Written by Keith Strohm
Over at Standing on My Head, Fr. Dwight reflects once again on the reality that converts to the Church often experience a disappointing reality once they make their decision to convert. Rather than just highlight the complaint, he compares conversion to the Church with marriage:
I'm sympathetic, but I'd like to stand this commonplace moan on it's head. Oh yes, you come into the Catholic Church and the liturgy is dreary, the music lyrics come from greeting cards and the music from the nursery. The preaching is dire, the youth ministry is downright creepy in its attempt to be 'cool' and the fellowship is non existent.
Remember two things: first, the disappointing human reality does not obliterate the eternal Truth. When we marry most people have high expectations of living happily ever after. Unfortunately, most marriages are not rosy all day every day. People fight. In laws arrive. Kids disobey and rebel. Siblings hate each other. Tragedy happens. Ignorance and vanity and selfishness intrude. Complacency and taking each other for granted grows like a cancer. Relationships break down. It's a mess.It's also what we call marriage.
When it doesn't go as we planned we don't bail out of the marriage (at least we shouldn't) Neither do we dismiss the institution of marriage as ill conceived. We don't throw marriage out and look for some different arrangement. We don't suddenly tell young people not to marry. We stick with it. We hang in there for better or for worse. If we are disappointed the best thing we can do is to examine our expectations. Maybe we are disappointed because we were expecting the wrong thing in the first place.
It's a beautiful reflection, and I encourage you to read the whole thing.
I agree with Fr. Longenecker wholeheartedly, and I believe that the Church needs to offer better preparation and support for this marriage. We'll never experience the "perfect" living out of our communal faith this side of heaven, but we can be more faithful to the "praxis" called for by Christ through the Scripture and the Tradition of the Church.
Sometimes the default response of cradle Catholics is, "Sure it's not perfect, just tough it out. Then you'll know that you've really converted." And I don't think that's helpful to converts at all. The real question is, "Gosh this is tough, so how can we more fully live out the gift that God has given us so that we might create more Christ-like communities of intentional disciples that draw all men and women to them?"