Notes From the Front Lines: When Silence is Unbelievable Print
Written by Sherry   
Saturday, 01 September 2012 12:56

This is a true story.  I have changed the names and a few details to protect the indentity of our operative who is embedded in a Catholic parish near you.


"I've known Amanda for almost 20 years. She's a church geek-- a Presbyterian pastor's kid. We met at a Catholic youth group.

“She IS the Christian that people claim the Catholic parishes are full of-- the one who has a deep, active life with Christ but is naturally reserved and humble so she doesn't talk about it. She is a private person, and goes out of her way not to offend. She is in church every Sunday. She's modest, generous, lives a life of service. She suffers from a chronic illness and never complains! - which is not actually funny, but it's funny that she fits the "secret disciple" stereotype to the letter (except for the Presbyterian part). She talks about her faith in context, stuff like how she feels about the new pastor, but not so much directly about lived relationship with God. It's just not her way.  She is reserved in her worship as well. These are sit-still-in-the-pews folk and I think their choir knows more Latin than ours does.

So when I quoted Forming Intentional Disciples on Facebook- the part about how outspoken Catholics are considered "Protestant"-- of course she asked me what it all meant.

She was speechless. It took a long time to explain to her because it was too unbelievable.  How is it Protestant to read the Bible? Do you mean, people really say, don't talk about Jesus like he is your "friend?" People really say, we can't all be Jesus? People really think it is prideful to talk about your relationship with God? You have been discouraged from talking about your experiences? In church, with people from your church?

I told her that there were Catholics who had deep or mystical experiences of God but felt compelled to keep quiet about them because it would be bragging, or elitist, to talk about experiences that other people hadn't had. Her reply was, "But you are supposed to share those experiences with people who have never had them, because that is how to bring them closer to God and help them know God. What if telling someone about it would make them interested in the Church, and you didn't tell them?" Hours later she was still bringing up the topic because of how shocked she was.

Just more proof that this is not even a cultural thing- it is a cultural Catholic thing. If my super-quiet, super-tolerant, very un-preachy, mainline Protestant friend, the one who asks for "good thoughts" instead of "prayers"-- if she thinks there is something abnormal about Catholic reticence to speak of relationship with Christ, then it's REALLY not my region vs. the Bible belt. Or happy clappy charismatic folks vs. serious believers. Or introverts vs. extroverts."