Tuesday, January 28, 2014

What kind of Catholic are you?...Part 1

OK, I have been sitting in bed for the most part over these past 14 days. You must know that's never happened before but I figured, when it did, some deep thinking would occur if only because I finally have time to do so. (That's what introverts do...they think deeply and process...sometimes for a really looonnnnggg time). More on that later with the book review. For now, I'm thinking about some things I've been reading and listening to lately regarding the Catholic faith.

To clarify, I mean Catholics that are in full communion with the Pope. I didn't realize this was something that needed to be addressed. However, when looking for something else, I happened upon the website for St. Miriam, "a parish community located in Blue Bell, PA, right outside greater Philadelphia. Our church is part of more than 2,000 years of history of the greater Catholic Church universal. We welcome your questions and your seeking truthful answers."

Something sounds odd, don't you think? So, I dug a little deeper. They offer Mass twice on Sunday, Rosary every Thursday evening followed by a Communion Service, Baptism, Reconciliation, Stations of the Cross, etc.. They are led by a Pastor, Monsignor Jim St. George, an Associate Pastor, Fr. Joseph J. Klemas, and a Deacon, Deacon Patricia Heffner (sound of needle scratching a record, nails on a chalkboard or similar...)

Wait now, what...Patricia. Forgot the spellcheck, right? 

No, actually, they didn't. The Associate Pastor is married and the Pastor has been with his partner for 16 years. Yes, he's gay.

I admit that I am an idiot about a lot but I had NO idea there was such a thing as the The Old Catholic Church. Looking further, there are also Independent and Reformed Catholic churches, all of whom have the sacraments and all of whom claim Apostolic succession and all of whom "do not come under the authority of the Pope or the Roman Catholic Church".

If you're interested in the history and practices, click on the links above. (Just don't be confused because the Old Catholic Church and the Roman Catholic Church both have The Metropolitan Archbishop of Utrecht. Same title, different guy.)

I feel a bit better, after banging my head against the wall for many months during each election cycle when I see these types of statistics. Maybe they need to have more than just "White" or "Hispanic" Catholic. Perhaps there needs to be "Old" and "Independent" and "Reformed" Catholic as well. (I have a feeling, somewhere, a lot of Orthodox Jews are feeling my pain).

2012 presidential election exit polls and analysis

Now I can't help but wonder if people even know. Do they realize that the priest who married them isn't just really hip because he brings his partner along? Do they realize that "Catholic" doesn't always mean in communion with the Pope? Do they even have any idea what the Roman Catholic Church teaches on outdoor weddings, divorce and mortal sin? Do they care?

I try to have hope then I read things like this....from the Wedding Wire website reviews for Rev. James St. George:

"Father Jim was an amazing addition to our wedding day! Being raised catholic, I was worried that doing an outdoor wedding would be a great feat. Then I found Father Jim."

"Rev. James St. George was amazing as our officiant. I am very religious and Catholic, but not a church goer."

"Father Jim was the perfect officiant for us. Since I was raised Catholic my mother had always wanted me to get married by a priest. On the other hand, I had always wanted to get married outside so I did not think I was going to be able to make both of us happy. After doing some research, I found an officiant that would give both of us what we wanted (A catholic priest and an outdoor ceremony): Father Jim."

"Father Jim was amazing. My husband has always been a little leery of "religion" but had agreed to allow me to find a Catholic Priest for our service because it was something I had always dreamed of."

There are more but you get the idea.

This isn't a rant so I hope it hasn't come off as one. It's more of a thinking out loud so join with me in that and tell me what you think. Do you care? Does it matter?

***Disclaimer*** For those who don't know; perhaps this will give you an idea about why I am concerned...

Many years ago I was the bride in one of these weddings. I was the "Catholic" who wanted an outdoor wedding and needed a "priest" and a "rabbi" to accommodate both our faiths. I found one (he really was a Roman Catholic priest, of course now he is in jail...tragic. truly.), got my dispensations and went on to live my "deeply spiritual" married life. No surprise the marriage ended and, Thanks to God for never giving up on me, I found my way back to the Church. Even now when I think of what could have happened, I am terrified. I know of people who found their way back within such a marriage but there was none of that happening (my husband was more than "leery" of the Catholic faith). I am heartbroken that some or many of these couples, like me, somehow think they are taking the time and effort to insure they are in a valid marriage while still having the marriage of their dreams. My hope (I am hopeful, really) is that most just don't realize and only a few just don't care or are jumping through the hoops that someone else has placed before them (like the couple at our Baptism class who answered "why do you want your child baptized" with "because his mother said so". ) If, knowing now that I am divorced, annulled and remarried, you think that I myself am not a "real Catholic" so be it...that's a discussion for another time.

Have a blessed day. Stay warm. Pray for all those who are without heat or warm housing right now and do anything within your power to help.


  1. We all have stains in our past- hopefully we can learn from them- as it's clear you have. You're still one of the greatest Catholics I know- and I'm blessed to have you as an example.

    Miss you, too :^)

    1. Thanks, Kellie. I'm not looking for any applause; there are many, many mistakes in my past. I have done my very best to learn and change my behavior. As in all things, God used some of my worst days to bring about many moments of joy.

  2. I was vaguely aware of such "Catholic" churches as those, but didn't know as many details until I clicked through a few of your links. It's sad to me that they are mislead...I guess I basically think on such churches the same way I do with Protestants. They may be well-intentioned, but ultimately, they are heretics. We should pray for them.

    I did not know that about your previous marriage, but thank you for sharing. As Kellie says, we all have mistakes in our past.

    The talk of marriages reminds me of a problem Tom and I are facing. His sister is (finally) engaged to her (long-time live-in) boyfriend. She was baptized/confirmed a Catholic, but has not self-identified as one for a number of years. She does not want a Catholic wedding. I believe she would either need to get a dispensation from the bishop OR go through some sort of "official" process declaring that she is no longer a Catholic in order for the wedding to be valid. We still need to ask some priests about it. But however it works out, Tom and I can't in good conscience participate in the wedding unless they go through some kind of process to make sure it's considered valid by the Church. It's sure to stir up drama and hurt some feelings :-(