….1) Bertha, who is not Catholic, has been married for 20 years to Titus, a Catholic. They were married at Mass, by a priest. She has attended Mass with him every Sunday since they moved into the parish. Their four children attend Catholic schools. She has been active in the Mother’s Club, has served as a faithful chaperone at high school “dances” and participates in one of the parish’s prayer groups. More recently she has received Communion every Sunday. The priests—rather against the wishes of the Vatican, it is to be feared—argue that it would create grave scandal if they denied her the Eucharist. Many people in the parish assume she is a Catholic. In late May, she informs Father Prudens. the pastor, that she wants to become a Catholic, preferably on the day of her husband’s 45th birthday, which is also graduation day from high school for her elder daughter Tina. Father Prudens sees no problem until Bertha tells him that, well, she never was baptized. His R.C.I.A. director, Elutheria, insists that Bertha must go through the whole process and that she cannot under any circumstances be baptized before the following Easter, 10 months away. If the pastor baptizes Bertha on the day she has requested, Elutheria announces, she will resign.
2) Coenobius is a distinguished literary critic and art expert. He has wandered the world religiously. Now married to a Catholic wife, Martiana, and the father of two small daughters, Coenobia and Fiona, he finds the religion of his family powerfully attractive. As he admits to the selfsame Father Prudens, he may finally have chosen to settle down with a Catholic family because he has always found Catholicism appealing. Peter Paul Rubens in particular has drawn him to the church. He is deeply impressed by the vitality of the parish, even finding the English liturgy attractive, although he deplores the quality of the translated text. The more he reads the literature of humankind, he says, the more he is convinced that humankind is destined for Something beyond itself and that Catholicism is the best representative there is of that human instinct. Long ago he read Augustine and Aquinas and more recently Teilhard de Chardin. Now he wants to talk out his insights and intuitions.
At a very general level it makes two important points that have been forgotten in the past and of which contemporary Catholics needed to be reminded—that becoming a Christian is a process and not an event, and that it is a process which of necessity should involve some sort of community.
3) Jucundus is an upright young son of an important Anglo-Saxon family that has not been religious for three generations. He knows hardly any Catholics. But as an undergraduate student at South Cook County University and a devotee of the classics, he has devoured Catholic theologians from Ignatius of Antioch to David Tracy, some of them (including Father Tracy) in the original. He is convinced, like the young Avery Dulles, that Catholicism is True. A friend. Anna, tells him that she has heard from Catholics she knows that Father Prudens is very sympathetic to people who want to become Catholics. Father Prudens is the first Catholic priest to whom he has ever spoken.
4) Sarah, a Jewish woman, and Bono, a Catholic man, have met at college and claim to be desperately in love with one another, a claim that profoundly offends both their families, as it has been designed to do. Since Sarah is marginally more strongly motivated to offend her parents, she agrees to become a Catholic, although she is repelled by the church. However she finds herself intrigued by it. too. She has what she thinks is a powerful mystical experience at Christmas Midnight Mass and tells Father Prudens that now she has no choice but to become a Catholic. She even compares herself to Paul Claudel who had a similar experience at the first Vespers of Christmas (Father Prudens is surprised that anyone has heard of Paul Claudel these days). She thinks she may break up with Bono and become a cloistered Carmelite.
What is Father Prudens to do? Turn these four people over to the enthusiastic shallowness of the parish R.C.I.A. team?
Give me a break!
The above comes from an August 11 story in America magazine. Greeley died in 2013.
Fr. Greely was prescient. RCIA is a failure and a waste of time for those who are forced to go through it.
Not everyone is “forced to go through RCIA”.
If you want to become a Roman Catholic in a Novus Ordo parish, yes you are forced to go through it. It’s the norm for Christian initiation in the Roman Catholic Church. Contrary to the intent of the RCIA, which will soon become the OCIA (different translation in preparation), Baptized Catholics who are requesting first Communion and Confirmation are often lumped in with the unbaptized to take the same classes, which are often taught by people who don’t know much.
My parish RCIA is run by a faithful deacon and it is very good.
Good. It’s in the low minority. I was at a parish whose RCIA was run by a nun who wore sensible shoes and pant suits, and she passed around a sharing stick and taught about reiki massage.
I guess I was lucky. Back in 1978, my pastor engaged me in a series of sessions on Catholicism to prepare me for entrance into the Church on Easter vigil, which was March 25 that year. My job was to study the topics beforehand and demonstrate knowledge and acceptance of Catholic truth. As a graduate of a protestant seminary, I was quite used to the intense study required of me and I relished the back and forth with the pastor.. Fast forward to 2008. I am now sponsoring a candidate for entrance into the Church, and the sessions were largely devoted to the readings at Mass. Hot-button topics were avoided. I wondered how anyone participating in that program could name themselves proficient on Catholic theology and ethics. I really thought the sessions were somewhat counterproductive so far as formation goes.
Dan, were you preparing to be a Protestant minister, before you switched to the Catholic Faith? What made you change? Were you ever ordained as a Protestant minister? I enjoy watching Marcus Grodi’s EWTN show, “The Journey Home,” interviewing Catholic converts. Each one always has an interesting background, and unique conversion story! Did you ever think of becoming a priest, or a permanent Deacon?
In reply, by 1976 I had graduated from Fuller Seminary in Pasadena and started a PhD program there. The day after Ascension in 1977, I visited St. Andrew’s Priory (now Abbey) and that changed everything. I was on the road to Catholicism. I dropped out of Fuller to study Catholicism, and that led me to St. Elizabeth’s parish and Fr. Slaught. On March 25 I was received into the Church at the Easter Vigil. I never sought ordination as a Protestant minister, but sought out a vocation as a Trappist (see the thread on the Trappistines) and later as a Canon Regular. Neither worked out, and I spent 31 years as a Math Instructor at the local community college, from which I am now retired. Now in my 70s, I am too old to embark upon any ministerial position requiring ordination. Hope this helps!
What happened at St. Andrew’s? (it’s ok if it’s mystical)
Is it enough to say the Spirit grabbed me? This was my introduction to the contemplative life. I felt I truly belonged there, that is, in that spirituality.
I have heard of people who the moment they walked in to a Catholic Church, they just knew God was there and they belonged there.
Dan, it sounds like you had a wonderful education! I have heard that Fuller Theological Seminary is non-denominational, evangelical, and faithful to Biblical teaching. Did you obtain the M.Div. degree? Not sure, but does that qualify you to teach Biblical courses at Catholic institutions? The two abbys– St. Andrew’s (Benedictine?) and the Canons Regular (was that the Norbertines of St. Michael’s?) sound beautiful and prosperous, with lots of vocations. I enjoyed reading about the talented baseball player, Grant Desme, who tried out his vocation with the Norbertines, and studied to becone a priest– but then left, and returned to vaseball.
Not sure, but I think that the M.Div. degrees, required for Catholic priests to be ordained– as well as the M.Div. degrees required for Protestant clergy– have similarities in Biblical teaching, interpretation, and research. I have heard of Catholic converts with these degrees, taking some Catholic training, and then teaching Biblical subjects in Catholic institutions. Or else, working in a number of different Catholic lay ministries.
Also, I bet you had a great deal of training in Philosophy and the Classics, as well as the Early Church Fathers. I bet you know lots of Greek, Latin, and Hebrew. And tons of other things, too!
” Did you obtain the M.Div. degree? Not sure, but does that qualify you to teach Biblical courses at Catholic institutions? ” Yes and no. The M. Div. degree would have been adequate for Protestant ministry only. I did know lots of Greek, some Latin and Hebrew, French and German. But Fuller was not the place to master the Early Church Fathers unless one planned a dissertation on them. And you are correct: for me to teach Biblical studies at a Catholic institution would have required further study. I diverted course to mathematics, and had a happy career therein.
Dan, I had several friends in my home parish, that I grew up with, who were altar boys– and later, served as lectors at the New Mass. They did not become priests, but got married and became members of lay Catholic religious orders, with their wives. They and their wives also were involved in many parish programs.
I do not read Andrew Greeley.
Eternal Rest grant unto him O Lord and let perpetual Light shine upon him.
Isn’t this the priest who wrote sex novels?
Yes, and he was a liberal ’60s priest. I never read his stuff, either. The “National Catholic Register” said he had “the dirtiest mind ever ordained.”
I never liked seeing his novels, with provacative pictures on the covers, displayed for sale, in Catholic and secular bookstores. He was a sociologist, a Sociology professor, and director of the National Opinion Research Center, in Chicago. As you can guess– he was a big critic of “Humanae Vitae”– and a big supporter of Cdl. Bernardin, and Barack Obama, too. I always thought he was a very secular kind of priest– worldly and liberal. He was very famous in his day, with newspaper columns, and a major contributor to Catholic and secular news sources. Of course, he was interested in religion from a worldly, secular, sociological viewpoint.
The “National Catholic Register” was acquired in 2011 by EWTN.
Despite his racy books, Greeley defended priestly celibacy, and it was said that he was faithful to his vows. He also supported victims of clerical sex abuse. And he was a big supporter of Catholic education. Money from the sales of his racy novels was given to all his favorite causes.
Here is the hard thing about being a Christian. You need to tick all the boxes.
Yes. For one thing, if you are a priest, and want to be a writer– spend your priestly life writing about Christ, and evangelizing Christ’s teachings to the world! Otherwise– forget it! Priests who spend their time making millions, writing dirty, racy, cheap romance-and-sex novels– should be kicked out. Waste-of-life. Garbage.
And rainbow ain’t one of them
Greeley also supported women priests. He grew up and lived most of his life in Chicago, the city he loved. Cdl. Bernardin– and Barack Obama– were right there, in Chicago, along with Greeley– as well as a number of shallow, radical liberals.
The pastor of a Catholic parish is responsible to teach the faith, provide the sacraments. How he does it can vary. Any employee who threatens resignation should be thanked for the service given and helped to move on from the parish. Canons 515 – 534 guide the pastor in his duties to form the faithful. As the pastor goes, so goes a parish.
What if parish staff threatens to resign because the pastor is heterodox?
We’re of the same generation!
I was helped by Fr. Slaught when
he was at the Newman Club at CSUN.
And Canons Regular … of the Immaculate Conception???
My debt of gratitude to the CRIC’s is immense.
They now hold forth in Santa Paula.