My oldest daughter informed me of a recent incident she had at school with a well meaning, but socially inept neighbor that confronted her openly about her religion. Evidently, the strong pro life stance we have in our family has been a source of irritation in our neighbor’s home, and the parents evidently have been talking about this to their children. As reported by my daughter the conversation went something like this:
“You know the one thing I hate about your family is? Your beliefs and religion. You guys are supposed to believe in … and you believe in something totally different, which is wrong. I mean, it’s just stupid cause you guys are Roman Catholic and all Roman Catholics are suppose to be LIBERAL.” My daughter responded “Everyone who goes to our church is Republican (not quite accurate, but a good response) Neighbor: Really? That’s so weird. Do they realize they are supposed to be liberal? And you know what else? Every day Matt (my son) comes up to me and tells me how bad abortion is and how it is murdering babies, and I said “no it’s not”. At that point, my daughter walked away from the conversation, and this neighbor stopped her commentary.
I informed my children how proud I was that they have been standing up for the faith and principles we have attempted to teach them over the years, and we also discussed the collective ignorance of the majority, as reflected in our neighbor’s comments. This particular neighbor comes from a Jewish tradition and her parents happen to see themselves as enlightened, liberal and sophisticated concerning current trends in society. This would make them more mainstream in their thought processes, and it is not much of a stretch to believe that their daughter’s comments are influenced by their own thoughts concerning many of these matters.
This brought about a very good teaching moment for our whole family that will lead to several more discussions in the future. It also brought home to me in a personal way how much trouble we are in, and how we really are losing the fight for not only the babies, but our souls. It seems these neighbors have a pre conceived notion as to what the Roman Catholic Church stands for, and that the faith as our family tries to live it is seen as a freakish and scary thing to them. It is very disturbing, given the fact that I have been teaching what the Church has proclaimed for over the past two millennia, and the content of the teachings is right in line with the magisterium. It is appalling that people outside of our faith have such a dim view of it, and sees the application of any moral absolute as highly intolerable and nearing religious ‘fascism’.
It is no wonder that people like my neighbors have those pre conceived notions about Catholicism, when one sees the last several decades of poor behavior, and the selling out of the faith in order to be tolerated by the society. The messages are being sent loud and clear: Catholicism is interpreted by the individual, there are no longer moral absolutes and anyone claiming to be Catholic has the same moral authority in making claims as the Pope. Catholics openly violate precepts of the faith with no consequences, and the Bishops and Priests, for the most part, refuse to teach the faith as it has been passed down from the Apostles. We can now have people of other faiths dictate what we believe, and this will go largely unchallenged.
Needless to say, my children have now tasted some of the persecution that will be more prevalent in the future. I am proud that they were willing to fight for their beliefs, but it saddens me as well that there are not more out there willing to do the same. It is even sadder that the fight needs to take place at all, but it is a reflection of how far we have fallen in matters of faith and morals. What it’s going to take to get back on track is a lot of guts and fortitude, but where it will come from is another matter. As long as the Church takes the position that it would rather be at the table of acceptance and tolerance, it cannot be the beacon it was meant to be, and the message ultimately will look ‘liberal’ to the outsiders.