I am grateful that many Catholics are starting to wake up to the awareness that there is much they do not know. On the other hand, I want to smack my head on brick walls. Why? It represents a resounding failure on the educational apparatus of the Church.
I do not blame these people for their lack of knowledge. I do not blame even their teachers necessarily. I do blame, however, those who did know better but chose a different path. I blame those who purposely mislead, either out of fear or rebellion.
In the fallout, many well meaning Catholics really do believe the Church has dropped teachings. Their religion class never brought it up. The “be nice” drivel that passes for preaching in most parishes doesn’t touch on these teachings. Some remember sisters, priests, and other teachers embracing the “spirit of Vatican II” and telling people that we didn’t teach thus and so anymore.
These people lied. They have done grave damage.
But, let’s set the the record straight on some things here today, things that we taught before 1965 and still teach long after 1965 today.
1) Sin, including Mortal Sin, still exists
Sin didn’t morph into “making mistakes.” Personal sin didn’t disappear and morph into “corporate or social sin.”
In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, sections 1846-1876, the issue of sin, both venial and mortal, are defined in union with the constant teaching of the Church.
Since sin didn’t evaporate into the ether, neither did the necessity to address their effect and need for healing. Being in a state of mortal sin will still send you to hell. Dismiss that at your own risk. Being in a state of mortal sin still excludes a person from the reception of the Eucharist until Confession has happened. Receiving the Eucharist in a state of mortal sin is, itself, a mortal sin.
We have never taught that one has a right to the Eucharist in any old state. Never. In fact, if we did, that would point to a belief that the bread and wine must still be just bread and wine. We do not believe this either.
2) Sunday Mass/ Holy Day Masses are NOT optional
A Catholic in good standing, exempting those who are ill or taking care of someone who is ill, are obliged to worship God in Mass on every Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation. That never changed.
When one chooses to opt out of Mass in favor of sleeping in, sports, shopping, or anything in this vein, one has found a god they think is more worthy of their time than the God.
That any Catholic would believe their faith life is just fine without Mass is delusional. Willfully missing mass is starving oneself to death spiritually. To knowingly and willfully miss Mass is mortally sinful. To teach one’s children by word or example that Mass is optional is to teach your children how to mortally sin. This is a very serious matter.
3) The sanctity of human sexuality is still upheld
We view human sexuality as such a profound good that the Church advises against the abuse of human sexuality into a mere plaything. We have always had problems with the misuse of human sexuality and the devastation it brings.
I know, I know…what about those clerics who sexually preyed on their flocks? They did so in direct opposition to the teachings of the Church.
The use of artificial birth control was never a “let your conscience be your guide” type of thing. That was the mantra of clerics who either bought into worldly views on human sexuality or were too cowardly to uphold those teachings for fear of the backlash that would come.
The Church does not okay the use of porn, masturbation, homosexual acts, or any other use of human sexuality that goes against its very nature.
I know this is not popular, but the Church has not changed its teachings about this. See Catechism sections 2331-2400.
4) Confession is still necessary for the forgiveness of Mortal Sin
Sin needs to be forgiven for the relationship between God and with His people to be restored. It is that relationship that opens us to the freedom of receiving God’s grace in the sacraments. It that relationship that opens us to the Kingdom of Heaven.
Mortal sin severs that relationships. Without that relationship, we have no true access to the grace of the other sacraments nor to the Kingdom of Heaven. Confession is the way we fix that.
Whether one feels that is true or not, does not change that this is the constant teaching of the Church. See Catechism sections 1446-1470.
5) The Catholic faith is not a buffet where one picks and chooses what is okay and comfortable
The Catholic faith has the right to say that this is what we believe. It has the right to set the standard. We do so because this is what Christ taught. End of story.
The point of faith isn’t to numb. The point of faith is to challenge to greater heights, courage, and holiness. Every rule and teaching of the Church comes from what it means to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves. It is an integral whole. Once we start picking and choosing, we damage the whole. When people start picking and choosing, it becomes easier and easier to abandon faith altogether.
* * *
This is just the tip of the iceberg.
Catholic professionals bemoan the ignorance of the masses and the lack of practice of the masses. I say that the masses are only doing what we trained them to do! If we treated faith as a buffet, shocker that others would as well. If we backed away from unpopular teachings, or teachings that mean I have to give up my favored sins, then we spread the disease of ignorance that plagues so many.
It isn’t as if we haven’t had these teachings all along. All of the things our “spirit of Vatican II” types said we threw out (the Rosary, Confession, Purgatory, indulgences, sexual morality teachings, etc) we never did. These types will have to stand before God for the damage they did.
We still believe what we believed long before Vatican II. Our need to learn is present, as is our need to have clear teaching.