Monday, August 3, 2009

Lessons Learned

As many of my friends and family know, Lisa & I spent about 10 years outside the Catholic Church. During our sojourn to non-denominational Evangelicalism we gained a deeper appreciation for our Catholic heritage and were blessed by the things our Protestant brothers and sisters taught us. As much as the Church has to offer, we can also learn quite a bit from the other members of Christ's mystical body.
One such lesson is taking full advantage of what you've been given. I know many Catholics who, when looking to their seperated brethern, focus on what is lacking in these various denominations when compared to the full riches of Catholicism. In particular, it is easy on one hand to see how Christ's Eucharistic presence is missing from their worship. I would counter however, that many Protestants do more with the little they have than so many Catholics who squander this great gift of God.
In light of the current liturgical focus on the Eucharist, I am speaking principally of passion in worship. Passion, as I use the term here, may include but is not limited to emotions. Certainly some brands of Pentecostalism seem to the observer as excessive emotionalism--and from personal experience some of it often is just that. What I mean in the way of passionate worship is worship in which the worshiper is fully aware of the act of giving worship, of giving himself completely to God in that moment of spiritual intimacy. Again from my own limited personal experience it seems to me that Ive met more passionate worshipers in the Protestant faith communities than in the Catholic parishes to which I've belonged.
As a disclaimer I must admit that we have found a wonderful, passionate community of believers in the young adult ministry of our current parish. In fact, I have always argued that it has been in a passionate, engaged Catholic setting that we have had our most meaningful encounters with Christ. I also have encountered many "pew warmers" in Protestant churches that are just as disengaged from worship as some of the Catholics of which I am now speaking.
What makes me scratch my head is that as Catholics we do have the Real Presence of Jesus in our midst and yet so often and for too many the liturgy is simply something to endure and get through. I confess that I've had this attitude myself. What is it about our nature that we can so easily become so complacent in the face of such awesomeness?

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