An Open Letter to the Catholic Church

Dear Catholic Church,

I’ve been a Catholic since I was born. I made my first communion, confirmed, and then married in the same church. I said goodbye to my favorite grandfather and my mom at that church. That church was home. Maybe it’s because of my parents’ close connection to St. Pius, but no one will ever be as good a priest as Father Arturo.

I’ve grown and been through ups and downs since I last went to church in El Paso. Years. Growing up I was dragged there during my teens and helped out with Sunday school when I was in college. Both of my daughters are baptized in the church, but we don’t actually go regularly-despite the best intentions when Ava started religious formation last year.

And I really don’t feel horrible about it. Well, sort of. Hello, Catholic guilt.

I’m about to turn 33. I’ve seen 4 decades and the times change. But the Catholic church doesn’t–not really. I know it doesn’t have to, but sometimes change is good.

I have to think that there are lots of people like me that have explored the idea of a non-denominational or Christian church to get a real life application of religion and the Bible, not just the ritual that has been part of the church for years. Clearly change is an option, with the last Vatican the mass changed after a gajillion years (I still can’t get the hang of “and with your spirit”).

With this new Pope I have to wonder if we are getting closer to the acceptance of (or at least not the damning of) homosexuality. God says love everyone right? Why can’t we just leave things broad like that?

So why won’t the church adapt and catch up to its more modern counterparts?

I’m not saying we should be watching church from the comfort of our homes or showing up in running shorts and a ball cap. A true Catholic does actually embrace the smells and the sights of the church. On some level, walking into a Catholic Church is comforting whether it’s been a week or a decade since you were last there. Actual presence evokes memories, for better or worse.

We are a technologically centered society. My Bible is on my iPad. I take notes on my phone and iPad, too. Some Christian churches encourage tweeting and Facebooking during mass. Why? The more the merrier. If you can share a pearl of wisdom that affected you it might help someone else. The thought of taking out my phone during mass makes me terrified. I thought about tweeting from my purse even though I had nothing to say, just to be a rebel. Don’t worry dad, I didn’t.

Why can’t the priests break away from the traditional homilies and speak about real life application of the readings to life? Some of them try but that doesn’t always translate. Being a public speaker is a tough gig, I get that.

More often than not, I don’t leave feeling fulfilled or challenged by deep, meditative, and thought provoking sermons. I think that my generation wants and craves that. I need that. I hate leaving feeling deflated after the grand expectations of packing the kids up are nothing more than thoughts that played out successfully in my head.

My generation wants to be welcome and we want our friends to be welcome too. We want to talk, to think, to learn. I can’t go to bible study at 10:00 on a Tuesday morning–I have a job. All of the Catholic Church’s activities are during the week. Why can’t we have bible study on Wednesday nights like other churches? To truly embrace something is to understand all about it. I have that thirst for knowledge.

I want to come home, I really do. So church, do you think maybe we could meet in the middle?

Love,
Jess

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6 thoughts on “An Open Letter to the Catholic Church

  1. Dear Jess,

    It gives me great joy to know that you thirsty for knowledge. For our purpose here on Earth is to know and love God.

    When you pray, the Lord will answer all your questions, it may take a long time, but he will.

    As a member of the Catholic Church, I too want change, especially for the Church to go with the times. But we must first understand a couple of things. The most important things being, what can change in the Church and what can we change.

    The beauty about the Catholic Church is that we have the fullness of Truth. We also have the magisterium which guides us for our major interpretations. We are the body of Christ. Imagine if everyone of us interpreted the bible? How many Christian denominations would we splinter into?

    We believe in absolute Truth which was revealed to Jesus Christ. Jesus was the Truth. The role of the Church is not to teach something new, it is to proclaim the Gospel, the Good News. The Truth has not changed. Some mysteries of the Truth are hard for this society to understand especially since modern philosophy has so weakened our minds. Relativism, the subjective truth, individualism, etc… it’s all selfishness, which is the opposite of the selfless Christian love.

    You are right that we must love everyone, but not their sin. If someone is sinning, like a heterosexual couple having sex outside of the sacrament of marriage, we cannot condone it. We must be careful in letting people know about their sins, because some people will feel judged and go further away from God. We must be tolerant, but not tolerate evil. In the matter of homosexuality, the Catholic Church is quite clear, it is evil to act upon the thoughts. If these people are born with these thought, so are heterosexual males born with lust for other women out side of their marriage, does that mean they are free to act upon them? As Paul explains in his epistles, the flesh is always at odds with the spirit.

    What can change is how we deliver the Good News. The sacraments are beautiful, but many people have been falling away because the Word is on fire, it is under constant attack. The church needs to do more to grab the younger crowd, especially after confirmation. My parish does not even have a young adult group (ages 18-39), I am looking to start one. I would have loved such a group after I came back into the Church after a decade of atheism when I was 25, I’m going to be 29 soon.

    I say what I am about to say next with all the love in me for you (which is to will good on you). You say that the Church is out of touch with modern times, but it is the opposite, modern people are out of touch with the Church.

    I highly recommend books by Scott Hahn. He has audio tapes too that you can purchase from St. Josephs Communications that go over books in the Bible. Try the audio book on the Gospel of John. Scott Hahn was a former Presbyterian minister. He will give you all the bible knowledge you will ever seek. I’ve also read “The Supper of the Lamb”, from him, it’s a beautiful book that opens up the glory of the Mass.

    The most powerful tool as Catholics that we have is the Eucharist. Our heavenly bread, if you wish to know more about this look into “The Jewish Roots of the Eucharist” by Brant Pitre.

    I also highly recommend the Word on Fire series by Father Robert Barron on youtube. His philosophy will delve deep into subjects, I especially enjoy his take on movies. He has many videos for you to browse through. He also has a new series called Catholicism, he has previews for free. I can’t wait to buy it.

    God bless you,

    Thomas

    • Thanks Thomas! I really appreciate your comments and will absolutely take them to heart. I’ll have to take a look into the books you suggested. And you’re right, I think that the Eucharist (and the saints) are what sets us apart from other religions. Thanks again!

  2. Jessica, I think this is true of many churches and faiths. Thank you for speaking out for a meaningful change to relate to those of your generation.

  3. Jess, this is my struggle. We are sending my oldest to Catholic school, and I feel guilty that we do not attend Mass very frequently. I worry about how the Church views homosexuals, and I worry about how my daughter will be taught about sexuality and relationships. I want all my friends, regardless of who they love, to be recognized by our Church.

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