Lots of mommy bloggers, especially homeschooling mommy bloggers, are writing back-to-school posts this week. I'm not a mommy blogger, but I think we need a "back-to" post here, too, only my post is a call for us to go back-to-Catholic-sanity.
Why do I think we need this? It seems that certain types of Catholic insanity are somewhat cyclical, and anybody who has been hanging out in the Catholic blogosphere lately has probably seen some of the signs of a return to that insanity. And it's easy to get caught up in that stuff--it really is.
So here, for those who have been swept away on a tide of recent Catholic insanity, are a few things to remember:
1. The Catholic bishops in America are not evil. No, really, they aren't. They may not all be saints, and they probably have habitual sins they struggle with like the rest of us, but they are not in cahoots with Satan and the Communists in a grand conspiracy to topple the Real True Church and replace it with a watered-down, namby-pamby false religion that teaches people (gasp!) that it is sometimes okay to smile at someone without knowing whether that person is friend or foe, and things like that.
2. It actually is okay to smile at someone without knowing whether that person is friend or foe. This is because charity compels us to default to "friend" unless we know for a certainty otherwise. And "know for a certainty" means something serious, like that the person is actually trying to harm us, not merely that the person didn't FWD our last FWD: FWD: FWD email proving that everyone but us is evil.
3. The Church, even in America, does not teach that contraception, abortion, gay marriage, remarriage after divorce, fornication, etc. are fine and dandy. Anybody who tells you that the Church in America, the bishops, or anybody else regularly presents any of that stuff as Catholic teaching with diocesan approval is mistaken. Rare examples of idiots on their own trying to present any of that stuff as okay for Catholics should be addressed by contacting the proper authorities, not by spreading Internet conspiracies that claim that every diocese secretly teaches all this stuff and shuts down those who would expose the TRUTH.
4. Pope Francis is not a squishy modernist who plans to ban the Extraordinary Form of the Mass and require churches to be festooned with beach balls and tee shirts. Enough, already.
5. The plight of the immigrant actually is a real Catholic concern, not a ploy by liberal pseudo-Catholics to increase the number of Democratic Party voters in the future. How we address that plight is subject to prudential judgment, but fostering an attitude of hatred toward people, many of whom are our Catholic brothers and sisters, without realizing the complexity of the problems that brought them here in desperation or the hypocrisy of the corporations who keep them here in order to exploit their work is clearly wrong and should not be done.
6. Reception of Holy Communion in the hand does not prove that a person is a liberal Catholic bent on pushing for an agenda that includes guitar Masses, female priests, or a happy-clappy church environment; reception of Holy Communion on the tongue does not prove that a person is holy and righteous in the Lord's eyes. Case in point: I receive on the tongue, having never become accustomed to the other method which was introduced when I was a teen. Nobody ought to jump to any conclusions about my inner holiness because of that, and I'd be horrified if they did.
7. Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion are not evil, and their presence at a Mass does not prove that the pastor is a squishy modernist or that the bishop of that diocese is an evil heretic.
8. The term "professional Catholic" is a silly attempt to make a pejorative out of an ordinary phrase. More to the point, it applies just as much to someone who makes $40,000 a year from a Catholic apostolate as it does to someone who makes double or triple that amount--and to someone who makes a tenth or a twentieth of that amount, for that matter. If a professional Catholic writer, teacher, speaker, or apostolate asks you for a donation you have the right to consider whether or not you'd like to contribute based on whatever criteria you'd like. Other than that, this really is a MYOB (Mind Your Own Business) field.
9. Catholic women can wear slacks. They are not required to wear veils or hats in church.
10. If you honestly, truly believe that you are part of a tiny remnant of true Catholicism (whether you come at this from the left or the right; that is, whether you think Vatican II didn't go far enough or whether you think it was pretty much pure evil from the get-go) and that just about every single other Catholic in America is going to Hell for not belonging to your tiny remnant group, then you are the problem, not the solution. Trust me on this one.