Monday, June 9, 2014

Many Protestants only knew Catholicism through the camera lens of Hollywood in movies like Boy's Town, The Bells of St. Mary, The Sound of Music or San Francisco. We assumed Father Spencer Tracy typified the priest: stubbornly involved in each parishoner's life with gentle wit and inexhaustible wisdom. And that every country pastor flowed with the strength of a Victor Hugo novel:

We admired the movie priest, even if we didn't admire Mary-worshipping, works-righteousness Catholicism. 

Then when our Protestant theology collapsed, when our monotone daguerreotype spirituality became a confusing cyclone and God plopped us down in the technicolored Kingdom of God, we felt a bit like Dorothy opening the door into Oz.

From that first child-like, wide-eyed step in, we believed we had discovered the perfect kingdom over the rainbow. Jesus' church. We were home. Home sweet home. That is the idealism most Protestants find themselves in after they have discovered the Catholic Church. 

We tend to be drawn to the ancient rites and rituals. We are the veil wearers, those who kneel to partake of the Eucharist on the tongue. (Or at least want to.) The Gregorian chants fill us with awe and we rarely want anything that reminds us of our Protestant church services. We don't just want something different, we want something that binds us to our mysterious, Jewishy and bishop-obeying, ancient Christian Church. 

And no matter how much our head warned us that the Catholic Church wasn't perfect, our hearts were sorely disappointed when the priest snapped at us for innocently bringing up the name of Michael Voris or when the media told us the pope was a radical Marxist liberal bringing change to the church on everything from not wearing red Prada's to gay marriage.

Everyone seems to be applauding the change except converts. We came into the church because it wasn't supposed to change. We wanted Father Flannigan and habit-wearing Sister Mary Benedicta in a incense-filled, reverent and Latin singing holy church. What we didn't realize is that we were like Jerusalem pagans converting to Judaism in AD 67. Things don't look so good. The flock seems to be wandering aimlessly with absentee bishops and bedraggled priests. 

The problem is that our expectations were from Hollywood and not scripture. Real life spiritual fathers are no different from real life family fathers. They are imperfect.
And how many of us would look at our fathers and demand that since they were not perfect that God put us in an untrue family and we should convert to another true family. We don't often argue that our biological fathers aren't really who God wanted as our fathers and perhaps the whole system of fatherhood should be tossed out because he was rotten. There was some mix up and we are supposed to leave our family because it isn't as good as the family across the street looks. 

If God appointed our often immature, biological father to be our authority, we have to give our spiritual fathers the same benefit. A perfect church, in fact, wouldn't be the Church Christ started because He compared His church to a net with bad and good fish, a flock of goats and sheep that would be separated, a field of wheat sewn by the enemy with tares. There will be seeds that are weak and seeds that produce fruit of thirty, sixty and a hundred. 

Bad leaders with bad fruit, even wolves and yes, even the antichrist are found within the true church in positions that can be as high as the pope. 

God didn't say follow a perfect church, no He said follow His church. Look for His true, not the perfect. 

No comments: