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Leah Mickens | by On Being
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Leah Mickens

I attend St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church in Mableton, Georgia. It is one of the few parishes in the world that celebrates the traditional Latin Mass, now known as the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. I accept everything that the Magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church teaches.


The aspect of the Church that concerns me the most is the amount of dissent and liturgical abuse. For too many people, being Catholic is like being Jewish; you can belong without actually believing anything the Church teaches. Being Catholic is not an ethnicity. It requires being a true soldier for Christ and to be willing to die if necessary for his Church. Catholics in Africa and Asia understand this. Their counterparts in Europe and the United States do not. For many Catholics in developed countries, the source and summit of their faith is to be a "nice person." The only real sin is to be "mean," which translates as actually believing what the Church teaches. Catholics in developing countries are not being persecuted because they aren't "nice people." The point of being Catholic is to be a saint, not a "nice person," although the two are certainly not mutually exclusive. I don't see why people who disagree with the Magisterium stay in the Church and still call themselves Catholics. The Episcopal Church welcomes such people who love pretty rituals but hate dogma. There's no one stopping them.


As I said earlier, I am also concerned about liturgical abuses in the Church. Since the 1970s, the Catholic liturgy, once called "The Most Beautiful Thing This Side of Heaven" has often degenerated into poor rip-off of Protestant services. The architecture of modern parishes tend to resemble fall-out shelters rather than buildings where Christ lives in the form of the Most Blessed Sacrament. The Church needs reverent liturgies and churches that actually look like churches. Bring back in full force the aspects of Catholicism that horrify Protestants: the Marian devotions, the sodalities, confraternities, the teaching nuns in full habit, the statues, the scapulars, the processions, the side altars, the high altars, the bloody crucifixes, and anonymous Confession.


Despite this, Catholicism will survive. It is growing by leaps and bounds in the developing countries and a creative minority is emerging in America. I believe in the indefectibility of the Church. The Catholic Church is not only the world's oldest institutionalized religion, but the oldest world's institution of any kind. It has outlived the Roman Empire, the Barbarian invasions, Vikings, the French Revolution, Napoleon, Imperial China, the British Empire, the Soviet Union, and the Third Reich. It will outlive the United States and whatever comes after it. Viva Christo Rey!

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Taken on April 29, 2008