Bridging the Rift: How To and How Not To


Amy starts a discussion, but as my self-imposed limit is up on that thread, let me endorse Peter Nixon’s suggestions: remember Christ is at the center, pray more widely, read more widely, and study history.

All too often, we seem to be operating under the assumption that it is we who save–through our “fraternal correction” of those whose ideas we deem dangerous–rather than God who saves.

Indeed. I’ve always distrusted the notion that Jesus has given the pruning shears to certain branches. There is one vinedresser. He is not any of us.

The question “how is your prayer life?” is often a more fundamental one than “what is your position on papal infallibility?”

Sandra Miesel shows us she doesn’t get it at all:

So dogmatic definitions don’t matter? Who cares if you’re orthodox or Arian or Monophysite as long as your heart’s in the right place? Who cares if you oppose or support abortion/sodomy/polyamory as long as your heart’s in the right place. We’re all wunnerful Catholics together.

The point is not that the Catholic must be in attack dog mode 24/7. Read Vatican II and see what it says in any number of documents about the Catholic approach to non-believers, doubters, even heretics and schismatics.

Is anyone suggesting that I should read RadTrad publications and the bellowings of Catholic antiSemites with “openness”? That we should all just get along regardless of the truth? Not bloody likely!

Well, Sandra, if heroism on that level is unappealing, you might try looking beyond the vicious extremes of Catholicism. The average pew inhabitant in any parish I’ve been in is hardly in your categories of scorn.

My liturgical/spiritual suggestions would echo Peter’s:

1. Challenge yourself on location: a different pew, a different Mass time, go to a monastery or the cathedral or some other place. Maybe you can invite someone to go with you.

2. Challenge yourself in liturgical style: go to adoration, or vespers, or LifeTeen, or start a home devotion. Sample various religious communities: Franciscans, Benedictines, Dominicans, etc.. Bring a friend.

3. Return to the core: Read the Bible in an intentional way (i.e. with some purpose) and incoroprate it into your daily prayer life. Go on a silent retreat and ask for guidance.

4. In all things, consider the very best of what Catholics bring to any of these particular experiences as you see them.

What you are not being asked to do: compromise your values. If you prefer, don’t even speak to anyone in your adventures, just pray about it. Ponder John 17:20-26:

I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me. Father, they are your gift to me. I wish that where I am they also may be with me, that they may see my glory that you gave me, because you loved me before the foundation of the world.


Righteous Father, the world also does not know you, but I know you, and they know that you sent me. I made known to them your name and I will make it known,
that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them.

Unity is less a function of right-thinking. (I mean something more narrow than orthodoxy.) Unity is a function of faith, it derives from the divine relationship of the Trinity (not primarily the beliefs of the disciples) and is intended as a means of evangelization to the world.

Simply put, when the branches start presuming to make decisions about what belongs or doesn’t belong on the vine … well, that’s when it’s time for a narcissism check.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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