Phew! Christmas is over. Now it is back to business at the National Catholic Reporter. Done with all that cute cuddly baby Jesus stuff, they are back to the real business of bashing the Catholic Church,
These are the introductory paragraphs to their December 26th article by Rose Murphy at NCR. Emphases mine.
My current, critical reading about religion and my growing disenchantment with the Catholic Church do not proceed without some pronounced unease. I feel driven to question beliefs I once held with assured confidence. But am I needlessly cutting off a strong spiritual lifeline by going so rarely to my local church? Am I wallowing in intellectual smugness and neglecting an insistent Catholic tie that goes beyond logic?
It is difficult to stay loyal to a church whose members once unleashed cruel forms of the Inquisition on presumably evil non-believers and whose clergy so recently and secretly protected pedophilic priests. But I am more disillusioned by dogmatic bans on birth control that afflict poor women in developing countries and that too often obscure the core message of Christ’s call for compassion.
Impossible now to recapture that ardent, unquestioning faith I had as a child, and into adulthood: that Christ was physically present in communion, that I had a special guardian angel, that certain prayers chipped away at Purgatory time. Even after outgrowing those fantasies, I continued to keep a core faith in the larger Church tenets: that Jesus was the Son of God, that he died for my sins, that I was preparing for an afterlife where I would see God and presumably my parents and all those who had gone before me. Today all of that doctrine is hazy to me, not so much rejected as irrelevant. I know now that humans can never penetrate the idea of God; certainty is – and has always been — an illusion.
Intellectually, I can reject much of the Catholic Church, but emotionally it reels me in whenever I wander from it. I am still nourished by certain Mass rituals: the Prayers of the Faithful (with touching reminders of so much pain among my neighbors), the Sign of Peace and the communal grasp of another hand, the preparations for Eucharist, and the walk up the aisle to receive communion. Just what am I receiving? I know the act of communion matters to me, feeling the host on my tongue is significant, but I don’t know why.
The author goes on to say she doesn’t believe in many Catholic doctrines, but still considers herself a Catholic and receives communion.
But rather than reject a lifetime spiritual path, perhaps I need to get more comfortable with the idea of metaphor in Catholic doctrine and look beyond the literal pronouncements; then it becomes easier to see Christ as a symbolic son of God, as a presence that helps me find the divine spark (God) within myself, and more importantly serves as a model for truly compassionate living.
Receiving the spiritual nourishment of communion then becomes a reminder of so many people who lack food or the means to acquire it.
So can I continue to call myself a Catholic? A friend once framed the dilemma in whimsical language: “I can no more stop being a Catholic than a Navajo could stop being a Navajo.” Ultimately, I think this struggle will always be with me, and that I will come to accept, and perhaps even embrace, a natural state of discomfort. Despite all the ambiguity, I would like to think I am still welcome at the communion table.
This is obviously a woman in need of prayers. She is receiving communion while not recognizing the body of Christ. Perhaps Rose Murphy wrote this as part of her spiritual search. She is obviously wrong on many fronts. She misunderstands history, ecclesiology, and much more but one seems to recognize the work of the Holy Spirit in that she cannot seem let go of her childhood faith. That is hope. We should pray for Rose.
We should also pray for the editors of the National Catholic Reporter. What kind of Catholic magazine would publish an article by someone who openly repudiates core Catholic beliefs such as Jesus being the Son of God and transubstantiation who then refers to spiritual nourishment when she really is eating and drinking something else.
St. Paul says “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning(AD) the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. “
I wonder what happens to people who encourage others to drink judgment? Will their fate be any different?