Saturday, October 3, 2009

Personal post: Geneva & Rome

Today I went to an open house for a Catholic university (Regis college connected to U of T). It was terrible. I know now why Pascal hated the Jesuits. The theologian basically said that it is necessary for us to react to modern culture and change our theology based on it. The way these liberals talk they never say it outright, but they basically implied that the Thomistic tradition was the result of urbanization and the rising merchant class - they totally ignored Aristotle and Augustine in the discussion, and then called all 4 of the Lateran Councils, and I quote "mistakes".

I spoke to the theologian afterwards and asked her if this school taught orthodox traditional Catholic historical theology and she basically replied that I was a fundamentalist and looked horrified when I told her about my conversion. She asked how converting was, I replied "Horrible, terrifying" and explained the heartbreak it's caused in my family and how the only reason I converted was because I believed it was a matter of salvation. She was taken aback and asked about RCIA which I told her was problematic because the catechists contradicted the official Catechism of our Church. She told me that I had to be more open minded. I told her if I was content to make my own theology I would've stayed Baptist, but that I wanted to go to a school to learn what the Roman Church teaches. This seemed to her like asking for an application to the University of Paris circa 1270 CE.

Thus it seems Catholicism doesn't exist in the form it takes in the Catechism and I left with my confused parents who were very unhappy with all the Liberalism there...

When we got home I went to mass and it was so meaningless, the priest adlibbed prayers because the altar girl couldn't find the book. And as we kneeled I couldn't stop thinking: "the Most High does not dwell in houses made by human hands" (Acts 7:48) and "Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you." (John 16:7).

It seems to me that the doctrine of Transubstantiation is almost a mockery of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. Because God is spirit, Jesus said it was better that he leave us, and that unless he did the Spirit wouldn't come....but then again he said he would be with us always (Mt 28:20)

GAHDGDSHIOGI- theology is so confusing...

Anyway I'm not saying I've recanted Catholicism or anything I'm just saying how I FEEL. And today's mass FELT like idolatry and a mockery of the presence of the Spirit. I couldn't partake of the Eucharist anyway though because I'm objectively in a state of mortal sin according to the church, but then again it isn't really taking the Eucharist anyway is it? Half the Eucharist. Because in Catholicism "Take this all of you and drink from it" doesn't hold much water, I think St. Jerome's Vulgate put a "non" infront of biberent (drink)...

The other verse of course as we prayed "may the lord accept the sacrifice at your hands, for the praise and glory of his name" that came to mind was "I desire mercy not sacrifice", and Hebrews' condemnation of the daily sacrifices which were unable to perfect anyone year after year.

So ya, needless to say as I knelt there repeating "but to the one who worketh not, his faith is counted as righteousness" (Rom 4:5) I was feeling a little Reformed.

But obviously I was going to mass only to fulfill my sunday obligation so that was pretty Catholic.

As well while I get St. Thomas Aquinas' theology of original righteousness and original sin, as I sat there talking to a Catholic who said "human nature is wounded, not broken" and continued to say that we are redeemed people I couldn't help but think "dead in our trespasses". How much free will does a dead person have? And how is concupiscence not sin when scripture (Romans 7) calls it: "sin". And why would St. John say: "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us" (1 Jn 1:8) if concupiscence isn't formally sin?

But then of course there is the fact that in Christ we are "partakers of the divine nature" and that "the old (man) is gone, the new is come", etc. So really it's just a matter of picking verses again if we jump on the sola scriptura train...

I guess while Theologically and Logically I am firmly rooted/trapped in Rome, my heart sometimes wanders to Geneva and to the hope that Christ alone will save me.

God defend me from the conversion hungry Calvinists and Romans, lead me to yourself alone...

Though in the end I can never tell what is the Spirit and what is Satan.. When I encounter genuine Catholics who are faithful to the Catechism they can explain these issues well to me, but it's so hard to be a Catholic truly when you're surrounded by people who are so unCatholic in their belief and teaching and life.

I read this quote from a Catholic blog that summarizes alot of what I felt today, it's from one of my literary friends in the faith, J.R.R. Tolkien:

"I know quite well that, to you as to me, the Church which once felt like a refuge, now often feels like a trap. There is nowhere else to go! I wonder if this desperate feeling, the last state of loyalty hanging on...was felt by our lord's followers in His earthly life-time? I think there is nothing to do but pray, for the Church, the Vicar of Christ, and for ourselves; and meanwhile to exercise the virtue of loyalty, which indeed only becomes a virtue when one is under pressure to desert it."

I don't know what to do anymore, spiritually lost between Geneva and Rome.

I want to find someone who believes in the infallibility of scripture and the infallibility of the papacy and who has a great detestation for the modern world. But temptations to Geneva come when I see how gone the existence of such beliefs are in the Roman Church itself and when I see others who aren't afraid to speak the truth to an unwilling world rather than turn the gospel into the social gospel...


  1. Hi Andrew,

    Are you looking at graduate schools? In any case, I would say go to a orthodox Catholic college--there are lots of them. The National Catholic Register just did its yearly series polling various Catholic colleges for their fidelity to the Magisterium.

    I am not expert, and certainly some of these colleges are not as top tier as Notre Dame or some such (my wife's alma mater), but at Franciscan University or Christendom or University of Dallas or one of the other orthodox schools you will at least get the faith taught from a faithful perspective.

    There are bastions of faithful Catholics truly living their faith in community (e.g. especially in a place like Denver)--you just need to find such places because there are certainly others which are wilderness zones.

    God bless you and console you!

  2. Andrew - The best advice I had for grad school was to identify a scholar whose work you have an affinity for, and then contact him or her personally about studying with them. I didn't take that advice. Public universities may likely be much more open to faith than Catholic ones...

  3. Thanks guys.

    Ya I got to the point yesterday where I thought: "I could go to an evangelical school and they'd be more faithful to Catholic teaching", but I shouldn't give up that easily, as it's only the 1st school I've looked at.

    I have no idea where orthodox Catholic historians/historical theologians are, but I've heard that said alot about finding someone to study under. And while I like Scott Hahn and Franciscan it's more biblical theology.

    I think my longshot hope should be to study under Peter Kreeft (even though he doesn't teach graduate courses) at Boston College...

  4. I recommend the Reformed Catholic Carl Trueman at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. Rev. Dr. Trueman is a John Owen scholar and an excellent church historian.

  5. "My heart sometimes wonders to Geneva and to the hope that Christ alone will save me"..

    What a great statement! Keep wandering partner. See ya in Geneva!