Friday, 20 July 2007

Pastoral approach for the lapsed

I spoke to a friend yesterday who used to be Catholic. She left the Church quite some time ago, angry with God because of her abusive family situation. She's now married with children and although she had her first two baptised in a Catholic church she has had her third baptised in the local C of E.
Now in her area there is hardly anything resembling a Catholic church. Mass is said in a community hall with a visiting priest. Yes the UK is that bad in areas.
She now attends the service at her local C of E when she likes. She and her children have been made very welcome by the vicar who is good with families and children. She does not make friends easily and has in the past been left to cope with very difficult circumstances.
She feels at home with her local C of E church because it meets her personal needs.
Okay I realise this is a naff reason to attend any church. But many people who are wounded can't think beyond the 'MY NEEDS' thing.
She noted that the vicar came to her home for baptism prep and the priest wouldn't. He expected all the parents to go to him on a set evening at a set time and seemed unable to understand she had a toddler and a husband who worked away.
Now I can't see Catholic priests having the time to visit every family with a baby for baptism prep. She couldn't see why but she lives in a village not a city with say 15/1600 families in a parish with ONE priest. The minister round the corner from us has about ten families and no young children- see the difference?
Nevertheless I think little is done to help families with young children bring them to the Sacraments.
Part of my 'dream' I think would be that there would be outreach from parishes that includes priests and deacons. Frankly people want to see a dogcollar. I know when I was ill and vulnerable I needed a priest and an EMHC just would not have cut it.
I think as the new orders grow the broken and wounded will be reached-but in the meantime, people like my friend will go where they get attention, rather than where there is Christ.


Esther said...

What is C of E?
Someone dear to me told me he didn't want to attend the Catholic Church because no one welcomed him when he first went. He felt lonely. I know the Eucharist the is the most important part but being a welcoming parish may also be very important to someone who may feel apprehensive or even nervous about taking that step into a Catholic Church.

Joyful Catholics said...

C of E is the Church of England.

I understand so much about this post. I was like that. Not the same circumstances, but when I left the CC it was 'old' 'stodgy' and 'too traditional' for me and "my needs." Not the same as where your friend comes from, but the "my needs" is a rampant and often scary way we end up astray in a smörgåsbord mentality we easily become adrift in a sea of confusion and disintegration. I will pray for your friend.

As far as a "welcoming atmosphere" I understand, but yet, I don't. I know the Evangelicals are big into the "big, broad grin handshake greeting" which is fine, but one can find that in the CC too, only one has to be more 'assertive' himself. When we returned to the CC in Dec. 2004 we knew NOT A SOUL. We had to do the work, to introduce ourselves and go to classes where we at least began to make some friends and see familiar faces after a while.

The Catholic culture is simply different. It doesn't mean it's bad or necessarily wrong. Catholics in America, for good or sometimes ill, are just more "private." BUT it doesn't mean there aren't very warm, friendly ones waiting to be met by a newcomer.

The street runs both ways. We can't rely on our feelings of 'warmth' or coolness. One must persevere and stretch himself or herself. Believe me, it's not easy when we want to be spoon-fed. But it's als more rewarding to have to do some of the work. Donut Sundays are so good for meeting others. If more is needed, as we found it was, we went to apologetics classes and then started RECON to help others like ourselves. It takes a "no longer about me" attitude, but "how can I help others?" attitude.

Sorry to ramble.


Jeffrey Smith said...

"But many people who are wounded can't think beyond the 'MY NEEDS' thing."

That's a very important point that few people ever notice. Everyone forgets just how badly wounded some people are.

Anonymous said...

i know quite a few ex Catholics lured by the fun, family trendy vicar anglican thing. i mean our local vicar is lovely but as you say they have say 200 congregation & the Catholic church 2000. The Catholic Church is still jam packed 5 Masses on a sunday..OK Birmingham has a thriving catholic community & we're in the Oratory Parish anyway. But the small children one is just a cop-out if you ask me..i mean we had 10 in a traditional no trendy ideas Church & my teenagers would bolt at first sight of a guitar..

antonia said...

Hi! I would really love to know where you live in England....I dont really know many large Catholic families with young children in England!

It would be good to keep in touch, as fellow English Catholics!

God Bless!


White Stone Name Seeker said...

Thanks for the comments and offers of prayer for my friend. She is not assertive and I think this is why she has few friends and gets left to deal with a lot of stuff alone.
I don't live near by so I am only 'phone help'.
I would like to think she will come back to the Church one day-but as things are her wounds and needs are bigger in her life than seeking Truth.
I can't judge that-been there.

The saddest thing about 'my needs, my needs' people is they are such hard work we tend to leave them to it sometimes.
As Christians of course we aren't supposed to do that.
I have to speak the truth but gently and not push the truth onto her.
I've seen this done-and I guess people mean well-but oh dear it comes across as awful and just makes the wound hurt more and gets the wounded person angry.
It's a challenge-when to speak up and when to shut up.