Where Logic Meets Love

Integrity: Understanding Why You Believe

Sunday, June 19, 2011

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Integrity: Understanding Why You Believe | Faith Permeating Life
In the past year we got a new priest at our church, and he is awesome. His homilies are extremely accessible and focused while also being very challenging. And he has a strong focus on the importance of the church community and finding God in one another, which I love.

Today is Trinity Sunday, and our priest talked about the community among the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit before relating it back to the importance of finding God within community, not as individuals. He emphasized how important this was within the Catholic Mass, giving examples of how the word "we" is used throughout the Mass rather than "I" and how we say "Our Father" rather than "My Father."

You may remember how upset I was to learn that the English translation of the Nicene Creed was changing from "We believe" to "I believe." I thought this seemed like a step away from the focus on community that is so vital to the Catholic Mass.

So after Mass I stopped our priest and asked him what he thought of the coming changes, given what he'd said in his homily. He said that while he is "ambivalent" about some of the changes that will be coming, he does understand this particular change. Because there is so much focus on what "we" do and "we" believe throughout the entire Mass, this is the time for the individual to commit herself/himself to that "we", to say "I believe in what we're all doing here."

I can respect that. That makes sense to me, and it seems congruent with the focus on being part of a community rather than a step away from it, when framed that way.

This is why I like our priest so much: He didn't just try to tell me, "This is the way it is, so get used to it; the bishops know best." He didn't give me some mumbo-jumbo B.S. response. He had clearly given some thought to it and felt that there was an explanation that made sense to him, and could explain it in a way that made sense to me.

I don't mind being challenged or even being wrong, if there's a good reason for it. I wish that more Catholics put some deep thought into what they believe, regardless of whether their beliefs align completely (or as completely as possible) with Catholic teaching.

I'm OK with it if you want to call yourself a Catholic but disagree with some of Catholic teaching, as I do, but if your only reason is that's inconvenient or doesn't allow you to fit in (or you have no real reason), I would challenge you on that. If you want to live with integrity, you need to understand why what you're doing and what you believe is right to you. Your reasons may not be the same as my reasons, but having a reason that makes sense to you is important.

On the other hand, if you want to challenge my own beliefs, I'm happy to have that conversation, but you're not going to get anywhere with me if your only reason for calling me "wrong" is that I disagree with the Church on one thing or another. It's the same reason evangelization doesn't work if you start off by telling people they're going to hell.

I still don't like saying Jesus only died for "many," but knowing now that that is the accepted translation of what He said at the Last Supper (according to Mark and Matthew)... I can get over it.


  1. Also agree. I wish people could just respect the decisions and choices of others, especially when said choices have no bearing on anyone but the one making them. Ugh.


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