Sunday, February 17, 2008

Fr. Dwight Longenecker: The Tale of 2 Churches

There is an article in the National Catholic Register by Fr. Dwight Longenecker. He converted to the faith some 13 years ago and has been a regular blogger.

The article is a "must read". I believe he has captured something of significance, in a simple explanation. In fact, I can tell you that I have lived on both sides of the fence and I would rather be where I am at now, than where I was. When I lived in the world Father describes which was focused on "happy here", my spiritual life was a mess. It was devoid of thoughts about sin, sacrifice, mortification, hell, confession. I thank God daily for the priests we have at Assumption Grotto and how they assist us in focusing on the "happy hereafter".

I'll start you out with a teaser here and you'll have to follow through to the National Catholic Register website to read the whole article. Links will follow below.

The Tale of 2 Churches

BY Father Dwight Longenecker

February 10-16, 2008 Issue Posted 2/5/08 at 12:00 PM

I have been a Catholic now for 13 years. Like most converts, I described my reception into the Catholic Church as “coming home.” However, the homecoming was not all that the sentimental phrase implies.

It is true that in coming home we received a warm welcome from many Catholics. It is also true, that in coming home we soon sensed that there were strangers in the family homestead. There seemed to be interlopers — aliens who had sneaked into the family home and taken it for their own.

I was quite prepared to find fellow Catholics with different tastes in music, church architecture and liturgy. I was also prepared to encounter Catholics with different opinions concerning politics, history, education and social matters.

I knew I would also encounter a good number of poorly catechized Catholics who simply didn’t know their faith, and I was prepared for “dissenting” Catholics who knew the faith but disagreed with the teachings of the Church while still remaining within her.

What I was not prepared for was to find two churches within Holy Mother Church.

These two churches are very difficult to identify and define because the two groups cannot be separated according to outward criteria alone.

It is too easy to divide these two groups according to “liberal” or “conservative,” “charismatic” or “traditionalist,” “right wing” or “left wing.”

The two groups I am talking about exist within all these preferences.

Built Upon a Rock?

The two groups are distinguished not so much by what they do, the way they worship or the causes they espouse, but by their underlying understanding of just what the Catholic Church is for.

We receive our foundational assumptions from those who first educated us.

These underlying assumptions, like the foundations of a building, are invisible yet they support everything else.

Two very different sets of underlying foundations have created the two churches within the Church. The two opposing views can be called “Happy Here” and “Happy Hereafter.” Those who hold the first believe that the point, not only of the Church but of the whole of human existence, is to produce human happiness here in this life.

The second is concerned with finding eternal happiness. According to this basic assumption, this life is a vale of tears. This mortal life is hard because it is a place to battle against sin and to produce those diamond-hard souls called saints.

Go read The Tale of 2 Churches at the National Catholic Register

See Father's blogpost in which he introduces the article. Post comments there after you read it. So far, I see a solid article and will finish reading it before leaving my comment.

h/t to Adrienne and his Catholic Corner

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