Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Drive Thru Faith

I was recently talking with a family member of mine whose baby grandson is being baptized in a Presbyterian Church. She (my cousin) told me that since her daughter and son in law never made their Confirmation, or were married in the Catholic Church, their local parish (which I'm assuming neither is a member of) declined to do the baptism. "The Catholic Church is not very welcoming", was my cousins response. The Presbyterians will baptize the baby "no questions asked".

This is not the first story I have heard of people who have been "turned" down by a priest for special occasions such as weddings and baptisms.... though every story has a common theme. The person or persons in question are not active members of the Church, and perhaps only go to a Church for a wedding or funeral.

People forget that when you ask to receive a sacrament, it is a commitment. Take the sacrament of baptism, which happens to be the center of the controversy with my cousin. Baptism is not just pouring water over the baby's head, it is a commitment on behalf of the parents to raise their child in the Christian faith, according to the teachings of the Church. Most couples today, however, over look this vow that they make on behalf of their child. They are focused on having a quaint ceremony..preferably short.. in a pretty Church, and then an elaborate party afterward. I too would turn people like this away. They aren't ready yet or are not serious about the pledge they are making. They want an excuse for a party, not to enter into a covenant with God and His Church.

There is a crisis of faith, especially in America today, and the last thing we need is more "Catholics" in name only. "Catholics" who only show up to Church for weddings and funerals, who see the sacraments as something they "have to do" because of a parent or grandparent, and or because they get a party afterward. This is an abuse, and these people are simply using the Church for it's buildings and special occasions. If you have no intentions of really practicing the faith, then don't insult those of us who do by using our buildings and expressions of faith for the sake of a photo op.

I have to admire our more orthodox Jewish brothers and sisters. They have a custom of refusing a convert three times before they will accept them into classes to become Jewish. The Rabbi wants to make sure the person is committed to the journey they are about to take, and serious about the covenant in which they are about to enter. If you are not ready, come back when you are.

People will spend hundreds of dollars on gym memberships, and hours at the gym exercising in order to take care of their bodies. They will follow the meticulous rules of diets and nutritionists to get the body they desire. When it comes to their immortal soul, doing the bare minimum seems like a brutal task. Giving a small weekly donation is asking too much, and is "proof" to them of a money hungry Church. Having rules and regulations on how to live your life is infringing on your freedom. The emphasis is on the physical and temporary, on the self, not on the Divine, and the eternal. A sad commentary on the mentality of our times. These people wouldn't think of eat from a drive thru window menu, but want a drive thru faith... keep it fast, simple, and keep it moving. My life is too busy to stop.

For anyone out there who has encountered a similar "problem" where they were "turned away" for some special occasion within the Church, I have this piece of advice for you: Learn your faith, practice your faith and live your faith. Then you will be ready to understand the commitment these sacraments ask of us, and to go through with them properly. If you just want a pretty building for your wedding or baptism, so you can get the formalities out of the way before your guests come over for cake, I hear the Presbyterian Church is open for business.

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