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Catholicism and today's culture

As a RCIA team leader, I am looking for some comments as to how to address the following questions which came up last night. I answered them last night, and all I got was some strange looks, so I’m looking for some other ways to address them.

Why is the Catholic Church so out of date? Why isn’t it more like our culture? (I know praise to God that it’s not)

When are we going to stop having a communal cup, it’s not safe anymore.
(We are all one church, we are all one body)

Ideas?

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I suppose you find out what works mostly by trial and error. Is there an e-list for (reasonably orthodox and well-informed) RCIA leaders?

Anyway, if I were doing it I’d probably say:

1. Why is the way things are done now necessarily perfect? Why bother with the Catholic Church if it says the same thing everyone else does? Suppose everyone is eating burgers, fries and coke, all supersized, and some nutritionist says homecooked meals from the ’50s were better in a lot of ways. Is she just being a tiresome bore who’s trying to turn back the clock, or is she saying something true that should change how we live?

Then, of course, you have to discuss and defend the specifics. But I suppose that should be a basic part of RCIA anyway.

2. It doesn’t make sense to give up the symbolism of a common cup without a really good reason. People are squeamish about drinking out of the common cup but there’s no indication it actually spreads disease more than being in the same room with other people does (at least I think that’s so). If the common cup bothers you personally, you can just receive the wafer and as a sacramental matter that’s just as complete and good.

Rem tene, verba sequentur.

Rem tene, verba sequentur.

Good points, thank you.
“Dear Lord,
be good to me…
The sea is so wide
and my boat is so small.”

“Dear Lord,
be good to me…
The sea is so wide
and my boat is so small.”

Had someone asked me why the Catholic Church is “out of date,” I’d have parried the question by pointing to the gulf between what is trendy and what is timeless.

Another approach is to accept the premise of the question, and then muse about why Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular are perennially “counter-cultural.” Or you can open up the discussion to ponder the nature of discipleship.

If we Catholics are called to be “strangers in a strange land” because our citizenship is in heaven rather than on earth, then it stands to reason that church priorities won’t match cultural priorities. Tradition, as Chesterton said, is the “democracy of the dead.” Considering the longevity of the Catholic church, I’d say the burden of proof rests with the questioner to explain why “trendiness” would better serve the Body of Christ.

In fact, a good argument can be made that the church, far from being behind the times, is actually ahead and outside of the times. John Paul II’s “theology of the body,” for example, is a more realistic take on love and sex than anything Hugh Hefner ever dreamed up. I hope at least some of that helps.