Friday, May 31, 2019

Adults and Prudential Judgments

Beatrice,

I don't know what to tell you.

It's certainly true that Catholics are obligated to go to Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation.  It's one of the few things we are obligated to do.  But if there's a valid reason not to go, then you don't go.  And in your case, there are plenty of other parishes.

I must say it bothered me a while back when I Googled this very issue and found one of those "Catholic authority" websites that's well meaning and orthodox and that a lot of Devout Catholics look to.  They pontificated on the obligation and all the things that might interfere with it and all the things that should not - do you have a cold, is the weather too bad to drive in, do you have a problem that would require you to get out of your pew several times during the Mass (i.e., are you incontinent?) - and I said to myself, "Good God, are we just a bunch of children?  Is there no such thing as making a prudential decision?"

A friend of mine recently wrote ...

I think that Catholic laity like to be infantilized. They don't want to accept adult responsibility. It is not easy to make complex prudential judgments; it is easier to assume that the pope or clergy never err. But f course infallibility is very restricted,and popes' prudential judgments may be spectacularly wrong.

... as may our own.

But that's the thing.  It ain't a system.  The Incarnation doesn't mean that we have a checkbox and as long as we can check everything on the check box, we're holy.  Holiness is an expression of love, and if your spouse (in your case, Malcolm) treated you not with the kind of spontaneous affection that he does (yeah, I know, most of the time), but instead kept a list, imagine how you'd feel.  "Today I talked to Betty.  I kissed her.  I listened to her tell me about her day.  Check, check, check!"  You'd feel cheated and you'd rip that stupid check list to shreds.

But I'm getting off track.

I know the priest you're referring to.  Yes, there certainly seems to be something wrong with him.  I have never been in his presence, heard a homily of his, or taken his bizarre advice in the confessional without feeling somehow icky.  He's insidious.  He mixes actual Catholic content with something putrid and envious.  He's clearly not a well man and is somehow spiritually defective.

And don't think you'll get anywhere with the archdiocese.  Please.  Dozens of people all over the world complained of our deacon's behavior on the internet and not a peep from the archdiocese in all that time.  All they'll say now is that he's "no longer in active ministry".  17 years of the "scandal", and this is what they've learned.  As for the priest in question, the fact that he's been assigned to about six different parishes in ten years is indeed a red flag.

But everything about the man is a red flag!

The answer is obvious.  Avoid him.  I know, the sacraments he confects are valid, but we're adults.  This is a prudential decision.  If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's a duck.  You can't look to a man like this for spiritual guidance of any sort.  He's sick.

If we are not mature enough to believe what we see with our own eyes, something's wrong with us, and we're sick too.

Kevin

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