Sunday, April 23, 2006

Why Don't All Parishes Celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday

The Curt Jester posed this question in his blog today: "I have been to some parishes on Mercy Sunday that don't mention it at all, and I don't quite understand why some would want to ignore such a wonderful aspect of God. Though maybe it is the Divine Mercy devotion itself (or devotions in general) they don't like."

I was with a half dozen Catholic bloggers for pizza and chat a couple of weeks ago and the question came up, slightly differently. All of us present could be classified as conservative, religiously, but not necessarily so on all the other issues.

One person, making the point that there were hundreds, maybe thousands of conservative Catholic bloggers around the world, noted that you just can't find a liberal Catholic blogger anywhere. I assume that there were issues, like with me, on which she didn't consider herself to be conservative.

As she asked the question, I was reminded of 1978 when I was a paid staffer for a Democratic U.S. Senate candidate (a sitting Congressman), at a time when I was (overly) exposed to political folks.

I realized back then that liberals essentially don't worry about the liberal-conservative continuum. They want to know how a candidate stands on the "issues." That's all that counts. "Where does she stand on _________? is the only standard.

My favorite quote that points that out happened during my attendance at a District Democratic convention during the questioning period for aspirants requesting endorsement as a Democratic candidate in an upcoming political contest. One guy grabbed the mike and shouted at one potential candidate "What is your position on __________ [I really don't recall the specific issue at all] and how radical are you?"

That's all that matters to the liberal delegates when it comes to selecting their candidates. Anyone showing less than 100% support for the platform (which might have a hundred items) of an interest group or lobby they agreed to champion is suspect and the delegate looks for someone else. [Because the delegates know well that if they don't support the organization's platform 100% with their votes, they themselves will not be supported in the next contest for local, state or national delegates. Being a delegate at higher levels is a very big deal to party workers].

Those same people when they went to the Internet, if Catholic, don't line up as a liberal Catholic. They line up on "issues." Many issues such as Parks & Recreation don't matter much to the Church as long as the result of legislation is deemed to be fair. But Life Issues, Health Care and the Death Penalty are among issues upon which the Church regularly takes positions.

Inasmuch as the liberal Catholics aren't organized as such but take positions by aligning themselves with an "issue" group, the Church loses the ability to convince an entire group to change a postion.

Those same "liberal Catholics" often take great umbrage at the Church's devotional practices. Talking about a Tridentine service, a novena or even the sacraments may drive them up the wall.

But if you looked at the roster of those in the Catholic Church who are there all the time in support of the Corporal Works of Mercy, particularly feeding, clothing, providing shelter and caring for prisoners, you'll find the liberals well represented in the ranks those contributing.

Similarly, when it comes to the Sermon on the Mount, being a peacemaker or hungering for righteousness workers are almost exclusively liberal.

But nobody calls themselves "liberal Catholics. Not even the priests who run the parishes.

But when the Church does non-liberal things,like Divine Mercy Sunday, they often ignore it. It's not their "thing" and they presume that few in their parish desire such "things" either. That's where the term "cafeteria Catholic" came from.

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