Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Protestant + Steadfast + Sister

I almost titled this post  "Neither Non Nor Wayward ~ and not a Brother, Either" ~ but that would have meant toppling right into the trap laid for me.

Frequent readers of my blog know that I spend a considerable amount of time crossing worlds, especially Catholic and Protestant worlds.  I like it that way.  There's no question in my mind that I am called to the Christian faith, Protestant dimension, and that I am called to ordained ministry in that context, but I am most appreciative of the first 1500 years of Christianity and of the many gifts of contemporary Catholic faith, and also very much called to practice much of my faith life as taught and encouraged  by Ignatius of Loyola, a Catholic if ever there was one.  It's not always easy and I often bump up against difficult inconsistencies, but there's that whole "my ways are not your ways" thing, so I live with it.  Contentedly.

Some time ago it dawned on me (slowly, yes; I'm extremely slow about certain things) that Catholics and Protestants alike often refer to Protestants as "nonCatholics."  As soon as I realized it, I stopped doing it.  Why would I want to self-identify, or identify others, as something I or they are not?  It seems to me that the preface "non" implies a certain degree of either diminishment or exclusion with respect to the noun in question.  

(Interestingly, in my days as a teacher in an Orthodox Jewish day school, I was most often identified as a "Christian."  Clearly I was not of the majority there, but in general Jews seem content to identify others as who we are.  They don't resort to the term "nonJews.")

A few days ago, there was a debate over at The Deacon's Bench over whether or not Catholic priests should bless children during the Eucharist.  It seems that there are a great many rules and opinions about blessings and about children of which I was unaware but hey, this is their argument, not mine.  I still don't know much about it, having just stopped by on a friend's recommendation (?) this morning and skimmed the post ~ and the 150+ comments!

But there it was, that term "nonCatholic."  Suddenly I felt . . .  hmmm . . .  extremely irritated.    Moreso when I read another comment to the effect that many Protestant churches do not welcome children.  Excuse me?

And then, the grand piece de resistance: the referral to "wayward brethren."

OK, really? 

I am Protestant.  I am steadfast in my faith,  which has not been a matter of smooth sailing for me.  And I am female.  I am delighted to be all of those things.  

So, please.  Do not refer to me as one of your nonCatholic wayward brethren.  (I don't think I've ever done the reverse, by the way.  Some real bloopers have come out of my mouth, but "nonProtestant wayward brethren" is not one of them.  John Calvin et al. said some bad, bad stuff about the Catholic Church, but we are, thankfully, no longer in the 16th century.)

Protestant.  Steadfast, focused, and on track.  Female.

Please use correct terminology.

That's all I ask.


  1. that Deacon's Bench article made me see red. According to it, there is no flexibility in liturgy. Um, then they should still be doing it in Latin!

    Appreciate the inclusiveness of this thought.

  2. That is not language used by the Catholic Catechism. In fact, today in the Catholic Church all Christians are considered on the same path as Catholics to salvation.

    This came up during RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) a few years ago, and my husband helped me piece it together, and explain it, during the class.

    There is a big difference between communion with the Catholic Church and Salvific Christianity. However, some people believe those are the same thing. They are not. And the Roman Catholic Church officially does NOT see it that way either.

    You might also be intrigued (as I was) to know that Catholics who follow the Catechism believe that Jews and Muslims have a special relationship with God and we do not pray for their conversion. Gasp. I know. Gasp again. It's true.

    So, there is - again, according to the Catholic Catechism - a lot of mystery in this whole thing. And yet, if you spent much time reading blogs like The Deacon's Bench (and The Anchoress) you would never know that. I can't read either of those any longer.

    You keep being you. And don't let the ridiculous ones get to you. It's hard, trust me. I know.

  3. I was at a series of Lenten programs for women at St. Joseph's Retreat Center (which is no more, I find) and the nun lecturing on something referred to Protestants as nonChristians. (It was clear she meant Protestants.) Of course this was years and years ago.

  4. And Maggie, that is obviously as bad as bad as Protestants doing the reverse!

    That was a beautiful site on the lake. I went out there a couple of times just to sit.

  5. Cindy, I do stay away from those blogs as a rule! I know that the deacon of TDB is a friend of a friend, but he lost me when he wrote about women called to the Catholic priesthood as being all about drawing attention to themselves.

    1. I agree. I really used to enjoy that blog, but it has gone through a great big shift - and honestly, I don't see it as having much to do with Catholic-on-the-ground ... at least from where I practice it.

  6. Oh TDB... my torture chamber. I have to avoid it more and more. I'm not sure if you mean me, but he is my friend, although we frequently disagree. (Most of the time very charitably.)

    And I think that Cindy is correct - it has less and less to do with the catholicity which means universal.

    Which brings me to your point Robin, and you are quite wise to call this out! Non-anything is a terrible way to define any group of people. Non? Negated?

    So much for the dignity of the human person, God have mercy.

  7. Yes, Fran, I meant you. Of course, we all have friends with whom we have deep disagreements. One of the things I find so dismaying about the statement that women who sense a call to the Catholic priesthood are calling attention to themselves is that, since the opposite is generally the case, in that their charism is to call attention to Jesus Christ, is that it either humiliates and silences them or pushes them to behavior that does seem extreme in the context of being (there it is again) characterized and defined by others as "calling attention to themselves."

  8. Robin, I have been on both sides of the fence and when I converted to the Catholic expression of the Christian faith, there were many of my Protestant friends who were concerned that I would "lose my eternal salvation". Imagine my surprise when I discovered Catholics who feel concern that Protestants will "go to hell"! I believe that we need to communicate our faith better and to emphasize the commonality of our belief in God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son and the Holy Spirit the Teacher and Guide. Paul tells us that we are all one in Christ Jesus; we need to respect each other and learn from each other as we celebrate our Lord.

    I have never visited TDB and I expect that won't change.

  9. I was once called an Anglo catholic catholic by a baptist when I told him I was a episcopalian who hung out with Jesuits. I liked that