Fr. John Corapi and the importance of Christian witnessing
“What do John Mayer and the Catholic Church have in common?” by Elizabeth at Startling the Day

The “Bright Maidens” were originally three from the oft-mentioned, widely-speculated upon demographic of young, twenty-something Catholic women. Now, we all take up the cross to dispel the myths and misconceptions. Welcome!

John Mayer is at least $600 richer because of me, not that he needs it. I’ve been to nine John Mayer concerts over the last ten years and I own every track he has ever written or on which he has played.

But I haven’t heard his voice in twelve months.

More than a year ago, John Mayer lived up to the reputation I always knew he deserved and acted like a jerk in an interview. He spoke inappropriately about his ex-girlfriends, Jessica Simpson and Jennifer Aniston, and burned himself into our memories forever as the musician with a dirty mind, bad taste, and loose lips.

You can see why I was so attracted to him.

I didn’t stop listening to him on purpose; remember my past: I have been a devoted fan for almost half of my life and I wouldn’t boycott his music because of his off-stage behavior.

However, every other time one of his songs would come on, I would skip to another song or change the radio station. I lost my taste for his music because I could not disassociate his music from his words.

The situation with Fr. Corapi is two-fold. He lost his revered reputation because of an accusation and the Church was once again stained by scandal, though they tried to distance themselves from it immediately.

The difference between my former music idol and this situation is a matter of innocence vs conjecture. However, both John Mayer and Fr. Corapi and the Catholic Church are stained with the same results. John Mayer definitely said the awful things that he said. We don’t know if Fr. Corapi did what he did, but in both cases, the connotations of the figures are corrupted.

Another difference: importance. John Mayer will still sell records and his image is unrelated to faith or salvation. The Catholic Church has seen 2000 years of scandal and unrest, yet it still survives.

According to a PEW study, roughly 10% of all Americans are “former Catholics,” perhaps the largest identifiable demographic of “faith.” This is scary.

I know several former Catholics who left in the face of scandal. They made decisions that are far more complicated than I can imagine, so I’m not condemning them. The truth is, however, they left Catholicism in a time of unrest.

We need to be like this, standing strong among the secular.

On a micro scale, I know many “former Catholics” who left for reasons that seemed to be unrelated to the scandals. When I speak with them and they mention “growing up Catholic,” they seem to brush it off as if they grew up in Alaska and now they live in Hawaii.

It was just a change of address. The teachings were just too ridiculous, like the weather was just too harsh, and a move was necessary.

I venture to guess that these individuals grew up in a home and decade where the teachings were THUS, The End. Take it or leave it, no explanation needed or provided.

We’ve confronted hundreds of these decades over the centuries and we’ve seen millions of faith-casualties fall in their wake, so this is a reasonable guess.

It’s time to stop making these snap decisions and to stop fostering an environment that allows uninformed people to exile themselves.

Micro

Yesterday, I attended one of my great aunt’s funerals, over which her priest brother presided. He is the most “conservative” priest I’ve ever encountered and I know his preachings turn off a lot of listeners. He asserted that he would not “put [his] sister in heaven today, because there is a reality of Purgatory that the Church has taught for 2000 years.”

The tension in the church was palpable. At the Wake the night before, my great aunt’s son spoke about his mother sending him a sign of a bluebird to let him know she was in heaven with his father. He asserted that she was in heaven and my great uncle the priest asserted that she probably was not.

Rather than explaining the teaching of Purgatory as the Church teaches (including the complicated concept of time and how it is a human relativism) the priest ticked off a lot of people on a sad day. These moments that priests have to approach their sheep on a micro level are critical for the Church’s image.

The macro situations involve scandal and accusations, like those of Fr. Corapi. We lose brothers and sisters in the Church to both because of a weakening of our community. We, the survivors, can’t give up.

If you occasionally miss Sunday Mass, if you go to daily Mass, if you occasionally go to Mass: let this be our call to help bring others back. We are a community, one billion strong, and if we let our brothers and sisters stand on sand, we run the risk of following them.

Ask questions, learn more about the faith from several Catholic sources, listen to those parts of the Mass you might glaze over, pray 5 more minutes today. Take some steps and think of it as a rescue mission for your friends and family.

You’ll be there when they have questions of their own. We’re in this together, so start the hike back to Christ’s Church.

“Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you (falsely) because of me.” –Matthew 5:11
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