The author's writing style is a little old-fashioned: which is quite appropriate for a sort of 'in-house' publication, written for Catholics living in America. My guess is that many Americans - Catholics and Protestants alike - expect a retro writing style in 'religious' books. Or a book dealing with religious, Christian, topics.
Two important points:
- I could be wrong about all that
- It doesn't matter
One Church, Many Styles"Styles" isn't a conventional ecclesiastical term for what I'm talking about: but as I've said before, I don't do "conventional." Actually, I do, sometimes. And that's another topic.
Catholics aren't all alike. We're supposed to be a diverse bunch. Take me and Father Vincent, for example.
Two Catholics in AmericaI was born about 22 years after Father Vincent: in the Upper Midwest, about 1,000 miles west of his home. My father came from a Catholic family, but by the time he met my mother he didn't believe much of anything: as he put it. My parents belonged to a nice mainstream Protestant church. My childhood and youth, unlike his, weren't immersed in stories of the Saints, the Sacraments, and Latin. I learned some Latin: and that's yet another topic.
Like I said, I:
- Grew up in the Upper Midwest
- the '60s
- Grew up near New York City
- The Great Depression
"Faith of Our Fathers"Folks who grew up in a devoutly Catholic family, as part of a tight-knit community of fellow-Catholics, may have a sort of faith that I can't experience. Knowing that your ancestors, and those of your neighbors, were Catholic as far back as records go, may relate to songs like "Faith of Our Fathers" differently than I do.
As far as I know, some of my forebears may have gone straight from worshiping Thor and Odin, to worshiping Jesus the Christ - as members of a Protestant denomination. That's not a criticism. I hope and pray that they made the best decisions they could, given what they knew.
Faith: Simple and OtherwiseSomeone whose world consists entirely of the few miles around a village, and whose knowledge of ages past consists of genealogies and accounts of Abraham, Moses, and Jesus, could live a full and complete life. And be a devout Catholic. I'm about as sure as I can be that this is the case. And I certainly hope so.
What I'm trying to say is that having great knowledge isn't required of a Catholic. What a Catholic has to know, and believe, is pretty much what's in professions of faith like the Apostle's Creed. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 185-197, for starters)
On the other hand, having knowledge doesn't have to get in the way of faith. Take St. Catherine of Siena and St. Thomas Aquinas, for example. And I'm getting off-topic again.
Personal PreferencesI grew up with American popular culture, and enjoyed the '50s Superman show. I also liked science fiction: tales of vast interstellar societies, galaxy-spanning empires, beings "with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men." (IMDB.com)
I also grew up where a few folks seemed convinced that things they didn't like were Satanic: maybe even part of a commie plot. And that's not quite another topic. Their 'don't like' list could include:
- Everything since about 1880
- Or 1940
- Or whenever
- Science fiction
- Rock music
From Home Parish to Bright ImmensitiesThere's a song that starts with: "And have the bright immensities received our Risen Lord, where light years frame the Pleiades, and point Orion's sword...." I like it, but some of the frightfully-faithful Christians I've known didn't. I don't think it helped that one phrase was "...an altar candle sheds its light as well as any star...." Candles and altars are just simply crawling with Catholic cooties - and that's yet again another topic.
I became a Catholic in large part because I learned that the Pope's authority had been passed on, in an unbroken chain, from Peter. I already knew that my Lord had given Peter "...the keys to the kingdom of heaven...." (Matthew 16:19) Discovering that this authority had passed through a documented succession of Popes, through bishops, to the local parish priest, was impressive.1
Embracing the Catholic Church was easier on an emotional level partly because of my youthful enthusiasm for tales like Asimov's Foundation trilogy: and even 'Doc' Smith's Skylark tales
Yes, I know: Science fiction isn't a "Christian" genre. Some, but not all, authors are openly hostile to the idea that things of the spirit exist. Others accept that idea, but make very odd assumptions. I also know that humanity isn't independent of God. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 301) On the other hand, quite a few sci-fi stories assume, at least tacitly, that humanity has "...'dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and the cattle, and over all the wild animals and all the creatures that crawl on the ground.' " : an idea I don't have a problem with. (Genesis 1:26)
Those stories left me with a taste for vast expanses of time and space, people unlike any I'd meet in the Upper Midwest, and institutions whose goals and history spanned centuries. Or longer. Joining a church whose name means "universal," rooted in Eternity, marching through time under orders from someone who died - but didn't stay dead? That suited my taste just fine.
It's sort of like joining Star Fleet - except that our mission is different: and the Catholic Church really exists. ;)
- "Speaking in Tongues and Getting a Grip"
(June 1, 2011)
- "Day Two of a Novena I'm Not Doing"
(April 23, 2011)
- "Unity, Diversity, and Being Catholic"
(August 26, 2010)
- "Nigeria, the 'Envelope System,' and being a Parishioner"
(July 5, 2010)
- "Firebase Earth"
(April 5, 2009)
1 See Matthew 16:17-19; Catechism of the Catholic Church, 816, 857, 832-838, 857, 880-887, for starters.