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Saturday, October 6, 2012

Do Traditional Catholics Know Better?

Recently I was asked the following:

"I wonder if there is any empirical data to indicate that traditional Catholics know their faith better and have a better formed conscience compared to their contemporary counterparts."

As a catechist, I've worked in both settings.  I was in a liberal parish for several years and as I have noted, I've lived in a very conservative parish.  I can tell you from experience that the more traditional parish promotes thinking whereas the more liberal parish promotes feeling.  Obviously, there is some feeling which goes on in a traditional parish and there is thinking that goes on in a liberal parish, but by and large, the think v. feel mentality is very obvious.  But I am sure that there must be some empirical data to support my position.  I would look to the life of conservative parishes in one's diocese v. liberal parishes and see how the sacraments are being utilized.  I will be doing some research on this in my own diocese and I hope to be able to report back on this in a month or so...for now, though I will expand upon my understanding as I have witnessed it in several different parishes.

Liberal parishes encourage people to believe based upon their personal feelings.  This causes a huge problem, because the subjective reigns supreme and there is very little objective teaching which goes on.  Everything is experiential and personal.  The Church simply doesn't base it's operation that way and what results is a distorted and subjective form of worship and theology based upon the faulty subject.

To contrast, traditional parishes promote thinking based upon objective truths.  This creates an enviornment whereby the people are not basing things off of their experience and feelings, but rather on teachings which have existed for thousands of years.  They can make those teachings personal, to be sure, but the teachings are not based upon their faulty views.  They are based upon objective truth.

When one learns and applies traditional Catholic thought, the growth is immeasurable.  When one bases their Catholicism on the personal and feelings, he is limited by his own experience.  Of course there are exceptions, but this model holds by and large to be true.

If we are to be authentic in our Catholicism we must not rely on our personal experience to guide our views, because that gives us a limited worldview, but rather we should rely on the objective truth which cannot be limited by personal experience.

So, to answer the question directly, yes...contemporary Catholicism (as you have applied the terms) forms superficial Catholics, because they are limited by their own subjective experiences.  Traditional Catholicism does form a deeper Catholic because he is not limited by his own experience, but rather he is freed by the objective truth to know and understand that which is beyond and outside himself.

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