Sunday, August 02, 2015
A Open Letter to Lapsed Catholics Attending Christmas Mass

It's Christmas which means a lot of people who don't normally attend Mass will be attending Mass with their families. That is a great thing, but also a potentially problematic thing. How could this be potentially problematic? Communion. How should you, the twice a year Catholic, deal with communion? My suggestion is that you don't receive communion. Sounds harsh, I know, but I say this as someone who goes to Mass every Sunday but hasn't received communion in months.

I have a confession to really, I need to go to confession. It's been a while, I'm a sinner, and I haven't really been in a worthy state to receive the body of Christ so I have abstained from communion. My goal for this Advent is to make it to confession. My contrition isn't perfect, and hopefully I'll get there someday, but thankfully God doesn't require perfect contrition. I know confession is not fun, trust me, I haven't been in months, but the motivation of not being embarrassed with my family at Christmas Mass, the desire to be a good example to my god-children, plus the ever present risk of dying in a plane crash on the way to see my family at Christmas is enough to get me to the confessional.

So what if you don't believe in the Catholic faith, but still want to go to communion anyway because you don't want to upset your mom? When you go to communion you're saying I believe in the teachings of the Catholic church, and I'm a member of the faith in good standing. I can confidently say the first part, but I'm a bit fuzzy on the second part, so I've abstained. If you can't even say the first part you're lying when you get communion. Lying to your family, lying to the community, and lying to God. But you can't lie to God. God knows exactly what you think. So it'd be best to stay seated or go up for a blessing. (All that requires is crossing your arms and the priest will give you a blessing instead of communion.)

Telling your parents you're not Catholic anymore can be hard, but if you want an adult relationship with them so you don't have to hide who you really are, then you have to be honest with them. And believe it or not, some good might even come of the conversation. If you tell your parents that you don't believe in God, or that you've been attending a different church, or that you're just really not sure what you believe, your parents might surprise you. They might tell you of their own struggles and doubts, or even answer questions that provide you with a whole new perspective on everything. Your parents might also see how much you love them, given that you're willing to attend church with them despite your non-belief, and that you respect their faith enough to refrain from communion. If this all proves to be too much for you this year, there's always one more option: eat some Christmas candy at Mass and tell your parents, "oops, I broke the fast."

Lastly, since Christmas is the season of giving, when you stay back at communion you can give the other pew sitters in the church hope that they aren't alone. It can be a little lonely sitting there all by yourself wondering why everyone else seems to be doing such a bang up job of being Catholic but you're a complete mess at it. So this Christmas, if you're not a faithful Catholic in good standing, go to Mass with your family, get a blessing if you want, but don't receive communion. When you embrace the Truth you may be surprised by what you find.

Kathleen Burke lives and works in the District of Columbia. She blogs on occasion at

HHS Mandate
Unsafe Habor

I argue over at the Weekly Standard that we should all be a little freaked that the IRS, currently infamous for its inability to not discriminate, will soon be in charge of enforcing the unconstitutional HHS mandate against nuns and soup kitchens.


It's very strange, let me tell you, to watch a child growing up--to see him go from diapers to (thinking about) dating, from spitting out his cauliflower to choosing his college. You know what's even stranger? When it's not your child. When it's your niece or nephew, your cousin, or your own sibling ...

Pro-life Pictures

I've never seen a more beautiful witness to life than this beautiful series of photos capturing an adoption ceremony. I didn't even know there was such a thing. #inspired

In Which I Get Cardinal O’Malley’s Back

I got it. Right here. You're not alo

The Case of Elisa Bauer


No, not those kind of boys. Little boys--the kind that are made of snakes and snails and puppy dog tails. I grew up with seven of them--yes, that's right, SEVEN BROTHERS. (They even made a movie about us, but left me and my sisters out. Anyways ...)

As I say, I grew up with seven boys, and while there are certain moments upon which I do not look back with glee (boys punch way harder than girls, you know) there are far more which were delightful (I rather doubt seven sisters would have been quite as up from Robin Hood and Kind Arthur style dueling with poplar sticks as my brothers always were). I suspect my parents felt the same--indeed, I've always had rather the impression that, looking at their handling of the male and female elements of the family, they didn't quite know what to do with us girls by comparison.

Which is why, when I read the original piece on which the article below is commenting, I was probably as much amused as shocked. Three boys. Golly Moses. Cry me a river. Maybe they should move to some country where males are appreciated more?

But as the author of piece observes, this is really no joke. There's a mistake in thinking that we can determine who our children are; and in "Albert Garland's" piece we see just how perverted that desire to determine the identity of our offspring can become.

Babies and Boobs in Church?

The Adventure

Anthony Esolen has an interesting piece up on Public Discourse. Although its title refers to the boy scouts, most of the article is actually an extended meditation on boyhood and fatherhood--not exactly an Altcatholicah topic, admittedly! But there were a few sentences that caught my eye, largely because they complement (or perhaps simply repeat) something that I've long thought about in the context of femininity.

"A friend of the same sex is an image of myself, an alter ego. He echoes my voice.

"But the spouse is no alter ego. The spouse complements my voice. The man to the woman and the woman to the man are suggestions on earth of the totaliter aliter, the wholly other."

My roommates and I were having a discussion on this very fact not too long ago. All of us being, well, women, we naturally started by wondering bemusedly about some of the ways that men do and see things differently. (OK, "wondering bemusedly" is probably a euphemism for ... you get the picture.) But the conversation quickly turned in the Esolen direction. I've lived with seven brothers my whole life, and masculinity still manages to surprise me; my roommates also have brothers, and they've experienced the same thing. But that's part of the point, is it not? Where would be the virtue in a relationship that involved two people exactly alike? And forget virtue--what would be the point of marriage if the two people involved were (speaking psychologically now, and forgetting about the rest of it) exactly alike? Where would be the mystery, the fun, the surprise, the adventure?

Read the whole Esolen piece here.

Beyond Mommy Blogs

I don't mean to denigrate the Mommy Blog debate by any means--in fact, as a blogger and someone who knows a lot of young mothers (and has a mother herself--if you can fathom that!), I find the intersection of questions the phenomenon presents fascinating. But there are questions and motherhood, and questions about motherhood; and some questions--such as "When does a mother have the LEGAL right to stay home and educate her children," seem to be more pressing, or perhaps more basic than others, as the matter of the Romeike family illustrates.

In case you haven't read about it already (and in order of decreasing reputability):

National Review


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