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The Dark Truth Behind Polite Canada: Living the Faith in a Secular Culture

August 17, 2015

Today’s guest contributor is another house favorite. Or favourite, as it were. Christy Isinger resides in the wilds of Canada with her husband Paul and 5 kids, who live, if I am not mistaken, adjacent to an actual working cattle ranch. It’s all very Pioneer Woman, minus the film crew and the syndicated tv show. (Though she does co-host a wonderful podcast with fellow blogger Haley Stewart)

Christy is a well-read, well-styled mama with great taste in alcohol, books, and BBC television. She is also a personal hero because when she uses the word “winter” it means something entirely different and much, much more terrifying than when I use it. Much snow. Such dark.

She home schools her brood by necessity more than from an innate desire to craft natural wax candles and memorize latin poetry. (Though maybe she secretly enjoys those pursuits in her ample free time?) After reading her excellent essay below, you’ll understand why. And hopefully have a clearer picture about how terms like “secularism” and “separation of church and state” and “religious freedom” all carry much greater weight than many of us realize. 

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You may think that the polite, easygoing, and unassuming persona of Canada applies to all aspects of Canadian culture, but as increasingly aggressive secular and relativistic philosophies have taken hold in Canadian society you’ll find upon closer inspection the tight grip of secularism closing in on living a true Catholic life. It may be a polite tyranny, but it is one that is growing in its insistence that voices of faith be silenced in the public square and increasingly, in homes.

 

I’m a proud Canadian who is also a faithful Catholic. Yes, we still exist. Even in a staunchly secular society from the federal government down to the people you meet at the post office or Tim Horton’s. Canadian society is politely, yet stringently, secular and we’ve been living with legal same-sex marriage for over a decade, and recently have entered the brave new world where euthanasia in the form of doctor-assisted suicide has become legal due to a supreme court ruling.

 

My husband and I are raising five young children in a society that has decriminalized abortion since 1969, legalized same-sex marriage, and now has declared a constitutional right to euthanasia. These are fundamental life issues that impact our society as a whole, but also all of us as individuals. We cannot shelter or children from this reality, nor will the harmful effects of such systemic immorality fail to touch us to some degree.

 

And yet we want our children to grow up with the fullness of faith, the entirely of Truth, and the graces of the Sacraments that only come from the Catholic Church. We want our children to know and love that faith for their entire lives. We want them to be able to live in Canada and to pursue their dreams while making the world a better place to live. And yet, my thoughts for their future involve more and more the thought that their ability to pursue professional and public life in Canada as faithful Catholics will become more and more hindered as people with faith are pushed farther and farther into the margins of society.

 

But let’s back it up a little to what a Catholic life looks like in Canada right now for me: the regular, at-home mom looking for what’s best for her children while trying to fulfill baptismal promises. Today we belong to a small town parish that offers one Mass per week which is usually attended on average by 30 people. We’re the only family with young children who attend every week. I had five kids in six years and our family was the only family on the baptismal register for the parish during that time. We are happy to be able to receive the sacraments in our closest community, but the threat looms large at how long this will remain a feasible parish for the diocese. Our last two parish priests have come from Nigeria and Vietnam – both countries where the Church faces mortal consequences for practicing the faith, yet here they are ministering to Canadians. My parish offers no ministries at all, let alone ministries for moms, ministries for kids, natural family planning, catechetical studies, or religious education.

 

Of course, this isn’t a complete picture of Canada as a whole. There are still large, active, parishes across the country, but increasingly these only exist in major urban centres. The mega-churches of suburbia are becoming the norm, while beautiful, individual, and unique parishes are becoming out of date and shut down. I mention this because of the increased discussion of the Benedict Option. While it makes sense to solidify the numbers of the Catholics we have, it does lead to having fewer parishes, and fewer Catholics in diverse geographic areas, and I think makes us an urbanized, centralized church. My husband and I already discuss the possibility of having to move in the future just so we can be near a town with a functioning parish. We discuss right now the impact of our parish on our small children and the lack of community, especially children their own age.

 

Then of course there is the issue of education for our children, an important issue all Catholic parents face. In Canada, Catholic schools are fully funded by the government. But while that means there are plenty of Catholic schools in name these schools are beholden to the government. They must teach provincially approved curriculum, and the amount of actual Catholic teaching that happens amounts to a scandal for our Church. Catholic schools in Canada are under more and more pressure to abdicate any standard of Catholic belief altogether as government-mandated sexual education, transgender propaganda, and gay marriage as a norm programs inundate all schools in addition to increased attempts to take away parents’ rights to choose to remove their children from such classes.

 

This leaves few choices for Catholic parents, most of which are very difficult. We choose to homeschool our children not only because of the lack of religious teaching available in Catholic schools, but because of the educational standards or lack thereof in both Catholic and public schools. Parents who choose decent public or Catholic schools face the wearying task of constantly demonstrating the true Catholic teaching when encroaching secularism seeps into their child’s learning on a daily basis. There are very little options in the way of private Catholic schools simply because of the fully funded option available, but the private schools that do exist again, exist in large urban centres or are that magic unicorn that exist very rarely.

 

I won’t go into the even fewer options available for college education in the country, there are great institutions that exist now, but the trend towards making all secondary education institutions toe the line when it comes to same-sex marriage is becoming increasingly irresistible. True Catholic education institutions will face more and more struggles to retain the right to teach the faith as the laws supporting gay marriage become deeper and deeper ingrained in our society and the inherent need to silence all opposition to it gains more and more legal ground.

 

Aside from these practical issues, my children will grow up knowing only a Canadian society that stands against much of Catholic teaching; we truly are a post-Christian country. I hope that as they grow we can teach them that although the government may recognize same-sex marriage as a legal reality it is not consistent to the reality of what marriage is and what marriage is meant for. We will have to teach our children that our lives, no matter what amount of suffering we may be given, are owed to God and that we do not have the power to take the lives of those who are unborn, those who are gravely ill, or even our own in times of great physical pain.

 

As the secular saturation grows and the voice of the faithful becomes quieter and quieter it is more and more difficult to live out a life of faith. There are headlines about how it is unacceptable for someone who holds Catholic or Christian views on gay marriage and abortion to be in political life at all. There are attacks on Christian pharmacists, doctors and nurses to eliminate their right to freedom of conscience when it comes to abortion and euthanasia. Increasingly, it is becoming the widely held opinion of the culture that those who have faith can have it, but that it can only be expressed at church on Sundays, and it is this view that not only hampers democracy and civil rights, but confines and suffocates living out our Catholic faith. We see this happening again and again with small bureaucratic and legal pressures but also in the stronghold the media has over popular opinion.

 

Not only do I want my children to grow up and embrace the truth of Church teaching and to know the why’s and how’s of what the Church still proclaims to be true, I want my children to know and love Christ. It’s the relationship with Christ that will sustain my children through their entire lives. I think that my children will have to have a courageous and solid faith, not just to preach the Gospel, but to live Catholic lives in Canada.

 

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60 Comments

  • Reply Emily August 17, 2015 at 3:26 pm

    I’m a Catholic college student in the U.S., and I studied abroad in Nova Scotia last fall semester. This piece was absolutely fascinating for me because it put into words what I felt in Nova Scotia and other provinces I visited but couldn’t quite express myself. I love Canada dearly, and joke with my friends sometimes that I would love to move there and leave America behind, but the Catholic parish that was in the small town I studied in shocked me with how tiny it was. It sounds like a very similar situation to your parish; tiny, with a couple dozen families participating (and only one that I saw regularly with small children) very few ministries (this one did have some dinners and occasional seminars and such) and super rare confessions. I had to search out a priest (who traveled between a few local towns and was only in each a couple of days at a time) and ask him to hear my confession right then because the reconciliation times were never accessible to me. I loved a lot of the Catholics I met there but I can only imagine living somewhere permanently with a parish that small; I feel like I personally have to go to daily mass as often as possible if I want even a CHANCE of being virtuous in my everyday life, and that simply wasn’t an option there. There were times I felt nearly defeated with how hard it was to connect with the local Catholic life there. At least from where I’m sitting, Canada often seems like an oasis compared to the U.S. (and the natural beauty all over that country! I want to explore every inch!), but this was a much-needed reminder that no place is perfect and everywhere brings crosses to bear. Best of luck Christy, I love your blog and wish your family the absolute best!

    • Reply Melissa August 17, 2015 at 8:17 pm

      Hi there Emily, it seems to me that maybe you went to Acadia in Wolfville. If this is true then maybe the priest you met was Fr. Craig Cameron. If so, he’s a friend of ours! We knew him in University in Halifax, I went to St. Mary’s (no longer a Catholic institution sadly and very secular). Anyway, if I’m right so cool. I will have to say. The pressures we face as Catholics in our culture is daunting but I think back to what the early Church was up against. Roman culture was must have been daunting as well. But, I seem glimmers of hope all over. We are a missionary Church and hearts are won over one at a time. Keep up the good fight everyone.

      • Reply Elena August 18, 2015 at 6:44 am

        Melissa, I grew up in NS and live in Ontario (Christy, in Barrys bay, actually). I had to laugh at your comment as fr. Craig is a good friend of ours and my husband and I served on NET Canada with him. Small world.

        • Reply thlsralv September 11, 2015 at 5:58 am

          This is a super small world – my uncle is Mark Berchem and my hubby and I met Father Craig in MN last year for a NET thingamajig at their headquarters!! He gets around, man… 😀

          • Elena September 11, 2015 at 8:02 am

            Very small world. Our net training was in the states, so we met Mark ages ago.

    • Reply Christy August 18, 2015 at 8:24 am

      Thank you Emily!

  • Reply Lynette August 17, 2015 at 5:07 pm

    thank you for this important information about what is happening for our neighbors to the north! it was a scary read for me, especially since I recently moved to an area that lacks a strong Catholic community as well. I wasn’t familiar with the “Benedict Option” term, so thank you also for bringing that term to light.

    • Reply Christy August 18, 2015 at 8:25 am

      Thank you Lynette, best of luck to you. I hope that even though you may not have a huge community near you that you will have one that gives you some hope and support.

  • Reply Kathleen August 17, 2015 at 5:22 pm

    This is a bleak picture of America’s future. We’re just behind you a few years. But as I read this I can’t help but hear the words of St. John, “A light shine’s in the darkness and the darkness will not overcome it.” Keep up the good fight and raising your family!

  • Reply Sarah B August 17, 2015 at 5:27 pm

    I stumbled across this article thru FB. I’m not Catholic. I am Missouri Synod Lutheran in the USA. And, I am wondering, what about other church denominations? How much have they decreased in presence in Canada? Is it possible to reach out to other denominations for some ministries – such mom groups, child playgroups, natural family planning? I realize theology could present a problem for religious training but, to a certain extent, this may not be bad as it might draw more Bible study into the learning. … ?

    • Reply Jason August 17, 2015 at 7:37 pm

      To be blunt, most denominations are more willing to make changes based on “popular opinion”. While the thought is a kind one, the idea is that Catholic families want to not have constant social incursion of thoughts and ideas that then have to be politely corrected. While some “high Protestants” as I like to call them, such as more old form Lutherans, Anglicans, etc. might produce an environment with less theological differences, there is a very great chance that they will have accepted some of these very worldly ideas. This isn’t a slam to any of them. Most change their minds out of a sense of compassion or sentiment. That doesn’t make the choice right though, and makes any kind of group ministry activities potential powder kegs. I wish I could offer constructive suggestions to the problem, rather than just critique those of others (and I truly appreciate that you tried to offer good help) but frankly things are getting bleak. The Western Catholic Church is fast devolving to a missionary stance in its own dioceses. But, in the end, the gates of hell will no prevail. God bless y’all (yes I’m a Texan :P) that face these challenges. We’ll like be joining you soon here in the States.

      • Reply Sarah B August 17, 2015 at 8:49 pm

        Some denominations have, unfortunately, given in to worldly pressures and accepted non-Biblical stances. All denominations, in particular ones that cling very tightly to Biblical truth, are going to decrease in membership. Instead of viewing this as a possible ending to these denominations, maybe we, as Christians who hold firm to the idea of the divine inspiration of Scripture, should be reaching across denominational lines, finding our common grounds in those truth-filled Scriptures. The theological problems and struggles that arise are well worth the gains in a strong, Bible-based Christian community. Don’t be so quick to eliminate other denominations. Not all have ceded Biblical authority to the world’s demands.

        • Reply Marie August 18, 2015 at 12:21 am

          Sarah,

          Your comment regarding like minded Christians meeting up has a lot of merit. We can in fact support one another on critical issues, such as respect for life, a struggle that we should share in common. People of faith NEED each other, we must stand together! Our Lord taught us to be true to His teachings and they simply can not remain a Sunday only option, but a way in which we openly and prophetically live our lives.

    • Reply Christy August 18, 2015 at 8:28 am

      Thank you for your kind words Sarah. You’re right that there is support found in other denominations and I’ve been lucky to get that in the past as well on different occasions. But unfortunately I believe that the dramatic secularization of Canada is opposing all faith. Just this week one candidate for prime minister called Evangelicals “un-Canadian” and there was recently an Evangelical college taken to the supreme court to refuse them admission to the bar association because they do not allow gay married couples to live on their campus. We’re all in this together!

      • Reply Sarah B August 18, 2015 at 8:41 am

        Part of the reason I appreciated your article so much is because, although we have rights given in our Constitution that I don’t think Canada (or the UK) have, I see the United States progressing down the same path. Already CEOS and other power positions are losing their jobs for pro-life and/or pro-traditional family beliefs. I don’t think it will be long before the USA is in a similar anti-religious environment. I follow LifeSiteNews on FB. I’ve read articles about what is happening in Canada and the UK. God works miracles every day but I don’t think He is going to change our political environments. I think, like the Israelites in the Old Testament, He is allowing our society’s bad choices to pull us so far away from Him that society has no choice but to eventually pull back to Him. As such, my suggestion was more of a practical immediate purpose rather than an idea for changing politics. You are right, as is Marie. Denominations aside, Biblical truth of utmost importance, Christians, we need each other. We need to stand together.

    • Reply Christy August 18, 2015 at 8:29 am

      Thanks Kathleen.

  • Reply Kaitlin @ More Like Mary August 17, 2015 at 6:18 pm

    Wow Christy. God will surely reward you for your efforts!

  • Reply Amy August 17, 2015 at 6:26 pm

    Very interesting. I am an American living and raising my children in England, and a lot of what you say about Canada rings true with regards to the UK. Although we are much more densely populated, so it is easier to find a parish! Prayers for you and your family!

    • Reply Christy August 18, 2015 at 8:30 am

      Yes, the UK and Canada definitely have a lot of similarities going on, this dramatic secularization has been so damaging to Europe and Canada is nor far behind. Thank you for your prayers!

  • Reply Stephanie August 17, 2015 at 7:33 pm

    This is all very sad and true! I live in Canada as well and I am studying to be a Catholic school teacher. During one of my university classes I was told by a professor that when I have my own classroom I have to “put up a picture of Ellen Degeneres in the classroom so as to normalize same-sex marriage for the young students”. What is even more sad is that I just got married three months ago, and when I express my desire to my friends or colleagues to have a large family, they all tell me that I am living in the past and instead I should get a masters degree and build up a fancy career.

    • Reply Christy August 18, 2015 at 8:32 am

      Well thank you for trying to become a faithful teacher Stephanie because you are definitely needed. But as you say, it really is an agenda that so many in our society feel has to be stridently put upon everyone. In the name of tolerance and acceptance, people who do not agree are being pressured in a lot of cases. Thank you for your faith and I hope you’ll continue to have courage in all your pursuits!

  • Reply delia m. labay, ssj August 17, 2015 at 8:08 pm

    to live according to our belief is being challenged nowadays, more than ever, we have to pray for an increace of faith, hope and love…not only for ourselves and our families but for all people of good will. Let us continue to support one another in this mission of announcing the Good News of Our Salvation as our dear Pope Francis exhorts us…to love everyone, including those who may persecute us…let us pray for God”s grace for everyone….

    • Reply Christy August 18, 2015 at 8:32 am

      Thank you, that is very true.

  • Reply Sandra Elder August 17, 2015 at 11:41 pm

    As a U.S. Catholic I have a great admiration for my Canadian brothers and sisters! I was in Quebec for the Eucharistic Congress a few years ago and got a glimpse into your struggles. When I expressed amazement at the number of Cath politicians present on stage, someone told me not to get too excited; sadly they were all vehemently pro-abortion. When I noted the proliferation of streets named after saints, someone told me not to assume it meant anything. Everywhere I went the Catholics were joyful and devout (I was at a Euch Congress after all) but somewhat sober, and many of them shared their concerns and asked for prayers for. God bless you all and your faithful priests and Bishops. They (and increasingly ours over here) are going to have to be very courageous and will need our prayers and support to lead us in these difficult times. Sts Isaac Jogues, Rene Goupil, Jean DeBrebeuf, et al, pray for us!

    • Reply Christy August 18, 2015 at 8:35 am

      Thank you Sandra! The Church in Canada is a complicated thing, but I really hope we can persevere with the help of faithful bishops and priests. Thank you for your prayers!

  • Reply Lorraine Shelstad August 18, 2015 at 12:18 am

    In BC Catholic schools are not funded by the government and parents have to pay tuition for their children. This does mean that the Church has more control over what is taught than in some provinces. Although governments try to legislate some things. In Alberta property taxpayers choose whether their taxes go to the Public School Board or the Catholic School Board and so parent do not have to pay tuition to send their children to Catholic schools. So, as you see, provinces differ. I know that in Ontario the provincial govt. has a lot of control over the curriculum in Catholic Schools because of the funding but it is not true in every province.

    • Reply Christy August 18, 2015 at 8:39 am

      Thanks Lorraine, I know it varies from province to province, but I think across the board that the problem with government funded “Catholic” schools is that they aren’t Catholic at all and have done a very poor job of teaching the faith in the past. I’ve a lot of friends in BC and while I know that private Catholic schools exist, I definitely would not say that there is a comparable number of Catholic private schools everywhere in the province that would make them a viable choice for all Catholic parents. We can’t ignore that all Canadian provinces are trying to put more stringent control over what is taught in schools especially concerning sex-ed and in turn moral teachings when it comes to gay marriage etc. These are big concerns that parents are going to have to have more tools and resources to deal with as they send their children to school.

  • Reply Ari August 18, 2015 at 9:59 am

    Wow. This is eye-opening. It makes me want to attend daily mass because I CAN. And take advantage of confession because it is so available. I do fear for the future. I hate to say that or seem conspiracy-minded or pessimistic, but what has happened in the US in my own lifetime has been shocking. Unfortunately, many Protestants do not see us as allies, but either traditionally-minded bigots or deceived Pope-worshipers who need converting. While there is a lot of common ground, on the very Catholic issues (Mary, the Pope, NFP, the Eucharist), there is a sad lack of unity, and for many it is more dangerous to seek ecumenism when they are trying to convert you or think you are blind, especially for those Catholics not strong in their own faith. All that to say that we are called to live in the world in this time, in these locations for a reason. I don’t always know what that reason is, but here is the life we are called to. We must stay strong and keep the faith.

    • Reply Christy August 19, 2015 at 9:56 am

      It is difficult when there is so much division within our own Church and Christian denominations in general. It looks like there will be increasingly pressure from society and the government to quash religious thought and expression. It really is an issue that demands everyones attention no matter what faith they profess.

  • Reply Brian Devine August 18, 2015 at 1:10 pm

    I read with interest what it is like to be Catholic and living in Canada. Believe me this problem of secularisation is not just confined to Canada. My wife and I lived in England for many years. There we belonged to a very vibrant catholic parish where lay people had the opportunities to join in many of the Church’s ministries. Four years ago we retired back to our native Ireland. From tha faith perspective it was a total shock. Secularisation is rampant. True Catholic teaching is rejected by a large section of the population. People replace the worship of God with personal worship. The individual is now sacrosanct. A recent referendum brought into law, same sex marriage. Now they seek to repeal the 8th Ammendment of the Constitution which will deny the unborn all rights. All this in the ” land of saints and scholars” Let us take courage and hope from the words of Jesus, ” Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I Will build my Church and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it” let us join in collective prayer for a new coming of the Holy Spirit into the lives of all. Jesus is Lord and at the name of Jesus every knee will bow.

    • Reply Christy August 19, 2015 at 9:54 am

      Thanks for the comment Brian. Just like Ireland, Canada was a culturally Catholic country from it’s inception and it has been throwing away that heritage for the last 60 years. It is both comforting and challenging to know that nothing shall prevail against the Church, even in our difficult times.

  • Reply Brad Biesecker August 19, 2015 at 2:01 am

    Any readers out there? If so, have you heard of Michael D. O’Brien? He is a Catholic novelist who writes about, among other subjects, living in Canada and its secular culture during the end times. Really great reading. I love his books and I’m not Catholic. I am Presbyterian. Also, he and his wife live in rural Ontario, and if I’m not mistaken they home school their children.

    • Reply Jenny Uebbing August 21, 2015 at 1:06 am

      Michael O’Brien is hands down my favorite contemporary author. I’ll second the recommendation 🙂

    • Reply Elena August 21, 2015 at 6:55 am

      We know him well. He attends our parish and his children are all adults. But, yes, they were homeschooled.

    • Reply Christy August 25, 2015 at 9:38 am

      I’ve actually met him and he is the writer in residence at the college I attended in Ontario!

  • Reply Christina August 19, 2015 at 7:51 am

    I could really relate this this post. I’m a fellow Canadian Catholic trying to raise my 4 small children in this secular country. We live in suburban Toronto so we are fortunate enough to attend a large parish which has daily mass and access to other parishes in close vicinity. We homeschool my oldest and will start with the second this year despite having a “Catholic” school within a 5 minute drive of our house. We didn’t feel that the publicly funded Catholic schools were an option for us for the same reasons you outline. We have been fortunate to meet other Catholic families who are actively trying to raise their children in the faith despite the culture around us. Our homeschool group in particular is made up of children from various parishes and has been a great blessing to our family.

    My husband and I have been involved in politics for a number of years and continue to work towards trying to get more pro-life and pro-family candidates elected. As Catholics we feel it is our duty to be involved in the political process despite how discouraging it can seem. I’m so thankful for people like you Christy who invest the time and effort into blogging to provide an example of Catholic family life that is counter-cultural to the secular norms. It must be a challenge at times with such young children but please know it is greatly appreciated!

    • Reply Christy August 25, 2015 at 9:58 am

      Thank you Christina! I have a lot of friends in Ontario, and it is a really difficult spot to be in as a Catholic in many ways. I really think we’re called to participate in making our governments and communities better, but that doesn’t automatically mean that we can send out kids to places where the education is completely contrary to what the Catholic faith teaches. So nice to hear that you’re on the same path, I’m glad you’ve got some good homeschooling support too!

  • Reply AthenaC August 19, 2015 at 8:38 am

    Wow – this is fascinating. Thanks for sharing! I’ve driven through BC and the Yukon twice (once on the way to Alaska and once to come back) and I absolutely LOVED it – the land was gorgeous, the Canadians were delightful, and the air was clean. I had no idea that practicing the faith in Canada was so difficult.

    Not to make this the Suffering Olympics or anything, but I can identify with that feeling of being an island. I live in the Chicago area, which is of course a majority Catholic area, but the downside is that no one seems to know WHY they are Catholic anymore. People are Catholic out of habit and not out of devotion. Walk through my church parking lot on Sunday and count the “Catholics for Choice!” bumper stickers. (Groan)

    Related to this, I was explicitly and firmly instructed not to teach my Sunday School kids the “Three Persons of the Trinity,” lest I “confuse” them. (Of course it’s confusing! That’s why it’s a Mystery! It’s my job to teach them anyway and maybe guide their meditation on this idea.) Instead I was instructed to teach them “The Three Names of God.” I did not follow instructions.

    Finally, it’s a cultural thing here that people are insular and closed off. They have their established family and friends and are just not open to getting to know new people. So I can’t seem to take any church acquaintances beyond the “acquaintance” stage; as a result I only have friends through my husband, who are all atheists and agnostics. It really sucks that in the middle of a whole bunch of Catholics (even if in name only) I have virtually no one to really talk about the Faith with. Now, the silver lining is that whenever anyone in our group is grappling with spiritual issues (yes, even atheists and agnostics grapple with spiritual issues from time to time), guess who they come to? That’s right – the lone Catholic. So it is an opportunity but it can feel pretty lonely most of the time.

    Anyway, just wanted to say thanks for sharing and share some sympathy / empathy to the extent I can.

    • Reply Christy August 19, 2015 at 9:53 am

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts. It is so difficult when we are dealing with a cultural Catholicism that in essence denies most Catholic teaching. If feels very disorienting and it makes building community, and thus the Church, so hard. Have you heard of Blessed Is She? It’s an online devotional for Catholic women and it has a great way of meeting other Catholic women in your area through Facebook groups as well. I’d really encourage you to check it out if you haven’t already: http://www.blessedisshe.net God Bless You!

  • Reply ramona August 20, 2015 at 5:19 pm

    Dear Christy, Would you like to try holding rosary-based prayer meetings? If you already do this with the family which is really best of all, perhaps your church there could grow one person more at a time if you ask Jesus and Mary to use you as instruments to try to draw one more person at a time to experience this beautiful and powerful prayer! Who can resist the beauty of the Rosary! Though many refuse because they know not what they are missing. And of course the Evil One is has been hard at work. Just gently persevere and if people reject you, take heart for the Saviour was – and is being – rejected too. Offer it up! Spreading the Rosary through prayer groups is happening here in the Philippines! We use a very nice format which is the True Life in God prayer guide with meditations on every mystery as received by modern-day visionary Vassula Ryden. Check her out on http://www.tlig.org. The messages give us glimpses into how intimately God loves each one of us. In a place where there is a lack of priests, these Rosary meetings not only call upon Jesus and Mary to do the work (of growing the congregation, converting souls etc.) for us but the Messages which we read after praying a Holy Rosary, consecrating ourselves to the Sacred Heart or to the Two Holy Hearts and reading a Bible passage, the Messages are meant to draw all Christians toward unity! One important message indeed is, “Catholics! Pritestants! Jews!… You all belong to Me….”

    • Reply Christy August 25, 2015 at 9:50 am

      Thanks for the encouragement Ramona!

  • Reply Johan Persyn August 21, 2015 at 3:03 am

    Hi Christy,
    You describe how it is. And in Belgium it is even worser. Reading and watching Father Robert Barrons videos and articles is to me a very strong help to deeping my faith and love for Christ. We have a bible study group together with protestants where we meet each other and have respectfull conversations. In Bruges we have a community with young families with children. I studie also René Girard and there is a catholic priest who use it to clarify the catholic teachings.Ron Rollheiser is doing the same in USA. I hope this information is a great hope for you. Difficult but very intesting times. Wishing you light, sis.

    • Reply Christy August 25, 2015 at 9:50 am

      Yes, I know the situation in Europe is worse than Canada, but we’re not far behind.

  • Reply This Week’s Miscellany: Vol. 133 August 21, 2015 at 4:00 am

    […] Living the Faith in a Secular Culture: Christy Isinger […]

  • Reply Mary Leavines August 21, 2015 at 3:49 pm

    Thank you for this. As an engaged Catholic living in the U.S., I imagine that our society will look remarkably similar to yours by the time my fiancé and I have young kids. I worry every day if it’s possible to raise faithful Catholics in this increasingly secular world. Your love for your kids and refusal to water down their faith formation, and even your love for the broken society that you live in–raising strong, Catholic children to “set loose” on a such a civilization is love for said civilization (in my opinion!)–gives me hope.

    • Reply Christy August 25, 2015 at 9:49 am

      Thank you for those kind words, Mary.

  • Reply Valerie August 21, 2015 at 6:12 pm

    Christy,
    Thank you for an inspiring and eye opening post! I do believe that America is soon to follow in the footsteps of Canada if we do not stand firm as Christian Catholics and Christian Protestants. No one can take away our beliefs, but the world continuously tries to make small changes to our traditions, which are causing more separations. Many Catholics and Protestants believe in abortion, homosexuality, and euthanasia, and the bible. Yet they neglect to believe in the whole bible, as it clearly states that murder is a sin and that homosexuality is “perverse” sin! Stay strong!!

    You all post a very important point of view. I have 9 siblings (7 brothers and 2 sisters). My mom was born Episcopalian, but after seeing a Catholic wedding, fell in love with Catholicism and converted after meeting my Dad. My Dad was always very holy in his demeanor even as a boy. He left the monastery the day of his final vows because he believed that God wanted him to have a large family more than closing him off from the world in a secluded monastery. My oldest siblings lived in 6 different states while my parents moved from one Catholic mission to the next. After Vatican II the future of the Catholic church has taken a much different path. [Sarah B], my parents took us to all of the other denominational summer bible schools. Partly for us to do something through the summer and keep out of her hair, and partly because they wanted us to think of God instead of running around the woods or town (depending on what state we were in). But I can very much see what [Jason] is speaking 0f. Many of the non-denominational churches believe…whatever they want to believe as long as it is biblical. Even in my small parish here in Ohio, I feel we are becoming overly liberal and “loose” in our beliefs and many want small changes that will lead to very big differences. Many times I have wanted to attend a more traditional parish to give my son a better background in traditional Catholic beliefs. But his faith is very strong and even at age 13 wants to be a good role model. We are the only parish in our diocese who does not kneel after the Lamb of God, many hold their hands up during the Our Father to imitate the priest while not realizing that the priest is actually acting as Christ would, and therefore we should have our heads bowed and hands folded to pray. By far the worst that my fellow parishioners do, is to talk idly in the presence of the true body of Christ located in the tabernacle…as though He was not truly present. The sad part is that many of us more traditional Catholics remain silent. Personally I do not always speak up myself. I do not like confrontation and many people are not always receptive to criticism related to how they worship.

    As followers of Christ, any denomination of Christians should come together in times when Christ, Himself, needs to be defended! We need to uphold His teachings and values as long and as much as possible, even if we do not agree with each other on the inner workings of the separate denominations.

    • Reply Christy August 25, 2015 at 9:49 am

      Thanks for your thoughts, Valerie. I think it’s really important that all people who practice faith realize that the society we’re in really doesn’t want voices of faith, or lives of faith, to be in the public square and that there are innumerable repercussions that come from this. It would really benefit us all to be able to join together to stand up against such encroaching secularism.

  • Reply AnneMarie Miller August 21, 2015 at 9:01 pm

    Christy, thank you so much for honestly discussing the religious scene in Canada! Aside from what I have heard from a couple friends who live there (but they are fortunate to live near a vibrant parish, which helps), I didn’t know that much about day-to-day life. Y’all are AWESOME for persevering and striving to live an orthodox, epic life of Faith! I am so thankful for the internet, so that you can bring your witness to all of us. Basically reiterating what everyone else has pointed out…the situation there sounds a TON like the religious situation (or lack thereof) in Europe, and sure sounds like many places here in the USA. But God is so good in bringing us together, through prayer, sacraments and the internet, so that we can grow stronger! This is a time of great purification that the Church is going through, and I honestly feel like people are going to really have to get serious about the Faith or not, and that this whole “Catholic in name only” thing will subside eventually.

    Your concerns about lack of community are totally realistic, and I will pray for you guys as you figure out how God will guide y’all. For about 4 years, I lived in a tiny town in New York state where there was not much of a Faith community at all, aside from the awesome old people (the ratio of baptisms to funerals in our church was 1:7). There was a handful of Catholic families we were friends with, but that was our main Catholic community. God really blessed our relationships with those Catholics, though, and we had some good friendships with non-Catholics, which were also nice. That being said, when we moved to a super crazy Catholic environment in the Midwest, the strong community helped my whole family grow by leaps and bounds. God can create good in the no-community situation, but the community does help. So yes, prayers coming for y’all.

    • Reply Christy August 25, 2015 at 9:47 am

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts and prayers AnneMarie. It really is becoming all too common for there to be a complete lack of parish community and Catholic options in many areas of the country. I hope that in sharing this article those who are lucky enough to be in vibrant parishes will think twice before complaining – at least a little! 😉

  • Reply chrissy August 23, 2015 at 6:50 pm

    I live in rural ontario and relate completely I will send my kids to public school not catholic public. I found the messages to be confusing. Teachers that would tell us in religion class that the rhythm method was bs and we should use birth control. My parents depended on school to teach me and I was confused for a lot of years. Anyways it all seems like a lost cause here sometimes. Glad to have someone to relate too. Great article

    • Reply Christy August 25, 2015 at 9:45 am

      It is feeling like a really tough road ahead here in Canada for sure. I know there are some great spots of faith in Ontario, but because we’re such a big country it can feel like we’re alone so easily, can’t it? Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  • Reply Laura August 24, 2015 at 2:21 pm

    Hi Christy,
    My name is Laura and I live in a little house on the Colorado prairie.
    Although you’ve written your post about your parish situation, it almost seems as if you’ve written it about our local situation here. I have six six and under and when my family of 8 attends the local parish, we are part of the maybe 30 weekly attendees. Percentage-wise, we’re a huge chunk. We don’t have an active parish life- we’re hanging on by a thread. Our parish is no different than any other- some local residents were raised Catholic but no longer practice, some have moved away and some seem just seem not to have kids or many kids. The thing that makes it different here is that we really don’t have an influx of new people moving here. I mean, really, who wants to come to the Colorado prairie?
    I myself literally head for the hills whenever I can, that is attend the vibrant extraordinary form parish at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Here, too, there seem to be some vibrant parishes in urban or suburban areas, although I do personally prefer the TLM.
    I don’t know what the answer is. For my faith and my kids’ faith, we do better at that vibrant TLM parish, but that just means we’ve deserted our little rural parish. My husband’s family has been out here for over 100 years and have been active members of the parish that whole time. I would hate to see it die.

    I also homeschool. and I also wonder about “abandoning ship” and the sustainability of even the local public school district. If my brood attended school there, they’d be a significant percentage of the school, too.

    Anyway, my bottom line here is that I really don’t think the situation that you have described is confined to rural Canada. It’s rural America, too.

    Blessings to you…

    • Reply Christy August 25, 2015 at 9:44 am

      Yes, rural life is difficult all around if you’re Catholic. I think it’s just such an uncommon experience to the average orthodox Catholic however. Or at least I feel in most blogging circles everyone is used to having a very active parish and lots of different options and at the very least some amount of Catholic community surrounding them. It really is a dire thought to imagine wide areas of our countries without the physical presence of Jesus in the Eucharist present at all. I feel that way now as my diocese is forced to close parishes, it leaves so many miles without Christ, and it is a really important thing, especially when there is all this Benedict Option talk.

  • Reply Laura August 27, 2015 at 12:18 am

    There are many things difficult about rural life! Fresh produce and medical care area challenge, too. Some of my children have health issues, so we’re forever going to appointments in the Front Range cities (Colorado Springs or Denver).

    But you are right! I never thought about the lack of the Most Holy Presence of Our Lord lacking for so many miles upon miles. In a sermon I heard once, Father called the Catholic Church a military occupation of the world, how every area has a parish and diocese that covers it. We’re failing in these geographic areas and… and… I don’t want to think about the consequences.
    The local parish is maybe ten minutes away, but if I go within a 50 miles radius of me, there are only two others. Scary, now that I think about it…

    And, yes, MommyCatholicBloggers generally do not understand these challenges. Thanks for making them aware of our plight.

    I do blog about some of my challenges living in a rural area, but I talk mostly about secular issues.

    Blessings again to you…

  • Reply Mom in Ontario September 14, 2015 at 5:49 am

    I just happened to stumble on to your blog post last night. Thank you so much for writing it. I go to a small rural parish in Ontario and yesterday was a bit of a rough day in the trenches of Church warfare. Praise be to God that He is in control. The issue of women priesthood and gay marriage had been promoted by the deacons wife. I talked to the Bishop about this, and he delt with the situation appropriately except that now the deacons wife if giving me crap for telling the Bishop. She had kept her opinions secret from the Bishop, and is FURIOUS that I told him. She stormed out of church and said she refuses to come back.

    • Reply AnneMarie Miller September 14, 2015 at 12:55 pm

      Ooh, parish drama is super lame! I totally think you are awesome and support you for appropriately discussing it with the bishop! There are probably many people out there who wouldn’t have the guts to speak with the bishop about those matters. I will be keeping your whole parish situation in my prayers; I really hope that the deacon’s wife doesn’t make life miserable for you, because you totally did the right thing!

      • Reply Mom in Ontario September 16, 2015 at 5:06 pm

        Annemarie,
        Thank you so much for your prayers. It is so comforting to know that somebody sympathizes with you and is praying for you. Yes, telling the Bishop was hard. While the Lord had really made it clear it was my husband and I who had to tell the Bishop I had hoped that somebody else would do it. We waited for months before we finally informed our Bishop. We were hoping that somebody else would get the courage. Really, we are pretty cowardly. My husband is a people pleaser and I have struggled with anxiety in the past. The Lord works through the most unlikely of people for his glory.

  • Reply AnneMarie Miller September 16, 2015 at 9:48 pm

    You are so welcome! It is my joy and pleasure-isn’t technology such a blessing from God? As much as I have moments of disliking technology, it is such a wonderful way to connect so many Catholics in prayer and communication! Amen, sister! God doesn’t call the equipped, but equips the called! I mean, just look at all of the Old Testament prophets-they always gave God excuses (I don’t know what to say, I’m not a good speaker, I’m too young, etc.), but ultimately took that leap of faith and God worked through them. You are awesome, and keep on fighting that good fight!

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