When the Parish Next Door Doesn’t Work

When the Parish Next Door Doesn’t Work

What do you call a Calvinist who attends Mass whenever he’s traveling?

That’s my friend Andrew. We’ve been friends since high school, back when we were both Protestant. Now I’m Catholic but he’s still a committed Calvinist, although he’s not only friendly to Catholicism, he also knows more Catholic doctrine than ninety percent of Catholics. When he’s on the road over a weekend, he even finds a Catholic Mass to attend on Sunday morning. I’ve asked him why he doesn’t just go to a local Presbyterian church on those trips; he said it’s too hard to find one that hasn’t, in his words, “apostatized.”

Sometimes when he’s out of town and looking for a Catholic parish, he asks me if I know of any. Recently he was in a town I’m familiar with and we had a text exchange:

Andrew: What do you know about St. Francis Xavier?

Me: I’d recommend another parish.

Andrew: But it’s right next door to the hotel!

Me: There’s a great parish downtown—St. Jude’s. You should go there.

But he went to the next-door parish anyway. Afterwards I got another text:

Andrew: The priest admonished the young people to have hope because there might someday be female priests.

Me: I warned you.

Andrew: Is that a common debate?

Me: Only for people who still think it’s 1972. Why didn’t you go to St. Jude’s?

Andrew: St. Francis was right next door.

Me: If you were Catholic, you’d know “next door” doesn’t always work.

Andrew: I thought that was just a Protestant thing. The allure of Catholicism should be that next door works!

Of course, he’s right: a Catholic should be able to go to the parish next door and not worry that he’ll hear something other than Catholicism preached or prayed there.

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