Our relationship to the Church is not unlike other personal relationships. In a healthy personal relationship we have certain expectations of the relationship and our partner. For example, we may expect the relationship to be mutual, fair, safe, faithful, or trust-worthy. When a relationship breaks down, it is usually because our partner has failed to meet some or all of our expectations--or we have failed to meet some or all of theirs.
In our relationship to the Church, we have similar (often unspoken) expectations which we expect the Church to fulfill. A breakdown in our relationship to Church occurs when we perceive that the Church is not fulfilling those expectations. In understanding our relationship to the Church, it is helpful to identify which of our expectations the Church does not meet.
- The worksheet which is available here can help you develop further insight into your relationship with the Catholic Church by identifying:
- the qualities which are important to you in a relationship.
- how well the Church has or has not met these expectations in its relationship to you.
- the ways in which the Church has or has not met these expectations,
- how well you have met this expectation in your relationship to the Church.
- how well you think another church has or could meet this expectation.
- The information you enter on the worksheet will help you identify the strengths and weaknesses of your relationship to the Catholic Church. You may expand your understanding of that relationship by taking these additional steps:
- Consider the possibility that some of your expectations may be unrealistic. (Sometimes in relationships we project unrealistic expectations on a partner because our personal needs are greater than any partner, even the Church, can reasonably fulfill.)
- Consider the possibility that some of your evalutions may be unfair. (It is always possible in relationships that we over-estimate the negative and under-estimate the positive.) Notice, for instance, that the Church may have failed to fulfil some of your expectations but has actually fulfilled many others.
- Consider what you mean by “the Church”--are you referring to an individual person, a particular parish, or the Catholic Church as an institution or community as a whole?
- Consider that there are expectations the Church has of you which you may not be able or willing to fulfill. (In some cases, our relationship suffers because we resent the expectations which our partner has of us -- expectations which we are either unable or unwilling to filfill.)
- Consider how realistic your expectations are about whether another church or religious tradition could fulfill your expectations,
- This process helps us look at our relationship to the Church in a broader perspective. By helping us identify our unspoken expectations of the relationship, it helps us identify more clearly not just how but also why our relationship to the Church is damaged or broken. Just as in any other personal relationship, the knowledge and insight you gain may help you repair or rebuild the relationship, or it may simply confirm that the relationship cannot be reclaimed at the present time.
In either case, it may help you to move on with greater serenity and help you be more intentional about what you might be seeking if you are thinking about establishing a relationship to
Copyright Protected by Dave Cushing
Last Update: 04.16