Friday, August 27, 2010

Props to the Catholics

There has been so much on my mind lately... stuff I would love to fling out onto this blog, like a pulpit for my outrage on various issues. But alas, I have decided to share some positive words instead. Positive words that is, about my Catholic brothers and sisters.

I was raised Catholic. I made my First Holy Communion and participated in the Eucharist. Every Sunday my grandfather and I sat at the back of the church playing 25 games of tic tac toe on the bulletin (insert grandma's disapproving looks here). To be honest I was super bored. It's only recently I have begun to understand the significance of these early spiritually formative years. There was so much I didn't understand. There was so much that went over my head. But I learned that God was present and that Jesus was amazing... the ground of my heart was prepared for my future salvation.

People dump truck loads of criticism on this Church. I have hurled my own judgement on the institution in years past. And yes, some of it is deserved. I have no intention of puffing up the Catholic Church as if it were a poor misunderstood martyr, the victim of bad press. Yet, in the big picture Catholics have contributed a rich quality of Saints to this world. Two of whom God used to help inspire me to keep enduring with Him in the midst of extremely difficult times. Mother Teresa and Saint John of the Cross are individuals whose marks on the world will surely live on, comforting and inspiring others for decades to come. There are also devoted Catholics continuing in the foot steps of these spiritual giants that have impacted me.

In college I spent a lot of time with Benedictine Monks. They graciously allowed me to sit with them during lunches that were eaten silently. From the front a monk would read an excerpt from a book. I found one of these excerpts especially interesting. If my memory serves me correctly the reading was a critique of protestantism. I must say it was a fair and gracious critique and deeply challenged my perception of the protestant reformation. The basic idea framed the pre-reformational church as a group of individuals in a sense "married". The reading portrayed protestants as the discontent spouse who refused to "work it out" and instead chose divorce. The article went on to propose that this may be why there are so many divisions and factions in the protestant church to this day. Perhaps the mentality is, if you don't like your church then leave and make your own or try on another. The challenge of the article was clearly pressing on a weak spot in protestantism, an inability to suffer through disagreements with community in tact.

Before my protestant friends get too frustrated with me, let me explain further. I'm not suggesting that Luther was wrong to launch a reformation. I think he was right to do so in light of the corruption that soaked the church during that time in history. In an ideal world the pope would have seen Luther as a prophet calling his church to repent, but that's all said and done now.

My real message here is that we protestants have missed out on some beautiful teaching, examples, mentorship and fellowship with our Catholic brothers and sisters because of the anti-catholic propaganda we read. I challenge you to ask a priest if he worships Mary and prays to idols. I challenge you to do a google search of convents in your area and ask a nun why she confesses to a priest. I have been blessed to have opportunities like these and I have gotten some very reassuring answers. Part of the problem is that we read biased regurgitated materials rather than discussing differences and misunderstandings in person with devoted catholics, or least researching the topic for ourselves from the original sources.

Granted, there are some very legitimate differences between the two sects but none that I believe should keep us far removed from one another. As protestants we are missing out on thousands of years of wisdom and wise counsel from a whole section of the body of Christ because we think we know what they believe. A whole new world of understanding was opened to me in an extremely vulnerable time of my faith because I softened my heart to Catholic authors such as Henri Nouwen. My hope is that this post will encourage those who feel stale in their faith to dare to look at Jesus afresh. Another perspective may open up a whole new world of spiritual growth.


  1. I'm staggered by the insight and wisdom that comes from such a young person. I find at times I am at odds with myself when I know that in my heart and mind and soul that I was saved as a young catholic yet I love and belong to a fellowship of believers that hold the catholic faith in such low regard. I've given my testimony several times and have felt that unease and awkwardness my Christian brothers feel when they hear me proclaim that I was saved as a catholic.It's almost as if they're saying you couldn't really be saved as a catholic. No one has actually come out and said it but their discomfort at hearing my words is obvious. My father is a devout catholic and attends mass regularly and has been very involved for many years of his life. He also attends my church when he stays at my home and is very comfortable participating in the service worshiping our Lord. He says he enjoys what we as Christians share with one another, that Jesus Christ is our savior,sent by God to save us from sin by dieing on the cross for us and raising from the dead.His best friend is Jesus Christ. The pastor of my church has said plenty of times that there are lots of Catholics going to heaven.I know this. My mom is already there. I know my dad is going to heaven. God has used him to bring many in the Catholic faith to a personal relationship with Christ. I don't agree with everything the Catholic church does and at times I think they make it very hard for people to have that one on one relationship with their Redeemer, yet many do. We tend to focus too much on our differences and not enough on what we have in common.This I know for sure, If we know Christ is our savior and we accept the gift he has offered us, whether we be catholic or protestant we will be with him after this life. God bless us all.

  2. I really appreciate your thoughts here dad. It bums me out that people give you that awkward reaction when you share your testimony but I'm proud to know that you share it nonetheless. I think it's really important that protestants hear the good that comes out of a faith they have largely written off. It may force them to go beyond black and white thinking to something a little more mature. Thanks so much for your reply.

  3. Desi--
    Thanks for alerting me to your blog! Terrific entry. Like you, I have been critical in the past of Catholicism (even before the abuse scandals), and now find such richness in many of the ideas and traditions!

  4. Hey Des, its your cousin in Colorado, good blog. I understand what you are saying about the criticism towards Catholics. I also see the criticism towards protestants, but regardless, your dad hit it right on when he said Christ is our Savior and we accept the gift he has offered us. Also, I myself need to be careful not to judge. I have been recently been running into devout Catholics who I know are saved and have a relationship with Christ and they study His word daily and have that personal relationship with Him. So who I'm I to say who's going to be in Heaven? Only God knows and I think we're all going to be surprised.

  5. Mickie and David, I'm so glad to know you guys are reading! I hope you guys had an awesome Christmas. I just posted a new if you're interested.