Archive for the ‘Catholic Worship’ Category

In my conversations with Protestants and fellow Catholics, in my own experience leaving and returning to the Catholic faith, and especially in watching my wife on her journey to Rome, one thing has become painfully clear. 20130218-213114.jpgMost faithful Catholics simply do not understand Protestant reasoning. Moreover, they fail to grasp the degree to which anti-catholic sentiment truly reaches. Even for those who recognize on some level the opposition to Catholicism, too often they can’t wrap their brains around the notion that many catholic practices that they assumed were universally held would actually be repulsive to some otherwise faithful Christians.

A clarification is in order. In using the term “anti catholic,” I don’t mean to imply that fundamentalist Christians hold any hatred or malice toward Catholics (though undoubtedly, some do hate what they believe the church teaches and practices). Rather, I simply mean that they are opposed to the catholic faith. At times, vehemently so.
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Offending Judas

One of the biggest stumbling blocks for many fundamentalists is the beautiful but opulent churches that are so commonly associated with the Catholic faith. 20130217-194846.jpgThe common refrain goes along of the lines of “look at all that money they wasted on building a church when they could have put it to use helping the poor.”

“Mary then took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of His disciples, who was intending to betray Him, said, “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and given to poor people? “Now he said this, not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box, he used to pilfer what was put into it. Therefore Jesus said, “Let her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of My burial. For you always have the poor with you, but you do not always have Me.” (John 12:3-8 NASB)

Those who would criticize the Catholic church for its supposed vast riches and it’s use of large sums to built huge, ornate churches sound very much like the Apostle Judas, who criticized Jesus for allowing himself to be “pampered” with scented oil. Specifically, Judas lamented the fact that the oil could have been sold and given to the poor. That argument sounds oddly familiar, doesn’t it?

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Non Catholics and, sadly, some Catholics, are very adept at either purposefully or unknowingly misrepresenting a host of church customs, beliefs and traditions. 20130216-205754.jpgOf those practices most often misunderstood by non-Catholics, the sacrament of confession has got to be at the top of the list.

License to Sin?

Many non-Catholic Christians wrongly believe that the practice of confession is, in effect, a “license to sin,” effectively allowing unscrupulous Catholics to, as a close colleague of mine once put it, “rape, pillage and plunder to their hearts’ content during the week” as long as they confess it on the weekend. Catholics, for their part, often do little to correct — and much to reinforce — this notion by jovially saying things like “that’s okay; I’ll just confess it later.”

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No discussion of Catholic teachings and practices would be compete without mentioning saints.

20120903-175220.jpgFive hundred years removed from the beginning of the Protestant Reformation, the Saints of the church are the subject of mass confusion, false accusations, and charges of paganism and polytheism against the Catholic faithful.

What Saints Aren’t

Perhaps the best place to start, then, is to talk a little about who the saints aren’t. They are not demons. They are not lesser gods. They are not subjects of worship or adoration. And they most certainly are not unbiblical or unorthodox.

So What is a Saint

So who exactly are these saints, then? The word “saint” is a shortened and transliterated form of “sanctified,” which means “set apart.” In English, as in other languages, we understand this to mean a holy person. In our Christian understanding, anyone who is in Christ is a saint.

Saints are all around us; our family, our friends, the people with whom we worship. If they are truly in Christ, then they are bound for heaven and are therefore a saint in the sense that they are a faithful believer. On this point, almost all Christians agree.

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The Communion Controversy

20120903-073641.jpgOne thing that has been a common refrain in my conversations with fundamentalists is a criticism that the Catholic Church forbids communion or participation in the Eucharist by non Catholics. They seem to view it as a personal affront and a suggestion that the church does not view them as christian.

Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, I would submit to you that it is the height of charity to deny communion to those who do not recognize it for what we as Catholics see it to be: the real flesh and blood of God’s Incarnate Son.

Saint Paul is very clear in saying that when we participate in communion without discerning the flesh and blood of Our Lord, we eat and drink judgement on ourselves (1Corinthians 11:29). The Catholic church takes the sacrament of Holy Communion extremely seriously. In all loving kindness, the church seeks to prevent fellow christians from what they believe to be calling judgement on themselves.

Respect for Beliefs

On another, more relatable note, consider this: in my earlier years, as a non practicing catholic, I would attend church with my wife at her independent bible church. I knew that they did not consider my catholic baptism to be valid. Out of respect for them, and their beliefs, I declined to receive communion there. At the time, I believed I was a baptized Christian even thought they did not, and I believed that I was entitled to receive communion. However, because I respected the fact that they were entitled to their beliefs, and because I knew it was important to them, I refrained. The question arises, then, why would one desire to receive communion at a Catholic church to begin with if they do not believe the same things about it?
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