Archive for the ‘Prayer’ 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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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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20120902-225304.jpgSo many non Catholics, especially fundamentalists and “Bible Christians,” point to Matthew 6:7, in which Jesus condemns vain and repetitious prayer, to show yet another area in which the Catholic Church violates what seems to be a crystal clear teaching.

Catholic practices and prayers are full of repetition. The Lord’s Prayer, the Glory Be, Grace Before Meals, all of these are memorized and repetitious. Of course, that’s just scratching the surface for us as Catholics. There’s the Divine Office, novenas, and of course the Rosary and Hail Marys. These can easily be seen by the outsider or the uninformed as vain and repetitious.

For Protestants who are contemplating Catholicism, and even for those who have chosen to take the leap, this can be a tremendous obstacle to overcome. Fundamentalist Christians have had it ingrained into their minds that Matthew 6:7 forbids repetitive prayers. This is yet again an unfortunate fallacy and a result of reading scripture out of context. Too often, we read the Bible on our own without an appreciation for the time and the culture in which they were written.
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