To Matthew- Please will you help me? Frankly, I don’t know where I fit into the Roman Catholic church. Here’s a bit about myself. If you could PLEASE help me determine what I am, I’d really be grateful:
I was baptized Roman Catholic, as an infant. My family on both sides has been Roman Catholic, for generations, coming from Spain and Italy. Being Roman Catholis is so important to my family that my sister-in-law converted from Episcopalean to Catholic, in order to worship as a family, and my brother is Catholic to his core.
I went to Roman Catholic High School, taught by Holy Cross nuns, for 12 years. Grammar School and High School.
I never left the Roman Catholic church, going to Mass every Sunday, for all my life. In fact, up until 5 years ago, I went to daily Mass.
All throughout school, and even into college and beyond, I believed 100% of what came down from the Magesterium, although SOME things I heard in high school sounded odd to me, like a nun in Religion class that told a classmate that had 5 kids in her family, “Unless your parents send ALL 5 children to a Catholic school, their souls are in jeopardy.” -
I thought that was odd, and helped soothe the crying girl, after class, telling her, “Catholic school wasn’t even IN the Bible. How could anyone have to send ALL kids to Catholic school, or lose their salvation?” By the way, the first 4 children were in Catholic school, but number 5, the baby, didn’t want to go and they didn’t force her. She was in public school, and went to catechism. Not good enough for this nun, a nice woman, but to this day, I believe this nun was misdirected. The other 45 girls did not question the nun, and neither did the weeping classmate whose parents soul was supposedly in jeopardy.
The above recollection is the FIRST TIME I started to “sound Protestant”.
I did protest what the nun said. But I did NOT do so in class, openly. I just spoke later to my classmate, who was distraught, and who could not be consoled, even though 3 other girls were around me, with ALL of us trying to soothe her, and talk some sense into her.
The distraught classmate is probably one of the “inactive Catholics” you write about in this article, Matthew. But before and after that, I accepted ALL the doctrine, dogma coming from the Vatican - and even writing “JMJ” for Jesus, Mary and Joseph, at the top of all my pages in school for the nuns. The Holy Family did not seem odd to me.
Though I did begin to wonder why when Jesus grew up, so many of us still treated Him as a child or even “Baby Jesus.” And Mary’s Month - October and May, singing how she was “Queen” of Heaven and Earth. Still - no big deal. I went with the flow. No questions asked. Am I still Catholic?
I never left the Roman Catholic church to go to any other denomination. I’ve always loved the Mass, and I do believe that the Roman Catholic church has it “right” on many counts - such as:
1- Being 100% Pro-Life (I’m even against the death penalty, and instead believe we need prison reform) against all forms of abortion.
2- Being pro=Traditional Marriage - one man and one woman
3- I do part with the Vatican on its support for ILLEGAL aliens. Rather, I believe there needs to be LEGAL immigration.
4- Being against women priests - per Scripture and per universal Church Tradition, ordained clergy are to be MEN.
5- The Vatican is careful about ordination of homosexual clergy - and that’s good. Homosexual inclinations will not automatically lead to the molestation of children. But it CAN lead to the abuse of teenage boys, or even the abuse of other men, or the abuse of women, with deprived and confused clergymen not knowing “who” they are, and “experimenting” sexually.
6- I believe in the Real Presence - Body and Blood, because Jesus said, “Unless you eat my Body and drink my blood, you do not have life within you…” and “This is my Body, this is my Blood… Do this in memory of me.” - Jesus did not say the bread and wine “represented” His Body or was a “symbol” of His Blood. If there is a way to interpret Scripture in a LITERAL sense, and IN CONTEXT, with the rest of the paragraph, chapter, I take it literally.
So far, Matthew, am I a Roman Catholic? If not, what am I? I’d really like to know, and I ask you, respectfully. Because you’re not the first person to tell me, “You sound Protestant.” I would not know where to worship as a Protestant. Because, well…. I’ve always been Roman Catholic.
With that said, after having read the Bible, from cover to cover, and accepting it as written to ME, I did the following:
1) I accepted the fact that I am a sinner, and I was separated from a holy God, by my sin.
2) I repented of my sin, and I turned TO Jesus, accepting His perfect sacrifice at Calvary as payment for my personal sins.
Now - that was new to me. Prior to reading the Bible, I went to Mass as a duty, and to obey the keep the Lord’s day holy command. I did so to keep the Church “rule”, not out of love for God. It was out of guilt.
3) But I began to notice matters of ETERNAL VALUE became very important to me, and I had a dread of offending a holy God. Not due to fear, but, when I read the Old Testament, and saw how compassionate and patient He is, I did not want to grieve Him. So I started to change my behavior, as a result. I could NOT KEEP AWAY from the Bible - I began to love it. I loved learning about what was important to my God, and my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
4) I began to hang around other Christians - many of them also Roman Catholic, and those that had read the Bible, and had the same experience as me. I remember thinking, as I read the Bible, “WHY DIDN’T THEY TEACH ME THIS IN SCHOOL?” - I think to the nun that made my classmate cry, telling her parents that do not send their children to Catholic school lose salvation. As an adult, I could SEE that was untrue, though the nun was not trying to be hurtful.
Further, from reading the Bible, I do not believe the Holy Spirit or Jesus “obeys” the priest, or that the priest has “some special power” to “bring us Jesus”. Or that without a priest, all the Roman Catholic pew people would be up a creek without a paddle, because Jesus will only show up, with a priest there.
The ONLY thing that separates me (and the Catholic friends that are in a Bible Study with me) from other pew people is I read the Bible, and I STAYED!!! Who knew!!!
So many Catholics either leave completely for other Bible-believing churches. Or they go to Mass to worship, and right after, I know many that go to Protestant parishes to learn the Bible.
Several Catholics I know are in something called “Bible Study Fellowship” which is a 5 year program. Catholic pew people are hungry for the Word of God - the Bible. Not so much the extra=biblical teachings, or bits and pieces of the Bible, taken out of context.
This article is about reaching inactive Catholics. I thought about being “inactive” - or, as it’s described in France, a “Non-practicing Catholic”. They stay home but there are not Protestant.
The odd thing is that many Christians ask us, “Are Catholics Christian?” I don’t know the answer to that either. I suppose we’re partially Christian, and partially Vatican followers. It’s like Jesus is supposed to obey the Pope, because when Jesus gave Peter the keys, it was as if Jesus took a “Hands-off” position, and He turned over the Church to the pope. Then Mary started to take over, and the multitude of saints. Outside of what I can SEE in Scripture, I just don’t buy it anymore. If the Vatican teaches things that can be proven in Scripture = great. If not, I go with the Bible.
We have so many OTHER extra-Biblical teachings. How would you answer it?
Are Catholics Christian? I’d rather be known as “Christian” than “Roman Catholic”. When I face God the Father, and Jesus, they will not ask me “Are you Catholic?” They will ask me, “What is Jesus to you?” - And He promised, “If you deny me, I will deny you.” - I am a CHRISTIAN.
But I’ve spent an entire lifetime being Roman Catholic, worshipping in Catholic Mass. If you can come up with another way to describe me, OTHER than Roman Catholic, now knowing my history, I’d sure like to know it! Respecfully, I thank you.