Thursday, March 27, 2008

Four Catholic Teachings that just kinda made sense to me

Jennifer has a great blog that I enjoy reading called Et Tu. I highly recommend you check it out sometime. One of her many wonderful posts was one entitled Five Catholic Teachings that just kinda made sense to me. Under the theory that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I give you my own list of four things that kinda make sense to me about Catholicism and are missing from my Protestant upbringing.

Purgatory I've never been particularly comfortable with the notion that when we die we either immediately go into eternal bliss or are damned forever. I know, for example, that there are a lot of things about me that will need purifying when my life is over. I can be self-centered, mean, selfish, and a lot of other unpleasant things I'll spare you. If heaven is a place of perfect peace and beauty, I'll need to clean up a bit before I come in. On the other hand, hell (which I unfortunately believe is real) seems like a pretty severe punishment that a gracious God would reserve for only the worst, most unrepentant sinners.

The Communion of the Saints I know Protestants believe in some form of the Communion of the Saints, but I like the Catholic understanding (at least as I understand it) much better. Why is it OK to ask the lady sitting on the pew behind me to pray for me, but not OK to ask those who are closest to God in heaven? Why would those in the presence of God stop caring about us still here on earth? And the teaching of the lives of the Saints gives us good role models to follow in our own lives. I'm constantly amazed at some of the backgrounds the Saints came from. If some of them can turn their lives around, hopefully I can too.

Confession Of course, I'm not Catholic (yet) so I've never been to Confession, but I like the idea. I do many sinful things in my life. I ask God in prayer to forgive me, and maybe that's enough. But I think I'd do better (and be less likely to repeat the same sins) if I had to tell a Priest what I had done. Hopefully he would give me advice to avoid such actions in the future. I like the idea of being accountable to the larger community. I know the Priest acts as Christ in forgiving our sins, but I'd also like to believe he represents the entire Church as well. Am I too far off in this belief?

The Eucharist The Catholic understanding of the centrality of the Eucharist to worship and Transubstantiation is what is attracting me the most about Catholicism. I talked a little bit about that previously here, here, and here. The short version is that the only place I'm going to get this regularly is in the Catholic Church. (I know the Orthodox might be possibility for some people, but I live in a small town in rural South Carolina. I'm a long way from any Orthodox Church.) I believe the Catholic Church is right when it proclaims the bread and wine are made into the Body and Blood of Christ. Hopefully, one day, I will be able to receive these.

Anyway, just a few thoughts. I realize that the test of good doctrine is not whether it agrees with me and there are some things about Catholicism that challenge me also. But that's probably good for me too.


Kelly said...

MHL- I like what you wrote here and I feel the same way. When I first entered the CEC and felt compelled to Reconciliation which is considered a sacrament in the CEC I talked with my priest about reconciliation prior to going to see him for Reconciliation. It is a hard concept to take hold of if you are not of that tradition but God was compelling me to it. The priest's explanantion of how reconciliation "works" was very helpful. He said that suppose you have a white shirt on. If you get crumbs on it (a "small" sin) you can fix that yourself and just brush them off (ie - ask God directly for forgiveness). If you spill red wine on it (a "big" sin) then you need extra help to get it out. You would take your shirt to the cleaners and in the case of Reconciliation you confess that sin to God thru the priest as he represents the church and receive absoloution. I know it is not a terribly technical explanation but it is simple and it stuck with me and it made sense. God Bless!

Kelly said...

MHL - Back again. Last night's homily at Mass was about Reconciliation. I posted about it here:

MHL said...

Kelly- Good to hear from you. My Pressbyterian Pastor preached on the same passage today. Perhaps not surprisingly, he didn't preach on Reconciliation. :) He preached about Thomas. It was actually a very good sermon. I can tell this Catholic stuff is getting to me, though, because when the passage was read I thought about Reconciliation.

Like I said, I've never been through it, so I might not know what I'm talking about, but I think it would be good for me. Of course, the first time might take a while. 43 years of sin is a lot. Hopefully, I'll get a patient Priest.

Jennifer F. said...

Very interesting list! I just now discovered this post, thanks for the link!