This church that calls itself Catholic, what's it all about? It's a topic that has intrigued me for some time now. As many of you know, unity through Catholic and Protestant dialogue interests my husband as well. If you've ever been to Seth's blog, and the majority of you have, you know that Catholic ideas are discussed frequently there. My interest in the Catholic church goes back to pre-Seth days. Since most of you have only known me since I've been married to Seth, it might seem that I merely adopt the Catholic interests of my husband and call them grand. On the contrary, I enjoy thinking for myself, which leads me to my post today.
I should stop here and share with you my spiritual upbringing in regards to church and such. I was raised Church of Christ. My mother was raised Church of Christ, and if you've ever been raised Church of Christ, you know that it's considered a grievous sin to leave the Church of Christ. Strangely enough, we did. The elders of our congregation felt that our preacher taught too much on grace, and so he was asked to resign. He did, and a number of families left with him, one of those being ours, to start a new church: a non-denominational church. Our preacher could preach on grace as much as he desired, and we could have as many instruments as we wanted, and we all loved each other very much. But my mom's parents weren't so happy about it, and to this day, as gentle and loving as they are, they refuse to speak of God or church or Jesus with my family.
Our non-denom church was a happenin' place to be, until our preacher announced he no longer believed in hell and that the whole world would be saved. So most families left, my family being one of them. By this time I was in high school and had some best friends that went to the Baptist church. The big one that had everything to do, that took cool trips, and had the cool kids. So I told my parents I wanted to go there, to the Baptist church, with my friends, and my parents said OK.
At this Baptist church, I attended a Bible study on Tuesday nights led by a man I highly respect, that taught me the Catholic church was a cult. I didn't really believe it, but I also didn't challenge it. I was told the Catholic church worshipped Mary, and so that's why I should consider it a cult. I was led on mission trips to Mexico to witness to Catholics, because they couldn't be saved. "Why? I thought they believed that Jesus was the Son of God." Because, well, they're Catholic, they don't really know what they believe. That's what I was told. So I handed out my tracts, and I felt really spiritual.
And then I went to college and tried to interpret the Scripture on my own with some other friends. I studied and studied, hours and hours at a time, by myself and with my friends. We came up with some ideas we thought were really smart. We thought we could start our own church because we knew how to use a Strong's concordance. But we only invited certain people to our meetings. People that wouldn't question our studies. People that we felt were saved enough, that were called out enough. But we were wrong. And when I realized we were wrong, I didn't pick up my Bible for a very long time.
Along the way I read wonderful writers like Chesterton, St. Francis of Assisi, and Brennan Manning: Catholic writers, introduced to me by my brother (who, like me, isn't Catholic). My brother and I would share ideas and we'd read things to each other that were beautiful. These writers' love for Christ was strong and deep and full of adoration. Surely they were Christians....
And then I met Seth. And he knew these writers, too. We liked to talk about them, and did quite often, before we were dating. He had this other girlfriend at the time. (A story for another day.) He had Catholic friends and even tried to set me up with one. (Another story for another day.) I remember a lunch Seth and I shared together. We were discussing Chesterton's Orthodoxy, and were debating what Jesus meant when he prayed in John 17. The prayer goes like this: (v. 20-23)
"My prayer is not for them (Apostles) alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me."
So it's only natural I wonder about this church that was supposedly a cult, but seemed to love Jesus so very much. I wonder where many of their beliefs come from. Tradition, Mary, the Pope, the Eucharist, Purgatory. I wonder at the church history. That they claim an apostolic line succeeding from those like St. Peter who walked with our Lord. I've wondered for a long time now, but have known that learning all of this would take a great deal of effort, and I guess I wasn't ready to exert that effort.
I would like to learn more of what my Catholic brothers and sisters in Christ believe. I think I'll blog about it. It makes it easier for me to learn. So...if you want to learn along with me, or discuss, or question, or tell me what you know, please do. My intent is to start another blog and when I post, I'll direct anyone who's interested to link over. I'm looking forward to it, and I'd love your input. Thanks for enduring this long post.