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Un-Catholic Catholic

Tonight I decided that my mission would be to make new friends and delve better into my faith. I'm not sure I was successful at either one.

At the church near my house they have a Tuesday night book study. Because I was new, I just went to listen and see what it was like. Because I am me, I couldn't restrain myself from comment when I thought there was a discrepancy.

This is how we got into a discussion about whether or not the bread at communion is actually the Eucharist if it isn't blessed by a Catholic priest. I personally think that "wherever two or more are gathered in my name, I am there" (paraphrase, I know) and the whole John 6:46-59 (Bread of Life discourse) means that it doesn't matter who blesses the bread - Jesus is present and in that bread regardless. This of course has nothing to do with Catholic doctrine. So, my disagreement not only helped me not delve into my faith (just Catholic history and a little catechism - which is religion, not faith) but it helped me alienate myself from the other people at the book study who very obviously believed that the words "valid", "illicit", and apostolic something-like-tradition or hierarchy made the difference between Eucharist and not.

All of this leads me to believe that although I accept the blood of Christ at communion, I have not drunk the kool-aid of catholicism. I am, perhaps an un-catholic Catholic.

I don't believe in abortion, but don't think the government should decide what women do with their bodies. I think contraception is a good way to avoid en masse abortions. I do NOT believe I am going to hell for committing the so-called mortal sin of taking communion at a non-catholic church.

I love God. I believe in Jesus. I think that the "incorruptible remains" of deceased saints probably had some great preservation (think Egyptian mummies you can still look at today - I think polytheism pretty much rules out their incorruptible nature according to doctrine).

I think saints are blessed people. I believe in the power of sacraments. I do not think any person, even the pope, is infallible; because if they were they would be perfect and perfection exists only in God.

And I've taught CCD. (Though after reading this, many CCD directors might not let me any more.) I go to church 99% of Sundays. I give of my time and talent to the church for now, but hope one day to be able to donate some treasure too. I want to be married in the Catholic church, raise my children in the catholic faith, and do everything I can to prepare myself for heaven.

But I think that Noah lived for so many years because the lunar calendar (approximately13 cycles/year) was the dominant calendar at one time and his real age was a much more reasonable number. I believe in the Genesis story, but I'm fairly certain that since the sun wasn't created on the first day, that it would have been hard for the first day to be 24 hours (lacking the regular things we use to track a day). So it can't all be taken exactly as written.

All of this, I fear, makes me rather un-catholic.

I'm not giving up on divinity or Jesus making Peter the head of the church. I think the pope has a great relationship with God, scripture, and doctrine and is a moral and spiritual leader. I think priests bring a dynamic to religious celebrations that don't exist in their absence. But if ever I am far from a holy man, I think I can talk directly to God and get his forgiveness.

How much of catholicism do you think you have to believe in before you start seeking out another religion? I love catholic church - the consistency and the prayers; I love the music, the history, the way no matter where I go I can find a family. I've tried other religions and do not feel at home. So, though I am rather un-catholic I am still a Catholic. I'm not sure I believe in every aspect of the religion, but there is no other religion that brings out my faith like catholicism. Being catholic feels like home. I hope that my faith in this world will bring me to my spiritual home in the next.

Love always and God bless, ~Heather


Bob said…
Hi Heather , might it be that the Pope is infallible in faith and morals ( as it is actually stated),because he is only preserving and handing on that which Christ had already spoken, and the Fathers of the Chruch had been able to discern with the help of the Holy Spirit from scripture( God,s Word handed down since Moses time ,its not just a book). In most cases the Pope,s writtings and his spoken word is only a reflection of the same ,after much reflection on the same ,but then this is his vocation and job. The meaning of Infallibility is not totally inclusive of every thing he thinks and says extemporaneously and should be easily understood by most clear minded people. In comment on the statement " but it help me ......Eucharist and not." , in fact, are neccessary words to help convay the Sacredness of the Holy Eucharist. The need for the Priest to preside over the transubstantiation is due ,in part ,to the nature of his vocation and the Holy Orders he was given at Ordination, as prescribe by Christ himself at the "last Supper". Dose this sound like kool-aid talk, when the whole Sacrfice Christ endured for our sake is summed up in the Sacrfice of the Mass? Not to mention the redemptive value and gift of life everlasting? This is not hierarchy , this is Christ,s Own Authority given and lived out as chruch, also known as the Catechism of the Catholic Chruch and has everything to do with Doctrine. This is the Faith of the Universal(Catholic) Chruch Christ established and Are you still with me ? As far as,your faith as you have stated, dose not ,match that Faith of the Catholic Chruch, means that ,in fact, you are Protestant by choice, not even a good one because at least a protestant will refer to the "book" as the "Living Word of God" also known as the "Bible" or "Sacred Scripture". The same "book" also explains how Marriage in the Chruch is a Sacred State and also that the activity of such a state is a Holy activity by which the couple share in "God,s Creative Power" not to be trifled by the selfish use of contraception. Now,about Noah,you may have some valid point ,but you stance dose not account for the shifting of the the "Four Corners of the Earth " that had to be re-established after the time of the Flood,that you may have to do a little research for.
Bob said…
p.s. this was not to hurt but to instruct and help. Another tool to aid you and can be done in your car, is to listen to "EWTN" broadcast and listen to the "Journey Home" program with Marcus Grodi and his other program "Deep in Scripture" and for a little Kicker listen to Fr. John Corapi,s talks on the same "EWTN". Your Brother in Christ and fellow Sojourner.Blessings
Bob said…
p.p.s. " I could not restrain myself from comment when I thought there was a discrepancy". sound familiar?
Anonymous said…
Hi Heather,

There's so many things to say about this subject and i'm not sure to understand all details of your message....
For me, the more important thing is to take this things in the good order and it's not easy. What is first and what come after.

I believe, the begin of all is God is Love and only love. Ans the second thing is "Deus homo factus est ut homo fieret Deus".

How translate this for not loose sens? May be "God became human for human could become God". Of course you have to transpose God By Love because it's the same thing.


pritcher said…
I'll try and pass along some things that I think might be good reading later on, 'cause what you're wrestling with here is important stuff. And I wish I'd had the courage and intellectual honesty to admit I was even wrestling with it when I was...well, wrestling with it.

But two points for now.

"So it can't all be taken exactly as written." If someone told you the Catholic Church requires its faithful to believe in 6-day creationism or anything like that, they need to check their facts. The Bible is literally true, not literalistically true. That means that when the authors of the Bible meant to write metaphorically or analogically, THAT meaning is what's true. There are many senses of scripture, and many times scripture may be true on more than one level, but there are times when it is simply not meant to be taken only at face value.

But if ever I am far from a holy man, I think I can talk directly to God and get his forgiveness. The holiness of a priest is irrelevant to his function. A mom can abuse her kids or neglect them or whatever, and that makes her a bad mother, but she's still objectively a mother. Same with priests. They act in the person of Christ by merit of their ordination, not their own goodness. I know that this isn't the point you're getting at when you say this, but I think it's important to keep in mind.

Okay, a third point. I'm not sure exactly what you mean by "Kool Aid" Catholicism, but if what you mean is that over-sweet, childishly unchallenging, devoid of nourishment, and very popular religion that does nothing but make people FEEL good, then AMEN. That gets old very quickly because we're grown-ups and we see through it.

Like I said, I'll pass along some good (grown-up) things for you to read, if you'd like.

And remember that God is strong enough for your questions.

Heather said…
Wow. I guess a brief response is in order.

First, thank you all for your comments.

Second, I'm still fairly certain I'm a Catholic, Bob, because you don't have to believe in all of it to "be" it. My best example of this is to say that I am an American even though I disagree with the part of the Constitution that says that blacks should only be counted as a percentage of a person. I'm not 100% on the catechism, but I'm not giving up on being Catholic yet.

Third, I wanted to clear up the kool-aid comment (hopefully without causing a stir). I was referencing the popular phrase "drinking the kool-aid" as it refers to believing and/or doing everything someone/something says (like those in cults who drank poisoned kool-aid). Basically, I was trying to say I was still questioning - I don't have blind faith.

Finally, I like the new ideas you guys have given me to think about and would love to read that literature Pritcher.

It's good to have those who are more learned help me find the way.

Thanks again, ~Heather
Interesting post Heather. I'm a fierce protestant, who's been rather abused by Catholic members of my family in regards to faith issues, so I'm bias here.

A good rule that defines protestants is in essentials unity (salvation, infallibility of the Bible, divinity of Jesus, the trinity, etc) and non-essentials charity (drinking, translations of the Bible, predestination vs. freewill, etc).

While I disagree with you on creationism and abortion, this doesn't make you any less a Christian. Our relationship with Christ is personal. As long as you are in harmony with the Holy Spirit and walking with Him, that's all that really matters. Everything is extraneous. Of course that's a very protestant answer, but we all believe in the same Jesus. :)

I sincerely doubt that a majority of Catholics are so well informed as you. Most people stick with the religion they were raised in, so the sheer fact alone that you're questioning doctrinal issues is impressive.