TEN MISCONCEPTIONS PEOPLE HAVE ABOUT BEING A CATHOLIC
Recently, a rash of people have commented on some of my writing by saying “That is just your opinion.” Of course, it is who else’s opinion would it be? One of my assumptions in writing these types of reflections is that they do not represent anything official, either from the Roman Catholic Church, the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance (Trappist), or any official Lay Cistercian pronounce. In writing some of these reflections on Lay Cistercian contemplative practice, I don’t advocate that I am any kind of expert in things Lay Cistercian, or a theologian, or some guru. I am simply a broken-down, old Lay Cistercian trying to seek God in each day and then sharing what I have found with you. As I reflect each day on my Lectio Divina (Philippians 2:5),
Most, if not all, of the beliefs about Catholics that are not of my faith tradition (Catholic Universal), are plainly false or so skewed as to be unrecognizable. They are true in their minds. I keep telling people I don’t believe this or that, but they keep insisting that I do. I have written ten of these questions or statements that people have asked me about being Catholic. They have the right to their opinion. I also have the right to say what is right about their opinion and what is false. I try not to discount the belief of anyone who holds that Jesus is Lord. Scriptures tell us that no one can say Jesus is Lord without the Holy Spirit. Who am I to judge? Don’t judge anyone in the Church as to their mind and heart, and let God judge those outside the Church.
- Christ is the head and we are members of the body. The Church Triumphant are all those who have died marked with the sign of the cross and those God has deemed worthy to enter into his kingdom. The Church Militant are those of us still struggling to love others as Christ has loved us. The Church Purgative are those who have died and await purification. The Church is not a denomination, a building, an elite group of people who automatically go to heaven. It is the gathering of those who believe Jesus Christ is Messiah, Son of God, Savior.
- The Center of the Church is Jesus who has both divine and human natures. There is no other name by which we are saved.
- Here are some false centers for your life. Power, Money, Work, Religion, Church, Mary, any of the Saints, any government of the Church or Society, any King or Ruler, and, most especially you.
- Power and authority in the Church Universal come directly from Jesus through the Apostles and traced down through the centuries in Ecumenical Councils (21 of them).
- The Pope is Bishop of Rome, the successor of St. Peter, the chief teacher and one who has primacy of honor among all Patriarchs and Bishops. The Ecumenical Councils make policies and procedures and the Holy Father promulgates and makes it happen.
- The Creed that we recite each Sunday at Holy Eucharist is the summary of our Faith that comes through Christ. The Church is not about keeping laws but of praying for the grace to practice the charisms that reinforce our Baptismal Covenant to be adopted sons and daughters of the Father.
- Mary is Mother of God but not God’s mother. She has human nature but not divine nature. She is to be honored and venerated, as are the Saints. We don’t ask Mary to have mercy on us or forgive our sins. We pray to no one except God. Why? Christ tells us that no one goes to the Father except through him.
- Catholics pray for the dead that they are loosed from their sins. We also pray to those who stand before the Throne of the Lamb giving eternal praise, honor, and blessing. We don’t ask the Saints and saints (your mom and dad) for mercy but to add to our prayer of petition to the Father. We only pray to God not directly to anyone else. Why? God is all that is in heaven and we share in that adoption as sons and daughters.
- The purpose of the Catholic Universal Church is to love God with all our hearts, all our minds, and all our strength and our neighbor as our self.
- There are seven ways the Church Universal helps its living members to have in them the mind of Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5). In Baptism, Christ chooses us as adopted sons and daughters and heirs of the kingdom. This happens by Faith (which only comes from God). In Confirmation, the Holy Spirit overshadows us with the very power of God but depending on how much we believe (which is the response each of us gives to Faith). In Holy Eucharist, Christ gives us of Himself, his living body and blood, to sustain our Faith (Baptismal covenant) and Belief (our struggle to overcome the temptations of the World). In Penance, God gives us mercy and the grace to sustain us as we live out our Baptismal covenant each day. As penitential people, we seek to have Jesus grow in us each day through practices and charisms that allow us to keep our focus on our center. Marriage and Holy Order are the gifts that allow us to grow as the body of Christ. Anointing of the Sick is the gift of God’s own energy as healing of mind, body, and spirit. It also prepares us to go to Heaven where we will be asked to give an accounting of our stewardship.