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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Thank you for reminding me just how lucky I am to be Catholic

Let me preface this post by stating that there are not a lot of things that make me absolutely furious. This was one of them:

Over spring break I was at home and spent a day with one of my best friends. We were chatting away and she mentioned an experience she had with a christian church where they had a guest preacher (who happened to be a convert from Catholicism to a non-denominational christian) give a sermon about False Converts, aka Catholics. A friend from her dorm had asked her to go to a church service with her and she gladly went. Little did either of them know that for the next hour she'd have to sit there and listen to a man lie about the Catholic church, to criticize, deprecate, deride, discredit and belittle the only faith she's ever known.

I believe she handled it much better than I ever would be able to simply because she sat through the entire thing. I probably would've gotten up in the middle of the sermon and walked straight out the doors!

As we sat in her room talking about what the preacher had said, I found myself becoming more and more angry with everything she told me. This was my life, my passion, my faith, my religion that he was badmouthing! I wanted to kick him in the face! (not very Christian I know) Mostly it just hurt, it hurt to know that there are people out there that think this about the Catholic Church. I guess I find a little comfort in how much this hurt me to hear. How outraged I was about the lies that this man was spreading. It only confirmed how solidly I believe in my faith.

Still I had to find out for myself exactly what this man had said, where he was coming from and how he portrayed the Catholic Church to be. Lucky for me the church's website had recorded the sermon and I could listen to it online.

Some common objections he had. That as Catholics we:
 -are not born again.
-are the work of the devil; convincing us that we're saved when we're not
-are sons of the wicked one
-have no desire to follow Jesus
-are self absorbed and self centered - we love ourselves more than we love God
-believe we are saved because we are good people
-added baptism as the means of salvation
-still believe in indulgences
-believe law keeping is an extra requirement as a means to our salvation
-removed the repentance of sinners as essential
-removed the resurrection of Jesus Christ as essential
-removed the righteousness of God as essential
-believe in a false Jesus
-don't confess that we're sinners so we can't be saved (we have a whole sacrament dedicated to this!)
-believe in a God that would never send anyone to hell
-have a fervent zeal for God but seek our own righteousness
-believe that because we were born into the Catholic Church we will go to Heaven

He also mentioned:
-The goal of the Catholic Church is to keep men in their sin and out of the bible.
-He's heard many roman catholics say "I was born a Catholic and I'm gonna die a Catholic" but states his opinion; "not if you wanna be saved!"
-Before denouncing the Catholic faith his purpose was to make as much money as he could. He didn't realize this was a bad thing until he converted away from Catholicism.
-He visited a small town in Texas where 95% of the population was Catholic. The only light in this little town was the one baptist church.
-He knew that Jesus died for the sins of the world but as a Catholic he never knew why Jesus had to die.
-He said imagine that there are suspended monkey bars above hell and as Catholics we cling to the bars as we do to our baptism, good works, sacraments, indulgences, purgatory and law keeping and as long as we cling to those we don't have to fear hell. Imagine Jesus is suspended between us and hell and if we let go of those things that can't save us and trust in Him He promises to save us. If we still cling to those things as we die we'll lose our grip and fall into the eternal fire. Are we ready to let go and trust Jesus to save us?
I think Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen probably says it best:

"There are not over a hundred people in the United States who hate the Catholic Church. There are millions, however, who hate what they wrongly believe to be the Catholic Church—which is, of course, quite a different thing. These millions can hardly be blamed for hating Catholics because Catholics “adore statues;” because they “put the Blessed Mother on the same level with God;” because they “say indulgence is a permission to commit sin;” because the Pope “is a Fascist;” because the Church “is the defender of Capitalism.” If the Church taught or believed any one of these things, it should be hated, but the fact is that the Church does not believe nor teach any one of them. It follows then that the hatred of the millions is directed against error and not against truth. As a matter of fact, if we Catholics believed all of the untruths and lies which were said against the Church, we probably would hate the Church a thousand times more than they do.
If I were not a Catholic, and were looking for the true Church in the world today, I would look for the one Church which did not get along well with the world; in other words, I would look for the Church which the world hates. My reason for doing this would be, that if Christ is in any one of the churches of the world today, He must still be hated as He was when He was on earth in the flesh. If you would find Christ today, then find the Church that does not get along with the world. Look for the Church that is hated by the world, as Christ was hated by the world. Look for the Church which is accused of being behind the times, as Our Lord was accused of being ignorant and never having learned. Look for the Church which men sneer at as socially inferior, as they sneered at Our Lord because He came from Nazareth. Look for the Church which is accused of having a devil, as Our Lord was accused of being possessed by Beelzebub, the Prince of Devils. Look for the Church which the world rejects because it claims it is infallible, as Pilate rejected Christ because he called Himself the Truth. Look for the Church which amid the confusion of conflicting opinions, its members love as they love Christ, and respect its voice as the very voice of its Founder, and the suspicion will grow, that if the Church is unpopular with the spirit of the world, then it is unworldly, and if it is unworldly, it is other-worldly. Since it is other-worldly, it is infinitely loved and infinitely hated as was Christ Himself. ... the Catholic Church is the only Church existing today which goes back to the time of Christ. History is so very clear on this point, it is curious how many miss its obviousness..."
-Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

My freshman year of high school I was in debate (nerdy I know) and a sophomore guy that was also in the class who knew I was Catholic confronted me all of a sudden telling me that I wasn't a Christian. I was accused of worshiping Mary, Saints and Idols. He started attacking my faith and telling me that I wasn't saved. I was a freshman! I tried my hardest to explain to Him that the Catholic Church was the first christian church and that if he followed the line of his church back it would lead him to the Catholic Church which would in turn lead him to seeing Jesus Christ as the founder. I tried to tell him that I believed Jesus Christ was God and savior. As he threw bible verse after bible verse in my face it shocked me that he would attack my faith in this way.
Still it shocks me today that this church my friend visited had an entire service dedicated to how awful it must be to be Catholic and how it is their duty to go out into the world and save us all.

After the service my friend emailed the pastor telling him how uncomfortable the service had made her. He efficiently emailed her back explaining that the visiting preacher had no intention to make her feel bad but only wanted to help and everything he said and did was out of love. She received no apology. He did reach out to her saying that she must recognize deep inside that she is missing truth in the Catholic Church or else she would not have come to the service. Again the desire to kick someone in the face arose. This friend is beautiful on the inside and out, always willing to be there for her friends. I'm so proud of the way she handled herself during this whole situation and I'm almost certian that she's grown to be a stronger Catholic because of it.

So thank you Mr.Visiting Preacher Man, for reminding us of how lucky we are to be Catholic.


The Ranter said...

Send him one of the "Surprised by Truth" books. LOL

-Дэйв said...

I like this. I wish I had the motivation to write a blog.

Katy said...

I am right there with you. This sorta thing just get me hot and worked up. I love the reflection that you had!

Martin said...

Awesome the eloquent quote from Archbishop Sheen, one of my faves.

"If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you." John 15:18-19

I'd say that this verse pretty much validates the truth that is the Catholic Church. That "monkey bars" image made me laugh hard. Guess who gave us those monkey bars Mr. (Erroneous)Preacher Man? Yep...Jesus himself.

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