So I was having coffee this afternoon with a great friend of mine, and during a lull in the conversation, I couldn’t help but overhear and eavesdrop on another conversation happening at a table nearby. It all started because I heard the phrase, “well he’s a Catholic.” My interest was immediately piqued because one of the people at the table was somebody I knew from way back in college before my conversion from Campus Crusade.
I strained to hear what was being said. All I could make out was some muffling interspersed with a few words like “saints”, “Mary”, and “I don’t know why they…”. So I can’t say exactly what the conversation was about, but I have my hunches it was primarily about Mary.
I left because I was going to Confession afterwards, and as I was driving there, I couldn’t help but to be overwhelmed when considering all that I have gained in becoming Catholic. There are so many things that I could go into such great detail, but I don’t have the time right now, but they include: Sacraments, communion of the saints, unity, apostolic truth, historical continuity, a vast treasury of prayer tradition, the complete canon of Scripture, a more full view of the history of salvation, and perhaps most importantly, a deeper and more intimate communion (relationship) with Jesus Christ.
Now whether these coffee shop theologians (I don’t mean it in a derogatory way, after all, I’m just as much an blog theologian, which is probably worse) were discussing Catholicism with any sort of hostility or not I will never know. Maybe I should have gone up to them and joined in their conversation to find out, and help them along. In any case I have one request for you now, dear reader.
I beg you to explore Catholicism. I mean really explore it. To set aside your pre-conceived notions of what Catholicism is or is not. I beg you to learn about Catholicism from the ground up, organically. Find out what she really teaches and why, not what your pastor says she teaches or what jesus-is-savior.com says about her.
Why should you do this? Because your church or communion of churches traces its lineage of origin back to a break with the Catholic Church over some disagreement(s) about some doctrine, dogma, or more sadly, discipline. And so you owe it to yourselves to 1) see if what your own reforming fathers said about the Church was actually true, 2) to see if what the Church actually taught in that moment was truly inconsistent with the Bible or if it is only inconsistent with your interpretation of the Bible, and 3) to see if what the Church taught/teaches is inconsistent with what the first Christians actually believed.
A good friend of mine who is not Catholic once reminded us that 500 years ago all the Protestants were Catholic, and that 500 years before that all the Orthodox and Catholics were one. There isn’t a branch in Christendom that didn’t come from Catholicism. So you owe it to yourself, at the very least, to learn about where you came from, and you might just be surprised at what you learn about Catholicism, I know that I was was quite surprised in the fall of 2008. It changed my life.
If you’re looking for a place to start, you can look at my blog, but take everything with a grain of salt as I am not a member of the magisterium, and you might have to read through layers of snark to find the nugget of Catholic teaching. Otherwise I would start with the Catechism which you can buy here or read online here. You might also try Catholics Come Home. And if you are more bold, or have already been thinking about Catholicism and are looking for a more interpersonal encounter, think about attending RCIA at a local parish which can be found by entering your zip code here.
Praying for you guys!