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Archive for March, 2013

As I wrote yesterday’s blog, I was thinking of the many people who have desired to “save me” from the Catholic church.

I never really knew there were still people who hate Catholics; I thought that was part of a time before I was born. But when I first got a computer and the internet, I quickly learned otherwise.

Still, living in northwest Iowa or southern Minnesota, I didn’t know anyone in real life who was anti-Catholic. In fact, in those communities, the churches often worked together. I remember combining choirs and traveling to each others’ churches at Christmastime. I remember when the Lutheran church burned down, how both the Methodist church and our Catholic church shared space for worship and Sunday school for over a year.

So I was a little shocked when I moved to North Carolina and a neighbor introduced himself. His first question was, “Which church do ya’ll attend?” He turned and walked away without a word after learning that we are Catholic.

That was not the norm, however, and I was deeply blessed by other Christians in the Bible Belt. Their questions, curiosity, and challenges to what Catholics do and believe were a great catalyst for me to dig in and to learn.  It was a wonderful opportunity for me and God sent many amazing people who helped me to grow, grow, grow!

I keep in touch with many of them. I am aware that they believe my church is an anti-christ and some still desire to save me out of it. But how can I be angry or hurt with someone who loves me enough to express concerns about my eternal soul? It is humbling and a blessing.

It amazes me how God can use both friends and adversaries to help us grow in faith. He’s an amazing God!

 

 

 

 

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Catholic

I have written about “my story” as a believer (found here)  … the paths He’s used to draw me closer, to teach me, to help me grow.

I’ve been thinking also of my story as a Catholic. I was raised Catholic but for most of my life I didn’t really care which church I attended; in my mind they were minor variations of the same faith and I could have been as happy attending one, as another.

Sometimes I resented Catholics and the church, or was ashamed of them, for seeming to set themselves above other Christians or for trying to impose their rules on “me” and society. Certainly its history is filled with its share of evil inflicted on people, from the inquisition to the abuse of children by priests.

Other times I have appreciated the church and its people. As my family moved to different communities, I liked knowing that I could walk into mass anywhere and it would be familiar. I am proud that the Catholic church is the single largest charitable organization in the world, feeding and housing and clothing more people than anyone else; and that modern education and hospitals serving all people began in the Catholic church. I think that is awesome.

But it was during the dark night of my soul that I came to truly appreciate what only the Catholic church offers. My mind and spirit were in a very dark place of depression and feeling separation from God. Previously He had been feeding me and teaching me at a rapid pace and I had felt so close to Him. But suddenly, when I needed Him most, He was distant … silent.

In my desperation and hunger for more of Him I felt drawn to a deeper, more purposeful prayer life. I read books, I searched out and prayed novenas, and signed up for a weekly hour of Adoration in our church chapel … and then a second hour. I took advantage of reconciliation and felt oh, so washed and clean. I attended daily mass, drinking in the beauty and being fed by the Eucharist – the very body and blood of Christ.

During this time I gradually, painfully, surrendered so many of my own hopes and dreams; it was a time of being honest and realizing what was possible, what was probable, what was not.

Without the tools that the church had given me, I think I may have simply been crushed. But the sacraments gave me comfort, peace, strength. They were a source of learning and Wisdom.

Now, on the other side of that dark time, I can look back and see God’s hand at work. I am in a good place physically, mentally and spiritually – closer to Him, stronger in faith, and enormously grateful for the help I received from the Catholic faith. No other church can offer all that I needed during that time, all that I drew on.

Do I think the Catholic church is the only “real” Christian church? No. The body of Christ is so vast and so beautiful with many different parts; it makes me sad that we often war with each other within Him. Nor do I think the Catholic church is the perfect place for all Christians; we are unique individuals and He will lead each of us where He will. And in this fallen world, no church will ever reach perfection.

But for me, I am finally at peace about the church and have grown to love and respect her, warts and all.

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