Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A Conversation with a Friend

Muffin's Baptism

I had been talking with a dear friend and the topic of religion came up.  Religion is one of those topics, kind of like politics, where I like to steer clear of.  I am very private in my faith, it’s not that I don’t like to talk about it, it’s that I feel that others are entitled to their opinions on worship.  I am very accepting when it comes to other Christian based religions; I feel that if you have found a successful, meaningful relationship with God then everyone is a winner. (I have a fabulously blended religious family and I grew up appreciating all different forms of worship).  I have found my foundation of faith within the Roman Catholic Church.  My friend, who I am very open with because our conversations are always free from judgment, had a few questions and I felt very comfortable giving MY explanation:

“What’s with all of the “Saint stuff” isn’t that like having idols?”

            Well, my Nana explained this best to me when I was a kid.  Think of Saints as a cheer leading squad, your personal fleet of encouragement.  We do not worship Saints, but we can be on speaking terms with them whenever we need some spiritual encouragement and this is in no way undermining the relationship one needs to have with Christ.  And no, the magnet of Saint Anne on the refrigerator is not idolizing her any more than the pictures of loved ones.  Seeing people we love and who comfort us makes us feel like we aren’t alone and part of something much bigger.

“Why do you worship Mary?”

            We do not worship Mary.  This is the most common misconception I am confronted with.  It is well understood that Mary was human, created by God and mother to our Lord Jesus Christ.  What people confuse with “worship” is really adoration.  Much like people collect Michael Jordan memorabilia and try to imitate his moves on the court, what a wonderful example Mary sets as a selfless woman of God.

“Mass feels so rigid and ritualistic.”

            I know for me, having grown up in a Catholic church, that the familiar rhythm of Mass is like coming home.  I am in a room of people who are all there for the same purpose and we are all worshiping in sync, it’s a heartwarming feeling.  I have never been to a church that didn’t have a set program, Catholic or not.

“What’s the difference between a Catholic and a Christian?”

            The second most common question, the answer is none.  Catholics are Christian.  Catholics believe in and worship Jesus Christ the only Son of God and recognize him as our Savior, well here; this actually says it far better than I can.  This is the Profession of Faith, which is said at every Catholic Mass:

We believe in God, the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
and all that is seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God
, eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made, one in Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us men and for our salvation
he came down from heaven:

by the power of the Holy Spirit
he was born of the Virgin Mary,
and became man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered, died, and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in fulfilment of the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead,
and His kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son
he is worshipped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.

We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come.


These are explanations are how I would explain things, but not necessarily the best way to explain them, if you want better answers check out all of the Catholic websites and forums out there.
I highlighted some key points that may help answer any other questions out there.  I feel most at home being Catholic, it is not the only way to worship, I have visited other churches and have family and friends who worship differently.  I think whatever brings you closer to God, whatever faith makes you feel at home is the right one for you.  Good news is Jesus loves us, and where ever you find him is right where he wants you to be.

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