Are all Catholic churches the same?


#1

I am finally going to call up my local parish and ask to speak to someone about how to go about converting. Surprisingly my husband and children want to as well, so that is all good. :slight_smile:

One of my family members who is against this whole calling my husband and I feel has now told me that I need to be careful because each church is different in its beliefs and activities. She didn’t have any answers for me when I asked her what I should be asking them.

It is my belief that all Catholic churches have the same teachings around the world on any given Sunday and that it doesn’t matter which one I go to. Catholic is Catholic and the beliefs are the same in France, the U.S., or in the middle of nowhere. But she told me that they are as different as protestant churches are and I need to be careful that I find one that teaches the “truth”.

Is there any validity to this? Part of my drawing to Catholicism is that it is one big Church and that ALL believers are united rather than scattered and separate as the million different protestant groups. Is there anything I should be asking about any given church (parish?) that I go to for help in converting?

Thank you. :slight_smile:


#2

There is, unfortunately, some truth to what you are hearing.

Catholic doctrine and worship practices are supposed to be uniform (as you rightly say) - after all, that’s what Catholic means! However, some Catholics (including some Catholic clergy) feel at liberty to deviate from what the Church perscribes (even though they have absolutely no right or authority to do so - not even a priest may legitimately do this). In most cases, this deviation is rather minor, but in some cases it is downright heritical. The Magesterium has been slow to address these problems in many areas (it is largely up to the local bishop, and some are more leinent than others). For example, if you live in South Dakota, you have very little to worry about. But other areas (including my hometown of Portland, OR) present a much more complex situation for someone seeking authentic Catholic doctrine and worship.

If you will reveal your city of residence (or at least your Diocese), I’m sure that members of this forum will be willing to offer additional insight.

Please don’t let this sad situation discourage you from the Church. There have always been (and will always be) Catholics who willingly deviate from what the Church expects. But there have also always been (and will always be) Catholics who strive to faithfully uphold Catholic doctrine and practices. Take comfort in this, and seek them out.


#3

Hi there,

It’s not like going to a series of protestant churches, where you can find a huge range of liturgical practice or non-practice, a huge range of theologies, etc.

Most masses will follow the Novus Ordo Mass to a large degree and maybe even exactly as prescribed.

There are differences from parish to parish - one here in my town is a big ugly new “barn” of a building and there is no Jesus in the sanctuary, no pews, just rows of chairs so close together that there isn’t room to kneel if you’re inclined to do so. I only attended one mass there when I first realized that I had converted, so I can’t make any comments on what the liturgy is usually like.

The other parish, the one that I stepped into and felt at home in the first time, :slight_smile: is architecturally more like a “traditional” Catholic church with stained glass windows, pews with kneelers, Jesus in the Tabernacle behind the altar and the Sanctuary lamp lit. There are a few differences in the mass from the prescribed NO, but for the most part, the mass is done reverently and in keeping with the idea that we are there to be with Christ, not to be entertained.

Some parishes are more traditional like this one and they keep to the prescribed order and rubrics - others are more “progressive” and contain quite a lot of variations on the order of the mass. A few even carry the progressivism much farther.

If you have more than a couple of parishes in your town, try to get round to them all - you can often find their bulletins on line - that might give you a feel for what the parish life might be like.

Each parish will have its own assortment of activities, depending upon the enthusiasm and energy available. Rosary makers, Mary’s Closet, St. Vincent’s Food Pantry, youth choir, adult choir, quilters, knitters, young mothers, Knights of Columbus, Women’s Auxiliary, Life Teens, Rachel’s Vineyard, Homebound Ministry, Apologetics, etc.

Enjoy your explorations and don’t let familial comments get to you.

And be careful hanging out on this board - it’s addictive! :eek:

Have fun!
Elizabeth


#4

[quote=ElizabethJoy]…one here in my town is a big ugly new “barn” of a building
[/quote]

Agreed, this is terrible, but I have been in parishes which were arcitecturally terrible but doctrinally sound (I don’t particularly care for the style of my current Parish, though it is sound), and I have been in grand and beautiful churches were heresy was openly preached.

IMHO, the best way to tell is to attend a service and follow closely with the pew Misalette (even the dreadful Misalettes published by my hometown Oregon Catholic Press). Was the service faithful to the printed word? If so, it’s probably a good parish faithful to Catholic practice. But if you find many deliberate deviations (especially nutering the masculine gender of God), then run away, run away.


#5

I suggest you go hook up with them, and the sooner the better. If you don’t have a contact, call the rectory, and ask how you get involved in RCIA. That is the process by which most adults become Catholic. They will take it from there.

Share what you see and hear, here, and people who know a lot more apologetics than I do will gladly help you decide if you are in good hands. That’s one of the best reasons for any of us to be here.

Others (some would say I am included) seem to like to annoy other people. Don’t let that keep you away from these wonderful CA forums. Your live connection to Catholic everything, and some who oppose it.

Welcome! :dancing:

Alan


#6

We have traveled quite a bit, and we’ve found that most churches are pretty much the same. Where we run into trouble is when some of the priests and committees try to change some things to be different and to suit themselves. In those cases, the bishops seem to drag their feet on keeping everybody in line. I believe that problem is overblown by some people. Visit several parishes and talk to different priests.


#7

Ladycat,
Praise God that you are being called to the one true, Universal Church. In spite of the number of threads in the forums that concentrate on various abuses that have crept into the Mass, the Catholic Church has rubrics for celebrating Mass, the readings for each liturgy are uniform and are available in missals. The order of Mass is also uniform, so every parish in the world is (or should be/could be) celebrating exactly the same way - unlike most Protestant churches. AND, you will find Jesus present at the Mass, unlike ALL Protestant churches.
Welcome home!


#8

A2SciTeach brings up a good point.

I have been able to travel to many different countries throughout the world, and there is something very comforting about being Roman Catholic. In every country I went to I have been able to attend, if I chose, a Roman Rite Mass. Though the languages were vastly different, Russian, Aramaic, Spanish, Polish, and the list goes on, the Mass is the same. I had no trouble knowing exactly where we were and what was happening even though I didn’t know the language. A protestant can never say that, even the church in the next county of the same denomination could be vastly different.


#9

[quote=DavidFilmer]IMHO, the best way to tell is to attend a service and follow closely with the pew Misalette (even the dreadful Misalettes published by my hometown Oregon Catholic Press).
[/quote]

Yup, that is probably the best way to go… :frowning:

[1001001] [1100111 1100101 1110100] [1101001 1110100] :smiley:


#10

I am finally going to call up my local parish and ask to speak to someone about how to go about converting. Surprisingly my husband and children want to as well, so that is all good.

:slight_smile:

Thought all the Posts in this Thread had something valuable to say for you…I could not offer any more I dont think…

…I just wanted to say: how wonderful!.. and it will be great to have you and your family in our midst…for all in all we are one big universal family all over the world. Sure like any bunch of siblings we have our differences now and then - we have those that wander…but we are all Catholics…I hope that you will find a parish in which you can be happy and a contributing member of the parish community and also a parish that adheres to Catholicism in every way in the true sense of the word. Most parishes I think do (although I am from South Australia so really cant comment on the USA).

Congratulations

Regards - Barb
…and of course if any problems, difficulties or concerns do crop up, Catholic Answers Forums is a great place to start to get things sorted out…but I’ll be praying its pretty well smooth sailing for you and your family all the way…great news!


#11

But other areas (including my hometown of Portland, OR) present a much more complex situation for someone seeking authentic Catholic doctrine and worship.

Yes that is my main concern. I am trying to learn as much as possible here and on links given from this site, and of course praying praying praying. We are in Southern California and have found several places to go nearby. We are going to take your advice and go to different ones for a few weeks and see what we see.

Please if I may ask, for any prayers sent our way that the Lord guides us to the place He wants us to go. It is His will that we seek above all.

Thank you all again so much! This forum has answered so many of my questions.

(Sorry I haven’t replied sooner, but I seem to be having a hard time logging in lately.)


#12

[quote=Ladycat]Yes that is my main concern. I am trying to learn as much as possible here and on links given from this site, and of course praying praying praying. We are in Southern California and have found several places to go nearby. We are going to take your advice and go to different ones for a few weeks and see what we see.

Please if I may ask, for any prayers sent our way that the Lord guides us to the place He wants us to go. It is His will that we seek above all.

Thank you all again so much! This forum has answered so many of my questions.

(Sorry I haven’t replied sooner, but I seem to be having a hard time logging in lately.)
[/quote]

Southern Cal is definitely a tough place to be a faithful Catholic (we moved from there to Arizona about 10 years ago and attend a parish here which we love). We have several relatives there who are lukewarm or inactive in their faith and ache to be able to direct them to an orthodox parish where they can grow. We’ll be back there for the Catholic Family Conference next week (can’t wait!) but of course we can’t talk any of our family (except, strangely, one Lutheran sister-in-law) to go.

Take the advice of others on this board: look around, and don’t give up until you find that Catholic oasis.


#13

Congratulations on your decision!!!

As a felow traveler preparing to convert to the Church, I invite you not to worry…

The difference between Protestant and Catholic Churches is that the Catholic Church as an organization and authority*** teaches a solid, united doctrine (even if several individuals with more or less influence dissent from that teaching within he Church, something for the bishops to address and discipline).
Some parishes may fall under the influence of a priest or parishoners who share such views, but they have no right to spread such ideas. Don’t worry though… be a light within your parish by your faithfulness to Rome, and remember that the wheat and the tares grow together until the Second Coming. (Matt 13)

My prayers go with you!


#14

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.