How bare is your Catholicism?


#1

I've never liked statues. I've never liked prayer cards and the pictures on them. I've never liked incense and all that stuff. I've never liked ritual and pomp and ceremony. I've never liked the Rosary or all the devotions to Mary. I've never liked all the prayers and devotions to the Saints. I've never liked those big ornate churches with the very fancy artwork and architecture. I was brought to see the Vatican when I was little and I thought it was one of the least holy places I've ever been to in my life. There was no feeling of any kind of holiness there for me. I'm wondering if I'm alone in not liking all this stuff. When I occasionally pray, I address God directly. Even though I've drifted away from the faith, I still say the occasional prayer and I still let out an instinctive ''Thanks be to God'' every now and then, when I hear about something that went well, or if something has gone well for me. When I did Jury service, I had to option to make what they called an affirmation, but I chose instead to swear the oath on the new testament.
I've been advised to pray the Rosary to get my faith back. I can't do that. I don't like praying the Rosary. I don't like, and have never liked, all the devotions to Mary I've been exposed to and forced to take part in as a young girl. Our house had, in fact still has, one picture of the Sacred Heart in the living room, and a statue or picture of Mary in every other room in the house. Even as a child I thought that was unbalanced. If God is the focus of our life and salvation, then that's where we should be focused, on God, not Mary and not the Saints.
When I prayed all these prayers as a child, I remember feeling frustrated at times, because my prayers were to Mary and the Saints, and as we prayed together as a family twice a day, it used to drive me nuts because I didn't want to be saying all these prayers, I wanted to be talking to God. Directly.
Am I the only one? Every Catholic I know and talk to, and there's many starting with and extending from my own family, have such devotion to Mary and various Saints and it's such a central and important part of their faith and prayer life. My mother and sisters go to their womens sodality meetings and third order meetings and are involved in so many things about Mary in the parish I can't even keep track anymore.
I was just thinking, were I to ever find my faith again, it would be a very simple, bare faith. I'd go to mass, and pray to God directly. That'd be about the height of it. Why is there, and does there have to be, so much of all this stuff about Mary and the Saints? And am I the only one who just doesn't have any interest in all these things, and would just want a simple, simple faith and conversation directly with God?
I know how important these things are for people, and I'm not disputing that, or that all these devotions to Mary and the Saints have a role to play. I'm wondering if there's something wrong with me for not wanting, or being interested in, these prayers and devotions, even from a very young age?


#2

I was once in the same mind-set as you are now. I was tired of what all this world gave me in terms of what christianity was all about. I closed my ears to everyone and prayed to God, " I believe in You and only You can show me the truth." I prayed that every day knowing that He would answer me, and He did. I would encourage you to take your 'mustard seed ’ of faith, just as I did, and pray likewise. Ask the Lord to show you the truth. I promise you He will answer you. My prayers are with you.


#3

I love all those aspects of our faith - they are something that makes us unique as Catholics, and gives us so many ways to pray. You’d hate my house! Having said that, you don’t have to display statues, pray the rosary, or join the Legion of Mary to be a faithful Catholic. Those types of things are sacramentals and private devotions that, while a blessing to many, are not a mandatory part of the faith. There are doctrines regarding Mary, sainthood, etc. that all Catholics need to believe, and sacraments of which we need to partake (how do you feel about confession?) but most of the things you described are optional.


#4

St.Paul’s first Epistle to the Corithians 3:11-12"For other foundation no one can lay, that which has been laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 But if any builds upon this foundation, gold, silver, precious stone, wood, hay, straw–"
Now this the foundation on which you and i build our faith on. As a catholic one uses the building material supplied by the Church.
I have a small devotion to one saint, a patron of my occupation. And i pray the rosary infrequently.
I do beleive in the effeciancy of said devotion.
Do you believe that devotional prayers are effective?


#5

They might be. I just don’t see the point in asking for anything except through God. You give thanks to God for your life and privilages, and you ask God for what you need. I don’t think God would hold back something I needed, and he decided to give me, just because I didn’t ask for it through a saint would He? I don’t think so.


#6

I total feel where you’re coming from, I had a grandmother who had Saints all over the house and a candle lit for every Saints. When I had any problems she would always tell me what Saint to ask for help. I felt I had no real relationship with G-d himself and as I got older I started to have issues with this. I don’t have any issues if others chose to worship that way with Saints, candles and prayer cards but it’s not my cup of tea. I have always seen it as idol worship, and while allot here on this forum say I don’t truly understand the true purpose of this aspect of the church and they may be right I have to do what is best for me and my relationship with G-d. In the end that’s the only real relationship that matters to me.:slight_smile:


#7

Mortified. I can’t think of anything worse than sitting with some man pouring out all my sins, most of which would be sexual in nature. I was last at confession when I was at school and we had to go and had no choice in the matter. I never felt uplifted or forgiven in confession. I only ever felt embarrassed to death and mortified because just about all my sins are of the same nature. I know the church says it’s a sacrament, and required, but I don’t think God would refuse to forgive me if I made a private confession to him and expressed my regret at my sins. Except I don’t believe a lot of what I do is sinning, as defined by the church, so I don’t see I have much to confess really. I know that the church says nearly everything I do is a sin, but I just can’t see sin in much of what the church says is sin or disordered is the other word they use. I know I’m supposed to agree with everything the church teaches, but I don’t and that’s just being honest here. I’m supposed to believe Mary has been assumed into heaven. I don’t believe that. I don’t know what happened to Mary. It’s not unreasonable to assume Jesus would have assumed Mary bodily into heaven, but it’s not a believe I have, or even an opinion. I don’t know, and I don’t care. I don’t think it’s important. If it could be left at that, it wouldn’t be so bad, but it’s not - I have to actually believe in the assumption of Mary into heaven. And I can’t put my hand on my heart and say I do. I just don’t have any opinion on it at all. This is a problem I come up against time and time again with the Church. The requirement to believe certain things that I just don’t know one way or the other.


#8

Participation in devotional prayers are not necessary to being Catholic. If you participate in the public liturgical prayers of the Church (i.e., ‘go to Mass’), then you are already participating in communal devotion to Mary when the Church celebrates her feast days and proclaims the scriptures in which she appears. You honor Mary and the saints in every Eucharistic Prayer and on All Saints Day. That is sufficient and nothing more in the way of devotional prayer is required even though it may be highly recommended. Recommended is not the same as necessary.

The important thing is to make an intentional effort to participate in the Mass. After that, to find a spiritual life and practice which encourages your faith and relationship with God and allows that faith to be manifest in your thoughts, attitude, and in charitable deeds; and leads you away from all that is evil.

If the usual ‘church-y devotions’ such as rosaries and novenas aren’t helping you, then find something that will. There is a huge repertoire of practices and spiritual movements in the Church that might be your thing:
[LIST]
*]contemplative prayer;
*]Franciscan spirituality;
*]Jesuit spirituality and the Ignatian exercises;
*]scripture study;
*]theological study;
*]investing a significant amount of time and labor into direct service to the needy in
[LIST]
*]soup kitchens,
*]Habitat for Humanity,
*]St. Vincent de Paul,
*]Catholic Worker Movement,
*]overseas missionary work (which is anything from teaching the faith to just plain social services to the astoundlingly poor), etc…
[/LIST]
[/LIST]
In other words, find the spiritual and religious practices that work for you. Don’t put yourself into someone else’s box of what works for them.


#9

Thanks for not making me feel a total weirdo. I know all about the saints and their causes - Rita for the difficult, Anthony to find something lost, the list went on and on. As I child I used to think why not just ask God? I think I’d only ever want a relationship with God. I’m not interested in anybody else, no matter how saintly they are. I never have been. I think I was never allowed a relationship with God, because there were always all these prayers and devotions to everyone else except God.


#10

To be honest, I struggle with devotion to mary. I’m not against it, and I know that many people have great devotion to her and thats great and I find it beautiful, but sometimes I feel it is just too much. Like why have an altar in a church dedicated to Mary when we should have our high altars dedicated to Christ and his crucifixion. I also find it odd to pray specifically to her. I pray the Hail Mary, but only because I think about how great it was that she bore Christ, but I struggle with why people are so devoted to her much more so than Christ. I don’t even have problem with Saints, but usually its that I can have as great devotion as a certain Saint had to Christ. However, I understand its a part of Catholicism and I wouldn’t leave God’s church.


#11

Thanks for the food for though.


#12

I think the problem you and the lady who agreed with you are having problems because of a lack of proper religious instruction. You seem to know only the surface details of Cathollicism but litter understanding of it inner meanings and the effect these meanings have upon your soul. Your arguments are more typical of many Protestants rather than someone who was raised in the Church having had proper religious instruction.
This is especially evident in your attitude toward Confession.
If you are indeed seeking to do something to ease any guilt you seem to have and are not on this site to merely debate, I suggest that you seek out a Catholic priest and make an appointment to see him. If you can find a Jesuit, Dominican, or Franciscan priest all the better. Present your concerns to him as you have outlined them on this site. You might even take a print out with you. You will be amazed at his response. He will not berate you or try to “convert” you. He will merely address your concerns in order to teach you. I guarentee you will find the experience not only interesting, but exhilerating.


#13

[quote="Bella92, post:1, topic:310162"]
I've never liked statues. I've never liked prayer cards and the pictures on them. I've never liked incense and all that stuff. I've never liked ritual and pomp and ceremony. I've never liked the Rosary or all the devotions to Mary. I've never liked all the prayers and devotions to the Saints. I've never liked those big ornate churches with the very fancy artwork and architecture. I was brought to see the Vatican when I was little and I thought it was one of the least holy places I've ever been to in my life. There was no feeling of any kind of holiness there for me. I'm wondering if I'm alone in not liking all this stuff.

[/quote]

No, you're not alone. I'm not into all that either (though I like a beautiful church and have a relic of St. Ann, with a few statues), and my faith is quite strong. I mainly stick to the Bible and Catechism. I pray directly to God.

I've been advised to pray the Rosary to get my faith back. I can't do that. I don't like praying the Rosary. I don't like, and have never liked, all the devotions to Mary I've been exposed to and forced to take part in as a young girl. Our house had, in fact still has, one picture of the Sacred Heart in the living room, and a statue or picture of Mary in every other room in the house. Even as a child I thought that was unbalanced. If God is the focus of our life and salvation, then that's where we should be focused, on God, not Mary and not the Saints.

I've been talking about this, because i feel the exact same way, and everyone has felt attacked. If others don't listen to you, feel free to PM me.

It is unbalanced; God is a jealous God.

When I prayed all these prayers as a child, I remember feeling frustrated at times, because my prayers were to Mary and the Saints, and as we prayed together as a family twice a day, it used to drive me nuts because I didn't want to be saying all these prayers, I wanted to be talking to God. Directly.

Nearly all my prayers are to God directly.

Am I the only one? Every Catholic I know and talk to, and there's many starting with and extending from my own family, have such devotion to Mary and various Saints and it's such a central and important part of their faith and prayer life. My mother and sisters go to their womens sodality meetings and third order meetings and are involved in so many things about Mary in the parish I can't even keep track anymore.

I have the same experience. For this reason, I believe that many Catholics worship Mary and the other saints, though they're not supposed to.

I was just thinking, were I to ever find my faith again, it would be a very simple, bare faith. I'd go to mass, and pray to God directly. That'd be about the height of it.

I hope you would read and study God's word too!

Why is there, and does there have to be, so much of all this stuff about Mary and the Saints? And am I the only one who just doesn't have any interest in all these things, and would just want a simple, simple faith and conversation directly with God?
I know how important these things are for people, and I'm not disputing that, or that all these devotions to Mary and the Saints have a role to play. I'm wondering if there's something wrong with me for not wanting, or being interested in, these prayers and devotions, even from a very young age?

I wondered the same thing. But no one is required to have such devotion, though some will try to convince you otherwise. In fact, when I tried Marian devotion, it led me away from Jesus. So it's clearly not for everyone.


#14

I hope you don't mind me dividing your post non-chronologically. I actually am very much like you with only on minor exception.

[quote="Bella92, post:1, topic:310162"]
Am I the only one? Every Catholic I know and talk to, and there's many starting with and extending from my own family, have such devotion to Mary and various Saints and it's such a central and important part of their faith and prayer life. My mother and sisters go to their womens sodality meetings and third order meetings and are involved in so many things about Mary in the parish I can't even keep track anymore.

[/quote]

I'm not. My family isn't either. But you know what? I'm the closest you'll get to a practicing Catholic compared to even them because I at least acknowledge the non-negotiables. I'm not so much of a devotee either with maybe a few exceptions as a form of expressing the regrets I have over sins I carry.

[quote="Bella92, post:1, topic:310162"]
I was just thinking, were I to ever find my faith again, it would be a very simple, bare faith. I'd go to mass, and pray to God directly. That'd be about the height of it. Why is there, and does there have to be, so much of all this stuff about Mary and the Saints? And am I the only one who just doesn't have any interest in all these things, and would just want a simple, simple faith and conversation directly with God?

[/quote]

Nothing wrong with that. Don't miss out on the bit about Confession though and again, keep the non-negotiables in mind. The only real burden they give though is on the conscience.

I care more about the Church as a moral authority than an authority on my prayer life. Why? Because, you may not realize it, but the Church actually doesn't expect much from you as you were initially brought up to believe. Going to mass. Praying to God. Those are all you really need and the Church will not fault you for being content with what many have unjustly labeled as minimalist.

[quote="Bella92, post:1, topic:310162"]
I've never liked statues. I've never liked prayer cards and the pictures on them. I've never liked incense and all that stuff. I've never liked ritual and pomp and ceremony. I've never liked the Rosary or all the devotions to Mary. I've never liked all the prayers and devotions to the Saints. I've never liked those big ornate churches with the very fancy artwork and architecture.

[/quote]

[quote="Bella92, post:1, topic:310162"]
I was brought to see the Vatican when I was little and I thought it was one of the least holy places I've ever been to in my life. There was no feeling of any kind of holiness there for me. I'm wondering if I'm alone in not liking all this stuff.

[/quote]

Now here's my minor disagreement. I actually have a spot of appreciation for statues and church architecture. However, that just comes from me having an equal appreciation for different styles. :p

Nothing to do with holiness really, more like taste. I wouldn't visit the Vatican so much for wholly religious reasons as for simply for imagining myself being eh... 'coerced' to come by a fictional secret organization that hunts demons/vampires/monsters. :p


#15

Maybe you were exposed to too much bad art. A lot of popular Catholic art is kitsch, including that in church. Many people don’t like Baroque and Rococo.Monumental buikldings like St, Peter’s or the Gothic Cathedrals are beautiful but some find them cold. On the other hand, since Vatican II, many Catholics have gone what I call the puritan routes and ruined many really beautiful church buildings or built Protestant-like one, which is more like auditoriums (IMHO). Don’’t thrill. Me. Maybe you should just find some small chapel, plain but not ugly, where the Blessed Sacrament is kept. Take a Bible along and read it. Just sit there and be quiet. Go to a daily mass, preferably one where there is no singing. I myself like that, although I do like hymns on Sunday. There are plenty of options.


#16

I can certainly sympathize with your antipathy to statues and such. They festooned the house where I grew up to the point that when I got married I would put NOTHING on my walls and few, if any, knickknacks around. I still, after 37 years, have only one ‘picture’ on my walls, my parents’ wedding photo – and that’s in a place where I don’t see it all the time. OTOH, I’ve gradually added a few (5) pieces of art, 2 prints and 3 paintings. I have a few small photographs in frames on a shelf. None are of saints.

I rarely pray the rosary, and was surprised to find out that it was a tool to meditate on the life of Christ. I grew up regularly saying the rosary with my parents, but they never did the ‘mysteries’ thing so I never learned that. I thought it was an option, not the point of the rosary. I’d much rather go to the Liturgy of the Hours than to the parish rosary. I feel more prayerful at LOH.


#17

For most of my life I had very little devotion to Mary and the saints. I was a pretty much go to the source type of Catholic. Until I realized that this is not what Jesus wanted for us. He wanted us to pray together. I’m often asked to pray for someone or for a special intention for a family member or a friend. This is a good thing. It helps my prayer life by reminding me that I am not the sole topic of conversation between God and I.

then I hit a real tough patch, cancer, divorce, and job loss. I survived the cancer by deepening my prayer life, I’m surviving the divorce by praying the rosary and going to confession. I am surviving the job loss with a new job. For the first time I called on a saint to help me. I went to St. Joseph and asked him to help me find a job as he had been the support of his family I was too and they needed me to be able to provide for them. I lit a candle and made a very devout request on a daily basis. I had been looking for 3 months. I believe St. Joseph interceded for me and I had a job in two weeks.

I think it pleases God when we honor the saints and His mother and foster father. Praying to them to intercede for us is an act of honoring them. I feel supported when I ask a saint to intercede for me. As if I’m not all alone in my petitions to God. Going to Mary has been especially consoling and supportive for me in my deepest low points.

The saints are not gods trying to rival God in worship. They are his beloved, obedient servants. Some people have such an awe and fear of the Lord that they only feel comfortable approaching the throne through representatives.

I also think it is good for us to humble ourselves to ask for help from those who devoted their whole lives to living for Christ.


#18

I am also a “bare bones” kind of Catholic. I used to think that to be a “good Catholic” one had to have a home altar with various statues of saints, incense, etc., religious pictures on the walls, and a crucifix in every room of the house. That one had to love Mass with all the “smells and bells” and a choir that sounds like a choir of angels. That one had to prefer lots of stained glass and statues thought the church. That one had to pray the Rosary daily, regularly ask the intercession of various saints, and use traditional Catholic prayers.

Then I realized that those are all EXTERNALS that, while they may serve a purpose, are not absolutely necessary to be a “good Catholic”. We do have a couple of crucifixes in our home, my husband gave me a lovely Willow Tree nativity that sits out in our living room all year, and I love the copper “Last Supper” that is in the dining room. The only devotion I have is to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I focus my prayers on God, and my favorite method of prayer is the A.C.T.S. prayer (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication) because I feel it is a lot like the Our Father, but it allows me to pray in my own words. I pray the Rosary during Lent as a spiritual exercise but rarely pray it outside of Lent. I love daily Mass because it is direct and to the point; Sunday Mass can be a little overwhelming to me. I see saints days as an opportunity to learn about the holy men and women who have come before me, but I don’t necessarily ask for their intercession.

I am a true convert (had no religion before I became Catholic), so I had a lot of learning to do. While I finally came to accept the various teachings about Mary, the love I have for her (and the other saints) is nothing compared to the love I have for Jesus.


#19

when you see God in heaven, in your minds eye, do you see him alone? because in reality he must be surrounded by countless numbers of people and angels. these are all his friends. i’d keep them in mind too, from time to time because he keeps them in mind constantly. catholicism is a family, a body. and families look out for each other. you are not simply alone with God all the time there are a vast number of witnesses who have travelled the same road before you. i think you can learn from their lives so you don’t have to try to invent the wheel from scratch. if you imitated or followed the ways of some saints you might give yourself a boost alone this path.
this is nothing new nor confined to dead saints. in the 500’s people who did terrible things would travel to some isolated island looking for a living saintly monk or priest. they could like contemporary protestants just ‘pray directly to God’, but often what is needed as well is experience and advice and help from someone who is living the Way. it offers them new possibilities and opportunities and insights which they would not otherwise have.
often people leave the Faith because they are at a dead end in their thinking, they see one ordinary, mundane version of things and are ignorant beyond that. this bores them and they may leave. but there are many different types of people with personalities of their own and are inspired by different approaches and aspects to the Faith. and to have the chance to explore these you need to see and hear about people who have lived them, whether these people are living or are dead.


#20

[quote="Bella92, post:1, topic:310162"]
I've never liked statues. I've never liked prayer cards and the pictures on them. I've never liked incense and all that stuff. I've never liked ritual and pomp and ceremony. I've never liked the Rosary or all the devotions to Mary. I've never liked all the prayers and devotions to the Saints. I've never liked those big ornate churches with the very fancy artwork and architecture. I was brought to see the Vatican when I was little and I thought it was one of the least holy places I've ever been to in my life. There was no feeling of any kind of holiness there for me. I'm wondering if I'm alone in not liking all this stuff. When I occasionally pray, I address God directly. Even though I've drifted away from the faith, I still say the occasional prayer and I still let out an instinctive ''Thanks be to God'' every now and then, when I hear about something that went well, or if something has gone well for me. When I did Jury service, I had to option to make what they called an affirmation, but I chose instead to swear the oath on the new testament.
I've been advised to pray the Rosary to get my faith back. I can't do that. I don't like praying the Rosary. I don't like, and have never liked, all the devotions to Mary I've been exposed to and forced to take part in as a young girl. Our house had, in fact still has, one picture of the Sacred Heart in the living room, and a statue or picture of Mary in every other room in the house. Even as a child I thought that was unbalanced. If God is the focus of our life and salvation, then that's where we should be focused, on God, not Mary and not the Saints.
When I prayed all these prayers as a child, I remember feeling frustrated at times, because my prayers were to Mary and the Saints, and as we prayed together as a family twice a day, it used to drive me nuts because I didn't want to be saying all these prayers, I wanted to be talking to God. Directly.
Am I the only one? Every Catholic I know and talk to, and there's many starting with and extending from my own family, have such devotion to Mary and various Saints and it's such a central and important part of their faith and prayer life. My mother and sisters go to their womens sodality meetings and third order meetings and are involved in so many things about Mary in the parish I can't even keep track anymore.
I was just thinking, were I to ever find my faith again, it would be a very simple, bare faith. I'd go to mass, and pray to God directly. That'd be about the height of it. Why is there, and does there have to be, so much of all this stuff about Mary and the Saints? And am I the only one who just doesn't have any interest in all these things, and would just want a simple, simple faith and conversation directly with God?
I know how important these things are for people, and I'm not disputing that, or that all these devotions to Mary and the Saints have a role to play. I'm wondering if there's something wrong with me for not wanting, or being interested in, these prayers and devotions, even from a very young age?

[/quote]

Many people have a devotion to Mary and the Saints b/c it is easier to identify with them than with God.

God is perfect, God is omniscient, omnipotent and all good. Even Jesus in his humanity was without sin or the tendancy to sin (concupisence). It's an impossible standard to match.

But the Saints, were all fallen creatures like you and me. They all had the tendancy to sin (except Mary) and many sinned grievously (St. Paul, St. Augustine, etc.). Yet, they all perserved in Christ and achieved salvation as we are called to do.

They are all there to help us know, love and serve Christ, especially Mary. Devotion to the Saints should aid, no hinder, our worship of God.

God Bless


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.