I just don't understand Catholicism :-(


#1

Please bear with me as I write this; I acknowledge that I am beyond confused right now and pretty frustrated. Hopefully I don’t come across too harshly.

I never before in my life considered the Catholic church; was not even on my radar screen at all. Didn’t know any Catholics; didn’t even know where a Catholic church was… it just was not even a blip in my thoughts. Without going through all the details right now, here’s where I am:

I have learned about the Lord since before I can even remember and consider myself to be a follower of Jesus Christ. I am intrigued by the claims of the Catholic Church: That it dates back to the time of the original Apostles and has preserved all the teachings dating back to Jesus Christ Himself.

In my studies, though, Catholicism seems absolutely foreign to me; it’s like a totally different religion to me. Most of the things that I question in regards to the Catholic faith all seem to be later developments and are not tied directly to any Apostle at all.

And Catholicism seems so rigid, so legalistic. It’s like there are more laws and rituals to follow in it than even the Jews had. My mind says to me, “Surely, Christ did not come to do away with one Law just to replace it with a whole new one”.

All these debates about this type of Mass vs. another; getting some sort of “extra credit” for saying prayers in a certain place… where did all of this come from? Who says that a Worship service can only be 1 way and no other?

I don’t know… I’m so lost and confused and the more I read here and on other Catholic web sites, the more confused I get till ultimately I feel like I’m better off (or at least I’m not any worse off) remaining where I am. (Catholics would label me a Protestant although I’ve never given that term much thought at all till I kept hearing Catholics refer to us non-Catholics/non-Orthodox with that term).

I just can’t believe that God will not honor my confession of faith, my thoughts/intentions, etc. simply because I am not a part of the “Catholic Club”. Catholics tend to present their faith as that - some sort of “In Crowd”.

I have a lot more thoughts and feelings but think this post is too long already.


#2

It seems to me that you may be reacting to a caricature of the Catholic Church rather than the real Church. The Apostles Creed or the Nicene Creed are nice summaries of the basics of Catholism. What parts of these are foreign to you?

Depending on what faith community you have belonged to, our rituals may seem very rigid. How does this make them not pleasing to God?

There are potentially many topics to be addressed in your post. Can you select just one to start with, so the discussion remains focused?


#3

Have you read the Catechism at all? If not then you may want to give consideration to doing that.


#4

So… give us a nice little list of things you are confused about/don’t understand, and we will attempt to explain them or point you in the direction of someone/something that can give you a better answer.

My first question to you, however, is: Have you ever picked up a copy of the Catechism? It is not meant to be read as a book, but contains headings and subheadings regarding each belief within the Catholic faith. There will also be an index in the back that provide better pinpointing.

Second question: Have you searched Catholic Answers? Not the forum, but the site itself. It is a veritable pluthera of Catholicism. The search box will take you to plenty of articles that will explain things above and beyond.

Third: Do you have cable/satellite? If so, put on EWTN Monday nights at 8pm. The show called “Journey Home” is the conversion stories of people coming to Catholicism from various backgrounds. Each guest will talk about his/her own story, but many times (even as a Cradle), I still find myself going “ah-ha!”


#5

Rule number one: Follow Jesus Christ
Rule number two: Study in order to become a better Christian
Rule number three: The opinions of the Catholics on this forum are opinions and not dogmas, disciplines, or documents of the Church of the Church

If you really want to understand what the Catholic Church is, then get a Bible and a Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC). Read the Catechism and read its references to the Bible verses. It will be an eye opening experience for you. If you want the Cliff notes, then you can read the Compendium of the CCC. It is in the form of answer and questions. All this material is available online or you can purchase it.

For more information about “details” go to the home page of this site and browse around.


#6

:smiley: Call your local Parish, look it up in the phone book and ask about their RCIA class. Most do it as a group once a year so you might have to wait until next year, but they have a few Q&A sessions before the real “teaching” begins, and they can really explain it to you.

As for the Extra Credit for praying parayers and such, its not the prayers or praying them the “right” way, it’s your heart. The longer the prayer the longer you have dedicated to praying to God, and how can praying be Wrong?

As for being in the “In croud” we are, becasue we know that we are part of the body of Christ, and that is the greatest feeling in the world.

As for the History, we can trace it back, but first you have to know your bible, and its history. Where did the bible come from?

I have a great Audio bit on that if you message me I can email it to you… BTW They consider everyone who isn’t Catholic/ Orthodox Protestant because up until the Protestant Reformation If you were Christian you were Catholic. Catholic literally means Universal. So, there ya go. Dr. Scott Hahn is a great read if you are seriously searching, but don’t forget The Church gave us the greatest starting point. The bible. Read it and ask God ot guide your heart with the Spirt and He lead you where he wants you to be. You have to be willing ot accept where that is as well.

I REALLY didn’t want to be Catholic b/c of what that would mean for my way of life, but you can’t deny truth. Its like CS Lewis said, “ITs like tryign to put out the sun by writing the word Darkness on the walls” Or somehting like that :smiley:

Keep praying in whatever way gets you praying.

:thumbsup:


#7

On a board like this you are going to get opinions of every kind–from those who are only guessing or have their own biases to those who really know what they are talking about and only have the best interest of seekers at heart. It’s no wonder you are confused when you do not know who is who or what is what. Yes? :slight_smile:

I suggest you go to the source for your answers instead of relying on what you read here.

I’d naturally recommend the Catechism of the Catholic Church but it might be a bit overwhelming, especially since you were not brought up within Catholic thought and culture.

There are many good, reliable articles on all the topics you cited within the library of Catholic Answers. They are easy to read and quite helpful to non-Catholics because they are geared towards helping folks in your situation understand Catholic teaching. I truly suggest you read them first and then come back to ask for clarifications, if you need them.

Most importantly, pray about what you are reading. And be assured that we will keep you in our prayers as you seek for God’s truth in your life (as we all are trying to do).


#8

The structures of the Church seem large and complex, but can be summed up in the Creed. The actual “legalism” is very minimal in terms of dogma.

The resources, the accumulated expertice and experience of 2000 years of dedicated active Christian searching is available to anyone who asks for it from the Church, and is even more “personally experiencable” once one is more fully a part of the Body of Christ, The Church.

The Church is a community. We can have our personal communion with God, and we can also have our communal communion with God.

It is a priviledge to confess to Jesus via a Priest. When we speak to a Priest he is Jesus bodily present. He is not merely a man at that time. But he is only Jesus in his capability to be there for you in Jesus’ place.

I agree with David, above, in that you should pick some things you’d like to talk about, and we can help with those more narrow things to get to the real crux of the matter as to why you’re not understanding the Church.

Mahalo ke Akua…!
E pili mau na pomaikai iaoe. Aloha nui.


#9

Hello and welcome.

I’m glad you brought up the Jewish law, because that should make it clear that God is not law-phobic. While Catholicism is definitely not a law-centered faith, it can seem that way to an outsider, depending on the introduction that outsider has. But as an “insider” (that is to say, a Catholic) I can assure you that the Catholic life is not centered on law but on God and on all those special channels of His grace which He makes available through the Church.

Really, a discussion forum is never going to give you a clear picture of any large and multi-faceted thing. Just because we seem here to spend an inordinate amount of time discussing how many angels can fit on the head of a pin, does not mean that such questions are of much concern to the average Catholic living out his/her average Catholic life.

By way of comparison, if I went to a Baptist university and went into the theology section of the library, or sat in on some graduate theology courses, would I get a realistic view of how Baptists live their day-to-day faith lives? Or would I feel swamped by “legalistic” details that seemed to have nothing to do with loving God and striving to give my life to Him?

Learn about the Catholic faith (and here is a good place), but don’t “over-learn” in the beginning, or you won’t be able to see the forest for the trees. You will discover a faith that is so beautiful, in so many ways, that it can only have been created and sustained by God.


#10

:thumbsup:

Well… I guess now you’re gonna be able to say that you “know” some Catholics. :slight_smile:

Oh, and THANK YOU! for being far and away nicer with your questions and comments than some folks we have to deal with around here. :hug3:

You may see rigid legalism but we certainly do not. (A given, right?)

If you can take single issues and open threads on them then we can talk them over and hopefully clarify some of the things that you don’t seem to understand.

I have learned about the Lord since before I can even remember and consider myself to be a follower of Jesus Christ. I am intrigued by the claims of the Catholic Church: That it dates back to the time of the original Apostles and has preserved all the teachings dating back to Jesus Christ Himself.

A good source.

In my studies, though, Catholicism seems absolutely foreign to me; it’s like a totally different religion to me. Most of the things that I question in regards to the Catholic faith all seem to be later developments and are not tied directly to any Apostle at all.

Wouldn’t the scriptural basis for what we teach actually constitute the link to the apostles that you are thinking of?

And Catholicism seems so rigid, so legalistic. It’s like there are more laws and rituals to follow in it than even the Jews had. My mind says to me, “Surely, Christ did not come to do away with one Law just to replace it with a whole new one”.

You really have misunderstood then. I recommend this FREE Catholic course (which is not just for Catholics).
“We believe…” http://www.amm.org/chss/images/chss3.giffrom the Catholic Home Study Service

All these debates about this type of Mass vs. another; getting some sort of “extra credit” for saying prayers in a certain place… where did all of this come from? Who says that a Worship service can only be 1 way and no other?

:smiley: Yeah, I can understand where that might make a person shake their head. We can get into that too.

Essentially, those things have to do with John 20:21-23 and Matthew 16:19.

I don’t know… I’m so lost and confused and the more I read here and on other Catholic web sites, the more confused I get till ultimately I feel like I’m better off (or at least I’m not any worse off) remaining where I am. (Catholics would label me a Protestant although I’ve never given that term much thought at all till I kept hearing Catholics refer to us non-Catholics/non-Orthodox with that term).

You are probably right, but most all of your confusion stems from getting so much info from so many divergent sources.

The Catechism is one of the best possible sources to stick with for consistent and correct info.

Gotta run for now, but please feel free to PM me or e-mail me if you need to talk, and I’ll be happy to talk things over with you.
My Testimony


#11

Not much to add to the excellent advice already.

Catechism. CA is a great site to learn. CA forums, slightly less so because it can become confusing with Catholic disagreeing and non-Catholics telling you what they THINK Catholics believe.

May God Bless you and keep you safe.
Maria


#12

(Okay…Glory Be To God!, I survived that trip.:rotfl: I’m back.)

Well, hey, I think that if you look around objectively, you’ll discover that most people take that same sort of view of their particular religious affiliation.

However, one thing that you have to understand is that so far as I am concerned, (and this is just the way I personally describe the Catholic faith.), Catholicism is like a huge and very beautiful diamond that I will spend my entire life exploring and learning to know better and better.

Do we really seem that into our faith? Well maybe we are, but you have to realize that for some of us, our conversion to the faith was hard won, so we kinda hang together like soldiers who survived a battle, and if that makes us come off as tight-knit, maybe you can better understand.

I just can’t believe that God will not honor my confession of faith, my thoughts/intentions,

Actually, this is something that you might better understand in the context of terminology that you are familiar with from your own faith community. If you are concerned about it then that may very well be “Holy Spirit conviction” that has you wanting to look into this more deeply.

In my case it has been (and will always be) about seeking out the absolute and fullness of truth, and it was my “careful study” that led me home to the Catholic faith after I was subjected to some serious anti-Catholic rhetoric. It is weird to have someone tell you something about a religion that you grew up in and left and then when you take the time to check it out, you discover that the guy is dead wrong. That got me digging all the more and … you see the result. :smiley:

I have a lot more thoughts and feelings but think this post is too long already.

That’s okay. Just narrow it down to one aspect to discuss and then open other threads as we go along. Rest assured that we will do our very best, as God gives us grace, to give you the answers that you need.
Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum.
(The peace of the Lord be always with you.)


#13

There’s a problem right there - Christ did NOT come to ‘do away with’ the Jewish Law or any other. His own words were “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the prophets. I have come **not **to abolish but to fulfill.” (Matt 5:17) And he said more besides - 'If you love Me you will keep My commandments" (John 14:15). And remember he included the old Ten in those - and our ‘legalistic’ rules are all comprised within those ten and the two Great Commandments.

The result? Certainly parts of the Jewish Law, being no longer relevant, are done away with, such as animal sacrifice (replaced by Christ’s own) and strict dietary laws (outward cleanliness as opposed to purity of heart).

Some parts were actually made MORE stringent (‘looking on a woman with lust’ equated to the act of adultery and anger described as a grave sin, which the Jews didn’t do, and Christ’s prohibition on divorce which Moses had allowed).

So it looks like your initial premise - that Christ came to abolish the Law - is not quite accurate.


#14

Just out of curiosity, why are you looking into the Catholic Church? What is it about your current faith community that leaves you searching for something else???


#15

Hi Lady_k2,

The Catholic Church does not have a copyright on her teachings. Anybody can take Catholic teachings and start up their own religion; And many have.

But there is one thing that separates us from the others; Our priesthood - from the local parish priest right up to the Pope. They are successors to the Apostles with supreme authority being held by the Pope.

Non-Catholics can be baptised, get married, do all those sorts of ritual/sacramental things. But only our priesthood have the power/authority to reside over Transubstantiation; The changing of the bread and wine into body and blood of Christ, not just symbolic but the actual body and blood of Christ under the appearance of bread and wine. And only our priesthood can say “I absolve you of your sins” during confession. You don’t understand that? Good! Neither do we. (It’s a mystery that we can not fully comprehend.) Welcome to the Catholic world!


#16

Welcome to the forums! Many of us have been right where you are now. It can seem overwhelming, I know, but to learn about the Church is not only fascinating, it can be life changing. Granted, there are some pretty ugly warts on the history of the Church. We Catholics can’t pretend that all it’s members have always acted with Christian charity. But the Church is comprised of sinners and over 2000 years you’re bound to see some scandals. However, what is important for you to discern is if Jesus Christ did indeed establish His Church upon Peter (the first Pope), if the Church is led by the Holy Spirit in its mission to “feed and tend the sheep”, and basically if the Catholic Church contains the fullness of Christian truth. I believe it does and will love sharing what I know with you-- all you need to do is ask, and we will do the best we can. If you can, try to get into an RCIA class. If you’re not ready for that, at least bookmark the Catholic Catechism, which is a summary of the teachings of the Church. And bookmark this Bible which has seven additional Old Testament books that Catholics believe are inspired.

As a testimony, I can say that the history of the Church is what initially drew me to study the Church. The more I have read of the early Church fathers, the more I see that it is Catholicism that was practiced by the earliest Christians-- the Real Presence of Christ in the Bread and Wine, Confessions, Priesthood, etc. Those are the practices of the earliest Christians and they are still practiced today in the Catholic Church. (also, the Orthodox maintain those practices though they are not united with the Catholic Church)

If there is one thing that will really help you understand the Church it is to get a grasp on the authority given to the Church by Jesus. This involves the giving of the keys of the kingdom of heaven and earth, Jesus telling Peter that “upon this rock, I will build my Church” ,and where Jesus said “whatever you bind on earth is bound in heaven…” So, maybe you could start looking at authority. By the way, you mentioned confession, so I thought I would respond that God will hear your confession, but He gave binding and loosing power to the Church. So, if you don’t confess to God through the Church, how do you know if your sin is “bound or loosed?” Just something to think on… there is other scripture about the Sacrament of Reconcilliation (aka Confession).

Oh, and despite what you may have heard, nothing the Church teaches contradicts scripture. Here is an awesome site that has a lot of scriptural support for the various teachings of the Church.

God Bless your journey.


#17

This is an important point. Dr. Hahn and many others when beginning their journey to the Catholic Church asked the Holy Spirit to guide them to the truth no matter where that lead. That is key!


#18

Alot of us have to smile because we’ve been there and know it’s the Holy Spirit that’s shaking you up about Catholicism. I would like to say welcome and may God bless you and guide you to the fullness of faith and truth.


#19

Wow! I just want to thank everyone for responding. I mean, it really seems that you all care. :slight_smile:

A lot of people have suggested starting separate threads about my “issues” :-), and that’s a good idea, so I’ll do that.

As a quick response here:

  1. I do watch EWTN currently. I even watch the Saturday morning shows that are geared towards children and I’ll let my 10-month old daughter watch some, too, while I’m doing her hair or bathing her.

  2. I do have a Catechism. My husband’s stepmom is Catholic and she gives us at least 1 “Catholic gift” each year. One year, she gave us a Catechism. Personally, I love reading and studying theology so I really ***do ***read it almost like any other book. It’s fascinating to me to read about and understanding Catholic theology. I read non-Catholic (but still Christian) theology books as well.

  3. About the Catholic Answers web stie… Hmm… I think I’ve been there at some point browsing around, but I’ve spent more time on the newadvent site reading and studying.


#20

I find it hard to believe that you didn’t know much about Catholicism when you were Christian, for it is the largest denomination in the world. But, there is a first time for everyone :wink:

It was the Catholic church that compiled the Bible anyways, under the guidance of popes sometime in 300 A.D


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