Opinion question: Is Catholicism legalistic?

Hi,
I’m a lifelong protestant Christian who has always respected Catholicism but was ignorant of its beliefs for the most part. Now, I am fascinated and intrigued by Catholicism after I came upon a Catholic radio station and have been listening to it ever since. I am now trying to learn and understand Catholicism better. Although I am happy in my denomination and don’t plan to leave it, I plan to attend a Saturday night Mass in the near future to experience a Mass in person to see and feel what it is like.

While reading and participating on CAF, I have come across many friendly Catholics who share their faith willingly and openly and I appreciate it very much. Many of you have been very gracious and understanding to me as I ask questions, and I am grateful to you for that. Here’s where I am at.

Positives I see in Catholicism:
– Continuity of the Church from end of apostolic times to modern times. Same structure over all that time is impressive. When there is a disagreement, it goes to leadership to decide and the faithful accept and follow the decison instead of creating another denomination if they disagree.

– Biblical authority structure from Jesus Christ to Peter to the series of Popes.

– Hierchical structure based on authority that reminds me almost of a military structure. This structure appears to be very orderly to me and easy to understand and follow.

– Clarity on what is believed and taught.

– Rich tradition, including learning from the lives of the saints and early Church fathers.

Areas where I struggle:
– Seems a little legalistic to me, but then again I wasn’t raised Catholic. For example:
I have seen threads where people seem to agonize over what category of sin a certain action falls into and almost the micro-managing of certain aspects of the Catholic’s life, such as “What is the proper posture for someone as they approach the priest to receive the Eucharist?”.

– Some of the beliefs and practices regarding the Virgin Mary almost appear to me to be borderline goddess worship. I believe Mary was a special and godly young woman chosen to be the mother of Christ and therefore deserves special recognition, but I struggle with the level of recognition she receives in some circles, which can take away from attention to Christ, in my opinion.

Question:
Do Catholics on CAF find aspects of Catholicism legalistic or are all the rules and regulations helpful and essential to being a good Catholic?

Thanks again for your time. I am not trying to be argumetative or disrespectful. Just trying to better understand things from the Catholic point of view. Your insights are much appreciated, as usual.

Respectfully,
Tom

If you read the bible youll know. Here's 1 lie. Purgatory. Here's another lie. Limbo for unbaptized babies. Here's a 3rd lie, anyone can get to heaven but purgatory will be longer. Another lie A priest can forgive you 1 more lie Mary is the mother of God 2 more lies Mary is pure Mary was highly favoured, not pure, noone is pure. Keep your self in your faith, dont be tricked.
Also, ITS NOT ABOUT DEMONTINATIONS, ITS HOW YOU FOLLOW JESUS, Are you gonne follow him by the bible or manly beliefs or traditions…

CAF, like other internet forums. has a number of posters with anxiety/scrupulosity issues. This is not truly representative of Catholics in general.

le·gal·ism [lee-guh-liz-uhm] Show IPA
noun
1.
strict adherence, or the principle of strict adherence, to law or prescription,

I think, in many ways, we are very legalistic. And for that I am very thankful.

When it comes to right and wrong, we should not waffle or water down.

I’m not willing to go into all of the inaccuracies in this post because I don’t have the time. If Mary is not the mother of God then you are saying that Jesus is not God. Mary couldn’t just be mother of the human part of Jesus since Jesus’ humanity and divinity are not divided. As for purgatory you might want to read 1 Corinthians 3:13-15. That sounds like purgatory to me.

GabrielT,
Your tone is not very respectful to Catholics. Are you aware that this is a Catholic-based website? All Christians should be respectful to others on this forum even if we don’t agree on a matter of doctrine. I think you should take heed of that, sir.

Yes, it is legalistic.

I think there are people who turn faith into something legalistic and I think that’s unfortunate.

In part, though, you are seeing a selected group who post on CAF. I see much more scrupulosity here than I do in the real world. Most people don’t go through the day worrying that almost every thought, word, and deed is a sin.

This forum also attracts people who are drawn to the Church’s legal documents and who have appointed themselves as judge and jury. “Canon law says X” or “Redemptionis Sacramentum says Y” and they want to impose their views on everyone. They don’t recognize that they’re not canon lawyers or liturgists and it’s not up to them.

I think that most Catholics go through life focusing on their relationship with God and with other people, doing their best to nurture both of those, happily attending Mass in English, and generally happy with being Catholic Christians.

– Some of the beliefs and practices regarding the Virgin Mary almost appear to me to be borderline goddess worship. I believe Mary was a special and godly young woman chosen to be the mother of Christ and therefore deserves special recognition, but I struggle with the level of recognition she receives in some circles, which can take away from attention to Christ, in my opinion.

To a fair degree I agree with you. I sometimes find myself uncomfortable with the way Mary is treated. It’s really only been in the last couple of years that I’ve developed a deeper relationship with her, mostly because I’ve come to regard her as a friend who is a model of following Christ. I largely had to come to an understanding that she’s not responsible for what other people say about her. But she can be and is my friend, someone I can ask to pray for me, someone I can look to for how to handle difficult times, and someone who was completely open to the Spirit in her life. Nothing wrong with that!

Gabriel your quite confused on various issues. But this is not the thread to discuss in.

(I will though note quickly - ask yourself where the Bible came from? -how do you know what books go to make it up? The Bible exists via the formation given it by the Church. By the authority Jesus gave the Church. Yes the Bible is the written inspired Word of God! Yes! But it is best read from within the fullness of what Jesus gave us. He did not hand out a book -he formed a Church and gave that Church authority to teach in his name and to propose the Gospel to all! .)

Your most welcome to come :slight_smile: (one would not though receive Holy Communion…I mention this partly cause I made this mistake when I first attended a Mass…)

I am very happy that I came into full communion with the Catholic Church so many years ago now. Very happy. Remember it is though about truth - about Jesus - not about how we might feel -though that can be a good part of things in life :slight_smile:

Thanks for the reply and insights, SuscipeMeDomine. That was a thought-provoking reply about Mary, by the way.

Legalistic? No not per se.

Here:

““To gaze upon Christ!” If we do this, we realize that Christianity is more than and different from a moral code, from a series of requirements and laws. It is the gift of a friendship that lasts through life and death: “No longer do I call you servants, but friends” (Jn 15:15), the Lord says to his disciples. We entrust ourselves to this friendship. Yet precisely because Christianity is more than a moral system, because it is the gift of friendship, for this reason it also contains within itself great moral strength, which is so urgently needed today on account of the challenges of our time. If with Jesus Christ and his Church we constantly re-read the Ten Commandments of Sinai, entering into their full depth, then a great, valid and lasting teaching unfolds before us. The Ten Commandments are first and foremost a “yes” to God, to a God who loves us and leads us, who carries us and yet allows us our freedom: indeed, it is he who makes our freedom real (the first three commandments). It is a “yes” to the family (fourth commandment), a “yes” to life (fifth commandment), a “yes” to responsible love (sixth commandment), a “yes” to solidarity, to social responsibility and to justice (seventh commandment), a “yes” to truth (eighth commandment) and a “yes” to respect for other people and for what is theirs (ninth and tenth commandments). By the strength of our friendship with the living God we live this manifold “yes” and at the same time we carry it as a signpost into this world of ours today.”

~ Pope Benedict XVI 8 September 2007

““I want them to understand that it is beautiful to be a Christian! The generally prevailing idea is that Christians have to observe an immense number of commandments, prohibitions, precepts, and other such restrictions, so that Christianity is a heavy and oppressive way of living, and it would therefore be more liberating to live without all these burdens. But I would like to make it clear that to be sustained by this great Love and God’s sublime revelation is not a burden, but rather a set of wings—that it is truly beautiful to be a Christian. It is an experience that gives us room to breathe and move, but most of all, it places us within a community since, as Christians, we are never alone: first of all, there is God, who is always with us; secondly, we are always forming a great community among ourselves: a community of people together on a journey, a community with a project for the future. All of this means that we are empowered to live a life worth living. This is the joy of being a Christian: that it is beautiful and right to believe!””

~Pope Benedict XVI 2005

(quotes snipped from Vatican website:vatican.va)

Thanks, Bookcat. I had already been forewarned about that and have no intention of doing so, especially because I am not Catholic and I realize that the Eucharist (Holy Communion for me) is supposed to be just for Catholics and maybe a few other denominations, but not mine.
[/quote]

Your welcome. I was young (a teen) and did not know that I ought not receive yet (was not Catholic) or what or rather Who I was receiving…

Legalistic? No not per se (sure there are laws etc but that is not the focus…all societies need laws…even the Boy Scouts…)

Here:

““To gaze upon Christ!” If we do this, we realize that Christianity is more than and different from a moral code, from a series of requirements and laws. It is the gift of a friendship that lasts through life and death: “No longer do I call you servants, but friends” (Jn 15:15), the Lord says to his disciples. We entrust ourselves to this friendship. Yet precisely because Christianity is more than a moral system, because it is the gift of friendship, for this reason it also contains within itself great moral strength, which is so urgently needed today on account of the challenges of our time. If with Jesus Christ and his Church we constantly re-read the Ten Commandments of Sinai, entering into their full depth, then a great, valid and lasting teaching unfolds before us. The Ten Commandments are first and foremost a “yes” to God, to a God who loves us and leads us, who carries us and yet allows us our freedom: indeed, it is he who makes our freedom real (the first three commandments). It is a “yes” to the family (fourth commandment), a “yes” to life (fifth commandment), a “yes” to responsible love (sixth commandment), a “yes” to solidarity, to social responsibility and to justice (seventh commandment), a “yes” to truth (eighth commandment) and a “yes” to respect for other people and for what is theirs (ninth and tenth commandments). By the strength of our friendship with the living God we live this manifold “yes” and at the same time we carry it as a signpost into this world of ours today.”

~ Pope Benedict XVI 8 September 2007

““I want them to understand that it is beautiful to be a Christian! The generally prevailing idea is that Christians have to observe an immense number of commandments, prohibitions, precepts, and other such restrictions, so that Christianity is a heavy and oppressive way of living, and it would therefore be more liberating to live without all these burdens. But I would like to make it clear that to be sustained by this great Love and God’s sublime revelation is not a burden, but rather a set of wings—that it is truly beautiful to be a Christian. It is an experience that gives us room to breathe and move, but most of all, it places us within a community since, as Christians, we are never alone: first of all, there is God, who is always with us; secondly, we are always forming a great community among ourselves: a community of people together on a journey, a community with a project for the future. All of this means that we are empowered to live a life worth living. This is the joy of being a Christian: that it is beautiful and right to believe!””

~Pope Benedict XVI 2005

(quotes snipped from Vatican website:vatican.va)

Don’t be fooled.

Every faith, every church, every group, has its own man-made beliefs and traditions. All, without exception.

Okay tommy, If purgatory was real, thats just a simple way to get to heaven and a way to allow sin to carry on because hey we will still go through purgatory, why did jesus die on the cross? To take away our sins? Well if he’s already died, why would Go put you in a cosmic oven to make sure you get to heaven? Its YOLT You only live twice not 3 times, What would be the purpose of purgatory if their is judgement day?

Your misunderstanding what the Church teaches. Your misunderstanding purgatory --can anything unclean enter heaven -see Revelation -no. Purgatory is God making those who have been saved by Jesus – completely ready for heaven - removing venial sins and making us more like Jesus (if such is still needed). Such is the final application of what Jesus didon the Cross and in his resurrection. Not something apart from it. One can say it is the Love of Jesus -making us fully ready for heaven.

Again -please this is not your thread nor is this the subject of the thread. Cease as per the rules of the forum.

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*]Do not view the discussion area as a vehicle for single-mindedly promoting an agenda.
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Calling core beliefs, which you obviously have no understanding of, “lies”. probably is less than “respectful”.

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