This is a repost because I accidentally deleted the previous. My sincere thanks to all who replied previously. I have these replies in my email.
I was baptized Catholic, but was removed from the Church as a child when my parents divorced. I later became evangelical, went to Seminary, and am now in evangelical ministry vocationally. But I feel drawn back to Catholicism…primarily because of the sacraments.
Without the sacraments, the faith stands to slide into being just another philosophy or worldview. Also, just as Christian apologists will say to the atheist that if there is no God, then there is no basis for objective truth, and therefore no basis to claim one moral code superior to another; without a final aribiter (i.e. the Magesterium), there is really no basis for saying that any one biblical hermeneutic is objectively correct. From the prosperity gospel to Protestantism’s progressive movement, we see what happens when given the option to interpret Scripture however you please. Finally, there is so much to be gained from the early church, and it seems that Protestants sometimes pretend the first 1500 years of Christianity didn’t exist. These are all drawing me back to Rome.
What I struggle with is the Marian aspect. I’m reading Bernard of Clairvaux, and believe that he denied the Immaculate Conception. I believe that St. Thomas Aquinas did, too. (Both were before the IC was declared dogma.) In my heart, I am skeptical at best, though may be able to go along if this is church teaching. Is “skeptical assent” enough to rejoin the Catholic Church? Even if I “rejoin” and call myself a Catholic, am I truly a Catholic if I don’t wholeheartedly assent to all matters of dogma? You can’t force yourself to believe something, so I’m not sure I can rejoin the Catholic Church at this point even if I want to.
Also, I hear Catholics deny that they worship Mary. But my own observation is that there is often a difference between what is written in the Catechism and what is practiced in daily life. The incessant prayer to Mary makes it appear to me that in the hearts of many, devotion to her goes beyond veneration.
Let me state that I, too, love Mary. But at this point I would have a hard time giving Mary the devotion that I see so commonly given to her among faithful Catholics. I have started sneaking off to daily Mass, but am not yet comfortable with the Rosary that is said everyday immediately preceding mass. It seems to me that the purpose is to focus everyone’s heart on Mary before the service begins. Can a person thrive in the Church without embracing the Marian aspect to the degree I observe around me? Can we be faithful Catholics who do not incorporate the Rosary into our daily lives (at least not at the beginning)?
If anyone has any more thoughts, I would be most appreciative. Whether it’s a blind spot or hardness of heart, please pray that God will remove it. Thank you very much…those who have already replied and those who will.