RCIA/Easter Vigil dropout


#1

I grew up a protestant, raised on the Lutheran (ELCA) denomination. I hadn’t been to church in over a decade but remained a Christian through private prayer and bible study.

I’ve been investigating the Catholic Church for about 5 years now. I went through the RCIA program for a year.I enjoyed meeting with people and discussing our faith. However, I found the entire process to be somewhat tedious and annoying. It seemed to me like it was geared toward people who have little Christian background. That’s all well and good, but for people like me, I was bored silly and I felt like my questions were not being answered. NOT ONCE did we read from the Catechism. How can you have Catechesis without the Catechism?!

I dropped out yesterday, just before the Easter Vigil Mass where I was to be confirmed. I called my sponsor and told him that, in a nutshell, I cannot answer the following question in the affirmative in good concience: “Do you accept everything the Church teaches?”. I’m stuck on certain things and I don’t think they can be reconciled.

I’m beginning to wonder if I should take a closer look at the Lutheran (ELCA) church. However, because of their somewhat liberal views on abortion and homosexuality, I have a big problem with them. I like the Missouri Synod but my BIG stumbling block with them is their profession that the Pope is anti-Christ (!) How ridiculous!!

So here I am, looking again at the Catholic Church. My biggest roadblocks here are:

  1. Immaculate Conception. Mary born without sin seems to contradict scripture. There is a passage that says not one is sinless, not one. She was 100% HUMAN, not divine like Christ. She also called Jesus her savior. Why would she need a savior if she were without sin?

  2. Divorce & remarriage. I’ve never been married. However, I’m in my mid-30’s and I hope to find a wife some day. At my age, the chances of finding a wife that hasn’t already been married and is now divorced is pretty much nil. According to Church teaching, I would not be able to take communion if the Church doesn’t grant an annulment to the future spouse. My main point in this is my resistance to papal authority. Yes, I know what Jesus said about this, but it seems to me like the Church is ignoring the context. They seem to do that when it’s convenient.

  3. Confession of sins to a priest. Especially when there is perfect contrition. I have serious theological differences here. The Church cites ONE VERSE where supposedly Jesus instituted the requirement of confession to a priest although this was not mentioned anywhere else in scripture. In fact, confession of sins to God (alone) IS mentioned THROUGHOUT the bible. Perfect contrition? “Yes,” says the Church, “but you must still confess.” Why? Because Rome (man) says so?

  4. No forms of birth control allowed. I can accept the prohibition on forms that kill an embryo (like the pill) but the prohibition on ALL forms seems over-the-top.

  5. Celibate priesthood. Doesn’t affect me personally but I still disagree with this teaching. So does my priest!

I know I’ve touched on a lot of subjects here and I’ve heard answers the questions like these on programs like Catholic Answers (on the radio) and EWTN. I’m not exactly seeking answers to these questions as I’m pretty sure I already know what you (the reader) would say. What I’m asking is, how can I, in good conscience, confess that I believe everything the Church teaches when obviously I don’t? Would I not then be a liar? The people at church (like my sponsor) seem to think I’m worrying too much since not all Catholics believe everything anyway. I can understand one or two differences, but it seems to me that mine are so many that I’m basically still a protestant at heart. :shrug:

Ugh.


#2

I am sorry for your situation. I am sure that it was very, very difficult for you to bring yourself to back out of confirmation the day before. That being said, I am sure you will get plenty of responses to your theological questions. I won’t respond to those, but I just wanted to let you know that I will pray for you. If you are sincerely searching for the truth, trust and God and He will lead you home:) .


#3

I’m sorry you didn’t have a chance to have these questions addressed during RCIA. You showed a ton of integrity by not just “going through the motions” of assenting to the Church’s teachings.

Each issue you’ve raised, frankly, could be a book unto itself. I don’t have time to write a book. :slight_smile: Let me just hit on #1 for half a second-- Mary still needed a saviour, which Jesus was for her, just like everyone else. The only difference is that she was saved by the merits of Jesus Christ from the very moment of her conception-- she was never tainted by the stain of original sin. If Jesus pulled everybody else OUT of the muddy pit, and grabbed his mom by the arm to catch her BEFORE she fell in, she’s still just as saved by Him as everyone else, right?

#5-- this is a matter of discipline, not doctrine. The Church feels, at a matter of prudence, that in this place and time, Roman rite priests should ordinarily be unmarried. There are exceptions to this within the Roman rite (like many Anglican-use priests who are already married and then convert) and of course the Eastern rites also allow priests to marry prior to ordination. At the same time, there is a long (like back to the earliest days of the church) recognition of the value of a celibate vocation, both among men and women. As a practical matter, the way our parishes are currently organized, and given our notoriously poor rate of financially supporting the church, most parishes could not support a married priest with a large number of children. Also, given our society’s grotesque, warped understanding of human sexuality these days, the witness given by those who joyfully embrace celibacy for the sake of the kingdom is indeed a very powerful one. It stands very strongly against our culture’s view of sex as a recreational, animalistic activity.

As one who has joyfully embraced #4, with a houseful of children to prove it, I must now mosey along and pack up some PB&J for tomorrow’s school lunches.

Happy Easter, and stick around the forums. You’ll find great people and great answers to your questions. Maybe (hopefully!) we’ll be welcoming you home to the Church next Easter…

Margaret


#4

You did the right thing Scott. You need to resolve all of this before coming into the Church.

  1. Immaculate Conception. Mary born without sin seems to contradict scripture.

No it does not. There are several very good sources on this.
Immaculate Conception and Assumption
Mary: Full of Grace (Fathers*)
And for an in depth study of all the Marian teachings I very highly recommend CHRIST’S MOTHER AND OURS from the Catholic Home Study Service. I have taken everything that they offer and it’s very well worth it.

There is a passage that says not one is sinless, not one. She was 100% HUMAN, not divine like Christ. She also called Jesus her savior. Why would she need a savior if she were without sin?

Nowhere in authentic and authoritative Catholic teaching will you find an assertion that Mary is divine though many a-Cs wish desperately that it was so. :shrug: I explain it this way. Mary is the second most unique person in all of human history because of her calling to become the Mother of God and because of that the sacrifice of Our Lord Jesus Christ was applied to her in a different way, preemptively, at her conception. This is easy to understand when one remembers that that sacrifice applied to individuals in both directions (OT<-----Mary-±----->NT). If the Ark of the First Covenant had to be especially pure, then how much more so the Ark of the New Covenant (Mary) who carried within her and raised and protected the Son of God.

  1. Divorce & remarriage. I’ve never been married. However, I’m in my mid-30’s and I hope to find a wife some day. At my age, the chances of finding a wife that hasn’t already been married and is now divorced is pretty much nil. According to Church teaching, I would not be able to take communion if the Church doesn’t grant an annulment to the future spouse. My main point in this is my resistance to papal authority. Yes, I know what Jesus said about this, but it seems to me like the Church is ignoring the context. They seem to do that when it’s convenient.

This is not a negotiable point and it shouldn’t be for you either. Did Jesus Allow Divorce? (This Rock: October 2006)

  1. Confession of sins to a priest. Especially when there is perfect contrition. I have serious theological differences here. The Church cites ONE VERSE where supposedly Jesus instituted the requirement of confession to a priest although this was not mentioned anywhere else in scripture. In fact, confession of sins to God (alone) IS mentioned THROUGHOUT the bible. Perfect contrition? “Yes,” says the Church, “but you must still confess.” Why? Because Rome (man) says so?

Not true at all. Have a look at this article from my blog. Catholic Confession. It’s anything but based upon a singe verse of scripture.

  1. No forms of birth control allowed. I can accept the prohibition on forms that kill an embryo (like the pill) but the prohibition on ALL forms seems over-the-top.

Apologetics and birth control and CONTRACEPTION REVISITED

  1. Celibate priesthood. Doesn’t affect me personally but I still disagree with this teaching. So does my priest!

Here you err again, as does your priest if what you say is true. (Not that I doubt you.) Here again too, I have an article on my blog that resulted from my own study of this and in response to an oppositional post here at CAF. Priestly celibacy is unBiblical. NOT!

I know I’ve touched on a lot of subjects here and I’ve heard answers the questions like these on programs like Catholic Answers (on the radio) and EWTN. I’m not exactly seeking answers to these questions as I’m pretty sure I already know what you (the reader) would say. What I’m asking is, how can I, in good conscience, confess that I believe everything the Church teaches when obviously I don’t? Would I not then be a liar? The people at church (like my sponsor) seem to think I’m worrying too much since not all Catholics believe everything anyway. I can understand one or two differences, but it seems to me that mine are so many that I’m basically still a protestant at heart. :shrug:

No, I think you’ve doe the right thing and for the right reasons. I suggest that you make a serious and prayerful in depth study of these things and ask the Holy Spirit to show you what HE teaches. Remember, it’s not a matter of what we think, but of what God teaches, and our obedience to that. The rest I leave in His more than capable hands.
The peace of the Lord be always with you.


#5

Adam and Eve were born without sin. Would you say they were not human? Do you believe that Christ was 100% human (in addition to 100% divine)? If you don’t then you would be falling into the Monophysite heresy.
Adam, Eve and Jesus Christ were all three individuals that Catholics and Protestants would agree were born without sin. It’s clear that that Paul was using hyberbole when he said “everyone”.

And God is the savior of Mary. Maybe you’ve heard of this analogy before. A man is walking in a foggy wood and almost falls off a cliff (Original Sin) but at the last second he grabs the ledge but is unable to pull himself up. He cries for help and a ranger (God) comes to lift him up . Now a woman (Mary) who was hiking was stopped by the ranger before she fell of the cliff.
Both of the hikers were saved by the ranger but whereas the man was in danger of falling to his death, the woman was saved before she even entered that danger.
Hope that made sense.

  1. Divorce & remarriage. I’ve never been married. However, I’m in my mid-30’s and I hope to find a wife some day. At my age, the chances of finding a wife that hasn’t already been married and is now divorced is pretty much nil. According to Church teaching, I would not be able to take communion if the Church doesn’t grant an annulment to the future spouse. My main point in this is my resistance to papal authority. Yes, I know what Jesus said about this, but it seems to me like the Church is ignoring the context. They seem to do that when it’s convenient.

catholic.com/thisrock/2005/0509sbs.asp

  1. Confession of sins to a priest. Especially when there is perfect contrition. I have serious theological differences here. The Church cites ONE VERSE where supposedly Jesus instituted the requirement of confession to a priest although this was not mentioned anywhere else in scripture. In fact, confession of sins to God (alone) IS mentioned THROUGHOUT the bible. Perfect contrition? “Yes,” says the Church, “but you must still confess.” Why? Because Rome (man) says so?

catholic.com/thisrock/1998/9810fea2.asp

  1. No forms of birth control allowed. I can accept the prohibition on forms that kill an embryo (like the pill) but the prohibition on ALL forms seems over-the-top.

catholic.com/thisrock/1990/9011fea1.asp

  1. Celibate priesthood. Doesn’t affect me personally but I still disagree with this teaching. So does my priest!

This is actually a matter of Canon Law rather then doctrine. Eastern Catholic priests are allowed to have wives and they are in full communion with Rome. I believe you’re free to disagree with this matter (just as you would be free to disagree as to the language used in the Mass)


#6

Thanks for the clarifications. Some of that does make sense.

Hmm… canon law vs. doctrine. So I can disagree about some aspects of canon law and still profess I believe what the church teaches as long as I’m in harmony with doctrine? Figuring out the difference can be tricky. Must I be 100% in agreement even with all doctrine? I mean seriously, is ANYBODY 100%? Perhaps I’m being too rigid?


#7

May the peace of the risen Load be with you. As a cradle Catholic I do not have any real idea what you are going through, however I offer this. God created us for a reason, to love and serve Him. His commandments and the teachings of the Church are designed protect us from ourselves and guide us in the pursuit of that plan. The hard part is trusting that, even if we don’t understand, the best intentions for our well-being are in mind.


#8

Canon Law is more of the legal aspects of the Church. Doctrine is what the Church believes. What language the Mass is in is part of Canon Law and if you believe that every Mass should be in Latin then that’s fine. Belief that God is made of three distinct persons who are of one essence, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit is a part of Catholic Doctrine. Canon Law can be changed with a very good reason because it is how the truth is implemented but Doctrine can never be changed because it is the truth.
If you disagree with Clerical Celibacy you need a good reason of course. For example you can’t really say that you want (non-worshiped) images of pagan gods in all churches for the artistic value since that would be sacreligous.

I don’t think it can be reasonably expected for everyone to be in 100% agreement (there’s no such thing as perfect) but they should at least try


#9

I think you are right in what you did, and I congratulate you on your integrity. If you have that many doubts and unanswered questions, you should not join the Catholic Church until you gain more understanding. I have a friend who became Catholic 20 -some years ago because her husband was and she wanted to “have the same religion.” She didn’t really want to convert. She loved her old church. My friends and I told her not to convert, but she did anyway. After a few years she left the Church, her children have become non-denominational, and last I heard, she does not go to any church anymore. Her husband was not pressuring her to convert, it was her own idea.

Wait until you have your questions answered and your major doubts dispelled. Pray for understanding and study the Catholic Faith on your own. Some things may be hard to understand, but if one is willing to submit to the authority of the Church in these matters, the Holy Spirit will guide them. But if you are having trouble accepting major doctrines, like you say, it is best to wait. Don’t act in hypocrisy–God prefers us to be up front and honest with him and ourselves.


#10

I also agree that you did wise thing. My only advice would be to continue praying and searching for answers.

God has a purpose for you and He will lead you on your path home.


#11

I agree with what most have said to you and I will only give you the
following suggestions:
If you don’t understand a teaching and/or disagree with it, ask
WHY the church teaches that. Eg, artificial contraception. Read
Pope John Paul II’s letters on the subject. Theology of the Body
by Christopher West and others.
Find a knowledgeable Convert who has “been there, doubted
that” and now believes.
For the latter you might find someone at the Journey Home website since so many converts there were Clergy in Protestant
and other faiths.
As a “cradle Catholic”, I truly can’t put myself in your shoes for
many of these questions.
Praying for your continuing journey home.


#12

I think these are the keys to your post. The celibacy of the Priest is a key issue for you, or there is another issue not listed in the first post?


#13

Sorry to read that yot you felt unchallenged in RCIA. It certainly should be a place where you feel free to ask the tough questions. Personally, though, I also think it’s a good place (for lifelong Christians, in particular) to learn humility.

I’d be happy to send you an article or two of mine on Mary, if they might help you. Feel free to contact me off board. As far as confession, there is also an interesting verse concerning the “ministry of reconciliation” in 2 Corinthians, chapter 5. Until recently, I was unaware of this reference, but it seems another example of strong biblical support for the Sacrament of Reconciliation.


#14

She also called Jesus her savior

?

Ahem, she called God her Savior…

Luke 1:47 And my spirit hath rejoiced** in God my Saviour.**


#15

First of all I think you did the right thing.

Second - you have a ton of great responses, so I’m not going to address everything in your OP. Just this one.

Keep in mind that this is not a “Catholic thing”. All Christians should believe that marriage is forever, if they aren’t, they are not following God’s commands. So - if you were to meet someone who is divorced and her marriage was not investigated and found to be valid or invalid, she is considered to be married. Period. I don’t care how she feels about it, it’s not open to debate. You would be marrying an already married woman. Again - this is not a “Catholic thing” - we do not have exclusive rights to God’s teaching on this.

You need to more accurately understand what the Church is doing in the annulment process. The Church can not make anything null that was once valid. The Church only assesses the state of the marriage to determine if it was ever valid IN THE FIRST PLACE. If it is deemed to be valid, then that person - even if they may have a civil divorce decree - is STILL and FOREVER married. Not “in the eyes of the Church” as some are prone to say, but in the eyes of God.

I doubt that you would want to marry a woman who is still married. :slight_smile:

I will keep you in my prayers as you continue your discernment!

Oh - one more thing - you don’t HAVE to go through RCIA, you may obtain private instruction if your priest approves it. You may wish to speak with him about this as an option for you, and see if you don’t have to wait till next Easter. :slight_smile:

~Liza


#16

Scott – as many other posters have said, you did the right thing! Thank you for your integrity in this matter. :slight_smile:

Regarding your issue with the Marian doctrines – have you ever read Hail Holy Queen by Scott Hahn? It’s one of the best resources about Church teaching on Mary that I’ve ever read. Dr. Hahn used to be Protestant – in fact, he once destroyed a rosary that used to be his grandmother’s! – and yet he came to fully understand the Church’s teachings about Mary.

Regarding your issue with contraception – I recommend Janet Smith’s excellent article titled “Contraception: Why Not?” as well as Christopher West’s Good News About Sex and Marriage.

Good luck to you on your journey!


#17

Jesus is God. :wink:

Jesus saved Mary from sin before she sinned, unlike the rest of us, who didn’t get saved until after. But it is Jesus who saves her, still. She didn’t give herself the gift of the Immaculate Conception, after all.

For me, the bottom line is this:

Do we, or do we not, trust Jesus to know what He is doing?

Jesus founded the Catholic Church, set Peter in charge of it, and promised that the gates of hell would not prevail. These things are not up for debate; they are matters of historical record.

Even atheists and unbelievers know that Jesus founded a Church and set Peter in charge of it, and that the Popes of the Catholic Church can be traced in an unbroken succession back to St. Peter.

What they doubt is His divinity; not the history of the Church.

If we do trust Jesus, then we use our will to decide that we believe what the Church teaches, and we put aside our personal feelings.

If we don’t trust Jesus, but prefer to be guided by our feelings and personal opinions, then how can we even call ourselves Christians, in the first place? :shrug:


#18

I think the OP was referring to sola scriptura notice " I have serious theological differences" (and where would that theology be from?) and a few other comments indicate he believes several Protestant teachings, however he is not clear on why he is considering Catholism. Nor why he is considering leaving the Protestant religion he believes.


#19

Originally Posted by JoeyWarren forums.catholic.com/images/buttons_cad/viewpost.gif
?

Ahem, she called God her Savior…

Luke 1:47 And my spirit hath rejoiced* in God my Saviour***.

Jesus is God. :wink:

Aye righto mate. But at the time Mary said this, the only God she was aware of was whom we call God the Father. Protestants try to read back into what she said an imply that the Saviour mentioned is Jesus. At this juncture in time, the only recognized God was God. The aspect of Jesus and the Holy Spirit being God also did not come into play until Jesus started his ministry.

He have to keep things in the proper cultural and historic perspective.


#20

Ah, I wasn’t. So I guess I lied:blush: … but eventually I came around. Can’t say that I’m 100% yet but a lot closer than say 3 yrs ago. I’m sure there is something I’m supposed to believe that I haven’t even heard of yet… Some things just can’t make sense until you understand other things… No way to understand everything the Catholic Church has in it’s 2000 yr History in just a few months. Let alone meeting in some RCIA classes for an hour or two a week. Based on what I’ve read on CAF, some seminarians don’t have everything down yet, either.

Many of your questions can be answered by reading Christopher West’s Theology of the Body for Beginners.

“Nobody wants a Cafeteria Catholic” but many of us here are just that. And what they need is a conversion of heart to go and learn. I think you have that.

If you weren’t ready, you weren’t. It’s OK. Just don’t give up. Here’s a post that you may find interesting. Some just can say “If I’m supposed to believe, I do.” But there are so many of us that just can’t do that. And I’m sure God understands because he made a big deal about Thomas. But he didn’t love Thomas any less.


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