I sometimes get asked the question by protestants “What church do you go to?” and I am not sure how to answer this question. I could answer the name of my parish church, but I don’t feel that it presents the bigger wider picture of the universality of the Catholic Church.
To me the question is inherently worded according to protestant specifications. But for me, I don’t just go to a church which exists in my own corner of the world, I go to church yes, but within a much bigger global context of the Church, the Catholic Church.
How do I respond, as a Catholic, to this common but difficult very protestantly worded question? I usually fumble, so help would be appreciated.
Don’t overthink it. Just tell them St. Your Parish. (Pretty much the formula for the name of all our churches,) If you want to get fancy, St. Your Parish Catholic Church. If you answer, “I go St. My Parish which is part of the universal Catholic Church with 2,000 years of tradition that is all over the world and every day each church says the same Mass. So yeah, I go to St. My Parish, but it’s more than that.” they may not like the unasked for soap box. Besides, it’s unlikely a Protestant is going to change their entire outlook on Catholicism based on how you say where you go to church.
…imagine speaking with a few people… there’s a super great exchange… then all of the sudden… silence!
…yeah, the question was made…
…my response: “I’m Catholic!”
…during one exchange one person could not hold back his surprise as he exclaimed something to the effect: ‘wow, I would never have thought of it! You know so much about the Scriptures…’
Catholics are not known for their knowledge/familiarity with Scriptures or even their own Faith–sadly, Catholic are known for lack of knowledge are for preponderance of habitual practices.
…another issue on this front is the Protestant perspective… other than the “mega-churches,” from my estimation, most Protestants come from cult-like groups made up of a very defined/centralized number of families and extended friends/families… they cannot conceive of the idea of the Catholic Church as a huge single-family and extended friends/family organism.
This of course allows for a great opportunity to dialogue–“I’m Catholic… I presently go to the parish/es “xyz.””
…but to make this work, we must be knowledgeable of our Faith and Scriptures… so we must not only seek to know how to answer, but we must seek answers for ourselves–we must learn about our Faith and study the Sacred Scriptures… in order to give answers to those who ask about our sojourn!
Around here, I’m always a little wary of the reaction, so I simply say “we’re Catholic”. If that isn’t met with dismissal or disgust, I may further discuss which parish. People who are in a position to ask me this often think we have something in common and mistakenly believe that my response nullifies their assumptions. I then often try to further the discussion to show them that they were not entirely wrong after all.
I either answer with the name of my parish, or by saying “I’m Roman Catholic.” It depends on with whom I’m speaking and the context of the question. :shrug:
Actually, SO MANY of the parishes in Denver are not “Saint Your Parish.” And I absolutely love the names of these parishes for the the way they direct my attention to certain aspects of the faith. For example:
Nativity of Our Lord
Sacred Heart of Mary
Spirit of Christ
Mother of God
Immaculate Heart of Mary
Sacred Heart of Jesus
Our Lady of Fatima
Queen of Vietnamese Martyrs
…and of course, the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception.
I know this is a little off topic. But honestly, if I tell one of my protestant friends that I attend, for example, Precious Blood Catholic church – and depending on the context of the conversation – it may be an opportunity to talk more deeply about the name of a church and what it presents to the public.
I was asked if I had a church home when I stopped in at their little car wash last Saturday. 3 people approached me separately during the 15 minutes I was there. I am used to this as I live in Louisiana.I answered I am catholic ,there response is usually surprise and they don’t know how to respond. Even after I repeated I am catholic he says you are invited to join us this Sunday at XYZ church we would love to have you come. I just smiled and said that probably cant happen. I feel most protestants are evangelizing at their events and feel like they have failed if they don’t succeed. Some times I pass by their bake sales and car washes because of these uncomfortable interactions. I really do not appreciate having my personal beliefs discussed at these public events they hold. It would be more okay with me if they just hand out their little flyers or cards and say you are welcome if you would like to join us.
It’s not so much that I am looking for a soap box, since that is not really dialoguing, it is more that I find the question unusually worded and assumptively protestant in nature.
To be honest most of the time I expect the response to my answer to be a 5 second silence followed by a radical change in subject, though I have also experienced laughter. I am therefore wondering if there is a better style of answer which could produce constructive dialoging.
…I think that that’s part of their proselytizing–I once had a fellow follow me from the parish I attended to a youth group which I worked with… his whole idea was that he would attend Mass and a group meeting so that I would join him in his church; he insisted so much that I acquiesced–after the services at his church we spend over one hour discussing the differences of our respective groups and the final take was that I should join their group…
One particular group that has a “take no prisoners” attitude is the Jehovah Witnesses… they begin the encounter with something akin to “…do you believe in God?” or “…do you read the Bible?” Yet, no matter what you answer them they remain steadfast that they are the true “visible” church of God and that to know the truth of the Scriptures you must join them…
It’s both alarming and disheartening to experience such encounters… mainly because they refuse to accept anything other then their denominational’s take on Scriptures and on what it means to be Catholic and if you are open to sharing Scriptures/conversations with them their goal is not an equal exchange of thought but to gain a convert to their group; so no matter what a Catholic has to say or share it is automatically rejected because it is perceived as wrong Catholic theology.
I’m sorry if I came off as accusing you of soap boxing. Wasn’t my intention. Though how exactly is it uniquely Protestant in wording? Just curious.
Gertabelle, interesting. The two Catholic churches within easy biking distance of me are St. Your Parish ones so I guess I forget that other names are used too. Out of curiosity do those churches have separate patron saints aside from the name?
It is unique to protestant because on the one hand as a Catholic I go to the local Catholic Church, and everywhere I go I look around and there is a sign to that local Catholic Church. But for a protestant they can pass 30 other protestant churches to get to their specific church and they can drive half way across a city.
If I were to shift my address, I would shift to the local Catholic parish. But if protestant, I would have to hunt around the 30 other protestant churches to find the one which suited me. And then quite possibly not find what I am looking for.
If as a Catholic, I were to drive outside my parish, in order to go to church, I would have failed, not the Catholic Church.