“There are not one hundred people in the United States who hate The Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they wrongly perceive the Catholic Church to be.”
-Fulton J. Sheen
I don’t know that I can say I ever full-on hated the Catholic Church. But there were many years where I know I didn’t like it very much.
I know that there are many objections to the Catholic Church, and I can’t possibly name or understand them all. I can only know the experience in my own head. I know what my own objections were, and I know that many of my objections were amongst the pretty common ones. Like the deal with Mary and The Saints, Purgatory, Earning One’s Salvation Through Works (say whaa?), Accepting the Authority of the Church on the same level as The Bible, etc.
Those poor, weird, misguided, though often good-hearted, Catholics, I thought.
However, I had a few things to learn. During my own Conversion Journey to the Catholic Church, I found that most of the beliefs I had about what the the Catholic Church taught were actually incorrect. (Whew! … Especially about the earning my own salvation thing). And, others, I found out, I only had understood in the most shallow sense. It was like, at first, before I knew any better, I was looking at what was supposed to be art, but all I could see was grey. How could that possibly be art? It’s just grey. That doesn’t make sense. But, as I learned about where I was standing in relation to the rest of the painting, I found out I was staring at only a 2 inch section of an entire, larger-than-life mural on a wall. Once I backed up, I could see the bigger picture. Then that grey piece didn’t strike me as so odd.
Then imagine that someone informed me I was wearing glasses that only allowed me to see the world in shades of black and white. And I took them off. And the whole mural was actually painted in the most vivid colors imaginable. That’s kind of what coming into the Catholic Church did for my Christian faith, once I had the curiosity and the openness to understand the reality of the situation.
One of my own biggest problems prior to my Confirmation was that I had only ever studied or listened to Protestant sources on Catholicism, which, as it turns out, wasn’t the best way to get the most accurate info.
It would be like someone saying there was going to be a lecture on Christianity, and you find out that that the speaker is an Athiest. Would we be able to trust that an Athiest would provide us with the most accurate information about Christian beliefs? I don’t think so. They think Christianity is at best a fairy-tale, and at worst an evil to society. It would be better, if one wanted to understand Christianity accurately, to seek out a reputable source from inside the faith itself.
The same thing applies with where we get our information on Catholicism. If I got my sources on the Catholic Church from someone whose main aim is to prove the Church is wrong, I can’t guarantee I’m going to be getting accurate information. And, based on my experience, I can probably guarantee I won’t.
That’s what happened to me. And, when I started looking into things from the Catholic perspective, I was, time and time again, like “Oh- wow. I did not understand that correctly.” And then I was like “Oh- wow. This stuff makes a ton of sense.” And then, “Oh- wow. I want in.”
So, too, I would recommend this to anyone who has any sort of qualms or questions or thoughts about what the Catholic Church teaches. Try going to the source. Step back from that 2 inch section of mural, and allow yourself to accurately see the bigger picture. Take off those shades.
Feel free to…
Send This Catholic Family an email. Ask some questions. We love to chat! I think coming from a Protestant background, sometimes talking to a convert can help bridge the language/vocabulary gap. There are certain instances where Catholics and Protestants use the same word to mean different things. And, from personal experience, there are certain places it makes more sense to start when looking for an answer to a specific question coming from the outside.
Check out Catholicism For Dummies. A really great, accessible resource filled with accuracy.
For straightforward answers online… Catholic Answers.
Wrapping ‘er Up
I guess the point of this post is to suggest that anyone who has questions about the Catholic faith take a closer look, and go right to the source to do it. In my own story, a lot of misconceptions were laid aside. I think it would help all us Christians to grow closer together in dialogue and in Christian Unity, if, at the very least, we are able to understand each other accurately. And, who knows, there might just be some beauty and some truth lurking in a place you didn’t know it could be found.