What’s The Purpose of Penance?

When a Catholic goes to Confession, several things happen. We come with contrition and confess our sins. We receive the absolution. Then, the Priest assigns us our penance. But while we may know what to expect, it’s also immensely important to understand why we are doing these things.

I’ve written extensively about why I absolutely Love Confession, but I haven’t written in-depth about penance and its purpose and value. This post is an attempt to do just that.

What is Sin?

At its core, sin is turning away from God. It’s an active decision on our part. It’s us saying “No, God, I won’t do things your way. I know better than you.” Sin can happen in big ways (mortal sin, which breaks our relationship with God) and in small ways (venial sin, which wounds it).

All sin is sickness for our souls.

What is Penance?

Penance is something for the confessor to do after Confession ends, on their own, and hopefully as soon as possible. Sometimes it’s a prayer or a series of prayers. Sometimes it’s something related to an issue the confessor struggles with. It could look many different ways, and could take varying amounts of time. Some of my personal favorite penances have been ones that directly related to an area where I struggle.

But, regardless of what penance looks like it is always, always, a way to repair the harm that sin has caused in our lives.

It is meant to help us turn our hearts back to God. Just as our sin was an active choice turning away from God, penance is an active choice turning back to God.

Do I have to do penance to be forgiven?

This is something that is often misunderstood, even by Catholics. Once the Priest offers absolution during Confession, we are forgiven. The grace is there because of Jesus. Not because of anything we can do. So, no, penance is not required for forgiveness to occur.

But then, if we’re already forgiven, why do we need it?

Medicine For The Soul

Just as sin wounds (or breaks) our relationship with God and makes our souls sick, penance is medicine that helps us turn our hearts back towards our Creator. Confession removes that sin from our shoulders. Penance helps us move towards a more holy future.

As such, whether our penance is prayer, or something specific to an area we struggle, we should not approach penance with the attitude of simply ‘checking something off a list.’

If we do penance with a disengaged heart, the purpose of penance isn’t served. Penance is a way to turn our hearts back to God, it’s a prescription for healing, and, much like any other medication, it’s up to us to use it. If we’ve gone to Confession with a truly contrite heart, it follows that we would want to continue on that path of obedience and progression towards holiness by following through on our penance as soon as possible, and by using that as a springboard to help spur us on towards a closer walk with God.

It’s a beautiful medicine we are offered, and it is to the benefit of our souls to take it.




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Son Rise Morning Show Interview!

This Catholic Family had the privilege to participate in an interview with the Son Rise Morning Show about our recent article on Why I Pray To Saints.

It was a pleasure to be interviewed for the show, and here’s a link to the podcast. This Catholic Family’s interview takes place at 78:30.

Son Rise Morning Show Podcast


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Why I Pray To Saints

Praying to Saints is one of those big dividing lines between the Catholic and Protestant worlds. I was very against it as a Protestant. But what I found as I first began to explore the Catholic faith, is a lot of the confusion stems from different definitions of the same word, and an answer that can be found in Scripture about whether or not those in heaven can hear us at all.

The Meaning of The Word

‘Prayer’ is the word a Protestant uses when they talk to God. There is a connotation of worship when a Protestant uses the word ‘prayer’. This is why, as a Protestant myself, I firmly believed prayer was something reserved for our communication to God alone. I certainly didn’t want to worship anyone other than God, and therefore I wouldn’t be found praying to Saints or to anyone else in heaven.

When a Catholic uses the word ‘prayer,’ and are talking about prayer to God, then yes, we mean the same exact thing.

But I think the misunderstanding stems from a second use of that very same word. Because when a Catholic is “Praying to a Saint,” he or she is asking for someone in heaven to pray for us, just as we would ask a friend at church to pray for us. We are not worshipping Saints, or attributing anything divine to them. But, since they are already in heaven and are without the distractions of this life, Saints are actually great people to intercede on our behalf. Yes, we should and do pray directly to God, Jesus and The Holy Spirit. We begin and end all our prayers addressing the Trinity. But, just as we ask our friends on earth to pray for us, so, too, do we ask our friends in heaven.

Can They Hear Us?

This was another big one for me. Okay, sure, if we define Praying to Saints as simply asking for their prayer on our behalf, it isn’t such an odd practice. But, all that is a moot point if those in heaven can’t hear us.

A big scripture for me that addressed this issue was Revelation 5:8.

“Each of the elders held a harp and gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of the holy ones.”

This verse makes it at least clear that those in heaven are aware of our requests to God, as they are holding up the bowls. Whether or not we ask the Saints specifically, I found it inarguable that they know our prayer requests, and also play an active role in presenting them to God. By offering the bowls up, they are in fact interceding for people on earth.

This is not to mention that those throughout all of Early Church history found it acceptable, and good, even, to ask for the intercession of the Saints in heaven. I found myself time and time again on my own personal journey, assenting the Early Church knew what it was doing.

Because of My Weakness

Another reason I pray to Saints is because of my own weakness.

I have three little kids running around at home. I’m often busy, and sometimes overwhelmed. It is really difficult for my brain to simmer down.

But I know the Saints are there. They don’t have those burdens. They can fervently intercede for me while I’m changing the baby, or while I’m at the grocery store, or tending to a scraped knee. I can pray then, too. But I fully admit I am weak in the area of praying without ceasing. All to often, I’m consumed by the task at hand and I simply don’t remember. It is a discipline I know I need to improve. The Saints, I hope, intercede for me on that issue as well. But, in the meantime, I know they are there, and the prayers of the faithful are powerful prayers indeed. I know I am in good hands.


There are many Catholic things I never thought I’d do. I’ll share more on that another time. Praying to the Saints is definitely one of them. But I am so thankful now for the souls in heaven that can intercede for me in my weakness.

I talk to St. Anthony when something is lost. I talk to St. Teresa of Calcutta about social justice issues. I talk to Mary, our Lord’s Mother, about being a mom, and raising kids. And I talk to Jesus about all that stuff too. Because by being Catholic, it isn’t always either or. This is another example of the very awesome Catholic “Both And.”

Just another of the many things I am thankful for as a convert to The Church.


Praying to Saints

Intercession of the Saints

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Do Catholics Have A Different Bible?

I used to get quite squeamish when sitting in Mass with JP’s family, especially when one of the readings would come from one of the books in the Old Testament that wasn’t in the Protestant Bible. The Books of Wisdom, Sirach, and others were foreign to me.

I was uncomfortable because I was convinced those books did not belong in the Biblical Canon. But, looking back, it surprises me how I assumed the Protestant position on the Canon of the Old Testament, adamently protesting those seven books, but having absolutely no idea why I protested them. I didn’t even think it was something I needed to look into. The Catholics were clearly wrong.

Had someone asked me why I didn’t consider the seven books that make the difference between the Protestant and Catholic Bibles to belong in Scripture, I wouldn’t have been able to give a single reason. Other than to say I grew up with the Protestant Bible. I had simply no justification for my stance on the matter.


Well… all that started to change when JP and I began attending RCIA class at our local Parish.

Due to my vague understanding that the Catholic Bible was different, I brought it up during one of my first classes. If the Catholics had the wrong Bible, it would be an easy way for me to stay Protestant. And though I definitely wanted Truth, I didn’t particularly like the idea of how becoming Catholic could affect my relationships with the people at our Protestant Church. No one at the time even knew we were attending those classes. If I could quickly dismiss one of the main Catholic claims, I could go comfortably back to life as I knew it, and no one would know of my brief foray into Catholic territory.

However, this question was one of the earliest ones to be answered above and beyond to my satisfaction due to Church history and sound logic. And therefore it was one of my first major objections to the Catholic faith that turned out to be unfounded.

The Books In Question

The actual difference between the Catholic and Protestant Bible consists of seven books: Tobit, 1 and 2 Maccabees, Wisdom, Judith, Baruch, Sirach, and additions to Esther and Daniel.

And, in the end, it all ended up being pretty simple for me.

The Reformers decided to utilize the Hebrew version of the Old Testament when they determined Canon during the Reformation. And, simply put, the Hebrew Canon of the Old Testament, which excluded those seven books, was determined by the Jewish people approximately 100 years after Jesus walked the earth.

So the question really became… did Jewish people, over 100 years after Christ, have the Authority to correctly determine the Christian Canon? Did they have the Holy Spirit? 100 years after Christ, those who remained Jewish certainly didn’t even accept Jesus as the Messiah. So, on the issue of their authority to correctly decide Canon, I had to realize the answer was no. And if the answer is no, then the Protestant church, in utilizing that Canon, had to be the ones in error.

Jesus Used It

A better approach, I discovered, when thinking about what books belong in the Old Testament, was to figure out what Jesus used, as well as the Early Christian Church, and go from there.

It turns out, when Jesus quotes the Old Testament in Scripture, a vast majority of the time, he is quoting the Septuagint, or Greek translation. An example would be Mark 7:6-7. It also turns out that the Greek translation was very commonly used during the time of Jesus by the Jewish people.

And if Jesus is okay quoting the Septuagint, which contains those seven books… then why would I refuse to do the same?

The Early Church’s Old Testament overwhelmingly included those seven books right up until the time of the Reformation. So the idea of excluding those books in the Old Testament Canon is only as old as the Reformation itself. And if Wisdom, Maccabees, Sirach, and others don’t belong in the Bible, then Christians had it wrong for the first 3/4ths of Christianity’s existence as a religion on this earth. And that just doesn’t make sense.

Extra Books

Understanding the history of how the Canon was developed, along with the other historical evidence of what Old Testament Jesus used, as well as what the Early Church used, I found very quickly I could longer justify my previous conclusion.

It’s interesting now… before I would have described the Catholic Bible as having seven “extra” books. Now, I describe the Protestant Bible as missing Canonical texts. Understanding the solid foundation of the Catholic Canon of Scripture was one of the first of many puzzle pieces that fell into place on my journey to the Catholic Church.



Canon of the Holy Scriptures (super thorough)

Why Are Protestant and Catholic Bibles Different?

On Jesus Using the Septuagint

What Bible did Jesus Use?

Interested in More Catholic 101? Check out our Catholic 101 Page!


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5 Things A Catholic Can Do To Help A Protestant Feel Comfortable at Mass

Having a Protestant friend visit Mass may seem like a big deal, or not, depending on you and your friend. But I know, as a Protestant, there was a lot that confused me during Mass, and I often didn’t feel super comfortable. The following things all would have been helpful to me as a visitor, and I hope they are able to help others as well. Because Mass can be a rich faith-building experience for Catholics and other visiting Christians alike.

1- Explain what the Holy Water/Baptism font is and why we stick our fingers in there and cross ourselves.

Hint: It is not a bird bath. But seriously, just a simple explanation that we utilize the font to remember our own baptism, and cross ourselves, which I write more about here, as a recognition of the Trinity, will go a long way in making that particular practice less odd to a visitor.

2- Show them how to use the Missalette (and find one for them).

What we do when during Mass becomes second nature for a practicing Catholic. But, as a former Protestant, speaking from experience, I was lost for a long time when attending Mass with JP’s family. Finding a Missalette for your friend, and showing them how to use it is one of the greatest kindnesses you can do for someone visiting Mass. They can then follow along with the readings, find the songs, follow along with the prayers, and the whole order of service. They will have something to guide them so they know what is coming next, and what words they should be saying during the Creed, for example, or at other times, like the Penetential Rite.

3- Prep them on when we will be standing/kneeling ahead of time.

Just as a general rule of thumb, explain that we will be kneeling in front of the Eucharist (which you might need to explain is Holy Communion. Also see #5 of this article.) Explain we will be standing when we pray and out of respect when we hear the Gospel. And explain we sit when we are listening. My article here goes into a bit more detail about what we do when and why, but a brief overview will help a Protestant friend at least be aware of the general purpose and timing of our bodily postures during Mass.

4- Encourage them to participate! 

There are so many ways a Protestant can participate in Mass. Things just might look a bit different, so might be worth going over.

Here are a few ways Protestants can comfortably participate in a Catholic Mass:

  • The Penetential Rite. Most Protestant churches I have been to have some sort of brief moment to acknowledge our sins. The Catholic version is more extensive, but is basically the same concept.
  • Listening to the readings
  • Listening to the homily
  • The Lord’s Prayer (we all have that one!)
  • The Creed (Protestants can totally recite the Nicene or Apostles Creed. It’s all stuff we agree on. Even the part at the end that says “One holy, catholic and apostolic church.” The word ‘catholic’ there is lowercase, and is referring to all of Christianity, the Universal Church, not only Catholicism.)
  • The petitions
  • Most of the songs. There are times when we sing a song to Mary, or sing about the Eucharist in a very Transubstation-oriented way, and they may prefer to stay quiet during those times. But so many of our hymns are theologically in agreement with all of Christianity. They may find they even recognize one or two from their own faith tradition!

5- Explain the Eucharist.

Briefly share why we kneel in front of The Blessed Sacrament. Share that it is because we believe it is truly Jesus in the form of bread and wine, and kneeling is an appropriate response to being in His presence. Give your Protestant friend grace, though, if they choose not to kneel. Obviously it is the True Presence whether they acknowledge it to be or not. But they don’t know it/understand it. It may even be an entirely new concept to them, as Protestant churches view Communion as symbolic.

I remember sitting in Mass with JP’s family as a Protestant, scooting forward in the pew so I could give the person behind me room to kneel, but myself not kneeling because I just didn’t get it yet. I wasn’t trying to be irreverant to Jesus. I just honestly didn’t know He was there.

Also, explain to them about who is able to receive Communion. That it is appropriate for those who believe in the True Presence, and are in a state of grace. Invite them to come up during Communion time, and to cross their arms over the body and receive a blessing. Encourage them that no one will think they are weird for staying back, or crossing their arms. In fact, they are showing respect for our faith by not receiving irreverantly, or feigning agreement in an area where they disagree.


If we have Protestant friends/relatives visiting us in Mass, these 5 things will go a long way from them feeling like outsiders, to being able to follow along and participate as they are comfortable. I know they would have been helpful to me as a Protestant. They were things I learned over time, but I spent many an awkward Mass as I tried to put the pieces together. Protestant services, especially contemporary ones, can be quite different than Catholic Masses, and helping bridge that unfamiliarity is a great step in helping our Protestant brothers and sisters to better understand all that is mysterious to them about the Catholic faith.

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Isn’t Being Catholic Repetitive and Boring?

I’ve heard the following statements, or some variation, from friends and acquaintences over the years:

“Mass is too long.”

“Catholics always look bored.”

“You guys just do the same things over and over.”

But… is Mass really too long? Are Catholics all super bored? Is doing the same thing over and over again really that bad of a thing? Let’s find out.


If we are defining boring as not having stage lights, or Hillsongy-music worthy of youtube sharing, or mega video projectors, then, yah, okay… you have a point. But all that stuff just deals with the appearance of things. You have to be willing to go beyond the surface to understand just how exciting Mass actually is.

Case in point. No one looks at the Mona Lisa and thinks its boring because it’s just a picture of some lady. You might not totally understand it, but you know it’s something special. Likewise, you might not understand symphonies. But you probably can at least admit you don’t understand them, rather than jumping immediately to the conclusion that they are boring. Mass is kind of like that. You might not understand it, but it is anything but boring.

And, historically speaking, time has shown that all that flashy stuff in church doesn’t actually help retain people anyway. In fact, here’s a link to an article about someone who left the church after growing up in the “make Christianity relevant” movement of the past few decades. The author makes a good point that if Christians aren’t even convinced the basic truths of our faith are “not boring,” no one else is going to want in, or want to stay. She was so saturated with relevance and excitement, that once she grew out of buying into the Christian marketing package, she left, having never learned the legitimacy of Christianity’s claim to Truth. And Truth is what makes people stay. Truth is what people live their lives for.

One of the benefits (and sometimes frustrations) of Catholicism being such a big entity, is it is like a huge steamship… it turns slowly. So, it hasn’t gone through the same rapid transition that many evangelical churchs have gone through as far as how the message is packaged. And, innately, it can’t really change all that much. Mass is Mass. The structure of Mass has been the same since the beginnings of Christianity itself, and will continue to be the same until the end of time.

And, just because Mass doesn’t have mega projectors, or Hillsong-style worship, doesn’t mean it doesn’t have anything going on.

But, as with the Mona Lisa or any other great piece of art, or music, it means more if you know what you’re looking at. If a symphony puts you to sleep that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything going on worth paying attention to. On the other hand, if you know the nuances and meaning behind that symphony, you are going to appreciate its beauty so much more.

For anyone who thinks Mass is boring, feel free to start by checking out my post on 5 Cool Facts About Catholic Mass. That’s literally just the tip of the iceburg. Mass is amazing, and beautiful, and rooted in the Bible, as well as Christian and Jewish history and tradition. Each and every Mass contains a real miracle in the Eucharist. Each and every Mass is a chance to come physically in contact with our Savior through Holy Communion. There is literally, nothing boring about Mass, if you know what you’re participating in.

And, I no longer have a lot of patience for the “Catholics look bored” argument. Sure, I may not be bouncing up and down and waving my hands in the air at Mass (though I have worshipped in that way for years in other church settings, so no judment here), but that doesn’t mean I’m not worshipping. We can’t know the state of someone’s heart. And, yeah, in Mass, my face looks more serious sometimes. Sometimes I smile, too. Sometimes, Mass brings me to tears. But, mostly, I probably look serious. And mostly, I hope and I pray, my heart is engaged, regardless of the expression on my face.


I am a teacher by trade. Elementary teacher, to be precise. I think the following analogy is helpful in understanding why repetitiveness can actually be good for us.

When teaching a subject like Writer’s Workshop, at the beginning of the year I set up the structure of that part of our day. It always starts with a mini-lesson, then time for the students to practice the skill of the day with support, and then writing time where I go confer with individual students or small groups. We end by coming all back together to share. The structure is the same every. single. time.

Routines are good for us. Within that structure of Writer’s Workshop, I am making sure my students brain power doesn’t have to be wasted on thinking about what is coming next. I want the routine to become automatic for them, so they can focus their energy on the lesson I have for them for that day.

Likewise, within the structure and routine of Mass (or any church that holds to a routine for their order of service), I don’t have to think about what’s coming next. I can spend my time being prayerful, and listening to what God has for me, and I can also focus on giving worship and reverence to God, without unneccessary distractions. Except those from my troup of tiny humans, which is unavoidable at this phase of life. 🙂

The Rosary is another example of repetitiveness within Catholicism that is actually very helpful. I’ll explain more about the specific prayers in the Rosary, including the Hail Mary, in another post (and also why it isn’t weird). In short, however, the Rosary consists of 5 sets of 10 Hail Marys (each set is called a decade) along with a few other prayers. Within each decade, we focus on a specific set of mysteries within our Christian faith. For example, when we meditate on what we call the Sorrowful Mysteries, we spend a decade on each of the following: Jesus in the garden, Jesus being scourged, Jesus being crowned with thorns, Jesus carrying the cross, and the actual crucifixion. There are also many joful and light-filled mysteries, depending on which set you choose to meditate on. And when we pray a decade, saying the Hail Mary over and over again, that prayer itself becomes a sort of meditation. It helps us block out distractions from our mind, so we can stay focused on the parts of Jesus’ life we want to spend time focusing on and remembering. Another instance when being repetitive is a beautiful thing.


So… Is being Catholic repetitive? Sometimes, sure.

Is it boring? Not if you know what you’re looking at.

And, as always, anyone in any setting can go through the motions and be bored while experiencing something meant to be beautiful. If you go into Mass expecting it to be long and boring, your preconceived notion might just be right. But, if you go into Mass expecting to participate in the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth, to join in with the angel’s songs, and to receive Jesus into yourself, body, blood, soul and divinity in the Eucharist… then you are well prepared to receive the many beautiful benefits of your Catholic faith.




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Why I Believe In Purgatory

Oh my goodness. As a Protestant, Purgatory was the weirdest.

Along with the Mary stuff.

I didn’t think about Purgatory much, but when I did, I had no idea what Catholics were thinking. I thought Purgatory was some sort of bizarre waiting place, like a really long DMV line. Or a bus route that just kept going in circles over and over again. I thought it was either a place where souls somehow had to prove themselves worthy of heaven, or a place where souls waited until God thought it was time to let them in. I knew Purgatory wasn’t supposed to be enjoyable. And I just didn’t see the point.

As I began my journey towards embracing the Catholic faith, I looked into everything I could. At the time, Purgatory was one of the bigger hurdles I had to jump.

I found my original conception of Purgatory was actually, once again, a misconception. And I learned there is a lot that makes sense about believing in Purgatory.

Justification and Sanctification

I know there is quite a bit of hubbub around the definition of Justification between Protestants and Catholics. It was one of the central issues in the Reformation. It seems, however, not many people are aware that Catholics and Lutherans and Methodists, have, for a while now been in agreement on that issue. The Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification is a worthwhile thing to know about.

But, in short, and without going into the specifics of how justification is applied, justification means our salvation. It means heaven is our ultimate destination through Jesus’ atoning work. This article is not the place to delve into details. But, a person justified is in God’s grace.

Sanctification is the process by which we are made holy. By which the sinfulness in our life is burned away as we cooperate with God’s grace, and by which we are made into the likeness of our Heavenly Father.

Side note: I don’t buy the idea that once one is a Christian, sin is a non-issue. I’m not walking around like “oh I sin so much I’m depressed all the time,” but I am very, very aware of my tendency to sin even though I have a Christian faith. I think the Christian traditions that have moved in the direction of assuming that Christ’s work means that sin is not really something we need to worry about or think about much is concerning. I, personally, have found that every moment of every day, I have the choice to cooperate with that which God wishes to do inside of me, and be sanctified, or I can reject that work and choose to sin. I am, therefore, writing from the perspective that Sanctification is an active, not a passive, process by which we cooperate with God.


Perhaps this is a layperson’s oversimplification, but it helped me a lot to think about Purgatory as the completion of one’s sanctification.

Here are a couple examples.

1- A person who believes in Christianity from the earliest age possible. They cooperate with God’s grace in their life, and live a long life of faith. By the end of their life, God has worked in them and through them so much, that they are not selfish, or prideful, or seeking their own comfort. They have been entirely conformed to The Father. We might call this person a Saint.

2- The man on the cross next to Jesus. He had lived a life of sin and selfishness. Yet, his heart turned toward God at the last moment.

Are both of these people justified by virtue of their faith in Jesus? Yes! Are both of them sanctified to the same degree upon their death? I’d say definitely not.

And then what? What happens to the sanctification of the man on the cross next to Jesus?

I don’t think it’s possible that people are in heaven only partially sanctified. That would mean there are people in heaven still dealing with sin issues. And that just doesn’t make sense. We won’t struggle with sin in heaven.

How Are We Sanctified?

Well, first of all, God isn’t a liar. He doesn’t declare us righteous and then be like “Well, I’ve said you’re righteous, but I’m not going to actually make you righteous. I’m just going to say it and we can all pretend it’s true.” No. God does what he says, and sanctification is how we are made righteous, or holy. We can only be sanctified through God’s grace. We can’t earn it or work at it in our own power. But, we need to cooperate with that grace. God can’t just drag us kicking and screaming into holiness. We have free will. Sanctification requires we say “Yes” to the work God is doing in us. God can’t force us to be selfless. God can’t force us to be humble. We need to submit to allowing God to do that work inside us, and cooperate with Him. And God isn’t going to be cool with a prideful, sinful person in Heaven with Him.

A Comparison

It was helpful to me to compare sanctification to exercise in this regard. Exercise is good for us! And necessary for our health. But it is not easy. It requires action on our part, and, often, discomfort or pain. We can’t get healthy without exercising. And we can’t exercise effectively and still avoid discomfort.

Sanctification is, in a very real sense, painful. Because through sanctification, we are rejecting the sin in our life.

Whenever we allow God to help us turn away from sin, it hurts. Biting my tongue when I want to say something snarky hurts. Eating a proper portion size of cake when I want to stuff my face with it hurts. Turning off technology for periods of time throughout the day, denying myself that nice little dopamine high from checking Facebook, hurts. Think of any sin you struggle with, and then think of denying yourself that sin… and you quickly realize the pain in sanctification.

That’s the pain people are talking about when they talk about Purgatory. It’s painful, but not arbitrarily so. There is purpose to it, and necessity. Because Purgatory is the end of any sin’s grip on you that you struggled with during your life on Earth. Struggled with pornography? It’s burned off. Struggled with laziness? Burned. Impatience? Burned. Pride? Burned.

Sanctification is good for us, and necessary, even, before entering Heaven. And it hurts because turning away from sin hurts.

Purgatory in the Bible

1 Corinthians 3 states:

10 By the grace of God which was given to me, I laid the foundations like a trained master-builder, and someone else is building on them. Now each one must be careful how he does the building.11 For nobody can lay down any other foundation than the one which is there already, namely Jesus Christ.12 On this foundation, different people may build in gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay or straw 13 but each person’s handiwork will be shown for what it is. The Day which dawns in fire will make it clear and the fire itself will test the quality of each person’s work.14 The one whose work stands up to it will be given his wages; 15 the one whose work is burnt down will suffer the loss of it, though he himself will be saved; he will be saved as someone might expect to be saved from a fire.

JP was at a men’s Bible study one night before we became Catholic. He came home and shared with me the discussion the men had surrounding this verse. It was an odd thing for the men in the group to reconcile… this being saved through fire. I looked at him, and said: “It sounds like Purgatory.” He agreed.

I’ve since heard there is an argument that a person’s works are tested, not the person themselves. But that just doesn’t make sense to me. Works don’t exist apart from the person doing them. There is always a hand feeding the hungry person. There is always an eye looking at someone in judgment. There is always a foot going to dark places to spread the light of Jesus. Whether our works are in cooperation with God, or whether our works are sinful, there is a person attached to the work.

Also, in 2 Maccabees we also learn that Jewish people prayed for the dead. Whether or not one accepts that Maccabees belongs in the Bible, it still gives us a historical reference to know that the Jewish people, of which Jesus was one, prayed for the dead. That’s why we pray for souls in Purgatory. Just as we would pray for a friend in our Bible Study to work through a sin in their own life that they were struggling with, we pray for our fellow Christians in Purgatory that they would cooperate with God, and allow God to work through the sin they still struggle with and are holding on to as well.

C.S. Lewis and Purgatory

Now, just because C.S. Lewis believes something, doesn’t make it true. But, he is a well-respected theologian among Christians everywhere. And, he made some really good points about Purgatory.

He wrote:

Our souls demand Purgatory, don’t they? Would it not break the heart if God said to us, “It is true, my son, that your breath smells and your rags drip with mud and slime, but we are charitable here and no one will upbraid you with these things, nor draw away from you. Enter into the joy”? Should we not reply, “With submission, sir, and if there is no objection, I’d rather be cleaned first.” “It may hurt, you know” — “Even so, sir.”

I assume that the process of purification will normally involve suffering. Partly from tradition; partly because most real good that has been done me in this life has involved it. . . .

(Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer, New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1964, 107-109)

And, in the acclaimed Mere Christianity, he writes:

“Make no mistake,” He says, “if you let me, I will make you perfect. The moment you put yourself in My hands, that is what you are in for. Nothing less, or other, than that. You have free will, and if you choose, you can push Me away. But if you do not push Me away, understand that I am going to see this job through. Whatever suffering it may cost you in your earthly life, whatever inconceivable purification it may cost you after death, whatever it costs Me, I will never rest, nor let you rest, until you are literally perfect — until My Father can say without reservation that He is well pleased with you, as He said He was well pleased with me. This I can do and will do. But I will not do anything less.”

God will conform us to His likeness. He will not leave us half-sanctified. He will do what He says.

The Great Divorce is also awesome book that helps illustrate some of these concepts. A character at the very end, has the ability to enter into Heaven, but has to go through a painful transformation to get there. The book is short, and powerful. I highly recommend it.


Well, suffice it to say I’ve come a long way from believing Purgatory is some weird DMV line with no point. I see it now as the process by which God completes his sanctifying work inside of me.

Purgatory is a really beautiful and life-giving thing for our souls.

It’s the death blow to our own personal struggles with sin.

It’s the final and full cooperation with God’s offer of grace, wherein any bits of sin we’ve stubbornly held onto are burned away by His love.


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How Rocks and Keys Helped Me Understand the Pope

When JP and I were dating, I would often come across his German Grandmother, Oma, at their large Savaryn family gatherings.

She knew I wasn’t Catholic. And, on more than one occasion she tried to get me to understand the Catholic faith by telling me that Jesus told Peter “On this rock I build my church,” and that meant Catholicism was true.

I remember thinking I had no idea how building churches on rocks made someone a Pope. But, she was a very cute elderly lady, so I wasn’t about to argue with her either. I just nodded my head and smiled, while inside wondering what on earth she was talking about.

Fast Forward

Well, it turns out Oma had something with that rock thing. She didn’t explain the entirety of the Catholic thinking to me, but I have since learned “On this rock I build my Church” actually means a lot more than I ever thought it could.

And understanding the Office of the Pope through a scriptural lens was one of the most helpful ways I learned what the Papacy meant to Catholics, and why I ultimately would accept the Pope as the Head of the Church.


In Matthew 16:18, Jesus says to Peter:

“And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”

Many smarter and more eloquent people than myself have looked into this issue in great detail. This talk by Scott Hahn is incredibly thorough and well-researched.

But, the issue at hand is what on Earth Jesus is talking about, and what does he mean by a rock?

Oma was indeed wise in knowing that this is a linchpin in establishing the case for the Papacy. During my research into the Catholic faith, I learned that the most logical explanation for what “rock” is referring to, is that Jesus is indeed calling Peter the rock. And that Jesus is saying he will build his Church on Peter. Even Martin Luther knew it. And so do many, many Christian people, on both sides of the Reformation divide.

Luther, however, did not believe that Peter’s role was meant to be passed on. But, as I learned in the following section… that isn’t the case.


In Matthew 16:19, Jesus tells Peter:

“I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

Old Lorelei would have thought: Nice. Peter gets some keys.

Now, I know there is a lot more meaning to that verse than I ever thought possible.

An important thing to remember when reading about Jesus in the Gospels is that Jesus was Jewish. Many of the things that he did and said would have had great significance for the Jewish people living in his time. And a lot of what Jesus did was fulfill things spoken of in the Old Testament.

When Jesus tells Peter that He is giving Peter the keys of the kingdom, He is actually referencing Isaiah 22.

15 Thus says the Lord, the GOD of hosts: Up, go to that official, Shebna, master of the palace, 16 Who has hewn for himself a sepulcher on a height and carved his tomb in the rock: “What are you doing here, and what people have you here, that here you have hewn for yourself a tomb?” 17 The LORD shall hurl you down headlong, mortal man! He shall grip you firmly 18 And roll you up and toss you like a ball into an open land To perish there, you and the chariots you glory in, you disgrace to your master’s house! 19 I will thrust you from your office and pull you down from your station. 20 On that day I will summon my servant Eliakim, son of Hilkiah; 21 I will clothe him with your robe, and gird him with your sash, and give over to him your authority. He shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah. 22 I will place the key of the House of David on his shoulder; when he opens, no one shall shut, when he shuts, no one shall open. 23 I will fix him like a peg in a sure spot, to be a place of honor for his family;

We can really see the parallels here between what Jesus told Peter, and Isaiah 22:22, especially. Jesus wasn’t just telling Peter something random about giving him keys. He was giving Peter authority.

Historically, and Biblically, as in the example from Isaiah, he who held the keys was in a position of authority. The holder of the keys would be the one in charge of the kingdom when the King was away. And that’s what Catholics believe the office of the Pope is as well. When Jesus gave Peter the Keys to the Kingdom, he was setting Peter up to take care of the Christian Church on Earth until Jesus returns.

Furthermore, the Office of the Keys is an inheritable office. That means it was meant from the beginning to be passed on, one person to another, throughout history.  Obviously Peter didn’t live long enough to see Jesus return. Jesus knew that would happen, so setting it up as an Office of the Keys ensured it would be passed down from person to person, on and on through time. And the Jewish people living in Jesus’ time would have known exactly what He was referring to.

For me, this information meant that Jesus gave Peter a special role in the Early Church. And that Peter was in a unique, inheritable position of authority. It helped me very much to understand why Catholics have a Pope, and why Peter was the first one. This information led me on the path toward accepting that as how Jesus meant the Church to function from the get-go.

Relating to Protestantism

Another thing that helped me was thinking about this from the standpoint of Protestant church structure. Everywhere I went as a Protestant, there was a head Pastor, sometimes other Pastors, and also a board of Elders. The head Pastor never just unilaterally or flippantly made decisions about the church’s statement of faith. There would always be study, and consultation, and a lot of input into those decisions. As a member of those churches, I put my trust in the discernment of the pastoral staff at the time.

Likewise, no Pope is going to just be hanging out and say, “Well, today I think I’ll change this Church teaching,” or that they are somehow magically granted wisdom in an instant. It’s not that simple. Popes who are impacting Church teachings are incredibly studious, and utilize extensive council in all their decisions. Because everything has to jive. Church teaching cannot contradict Scripture, or Tradition, or the Magisterium.

Regardless of whether one is Protestant or Catholic, we all submit to a hierarchy of some sort. It’s just a much bigger hierarchy in the Catholic Church because of how big the Church is. But I think framing it that way helped me see that I have always submitted to the authority of someone… previously, my Protestant Pastors, and, in many ways, myself. So it wasn’t really that much of a stretch for me, once I understood and believed that the Office of the Pope had serious Biblical and historical merit, to submit to the Authority of the Church, and therefore of the Pope.

Wrapping Up

I know there were a number of other issues relating to the Papacy that I needed to look into as I began my journey into the Catholic Church. Things like Papal Infallibility (no, we don’t think the Pope is perfect), and the not-so-great Popes of ages past. And I will share my journey through those things at a later time.

However, I think the understanding of Jesus’ very intentional use in calling Peter the rock on which He will build His Church, and the significance of the Office of the Keys helped me get a long way past some of my key objections.

A huge part for me was also learning to let go of my perceived right to be the “Pope” of my own faith. I always submitted to Jesus, but there was a lot that I was trying to figure out on my own about what certain things meant, and I was always viewing Scripture through the lens of someone living in our time, today, with very little knowledge of the times in which Jesus lived and the significance of what he said and who he was speaking to.

I started to question why I, a lay person Christian, was so adamant about maintaing my own right to determine the Truths of my own personal faith? In light of the evidence of the Rock and the Keys, I could no longer justify my previous stance. If Jesus set The Church up to have a leader, and that leadership was intentionally an inheritable office… then I needed to accept the Papacy as legit.

The Church with its vast and extensive history has, collectively, an amazing depth of knowledge and understanding, supported by the Holy Spirit, that has protected Truth and will continue to do so partly through the Office of the Pope. It is such solid ground to stand upon. More than I probably even know.

Further Resources

Peter and the Papacy

Was Peter The Rock?

Scott Hahn on the Papacy


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Why I Love Confession

One of the topics I get asked about most often by my Protestant friends is Confession. So here is a humble attempt to explain what the Sacrament of Confession means to me.

Let me start by saying I love Confession. Love it. It’s awesome. More on that in a moment.

And then, let me also start by explaining a bit about what Confession is not to me.

To me:

Confession is not a guilt-induced act that is forced upon me by a strict and rigid institution.

Confession is not my only means of being connected with God, nor is it my only means, in most cases, of being forgiven by God.


My history with the idea of Confession, in any form, was rather shallow. I understood that I needed to ask Jesus to forgive me of my sins to commit to Christianity, but, honestly, I was a young kid and I didn’t really think much about what “sin” meant… not listening to my parents, spreading a rumor, being selfish… all things I knew were sin, but for the most part, I, personally, felt like I was doing pretty well overall. Also, many Protestant traditions believe that once you are a Christian, your past, present and future sins are forgiven. So I didn’t feel like there was a lot of motivation to think about my sin.

Also, growing up in different Protestant Churches, most of them would have a time of private confession at some point in the church service. It’s where the pastor or whoever was leading that part of the service would have everyone take a moment and think about their sin, and then pray for and thank God for His forgiveness.

To be honest, in my experience, nearly every time that happened whoever was leading the confession didn’t even give me enough time to begin to contemplate my own sin. The pause lasted for like 5 seconds. And… 5 seconds is inadequate for a true examination of conscience. So I usually just stood quietly and looked prayerful during that time. And still, I continued on not thinking much about my own sin.

I have since found out that the community confession time in many Protestant churches harkens back to the early Christians, but it isn’t really a full representation of what early Christians practiced. It’s more of a shadow of it. Though, I think most Protestants would agree that confessing one’s sins is important in some regard, the actual practice of it in many churches today doesn’t reflect the depth and purpose and history of Confession itself, or why it is important.


This is how I have come to understand sin. I have come to understand that God is offering, every moment of my life, to come alongside me and walk with me. Everywhere. And all the time. He never will leave me. Sin is where in my heart and my actions, I block God out of my life.

In Catholic Confession, prior to going to Confession, it is most appropriate to process through an Examination of Conscience. Many are based on the ten commandments, but there are others as well, for children, married people, single people, etc. It is a really thorough way to discover where I am not allowing God fully into my life. Even just the 1st Commandment examination… I reflect upon where in my life I am not putting God first. Where am I putting something or someone else in God’s place.

One thing I’m definitely not doing is  sitting around with my head in my hands in hopelessness over how sinful I am. It’s actually really helpful for me, and I can use those reflections to allow God into more of my life.

I’ve also come to understand sin as that which wounds our soul and our relationship with our Creator. God is there, all the time, but when I turn away from Him and do my own thing, it is bad for me… left unchecked, it will contribute to my walk with God becoming unhealthy over time… sick even. Many of humanity’s own classic tales reveal what happens when someone is overcome by sin in their own life. Ebeneezer Scrooge and his greed, the Beast and his lack of charity, the Grinch and his desire for revenge.


Catholics believe that Sacraments are ways that God makes tangible (something we can see, smell, taste, touch, or hear), something that is a spiritual reality. So, for example (briefly, because this is a whole ‘nother post), marriage is a Sacrament. It’s meant to be a tangible representation of Christ’s relationship with the Church. Something we can see, and, within the marriage itself, touch, that is meant to draw our minds towards heavenly truth.

Confession, is another Sacrament.

Confession Itself

This is where it gets good. This is the stuff.

I think it is easy for many to think about confession in a church service, or praying directly to God for forgiveness. Catholics also have a time of confession communally each Mass, and Catholics also can pray directly to God for forgiveness in most cases.

I also think it’s easy for Christians to acknowledge that we are to be the hands and feet of Jesus to the world around us.

When I walk into the confessional, I am walking in and talking to the Priest, who is acting as the hands and feet of Jesus for me. Instead of silently admitting my sins in private or at church, or to myself alone, I get to verbally share about the areas in my life where I am struggling to let God in. I verbally ask for forgiveness.

And then I audibly hear I am forgiven.

And that is huge. God knows we are both spiritual and physical. I love that this Sacrament exists, and I can hear the truth of my forgiveness time and time again, audibly, from someone who is representing Jesus.

But that’s not all. The Priest then spends a bit of time talking to me about some of my struggles, and prescribes penance. That word is one that may cause someone who isn’t Catholic to go… Yikes! Danger! Or What is that?

Let me explain what penance is. Just as unrepentant sin can hurt our walk with God, and even make our souls sick, penance is a sort of medicine that helps me to turn back to God in the areas in which I struggle.

Example. If someone hurt me and I am struggling to forgive them fully, my penance for that might be to spend some time praying for those people. Penance is simply helping me turn back to God and let Him into more of my life, in the areas where I am blocking him out through my actions.

And I leave the Confessional full of the Holy Spirit, and so thankful for God’s redeeming work in my life. I leave with joy, and I always look forward to going. It helps keep me tuned into and focused on my Savior, and helps me be more aware to walk more closely with Him. More than ever before.

Summing Up

Here is what, to Lorelei, Confession is.

Confession is one of the many ways that I can receive God’s grace.

Confession is a tangible representation of my forgiven and restored relationship with God.

Confession is a Sacrament of healing, and of helping me walk more closely with God.

And that, is why I love Confession. 🙂

What about you? How do you relate to the Sacrament of Confession? Drop us a comment below to share your thoughts!

P.S. If you found this post interesting, and would like to read more on This Catholic Family… hit up that follow button on the top left of our page, or follow us on Facebook. We’d love to have you back again!

(Note: This post was originally published on Protestant Interrupted, where I journaled my conversion process to the Catholic Church. However, since practicing Catholics should be receiving the Eucharist at least once a year during the Easter season, and since we must be in a State of Grace to receive Holy Communion, Lent is a time when many people receive the Sacrament of Confession. Thought this would be a good time to re-share my take on this amazing Sacrament.)

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Why I Accept the Authority of the Catholic Church

One of the big concerns I had as a non-Catholic was that Catholics don’t believe in Sola Scriptura, or Bible Alone theology. Catholics accept the Authority of the Catholic Church on interpretation of the Bible, and to discern other Truths important to the faith though Tradition and the Magisterium.

I now view the Authority of the Church as the lens through with I view Scripture. And making sure that lens contains Truth is very important indeed. Which is why I don’t place my trust in myself. Because I don’t have to, and, I suggest, was never meant to in the first place.

What is Essential?

When I was Protestant, I enjoyed the idea that: “In the essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things love.” And now, as a Catholic, I still appreciate the sentiment. However, at some point during my conversion journey, I started asking these questions: Who decides what is essential? What gives them the authority to do so? Who decides what isn’t essential? What if we think something is a non-essential, that actually is an essential?

Case in point. There are some churches that believe infant baptism is essential. Others that believe adult or “believers” baptism is essential. Still others that don’t believe baptism is essential at all. Who is right? How can we be sure?

Most people, when they are talking about essentials, in essence, mean the Gospel. Which, is pretty much agreed upon by everyone. But, we can’t even agree on the implications of this essential. Some believe in Once Saved Always Saved… that you can’t lose salvation once you convert. Others believe that you have free will and could genuinely convert, but then choose to genuinely reject God at a later point in life. Again, who is right and how do we know?

I started thinking that all this hubbub about essentials and non-essentials goes against our common understanding that Absolute Truth is important. Is some Truth worth more than others? Did God allow any part of Scripture to be written where he was like… “meh, this part isn’t that important?” And, if its all important… why are we so keen on tiering the value of different Truths? And, how do we know we are weighting them correctly?

A Simple Message

I’ve also heard it said many times that people over complicate things when it comes to the Gospel. That it’s a really simple message, and is easy to understand.

In many ways I still agree with this. The Gospel, for example, was explained to me as a young girl. I understood it, and was able to accept it with my childlike, yet still very valid, faith.

But, as simple as the Gospel message is on the surface, I think it is also important to remember that we are talking about a God who is infinite. That compared to God, our minds work like babies. And that though, yes, many aspects of the Gospel and also the Bible as a whole can be understood by most with relative ease, the Bible is actually not a ‘simple’ book.

And what I mean by that is, yes, we can get a lot out of the Bible through personal study. And as Christians we should be in personal study, frequently. But, like any great book ever written, what you can garner from a surface-level understanding and what you can garner as you peel back the many layers are two different things.

And the Bible has many, many complex and beautiful layers.

And how do we ensure we are understanding those layers as they were meant to be understood? Herein begins my exploration of the problems involved in not having an authority.

Peeling Back the Layers

A few examples:

If we do not understand Jewish culture and practices, we could possibly misunderstand some things in Scripture. Specifically… we can read about the Last Supper in the Gospels, and have a decent, basic sense of what went on that night. However, we miss out on the deeper meaning of what Jesus was doing if we do not understand Judaism, as Jesus’ actions in the Last Supper were ripe with meaning for his disciples… who were all Jews. They would have understood Jesus’ actions and words in a much deeper way, simply because they understood the culture they were living in. It was a given for them. For us, 2,000 years removed from the Jewish culture of Jesus’ day… we are in danger of missing a lot.

If we do not understand the literary forms used in the Bible, we could misinterpret things. What was meant to be historical, what was meant to be allegorical, what is poetry, what is parable, what is symbol, what is fact? If we don’t understand the original language, and the specific meaning of the words Jesus chose… then we could be interpreting things wrong. John 6, and the Bread of Life Discourse is a prime example of this. Catholics use John 6 to substantiate our belief in the True Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. Those who don’t subscribe to this belief, might argue that Jesus wasn’t being literal. That he was using symbolism. But, when you look back at the original language, and the reaction the people who heard Jesus speak had to what he was saying… it is very hard not to understand that Jesus meant what he said. Literally. We are reading the Bible in English, and sometimes imperfectly translated from the original languages. And therefore, if we don’t understand Greek and Hebrew… we, on our own, might be interpreting things incorrectly. (And which English translation are we to use anyway?!)

The same applies if we don’t understand the politics and history of the times in which books of the Bible were written. So many times books of the Bible relate to the historical context of the times. They mean certain things for certain people at a certain time in history. We can learn from and apply the purposes of many of these things to our world and life today, but we cannot assume that context is irrelevant. Again, we can lose meaning, or conclude meaning incorrectly if we are going at this on our own.

This was a difficult pill for me to swallow. Looking back, I think I didn’t want to believe that I couldn’t figure out the whole Bible on my own. Or that it wasn’t okay for me just to pick a theologian I liked and trust their interpretation. I had grown up believing that it was simple, and that I didn’t need an authority. Initially, realizing that I was wrong was difficult.

The Fallacy of Individual Interpretation

Most Christian people I speak with would agree that God has a specific intention and purpose for every word that he has, through human beings guided by the Holy Spirit, written in Scripture. That there is Absolute Truth. Yes, either God intended “This is my body” to be literal, or figurative. Not “either or” and definitely not both.

So, how do we know who has it right?

I believe I am paraphrasing a famous theologian and Catholic convert Dr. Scott Hahn when I say that I believe God is loving. And that a loving God wouldn’t leave us with an inerrant Bible, but only broken means to interpret it.

Most Christian, non-Catholic people that I speak with also firmly believe that the Holy Spirit guides Christians to interpret Scripture correctly.

But… with our general assent that God did, in fact, have a meaning in mind for what he allowed in the Bible, and the absolute fact that there are over 30,000 Christian denominations worldwide… we can only conclude one of two things.

1- That the Holy Spirit actually isn’t guiding us all to individually interpret things correctly… because this Christian believes in Calvinism, and this Christian believes in Arminianism. Because this Christian believes in believers baptism, and this Christian believes in infant baptism. Because this Christian believes in ordaining women, and this Christian does not. Because, because… If the Holy Spirit is genuinely guiding all those who are genuinely seeking him through their own personal interpretation of things… why are so many Christians coming to so many different conclusions? If this is the case, God gave us a Bible, and didn’t give us any way to know for certain what he meant! That doesn’t sound very loving to me.

2- The other option is Jesus never intended for us as individuals to carry the weight of correct interpretation on our shoulders at all. This would be the Catholic perspective. Catholics don’t believe that Jesus left us only a Bible. Which, he actually, definitely didn’t do, because the New Testament wasn’t even a thing for quite a while after Jesus’ life on earth. No, he didn’t leave us just a Bible. We believe he left us a Church. And that Church has been granted the discernment of the Holy Spirit through the ages, to correctly interpret the Bible.

Here’s Why

1 Timothy 3:15 states: “This is the church of the living God, which is the pillar and foundation of the truth.” Here’s a good article on the matter, but in essence, historically, prior to very recent Christian history, no one believed we should interpret the Bible individually. It was accepted and believed that Jesus promised the Holy Spirit would guide The Church to discern truth. The Church he himself established.

I don’t really think it’s that much a stretch for this to make sense. Christians believe that the Bible is inerrant. That God used dozens of authors, over hundreds and hundreds of years to give us an infallible book. God also gave the Church the Holy Spirit, with dozens of Popes over hundreds and hundreds of years to help the Church interpret that book infallibly.

John 16:13 says that when the Holy Spirit would come, He would guide us into all truth. Not just truth on the essentials (whatever those are determined to be), not just some of the truth, but all of it. He planned, from the very start, to give us a means to interpret Truth accurately.

We All Assent To Authority

Regardless if someone is Catholic or Protestant now, everyone assents to the authority of the Catholic Church on some issues.

For example… the Trinity is never mentioned in the Bible. Not once. But, interestingly enough, I was at a small group at my old Protestant church prior to my conversion, and the leader not only admitted that the Trinity isn’t in the Bible, but he acknowledged that we’ve trusted the Church to correctly form that doctrine for us. Now, I don’t think he was meaning to specifically reference the Catholic Church… but at the time the doctrine of the Trinity was formalized…. there was no Protestant Church. It was just Catholics everywhere. So, for all of us Christians that believe in the Trinity, we are assenting to the authority of the Catholic Church on that matter.

We also trust the authority of the Catholic Church with the Creeds of our faith. And we trust the Catholic Church to determine the Canon of Scripture (though Luther did have a few books removed during the Reformation… which in itself is another post).

At what point did God decide that submitting to the authority of the Church He established was no longer the way to do things, and that it was now up to the individual Christian to discern for him or herself what was true? I argue that He didn’t.

I honestly believe, based on the issues that Luther contended with at the time of the Reformation, and given the landscape of Christianity today- Luther would be Catholic. The issues he contended with aren’t issues anymore. He was right- the Church did need reforming at the time. And it did, most certainly, reform. And through it all, sound interpretation of our faith has been preserved. Even in times when there has been a corrupt Pope, or a heresy popping up, nothing doctrinally has been altered to the detriment of Truth. The bad Pope’s didn’t change things. The heresies were called out for what they were and snuffed out. Just like with the writing of the Bible, God is using fallible people to help preserve Infallible Truth.


The long and short of this post is to explain some of the reasoning behind why I accept the Authority of the Catholic Church.

I still read my Bible. Every day (much thanks to Lent for helping me solidify this discipline). But, when something comes up that I’m not sure about, I know where to go. There was just this sort of rabbit hole for me when I was Protestant that became very concerning. I was seeing people even within my own Church have different opinions on different issues in Scripture. How were they to know who was right? They may have taken their concern to the Pastor… well how were they to know the Pastor was interpreting things correctly? The Pastor might refer to a commentary or expository writing on that particular issue… but how were they to know that the author of that writing was interpreting things correctly? And on and on it goes… I’ve come to the conclusion that without a Pope, through whom the Holy Spirit works to protect Church teaching in matters of faith and morals, everyone is kind of their own. And that based on Scripture, that isn’t what Jesus was setting us up to be.

That’s why, ultimately, I saw no other way forward than to accept the Authority of the Catholic Church. Because I believe there is Biblical evidence that Jesus established a Church, and that He promised the Holy Spirit would preserve that Church in all Truth. And because I believe God keeps his promises.

– Lorelei

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P.P.S. We’d love to hear your thoughts/comments on this or any other post. And thank you so much for reading!

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