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#1 of 22 Old 03-28-2011, 08:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Uhhh, it is so hard for me to talk about this. I am having serious doubts about my conversion to the Catholic Church. It's been about a year and since November its been hard on me. There were a few times during RCIA that I had serious doubts but I had all this support and everyone always had the answers to all of my questions. But now when I am on my own and I read the Bible I feel that the way we as Catholics do things are not the way that Jesus intended and are man made.

 

I've read/heard/understood every Catholic answer on things from the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Eucharist, Confession, Purgatory, the Rosary etc. and it makes perfect sense why we do those things and that they do not go against God but then when I am on my own and especially when I read the Bible I feel like they aren't what God intended. I feel like we have all these extra things added in and maybe they aren't necessary to our salvation after all. And yes I know that Catholics do not believe in Sola Scriptura, but also in the traditions of the early church.

 

I prayed so much about this conversion, and all the way I felt that God was calling me here. Now it doesn't feel right and I don't know what to do. I don't want to disappoint those who helped me along in my journey to the CC and I also don't want to have to find another Church. I sort of feel like no denomination out there 100% suits my interpretation of what I read in the Bible, guess that's probably why there are so many Christian denominations out there - lol. I'm just thirsting for Christ in my life and looking for some support but I don't feel ready to talk to my priest or anyone else in RL about this yet. 

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#2 of 22 Old 03-28-2011, 09:44 PM
 
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Hey there, Springmama. I am not Catholic, but I was raised and was a protestant evangelical for my almost 30 years. But I can relate in that I realized this week that I cannot ascribe to any systematic theology, precisely for the reason you are experiencing. When I read the words of Jesus, what He intended for the Kingdom of God is something totally different than the theology ANY Christian tradition has built up around Him (Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant alike). I know no denomination is 100% right, it is full of humans. And like you, I long for Jesus in the purity and power of who He is. I have experienced Jesus, when I call on Him things happen. I know He is the Way the Truth and the Life, but man's ideas of what that is, not so much. I am identifying now as a Christian mystic.

 

It is exciting, I am growing in faith and in my love for God now that I am not trying to keep Him in a box. At the same time, I understand how scary the questioning is, when that seeming safety disappears. I haven't talked to many IRL about it as my close circle is devoutly evangelical...only DH who thankfully is one the same page as me, my Mom and a guy in our home church who are all identifying as mystics now as well. 

 

I would just encourage you to keep seeking Jesus, wherever that takes you...to stay in the CC or to go. "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life." John 6:68.

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#3 of 22 Old 03-29-2011, 05:27 AM
 
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I would talk to a good orthodox priest. That would be the first thing I'd do. Also you can go back to RCIA to refresh yourself on the topics you are struggling with. We have people that are doing that at my parish. Some parishes have other classes specifically aimed at those recently converted or returning Catholics that expand on the RCIA subjects. Also you can seek out an apologetics class or pick up some good Catholic books on apologetics or catechesis books specifically aimed at Catholic converts from Protestantism would probably be most helpful for you. As far as Bible reading, the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible ( currently only the New Testament and Genesis are published) which has extensive commentary and was written by Scott Hahn and Curtis Mitch would be helpful.

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#4 of 22 Old 03-31-2011, 05:31 AM
 
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 I'm just thirsting for Christ in my life and looking for some support

I can relate to this also. Im not catholic but I did grow up quasi catholic and as a young adult I did commit my life to Christ. Im not going to tell you to leave the Catholic Church, especially since praying about it before committing you felt so convicted, but I would say to go ahead and somehow satisfy that thirst. Feast on Christ, the bible. There isnt anything in the Catholic Church that says you cant read your bible is there even tho you arent taught to believe in Sola Scriptura.

 

I would say that for me, personally, I do believe that Christ is all we need, I agree with what you said here

 

 

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but then when I am on my own and especially when I read the Bible I feel like they aren't what God intended. I feel like we have all these extra things added in and maybe they aren't necessary to our salvation after all.

 

Thats my personal belief. I would be what Catholics would consider a protestant but I dont even believe all or agree with all of protestantism. Im just a believer in Jesus Christ, to me that sums up my entire existance. My absolute reason for living. Maybe being in the Catholic Church, God intended something there for you, even if it was just for a season (or forever, idk). But maybe it was/is useful for you to have a place where there is some grounding, again even if it is for a season. There is so much stuff out there that causes so much confusion, within the church/body of believers and without. Religious and secular. Having your footing established in a place where you have a firm foundation is going to be important if we're gonna learn about the truths concerning Christ.

 

hth.

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#5 of 22 Old 03-31-2011, 12:48 PM
 
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What were the reasons that you chose to enter the Catholic Church as opposed to another group?


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#6 of 22 Old 03-31-2011, 03:22 PM
 
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Remember, the scriptures do not, nor were they ever meant to stand alone as the sum total of everything we know about God.  Also as individuals, we are not free to interpret them according to our own understanding.  Before you jump ship, talk to your priest.  Talk to someone who really understands doctrines and traditions and scripture and can explain and interpret it for you, according to the teachings of the church.

 

If we try to take a bunch of words and interpret them according to our own limited world view and understanding, out of the context and language they were written etc etc we are bound to go our own way.  Instead, lean on the church to give you the missing information you need.  We were not meant to do this alone.


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#7 of 22 Old 03-31-2011, 03:29 PM
 
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What were the reasons that you chose to enter the Catholic Church as opposed to another group?


This is my question as well. 

 

It kind of sounds like you are coming out of the honeymoon phase and realizing your new husband snores and doesn't rinse his dinner dishes. Of course I could be wrong. 

 

With things like this it's so important that we clear our heads of any outside influence and just let our spirit and the Spirit lead us. This take time, patience, and a lot of inflection. I would definitely give it time, though, before making any major decision. 

 

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#8 of 22 Old 03-31-2011, 10:20 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Well for one thing, I go to Mass and I feel nothing. I used to feel God there and now it just seems like a lot of man made ritual without a whole lot of meaning to it. Beautiful, yes but I'm not feel the Holy Spirit there like I was. I think that I may have swung the pendulum to the opposite extreme of what I was raised with and that it maybe I should have found more of a middle ground Church. I feel like I am so caught up with my every little sin, and I'm not really focusing on having a personal relationship with Christ. Which is a complaint I hear quite frequently from former Catholics. 

 

When I read the Bible I feel like if Purgatory were real then why didn't Jesus talk about it? Why isn't Mary's perpetual virginity written in the scriptures? When Christ was on the Cross and said that it was finished, doesn't that kind of make it unnecessary to sacrifice Him again each Mass for the Eucharist? I mean these questions with no disrespect, there are just the questions that are coming to my mind. I know that I can talk to my priest about them but he will of course have the Catholic perspective on them and have the Catholic answer for them but then when I get back to my Bible the questions just come roaring back in. I was in this place in RCIA and held off on moving forward until I felt confident that I could respect the Church's authority on them and work on accepting them as truth, but I am not having much luck moving forward with that.

 

I have a protestant friend who says that we Catholics take Christ's message and make it so complicated. He came to die for us and in doing so forgave us our sins. All we have to do is pick up our cross and follow Him for eternal salvation. I just wish I had that peace back, that I was right where God wanted me to be to grow closer to His Son.  

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#9 of 22 Old 04-01-2011, 07:43 AM
 
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There are a few issues that I see causing you trouble here.  As far as the details you mention, I think you are missing some of the theological pieces.  You seem to want to find everything with a reference in Scripture - but why?  The Church has never ever taught that everything is in Scripture. 

 

A good example of this would be Mary's perpetual virginity.    Where would one find it mentioned logically?  It doesn't make sense as part of the gospels, or epistles.  It doesn't really make sense as part of acts.  It's just not really part of the piece of the story the Bible tells us.

 

And similarly, you seem to be confused about the sacrifice of the Mass - the Catholic Church does not teach that Christ is re-sacrificed.

 

But I think the more important issue is your concern about your feelings.  Why do you feel that you should continue to feel that "uplifted" feeling constantly?  Those feelings are not the evidence of the Holy Spirit, though the HS can at times make us feel that way.  (It can also make us feel sad.)  Other things can also give us those warm connected feelings - being members of a community group, or taking drugs, or cult experiences.  Or have you ever seen video tape of the Woodstock concert?

 

Unfortunately some fundamentalist groups teach that those feelings are the evidences of the HS, and that is why people go from group to group looking for the next high, or go between elation and depression based on whether they feel God is in them.  But what they are really feeling is brain chemistry.  It is very normal for converts to feel with way.  But if you expect that all the time, you will have to change churches every year or so.

 

It is also normal to stop having that - and that is when we get to the hard work of being a Christian.  That is when we really begin to deepen and understand our faith. 

 

With regards to complication - why would Christianity be simple?  It is talking about our relationship to God, and God's to creation.  It is possible to have simple faith in Catholicism as your friends are suggesting, but then you will have to stop asking questions that require complex answers.  What they are really saying is that no one should ask the questions or talk about the answers, and that doesn't seem like a better solution to me.

 

Worrying about every little sin is a problem, and would be a good thing to talk to your regular confessor about.  Priests know that some people have this problem and can often help.


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#10 of 22 Old 04-01-2011, 09:33 AM
 
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Originally Posted by springmama View Post

Well for one thing, I go to Mass and I feel nothing. I used to feel God there and now it just seems like a lot of man made ritual without a whole lot of meaning to it. Beautiful, yes but I'm not feel the Holy Spirit there like I was. I think that I may have swung the pendulum to the opposite extreme of what I was raised with and that it maybe I should have found more of a middle ground Church. I feel like I am so caught up with my every little sin, and I'm not really focusing on having a personal relationship with Christ. Which is a complaint I hear quite frequently from former Catholics. 

 

When I read the Bible I feel like if Purgatory were real then why didn't Jesus talk about it? Why isn't Mary's perpetual virginity written in the scriptures? When Christ was on the Cross and said that it was finished, doesn't that kind of make it unnecessary to sacrifice Him again each Mass for the Eucharist? I mean these questions with no disrespect, there are just the questions that are coming to my mind. I know that I can talk to my priest about them but he will of course have the Catholic perspective on them and have the Catholic answer for them but then when I get back to my Bible the questions just come roaring back in. I was in this place in RCIA and held off on moving forward until I felt confident that I could respect the Church's authority on them and work on accepting them as truth, but I am not having much luck moving forward with that.

 

I have a protestant friend who says that we Catholics take Christ's message and make it so complicated. He came to die for us and in doing so forgave us our sins. All we have to do is pick up our cross and follow Him for eternal salvation. I just wish I had that peace back, that I was right where God wanted me to be to grow closer to His Son.  


I am a Missouri Synod Lutheran, just an FYI so you know where my perspective is.  Our Church body is very confessional and probably much closer to the RC Church than other protestant denominations.  My roommate in college was Roman Catholic her entire life and struggled with many of these same issues, specifically purgatory.  She eventually converted to the LCMS and has found the peace and comfort she was looking for as well as the beauty of a high church setting and the benefits of continuing private confession and absolution without the fear of failing to do so.

 

With that being said, I thought I would respond to some of your concerns.  I grew up in the LCMS and we always attended traditional services, so I know exactly what you're talking about when you feel like the whole service is just full of man made rituals and you don't feel God's presence.  It wasn't until I began to study the reasons behind all of these rituals that they became meaningful and significant to me.  Now that I know why we do and say what we do, each part of the liturgy is full of not only beauty but also meaning.  I would encourage you to first do a little research and learn when each part of the liturgy was added to the service and why and how it is significant for our spiritual lives today.  For me this helped a lot and I thoroughly enjoy and look forward to Church each week!

 

However, if your feelings don't change, don't fret it!  It's not about how you feel - it's about what God is doing for you in the service.  God's presence is truly in that place, even when you don't feel Him.  So, instead of seeking out the "feeling" of God just be still and know that He is God and He is there serving you at that very moment.  Concentrating on the reality of the situation rather than the rituals of the service should in and of itself be helpful.  If you chase your feelings, they will always escape you, but if you seek God the feeling will surely come.

 

Like I mentioned before, my friend also had felt obligated to keep a track record of every sin for confession.  It's exhausting and dangerous, because it forces us to constantly look inward on ourselves and our sinful nature, rather than turning us to Christ for forgiveness.  In the LCMS we do have private confession and absolution, but we don't make it into a law that binds people's consciences.  We only confess those sins which we know and feel in our heart.  If we are unaware of our sin or forget it, no big deal!  It's all covered by Christ.  Confession is for our comfort and peace, to strengthen us in the knowledge of what has already been done, not to burden us constantly with undue guilt.

 

Purgatory is not real.  I really don't know how else to say it.  It is not a Biblical concept in any way and it is dangerous to the Christian faith.  Here's why: When Jesus died on the cross He did say "It is finished." This means there is absolutely nothing else we have to do to restore our relationship with God.  Jesus did it ALL!  This is one of the greatest things about Christianity.  In no other religion does God come to us and do EVERYTHING necessary for our salvation.  In every other world religion we must do something for God; we must reach out to Him in some way.  Not so with Christianity... God comes to us.

 

Catholicism has made the error of believing that there must be something we can do for God.  We must in some way have to take responsibility for our sin or pay retribution for what we've done.  God couldn't have possibly done everything, right?  Purgatory is a doctrine that dangerously slips back into the line of thinking of all other false religions... the idea that there must be something we have to do for God.  But this is most certainly not the case.  Christ has done it all for us!  There is not one thing we must do to restore our relationship to the Father - not one!  We are completely free to live in Christ and enjoy God without having to fear one single iota of His wrath.  As Christians we look forward to the day that we go to be with Him, because when we die we are not cast into any sort of punishment or fiery death, we are immediately whisked to the bliss of Heaven and an eternity at the side of our Lord.

 

As far as the perpetual virginity of Mary is concerned, the Lutheran Church does not have an official doctrine on the matter.  It is important to the faith to know that before Jesus' birth, Mary was a virgin, as that was required to fulfill prophecy.  However, after Jesus was born we honestly don't know and really it's none of our business; that is between Mary and Joseph. The Bible does not tell us for good reason - it's not essential to our salvation.

 

The pp suggested the Catholic Church does not believe in a resacrificing of Christ at each mass... from everything I have ever learned that is the case, but I am not Catholic so I could be wrong.  If it IS the case then yes, it would make it unnecessary.  Jesus died once for all.  As Lutherans we do teach the True Presence, that in Holy Communion the bread and the wine are literally transformed into Jesus Christ's body and blood.  How?  We don't know... but Jesus said they were so that's what we confess.  We do not adhere to transfiguration because we believe that is going too far in the direction of trying to decipher how this is possible.  We don't ask too many questions on this matter; we just believe that it is because Jesus said so.

 

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#11 of 22 Old 04-02-2011, 01:22 AM
 
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Mama, this has been a very hard Lent for our family as well. I can truly empathize with your feelings. It does sound like you are missing a lot of our theological basis which is not surprising at all given the structure and depth of most RCIA experiences. You are just at the start of your relationship with the Catholic Church and there is so much to dig into. 

 

Beliefs about the Blessed Virgin are ancient - Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox and Catholics (all 23 rites/churches) have very similar beliefs. Did all Christians get it wrong for the first 1500 years? The same idea goes for the Real Presence in the Eucharist - it has been believed and practiced since the very beginning of Christianity. If transubstantiation doesn't click for you, it is not something to stress about. The Eastern Catholic Churches don't use that particular term. Purgatory is represented in different ways by different saints as well as in a recent document from Pope Benedict. The essential belief is very thin compared to the elaborations from the saints so if that is not helpful to you it is also not something to stress over. I should be able to give you the quote but I'm off my game ;) All that is dogma is belief in a purifying fire after death. And the final one - the Rosary is a prayer and a meditation. You are not bound to pray it. Some of us love it, some don't care for it but pray it anyway in the practice of humility (it takes humility to be told even how to pray) and obedience, and some don't pray it at all. We are all commanded to pray ceaselessly, how you do that is between you and your spiritual father. Hopefully you have found a great priest you can really open up to but if not perhaps trying to find one would help. 

 

In the end, it is not at all about what *we* believe about Christ, but what He is. We are totally irrelevant to his Glory and yet He has bestowed so much dignity upon us. It is really humbling and awe inspiring. Perhaps, in that spirit of humility it would be a good idea to put aside your reading for a while and just pray. Something to talk about with a priest. The devil can tempt us at any time, even while reading Holy Scripture.


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#12 of 22 Old 04-02-2011, 12:54 PM
 
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Xekomaya - such wise words.  :)


The truest answer to violence is love. The truest answer to death is life. The only prevention for violence is for the heart to have no violence within it.  We cannot prevent evil through any system devised by mankind. But we can grapple with evil and defeat it, but only with love—real love.

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#13 of 22 Old 04-02-2011, 05:30 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for all the support! I am going to prayerfully and slowly work my way through this. I don't have much time to post as I've got a house full of kiddos tonight. But I fill you guys in when I have time. 

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#14 of 22 Old 04-04-2011, 12:34 PM
 
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Springmama,  I think you are on the right track by searching the Bible for  the Truth.  Keep seeking the Lord rather than a religion and use the Bible to touch the Lord's Spirit in a genuine way. Try pray reading the verses.  Pray reading is a mingling of praying and reading the verses together.  By doing this you will touch your spirit.  The Lord's Spirit is in your spirit and will guide you.

 

I disagree with some, in that,  I believe you should be able to see all relevant things concerning the Lord and the church in the Scriptures.  I firmly believe that the Lord gave us the Scriptures as the supreme reference.  While taking classes and reading apologetics can be useful at times, they can also be a great source of confusion and division.  When this happens, I back off of the extra literature and focus on the Bible and connecting with the Lord Jesus.

 

Much grace and mercy to you on your journey.


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#15 of 22 Old 04-06-2011, 07:19 PM
 
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springmama: I think you've received a lot of good advice here. One thing that struck me is that you seem to be reluctant to talk to a priest or nun because you "know" what the answer will be. I think that at least, after going through RICA and all, you need to, so to speak, give the Church a chance to answer your doubts/concerns. And I would not talk to just one priest--I would at least talk to a few, before giving up on something that obviously meant a lot to you not to long ago.

Regarding the Holy Spirit, have you prayed prior to Mass asking to feel the HS's presence? Maybe all it requires is simply asking. smile.gif

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#16 of 22 Old 04-09-2011, 06:38 AM
 
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xekomaya and BlueGoat, your posts helped me very much.  I converted to the Catholic Church in 2006 and I have had my times of struggle also.  After 30 plus years of being a Protestant, it takes a lot of prayer and time and thought to work through some of these issues.  I think I should print out your posts and keep them to refer to when I am feeling confused.

 

What Jesus has shown to me is that I need to relax and trust Him.  He is able to lead us and He will help us overcome doubts.  I find a lot of my problems about all of this stem from fear.  Jesus is kind and it's okay if we don't understand everything all at once.  He is not waiting to bash us over the head if we get it wrong sometimes.   We have to keep returning to the times that we KNOW He was leading us.  I think He allows us to have times of not feeling His presence, not feeling any consolations, in order to stabilize us in faith.  We live by faith, not feelings.  Of course we know that mentally, but living it is harder.  And yet, to live in faith, free of dependence upon feelings or experiences, actually is very freeing.  We can't be easily moved or swayed.

 

A friend of mine said once, 'God is not schizophrenic!'   If He did indeed lead me in a particular direction, that does not change just because my feelings might change later on.

 

I will try and remember you in my prayers springmama!  I understand what you're going through, believe me. And I go through times too of not really experiencing His Presence in the Eucharist.  But again, it's all based on faith.  Does it make sense that He would be present, turn bread into Himself.....no, but nor does it make sense that a virgin birth could ever happen.  But we hear about the virgin birth from childhood and take it for granted to be true.  That is just as much of an amazing miracle as the Eucharist is.  It's just that  the teaching on the Eucharist is new to us, so it takes time for us to be stabilized in this truth.  Evenutally we will rest in it just like the other things we've always believed in.


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#17 of 22 Old 04-09-2011, 06:41 AM
 
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springmama: I think you've received a lot of good advice here. One thing that struck me is that you seem to be reluctant to talk to a priest or nun because you "know" what the answer will be. I think that at least, after going through RICA and all, you need to, so to speak, give the Church a chance to answer your doubts/concerns. And I would not talk to just one priest--I would at least talk to a few, before giving up on something that obviously meant a lot to you not to long ago.

Regarding the Holy Spirit, have you prayed prior to Mass asking to feel the HS's presence? Maybe all it requires is simply asking. smile.gif


Thanks for this post!  He keeps bringing this thought, this concept to me......just ask!!!  How simple is that!
 

 


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#18 of 22 Old 04-09-2011, 06:46 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for all of your support. I am still wading through this. I do think that a lot of it comes from fear. In my heart I want to believe that there is no one "right" denomination and that Jesus loves us all and we worship him in slightly different ways. There is so much about the RCC that I just LOVE. So much that brings me close to the Lord but also alot about it that overwhelms me. I can't expect to understand all of it in this short time. It's a journey and I'll just keep following the Lord where he takes me. He obviously brought me to the RCC for a reason and He does know the best plan for my life.

 

I am hesitant to talk to a priest because I do know the answers that they will give me. It isn't the first time that I have raised these questions. I think that I need to take them directly to God and pray about them. I guess then at some point if it doesn't get better I can talk to a priest and get his perspective.  

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#19 of 22 Old 04-10-2011, 02:30 PM
 
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I know reading helps me a lot, also listening to CDs like ones from Saint Joseph Communications.  We don't have cable so I can't watch EWTN or anyting like that.  Also there is a site www.catholicity.com that has some CDs that only cost like a dollar for each to ship them to you.  I've heard all of them by now I think! I think these are all good resources so you can learn on your own, at your own pace and refer back to whenever you need it.


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#20 of 22 Old 04-11-2011, 09:56 PM
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by springmama View Post
I am hesitant to talk to a priest because I do know the answers that they will give me. It isn't the first time that I have raised these questions. I think that I need to take them directly to God and pray about them. I guess then at some point if it doesn't get better I can talk to a priest and get his perspective.  


I would say it's also OK to talk to multiple priests -- you'll find a wide range of theology even within the Catholic church. Is there university near you? You might seek out the Catholic chaplain there, and they are sometimes much more skilled at addressing such questions as they get them more often. What you really need is continuing study to understand the teachings of the church as your faith changes. The thing about faith is that it's not static.

 

It might also help to brush up on (a) doctrine vs. dogma and (b) the history of the church.

 

If it helps, my mother, a lifelong and fairly devout Catholic, takes a fairly pragmatic view toward some of the church's teachings. She knows enough church history to be able to say "this is really in response to this political event and probably shouldn't be dogma" (I remember having this conversation with her about infallibility of the pope (and remember the pope is only supposed to be infallible on matters of dogma).) The Catholic Church is a church that's been heavily influenced by tradition, and it's resistant to change. How long did it take them to un-excommunicate Gallieo? (A long time, even though they admitted he was right unofficially.) My mom has been known to disagree with the church on a number of teachings, and yet she remains faithful to the church. The church is relatively tolerant of different points of view.

 

I guess my point is that it does pay at times, to separate the faith from the people. People do get things wrong. But you have those dynamics in any church, whether it be protestant or catholic. The question is, can you deal with the part that's clearly imposed by humans? Does the message of the Bible and of Jesus come through?

 


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#21 of 22 Old 04-15-2011, 06:48 PM
 
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SpringMama, I think that you are definitely on the right track when you ask these questions:

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When I read the Bible I feel like if Purgatory were real then why didn't Jesus talk about it? Why isn't Mary's perpetual virginity written in the scriptures? When Christ was on the Cross and said that it was finished, doesn't that kind of make it unnecessary to sacrifice Him again each Mass for the Eucharist?

 2 Pet. 1:3 says that God and Jesus have given us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, and 2 Tim. 3:16 tells us that scripture is given to us for doctrine and instruction so that we can be complete and thoroughly equipped. If the Bible says that we have been given all things that pertain to godliness, and that through scripture we can be complete and thoroughly equipped, then you should be able to find the basis for your beliefs in scripture. I know that it is easy to be discouraged when you are searching, and even to feel a little like no group is perfect and that you might as well settle, but I want to tell you that you don't have to settle. I am a member of the church of Christ, and the thing that drew me was that their aim is to only speak where the Bible speaks, to use the Bible as the only basis for faith and practice. They are very serious about this, and although at first I didn't quite believe it (I thought, sure, thats what everyone says, they won't live up to it), I found out that it is true. If you can show a member of the church of Christ where they are mistaken, from the BIBLE, they will willingly change their mind. It's not about what I think, you know, its about what God thinks and what God wants. I hope that this is helpful to you as you think about these things.

 

In Christian Love,

Elizabeth

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#22 of 22 Old 05-13-2011, 02:25 PM
 
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There are some excellent answers in this thread.  As a VERY recent convert to Catholicism, myself (after a couple of years' attendance), I am certainly sympathetic to being very drawn to some things in the church, and overwhelmed by others.  And coming from Protestantism to Catholicism is very difficult.

 

A couple of extra points come to mind.  In case they're helpful: 

 

In my particular church, I find the priests, though quite serious about sin, are also far more concerned about a healthy balance and not being over-scrupulous than anyone was in my Protestant experience.  It's one thing to recognize and grieve your sin; another to hyper-focus on it; or not to let it go, once forgiven. It sounds like you are going to regular confession, which is excellent - if you can accept the absolution and internalize that sign of God's love.  For me, this truly works better than a private, prayerful confession directly to God: I never quite believed I was forgiven.

 

The 'sacrifice' of the mass is a memorial, a re-enactment; like historical re-enactments, the battle's already fought, the blood shed, the decision rendered.  We merely watch again a presentation of that happening, bring the past into the present, and honor it.  (Or so I understand.)  The mass, especially the old mass, is extraordinarily rich and symbolic, so the more I have learned about it, and the more closely I follow it, the richer the experience usually is. I agree that God does not always allow us to feel His presence, at varied times, equally; yet that asking may help.  Remember, though, church isn't just about us.  It should nourish us, but being there is a matter of paying honor to God.  If something else (Scripture, prayer, etc.) is more enriching for you at a given period, I think that's fine: but the gathering to worship is not without meaning or purpose, even if we fail of strong emotional or spiritual response.... unless we lose the intention of honoring our Maker and Savior, by being there.  

 

Last, I suppose.... thornier issues.  If you truly felt God led you to the Church, I would try to be at peace with that for a while, to submit to what He desires for you, and - insofar as possible - to difficult doctrines that may not distort God's will.  I don't think He changes His mind easily.  Further, the promises made (at least at my own profession of faith), are very solemn, binding oneself to the Church for life, before God.  So - while I am not critical of worry and uncertainty and wondering if you've made the right choice, or of discomfort, either - I would be slow, and certain, before thinking of going back on such commitments, myself.  There are things - in the gap between my Protestant and Catholic understandings - where I came to completely agree with the Catholic position, or discovered that it more nearly met my own opinion.  There are views that were quick to change or embrace, and other teachings I came to understand and appreciate slowly.  There were also a few essential doctrines I struggled with right up to the week of my conversion.  Yet, for each of those, I was able to come to the point of saying honestly: 'I would not have thought this on my own, but I understand how it could be, or how it fits into the rest, and I can accept it, as it is the Church's teaching.'  Distinguishing between essential dogma and possible interpretations or add-ons is a great help, but so is a desire to submit to the authority of the Church, in its doctrine, if you feel God has led you there - to be willing to let your opinions change, slowly, if need be, to ones in harmony with the essence of what the Church teaches, and, even in doubt, not to embrace rebellion.  (I do think there's lots of room for respectful disagreement, variation, doubt, and criticism, or of frustration with areas in which the Church or its members may not reflect God's intentions; but that it cannot come as an outright rejection of major Church teachings or the Church's authority, without putting the individual into a state of rebellion and risk.  As a Catholic, being in rebellion against the Church puts you into a degree of rebellion against God, even if you are led there by what is originally a desire to follow Him more fully.)

 

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