Catholic Conversion: Seven MORE Things I was Wrong About

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I used to think the Catholic Church was creepy.

Truth, friends. As a Protestant, I was immersed in my own culture, and looking in, good grief. All this praying to dead people, and burning incense, and…the bones. I went to a cathedral in Guatemala City once, and bones. People bones. It creeped me out for days.

The thing is, we shouldn’t judge Truth on whether we’re used to it or not. The biggest barrier to my conversion to the Catholic Church was the layers and layers of confusion, misinformation, and misunderstanding that clouded my vision.

~1~

Catholics are obsessed with death.

Well, you know. The relics. The crucifixes. Good Friday. All Souls Day.

Giotto. the-crucifix- c.1317 Padua, Museo Civico

I never liked crucifixes even as a child raised outside of church. I refused to believe that Jesus had really had nails driven through His hands. It was too graphic for me, I guess.

As a convert coming in from a conservative Presbyterian background, where any pictures of Christ are considered to violate the 2nd Commandment, I had a hard time with the crucifix in church. I could hardly look at it, for months.

But I’ve found that it’s not that Catholics are obsessed with death and suffering. It’s that they don’t fear it. Not just in an esoteric, I’m going to heaven kind of way, but in an everyday mercy kind of way. They feel the call to be messengers of mercy, healing, and love in the very darkest places – including the deathbed. They know that our suffering has great value in the eyes of God, and that it is a critical part of our growth as His children.

~2~

Catholics think they have to get married to go to heaven.

I didn’t think this one myself, but friends have challenged me with it. This example highlights how otherwise highly informed Protestants have been seriously misinformed aboBS001 sut the Church. The splintering that goes on and on feeds on this kind of thing. (And it goes both ways, for sure.)

No. Of course not. Priests, nuns, etc., are celibate, for one thing, so that would be an extremely odd doctrine. Marriage is a sacrament, but so are Holy Orders, so most people don’t receive all seven sacraments in their lifetime – only a rare minority, such as perhaps a widower who then became a priest. Neither is required – it depends on one’s vocation and state of life.

~3~

Catholics live in a state of medieval superstition and fear.

This one I did think. In the sign of the cross, in the incense, in the candles, the holy water, the different gestures…I saw all these things as superstitious nonsense, silly things probably done to ward off evil spirits or something. MyFitzgeraldFairyBanquet more austere Reformed spirituality seemed more logical and more Biblical, free of outward tangible signs of spiritual realities, beyond the two sacraments I accepted at the time.

But as I mentioned in my previous list of misconceptions, we are beings who are both physical and spiritual. Catholic practice is not superstitious – these practices all express and point to spiritual realities which are, for the most part, also accepted by our Protestant brothers and sisters. But, they do so in a way that understands that people are more than just a brain, or more than just a heart. We are physical beings, and our minds and hearts are informed and strengthened by things we encounter in the physical world.

~4~

Catholicism teaches that the Pope is never wrong, which is silly, because everybody knows that popes have lived scandalously and contradicted each other.

This is one I took as a given. It was incomprehensible to me that anybody could be so gullible as to actually believe that the Pope was infallible. It was patently obvious that, throughout history, there have been immoral popes who certainly weren’t infallible. And those pesky contradictions! Catholics were, to be sure, mindless automatons who never bothered to crack open a history book.

Pope Francis in March 2013 (cropped)

It was a top objection for me, in the early days. The problems here come really from two major misconceptions, not one:

~5~

Papal infallibility means that the Pope is perfect in every way. He does not forget phone numbers, and he sure doesn’t sin.

Nope. No, no, no. It doesn’t mean that at all. Infallibility refers to what the pope teaches, not to his personal life. Popes do go to Confession, you know – which clues us in that nobody thinks they are sinless.

Catholics aren’t blind to the scandalous popes. They just know that it doesn’t have anything to do with the doctrine of infallibility.

~6~

Popes can’t be infallible because they have contradicted each other.

The historical record of this really surprised me.  As a Protestant, it was a wPope Saint John Paul II Statueorking assumption that popes had contradicted each other, not once or twice, but so many times that the whole doctrine was ridiculous.

To go into the details of the historical record is beyond the scope of this post, so I’m going to drop you some relevant links on this:

 Catholic Answers – Papal Infallibility. I love this article, and would like to quote extensive portions of it to you, but I can’t. Copyright. Please go read it!

The Christian Freethinker

New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia.

Plus, some books on the Papacy:

Documents Illustrating Papal Authority: AD 96-454 – E. Giles (This can also be found as a free ebook here.)

Upon This Rock: St. Peter and the Primacy of Rome in Scripture and the Early Church (Modern Apologetics Library) – Stephen K. Ray

The Early Papacy: To the Synod of Chalcedon in 451

~7~

Catholics have gone liberal and don’t practice what they preach anymore.

I talked about this a little in my first misconceptions post, but this one keeps on surprising me. Sure, yes, there are plenty of “Catholics” who aren’t serious. There are also plenty of Evangelicals who aren’t serious, who don’t read their Bible or take their morality or faith seriously. It doesn’t mean that the Evangelicals aren’t serious.  It just means that the Evangelical churches have, well, people, in them. Those people are not all at the same place in their journey.

Worshippers pray with rosaries. Credit: User:leba12 (Wikimedia Commons).The un-serious Catholics that I met and, even more, Knew About (through hearsay) gave me an unrealistic view of the seriousness of Catholics in general. I keep meeting an endless stream of serious, sincere, practicing Catholics; I keep being surprised when I do. It’s a lovely, heart-cheering surprise, like so many facets of the Church, but I do hope my flawed, ingrained expectations begin to catch up to reality, one day.

For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum.

You might also like:

Reading List for The Catholic Convert

{SQT} 7 Things I was Wrong About

{SQT} 7 Things I Didn’t Lose When I Became Catholic

Desert Children

All my kids have grown up in the desert. I’m good with that, I like the desert, and despite North Carolina being really gorgeous with lovely people, I do miss Utah – climate, friends, family – rather a lot. I’m slow to adjust to change.

The kids miss their grandparents, for sure, but they are beyond enchanted with this weird wet stuff that just keeps falling:

For me, I do love rain, I always have, so I don’t mind it. It’s just so surprising! I am not so fond of the dampness. The muggy, sticky heat, and just the general…wetness…of everything.  I hope I get used to it, but so far everything I touch feels damp. Not things that got rained on, just everything!

I left an apple core in the car the other day, a routine bad habit of mine that never seemed that bad, because when you come back, it will be bone dry, a dessicated little thing, easy to pick up and toss. This time?

Ew. Just ew. Mushy, moldy mess. The potential for life with so much water around is a two edged sword! Trees, flowers, grass with no sprinklers, raging greenery everywhere, awesome. Mold, mildew, bugs (the bugs! The ginormous spiders! I have never in my life seen bugs like they do them here)…not so much.

We did buy an umbrella, though, so we are catching up. Slowly. Now we just need to remember to bring it with us.

 

 

 

 

The New Catholic Bookshelf, vol. 3 – movie edition

(This post contains affiliate links. I receive a small commission from purchases made through affiliate links. My opinions are entirely my own. You can see my full disclosure policy here.  Thanks bunches.)

Movies! There are some really fabulous movies out there that are wonderful to watch and share with your kiddos. We sometimes enjoy watching faith-related movies together, especially on a Sunday evening. I think they are a great way to spend time together and also grow in understanding some of the great stories in our family history. I have linked these to Amazon, but as always, if you want them, please consider saving resources – and a buck – by borrowing or buying used. 

1. Clare and Francis – I loved this film!  St. Francis is my oldest daughter’s confirmation saint, and is a constant inspiration for me as I struggle to balance the needs and wants of large family life, the tight budget that comes with that large family, and a desire to live a life of giving, detached from the thirst to acquire, improve, consume.

2. Restless Heart: The Confessions of Augustine – When I commented that I liked this one, but found it to be a little intense, Mark said that that was because Augustine had an intense life! This was really well-done, but does not make for light watching.

3. Jesus of Nazareth – A classic and really well done film on the life of Christ. This one is our favorite “Jesus movie” as a family. It’s extremely long – 6 and 1/2 hours! We watched it over the course of three evenings around Easter time, and it was a great way to consider the season.

4. The Chronicles of Narnia – BBC Version –  Mark read these out loud to the kids before we watched the movies, and then we watched both this version and the new ones. The kids liked the newer versions fine, but Mark and I like the old BBC ones a lot better. Especially in the Dawn Treader, we felt that they really departed way too far from the original story, without any benefit.  If you aren’t famliar with the Chronicles of Narnia – read them first!! 🙂

 

Previously – Bookshelf Vol. 1 and Bookshelf Vol. 2

Linked up at :
Sweet Little Ones

We made it!

(This post contains affiliate links. I receive a small commission from purchases made through affiliate links. My opinions are entirely my own. You can see my full disclosure policy here.  Thanks bunches.)

Well hi from North Carolina! I had this idea that I would be super organized and have scheduled posts going up while I was moving…but that’s not really how I roll.

So here’s a quick catch-up. Ready? Good.

Our drive mostly went well, aside from the bit where the top blew completely off our top carrier out in the middle of Wyoming. That was more excitement than I hoped for, really, but it could have been much worse than it was.

We did buy a house. It all worked out somehow, and here we are:20160807_101127.jpg

We like it, a lot, and we’re happy to be here, though we miss Utah friends, family, and miscellaneous other familiar comforts. It’s an old house, which I both love and am a little intimidated by. This lifelong renter has more than a thing or two to learn (hence the new arrival on my bookshelf).

We did paint when we got here, and I am so very glad we did.  The walls were very, um, colorful. As you entered the from door, you were greeted by bright yellow walls and an orange ceiling. Up the stairs could be seen a Crayola sky blue hall (and CEILING). On the lower level, one could just make out the master bed in the back with its very, very intense turquoise walls and crazy patchwork white trim going every which way.

We got it calmed down a bit thanks to a 3 or 4 day paint fest with crazy helpful family members.

We’re in town, and an 8 minute walk to our parish in one direction and a very cute little downtown in the other. After 16 years in a major metro area, small town life is appealing – there is pretty much no traffic. At all. Of course, there are also the quirks – the only DMV around is drastically understaffed, so in spite of arriving precisely when they opened, I still had to wait 2 1/2 hours to get my driver’s license changed.

So here we are, in a blur of unpacking and finding things and paperwork and thinking we really, really need to be getting ready for school.

Linked up at This Ain’t The Lyceum.