in spite of myself

I wish faith was easy.

I wish it was true that all I need to do is say a sinner’s prayer and I’m saved forever, wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am. I wish I could just read my (66-book) Bible and go to church and listen to the preacher and take sermon notes and follow Christ and be comfortable while still growing in faith, because even comfortable faith requires some growth. I wish I could decide what I believed based on how I felt it measured up to my interpretation of the Bible, and toss out the hard things that I don’t understand.

Now, about that 66-book Protestant Bible…

And my pretty little simple faith comes tumbling down.

I don’t really want to be Catholic. It’s hard. I don’t get the birth control thing (and following that is going to be so, so hard). I get the Mary thing to a point, after which I start whispering “Seriously?!?!?” under my breath. Same thing happens with praying to saints. I’m sure there are other, smaller things..things that just don’t make much sense to me. But I can’t pick and choose, because if the Catholic Church is right, then they’re right and what she says goes. So I cross my fingers and hope that somehow I can get out of this.

Then I look at history, and I realize there is no way I can reconcile any other denomination of Christianity with it and still be intellectually consistent. I also realize there is no way I can choose to be intellectually inconsistent and still live with myself.

So, I’m becoming Catholic. Still. In spite of myself.

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On anti-Catholicism

I ran into my first truly anti-Catholic comments today. Of course, one can always find anti-Catholic comments on the web. These were ones I stumbled upon in one of the blogs I regularly read, however. It was a new experience for me. I noticed some trends in the comments, and I’d like to talk about these trends briefly.

1) Many of the commenters seemed to be misinformed about Catholic theology. They referred to things like “worshipping Mary” and “salvation by works.” This is a trend that I also see among Protestants in general, and even among Catholics. People think they know what the Church teaches, but in reality they’re repeating almost-truths. For some reason, Catholicism seems to be more easily misconstrued than other parts of Christianity. I’m not sure why.

2) The commenters were convinced that they were right, and that they were right to be dismayed by Catholicism. I respect this, actually. I can choose to see their comments as a manifestation of sincere desires to bring Catholics to the truth and a sincere wish to keep the truth from being corrupted, or I can see their comments as malicious attacks on my faith. Since this is online discourse, how I choose to read their words is extremely important. That being said, I have to admit that I do not always choose to assume the best of them, for which I apologize.

3) Based on the research I have done, it seems to me that Catholicism is so much more grace-filled than Reformed Protestantism. (Please note I am not talking about any individual believers!) Catholicism bursts with God’s grace – in the description of God in the Catechism, in the way that the Church says who is in heaven but not who is in hell, in the way that forgiveness is always possible. Reformed Protestantism, on the other hand, is very black and white. In their theology, you can know who is going to hell, but not who is going to heaven. Lately, I find myself praising God for his wonderful grace – for the fact that those with homosexual attractions are never considered abominations, though acting on those attractions is a sin; for the forgiveness and healing he offers; for the way he invites us to him with open arms.

So, this is what I have learned through this encounter. I hope I can respond well and gracefully to those who disagree. It is a hard thing to deal with.