(Reblogged from December 9, 2008)
So I just finished reading the first part of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. If you remember, about three months ago I said some really nasty things to my friend Megan. Actually, I hid behind this blog to say them. I believe that I said something like, “Catholics are misguided; they are not real Christians; my friend believes that I will spend time in the imaginary land of purgatory,” and other things of that nature. It was mean, it was rude, and ironically, I was the one who was misguided. Lucky for me, Megan and her fiance are the best people I know and they did not stop being my friend and for that I am thankful. And unlike most other things I fight about, the Catholic Church has not ceased to be on my mind, almost constantly. And so one night I woke up knowing I needed to know and understand just what it was I was up against, what did Catholics really believe? And so for about two months now I have been soaking up the pages of the Catechism. I just finished the 1,065th paragraph which concludes the very in depth explanation of the Church’s Statement of Faith, also known as the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds. The beginning of the section also goes on to describe how revelation has occurred to the church. Unlike the non-denominational teachings I have become accustomed to, the concept of sola scriptura does not exist. The Bible is not the only source of truth. This is not to say that books like the Koran are equally true, but to say that a lot of truth has been passed down in the church through tradition not written down in the Scripture. Look at it this way. The American Constitution. Our nation is founded on it. It however, does not provide absolutely everything it means to be an American, nor does it describe every aspect of our nation. The Scripture is the foundation of the Church, but it is not the end of truth, at least that is what the Catholic Church believes.
Of all the things that struck me as suprising was the church’s stance on evangelism. It wasn’t Mary or Purgatory, but evangelism. I have never really thought of the Catholic Church as evangelistic, but it really is. Paragraph 905 quotes this from the Apostolicam actuositatem:
This witness of life [the idea that our actions reflect Christ], however, is not the sole element in the apostolate, the true apostle is on the lookout for occasions of announcing Christ by word, either to unbelievers…or to the faithful.
Not only does the church stress a lifestyle of evangelism, but it stresses that the faithful need to be witnessed to just as unbelievers. I don’t know why, but it just suprised me so much and made me happy to read that. My deep desire is to share the gospel and I have had this misconception that that would be much harder to do, should I become Catholic, yet God answered my fear, much like he has been answering other stumbling blocks lately (Anna, Cru, etc….). I realized after reading the first part that much of what I already believe is found in the Church and the things that I haven’t beleived really do make sense and are not that far of a jump for me to make, should I choose too. Most of all I have seen God personally taking out the things I have been putting out in front of me, saying, “Look at this God, here is a reason that I can’t become Catholic. Maybe Anna won’t like me or what about my future job with Cru, can’t work for such an anti-Catholic organization and be Catholic.” Well God said, “Fine, Anna’s out of the picture, and so is Cru now. What else have you got? I want you to want me more than you want any of those other things!” What else can I do, but keep learning and prayerfully asking God what I should do next? I know that as I continue into learning about the Catholic faith I will come across more things that I will try to use as excuses, but I know that God will bust them down.
Reading the first part of the Catechism has been extremely awesome and I cannot wait to continue reading it and I would encourage everyone who has a riff with Catholicism to read it and stop throwing around a whole bunch of misconceptions.