Sunday, December 14, 2008

Studying Catholicism

My husband is Roman Catholic. I have at times belonged to the Lutheran Church, and most recently, the Presbyterian Church. After almost 28 years of marriage, I am immersed in the study of Catholicism. I am finding out that much of what is said of Catholics in Protestant circles is not true, or at least, a misunderstanding; a very different way of looking at theology.

Twenty three years ago when our eldest son was born, Jack and I went through the very painful process of deciding where David would be baptized. That process took months and many prayers, tears and anguish, much discussion, sometimes very heated discussion, as well as counsel from both my church (at that time, Lutheran) and Jack's church (Roman Catholic). Many times I was not sure our marriage would survive. Finally, the decision was made to bring up our children as Protestants. Once that decision was made, over the past twenty three years, I have never once heard my husband complain about that it.

But inwardly, my husband has suffered much. He has never felt he could share his Catholic faith with his children. Over time he has realized how important that faith is to him. He has felt guilty for making that decision so many years ago, regretting it many times. And I have felt guilty and torn, as a Protestant wife and mother, believing that the husband was the head of the home, but not really allowing my husband to be that head. Our children have felt torn between us.

Some of the children have now said that when Daddy went to 8 AM Mass, they used to ask him if they could go along. Because of our agreement, Jack usually said no. One older son asked almost exactly one year ago, "Mom, why do we celebrate the Reformation if Dad is Catholic?"

Over the past few years, I have read the conversion stories of some prominent former Protestants: Scott Hahn, Sheldon Vanauken, Thomas Howard, Barbara Curtis, and Cathy Duffy. Upon learning of these Protestants that converted to Catholicism, I began to read and ask questions. What brought them to make this change? Don't Catholics pray to Mary? What about the Pope? Do they really believe Jesus is present in the Eucharist? I began to read more stories of Protestants who have converted, sometimes lay people and sometimes ordained ministers who gave up their livelihoods to convert to the Catholic faith. I have been reading history. I have been reading the writings of the early Church Fathers, finding out that what they believed sounded a lot like the Catholic Church.

If you have ever wondered just what the Church believes, here are some fine web sites with great resources.

Here at New Advent, you will find the Catholic Encyclopedia, Summa Theologica ( The theological masterpiece of St. Thomas Aquinas), Church Fathers( Letters, speeches and books from the earliest Christians) Holy Bible ( The Douay-Rheims version, with hyperlinks to the Catholic Encyclopedia) How to Recite the Holy Rosary and Catholic Links( A growing directory of good Catholic websites).

A major Apologetics site. Includes a large number of pamphlet style questions and answers about the Faith, as well as sample articles from the magazine.

Former Presbyterian minister, Scott Hahn's website: this one is really good!. The St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology is a non-profit research and educational institute that promotes life-transforming Scripture study in the Catholic tradition. The Center serves clergy and laity, students and scholars, with research and study tools — from books and publications to multimedia and on-line programming.

Our goal is to be a teacher of teachers. We want to raise up a new generation of priests who are fluent in the Bible and lay people who are biblically literate. For us, this means more than helping people to know their way around the Bible. It means equipping them to enter into the heart of the living Word of God and to be transformed and renewed by this encounter.

We read the Bible from the heart of the Church, in light of the Church’s Liturgy and living Tradition. In this way, we hope to help people experience the heart-to-heart encounter that Jesus’ disciples experienced on that first Easter night, when they knew Him in the breaking of the bread: "Did not our hearts burn within us while He talked to us...while He opened to us the Scriptures?" (see Luke 24:13-37 )

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