Archive for ‘Misconceptions’

May 10, 2011

Misconception #3: The Catholic Church Discourages Scripture Meditation

Common misconception states that Catholics do not read the Bible, nor are they encouraged to do so.  On the contrary, the scripture readings for the entire, universal Church are decided upon months in advanced by the God ordained leaders of the Church. Many people feel this takes the Holy Spirit’s guidance out of the equation. However, since the Church sits in the seat of Christ in His physical absence and is being lead by the Holy Spirit as promised, this is not the case. The only thing that is taken out of the equation is spontaneity, and to believe that the Holy Spirit cannot work by planning months in advance is putting Him in a box. Indeed, the Holy Spirit leads the Church such that each book of the Bible, even the commonly overlooked books, are studied and given the attention God intended for it to have.

The fact is, if you were to attend mass every day for 3 years, you would have the entire Bible read! And that’s just in church, that’s not counting studying it on your own time, which of course the Church highly encourages you do.

Discouraging individual Bible reading and meditation is not scriptural, nor does it coincide with the teachings of the Church. The Church considers scripture, amongst other things, an “aid for meditation”. The Church encourages that you read the scripture readings before coming to Church on Sunday and reflect upon them, and that you make yourself knowledgeable in the scriptures as a tool against Satan and to become stronger in your faith. The Church encourages that you inscribe the Word of God on your heart and let it guide you in your thoughts, speech, and heart.

However, the Church does speak against individual interpretation of the Bible, which is entirely different from meditation, and the two mustn’t be confused. Indeed, poetic scriptures such as Psalms and Ecclesiastes can speak different things to different people, and this is okay as that is the function of those particular types of scripture. However, the significance of the Gospels and the interpretations of  New Testament doctrines have already been revealed by Jesus to his apostles, and have remained constant in the approximately 2000 years since the Church began. God does not contradict Himself, nor does He lie, so He will not give someone else, a thousand years later, a new, different interpretation of the Gospels or New Testament doctrines. It is important to understand that this is not saying that the Holy Spirit can only speak to and/or reveal things to Church leaders. I italicize for emphasis because many people think that saying God will not reveal new interpretation of scripture means that He cannot speak into the hearts of individuals, and this is NOT what the Church teaches.

Indeed, if someone is following Christ and has the Holy Spirit is dwelling in them, God will continuously speak into their heart and reveal things to them along the way. When my husband asked me out on our first date, God spoke into my heart that it was okay to date this man. When my husband was contemplating asking me to marry him, God revealed to Him when the time was right to ask. When I felt as if I needed to pray for someone, but wasn’t sure who, I simply began praying and God revealed to me who it was who needed my prayer. The Catholic Church would concur that when you are in a personal relationship with God, He will speak into your life constantly in such ways. The only thing He will not speak is new revelations of scripture interpretation to you, because these have already been revealed years ago, and God does not change.

Study scripture. Meditate upon it day and night. “Hide it’s words in your heart, that you might not sin against God” (Psalm 119:11). Seek understanding of scripture, but seek the understanding where Christ has already revealed what He meant to say.

“Ignorance of scripture is ignorance of Christ” — St. Jerome

April 25, 2011

Misconception #2: Catholics Have Crucifixes because they Forget that Christ is Alive

Happy Easter everyone! Or, as many Christians accurately like to call it, Resurrection Sunday.

It’s plausible to say that today is the most important Christian holiday of the year. It is the day that celebrates Christ’s triumphant resurrection from the tomb three days after he was whipped, beaten, spat at, stripped of his clothes and dignity, and nailed to a cross where he was to meet his death.

Today is the day that we celebrate the fact that, despite all that, Christ is ALIVE.

And in honor of today, I felt it would be appropriate to address a common misconception that states that the Catholic Church does not acknowledge Christ’s victory over death. Many people feel that since a common Catholic symbol is a cross with a dying Jesus atop it, that Catholics tend to forget that Jesus is alive and seated at the right hand of the Father.

It’s true that crucifixes, crosses that feature a dying Jesus upon the cross, are a very common symbol in Catholic Churches. However, contrary to popular belief, this is not because the Church forgets that Jesus has rose again. If you have ever attended an Easter worship service at a Catholic church (or any worship service at a Catholic Church for that matter), you would see for yourself that this is a terrible misconception.

The reason for displaying crosses showing the crucified Jesus is simple: we mustn’t forget that Jesus did indeed die on that cross. We mustn’t forget this because if it wasn’t for that death, there wouldn’t have been a resurrection in the first place. The gates of Heaven would not have opened and our sins would remain unforgiven. The reason for our freedom is because Jesus conquered death, yes, but had he not been put up on the cross in the first place there would not have been a death to conquer. The crucifixes do not suggest that Jesus did not rise from the dead, they just reaffirm this very important part of the story.

The empty cross represents the fact that Jesus defeated the cross, and there is something wonderful to be said about this. There is nothing at all wrong with carrying an empty cross as a reminder of your faith just as there is nothing wrong with carrying a crucifix. However, with the empty cross, we run the risk of forgetting that without Christ, the cross in and of itself  means nothing. Without Christ, the empty cross is nothing more than a replica of any other historical form of execution. The Church leaves Jesus on the cross so that we may easily remember that for there to be significance, the cross and Christ must go together. Sometimes you may see Jesus dead on the cross, and sometimes you may see Jesus in front of the cross with his arms raised in victory, very much alive. This is because the Church equally emphasizes both crucial parts of the story: the death and the resurrection.

Christ wants us to know he is alive and well, seated at the right hand of the Father. But he also does not want us to forget what He went through to ensure us a spot in Heaven, at the foot of His throne. He wants us to remember that the image we see on the crucifix was not just His earthly body…it was every sin we have ever committed being destroyed and forgotten.

“Jesus without the cross is a man without a mission, and the cross without Jesus is a burden without a reliever” –Fulton Sheen

April 16, 2011

Misconception #1: Catholic Beliefs are not Christian Beliefs

Before I address the first and foremost misconception, I want to say that the issues I will address will come in no particular order. I will post as God leads me and based on what He lays on my heart that particular day. Today, I’d like to start with the basics. Many people think that Catholics do not believe what is considered basic Christianity. Many people are under the false pretense that the beliefs of the Catholic Church are so skewed they don’t even begin to resemble Christianity.

Which is why I would like to introduce my reader’s to what is known as The Nicene Creed. The Nicene Creed is, simply put, a declaration of beliefs. If you’ve ever designed or viewed any church’s web page (think about your own church’s website, if it has one), you will most likely find a tab labeled “Beliefs”, in which you will find a declaration, usually in list form, of everything the members of that church believe about God, Christ, Salvation, and the Christian life. This is your church’s declaration of faith. The Nicene Creed is the exact same concept. It is, in list form, a declaration of beliefs that are held by the universal Catholic Church.

The Nicene Creed was written in the year 325. A group of church leaders met at what became known as the “Council of Nicea”, and their reason for feeling the need to pen  the beliefs they have already held to for the past 300 years was simple: to stand their ground against Aryan heresy that claimed that Jesus was not divine as God is divine. They decided, just like the designers of church websites today, that it was necessary to physically write down a list of everything they believe.

I challenge you to find something in this declaration of faith that opposes to basic Christianity:

We believe in One God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unseen.

We believe in One Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God. Eternally begotten from the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God. Begotten, not made, one in being with the Father. Through Him all things were made.

For us men and for our salvation, he came down from Heaven. By the power of the Holy Spirit, He was born of the virgin Mary and became man.

For our sake He was crucified under Pontious Pilate. He suffered, died, and was buried. On the third day He rose again in fulfillment of the scriptures. 

He ascended into Heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and His Kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son He is worshiped and glorified. He has spoken through the prophets.

We believe in one holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.

We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.

We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.

Amen.

“Well I can tell you right now what I found that isn’t right. The part about “one, holy, catholic Church”

Notice in the Creed, the word “catholic” is  not capitalized. No, that is not a punctuation error or a typo. While “Catholic”, with a Big C, is the name referring to the Catholic Church, there is another use of the word. As I explained in my last post, the word “catholic”, denoted with a little c, is another word for “universal”. Since this Creed was written when there was only one Christian church (what is now known as the Catholic Church), years before the church split and years before a distinguishing title became necessary, that statement can be paraphrased to mean one body of believers, or one universal church family.


This statement of beliefs written in the Nicene Creed states exactly the basics of what Catholics believed, from Christ’s formation of the Church just before Christ’s assumption, through today. Since this declaration of faith was officially written down, the Church has reviewed this every time they meet together to worship, as a reminder of where they stand.