I can very clearly remember the moment I realized Chris was the man for me. We were three days into our acquaintance, sitting outside of a bar with several other astronomers, sharing a bench. My boss brought to light my Christianity while harassing me about drinking a beer. Chris responded with the most welcome and lovely rant about the truth of God, His undeniable existence, and how science and God were most certainly compatable. I was looking at a man with a real and solid faith, and couldn’t help thinking “I could marry this man!” A year and a couple days later, I did.
The fact that Chris was Catholic never entered into the equation in those early days. I only saw a Christian, a man of God, a man of faith, a man who could lead me in the spirit. Weeks later, when we were talking long distance, we began to encounter obstacles in combining a Protestant and Catholic life together. It’s hard even to remember now, having come so far in our understanding, what those difficulties were and what frame of mind I was in. In following posts, I intend to do my best to outline these things, in effort to help others spot the misconceptions.
Obstacles still remain, not in sharing a life together, but in my contemplated conversion to Catholicism. I can’t join the church if I don’t believe in transubstantiation, can’t accept the authority of the pope, or believe Mary was “ever virgin”. But these things didn’t really make an appearance until later. In the beginning, it was the more common and ridiculous misconceptions that got in the way.
For instance, I thought the pope was the Antichrist and Chris would follow him against Christ and into Hell. I thought he worshipped Mary. Banning the use of contraception seemed barbaric to me. Baptizing babies was ludicrous. Praying to the saints was idolitrous. All the liturgy seemed dead. Where did they come up with Pergatory? And why wasn’t I allowed to take communion?
Now, I have come to see the Catholic Church as a marvelous and massive force for good standing alone in a world of despair. There is so much support for Christians in their local churches. There are so many Catholic charities worldwide. It seems the Catholic bishops were the only ones screaming in outrage when Obama promised unregulated abortion as his first act in office. There is so much guidance, and two thousand years of tradition and understanding to back it up.
I think if anyone is trying to overcome their misconceptions with the Catholic Church, the first thing they need to do is to actually attend one for a while. You’ll quickly see that Christ is at the center of Catholicism. Then you should find someone who knows what they’re talking about and discuss (or argue) things with them. Finally, you should clear up any doubts or questions you have by reading up on issues. Things are not always as they’re represented. Ironically, I think Hollywood has a better idea of what the Church is like than Protestants do.