Posted by: Christine Johnson | June 1, 2006

Why Swim the Tiber?

“Et tu, Jen?” has a terrific post that sums up why she’s becoming Catholic, even after going to Joel Osteen’s megachurch while visiting relatives in Houston. It’s really a wonderful post, and I enjoyed every bit of it.

I, too, have had experience in a non-denominational worship service. Though it’s really nice to be around people very excited for Jesus, looking back I also wonder about the preaching we heard during those sessions. I mean, sometimes just any old lay person interpreted Scripture and expounded on what he (or she) thought about its meaning and relationship to X, Y, or Z. (Very often these were related somehow to business and how making money isn’t evil. I believe that is true, but not really a good thing to focus your Scripture studies on week after week. Money isn’t evil, nor does it make someone evil – it doesn’t change you, but reveals more of who you are, IMO.)

But, anyway, I think that the focus on feeling is a very immature way to look at faith. Faith depends on you believing even when you can’t feel. For example, when I was pregnant with my second daughter, I felt myself losing faith. Not faith in God: I knew He was there. I just thought He was ignoring me. I asked people again and again why I was being punished, why was God abandoning me? Faith requires me to still believe even when I can’t feel a thing. (I talked about this before in another post.)

The other thing is, personal interpretation of Scripture is actually not good unless you are interpreting it within the context of a strong faith and understanding of the Church that Christ Himself founded. I’m sure that a lot of Protestants will balk at this. They’ll think that I will only think what the Catholic Church puts in my head. I’ve got news for you: the Catholic Church has been around for 2,000 years, and I have a feeling that the Magisterium has a much better grasp of the deposit of faith than I do. So I think I need to defer to them.

I think that some people have bought into a part of culture that they might otherwise ignore: that students have just as much to teach and offer as the teachers do. It seems that, since the 60’s generation “won” their fights, there has been an attitude that you don’t need to listen to your elders, including those of the Church. And who are the biggest elders in the Christian world? The Magisterium of the Holy Catholic Church! But why listen to them? We can make up our own minds and follow our own consciences, right? Well, only if they are properly formed, which means that we understand that the Magisterium probably knows more than we do, and we need to seek out an understanding of why the doctrines say what they do before dismissing them outright. (Incidentally, a lot of people who investigate doctrine with that attitude wind up assenting, anyway.)

Jennifer is definitely on the right track, and I am really enjoying her blog. And her insight makes me, a cradle Catholic, ashamed of how I rebelled so much against the Church in the past. I recall being at adoration on Holy Thursday and just crying because I was so sorry for how I’d lived for a good many years. It was like I looked at Jesus and gave him the finger, turning my back on Him in the process. Thank God He takes us back again and again. Thank God for the Sacrament of Confession!

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