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My Journey to the Catholic Church

1221 words

May, 2008

 
On Monday, April 14, 2006, after months of prayer and careful consideration, I decided to join the Catholic Church. This decision was brought about after considerable research of the scriptures, writings of the early church fathers, and reflections on the beliefs of the Catholic Church.

At first, I had considerable doubts regarding a few of the sacraments of Catholicism; however, after listening to enlightened explanations of the Catholic faith by Fr. John Corapi, Fr. Benedict Groeschel, and Fr. Mitch Pacwa (all hosts of various EWTN shows), I came to understand and accept the reasoning behind the sacraments. The Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) proved to be a wonderful source of information as was their website.

My wife, Nora, who is Catholic, answered questions I had, but in no way ever tried to convince me to give up my Southern Baptist faith in favor of Catholicism. She encouraged me to attend and rejoin a Southern Baptist Church and always attended Sunday services with me. I also attended Saturday evening Mass with her.

There are some things I will miss in the Southern Baptist Church. I find the music and praise and worship part of the service to be very uplifting. I enjoyed the friendliness of the church I joined; however the Catholic Church we attend is also very friendly.

I have always had a great amount of respect for the Catholic Church and respect all mainstream Christian religions. Each has their own form of worship and much can be gained and learned from the various denominational differences. I still believe the Baptist full-immersion baptism is biblically correct.

Certainly, the Catholic Church has its own share of problems. In America, the recent problems with abusive priests, has caused worldwide concern and shame for Catholics everywhere. Pope Benedict XVI addressed this situation several times this week while visiting the United States.

My studies, research, and journey have answered many questions I had. I’ve discovered the reasons behind many of the Catholic traditions which have shaped the church for the last two thousand years. My first reaction to many things in the Catholic Church was "that’s not in the bible." However, I came to learn and understand that many of our Christian practices and traditions came from the teachings of the Apostles and early church fathers. The bible states in John 21:25 "And there are also many other things which Jesus did, that which, if they should be written everyone, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen."

Jesus taught the twelve Apostles many things that weren’t recorded in the bible. The Apostles, in turn, shared the teachings of Christ with many others. Some of them are who we refer to as the ‘early church fathers’. For some reason, I had never really thought about that. I then began to read some of the teachings of the apostles and the early church fathers, which cleared up several issues.

I’ve always respected the Catholic Church for taking a conservative view of the bible and adhering to its teachings. Unlike many other religions who’ve caved into political correctness, or changed their teachings over the years to appease man, the Catholic Church has stood firm. While other churches have relaxed their standards and turned to a ‘feel good’ style of preaching, I find the Catholic Church has remained solid in their core beliefs.

Their outspoken stance on abortion and sanctity of life is unerring. It has not changed because of modern man’s belief they know more than God. Certainly, the Catholic Church has in recent times, been plagued with the priestly sexual abuse scandal; however, they’re working to correct that. While no church condones the actions of the priests, some religions are openly ordaining open homosexual ministers; even, to the point, of elevating them to positions of high authority within their congregations. I trust Pope Benedict, aided by his Cardinals and Bishops, will deal with the problem head on and work towards healing.

Many, if not most, Christian religions ordain women. However, the Catholic Church has taken a firm and unpopular stance, with its refusal to bend the gospel teachings found in the New Testament. 1st Corinthians 14:34 states, "Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law." This is supported by 1st Timothy 2:12 which states, "But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence." Like it or not, Jesus chose twelve men to be his Disciples. After the death of Judas, the remaining eleven voted and placed another man in that position. The Catholic Church followed the example of Christ, Apostles, and early church fathers. They remained true to Christ’s teachings, never bending in our politically correct society. If you have a problem with that, take it up with God and Jesus.

The church’s actions and reliance on women is well known and heavily documented. Many women have been canonized to Sainthood. Consider for a moment the wonderful works of Nuns throughout the ages. Look at the works from the various women’s orders. No one would ever deny Mother Theresa her role of helping the poor people of India. Quite honestly, without the working of women in any church or denomination, that church or denomination would fail. The women are the backbone of the church and the family.

While all of the above were steps in my journey, one final item cemented my path to the Catholic Church. I did not hear this on any TV show, nor did I read this in any book. It was something that took me back to when I was born again and read the bible from beginning to end for the first time in 1981. I was always struck by Luke 22:19 which said, "And he took bread, and gave thanks, and broke it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me."

In all the words and teaching of Christ, that was the only thing he asked of us to honor him. He spoke of the Father, the Holy Spirit, of prayer, and of the way we should live. He asked for nothing more than honoring him through the breaking of the bread and the drinking of the wine. Call it what you will - communion, the Lord’s Supper, or the Eucharist - it was his only wish.

I wrestled with the fact that all religions, other than Catholic, (or closely related to Catholic) only have communion once a month at most. Some churches have it once a quarter, others only once or twice a year. I’ve heard that some rarely have communion claiming that attendance falls off when communion is served. A communion worship service takes longer which displeases many people. How ungrateful!

Considering what Jesus did for us and sacrificed for us, it is a pitiful response of ‘the faithful’ to turn their back on the one thing that Jesus asked of us. Only the Catholic Church understood the importance of the act. The Eucharist is to be offered at every Mass. It was that tradition that led me on my journey to the Catholic Church.

 
Copyright ©   Reverdy  Lewin  Orrell,  III
 

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