“Most people don’t hate what the Catholic Church teaches. . . they hate what they think the Catholic Church teaches.” (Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen)
Before I became a Catholic, I was an evangelical, fundamentalist Protestant. Though I had always felt drawn to the Catholic Church, I was married and divorced twice to Protestant men while belonging to Baptist and nondenominational, Bible-teaching churches. Without going into the failure of my two previous marriages, suffice it to say that my faith wasn’t big enough to hold either of them together. After the second divorce, I was angry at God and disillusioned with religion.
One day I decided to look into Catholicism. I had been feeling a huge void in my life, even though I was now happily married to my soul-mate and best friend. I learned, though, that the Catholic Church does not allow divorce and was told that I would have to have my previous marriages annulled. But a year and a half later, I am now a confirmed Catholic and have had my previous marriages righted by the dioceses. It’s kind of miraculous because I had never heard of anyone working out with God and the Church two previous marriages and divorces. Now I know that it can be done, if it is God’s will. My present husband is a Protestant, but we were remarried in the Catholic Church by the same priest who assisted me with righting my previous marriage-and-divorce dilemma.
When I was Protestant, I thought that I knew everything there was to know about Catholicism. I was taught by my Protestant pastors that Catholics worshiped idols, believed in grace by works alone, was a “dead” church, held Mary in higher regard than Jesus, prayed to and worshiped saints, that Mary was a “good” girl who served as merely an “incubator” for Jesus, and many other supposed Catholic heresies. One church I attended was venomous in its hatred for the Catholic Church.
Now I know that none of it was true. I don’t know where these Protestants got their information on the Catholic religion because it was patently incorrect. Doesn’t the Bible exhort us to study as the Bereans did to make sure that what we learn is doctrinally correct?
Catholics do not have idols or worship them. Because the Catholic Church employs all of the senses in its worship (touch, sight, smell, and taste), non-Catholics misunderstand what we are doing. We venerate (honor) Mary and the saints, but we definitely do not worship them. If my children disregarded my own mother with the level of dismissal that non-Catholics have doled out to the Mother of God, I would be extremely upset with them.
Catholics are saved through baptism, grace and works. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that we are saved by faith alone. But it does tell us to be baptized and continue to walk in our faith. In other words, our works reflect what we really believe.
Contrary to the Protestant opinion, the Catholic Church is not dead. It is a reverent, living, devoted community of believers worldwide. We have the crucifix to remind us of the ultimate sacrifice that Jesus made to reconcile us with God.
People who misunderstand the Catholic Church do so because of what they are taught. Properly catechized (taught) Catholics – from the cradle to the grave – understand the depths and riches of their religion. When I became a Catholic, I knew that I had found exactly where God had foreordained me to be. I have not questioned that decision for even a nanosecond.