"The Christianity of history is not Protestantism. If ever there were a safe truth it is this, and Protestantism has ever felt it so; to be deep in history is to cease to be a Protestant." (-John Henry Newman, An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine).

"Where the bishop is, there let the people gather; just as where ever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church". -St. Ignatius of Antioch (ca 110 AD)a martyr later thrown to the lions, wrote to a church in Asia Minor. Antioch was also where the term "Christian" was first used.

“But if I should be delayed, you should know how to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth.” 1 Timothy 3:15

"This is the sole Church of Christ, which in the Creed we profess to be one, holy, catholic and apostolic." -CCC 811

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Considering Catholicism

By Fr Longenecker

When a Protestant who is considering the Catholic Church calls me for advice the conversation goes back to some recurring difficulties. So here are some commandments for converts.
  1. The Catholic Church is not just another denomination. It's very different from all the Protestant churches you have ever attended. Behave as if you're visiting a foreign country.
  2. Be curious, not critical
  3. You’re right. There are plenty of hypocritical, heretical and lukewarm Catholics. There are a fair few Prots like that too aren’t there?
  4. The Catholic Church is huge. Don’t compare it to your Protestant sect. Compare it to all Protestants of every kind in every Prot organization everywhere. Did you find some loony, left wing scary Catholics? Remember the Episcopalians. If we have to answer for radical theologians and loony leftie nuns you have to answer for Kitty Schori, Mary Glasspool, the Jesus Seminar and Matthew Fox.
  5. I know it seems like you’re “not getting fed.” Once you’re received into the church you’ll be fed alright: Fed the Body of Christ. Be patient.
  6. Stop imagining that there’s a perfect church somewhere. Utopianism is an Americal disease. If you expect conflict and imperfection you won’t be so disappointed with the Catholic Church (or with life generally for that matter)
  7. The Catholic Church is in an epic batte with modernism. Don’t just complain about fuzzy feel good sermons, comfort hymns and carpeted churches. Join those of us who are working to ‘reform the reform’ and play your part.
  8. You wonder where the ‘fellowship’ is. That’s because a typical Catholic parish is huge and socially varied. Protestant churches tend to develop congregations from the same socio economic background. No wonder they have ‘good fellowship’. In the Catholic Church you will find your ‘fellowship’ in one of a huge number of sub groups. Once you’ve swum the Tiber, join the Women’s Club or Knights of Columbus or the Pro Life Group or the Carmelite Prayer Group or the Third Order Franciscans.
  9. Yes, we do read the Bible, but we read it within the tradition and prayer of the Church. The Scriptures are woven into the Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours. Be prepared to see the Scripture you love in a totally fresh and exciting way.
  10. Ask why you are considering the Catholic Church. If you’re just church shopping you still have a long way to go. The big question is authority. If you have come to believe that the Catholic Church really is the fullest expression of Christ’s One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church, and that the Holy Father is the God-appointed successor of Peter, Christ’s apostle on earth, then get yourself into the Catholic Church as soon as you can. Everything else will follow.
This article was posted by Fr Dwight Longenecker in his blog. He is Chaplain to St Joseph's Catholic School in Greenville, South Carolina. He was ordained under the pastoral provision for married former Anglican priests. Visit his website and connect to his popular blog, Standing on My Head.

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