email me anytime if you have interest, questions, or comments on this!)
I do want to mention that my blog--as well as my life--are NOT exclusive to Catholics only. I have many non-Catholic sisters in Christ and I continue to be immeasurably blessed by my friendships with them. They are sincerely seeking the Lord and are in intimate relationship with Him. They inspire me, encourage me, and support me! By creating this page, I simply want to share my love for the Catholic Faith and clear up a few of the common misunderstandings.
Catholics love the Bible. Trust me, we do. Every Mass we hear readings from the Old Testament, the New Testament epistles, and the Gospel. Words from the Psalms and other Scripture are sprinkled throughut the liturgy (wording) of the Mass and make for an incredible, heavenly experience of worship. No matter where you go in the world, you will hear the same readings (if you go to Mass today in England, you'll hear the same readings I will at Mass today. How cool is that unity?) We read through the whole Bible every three years at Mass. We LOVE the Word!
However, we don't believe in sola scriptura--"Bible alone"-- that is, that the Bible is the only infallible authority on matters of God. We believe that while Christ was on earth, He established a visible church with visible leadership and breathed the Holy Spirit upon it to guide it. By the Holy Spirit, this Church safeguards and interprets the beautiful Word of God. Just as the Gospel writer John reminds us, the Word is not only the written Scriptures, but the Word is Jesus Christ Himself! It can't all be written down (John 21:25) but both written and spoken teachings (2 Thess. 2:15) can be passed down from generation to generation, successor to successor, through this visible Church guided by the Spirit. We believe in the authority of the Church only because Christ established it and guides it. (Matthew 16:18-19, Isaiah 22:22, 2 Tim. 2:2, 2 Thess. 2:15, and more :) )
There are so many denominations and different interpretations of the Bible; even in a practical way it makes sense that Jesus would establish one Church to be the authority on His teachings so that they are not distorted, lost, or watered down through the years. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6)-- He doesn't want us to be confused and wondering what He really meant by this verse or that verse. He loves us too much to not give us a Church with authority backed by the Holy Spirit.
What a gift we have in a God who became one of us to save us and draw us to Him! It's a common mistake for non-Catholics to think that Catholics believe in salvation by works. Thankfully, there's no such thing and Church teaching totally reflects that.
We DO believe that salvation is comprised of a belief, acknowledgment, and acceptance of Jesus as our Lord and Savior. We believe that we must make a profession of this faith and allow a new divine life to enter us and transform us (become a "new creation" and be "born again" by water and the Spirit--that is, Baptism). We believe that Baptism saves us just as Peter says in 1 Peter 3:21 and that by it we are adopted as a beloved child by God. However, salvation is a gift and we can reject that gift and turn away from God at any time because He has also given us the gift of free will. Thus we don't believe in "once saved, always saved"--that would be presumption of God's grace rather than a trust in Him at all times to bring us safely to Heaven one day.
While we don't believe that we are saved by works, we do believe that our works show our faith (James 2:18). Even the devil "believes" and "professes" belief in Christ yet he is obviously NOT saved! :) We must go further and actually act on that belief that Jesus is Savior and Lord of our lives. This will be reflected by the way we choose to live our lives, yet it is only by His grace that we can make choices that please Him. Does that make sense? We don't earn salvation, but we do indeed hold fast to it, treasure it, and seek to follow the Lord and His commands every single day on the journey to Heaven.
If I were to pick the main reason I love being Catholic, this is it. By far. The Church's teaching on the Eucharist and Communion is like no other church. We believe that Jesus--body, blood, soul, divinity--becomes present at every Mass on the altar in the form of bread and wine. He doesn't enter into the bread and wine--He becomes it...or rather, it becomes Him! Just as He came to us the first Christmas in the form of human flesh, so too we believe Christ actually comes to us in the form of bread and wine each time in the Eucharist. (The substance is Jesus, the accidents are bread and wine, for my philosophy friends!)
Sound crazy? The first disciples thought so, too. And some of them left because of it (John 6:60). Yet Jesus didn't change His tune but rather stood by this teaching and continued to emphasize it. Read the whole chapter of John 6. It's incredible. We believe that God could say, "Let there be light" and there was...so why not "this is my Body" and it is?
We know He can do it...but does He? Yes, friends, yes. And I would stake my life on it. Look up the early Christian writers about the Eucharist. Look up Eucharistic miracles that have occured (Lanciano, especially). Read these Scriptures: Matthew 26:26, Mark 14:22, Luke 22:19-20, 1 Cor. 10:16, 1 Cor. 11:30, Acts 2:42, 1 Cor. 11:26, and more). Do your research and you will be amazed. Jesus said He would be always with us (Matthew 28:20) and He meant that not only in a spiritual sense, but also a physical one.
It blows my mind sometimes and it definitely takes faith to believe this. But what a gift. Jesus in the Eucharist changes. my. life. Receiving Him at Mass is absolute grace and gift. To have Him love me like that and enter into me time after time with His healing grace and love is...indescribable. I want that for you, too, my friends. Remember how it felt to receive Jesus into your heart when you accepted Him as Savior? Imagine receiving His Body into your body, close to your heart, again and again...
Mary and the Saints
It saddens me when non-Catholics think we worship Mary or the saints. Worship belongs to God alone (Luke 4:8). In no way do we EVER worship Mary or the saints. The best way I can describe it is simply that they are our friends.
You and I are friends. We encourage each other in our walk with Christ. We pray for each other. It's the beauty of the Body of Christ, the family of believers. If I died tomorrow and went to be with Jesus, you can bet I would continue praying for you and I'd be even closer to God when I prayed--I'd be in His presence! (I might spend some time being purified through Purgatory before I got there, but that's another topic you're welcome to ask me about!) So too the saints are faithful God-followers who we believe have gone to Heaven and who now pray for us and cheer for us on our journey there as well. We admire them and honor them for their holy lives and examples. We want to be like them only because they show us how to become more like Christ.
Mary is included in this family of believers, but we especially honor and love her because she was the Mother of Jesus, the Mother of God. He was close to her heart literally and because she was His mother, no doubt she was the human who knew Him best on earth. We believe Jesus gave her to us to be our spiritual mother when He was on the cross (John 19:27) and this is a beautiful gift! Who doesn't want another mother to pray for us and show us the way to Christ?
When we ask Mary or the Saints to 'intercede' for us, we simply are asking them to pray for us. We are not praying TO them or giving them any type of praise or worship that is due to God alone. Heaven forbid. ;)
There are so many other topics and teachings I'd love to share about and perhaps I will in time. I again invite you to email me at any time with questions or comments. I love to talk about this stuff (but warning, I'm not a fan of arguing--I only like to discuss in love and sincerity as we all seek truth).
God bless you, dear friend in Christ! May we always be open to the truth He speaks to our hearts and the love He pours into our lives each day.