Five Things I Want My Cradle Catholics Friends To Know

17 Apr

[I’ve joined a Bible study for Catholic young adults. I’m one of two converts in the group. I’ve really enjoyed being a part of this study, and I’m so glad to have some more Catholic friends, but over the past few weeks I’ve definitely seen and heard some things that have made me cringe a little. I’m hoping and praying for the Holy Spirit to provide opportunities for me to share some of the following things with my new friends.]

1. I don’t get always get along or agree with my parents. Sometimes I need to talk about this. When I do, I want to be listened to and maybe even agreed with. I might even appreciate a healthy outside perspective on my parents. However, I don’t want to hear them bashed, I don’t want them to be put down or unfairly judged. They’re still my parents, after all.

I feel this same way when I find myself in the middle of a group of Cradle Catholics bashing on Protestant views and people. I know better than most that there are certain Protestant beliefs that from a Catholic perspective make no sense, justify sins, are just downright confusing, and that sometimes lead to people dealing with a lot of hurt.

But no matter what, the Protestant Church is my parent church. She raised me. She fed me as a child. She was who first taught me to love God and to love others. The bad situations and bad people I encountered in the Protestant Church will never cancel that out.

It’s easier for me to discuss Protestantism with former Protestants because they’ve been there. They’ve truly known her and been one with her. It’s hard for me discuss Protestant issues with people who just don’t know her that well, especially when the conversation has a very negative tone. Dialogue and discussion don’t need to put any person or group down in order to be useful.

2. I love the Blessed Mother and I love the Saints. I have absolutely been thrilled to recognize them for the beautiful and powerful people they are. What a blessing to be showered with their love, prayers, and examples!

Please know that I’m not hiding my devotion to them by praying the rosary or reading my book of Saints in my car instead of when I’m surrounded by Protestant friends, family, or roommates. I am not hiding them. I am keeping them safe from silly arguments and accusations. I would far rather not discuss them at all than hear comments about worshiping dead people.

3. It’s nearly impossible to make a blanket statement about Protestant beliefs or people. Between individual interpretation of Scripture and the vast number of denominations, it’s really hard to create a firm description of specific Protestant beliefs. Each Protestant is going to have different views on Salvation, Baptism, Communion, and the color the church carpet should be.

4. Some things about the Catholic Church are still hard for me to wrap my mind around. I’m still new here, so please be gentle and patient with me. I’ve had a year-long love affair with the Catholic Church in which the Holy Spirit has been hard at work healing old and broken ways of thinking. He’s not finished with me yet.

If I don’t understand something, speak your peace, let the subject go, and then pray for me. Jesus led me here so far, so let’s both of us trust Him to complete the good work He started in me.

5. As a child I learned three new verses every week. As a teen I read the entire Bible three times over.  I went to Christian schools where I had Bible classes. I’ve taken three Bible classes here at college. The Bible is very close to my heart. I seek shelter and comfort in it’s words. I even love the dry and uninteresting parts because they are as familiar to me as my parents’ house. Reading the Bible feels like going home.

I don’t expect everyone to think or feel this way at all. I know that as an English Major the written word is closer to my heart than for others. And I know that as a former believer in Sola Scriptura I will always have a soft spot for Scripture. But it absolutely appalls me to hear statements like the following:

“You should read about Saint Nicholas – you know Santa Claus. I’m pretty sure his story is in the Bible.”

“What book is the story of Noah in? That’s in Matthew, right? Matthew’s a book, right?”

“I don’t believe in reading the Bible on my own.”

I have loved being Catholic because it has freed from needing to read the Bible in order to be saved. At one point in my life I believed that my salvation rested on whether or not I was “in the Word.” I am so glad to be free from that type of guilt. But in saying that, if you’re a Catholic and you aren’t at least familiar with the basics of Scripture, you’re missing out! Scripture is beautiful and powerful. It is such a source of strength and comfort.

Not only that, but it’s a lot harder for Protestants to accuse you of not knowing Scripture if you actually know Scripture. The best part about it too is that you already know more than you realize. The prayers said in Mass come straight out of the Bible. Many of the songs are rooted in Scripture passages. And of course, the readings too!

As I came into the Church I recognized the Scripture immediately – it was honestly one of the most stunning experiences of my life. How beautiful would it be to encounter the Scriptures and recognize the Church immediately? The two are intricately intertwined in a beautiful, Holy relationship and I have a deep desire for those who don’t see that relationship to discover it.

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15 Responses to “Five Things I Want My Cradle Catholics Friends To Know”

  1. Faith April 17, 2013 at 11:38 am #

    Good stuff, especially the last one!

  2. Lyn April 17, 2013 at 12:51 pm #

    I want to like this a hundred times! As I was reading, my spirit was shouting “YES!” and “Amen!” at each point, especially the last one. I was blown away at the amount of Scripture that was read/sung/discussed at Mass. I, too, attended a Christian school, and memorized large portions of the Bible. I loved Bible studies, and even as a Protestant, didn’t think my salvation was based on reading and knowing it…but it was a joy to keep it, hidden in my heart, and such fun to see when those words would come to mind just when I needed them, just like it was promised. Good stuff, Ellie. Good stuff!

    Blessings
    Lyn

  3. Teresa Rice April 17, 2013 at 1:32 pm #

    I believe there is a way to disagree with other faiths while teaching people about Catholicism and respecting their faith at the same time. As a cradle Catholic I can say that unfortunately growing up the Church, whether kids attended Catholic school or CCD, for some reason we were taught most of the same bible stories each year. Believe it or not, it wasn’t until I was in college that I started to read the bible on my own. Now I love learning more and more about scripture. God Bless.

    • elliejaneohara April 17, 2013 at 4:42 pm #

      There’s definitely a way to disagree and still teach the Catholic faith! I think it rests in Jesus’ command that we love our neighbors as we love ourselves.

  4. SR April 17, 2013 at 2:04 pm #

    Ellie,

    I have read this post several times, and it is indeed a very well thought out and well written post. As far as your parents I understand all you said there. I have tried to be very careful not to bash them, as we always love our parents. The only time I truly said anything was when the money issue came in, and I gave my toughts on that as a parent myself.

    I live daily with what you are now living with, as do most converts, but I have to say this in defense of “cradle Catholics.” In my eight years of being in the Church, the Protestant “bashing” has been very far and few between. Most of the time it is because the “button” has been pushed too long and too hard.

    An example is: I can go on EWTN and the Protestants are being called our “brothers and sisters.” I can go on a Protestant station and somewhere in the day it will be said, “We are going to hell, and we are not their brothers and sisters as we worship a “different Jesus,” whatever that is?

    We were both raised reading our Bible’s as all Protestants are, reading our Bibles from an early age. Scripture is a part of our lives as making our beds are. We do it daily. There are many wonderful Protestants who live to the best of their ability, according to Scripture. No matter how wonderful they are, most will always see us as worshiping “idols” and sending our souls to hell. Cradle Catholics have lived with this an entire lifetime. I think at some point the “snap” comes. It even does with me, and I was a Protestant for 48 years. I get tired of it, I get sick of listening to it, and at some point I have to defend the Church.

    It is hard for us as converts to have at times one foot in the Protestant world and one in the Catholic world. Our past, most of our friends, and our family as well are most all Protestant. As the years go by for you, you will begin to slip more into the Catholic world. Until then, it will continue to upset you greatly from both sides.

    Ellie, in all honesty most “cradle Catholics” have been some of the most loving and welcoming people I have ever met. Never once have I ever heard one say, someone was going to hell for what Church they went to. We must remember as converts they have to deal with us also. Sometimes that is not easy for them either. God Bless, SR

    • elliejaneohara April 17, 2013 at 4:52 pm #

      You actually did such a wonderful job of being gracious yet honest about my dealings with my parents that that’s was the first metaphor that came to mind when I sat down to write!

      I understand that “snap” feeling – I have it myself when my beliefs or the things I say are misconstrued. I think what’s hard for me is when people say things without thinking about who’s in the room. I also am working really hard to maintain relationships with Protestant friends and family, so when I hear them put down for not loving the Blessed Mother or for the way they enjoy worship it grates on me a little.

      I think most of all I want to see harmony between Catholicism and Protestantism – not agreement or unity – but just a sense that we can agree to disagree. And I don’t see that happening so long as either side is picking on the other for it’s beliefs. I guess I’m hoping that maybe a Protestant will see me choosing not to nitpick his or her beliefs and then that Protestant will realize that it’s not worth tearing down my beliefs.

      • SR April 17, 2013 at 5:49 pm #

        You will get there Ellie. Give yourself time. You have had so much to deal with. Pick your battles and the others blow off. This has been going on ever since the reformation, and the way we make a difference is within our own circle of friends one at a time. If we don’t then let it go. I have no problem defending the Church, but there are also many times, I stay quiet, as it will lead to nothing. Am truly the better for it, at those times. God Bless, SR

  5. theoress April 17, 2013 at 10:09 pm #

    Wow, very honest and helpful. As a convert, I identitfy with a lot of these.

  6. pishnguyen April 18, 2013 at 7:37 pm #

    Wonderfully thought-out and beautiful post! I have thought many of these things along the way … even in the midst of RCIA classes, but I don’t think I could have put them as beautifully and eloquently as you have.

    I hope and pray things are looking better with regard to your relationship with your parents. I admire your wonderful attitude of continuing to hold them in your heart with love and respect, and I can empathize with how difficult that can be sometimes. For what it’s worth, I think you are doing just the right thing. Anyhow … I’m sorry for rambling a bit. I really just wanted to send you good and supportive thoughts. 🙂

    • elliejaneohara April 18, 2013 at 9:19 pm #

      Not at all, I love long comments!

      It’s been nice because my sponsor is also a former Protestant, so she’s really helped me to think through a lot of these types of feelings and concerns.

      Things are a little better with my parents…I think they’re both in denial right now because they won’t acknowledge things either positively or negatively. It’s nice because I don’t constantly feel worried they’re going to argue with me, but it’s also really confusing because I have no idea how they feel…

      Thanks as always for the thoughts and prayers!

  7. geloruma April 22, 2013 at 6:28 am #

    Hi Ellie,
    I liked this post, one thing which always frustrated me about my friends in other denominations was that they could never exchange views on faith without their seeing it as an opportunity to evangelise you. That’s why I love to read your experiences and learn about the protestant view from an authentic source. It also seems that some Protestants very much learn set phrases from scripture which gives the impression that they know a lot more than Catholics do about it. (I actually like the idea of learning a few lines daily!)
    I would think the people who thought the story of Noah was in Matthew are very lapsed Catholics. Catechesis has been very poor in the Catholic church for the last 40 years or so; its not really their fault so don’t be too hard on us; it is having people like yourself come into the Church that is such a blessing for us – we need the help! 🙂
    Where I live, the atrocities of the Reformation are still quite raw – the area is steeped in Catholic history with ruined churches destroyed at that time by Protestantism. You can also read historical papers such as the costs incurred in hanging, drawing and quatering a Catholic; that included my own ancestors. Its like a deep wound of the spirit which I cannot go into here; a kind of betrayal. Even so Catholics desire very much to have Christianity whole again, and for their Protestant brothers and Sisters to come home, and have the joy of Jesus truly present in the Eucharist.

    • elliejaneohara April 22, 2013 at 8:06 am #

      Glad you liked! It’s sad how difficult it is to have non-argumentative discussions between Catholics and Protestants. I’ve been working so hard to encourage those around me to be more respectful of the other. I think that Catholics and Protestants could learn a lot from each other and it’s sad how many people are missing out because they blindly hate someone who has different beliefs.

      When it comes to “evangelizing,” Protestants (or at least the ones I know) learn a one-size-fits-all way of “sharing the Gospel.” Typically we were given a pamphlet or sheet of paper that contains five to six main points and each point has a verse to go along with it. We were then supposed to memorize the paper so that we could “share” it with others.

      Personally I never enjoyed (or actively participated in) this kind of activity. For me it felt like we were more worried about having a high quantity of new people, rather than seeking after genuinely being interested in helping people to find peace, hope, and grace in Christ. I remember as a child I got in a lot of trouble for pointing out to a teacher that I felt we were more worried about quantity than quality.

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