Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Going to the Mattresses: One Girl's Take on Faith and Feelings

Week Five: My issue(s) with the Church

"Going to the Mattresses: One Girl's Take on Faith and Feelings" by Julie Robison
"Half-Measures" by Elizabeth at Startling the Day
"The Church's Self-Fulfilling Prophecy" by Trista at Not a Minx

This is the fifth post of a Lenten blog post series called "Bright Maidens." We three are from the oft-mentioned, widely-speculated upon demographic of young, twenty-something Catholic women. We're here to dispel the myths and misconceptions- please join us for the discussion!

In the Gospel reading at Mass today (John 5:1-16), Jesus went to Jerusalem, where he met a man who had been ill for 38 years. Jesus saw him lying on the ground and asked him if he wanted to be well. The man  replied, that he was trying to get to the healing pool. Jesus then commanded him to get up, pick up his mat, and walk. Later, Jesus met the same man in the temple area and said, "Look, you are well; do not sin any more, so that nothing worse may happen to you."

Last Friday, I heard Peter Kreeft say the great line of, "The Church is not the Magesterium."

To clarify our terms- the Catholic Church ostentatiously has a very extensive and elaborate hierarchical system. In more recent years, the priesthood has come under attack- not only because many priests violated their sacred promises and the laws of God, but because an out-pouring of acceptable anti-Catholicism is seeping into the culture.

It is easy to look at the priests and say, they're not doing their job. But that would only be looking at the Church by its skeleton, not its body. What of the lay people? Those whom, because they are not bound by Holy Orders, think they know better than the Church. Many think, for example, because a priest does not have sex, he must not know anything about it, forgetting that he lives his life in self-controlled celibacy. Or if he's a priest, he's repressing homosexual desires or molesting small children. All of these, even as thoughts, do grave injustice to the honor and dignity of the priesthood.

It is easy to say- priests are just men. But what is different is that they have set themselves apart. They have vowed to live the high road. When one priest does wrong to another person, it affects the entire foundation of the priesthood. When they do wrong, the consequences are clear.

But what about when lay people do wrong? What are the consequences there, when they do not attend Mass every week? What happens when Catholics don't know their catechism? What happens when Catholic schools don't teach the faith? What happens when parents and families do not reinforce religion in the home?

Well, fortunately for you dear reader, I can tell you.

I won't be speaking from statistics, although they're out there- like Pew finding a decent amount of Catholics don't believe in the Real Presence and support legalized abortion. I'll be speaking from experience as a cradle Catholic: Mass every Sunday with the family, Catholic schooling Kindergarten through senior in high school, and all the high holy days in between.

I've encountered a lot of feelings and poor reasoning, which is one reason I am fascinated by Aquinas and canon law. I love reason and logic, and talking about one's childhood in a high school religion class teaches one nothing of either. It is not surprising then, that I left high school with my Catholic faith not firmly planted, although still a strong aspect of my identity.

I went to a non-Catholic college, where the student population was roughly 40 percent Catholic, 60 percent Protestant. In the first few days of college, I had a great experience of sitting on the floor of my dorm room with my roommate, also Roman Catholic, talking to the girls across the hall: a Lutheran, an Evangelical Baptist, a Presbyterian (USA) and a non-denominational Christian. The conversation was fun, respectful and informative. I am still friends with all those girls, and very close with most of them. The importance of spiritual friendships in Christ is an essential part of living the Christian life.

The ability to verbalize ones beliefs is not only important for people who share the Christian faith, but those who do not. Richard Weaver said in 'Ideas Have Consequences' that, "Nothing can be done until we have decided whether we are primarily interested in truth."

The Catholic Church is in dialogue with the Jews, Muslims, and, most recently, Atheists. I recently stumbled across a wonderful non-profit resource called "Why I'm Catholic", which features really great conversion stories. Today's story is from a former neopagan witch. Yep, you read that right. She used to be a witch, and now she's a Roman Catholic. Isn't God's grace so bountiful?!

Before I launch into my Masters, I help out with RCIA, to get more personal experience. Talking with those people is so humbling and glorious; I love listening to how they found wholeness and truth in the Catholic Church. Many times, it was not an easy decision, and their friends and family do not support them. I became initially interested in helping out at RCIA because of the decent amount of friends I have who have converted/ are converting to Catholicism as well. It is not just reason and intellect which brought them into communion, but cor ad cor loquitur - heart speaking to heart, as it says on Cardinal Newman's coat of arms.

Their story of how they found their way back to the Church is not one, however, that only non-Catholics can experience. I too came back more fully into my Catholic faith in college, literally diving into its rich intellectualism, long history, Church Fathers, consistency, and promise to uphold and defend justice, mercy, love, forgiveness and the Gospels, as well as the countless witnesses and conversations with Catholics and non-Catholics alike. Furthermore, I love natural law, and I love the reasoning behind Church teachings, many of which can be supported using non-religious defense.

But I also hold very strongly to the belief that belief is a choice, and that, every day, I have to choose God, as he first chose me. To follow Christ, you also have to want to be cured, like the beggar. (Spiritually cured, of course, although physical cures are miraculously possible as well.)

Last night at RCIA, Fr. George asked me to talk about reconciliation, since one of my Lenten spiritual practices is going to Mass more than once a week and going to confession at least once a week. One of the most important reasons to frequently take communion and to go to confession is because it will heal you. Through God's grace, the sacraments endow the recipient with the grace and moral courage needed to face an unloving world and desires not in your best spiritual interest, even if it is what you think you physically want.

Libby Edwards, the lady mentioned above, who converted from neopaganism to Catholicism said it best: "Witchcraft offers incredible freedom, but oh, it's a clever lie." This is why the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel asks him to "protect us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil."

The priest said during the homily today that it is not just physical ailments which keep us down- it is spiritual ones. Things we don't want to change about ourselves. Maybe we don't want to stop swearing, or drinking a lot, or dressing a certain way, or using contraception, or doing whatever we want, whenever we want. It's our life, right? But, oh! How even some of the Catholics closest to me have forgotten that we are not our own; that we were bought at a price.

 I take issue with the namby-pambiness I have witnessed among fellow Roman Catholics: be it from parents to teachers, from the community of believers to the individual, from the rectory for the home- there is a need to call for more faithfulness among the faithful. I have encountered too many feelings, and not enough faith. I have encountered too much fear, and not enough faith. I have encountered too much ignorance, and not enough faith. It is the promise we make at Confirmation to be soldiers for Christ- but how can we fight for truth if we do not follow our own leader?

Venerable John Paul II said, be not afraid. This is why he started the New Evangelization movement at the start of the third millennium. Modernity and people want to be different and counter-cultural, but they miss the point of life when they dress alternatively, or act scandalous, or listen to hip music. To truly be counter-cultural, one takes up the cross to follow Christ. The Catholic Church was established by Christ, who gave us the sacraments, to sustain us with grace and faith; the hierarchy, to ensure apostolic succession; and the laws, to survive faulty human judgment.

The Catholic Church survives and flourishes today, even after 2,000 years human fallibleness. The Catholic Church is more than bad priests. The Catholic Church is more that wayward lay people. The Catholic Church is just one part of the communion of saints, which is filled not only with the faithful believers, but the saints and the angels, those in heaven and those in purgatory, and a living, viable Trinitarian God. My issue with the Church isn't the Church itself - it is the people within and outside the Church, wasting their earthly opportunity to find true happiness and joy.

I remember reading a book in my Intro to Western Religion class, where so many of the theologians' final question was this: they wanted to know what happened to Paul on his way to Damascus and what he saw. I don't think it matters specifically to them- I think we're all walking to Damascus. If God hasn't done it already, he just might knock you on your back if he has to get your attention. Or maybe, if you're struggling with something, then hold on to God and wrestle him like Jacob, until you extract your blessing.

We all have a role to play in this life; may we find the moral courage to answer the call! The Catholic Church is here to support us through this life, to help us reach the next life, if we only let her.

And as a final hurray for the Catholic Church, here is a Eucharistic processional through the streets of NYC. I get chills every time I watch this:

"Speak up for what you believe. Love the Church. Defend her teaching. Trust in God. Believe in the Gospel. And don’t be afraid. Fear is beneath your dignity as sons and daughters of the God of life. Changing the course of American culture seems like a huge task. But St. Paul felt exactly the same way. Redeeming and converting a civilization has been done once. It can be done again. But we need to understand that God is calling us to do it. He chose us. He calls us. He’s waiting, and now we need to answer him." 
-Archbishop Charles J. Chaput


  1. I don't think that these people whom you have issue with see it the same way. I doubt any of them would say they are "wasting their earthly opportunity to find true happiness and joy" just because they don't live a perfectly lay life. Maybe they just see their faith a little differently than you. Not every member of the Catholic Church needs to be a perfect lay clone to have a great spiritual life. God welcomes all into a relationship with Him and doesn't hold any in a higher light just because their lifestyle choices. If God doesn't judge the members of the Church or love any member more than others, who are we to judge them? In my opinion it seems like your issue with the Church is just as big of a roadblock in building a perfect relationship with God as such things as contraception, drinking too much, or swearing. I think too often we are way too concerned with others and don't spend enough time trying to better OURSELVES. Because at the gates of Heaven isn't all about your life?

  2. There is no such thing as a perfect lay clone- there is only the earnest pursuit of God and God's will.

    He does welcome all into a relationship with him, but there are things he asks of us. Acknowledging that people are not doing right by God is not to judge them- you are right, no one should judge another person. But judging behaviors is different.

    I was not saying I don't have roadblocks- if you recall, I go to confession every week. I am constantly seeking God's help and forgiveness in my life. But the difference is whether or not you are going to seek forgiveness, repent and amend your life, or if you are going to do your own thing and disregard God's teachings.

    When you go to confession, you are not only putting yourself right with God, you're putting yourself right with others. When Catholics deviate from Church teachings (which they freely subscribe to), then they hurt the whole body of believers.

    I am concerned about all people because I want all to be in Heaven; however, I cannot control that. I can only control my actions, words and thoughts, yes. But if I can help another person, then I will. That is part of the "do unto others" part of the Gospel teachings.

    You're right that many people I take issue with would not see it the same way, but no one sees God the same way, which is part of the fun of this earthly journey!

  3. @Anonymous
    I just want people to know God. The most deadly sin, from the beginning, has always been pride. The most gracious cure for pride has always been, from the beginning, obedience. It isn't about being a clone or being a mindless robot, it is about humility. It is about realizing the truth- that we fail in many ways. We do need to focus on our own logs before we help other people with their splinters, but in this day and age I think we suffer less from Phariseeism and far more from individualism and relativism. Christians care about others because, well, we care :) You might want me to care less about you and other people, but I can't. I want you to be the best person you can be, I want you to be the most faithful person you can be, I want you to be the most loving and holy person you can be. If you don't want me to want that, tough noogies.

  4. And great post, I especially loved the quotation at the end.

  5. Your quote from Richard Weaver is very apt. The question, "What is truth?" can't be a dismissal of interest as Pontius Pilate spoke it, but rather a burning quest of both mind and heart, making one unwilling to settle for compromises and perspectives—not because of pride, but because subjective partial truths don't satisfy.

    @ Anonymous: "I think too often we are way too concerned with others and don't spend enough time trying to better OURSELVES. Because at the gates of Heaven isn't all about your life?"

    Not quite. Read Matthew 25:31-46, where at the Final Judgment the Lord separates the heaven-bound from the damned according to what they did for other people. Sin begins precisely when we use our needs and desires to justify injustices to others, such as using other people as sex toys. We become better people by becoming less self-centered and start putting the good of others first; sanctity becomes possible when we die to ourselves.

    Think about the words, "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me" (Mt 16:24), and tell me if that sounds like a Lord who came to validate the lifestyle that makes you comfortable. For cryin' out loud, the most prevalent symbol of our faith is an instrument of torture! If you're not prepared to give everything up for His sake, then it's not a question of whether God accepts you on your terms, but whether you really accept God on His terms.

  6. I agree with Julie, Peter, and Anthony, that concentrating on ourselves is certainly how we strengthen our relationship with God. I also agree when they said when we concern ourselves with helping and holding accountable our fellow man, we are attempting to be Christ's Light in this world. Julie never condemned anyone or said that people that do XYZ are going to hell. This is a great misunderstanding with the idea of "judgement." People throw up their hands and say, "You can't judge me!" when that is just not true. Anyone can judge your actions, we just have no control over how those actions reflect on your future. By warning her readers about the apathetic, uninformed lay people in the Church, she is asking her readers, "Hey, make sure you don't fall into this category because if you do, you are the devil's first victim."

    That said.... thanks, Julie, for this great post!! I love that your post about "issues" within the Church is really a song in favor of the Church. As member of His Church, we want it to reach as many people as possible. We want Him to be able to light hearts afire!

  7. Former Cradle Catholic here with Mass every Sunday and all the holy days, PSR classes well into high school.

    So why the former if all these things went so right? Because my parish had a huge political scandal (not sex abuse). I watched priests no longer take this great high road that they have been ordained by God himself to take (is there a more arrogant profession?). Then I read church history from a secular view point for the first time in my life and realized this is nothing new, for an organization that is supposed to present itself as a great beacon of truth and good, it tends to behave exactly as one would expect a massive political organization.

    And what about Thomas Aquinas? C.S. Lewis? All the other great Christian scholars? They are quite excellent at deploying theology to construct fantastic, intricate, and consistent apologetics. But then you realize that they've built it all on a cloud with no observable support.

    None of this was presented to me in PSR. Was the idea that the church should have to submit some evidence of their claims presented in mass? No. The Catholic education you call for is indoctrination. The shaming of lay people is going to lead to more converts going the opposite direction.

    Good luck with that though.

  8. Thanks for the comments Peter, Tony and Elizabeth!

    @ex-catholic: I'm really sorry your parish suffered from a priest's arrogance and mistakes. This is what makes the sacrament of reconciliation so beautiful, though, and I'll pray you find peace about the situation.

    I don't think it is quite possible to read Church history from a secular point of view- of course all the bad parts of the Church are going to shine! Bad people exist, corruption exists, and bad situations are going to happen. This is why the role of the Holy Spirit is so important- the Holy Spirit leads the Church, and helps lead it through the storm. He re-ignites hearts with zeal for the Lord in the midst of hardened hearts. Without the Holy Spirit guiding the Church, like a ship through a storm, then yes, the Church would be a massive, man-made political organization.

    I am not sure what you mean by no observable support: Jesus being on earth is pretty observable. The witness of billions of people who currently believe (still, thousands of years after the resurrection) is pretty observable. Miracles have happened, lives have been changed, civilizations have been formed by faith, the Catholic Church and by God. I would say those are all very observable. In terms of Aquinas, for instance, who wrote on things like virtue, delight and joy- you are right, those are not tangibles, except when they are manifested in a person. Then, again, they are observable.

    What kind of evidence would you want presented about the Mass? Proof about the readings from the Bible? Proof of transubstantiation? There is evidence available, even if it wasn't presented to you in PSR. The Catholic faith is so extensive and inexhaustible, as it is beautiful. But part of its beauty is each person really delving into it and making it personal to them. The way to Jesus may seem narrow, but it is wide enough for all.

    Catholic education is not indoctrination- it should be an opening of the mind to reveal the truths of Jesus Christ. Shame is not how a person brings another to Christ, but it may be how God works in some ways. Everyone comes to God in their own way. As for more converts going in the other direction, I have seen quite the opposite. Thousands of people are joining the Church this Easter, and I know more and more people signing up for RCIA, hungry for the truth and fullness of Christ and his Church.

    Peace be with you!

  9. Julie that was a beautiful post and I was just going to say that I loved that video! Then I read some of the comments and I also want to say to Anthony, "Yes, for crying out loud..." Christ died for us, we can bear a little discomfort now and then can't we. Amen! The Catholic Church is the longest surviving institution in recorded history. That's more than a cloud with no support, ex-Catholic.

    Thank you all Bright Maidens, for your...well, BRIGHTNESS! :-)

  10. Judgment...that's a tricky one...Jesus tells us "Judge not, lest we be judged." Many people think that Jesus is calling us not to engage in any type of criticism of other's lifestyles. We live in a culture of tolerance and acceptence, that is not wrong in itself, but what about acceptance in the face of evil? What about abortion, or human trafficing, or pornography?
    Are we to remain silent because we too fall short of the grace of God?

    All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

  11. Thanks for the response Julie. I respect your beliefs and would just say we look at some things in our faith a bit differently which i don't think is bad at all.

    As far as my comments go I didn't mean to give the impression that I don't care about the well being of my fellow man and that I am completely self-centered. I do whatever I can to help others. I have volunteered in different capacities my whole life. This is not the point I was trying to convey. When I have issue is the idea that we look down on others for certain lifestyle choices they make. We all have our vices. If the church had a strict set of rules that people MUST follow to be admitted then I don't think there would be many members at all. My relationship with God is my relationship with God and nobody can judge how strong it is based on my lifestyle decisions. Does is make any of you feel uncomfortable that God loves you all exactly the same as He has loved each and every person and creature

    Anthony, I think it's absolutely ridiculous that you would think that having sex would make me more self-centered. Talk about an unfair judgement. I would love to hear how you feel about masturbation. Is this not a very similar act? Have you even been involved in this act and if so doesn't this make you self-centered?

    On another note, have you given up everything for God's sake? Everything? Has anyone in history besides Jesus Himself given up everything? Unless you live in complete seclusion from the world and are in constant dialogue with God then I doubt you've given up everything. So therefor I don't think you're ready to accept God on His terms. Look at me, I'm displaying the same judgement on you that you are on me.

    I don't know, I'm just going to stop. I love God more than anything in this world. I don't know what I would do without His presence in my life. I've really been trying to work over the recent years to judge others as little as possible and just accept them for who they are. There are so many problems in the world today and it's just sad to think that about all the controversies have developed off of judgements about lifestyles, religion, race, gender, etc. If having sex is the worst thing I do in this lifetime then I think I have lived a pretty good life.

  12. Hi Anonymous! I think the point most of us were trying to make is that your relationship with God is one thing, and that's wonderful that you have such a great one! But we are called to spread Jesus' message of love at all times, not simply work on our relationship with Him.

    I would like to refer you to this post and its comments as a rebuttal to your points about judgement. We're not condemning anyone and we're certainly not claiming to be doing a better job than you. We're saying, "Seek and you will find."

    It's a constant, life-long job of self-improvement. We really shouldn't be satisfied with being better than "most people" (I know you didn't say this).

    Yes, masturbation is self-centered. And if you wanted to turn your attention to some of the Bright Maidens posts, we address the reasons why we believe that sex before marriage is a selfish act. Essentially, if you were genuinely concerned about your relationship with God and your partner's relationship with God, you would want to do your best to get both of you as close to God as possible, instead of as close to sin as possible.

  13. Julie, your response is exactly why I left!

    You choose not to view the negatives of the church because that would warp your image of the great good that it is as guided by a God. I'm not here to say they are only an organization capable of bad, or good, only that when compared with societies throughout human history they stack up as your average political organization.

    Your second paragraph is just bizzare. There is not a single contemporary source of Jesus' existence. No signed orders for his death, no accounts of his various endeavors from a fairly well documented time in history. The first mention of him comes from documents written well after his death. Countless people believed in Zeus, that doesn't make him real. Miracles never happen in a way that is recordable.

    What tangible evidence of transubstantiation can you provide? What observable, testable facts can you provide for any of the Catholic church's claims? I haven't seen any, but you're telling me to look harder. Perhaps I did miss something, but please point me to a case where the wafer actually became flesh in a tangible manner? I know all the substance arguments, but really, why should I believe that the wafer is not still a wafer because a prayer was said over it?

    In this day and age, these claims are ridiculous, people want substance, especially as science continues to shine on a basis of experimentation and observation. You may call it "truth" all you want, but until you can back it up, your teachings have no basis, and should be considered indoctrination.

  14. Ex-Catholic:

    Hi! Thanks for joining us in discussion!

    I'd love to see your sources that tell you that there is no evidence that Jesus existed... because that is the first I've heard that. In fact, I've spoken with atheist and agnostic professors who uphold his existence as truth and consider the Bible a historical document, even though they think a lot of it is falsehood.

    There is a lot of hostility in your comment and addressing your points will only stir more of it, I'm afraid. But recently a priest was praying, during the Transubstantiation, for God to help him believe in the True Presence. At that moment of Transubstantiation, the bread wafer turned into flesh in his hands. Scientists have analyzed it and determined that it has human DNA from a heart. I imagine you will doubt this. God planted Himself in our rational minds and he reveals Himself to our hearts.

    I'm sorry the events in your church prompted you to doubt. I will pray that this is a stop on a long journey to Him.

  15. Elizabeth, I never said I had evidence that Jesus didn't exist. I was stating that there is not reliable proof of his existence. However, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Nonetheless the evidence that he DID exist is sketchy at best. The Bible is a historical document, as is the Koran, as are a great number of other religious texts. You would be hard pressed to find a secular professor who said we should take the events in the New Testament as historical fact. Especially when they were written decades after the fact, contain countless contradictions, and have no contemporary sources to back up their narratives.

    Your story of the priest sure sounds incredible. But, yes, I do doubt the story of bread becoming human flesh as told to me by a person on the internet. Surely this would have witnesses, surely the flesh is available for testing. Was there a skeptic who witnessed it? Was it fakable?

    Here is a transcript from a chapter of one of my favorite books that deals with this subject (The Demon Haunted World by Carl Sagan):

    As you are sorry the church prompted you to doubt, I am sorry you need to fill your life with superstition, and I hope that you will come to reject it.

  16. Anonymous, I don’t see anything wrong with seeing things differently. Again, that is a great part of Christianity—it attracts so many different people for many different reasons! One of the greatest things about God and his love is how transformative it is, which is why the Augustinian train of thought is so important: Christians needs to love the sinner, not the sin. Thank you for your comments!!

    Ex-Catholic, friend- in all things, charity. It is not that I choose not to view the negative aspects; it is that I choose not to dwell on them. I know they are there, I seek to fix what I can, I humbly accept what I cannot fathom, and I trust in God’s great mercy, justice and love.

    In terms of contemporary sources, I did mention the billions of current self-professed Christians. In terms of Zeus, people have not believed in him for over 2,000 years, nor did Zeus actually walk among the people. That is because Zeus is a man-made myth. Christ is real- fully human and fully divine.

    Miracles are actually recorded in a very real way. One of the latest involves a nun suffering from Parkinson’s who was completely healed through the intercession of the now Venerable Pope John Paul II: http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory?id=12633758

    In terms of the Real Presence, Lanciano, Italy 8th Century A.D. is a great example: http://www.therealpresence.org/eucharst/mir/lanciano.html

    You are right- people do want substance. I am sorry if my defense ever gave you the impression that I too do not desire bread with my water. But people also need faith, and they need something (that is, Someone) bigger than themselves. As you know from Church history, the Church has always supported science. But the role of the Church is to say why the heavens go round, not how. They are also not “my” teachings; I am simply offering up the teachings of the Catholic Church through my words. They are much better at explaining things and truth than I am. I would, however, caution you, using the words from a book about philosophy by Peter Kreeft:

    “Paschal said there are only two kinds of people: saints, who know they are sinners, and sinners, who think they are saints. He learned this wisdom, of course, from Jesus, who taught Socrates’ Lesson One in religion. For Socrates would also say that there are two types of people: the wise, who know they are fools, and the fools, who think they are wise. In philosophy as in religion, pride is the deadliest sin.

    “So Socrates begins his defense, of himself as philosopher and of philosophy itself, with his chief claim to fame, Lesson One—like the Zen master whose first lesson to the student eager to learn his wisdom is to pour tea into the student’s cup until it overflows, and overflows more. “Master! Stop pouring! The cup is full.” “Like your mind. How can I fill your cup if it is not empty?””

    Thank you again for your comments, y'all!

  17. Julie, why do you accept what you cannot fathom? Why not continue to look deeper? Human history is full of people saying we can't know more, but we always seem to find more. Don't limit yourself.

    There are many stories of Zeus interacting with humans, and he did have children with humans (Hercules being the most famous). But why is that myth and Christ not?

    I read about the "miracle" of the nun you mentioned, but where is there proof that God (or Pope JP2) did this? They may not have a scientific reason for her being cured (and I am happy she is cured), but can you disprove that Zeus cured her? Why fill in the gaps of our knowledge with supernatural? Why not investigate further?

    I have read of the Miracle at Lanciano, but again how is this proof? I have no problems believing they have real flesh and real blood, but those are not the hardest things in the world to obtain, proof that they were once bread and wine does not exist.

    I do not consider myself wise, and I have at many points been foolish, and I certainly do not claim that I have all the answers. But I do believe skepticism is an important tool for establishing what is true, and I do believe that fantastic claims need fantastic evidence.

  18. "Credo ut intelligam" is translated "faith seeking understanding" - I do not know all the answers, and could never possibly begin to answer all of them, which is why I rely on the Magisterium and all the wise people now and who have come before me to help sort through issues with the Church. No worries, I am certainly digging deeper. But just because I do not reject the Church does not mean I am drinking the kool-aid.

    The difference between Zeus and God is simple: divine revelation. (Revelation being defined as "the communication of some truth by God to a rational creature through means which are beyond the ordinary course of nature.") There is proof Jesus walked among us and was the Word incarnate; there is none of Zeus, and it is widely accepted and known that he does not actually exist.

    I also believe that "skepticism is an important tool for establishing what is true, and I do believe that fantastic claims need fantastic evidence." Again, I would caution you: it is a huge judgment on your part to say that Catholics are not skeptical of their beliefs and/ or do not struggle. But we are all seeking Truth, and the Catholic Church is where billions of people currently find it, and more people are discovering it every day.

    For more on science and religion, I would check out Stacy's blog; she holds a PhD in Chemistry: http://www.acceptingabundance.com/

    Pax tecum!

  19. Hold up there just a second, where is there proof that Jesus did walk among us? The New Testament is shaky at best, and you would think for the miracles, and endeavors that the supposed son of God performed we would have some contemporary documentation, especially from that time period.

    If numbers of believers proves existence then disprove Islam, or Hinduism. This is an appeal to authority.

    I do not believe that Catholics are not skeptical, but more people are embracing non-religion then they are Catholicism or even religion at all, and according to you that is enough to prove it true.

    I will check out that link

  20. I'm not sure what is shaky, to be honest- there are historical happenings which have far less evidence which are more readily believed than the happenings in the Gospels and NT. Writings in the Bible, eye witnesses and entire generations re-convinced of the personhood and divinity of Christ over thousands of years. As C.S. Lewis said in Mere Christianity, either Jesus is a liar and lunatic, or he is the son of God. Out of curiosity, what are your thoughts on the Shroud of Turin?

    I'm not out for a numbers game- I'm interested in Truth, which is assisted by divine revelation, faith and reason. Truth usually attracts the most people, on merit of being truth. Half-truths are like half-bricks, though- you can throw them farther. So I am not surprised there are loads of other contending numbers in the pursuit. Yes, I believe the Catholic Church has the authority to claim truth. Jesus is the only one to claim that he is Truth. That's pretty significant to me. I don't know much about Hinduism, but is seems pretty localized around India (vs. Christianity, which can be easily adopted into all cultures and is worldwide) and Islam, especially when carried out to its fullest implications and teachings, is a dangerous ideology.

    Enjoy the link! Stacy is a lovely writer. :)

  21. Exactly which historical happenings do we accept that have less evidence then the Bible?

    C.S. Lewis' trilemma is only notable if you think that Jesus is a good moral person, and while I agree that he is on some things, he got quite possibly the biggest moral issue of our time wrong with slavery. Also it's not hard for me to think that a man claiming to be the son of god who curses fig trees because they are out of season is a lunatic. Lastly he ignores the possibility that Jesus was entirely a legend. Lewis' trilemma is just bad logic.

    Shroud of Turin has been tested, it's not anywhere close to the time of Jesus' life. In fact radiocarbon dating puts its age right around the time it was first discovered. Also I've never seen any evidence saying this shroud actually covered Jesus and not someone else.

    I take issue with the statement that truth usually attracts the most people. That's simply not a good measure of truth. There have been thousands of gods, that millions, if not billions of people have worshiped. They were no more right at the time because people thought they were true.

    Jesus was the only what to claim he is true? Muhammad claimed that he was right and true, you don't have to read very far in the Koran to learn that. Or are you saying that Jesus was the only man to claim to be god? That's also not true. the Egyptians, and Japanese, and several other cultures claimed their leaders/emperors were god. Or put better, if I claimed I was God, would you convert to my new religion?

    Islam is no worse then any other religion in terms of ideology when carried out to it's fullest implications.

    I clicked around on that link and found an occasional discussion on science and religion between about 40 other posts calling me a murder loving abortion supporter. That's not exactly what I would consider lovely writing.

  22. Well, I think we're going to have to agree to disagree on a couple of the points you've raised. Also, I never said you'd like or agree Stacy's content, but her writing - the way she tells stories, her word choice, her style and syntax - is lovely!

    Thanks again for the comments, I enjoy dialogue!

  23. I'm soooo late to the party - sorry! "My issue with the Church isn't the Church itself - it is the people within and outside the Church, wasting their earthly opportunity to find true happiness and joy." Agreed!

  24. Wow! God in the Streets of New York always gives me chills too! Every time! Especially at the end when JPII talks!

    RCIA is quite amazing! It's my favorite ministry. I love to meet the people and work with them in their doubt and then eventually help them overcome their misconceptions, biases, fears and obstacles to becoming Catholic. It's truly a great work. I'm glad you enjoyed your time doing it.