The Truth and Beauty of the Catholic Faith
Dear Friends in Christ,
As you probably know, I did not grow up in a Catholic household. My mother was Baptist and my step–father was Jewish. Most of my Catholic education came from attending Catholic school, the terrific priests at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Galveston with the wonderful Dominican Sisters and friends who were exemplary Catholics and truly devout in the faith. I was blessed. I still am. It was from my mother and maternal grandmother, both good Baptists, that I have a strong love for Holy Scripture. They loved the Bible. It was because of my Jewish step-father that I have a great admiration for the Jewish faith, culture, history and tradition. These wonderful influences have enhanced my Catholic faith and have helped me to appreciate the richness, beauty and truth of Catholicism. I am, therefore, sometimes shocked and amazed at what I hear from lifelong Catholics and even those fortunate to have had a Catholic education. I am stunned when I hear the basic teachings distorted or when some Catholics can’t accurately relate even the most basic and fundamental beliefs of the Catholic Faith.
As a young boy, one of my uncles, who I loved dearly, was very anti-Catholic. He accused Catholics of the most hideous things. While I know he loved me, he did not have anything good to say about the Catholic Church. I clearly remember the crazy things he said about Catholics. He believed that we worshipped the false gods through superstition, placed Mary above Jesus and prayed to statues among other things! I never understood where he got such nonsense. However, I have to say after many years of listening to Catholics talk about their faith, I have a better understanding of how people may be led to these false conclusions. There are sadly lots of Catholics who do not know their faith and what they think they know is not actually the teaching of the Church. (Just to be clear – we do NOT worship the false gods, worship Mary above Jesus or pray to statues!) There are far too many Catholics who, even if they accurately know the faith, cannot articulate the faith.
Why am I mentioning this now? Well, the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted a lot of things including the regular practice of our faith. This disruption has also caused some people to say some pretty “interesting” things concerning our faith – particularly the Mass, the reception of Holy Communion, the authority of bishops, confession, justification, sin and a whole host of other things. (FYI – It is not a sin to miss watching a live streamed Mass! It is a sin not to keep the Sabbath holy – even when we cannot attend Mass!) The current crisis and confusion have also revealed how many Catholics think or don’t think. I am sorry to say that some of the silly notions that I have heard have even come from people that I thought knew better.
Now there have always been people with erroneous teachings and bad information, but the internet has made things worse. The internet is a wonderful tool as is much of technology, but technology can be misused as well. Craziness, stupidity and hatefulness have found a new place to grow on the worldwide web! All that being said, I would like to encourage you to use the internet! Yes, that’s right, use the internet and social media. There is a lot of great stuff to be found there. But please be careful as there is a lot of crazy information as well. Go to good, solid and trusted Catholic sites. Stay away from what I call “wackadoodle” sites. Even though many of them will call themselves “Catholic” it is still prudent to be cautious. Sites that are ideologically driven (liberal or conservative), that do not support the magisterium and the Holy Father, that want us to go to Vatican III or back to the Council of Trent are not very helpful on our journey of faith. Generally, if we think it sounds a bit off, it probably is. The best thing to do is know the Catholic Faith for ourselves! Read the Catechism and your bible. Always be learning and growing in your knowledge, practice and love of our Catholic faith.
Here at St. John Vianney, we have solid, faithful and authentic catechesis for every age and stage of life. Even with the current crisis and hardships, there are plentiful opportunities to learn and grow in the faith. Check out our website for resources or contact our Youth and Adult Formation offices for assistance. Treasure your Catholic Faith and it will enrich you for eternity!
In pace Christi,