Apologize and Don't Be Sorry!

A site dedicated to thinking through the common objections to the Catholic Faith as well as questions of a general religious nature.

Location: Prague, Oklahoma, United States

Just your basic 21st century priest trying to bring the Gospel to everyone who will give it a fair hearing.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Dear Father Tharp:
My girl friend would like me to join the Catholic Church. She says it doesn’t matter if we don’t agree on all the same things as long as we believe in God and in Christ as our Savior. She says it is ok for me to not believe in all of the teachings, since most Catholics don’t anyway. Is it ok to join if you don’t agree with all of the doctrines? I respect the Catholic Church and my girlfriend’s beliefs, I just can’t share some of them. What do you think?
Jesse Whitaker
St. Louis, MO.

The short answer to your question is "Absolutely not." With all due respect to your girlfriend, it doesn’t make a lick of sense to join the Catholic Church when you don’t agree with her teachings. It would akin to saying to an immigrant who wanted to be a U.S. citizen, "We’re so pleased to have you in the United States, but don’t feel like you have to follow our laws."

When one becomes a Catholic, either through baptism or through a public profession of faith, the person assents to all that Church teaches and binds themselves to follow the Church’s laws and practices. This derives from the fact that Catholics recognize the teaching authority of the Church comes not from men but from Christ Himself. To the apostles, He gave the authority to teach and to govern in His name (e.g. Matthew 28:18-20; Luke 10:16ff). This authority was handed over to the Bishops so that the voice of Christ can be heard even until the end of time. It follows then that when we follow and obey the Church’s teachings, we are actually following Christ.

Professing the Faith of the Church requires further growth and development on our part. While a candidate or a catechumen must understand the basic aspects of the Faith, this doesn’t mean he has exhausted it. As the teaching of the Church pertains to the mystery of God, what she professes can be understood while never being utterly spent. Each day to grow in knowledge is the task of a Catholic because ultimately Faith is not a matter of mastery of a topic; it is to know intimately the person of God.

However, with all that said, you, and every other authentic searcher for the truth, have an obligation placed upon them. You have the obligation to make sure you know to what and to whom you are saying "no." Archbishop Fulton Sheen had the line that most non-Catholics don’t hate the Church, but hate what they think the Church is. In the same way, you have to take the appropriate effort to understand what the content of the Church’s Faith actually is. I would recommend to you either The Catechism of the Catholic Church or The Catholic Catechism by Fr. John Hardon. Both works will be able to give you the proper perspective on your questions concerning the Catholic Faith. Your respect for both your girlfriend and for the Church are healthy signs, to me, for what it’s worth, of a search that is just beginning.

When it comes to being a Catholic, there are two approaches. On the one hand, you can treat the Church and her teachings like a cafeteria, where you take only the parts you like or want. You can see how that isn’t nourishing in terms of food and is less so when it comes to spiritual matters. On the other hand, you can treat the Church and her teachings as a rich banquet where one fills their belly with every wondrous, delightful thing. That’s all the Church offers, a chance to taste the fullness of the good things that Christ has given us for our salvation.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Catholosism scares me. Do you know your are going to be the beast?

9:26 AM  

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