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Issue 10

Roman Catholicism

I have something I really need to get off my chest. I'd tell everyone personally, but I can't. I'm also a writer, so it's easier to send it out as an issue of Randomness. I'm much more eloquent when I write because I can delete some of the stupid things I say.

One of my big things is Catholicism. But it's not an anti-Catholocism thing. It's more of a pro-Catholicism thing. I'm not about to go run over to Father Francis and tell him I want to convert and start attending Mass at St. Agnes or something. But I'm really sick of what a lot of people have to say about Catholicism. Okay, I can see that there IS some mixed-up theology in the Catholic Church. My response? At least you actually know what their theology is. I like credal churches. I asked my dad about Baptists and what they believe. His reply was, "They're a non-credal faith. They believe in the historic creeds, but they don't read them or anything. ... And there's that old saying, 'When you get three Baptists in a room, you have four opinions.'" So I don't agree with the infallibility of the pope and stuff. And I think it's okay to ordain women. But that's not just a Catholic thing. Many Protestant churches do not have women for pastors. But people have taken a few pot-shots at stuff they don't quite understand, and it really gets to me, because we're all Christians. All it means to be Christian is to have Jesus in your heart. Since when does God not like what goes on during Mass? Oh no, they're all saying the same stuff from in a book! I'm sure God can see if they're sincere or not. And sincerity is what it's all about.

First of all, a Sacrament is "an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace, given to us by Christ himself, as a means whereby we receive this grace, and a pledge to assure us of thereof." (Common Prayer, Canada, 1962, P. 550). They are "symbols of our relationship with God and our relationships with others," according to my dad. But people are confused. And I don't mean the seven Sacraments business. Whatever. That's more a matter of doctrine and technical theology than anything else. As an Anglican, I recognise only Baptism and Holy Communion as SACRAMENTS ORDAINED BY CHRIST, but that is not to say that the other five are not sacramental in their own right. But they are to be regarded as holy and special as entities in and of themselves. They are to be regarded highly. And to say that to focus on the Sacraments will detract from Christ, as I have heard, is not true. It is an untruth. The Sacraments are tools that can aid you in your worship and can help draw you to Him.

Someone dissed the creeds. I'm not even getting into that. All I can say is, "Huh? The creeds? They're a declaration of faith! Goodness me."

The liturgy, I can assure you, is a real worship tool. To say that it is dry and old and dead is not true. I go to a liturgical church. The liturgy we use for the Eucharist is almost the same as that used for the Mass. One can just as easily not mean the liturgy as any other worship tool, be it public prayer or song. And I mean what I say when I pray from the liturgy. It is prayer and worship. Nothing is wrong with that.

Mariology? Uh...

Rich Mullins is one of my heroes. That guy was amazing. I bet he still is. I'll bet he's up in Heaven and has formed a little band with Keith Green and stuff. Anyway, I found an interview on the internet at www.kidbrothers.net. Here's a clip:

DW: Your latest album "Songs" are full of pictures with Catholic themes, such as the Our Lady of Lourdes. Has there been a negative reaction to this?

RM: I don't think so. I really don't know. I did get a letter from one guy who asked me why I have a picture of Mary and whether I think Mary should be prayed to. I am going to write back and say my other albums have pictures of me and I don't think I should be prayed to.

DW: Why the Catholic themes?

RM: I just kept finding that a lot of the authors that I liked happened to be Roman Catholics. That was kind of intriguing. You know how, when you grow up in one tradition, every other tradition looks so romantic and exciting to you. I remember that, as a kid, I'd walk to my piano lesson and I would stop at St. Andrews and would be overwhelmed by how beautiful all that stuff was. I think, from early on, I have been interested in Catholicism because there are things about it that are unanswerable. As well, because of my involvement in the Pro-Life movement, I began to meet more and more Catholics and became friends with a priest in Wichita who was very unapologetic in his answers to my questions. A lot of the stuff which I thought was so different between Protestants and Catholics were not, but at the end of going through an RCIA course, I also realized that there are some real and significant differences. I'm not sure which side of the issues I come down on. My openness to Catholicism was very scary to me because, when you grow up in a Church where they don't even put up a cross, many things were foreign to me. I went to an older Protestant gentleman that I've respected for years and years, and I asked him when does faithfulness to Jesus call us to lay aside our biases and when does it call us to stand beside them. His answer to me was that it is not about being Catholic or Protestant. It is about being faithful to Jesus. The issue is not about which church you go to, it is about following Jesus where He leads you. If God leads you to the Catholic church, then you follow Him. So, the last couple of years now, I have been in Limbo about the whole thing. For me, it all comes down to the Eucharist. Is it really Jesus and is He present there? I think, after some pretty honest searching, I've come to a few dead ends that I am not going to be able to bridge by getting more information. It will just require a little more faith on my part, and it is not there yet.

DW: Regardless of where your path is leading you, your music has become a bridge for ecumenical discussion. Have you had any thoughts about furthering your role in some of this ecumenical discussion?

RM: I just co-wrote a musical based on the life of Francis of Assisi except now he is a 19th century cowboy instead of a 12 century saint. We went to St. Timothy's congregation in Phoenix and played it there. About half the cast was Protestant and half the cast was Catholic. We found that, after a few nights of rehearsal, people began to ask each other about their beliefs. It really opened up a lot of great discussion. I think that a lot of Protestants think that Pentecost happened and then the church disappeared until the Reformation. So there is this long span of time when there was no church. That can't be if Jesus was telling the truth.

If you have any problems, contact me. But I'd say, rather than that SOME Catholics are Christian but that some Catholics AREN'T Christian . . . and I mean real Catholics, not people who equate themselves with being Catholic just because they got baptised in a Catholic Church or their family's ancestry is Catholic. And I'd say, also, that SOME Baptists, Anglicans, Pentecostals, Methodists, Lutherans, aren't Christians either. And anybody who runs around saying that someone who has mixed-theology isn't a Christian has some real issues he/she needs to pray about. As long as you believe that Jesus is the Son of God, Saviour of all, and you have asked Him to live in you, then you are a Christian.


Copyright 2001, Matthew Hoskin