There are only a few things Catholic that cause most Protestants to be VERY reluctant with even believing Catholics are bound for heaven much less are are Christian. Those three things are:
- Mary, mother of God
Last year at this time I was only just starting my RCIA class. This came after my father-in-laws funeral and both my wife and having an urge to at least learn more about the Catholic church. The funeral service was at St. Peter's Cathedral here in town. Beautiful old Cathedral and exactly what a little Baptist like me would expect -- marble, statuary, and lots of statuary of unfamiliar dead people. As the son of an architect I've been blessed with an appreciation for buildings and their history. Every chance I got, I would steal away to read the plaque under a statue. Then, like the history geek I am, google or look them up on catholic.org. It was very neat to read the history, much less to actually see these Saints that we protestants vaguely mention in songs -- usually around Christmas time.
This is a big deal with Protestants -- "worshiping/praying to Saints". Firstly, I never really believed that to be the case even when I was trained to attack Catholics and other denominations in high school by my old youth minister. As a Southern Baptist I was ALWAYS asking for this person or that to "pray for me". Why would any Christian believe this to be contrary to anything. Seriously splitting hairs, but likely just jealous. I mean when you split off from the rest of your family, you loose that rich and interesting history.
I'm going to combine the last two -- Mary and praying of the Rosary. It's October, and October is dedicated to the Rosary. For my Protestant brothers and sisters, it's the prop you nearly always see lay Catholics have in media to represent their faith should a Priest of other obviously Catholic vocation not be available. It's funny. I could easily tell you what the Rosary was but never what it was for. Throughout my early faith years, the only thing that I was able to figure out was that the Rosary must have something to do with penance from confession since the "Our Father's" and "Hail Mary's" are associated with beads or something. Silly now that I'm looking back. That said, if you are taught that someone is bad or lost, why even begin to engage, ask, or learn.
While it does have the Our Father'sand Hail Mary's, the Rosary is more than that. It is a beautiful prayer, a beautiful method of meditation, a beautiful method of adoration -- it's all of these things. My previous faith belief always seemed to relegate Mary as a poor teenage girl who was mystically "knocked up" and nearly divorced because of a divine surprise pregnancy. I always thought this was about the worst thing that Protestants seem to do regarding the beginning story of Jesus. How can you possibly have respect for the son, with such a cast-away, and basically shameful view towards the mother?
I mentioned in my previous blog post, that it's all very new but all seemed very natural. Lifting Mary to the role of Queen of heaven makes much more sense at least to me. If she is Queen then certainly Jesus is and must be exactly what we believe. Don't get me wrong, it's still very new and seems a little different. But when I stop to think about it, the process of intercession, prayer and adoradtion of the Mother of God seems right and just (if I can borrow the phrase from Mass).
Praying (with) the Rosary, I've found that I calm and concentrate on the message the words, and leave the world behind -- it's my special prayer time and my pitstop between Masses. In times of supreme trouble I try to at least hold my Rosary like I would my mother's hand when I was a child. We have a spiritual mother who is there for us now and we shouldn't fear to reach out to hold her had. She wants us to use her and become closer to her son, our Christ. We as Catholics have a wonderful tool, weapon, and shield. We need to use it more and not be afraid.