Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The more I get into theology the more I appreciate Catholic theology. It is important to understand the history of our beliefs, but more than that I feel that there is a lot more right there than wrong. I think that we misunderstand the importance of the Saints in general, but more than that I think we really ignore Mary the mother of Christ. I think that this is something that Protestants need to think about more.

Lent is something else that I think we should give more credence to. The whole idea is to extend the celebration of the resurrection by embracing a sacrifice in the time that Christ was preparing for his sacrifice. In Catholic theology we can partake in Christ by joining in communion. I think this is a beautiful concept and in some way I think there is truth to that because we are also the body of Christ. IN this same way we share in some small way with the grief Christ experienced leading up to his death and resurrection.

This is not to say that we share in our own salvation in any way, but rather that we can learn to better appreciate the price of our salvation by growing closer to Christ in his grief.

This month I'd like to explore this idea and how it affects who we are as followers of the Way. Please share any experiences you have had with Lent and whatever else you feel might be relevant.

15 comments:

Jewda said...

My wife and I were just talking about Mary last night when we were reading our devotions, and I actually taught a lesson on her goodness in a Baptist youth group. My point was that she is not to be exalted, as the Catholic theology would present, but she should also not be ripped like the Baptists tend to do. That was a great way to start out youth ministry. I was new, and I was starting fire storms.

Great post. Almost as good as the 80's cartoon stuff.

Helen said...

Nick, I owe you an apology. I think you know what for.

Nick the Geek said...

Jewda,

I have done more than one sermon on the the topic. It is important to note, though, that Catholics do not exalt Mary but rather "venerate" her which is a very important distinction.

My experience with what I have been taught the RCC believes and teaches is very different than what they actually believe and teach.

Sure some Catholics have a different understanding but then again I know a lot of people from my denomination don't believe correctly what is taught to them.

Helen,
It's cool. I think Mary is pretty awesome. She was closer to God than any one in history so it is right when Elizabeth says to her "you are blessed among women" and I Would go further to say "among men." I look at the relationship between my wife and our children and I can't help but wonder what it was like for her to have that kind of relationship with Emanuel, God with us.

Really blows your mind.

Helen said...

Nick, good point about her being blessed among all humans.
I really appreciate that you distinguished between exalt and venerate. I was taught to honor her because Jesus himself did. He obeyed all of the commandments, including Honor thy Father and they Mother. I know that some use this passage from Mark to imply that He didn't..

31Then Jesus' mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. 32A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, "Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you."
33"Who are my mother and my brothers?" he asked.

34Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, "Here are my mother and my brothers! 35Whoever does God's will is my brother and sister and mother."

but I believe that takes the passage out of context. The point wasn't that He wasn't going to honor his Mother, but that we as believers are part of His family as well. He wasn't dissing his Mom, but loving us.


When I teach my CCD students about honoring Mary, I tell them about the Wedding at Cana. (We bring our own context when we assume calling His mom Woman was disrespectful rather than affectionate). Jesus honored His mom by doing as she asked, even though He was thirty years old (more reason for those of us who aren't God to honor our parents), and Mary's direction to the servants was to do as Jesus said. That's Mary's principal role. To direct us to her Son, who died for us.

Sorry about the long comment. I guess I love Mary mainly because when the angel told her she would give birth to God's Son and remain a Virgin, she didn't say....
"You know they will stone me way before that don't you? I mean, have you ever even read the Torah. I am so....."
She said "I am the handmaid of the Lord. Let it be done to me as you have said."
I wish I could be so pure of heart. Again, I loved this post.

Nick the Geek said...

Helen,

Thank you. I will be writing on this idea for the rest of the month. Right now I am talking with the Youth Coordinator via email of the local RCC parish. I am asking about the Rosary and he is going to be giving me one. I was studying it the past couple of days and I'm very impressed with the concept behind it as a means "to help keep in memory certain principal events or mysteries in the history of our salvation, and to thank and praise God for them." A quote from one of the sites I read. I think most protestants don't participate in this to their spiritual loss.

Helen said...

I think it gets difficult for many protestants because they really do believe that we are worshipping Mary. I am sure that the person you talked to explained that we use statues of Mary. Jesus, and the saints, like you use pictures of your parents, wife, and kids. You like to be reminded of them. It helps you focus on them. I know some also think that praying to Mary and the saints equals worshipping them. Ideally, when a Catholic prays to a saint, he or she is asking for the saint to pray for them in the same manner that you would ask a Church Deacon to pray for you---Jesus said Abraham is alive...well, so are the other saints. I said ideally because I do know some Catholics who ask a saint to provide something rather than pray for it. But, it is like you said in your comment, Catholics aren't the only ones who sometimes misunderstand or misuse the teaching of their Church.
If I can assist you in any way in your research, please let me know. I can send you my credentials if you want. ;-) I had to get me some in order to teach in a Catholic School for 13 years, and CCD for 15 years. Yeah. I am old like that.

Nick the Geek said...

Helen,

You are right that many protestants miss what is going on because they do not understand the difference between veneration and exaltation. It doesn't help that many of the pastors are ignorant in this. I was not taught correctly in Bible College what RCC theology and teachings actually hold. I believe this is because we had one class that covered basically every major Christian religion as it related to our beliefs. You can't expect to paint an accurate picture of any theology in a couple hours.

From there pastors run out in their own ignorance and teach others ignorantly. Now personally I like to know what I'm talking about so when I met with the local RCC Youth Coordinator I began asking lots of questions. I try to always preface what I am asking or thinking about doing with questions to if I am being offensive or any such.

For example, I asked recently about the Rosary, as I said a bit ago, and more specifically I am interested in studying the whole process by going through it but I wanted to make sure it wouldn't be offensive for me to join in this even though I haven't been through any explicitly RCC rites.

I know some people get bent out of shape about some things so I am careful to ask questions to what is appropriate as I move forward since I know I am ignorant to these issues.

Helen said...

Prayer meetings of any kind in the Catholic Church are open to all. No one who isn't a giant pain in everyone's patooty should have a problem with you participating in the Rosary. Or attending the Mass. The only issue would come at the reception of sacraments ie Holy Communion. Catholics believe in transubstation. I really don't know of any protestants who do. Lutherans come closest I think, because they believe in consubstantion (which makes perfect sense to me, but don't tell anyone ;-) Anyway, so does transubstantion. I haven't switched beliefs, but I understand consubstantiation better than belief that Communion is symbolic). As far as I can think of, that is the only line drawn where you can't participate unless you are Catholic.
If you are interested, EWTN has a series where the mysteries of the Rosary are explained. I could look it up and let you know when it is if you want.

Nick the Geek said...

Helen,
I don't think any protestants believe transubstantiation ... well possible Episcopal and Anglicans but that is a really confusing thing they have going where they hold to much of Catholicism but don't listen to the Pope because of the whole political scene a few hundred years ago.

Transubstantiation is one of those points that was really hacked up in translation during my college experience. I think the more recent education I was given on the subject is much better. It really helps to have an understanding of the RCC view of being. Once you get the idea of accidental and necessary being then it begins to make much more sense. Also the idea of actually joining with the substance of Christ on a very real level is pretty powerful.

These are thoughts I think we need to begin to understand as a church if we are going to move forward. In a very real way we represent Christ here. The body of believers is the body of Christ and also the bride of Christ.

This is why it is so offensive to soil ourselves with sin, false doctrines, other religions, and sloth in our relationships with others.

I better be careful or I'm gonna get on a soap box and preach. :)

Beth said...

Helen...Nick,

And THIS is why I like you both so much. Even if I'm going to have to do research for the next two weeks just to understand your comments. :)

Nick the Geek said...

Beth,

What's not to understand? :)

Monica said...

Nick, I wandered over from SCL 'cause I wanted to see what you had to say about Lent. Good stuff! As a Catholic, I have spent a lot of time trying to get Protestant friends and family members to understand that what they have been taught about the Catholic Church, and what the Catholic Church teaches are two very different things. So I loved hearing you say that! Now, if I could just get my Catholic friends not to be so scared of opening Bible and reading Scripture... :)

Nick the Geek said...

Monica,

I find it helpful to focus on what we have in common rather than to try and change people. There are a few small things that we all need to believe as Christians and if we focus on those things first we can build from there slowly in our understanding.

Monica said...

Nick- You're right, of course. I certainly didn't mean to make it sound like I was out to change everyone to my view of seeing things. Growing up one side of my family was Catholic and one side was Protestant. By the time that I was old enough to think about it, my family get togethers on my dad's side were my grandparents, who were Methodist by default (only church in their little town), my aunt's family was Mormon, my family was Catholic, and my uncle's family was Baptist (I think, or Church of Christ). People always ask if there was tension, and there wasn't in the slightest. We have always focused on what we had in common (God being central in our lives) and the differences always seemed pretty trivial in comparison.

I guess the point that I was trying to make is that I have learned so much from both Protestants and Catholics. I feel like I have gotten the best of both worlds, and my faith life is so much richer as a result. I would just like to share with each what I have learned from the other. It makes me sad if I made it sound like I was trying to change everyone. Mary and Lent, and things like that are not just for Catholics. But just like some Protestants may write these things off because they are "too Catholic", I have also run into Catholics that are timid about reading the Bible on their own, because it is "too Protestant". Yikes, folks! Let's get rid of the labels and learn from each other.

My deepest apologies for any offense I have caused!

Nick the Geek said...

Monica,

Sorry I wasn't trying to say what you were doing was wrong I was trying to give you a good starting point for your conversations with Protestant friends on grounds of theology.

We are all ignorant of a great many things but if people try and teach us things we don't know or understand without the foundation in place then we'll never get it.

Imagine trying to teach someone higher math when they still don't get Algebra. You have to start at 2+2=4 then build to 2+x=4 x=2 before you can move to higher math.

I hope you better understand what I said above as encouragement rather than reproach now.

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