What I want to do by sharing this message is to say that Catholics ARE Christians. I know that many non-Catholic Christians understand that but there also seems to be a large number who do not agree. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Christianity can be defined as the religion derived from Jesus Christ, based on the Bible as sacred scripture, and professed by Eastern, Roman Catholic and Protestant bodies.
Sure, we can pick individual Christian denominations apart and find things we don’t agree with – heck, there are things that I don’t particularly agree within Catholic teachings (sorry, Mom); however, my own personal conclusion is that there is no perfect denomination because much of what happens in any church is the result of human decisions, beliefs, practices, etc. and we are all different and most certainly flawed.
Let me continue by saying that I am by no means the poster child for the Catholic Church. I was raised in the Catholic Church, but I’ve had my share of questions over the years. In my twenties, I decided I wasn’t sure if the Catholic Church was right for me. My belief in God didn’t waiver, but I wanted to learn about the way other folks practiced Christianity– some of that had to do with the men I was dating at the time and some of it was probably just my own questioning and rebellious nature.
I’ve attended Presbyterian, Methodist, Lutheran, and non-denominational churches. I cannot say that I ever felt uncomfortable, only curious. At the end of the day all I did was look around and see people with the same goal – living life as God wants us to, sorry for our sins, with Heaven as our ultimate goal. It’s that simple to me.
I’ve tried other Christian sects and here I am at 35 choosing to continue to practice Catholicism and to raise my children the same way that I was raised. I want my children to be kind, loving, and intelligent people who accept Jesus as their Savior and live their lives accordingly while acknowledging that they are not perfect and they will sin.
I want them to embrace their imperfections and look to the Lord for guidance, especially when they face times in their lives when they feel that they are lost and far away from their faith. I want them to be genuinely good people. I believe that they can achieve these things brilliantly whether they choose to follow my lead and remain Catholic or if they choose to practice any other Christian faith (now I probably offended some Catholics as well).
My point is that I believe as Christians, we have similar fundamental beliefs. I have to be honest and say that over the years, it has been astounding to me how much I hear other Christians degrade the Catholic Church. Writing this blog was eye opening for me. At first, I did some research to understand why some folks don’t think Catholics are Christians. There is a lot of literature on the topic, but the reasons that I ran across the were as follows:
(1) Catholics have no personal relationship with Christ.
(2) Catholics don’t follow the Bible.
(3) The Catholic Church teaches works-based salvation.
If anyone finds themselves believing any of these statements, I would say:
(1) Read the Nicene Creed that Catholics say every Sunday as a part of the Mass.
(2) Our readings at mass come from the Bible.
(3) The Catholic Church teaches that we are saved by God’s grace alone, but we also believe that we have to respond to God’s grace with acts of faith and works.
If you’re interested in learning what the Catholic Church believes or you want to read about common myths about the Catholic Church, I found these links helpful:
- Catechism of the Catholic Church: http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/what-we-believe/catechism/catechism-of-the-catholic-church/epub/index.cfm
- Catholic Myths: http://www.acatholicthinker.net/catholic-myths/
There are many books, blog posts, and other literature written specifically to degrade Catholicism. I’ve had family members and friends grill me about my beliefs, make snide remarks, and outwardly condemn my faith. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I don’t think people think that what they are doing is wrong, but trust me, it hurts. I don’t mind questions and friendly discussion, but as Christians, we don’t need to argue to be right or to prove that our religious practices are “right.” We are all wrong to some degree – we are sinners!
Someone who shall remain nameless actually had the nerve to raise a stink at my wedding rehearsal about not being able to take communion at my wedding (I married a Lutheran). I was trying to pay attention to what the Priest and the wedding coordinators were saying because I was a nervous wreck (a hot mess, actually), but all I could hear for a couple of minutes was the conversation going on in the pew behind me. All I wanted to do was marry the love of my life in the church I grew up in – I was not prepared to have to defend my religious practices.
I majored in Business so my mind tends to work this way, but what organization do you know of that runs perfectly, without flaw? Not a one. We are human, we make mistakes, and when I accepted that, I realized that I wanted to stick to the religion that I was comfortable with, that my parents raised me to understand. To me, what is important is the fact that I love God, I’ve accepted Jesus, and every day I want to wake up and own my own struggle to love my neighbors and myself.
Catholics actually make up about 60% of the Christian population in the world. We should embrace each other and unite in the name of our most gracious and loving God! When Scripture speaks of Christians, it speaks of every church member as a Christian, no matter what your “walk with God” entails. I am not going to directly quote the bible (it’s just not me), but I encourage you to go to Matthew 22:34-40 and really think about the words that you read.
I realize that not everyone will agree with me, and that’s okay. I believe that is what makes my life as a Christian so beautiful; not only the fact that I know when I leave the physical world, there’s a much better place waiting for me, but also the fact that I have the privilege of choosing how to practice my faith. Further, I respect the fact that others get the same choice.
I also get the honor of teaching my children how to love God, themselves and others. Life as a Christian is hard enough as it is, so let’s come together, not tear each other apart. Oh, and if you ever want to experience the Catholic Church, I’m happy to bring you with me, but I’m also happy to attend your church with you. No judgment – that job is for God.
Stacy Klein (Stacy Macik) is the mother of two precious children – Gunnar, 2 1/2 years and Melania, 8months. On January 22, 2011, she married the love of her life, Kevin Klein. She and her family reside in Canonsburg, PA. Stacy works full-time in business development for the CERT Program, Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. She has a B.S. in Business Administration from West Liberty State College (now West Liberty University) and an M.S. in Public Management from Carnegie Mellon University. Stacy’s journey is guided by the Lord.
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