Monday, June 8, 2009

Prodigal Sons and Daughters

Recently, I met @mcProdigal (Richard) on Twitter who also is a prodigal. One of his comments:

@CathPrdDaughter What Catholics have on most others: Understanding the mystery of God

He then asked what I thought were the "pluses" and "minuses" of non-denominational churches vs. Catholicism. Oy veh, right?! Yes, I've seen a few (and posted many of them on this blog), but it made me realize that I'm going to need God's grace more than ever to walk this fine line between pointing out the differences in love while gently challenging ex-Catholics who are now involved in non-denominational churches to reconsider and return home. And my brother is just one of them.

I'm not sure if anyone will ever "understand" the mystery of God. Perhaps more accurate would be that Catholics pursue the mystery of God and embrace this pursuit in many ways. Our Mass is a huge part of this. A Catholic Mass differs from Protestant churches in this way: Catholics believe the Eucharist becomes the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. It is not symbolic.

I think many non-Catholic Christians would be surprised to see how much of the Bible Catholics do know. Not only is the Mass filled with Scripture from beginning to end, but there has been a growing number of Bible studies and resources. This has brought me great joy.

However, I do see one area that non-denominational churches are more successful than Catholic churches. Relationship. Many parishes will see familiar faces, but there are few that provide small groups for connecting. I happen to attend a wonderful parish that has a "Coffee and Doughnuts" after Mass and it's a great way to meet other parishioners. We also have an informal "Ladies Group" that meets once a month. But I don't think most parishes are like this. I hear bits and pieces about small groups forming, and it's good, but definitely not the norm.

Meanwhile, I'm currently reading Where Is That In the Bible? by Patrick Madrid, a well-known apologist. I am trying to learn more apologetics because many of the questions a non-Catholic (or poorly catechized Catholic) has, I have had. Pray for me, if you think of it, that I'll walk in the ways of the Lord.

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