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Ken Fuller wrote:

Hello guys,

I just got back from my local parish where I got to visit with a couple of men from the church.
I had a blast; it was a good time.

Anyway, in the discussion, they brought up the fact that the Catholic Church had indeed brought in some pagan practices to make the pagans feel more at home in the Church.

When I asked what these practices were, they did not know so I told them I would ask you.

Thanks,

Ken Fuller

  { Were pagan practices brought into the Church to make them feel at home and, if so, which ones? }

John replied:

Ken,

The Church did, in fact, adopt some cultural elements into Her practices of pagan societies, however that is not the same thing as saying the Church adopted pagan practices.

We have the first example of this in the Books of Acts in Chapter 17. Here St. Paul is preaching to a Greek audience and makes his Gospel presentation to the Greeks by pointing to their religious practices.

He points out that they are so religious that they even had an altar dedicated to the un-known God. From there, he goes on to say that this un-known God is in fact the one true God. St. Paul doesn't quote scripture to them, because they would be completely unfamiliar with it. Instead, he quotes one of their own poets who wrote:

"In Him we live and move and have our being." (Acts 17:28)

Ever since, the Church has used every tool available to communicate the Gospel.

The arts are a perfect example. The Church uses paintings, icons, and statues, not as object of worship, but rather as ways of telling the story and as points of contact that inspire faith.

Later, starting with the invention of the printing press, the Church used technology to promote the Gospel. Today, the Church uses:

  • television
  • radio, and
  • the internet

all of which were invented for secular purposes, but Holy Mother Church uses all things for the Glory of God and to advance the Gospel.

Hope this helps,

John DiMascio

Mary Ann replied:

Hi Ken,

Another example is the Christmas tree, baptized by the Church from a pagan symbol to a symbol of the Tree of Life. Many of the old feasts and practices of the Greeks, Romans, and Barbarians were feasts connected with agricultural myths and these myths were dim apprehensions of God's plan.

The pagan feasts were re-interpreted to memorialize events in the history of Christ and the Church that were the fulfillment of the realities the pagan feasts only hinted at. Practices and ideas that were evil were done away with, and what was natural and susceptible to a Christian interpretation was retained and baptized.

Grace builds on nature, both in human beings and in culture.

Mary Ann

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