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Winona Wise wrote:

Hi, guys —

I was raised a Roman Catholic and used to go to Mass every day of the week for a while when
I was younger. Around 1990, the Church dropped saying, "This is the Word of the Lord" to
"Word of the Lord". This was also the time of the Jesus seminars where they talked about what Jesus said and didn't say in the New Testament, so I left the Church because She no longer believed in the Bible or so I was taught.

I believe 100% in the Bible and have been chaste for over thirty-nine years; more than a lot of priests in my city of Philadelphia. I don't watch porn, steal, etc. but I still am a sinner in God's eyes. I'm saved by grace, saved by the blood of Jesus, so I can't boast.

I love the Mass. I can go to Confession, etc. I have no relationship problems. There is no impediment to my return legally. I love God and love His Word: thy word have I hidden in my heart. (Psalm 119:11) I know a lot of the Psalms but my point is that not everyone who leaves the Church is leaving God.

I would like to attend Mass again but I fear God will punish me for doing so. So much of the Roman Catholic religion is made up of stuff from when the pagans joined the Church.

I believe every single part of the Apostle's Creed, but I don't believe the other stuff that came into the Church during the Dark Ages.

  • Would there be any problem with me coming back to the Church?

Winona

  { Would God punish me for returning to the Church if I don't believe in everything She teaches? }

Mike replied:

Dear Winona,

Thanks for the question.

Based on your what you said in your e-mail, I would recommend you go to Confession and share with the Confessor what you have shared with us. After going to Confession and receiving some counsel from the priest, there is no reason why you can't go back to Mass.

I think there are some misperceptions based on what you have heard or learned from friends over the years.

You said:
So much of the Roman Catholic religion is made up of stuff from when the pagans joined the Church.

Not quite. The pagans had their practices, like the exchange of wedding rings and the Christmas tree, that the Church did adopt but, in doing so, She took the good from their practices and sanctified them for use in the Church.

That's far different than adopting pagan practices.

You said:
I believe every single part of the Apostle's Creed

That's good and very important! Nevertheless, when we receive Holy Communion at Mass we are saying we are in a common union with Jesus and the Church He founded. Learning the faith is not something you can do with a snap of your fingers; it requires time and an openness to accepting the Church's Teachings, to accepting Jesus' Teachings!

Strengthening your faith requires:

  • practicing it and
  • knowing it.

On practicing the faith:

Out of 168 hours in the week, all the Lord asks of us, most weeks, is one hour and, though we may not have a desire to go to Sunday Mass, it's for our own good because receiving the Eucharist, as well as keeping a daily prayer life, will help us make good, holy choices for that week.

The bishops of the United States have also recommended that Catholic families make a habit of receiving the Sacrament of Confession on a monthly basis; I agree!

Living a sacramental life is the key to strengthening your faith rapidly.

Practicing the faith also includes discerning your calling.

  • Where do you want to serve the Lord in His Church?

Talk to your pastor and find out what ministries your local parish offers, then ask yourself:

  • Which one would I enjoy participating in the most?

On knowing the faith:

I would start with reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church. If you find something is hard for you to accept, ask the Lord to help you understand that Teaching; He will help! As you grow in the faith, remember that ones faith is not based on how one feels.

Catholics should believe in the Catholic Church, not because it makes them feel good, but because they believe it is the truth-telling Church that Jesus founded on St. Peter and His successors.
For other sources on where you can learn more about the faith, check out our recommended reading page.

You said:
Do you think I can go back?

Yes! Go to Confession first and ask the priest for some counsel.

Hope this helps,

Mike

Eric replied:

Hi Winona,

I encourage you to do some reading. I rejoice that you have developed a deeper relationship with the Lord, but as my friend Mike said, you have some misconceptions and I think you'd be genuinely surprised at how biblical the Catholic Church is if you opened your mind and listened to the evidence. I once thought as you did, but as I began to study what the early Christians actually believed and taught, my mind began to change.

We're here to answer specific questions for you. A good place for you to start might be here:

Then if that doesn't answer your questions, perhaps you can share with us specific things you think are pagan that concern you, and why.

You said:
Around 1990, the Church dropped saying, "This is the Word of the Lord" to
"Word of the Lord". This was also the time of the Jesus seminars where they talked about what Jesus said and didn't say in the New Testament, so I left the Church because She no longer believed in the Bible or so I was taught.

I'm not sure what you meant when you shared the account of the Church changing to
"The Word of the Lord". I'm scratching my head, trying to figure out if you are arguing if the Church dropped "this is" then it must "no longer believe in the Bible"?

The reason "this is" was dropped is because it is not there in the Latin original. We do definitely believe in the Bible as the inerrant written word of God; if we didn't, I don't know why we'd end each reading with "The Word of the Lord". You seem to be focusing too much on two rather ancillary words. I suggest you read a document called Dei Verbum from Second Vatican Council to see what we believe about the Bible.

You seem to have been influenced by Evangelical Protestants.

  • While these are our brothers in Christ, and there is a lot we can learn from them, you owe it to the Truth to learn the other side of the story, don't you agree?
  • I mean, if you've heard all this negative stuff about the Catholic Church from someone else, shouldn't you hear the Catholic side and give it a fair hearing before believing the Protestant account?

I think your asking us, and your desire to come back, shows that you are willing to do this, and
I encourage you to go deeper. Try reading the book "Catholicism and Fundamentalism: The attack on 'Romanism' by 'Bible Christians'" by Karl Keating. Also explore www.catholic.com (not affiliated with us).

Eric

Winona replied:

Thank you all for your replies.

I can go to Confession, but I believe I can do that anywhere. The Bible tells us:

9 If we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins.

John 1:9

Here in Philly, we have had more than our fair share of men who have consecrated the bread and wine at Mass, then turned around and defiled young altar boys. Thank God I don't need a priest for forgiveness.

I don't believe it's a mortal sin, to miss Mass. I don't believe there is a little sin or a big sin. Sin is sin and we must be redeemed from the punishment that is demanded of us when we do sin. I have a Redeemer who took care of that. He was the Lamb of God who took away my sins.

I am appalled at how little Roman Catholics know about their religion. I once asked an office full of women, who like me, went to twelve years of Catholic schooling, what the Immaculate Conception was. Not one person knew. I don't believe the teaching, but I know what it is. The Bible states only Jesus was born without sin and makes a point to state that.

You said:
Out of 168 hours in the week, all the Lord asks of us, most weeks, is one hour.

God requires a lot more than attending Mass for one hour. I believe we need to seek Him all day long. We cannot please God without faith and faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.

  • Why don't the priests tell you to bring your Bibles to Mass?

Instead of an inane sermon, teach the Word of God. I don't care about your married sister!

When I talked about pagan influences, I wasn't talking about Halloween, Christmas, etc.
They wanted a Woman God and the Church has made Mary into a "Co-Redeemer" which is, to me, blasphemy. We have one Redeemer. I have great affection for the Mother of Jesus, but I pray only to God. I put no one before Him.

Mary had other children but the Church makes that sound dirty. She had a Redeemer per the Magnificat. She is a role model we should all strive to emulate.

  • Do you really thing Mary says the Rosary?
  • Do you really think the Saints can hear you?

They would have to be omnipresent! The Catechism says God is omnipresent.

  • Does God tell St. Jude and then St. Jude intercedes with the Lord?

Only God can hear your inner thoughts and words.

My brother-in-law goes to First Friday Mass. I asked him if he knew why we celebrate First Fridays. He had no clue and had never heard of St. Mary.

When my brother died a few days before his wife, he was right with God and the Church. My sister bought Mass cards. I asked her why and she said my brother would be in Purgatory.

  • What?

He had a priest. According to what I was taught the soul goes directly to Heaven if it's in the state of grace.

So you see my dilemma. I love the Mass. I miss the Mass. I'm willing to confess to a man because
I follow the rules and will do that once a year, which reminds me. My neighbor works all day Sunday counting money. She has not been to Confession for over five years. I told her she had to go once a year but again, she had no clue about this regulation.

You don't have to answer all of these concerns. I have been influenced greatly by people who attend church every week even though they know it's not a sin if they miss a week; they also attend a Wednesday prayer service as well.

What worries me is what Jesus said about us being willing to leave brother and sister to follow Him.

  • Is going back to Mass His will, or my comfort zone?

My God bless you and keep you.

Winona

Mary Ann replied:

Dear Winona,

You have been sadly miseducated and misinformed about the Catholic Faith. I am sorry for that. You also seem to be misunderstanding the remarks of the people here.

You have also encountered some anti-Catholic fundamentalists who are also very confused about the faith and who don't know history. Get Karl Keating's book: Catholicism and Fundamentalism — if you want all your questions addressed.

As for sinful priests, very early on the Church had to decide if the sins of the priest would prevent Christ from acting through him. As we see in Scripture, the sins of Peter did not stop Christ from using him. I know that many, many priests have committed grave evils.

We put our faith in Christ, not in priests.

Mary Ann

Winona replied:

  • What part of my reply was wrong about the Church?

I recognize your attitude. Your attitude is exactly what I've come to expect. In the past, the Church has put to death many, many people who disagreed with them.

They have burned them at the stake and then make them saints a couple hundred years later.
e.g. St Joan.

I will seek the Lord with all my heart. I'm on my knees every morning asking for wisdom.
I know that Martin Luther was dead on about certain issues.

It's been a corrupt and terrible Church, in addition to being holy.
I'm just trying to figure out which is which.

There is no need to reply, but you should examine your own issues.

Winona

Mary Ann replied:

Almost everything you said was not Catholic teaching, Winona.

I am not criticizing you, I'm just saying that what you have been told is not accurate. When Mike said God only asks one hour, he meant that God only asks as a minimum that we worship at Mass once a week. Many Catholics worship daily at Mass and at prayer services.

There is more Scripture in our services than in fundamentalist or evangelical services. Mainline Protestants use the same lectionary as we do, and read the same amount on Sunday.
Our daily prayer, the Office, is made of Scripture.

All sin is terrible, but you must admit that being unkind to someone is a lesser sin than killing that person. One can slightly offend a friend, and one can turn against a friend, betraying him. That is the difference between light and grave sin, though because God is all holy, even slight sin is much more damaging and offensive than we realize but God is merciful.

There is no woman goddess, but there is the woman of Revelation (Read Revelation 12), who is both the Church and the one who is the model of the Church, the one who brought us Christ and was His only perfect disciple, His mother.

All the earliest testimony, including Scripture as the post-apostolic generation read it, shows that Mary did not have other children. Those who say otherwise:

  • do not understand the languages involved
  • have not read the early Fathers, or
  • have not done a careful study of the relationships of the New Testament.

I am glad you find her a model. Ask her to lead you to Jesus, which is her job.

The Church did not burn Joan of Arc. A corrupt traitor bishop in league with politicians illegally found her guilty in a sham trial and turned her over to his patrons, the English, who killed her.

If you miss the Mass, come to it. Pray to God for light and have compassion for all the poor Catholics who do not know their faith or who do not live it — which includes most of us!

Blessings.

Mary Ann

Eric replied:

Winona —

You seem to be a woman sincerely seeking Christ, and I thank God for that. Clearly He is working in your life.

I went through, what you went through: the same questions and the same doubts about the Church. Through much study, and being open to the Holy Spirit, I found answers to all my questions, and saw that the most biblical church is the Catholic Church. There is a lot of misinformation and confusion out there so it's not surprising you would think the way you do.

You have a lot of questions. We won't attempt to answer them all, at least not at once, but again
I encourage you to read good Catholic sources that explain the Catholic faith instead of relying only on Evangelical and Fundamentalist sources. If you want to know what someone believes and why, it's only fair to ask them, not someone else and it's only fair to give someone a chance to respond when someone challenges them.

If indeed you are a sincere seeker of truth, we welcome your questions one by one. We have answers to them if you are open to them.

As for returning to Mass, you are certainly welcome and encouraged to attend Mass. One day,
God willing, you will believe what we believe and be united with us and so receive the Eucharist. The Eucharist, we believe, is the Body of Christ. The Church is the Body of Christ as well, and so the Eucharist makes the Church through Communion. For this reason, we believe that only those who are in communion of mind and heart with the Church, that is, those who accept what the Church believes and teaches, may receive our Eucharist. This is how the Church of Christ originally operated and how it operates today (with some rare exceptions). It's sort of like a husband and wife: If they are not married or not completely reconciled, they wouldn't think of having conjugal relations. The Eucharist is the most intimate union with Christ and his Body the Church we can have so, if one is not reconciled with the Church, one cannot really participate in her Eucharist.

A few comments on your questions. I understand the scandal you have concerning priests but you are deceiving yourself if you think Protestant pastors do not do the same thing. So do doctors, teachers, child-care workers, and all sorts of people we trust. The fact that people sin is irrelevant to whether their position is legitimate. One cannot disprove the priesthood by citing priests who sin. Though Judas betrayed the Lord, he did not thereby invalidate the apostles.

As for going to Mass, look at Hebrews 10:24-31. It says not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together. Then in verse 26 following that, it says

"26 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries."

It goes on more severely. The implication there is that if we willfully forsake the assembling of ourselves together, we will receive condemnation (a mortal sin). As for a biblical basis for mortal sin, I'd refer you to 1 John 5:16. Also it is clear that some sins incur condemnation (1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Galatians 5:21). A mortal sin is a sin that causes us to lose salvation ("there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries"). If you don't believe in mortal sin, you either believe that all sins for a believer are mortal, in which case salvation is hopeless, or none of them are (the more common case), which contradicts the two verses I cited above.

Catholics who don't believe the faith are a scandal, yes, but they make their own decisions:
they don't "disprove" the Catholic faith. The Scriptures never say that the members of the true Church will always be well-educated. You are to be commended for your knowledge, but it doesn't prove that you are right. The thing about the Catholic Church is that it is built on 2,000 years of biblical reflection of myriads of holy people, something that the knowledge of one lifetime cannot hope to match.

I can't argue with you about inane sermons. I did know a Catholic priest who put Bibles in the pews, though. He is now bishop of Australia.

Don't worry about what other people do. It's irrelevant. In the first twelve leaders of the Church:

  • one betrayed the Lord
  • one denied Him, and
  • one doubted His Resurrection.

Not a good track record.

  • Would you have left that Church?

You are quite right, we need to follow the Lord 168 hours a week, a fact that is reflected in Catholic devotional tradition.

  • Have you read any of the saints and what they had to say about the spiritual life?

As for the intercession of saints, this is a big topic which I encourage you to search our knowledge base about. I'll point you to:

As for Mary as Co-Redemptrix, this is another big topic but I would point out to you that we call her Co-Redemptrix because she is the prototype for the Church (that is, she symbolizes, in her person, what the whole Church is, and by extension its members), and every time you evangelize someone, you are cooperating in the work of redemption. See:

Marian belief goes back to the earliest ages of the Church (although it was not always as clearly formulated as it was today) and was rooted firmly in Scripture, not in pagan concepts.
For example, the Queenship of Mary comes from Psalm 45 and Revelation 12.

Answers to all of your questions can be found on our web site if you are only willing to look for them.

  • If you can't find them, ask.
  • If you don't understand or want more information from what I've given here, ask.
  • If you want resources, ask.

Eric

Please report any and all typos or grammatical errors.
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