Catholicism Isn’t Evil (to Me Anymore)
My friend’s father died on Friday, prompting a whirlwind weekend of funeral services and grieving during the Memorial Day weekend. The family is Catholic and my friend’s father partook of his last sacraments before he became too incapacitated.
I sat through two mini-Catholic services, the first a brief eulogy for my friend’s father who we’ll refer to as Mr. W, and the second a shortened version of a Mass with an emphasis on praying for Mr. W’s soul.
Had this happened 10 or even 5 years ago, I would have been indignant at the Catholic church, ranting and raving at all the things they do wrong as indoctrinated by my years of Christian Baptist fundamentalism. I would have rolled my eyes at the pointless sign of the cross and the dumb responses to the priest after a statement. My heart would have been angry at the Whore of Babylon for leading people astray and I would have not been able to grieve the loss of a dear father and husband who was beloved by many.
But no, this weekend, my heart was quiet before the Lord in reverence to my friend, her family, and the passing of her father. I actually rather enjoyed the first Catholic eulogy and Father T who performed it did an excellent job. I thought to myself, Wow. What a difference a decade makes. I don’t hate Catholicism anymore.
I had no opposition to performing the sign of the cross to open and close the service. (Scripture doesn’t expressly forbid such actions so I no longer take issue with it.) I was surprised at how easily the congregational responses came back to me after years of not attending a Mass or Catholic school. Glimmers of lyrics from many of the spiritual songs shimmered in my mind from my childhood as we sang. We recited the “Our Father” without that ending that I’ve become accustomed to since leaving Catholicism (“For Thine is the kingdom…”). The Catholic Church has changed slightly but not too much. (They’ll be changing the congregational response from “also with you” to “with your spirit.” Ghastly! /sarcasm)
At the second service, I realized while I’m no longer angry or opposed to the Catholic Church, it will never be the church for me again. I do not agree with praying for the souls of the dead as I can’t find Biblical justification for it. I can’t in good Biblical conscience recite the “Hail Mary” any longer. However, instead of ranting and raving against the Catholic Church for unbiblical practices (as I would have in the past), I took the time to still my heart before God and prayed for the family grieving the loss of Mr. W. I prayed for the light of the gospel to shine in their lives, hoping that even through the Catholic Church, they could find salvation and trust in Jesus Christ.
The father at the second service encouraged everyone present to pray for Mr. W’s soul every time they thought of him or his family. I will not begrudge my friend and her mother their novena, but I will continue to lift them up in prayer to the glory of God the Father.