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The Protestantization of American Catholics

About 14 years ago or so, a good friend of mine was struggling with leaving the Catholic Church. She had started to attend an Evangelical Christian Church and was learning all kinds of new things about the bible that she had never learned before! Now this isn't suprising. My friend is roughly of my vintage and went to Catholic school through 12th grade... so of course she knew NEXT TO NOTHING about the bible when she graduated. She was learning it now though!

As we were discussing whether or not she whould stay or leave the church, she challenged me with some Catholic beliefs, like Mary, and calling priests Father - stuff like that. But one thing she said that really stuck with me. We were talking about some aspect of the Catholic church, I can't even remember what specifically, and then she said, "that's not even in the bible!"

My heart skipped a beat. I couldn't believe that some closely held Catholic belief that I had managed to wrap my mind around wasn't even in the bible!

But that's not the astounding part. In retrospect what interests me now is that as a young Catholic adult I found some discomfort in finding that part of my faith wasn't "scriptural" in the strictest sense of the word. I had, somehow, someway, picked up the doctrine of Sola Scriptura... and I didn't even know it!

As the years have gone by, I've noticed from time to time that other parts of American Protestantism have crept into American Catholicism.

Part of it is the music. I fully agree with much of what I have read on St. Blog's about the bad music. We've essentially taken our rich treasury of Catholic music and flushed it. I have never heard Gregorian Chant in an actual mass for example. But I've noticed many Protestant or Protestant sounding hymns have made it into schedule. Last week we sang "Amazing Grace", and something that sounded awfully close to "What A Friend We Have in Jesus." Good tunes to be sure, but where's the Catholic identity? The Catholic flavor. Where's the awe?

Some Catholic church's don't even have that special "catholic" feel to them. The floors are carpeted, the placement of the tabernacle is questionable. The confessionals have become reconciliation rooms - hey and where are the statues? and the candles? Those are the things that give the church that sense of mysticism, of something sacred - like its something special. The smells and bells as Professor Hahn calls them - they touch all of our senses.

I don't have an answer about how to stop this or reverse it. I loved it when our church put candles BACK! So I try to pop a few bucks in to light one so that they keep them there. We have statues too, so I try to place a flower in front of the different ones on their feast day, particularly Our Lady of Sorrows. Letting the choir know when I really like something too I guess is a good way to encourage them to choose truly sacred music. About the only other power I really feel I have on the issue is via blogging. So when I point out to a Catholic commenter that a question about why Catholics put more weight on the magesterial teaching than the scriptures themselves is a curious one for a Catholic - it's because I've been there. Hopefully the challenge will be enough to lead to the truth of what the Catholic Church teaches and why.





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