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More or Less Church

Joanna Depue "DJ/Deacon J" writes original songs and liturgies, does daily Farm office work and records Barbara's eMos on The Geranium Farm. A singer and dog trainer she utilizes healing touch in her private massage practice. PLEASE share YOUR original ideas for worship, special liturgies, prayers, songs, sermons and noteworthy blogs right here.
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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Catholic question

When the topic of religious affiliation comes up, how often have you heard someone respond:"I'm a Catholic"?

Funny thing, but we Episcopalians are 'catholic', too. Each Sunday when we go read or recite the Nicene Creed we state that we believe "in one holy catholic and apostolic Church".

There was a time.... long before our own.... when the word 'catholic', while having one meaning, namely: universal, stood for two things. In Christian terms, the Roman Catholic church was everywhere Christianity was. In those days, before the split with the Orthodox churches, being catholic and being Roman Catholic were synonymous.

While those days are long gone, the language has remained the same. When I have asked someone "Catholic" about their church tradition or practice, I have heard the following responses: "I was raised Catholic; My family is Catholic; I went to Catholic school; I grew up Catholic; I'm a Catholic, but don't go to church; I'm a lapsed Catholic; I'm a Catholic in name only; I'm Catholic but don't believe in the Pope; I'm Catholic, but priests should marry; I'm Catholic but I use birth control; I'm a Catholic, but I don't believe half of what they tell you".

Of the five parishes which I have attended or served as deacon in, the percentage of Roman Catholics is fairly high. In fact, the number of "cradle Episcopalian" percentage is often small in comparison to those of other denominations who attend or have been officially received into the Episcopal Church.

Having been "raised" a Roman Catholic myself and been received into the Episcopal Church at age 20 - years before I entered and Episcopal religious community - I understand that it can be difficult, particularly in terms of family dynamics, to change religious affiliation. My grandmother, "Mare", was originally convinced that someone had talked me into 'leaving THE FAITH'. It took many years for her not to equate my reception into the Episcopal Church with a rejection of faith altogether. She initially was convinced that my chances of getting to heaven were pretty slim, as I was no longer "a Catholic".

So much has happened between the days of my ponderings and today. Most of it would not have happened if I had remained a Roman Catholic 'in name only', singing in different churches and synagogues to make some change on the side. When I decided to stop sitting on the fence between one tradition and another and go for one my life became more rich. I tapped into a new community, made many friends, was challenged time and again about what I believed and what God had to do with it all.

At this point I'd like to put in a little ad for those among us who remain Roman Catholic yet attend the Episcopal Church. That "plug" is for you to look into an inquirers class. Perhaps your parish, one in your diocese or the diocese itself may sponsor such a class where you have the freedom to ask questions that you may not ask in a a mixed group. Example: What is the difference between the Episcopal Church and the Roman Catholic Church? Why don't we have a Pope? Do you have confession? Do you believe in Saints? What is the place of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Episcopal Church"? These are ALL good questions - not one of them is 'dumb'. There are similarities and there are differences. Perhaps after you have some of your questions answered, read a book or two and think deep inside yourself you may, as I did, choose to be received into the Episcopal Church.

Whether you do or do not, we do want you to keep coming back to get the things your heart and your soul need. There is something particular about corporate worship... even when two or three are gathered... that no amount of individual prayer can equate with.

In the end, of course, God is so much bigger than our divisions or practices or self-imposed laws. God smiles on Catholic (of whatever shade) and Jew alike. Our salvation is not dependent on our goodness, but that of God alone.

To all Catholics, everywhere on the planet, Shalom! May the Peace of Christ be with you!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read your comments with interest. I was baptised an Episcopalian, raised for the most part in the Congragational church, converted to Roman Catolicism when I married my first husband who was killed in an airplane crash 2 years later. I have remained an RC but I attend the Church of the Holy Apostles which is both Roman Catholic and Anglican with 2 priests and 2 congregations.We study our religions and are very ecumenical on many levels. I often think I should be an Episcopalian, but for some reason do not make the change.
I was never hung up by the rules since I wasn't raised with them. Is that really wrong? I often wonder.

4:56 PM  

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