Entering the crucible
Part 10….35 years….explanation….read it here.
We used to have a nice, little Christian bookstore near our home and I would periodically drop in for resources or gifts. On one occasion as I was looking around I asked God to direct me to whatever book he wanted me to buy. And my eyes landed on a stark, black and orange cover with the title in big, bold caps – ROMAN CATHOLICISM. I was unsure of whether it was going to be confirming or condemning of the faith I was raised in, but I felt strongly that I should pick it up and take it home. And pay for it.
I soon discovered that from the preface to the index this work was all about the errors and excesses of the Catholic Church. As one who even as a Catholic had serious doubts about some of her doctrines, and had now finally broken with the church, I was eager to read this exposé. In a point by point outline format, the author addressed all of Rome’s claims, practices, and doctrines….such as the priesthood, the papacy, Mary, the Mass, purgatory.…and presented his argument from Scripture as to why they are all false.
I must have looked bug-eyed as I read it, with page after page of damning details about this religious system that was so much a part of my spiritual formation. Though now I know that this is not a scholarly work….the lack of footnotes should have tipped me off….and not completely accurate, it greatly expanded my familiarity with verifiable facts about the Roman Catholic Church and her practices, which while a member of the church I mostly accepted without question, because I was pretty much clueless as to what the Bible taught.
What I came to learn about the “sacrifice” of the Mass was particularly troubling. The RCC claims that the celebration of the Eucharist (Communion) at every Mass is the same sacrifice that Jesus Christ offered on the cross 2,000 years ago, just not as bloody. Since at that time I was also becoming more familiar with Scripture, I was greatly disturbed by what seemed an obvious debasement of Christ’s “once for all” unique sacrifice. Jesus said, “It is finished” but the Catholic Church was saying, “No, it’s not.” And I began to view the Mass as dishonoring to him and even an abomination in the eyes of God.
So, what to do when my folks scheduled a 35th wedding anniversary celebration Mass and invited all their children to attend? I knew two things: 1) I hated more than just about anything to hurt their feelings, and 2) I just couldn’t go. But I also knew not going would hurt them deeply. And I remember that as I pondered and prayed feeling that I was on the brink of an important next level of faith and inviting God to “try” me….test and prove me like silver. I was ready to submit to the fire and make a difficult decision not knowing what the outcome would be but fairly confident that it was the right thing to do. I sat down and wrote Mom and Dad a letter that I hoped clearly and lovingly explained why I wouldn’t be at their special Mass.
I’m glad I wasn’t there when they got it…