Am I a Closet Catholic?

by Cliff Ravenscraft on May 2, 2007

in Blog

Am I a Closet Catholic? As a young boy, I always attended Protestant denominational churches. It was my mother's desire that I be raised in the Protestant branding of Christian faith. From as early back as I can remember, I attended Vacation Bible Schools, Sunday School classes, and various Youth Retreats at denominational churches such as Baptist, Wesleyan, Nazarene, Methodist, and even Pentecostal.
Things started to get a little confusing in First Grade. My parents enrolled me in a Catholic School for a better educational opportunity than what was offered by the Public School system at the time. I ended up attending a Catholic School all the way through the end of Seventh Grade. In our Catholic school, we had Religion Class regularly and we attended Mass once a week. I was taught about The Mother Mary, Patron Saints, First Communion, Confession, and many other unique aspects of the Catholic Faith.
The only problem I had in this experience was that I was not Catholic! This meant that I could not take communion or partake in any of the other Sacraments of the Catholic Church that all my fellow classmates had been involved in for all those years. It caused me a great deal of humiliation and made me feel like quite the outsider.
It was about my 7th grade year when I was attending a Pentecostal church on the weekends and going to Catholic School during the week. It was about this time that I really became interested in God's Word and things related to faith. It was also this time that I had started to hear a lot of Protestant pastors and believers speak negatively toward the Catholic Church. I've even heard such bold statements as “The Catholic Church will give rise to the anti-Christ.”
Early on, it was easy for me to side with this skewed view of the Catholic Church as I had been made fun of by fellow “Catholic” Classmates for years in the Catholic School for not being permitted to partake in their sacraments along with them.
I suppose it was my Great Aunt Mae that kept me from fully accepting these criticisms against the teachings of the Catholic Church. You see, my Great Aunt Mae has always been a devout Catholic. One thing I am quite certain of, is that I have never met a more Christian woman in my life! I looked at her life with great interest. She prays the Rosary to the Mother Mary, she prays to the Saints, and she holds to a few beliefs that we are not taught to follow in the Protestant faith. However, she believes in God as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. She believes in Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior who died for our sins and that through him all who choose to accept his gift of Salvation can be saved. She believes that is was Christ's desire that those who believed in him should be baptized and live a life devoted to God.
It is because of the witness of my Great Aunt Mae's life and my understanding of just how much the Protestant and Catholic churches actually share in common that has lead me to have a very deep respect for the Catholic Church. Over the past year, I've come to be even more accepting of those from the Catholic faith.
For well over a year now, I've been listening to a daily podcast called “The Daily Breakfast.” This podcast is produced by a Catholic Priest in the Netherlands named Father Roderick Vonhogen. I feel that I've come to know Father Roderick really well hearing him tell about his life and how he interacts with the world and I have found that he, also, is a man that exhibits a life that is a great testimony and witness to the presence of the Holy Spirit in his life.
Father Roderick pioneered the first Catholic NETWORK of podcasts called the Star Quest Production Network (www.sqpn.com). It was here that I was introduced other Catholic podcasters such as Paul Camarata (The SaintCast) and Greg and Jennifer Willits (The Rosary Army Podcast). I try to keep up with these podcasts as much as I can as these individuals are, once again, great examples of devout Catholics who live lives that are a great personal witness and testimony of our Lord, Jesus. And though I'm not Catholic, each of these podcasters have welcomed me into their communities. They know I listen to several of their shows and I have learned that they each listen to several of my shows as time allows.
If I were not a Christian, and I came across these podcasters, I certainly would feel DRAWN to the Catholic Church, and more importantly, DRAWN toward Jesus Christ as my savior, as a result of their public testimony through their sharing their lives online. If the Catholic Church can produce such followers, then I pray that God would continue to bless the Catholic Church!
Now I started off with a question. Am I a Closet Catholic? I don't think so. I admire so many of the things that they do to help them stay focused on the Life and Passion of Christ. Yet, IN MY MIND, there is still not sufficient evidence for me to accept certain main aspects of the teaching of the Catholic Church in regards to Mary remaining a Virgin after Jesus' birth, why we should pray to certain saints for certain things, the Eucharist becoming the actual physical body of Christ, among very few other things. I could not, in good conscience, consider myself to be in full alignment with the Catholic Church's teaching on such subjects. However, I will always admire the Catholic Church for keeping the faith alive and continuing to proclaim the resurrection of Christ to the world.
Many Post Modern Christians are abandoning the Traditional Church and the traditions that have become meaningless routine. I consider myself to be one of these folks. There are so many things that Christian churches do today just because that's what we have always done. Many of these churches do not teach the reason WHY behind what is being done and some had lost the understanding of the WHY several generations back. I believe that there is a LOT OF VALUE in many traditions. However, there is only value if you are taught what principles are behind such traditions.
SQPN.com has recently launched a new video production called “That Catholic Show.” I'm pasting the code for the first episode in this post below. I think this is going to be a great production that will help explain a little bit more about what the Catholic Church believes and why they do some of the things they do. I encourage everyone to check out the extremely high quality of this production. It is my prayer that all believers would find ways to connect and keep focused on God in our daily lives. If there are rituals or traditions that would help us to do that, then I'm all for it. Just take the time to ask questions about why we do what we do.
Father Roderick, Paul Camarata, Greg & Jennifer Willits,
I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart for serving our Lord, Jesus Christ. Thank you for being a witness that the Holy Spirit is still active within the Church! Thank you for accepting me, a non catholic, as a brother in Christ! May God bless each of you and the everyone else involved with the Star Quest Production Network!
In Christ,
Cliff

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