For Every Teaching There is a Reason

Today, we welcome Patti Maguire Armstrong to the New Evangelizers blogging team!

It is important to teach our children the reasons for the teachings of the  Catholic faith, they may one day join the ranks of the thousands of lapsed or anti-Catholics who  feel called upon to save others from what they believe is a dangerous institution–the Roman Catholic Church.

There are books, magazines, and entire organizations set up for the very purpose of convincing Catholics to abandon their church.  Our children need to recognize anti-Catholic criticisms and counter them or they risk being persuaded to leave the Church because they do not know the truth.

CHICK Publications (among other such organizations) exists solely to prey on uninformed Catholics.  Their books look pro-Catholic and good intentioned on the cover.  But on the inside, their pages rip the Catholic Church to shreds with false interpretation of Scripture and in some publications, horrific supposed confessions from priests and insiders.

Below is a portion of the preface to a book called Understanding Roman Catholicism, 37 Roman Catholic Doctrines Explained  by Rick Jones:

I was baptized into the Catholic church as an infant, made my First Communion and Confirmation as a child, and attended Mass and religious instruction classes weekly.  I confessed my sins to a priest, and did my best to obey the Ten Commandments.  In general, I was a good Catholic.

My wife Shari, who was instrumental in the preparation of this book, was also born and raised in a Roman Catholic home, in addition to being educated in Catholic schools.  She, too, faithfully performed all the required Catholic rituals.

Despite all our Catholic training, though, neither of us ever fully understood the true doctrines of the Catholic church, or how those doctrines related to the Holy Bible.  As a result, our faith in the Catholic Church suffered.

I believe with all my heart that most Catholics are in the same position.  This book was designed to remedy that problem.  After reading it. you will have a full understanding of the major doctrines of the Catholic church and how they relate to the Holy Scriptures.  In addition, you will learn many truths you never knew before, and be much better prepared for the coming day when you will stand before God for judgment.

The book then proceeds to attack thirty-seven Catholic doctrines as unscriptural, wrong, and dangerous to our souls.  They use Scripture taken out of context to support their attacks, even though it was the Catholic Church that compiled and preserved the Bible long before there ever were any other Christian denominations.

Jesus gave His Church authority, and it was the authority of His Church that determined which sacred writings were of divine inspiration and to be a part of the New Testament.

The Catholic Church and Scripture are united.  One will never disagree with the other.    Once people began breaking away from the One True Church and interpreting Scripture on their own, out of context, and with no authority, they began to come up with many interpretations to falsely claim the Catholic Church is in error.

I do agree with the author, Rick Jones, when he says he believes that most Catholics are like him, raised in the Catholic faith, yet never fully understanding it.   We all know fallen-away and ex-Catholics.  They are often the most vehemently anti-Catholic.  After all, they want to feel justified in leaving a faith they believe they discovered to be wrong.

I attended Catholic school for twelve years.   Many of my former classmates and/or their many siblings have become apathetic to religion or antagonistic to Catholicism.   When a former classmate who left the Church mistakenly thought I had also left, she told me, “Oh, I thought you had become Christian.”    I’ve had conversations with parents of fallen-away Catholics whose hearts ache while they wring their hands and ask, “What happened?  We always took them to church,”  or “ We paid for them to get a good Catholic education, a lot of good that did.”

These experiences told me I needed to share the Catholic faith with my children not just with the what we do but why we do it.  The only problem was that when I developed this lofty goal, well over ten years ago,  I became acutely aware of my own deficiencies as a Catholic.  My level of understanding was not even enough for me to represent the Church to which I belonged.

Over the years I had been frustrated in debates with atheists, agnostics, non-Christians, and anti-Catholics.  For instance, during a family reunion when my sister-in-law asked me why Catholics re-sacrifice Jesus at every Mass even though the Bible says His sacrifice on the cross was once and for all, I drew a blank.  Another time, when an acquaintance questioned me as to why Catholics put Mary into their relationship with God in spite of the fact that the Bible says there is no mediator between God and Man but Jesus, again, I had no ready answer.

I found myself avoiding these arguments rather than giving my debaters fuel for feeling justified in attacking the Catholic Church.

Not until my own children began growing older did I finally feel the necessity for definitive answers.  I wanted to give them a faith that could arm them against the world’s arguments that fight so vehemently against this “behind-the-times” institution–the Roman Catholic Church.  Otherwise, how would my children grow up and stubbornly hold onto the religion of their parents?  Could they be lured away by seeds of doubt–arguments they could not answer and answers that made sense in the absence of any contrary knowledge?

I had a responsibility to my children that in spite of twelve years of Catholic schooling in the 1960’s and 70’s and more than thirty years as a Catholic, I was not prepared to fulfill.  My children were growing and making some of the sacraments.  I followed all the prescribed Church-mandated instructions to prepare them, but the hard-core answers, the guts of our religion, still escaped my understanding and hence my ability to hand them down.

For instance, after preparing two sons for the sacrament of reconciliation (also known as penance and confession) I realized with my third son that I had never fully explained why Catholics receive this sacrament while other Christians do not.  They were not learning enough to defend the virtues of this sacrament if attacked by non-Catholic friends.  Other Christian faiths claim this sacrament is even blasphemous: “…There is only one mediator between God and man, Jesus Christ” (1 Tim 2:5).

So where do Catholics get this notion of going to a priest to confess their sins?  Other faiths go directly to Jesus like the Bible tells us to do.  Right?  I have posed this very question to many Catholic friends.  Usually, they have no response.  I didn’t have one myself until almost 25 years after I made my own first confession.

In a nutshell, Jesus forgave sins throughout His ministry, therefore, we know forgiveness of sins is important.  Jesus also gave the apostles the power to forgive sins:  “He breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit; when you forgive men’s sins they are forgiven, when you hold them bound they are held bound’” (John 20:22-23).

Just prior to that in John 20:21, Jesus is sending the apostles out into the world to act in His place:  “As the Father sent me, so am I sending you.”  The apostles were given the authority to act in Jesus’ place because they were given leadership of His Church on earth.  Catholics recognize the truth in 1 Timothy 2-5.

Catholic confession does not contradict that, however.  We do not confess our sins to a mere man, but to a priest who is standing in for Jesus.  We are facing Jesus when we confess our sins,  the same Jesus who promised us He would be with us until the end of the earth.

We learn humility in facing another, examining our consciences, confessing, receiving absolution and the graces to help us avoid future sin, and growing closer to God.  It should be a treasured gift that we understand and use.

This is just a condensed example of how fully understanding Church teaching will empower us to share a deeper, fuller faith with our children.

This article was excerpted from Catholic Truths for Our Children: A Guide for Parents (Scepter Publishers).

Copyright © 2012, Patti Maguire Armstrong

Patti Maguire Armstrong

Patti Maguire Armstrong

Patti Maguire Armstrong and her husband have ten children. She currently works as a communications specialist with Teresa Tomeo Communications and worked in the fields of social work and public administration before staying home. Patti is an award-winning writer, speaker and was managing editor and co-author of Ascension Press’s Amazing Grace Series. She has appeared on EWTN, and Catholic TV as well as radio stations across the country. Her latest books, Big Hearted: Inspiring Stories from Everyday Families (Scepter Publishers) and Dear God I Don’t Get It (for children from Liguori Publications), will be released in Spring 2013. To read more visit Patti’s blog and website. Follow her on Twitter or Facebook at her author page.

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