Hi, guys —
I was baptized in the Catholic faith this
past Easter Vigil after being a Baptist for
the past 30 years. There are still some problems
I'm having with certain teachings of the Church.
It's not that I don't believe in certain doctrines;
I just don't quite understand them all. I've
been beating myself up so bad over this I'm
starting to question if I should just go back
to being a Baptist because I feel Catholic
teachings are too hard to follow.
- What is the best advice you can give me
Thank you so much!!!
God Bless you.
Can you advise a Catholic convert who is struggling to accept hard-to-follow, Catholic teachings? }
Hi, Shawn —
Thanks for your question and . . .
Welcome to the club!
Most cradle Catholics struggle to
understand many doctrines so it's
no wonder that converts do.
thing you have to do is stop beating
yourself up over this. We are dealing
with mysteries. There is a reason
why they are called mysteries — they
are mysterious. They are revealed,
we see them, we accept them, but
we don't always get them.
You spent 30 years thinking like
a Baptist. You've got a certain approach.
You are used to certain paradigms.
You start out asking different questions.
You're not going to think Catholic
over night and you shouldn't anyway.
As you contemplate these mysteries,
you'll learn to get them in
ways that a Baptist mindset can reconcile. Those explanations, so long
as they are consistent with Church
Teaching, add to the Church. Because
I was a Protestant Minister, I often
start out thinking and approaching
a Catholic doctrine from a Protestant
mindset. That allowed me to be able
- translate the doctrine for Protestants
- give an entirely different perspective
that a cradle Catholic might not
So once you stop beating yourself
up, the next thing to do is to enjoy
your honeymoon with Christ. Get away
from the doctrine and immerse yourself
in the Catholic experience.
the sacramental life
the Scriptures devotionally, and
- find a devotion you are comfortable
I'd suggest the Rosary, but I think the Divine Mercy Chaplet might be
better to start with for a former
If you really have a hard time with
something specific, feel free to
write us about it and we'll try to
help you out.
Enjoy your new intimacy with Christ
in the sacraments, read your Bible
and your Catechism, pray, and don't
worry about the rest.
Becoming a Catholic doesn't mean
you understand or even know all that
the Church teaches.
It means you have answered the call
of the Master to follow Him in His
Church, the call of the True Shepherd of the flock.
Thank you so much!
I just get so depressed at times
because I feel like I am always having
to go to Confession.
Hi, Shawn —
. . . I feel like I am always having
to go to Confession.
That just means your normal, at least
from my view.
I know many wait to do it once a year
or some are just scared to go to Confession. I
do take great joy knowing my sins
are absolved from Jesus Christ by
His ministers here on Earth. I just
get caught up on being scrupulous
For example: I went to Confession
today, but did not mention one thing
that was on my mind, even though
I was forgiven for this before.
I didn't explain it the way I should
have and forgot to mention today
so I still feel guilty, but I know
Christ has forgiven me.
It's not that you have issues on
doctrinal teachings, but you're having
difficulty living out Catholic moral
I think we need to clarify the general
doctrine of what it takes for us
to commit a mortal sin.
For a sin to be mortal, all three conditions must be met:
- It must concern a grave matter
as determined by the Church and
you must know it's grave matter.
- You must commit the sin with
the full consent of your will, and
- You must have sufficient time
to think about what you are doing.
Usually the first condition is there.
If anything violates the Ten Commandments
you are pretty much dealing with
grave matter, but let's say you just
woke up, you are half asleep, you
are walking around your room and
you stub your toe, at which point
you blaspheme, swear, or take the
Lord's Name in vain.
Well, the first condition exists,
but none of the others exist. You're
half a sleep so your ability to give
full consent of the will is impaired.
You are in pain, so that also impairs
your judgment, and you acted almost
instinctually. You didn't have
time to think about what your response
would be; you just reacted to an
impulse and perhaps by habit.
That doesn't mean you don't want
to develop more self-control so that
when you stub your toe, you can control
your impulse but the circumstances
indicate you did not intend to sin,
therefore you're culpability is mitigated.
The same applies to other sins. The
most common of which (especially
among young boys and men) involves
controlling lustful thoughts and
actions. In these cases, there is
often a long history and a habit.
This impedes one's judgment, ones
ability to give full consent of the
will, and often times, but not always,
a sufficient time to reflect. The
act itself remains grave matter and,
in many cases, it can be a mortal
sin so it's always best to go to
The thing is to change the way you
think about Confession.
- You don't ever get sick and tired
of going to Communion, . . . do you?
In like manner, Confession is an
encounter with Christ and therefore
you receive grace from the sacrament
that strengthens you and repairs
I suspect what you are really sick
of is the embarrassment of having
to admit your weakness.
You are not alone in feeling that
way, yet it is when we admit our
weakness that we allow God's strength
to shine through. Sometimes God allows
us to continue in certain sins because
he is trying to rid us of the King
of sins called pride and self righteousness.
I hope this helps.
Under His Mercy,
That was a great explanation!
That's one thing I was concerned
about: (your stubbed toe analogy).
I always ask God to forgive me right
away and to give me wisdom and understanding.
When I do sin, I immediately go to
Him in prayer for forgiveness.
My parish priest recommends the
same thing. He also suggests reflecting
at the end of the day on what you
did and praying a perfect Act of
Contrition to cover any sins you
may have committed.
I do have a mental disability and
suffer from (OCD) Obsessive Compulsive
Disorder, panic disorder, anxiety
(higher than average), and depression,
so my confessor tells me I become
too scrupulous at times but God always
knows the intentions in our hearts
Hi, Shawn —
One thing that I found helpful in
my return to the Catholic faith is
that unlike Protestant churches,
you don't belong to the Catholic
Church because you believe it tells
the truth according to what you believe. Rather, you belong because
you believe it is a truth-telling
In other words, you trust that the
Body of Christ, the Bride of Christ,
your Mother from above (Galatians
4:26), will tell you the truth, leaving
the burden of discerning what is
true - largely to the Church, rather
I believe this,
this, and this, and so does the Catholic
Church, therefore I will join.
This way you accept not only what
the Church teaches now but what she
may teach in the future.
This is helpful because there will
always been those niggling things
that bug you if you look at it as:
- Gee, is the Church correct on
- Is the Church correct on that?
because you are judging the Church by your own standards, and you are
fallible. Get out of the Protestant
mind set where you are the canon
and rule by which everything is measured.
Trust that Jesus protected His Bride
and your Mother, the Church, from
all error in what She solemnly teaches
(cf. John 16:13, John 14:26, 1 Timothy
3:15, Jude 3).
Persevere. We're here to help you
through your questions.
Hi, guys —
One of the problems I was having
with the Protestants teachings was
If I understand the issue correctly,
Catholics believe in Oral Tradition
and the Bible while Protestants believe
in the Bible alone.
As a Baptist, for years, I could
see the arguments on both sides;
kind of like picking verses out of
the Bible to make it fit for any
situation you find yourself in.
- How would I refute that tradition
came before the Bible?
- I know the Bible was not completed
until 393 A.D., or so, but the Old Testament
Scriptures were around way before
that, so technically, didn't the
Scriptures come first?
Even among the people of God in the
Old Testament, Oral Tradition came
first. The Old Testament was written
down over the centuries, while Oral
Tradition was always present.
As for the New Testament, you only
have to ask if there was a New Testament
Bible written when the Holy Spirit
came down on Pentecost to give birth
to the Church. The first century
Church was flourishing without the
Gospels being written down.
Oral Tradition always precedes,
and gives form to, Written Tradition
and the Written Word,
which in turn, gives Sacred Tradition its
You can do a search on our site for tradition and sola
scriptura. For example:
There is also a good explanation
of the Catholic teaching on tradition
here and there.
The Old Testament came first, but
not the New Testament, which is mostly
what we get our doctrines from. Also,
if you actually read Scripture, you'll
see that the Word of God is only
identified either as an oral proclamation
or as something that can be understood
(Or as the Second Person of the Trinity.) Never is the Word of God identified
That is not to say that Scripture
is not the Word of God, only that
Scripture doesn't testify to this;
it's a tradition.
The writing of the Bible was completed
around A.D. 90 or 100, but the canon
we have today was not finalized until
393 A.D. (It was a question of which
books are in it, not a matter of
finishing the text.)
As for the idea that tradition came
before the Bible, this should be
self-evident, even with the
Old Testament canard. Genesis, for
example, was oral tradition for thousands
of years before Moses wrote it down
As for the New Testament, I think the earliest
New Testament book was written
in the 50s, which leaves about twenty
years without any New Testament Scripture
at all. It wasn't finished, as I
said, until around A.D. 90. That's
around sixty years.
- How did the Church operate without
any New Testament, or without
a complete New Testament, especially
in an age of widespread illiteracy,
and especially when it cost large
sums of money to hand-copy a manuscript?
People don't think about this, but
unless you were rich and well-educated,
private individuals did not have
copies of the Scriptures. So this
idea that everyone would just whip
out their King James and read it
every day to figure out what they
believed for themselves is an anachronism.
As Jude 3 says, the faith was entrusted
to the saints, and it was the
Church, not the Bible, that was the pillar
and foundation of the truth (1 Timothy
To biblically augment my reply, check these passages out as well:
15 Hold fast to the traditions
which you received, whether by
word of mouth or by letter.
17 Watch out for those who
cause divisions and put obstacles
in your way that are contrary
to the teaching you have learned.
6 Keep away from every brother
who does not live according to
the teaching you received from
(2 Thessalonians 3:6)
25 The grass withers and the
flowers fail, but the word of
the Lord stands forever. And this
is the word that was preached
(1 Peter 1:25)
13 And we also thank God continually
because, when you received the
word of God, which you heard from
us, you accepted it not as the
word of men, but as it actually
is, the word of God, which is
at work in you who believe.
20 'The Redeemer will come
to Zion, to those in Jacob who
repent of their sins,' declares
21 `As for me, this is
my covenant with them,' says the
Lord. `My Spirit, which is on you, and
my words that I have put in your
mouth will not depart from your
mouth, or from the mouths of your
children, or from the mouths of
their descendants from this time
on and forever,' says the Lord.
13 What you have heard from
me, keep as the pattern of sound
teaching, with faith and love
in Christ Jesus. Guard the good
deposit that was entrusted to
you — 14 guard it with the
help of the Holy Spirit who lives
(2 Timothy 1:13-14ff)
21 It would have been better
for them not to have known the
way of righteousness, than to
have known it and then to turn
their backs on the sacred command
that was passed on to them."
16 He who listens to you, listens
to me; he who rejects you, rejects
me, and he who rejects me, rejects
Him who sent me.
Hi, Shawn —
It's also not a matter of Oral Tradition,
but of Sacred Tradition. What we
believe is handed down orally, is
also handled down in the way we pray: in the Liturgies and in the extra-Biblical
writings of the early centuries.
You can find pieces of Sacred Tradition
works of the Church Fathers.
These represent a living and breathing
Tradition within the Community. By
looking at these sources, many of
them pre-dating the Canon, we gain
an understanding as to how the early
Church interpreted Scripture so
if I pick up the letters of Polycarp,
or Ignatius of Antioch, I'm going
to find valuable insights into to
These insights, along
with Scripture itself, assist the
Magisterium in applying the Word
of God in every generation. These
ancient documents were written by
folks that were not far removed from
the Apostles. Many of them were disciples
of one of the original Twelve Apostles.
What they have to say about Scripture
is certainly more important than
what some guy said in the 1500's, who has
disconnected himself from Tradition.
Ignatius of Antioch was a disciple
of John the Apostle.
- Seeing that Ignatius of Antioch
also references Onesimus (who
Paul wrote about to Philemon)
as being his contemporary bishop
in Ephesus, don't you think Ignatius'
writings carry weight?
As Protestants we tried to put everything
in to this nice neat box, Shawn.
We looked at the Bible like a legal
textbook. Catholicism doesn't do
that so much.
We look for principles in Scripture,
we look for the mind of God but
we don't treat it like a
how to manual.
Thank you so much for the info!
You all are such blessings to so
many out there.
May God Bless each of you!