Why they got it wrong

The Catholic Church makes wild claims about being the one true ChurchJesus established and that its teachingswere passed-down from the apostles via the sacrament of holy orders and apostolic succession. But in investigating the sources of Catholic truth, it is easy to see the flaws in this system.

 * *Link to Bible Commentary* *

How to interpret the Catechism

It seems to me there are two modes of relating to the Catholic Church:

  1. Study mode: The study of everything — the good, the bad, and the ugly, including the Bible, the Early Church Fathers, Church Councils, Church writings (papal encyclicals, papal bulls, etc.), the Catechism of the Catholic Church, etc. (But what to do with all the disturbing and troubling information?)
  2. Devotional mode: The worship of God through the sacrament of the Church, the seven sacraments, Catholic devotions, devotional Bible reading, and other things Catholic. No need to be concerned with all the troubling things from #1.

In Devotional mode, Catholics see the Church as God sees it; in its glorious, idealistic, and abstract goodness, beauty, and purity. While God uses bad things for his purposes and brings good from them, Catholics do not need to be concerned with such questions as whether there would have been a Council of Nicea if there had been no Arian heresy — they merely ignore the bad and accept the blessing of the Nicene Creed.

However, there is some danger for the unwary. Catholics have to keep their wits about them lest they be abused and exploited. For example, those who innocently allowed their children to be molested by pervert priests should have been careful for their safety. If Catholics have a firm grounding in Church Historythey should be able to keep their guard up. They must be wary, but not become bitter or angry.

Sometimes church leaders will demand so much of Catholics. I don't think they are obligated to them unless they have taken vows of obedience. For example, our priest once commanded all parishioners to get our pictures taken for the parish directory. Against my better judgment I complied, and it was disaster. The photographer said nasty things to my young daughter in prompting us to smile.

Additionally, those who don't know Catholic teaching or the Bible may fall into various cultural superstitions thinking these are Catholic. Catholics need to be educated in the faith and the scriptures. Traditions can be very devotional with correct knowledge (sadly, Protestants reject Catholic traditions).

I suggest that Catholics should spend most of their time in Devotional mode (once they have educated themselves as I mention.) There is no good purpose in remaining ever critical of all the bad stuff that happened (and still happens) — Catholics should immerse themselves in Jesus and in his Church.

Studying the Catechism in Devotional mode is very inspiring. Doing this requires ignoring all the contradictions and weird things that I highlight elsewhere. The statements of many inspired individuals throughout church history are included in the Catechism and the editors have done a superb job of bringing order and structure to it all, as well as adding lots of material. Catholics should ignore that ragged, disjointed effect of all this and merely soak in all the wonderful statements of the faith.