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What to do When you Disagree with a Catholic Teaching

As a newbie to Catholicism or as someone exploring the faith, you will likely find one or more teachings that you just can’t get your head around — or flat out disagree with. Oftentimes, these are teachings like the saints, Mary, purgatory or contraception. Don’t worry about this; you are not alone! Most of us struggle with multiple teachings as we learn more about the faith.

Here are some suggestions to help you if you find yourself stuck in this situation:

1) Keep searching – Read, read and read some more. Listen to Catholic radio and watch EWTN. Look it up in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Find Bible verses about the issue. Ask your RCIA leader or another Catholic well educated in the faith. Keep reading different explanations and really delve deeply into the whys of the teaching, and I promise, you will find one an explanation eventually that makes sense to you. I found that every issue I did not understand I eventually came to terms with. Several issues for me included contraception and purgatory.

Gifts of the Visitation, Ave Maria Press, Denise Bossert2) Write a petition – I just finished reading “Gifts of the Visitation” by Denise Bossert (Ave Maria Press, 2015), a convert to Catholicism, who explores the Visitation (when Mary and Elizabeth meet and John the Baptist leaps in his mother’s womb) in detail and shares along the way her conversion to the faith. The daughter of a Protestant minister, she felt called to Catholicism after her father’s death, but especially struggled with the Church’s teaching on Mary’s Immaculate Conception. This teaching is that Mary was conceived in her mother’s womb free from original sin.

After many attempts to understand this teaching, her RCIA leader advised her to write a petition to Mary, asking her to show Denise the truth. What a wonderful idea! Here’s what she wrote:

Mary, if you are as the Catholic Church says, and if you love me, please answer this petition. I want someone to communicate with me by your inspiration. Mary, I want the message to come from you to the ears of one who could know no other way. Please choose someone who, for me, would represent the universal Catholic Church. Then I will know I am right where I am supposed to be and that the Church’s teachings are all correct, terra firma, especially the teachings about you. Please answer my petition before the end of the year–I know, that’s just two weeks.

Thinking it unlikely she would receive a response, she was surprised that the day after she wrote the petition, she received a letter from a woman she had written to after seeing her on EWTN’s The Journey Home. The letter, dated Dec. 8 had hand written beside it “The Feast of the Immaculate Conception.” That was her answer.

While God sends me these types of messages and reassurances quite often — now that I’m looking for them! — I too had a WOW moment after praying to my confirmation saint, St. Therese of Lisieux, for a specific intention. Known for sending roses as signs, as soon as I woke up the next morning and stumbled outside to pick up my paper, I opened it to find giant picture of a rose across the whole paper and a story about decorating your home with roses. Thanks St. Therese!

How did you come to terms with a Catholic teaching you were struggling with?


Obedience, A Tough Christian Virtue

Catholic prayerObedience has been the theme for me today. First, an unusual dream that seemed in an odd way to speak to obedience, then a blog post I read on Mary’s incredible obedience to the word of God and today’s 9 a.m. Liturgy of the Hours New Testament reading:

“Free your minds, then, of encumbrances; control them and put your trust in nothing but the grace that will be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. Do not behave in the way that you liked to before you learnt the truth, but make a habit of obedience.” — Peter, 1:13-14

This passage really spoke to me. It’s not one I’ve seen before but sums up perfectly what I’m striving for right now. I am trying to restructure my life more toward God and the path of righteousness, rid myself of the unproductive ways of life before I gained faith. I’ve slowly made some changes over the last year and have set religious resolutions for 2013 that are more strict and specific.

But the only path to success in maintaining those is obedience. It is tough, especially for us Americans, so independent minded, to be willing to follow the ways of someone/something other than ourselves and what we want.

The passage speaks of “habit” — doing the new tasks continually until they become ingrained. Instead of watching TV for another hour at night, I’m going to read the Bible. Instead of sleeping in an extra hour on Fridays, I’m going to get up and go to 6:30 mass.

It’s all about willpower and surrendering the will. I made the choice last year to give up what I thought was my dream only to realize and accept it wasn’t God’s will. I began to listen to the other ideas He had for me and I continue to be open to follow his lead, whatever it may be.

The benefit of obedience to God: peace and joy. Pretty good perks 🙂