My journey into the Catholic faith has been a rocky one, largely because of the "official" representatives being wrongly educated about it or having opinions that differ from it. It is a sad fact that some priests and nuns are ignorant of some of the finer points and cannot be relied upon to convey correct information.
When I first became converted, I was 38 years old. I had never had any religious education and I had never been baptized. I went to a huge church in Beverly Hills that was near my work and I joined the RCIA class (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults.) Half way through the class, the nun in charge hauled me into her office and announced that it would be "years" before they would agree to baptize me because I had been divorced.
This nun was wrong. Divorce was not a sin that would keep me from baptism. It is civil remarriage after a divorce that would have been the problem because it would have been adultery. The first marriage is the only marriage recognized, absent a decree of nullity (annulment) from the church. I was not married, nor was I dating. I was leading a perfectly chaste and holy life. I tried to convince the nun that she was wrong but she refused to listen to me. I ended up being baptized at the Episcopal Church next door. I had wanted to get baptized and later become a Catholic nun, but I was turned away from the Catholic Church because of the poor education of that nun. The trajectory of my life was dramatically altered.
I repeated this story to a new young priest a year or two ago and he adamantly insisted that no one who had been divorced could be baptized, even if they were not living in sin with another person, dating or having sex. The education of these priests is lacking some crucial information. This particular misunderstanding serves to prevent converts from becoming baptized, a fairly serious matter.
I used to know a woman who, though raised Lutheran was heavily involved in several Eastern religions for many years. She was a Quaker for a while, at the same time continuing some Hindu practices. She took from the smorgasbord of an astonishing number of religions, picking whatever appealed to her. Somewhere along the way, she got connected with a Catholic priest who had gotten interested in the Zen religion and had become a Zen teacher in addition to his priestly duties. She reported to me that he had given her his "permission" to take communion in any Catholic Church she chose! She spent years taking communion in all sorts of Catholic churches and even tried to get in line for communion at my very conservative and orthodox Byzantine Catholic Church, but I stopped her from doing it. She knew I would notify the priest if she tried it, so she sat back down, but I realized that she must have taken communion in that church several times before, because she had told me that she had attended several services there.
This woman had no way of knowing that the priest who gave her permission to receive communion in the Catholic Church was absolutely wrong and was encouraging her to do something extremely harmful to her soul. She did not realize that the priest did not have the authority to give her this permission. I distanced myself from this woman when she began to print lies about the Catholic Church on her Facebook page and she lobbied for change of doctrine in the church, as if the church was a democratic institution and one could simply vote for a change in the faith! It simply does not work that way. The Catholic faith is not changeable according to the whim of some Zen-dabbling priest or some non-Catholic critic.
It is natural that a person will go to the priest at their local church for advice and guidance, but many times these days, that guidance is error-filled.
I keep hearing stories like this. None of these people are aware that they have been led into sin by clerics who are either ignorant or disobedient. When the official teachings of the church are in conflict with the words of a priest or a nun, we must follow the official teachings. No one has the right to change them.
Who can we trust?
Since it has become clear that the local official representatives of the church can not be relied upon to deliver the official teachings of the church, and many priests on the internet are likewise renegade priests who campaign against the official teachings, the only way I can be sure to know what the faith actually teaches, is to do a lot of studying, read the Catechism, the Encyclicals and church history. Catholic Answers is a good web site for knowledge about official church teachings, as are people such as Jimmy Aiken.
EWTN's website also has many educational documents, and the Vatican has an official site where you can read all the encyclicals. I will put some links on the bottom of this blog post.
I want to strongly encourage each one of you to please get to know your faith, really know it, by availing yourself of all the legitimate sources. Do not read the work of priests or nuns who lobby for change of the doctrine of the church. It was given to us by Jesus Christ himself, and even the Pope doesn't have the authority to change it!
How can we be faithful Catholics, after all, if we do not even know the faith?
THE HOLY SEE (READ ENCYCLICALS HERE.)
THE CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH - ONLINE
God bless us all on our journey. Keep studying!
Silver Rose Parnell
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