My Mom was a proud Catholic but had no understanding of spiritual things

While growing up, my Catholic family wasn’t excessively religious. Sure, we went to mass every Sunday, and last year’s blessed Palm Sunday fronds were displayed in the living room, but that was about it. Our parents never prayed with us and I don’t recall a Bible ever being in the house. My five sisters (all now atheists or agnostics) and I were baptized as infants and then received the sacraments of first penance, first communion, and confirmation along with our parochial school classmates. Those rituals were required and they were something you just did without even thinking about or questioning. Any talk about “accepting Jesus Christ as Savior” or “having a relationship with Christ” would have been seen as radical and cultish. In other words, religion was somewhat important but not to be taken too seriously unless a baby needed to be baptized, a couple got married, or someone died.

One day, a couple of Mormon missionaries were canvasing the neighborhood and my mother answered the door. Among other things, they told her how the “Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” cult had been “restored” by God in the early 19th-century. My Mom self-satisfyingly shot back that HER church had been established in the first century so she didn’t need to listen to them and shut the door. She retold this story several times with pride and great relish.

My Mom had no knowledge of church history or comparative theology. Like most Catholics, she could not explain her church’s complicated rituals and doctrines. She went to mass for one hour on Sunday and that was it. She never went to confession, which doomed her to hell according to her church’s dogma. But she was Catholic and proud of it. Her church was the one, true church, “by gravy” (one of her favorite expressions), and that was the end of any debate.

Most Catholics, just like my Mom, take great pride in their church and its claims to its historical pedigree. They boast about their church having been established in 33 A.D., like the bumper sticker above, but they have no knowledge of how the early church devolved from preaching the simple Gospel of salvation by God’s grace though faith in Jesus Christ alone into a worldly institution that became increasingly preoccupied with ritual, wealth, political power, and absolute control of its membership. To put it plainly, the church went off into the worldly-minded weeds and became Catholicism. And age doesn’t count for much. If age were the determining factor for authenticity then Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Confucianism would have the advantage over Christianity.

No, the genuine church is not an institution that was fashioned after the imperial Roman model of ancient times, but rather the church is the spiritual body of Christ that is made up of all those who have repented of their sins and accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior by faith alone. This proud and worldly attitude that Catholics have, that they are members of the one, true church, and this affiliation places them in a favorable spiritual position by rights of their baptism, is sadly prevalent.

“And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham.” – Matthew 3:9

What was the first / original church? Is the original / first church the true church?

21 thoughts on “My Mom was a proud Catholic but had no understanding of spiritual things

    1. Thanks, David! Catholicism is such a complex religious system, it’s a challenge to present it in a form that’s easily understandable. Most Catholics could not explain the basic dogmas to someone else.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Your description of your mom reminded me of other Catholics I met who don’t know much of the doctrines of Catholicism but insists it is the original church and hang on to that; I appreciated your point of reduction to absurdity the argument that if its old it must be true by invoking other false religions that are old. Good point.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Indeed they are; what’s sad is the point you made about your mom, that there is a pride in the institution that itself with its teaching would send them to hell, and of course also their false doctrine also in reality sends them to hell; what a sad predicament; what a need for us to preach the Gospel

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks, Jim. I think it would be fair to say that the pride factor within Catholicism has been somewhat dampened since my parochial school days when the church was at the tail end of its militant outlook, but it’s still a factor. Yes, Catholics are proud of their institutional church but, in general, disregard its basic requirements.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Catholicism is so strange because it still has these very militant factions but also priests and members who are extremely liberal. Most don’t care either way.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Excellent post, brother! This is such an important point, I have had people tell me they go to mass because they like to be involved in the church that has history. We should go to church to give God glory, which we can only do by the grace given by the Holy Spirit when we are saved by faith in Christ alone! God bless you, dear brother!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, sister! Glad you and yours are home safely after Thanksgiving! Yes, the history, tradition, pomp, and ceremony appeals greatly to the flesh. Paul had no pomp and ceremony in his jail cell and he had turned away from most of his previously valued traditions (except to win some), but I’m sure the worship going on in that cell was intense. That’s what I want! Thank you and Lord bless you, too, dear sister. I appreciate your prayers and you have mine.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m very happy to be home, there’s nothing like a week with very little internet and a 16 hour drive to make you appreciate home! I was blessed by your post today, I’m thankful to have reliable Internet again so I can read!
        Paul is such a prime example, I can’t imagine what it must have been like to have been chained to him day and night! He explained that he would boast only in his weakness, no pomp no ceremony you’re right, brother. There’s so much about religion that can appeal to the flesh. I know it kept me mildly content for over a decade. I pray God does use your post to call to the hearts of those caught up in traditions that have no life, Truth, or way! Grace and peace to you, brother!

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, the Lord doesn’t want us to dwell on the past (except for a few lessons here and there). We’ll keep running the race. Have a great new day in the Lord, brother!

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s