When people discover I’m Catholic, certain questions tend to come up time and time again. Below I’ve listed four that I hear most often, followed by a brief reflection.
- Why do Catholics worship Mary? (Notice that they don’t usually ask, Do Catholics worship Mary? They simply assume we do.) We do not worship Mary. But we do honor her as our mother and the mother of our Savior. Those who have gone before us have eternal life in Heaven and they are still members of the Church. They still care about us (even more than they did on earth) and they still pray for us (again, more than they did while on earth). And we still care about them. And pray for them. And we even ask them to pray for us just like we ask those still living on earth to pray with us and for us. Mary, since she was chosen by God Himself to bear His Son, is honored very highly by Catholics. And she’s probably the most humble person who ever lived, after her Son, that is.
- Why do you Catholics honor the pope so much? The pope (which means “father”) is the Holy Father of the Church, the family of God, so we honor him as we do our fathers in our immediate families. Christ instituted the office of the pope when He gave Peter the keys of the kingdom, making him prime minister of that kingdom, which is the Church. (See Matthew 16:19, 18:18; John 20:23; Revelation 1:18, 3:7; and Isaiah 22:22.) The successor to Peter continues to act as prime minister in Christ’s kingdom. We honor the pope our prime minister because we honor Christ our King.
- Do you have to stop thinking for yourself to be Catholic? Good Lord, no. I’ve had to use my intellect more since becoming Catholic than I ever had to before. I studied Catholicism for nearly two years before I was received into the Church thirteen years ago…and I’m still studying. Plus, the more closely united to Christ I become, the more He enlightens my intellect and purifies me, my intellect and my understanding. I don’t want to stop thinking and I don’t have to. But I do want to think more and more with the mind of Christ and His Church, and less and less with the mind of the world.
- My friend says the Catholic Church has the “fullness of truth”. What does that mean? As Catholics our spiritual heritage includes, but is not limited to, the Bible as the word of God, but we recognize Christ as the Eternal and Living Word made flesh who dwelt among us. We also recognize Christ as the Way, the Truth and the Life. Christ Himself founded our Church, and His apostles and disciples handed down everything He taught them. Everything. And the Church has kept those teachings intact. All of them. We haven’t thrown out any of His teachings. That would take a lot of chutzpah. A lot. (It would also take a kind of authority that no one has. No one. Not the Pope or anyone else.)