I hope I don't offend my Protestant friends. I did gain some valuable friendships during the time we were in a non-denominational church. There were also some things I really appreciated. I appreciated the often passionate worship, sense of community and the openness to hearing God speak. Also, I often enjoyed bridging the gap and dispelling myths Protestants have toward Catholics.
My list however for what I appreciate now that we are back is longer. I share this with you because there are many Cradle Catholics who don't realize what they have and is why converts often make the best Catholics.
I appreciate that when we go to Mass, the focus is not on socializing, but on prayer and preparing ourselves to encounter the Living God!
I love and appreciate the Mystery that is there!
I appreciate the sense of the Sacred and the visible signs that point to the invisible.
I appreciate the beauty, the statues, the incense... These things magnify God and they draw my attention upward, helping to open my heart to the things of Heaven.
I appreciate that Catholic worship isn't just about the music. There are many ways to worship God. The highest form of worship for Catholics is the sacrifice of Mass.
I have a deeper appreciation for the Eucharist and the depth of intimacy that is available through receiving Jesus in the Eucharist. The Eucharist also helps me have a deeper awareness of the habitation of God within me at all times.
I appreciate, that surprisingly, I am more accepted now with the ways I hear from God than I was when we were in a church that is supposed to accept those things. I guess that shouldn't surprise me. Many of the Catholic Saints had dreams, visions, prophetic words, etc.
I appreciate that Catholics recognize the Communion of Saints. There are some Saints that I feel very close to and that's not considered weird. I know they are praying for me and helping me draw closer to God.
I appreciate the authority of the Church. I appreciate that, when it comes to doctrine and moral issues, it's not just left up to my own interpretation of scripture, especially because there are many modern issues that aren't even addressed specifically in scripture.
I appreciate that there are boundaries and a correct understanding of grace; A cheapened form of grace goes around the cross instead of through it. It makes allowance for every kind of sin instead of offering people redemption and freedom.
I appreciate the safety and protection that comes with the covering of the Catholic Church. I never experienced so much spiritual warfare as I did when we were Protestant.
I appreciate that I no longer have to defend certain doctrines and morality. The Church does that for me so I can just focus on loving people.
Just like natural seasons, I appreciate the liturgical seasons. There is always something to look forward to. There is a rhythm but it is never the same.
I appreciate that before Christmas and Easter, we recognize the season of Advent and Lent as a time to prepare our hearts.
I have a deeper appreciation for Mary. Catholics do not worship her like some Protestants suspect but in honoring her and recognizing her beauty, I think Catholics have a better appreciation and respect for women, their role and their femininity.
Now I do recognize, sadly that much of the Catholic Church got away from Orthodox Catholicism in the 70's. Like St. Pope John Paul II predicted however, we are coming into a new spring time in the Church. The Church even looks different than it did twenty years ago. I guess, people are realizing that throwing out the baby with the bathwater wasn't such a good idea. The Holy Spirit is definitely at work! There is a new desire and longing, especially among young people for the Sacred, Holiness, and Truth.
As I am writing this and reflecting on the things I love about being Catholic, I feel a deep anticipation especially for Mass in a couple weeks.
This year, Sunday, June 4th is the feast of Pentecost. Pentecost is the day the Church was born. Tom and I were here, in Indiana last Pentecost for his interview. We got to attend Mass at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel last Pentecost. It was definitely recognized as a high feast day! They had lots of incense, chanting, and beautiful music! It was very beautiful and you definitely could feel the presence of the Lord!
I also am very hopeful for the future of the Catholic Church and anticipate what the Holy Spirit still has in store!
Matthew 16:18 - ...And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it!
*I had to edit because I originally thought this Sunday was Pentecost Sunday because last year it was the middle of May :).