Joel has been having an interesting conversation here and here about Rome Sweet Rome. Also it bears mentioning that Jeremy has joined accepted the invitation to contribute towards Unsettled Christianity with articles of his own.
I have some ties to the RC church. My Grandmother was a devoted Catholic, my mum was raised in the RC church and I was baptised in the church…though later on my mum renounced the RC church and was baptised as an adult in a Baptist church…and us kids were sent to Sunday School at the local Anglican Church.
Later on in life, my mum returned to the RC church to fellowship. The local priests were legendary in the local area. At one time I was the manager of a building supplies business, which was next door to the manse. One night at the local pub – the two priests were there and one called me over. He asked me – your the manager next door…and then seriously said – Its not the swearing that gets me…after all your all hard working men and just being men, its not the noise of the equipment that bothers me – for we get up earlier then that- nor is it the smoke from the BBQ you often have of a weekend or afternoon after work… then his eyes twinkled and he smiled and said… What does offend me is when every afternoon you crack open a slab of beer and don’t have the decency to offer one to me through the fence.
That was unexpected. Some years later I had a powerful conversion experience through the ministry of a Charismatic Anglican church and for 10 years stayed. During that time I become the co-ordinator of a quarterly interdenominational prayer meeting – in which most of the local churches would participate. Including the RC’s. One of the most powerful times was at the RC church. The format of the night would have a representative of each church lead a short devotion into each segment of the night. For this night the priest asked me what I wanted him to speak on – my reply was to seek the Lord and share what ever he thought was right. This was my standard advice to all who were invited to lead.
He shared about what the candles and lighting of the candles signified in regards to prayer and how they were a visual reminder of our prayers going up to God like a pleasant incense to him. It was amazing to watch as each representative from the various denominations shared and built up on what the previous speaker said…
I learn’t a lot from this priest about the power of acceptance. Though I wasn’t ordained as a minister and still fellow-shipped with the Anglicans – he would always invite my wife and I to the yearly pastors cerebration meal that he would host at the manse – telling me that my ministry was appreciated. – He would also hold a large bonfire night each year for the church – fireworks etc…. he taught me that Christians should celebrate the good news. That we should be able to have a good time and to celebrate life and to enjoy ourselves.
It was through this RC church that our church did the Alpha course. The local RC Bishop made a local ordinance that every parish had to implement the Alpha course and it was a blessed time to do it and share with others…
In saying this – I still have reservations about singing songs to the saints, relics, veneration of Mary etc…despite these differences and yes I believe they are big differences of opinion…we were able to fellowship around the cross of Christ and his resurrection as being the main thing.