Thursday, January 23, 2014

Heading home, so to speak.

Well, after last Sunday's adventure to Berean Baptist Church, I decided I wanted to go to something familiar. So, I have decided to go to a Catholic Mass. The parish I have chosen is St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Ogden. St. Joseph's is a traditional, Spanish Neo-Gothic church that is quite beautiful inside and out. (Yes, I have been there before.) You can't miss St. Joseph's Church if you're in Ogden. Next to the LDS Temple in Ogden, it's the most prominent religious building, being both massive and on a hill.

There isn't really a "Who are we?" section of their website, at least that I can find, so I'll talk generally about the Catholic Church. I used to be Roman Catholic. For those of you who don't know me too well, my religious background is a colorful one, but I have officially belonged to two churches in my lifetime: the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (commonly known as the Mormons or LDS) and the Roman Catholic Church. I was raised LDS but left that church mentally at age 17 and publicly at age 18. I have spent some time with a few other religious bodies, including the Greek Orthodox Church and the Episcopal Church, but it was the Catholic Church that proved to be my religious home as a young adult.

What is there to say about the Catholic Church that most people wouldn't know? I suppose I'll just state some basics:

1. It is the largest religious sect in the world, and the largest religious sect in all of human history with currently over a billion members worldwide. For those of you playing the numbers game, that's roughly 1/7th of the world's population that belongs to this one church.

2. The Catholic Church is headed by the Bishop of Rome, commonly called the Pope. Currently, Pope Francis holds this position. Catholics believe the Pope is the successor to the priesthood authority of St. Peter whom they believe was head of the apostles and Christ's representative on earth. The Church also teaches that in matters of doctrine, when the pope is speaking for the entire Church in special circumstances he is infallible.

3. The Catholic Church, along with a few other churches, can claim to be the oldest continuously practiced Christian church on earth with roots of it going back to the earliest days of Christianity, and major developments in it's formation happening in the 4th through 11th centuries.

4. The central act of worship, and what they consider to be the highest, is the ceremony of the Mass. In this ceremony, passages from the Bible are read and a sermon is given. The central act of this ceremony; however, is the consecration of bread and wine, which Catholics believe is transformed into the literal body and blood of Jesus Christ to be fed to them for spiritual nourishment.

I have to admit, I'm sort of excited to go back to the Catholic Church. Though it's not the church of my childhood, I feel like it is the church that had the most impact on the person that I became in adulthood. For a time, I considered joining the priesthood and I still in many ways have a strong cultural connection to the Church. I do not believe in any of the Church's dogma nor any of the superstitions that go along with it. However, the cultural elements of the Church still draw me in.

I will let you all know how it goes.

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