Thursday, March 19, 2009

Holy Envy, Part 2

For an introduction to Holy Envy, and Part 1 of this series, click here.

I love the Catholics. I used to not understand them very well, and growing up I thought they were nice people, but misled. I never really appreciated Catholicism the way I have to come to appreciate it in the past few years. Here are some of the things I envy about Catholicism:

* Catholics have been largely responsible for maintaining the Bible that the rest of the Christian world now uses. Monks have copied and illuminated sacred texts for centuries. Those of us who love the Bible owe the Roman Church a great debt of gratitude for preserving it.

* I love the Catholic veneration of Mary. I always used to disparage it as idolatry, but as I have begun my own search for the feminine divine, I have come to love their love of Mary. Women always have to put themselves between the lines as they read the scriptures, to dig really deep to find female role models who they can emulate, but Mary is one of those characters who stands in the foreground of the New Testament as an exemplary woman. And in my search for women who have been well treated throughout history, I can find no better example than the adoration the Catholic Church has maintained for the Virgin Mary.

* I love the architecture and monumental size of cathedrals. Such soaring beauty and towering heights inspire me, lift my spirits, and turn my thoughts heavenward.

* I love the 14 stations of the cross. Though some of the styles of paintings turn me off, and I realize that many of the 14 stations aren't canonically supported, I think it's awesome to have a chance to walk around a chapel and think of Christ's sacrifice for me--bit by bit, not in generalities, but in specific details.

* I love the rosary. I actually bought a few here in Jerusalem. I love the structure of prayer, the idea of meditation as we pray, and the Five Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary. I love the attitude of praising God, of meditating on His Son's sacrifice and death, instead of turning a prayer into a brief "thanks for the stuff I got, please send more."

* I love the doctrine of transubstantiation. I don't believe that the host and wine of communion actually become the body and blood of Christ, but I can love the heartfelt desire to unite with the Divine by partaking of something that is holy, that imparts holiness. It's a powerful symbol and a beautiful belief.

* I love the liturgical periods of time that separate the sacred from the profane. I love the idea of Lent, Advent, and Holy Week--periods of time when there are changes in the service, in the hymns, even in the altar cloths and priest's robes--all to demonstrate a difference from ordinary time. I love the feeling of anticipation, of preparation, of renewal that marks these special times.

* I love the music. Some of the most beautiful and moving music ever written has been written in Latin, for mass, or for some other Church celebration. I have a CD with some beautiful high church music sung by an accomplished choir, and I sincerely believe that CD will be playing on constant repeat at the Pearly Gates.

OK, now it's your turn. Here's your challenge: Find something you love in the faith of another--something you can admire, something that you can admit you lack in your own faith, but that moves you.

Picture from


  1. I served my mission in Belgium, which was at the time about 98% Catholic. I'm sure there is a far heftier Islamic population now than back then. One thing I noticed about some of the Catholics I met: they were confused about the divinity of Christ. One man, a teacher in a Catholic school, believed Christ revived in the tomb and escaped to India to become a guru of some sort. He claimed to have a picture of the tombstone where his body was eventually interred. Although I see a couple of omissions from your list (like, how about buying up popes and priests and reigning with blood and horror on this earth--hmmmm? We don't talk about that any more.), I can see your point in admiring all these things. I might also add the anonymity and sanctity of the confessional. LDS ecclesiastics would do well to learn discretion from their Catholic counterparts. Wouldn't it be lovely to leave your sins with a faceless voice in a box who is not going to be sitting across from you at the next ward potluck?

  2. I am a catholic woman from Spain and love the way you see us. May be your heart is catholic. Dios te bendiga!