Catholics go through a cycle of events in their spiritual lives known as the seven sacraments. Although all Catholics can not partake in each sacrament, the majority receive the Holy Eucharist and are baptized as children. The sacraments are the rites of passage in the Catholic faith. Some of the sacraments require proper preparation and knowledge of the ones faith. The seven sacraments include Baptism, Eucharist, Confirmation, Reconciliation, Marriage, Anointing of the Sick, and the Holy Orders. Faith ties the people of God together. We are united through our belief in faith.
I see the sacraments as the acceptance of faith in God and of our faith. With all the diversity that exists among Gods people, faith in God and To Chrisitan, Jesus Christ is the being that connects us all as one. He played many roles when he was on this earth and is the incarnation of God. In essence, He is God infleshed. While he was on the earth, some viewed him as a healer. I believe that receiving reconciliation and the anointing of the sick would require an individual to accept Jesus as the ultimate healer. The Eucharist accepts that Jesus had the ability to turn bread and wine into himself for his people.
Receiving the Eucharist is the acceptance of the Last Supper and the symbolic meaning along with it. Jesus Christ is referred to as the anointed. At baptism we are anointed with holy oil to welcome us into the Catholic faith. In confirmation we again, confirm and renew our faith and individually commit to the vows our godparents had spoken for us. Again we are anointed with holy oil, symbolizing the truth of Jesus Christ, the anointed one. The sacraments are a rite of passage among the Christian people. We are all tied to one faith and the sacraments are the links that we tie it all together.
Sacraments sometimes required preparation. In preparation of a sacrament, we are taught the underlining faith of Jesus Christ. Through our sacramental practices, we accept and acknowledge the faith of Jesus and who he was. Sacraments bring people of the church together in celebration. These gatherings are common ties among people of faith and their acceptance of God and Jesus. What do catholics and fundamentalist believe about the bible comparison2000-07-04 Conversations about the differences and similarities between Fundamentalist and Catholic beliefs usually end up being more like heated debates than conversations.
A major difference between the Catholic and the Fundamentalist is how they see the Bible. The source of the Fundamentalists’ faith is the Bible. But what do the Fundamentalists believe about the Bible? This is the question I am trying to answer for myself. I will present my understanding of the Fundamentalists’ view of the Bible along with my Catholic view of the Bible. My mission is not to offend, but to open a dialogue between the two views. I know from experience that this is a very touchy topic. The best way to go about conversing with someone of different beliefs, I believe, is to see their belief in its best light.
I believe it is important to develop a sense of respect for the variety of ways people experience the divine in the lives. Keeping that in mind, I give you my interpretation of the Fundamentalist and the Catholic view of the Bible. Both Catholics and Fundamentalists agree that the Bible is a divinely inspired, infallible, and authoritative means for people to know Christ. There are some distinctions between the Catholics’ and the Fundamentalists’ view of the Bible. Both Catholics and Fundamentalists believe the Bible to be inspired by God; they believe the Bible to be the Word of God.
Fundamentalists place most of their emphasis on God as the author of the bible. They do not pay much attention to the human side of the Bible’s authorship. Fundamentalists believe in total word-for-word inspiration of the Bible. The Catholic Church does not teach that God merely dictated words to the human authors of the Bible. To the Catholic the Bible is the Word of God and the work of human beings. Catholics are encouraged to look for the meaning a human writer of a book of the Bible was trying to get across.
To really understand what the writer is telling us, we must know something about the time in which he lived his mode of thinking, and the manners of expression people of his time used. It is difficult to accept the Fundamentalist view of word-for-word inspiration for several reasons. There are no books of the Bible that are the original, autographed works of the authors. Christianity existed hundreds of years before the Bible itself was completed. Many translations of the Bible are not translations at all, but more like interpretations or paraphrases.
Translators might imagine what the original author would have written if he had been writing in Modern English, rather than just translating the actual words the original author had written. Fundamentalists and Catholics believe the Bible to be infallible, or free from error. Catholics do not consider the Bible necessarily grammatically, mathematically, or scientifically infallible. Only the message of the Bible is considered to be without error. Fundamentalists take the idea of the Bible’s infallibility a step farther with their confidence in Martin Luther’s theory of sola scriptura, Latin for “scripture alone”.
The Bible is the Fundamentalists’ only standard of authority in religion. To the Fundamentalists the Bible is the single source for inspiration, and they will not look to any extrinsic source for authority. The Catholic belief about God and his teachings can be found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, a statement of the Church’s faith. The Fundamentalist believes he needs no Church to interpret the Bible’s meaning because the Bible is clear in its meaning; it interprets itself, and that the Holy Spirit directly interprets the Bible for him.
Catholics believe that the Bible does have authority, but that this authority comes from the Church guaranteeing its infallibility. The strongest argument for this would be the fact that the Church wrote the Bible. The Church also defined the Bible by deciding which books made up the Bible as a whole. The Fundamentalist ideas that the Bible is clear, interprets itself, and that the Holy Spirit interprets it directly to him can all be seen as inadequate substitutes for an authoritative, teaching Church. The Bible is not clear.
Peter 3:16 reads, ” . . . there are many things hard to understand that the ignorant and unstable distort to their own destruction, just as they do other scriptures. ” The Bible does not interpret itself, except for example, when a New Testament author quotes or makes a reference to an Old Testament passage. This happens on numerous occasions. In the Gospel of Matthew (2:11), Jesus says, “Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way before you. ” These words come from the Old Testament Book of Malachi (3:1).
Anyone can claim guidance by the Holy Spirit, as evidenced by the rise of the “cult followers” of religious leaders such as David Koresh and Jim Jones. However, to rely on personal or private standards of interpretation can lead to misunderstandings or even tragic results. The Bible denies itself as being the only source of authority. Again I refer to 2 Peter, verses 20-21, “Know this first of all, that there is no prophecy of scripture that is a matter of personal interpretation, for no prophecy ever came through human will; but rather human beings moved by the Holy Spirit under the influence of God.
This idea of the Bible not being meant to be interpreted by man alone without the teaching authority of the Church is evident by the hundreds of different Protestant denominations all claiming to be the “truth” of the Bible. The teaching authority of the Church is needed to guide people in their understanding of the Bible to avoid the unfortunate and often confusing consequences of arbitrary interpretations. The Fundamentalists view the Bible as the single source for inspiration. Catholics look to the Church as a guide in interpreting the Bible.
By understanding the Bible as the Word of God as written by man to be interpreted in light of the time, manner and mode of thinking in its creation, the Catholic religion allows for a clearer understanding of its meaning. As a child, I was quite confused about the concept of religion. For me, religion was believing in God and praying- nothing more, nothing less. As I grew older I realized the reason of my state of confusion- I was practicing two different religions. My mother was raised a Catholic while my father had been raised a Protestant in the United Methodist Church.
I was christened in the Catholic church and I attended a Catholic institute for my first year of school. I studied and took part in the Catholic teachings at school as well as attended mass with my family on Saturday nights. The next morning, I would also attend church with my family in a completely different building- the United Methodist Church. I never really questioned this religious lifestyle but I did take note of the differences between the two customs of worship. A couple of years later, my mother converted to a Protestant and I have been a member of the United Methodist Church ever since.
Now that I am older, I can significantly see the differences between Protestantism and Catholicism. Whenever I step into a Catholic church, the first thing I notice is the structure of the building and the artwork that adorns the ceilings and walls. The building is very spacious and contains rows and rows of seats that accommodate a large crowd. I noticed that in behind each row of seats were padded bars on which people kneeled during certain parts of the service. In contrast to the United Methodist Church, there are a number of statues that surround the church including a statue of Mary.
A very large, wooden crucifix with Jesus on it is positioned in the center of the front wall- the focal point within the church. Throughout the church, a number of intricately designed stained glass windows allow the light from outside to enter. The lighting in the church is quite dim. From this, a solemn and humble setting is felt. Ive been to a lot of Catholic masses and it seems as if the worship at one church is as identical as the next one. The people seem to simultaneously say and perform gestures (the sign of the cross) without even thinking.
I noticed how concentrated the older people were as they participated in the worship. The service also contained a lot of music. A choir situated in the back of the church began the songs and the people would repeat the verse. I thought the choir sang very harmoniously. I very much enjoyed the parts of the service when the choir would sing. I believe that the most important part of the worship service was the Eucharist. The people who took part in the Eucharist looked very concentrated and serious. After receiving the blood and body of Christ, these people prayed intensely on their knees.
I did not participate in this part of the service because I didnt feel comfortable for the United Methodist beliefs about Communion are quite different from the Catholic beliefs. It was not hard for me to follow the sequence of the worship service. I had been to other churches before and I pretty much knew what came next. I participated as much as I could in the service. I sang and I prayed but I was not able to recite the short phrases and make the gestures within the service. I did not feel lost nor confused but I did feel as if other people knew that I wasnt Catholic because I didnt fully participate in the service.
Unfamiliar surroundings can never really be comfortable. I did not feel as welcome as I thought I would be. It seemed as if the people were there just to worship God and didnt exactly acknowledge anyone else. I wasnt really encouraged to participate, instead I felt I should try to participate. I didnt receive the warm reception that I see at my church. In some ways, I felt out of place but I didnt let that feeling get in between my time with God. Between the Catholic church and the United Methodist church, I saw more differences than similarities.
The structure of worship is quite similar but the manner at which it was performed is very different. The only prayer used in both churches is the Our Father. The arrangement of the building is also similar as well as the music played. Another similarity is the Priest of the church and the Pastor of my church are both male, however I have been a member of a church where the Pastor was indeed a female. After understanding both worship services, I am able to appreciate religion more. Nowadays it seems as if people go to church for the wrong reasons and others dont even go at all. For me, church is a very important factor in my life.
I go to church not only to talk with God, that can be done basically anywhere. I go to church to be with my family and friends- to be a part of a community of people. I feel as if my own faith is strengthened when I see my family praying together. In addition, experiencing a different religion enables me to learn about the different teachings about God which leads to personally enlightening my spirituality. Catholics vs. Episcopalians, is there truly a distinction? When I recollect on my religious tradition, Catholicism, I ponder on just how different it is in practice and theology from that of protestant traditions.
When examining I came to compare how deeply Catholics and Episcopalians are divided on questions of political and religious leadership? Through research I have concluded that Catholics and Episcopalians are vastly separated in political and religious leadership and this factor is the foremost distinction between the two traditions. Since the establishment of the Episcopalian Church we can see the link between the Church of England and further with the Roman Catholic Church as stated, It was part of the Anglican Communion, formally organized in Philadelphia in 1789 as the successor to the Church of England in the American Colonies.
In points of doctrine, worship, and ministerial order, the church descended from and has remained associated with the Church of England. The history of the church began with the first permanent English settlement at Jamestown, Va. , in 1607. (Encyclopedia Britannica Online) The establishment of the Episcopalian Church was in fact for political and religious leadership freedom from its ties with The Church of England and in conjunction freedom from the Catholic Church. The differences in church organization are prevalent and are the main distinction between the two traditions.
The Episcopalian organization is described as; In the organization of the church, each self-supporting congregation (parish) elects its lay governing board (vestry) for temporal affairs and its rector as spiritual leader. Congregations that are not self-supporting (missions) are directed by the bishop of the area. In a given area the parishes and missions make up a diocese, headed by a bishop. All clergy and laity representing all congregations meet annually in convention to conduct the business of the diocese. The convention elects the bishop to serve until death or retirement.
The dioceses and mission districts belong to the General Convention, which meets triennially. All bishops are members of the House of Bishops, and the House of Delegates is made up of equal numbers of clergy and laity. The Executive Council, the administrative agency of the General Convention, is headed by the Presiding Bishop (elected by the House of Bishops), who also presides over the House of Bishops. (Encyclopedia Britannica Online) In contrast the Catholic Churchs political and religious leadership is organized in a manner that follow a distinct order.
This order can be grouped by papal authority, the Roman Curia and the college of Cardinals, the college of bishops, ecumenical councils and the priesthood. Catholics also hold the Vatican as the capital for Catholicism and place it as a global leadership source. The study of these two traditions consisted of two visits to St. Johns Episcopal Church and two visits to St. Thomas Moore Catholic Church. The comparison of these traditions stimulated interest in me due to two factors.
First, I am Catholic and have been raised in the Catholic tradition, which stimulates much interest in the Episcopalian tradition. This will allow me to play both roles as an insider when I attend Catholic Church and as an outsider in the Episcopal Church. Secondly, until this religion course I was unaware of the details in the Episcopal Church and wanted to further examine the tradition. In preparation to visit St. Johns Episcopal Church I felt a discomfort due to unknown rituals, physical appearance of the church and its location in the downtown area.
I thought a good method of visiting the church would be to invite an Episcopalian friend of mine. He agreed to visit the church with me and addressed the concerns I had in visiting the church. As I soon learned the issues I was concerned about, should not have been a concern at all. I found that the rituals were almost identical to that of the Roman Catholic faith. Rituals such as spoken prayers, hymns that were sung and receiving communion were done in an almost duplicate manner. I was fortunate enough to visit St. Johns Episcopal Church on two special occasions.
On my initial visit they had baptism of newborn infants. This was performed in the same manner as the Catholic method with the exception that Catholics do not perform baptisms during the regular Sunday mass. On my second visit it was Saints Sunday in both traditions. This experience almost leads me to conclude that there was no difference in practicing rituals. Both traditions reflected on given Saints during the mass and explained how one should try to follow the examples of these Saints. The appearance of both churches truly enhanced my experience as a visitor.
Visiting these local churches reminded me of the pulchritude I witnessed visiting Catholic churches in Spain this past summer. Both churches are laid out similar in that they are in a T shape. The pulpit was located in the middle where everyone is allowed to view the priest at the pulpit, although if you are seating along the sides, you would have a side view of the mass. The method in which the pews, windows and ceiling were constructed were also arranged similarly. The two noticeable differences were the way the choirs were seated and the absence of a statue of Jesus on the cross.
The choir in the Episcopal Church was seated to face each other and was significantly larger in quantity than that of the Catholic Church. After researching why the Episcopalian Church does not have a statue of Jesus on the cross, I was unable to determine the reason, however I thought that it is a notable difference. Being raised in a middle class family, I was accustom to attending church in a casual style wearing jeans and a nice shirt. My expectation of the attire at this particular Episcopal Church followed was correct, formal dress.
Everyone in the church was in formal wear, males wore suits, and females wore long dresses. This dress phenomenon I do not believe is linked to a particular faith, more to the social class that makes up the church members. One aspects that Catholics seem to appraise more than Episcopalians is the Virgin Mary. It is not that Episcopalians do not recognize the Virgin Mary, however they generally do not hold the caliber of importance as Catholics. In my visits to the Catholic Church, I found statues of the Virgin Mary and people praying over her statue.
Other ritual practices which I noted to be different was how Catholics have confession and pray the rosary. Though Episcopalians do not practice confession, it should also be noted that the Catholic Church as changed the magnitude of confession in the late twenty century. I have found that Catholics are adopting the protestant way of belief of forgiveness which has the general idea that God gave us Jesus to have a one-on-one relationship with God through Jesus therefore eliminating the need to confess to a priest. This argument is quite controversial and will continue to be a topic of discussion for decades.
When discussing the use of the rosary to a Episcopalian friend of mine he stated that the tradition does not practice the use of a rosary. This coincides with not having confession, since praying the rosary is often something done after confession. In concluding I would have to say my experience in surveying these different traditions was extremely educational. It is interesting how much one can learn by exposing themselves to other traditions and learning unfamiliar aspects of ones tradition. The research conducted led me to affirm my statement that there is a strong divison on political and religious leadership between these two traditions.