Many Protestants question if Catholics are Christians, challenging their faith with questions like:
- Have you accepted Christ as your Lord and Saviour?
- Are you saved?
- Have you been born again?
- Are you filled with the Holy Spirit?
The average Catholic is reduced to silence with these strangely-worded questions and cannot adequately explain their faith and spirituality in terms a Protestant can understand and accept. Basic differences in culture and vocabulary are one of the reasons Protestants and Catholics often do not connect with each other as brothers and sisters in Christ.
Have You Accepted Christ as Your Saviour?
I am embarrassed to admit it but I have often attended ecumenical conferences and tucked my crucifix and medal under my shirt so the Protestants would not identify me as a Catholic. If you also feel intimated by Protestants who question your salvation, consider the words you utter at every Mass where you proclaim Christ as your Saviour:
A: We proclaim your death, O Lord, and profess your Resurrection until you come again.
B: When we eat this Bread and drink this Cup,we proclaim your death, O Lord, until you come again.C: Save us, Saviour of the world, for, by your Cross and Resurrection, you have set us free.
Remember, Catholicism is, most importantly, an experiential faith, a living relationship with Christ. A Catholic is not a person who merely accumulates intellectual knowledge about God nor simply fulfills tradition and the letter of the law. Pope Benedict and Pope Francis have repeatedly emphasized that Christianity is an encounter with Jesus.
Many people perceive Christianity as something institutional — rather than as an encounter with Christ — which explains why they don’t see it as a source of joy.Pope Benedict XVI
We must always have the courage and the joy of proposing, with respect, an encounter with Christ, and being heralds of his Gospel. Jesus came amongst us to show us the way of salvation and he entrusted to us the mission to make it known to all to the ends of the earth. Pope Francis
Yet, somehow we Catholics mistakenly believe the phrase “a personal relationship with Jesus” is a Protestant slogan even though it is proclaimed right in The Catechism of the Catholic Church. The following excerpt clearly states the importance of a personal relationship with God in the lives of Roman Catholics.
The Church professes faith in the Apostles Creed (Part One) and celebrates faith in sacramental liturgy (Part Two) so the faithful might conform to God’s will in the Ten Commandments (Part Three). To believe, celebrate, and live this mystery demands a personal relationship with the living God through prayer (Part Four). ”Prayer is a surge of the heart, a simple look toward heaven, a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy” (St. Therese of Lisieux).
Forty years ago, when I was still a Protestant, I looked at Catholics with suspicion. Catholicism seemed like a cult that worshiped Mary and idolized statues. I pictured Catholics rattling off memorized prayers as clouds of eerie incense billowed around them and candles illuminated their pagan rituals. Ironically, I now endure similar misconceptions about my Catholic faith from my intelligent, educated, evangelical sister who was a missionary for ten years and has been a pastor, married to a pastor, for the last twenty-five years. Even though she knows I have “accepted Jesus as my Saviour,” she is still worried I am not saved.
Perfected Only in Unity
It is time to forgive and to seek forgiveness for ancient feuds rooted in the Reformation. It is time to listen to each other with open hearts, in a spirit of humility while not relinquishing the truth revealed by our Catholic faith. Only then can Christ unify His people and fulfill His mission on earth through us. We must examine our own denominational prejudices in the Light of Truth and take Christ’s prayer for unity at the LastSupper to heart:
that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. (John 17: 21-23)
Copyright 2016 Melanie Jean Juneau