Saturday, July 9, 2011

Four Ways that Roman Catholics Are Awesome

I have to give credit where it’s due: Catholics are pretty good at what they do. Here are some ways in which Catholics leave Evangelicals in the dust:

1. When it comes to the afterlife, Catholics put their money where their mouth is
“It’s all nonsense,” says Elfrida in E. Nesbit’s The House of Arden, “—I mean, it’s only history.” And that’s how most Protestants experience the communion of believers in the Church. We experience the Church in our time as a point in a linear progression of the Body of Christ, a Church made up only of those who are currently alive. Sure, we believe that the dead are in Heaven, but in practice we’re cut off from them, unable to communicate and interact. Without a way to live them out, our beliefs get rusty. Heaven gets fuzzy. Peter and Paul and Mary Magdalene are superheroes from history, but they aren’t part of our family right here and right now.
When a Protestant is having troubles, she calls up the people at her church and says, “Will you pray for me?” When a Catholic is having troubles, she calls up the people at her church—living and dead­—and says, “Will you pray for me?” That’s asking for intercession from all the saints. You can ask your next-door neighbor, your favorite Apostle, or your dear dead great-grandmother to pray for you. Catholics remind everybody else that Great-Grandma hasn’t faded into nothingness or gotten stashed away in one of God’s safe deposit boxes. Catholics remind everybody else that the Church doesn’t work like Elfrida’s history: our past is real and our communion is unbroken.

2. Ditto for believing that death has lost its power
Catholics don’t just ask the dead to pray for them; they also pray for the dead. That’s not because Catholics believe that God’s grace isn’t powerful enough to save people before they die. It’s because they believe that God’s grace is so powerful that it can save people after they’re dead.
3. Less brattiness when debating theology
Catholics have a precedent of arguing doctrine using logic, historical example, and a knowledge of diverse interpretations of Scripture, instead of saying “Because the Bible says so!” and expecting you to cave instantly
That’s not to say that their doctrines are naturally going to be superior to all conflicting doctrines. It just means that you’re much less likely to find yourself on the receiving end of the Christian version of “Because—because you’re just wrong, booger-head!”
Note: if you are engaged in a debate with a Catholic and he says “Because the Holy Father says so!”, just give up. It’s the same thing as the Bible line.
4. The hats
Seriously. They’ve got any kind of silly hat you could want to see. Sometimes the Pope catches a cardinal walking around with a hat that isn’t silly enough, and he sternly calls the cardinal over and puts another hat on top of the old one.

That's what's happening right here in the upper left


  1. I would make note that the Orthodox are equally awesome in this regard, to say nothing of the other Catholic Rites within the Catholic Church aside from us Romans. I mean this for the Hats as much as the doctrines.

    To be more serious though, I tend to mostly go to Saint Patrick and Saint Paul, the first being my namesake and the other my Confirmation Saint. I also love the Virgin Mary (being chief among the saints). I also think I want to add Dorothy Day to my list, even though she has yet to be officially canonized.


    Litany of the Saints in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.

  3. Re: above:

    I'm an American, and to us, all non-Protestant Christians are Roman Catholic, all Latinos are Mexican, and only residents of the United States are American.

  4. I would add to the list that Catholics have always been huge respecters of the arts! They've made so many important contributions in art and music.

    ...and the hats. those are great too.

  5. Ah, my inner iconoclast isn't a fan of Church-sponsored art. Like Judas, I think the money is better spent elsewhere. Individual members of the Church should create art as an expression of being made in God's creative likeness, but I don't like art in my church buildings.

    Anyway, the Dutch rocked the Renaissance.

  6. I loved the post. I'm Mennonite but my wife is Roman Catholic. So, I supposed we're a one household ecumenical movement. Catholicism fascinates and infuriates me in equal measure. Sometimes I'm even fascinated and infuriated by the same things. Shalom, phil