I am Catholic. I love my faith. I love my Jesus. I was brought up by incredible parents who taught me not only the foundations and fundamentals of my faith, but lead the way in teaching me how to personally love Jesus and know Him. They are incredible examples to me of what serving Christ really means.
A HUGE part of my faith journey though was really accepting my faith for myself, which was around high school age. I went to a non-denominational Christian high school. It was empowering, rich and sometimes very challenging being the lone Catholic on campus. I kept that fun fact a secret for like 2 years....I was not very brave back then. Once I "came out of the closet" as a Catholic on campus I was pleasantly surprised that my friends didn't demand my head on a spike, but rather lovingly bombarded me with questions about my faith. They wanted to know more, they wanted to understand, they wanted to appreciate- meet me where I was at and love me. I was blown away. These people were not out to get me, were not out to have me repent of my "wicked ways", or have sneaky ideas of how to get me to convert. They just accepted me, all of me. We built a bridge.
We need to start building A TON of bridges. How much more can we accomplish for the heavenly kingdom if all those who love and serve Jesus Christ made a united front and really got dirty and did work for HIM....together. Myself and a few other amazing women (who rock my world!) are trying to do our part in this work of building bridges. We have been brought together by Christ, our beliefs in how we practice our faith varies, but that is what makes it beautiful. Ecumenical Friendships is fertile ground for love to grow.
First up this week ironically is myself, so I will turn it over from here to Kristen from When at Home to intro this series.
Growing up in the charismatic church, we learned a little bit about the Catholic faith and how our denomination and church came to be. Whether intentionally or not, what was taught to us about the Catholic church was quite simplistic. We were taught this generalized view of the church and of what the Catholic people were like and to be honest, I pitied them. These poor Catholics were so caught up in their religion and their practices that they would never be able to experience the freedom that comes from a real relationship with Christ. I'm embarrassed to even acknowledge that I'd prayed for some of my Catholic acquaintances to be freed from the bondage of religion so they could truly know Christ. Sigh. There have been a few relationships over the years that have shown me the folly of my protestant ways, but none more gracefully and lovingly than my friendship with these ladies I'm about to introduce you to. Over the next few weeks, every Wednesday will be dedicated to breaking down the walls that have been built between the Catholic and Protestant church. Each person will answer the same few questions and we'll all get to know each other's faith a little deeper. Read through to the bottom of the post to find out how you can participate in this movement!
First up is my beautiful friend, Cassie Kent. She blogs over at Kent Heartstrings and she's pretty much the bees knees. She's a party animal and has more energy than anyone I have ever met in my entire life. She's crazy and I love her. Craziness featured below :
How did you come to your faith?
I learned my faith first from my parents. They brought me up in the Church, I received faith formation and all the catholic sacraments. But I would say I made my faith my own in high school. I went to a Protestant school and was asked a lot of questions about my Catholic faith and I realized I did not really know all the answers, so for the first time I actually searched for truth, discovered my faith for myself and really loved it! It became mine and I wanted to live it out even more.
What has been the biggest challenge you have faced with your faith?
I would say the biggest challenge I have faced with my faith is not becoming complacent, mediocre or lukewarm in my faith. It's very easy to become comfortable, especially in the Catholic faith where the tradition and routine of the mass can tend to lend itself to being redundant (even though it shouldn't!), so people settle into their routines and do not stretch themselves in their faith. I do not want to be complacent I want to strive to love God better, serve Him more fervently and always be discerning in seeking His will for me in my life.
What does Ecumenical Friendships mean to you?
Ecumenical Friendships, to me, means building bridges instead of burning them. Celebrating the commonalities and embracing the differences that exists in our faiths. It is a very powerful thing to stand side by side with your brother or sister in faith and fight the battle ultimately we are all on. We are all on God's team, the enemy is satan- not each other. We can make a greater stance again the evil one if we unite together against him, instead of focus on the idiosyncrasies they lie between us.
Did you have any incorrect perceptions about what the Protestant church was like? What were they and who helped you see things differently?
I think the greatest incorrect perception I had of the Protestant faith is that it is shallow. Protestants are only practicing their faith because it makes them feel good, they only go to church because the music sounds good, or they only go to church because the pastor was once a famous person now turned pastor or its a "trendy thing". The good friends I made in high school who were truly living out their faith and seeking Jesus, brought me to realize this perception is not true. They had a real deep understanding of Christ and had many powerful experiences of Jesus impacting their life. So many people have flipped this perception on its head. Billy Graham, um hello?!! Kristen and Christie too my bloggy buddies, wow what strong women of faith, seriously they are so very inspiring!
Why do you think cross-denominational friendships are important?
I think they important because it keep us honest. They can challenge us and our faith, keeping us on our toes and always reflective of the truth in our lives. They give me a real reason to ponder the truth in my faith, and gives me the opportunity to dive into it deeper, or if something is unsettling really bring it to light, ask questions and seek answers until I am satisfied. Again, I do not want to be complacent, I want o be stretched and challenged in my faith and I believe great well formed and good intentioned cross denominational friendships can do that!
If you could break down one stereo type about your church, what would it be?
Wow. What one to choose, I feel like the Catholic Church seems to be so greatly misunderstood. I will choose our devotion to Mary. No she is not more important that Jesus, no we do not worship her. We love her. We adore her, because she deserves it and well, If we are truly looking to Jesus as an example to live as a Christian, he LOVED, respected and adored his mother, so we should only follow suit. Also, she was human, like fully, and so she is a great example of how to live our life completely devoted and given to Christ. The "yes" she gave to God to bring Christ to the world was epic! Jesus would not exits unless Mary let God work through her. So as a Catholic, she is kinda a big deal, but again...she is not God.
If you could share one thing that you've learned about Protestants with other Catholics what would you say? I would share with other Catholics that we have a great amount to learn from Protestant faiths on how to make our faith personal. How to really grow in a relationship with Jesus and make him real in our lives, because after all he was made a man that we might know him and in turn love him. I feel we have a lot to grow in ways to that bring us closer to the person of Christ. I love and respect the intimate relationships many Protestants have with our Lord and I believe it's an essential part of really making our faith mean something and growing in it. I want to know him, I want to love him more, I want to learn.
Cassie is a stay at home mom, that never seems to really be at home. She is married to her college sweetheart and they have two kiddos in San Diego, California. She loves getting crafty and being real and writes over at Kent Heartstrings.
Do you want to be a part of the Ecumenical Friendships movement? Here are a few ways to participate in the movement :
Share your photos and stories of friendship and faith on instagram using the hashtag #ecumenicalfriendships. We'll pick a few stories to feature every month.
Email your answers to these 7 questions to email@example.com with a short bio and a headshot and I'll feature you in an upcoming Ecumenical Friendships blog post
Build Bridges. Start the movement. #ecumenicalfriendships
Build Bridges. Start the movement. #ecumenicalfriendships