Skip to comments.A Visit to Heaven (an Evangelical's visit to a Catholic seminary)
Posted on 05/03/2011 11:22:07 AM PDT by NYer
My brother is a Roman Catholic seminarian, and I visited him at Mount Saint Marys Seminary the last couple days to see him installed in his second-to-last office (acolyte) before hopefully being ordained a priest (in about two years). I’ve been hoping to visit John for a long time, and finally got the opportunity.
My Evangelical brothers and sisters typically misunderstand and mischaracterize the Catholic Church, its leaders and theology and practices, so I felt compelled to write this to them, an “open letter” if you will.
First off, much of what Evangelicals believe about Catholicism, what they believe and who they are, is flat out incorrect. I will not dedicate any space here to that, except to say that people don’t listen to each other all that well in the 21st century, even though it’s easier than ever, technologically, to do. We should all try harder.
So let me tell you what I found among the more than 150 seminarians I spent a couple days with.
I found men who love Jesus with a passion and wholeness that I find rare among Christians of any stripe in these days.
I found men who struggle with the same kinds of things that we all do, regular guys who are dealing with what we all deal with… with the amazing support of Christ, of their brothers, and of the church.
I found men who can chuck a frisbee way farther than I ever will be able to.
I found a place where worship is very deep, even sublime, and regular and intentional and heartfelt… and amazing, and where prayer is an intentionally regular and essential and practiced part of every day. I found that Jesus was palpably present in every room and hallway.
I ate one of the tastiest meals I’ve had in forever.
I found generosity that is inspiring.
I found a group of guys that, when it’s time to have fun… have some serious fun.
I found real intelligence, insight and wisdom being leveraged for the kingdom of Heaven. Almost any of these guys could probably lead, and lead well, in any secular company and probably make a lot of money.
I found the presence of Christ in community that I was, frankly, a little envious of.
I found a love of Christ’s body on earth that you don’t find very often anywhere.
I found that not everybody will make it, but if they don’t, it is handled with grace and love. I didn’t find any ambition, though, really.
I didn’t actually really hear anybody say anything that wasn’t uplifting and encouraging.
I met leaders and instructors who care for those under their charge with passion and charity.
I found the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit elevated and exalted and magnified in every single thing. I found some things that are not my particular practices, but even those things did nothing but lift up and exalt our Lord.
Men, what a blessing you were to me! I have news for you. Heaven will be just like this!
If these men are any indication of the kinds of people who will emerge as the priests and leaders of the Catholic Church in this new century, there are great days ahead for them, and more and more people are going to experience the Gospel in real, tangible ways.
Note: In the past few days, this post has become almost all of my internet traffic for the entire year, receiving thousands of hits. Thanks for sharing my joy in people who are passionately in love with Jesus and His Church.
But… I have received some comments (VERY few) I am not allowing to be posted here that were, in my opinion, inflammatory or negative. Sorry. It’s my blog… You’re welcome to start your own… but divisiveness among those who love and follow Jesus, especially divisiveness built on prejudice and ignorance and even past hurts, is not something I can stand any more at this stage in my life. My life’s background has included mainline and evangelical Christianity as well as Roman Catholocism (which I grew up in). I know what I speak of, and many of you that are saying the things you are saying are flat out incorrect, and I’m sorry for your hurts or feelings, but they have no place here. Blessings!
I’m guessing that this is one of the seminaries ran by real Catholics and not the pooftas who used to run most of the seminaries.
It’s interesting that he doesn’t address any doctrinal differences, which are significant.
It’s like saying, “I met the most wonderful person, and that person is a Buddhist/Hindu/Muslim/JW/New Ager/Etc., and because they’re so nice, their religion must be true!”
The author was talking about Mount St Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg Maryland.
A remarkable place, if you ever have a chance to visit.
They can throw a frisbee, can cook, have serious fun?
What about the doctrines which are at the heart of the divide?
This is obviously not a serious article.
I found some things that are not my particular practices, but even those things did nothing but lift up and exalt our Lord.
I don't think Buddhist, etc. is an apt comparison for who the author obviously views as fellow Christians.
And that is just my opinion as well!
I found men who love Jesus with a passion and wholeness that I find rare among Christians of any stripe in these days. ... I found a place where worship is very deep, even sublime, and regular and intentional and heartfelt and amazing, and where prayer is an intentionally regular and essential and practiced part of every day. I found that Jesus was palpably present in every room and hallway. ... I found the presence of Christ in community that I was, frankly, a little envious of. I found a love of Christs body on earth that you dont find very often anywhere. ...I found the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit elevated and exalted and magnified in every single thing.
You write (in reply):
Its like saying, I met the most wonderful person, and that person is a Buddhist/Hindu/Muslim/JW/New Ager/Etc., and because theyre so nice, their religion must be true!
No. 8 is for you, too.
Thank you ... it’s good to see folks actually read the article.
Seriously- talk about burying the lede.
Indulge us a little.
On a day to day basis on this forum we have to deal with the same line of reasoning but emanating from the opposite direction.
You know how it goes......."Catholic priest embezzles funds.....", "Catholic priest indicted in sex abuse scandal.........", etc etc.
So once in a while, when somebody has something good to say about Catholic priests/seminarians, allow us the luxury of posting it and enjoying it.
People notice what they want to notice, and emphasize what they emphasize.
I can't speculate on their reasons for doing so ... that would be mind reading.
I can notice, and comment on, the objectively observable fact that they have chosen to notice and emphasize one thing and not another.
When we notice the leftist secular press engaged in selective reporting, we (most of us) call them out for the leftist anti-Christians that they are.
Great, but you'd think that an evangelical would expand on that a little unless he/she is unaware that it's the doctrines which are the root of the catholic/protestant debate.
A couple passing remarks about the trinity or the love of God just doesn't sound convincing to those who know that doctrine is the heart of the thing, not frisbee, fun or food.
Mount St. Mary's is one of the few seminaries mentioned favourably (highly favorably) in Goodbye, Good Men.
You honestly don't think the above alluded to the differences in doctrine? I surely did and it jumped right out at me that the writer found the differences lifted up and exalted our Lord and therefore didn't need to dwell on them.
Perhaps you're reading with a jaundiced eye, it happens to all of us from time to time.
He "found the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit elevated and exalted and magnified in every single thing" ... and you want him to "expand" on that????? "Every single thing" seems quite expansive, to me.
doctrine is the heart of the thing, not frisbee, fun or food.
I read the article. It's not about frisbee, fun, and food.
It's about a visit to a group of young men, pastors in training, whose love of God and His Church is visible in "every single thing".
Visible even to a Worship Arts Pastor from a decidedly different background, who adheres to a decidedly different doctrine.
That could be my testimony, if you add Jesus Freak, Pentecostal, and Charismatic Calvinist to the mix.
In the aftermath of my born-again experience, I went through a spell of being virulently anti-catholic. While I still recognize doctrinal differences that bar the way back to Rome, I also have to honor the real presence of Christ, and of Christians, in that part of the church universal.
Why don't you enlighten us.
With the exception of rejecting papal primacy (and with it infallibility) and possibly the Deutero-Canonical books can you name a SINGLE doctrinal point upon which ALL Protestants disagree with Catholics?
And just so we're clear, by ALL Protestants I am including Lutherans and Anglicans. I've noticed, especially on FR that Evangelicals and Calvinists have developed an opinion that they somehow speak for the majority of Protestants and this belief is patently false.
Testimonies abound...but good doctrine is the bedrock of true christianity.
No doubt someone could go into some whacked out snake-handling church service in Haiti and say they saw the love of God, Son and Holy Spirit. But does that church teach bibical truth? Likely not.
I'm not saying that Mount St. Mary's does not teach good doctrine because I don't know the place, but I would never know that it does from this person's description (but I do have to say that the shrine to Mary depicted in a picture on this thread does strike me the wrong way).