|the Vatican-- Google Earth|
I grew up a Catholic. My mother "converted" from a Protestant world view (no particular denomination although I was christened as a baby in the United church my maternal grandmother attended) during the reign of Pope John XXIII. We-- my dad and younger brothers-- joined my mother in the conversion, although my father was fairly non-committal right from the outset. He sat in on the catechism studies. We all got anointed with oil (confirmation?) about the same time. I was sent away to convent boarding schools for three years, once when I was ten/eleven and for another couple of years in high school.
I appreciated my Catholic experience in my girlhood-- there was an order and reverence that was missing from the chaotic home where my mother reigned, full of anger and impulse. I met God and had a polite, albeit distant, relationship with Him. I received a pretty good liberal arts education in high school from nuns who had gone to university before taking their vows (i.e., they were not necessarily young women who entered the religious life with no life experience, chosen as the 'one' from a large family to be the nun).
But, while my mother's personal ability to induce deep guilt lived on, my Catholic faith did not last beyond high school. I played at it a little for the first ten or so years of my marriage. Our children attended and graduated from good Catholic Schools. I joined the Catholic Women's League (CWL) briefly, my husband and I did Catholic social things when we lived in a small mid-Northern community, went to Catholic Marriage Encounter weekends, and sporadically went to Christmas Eve Masses.
I have many Catholic friends who are Jesus-loving and God-reflecting Christians. I do not mean to be offensive or patronizing here, but my ability to continue as a Catholic began to peter out during times of long, punitive, knee-aching runs at the rosary in front of a plaster Mary in the hallway of the convent, and burnt out altogether as my dear husband became more and more engaged in a Bible-based faith that even interested me.
At first I was shocked that it was possible to ask a person in authority questions like "Why did Jesus [i.e.,do, say]...?" and be treated like an adult with spiritual sensitivity AND a functional brain. In my girlhood such a question would be treated with disdain. No one suggested that we look in the Bible to find the answer. Quite often my questions were addressed with, "That is one of the great mysteries," or "That's just the way it is" or "That is not ours to know". Everyone probably did their best to understand and instruct from their limited understanding. Or likely there were some who took delight in doling out the frustrating answers that they had been given themselves as children.
Here are some things I didn't know as a young Catholic that I am learning about as a mature adult.
The picture in the upper left-corner of this post is of the Vatican. "Vatican"may refer to:
- the Holy See or sancta sedes-- the governing body of the Catholic Church, headed by the Pope and the Roman curia, the hierarchical ensemble of departments which assists the sovereign pontiff in the government of the Catholic Church. A sovereign is the supreme lawmaking authority within its jurisdiction. (I don't know about you, but I see God as sovereign, not man). Early on in my life I saw human fraility glaring out all around me. I stopped believing in "the infallibility of the Pope" (a man, after all) even before I knew about "changes" that have been made to Scripture or how God is described in the Bible:
- (Numbers 23:19 NIV) God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?
- (Deuteronomy 10:17 NIV) For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes.
- (Mark 10:18)And Jesus said to him, "Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.
- (Acts 4:11,12) He is ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone.’Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.
- The word "Vatican" is often used to mean the Catholic Church, especially in attributing doctrine (example: "This came 'out of the Vatican'")
- Vatican City, the territory on the Vatican Hill in Rome under the sovereignty of the Holy See created by the 1929 Lateran Treaty.
- This Treaty was a deal between the fascists in power in Italy and the Holy See... as a sort of trade-off for its loss of lands and power to Italy, the Holy See was made the official religion of Italy-- a church state, against what is taught by Jesus in Scripture: ("And they send unto him certain of the Pharisees and of the Herodians, to catch him in his words. And when they were come, they say unto him, Master, we know that thou art true, and carest for no man: for thou regardest not the person of men, but teachest the way of God in truth: Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not? Shall we give, or shall we not give? But he, knowing their hypocrisy, said unto them, Why tempt ye me? bring me a penny, that I may see it. And they brought it. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? And they said unto him, Caesar's. And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are God's. And they marvelled at him" (Mark 12:13-17). Church and State must not co-mingle.
- In 1984 a personal income tax for the Vatican replaced the state-sponsored religion of Italy...
- The Vatican is a State within a City. According to the Catholic News this geographically tiny state has ambassadorial representation from 174 countries in the world. (Canada has about 161+ ambassadors from other countries, just for a point of reference). I find this very interesting. What do you think?