It’s no secret that teachings of the Catholic Church can often cause controversy. It’s been that way since the very beginning and it is the direct result of the desire of Church leaders to seek God’s truth over popular opinion. In recent times, it seems that the media’s ability to take quotes out of context to present a certain point of view has contributed to a lack of understanding to what the Church is really teaching.
Bishop Fulton Sheen once said, “There are not one hundred people in the United States who hate The Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they wrongly perceive the Catholic Church to be.”
If there is a point of view that the Church holds that you struggle with, I encourage you to take action. Become a detective and do a little bit of investigation before you write off doctrine as outdated and out of touch. Use these tips to guide you towards discovering truth and meaning in your life.
6 Things to Do When You Don’t Agree with the Teaching of the Catholic Church
1. Make sure you understand what the Church really teaches.
So much of what we think is truth has been fed to us by media or passed down from generations. Take time to study what the Church teaches by going directly to the Church. There are some great resources to help you with this. The Holy See offers an amazing searchable online database that includes the Catechism, papal teaching, writings of the saints, and much more. If you need to start with something not quite so intense, both YouCat and Tweeting with God offer concise and easy-to-understand explanations. Another wonderful resource is Catholics Come Home.
2. Spend time reflecting on why you disagree.
After you’ve done a little bit of investigating, take some time to think about why you disagree with the stance of the Church. Write down some questions you have and do a bit of journaling. Is there an event that has occurred in your life that is influencing how you feel? Is the teaching something that would bring about a life change or be challenging for you if you chose to embrace it? What types of emotions come forth when you think about the theology surrounding this issue? Who was the person who first presented this to you?
3. Meet with a priest or spiritual advisor to discuss.
When you have a question about your health, you seek the opinion of a doctor. If it’s your car you’re worried about, you head to a mechanic. In the spiritual life, when we have a question or concern, we should head to an expert in the field, just as we would with any other issue. Find a priest (it doesn’t have to be your parish priest) who would be willing to sit down and discuss some of your questions with you. If you can’t find a priest to meet with, ask for recommendations for a spiritual advisor from your diocese.
4. Visit Jesus in Adoration.
If you have never been to Adoration, now is the time to try. Most Churches offer this opportunity to be with Jesus once a week or more. The best thing about this is you don’t have to do anything; you just show up. You can bring your list of questions with you, a journal, and a Bible if you want to, but you can also just sit in silence. This is a great place to pray “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”
5. Be patient with yourself and the Church.
It may take you years to understand the Church’s stand on some things, and others you may never grasp. Be patient with yourself and with the Church. Don’t give up pursuing the faith and seeking to understand. As the Lord tells us in Matthew 7:7, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”
6. Join a Bible study or faith community.
Being a part of a small group within the Church will greatly benefit you in your pursuit of righteousness. Most likely you will encounter people that have experienced the same doubts and frustrations that you have. Listening to and learning from others can be instrumental in helping you find answers to your questions.