Posted by: Jay | February 26, 2008

A Mormon at Mass

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My wife and I have some friends that are Catholic. Occasionally, we talk about religion (though we have avoided so far talking about the specifics of our faiths). I casually asked if I could come to Church with them one Sunday and they enthusiastically said yes! I was excited because I had never gone to a Catholic Church before. What made it even more great was that my wife decided that she would like to have our boys experience a Catholic mass since they are studying Latin and had also read about the Catholic Church for home school. She also agreed with me that it would be a great opportunity for them to see how others worship God.

My sons were not as enthusiastic as my wife and I. To them it was just two more hours of church. They dreaded having to go to their friends’ Church that they were unfamiliar with. That all changed once we got there and they found out that there was food, specifically cookies and donuts. I almost laughed out loud when my youngest son leaned over and said, “Dad they don’t believe the same as us…” I was expecting some great childlike epiphany but then he continued, “they have toys in their classes”. So I knew then that both my sons were converted to the Catholic Church as long as they continued to supply toys and sweets.

Though I didn’t understand everything that was going on, I found the visit very enjoyable. I even met a few people I knew. My son’s soccer coach and a colleague of mine. Everyone was very, but not overly, friendly. The priest actually gave a very insightful sermon that I enjoyed a lot (I think I felt the Spirit:). My wife and I were invited to attend the confirmation of our friend’s son in May. We of course said yes. I think it will be fascinating to watch and we are happy to support him and his family.

The mass was not exactly what I expected. It had a lot of the same elements as the Episcopalian services I had been to before. I was surprised to see a band in the corner of the room (something I always associated with Evangelicals). I also noticed some other similarities to the Baptist services I have attended in the past. A collection basket was passed around (I’m not a huge fan of this, though I understand why they do it) and we “greeted” each other with a handshake and a friendly “peace be with you”. Both things I had experienced at my Baptist friend’s Church. Though I wasn’t surprised that the services were similar to the Episcopalian Church, the Baptist similarities did surprise me. Maybe they shouldn’t have, I just always thought of the two as very different from each other.

Now before you think that I’m going to join the Catholic Church I have to say there are a number of things that would take a miracle for me to accept. However, I chose not to dwell on those things and just enjoy the experience; as a result I had a great time. In fact, maybe I’ll go again some time. Next time I’ll go to Sunday school.

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Responses

  1. Many years ago, I used to go to midnight mass on Christmas Eve with my friend and her family. I always enjoyed it. These past several years, I’ve kind of made it a tradition to watch the broadcast of the Pope giving Midnight Mass at the Vatican on Christmas Eve. This year, as I listened, I also sent my sponsored child from El Salvador an email describing what he was saying and how I felt about it. (Sending my Salvadoran child an email on Christmas Eve is another tradition I’ve recently started.) This last Christmas, the Pope talked about not forgetting the poor, only his sermon was way more beautiful than I can describe. I felt he was very inspiring to listen to, and I told Jesus (the name of my sponsored child) that. My daughter’s Episcopalian school has midnight mass on Christmas Eve. When she is older, I would love to attend.

  2. I think it’s a great idea to expose ourselves and our kids to other religions. In fact, DH and I have decided to go a few times this year to other churches. Not to look for another place to worship, but to get some religious diversity in our lives. We especially want our kids to see that there are kind, loving people everywhere – not just one church. I feel like it’s an invaluable lesson to learn. We’ve taken them a few times to a local non-denominational Christian church where we live but we also want some exposure to other religions that are more defined in their beliefs.

    I’ve also always wanted to go to an Easter mass and I think this year will be the year!

  3. good for you for trying new things.

  4. SS,
    How is the change affecting your children? Do they get confused when you go to another Church? My kids took it as bonus time with their friends. I think I could see some kids begin to ask why they’re going to different churches. They also may be taught things while there that would cause some confusion or anxiety.

    Before we went my wife and I made sure our kids understood that they didn’t have to participate if they didn’t want to (we tried to be as casual about this as we could). I had a slight fear that one of them would share some “Mormon theology” and be reprimanded in an unloving way. Luckily, this did not happen, in fact, the teachers were very loving and nice to our boys.

    We talked to them about what they learned in class afterward and it seemed to be pretty run-of-the-mill “vegitales” kind of stuff. However, I could see where some non-LDS teachings could cause confusion in little children that aren’t capable of understanding there are several ways people can view God.

    Tim,
    Thanks! Although I give my wife the credit for the family going. Even though I wanted them to go, I would not have forced it on them. In the past we have gone to other Churches together, but it was mostly because of family and/or some special event that was occurring (e.g. wedding, birthday, holiday).

  5. We haven’t really gone in our present state of spiritual confusion (other than a Christmas concert) so it’s difficult to say how they will react. We’ve just asked them what they talked about in class and it was just the basics as well. Okay – they did make a “Happy Birthday Jesus” craft which made me laugh. You wouldn’t see that kind of thing in Primary, that’s for sure!

    Anyway – we’ve tried to be open with them about different religions teaching different things. I’m not sure they grasp that concept yet so it will be interesting to see. We have also just been really pushing the idea that there are good people everywhere and we should look for the good in individuals.

  6. I am a Catholic and I was looking around on Mormon blogs to see what Mormons think of us Catholics. I am frankly surprised.
    Anyways, I would warn the person thinking of going to the Catholic Easter Vigil. All the converts are baptized and confirmed at Easter Vigil, so if there are allot of converts, the mass can last for a long time. Most masses are about an hour on Easter Vigil without the converts, it may be an hour and a half, but depending on how many converts there are, it can take hours. A few years ago I went to one that lasted 3 hours. Try also to ask a few Catholic friends who are more concervative where they advise you go. Right now there are many priests in the Catholic Church who do not say the mass according to the directions of the Catholic Church, so make sure you go to one with a good priest.
    EWTN (the Catholic TV station) always has a BEAUTIFUL Easter Vigil.
    I must say that Easter Vigil is the most beautiful mass, and has the most symbolism and it is just inspiring. To me at least.
    Yours Through Our Lady,
    Margarite

  7. Jay,

    I can’t begin to explain how much I admire your openmindedness (is that even a word?)

    You are so loving and so caring, and such a good example to me. When I first came to this blog I was a bit of a newbie in the LDS faith, I kinda had my head in the clouds :) and I didn’t understand people questioning my new faith.

    Recently I have had the same questions, and when I ask my LDS friends for answers they get really freaked out. I don’t understand this, and so I feel I don’t have anyone to talk to. Did you have this same problem?

    Anyways, I’m struggling right now, and I have caused a little stir in my branch (I didn’t mean to). But I admire you, and the way you have handled your skeptisism, and that you don’t put the people or the church down, but you still hold them accountable and at the same time you keep such an open mind.

    When my husband comes home for good, (in three months!) We want to start attending other churches as well. We may find something better, and we may find that the LDS church is best for us. Kinda like you don’t know what you had til it’s gone kind of thing.

    Anyways, I found out recently that my husband has had questions all along and that he was afraid to talk to me about them. It broke my heart and I felt SO bad that he felt that way, It really made me take a step back, and look at everything through new eyes. So now my head is out of the clouds, and now i’m totally confused! :(

  8. Steffielynn,
    It’s good to hear from you again! So you finally let EJ get to you? (No offense EJ). Last I “talked” to you, you were very strong in your testimony. What happened?

    As for talking to members about the Church controversy, yes I have had that same problem. As I’ve said in other posts, I think members react that way because they don’t know how else to react. In other words, it’s human nature. I’ve heard similar comments from those questioning other faiths.

    I know what it is like to be totally confused. If you want my advice take it very slow. You don’t want to do something you will regret later. I’ve learned that it’s OK if I question and even if I don’t agree 100% of the time. It’s also OK to visit other Churches occasionally to see how they do things. Don’t get overwhelmed and definently look at things from several points of view (Mormon and non-Mormon). There are so many things I like about the LDS faith (my faith). I love many of the unique teachings that help to make sense of life’s difficult questions. I also enjoy many of the unique things about other Churches.

    If you and your husband are looking for a good place to talk about things go to the new order mormon site on the side bar of this page. The message board is great and there are many people there that have gone through what I have and many that are now going through it. Not all the advice I got there was good, but it sure helped to be able to talk about stuff with people that aren’t 100% against the Church.

    If you want to talk more you can email me privately – mormonstories at gmail dot com. I’d be happy to talk (it helps me too). Keep in touch!

  9. Jay

    I’m happy that Steffie is investigating more fully now and thankfully her Husband has expressed doubts also , it means they won’t be faced with friction or a potential break up of family all because of a religion which teaches that if one spouse leaves or doubts and becomes inactive then they are effectively destroying the whole family unit eternally.

    The amount of times I’ve read about Divorce between Church members over this kind of thing is very troublesome.

    Had they both been in the church for many more years and ‘fully indoctrinated’ then a scenario like this could have been devasting family wise.

    I believe their are many members who are effectively trapped in the LDS church for this very reason.

    I admire and appreciate Steffie for wanting to ‘Save’ me and ( by singing her heart out ) :)

    I did believe she had felt something initially to have joined the church , but I always felt that I experienced the same thing when I first started with JW’s . I too thought it was The Holy Ghost giving me great Joyous feelings of having stumbled across ‘The Truth’ . I couldn’t read those Watchtowers Magazines fast enough because I thought it was revelation coming directly through Gods Only True Church headquartered in New York !

    It took many years to rid myself of that mindset and now I am 100% certain they are just a great big blunder and exactly what Jesus warned about when he spoke of being wary of false prophets .

    You will be a good contact for her, because I know from reading your posts over the last year that you will just be honest with her without any motive to swing her either way but give her confidence to trust in herself .

    One thing I like about Mormons amongst many other things is that they will visit/attend other churches ,despite the Book of Mormon stating that all other churches are from Satan and confirmed and taught up until 1990 as part of the Endowment teaching, whereas a Jehovah’s Witness would still consider it an Abomination to visit/attend another church .I’m still awaiting my next knock on the door from them :)

  10. EJ,
    I don’t think Stephie is ready to leave the Church. She just has questions, like I do, about our doctrine and past. There are things that bother some of us (rightly so) despite our desire to stay. If you can come to a more realistic view of what a Prophet of God looks like, I think the LDS faith is easy to accept regardless of the mistakes of men. The alternative is to accept orthodox Christian teachings and that doesn’t seem likely, at least for me.

  11. Steph,

    I understand your concerns and I think as Jay said there are people of all faiths who are questioning. I think if one isn’t questioning, one isn’t growing and learning.

    I’ve gone through many questions about the LDS faith as well and I have chosen to stay in the faith. If you want to contact me I’d love to chat with you as well, or feel free to visit my blog.

    blog: http://www.graceforgrace.com

    email: aaronmanderson77@yahoo.com

  12. Jay ,

    I believe that if Steffie had known these things in the beginning then she most likley would not have got baptised and joined the church and hence would not have this ‘spiritual’ dilemma now.

    Now that she has been in the church for a few years she has made friendships and has been slowly conditioned and indoctrinated so it becomes more difficult to escape .

    How do you severe the friendships from church and especially when they come looking for you via Home Teach etc ? How do you ‘back track’ if you have bourne Testimony without looking foolish ?

    As I sat and listened to the various lessons ( EQ , Sunday School , sacrament Talks )with my new found knowledge of true events and history it became more and more apparent to me that they were simply distorted, misleading and designed to lead/reafirm members/investigators into the one conclusion the church wants from them that ‘the church is true’ and that those LDS leaders really are who they claim they are despite many of them like McConkie having spoken absolute rubbish his entire life and I bet when he spoke that if you didn’t agree with him you would been seen as having the spirit of contention and yet there must have been some ordinary members whose personal revelation told them that McConkie was wrong on the blacks issue .

    But members are taught that their personal revelation is not good enough to question the leaders and is only good enough to tell them what they are going to have for dinner or what colour socks to wear :)

    JW’s follow exactly the same pattern.Both LDS and JW’s are both preoccupied with ‘their church is the only true one ‘.Jw’s knock on doors and are worldwide too yet you both can’t be right .

    One Sunday morning I woke up and knew ‘without a shadow of a doubt’ that it was over for me and that there was no point in continuing .

    One or two church members have tried to assure me that I can come to church without and pressure to baptise, but thats not true .They simply are not thinking straight .The church is not a social place .

    The way I’ve seen people get rushed into baptisms from stressed out, manipulated,highly pressurised missionaries is very comical.

    Many come once or twice to church , get baptised , receive the LDS Holy Ghost and then dissappear, then the missionaries/church members go looking for them etc etc ..

    I did consider continuing for the ‘entertainment ‘ value , but that would be disrespectful and I believe the church members are on the whole sincere and deserve better than that.

  13. …there must have been some ordinary members whose personal revelation told them that McConkie was wrong on the blacks issue .

    Yes, there were. In fact when McConkie said that blacks would never receive the priesthood he was told by the prophet to retract his statement. I’m sure that was a humbling experience for him.

    But members are taught that their personal revelation is not good enough to question the leaders and is only good enough to tell them what they are going to have for dinner or what colour socks to wear

    I don’t think individual revelation is reduced to such meaningless tasks as you suggest. Revelation is supposed to direct your own actions and those under your stewardship. It is possible to receive revelation contrary to the prophet and still be a good active LDS member, IMO.

  14. Jay you said

    “Yes, there were. In fact when McConkie said that blacks would never receive the priesthood he was told by the prophet to retract his statement.”

    Are you sure it wasn’t more of a case of not wanting the world to know what you really believe that spooked Dave O Mckay. ( I think he was in charge at the time ? )

    ie milk before meat to the world ?

    Bruce McConkie did call his book ” Mormon Doctrine ” .

    McConkie also had to edit out his comments that the Catholic Church is The Great and Abominable Church and Satan the founder of it .

    Yet it does say so in the Book Of Mormon .

    And still for many years after a re-edited version of his book came out , A church minister ( representing all the other denominations icluding catholicism ) was still being depicted as working for Satan in the Temple ceremony. (Until 1990 )

    Why did McConkie have to edit his part and the church allowed to continue until 1990 secretly more or less teaching it in the temple .

    I think it was more to do with PR .The church wanted a good public image yet still hold the ‘real belief’ secretly and privately and introduce it only to those worthy of a temple recommend.

    Who is Nephi speaking about then if McConkie was wrong ?

    1 Nephi 14:10-11: And he said unto me: Behold there are save two churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the devil; wherefore, whoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to that great church, which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth. And it came to pass that I looked and beheld the whore of all the earth, and she sat upon many waters; and she had dominion over all the earth, among all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people.

    The church of the devil here seems to signify Catholicism to me.( and possibly all the others too who were not LDS ).

    It was standard thinking/interpretation at the time amongst many fundamentalist protestant sects that Catholicism was the Hoare of Babylon mentioned in Revelation ( where Joseph plageurised the idea from ) .

    Thats where Joseph Smith got it from, his own surroundings and influences.

  15. Are you sure it wasn’t more of a case of not wanting the world to know what you really believe[d]…

    Interesting interpretation but I don’t think so. Most people knew what Mormons believed. That’s why so many people think the Church changed because of growing pressure from outside the Church due to the practice. Just for the record I’m glad there was pressure and if it helped change things (as I think it did) all the better.

    Yet it does say so in the Book Of Mormon

    I’m not familiar with the part in the BOM where Nephi points out that the Catholic Church is the church of the Devil. I know the Church of the Devil is mentioned but you don’t see a reference to the Catholic Church (unless you are Bruce R. McConkie).

    And still for many years after a re-edited version of his book came out , A church minister (representing all the other denominations icluding catholicism ) was still being depicted as working for Satan in the Temple ceremony. (Until 1990 )

    I have seen the the temple ceremonies pre 1990 and I don’t remember this although I could be forgetting. One thing I’m pretty sure of is that no one Church was picked out. Church of the Devil can be a general term denoting anything that draws people away from God.

    Why did McConkie have to edit his part and the church allowed to continue until 1990 secretly more or less teaching it in the temple .

    I think that is obvious. McConkie brazenly put a name to the Church of the Devil, that is impossible to do. As you know he was known for making outlandish statements. I view him as the Brigham Young of the 20th century.

    Who is Nephi speaking about then if McConkie was wrong ?

    See definition above

    where Joseph plageurised the idea from

    Nice jab!

  16. FYI

    The priest in the temple movie had the typical priest collar I recall it being the

    “vestigial tab displayed through a square cutout in the shirt collar”

    Here is what wikipedia describes.

    “In most Christian traditions, priests wear clerical clothing, a distinctive form of street dress. Even within individual traditions it varies considerably in form, depending on the specific occasion. In Western Christianity, the stiff white clerical collar has become the nearly universal feature of priestly clerical clothing, worn either with a cassock or a clergy shirt. The collar may be either a full collar or a vestigial tab displayed through a square cutout in the shirt collar.”

  17. Jay

    You are playing with words , you said

    “Church of the Devil can be a general term denoting anything that draws people away from God.”

    The Mormon church believes that all other Religions were effectively drawing people away from God hence the part in the Temple With Satan and his church Minister.Joseph Smith himself said thet God himself told him they were all WRONG and their CREEDS an Abomination….

    You may not agree with it ( and i’m glad to hear that)but that is why the whole Mormon religion came about via Joseph Smith.

    Here is the Transcipt :

    LUCIFER:: Oh, you want someone to preach to you. You want religion, do you? I will have preachers here presently. There will be many willing to preach to you the philosophies of men mingled with scripture.
    (Lucifer turns his head as a sectarian minister approaches.)
    LUCIFER:: Good Morning sir!
    SECTARIAN MINISTER: Good morning!
    (The preacher turns and looks into the camera.)
    SECTARIAN MINISTER: A fine congregation!
    LUCIFER:: Yes, they are a very good people. They are concerned about religion. Are you a preacher?
    SECTARIAN MINISTER: I am.
    LUCIFER:: Have you been to college and received training for the ministry?
    SECTARIAN MINISTER: Certainly! A man cannot preach unless has been trained for the ministry.
    LUCIFER:: Do you preach the orthodox religion?
    SECTARIAN MINISTER: Yes, that is what I preach.

    LUCIFER:: If you will preach your orthodox religion to these people, and convert them, I WILL PAY YOU WELL.

    SECTARIAN MINISTER: I WILL DO MY BEST

    (Lucifer guides the preacher to Adam and Eve, who stand nearby.)

    LUCIFER:: Here is a man who desires religion. He is very much exercised, and seems to be sincere.
    (As Lucifer presents the preacher to Adam and Eve he steps back and observes the ensuing conversation. The preacher is made to sound sincere, although misguided and credulous. Adam appears humble, faithful and immovable in his determination to serve God. He is not swayed by the preacher, and is astounded by the doctrines espoused by the preacher.)
    SECTARIAN MINISTER: I understand that you are inquiring after religion.
    ADAM:: I was calling upon Father.
    SECTARIAN MINISTER: I am glad to know that you were calling upon Father. Do you believe in a God who is without body, parts, or passions; who sits on the top of a topless throne; whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere; who fills the universe, and yet is so small that he can dwell in your heart; who is surrounded by myriads of beings who have been saved by grace, not for any act of theirs, but by His good pleasure. Do you believe in such a great Being?
    ADAM:: I do not. I cannot comprehend such a being.
    SECTARIAN MINISTER: That is the beauty of it. Perhaps you do not believe in a devil, and in that great hell, the bottomless pit, where there is a lake of fire and brimstone into which the wicked are cast, and where they are continually burning, but none never consumed?
    ADAM:: I do not believe in any such place.
    SECTARIAN MINISTER: My dear friend, I am sorry for you.
    LUCIFER:: I am sorry, very very sorry! What is it you want?
    ADAM:: But I am looking for messengers from my Father.


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