Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Continuing on a series on “Difficulties for Converts” – another problem converts to Catholicism from Protestant Christianity is the sheer size of the Catholic Church.
Most Protestant churches are comparatively small. Sometimes they consist of single, independent, self governing congregations. Other times the local churches belong to small, self governing and localized denominations. This “small-ness” fosters a strong identity, warm personal fellowship and a clear sense of unity of belief.
What they lack, however is Catholicity – that is to say, universality. The Catholic church is huge in three ways: Geographical, Historical and Theological.
It is huge geographically because it is global. Almost anywhere in the world you will find a Catholic Church – even in radically Muslim countries if you look hard enough and take a few risks you will be able to find Catholics worshipping at Mass. From mud hut churches in Africa to Grand cathedrals in France – the Catholic Church’s presence is huge.
It is also huge historically. No other church can trace her historical links in an unbroken chain back to the Apostles. The historical depth and breadth of the Catholic Church is sometimes breath taking for converts. One is aware of having jumped into a very deep sea and sometimes it is overwhelming.
Finally, the Catholic Church is huge theologically. Totally rooted in Sacred Scripture, her theology today is the result of 2,000 years of development, reflection and prayer. The theology of the church also includes her devotions, liturgy and life of service. All of these aspects of the church are wide reaching, expansive and profound.
I have likened the Catholic Church to a huge old country house in England – something like Downton Abbey. It has many rooms – some grand and splendid, others just the cellar, the attic, or the servants’ quarters. Entering this big house can feel impersonal, intimidating and one can easily get lost.
Don’t be dismayed. Enter this large house, explore and find the room that suits you best and dwell there in peace, for this is the Father’s house, and there are many dwelling places.