Sunday, February 21, 2010

Rome Agrees with Calvin and Luther

I am a first generation Protestant. My parents pulled my siblings and I out of the Roman Catholic Church when I was seven, not long following the momentous actions of the Second Vatican Council. Although from that point onward I was reared a Southern Baptist, I was never too far from the Church of Rome.

I am a Cajun and when I was a youngster, in Southern Louisiana, Cajun and Catholic were almost synonymous terms. I remember one day in grade school being challenged about my Cajun claims. My schoolmate asked me how was it possible for me to be Cajun and not Catholic. I was at a loss of an answer, because all the Cajuns I knew (which were my cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents) were Catholics. This was a crisis for me.

My parents, both of whom speak fluent Cajun French, assured me that my Cajun credentials were valid and that even though we had become Baptists I was still a Cajun. It was a great relief.

Even after leaving the Roman Catholic fold, I was never very far from Rome in many ways. All the weddings and funerals I attended while growing up were Catholic and they all seemed to include a mass -- and if it was a funeral a rosary as well. Whenever I was privileged to sleep over with some cousins on a Saturday, I attended mass with them then also. There were times of dry periods, when I did not go to mass for some time, but there was never a time when the mass was removed from my life completely.

Even today, though I consider myself a stalwart Reformed Protestant I still attend Catholic mass from time to time. I love liturgical worship and do find many elements of the mass to be quite beautiful. I also appreciate the influence on the mass by the Reformation.

It took 450 years but the Roman Catholic Church finally agreed that the Reformers were correct to worship God in the language of the people and not in the long dead Latin of the even longer dead Roman Empire. Another point of the Reformation that Rome has tacitly conceded is giving the cup of Communion once more to the people at worship.

The Catholic Church also followed the Protestants in the Eucharist in other ways. Toward the end of the Medieval Period, during the mass, only the priests partook of, not only the wine but the bread also. The people were allowed to partake of the bread (i.e. body of Christ) only (usually) at Easter. Of Course the Roman Church followed the Protestants on this issue long before Vatican II. As to the cup the the RCC finally followed the Protestant lead and again gave the people communion wine, after the Second Vatican Council concluded.

I remain a Cajun and a convinced Reformed (though sometimes reluctant) Protestant. I love Christ and His Church. I love my brothers and sisters in the faith, be they Reformed, Baptist, Catholic, Lutheran, (confessing) Anglican, Presbyterian, etc... I long for Christian unity and I trust the LORD knows what He is doing and He will accomplish the unity He desires, here on earth, as He chooses. I also know that ALL true believers in Christ will have perfect unity in the New Jerusalem at the end of history.

I am glad Rome has taken some steps toward her Protestant brethren in the faith. I am glad she has seen the wisdom of the 16th Century Reformers on at least some issues. It took 450 years, but Rome has shown, by her actions, (not so much her pronouncements) that Luther, Calvin and other Protestants were right on at least the issues mentioned above. Will more agreement come in the future? I hope and pray that it is so.

Where do we go from here? God alone knows and that is as He has chosen for things to be at this time. That's good enough for me.

Coram Deo,