As I was sitting in Mass this weekend I was thinking about all the people I know who have pre-conceived notions about my faith. Some of them have never stepped foot inside a Catholic church, or if they did it was for a funeral or wedding only.

Over the years I’ve heard some of the craziest ideas people have about Catholics. Some are funny, some are just ignorant. I would never claim to be the most knowledgeable Catholic out there. I did go to parochial school through the 8th grade, but I am always open to learning more.

One idea that is the most absurd to me is that we have to pay our way into heaven financially. How ridiculous! Does that mean the homeless Catholic who lives on the street has no chance whatsoever of getting into heaven, but the successful Catholic businessman does? Really? REALLY??

No, we don’t worship or pray to statues. That would be no different than idolatry. Crucifixes and statues of Mary and Joseph are just focal points that help us focus on our prayers. They are no different than the picture of my own mother sitting in my home. Do we need to be in front of a statue or crucifix to pray? Of course not. I pray and talk to my mother all the time. That doesn’t mean I worship her. I am honoring her.  Just as I honor the mother of our God. We pray to Mary and saints for intercession, not worship. I pray to my mother for intercession as well. And yes, we pray directly to God too. We can’t have too many souls in our corner, can we?

I’ve also been told that Catholics don’t’ read the Bible or base our church services on the Bible. Another “Really?” moment here. In fact, there are at least 3 Bible readings at each Mass and the priest’s sermon is based on those readings. Did you know that the first Bible was produced by the Catholic church? Did you know that the first printed Bible was produced by the Catholic inventor of the printing press, Johannes Gutenberg? I’ve never had a home where there wasn’t a Bible in it. And yes, I read the Bible. I even have the Bible app on my iPad.

Catholics are Christians. Our practices reflect those of the original apostles. And the Catholic Church was the first Christian church … as verified in ancient texts.

All priests are not gay or pedophiles. Yes, some are, but then so are some ministers, teachers, lawyers, and law enforcement officers. But because priests are celibate and don’t marry (with some exceptions), when a priest is involved in these heinous situations, it seems to be more news-worthy. I’m not saying it’s not news-worthy, just not more news-worthy.

I’ve been told to my face that I am going to hell because of my Catholic faith. Right along with my Lutheran and Methodist friends. How ignorant is it for people to believe that because they belong to one specific church that they are the only chosen ones whom God will take into heaven? Show me in the Bible where it states Catholics can’t get there, but any other specific church will. Yes, there are some holier-than-though Catholics, but I personally know many non-Catholics who talk the talk, but don’t walk the walk. We don’t get to heaven by just talking the talk or walking the walk. It takes both.

The Catholic Church did not add books to the Bible. Actually Martin Luther removed seven of the original books back in the 1500s because he didn’t agree with them.

I’m happy being a Catholic. I have always felt at home in a Catholic church. If you’re happy attending a different church, or no physical church at all, that’s your choice. I know and love people in all sorts of faiths. I have never pushed my own faith onto others, and I only ask that they provide me the same courtesy.

I will end by saying I’m not perfect. We are all sinners. But please, don’t judge me by my faith alone. Judge me by the person I am and the person I try to be.

God bless.