Monday, November 19, 2012

What Catholics can learn from Mormons

Unless you live in Utah, Mormons are not in the majority, but they have a lot to teach others. 
Their belief in mission and their refusal to hide who they are- All four of my grandparents came from different faiths and levels of practicing their faith. When I was twelve, my parents and we five siblings became Catholic after a few years of roaming around different churches. We had never been invited to visit a Catholic church, unless you count the time that our Mexican neighbors invited us to the church spaghetti feed. A year later, we converted and there are six Catholic marriages and twenty-five or so Catholic grandchildren. Maybe that spaghetti dinner was all we needed to open the door and learn about the Church. Mormons are not so subtle, and it is to their credit. Mormons in good standing will make a two year commitment to mission. Can we take time out of our day to do some form of mission? We Catholics should be educating ourselves with knowledge of the Bible and the catechism, ready to share our faith with others.

Their respect for family- They have a designated family evening where fellow Mormons know not to call and disturb the family fun time. I've heard that Mormon teen girls are assigned families to babysit for; this encourages families to have another child because they know that the community (subsidiary) will help support them. I know of mothering groups and homeschooling groups that can be very supportive in the Catholic world with meals for a while, but after that, each family (most likely without the extended family because families are so spread out) will be on their own, paying at least ten dollars an hour for that rare date night. It usually does not happen. 
My biggest frustration with the Mormon faith besides continuing revelation (Christians believe that revelation- a newly revealed aspect of theology, not just a development or discussion- finished with the death of the apostles as the 'deposit of faith' even if private revelation can exist) is that although they believe in the benefit of large families and a strong marriage bond, contraception, surrogacy (Mitt Romney has two grandchild born from a surrogate) and abortion can be officially permissible in their faith. But however their babies came to be, the Romney family is lovely, don't you think?

Their preparedness for hard times- I think we could use them as great examples of self-reliance. Shouldn't we all be prepared for an emergency? I don't think any of the flashlights in the house have batteries that work...

Their sense of priesthood and individual ministries- As Catholics, we are all baptized into the priesthood of Jesus Christ. Some men are called to become actual ordained clergy. But we all should have a ministry in our lives whether it is church, community or family based. The Mormons take this very seriously with their mission years and their various layers of church authority and ordinations. We Catholics will not go so far as to say that every ward or parish has a bishop, but I believe that a mistake was made when the minor orders (lector, subdeacon, etc) were done away with in the Roman rite. I say, let's triple the number of deacons in the Catholic Church in the United States and begin deacon programs in other countries. Allow the deacons to wear clerical dress in public. Make it a normal part of life and let us not be afraid. Have continuing education for the deacons, have them choose a specific ministry and give them a specific Mass to attend. They will proclaim the Gospel or preach at the pastor's request. For women, a revitalization of the third orders of religious orders would be one place where women can find important ministries. Of course, in the Catholic Church some people are called to 'just' pray and be at the services, but I believe the Mormon church can be an example of getting all the people involved and invested in the faith.

Their balanced and attractive sense of modesty- Their wedding dresses have sleeves! Don't women realize that their strapless gowns will look like they are wearing towels in their portraits that don't show the entire gown? Usually Mormon women dress with shoulders and knees covered, but they always seem to look modern and not frumpy. I also appreciate that the men are always (yes, always) clean, pressed and professional. It would irk me in high school that we girls had a very strict uniform dress code while the boys just had to wear a shirt with a collar. 

Their internet presence- If you want to, you can find a lot of information on their religion on-line. Their mommy bloggers are generally vibrant, happy, beautiful and modern with well-designed blogs that give just a hint of an idea that there is something special about them. If you look, you will see a blog button that leads you to the official website of the LDS church.
Catholic bloggers (start with the blogs at National Catholic Register, In Union with Rome, the blog list at Conversion Diary, and the Catholic channel at Patheos) are doing a splendid job of conveying the Catholic Faith, but there is a lot of diversity out there. Simcha of I Have to Sit Down likes to refer to it as 'here comes everybody!' One cannot put Catholics in an easy-to-label box, and that gets confusing. And Vatican conspiracies aside, there is no one telling us Catholic bloggers to have a consistent presence. 
I'm slightly jealous of the Mormons' organizational skills. I wasted an hour, trying to make a blog button that would direct the reader to the Vatican website and the US Catholic Conference of Bishops website. Maybe a Mormon can teach me how it is done, because my button kept going to a non-existent page on my blog.

Their 'I'm a Mormon' ad campaign- About a year ago, I started to notice the sponsored videos at the top of the youtube videos choices and the different Patheos channels. It was a short video biography of a Mormon, someone with a interesting story. For a person who is searching for a church family, I am certain that this ad campaign has been very successful.  It makes their faith seem relatable, normal and a means to a successful life. 

So I decided to start my own little 'I'm a Cool Catholic" campaign right here on this wee blog. I'll be asking non-blogger Catholics (because all the Catholics on my sidebar and at In Union with Rome have blogs to demonstrate their coolness) to submit an interview/guest post right here. Email me at if you or a friend is a cool Catholic with an interesting story who is willing to answer some questions and email me a photo. I'm thinking it will be a Monday series.

This post is written using my personal experiences. I do not wish to offend members of the LDS church. Thank you for grace!


  1. I have a lot of admiration for Mormons as well, for many of the reasons you listed.

    But if you dig a little deeper in to their mommy blogs and on the Internet, you will also hear another story. A story that doesn't respect women who work outside the home; a story where women feel pressured (rather than called) to have 6 children; a story where women feel compelled to always have that happy, sunny face on lest someone else think that they aren't completely fulfilled.

    I do love the idea of the "family home evening." I think that's what they call it.

    I'd much rather have an honest conversation with Mormon women rather than a half-conversation that only consists of the sunny happy side.

  2. I really agree that we need to learn from the Mormons a "refusal to hide who [we] are"! Even amongst ourselves, many Catholics are afraid to be Catholic. There are tons of Catholics who refuse to pray our traditional Marian prayers like the rosary, most churches don't use incense anymore, traditional hymns and chants are replaced with praise and worship music, and I could go on but you get the idea. There's no better way to evangelize and catechize than to be ourselves and show ourselves and others the beautiful patrimony of the ancient Catholic faith we inherited at Baptism.

    1. A. C. M.- I agree! If I need a bit of praise and worship music to wash dishes by, I'll turn on the radio, but our church worship should be transcendent

  3. Amen!

    I just emailed you about one of these points--the Internet presence. We Eastern Catholics need to have a more unified and coordinated online presence. People shouldn't have to work to find us or find basic info about our faith. I just received Bp. Richard (Seminack)'s blessing to address that point through The Star of the East ministry. We go live on January 1. Please pray for us!

    Did you hear or read about Fr. Ed Cimbala's talk at Encounter West? He spoke at length about that individual response to the royal priesthood. Here are my notes from his talk:

  4. Indeed!

    The Mormons have many qualities and do many things which are admirable.

    It's a real shame, however, that they are leading people to hell by the bushel.

    1. Steve- Truth is the most important thing- that they are not Christians- they might be many good things- but their baptism is not a Christian baptism.

  5. Amen!

    You got that right.

    They are Protestantized Jews who wish to gain acceptance from God on the basis of 'what they do, or don't do'. And not on the basis of what Christ has done for them. That's why there are no crosses atop their buildings.

  6. My very first mommy friend ever was a devout Mormon. Twenty-five years later, she's still a dear friend. A few years older than I am, she is very much my homemaking mentor. Another for your list: Mormons make a concerted effort, from the time girls are very young, to teach them to be capable and creative homemakers. Devout Mormon women know their stuff! I spent election day with my Mormon friend--just a Mormon-Catholic team, making draperies and praying that other Mormon-Catholic team might change the world for good. Alas, they didn't win. So we're back to that old strategy of the hand that rocks the cradle ruling the world;-)

    1. In general, they really do respect the ART of homemaking- I would like to copy that quality more (your blog is also an inspiration in that direction)

  7. I'm old enough to remember a different time.

    1. In SW Texas where I was raised, there was no sense of mission to spread the Catholic Faith. Everyone was Catholic. Except for the public school teachers.

    2. The entire family would gather at my great Grandmother's house every Sunday after Mass. There were hundreds of us. We would all, children and adults, line up in front of our Mama Grande and receive our blessing. Anyone who did not come to visit pay their respects had better have a really good excuse or they were severely reprimanded by all the adults.

    3. I don't know about the preparation for hard times. Times were always hard. Yet times were always happy, because we had much family. By the same token, the closeness of the family caused terrible friction, as well.

    4. Sense of individual priesthood. No, I have to say that back then and still today, the Hispanic culture is still infected with Clericalism. The idea that anything having to do with religion must be handled by the Priest.

    However, there was a deeper sense of honor. Even those who did not attend the Church were reluctant to break their word, whether it had been an oath or a mere verbal commitment. A man's word was his bond in a very real sense.

    5. Modesty? Goodness! I never dreamed and I'm certain none of my forebears ever dreamed that fashions of men or women would take the turn they have taken.

    And morals? It was unheard of that a young man and woman were ever without a chaperone until they were married. My first date was typical. We sat and talked on the porch with her mom and dad sitting right across from us.

    6. Internet presence? I don't know. Catholics have been on the internet ever since I started venturing in. Nor do I ever visit any Mormon sites, so I have no way of comparing.

    7. Have you seen the latest Catholic campaign?

    Back then also, everyone spoke in terms of God's will. You can still hear it in the words of the elderly. It was, "God willing, this or that, May it please God, in God's time, etc. etc." Everyone seemed to have God's will on their mind.

    Also, if a Catholic ventured to do anything dangerous or out of the way or before they started a job, the first thing they did was bless themselves (with the sign of the cross). When they walked by a Catholic Church, they made the sign of the cross out of respect. No one cursed in front of women and you rarely heard a woman curse at all.

    Times were very different and very Catholic back then.

    I was one of the casualties of the changing times. By the age of 13, I was an atheist. Perhaps we can be a force in changing things back the way they were?


    De Maria

    1. De Maria- I'd love to hear your 'coming home' story!

    2. My wife brought me back. She wouldn't marry me unless we got married in the Catholic Church. I initially only came back in order to be married to her. But when she conceived our first child, my whole life turned upside down. I suddenly realized that God, not only existed, but I needed Him in my life. Because I knew that only He could protect my family.

      After my wife conceived our first child, I was in tears for about two months. I thought I was having a nervous breakdown. I don't remember ever crying since the time I was a baby. Later I learned that this is called the "gift of tears." I suddenly knew that God existed and that I could see His hand at work throughout creation.

      When I came back, I didn't really think the Catholic Church was the true Church. As an atheist, I thought all religion was mere superstition. When I married my wife, I merely did so to appease her superstition. I had faked being Catholic for my mom. And now I was faking for my wife. I didn't see any sense in hurting their feelings. If there's no God, there's no God. And we all end up in the same place.

      When I realized that God did exist, I made up my mind to worship Him the way He wanted to be worshipped. I didn't even consider the Catholic Church. I started with Lutheranism. The very first doctrine I studied was "Scripture alone" and it was prima facie self contradicting. I couldn't believe it. Was I the idiot or were they? My logic was this. I never learned about God from the Bible. I couldn't even understand the Bible. And I knew a great many people who couldn't either. So how could anything be by Scripture alone?

      So, I gave it another chance. I studied faith alone. Again, on its face, it was illogical? Would my wife believe me if I only claimed to love her but didn't show my love in more substantial ways? Do actions speak louder than words? Faith alone was always dead in my book. And I didn't have to read Scripture to know this.

      So, I grudgingly accepted that perhaps Christianity was not for me. I knew some people who had converted to Islam and about that time, they gave me a call. From the beginning I was suspicious of Mohammed. But I accepted their challenge and read the Quran and other materials. Being a thorough person, I also read some of the criticisms of Islam. Especially because one of them told me not to do that. But I was of the opinion, that if a religion is the true religion, it must be able to withstand objections and criticisms.

      And Islam did not stand up to scrutiny. Not only is the Quran self contradicting, but all the other fables which have been built up around Mohammed and his friends, are basically, out and out lies. Here's one for you if you are interested.

      Anyway, I looked into Hinduism, Buddhism and the Chinese philosophies and other things. And then one day, I was at Mass watching people take communion and this thought occurred to me, "Either the Catholic Church is totally insane or it is the only ones that is right." And I gave the Catholic Church another chance. It was very important to me that I should answer all my questions about the True Faith of God. And the Catholic Church has not disappointed me.

  8. Steve MartinNovember 26, 2012 at 9:59 AM

    You got that right.

    They are Protestantized Jews who wish to gain acceptance from God on the basis of 'what they do, or don't do'. And not on the basis of what Christ has done for them. That's why there are no crosses atop their buildings.

    Steve, my old nemesis! ; ) Have you ever read in Scripture?
    Matthew 25:31-46
    King James Version (KJV)
    31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:
    32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
    33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
    34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
    35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
    36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
    37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
    38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
    39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
    40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
    41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
    42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
    43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
    44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
    45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
    46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

    There's nothing wrong with doing good if you want to get to heaven. In fact, if you don't do any good, you ain't going to get to heaven. That's a fact, Jack:
    Revelation 22:12-15
    King James Version (KJV)
    12 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.
    13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.
    14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.
    15 For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.

    Whatever led you to believe the lie that you could get into heaven without doing the will of God?


    De Maria

  9. This is a nice thread.

    I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and I have friends who are Catholics. We have a lot in common, actually, and I admire what I see in the Catholic Church. (We do believe in Jesus as savior, by the way).


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