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  • Raised by both sides of the Reformation

    This week, I crossed into Washington and attended Catholic University’s conference “Luther and the Shaping of the Catholic Tradition.” It’s an assignment I was excited to tackle. As someone raised by a Catholic mother and a Lutheran father, I’m no stranger to a little theological rivalry.

    While it wasn’t always easy for our family, I am very grateful that I grew up with one foot in both worlds. We went to Mass every week and occasionally doubled up by attending my dad’s church services afterward. I attended Protestant and Catholic schools. My sisters and I often participated in events and vacation Bible schools at both churches.

    cr easter

    Zoey Maraist and her family celebrate Easter this year at her father's church, Trinity Lutheran Church in Warrenton. 

    I’ve loved being able to explain the differences between Catholics and Lutherans to my friends, though I’m certainly no expert. I still remember trying to convince my best friend in sixth grade that Mary was conceived without sin. My elementary education at a Christian school gave me more than just a chance to hone my own doctrinal beliefs. The wonderful people at that school taught me what it means to have a sincere faith in God. I gained extensive knowledge of the Bible, not to mention knowledge of tons of praise and worship songs.

    As I moved onto a Catholic high school, then a Catholic-heavy group of friends in college, I was able to grow in my Catholic faith, while explaining once again what the other half believes. Few of the people I talked with knew that Lutherans believe in Jesus’ true presence in the Eucharist, or how similar the Lutheran liturgy is to the Catholic Mass. Sometimes, it seems the greatest difference is that Lutherans have stuck with the old translation of the liturgy, leading me to mistakenly say, “And with your spirit,” to the confusion of their congregation.

    I know it’s only natural for birds of a feather (Catholics, Protestants) to flock together. But we do further disservice to the already fragmented body of Christ when we isolate ourselves from other Christian denominations. Sadly, many Protestants have a mistaken conception of what Catholics actually believe, so it behooves us to try to set the record straight. On the other side, there is much we can learn from our Protestant brothers and sisters. What often stands out to me is their deeply personal relationship with and reliance on Christ.

    This year marks the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. It’s certainly not an occasion to celebrate, but we can use this milestone as an opportunity to reach out to and pray for one another. 

    © Arlington Catholic Herald 2017

    @Zoey Maraist