Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Book Review: Rome Sweet Home

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There's probably a lot of you who know Scott Hahn, author of the above book and several others.  He was a Presbyterian minister who had a very gradual conversion to Catholicism through much study over many years.  His wife also eventually became Catholic and that's the story told in Rome Sweet Home.
A few of the interesting points I flagged:
  • Hahn brings up a conversation he had with a Catholic friend about the stereotypical lack of enthusiasm in Catholic churches contrasted to joyful, even boisterous Protestant worship.  It can be a pretty uncomfortable thing for Protestants that a cradle Catholic might not understand.  Even coming from a more stoic tradition it can be a shock to see Catholics just scooting in at the last minute and leaving immediately after Mass (or sometimes immediately after receiving the Eucharist).  Just FYI for the Catholics out there, it's the worst possible witness for Protestants who typically linger for some time before and after church engaging in fellowship with other parishioners and creating a sense of family.  It's always bothered me that most people will leave after the priest is down the aisle even though the music leaders or choir are still going with the song.  I just think it's respectful to the music leaders who are giving you their time and talent to stay and join them until they finish.
  • Hahn's wife, Kimberly, hits on the same topic saying, "When we would go to Mass, people would come in and leave their coats on, looking like they were ready to bolt as soon as they received the host. (I would never go to dinner at someone's home and leave my coat on!)
  • Catholics and Protestants have a different definition of worship.  From Kimberly: "....I knew worship of Mary was clearly condemned by the Church.  Then I got an insight: Protestants defined worship as songs, prayers and a sermon.  So when Catholics sang songs to Mary, petitioned Mary in prayer and preached about her, Protestants concluded she was being worshiped.  But Catholics defined worship as the sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Jesus, and Catholics would never have offered a sacrifice of Mary nor to Mary on the altar."
  • Kimberly also describes a situation with her daughter's illness where she drew inspiration.  Her daughter was suffering from a very high fever and was having uncomfortable ice packs put on her.  She realized that as a good parent, she was still causing her child hurt.  Just like her child, her father God had allowed pain to come to her to draw her nearer to Him.
Rome Sweet Home is a great read for everyone.  If you've been Catholic forever, it's a good chance to see the Protestant perspective.  It may help you realize why it's a difficult road for Protestants, or why they have issues with the Church.  It may help you gain an appreciation for your religion which has always just been a part of your life.  If you're Protestant and thinking of converting or you're unable to understand why a friend or relative is doing so, read this book with an open mind and an effort to understand.

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