By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
SOLON — As host of the “Seize the Day” talk show on Sirius XM radio’s Catholic Channel, Gus Lloyd once received a piece of mail from a literalist Christian accusing him of being a “tool of satan,” for expressing his Catholic beliefs on a public platform.
“There are so many misconceptions,” Lloyd said. “Should we hang our heads? No, we should know our faith better,” Lloyd said.
A revert to Catholicism and former Protestant, the Florida-based Lloyd offered a talk on how to respond to misconceptions of the Catholic faith at St. Mary Parish in Solon Oct. 25. About 55 people attended his day-long seminar, which also included discussions on other topics as well as his personal testimony.
Lloyd, 54, grew up Catholic, abandoned his faith, and began attending a non-denominational Bible church after his daughter had a near-death experience. As he and wife, Michelle, began to read the Bible and live its teachings, they felt called to re-join the Catholic Church in the early 1990s. Lloyd has been a radio host with Sirius XM’s Catholic station for more than 10 years, and has written books about debunking the myths of Catholicism.
He explained that the main way to respond to objections to Catholic doctrine is to know that it is biblically-based. Finding and explaining Scripture is essential, especially when talking to those in more conservative denominations that believe that Catholics do not follow biblical teachings and therefore cannot receive salvation.
On the topic of Communion, he said biblical evidence for the real presence under the form of the Eucharist can be found in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and I Corinthians. “He didn’t say this is symbolic of my body, he says this is my body. We have to believe him. Do this in memory of me. …For 2,000 years that’s what the Church has been doing.”
Lloyd said Catholics often get accused of worshiping Mary as a deity, but that this isn’t the case. He said Catholics are supposed to honor her, because Jesus did in the Gospels. By honoring Jesus’ mother, we can become closer to Jesus, himself. She is not a “fourth member” of the trinity, he said.
Though he said it “deviated” from his intended script for the day, Lloyd felt it was “on his heart” to share his opinion on divorced and remarried Catholics wanting to receive Communion. It was one of the topics discussed at the recent marriage and family synod and generated a lot of debate. He said persons not in a “state of grace” receive harsher judgment when they participate in Communion, and that keeping them from Communion, therefore, was an “act of charity.”
Lloyd said he observed “discord” in the audience following his statement; the crowd began to mumble and two attendees swiftly left the conference at this point. “I know this is a touchy topic,” he said.
Lloyd emphasized adherence to Church teaching in his talk, especially when he opened the floor for questions which included inquiries on women in the priesthood and additional questions on divorce and why non-Catholics can’t receive Communion. He said that, while society has changed since Jesus’ time, Jesus was a countercultural figure who did not always adhere to the social norms of his own time. His teachings are clear and unchanging, Lloyd said.
Some audience members, expressing a desire for a higher emphasis on mercy in the Church, seemed to express frustration in Church teaching in their questions. Lloyd expressed his idea that while many people see the Catholic Church as a “rules-based” Church, there would be chaos without those rules. “Jesus did not come to give chaos!” he opined.
He said a rules-based Church and a pastoral Church can coexist with respect and knowledge for Church teaching combined with a welcoming approach.
As the session wrapped up, Father Tim Sheedy, pastor of St. Mary Parish in Solon, told the attendees to feel free to talk to their parish priests when they have questions or are struggling.