Pope Francis Has Asked You For a Favor: Will You Do It?

J.M.J.

pope_francis_at_vargihna
Pope Francis – Depending on the crowd referred to, he’s a man liked or disliked for his distinct approaches, his frequent and various public statements, and, in some cases, his attire (public domain image from Papist’s Flickr account).

Inside and outside the Catholic world, Pope Francis has undeniably become (to borrow a somewhat trite phrase from social media) a “trending” figure since March 2013. It seems to me that, since his election, hardly a week has been able to go by before some new article or blog post has been published about him (like this one). His off-the-cuff remarks and airplane interviews are quickly seized by news outlets, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, and quite often are used to paint him as a more-or-less revolutionary figure, one who is finally willing to discuss hot topics that were previously closed-off. Within the Church, to give a hugely oversimplified summary of things as I’ve seen them (one not meant to be exhaustive in any sense), it seems that those on the left see him as either a disappointment (since he hasn’t gone as far as they’d like) or as a long-overdue savior who has helped to rescue the Church from the Middle Ages—a savior from whom promising changes are sure to come. It appears that Catholics on the right see him either as a disappointment (since he has thoroughly maintained and even deepened the “modern status quo”) or, depending on how “far” right one looks, as a genuine danger to the wellbeing of the Church.

There’s also the interestingly-polarizing issue (largely discussed in the Catholic blogosphere, but in secular sources as well if the issue can be used to set up an easy dichotomy between this man and those who have come before him) of the pope’s clothes. Some people treat his wardrobe like a breath of fresh air, seeing in him a genuinely “human” pope whose prompt abandonment of papal trappings and customs is a move well-worth praising. Jesus, after all, lived a humble life from His birth to His death, so why should the pope treat himself like medieval royalty? Others, generally those who would be designated by titles such as “conservative” (or the more stigmatizing “traditionalist”), are unsettled by this same approach, seeing in it a disrespect to the dignity of the Papal office, an attempt to make the pope “just like everyone else,” or a political statement about the “humility” (or lack thereof?) of his predecessors. Still others couldn’t care less what the pope wears.

As for me, I’ve generally avoided sharing any personal opinions concerning our much-talked-about Pontiff. I’ve also avoided talking about the controversial issues that so many of his statements have caused. Those are left to people smarter than I, and besides, although this is certainly not true across the board, I think that, in some cases, no one besides Pope Francis knows clearly what Pope Francis means when he says the latest ambiguous or unsettling comment. I still don’t plan to delve into those areas, really, as I don’t think it’s necessary for me to do that.

But I just remembered something that would do everyone, and most especially Pope Francis himself, a lot of good.

Remember when Pope Francis first stepped out onto the loggia of St. Peter’s Basilica two years ago? What did he ask people to do as his pontificate went forward?

“Pray for me.”

Let me ask you this: do you remember to pray for Pope Francis? Whether people like or dislike the man, he needs prayers. He’s human. He may be the Vicar of Christ on Earth, but he has strengths and weaknesses, just like anyone else. I can’t speak for others, but I, for one, get so distracted by the frequent discussions about Pope Francis that I rarely remember to ask God to give His divine aid to the man who leads His Church. On and off the internet, I’ve heard people say they wish the Holy Father would measure his words more carefully, so as not to give way to unorthodox interpretations of his statements. I’ve heard some say they wish he’d not be so quick to hurl names at groups he disagrees with. I’ve heard people say they wish he’d stop giving his own opinions about so many things. Those are all perfectly understandable wishes, especially considering that the pope is a prime target for secular news outlets that are eagerly awaiting for new statements to spin.  But (and again, I can’t speak for others—this is purely food for thought) no amount of frustration over the Latest Papal Comment, however well-founded (and they frequently are well-founded), will have any good effect compared to frequent and genuine prayers on the Holy Father’s behalf. If people want the pope to become a fierce and unambiguous defender of orthodoxy, they ought to frequently and ardently pray that God would move him to be one. To some extent, one might say the goodness of the pope is as good as the number of people who pray for him.

Whether people like or dislike Pope Francis, there is one request of his that everyone can, and indeed must, fulfill: the request to charitably pray for him as he fulfills his Petrine ministry.

As one who has frequently forgotten to do this, I now want to assure the Holy Father that I will do my best to remember to pray for him, frequently and genuinely, from now on.

Would others please do so with me?

“….And The Truth Shall Set You Free.”

Salvete, my dear readers. Below you will find a piece I originally wrote for the new Fire of the Spirit blog, a blog I highly recommend you check out and support. You can read more about said blog over there, but suffice it to say, it’s run by Catholic young people who want to further the cause given by Christ of spreading the Gospel to all nations. So without further ado, my post. Enjoy.

“What Is Truth?” – John 18:38

The question which Pilate asked Our Lord before having Him scourged is perhaps more relevant in today’s world than when it was originally asked. In our own day, however, the question is no longer, “What is truth?” (as in, which proposed truth is correct) but rather the much more blind, “What is truth at all?”. Indeed, many people today have lost or have never received any concept of objectivity. This past weekend I was talking to a very good friend of mine who happens to be Presbyterian, and one thing led to another and by the end of it I said quite directly what I believed: “My religion is true, yours is not”. Rather than responding with an equally objective claim about the truth of Presbyterianism, however, my friend said, “Well, no, they’re all true, but they’re true in different ways”. After the March for Life this year, the crew at the Detroit-based Church Militant.TV interviewed a score of Catholic teens and asked them whether the Catholic Faith was superior to other religions, and most of them gave a murky, confused answer that ultimately resulted in “no, it’s not”.

I can’t count the number of devout, well-intentioned Catholics who refuse to bring up differences in religious beliefs on the grounds that they cause division or are opposed to Our Lord’s prayer that all may be one as He and the Father are one. Back when the new translation of the Novus Ordo Mass was promulgated, there were many who grieved over the loss of the (quite frankly laughable) previous translation since it was a supposed blow to ecumenism. Catholic churches with no trace of Catholic identity and removable altars are built so they can be shared with Protestant denominations, Catholics are told growing up that there are no differences between their Church and others, and people put COEXIST bumper stickers on their cars as a way of quietly saying, “Oh, do be quiet with all your differences! Can’t we all get along?”

Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and one of my favorite modern theologians, spoke about this in April 2005, just before being elected Pope. “Today,” he said, “having a clear faith based on the Creed of the Church is often labelled as fundamentalism. Whereas relativism, that is, letting oneself be ‘tossed here and there, carried about by every wind of doctrine’ (Eph. 4:14), seems to be the only attitude that can cope with modern times. We are building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one’s own ego and desires” (Homily at the Mass for Electing the Roman Pontiff, April 18, 2005).

“Having a clear faith based on the Creed is often labelled as fundamentalism”—it doesn’t take much to see how correct those words are. Whether it was the examples I mentioned at the beginning of this post or the example of a very holy priest I once knew who, after mentioning other religions, quickly followed up with, “….and that’s not to say other religions are bad”, people today either willfully refuse to see that there is objective truth or honestly don’t see it. I really do hope, for their souls and for the sake of charity, that it is the latter.

But we must get ourselves out of this lethargy. The catechisms used before the Second Vatican Council were exceedingly clear about the existence of objective truth and the falsity of non-Catholic religions. Even the Council itself, argued by some as being far too vague, made a statement about the Catholic Faith rarely, if ever, heard nowadays, which is still sufficiently clear for the purpose of establishing the truth of Catholicism: “This is the one Church of Christ, which in the Creed is professed as one, holy, catholic and apostolic, which our Saviour, after His Resurrection, commissioned Peter to shepherd . . . which He erected for all ages as ‘the pillar and mainstay of the truth’. This Church, constituted and organized in the world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him” (Lumen Gentium 8).

And even if the quote from the Council itself gives some amount of leeway by using the verb “subsists in” rather than simply “is”, the Credo of the People of God by Paul VI supplies any clarity lacking.

Do we have to go out into the streets and preach the truth of the Roman Church? No, not necessarily. But we must live our lives in a way that communicates the Catholic Faith, we must keep and spread the Faith, and we must pray for nonbelievers. How do we start? I’d suggest we begin by doing what was suggested by Fr. Dwight Longenecker: be bold with your Catholic vocabulary. Don’t just say, “Real Presence”, which is used even by some Protestants, but instead say, “Transubstantiation”, which definitively communicates the total disappearance of bread and wine and the total presence of Christ in the consecrated elements. Rather than merely calling it the vague term “liturgy”, call it the “Sacrifice of the Mass”, which communicates clearly the re-presentation of Christ’s death on the altars of our churches. Instead of saying simply, “Mary”, say “Our Lady” or the “Blessed Mother”. Instead of simply “Jesus” or “the Lord”, try “Our Lord”. These types of things are non-threatening ways of communicating a distinctly Catholic faith, and though they may feel awkward at first, they soon become second nature, and the people around you might find themselves following your lead (and please be aware, I’m not saying there’s anything sinful about not doing them; it’s up to you in the end, but it’s highly worth it). Only by a resurgence of Catholic identity will a recognition of Catholicism’s objectivity be able to take hold in the minds of the faithful, and only then will they bother evangelizing the non-Catholics around them. There aren’t many different truths where we have an option of picking the one that suits us best. There is one truth, and Our Lord died for it, so let us pray that He will give us the grace to recognize and hold firmly to it.

“If you continue in My word, you shall be My disciples indeed, and you shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32).

May the Holy Trinity bless you, and may Our Lady keep you under her protection.

Pretty Sanctuary vs. Auditorium Church

As I said a few posts back, priests have had a tendency to change the Mass in the last fifty years. Another common and unfortunate occurrence of the last fifty years is the issue of what will be called, for convenience’s sake, the Auditorium Church. I’m sure you can guess what I’m referring to here. Heck, your own parish may fit that category. The Auditorium Church is just what it sounds like: a worship space that looks not like a worship space, but an auditorium. A large contribution to the rise of these Auditorium Churches would be the desire among Catholics since the 1960s to do away with the Catholic and get along with Protestants by blurring the differentiating lines. For example, in these Auditorium Churches, you’ll find (most of the time) that things commonly considered “Catholic” are absent. Such things include (but are not limited to):

  • The Tabernacle (this “house of God”, as it were, is usually hidden off in a side chapel somewhere)
  • Statues
  • Stations of the Cross
  • Stained Glass
  • Kneelers (how dare we kneel before God, after all)

Such parishes have a tendency to be very happy-clappy and liberal. It makes sense. Anyone who truly knows about the Eucharist and knows what the Mass is would WANT a place to adequately glorify God. Unfortunately, these people see Holy Mass as a communal gathering, just like the church services of Protestants. Sadly for these Auditorium-loving folks (and thankfully for the Catholic identity in all of us), people do, in their heart of hearts, like–get this–beautiful churches. Yup. You got it. Pretty churches. God-glorifying churches. Ornate churches that take care and dedication to build. Does the church have to be a mini-European cathedral? No, but it should be obviously Catholic, insofar as that’s possible (the exception being a chapel in a third-world country).

There’s a very simple proof that people like “Catholic” Catholic churches.. Ask ANYBODY who normally goes to an Auditorium Parish and gets the chance to go to an obviously Catholic one. They will, almost unfailingly, declare how nice it was, and how they “love going to that church”.

Wanna venture a guess as to why that might be?

God bless,

Mike

Oh, the Priest is Being Rude!

Yes, that is the war-cry of some who insist that Mass ad orientem is a terrible thing, and it makes the congregation excluded, and it feels like a show, and it kills the spiritual life with its detachment, and…

Excuse me?

File:Missa tridentina 002.jpg
Rude? It’s Beautiful! – by the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter, available from http://fssp.org

If you think it’s rude, well, first of all, the current Holy Father would disagree (I suggest you read his book, The Spirit of the Liturgy; it really is something). The Pope’s opinion cast aside, however, I’d like to call your attention to a statement made early on in the Mass: “Brethren, let us acknowledge our sins, and so prepare ourselves to celebrate the sacred mysteries“. That last little phrase is very telling, and it’s worth observing in isolation:

Sacred Mysteries…

Definition of a mystery: something which can not be completely understood or known. Sacred is synonymous with “holy”. Thus, in the phrase “Sacred Mysteries” we have “holy things which can not be completely understood or known”. What could such a thing be? I’ll offer my view: the Holy Eucharist. The Eucharist is certainly sacred and certainly a mystery, since what appear to be mundane bread and wine are the flesh and blood of the Lord.

Mass wherein the priest is not looking toward the congregation, but toward God, better conveys the idea of the Mass as a “Sacred Mystery”. It brings with it a sense that the priest is not here to simply mingle with church-goers, but to do something great, magnanimous, and indeed, sacred. It also takes the focus of the Mass off the congregation, which should not be the focal point anyway. Christ on the altar should be the focal point, and when everyone, priest and congregation alike, faces Him, it is far more God-glorifying and God-centered.

Furthermore, it can’t be said that the priest ad orientem makes the congregation excluded. They’re facing the same direction, with the priest leading the congregation in this great mystery that is Mass.

Think about it.

God bless,
Michael

Doing Your Own Thing Again, Father?

It doesn’t take much to see that in the last fifty years, priests in the United States have liberally changed various parts of the Mass or put their own spins on them somehow. The examples are countless. The examples I’m going to give right now are comparatively pretty minor, but they help illustrate my point all the same.

What does the priest say when he concludes the Gospel reading? Come on, you should all know this. You in the back? Yeah! He got it!  The priest says, “The Gospel of the Lord” to which the congregation responds, “Praise to You, Lord Jesus Christ”. Or at least, that’s how it should be.

At my church, he says not only “the Gospel of the Lord” but “the Good News – the Gospel of the Lord”. Now okay, it might sound like nitpicking. If he wants to add the words “Good News”, so what, right? Gospel means “good news” anyway, so he’s not declaring something heretical.

More on that in a minute while we observe a second thing. During the Concluding Rite, the priest SHOULD say this as he performs the Sign of the Cross: “May Almighty God bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit”.

Our priest adds a slight change to that formula. He says, “May Almighty God bless US”. Now, again, this might sound like a nuance, since we do indeed want the Holy Trinity to bless the priest, too, but please consider some things.

1) The Mass is not the priest’s. The Church has prescribed that Mass, regardless of specific rites, is to be celebrated a certain way. The priest does not have the ability to change things as he sees fit. It doesn’t matter if he thinks it would make Mass better, it doesn’t matter if some otherwise dissident Catholics would give Mass a chance, it doesn’t matter what the priest’s personal opinions are. He cannot change the Mass.

2) The Mass isn’t a spotlight for the priest – it’s a spotlight for Our Lord, Who is present on the altar. A lot of priests treat Mass as though it’s their chance to entertain. They tell jokes during their homilies, they do crazy things in the Liturgy of the Eucharist, etc. etc. That’s not the purpose of the Mass. The purpose of the Mass is, chiefly, to make Calvary present here below and to be fed by the Body and Blood of Our Lord. Everything else about the Mass points to that. The priest is acting not in persona sui (in the person of himself) but in persona Christi. All his actions during Mass should reflect the One in Whose Person he is operating. If Christ Himself celebrated the Mass, would He be telling jokes or otherwise trying to make His congregation entertained? I doubt it. So why should the priest who represents Him here below?

3) The Mass is not about making the Church’s members happy. That the Mass should be full of joy is spot-on. But the problem is, when most people say the Mass should be joyful, they end up mistaking joy with “warm fuzzies” or “hymns that talk about community and God’s great affection”. I answer that joy is peace of mind, knowledge that one is right with God, in the state of grace, and prepared to come to Him in the Blessed Sacrament. Mass should be absolutely full of that, but “joy”, if you mean “feelings”, really doesn’t matter at all. Jesus Himself underwent a terrible agony shortly before His death, but He never did one wrong thing in His entire life! Saying things like “May Almighty God bless us” rather than “you” and calling the Gospel the “Good News” just screams of, “Let’s make the congregation feel included and good about themselves”. But since when do feelings really matter?

There’s nothing quite like a Papal Mass, which is almost always a reverent, to-the-rubrics thing.

Basically, it all adds up to “the Mass is not ABOUT you, it is FOR you”. The Mass is a gift! It’s the nature of gifts that they’re given by someone else, and no one in his right mind receives a gift and asks for modifications to it. He simply says, “Thanks” and gladly–or not so gladly–accepts what he’s been given. Jesus is perfect. His gifts are only ever perfect. How can we say the Mass, the ultimate gift, isn’t good enough the way He gives it? It’s terribly ungrateful to demand that it be changed when it could not be better than He, through the Church, has determined it to be [on the note of gifts being given–that’s why I dislike when people speak of “taking Communion”; one does not take a gift, he receives it].

God bless,

Michael

Awesome, Awesome, Awesome, Awesome Homily by the Holy Father on the Eucharist

See title.

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

This evening I would like to meditate with you on two interconnected aspects of the Eucharistic Mystery: the worship of the Eucharist and its sacredness. It is important to take it up again to preserve it from incomplete visions of the Mystery itself, such as those which were proposed in the recent past.

First of all, a reflection on the value of Eucharistic worship, in particular adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament. It is the experience that we will also live after the Mass, before the procession, during its development and at its end. A unilateral interpretation of Vatican Council II has penalized this dimension, restricting the Eucharist in practice to the celebratory moment. In fact, it was very important to recognize the centrality of the celebration, in which the Lord convokes his people, gathers them around the twofold table of the Word and the Bread of life, nourishes them and unites them to Himself in the offering of the Sacrifice. This assessment of the liturgical assembly, in which the Lord works and realizes his mystery of communion, remains of course valid, but it must be placed in the right balance. In fact – as often happens – the stressing of one aspect ends up by sacrificing another. In this case, the accentuation placed on the celebration of the Eucharist has been to the detriment of adoration, as act of faith and prayer addressed to the Lord Jesus, really present in the Sacrament of the altar. This imbalance has also had repercussions on the spiritual life of the faithful. In fact, concentrating the whole relationship with the Eucharistic Jesus only at the moment of Holy Mass risks removing his presence from the rest of time and the existential space. And thus, perceived less is the sense of the constant presence of Jesus in our midst and with us, a concrete, close presence among our homes, as “beating Heart” of the city, of the country, of the territory with its various expressions and activities. The Sacrament of the Charity of Christ must permeate the whole of daily life.

In reality, it is a mistake to oppose celebration and adoration, as if they were in competition with one another. It is precisely the contrary: the worship of the Most Blessed Sacrament is as the spiritual “environment” in which the community can celebrate the Eucharist well and in truth. Only if it is preceded, accompanied and followed by this interior attitude of faith and adoration, can the liturgical action express its full meaning and value. The encounter with Jesus in the Holy Mass is truly and fully acted when the community is able to recognize that, in the Sacrament, He dwells in his house, waits for us, invites us to his table, then, after the assembly is dismissed, stays with us, with his discreet and silent presence, and accompanies us with his intercession, continuing to gather our spiritual sacrifices and offering them to the Father.

In this connection, I am pleased to stress the experience we will also live together this evening. At the moment of adoration, we are all on the same plane, kneeling before the Sacrament of Love. The common and ministerial priesthoods are united in Eucharistic worship. It is a very beautiful and significant experience, which we have experienced several times in Saint Peter’s Basilica, and also in the unforgettable vigils with young people – I recall, for example, those of Cologne, London, Zagreb, Madrid. It is evident to all that these moments of Eucharistic vigil prepare the celebration of the Holy Mass, prepare hearts for the encounter, so that it is more fruitful. To be all together in prolonged silence before the Lord present in his Sacrament, is one of the most genuine experiences of our being Church, which is accompanied in a complementary way with the celebration of the Eucharist, listening to the Word of God, singing, approaching together the table of the Bread of life. Communion and contemplation cannot be separated, they go together. To really communicate with another person I must know him, I must be able to be in silence close to him, to hear him and to look at him with love. True love and true friendship always live of the reciprocity of looks, of intense, eloquent silences full of respect and veneration, so that the encounter is lived profoundly, in a personal not a superficial way. And, unfortunately, if this dimension is lacking, even sacramental communion itself can become, on our part, a superficial gesture. Instead, in true communion, prepared by the colloquy of prayer and of life, we can say to the Lord words of confidence as those that resounded a short while ago in the Responsorial Psalm: “O Lord, I am thy servant; I am thy servant, the son of thy handmaid. / Thou hast loosed my bonds./ I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving /and call on the name of the Lord” (Psalm 115:16-17).

Now I would like to pass briefly to the second aspect: the sacredness of the Eucharist. Also here we heard in the recent past of a certain misunderstanding of the authentic message of Sacred Scripture. The Christian novelty in regard to worship was influenced by a certain secularist mentality of the 60s and 70s of the past century. It is true, and it remains always valid, that the center of worship is now no longer in the rites and ancient sacrifices, but in Christ himself, in his person, in his life, in his paschal mystery. And yet, from this fundamental novelty it must not be concluded that the sacred no longer exists, but that it has found its fulfillment in Jesus Christ, incarnate divine Love. The Letter to the Hebrews, which we heard this evening in the Second Reading, speaks to us precisely of the novelty of the priesthood of Christ, “high priest of the good things that have come” (Hebrews 9:11), but it does not say that the priesthood is finished. Christ “is the mediator of a new covenant” (Hebrews 9:15), established in his blood, which purifies our “conscience from dead works” (Hebrews 9:14). He did not abolish the sacred, but brought it to fulfillment, inaugurating a new worship, which is, yes, fully spiritual but which however, so long as we are journeying in time, makes use again of signs and rites, of which there will be no need only at the end, in the heavenly Jerusalem, where there will no longer be a temple (cf. Revelation 21:22). Thanks to Christ, the sacred is more true, more intense and, as happens with the Commandments, also more exacting! Ritual observance is not enough, but what is required is the purification of the heart and the involvement of life.

I am also pleased to stress that the sacred has an educational function, and its disappearance inevitably impoverishes the culture, in particular, the formation of the new generations. If, for example, in the name of a secularized faith, no longer in need of sacred signs, this citizens’ processions of the Corpus Domini were abolished, the spiritual profile of Rome would be “leveled,” and our personal and community conscience would be weakened. Or let us think of a mother or a father that, in the name of a de-sacralized faith, deprived their children of all religious rituals: in reality they would end up by leaving a free field to so many surrogates present in the consumer society, to other rites and other signs, which could more easily become idols. God, our Father, has not acted thus with humanity: he has sent his Son into the world not to abolish, but to give fulfillment also to the sacred. At the height of this mission, in the Last Supper, Jesus instituted the Sacrament of his Body and his Blood, the Memorial of his Paschal Sacrifice. By so doing, he put himself in the place of the ancient sacrifices, but he did so within a rite, which he commanded the Apostles to perpetuate, as the supreme sign of the true sacred, which is Himself. With this faith, dear brothers and sisters, we celebrate today and every day the Eucharistic Mystery and we adore it as the center of our life and heart of the world. Amen.

[Translation by ZENIT]

Male and Female He Created Them

Often, when it comes to finding a Biblical argument against homosexual practice, the Old Testament will be used extensively. The homosexual (or the one who sees no problem with homosexuality) usually says that since the Old Law is no longer binding, so the arguments against homosexuality are no longer binding. He or she will then go on to say that homosexuality is only mentioned once or twice in the New Testament, and only “very obscurely” (this actually isn’t true; there’s no obscurity, but I digress), and in light of that the Christian should be more tolerant.

One of the anti-homosexual arguments I’ve seen used many times is the fact that Lord created humans “male and female” (Gen. 1:27) and said precisely that “it is not good for man to be alone” (Gen. 2:18). Yes, it is true, this passage is from the Old Testament. But we need to consider a few things before it’s brushed off as worthless.

“The law,” St. John tells us in the first chapter his gospel, “was given by Moses. Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”

Jesus Christ, we know, is the “Word become flesh” (John 1:14), the Word that “was with God and was God” (1:1). Do you see what’s happening here? Let’s rephrase the above quote from John. It’s as if he said, “The law was given by Moses. Grace and truth came by God.”

Now, I think, the distinction is clearer. It was not a law, but simply God Himself, not able to be misinterpreted or added to, Who declared “it is not good that man should be alone”. He said this before any law even needed to be established, since original sin had not yet entered the world. God declared man and woman’s need for each other at a time someone could view the world and “see how good it was”. Even if someone can’t find a convincing argument from any other place in the Bible, this one is very strong.

God, not just the Mosaic law, declared heterosexuality to be His desire for mankind. Who can argue with God?

His blessings to all,

Michael

“Not Thy will, but mine be done” – the anarchy of Protestantism and some ranting.

Such is the mindset of Protestantism as a whole. It is very much the “Church of Me”. If you’re part of one denomination and don’t like it, you can feel free to join another. If you don’t like the idea of organized religion, it’s fine: abandon it. Use the Bible strictly by itself and forget about the concept of “church”. If you want a church, but can’t find one that satisfies you, make one!

Thousands of denominations all claiming to have the truth. That, my friends, is the longterm fruit of the Reformation. Whatever happened to, “That they may be one, as We are one” (John 17:22)? Protestantism says to Christ exactly the opposite of what He said to the Father: “Not Thy will, but mine be done”.

Is it really likely that Our Lord wanted people starting churches left and right or determining truth based on what they think is true? I guess St. Paul was off the mark when he spoke of “one Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Ephesians 4:5)? Actually, wait, never mind. We don’t need to be baptized. We just need to accept Jesus…right?

That sure wasn’t what Jesus said. He was pretty clear that baptism is necessary for salvation. “Amen I say to you, unless a man be born again of water and the spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). Yes, subjectively speaking, someone can be saved without baptism, but it is necessary objectively.

Protestants also tend to treat the Bible like it is “the pillar and foundation of the truth”. But if you look at the passage where that quote comes from, 1 Timothy 3:15,  you’d see that it’s referring to the Church, not the Bible.

Another problem with the Protestant sect is private Biblical interpretation. Observe 2 Peter 3:15-16: “…Paul also wrote to you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction“.   Not only does this make it clear that a definite, sound interpretation is necessary of Paul and the rest of Scripture, but it also makes one wonder why it is that many Protestants use Paul extensively to defend their doctrines, if he is “hard to understand”.

I’ve heard many a Protestant say, when asked about issues such as the huge divisions in the religion as a whole, that “We all agree on the big stuff”. What exactly qualifies as “big”? They’d probably say, “The Trinity, the Incarnation, Sola Fide, and Sola Scriptura”. But what about other stuff?

Take the Real Presence of Our Lord in the Eucharist, for example. Some Protestants like Anglicans and Lutherans say that this is a very important thing. In fact, it was so important, they might say, that Jesus was sure to say that those who don’t eat His body and drink His blood won’t have eternal life and they’d cite John 6:53-54 for that. Then some Protestants would say He was speaking figuratively in light His statement, “The flesh profits nothing” and they’d cite John 6:63.

Or look at homosexuality. Some would denounce it, using Romans 1:26-27 as evidence, and others would say it’s fine and lump it in with the abolished “Old Law”.

Some believe in predestination. Others, free will. Some believe it’s wrong to call priests “father”, others don’t care.

And the list goes on. They can’t all be right or acceptable. There is only one truth. Christianity is not a religion of relativism, but a religion of absolutes. And yes – it is a religion!

God bless, until next time.

Religions are cults, right?

Satan is a smart individual. When it comes to groups that actually have a “religious” structure and very liturgical worship, many Protestants are quick to slam them and say Jesus came to abolish religion and just wants us to have a “personal relationship with Him”.

There are three religions which tend to be the largest targets of Protestant attacks: Mormonism (the Latter-Day Saints Church), the Watchtower Society (Jehovah’s Witnesses), and of course, the Roman Catholic Church, the “whore of Babylon” of Revelation 17 herself!

Now be aware that when it comes to Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses, they tend to have different views about Christ than Protestants. They deny the divinity of Christ and the Trinity and they have all these weird religious obligations.

Protestants and Catholics often see these two groups as “cults” and often deny entirely their being Christians.

And now we come to the reason why I called Satan smart. Protestants see these weird religious groups, and see that Catholics are religious and very structured, and they automatically associate the Catholic Church with these “cults”.

Satan is smart indeed.

God bless,

Michael