Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Catholic Freedom Paradox

I look at the Catechism at times and step back and think...it all looks so complicated. It is so cumbersome, even certain words have only a Catholic Religious meaning. I attended a Bible study of the Sacraments last year, in order to understand their purpose more clearly. The Catechism was being used as the source document of teaching the meaning of the sacraments, with biblical references. In and of itself, the Catechism appears to be laid out in a hypercomplex manner. Initially I went along, best I could, without being obviously irritated. Reading the sacrament descriptive writings at first felt like walking an intellectual knife edge...the "rules" for getting any sacrament to produce results were staggering. Soon into the study, it opened my eyes to the benefit of the massive amount of written "rules".

Fulton Sheen makes this clear in the episode "Conscience". The "rules", requirements, orders, commandments, practices exist because they break us free from our human limitations.

Studying the Bible, the Comandments (more rules) and the examples of following Jesus take a shape of freedom. When we obey and abide, we find ourselves free from guilt, free from indecision, free from the burden of forcing our lives in a direction with an unpredictable outcome, and all that effort and work that entails. The practices, they become meaningful conscious efforts to move us closer to God. The freedom is inherent in practicing compliance and cooperation with rules and orders (read "laws" as well). A perfect analogy is our Freedom based Amercan Society, that is founded on a legislative and governed authority, creating laws which uphold this free environment. So as it is in our Catholic practice, we are put in a mental and spiritual place void of the pressure to measure and compete materially, through grace. When we can use our grounded Christian conscious, our gut, and not our net worth or resume' to make a decision, we have achieved a freedom of immense value.

Why not the Eucharist?

It is written that Jesus healed a Leper. Jesus walked on water. Christs' witnessed miracles are documented and never (in my experience) doubted by Protestants their reality and validity. If you/we believe those events actually occurred, then, as a Protestant, why not the Eucharist? How hard is it to fathom that he infuses the Eucharist with his Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity at Mass? John 6, its right there with no wavering adjectives or mysterious side-door symbolic language. Eat. Plain and simple.

Protestants profess the same simplicity with their alter call, "proclaim he is your Savior" and you are "saved". Yes, I am generalizing which of course merits a measure of latitude so forgive my broadbrush, but attempt comprehension of the point.

The Simplicity is there. Just as an alter call profession, it is a reach for grace from Him. It is a hypocracy of some weight to believe in the miraculous and deny his real presence in the Eucharist, when it is all Biblically supported.

Progressive Grace

Theres a epiphany point for all Christians in their journey. Changes of the Heart come for some quickly and some agonizingly slow. We can all attest to that hindsight 20/20 clarity to reveal a change of heart. (fish oil helps us over the hump types).

Years ago, when I made a distinct conscious decision to follow the Lord, seek his presence, actively pursue the answers to questions all Christians have in their heart...

"am I worthy?...how can He love me?...where will this lead me?...etc"

and if there is a consistent effort, intentional thought and specific prayer in the seeker, changes of the heart actualize. I have felt this progressive grace in my heart over these years since my decision to follow, and know its Him. The selfishness and pride(ego) was the first internally recognizeable change of heart. Within some matter of weeks after the decision, I noticed a lack of my typical frustrations and anger upon the normal triggers. Traffic...seriously...Dude cuts me off and I would seethe to a degree...but not after the decision. I was somewhat amused actually when I got victimized at 65 mph, then the epiphany set in...."thats Him?"...I thought. Sure enough for me it is. I had no conscious effort to restrain internal anger at that...just a lack of weight or need to. There are changes of my heart now, progressively more obvious, more meaningful. My values have changed (I didnt even pray for that), the way I "see" other people in my presence was transformed. I see fragile humanity more clearly today. Changes of the heart are coming and I cannot claim their domain, only recognize their origin, be grateful in the peace of their fruit and thank God he is finding me worthy.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Fair Enough....

Its time I put out a description of the a-C and myself, for context sake and to better level the playing field for him. Know this...currently the a-C does NOT know this blog exists. I am private enough to only post stuff that is relevant and private info wont be revealed....we all deserve that respect.

The a-C is a man on fire Fundamentalist. He will tell you he is not in any specific flavor of Religion or Doctrine....he doesnt need a Church...he attends a Nondenom but only for meaningful Bible teaching and connection to other like "Saved" Christians. He is in my experience a Calvinist. He was born and raised a Catholic...I have liitle background on what that entailed, confirmed or not, but he shared his exit from the Catholic Church like this....

He sincerely searched for truth there, took part in Sacrements with no results, and being frustrated met up with a Christian (Fundamentalist...my guess) who had him study Romans verse by verse privately. Thats when he was Saved.

These days he wont get near the RCC. I asked him to attend a Contemporary Christian Concert I was playing in at my RCC and he said...and here I quote:

" Dude...If I made it to the parking lot without puking, I still wouldnt go in. To watch a self glorified Priest, resacrifice Christ in blasphemy, insult our Savior is too much to endure." The a-C believes the following"

  • No Catholic is Saved and there are No Catholics going to heaven....due to
  • The Catholics disrespect of Christs one time Sacrifice by Re-Sacrificing him repeatedly
  • None of the Catholic Sacrements are Biblically based
  • None of the Catholic Practices are found in the Bible
  • Tradition is not Biblically supported
  • No Indulgences or forgiveness is ever needed after one is saved, and believing that such things exist is proving to God you do not trust his intial Sacrifice...therefore you truly dont believe...therefore you are not Saved.

The a-C and I in our friendship have come to an affection for each other, sometimes strained, but nonetheless, he is today a well read Bible follower. Sola Scriptura all the way. Very convincing to any non-exposed secular person who encounters him, I must admit.

He has agreed to my ground rules for this comparison and investigation...that being....I will present nothing but biblical based evidence for all the RCC practices....all of them, and he will counterpoint. Do I believe I will ever prevail in bringing him home? I think his unfruitful RCC experience is an enormous obstacle to that, I can only hope. My main motivation here is to discover if his points have merit.

Are we (Catholics) bound for hell by taking in Communion?

It is my intent to intellectually, spiritually and religiously discover that here, in real time.

An a-C response to Mary

I received a response from the a-C on my conversational points in the post "Mary and her place" below. His response is in CAPS. Enjoy. Peace.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Ave Maria

or better known as "Mary, Full of Grace". The a-C stated to me...."Where is there any reference in the Bible to Mary being full of grace" ...its just not there". I had to dig deep in reply...I know its there...I hear it at Mass every week...Hup! there it is:

One of many Bible sources of Mary's condition:
- read Luke 1, vs. 26 through 38, specifically verse 28 as follows:" And in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth, 27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David: and the virgin's name was Mary. 28 And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. 29 Who having heard, was troubled at his saying and thought with herself what manner of salutation this should be. 30 And the angel said to her: Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God. 31 Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb and shalt bring forth a son: and thou shalt call his name Jesus. 32 He shall be great and shall be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father: and he shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever. 33 And of his kingdom there shall be no end.34 And Mary said to the angel: How shall this be done, because I know not man?35 And the angel answering, said to her: The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. 36 And behold thy cousin Elizabeth, she also hath conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her that is called barren. 37 Because no word shall be impossible with God. 38 And Mary said: Behold the handmaid of the Lord: be it done to me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her."

Interesting that you didnt know this a-C. The Devotion to Mary of the Universal Church is widely documented, and as to her intercessionary role and its biblical sources. Her position is further clarified in Revelation 12-1 through 6:" 1 And a great sign appeared in heaven: A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars, 2 And being with child, she cried travailing in birth: and was in pain to be delivered........"Now a-C, objectively speaking, who do we know from the bible that fits this description? Is it not reasonable to tie this to John 19 where Christ on the Cross told his disciple "Behold they mother.." pointing at Mary? The Crown of 12 stars in Rev 12-2, what do they represent to you a-C? Not a statement, but a question of research.

The a-C then replies...
"This is revelation that indeed the Lord would come thru her…but to say that she is an intercessor is simply not there, there is no worship or otherwise…the Lord said I will share my Glory with no other…let alone a woman that he created

(Whoa....This is a huge statement...imagine the Chicken/Egg debate going on there...we will have to address this philosophical broadbrush at some point)

She declared that he was her Lord! (well...duh)

The NASB has the proper translation of the word which is used often, she declared herself to be his slave!

38 And Mary said, "Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her.

You would agree that the angel did not pray to her, nor worship her, nor did anyone any where in scripture…nor did Elizabeth become the object of worship or adiration…

When Jesus was on the Cross, he directed John that Mary was now to be taken care of by him…it was a directive to him as she was a widow and her children had not come to faith yet…

This really does not support anything to the notion that she is an intercessor and if she were, would she be mentioned in texts like Heb 4:14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. 16 Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

There is nothing in scripture about her intercession…"

My reply to this assertion...

a-C, you say and I quote"There is nothing in scripture about her intercession…"

I found reference in Romans: The doctrine of one Mediator, Christ, in no way excludes the invocation and intercession of saints. All merit indeed comes through Him; but this does not make it unlawful to ask our fellow-creatures, whether here on earth or already in heaven, to help us by their prayers. The same Apostle who insists so strongly on the sole mediatorship of Christ, earnestly begs the prayers of his brethren: "I beseech you, therefore, brethren, through our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the charity of the Holy Ghost, that you help me in your prayers for me to God" (Romans 15:30); and he himself prays for them: "I give thanks to my God in every remembrance of you, always in all my prayers making supplication for you all" (Phil., i, 3, 4). If the prayers of the brethren on earth do not derogate from the glory and dignity of the Mediator, Christ, neither do the prayers of the saints in heaven.

Romans is clear. "Supplication" or petitioning is clear. Just as if I asked you to pray for me Jim, that is valid intercession. So I would be diminishing what God did for us by asking you to intercede for me in prayer? The Bible states otherise.

This particluar conversation went offtrack with the a-C pointing at Romans passages that are interpreted by him to make broad attacks on our Catholic "rituals" which of course is avoiding getting to the bottom of the Mary position.

I asked the a-C to go get me a rebuttal...biblically based, not interpretive...that proves praying to Mary or Saints is ineffective as praying to "dead people". In 3 days no reply so far......

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Mary and her place

Further conversation from me with the "anti-Catholic" (now called the a-C) when he professed the typical falsehood that "we" worship Mary...went like this... ( the a-C response is in CAPS)

"I imagined we were already beyond the false Protestant belief that Catholics "worship" and "Adore" Mary....I guess we need to go back there and clear that up first. The first thing we have to get beyond is that she is not just a dead person...that would mean she was an unjustified sinner and went to hell. If she entered into heaven, then the RCC goes with the following logic, these are my words:A DEAD PERSON OR ONE WHO HAS FALLEN ASLEEP HAS EITHER WENT TO BE IN THE PRESENCE OF CHRIST OR THEY ARE IN THE OUTER DARKNESS ENDURING ETERNAL SEPARATION FROM GOD The Roman Catholic rite does not hold Mary to any level higher than a Saint. SAINTS ARE THE ELECT OR CHOSEN OF GOD WHO HAVE BEEN BORN AGAIN…IF THEY ARE DEPARTED THEY DO NOT MANIFEST QUALITIES THAT GOD HAS, NOR ARE THEY WORTHY OF ANYHTING MORE THAN YOU AND I, Take my word for it. The volumes of Biblical callouts to the Blessed Mary in that vain do not allow or depict worship of Mary. Only that esteem which the Mother of God would naturally and logically be given is recognized. I DON’T THINK IT ACCURATE TO SAY THAT THE BIBLE SAYS WE ESTEEM MARY, GOD EXISTED AND WAS LONG BEFORE MARY BROGHT THE GOD MAN INTO HIS EARTHLY FORM…SO GOD DOES NOT HAVE A MOTHER IN THIS SENSE OF THE USE…JOHN 1;1 AND MANY INFERENCE THAT OUR LORD SAID, BEFORE ABRAHAM WAS, I AM That esteem or singular position, as there was only one Mother of God...(in contrast to multiple apostles cannonized into sainthood). So Mary's unique part in the reality of Jesus, and those passages which bestow her Divine communion with Jesus on earth and the hereafter give Mary posture that no other has ever had or will ever have, in the view of the Universal Church . SHE DID NOT RECEIVE ESTEEM FROM JESUS HIMSELF, HE ESTEEMED THE CHOSEN AND IDENTIFIED WITH THE BRETHREN, YE ARE MY MOTHER AND MY BROTHER AND SISTER…That logic was never hard for me to swallow. I dont see any worship or adoration of Mary practiced in my Church locally, in the 6 or so other RCC's I've been to in this area, or the Diocese Offices. I dont find that in the Catechism as well. I do find her unique role being defended and used as a conduit for communication in some sacraments, but not worship. NO SUCH CONDUIT IS VALID, AT ALL There are certain liturgical works, NOT FAMILIAR WITH THIS WORD, LITURGICAL WORKS? such as the sacrament of the sick and dying which point to Mary as a source of strength MARY IS NEVER DEPECITED AS A SOURCE OF STRENGTH IN DYING…SO IT IS NOT SO OBVIOUS TO ME, for obvious reasons, she being one who lived through the worlds most horrific loss of a Son, and being a Mother figure of care and love. SHE DID NOT LOSE A SON…HE ROSE FROM THE DEAD THREE DAYS LATER AND IS RULING HIS KINGDOM…THE EXPERIENCE WAS HORRIFIC FOR ALL WHOSE SINS HE BORE ON HIS BODY AND MADE THE WRATH HE ENDURED NECESSARY I suppose one would on the surface view a person, kneeling in a Church, praying out loud to Mary directly as worship, however, that is not what is taught in the Roman Catholic rite. SPEAKING TO SOMEONE IN PRAYER IS A HUGE PROBLEM!!!! HUGE IF YOU STOP AND THINK ABOUT IT, IF YOU STOP DISASSOCIATING IT FROM WORSHIP AND TRULY THINK ABOUT SPEAKING TO A BEING IN PRAYER IS ELEVATING THAT BEING TO A LEVEL WITH GOD, WHICH SHE IS NOT Most likely anyone praying the rosary to Mary is praying for a loved one through that posture of respect and esteem. Cant judge that book by its cover, but I can see how it appears to the uninitiated. I LOVE YOU VERY MUCH, I ENCOURAGE TO NOT BE OFFENDED WITH THE CONTENT NOR THINK THAT SOMETHING THAT HAS BEEN SO COMMON TO US BOTH (MYSELF BEING A CATHOLIC FOR 35 YEARS) IS ACTUALLY TRUE ACCORDING TO SCRIPTURE…THESE THINGS ARE NOT IN THE BIBLE AND IN FACT ARE WARNED AGAINST IN SCRIPTURE IN MANY MANY WAYS

Keep in mind that I am making a soft approach here and it may not be entirely accurate per the canon...but in a breaking the ice kind of way using personal experience as well. Cant we all get along? sheesh.

Secular Outreach

I produced a promo Video for a Christian friend...to lead seekers to his website...

Which is too long for Broadcast, so its been edited down to a 30 second version, thus...

Still refining the "draw" concept, provoking the viewers thinking and leading them to a place of answer and investigation.....

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Moving Train....

I have an ongoing conversation with an anti-Catholic...you know them...yea the one with the spotlight of grace only on him. Poor guy...thinks we Worship Mary and waste money on Buckets of Smoke. At any rate, in trying to come "over" to his level and get the discussion on a meanigful track I gave him this summary on why Catholic (not why Catholics have it right, just why...)

The RC Church's main obstacle to bringing Secular non-believers off the "street" is that whole appearance of ritual and adornment and complex processes. The feast of Antioch, the eucharistic adoration process, the RCIA. Unfortunately because the Church is centered around the Mass, and receiving grace from a dependant process of communion, confirmation, confession, penance, and Holy orders...its not a very attractive thing to enter. On the outside, its cumbersome, self boasting, and too complicated. I can imagine trying to make sense of it in Latin back in the 1960's. I liken it to learning to be a proficient musician, yes the path is long, requires repeated exercises of what at first appears boring, and non productive to understand its depth. But then oneday one can find themselves well beyond any depth imaginable...thats when it makes sense. Is it akin to making a Cheeseburger by killing a cow from scratch when I could just go to McDonalds? maybe, but my scratch burger tastes better and has given me a career training to process the meat, skin the animal, dress the hide and cook and prepare the Burger.

So there you have it...the begininng of a new "cast"...Pod or Broad or Blog. Maybe I'll get out the recorder...so much to say and the Pod cast is so portable...hmm.