Skip to comments.Testimony of a Former Irish Priest
Posted on 07/18/2010 6:04:05 AM PDT by Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus
The Early Years
Born Irish, in a family of eight, my early childhood was fulfilled and happy. My father was a colonel in the Irish Army until he retired when I was about nine. As a family, we loved to play, sing, and act, all within a military camp in Dublin.
We were a typical Irish Roman Catholic family. My father sometimes knelt down to pray at his bedside in a solemn manner. My mother would talk to Jesus while sewing, washing dishes, or even smoking a cigarette. Most evenings we would kneel in the living room to say the Rosary together. No one ever missed Mass on Sundays unless he was seriously ill. By the time I was about five or six years of age, Jesus Christ was a very real person to me, but so also were Mary and the saints. I can identify easily with others in traditional Catholic nations in Europe and with Hispanics and Filipinos who put Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and other saints all in one boiling pot of faith.
The catechism was drilled into me at the Jesuit School of Belvedere, where I had all my elementary and secondary education. Like every boy who studies under the Jesuits, I could recite before the age of ten five reasons why God existed and why the Pope was head of the only true Church. Getting souls out of Purgatory was a serious matter. The often quoted words, "It is a holy and a wholesome thought to pray for the dead that they may be loosed from sins," were memorized even though we did not know what these words meant. We were told that the Pope as head of the Church was the most important man on earth. What he said was law, and the Jesuits were his right-hand men. Even though the Mass was in Latin, I tried to attend daily because I was intrigued by the deep sense of mystery which surrounded it. We were told it was the most important way to please God. Praying to saints was encouraged, and we had patron saints for most aspects of life. I did not make a practise of that, with one exception: St. Anthony, the patron of lost objects, since I seemed to lose so many things.
When I was fourteen years old, I sensed a call to be a missionary. This call, however, did not affect the way in which I conducted my life at that time. Age sixteen to eighteen were the most fulfilled and enjoyable years a youth could have. During this time, I did quite well both academically and athletically.
I often had to drive my mother to the hospital for treatments. While waiting for her, I found quoted in a book these verses from Mark 10:29-30, "And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's, But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life." Not having any idea of the true salvation message, I decided that I truly did have a call to be a missionary.
Trying To Earn Salvation I left my family and friends in 1956 to join the Dominican Order. I spent eight years studying what it is to be a monk, the traditions of the Church, philosophy, the theology of Thomas Aquinas, and some of the Bible from a Catholic standpoint. Whatever personal faith I had was institutionalized and ritualized in the Dominican religious system. Obedience to the law, both Church and Dominican, was put before me as the means of sanctification. I often spoke to Ambrose Duffy, our Master of Students, about the law being the means of becoming holy. In addition to becoming "holy," I wanted also to be sure of eternal salvation. I memorized part of the teaching of Pope Pius XII in which he said, "...the salvation of many depends on the prayers and sacrifices of the mystical body of Christ offered for this intention." This idea of gaining salvation through suffering and prayer is also the basic message of Fatima and Lourdes, and I sought to win my own salvation as well as the salvation of others by such suffering and prayer.
In the Dominican monastery in Tallaght, Dublin, I performed many difficult feats to win souls, such as taking cold showers in the middle of winter and beating my back with a small steel chain. The Master of Students knew what I was doing, his own austere life being part of the inspiration that I had received from the Pope's words. With rigor and determination, I studied, prayed, did penance, tried to keep the Ten Commandments and the multitude of Dominican rules and traditions.
Outward Pomp -- Inner Emptiness
Then in 1963 at the age of twenty-five I was ordained a Roman Catholic priest and went on to finish my course of studies of Thomas Aquinas at The Angelicum University in Rome. But there I had difficulty with both the outward pomp and the inner emptiness. Over the years I had formed, from pictures and books, pictures in my mind of the Holy See and the Holy City. Could this be the same city? At the Angelicum University I was also shocked that hundreds of others who poured into our morning classes seemed quite disinterested in theology. I noticed Time and Newsweek magazines being read during classes. Those who were interested in what was being taught seemed only to be looking for either degrees or positions within the Catholic Church in their homelands.
One day I went for a walk in the Colosseum so that my feet might tread the ground where the blood of so many Christians had been poured out. I walked to the arena in the Forum. I tried to picture in my mind those men and women who knew Christ so well that they were joyfully willing to be burned at the stake or devoured alive by beasts because of His overpowering love. The joy of this experience was marred, however, for as I went back in the bus I was insulted by jeering youths shouting words meaning "scum or garbage." I sensed their motivation for such insults was not because I stood for Christ as the early Christians did but because they saw in me the Roman Catholic system. Quickly, I put this contrast out of my mind, yet what I had been taught about the present glories of Rome now seemed very irrelevant and empty.
One night soon after that, I prayed for two hours in front of the main altar in the church of San Clemente. Remembering my earlier youthful call to be a missionary and the hundredfold promise of Mark 10:29-30, I decided not to take the theological degree that had been my ambition since beginning study of the theology of Thomas Aquinas. This was a major decision, but after long prayer I was sure I had decided correctly.
The priest who was to direct my thesis did not want to accept my decision. In order to make the degree easier, he offered me a thesis written several years earlier. He said I could useit as my own if only I would do the oral defense. This turned my stomach. It was similar to what I had seen a few weeks earlier in a city park: elegant prostitutes parading themselves in their black leather boots. What he was offering was equally sinful. I held to my decision, finishing at the University at the ordinary academic level, without the degree.
On returning from Rome, I received official word that I had been assigned to do a three year course at Cork University. I prayed earnestly about my missionary call. To my surprise, I received orders in late August 1964 to go to Trinidad, West Indies, as a missionary.
Pride, Fall, And A New Hunger
On October 1, 1964, I arrived in Trinidad, and for seven years I was a successful priest, in Roman Catholic terms, doing all my duties and getting many people to come to Mass. By 1972 I had become quite involved in the Catholic Charismatic Movement. Then, at a prayer meeting on March 16th of that year, I thanked the Lord that I was such a good priest and requested that if it were His will, He humble me that I might be even better. Later that same evening I had a freak accident, splitting the back of my head and hurting my spine in many places. Without thus coming close to death, I doubt that I would ever have gotten out of my self- satisfied state. Rote, set prayer showed its emptiness as I cried out to God in my pain.
In the suffering that I went through in the weeks after the accident, I began to find some comfort in direct personal prayer. I stopped saying the Breviary (the Roman Catholic Church's official prayer for clergy) and the Rosary and began to pray using parts of the Bible itself. This was a very slow process. I did not know my way through the Bible and the little I had learned over the years had taught me more to distrust it rather than to trust it. My training in philosophy and in the theology of Thomas Aquinas left me helpless, so that coming into the Bible now to find the Lord was like going into a huge dark woods without a map.
When assigned to a new parish later that year, I found that I was to work side-by-side with a Dominican priest who had been a brother to me over the years. For more than two years we were to work together, fully seeking God as best we knew in the parish of Pointe-a-Pierre. We read, studied, prayed, and put into practise what we had been taught in Church teaching. We built up communities in Gasparillo, Claxton Bay, and Marabella, just to mention the main villages. In a Catholic religious sense we were very successful. Many people attended Mass. The Catechism was taught in many schools, including government schools. I continued my personal search into the Bible, but it did not much affect the work we were doing; rather it showed me how little I really knew about the Lord and His Word. It was at this time that Philippians 3:10 became the cry of my heart, "That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection...."
About this time the Catholic Charismatic movement was growing, and we introduced it into most of our villages. Because of this movement, some Canadian Christians came to Trinidad to share with us. I learned much from their messages, especially about praying for healing. The whole impact of what they said was very experience-oriented but was truly a blessing, insofar, as it got me deeply into the Bible as an authority source. I began to compare scripture with scripture and even to quote chapter and verse! One of the texts the Canadians used was Isaiah 53:5, "...and with his stripes we are healed." Yet in studying Isaiah 53, I discovered that the Bible deals with the problem of sin by means of substitution. Christ died in my place. It was wrong for me to try to expidite or try to cooperate in paying the price of my sin.
"If by grace, it is no more of works, otherwise grace is no more grace.." Romans 11:6. "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all" (Isaiah 53:6).
One particular sin of mine was getting annoyed with people, sometimes even angry. Although I asked forgiveness for my sins, I still did not realize that I was a sinner by the nature which we all inherit from Adam. The scriptural truth is, "As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one" (Romans 3:10), and "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). The Catholic Church, however, had taught me that the depravity of man, which is called "original sin," had been washed away by my infant baptism. I still held this belief in my head, but in my heart I knew that my depraved nature had not yet been conquered by Christ.
"That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection..." (Philippians 3:10) continued to be the cry of my heart. I knew that it could be only through His power that I could live the Christian life. I posted this text on the dashboard of my car and in other places. It became the plea that motivated me, and the Lord who is Faithful began to answer.
The Ultimate Question
First, I discovered that God's Word in the Bible is absolute and without error. I had been taught that the Word is relative and that its truthfulness in many areas was to be questioned. Now I began to understand that the Bible could, in fact, be trusted. With the aid of Strong's Concordance, I began to study the Bible to see what it says about itself. I discovered that the Bible teaches clearly that it is from God and is absolute in what it says. It is true in its history, in the promises God has made, in its prophecies, in the moral commands it gives, and in how to live the Christian life. "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works" (II Timothy 3:16-17).
This discovery was made while visiting in Vancouver, B.C., and in Seattle. When I was asked to talk to the prayer group in St. Stephen's Catholic Church, I took as my subject the absolute authority of God's Word. It was the first time that I had understood such a truth or talked about it. I returned to Vancouver, B.C. and in a large parish Church, before about 400 people, I preached the same message. Bible in hand, I proclaimed that "the absolute and final authority in all matters of faith and morals is the Bible, God's own Word."
Three days later, the archbishop of Vancouver, B.C., James Carney, called me to his office. I was then officially silenced and forbidden to preach in his archdiocese. I was told that my punishment would have been more severe, were it not for the letter of recommendation I had received from my own archbishop, Anthony Pantin. Soon afterwards I returned to Trinidad.
While I was still parish priest of Point-a-Pierre, Ambrose Duffy, the man who had so strictly taught me while he was Student Master, was asked to assist me. The tide had turned. After some initial difficulties, we became close friends. I shared with him what I was discovering. He listened and commented with great interest and wanted to find out what was motivating me. I saw in him a channel to my Dominican brothers and even to those in the Archbishop's house.
When he died suddenly of a heart attack, I was stricken with grief. In my mind, I had seen Ambrose as the one who could make sense out of the Church-Bible dilemma with which I so struggled. I had hoped that he would have been able to explain to me and then to my Dominican brothers the truths with which I wrestled. I preached at his funeral and my despair was very deep.
I continued to pray Philippians 3:10, "That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection...." But to learn more about Him, I had first to learn about myself as a sinner. I saw from the Bible (I Timothy 2:5) that the role I was playing as a priestly mediator -- exactly what the Catholic Church teaches but exactly opposite to what the Bible teaches -- was wrong. I really enjoyed being looked up to by the people and, in a certain sense, being idolized by them. I rationalized my sin by saying that after all, if this is what the biggest Church in the world teaches, who am I to question it? Still, I struggled with the conflict within. I began to see the worship of Mary, the saints, and the priests for the sin that it is. But while I was willing to renounce Mary and the saints as mediators, I could not renounce the priesthood, for in that I had invested my whole life.
Mary, the saints, and the priesthood were just a small part of the huge struggle with which I was working. Who was Lord of my life, Jesus Christ in His Word or the Roman Church? This ultimate question raged inside me especially during my last six years as parish priest of Sangre Grande (1979-1985). That the Catholic Church was supreme in all matters of faith and morals had been dyed into my brain since I was a child. It looked impossible ever to change.
Rome was not only supreme but always called "Holy Mother." How could I ever go against "Holy Mother," all the more so since I had an official part in dispensing her sacraments and keeping people faithful to her? In 1981, I actually rededicated myself to serving the Roman Catholic Church while attending a parish renewal seminar in New Orleans. Yet when I returned to Trinidad and again became involved in real life problems, I began to return to the authority of God's Word. Finally the tension became like a tug-of-war inside me. Sometimes I looked to the Roman Church as being absolute, sometimes to the authority of the Bible as being final. My stomach suffered much during those years; my emotions were being torn. I ought to have known the simple truth that one cannot serve two masters. My working position was to place the absolute authority of the Word of God under the supreme authority of the Roman Church.
This contradiction was symbolized in what I did with the four statues in the Sangre Grande Church. I removed and broke the statues of St. Francis and St. Martin because the second commandment of God's Law declares in Exodus 20:4, "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image...." But when some of the people objected to my removal of the statues of the Sacred Heart and of Mary, I left them standing because the higher authority, i.e., the Roman Catholic Church, said in its law Canon 1188: "The practise of displaying sacred images in the churches for the veneration of the faithful is to remain in force."
I did not see that what I was trying to do was to make God's Word subject to man's word. My Own Fault While I had learned earlier that God's Word is absolute, I still went through this agony of trying to maintain the Roman Catholic Church as holding more authority than God's Word, even in issues where the Church of Rome was saying the exact opposite to what was in the Bible.
How could this be? First of all, it was my own fault. If I had accepted the authority of the Bible as supreme, I would have been convicted by God's Word to give up my priestly role as mediator, but that was too precious to me. Second, no one ever questioned what I did as a priest.
Christians from overseas came to Mass, saw our sacred oils, holy water, medals, statues, vestments, rituals, and never said a word! The marvelous style, symbolism, music, and artistic taste of the Roman Church was all very captivating. Incense not only smells pungent, but to the mind it spells mystery.
The Turning Point
One day, a woman challenged me (the only Christian ever to challenge me in all my 22 years as a priest), "You Roman Catholics have a form of godliness, but you deny its power." Those words bothered me for some time because the lights, banners, folk music, guitars, and drums were dear to me. Probably no priest on the whole island of Trinidad had as colorful robes, banners, and vestments as I had. Clearly I did not apply what was before my eyes.
In October 1985, God's grace was greater than the lie that I was trying to live. I went to Barbados to pray over the compromise that I was forcing myself to live. I felt truly trapped. The Word of God is absolute indeed. I ought to obey it alone; yet to the very same God I had vowed obedience to the supreme authority of the Catholic Church. In Barbados I read a book in which was explained the Biblical meaning of Church as "the fellowship of believers." In the New Testament there is no hint of a hierarchy; "Clergy" lording it over the "laity" is unknown. Rather, it is as the Lord Himself declared "...one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren" (Matthew 23:8).
Now to see and to understand the meaning of church as "fellowship" left me free to let go of the Roman Catholic Church as supreme authority and depend on Jesus Christ as Lord. It began to dawn on me that in Biblical terms, the Bishops I knew in the Catholic Church were not Biblical believers. They were for the most part pious men taken up with devotion to Mary and the Rosary and loyal to Rome, but not one had any idea of the finished work of salvation, that Christ's work is done, that salvation is personal and complete. They all preached penance for sin, human suffering, religious deeds, "the way of man" rather than the Gospel of grace. But by God's grace I saw that it was not through the Roman Church nor by any kind of works that one is saved, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9).
New Birth at Age 48
I left the Roman Catholic Church when I saw that life in Jesus Christ was not possible while remaining true to Roman Catholic doctrine. In leaving Trinidad in November 1985, I only reached neighboring Barbados. Staying with an elderly couple, I prayed to the Lord for a suit and necessary money to reach Canada, for I had only tropical clothing and a few hundred dollars to my name. Both prayers were answered without making my needs known to anyone except the Lord.
From a tropical temperature of 90 degrees, I landed in snow and ice in Canada. After one month in Vancouver, I came to the United States of America. I now trusted that He would take care of my many needs, since I was beginning life anew at 48 years of age, practically penniless, without an alien resident card, without a driver's license, without a recommendation of any kind, having only the Lord and His Word.
I spent six months with a Christian couple on a farm in Washington State. I explained to my hosts that I had left the Roman Catholic Church and that I had accepted Jesus Christ and His Word in the Bible as all-sufficient. I had done this, I said, "absolutely, finally, definitively, and resolutely." Yet far from being impressed by these four adverbs, they wanted to know if there was any bitterness or hurt inside me. In prayer and in great compassion, they ministered to me, for they themselves had made the transition and knew how easily one can become embittered. Four days after I arrived in their home, by God's grace I began to see in repentance the fruit of salvation. This meant being able not only to ask the Lord's pardon for my many years of compromising but also to accept His healing where I had been so deeply hurt. Finally, at age 48, on the authority of God's Word alone, by grace alone, I accepted Christ's substitutionary death on the Cross alone. To Him alone be the glory.
Having been refurbished both physically and spiritually by this Christian couple together with their family, I was provided a wife by the Lord, Lynn, born-again in faith, lovely in manner, intelligent in mind. Together we set out for Atlanta, Georgia, where we both got jobs.
A Real Missionary With A Real Message
In September 1988, we left Atlanta to go as missionaries to Asia. It was a year of deep fruitfulness in the Lord that once I would never have thought was possible. Men and women came to know the authority of the Bible and the power of Christ's death and resurrection. I was amazed at how easy it is for the Lord's grace to be effective when only the Bible is used to present Jesus Christ. This contrasted with the cobwebs of church tradition that had so clouded my 21 years in missionary garments in Trinidad, 21 years without the real message.
To explain the abundant life of which Jesus spoke and which I now enjoy, no better words could be used than those of Romans 8:1-2: "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death." It is not just that I have been freed from the Roman Catholic system, but that I have become a new creature in Christ. It is by the grace of God, and nothing but His grace, that I have gone from dead works into new life.
Testimony to the Gospel of Grace
Back in 1972, when some Christians had taught me about the Lord healing our bodies, how much more helpful it would have been had they explained to me on what authority our sinful nature is made right with God. The Bible clearly shows that Jesus substituted for us on the cross. I cannot express it better than Isaiah 53:5: "But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed." (This means that Christ took on himself what I ought to suffer for my sins. Before the Father, I trust in Jesus as my substitute.)
That was written 750 years before the crucifixion of our Lord. A short time after the sacrifice of the cross, the Bible states in I Peter 2:24: "Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed."
Because we inherited our sin nature from Adam, we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. How can we stand before a Holy God -- except in Christ -- and acknowledge that He died where we ought to have died? God gives us the faith to be born again, making it possible for us to acknowledge Christ as our substitute. It was Christ who paid the price for our sins: sinless, yet He was crucified. This is the true Gospel message. Is faith enough? Yes, born-again faith is enough. That faith, born of God, will result in good works including repentance: "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10).
In repenting, we put aside, through God's strength, our former way of life and our former sins. It does not mean that we cannot sin again, but it does mean that our position before God has changed. We are called children of God, for so indeed we are. If we do sin, it is a relationship problem with the Father which can be resolved, not a problem of losing our position as a child of God in Christ, for this position is irrevocable. In Hebrews 10:10, the Bible says it so wonderfully: "...we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all."
The finished work of Christ Jesus on the Cross is sufficient and complete. As you trust solely in this finished work, a new life which is born of the Spirit will be yours -- you will be born again.
The Present Day
My present task: the good work that the Lord has prepared for me to do is as an evangelist situated in the Pacific Northwest of the U.S.A. What Paul said about his fellow Jews I say about my dearly loved Catholic brothers: my heart's desire and prayer to God for Catholics is that they may be saved. I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based in God's Word but in their church tradition. If you understand the devotion and agony that some of our brothers and sisters in the Philippines and South America have put into their religion, you may understand my heart's cry: "Lord, give us a compassion to understand the pain and torment of the search our brothers and sisters have made to please You. In understanding pain inside the Catholic hearts, we will have the desire to show them the Good News of Christ's finished work on the Cross."
My testimony shows how difficult it was for me as a Catholic to give up Church tradition, but when the Lord demands it in His Word, we must do it. The "form of godliness" that the Roman Catholic Church has makes it most difficult for a Catholic to see where the real problem lies. Everyone must determine by what authority we know truth. Rome claims that it is only by her own authority that truth is known. In her own words, Cannon 212, Section 1, "The Christian faithful, conscious of their own responsibility, are bound by Christian obedience to follow what the sacred pastors, as representatives of Christ, declare as teachers of the faith or determine as leaders of the Church." (Vatican Council II based, Code of Canon Law promulgated by Pope John-Paul II, 1983).
Yet according to the Bible, it is God's Word itself which is the authority by which truth is known. It was man-made traditions which caused the Reformers to demand "the Bible only, faith only, grace only, in Christ only, and to God only be the glory."
The Reason Why I Share
I share these truths with you now so that you can know God's way of salvation. Our basic fault as Catholics is that we believe that somehow we can of ourselves respond to the help God gives us to be right in His sight. This presupposition that many of us have carried for years is aptly defined in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1994) #2021, "Grace is the help God gives us to respond to our vocation of becoming his adopted sons...."
With that mindset, we were unknowingly holding to a teaching that the Bible continually condemns. Such a definition of grace is man's careful fabrication, for the Bible consistently declares that the believer's right standing with God is "without works" (Romans 4:6), "without the deeds of the Law" (Romans 3:28), "not of works" (Ephesians 2:9), "It is the gift of God," (Ephesians 2:8). To attempt to make the believer's response part of his salvation and to look upon grace as "a help" is to flatly deny Biblical truth,
"...if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace..." (Romans 11:6). The simple Biblical message is that "the gift of righteousness" in Christ Jesus is a gift, resting on His all-sufficient sacrifice on the cross, "For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:17).
So it is as Christ Jesus Himself said, He died in place of the believer, the One for many (Mark 10:45), His life a ransom for many. As He declared, ...this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins" (Matthew 26:28). This is also what Peter proclaimed, "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God..." (I Peter 3:18).
Paul's preaching is summarized at the end of II Corinthians 5:21, "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.." (II Cor. 5:21).
This fact, dear reader, is presented clearly to you in the Bible. Acceptance of it is now commanded by God, "...Repent ye, and believe the gospel" (Mark 1:15).
The most difficult repentance for us dyed-in-the-wool Catholics is changing our mind from thoughts of "meriting," "earning," "being good enough," simply to accepting with empty hands the gift of righteousness in Christ Jesus. To refuse to accept what God commands is the same sin as that of the religious Jews of Paul's time, "For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God." (Romans 10:3)
Repent and believe the Good News!
A native of Ireland he returned there in 1996 on an evangelistic tour. He now lives in Portland Oregon U.S.A. He teaches a workshop at Multnomah Bible College on "Catholicism in the Light of Biblical Truth." His greatest joy is door-to-door witnessing . He has produced three series of radio broadcasts. A fourth series is about to begin in the Philippines on D.W.T.I. and D.V. R .O. radio stations. He is co-editor of this book and founder of the ministry named "Berean Beacon."
Tell us where in the Bible that we are told to take the tradition of men on equal standing with the Word of God.
Every time Jesus encountered that mindset, He condemned it and responded with *It is written....*.
I haven’t found a comprehensive list of all 125 or 126 anathemas which are supposed to have been pronounced. Mostly I get the most common ones.
The Catholic church makes things FAR too complicated.
Just reading through the Catechism of the Catholic church and trying to figure out what it’s saying is enough to give one a headache, but get into the rest of the stuff and compare the Council of Trent with Vatican II and there’s no way a Catholic could know if they’re coming or going.
It’s no wonder Catholics on these threads and take opposite sides on a issue, and both support themselves from Catholic sources.
And the non-Catholic is wrong, no matter what their position on any issue.
I'm not going to say 100%, but I think that's pretty good. I certainly get the impression of something that is BOTH an ontological/status change which has a certain discontinuity to it AND of a process with a 'perfection' down the road somewhere.
Why complicate things unless the end result you desire is confusion?
Here is something that is uncomplicated, and the answer to all those cries for 'unity'.
"There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all." (Eph. 4:4-6).
What is the ONE FAITH that unites?
"For by grace are ye saved through FAITH; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast." (Eph. 2:8,9). It is the Gospel of the Grace of God that saves and unites us in the dispensation of the Grace of God.
What is the ONE BAPTISM that unites?
"For BY one Spirit are we all BAPTIZED into ONE BODY..."((1 Cor. 12:13). It is the Spirit, in the dispensation of Grace, that baptizes us into Christ; not baptism by water.
If everyone who professes to want unity, would actually abide by the Scriptures that show us the unity, there would be a different result around here. THe differences arise whenever man tries to make Church traditions, doctrines of men, and works, works, works, part of the Church the Body of Christ.
"Till we all come in the UNITY OF THE FAITH, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ." (Eph. 4:13).
What is so interesting to me is that ALL non-Catholics seem to be in unity of what is stated above. That's why there is no in-fighting amongst ourselves. Hmmmm
They could never simplify it enough to clear up the misunderstanding of those who set out to misunderstand and never waver from that goal.
considering all the rubbery convolutions . . . double standards . . . . twists and turns . . .
they first have to calculate the desired result with the audience involved . . .
then they have to calculate how to pile on the rationalizations and obfuscations in the most confusing ways possible so that they have infinite wiggle waggle room.
All that must take a lot of time.
they’re supposed to play by THE SCRIPT! LOL.
Tell us where in the Bible that we are told to take the tradition of men on equal standing with the Word of God.
Every time Jesus encountered that mindset, He condemned it and responded with *It is written....*.
Did you sleep well last night?
I'm going to say ,"No."
However, it is "ordinarily necessary" as is Baptism, though the 'ordo' is less comprehensive for receiving the host.
"Ordinarily" (and that's a VERY important word, it does not mean "frequently" or "usually". It pertains to "order") the best thing would be to be baptized and to be a practicing Catholic in good standing. Then if you croaked before reaching the age of reason sufficient to be admitted to communion, you would be appropriately sanctified. And if you through your own frowardness reached the age to be admitted and did not choose to be admitted and did not receive "Regularly" then there would clearly be some unfinished business between you and the body.
But then the shadings and the gradations come into play.
- It is meritorious merely to attend Mass piously.
- A "precept of the Church" is to receive at least once a year, preferably during Eastertide. But of course, most of those who have a priest handy receive more often than that.
The BIG family of gradations includes
- those, usually unknown, people who by grace undergo a deep conversion. This can be so profound that even the "Temporal penalty of sin"(TPOS) is removed. They might not ever make it to ANY church service of any kind.
- and while we're talking about the TPOS, we hold that for the average run of the mill indiwiddle sanctification is not completed without a tour in Purgatory.
- And finally there is the great class of "separated brethren" who because of upbringing, the lack of opportunity to converse with someone as downright fabulous as moi, and things of that kind have a half through misunderstanding half through, oh, social aversion etc. and half (we're generous) lack of the possibility of openness to us. They follow their conscience the best they can, and better than many. They pray, study the Bible and other pious books. They are moved by grace to want a closer walk with Jesus.
ALL OTHER THINGS BEING EQUAL, we hold they would have WAY more spiritual helps, consolations, insight,s blah blah if they took recourse to the Sacraments, but we're certainly not going to say that they are certainly and inevitably excluded from the Body.
In this connection, while I speak of my "converting" to Catholicism, that is incorrect. I "converted" when I was baptized. I "entered full communion" when I did all the stuff and kissed the Pope's toe and swam the Tiber ...
I trust I make myself obscure.
I Corinthians 1:22-24 Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
That's keeping it simple. Sacraments, prayers to Mary and saints, anathemas for not following the dictates of the Roman Catholic church to the letter, etc all complicate it more than it needs to be.
It's not easy being supreme, I guess..
(1) Authoritative Catholic documents (like the ones you cited) do not express respect for, or find salvific effectiveness, in Islam (a religious system), but express respect for Muslims (people). And which Muslims? Explicitly, respect for those who in all honesty worship "the God of Abraham," "the Creator of all things."
This is whom they claim to worship. Each person's genuineness in this, where they'll go with it, and their ultimate spiritual state (like yours and mine), is known only to God.
A Turkish girl I knew in DC used to come to meetings of a Catholic University group (it was Comunione e Liberazione), and felt drawn to C+L because she felt she revered Jesus and worshiped the same God that we do ---while simultaneously, she opined that God "did not have an 'only-begotten Son,'" which means she was objectively not a Christian, let alone a Catholic.
Confused? It's not you that's confused, it's this sweet Turkish girl who was confused (and ignorant); and yet one can love her and her reverence for the Creator, while at the same time firmly rejecting the errors of the Koran.
It is just this distinction that the Catechism would make: loving persons, affirming the truths that they do believe, "God of Abraham," "Creator of all things," (garbled and fragmentary though those truths may be), while inviting them to discover the real and living Jesus Christ, the savior of all mankind.
Check this out: see if Catholic Magisterial documents recommend respect for Muslims, which is one thing, or for Islam, which is quite another.
Sometimes its hard to keep this distinction sharp and clear, but that's what we're trying to find ways to do.
(2) About the use of the word "Church." It has different meanings in different contexts, just as "love" means something different Lennon-McCartney, in Ephesians, and in tennis.
The Catholic Church uses "Church" in its ecclesiological writings to mean "the baptized faithful and their bishop." Thus in Catholic parlance, "the local Church" = "the Diocese" and "particular Churches" = the autonomous, self-governing Churches, with their own bishops, which are in communion with the Bishop of Rome Eastern Catholic Churches (Link).
This is not meant to denigrate others of Christ's faithful as being "not Christians" --- far from it --- but to clarify that, in our context, they are not "gathered around their bishop" and thus are not members of the Church in the sense used in our ecclesial documents.
It certainly doesn't mean they're "not saved" or that they're "damned." In a rather famous case, a Boston priest who used to say "Non-Catholics are going to hell," was excommunicated for his "grave disobedience" and his refusal to accept the Church's own understanding of Catholic teachings.
Again, saying such-and-such a worship fellowship is "not a Church," this is not a denigration. It's a definition. There are other definitions for other senses of the word. For instance, we hold that eveyone who is baptized is a Catholic in this sense: that they have received the Sacrament of initiation into the Church (and oh man, can that lead to arguments!)
But I hope I can still lovingly regard all baptized people (including arguers) as brothers and sisters in Christ.
Anyway it's always helpful, in perplexity, to specify the context (Canon law? Ecclesial status of congregations? City zoning ordinance?) and to clarify what definition one is using in that context.
Thank you for your patience.
And were the disciples to understand the line "The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life" as nothing but a circumlocution (and a very clumsy one at that) for "symbolic"? No one can come up with such interpretations unless he first holds to the Fundamentalist position and thinks it necessary to find a rationale, no matter how forced, for evading the Catholic interpretation. In John 6:63 "flesh" does not refer to Christs own fleshthe context makes this clearbut to mankinds inclination to think on a natural, human level. "The words I have spoken to you are spirit" does not mean "What I have just said is symbolic." The word "spirit" is never used that way in the Bible. The line means that what Christ has said will be understood only through faith; only by the power of the Spirit and the drawing of the Father (cf. John 6:37, 4445, 65).
Not only do RC's hereon refuse to do it--they cannot do it. They certainly cannot do it straightforwardly, without convoluted rationalizations and appeals to
We can understand. Throwing overboard one's major reference group and main body of assumed truth has to be one of the most traumatic things available, this side of death.
We recognize what
RECOGNIZING THE PROPER PLACE OF
IT IS WRITTEN
Would do to the Vatican System.
We do indeed.
Did this get cleared up? The establishment in DC is not a monastery. It's the "Dominican House of Studies" for the Province of St. Joseph, The Eastern Province. Most of the other places are "priories." The monasteries are where the Second Order Dominican nuns hang out. They are an enclosed contemplative order.
Dominic purposefully did not want monks. He wanted "canons" and used as a basis the rule of the Augustinian Canons. The Dominican 'rule' is not a monk's rule, and the Dominican life is not a monk's life. The Dominican/Franciscan 'revolution' was set against the established and stable monastic orders.
They could never DARE to simplify it enough to clear up the misunderstanding of those who they set out to insure layers of obsfucations for—never wavering from that goal.
"What material food produces in our bodily life, Holy Communion wonderfully achieves in our spiritual life. Communion with the flesh of the risen Christ, a flesh "given life and giving life through the Holy Spirit," preserves, increases, and renews the life of grace received at Baptism. -Catechism of the Catholic Church.
Does RC teach that the Eucharist helps a person attain eternal salvation? Is it taken daily? Does the Church require Catholics to receive holy communion at least once a year during the Easter season? Is it a mortal sin to disobey this commandment of the Church? And what about the Worship of the Eucharist? "There should be no doubt in anyone's mind " that all the faithful ought to show to this most holy sacrament the worship which is due to the true God, as has always been the custom of the Catholic Church. Nor iis it to be adored any the less because it was instituted by Christ to be eaten."- Second Vatican Council
It doesn't sound like a "No" to me, mad dawg. Lots of questions here, I know. But I truly would like to see a concrete answer, if there is one. ;)
Man is a fallen creature. Since the ejection from Eden, mankind has been foul and corrupt, no matter how strong a desire for divine fellowship.
Man corrupts everything he touches.
With that in mind, I am hesitant to simply accept what is taught by man, what is said by man, what is done by man. So when something is taught about the Bible, and it is taught by Man, it is insufficient.
Language is a tool of man. God’s Word is written in language because we have no other way by which it can be communicated to us. As such, while the WORD of God is perfect, our ability to take it in is not perfect. That is where the understanding comes in.
Faith, Tradition and Reason. Together these pillars hold me up that I may live free and unafraid in my faith.
And again: Man is fallen and corrupt. With enough time, anything on Earth can be corrupted by man. Gotta use a brain to cut through the mud.
I am sure you’ll have to pay some indulgences or penance or self flagilations for such clarity.
Every time Jesus encountered that mindset, He condemned it and responded with *It is written....*.
Well, I know that Christ used the words, "It is written" to rebuke the devil tempting Him in the wilderness. And He also said, "It is written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer, but ye have made it a den of thieves.'" But none of those "counter tradition."
Where else? I've been looking through the KJV, just don't find it anywhere else in the NT, particularly when He was countering some tradition. BTW, which traditions did He "counter"?
Of course, PAUL said it a number of times, but PAUL is not Christ. Right? And no one worships Paul, right?
INDEED. Not easy being pretend supreme at all.
I imagine they even have to have
Prancing classes 101, 202 and 303
just to get it right so they can prance and twirl about in all those robes, capes and funny hats without knocking all the candles and little old ladies over.
Be careful there . . .
or you’re likely to have to do penance or self-flagilations for
too much clarity, too.
The confusion stems (I think and hope) from an almost total breakdown of a common language as we see in the fact that many Catholics can’t express their Faith in terms a Protestant could even begin to understand.
I would appreciate your input on the linked article in the above thread.
“It is written.”
So, where, besides a coupleof places when Christ was in the desert being tempted, and when He was tossing the money-changers out of the temple, did He say, “It is written”?
Those are the only places I’ve been able to find in the KJV, where CHRIST said it. Of course, He also said, “Ye have heard it said,” but that is not the same as “It is written.”
Someone posted those Scriptures. I forget what thread.
I have it on disk. Maybe later.
BTW, which part of
The NEW TESTAMENT = THE WORD OF GOD
is difficult to understand?
Darn it! Now my ears are ringing and my head hurts.
"Ye have heard it said .... But I say unto you ...."
I don't think Jesus "relentlessly" went to Scripture.
And for you to say "[We] can't" is a little unfair because when I make an argument that you don't like and won't answer you just yell.
Finally, I note that we are not getting an answer to the question. A lot of colors and large type and not a little insult, but no answer.
Others are welcome to respond better.
CHRIST SAYING IT
AS A POINT OF AUTHORITY
I don't see Him standing in front of you. A believer's renewed mind can conceptualize His spiritual presence in his life, just as Scripture tells us.
If you look for Him waiting next to you at a bus stop or sitting on the sofa with His feet up or on an altar as a needlessly repetitive sacrifice, then you are missing Him. He is not there. Jesus is in heaven and His Spirit resides in the hearts of each member of His flock.
These kinds of errors are the reason Rome has been rightly accused of displacing and even ignoring the office and purpose of the Holy Spirit.
Repent of it.
Apparently 'scripture' is not your forte'...
No saving fires in heaven??? What's the verse say??? The verse is speaking about judgment and it speaks of fire...It says the man will be saved, so as yet by fire...
There seems to be a block in your comprehension stream...Or, you are trying to read the verse with the preconceived perversion of the Catholic church...
The scripture clearly says the man goes to judgement...He is judged on his good works...The bad works are burned up...
The man with the bad works is still saved since his bad works are not credited to his account...They are burned up...The evidence is destroyed...
The judgment which is on the good works only, result in the rewards that will be given...
Jesus paid the price for the bad works...ALL of them...
I may flagellate myself with an exercise resistance band, just to be on the safe side.
While you wait for a Catholic answer I will ask your understanding of I Corinthians 11:28 in the section where Paul is instructing about the Lord's Table.
"But let a man examine himself...." If one has been born again and can never be separated from God, what is the point of this self examination? What good is it?
It's The WORD that sanctifies, makes holy, and without blemish.
what an excellant point.
I don’t think Christ “relentlessly” went to scripture either. Just a few instances; one where he read from the either the Septuagint or the Hebrew scriptures to the synagogue, in answer to the devil when He was tempted in the wilderness, and when he tossed the moneychangers out of the temple.
And then the “You have heard it said...but I say,” when he was talking about Mosaic law, concerning divorce, killing, etc. But that’s not tradition, that’s about writing the law on our hearts, about giving His law.
You just throw stuff out...
“Catholics on this thread...” do this or that...
No wonder they are confused.
how about you just worry about your faith and when your arguments are not very convincing, don’t go trashing Catholics or making assumptions.
Most ex Catholics are pretty angry about the Church..so what else is new?
Catholic knows truth
Oh, you have to go check. Well, I was just culling from my memory of the Gospels. I guess the Gospels aren't that familiar to everyone. We WERE talking about Christ saying "It is written" being authoritative, right?
I don't know where you would get that idea from...Was Jesus talking about being present in the 'body' or in the Spirit???
But note also, no one in those small groups calls Jesus down from heaven...Jesus shows up on His own...
No one gets out a Eucharistic Ouija board and summons Jesus to come down and then to turn into a cracker so He can be eaten...
Jesus NEVER said to turn a cracker into MY flesh...
How totally angry and attacking. wow..the word must have missed your heart.
I said, "Well, didn't you just receive the host, and don't you have the real presence with you wherever you go?". She didn't answer that.
I appreciate your thoughtful response, Mad Dawg. As you may see, though, it did not do a great deal to dispel the questions. I have to agree your answer may say "No" but it sure sounds like it should be "Yes".
Perhaps a Christian has been feeling ineffectual in his witness of Christ, for any number of reasons. We aren't perfect, we are saved. And as long as we are in our human bodies, we aren't going to be perfect.
A few chapters later in the same gospel, we find:
26:38 "...Lord, when saw we thee hungry..."
26:40 and Jesus said, "Insamuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethern, ye have done it unto me."
Seems like Jesus was saying that He might be found in the most unexpected places.
The quote from the CCC does not say it is necessary or required. As I said, it is BEST.
Does RC teach that the Eucharist helps a person attain eternal salvation?
THAT's not the question originally asked. THAT is not fair. If you ask a question and I answer it it is not reasonable to complain because I did not answer some other question.
I meant what I said to, I think it was boatbums, but I'm not sure. "When you drive to DC do you use a car or the highway?" Do I need to develop that? I will if you like.
Does the Church require Catholics to receive holy communion at least once a year during the Easter season?
As I said, yes.
Is it a mortal sin to disobey this commandment of the Church?
The mere act is not enough to make it a mortal sin. In any event it is not a mortal sin for a non-Catholic, because a non-Catholic is properly bound by the discipline of his group, conventicle, coven, gaggle, hive, ashram, reading room, temple, dojo, or club house -- not by ours.
If someone has been told that object in his hand is a fragment of glass, there is not much blame if he casts it away. If however he has every reason to know it's a diamond, then there is probably some blame.
For it to be a mortal sin for a Catholic he would have to know it was a precept, he would have to choose without constraint to break it, he would have to have some sense of what he was doing. Neglect, ignorance, absent-mindedness, while sometimes serious in themselves, would keep that particular ommission from being mortal. You get "docked" for slugging the body in the chops only if you did it on purpose.
What ABOUT worship of the Eucharist? I hold and really believe that Jesus is truly there in every important sense. Consequently I make my profoundest bows to the exposed Sacrament, because I mean them to be made as a gesture of gratitude, love, and worship to Jesus Himself.
One reason I am grateful for His sacramental presence is that I believe He is with me always even unto the end of the age. But I cannot spend my entire life prostrated. I gotta pay the bills and argue on Free Republic!
So His sacramental presence give me an opportunity to do nothing but love Him and express my love. HERE, at last, is a place where I can press my head to the floor (with the unfortunate consequence of sticking my ample behind up in the air -- which must be a temptation to the toes of the boots of others in the room) to tell Him what He means to me. It is a kind of relief, finally to have some place where I can do what would be hugging tightly if it were my wife or my child.
BTW, my usual practice, when I go to "adore" is to make many prayers to Jesus and to pray my rosary. Then, because I think I serve Him best by cultivating my theological learning, I read in some book on theology or Philosophy. But sometimes, for a change, I will practice what we call "lectio divina". If you don't know what that is, I will happily explain. But few things beat the Word in the presence of the Word.
But, the original question was on the order of "necessary" or "required". Clearly I not only think it's good, I think it's FABULOUS! I cannot say enough about the whole experience and practice of the Mass. It is one big love song, and not only for my sweet Jesus, but, at least in my heart, for all the people worshipping with me. I want to kiss them all, by the time I'm done, especially the ones who are, um, less than entirely delighted with me.
Jesus! My loving, suffering, triumphant, and beautiful Lord! As close to me as one can get this side of paradise! Me a part of Him, He a part of me! What, before the great death which is only entry to the great Life, could be better?
But one of the things I love Him for is that HE is not bound by the Sacraments and he will have mercy on whom He will have mercy.
(Having answered this, I will go back to your earlier post.)
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