Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Good Things Reformers said about the Roman Catholic Church

Protestant Reformers are known for their disagreements with the Catholic Church, but many Protestants nowadays have thrown the baby out with the bath water, by thinking that the Protestant Reformers disagreed with every single practice of the Catholic Church, despite possibly its use of the Bible and love of Jesus Christ, God the Father and the Trinity. In this essay, I will explore some things the reformers had to say which were in keeping with Catholic beliefs, to show that Protestants today have gone much further from the originial Church than they think.

Martin Luther:

On Mary:
(Special thanks to Dave Armstrong for this information):

Along with virtually all important Protestant Founders (e.g., Calvin, Zwingli, Cranmer), Luther accepted the traditional belief in the perpetual virginity of Mary (Jesus had no blood brothers), and her status as the Theotokos (Mother of God):
Christ . . . was the only Son of Mary, and the Virgin Mary bore no children besides Him . . . "brothers" really means "cousins" here, for Holy Writ and the Jews always call cousins brothers. (Sermons on John, chapters 1-4, 1537-39)

He, Christ, our Savior, was the real and natural fruit of Mary's virginal womb . . . This was without the cooperation of a man, and she remained a virgin after that.

God says . . . : "Mary's Son is My only Son." Thus Mary is the Mother of God.

Luther, in general, had a great devotion to Mary. Something many protestants have lost, unfortunately.

Martin Luther praised the saying of the Rosary to those who understood what they were doing, and were not equating Mary with God, which the Catholic Church condemns as well.

On the Bible:
Martin Luther makes a pertinent observation in the sixteenth chapter of his Commentary on St. John "We are obliged to yield many things to the papists [Catholics]—that they possess the Word of God which we received from them, otherwise we should have known nothing at all about it."

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Proper Reception of the Eucharist

The Eucharist is the most important part of a Christian's life. It is the pinnacle of the Christian experience. It involves receiving the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ into our own bodies. It is a sacred act which was established by Christ at the Last Supper. Just read John 6, around verse 40. He told his disciples to eat his blood and drink his flesh. Then to make himself clear, he said his flesh and blood are true food and true drink. Many of the people there had a hard time accepting this teaching, but he said to do it anyway. And then he told future generations to do it in his memory, and if they didn't, they would have no life in them. Obviously, people would not be offended if Christ said drink grape juice and eat crackers in remembrance of me, so it was definitely his body and blood. Also, we note that he did not say he was being symbolic or anything, so he was being literal. Protestants, who like to think they read the Bible literally, have no choice but to accept at face value what Jesus is saying here.

The word "Eucharist" comes from the greek verb for to give thanks. This is appropriate since we receive the Eucharist in memory of Jesus Christ and to give him thanks for what he has done for us.

Because Jesus continually gives himself to us in this eternal and perfect sacrifice, it is fitting that we as Christians partake in this truly amazing gift, in a way which is appropriate for what is happening. We are receiving God Himself into our bodies. I fear that many, even among Catholics, do not treat this event with the honor and respect that it is due.

To correctly receive the Eucharist, one should line up when their turn comes, and peacefully move toward the Minister of Communion, whether it's the Priest or an Extraordinary Minister of Communion. There are two options for taking the Eucharist: by hand or directly into the mouth. If one receives on the tongue, simply open the mouth, slightly move out the tongue, and respectfully receive the Eucharist when it is laid upon the tongue. If receiving by hand, place the right hand under the left hand, and present your hands horizontally so that the Eucharist can be placed upon your left hand. While it is being placed on your hand, the Eucharistic Minister will say, "Body of Christ", at which time you respond with "Amen." Then with your thumb and forefinger of your right hand, lift the Eucharist and place it in your mouth. Do not chew the Eucharist, let it melt in your mouth. You should make the sign of the cross at this point also. Then silently return to your pew, to say prays, whether kneeling or sitting for several minutes.

People who do not understand the significance, or do not believe the significance of the Eucharist should not receive the Eucharist. There is too much danger of blasphemy and sacrilege. Also, if a person has not reached a certain level of maturity, they too should not receive the Eucharist. Only someone in the right state of mind should partake in this gift. People who are aware of mortal sin they have not yet repented for, should also avoid the Eucharist until they have received absolution.

Another point is that people who exhibit disagreement with the Catholic Church on dogmatic issues should also not receive the Eucharist. This is different than to be struggling with a doctrine or dogma. Many people struggle with faith from time to time. That is ok, and the person may continue to receive the Eucharist. It only becomes an issue if someone is vociferously against a Church teaching. People who support abortion, for example, should not receive Eucharist, until they've amended their thinking to suit a culture of life. To summarize this point, people not in communion with the Church should not receive Communion.

Maltreatment of the Eucharist is the ultimate blasphemy, and we should our best to prevent it. Let's take care as Christians to properly receive the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in a matter that is fitting for the Source and Summit of the Christian Life.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Not enough priests, but plenty of Popes

There's a famous line that says there are not enough vocations to the priesthood, but plenty of vocations to the papacy. So many Catholics in our modern day openly share their "disagreements" with the Catholic Church, as if they had some say in it. In this blog, I will address what the Catholic Church is, under what authority it operates, and the proper role of members within the Church.

Today, more than ever, people enjoy freedom and democracy in many parts of their lives. In the past, people were less free to make decisions about themselves, how they lived, their behaviors, rituals, and customs, and various other aspects of their lives. This changed dramatically as countries became more modern and the idea that everyone is equal evolved. Women's rights, freedom of slaves, and laws against discrimination all contributed to a society were individual rights were more highly regarded than ever before. This, although greatly beneficial, has led to certain opinions which are not correct.

One of the strongest advocates for the rights of humanity has been the Catholic Church. In fact, one could argue, the Catholic Church has had a greater role in protecting peoples' rights than any other organization on Earth. Read any encyclical, Vatican document, or other text from the Catholic Church, and you will see its unending campaign for human dignity and freedom. This freedom incorporates all freedoms, including employment, equality of men and women, freedom of education, freedom to live, and freedom of religion. I will focus on freedom of religion in this essay.

Many people our Christian culture have been so influenced by personal freedom, that they believe it belongs in every aspect of our lives, but this simply cannot be the case. If a law is made in a country, we are not "free" to make our own law concerning this. For example, if murder is a serious crime, we cannot say we think it shouldn't be serious, therefore it isn't. It is not our place to decide this. The same is true of the Catholic faith. The Universal Christian Church was entrusted to Peter by Jesus Christ who said that upon him, he would build his church. He gave Peter the keys to the gates of heaven, an ancient symbol meaning he gave Peter the right to rule on Earth. Jesus did not give this right to everyone to decide all rules for themselves. But an interesting thing to note is that the Catholic Church does not give the Pope the right to simply invent things.

The Pope's role within the Church is the head and final say within the Catholic Church, but his role is not to make up rules wherever he wants, and just disregard others. The Pope is held to the doctrines and dogmas of the Church just like anyone else. The priest remains celibate, as the discipline requires. The Pope goes to confession, he receives the sacraments, etc. The role of the Church is to seek and find the Truth, and then to share this Truth with others. Unfortunately, many think this "truth" is subjective and personal. However, these truths are objective, based on natural law, reason, and revelation by God. The magisterium of the Church is in charge of promulgating these truths. The magisterium is not the source of all truth, but its role is to enunciate it.

Everything the Church teaches on has its basis in Scripture and Tradition. A good way of looking at these is to think, oral and written sources, oral being tradition, and written being scripture. The teachings of Jesus can be implicitly found in all teachings of the Church. They are not based on desires of individuals, but on universal truths. In fact, Catholic means universal, because it is for everyone, not each individual. It is not called the Individual Church. We must submit our will to the teachings of Christ and the Church. It is very easy for people to think a want is actually a right. Perhaps something people want is not the best for them.

The Catholic Church is Christ's Church, not Bob's Church, or Joanne's Church. It is also not a democracy. It is not "your" church, it is everyone's church, it is humanity's church. The Catholic Church believes that two ideas which are opposed to each other cannot be both true. The Church makes definitive statements on issues, such as abortion is morally wrong, and homosexual marriage is not valid, legal, or even possible. If you say either of these things are good or possible, then you are in disagreement with the Catholic Church.

There is also an important difference between being opposed to a belief and finding it hard to believe. If you struggle with a belief or teaching, you can still consider yourself fully Catholic, and a devout one if you wish. However, if you make a position which is in opposition to a Catholic dogma or doctrine, you cannot consider yourself a Catholic. If a soldier did not agree with his superior and took a stand against him, that soldier could not continue to be a part of that group. If he did, he would simply cause conflict within the group. Sometimes if a member is outspoken in his or her opposition to the Church, he may be excommunicated. However, the Church only recognizes the excommunication. The actions of the individual make it so.

In conclusion, the Catholic Church has a moral stand on many issues, and its role is to reveal truth to the human race. It is not an individual organization, but an organization for all of humanity. Because many have been trained with a "have it your way" mentality, they think they can believe in or act however they want and still call themselves Catholic. But their views will not be expressed. Only because it is willing to stand up and declare its beliefs despite opposition, can the Church's teachings be viewed with respect. Many times throughout its history, including its first hundreds of years and to a large extent our own time, the Catholic Church has been attacked by many groups. It stood firm however, and because of this, shines as a moral beacon in a world of relative morality. The Church shines bright with the light of Christ, a light that cannot be extinguished, so that whoever earnestly seeks the Truth will find it, and be filled to overflowing.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, Ash Wednesday, and Lent

Mardi Gras is the french for fat Tuesday. It comes directly before Ash Wednesday, which is the first day of Lent, a period of fasting and penance before Easter. In ancient times, and to some extent, today, Christians would refrain from eating meat and fat during Lent, so they had to make sure it was all gone the day before Lent, which is Mardi Gras. That's the day they ate all the fat and meat that was left over, before they began a long period of fasting and penance. Then, of course, on Easter Sunday, there would be an enormous feast, celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, at which time people would resume eating fat and meat again. If you would like information on any Catholic issue, please email me at and I will gladly answer your question in a polite and friendly way. Thank you.

The Books in the Bible

There are 8 books which are in the Catholic Bible, which are not in the Protestant Bible. The books, known by Protestants as the Apocrypha, have been part of the official canon of books of the Bible since the Canon was created hundreds of years ago, around the year 380. This is when the councils of the early church decided definitively which books belonged in the Bible, ie were inspired by God, and which did not. It was during the Protestant reformation that Martin Luther and others removed these 8 books, which all Christians up until that point considered part of the Bible, and which 80% today consider part of the Bible.The correct term for these books is the deuterocanonical books, and the other books in the Old Testament are known as the protocanonical books. Luther removed these books because they were in opposition to his new theology, which he and some other people invented around this time. However, despite removing this portion of the True Bible, Catholic teaching can be fully supported using Protestant Bibles, including the King James Version.By the way, the Bible nowhere teaches sola scriptura, or Bible alone. This was also invented around the time of Luther. It says hold fast to the traditions which you have been taught. Also, the Bible says the Church is the foundation and bulwark of the Truth, not the Bible. Plus, the canon, or collection, of books which are in the Bible, was decided by the Church. The Bible does not contain a list of books that belong in it, therefore it relies on an outside authority to declare this. Catholics believe in the authority of Scripture and Tradition, which is a fully Biblical way of look at things.If you would like more information on this or other topics related to Christianity or Catholicism, please email me at or go to Thank you very much and I look forward to hearing from you soon.