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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Catholics think that Mary, the Pope, Priests save them, not Jesus!

“Love the Lord with all your heart, and with all your soul,     
                                  and with all your MIND”--Matt 22:37

There's a lot of really bad ideas about what Catholicism proclaims out there.

To wit, check out this, found on a barn near a highway: 

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I can't stop myself from doing this, whenever I see such ignorance in reference to Catholicism.

We Catholics should be quick to correct such gross misinformation by proclaiming clearly that we do NOT believe that Mary, the Pope, priests, or anyone else saves us...except for Jesus Christ.

Catholics do profess, affirm and declare:  Jesus saves us!  
Yes, indeed!  Jesus alone is our Lord and Savior!

However, as with most Catholic answers, the response isn't an Either/Or but a Both/And.

It's not Jesus OR Baptism (and the sacraments).  But Jesus AND Baptism.

It's not Jesus OR Mary.  But Jesus AND Mary.

It's not Jesus OR the Church.  But Jesus AND the Church.  

Jesus has a Body, a living, breathing entity called the Catholic Church, and without His Body, no Christian could know a single thing about Jesus and his saving gospel.

Without His Body, Christians are serving a disembodied Head--a Jesus without any means of communicating with His followers.

So we are indeed saved by the Catholic Church.  

We are saved by Mary, for without her Yes, we would have no Incarnation.

And we are saved by the Pope, who is the Vicar of Christ.

And we are saved by Baptism.  (In fact, the Bible specifically states this in 1 Peter 3:21--"Baptism now saves you")

Indeed, the Bible states that we can save ourselves, and we can save others (!) (Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.—1 Timothy  4:16.  

And don't forget that the Bible states that St. Paul can save people too! (If, by any means, I may provoke to emulation them who are my flesh, and may save some of them.—Romans 11:14)

All of this, of course, is understood in the context of the kergyma--that we save ourselves, we save others, St. Paul saves....ONLY through our union with the atoning death of Jesus Christ.

Catholicism doesn't take one verse in isolation of everything else (like John 3:16, as limned on the barn) and use it to form our understanding of salvation...

Rather, we take the Scriptures in their entirety and proclaim the Good News of our salvation.

Catholicism proclaims that we are saved:

By believing in Christ (Jn 3:16; Acts 16:31)

By repentance (Acts 2:38; 2 Pet 3:9)

By baptism (Jn 3:5; 1 Pet 3:21; Titus 3:5)

By eating his flesh and drinking his blood (Jn 6)

By the work of the Spirit (Jn 3:5; 2 Cor 3:6)

By declaring with our mouths (Lk 12:8; Rom 10:9)

By coming to a knowledge of the truth (1 Tim 2:4; Heb 10:26)

By works (Rom 2:6-7; James 2:24)

By grace (Acts 15:11; Eph 2:8)

By his blood (Rom 5:9; Heb 9:22)

By his righteousness (Rom 5:17; 2 Pet 1:1)

By keeping the commandments (Matt 19:17)

By our words (Matt 12:37)

By feeding the hungry and clothing the naked (Matt: 25:42)

"Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect" - 1 Peter 3:15

Friday, February 19, 2016

Didn't Catholics get the memo that the Bible abolished fasting in the New Testament?

Lent is now upon us and Catholics and fasting may be a topic of conversation in the workplace or at family gatherings.

Some Protestants may view the Catholic practice of fasting during Lent as perhaps an exotic but odd practice, while others consider it evidence that Catholics don't follow the Bible--we fast, in the eyes of some folks, despite the Bible telling us we don't have to, and despite the Bible telling us we can't work our way to salvation.

Firstly, it is important to refute the idea that Catholics don't follow the Bible.  The Bible is our book, written by Catholics, for Catholics, and put together by the Catholic Church.  So of course Catholics follow the Bible!

Secondly, if anyone tells us that the Bible says we don't need to fast anymore (because Jesus stopped this Old Testament practice), we need to ask him where fasting is abolished in the Bible.

We can search from Genesis through Revelation and will never find a verse that says we shouldn't fast.

Now, it's true that Scripture does state this:

This, rather, is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; Setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke;--Isaiah 58:6

But that's not the same thing as saying that fasting is abolished.  What that verse criticizes are external works done without internal conversion.  In other words, if we fast, we should do it for the right reasons.

And someone may point out that 1 Timothy 4:3 says this:

They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth

But this verse is not about condemning fasting, but rather objects to those who divided food into "clean" and "unclean" (via the Mosaic law), for God created all things good.

In fact, the Bible is full of references to fasting:

Whoever wishes to be my follower must deny his very self, take up his cross each day, and follow in my    steps.--Luke 9:23
Then, completing their fasting and prayer, they laid hands on them and sent them off.--Acts     13:3
But the days will come, and when the bridegroom is taken away from them, then they will         fast in those days.--Luke 5:35

But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face--Matt 6:17

And there are multiple references to the early Christian community engaged in fasting.

Thirdly, we should banish the idea from any critic of Catholics fasting that we are fasting as a means of earning our salvation.  We do not fast an act that earns us the right to enter heaven.
Nothing we do, no work we perform, can earn us our salvation.  We will never be able to demand, "Hey, I fasted an entire day in 2016, God, so now, let me in to the Pearly Gates!" 

We fast because we love.  We sacrifice because we love.

Anyone who loves knows that it's impossible to love without some sort of fasting/abstinence/sacrifice.  Whether it's fasting from sleep by getting up to help the sick child (letting our spouse sleep instead), or fasting from a day off, doing what we'd like, and instead taking our elderly parent to a doctor's visit...we all know that sacrifices are part of love.

Fasting can also be a form of penance--an act of self denial that we offer to God as a means of expressing to God our great sorrow for our sins.

And fasting can be a preparation for the Great Feast of the Resurrection.  As Archbishop Fulton said, "First comes the fast, then comes the feast!"