Thursday, August 16, 2018

HOW CAN YOU STILL BE CATHOLIC?


That is a great question.

Right now, all over the internet Protestants are calling for Catholics to "Come out of her, my people" claiming the clergy sex scandal proves that the Catholic Church is and has always been the Whore of Babylon. And frankly, who doesn't think that we deserve such a label right now? At the very least people are curious about why we would stay faithful to a church who has such wicked clergy.

The responses I read and hear from Catholics are deficient. They defend the Church with, "Catholic clergy have less sexual predation than other churches and way, way less than public schools!" It is true that our sexual predation is no more than other religious groups and it is a lot worse in other institutions. However, "but mom, everybody does it," is a childish excuse.

Bad men take advantage of powerful authority. The structure of the Catholic clergy gives cover to their lust. It is a place where greed can feed. But it is an absolute abomination that this has happened and more—that it is not dealt with and it is covered-up. Satan will come with false Shepherds, that is forewarned. But when shepherds cover it up and allow these devils to freely prey on the innocent sheep…. that is an abomination of desolation. Scripture records that when God's messengers encounter men, the first thing they command is for them to have courage. And this horror happens when good men's courage fails.

[TAKE NOTE OTHER CHURCHES: The Catholic Church's great crisis serves as a warning to you. Do not protect Your Church when they are covering up evil. Deal with internal problems instead of covering them up!]

Now, to answer the question: Why would we continue to remain faithful to a church where Satan seems to have enthroned himself? Why don't we leave?

For a superficial response, I could say, "Why would you watch any media when some of it is fake? Why would you see any movie out of Hollywood when there are Harvey Weinsteins in it? Or why would you continue to be an American when Trump is president? The short answer is: a few bad people do not define the group.

To give a fuller explanation, I will have to return to my Protestant roots.
To a Protestant, you are Protestant like you are Republican or Democrat. You can switch sides if you no longer believe what your group stands for. Protestants are united in truth, or what each person believes is the truth. They agree on the doctrines and teachings of their church. Even if you are raised in a particular denomination, it is eventually a connection made by assent. At some point in your life you stay in the denomination by a decision of your will. And you can leave your Protestant church like you can leave a job.

Protestants can fire a bad pastor. Priests can't be fired anymore than a father can be fired by his children.

Catholics have a fundamental perception of the Church that is vastly different from Protestants. We do not see the church as an organization. We see it as a family. Catholics have always believed that Christ founded a community, a church that would be filled with His family. We are genetically made into the family of God—not symbolically, not united simply by our agreement of doctrines. As important as truth is, Catholics believe that truth flows from the family of God. Truth is the outcome of being united with Christ. The Bible and the truth is sourced in the House of God—the Church. Converts to Catholicism are drawn to the family of God who Christ said is the foundation and bulwark of the truth. This is a vital distinction from Protestants.

Therefore, it is similar to this situation: If a father is found to have been a mass murderer, his children cannot erase their connection to him. Even if they can physically placed themselves in a different geographic location they are eternally genetically connected to their father. That is the Catholic connection to their Church. Catholics can even apostate and call themselves Protestant but the Church will never recognize that they are not fundamentally Catholic. We can no more say that a Catholic is a Protestant anymore than we can say a biological male is a biological female. We still consider Martin Luther a Catholic priest. Even in hell, Catholics will forever bear the indelible mark of being a Christian (Catholic/Christians—same thing in a Catholics' mind). Because when you are Catholic it is a genetic connection.

How is this possible?

Unlike the doctrinal/truth connection of Protestants, Catholics have the Eucharist. We partake of the Body and Blood of Christ at each mass. Each time we commune with God through His Presence in the manna/bread of life/Eucharist, we are physically becoming part of the Body of Christ.

Catholics are Biblical literalists in ways Protestants are not. For two thousand years, Christians/Catholics have taken these passages literally:

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and gave it to His disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is My Body.” Then He took a cup, and when He had given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. Matthew 26: 26-28
Catholics do not daily go to church in order to be inspired by a sermon or even simply to hear the Word of God. Christians can stay home and listen to a sermon online and read scripture. I want to be clear though. At mass, absolutely, we hear the Word of God spoken and we are exhorted by a sermon. But that is not the summit and point of mass. It something far, far greater—we go in order to receive Christ literally into our bodies. When Christ said, "This is My Body. This is My Blood," we know those are supernatural Divine mysteries that make us—Christ's Bride—one with Him.

We take this passage, Christ spoke, literally (and please go and read all of John 6, I am only recording a few phrases here):

Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed His seal of approval.…So they asked him, “What sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.' ” Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
“Sir,” they said, “always give us this bread.”
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to Me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in Me will never be thirsty. But as I told you, you have seen Me and still you do not believe…. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world….Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. For My flesh is real food and My blood is real drink. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood remains in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent Me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on Me will live because of Me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.”
When Catholics participate in the Eucharist, ("Give us this day, our daily bread") we are partaking of the mystical bread of heaven spoken about in the above passages. By our regularly doing this "in remembrance" of Him, we are being restored to the original Adam before the fall. We are becoming as He made us "in His image and likeness." This is not symbolic and Catholics have no human words to adequately describe it, anymore than we can describe the Trinity. It is something we grasp by faith.

And when we become embroiled in such an abomination—this horrific evil of predatory homosexual priests—faithful Catholics are devastated because these fathers are part of God's genetic family and we can't escape the scandal even if we were to distance ourselves geographically from them.

Jesus told us that these things would happen. Judas betrayed the Son of Man also. And when the Shepherd was struck by Satan, the sheep scattered. Satan is again striking the shepherds by infiltration of a group of very powerful false shepherds. Scripture foretold of Antichrists coming. Prophets and saints wrote to warn us that in the last days, there will descend upon the church an abomination of desolation that will shake the church to its foundation. Yet, we are never to lose our faith, because Christ promised to His Church, "Lo, I will be with you to the end of the age," and "the gates of hell shall not prevail against you."

Because of this catastrophic wickedness that has come from the leaders, we can assume the Apocalypse has come and it seems as if the very gates of hell have been opened wide and the destroyer has been unleashed. The man of perdition is in the Holy place and for those who are paying attention to the spiritual realm, it is a terrifying time. And Catholics must throw ourselves at the feet of God in humble prostration, many of us are verging on despair, begging Him to explain what is going on and to help us!

Finally I want to end with the next passage of John 6. Because Jesus asks us to remain in His Church despite the scandal, we ask, "
This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” 
For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. (From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed Him.) “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asks us today. [And faithful Catholic must answer Him in the words of Peter]: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.” See John 6:60-68.

We are Catholic because there is no where else to go. We cannot escape our baptism and our anointing anymore than Jonah could run from his duty. And if we try to, we shouldn't be surprised if we are swallowed by a whale. We are family and that means this crisis is our own personal family crisis. The war has come to our door and we must now spiritually fight or spiritually die.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

CAN AN ATHEIST BE SAVED?



This little boy, whose recently deceased father was an atheist, cries out to Pope Francis wanting some hope that his father could be in heaven even if he didn't believe in Christ as the Son of God. And the pope's response that his father could be in heaven created a firestorm of negative responses from Christians accusing the pope of giving false hope to the child. Some wanted the pope to tell this little grieving boy that his father was in hell and to deal with it.

Nonsense! Pope Francis was within his God-given authority and within Biblical perimeters to tell the child his father certainly could be in heaven.
Even an atheist can be saved! The Catholic Church has always taught that. Pope Francis gave the boy a hope supported by scripture. The Gospel of Christ is good news, not bad news! If what you believe of God is bad news then you don't understand the gospel. Pope Francis understands it! He understands that we are never to judge whether certain individuals are in hell.

SIX BIBLICAL PROOFS THAT AN ATHEIST CAN BE SAVED

Because often the real Christ is not presented by Christians and when a person rejects the Christ they have been shown by other Christians, they are not truly rejecting Christ but rejecting that Christian who has warped the character of Christ.


1. GOD'S PEOPLE CAN BE OUTSIDE THE SHEEPFOLD

Jesus told us that He had followers that were some not of the visible sheepfold. We can assume the faithful sheep who live in the Kingdom of God are not aware of these people outside of sheepfold. Among them could be atheists. That is why we can never judge any specific person as lost.

2. GOD KNOWS OUR HEARTS BETTER THAN WE DO

Scripture says that our hearts—above all things—are deceived. We do not understand our own mind at times. God knows our hearts better than we know them ourselves. It is absolutely possible that some atheists have not rejected God but think they have. Atheists are all different and have differing reasons for rejecting God. I knew a woman who refused to believe in God and when we dug deeply into her reasoning, she discovered that her atheism was a wall to actually protect God. She saw a terrible world and believed that a good God would have never allowed suffering. So she rejected an evil God who allowed suffering. If God was good, she finally thought, she would believe in Him. 

Some atheists reject the God that confrontational, smug and arrogant Christians portray to them. While they call themselves atheists these people are really not different than believers (perhaps in a different denomination) who reject that God. I know lots of people who may not call themselves atheists, but they reject the mainstream fundamentalist or liberal God so many espouse. So, again, these "atheists" haven't rejected the true God, but the false God they were presented. And that is a good thing. Perhaps the authentic gospel was never shown to them.

So don't judge an atheist by his or her cover. The pope knows that a man's words may not be the last word on his beliefs. Look at his actions. In fact, lest we think we become prideful, Christ spoke often  against those who trust in money. And trusting money more than God is a type of atheism.
God knows the heart. The pope understands that our words, at times, may not reflect what is truly going on in our hearts and minds. The father of this young boy baptized his children which may tell us something about what he might have believed in his heart. We, of course, do not know for certain but that evidence is hopeful.

3. OBEDIENCE TELLS MORE THAN WORDS

I will repay each of you according to your deeds.  Rev. 2: 23

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. 2 Corinthians 5: 10

While this is similar to number two, this goes further to say that our deeds come from our hearts and often reveal a lot more than our words do. In general, actions speak louder than words. That is Biblical. Jesus reminds us of that in a parable. 

[A] man had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ The boy answered, ‘I will not.’ But later he had a change of heart and went. The father went to the other son and said the same thing. This boy answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did his father’s will?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, tax collectors and prostitutes will go ahead of you into the kingdom of God!” Matthew 21:28-30

If an atheist's life is full of good works, we simply cannot say they are going to hell because they bore good fruits. 

A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit….by their fruits you will know them. Matthew 7:16-20. 

This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.” John 3: 19-21

Many who claim to be Christians have lives that bear bad fruit, and many who do not claim to believe have lives that bear good fruit. There will be people who practiced the truth without ever claiming to be Christians and when their life is brought into the light at judgement, their works will be seen to have been brought about by God. This is evident only at the judgement.

Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25: 34-40

This texts tells us that some among the saved were not aware of their deed to God. They simply acted in love. And in the end, we will be judged by our self-sacrificing actions of love. The pope took the evidence of the father and understood that an atheist who had their children baptized may not truly be an atheist. Look at his actions—his fruits, not his words. His actions were in accordance with love and obedience to God.

4. ATHEISTS CAN BE SAVED BY BELIEVERS INTERCESSION

For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 2 Cor. 2: 15. 

Jesus called His followers priests—for each Christian is part of the royal priesthood. What is a priest for? To intercede for others through prayers and sacrifices. Christians should understand the important position given them as priests. Our intercessions have enormous powers to save even atheists. We must never give up hope and we should never stop praying for our loved ones because God is outside of time, therefore our prayers are outside of time. When God judges a person, He knows the prayers that were said and will be said for that person, and God has always pardoned a person because of another person's requests. That is so scriptural that there are too many verses to list here that back this up. I will just remind you of a few:

Lot was rescued out of Sodom because of the prayers of his uncle Abraham. Moses saved the entire nation of Israel when God was angry and about to wipe them out. When Jesus mother asked Jesus to help at the wedding at Cana, Jesus did what she asked and miraculously made wine out of water. When the paralytic was lowered before Jesus it was the faithful actions of his friends that made Jesus—not just heal the man but forgive him! Sons and daughters were healed by Christ at the request of their parents.

We should keep in mind our great power as Christians because St. Paul told us that our lives sanctify our household:
But to the rest I say, not the Lord, that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he must not divorce her. And a woman who has an unbelieving husband, and he consents to live with her, she must not send her husband away. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband; for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy.  I Corinthians 7:12-14

Jesus listens to the intercessory prayers of His righteous people and they avail much! The little boy in the video seems to have had a mother who was a Christian and this could mean that his father was sanctified through the believing wife.


5. ATHEISTS WILL BE JUDGED BY THEIR LOVE

This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister. I John 3: 10
[L]ove comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. I John 4: 7
Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. I John 2: 10-11

God will judge the atheist according to his love. 

While we are saved by our faith, we are judged by our love. That give all humans who have ever lived hope that they will be in heaven. There is much biblical evidence of this.
If you Protestant readers still don't accept that the pope spoke truth to the boy, just remember that "Love coverth a multitude of sins." Even if the pope's compassion overcame him and he told the boy something more hopeful than he should have, let us remember that the pope's love will cover a multitude of his sins. And he gave the child hope. Is that ever wrong?

6. WHATEVER YOU BOUND ON EARTH WILL BE BOUND IN HEAVEN

For the Catholics, this should be easy. Pope Francis has the keys and whatever he binds on earth will be bound in heaven. If the pope was given a special revelation that the boy's father is in heaven, that is the pope's prerogative. May we pray that God bound in heaven what the pope bound on earth! For our faith tells us that God promised to do that for the man who holds the keys. And what a wonderful promise!