Former Protestant minister explains why he quit – to become Catholic

Historically speaking, the idea that the written Word of God is formally sufficient for all things related to faith and practice, such that anyone of normal intelligence and reasonably good intentions could read it and deduce from it what is necessary for orthodoxy and orthopraxy, is not a position that I see reflected in the writings of the early Church fathers. While there are plenty of statements in their writings that speak in glowing terms about the qualitative uniqueness of Scripture, those statements, for them, do not do away with the need for Scripture to be interpreted by the Church in a binding and authoritative way when necessary.

This discovery in the church fathers is unsurprising if the same position can be found in the New Testament itself, which I now believe it can. To cite but one example, the Church in her earliest days was confronted with a question that Jesus had not addressed with any specificity or directness, namely, the question of Gentile inclusion in the family of God. In order to answer this question, the apostles and elders of the Church gathered together in council to hear all sides and reach a verdict. What is especially interesting about Luke’s account of the Jerusalem Council is the role that Scripture played, as well as the nature of the verdict rendered.

Concerning the former, James’s citation of Amos is curious in that the passage in the prophet seems to have little to do with the matter at hand, and yet James cites Amos’s words about the tent of David being rebuilt to demonstrate that full Gentile membership in the Church fulfills that prophecy. Moreover, Scripture functioned for the Bishop of Jerusalem not as the judge that settled the dispute, but rather as a witness that testified to what settled it, namely, the judgment of the apostles and elders.

Rather than saying, “We agree with Scripture,” he says in effect, “Scripture agrees with us” (v. 15, 19). And finally, when the decision is ultimately reached, it is understood by the apostles and elders not as an optional and fallible position with which the faithful may safely disagree if they remain biblically unconvinced, but rather as an authoritative and binding pronouncement that was bound in heaven even as it was on earth (v. 28).

Despite some superficial similarities, no existing Protestant denomination with an operating norm of Sola Scriptura can replicate the dynamic, or claim the authority of the Jerusalem Council (or of Nicaea, Constantinople, and Chalcedon for that matter).

The fact that the Bible’s own example of how Church courts operate was hamstrung by Protestantism’s view of biblical authority was something I began to find disturbingly ironic.

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Little understood fact: Even after sins are forgiven, a debt is still owed and a price must still be paid.

Of course … Jesus Christ personally paid the price that we never could … but Jesus also deliberately left some things up to us, that are within our power (and responsibility) as Christians.

For example: You carelessly wreck your neighbors car. There’s no police. No other property damage. No loss of life. No court case. No insurance.

You apologize to your neighbor for the wreck, and he forgives you.

But somebody still has to pay for a new car!

What is fair and just? Who pays? Who is actually responsible for the damage? Who has the ability to pay? How should any respective payments be apportioned?

What is the morally correct way to handle something like this, in order for justice to be served, and for the rights of all parties to be respected and preserved?

Would it be morally just for the person who wrecked the car to get away without making a good faith effort at paying at least some small amount of reparations?

And then there’s the very important, related concept of learning to avoid car wrecks, in the future!

All this leads us to the biblical and very Catholic concept of Purgatory, which is closely linked to the concept of paying a form of temporal punishment for our sins, even though they have been forgiven, and even though Jesus has already picked up the lion’s share of the “bill”.

A Short Catechesis On Purgatory

Purgatory IS Biblical. Also included is what some of the great minds of the Catholic world had to say about it, and when. Purgatory is not new. It goes back to the very beginning of the Judeo-Christian Faith Tradition.

This citation shows that EVEN after sins are forgiven, a price must be paid:

2Sam 12:13-18 – David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” And Nathan said to David, “The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die. 14 Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the LORD, the child that is born to you shall die.” 15 Then Nathan went to his house. And the LORD struck the child that Uriah’s wife bore to David, and it became sick. 16 David therefore besought God for the child; and David fasted, and went in and lay all night upon the ground. 17 And the elders of his house stood beside him, to raise him from the ground; but he would not, nor did he eat food with them. 18 On the seventh day the child died. And the servants of David feared to tell him that the child was dead; for they said, “Behold, while the child was yet alive, we spoke to him, and he did not listen to us; how then can we say to him the child is dead? He may do himself some harm.”

There are 5 principles for the belief in Purgatory:

1 – As seen from the above verses, there is punishment for sin even after forgiveness.

2- Nothing unclean can enter Heaven:

Matt 5:48- You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Hebrews 12:22-23 – But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, 23 and to the assembly of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven, and to a judge who is God of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect.

3 – There is a way that one is made perfect:

1Cor 3:15 – each man’s work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

Sounds like Purgatory to me!

4 – There is a place other the Heaven and Hell:

Matt 12:32 – And whoever says a word against the Son of man will be forgiven; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.

In hell there is no further forgiveness. In Heaven there is no need for it. So what is this third place where a sin cannot be forgiven?

5 – Some passages make no sense in a Heaven/Hell only theology:

Matt 18:32-35 – Then his lord summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you besought me; 33 and should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in anger his lord delivered him to the jailers, till he should pay all his debt. 35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”

Debt to be paid? When? Where?

Is there a penalty even after forgiveness? – See the above passages about David.

Some more citations:

2Macc 12:44-46 – For if he were not expecting that those who had fallen would rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead. 45 But if he was looking to the splendid reward that is laid up for those who fall asleep in Godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Therefore he made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin.

Mt 5:26 – truly, I say to you, you will never get out till you have paid the last penny

1Cor 15:29- Otherwise, what do people mean by being baptized on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf?

Paul never condemned Baptism for the dead.

1Pet 3:18-20; 4:6 – Jesus preached to spirits in prison 18 For Christ also died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit; 19 in which he went and preached to the spirits in prison, 20 who formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water.

Where is this prison?

1Pet 4:6 – For this is why the gospel was preached even to the dead, that though judged in the flesh like men, they might live in the spirit like God.

2Tim 1:16-18 – Paul prays for dead friend Onesiphorus 16 May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me; he was not ashamed of my chains, 17 but when he arrived in Rome he searched for me eagerly and found me– 18 may the Lord grant him to find mercy from the Lord on that Day, & you well know all the service he rendered at Ephesus.

Why would Paul pay for a dead person if his fate was supposedly already decided?

Rev 21:27 – But nothing unclean shall enter it (Heaven), nor any one who practices abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

Now, for what some of the greatest minds in Christian history:

Tertullian

“We offer sacrifices for the dead on their birthday anniversaries [the date of death—birth into eternal life]” (The Crown 3:3 [A.D. 211]).

“A woman, after the death of her husband . . . prays for his soul and asks that he may, while waiting, find rest; and that he may share in the first resurrection. And each year, on the anniversary of his death, she offers the sacrifice” (Monogamy 10:1–2 [A.D. 216]).

John Chrysostom

“Let us help and commemorate them. If Job’s sons were purified by their father’s sacrifice [Job 1:5], why would we doubt that our offerings for the dead bring them some consolation? Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them” (Homilies on First Corinthians 41:5 [A.D. 392]).

“But by the prayers of the holy Church, and by the salvific sacrifice, and by the alms which are given for their spirits, there is no doubt that the dead are aided, that the Lord might deal more mercifully with them than their sins would deserve. The whole Church observes this practice which was handed down by the Fathers: that it prays for those who have died in the communion of the Body and Blood of Christ, when they are commemorated in their own place in the sacrifice itself; and the sacrifice is offered also in memory of them, on their behalf. If, then, works of mercy are celebrated for the sake of those who are being remembered, who would hesitate to recommend them, on whose behalf prayers to God are not offered in vain? It is not at all to be doubted that such prayers are of profit to the dead; but for such of them as lived before their death in a way that makes it possible for these things to be useful to them after death” (ibid., 172:2). [AD 392]

Augustine

“Temporal punishments are suffered by some in this life only, by some after death, by some both here and hereafter, but all of them before that last and strictest judgment. But not all who suffer temporal punishments after death will come to eternal punishments, which are to follow after that judgment” (The City of God 21:13 [A.D. 419]).

“That there should be some fire even after this life is not incredible, and it can be inquired into and either be discovered or left hidden whether some of the faithful may be saved, some slowly & some more quickly in the greater/lesser degree in which they loved the good things that perish, through a certain purgatorial fire” (Handbook on Faith, Hope, & Charity 18:69 [A.D. 421]).

“But by the prayers of the holy Church, and by the salvific sacrifice, and by the alms which are given for their spirits, there is no doubt that the dead are aided, that the Lord might deal more mercifully with them than their sins would deserve. The whole Church observes this practice which was handed down by the Fathers: that it prays for those who have died in the communion of the Body and Blood of Christ, when they are commemorated in their own place in the sacrifice itself; and the sacrifice is offered also in memory of them, on their behalf. If, then, works of mercy are celebrated for the sake of those who are being remembered, who would hesitate to recommend them, on whose behalf prayers to God are not offered in vain? It is not at all to be doubted that such prayers are of profit to the dead; but for such of them as lived before their death in a way that makes it possible for these things to be useful to them after death” (ibid., 172:2). AD 419

Written and Submitted by AndyP/Doria2

Priest Explains: All Catholics are Christian … but not all Christians are Catholic.

The early Church Fathers describe the Church as Catholic. In the writings of St. Ignatius of Antioch (110 A.D.), the word “Catholic” is used to distinguish the Church of Jesus Christ, from heretical (non-Christian) teachings. Ignatius was the first to document the term “Catholic” in its current form, to describe the Universal Church. In the 4th Century, the Catholic Church defined the “Trinity” and fought against the heresy of “Arianism”, which stated that Jesus was not “fully God” and not “fully human.”

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Mary’s Visit to Elizabeth, Ark Imagery and the Fathers


Mary as the Ark of the Covenant in Patristic Sources

First, let me establish the assertion I made above, namely, that patristic writers linked Mary with the ark. A few citations will do. Note that this is by no means an exhaustive survey.

Hippolytus (c. a.d. 170–c. a.d. 236): “At that time, the Savior coming from the Virgin, the Ark, brought forth His own body into the world from that Ark, which was gilded with pure gold within by the Word, and without by the Holy Ghost; so that the truth was shown forth, and the Ark was manifested….And the Savior came into the world bearing the incorruptible Ark, that is to say His own body” [Dan .vi].

Athanasius of Alexandria (c. a.d. 296– c. a.d. 373): “O noble Virgin, truly you are greater than any other greatness. For who is your equal in greatness, O dwelling place of God the Word? To whom among all creatures shall I compare you, O Virgin? You are greater than them all O [Ark of the] Covenant, clothed with purity instead of gold! You are the ark in which is found the golden vessel containing the true manna, that is, the flesh in which divinity resides” (Homily of the Papyrus of Turin).

Gregory the Wonder Worker (c. a.d. 213– c. a.d. 270): “Let us chant the melody that has been taught us by the inspired harp of David, and say, ‘Arise, O Lord, into thy rest; thou, and the ark of thy sanctuary.’ For the Holy Virgin is in truth an ark, wrought with gold both within and without, that has received the whole treasury of the sanctuary” (Homily on the Annunciation to the Holy Virgin Mary).

John Damascene (c. a.d. 676–c. a.d. 749): “This day the Holy and Singular Virgin is presented in the sublime and heavenly Temple… This day the sacred and living Ark of the Living God, who bore within her womb her own Creator, took up her rest within that temple of the Lord that was not made with hands… And David her forefather, and her father in God, dances with joy…” [Oration on the Glorious Dormition of the Most Holy Mother of God the Ever-Virgin Mary, 2].

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A comprehensive primer on the early Church Fathers, their teachings and writings.

Saint Athanasius

The Church Fathers is a titled bestowed on men (and some women such as Egeria of Spain fl AD 448) in the ancient Church that are united by four trademarks: (1) a rigid orthodoxy in doctrine, (2) an exemplary holy life, (3) approval in the Church, and (4) antiquity. Today, some ecclesiastical writers are bestowed this title who have partially fulfilled these marks( e.g. Tertullian, Origen and Eusebius of Caesarea). These writers are included due to their invaluable service to the Church. The majority of the Church Fathers were bishops, a few held a lower clerical rank such as St. Jerome, and fewer yet, were laymen such as Clement of Alexandria and perhaps Tertullian of Carthage. In the Catholic Church the period of antiquity ends with St. John Damascene (d AD 749) in the East and with St. Gregory the Great(d AD 604) or St. Isidore of Seville (d AD 636) in the West, hence the patristic age spans 7 centuries.

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Suggested Lenten Reading Plans

1.     Church Fathers Lenten Reading Plan (read selections from several of the Church Fathers; each day during Lent, except Sundays and the Sacred Triduum)

2.     Lives of the Great Saints Lenten Reading Plan (read the lives of the great saints – as related by Pope Benedict XVI – of the Medieval to Early Renaissance periods; each day during Lent, including Sundays and the Sacred Triduum)

3.     Father Faber and Cardinal Newman Lenten Reading Plan (read daily selections from the writings of Fr. Faber on the virtue of kindness, and Cardinal Newman’s meditations on Christian hope and the Resurrection of Christ; each day including Sundays and the Sacred Triduum)

4.     St. John Mary Vianney Lenten Reading Plan – in honor of the Year for Priests (read daily selections from the catecheses, exhortations, and sermon excerpts of the Patron Saint for parish priests; each day including Sundays and the Sacred Triduum)

Compiled by Fr. Jerabek

Submitted by Nancy W.

Infinite questions about a universe created by God, from nothing at all

We speak of a ‘Big Bang’ but don’t mean a ‘bang’ like an explosion, which has a centre and a shock wave that moves spherically out into air from the explosion.

Instead, the ‘Big Bang’ happened everywhere in the Universe at once, with no centre. Shortly after the ‘Big Bang’, density and pressure of the Entire Universe were the same everywhere. So, pressure difference could not possibly create an explosion. The ‘Big Bang’ wasn’t a bang at all.

About 13.7 billion years ago, the Entire Universe increased by 10^30 (a million trillion trillion) times, in less than a second. We call this remarkable phenomenon, the ‘Big Bang.’

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Read what the Early Church Fathers said about this