The Catholic Church…

Since 1506 or there abouts the Catholic Church has been given a bad rap by many people.  Since the founding of the United States, the Catholic Church in the United States has gotten an even worse rap.

We are constantly told that we are not Christian.  I beg to differ.  During my studies in religion, which have lasted for over 30 years, I have found that the Bible and early documents of the Christian faith very strongly points to the “founding Church of Christ” was and is the Catholic Church.

Let us start at the beginning of Jesus’ Church..  In Matthew 16:13-19 we read that Jesus begins His Church on Peter (the Rock) by saying “13 And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church,* and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven.* Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (RNAB)

This establishes three things:

First, Jesus made Peter the head of His Church.  While he wasn’t given the title “Pope”, that title didn’t come for a couple of hundred years, he is the first Pope of the Catholic Church.  This is further established in Acts 15:6-12.  In this section after Paul and Barnabas have many discussions with the Apostles and Disciples of Christ about circumcision among the Gentiles steps in and says: “6 *The apostles and the presbyters met together to see about this matter. 7 *After much debate had taken place, Peter got up and said to them, “My brothers, you are well aware that from early days God made his choice among you that through my mouth the Gentiles would hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8 And God, who knows the heart, bore witness by granting them the Holy Spirit just as he did us. 9 He made no distinction between us and them, for by faith he purified their hearts. 10 Why, then, are you now putting God to the test by placing on the shoulders of the disciples a yoke that neither our ancestors nor we have been able to bear? 11 On the contrary, we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they.”* 12 The whole assembly fell silent, and they listened while Paul and Barnabas described the signs and wonders God had worked among the Gentiles through them. (RNAB)

After much discussion and many attempts to keep the Old Law under the Old Covenant on circumcision, Peter steps forward and sets the decree.  The Church and it’s hierarchy are clearly shown at this point, with the Apostles being the “Bishops” and their disciples being the Priest “on the streets”, much like today in the Catholic Church.

The second thing the naming of Peter as the head of His Church does is institute confession to Paul of ones sins that he may release them from their sins on His behalf.  This is then passed on to the rest of His disciples in John 20:19-23: “19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples* were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.* The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 *[Jesus] said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 22 *And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the holy Spirit. 23 * Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” (RNAB)

Yes, we should confess our sins directly to God.  And Catholics do this as well.  But, the bible tells us, for example in James 5, to confess our sins to one another.  So, after confessing our sins to God, we then go to our Priest, who has the Authority of Jesus to release us from our sins, and ask for verbal notification of our forgiveness, that is accept by Jesus, per His Word.

The final thing that is covered in the initial versus is that the gates of Hell will not prevail against Peter or the Church.  This means that the Church will not go into Apostasy and that it will not go away.  The gates of Hell showed themselves in the Reformation and the churches that have come along since that time.  The Apostasy is in the “Reform churches” that have come along since.  The Catholic Church remains with Christ, and remains the foundation of all Christian belief systems, even if the rank and file in those systems won’t admit it.  (If you talk to their Theologians and Bible Scholars, many will though…)

If you read the Didache, which was written from 90AD to 110 AD, just 60 to 80 years after the death and resurrection of Jesus by one of the disciples of the disciples of Jesus, you will find that the hierarchy of the Church then and now is the same, although bigger, and you will find that the religious services of then are the same as the Mass of the Catholic Church of today.

If you believe the Bible in its entirety, and place your faith in it, when Jesus says “and the gates of the netherworld will not prevail against it” I do not see how one can say that the Catholic Church had gone into Apostasy.  Yes, some people within the Church, including at the top, have “left the Church” and done bad things “in the name of the Church”, but these were people, NOT the Church.

The Catholic Church has kept the same doctrine, the same Bible, and the same structure since it was created by Jesus through Peter.

Mind you I know that the Bible didn’t come for a few hundred years after the death of Jesus, but the letters used to create the “original Bible”, and the Old Testament used by Jesus where from His time or shortly there after.  The KJV of the Bible didn’t even hit the streets until 1611!!  And then it was edited by King James to meet his need so that he could get a divorce and otherwise run “his church” his way and without the Pope.

Until Martin Luther, all of the people of the world knew the Catholic Church to be the ONE Church of Christ, even with upstarts before that time.

In Christ.

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The Rosary

One of the “Sacramentals” Catholic use to help themselves to understand and communicate with Jesus is the Rosary.  Many non-Catholics have a problem of one sort or another with the Rosary, but I am betting it is because they are not sure what is happening when they see the Rosary, and they think we are “Idol Worshiping”.  This could not be further from the truth though!

So, what is the Rosary?  First let me describe the “beads” and how they are “put together”.  The “standard” Rosary will start with a Crucifix of some sort and have a short “space” before having one bead, followed by a space, followed by three beads in close secession, followed by a space and a single bead.  After the single bead is a space, and then a “splitter” of some sort.  This splitter is often a medal, brief of a Saint, or other special, to the creator (and presumably the buyer), item.  From here we have a space followed by ten beads close together.  This is “one Decade” of Beads, counting the last solo bead before the “splitter” (my word, not the official word for this piece!).  After the tenth bead, there is a space, then a load bead/space/ten beads.  This goes on until there are five “Decades” which terminates at the “splitter” again.

Ok, that is the Rosary Beads themselves.

Now, let me explain what the Rosary is all about.  The Rosary consist of 4 “Mysteries of Christ Jesus’ Life”.  They are:

  • Glorious (Sunday and Wednesday (more on this in a bit))
  • Joyful (Monday and Saturday (and Sunday during Christmas Season))
  • Sorrowful (Tuesday, Friday (and Sundays during Lent))
  • Luminous (Thursdays)

On Sundays and Wednesdays we focus on the Glorious Mysteries, which are:

  • The Resurrection
  • The Ascension
  • The Descent of the Holy Spirit
  • The Assumption
  • The Coronation

The Joyful Mysteries are focused on on Mondays and Saturdays, and they are:

  • The Annunciation
  • The Visitation
  • The Nativity
  • The Presentation
  • The Finding of  Jesus in the Temple

On Tuesdays, Fridays and during the Lenten Season on Sundays as well, we focus on:

  • The Agony in the Garden
  • The Scourging at the Pillar
  • The Crowning with the Thorns
  • The Carrying of the Cross
  • The Crucifixion

And lastly on Thursday we focus on the Luminous Mysteries (these have been added to the prayers within the last 30ish years, and some do not use these Mysteries):

  • The Baptism of the Lord
  • The Wedding of Cana
  • The Proclamation of the Kingdom
  • The Transfiguration
  • The Institution of the Eucharist

Ok, you have all that, but you are probably still wondering what that all means, and how it comes together right?

  1. Starting at the Rosary we begin by giving ourselves a blessing in the form of crossing ourselves and saying “In the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” while holding the Crucifix in the dominate hand.
  2. Staying on the Crucifix, we then say the Apostles Creed.
  3. Moving to the first “solo” bead we then say the Lords Prayer.
  4. We then say, once for each of the three close beads, Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you.  Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.  Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.  Amen. (Here we have some people get upset, because we say “Mother of God”.  If you believe in the Trinity, and that Jesus is God personified, and you believe that Mary was His mother on Earth, does that not by “default” make her the Mother of God?  The rest of the text, including “Mother of My Lord (God)” is in the Bible.)
  5. After the three Hail Mary’s we say on the space before the solo bead two short prayers:  “Glory Be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end.  Amen.”  And “O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, lead all souls to Heaven, especially those who have the most need of thy mercy.
  6. Now, moving to the first solo bead we “announce” the first Mystery (and for my example today we will be using the Glorious Mysteries” by saying ‘”The First Glorious Mystery” The Resurrection’ then say the Our Father.
  7. At this point, until we get to the next mystery we are to contemplate that  mystery, in this case the Resurrection of Christ Jesus.  What I do, as do many others is announce an event in that time of Jesus’ life, and here I say “The Body of Jesus is placed in the Tomb on the evening of Good Friday”.  Then say the Hail Mary (as above).
  8. I then move to the next of ten beads and say “His soul descends into the realm of the dead to announce to the Just the tidings of their redemption.” followed by the Hail Mary.
  9. This goes on for the remainder of the ten beads, and the Glory Be and O my Jesus.
  10. We then move to the next solo bead and Announce the Second Mystery and follow the same course through the remaining of five Mysteries.
  11. After the last Mystery and O My Jesus we ask our Mother Mary to intercede on our behalf by saying:  Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope!  To you do we cry, poor banished children of Eve; to you do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.  Turn then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us, and after this our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus.  O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.  Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God, that we may be made worth of the promises of Christ.  Let us pray.  O God, whose only begotten Son, by His life, death, and resurrection, has purchased for us the rewards of eternal life, grant, we beseech they, that meditating upon these mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise, through the same Christ our Lord.  Amen.

So, the Rosary is a “sacramental” that is used to bring to our mind, each day, the life of Christ, and to ask for the intercessory prayers of Mary, Jesus’ Mother, in obtaining the Life of Christ in our life.  As in all request for Intercessory Prayer, we end our prayer with a direct request to God Himself, in support of our request through Mary, our intercessor.  And the beads are just a means of keep track of where you are in the meditation/prayer!

This process, without the sentences I add between each Hail Mary during the “Decades”, takes about 15 to 20 minutes, and with the added “forced thoughts via verbalization of the added sentences” adds about 10 to 15 minutes to the meditation/prayer.

I hope this helps you understand the Rosary better!

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The Titles Priest and Father

Over the last few years I have heard complaints of people calling Catholic Ministers Priest and Father.  To be honest, before I came to understand the reasoning for calling a Catholic Minister Father, I had a problem with that title myself.  After extensive research into this, I am more than happy to call them Priest (although I never had that problem), and I am as happy in calling them Father.

First let us talk about the title Priest.  Priest is a translation of the Greek presbýteros, which is translated into Elder or Leader.  It was the Greek word used to establish those appointed by God/Jesus to the position of leading His Church.  So, Priest is a valid title today, and many non-Catholic Christian Churches actually use the translated title of “Elder” in their Church today based on that same foundation.

Now, as to Father.  The attack on the Catholic Church stems form Matthew 23:1-12 in which Jesus tells us to call no man “father or “teacher”, where he is using figurative language to emphasize that all legitimate authority and truth ultimately come from God.  We cannot take these passages literally, or we would be reading a contradiction by Jesus in the 4th Commandment when He repeats “honor your father and your mother” in Matthew 19:19, and when he referees to “Father Abraham” in Luke 16:24.

In 1Corinthians 4:14-15, 1 Thessalonians 2:11, 1 Timothy 1:2 and Titus 1;4 Saint Paul calls himself each area their father in Christ Jesus through the Gospel.  He is calling himself Father, as he represents God here on earth.

Both titles are Biblical and appropriate to their position as given to them by God through Jesus.

In Christ!

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