Get back to Real Catholicism and jettison the watered-down, protestant-like Catholic Lite that is so popular today.
When I lived in Protestant-land I was warned of Catholic-land. There were untold demons there and the Devil himself dwelt in their midst. So I went out and traveled to the far exotic land of the Catholic and found to my surprise something very much different than that which I had expected.
I found the evil spirits there alright but not in the way I was told. They feared the Catholic Church and trembled before Her. But hordes of them gathered around Her and attacked and vexed them day in and day out. The holier they were the more they increased their anger against them. They were fuming and bitter and full of Hells fury and wrath.
It was then that I decided that the Catholic Church must be the True Church of Christ, or why else would they attack Her with such vehemence? If an ally, then why are the faithful so vexed? Yes, the demons were there. Where else would they be? Their greatest prize was to snatch a soul from the hands of Christ. How could that be, if it is Satan’s church. Why did the Church have exorcists and sacraments to fight off the assault of evil? After all, I thought they were supposed to be friends and in league with one another.
As I looked back at Protestant-land from my new Catholic-land home, I only saw a few dragons there: ones that darkened the mind and the eyes and those that sharpened the tongues against the Catholics and one another. These Protestants were not vexed at all it seemed: and the few evil spirits they had took life easy; simply staying busy making men blind and muddling their minds, speaking lies as if they had first hand knowledge of what was true – though they had mastered the lie. Their measly little foes were demons of deception, trickery and disunity that populated both Secular-land and Protestant-land alike and there was not very much labor involved in their work. It was all too simple, pitting one against another. There was, of sorts, a truce in Protestant-land and Secular-land as well.
How different the landscape from Catholic-land. On arriving the scales fell from my eyes and my heart filled with joy from an influx of loving grace. I was fed with Christ and He came to live in my poor soul as my strength. The Catholic prayers were not as I expected them to be; for I had been sure that the Catholics wished to destroy Protestant-land. Instead their prayer was to give them God’s mercy and to help them unite once again with those who fight evil under the banner of Christ the King. They were not my foes as I expected but instead other poor souls misguided and misled. Their eyes were closed shut and their minds set against us by evil whisperer’s that spoke to them in the quiet of their souls each night. Their voices were raised aloud to defame us but much to their chagrin, there was hardly ever a soul who could be turned toward their side. After all, the Catholics had tasted what the True Church feeds them and the drink that gives them great courage. And the Catholics did not fear the scandals and the evil around them; they only feared that the evil might go elsewhere to vex another less prepared; for their absence would mean only one thing – that they may have been drawn into sin by evil’s constant prodding and no longer considered their primary target. It is considered good to belong to the Prize that the evil one despises and relentlessly attacks.
They are like two foreign lands: Protestantism and Catholicism but we wish them well and would like to unite our lands with theirs again someday. Then Protestants might take up their armor and weapons and fight the evil together with their Catholic brothers and sisters. The victory would be so much sweeter if we were to gain the release of the Protestant from the grip of the deception, disunion and deceit of the dragons. Evil would be enraged and together we might even gain a greater crown than the one we might win separately. Or is this just my version of a fairy tale or perhaps a dream from which I’ll soon awake? At least I devised a happy ending; for what it means, I do not know. And the moral of this story I shall leave to your own preponderance.
I feel sorry for those Protestants and poorly catechized Catholics that do not understand our concept of redemptive suffering. There are those who teach that suffering is only the result of evil or that God is punishing us for some evil we have done. Both can at times be true but it needn’t be only that. Just as Christ’s suffering on the Holy Cross was due to the sins of mankind and the evil which abides in us (through no fault of His own), ironically, His suffering on the Cross became our soul’s redemption. Our evil was made by Christ to be transformed into our only Good.
That is the mystery and the beauty of that which Christ has shown us; taking objective evil and transforming it into love, grace and goodness. Evil was turned into resplendent Good! Think of it! His example gave us the ultimate instruction as He lovingly embraced His Cross. And it is by His example that we have found that we too may take our sufferings and transform them into redemptive and beautiful acts of goodness and grace. We can offer them up for ourselves and our sins and for others as well, in union with the sufferings of Christ. We become united with Him at His moment of greatest Mercy! Was there ever a more powerful moment in salvation history than this? “Forgive them Father for they know not what they do.”
The evil that was done was inconceivable and incomprehensible. It was Deicide, plain and simple. We killed God, our Creator and our source of all happiness and joy; the wellspring of life and life eternal. What a callous insult to Him Who loved us more than is imaginable. Christ willed to let Himself, the pure and spotless Lamb of God, to become sin itself, the Sacrifice of sacrifice, thereby redeeming us from our constant sinfulness and disordered lust for those things that simply perish; as dust into the wind.
Catholics had this understanding for ages and the Church has left us numerous role models in our saints and among ordinary faithful Catholics who show us the immense value of redemptive suffering. As a Catholic, I have come to embrace the grace, this unmerited gift, to participate in the Sacrifice of our Lord and Savior.
In times of suffering we become aware that Christ is beckoning us to rely on Him and heed His call to “deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me.” It is not an easy task but a glorious task. Though it may be a spiritual, mental, emotional or actual martyrdom in which we participate, we hear Christ as He asked the sons of Zebedee, “Can you drink the chalice that I shall drink?” In this way, He invited us, as it were, to join Him and participate not only in our individual salvation but in that of others. Following those words He exhorted them to serve one another: “he that will be first among you, shall be your servant.”
And so this is the Christian life as Christ revealed it. Denying our selves, carrying our crosses, drinking from the chalice of suffering and serving one another through sacrificial love. It is a radical call to a vocation of selfless service to Christ and to one another without regard for own needs but for the needs of others. Understood in this way our lives have meaning even if we are not capable of work in this world due to childhood, old age, injury or sickness. Through our quiet suffering we can effect great change in the world and do monumental good. Redemptive suffering is the key to combating our eventual agony at the time of death. We can then leave this world as did our Lord before us, offering all we have left to give: our sufferings – and that in itself may be sufficient to gain a glorious crown in heaven.
In this my final article on the 5 “solas” of the Protestant Reformation I can merely reiterate most of the arguments made in the first two articles: that protestant theology bears no earthly or heavenly authority when it speaks; disagrees with itself in numerous instances and that the only glue for the Protestant is that the Catholic Church is wrong. In all 5 of the solas there is a corresponding message generated by the early Protestant theologians: the Catholic Church got it wrong and we got it right. These solas had, in fact, been used for many centuries within the Catholic Church to make arguments in defense of the faith. Now the reformers took these statements and stood them on their head so that they might become a rallying cry and even to this day you will hear arguments along these very lines.
Sola Gratia or ‘by Grace Alone’ would seemingly be an innocuous enough statement and surely Catholics might also embrace such a sentiment. But along with this statement was the insistence by Protestant theologians that excluded the need for man to cooperate with God’s Grace. In fact, it seems to deny that God has given mankind “free will” at all. For their tenet seems to imply that humans are entirely incapable of saying yes or no to God’s Grace. Catholic’s naturally took a traditional stance holding that God’s gift of free will made it necessary for man to choose between right and wrong, good and evil, a life blessed with God’s Grace or a life bereft of Grace.
Catholic thought agrees that any movement of mind or heart is ultimately the work of the Holy Spirit, who urges us to make our choice for God and to recoil from evil. But we need not heed these urgings. We can, in fact, choose wrongly and turn our face from God. Truly, isn’t this the essence of sin itself? To deny free will is to implicitly deny that man is incapable of sin: for without free will, how could we be held culpable?
This led to the theological stance of Calvin regarding predestination – an untenable position that would leave God to judge every human at the moment of birth and either choose to supply or deny that soul the grace needed for salvation. Such a position makes our God of Love and Mercy a God more easily characterized by a despot or tyrant. Luther’s belief that human nature was totally corrupted by original sin was echoed in his doctrine concerning predestination. These ideas were stated in the Brief Statement of the Doctrinal Position of the Missouri Synod of Lutherans: “As to the question why not all men are converted and saved, seeing that God’s grace is universal and all men are equally and utterly corrupt, we confess that we cannot answer it.”  Of course they could not answer it. In this theology God chooses to damn or save a person without any regard to the inner condition of their soul.
And likewise was their use of Solus Christus, by Christ Alone and Soli Deo Gloria, to God only be the Glory. This was primarily used to discredit the honor that we paid to Mary, the Angels and the Saints. At times it was used to berate the Catholic use of icons and relics to remind us of the greatest feats of human will known to mankind: the spiritual heroes and heroines of our Church. For the Church rightly raises these persons before us as an encouragement to our daily trials and tribulations. Perfection in a Christian sense is a heroic endeavor to seek holiness even in the face of humiliation or death. It is the best quality within the human soul that most truly reflects the fact that man was made in the image and likeness of God.
I could go on and bore you with the arguments that our Saints used regarding each of these and show you the complete and utter balance in their thought but such an endeavor rarely has the desired result for those who hold positions inflexibly. One can quickly be amused by the fact that Catholic thought is not nearly so dogmatic as Protestant theology. However, we will continue to accept the teachings of our Catholic Faith because the Church has said it and She has the Authority given Her by Christ to teach us all things pertaining to God and our Salvation.
“For those who have faith, no explanation is necessary. For those without faith, no explanation is sufficient.” __ Opening lines of the 1943 Academy Award-winning “Song of Bernadette,” a movie about the Marian apparitions atLourdes in southwestFrance.
 Brief Statement of the Doctrinal Position of the Missouri Synod. Concordia,St. Louis, 1932 §14.
 Genesis 1:26 And he said: Let us make man to our image and likeness: and let him have dominion over the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the air, and the beasts, and the whole earth, and every creeping creature that moveth upon the earth.
Why I Can Never Leave the Catholic Church
The Protestant Reformation was fueled by 5 dictums that targeted the teachings of the Catholic Church. These are known as the 5 solas taken from their Latin names: sola scriptura (the Bible alone); sola fide (faith alone); sola gratia (by grace alone); solus Christus (Christ alone) and soli Deo gloria (glory to God alone). The first 2 are the most widely known in Protestant circles and to those Catholic apologists who have argued against these Protestant maxims over the years.
Most people want to start their debate on these issues by going to particular Biblical or Theological arguments. This type of debate requires that both parties are well versed in the beliefs of both systems and usually end up with the debaters leaving the discussion with unchanged views and little if anything is accomplished. It is my contention that in order to defend a position, both parties must at least believe that they possess the right to defend or reject a position based upon some criteria. Therefore, any discussion on the differences between Protestant theology and Catholic theology can begin from a very secure foundation of sound logic, history and some basic facts that may possibly effect the substance of what is debated and its outcome.
In this short article I would like to describe a few simple and, from my perspective, logical reasons as to why I could never accept the Protestant theology that I grew up with: in particular I’ll start with the most widely accepted of the Protestant solas, sola scriptura. In doing so, I will share the basis of how I would confront a discussion concerning the merits of Protestantism and Catholicism.
Luther taught that the meaning of the Bible was perspicuous and self-interpreting; that is, the text is transparent and self-evident. Therefore everyone can, theoretically understand the texts of the Bible without the help of the Church or any other authority. I believe that logic can effectively counter this claim.
Imagine if you will that a person who had no religious upbringing and was devoid of any tradition concerning the Bible came upon the holy scriptures of the major religions: the Jews (Torah and Mishna); the Christians (Holy Bible); the Islamists (Koran): the Buddhists and Hindus (Bhagavad-Gita). Could this person, by only using the text, decide if these were inspired works of God or merely human musings or fables? Since we are concerned here with the Bible one would expect, if Luther were right, that the Bible would stand out in some profound way from the others. But unfortunately, the books of the Bible nowhere claim to be the inspired words of God nor do they prove to be easily understood and transparently self-evident: for if they were, as indicated, quite easily understood, there would only be 1 Protestant denomination where now 30,000 of them now exist.
None of the above Biblical texts will, on their own, produce faith in an uninformed mind – at least not a faith that will be easily recognized without a tradition that teaches, informs and inspires by action and deed. If this were true, anyone could pick up the Bible and become as informed as any Christian on the planet; and this is certainly wishful thinking.
I would suggest that Protestants as well as Catholics have traditions, though Protestants will not admit to a need for any tradition; they deny the existence of Apostolic Tradition to which Catholics adhere and they either deny their own tradition or place no importance on it. They uniformly claim that the Bible alone guides their thinking.
If you add to this the differences between the Catholic Bible and the Protestant Bible, one finds that our confusion increases; and God has never been the God of confusion. When Luther and Calvin produced their own canons of sacred scripture, lo and behold, both canons differed as to the books to be eliminated and included. Where is the perspicuous nature of the texts? If they are so transparent to Luther, then why couldn’t Calvin see it?
For Catholic’s the Bible was deemed a closed canon. All the books had been chosen by the year 397 A.D. at the Council of Carthage. By the reformation the Bible was a closed canon which means that nothing could be added or subtracted from these texts.
For the Old Testament books the Church used the Septuagint Canon which had been created by 70 of the greatest Hebrew scripture scholars of their time. This work was completed approximately 200 years before the birth of Christ and is the same Canon being used throughout the Hebrew world during the life of Christ. It is surely the collection of books to which Jesus referred when he said to the apostles: “Search the scriptures, for you think in them to have life everlasting; and the same are they that give testimony of me.” Therefore it was only natural that following the death of Christ, the early Church should continue to revere and use these same texts.
The New Testament, however, took more time to evaluate. These writings span from the death of Christ to the end of the 1st century A.D. They are books written by those who were witnesses of our Lord or by those who had learned their faith at the feet of the apostles and disciples who walked with our Lord. Many more books were written during this time and some failed to make the canon of Holy Scripture. Various local churches used many of the available writings in their worship to inspire and inform the people about the life and teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ. It was after thorough inspection of the fruits from the use of these writings and their conformance to the traditions (3 centuries of Apostolic Tradition) that the Church accepted the books we now know as scripture. From this time forward the Church has held these books as Holy Writ and they have remained an inspiration for the Christian people for well over 1600 years. This was the first collection of scriptures that we now refer to as the Holy Bible; the first Biblical Canon for all of the Christian people.
It was different for the leaders of the Protestant movement. They rejected the Septuagint scriptures and substituted the Jamnian (or Palestinian) canon that was written in Jamnia after the destruction of the Temple inJerusalem. This Old Testament canon is a much shorter collection and therefore many books considered to be canonical for approximately 1700 years were eliminated. As I stated before, both Luther and Calvin reevaluated the existing Bible and decided independently which books should be included. It wasn’t until the King James Version (1611) that the Protestant movement found some agreement on the books to be contained in their Bible.
The next most obvious question to anyone reading the history of the reformation is to ask by whose authority Luther and Calvin rewrote the biblical canon which had been used for 1100 years by all of Christianity. Since the source of true authority, in this case God, recognizes only 2 types of authority, immediate or mediate, one might suspect that any authority claimed by a recipient would need to be obvious to all observers. Otherwise, God would be complicit to creating chaos and confusion, rather than uniting and guiding His people under a single shepherd or ambassador – in Catholic speak – a Pope.
For instance if a King (the source of authority) was to give mediate authority to an ambassador to carry out his affairs in foreign lands, the King would naturally supply the ambassador with proof of his office: official papers and seals of the King whose business he was asked to undertake. In our case one would expect signs and miracles to prove his ambassadorship such as that supplied to Moses when God appointed him to deal with the Pharaoh or again when Christ appointed Peter and the Apostles, where even the mere shadow of the passing of Peter would heal those who were sick. However, neither Luther nor Calvin was given authority that could be remotely considered as a mission from God.
God’s choosing of these men is nowhere recorded and thus it becomes obvious that neither had immediate authority; but what about a mediate mission? A mediate mission is a type of authority that is given to another by one who does have provable immediate authority. In the case of the king’s ambassador above, he can give one of his aides the ability to carry on in his stead should he be too busy with other affairs, fall sick or die.
For our purposes this kind of mediate authority is seen when Moses leaves the Hebrew people in the care of Joshua. In the New Testament church we see mediate authority being transferred from the apostles when they chose a new apostle to take the place of Judas and with their subsequent enlistment of priests.
The only mediate authority that Luther or Calvin could claim would have been that of priest which had been conferred on them by the same church which they had left. It was, therefore obvious that this would not be possible for either of them to claim. So their claim relied on the desire of the people, who allegedly gave them this authority. But never in the history of God’s dealings with man has such authority been bestowed from the bottom up. It is always administered from the top down and the people have never had any authority to bestow such an august favor upon their leaders. It is certain that such a democratic ideal was becoming popular during the age of enlightenment in political circles and it was only natural that the populace was ready to embrace this idea for other institutions, including the Church. Unfortunately, it is not how God wants to lead His Church. If you read of the calamities that befell those who wanted to make themselves the leaders of the Hebrew people, things become clear. Foolishly they tried to wrestle away the authority that Moses legitimately possessed from God.
It also reminds us of the question that Christ posed to his disciples in Matthew 16:15 and following: “Who do men say that the Son of man is?” They answered: “Some John the Baptist, and some others Elias, and others Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” But when Peter said “Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God”, Jesus confirmed his statement: “. . . flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in heaven.”
So it seems to matter very little what the people might suppose to be true, as their insights seem to differ from person to person: i.e. John the Baptist, Elias, Jeremiah, a prophet. Therefore, Christ did not make the Church a democracy: if he had we might today have many more than the 30,000 denominations that the protestants have spawned. Instead, Christ makes it clear that the truth will be conferred on those whom God himself has chosen: a theocracy which is ruled from the top down. And immediately Christ confers the keeping of His Church on earth to Peter: “And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
After nearly 2000 years, the Church that Christ founded handed down the immediate mission of Peter and the apostles to those who now have legitimate mediate missions. Today, this mediate mission is clearly in the hands of those who received it from the hands of a predecessor of Peter and the Apostles; and it stretches all the way back to the mediate mission given them by our Lord who unquestionably possessed the immediate authority.
How could I ever believe anything else? The truths of the Catholic Church have been taught by those in authority continuously from the death of Christ. Why should I believe that a new canon of scripture should be necessary or that new and novel interpretations of the Bible have any merit? Why should I believe Luther or Calvin or any other self-appointed authority? If their authority in these matters were not commissioned by Christ either immediately or mediately, I cannot simply choose to believe them even if I wanted to believe them. I may like many of their ideas and wish for them to be true and I may even think that their teachings are much easier to follow as they are free of many obligations placed on the shoulders of our early fathers in faith.
For my part, I cannot give up sound doctrine (though it makes my life easier) for those who might have ‘itching ears’. Protestantism is no more an option for me than is a non-Christian tradition because it breaks with the tradition of the Church that Christ founded. The existence of the Church itself is the proof of her authority: still teaching the same timeless doctrines that she taught before the Bible was even put together. Has any other institution lasted unchanged for as many years while under constant pressure from the world to change? I am not aware of any other religion that can make the same boast.
 John 5:39
 Acts 5:12-15
 Nu 27:22,23 Moses did as the Lord had commanded. And when he had taken Josue, he set him before Eleazar the priest, and all the assembly of the people, and laying his hands on his head, he repeated all things that the Lord had commanded.
 Acts 1:13-26
 Acts 14:22
 Nu 12:2 Hath the Lord spoken by Moses only? Hath he not also spoken to us in like manner?
 Nu 26:9,10 His sons, were Namuel and Dathan and Abiron. These are Dathan and Abiron the princes of the people that rose against Moses and Aaron in the sedition of Core, when they rebelled against the Lord: And the earth opening her mouth swallowed up Core, many others dying, when the fire burned two hundred and fifty men. And there was a great miracle wrought. . .
 Matthew 16:18
 2 Timothy 4:3-4 For there shall be a time, when they will not endure sound doctrine; but, according to their own desires, they will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears: And will indeed turn away their hearing from the truth, but will be turned unto fables.