Saturday, November 3, 2012

All Souls Day: The Stark Difference Between Protestants and Catholics

Mass for the Souls in Purgatory
I know this is a day late and a dollar short, but I have something on my mind that I really want to share, so I hope you'll bear with me.

Yesterday, November 2, was All Souls Day, the day that Catholics around the world specifically remembered those who have died and are undergoing purification in Purgatory.  This day is also a stellar example of just how out of step the Catholic Church is with the world, or maybe it is better said that this day shows how out of step the world is with the Catholic Church.

There are few religions that pray for the dead as the Catholic Church does.  The Jewish religion has prayers for the dead, but only the Catholic Church prays for those who are undergoing purification as they are being made ready to enter into the Presence of the Great God.  The closest any other religion comes to believing in Purgatory are the Hindus who believe in reincarnation:  the belief that we keep coming back to this earth in different forms, human and animal and who knows what else until we "get it right.".  The end of reincarnation is to become "one with the universe" and basically dissolve into nothingness.  That is Satan's answer to the true reward of the saved, which is eternal happiness with and in the presence of the Trinity, and involves no dissolution of who we are.  But to enter into this eternal reward, we must be perfect and completely without sin.  Ephesians 5:27 tells us:  "That he [Jesus] might present it [the Church] to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy, and without blemish."

But how do we, as sinful human beings, ever get to the point that we are without blemish, completely free of all sin - with not even the tiniest bit of selfishness or vanity?  We must be purged of it, just as silver is purged of dross or rust.  As Proverbs 25:4 tells us:

Take away the rust from silver, and there shall come forth a most pure vessel.


Silversmith refining silver
This involves suffering, pure and simple, either now or after we die in Purgatory.  There is no other way.  No one gets into heaven without going through Calvary.  Christ told us in Luke 9:23-24:
If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life, shall lose it; for he that shall lose his life for my sake, shall save it.

Herein is seen just how wide the gap is between Protestantism and Catholicism.  Protestants  believe that if we just say, "I accept Jesus Christ as my Savior", then poof! we are saved and ready to enter into heaven.   It doesn't matter that we are filled with sin.  Protestants believe that Christ's sacrifice "covers" our sin, sort of like snow covering a pile of garbage.  The problem is that although the snow may look pretty, the garbage is still there.  Do we really believe that our Lord would allow a sinner into heaven just as long as he is "covered" by our Lord's Sacrifice?  Protestants don't take Christ seriously when he said, "Be ye therefore perfect as your Father in heaven in perfect."  (Matthew 5:48).  Protestants believe, in effect, that covering stinking putrid garbage with snow somehow makes the garbage into magnificent and precious jewels.  Even a child will see just how ridiculous that thinking is.

The Protestant belief is clearly shown in the lyrics to the famous Protestant hymn, "Just As I Am":

Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind;
Sight, riches, healing of the mind,
Yea, all I need in Thee to find,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Protestant Cross with no
suffering Jesus
In the Protestant world, we can go to Jesus "Just as I Am", and Christ does all the rest, no work necessary on our part, and certainly no suffering.  No need for any kind of Purgatory, either here or in the afterlife.  In fact, many Protestants believe that if you are suffering, that actually means you have done something wrong and God is punishing you.  Protestants deny suffering in the plan of redemption, and that is also why they deny the Crucifix, and instead have a cross without the corpus.  They have no desire to think about or look at suffering, and they especially eschew the salvific suffering of our Lord.  Because of this, they have no clue how important suffering is in the life of a Christian.

Unlike the rest of the world, the Catholic Church does not see suffering as something evil or a punishment of any kind.  Here are just a couple of quotes from great saints on suffering:
Suffering is a great grace; through suffering the soul becomes like the Saviour; in suffering love becomes crystallised; the greater the suffering, the purer the love.
--St. Faustina
All the science of the Saints is included in these two things: To do, and to suffer. And whoever had done these two things best, has made himself most saintly.
--Saint Francis de Sales
 
"If you really want to love Jesus, first learn to suffer, because suffering teaches you to love."
--St. Gemma Galgani
If we only knew the precious treasure hidden in infirmities, we would receive them with the same joy with which we receive the greatest benefits, and we would bear them without ever complaining or showing signs of weariness.
--St. Vincent de Paul
The great G.K. Chesterton perfectly sums up the Catholic view of suffering
Jesus promised the disciples three things - that they would be completely fearless, absurdly happy and in constant trouble.
As Catholics, we believe that it is our duty to pray for the suffering souls in Purgatory that they can quickly go through their purification and be released to their heavenly reward. That is the purpose of All Souls Day, and there is no idea that could be more alien to the Protestant way of thinking.

Unfortunately, the Protestant mindset has found its way into the Catholic Church. Yesterday  I went to Mass in which the priest wore white vestments and never even mentioned the word "Purgatory."  I know that this particular priest believes that everyone goes to heaven, that no one goes to hell, much less Purgatory.  Somehow he managed to preach about praying for those who have died, but I honestly don't know what we are to pray for since they are all in heaven.

Risen Christ has replaced the
suffering Christ on the Cross
This is very dangerous thinking.  If we start to believe that we are all going to heaven no matter what, we will  live very undisciplined lives, completely forgetting about sin and thus forgetting about the great Sacrifice of our Lord on the Cross to deliver us from sin and death  This  directly leads to misunderstanding the meaning and importance of suffering in our lives.  It is the reason why so many Catholic churches no longer have a suffering Jesus on the Cross, but a risen Jesus, free of all pain and suffering of this earth.  When we reject the suffering Christ and the suffering that comes into our lives, we no longer see it as a way of purification and a great gift from God to cleanse our souls and bring us into a close, intimate relationship with Him.  Suffering is now a punishment and something to be avoided at all costs.

It is this kind of thinking that has resulted in the tremendous drop off in the Sacrament of Confession.  Why should we bother with confessing our sins when we know we're already forgiven and going to heaven?   This has led to the attitude that it's not necessary to attend Mass or follow the teachings of the Church in general.  God loves me, and as long as I am  "good" person, living a "good" life and not hurting anyone, I don't have anything to worry about.

Mary, John and the women at the foot
of the Cross
It is no coincidence that Protestants reject the idea of suffering and also reject veneration of Mary, our Blessed Mother.  These two issues may not seem related, but they are actually intimately tied together.  To venerate Mary means to stand with her at the foot of the Cross, as the apostle John and Mary Magdalene and the few other women did who stayed with Mary and embraced the suffering Christ.  Sadly, far too many of us in the Catholic Church are no longer joining ourselves with our Blessed Mother at the foot of the Cross.  We are rejecting the suffering and running away from Calvary with all of the other apostles and disciples and saying as Peter did, "I do not know him."  When we reject the idea of suffering, we have become Protestant in our thinking.

We must remember that there are three parts of the Church:  the Church Militant here on earth; the Church Suffering in Purgatory; and the Church Triumphant, who are the saved in heaven.  Protestants, who preach "once saved always saved" believe only in the Church Triumphant.  And now many Catholics are also teaching and believing that there is only the Church Triumphant, and that it includes those of us here on earth.  But we are NOT the Church Triumphant yet.  We are the Church Militant involved in a spiritual war.  It is crucial that we return to the foot of the Cross with our Blessed Mother and realize that we have not finished the course, we have not yet received our reward as the Church Triumphant has.  We have to be cleansed and made perfect.  Revelation 22:14 says:
"Blessed are they that wash their robes in the blood of the Lamb: that they may have a right to the tree of life, and may enter in by the gates into the city."

Bloodshed means suffering, and we will only find the Blood of the Lamb at the place where He suffered and was sacrificed:  Calvary.  It is no coincidence that the only disciples who did not abandon our Lord on that first Good Friday are those who stayed with Mary.  And where was Mary to be found?  On the road to Calvary, the road of suffering, and at the foot of the Cross. We are still in that race, and we will not finish unless we stay with Mary at Calvary.  That means recognizing the suffering Jesus Christ and accepting and even embracing that suffering in our lives.  That is the only way that our Lord can fulfill the meaning of Ephesians 5:27:  "That he [Jesus] might present it [the Church] to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy, and without blemish."

I hope that you took time on November 2 to pray for the suffering souls in Purgatory and join your suffering with them.  We should in fact pray for the poor souls in Purgatory every day.  As they are released to Heaven, they will join the Church Triumphant and in turn pray for you.  Those in Purgatory embrace their suffering because they know it is leading them to their great reward in heaven, to be in the Presence of the Holy Trinity.  We also must stop running away from our suffering.  We need to walk the road of Calvary with our Blessed Mother and stand at the foot of the Cross.  The Stabat Mater, which we sing when doing the Stations of the Cross, reminds us of where we need to be:

"At the Cross her Station Keeping,
Stood the Mournful  Mother Weeping
Close to Jesus to the Last."  


5 comments:

  1. Catholic in Brooklyn, what do you have to say about Life.Church (formerly LifeChurch.tv)? Marcy Walker, a retired soap-opera actress who won a Daytime Emmy for playing Eden Capwell on "Santa Barbara," worked as a Christian youth minister for LifeChurch.tv in the early 2010s. However, she apparently left in 2013, as a LifeChurch.tv video profiling Marcy was notably privatized on YouTube that year. I've been praying every day for a while now that Marcy will convert to Catholicism. I have even prayed to Mother Angelica (God rest her soul) for Marcy's conversion.

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  3. When you get a chance, Catholic in Brooklyn, check out a certain LifeChurch.tv video that can be reached via the following URL:

    https://youtu.be/4PIE2WpNM70

    Is the video compatible with Catholic teaching? It is worth noting that Marcy Walker appears in the video.

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  4. At some point, Catholic in Brooklyn, I would like you to check out a certain 2012 article about Marcy Walker that can be reached by clicking on the following link:

    http://www.outlookoklahoma.com/archives/m.blog/27/from-fame-to-faith

    When you have finished reading the article, let me know what you think of it. A certain moderator for Catholic Answers Forums has essentially told me that proselytizing is a bad idea.

    You have to excuse me, Catholic in Brooklyn. I hope you don't think that I'm a troll. What Michael Voris has said about Protestantism has so often made me feel bad. I wonder what Mr. Voris and his girl Friday Christine Niles would have to say about Marcy Walker. It's my understanding that Marcy has been married five times and divorced four times. Her son was born out of wedlock.

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    1. I spent approximately 40 years in the Protestaent world, and I know from personal experience that there are many, many very devout Christians among them who truly love Jesus Christ. And, of course, Voris is absolutely wrong when he says that Protestants do not worship the same God as Catholics. But the fullness of the truth can only be found in the Catholic Church. Protestants have only partial truths. That said, they will also be held less responsible than Catholics who have been given so much more.

      What it all comes down to is we can't judge one another. That is the Divine prerogative only. And that is also one major reason why I try to stay as far away from Michael Voris and his ilk as I can.

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