WHY BE CATHOLIC
Two Reasons to Become Catholic
Forgiven by Thomas Blackshear II
AT a recent event, a young married Pentecostal couple approached me and said, "Because of your writings, we are becoming Catholic." I was filled with joy as we embraced one another, delighted that this brother and sister in Christ were going to experience His power and life in new and profound ways—particularly through the Sacraments of Confession and the Holy Eucharist. And so, here are two "no-brainer" reasons why Protestants should become Catholics.
IT’S IN THE BIBLE Another evangelical has been writing me recently stating that it is not necessary to confess one’s sins to another, and that he does so directly to God. Nothing wrong with that on one level. As soon as we see our sin, we should speak to God from the heart, asking His forgiveness, and then begin again, resolved to sin no more. But according to the Bible we are to do more:
"But he is not yet unbound. Augustine (c. but only the Apostles. that you may be healed.) He who confesses his sins with a repentant heart obtains their remission from the priest . 5:16)
The question is." Is it possible? Can we touch the Lord before His final coming? Jesus called Himself the "bread of life. Church Father. and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. breathed the Holy Spirit upon them and said:
Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them. 70 A. 295–373 A.) in an obvious reference to the raising of Lazarus." says St. confessing and divulging their practices.Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another. (c. the first bishop’s of the Church. (c. Athanasius of Alexandria. Jesus appeared to the Apostles.D." Augustine goes on to say. —Didache "Teaching of the Twelve Apostles". I say to you.)
"When you hear a man lay bare his conscience in confessing." This He gave to the Apostles at the Last Supper when He pronounced:
. 244 A.D. but you need to "taste and see that the Lord is good. and whose sins you retain are retained. —St. Confession to the priests was practiced from the earliest times:
Many also of those who were now believers came. and do not go up to your prayer with an evil conscience . (John 11:44)
I cannot say enough about the healing graces I have experienced in my encounters with Jesus in the confessional. "is the loosing of sins able to be given by the Church. he has already come forth from the sepulchre. When is he unbound? By whom is he unbound?"
Amen. (John 20:23)
This was not a command to everyone. (c. "Untie him and let him go.
HUNGRY? Not only do you need to hear the Lord’s forgiveness pronounced. To hear I am forgiven by Christ’s appointed representative is a wonderful gift (see Confession Passé?).D.) [Do] not shrink from declaring his sin to a priest of the Lord and from seeking medicine… —Origen of Alexandria. After His resurrection. to whom are we to confess? The answer is to those whom Christ gave the authority to forgive sin. Why? Because they are the only ones who have been given the authority to do so through apostolic succession down through the centuries."
Jesus said to them. whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven. And that is the point: this Sacrament is only valid in the presence of a Catholic priest. 354–430 A.D. (Acts 19:18) Confess your sins in church. (Matt 18:18)
"Rightly. Church Father.
therefore. saying. So too. they were spared from the angel of death. the food which has been made into the Eucharist by the Eucharistic prayer set down by Him. In this way. Confession and the Eucharist remain the most tangible and powerful means of healing and grace.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. In this meal. as we have been taught. so too. and my blood is truedrink. If you believe in the Bible. we are to eat the "Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world" (John 1:29). for this is my blood of the covenant. I desire the Bread of God. Letter to the Romans 7:3 (c."Take and eat. and some have died. —St. amen." (Matt 26:26-28)
It is clear from the Lord’s own words that He was not being symbolic. you do not have life within you. What then. Let a man examine himself. Ignatius of Antioch. Paul understood the significance of this Divine Meal:
The verb "eats" used here is the Greek verb trogon which means to "munch" or "gnaw" as if to emphasize the literal reality Christ was presenting. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself. and by the change of which our blood and flesh is nourished. I say to you. 100 – 165 A. eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord.) We call this food Eucharist… For not as common bread nor common drink do we receive these. John 6:55)
Amen. this is my body. The tradition of Christianity from the earliest centuries is unchanged. Justin Martyr. gave thanks. we too are spared from eternal death. and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. is both the flesh and blood of that Jesus incarnated. (John 6:5) I have no taste for corruptible food nor for the pleasures of this life. It is clear that St. dear Protestant.
For my flesh is true food. you must believe in all of it. n." Then he took a cup. is keeping you away? Is it the priest scandals? Peter was a scandal too! Is it the sinfulness of certain clergy? They need salvation also! Is it the rituals and traditions of the Mass? What family doesn’t have traditions? Is it the icons and statues? What family does not keep pictures of their loved ones nearby? Is it the papacy? What family does not have a father? Two reasons to become Catholic: Confession and the Eucharist—both of them given to us by Jesus. They fulfill Christ’s promise to remain with us until the end of the age.)
Scripture is clear. 66. who was of the seed of David. 110 A.D. and for drink I desire His blood.D. unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood. which is love incorruptible.
Jesus said that whoever eats this Bread has eternal life! The Israelites were commanded to eat an unblemished lamb and place its blood upon their doorposts. which is the flesh of Jesus Christ. —St. all of you. which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins. (I Cor 11:27-30). first apology in defense of Christians. and gave it to them. (c. but since Jesus Christ our Savior was made incarnate by the word of God and had both flesh and blood for our salvation. Church Father.
. "Drink from it. That is why many of you are weak and ill.
If anyone takes away from the words in this prophetic book.
. (Rev 22:19)
Personal Relationship With Jesus
Sacred Heart of Jesus by Michael D. FAUSTINA KOWALSKA
This writing was first published October 5th. O’Brien
WRITTEN ON THE MEMORIAL OF ST. 2006. God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city described in this book.
and paintings. is at the very heart of our Catholic Faith. died. especially in the churches of the affluent nations. Foothills. One thing they often spoke of was the need for a "personal relationship with Jesus". life. going through the rote prayers. AND THE PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP
. On the one hand.
CATHOLICISM AND THE PERSONAL JESUS Many Evangelical or Protestant Christians reject the Catholic Church because they’ve been led to believe that we do not preach the need to have a "personal relationship" with Jesus. It does not void the "oral and written" traditions which Christ and the Apostles handed down to us. the Catholic Church in some of its particular branches of the Western world has failed. This mystery. so that we may know Him. and misinterpret sacred symbolism for "idol worship". crucified. and spiritual feasts and regard them as "dead works". and that they live from it in a vital and personal relationship with the living and true God. so that the life of the faithful may be conformed to Christ in the Holy Spirit to the glory of God the Father. who were devout Catholics in love with Jesus. There. candles.
FINDING THE SUMMIT In my early school years. This Summit is the foundation of the Christian Life. 2558
POPES. the Catholic Church is not Christian. it is a sign of the times. statues. A personal. we have neglected at times to preach Jesus Christ. In this regard. This is our faith! It is our joy! Our reason for living… and we have failed to "shout it from the rooftops" as Pope John Paul II exhorted us to do. we made friends with other Christians who had a passion for Jesus. requires that the faithful believe in it. the Summit of the Church is Jesus. They look at our churches adorned with icons. devoid of faith. So my parents. —Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC). Rather. They see our rituals. We have not succeeded in raising our voices above the noise and din of modernism. sent us to a Pentecostal group. then. living relationship with Jesus Christ. indeed the Holy Trinity. that we may have eternal life. and Plains. rather than from a real and living relationship with God. Many Catholics do "show up" to Mass out of obligation. we must admit a certain truth to this. proclaiming with a clear and undiluted voice: Jesus Christ is Lord! But this does not annul the Catholic Faith. traditions. a love for the Word of God. we had no Catholic youth group. though perhaps many the heart of an individual is. But this does not mean that the Catholic Faith is dead or empty. and the freedom which Christ came to bring. In fact. From our Catechism:
"Great is the mystery of the faith!" The Church professes this mystery in the Apostles’ Creed and celebrates it in the sacramental liturgy.AS I wrote in Moutains. and the One who sent Him. and risen. and a desire to witness to others. if it is not. poured out as a sacrifice for our sins. that they celebrate it.
Commissioning Families. —Ibid. —Ibid. the successor of Peter. or attended a bible study… Indeed. and the need for a new understanding of the Church’s mission:
The task which awaits you—the new evangelization—demands that you present. It was he who brought into the Church’s contemporary vocabulary the term and urgency for a "new evangelization". —Ibid. the eternal and unchanging content of the heritage of the Christian faith. says St. but the encounter with an event. this Pope also addresses the true dimensions and genesis of faith. by a personal decision. January 20th. or listened to a television evangelist. Encyclical Letter: Deus Caritas Est. — POPE JOHN PAUL II. and the truth. and peace.
Teaching us as the voice of the Church. Paul. we become witnesses and can contribute to the novelty of the world. which time and again point us toward the need to encounter Christ personally.
This faith. the current Holy Father has a profound simplicity in words. —POPE JOHN PAUL II. Vatican City.—POPE BENEDICT XVI. But the evangelist must firsthimself be evangelized. which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction. but as the living Lord. and the chief shepherd of the flock after Christ.
Practical activity will always be insufficient. a love nourished by an encounter with Christ. but rather of a personal and profound meeting with the Saviour. p. Finding him really in our life of faith. if it is authentic. As you well know it is not a matter of merely passing on a doctrine. and the life’ .3. 28. Zenit
PERSONAL JESUS: BOTH HEAD AND BODY Many well-meaning Christians have abandoned the Catholic Church because they did not hear the Good News preached to them until they visited the "other" church down the street.
Again. Encyclical Letter: Mission of the Redeemer(1990) 46. unless it visibly expresses a love for man. —POPE BENEDICT XVI. the saving sovereignty of Christ and becoming his disciple. 34.
Pope Benedict has been no less lucid. from our personal encounter with Christ. with fresh enthusiasm and new methods. ‘the way. justice. 2010.
Faith by its specific nature is an encounter with the living God. "God is Love".
Sometimes even Catholics have lost or never had the chance to experience Christ personally: not Christ as a mere ‘paradigm’ or ‘value’.. begins with ourselves. and not only through others — from our own life. Neo-Catechumenal Way. he said. 1993.
How can they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone to preach? (Romans 10:14)
. . 1. 1991.L’Osservatore Romano (English Edition of the Vatican Newspaper).. the late pope said this relationship begins with a choice:
Conversion means accepting. In fact. March 24. to eternal life. must also be an expression of charity: works of mercy. a person. the need to evangelize and reevangelize was very much the thrust of Pope John Paul II’s pontificate.. for such a renowned theologian.Contrary to the false prophets who seek to discredit Catholicism.we can be witnesses only if we know Christ first hand. This was the essence of his first encyclical:
Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea.
but not the full inheritance of his birthright. are you eating? Doesn’t scripture tell us to confess our sins to one another? To whom are you confessing? Do you speak in tongues? So do I. and their eyes were opened to see new perspectives. and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. the Scriptures came alive." Thus. but it is "one body. catholic." —POPE BENEDICT XVI.Their hearts were set on fire. and my blood is real drink. But we also need a relationship with His Body. Do you read your bible? So do I. For the "cornerstone" and the "foundation" are inseparable:
You are fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God. and spirit. to keep oneself separated from the "one. the Head. (Ephesians 5:31-32)
But this communion. For it was not a pope.
"For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife. The child receives the basics for his living. 299
. built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets. Catholic News Service. 2006 Man. they left behind the other sheep who were so desperate to hear what they had heard! Perhaps worse. who nurses her children through the Sacraments. this personal relationship. should one eat from only one side of the plate when Our Lord Himself provides a rich and full meal in the Banquet of His very Self?
My flesh is real food. and which our Lord desires to give. with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone. for God has given us a family of fellow believers to belong to. I reach out and touch Him in the Holy Eucharist. But my brother. dear Protestant. These are straight words. or a doctor of the Church. the Church. (John 6:51)
But I do not hold this gift to myself. Every day. The Church consists of many members. whoever eats this bread will live forever. —CCC. They experienced a profound joy which to them seemed in stark contrast to the mumbling monotone masses of their Catholic parish. and apostolic Church " is to be like a child reared by a foster parent. But when these revitalized believers departed." This mystery is a profound one. they moved away from the very Fountainhead of grace. Mother Church. But I have more! For each day. For the greatest personal relationship we can have. himself created in the "image of God" [is] called to a personal relationship with God. It is for you too. and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world. but Christ Himself who declared:
I am the living bread that came down from heaven. But they have not changed for 2000 years. holy. or a saint. Didn’t Jesus command us eat to his Body and drink his Blood? What then. We need a personal relationship with Jesus. who then reaches out and touches me in the depths of my body and soul. soul. October 4th. "it must then be ourselves (who) become personally involved in an intimate and deep relationship with Jesus. does not happen in isolation.(John 6:55)
Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus? So do I. I gaze upon Him in the humble disguise of bread and wine. and the two shall become one flesh. is the communion of body. (Ephesians 2:19-20) While hearing about Christ through the Bible or through other people can introduce a person to Christian belief [Pope Benedict said].
lined with the snow-capped Peak of the Apostles. — Catechism of the Catholic Church." For from Zion shall go forth instruction… (Isaiah 2:3) The Church in this world is the sacrament of salvation. And so. such as Purgatory. or in the Foothills at its base. Ergo. Foothills. or perhaps. but refuse to climb the Mountain. not everyone is on the Mountain. "Peter" and his successors. prayer meeting to bible study. Thus. Jesus said. Peter—or in Christ’s Aramaic language: "Cephas". "On this rock I will build my church"—not churches (Matt 16:18). FRANCIS OF ASSISI
I HAVE many Protestant readers. it is the Summit which all men seek. One passes through the Foothills to reach the Mountain. Still others consider as intellectually impassible the majestic slopes of Mary. pausing to drink from the Waters of Worship and the Streams of Scripture (which incidentally. and asked:
Where does this leave me as a Protestant?
AN ANALOGY Jesus said He would build His Church on "rock"—that is. Foothills precede a mountain.Mountains. leaping from hillside to mound. whether they realize it or not. which means "rock". that is. However. and we may walk in his paths. And really. It is toward the Summit that all the truths which are to be found in other major religions are pointing. You could also say the Summit is the Holy Trinity since Jesus is one with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Some refuse to enter the Foothills of Baptism. the all-male priesthood… or they refuse to pass by the towering Cedars of Human Dignity. that he may instruct us in his ways. the intercession of the Saints. One of them wrote me regarding the recent article My Sheep Will Know My Voice in the Storm. rejecting as yet (at least intellectually or perhaps unknowingly) that Jesus is the Messiah. many linger in the Foothills of Fundamentals. the sign and the instrument of the communion of God and men. from conception to natural death. others feel threatened by the colossal cliffs of the Sacraments. and so I think of them as "Baptism". Still. think of the Church then as a Mountain. So. Others have entered the Foothills. it is where the unbroken chain of the Lord’s teachings is found in its entrusted entirety. from that Peak where
. to the house of the God of Jacob. somewhere out in the plains? The Summit of the Mountain is Jesus. the one Church which Christ built can only be found in one place: on "the rock".
"Come. and Plains
MEMORIAL OF ST. run down from the snow-cap. If that is the case. the Mountain is the Catholic Church since that is where the unbroken line of Popes is to be found. 780
Are you on the Mountain. the Head of the Church. let us climb the Lord’s mountain. logically. Now. They reject (perhaps unknowingly) the surrounding Forest of Dogmas. bank to bluff.
and it seems to me. Paul speaking to the believers regarding their bishops and leaders. Paul speaking to the believers of Thessalonica)
TO THOSE NEAR THE MOUNTAIN TOP
Keep watch over yourselves and over the whole flock of which the Holy Spirit has appointed you overseers. some reponses from the Apostle Paul. Paul addressing the first bishops of the Church) Guard the truth that has been entrusted to you by the Holy Spirit who dwells within us. intent on subduing whatever lies in its path. dear reader? Though only you and God know your heart. even to its very base. Others are tumbling and many running off the Mountain by the tens of thousands—some even in white robes and collars! Because of this. for the cascade of souls looks very much like an avalanche indeed! So where does that leave you. and his successors:
TO THOSE ON THE MOUNTAIN
Obey your leaders and defer to them. many in the Foothills fear the Mountain. Lastly. an evil volcano. believing the lie that the Mountain is just a futile rockslide… or. After all. They decide to leave the mountains altogether. and which was not. and with good reason are accepted as brothers by the children of the Catholic Church. Born with a desire to touch the sky. keeping only the untainted Tenet’s of Truth." "Baptism therefore constitutes the sacramental bond of unityexisting among all who through it are reborn. (Hebrews 13:17.) Stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us. And yet. a young bishop) (2
Yes. communion with the Catholic Church. and many valleys look like mountains when you’re at the bottom of them. at the price of their soul.the sparkling Inspiration of the Holy Spirit gathered after Pentecost. they travel into the Cities of Self-Deception to buy "wings". including those who are not yet in full communion with the Catholic Church: "For men who believe in Christ and have been properly baptized are put in some. Timothy 1:14. Justified by faith in Baptism. [they] are incorporated into Christ. For some hills do not belong to God’s Range. But there is also a startling sight: many souls are sleeping on the Mountain… while others are mired in the Muds of Stagnancy and Pools of Complacency. as if on the wings of the Spirit… They wish to fly. others dance through the hills. (Acts 20:28. that they may fulfill their task with joy and not with sorrow. either by word of mouth or by letter. for they keep watch over you and will have to give an account. their desire is leading them closer to the Mountain." —Catechism of the Catholic Church. we must all ask. Paul writing to Timothy. it was the Apostle’s successors who around the fourth century determined what was pure water (inspired Scripture). the Church might say:
Baptism constitutes the foundation of communion among all Christians. though imperfect. (2 Thessalonians 2:15 . some souls eventually tire of the low altitudes. for that would be of no advantage to you. in which you tend the church of God that he acquired with his own blood. letting the rest fall into the valleys below…) Sadly. they therefore have a right to be called Christians. "Where am I?"—whether Catholic or Protestant or what have you.
TO THOSE IN THE FOOTHILLS
However. those who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ and his Church but sincerely seek God and. . try to do his will as it is known through the dictates of conscience can attain eternal salvation. . 818
TO THOSE IN THE PLAINS
Thanks to Christ and to his Church. and with good reason are accepted as brothers in the Lord by the children of the Catholic Church. they therefore have a right to be called Christians. All who have been justified by faith in Baptism are incorporated into Christ. 171
. . and the Catholic Church accepts them with respect and affection as brothers . moved by grace.—Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church." —Catechism of the Catholic Church. one cannot charge with the sin of the separation those who at present are born into these communities [that resulted from such separation] and in them are brought up in the faith of Christ.