I’ve mentioned in a few other posts that I have five older sisters and no brothers. Yes, I was the “baby” of the family and the apple of my Mom’s eye. 🙂 All six of us children were sent to Catholic parochial school and Catholic high school but my sisters (all now in their sixties) currently claim to be agnostics or atheists.
My Mom died two years ago and my Dad died last summer. Sister #4 never attends Catholic church…ever…but she felt compelled to have a mass said for our mother last year on the anniversary of her death. This month she arranged to have a mass said for our father. Catholics are taught that they can contact their local parish office and request that a mass or masses be dedicated to a deceased loved one. A stipend is usually involved. Catholics are taught that masses dedicated to a deceased person bestow grace and shorten the person’s time in Purgatory. However, God’s Word doesn’t speak about Purgatory. Those who accept Jesus Christ as their Savior have all of their sins forgiven. Praise God!
“So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” – 2 Cor. 5:6-8
The sale of indulgences and masses for those in Purgatory was a huge moneymaker for the Catholic church. St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, the center of Catholicism, was largely built through the sale of indulgences.
My wife and I had Sisters #2 and #4 over for dinner last Saturday. The discussion around the table eventually turned to spiritual matters. Sister #4, an agnostic who nevertheless still buys masses for my parents, made it clear that she doesn’t have any respect for the Bible. She quoted a quasi-documentary on cable television which disparaged the Bible. The show claimed the Israelites had plagiarized much of their religion from the beliefs of other ancient nations. The show allegedly also claimed that the New Testament manuscripts were manipulated by devious and self-serving popes. I countered that many scholars have researched the Bible and have attested to its trustworthiness. My sister has never actually read the Bible for herself and she has no intention of doing so. She stated the producers of the cable show and other likeminded atheists had as much or more credibility in her eyes than any group of “Bible scholars” that I could come up with.
Sister # 4 exemplifies many Roman Catholics. They don’t participate in the church’s mandatory sacraments of mass and confession. They don’t read the Bible and may ridicule those who do. Rather than having a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, they may doubt if God even exists. But at life’s important milestones (infant baptisms, weddings, serious illnesses, funerals), they enjoy the comfort of familiar Catholic rituals. Although they are Catholics in name only at best, they’ll vigorously contend for their religious system if challenged.
As I began to defend the Bible and the conversation became a bit heated, my wife calmed things down by interjecting, “Well, you’re either looking for God or you’re not.” That stopped the argument. Right, no sense in arguing with a person who would rather go by their own thinking than trusting in what God has revealed to mankind through His Word and through His Son.
“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” – Proverbs 16:25
Dear Father God, I am soooooo grateful that You opened my blind eyes to the GOOD NEWS of salvation by Your grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Thank You for Your Word. Help us to give out the Gospel to those who are hoping they can merit Heaven by obeying the Law and by being “good.” Help us also to know when to stop arguing about spiritual matters with people who aren’t really interested.
What does the Bible say about Purgatory?