In praise of Catholic cathedrals?

There are a few days here and there when the Lord doesn’t give me any ideas to write about, but I usually have one idea every day. On very rare days I have multiple ideas, like today! I’ll try to be brief…

One

On my drive-in to work this morning, I was listening to my usual local Christian radio station and Joni Eareckson Tada (pictured) was giving her 5-minute inspirational message for the day. Joni was expounding about a previous visit to Paris and her joy in visiting the Notre Dame Cathedral, with its “harmony of unspeakable splendors,” although she used the grime that had accumulated on the building as an analogy for the worldly attachments and attitudes that accumulate in a Christian’s life. Is Joni so ignorant of Reformation history and comparative theology that she doesn’t know that the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone was never preached inside Notre Dame (“Our Lady”)? The mammoth cathedral was constructed between 1163 and 1345 on the backs of medieval peasants who were never shown the way to Jesus Christ. It stands as a monument to institutional legalistic religion with its grandiose but empty splendor. Joni should know better but this isn’t the first time she’s tread these ecumenical roads. Back in 2015, I posted about Joni’s endorsement of a Catholic journal. See here.

Two

The book I’m currently reading refers to the very popular Catholic tract, “My Ticket to Heaven,” written by father Joseph Bernard of Patton, Pennsylvania. Over five-million copies have been distributed to date. Following are a few quotes from the tract which should give pause to evangelicals who embrace Catholicism as Christian:

  • “Now, in this job of getting myself to those gates of heaven, I have everything going for me…”
  • “And if I maintain always . . . . . this determination . . . . . this disposition of mind and soul . . . . . I can be sure of never committing sin.”
  • “I refuse to do anything that is against God’s will. With God as my helper I absolutely refuse to commit sin. Therefore I refuse to go to hell. It’s as simple as that.”
  • “If I do my part, God will do His part.”
  • “God gave me the job of getting myself to heaven.”

http://thekeysofheaven.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/T0-1aaa-MY-TICKET-TO-HEAVEN-a-Roman-Catholic-pamphlet.pdf

Obviously, there’s not one single mention in this tract of accepting Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone, it’s all about a person saving themselves through sheer determination not to sin!

Catholics give lip service to “faith” and “grace” but the salvation bottom line for them is receiving the sacraments and “cooperating with grace” by obeying the Ten Commandments (absolutely impossible!) and church rules. They can only “hope” they’ve done enough to merit Heaven, but there’s zero hope for anyone trying to merit their salvation.

“For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.” – Romans 3:20

Three

This morning, I was listening to the 5/25/17 podcast of the Calling All Catholics talk radio show (The Station of the Cross, 101.7 FM, Buffalo, NY) featuring moderator, Steve Quebral, and priest-host, father Kevin Barrett. A listener, Ron from Syracuse, N.Y., called in with a question about “Gregorian” masses for the suffering souls in purgatory. I had never heard of Gregorian masses before so I did a little research. Catholics are taught that masses said for the dead will shorten their stay in the painful fires of purgatory and what pious Catholic would want their deceased loved ones to suffer? The church says it doesn’t actually “charge” for masses but suggests an offering, usually at a dollar value of $10-$15 per mass. According to Catholic tradition, a series of masses called “Gregorian” masses can also be said for the deceased. Gregorian masses are 30 regular masses offered on consecutive days with a suggested donation of $150-$300, depending on the priest. Cha-ching, cha-ching! It’s believed by many Catholics that a series of 30 Gregorian masses may actually free a soul from purgatory based on the following tradition:

”During the 6th century, a deceased monk from St. Andrew’s Monastery in Rome (founded by St. Gregory) reportedly appeared to a friend and requested that 30 Masses be said to release his soul from purgatory. After the Masses were completed, the monk appeared again to declare he had entered heaven. Since that time, Catholics have continued the tradition of celebrating 30 consecutive Masses for one person to free his or her soul from purgatory.”
– from http://www.cnewa.org/donations.aspx?ID=1378&sitecode=hq&pageno=1

Purgatory? Masses for the dead? Gregorian masses? It’s all unbiblical, man-made tradition. If all of this were true, then dead Catholics with rich families that could afford hundreds of masses for their deceased loved ones would be at a much greater advantage than poor, family-less Catholics. And let’s not forget about the sale of indulgences! What a money-making racket this purgatory doctrine used to be (although the average Catholic today can’t be bothered with obligatory mass on Sunday let alone shelling out $300 for the soul of Aunt Sally).

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12 thoughts on “In praise of Catholic cathedrals?

    1. I always get asked about James 2 by Catholics as you can imagine. Catholicism must sidestep Paul’s epistles regarding salvation by grace through faith alone and keep bringing it back to James 2. But if you attended evangelical services you would see that James 2 is not a stumbling block for us. Evangelical pastors constantly teach that if you have no fruit in your life, you didn’t genuinely accept Christ. Works and charity are the fruit of our salvation in Christ, not the cause of it. Here’s an example of the teaching on James 2 that is heard in an evangelical church:
      https://www.gty.org/library/questions/QA81/Does-James-2-contradict-Romans-4

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I think you are agreeing with the Catholic understanding of works. Pelagianism (what I think you are accusing the RCC of) was denounced 1100 years before Luther.

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      2. “Trent acknowledged the freedom of God’s grace but insisted that our works do contribute to our salvation, though even our ability to do good works is due to God’s grace.”
        https://www.franciscanmedia.org/faith-and-works-catholics-and-lutherans-find-agreement/

        But some Catholics do not “cooperate with grace” and commit mortal sins so Catholicism is works based despite the sophistry. For myself, I commit “mortal” sins every day (unrighteous anger, jealousy, lust, theft [don’t give 100% at the workplace], idolatry [put my own desires before God], etc., but I’m so grateful that I am justified by the imputed perfect righteousness of my Savior instead of believing I can attain justification through obedience as your church used to teach me. Ach, you poor, blind soul. Accept Christ.

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      3. Ok. I look forward to the day you end up reverting back to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of the Patriarchs, Jerome, Augustine, Aquinas, Bonaventure, and Newman.

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      4. Let’s suppose a man was in prison on death row for murder. But the governor gave him a full pardon. What do you think the man’s reaction would be if someone urged him to relinquish his pardon and return to chains?

        Liked by 3 people

  1. We ALL NEED to Praise Jesus-Yeshua Christ Because HE is KING of kings and LORD ( ADONAI ) of lords, HE is the ALPHA and OMEGA, and HE LOVED Everyone FIRST!!

    United We STAND with Israel-Yisrael / Christian Nation United States of America, and our Christian Earth, Divided We FALL!! I am Pro-Israel / Pro-USA / Pro-Life!!

    Love Always and Shalom ( Peace ) Everyone, YSIC \o/

    Kristi Ann

    Liked by 2 people

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