Catholicism’s Feast of the Ascension and why it makes absolutely no sense

This coming Thursday, May 25th, Roman Catholics all over the world will be celebrating the Feast of the Ascension, which commemorates the bodily ascension of Jesus Christ into Heaven forty days after His resurrection. I have a few thoughts about this Catholic feast day that I would like to share:

One

The Feast of the Ascension is a “Holy Day of Obligation” for Catholics, which means they are required to attend mass on that day. Every Catholic who neglects to attend mass on Thursday and every other HDO and Sundays without a valid excuse earns a “mortal” sin, which means they will go directly to hell if they die before confessing the sin to a priest. Despite the threat of eternal damnation for missing mass on a HDO, most American Catholics can’t be bothered. Only 35% of American Catholics responded via survey that they “always,” “frequently,” or “usually” attend mass on a HDO. See here.

Two

The Catholic liturgical calendar is filled with various “solemnities,” “feasts,” and “memorials” but don’t confuse the three. What are the differences between the categories? Like all things in Catholicism, it’s very complicated. See here. From a believer’s perspective, it’s very sad to think about Catholics being compelled to attend these religious rituals although they have no saving relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ alone. But who can blame the 65% of American Catholics who won’t be attending obligatory mass on Thursday when their pope fallaciously claims even atheists can merit Heaven if they follow their consciences and are “good”?

Three

The 35% of American Catholics who do attend obligatory mass on Thursday will allegedly be celebrating the bodily ascension of Jesus to Heaven. Yes, God’s Word teaches Jesus rose to Heaven. Scripture also says Jesus is now seated at the right hand of the Father interceding for all who accept Him as Savior by faith.

But from now on the Son of Man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God.” – Luke 22:69

“Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.” – Hebrews 7:25

But the Catholic church conducts 350,000 masses every day all over the world in which priests allegedly bring Christ down from Heaven to take the literal place of bread and wine so as to be re-offered as a sacrificial victim for the sins of the congregants.

“When the priest pronounces the tremendous words of consecration, he reaches up into the heavens, brings Christ down from His throne, and places Him upon our altar to be offered up again as the Victim for the sins of man. It is a power greater than that of monarchs and emperors: it is greater than that of saints and angels, greater than that of Seraphim and Cherubim. Indeed it is greater even than the power of the Virgin Mary. While the Blessed Virgin was the human agency by which Christ became incarnate a single time, the priest brings Christ down from heaven, and renders Him present on our altar as the eternal Victim for the sins of man—not once but a thousand times! The priest speaks and lo! Christ, the eternal and omnipotent God, bows His head in humble obedience to the priest’s command.” – Catholic priest, Father John O’Brien, in “Faith of Millions” (first published in 1938, last published in 1974)

Irony of ironies. Pious Catholics will be attending mass on Thursday to celebrate the ascension of Jesus into Heaven but part of the celebration will entail the priest allegedly bringing Jesus back down from Heaven so he can be re-sacrificed again, and again, and again…

Conclusion

If you smell some rotten fish in all of this non-scriptural religious rigmarole, you’re not alone. Millions of Catholics over the ages have questioned their ritualistic and legalistic religion, accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior, and left Catholicism.

Religious ritual doesn’t save. Only Jesus saves. After you’ve repented of your sins and prayed to Jesus to save you, ask Him to lead you to an evangelical church in your area that preaches God’s word without compromise.


How do I become a Christian?
https://carm.org/how-do-i-become-christian

What are the Holy Days of Obligation?
https://www.gotquestions.org/Holy-Days-of-Obligation.html

Dead bones religion

I just love me a good sermon from the Word of God from a Spirit-filled preacher. If you know the Lord and you’ve been to a Jesus-preaching, Gospel-focused, evangelical church with a pastor who has surrendered his heart to God, you know what I’m talking about. A Spirit-filled, godly evangelical preacher can expound on a single Bible verse for an hour and believers’ hearts will dance with joy at His Word.

Sadly, millions of people attend churches – Catholic and most mainline Protestant – where the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone is never preached. Congregants will hear snippets of the Bible and some platitudes about the God of love and being a good neighbor, but there are no convicting words from Scripture about their sinful condition and no invitation to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior by faith alone.

Have you ever attended a Catholic mass? As part of the formalities, the priest gives a short talk called a “homily” (from the Greek homilia – to have communion or hold intercourse with a person). The Vatican advises its clergy to limit their homilies to around eight minutes so as to leave enough time for all of the many rituals of the 45-minute mass.

A homily’s listenability varies widely depending on the priest. Many of these men are socially withdrawn and were initially attracted to the priesthood because of the isolation it offered. Public speaking is generally not their forte. Beyond that, none of these priests preach the Good News! of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Rather, they propagate a joyless religious system of sacramental grace and merit that leads no one to Heaven.

I was browsing the internet the other day and came across podcasts of the homilies from Peace of Christ Catholic parish. Peace of Christ incorporates three former parishes on the eastside of Rochester, N.Y., including the one I attended as a child and teen. Below is a link to the 9-minute homily given by current pastor, “father” Robert Schrader, on Sunday, April 30, 2017. I invite you to take a listen, even for only a couple of minutes if you’re pressed for time. Argh, this brings back memories of so many Christ-less Sunday mornings! Schrader is obviously reading his prepared homily from a sheet of paper. It’s excruciatingly dry and boring. There’s no joy, no passion, and most importantly, no Gospel of salvation by grace through faith! As a believer, I recoil from this message that’s spiritually DOA.

Take a listen to Schrader’s homily below. You’ll be amazed.

Robert Schrader, homily for 4/30/17

It’s a chore for Catholics to have to sit through these tedious, monotone homilies as well as the accompanying dead liturgical rituals of the mass. Many Catholics legitimately ask themselves, “Why bother?,” when their pope teaches that even atheists can merit Heaven if they follow their consciences and are “good.” Catholic sources report only 20% of Catholics attend obligatory weekly mass while a whopping 56% say they attend mass only “a few times a year,” “rarely,” or “never.”

Praise God, there’s an alternative to “dead bones” religion. His name is Jesus Christ. God the Son came into this world and lived a perfect life so that He could offer it up as a sacrifice for your sins and mine. But Jesus rose from the grave, conquering sin and death, and offers eternal life and fellowship with God as a free gift to all those who accept Him by faith alone. No one can merit Heaven by trying to follow the Ten Commandments or their conscience. No one. Go to Jesus in prayer and accept Him as your Savior by faith alone and then ask the Lord to help you find an evangelical church in your area that preaches God’s Word without compromise.

“Martyrs” or deluded victims of religious error?

gw

This past weekend I was watching the local news and I saw the story far below about a large group of Catholics, led by the area’s bishop, that gathered at a parish in the city to honor the memory of a priest and a nun – George Weinmann, 77, and Lilian Marie McLaughlin, 26, (pictured) – who both perished fifty years ago in February 1967 when they went into the burning church building of a former parish in the area to “rescue” communion wafers.

Yes, you read that correctly.

They died trying to “save” communion wafers.

The Catholic church teaches its priests change bread wafers into the literal body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ. Catholics line up at mass to consume the Jesus wafers, believing as they are taught that eating the Jesus wafer confers graces that will enable them to resist sin and merit Heaven. Priests store any leftover Jesus wafers in a locked box called a tabernacle where they are reverenced and worshipped as the physical Son of God. Weinmann and McLaughlin entered the burning church to “rescue” the Jesus wafers aka the Blessed Sacrament from the flames.

Sigh.

I’m saddened for Weinmann and McLaughlin, that they believed the bread wafers were actually Jesus and perished trying to “save” him. I’m saddened for all Roman Catholics, represented by the people who gathered together in this news story, who follow their church’s deadly misinterpretation of John 6 and the Last Supper passages in the Gospels and believe receiving Jesus means literally eating him and then try to obey the Ten Commandments to earn their salvation rather than accepting Jesus as Savior by faith and trusting in Him alone.

So sad.

Service Honors Rochester Fatal Church Fire Victims
http://www.twcnews.com/nys/rochester/news/2017/02/26/service-honors-fatal-church-fire-victims.html

Catholic calisthenics: Sit, stand, kneel, sit, stand, kneel…

cc

The Roman Catholic mass is a mystery to most evangelicals. If an evangelical attends a Catholic church for a wedding or a funeral and a mass is performed they’ll witness many things they’re not used to.

During the mass, the Catholic priest goes through an elaborate liturgical ritual in which he prays specific prayers in a specific order and the attending Catholics respond in rote exactly as they’ve been directed. You can visit Catholics churches in twenty different countries and the ritual is exactly the same. The ultimate focus of the mass is when the priest allegedly changes bread wafers and wine into the literal body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ. The priest then offers up the immolated Jesus host to God the Father as a sacrifice for the sins of the congregation and anyone else who is named. The attendees then line up to receive the Jesus wafer from the priest and consume it, believing as they’ve been taught that the Jesus wafer will impart graces enabling them to avoid sin so they can merit Heaven. If the priest did not follow the prescribed liturgical formula exactly, the mass could be completely invalid.

One thing that often makes a big impression on evangelical visitors to a Catholic mass is how often the attendees are required to change their posture; from sitting to standing, to kneeling, etc. It’s all part of the elaborate ritual and is not to be deviated from. During the course of the mass the Catholic is required to assume the following postures in this order:

  • Stand
  • Sit
  • Stand
  • Sit
  • Stand
  • Sit
  • Stand
  • Kneel
  • Stand
  • Kneel or Stand
  • Stand
  • Sit or Kneel
  • Stand*

Up, down, up, down, up, down, up, down. The slavish ritualism is striking to behold.

I was an altar boy from 5th grade through 8th grade. After having to memorize all the spoken responses in Latin, the church changed the rote prayers of the mass to English. Argh! Once I became comfortable with the routine again, one of my favorite things to do as an altar boy was to observe the mass attendees. A large percentage looked like mass was the last place they wanted to be. Catholics are told by their church that if they miss weekly mass on Sunday it’s a “mortal” sin and they’re going to hell and many of those who still bother to attend mass (only 22% of American Catholics attended obligatory weekly mass in 2016) are there strictly because of this threat.

But there were some people at mass who were very enthusiastic about the ritual and those tended to be older women. They were the first to stand, the first to kneel, and the first to sit down. They were also the first and the loudest in saying the responses. Their demeanor seemed to express to the rest of the congregation, “You poor, unpious saps need to refer to the missalette, but look at me! I’m such an outstanding religious person that I’ve got this whole thing down pat and I know it even better than father (the priest).” If a priest deviates from the ritual by even one iota, one of these self-appointed holier-than-thous will be on the phone to the bishop’s office the following day. Yes, God said even the things we do that we think are good deeds are like filthy rags in his sight.

God’s Word says there’s no need for priests and sacrifices any longer. Jesus did away with the Old Testament sacrificial system and precluded the ersatz Catholic sacrifice of the mass when He cried, “It is finished” on the cross. Accept Jesus Christ as your Savior and High Priest. He is the only Mediator between God and men. Accept Christ and ask the Lord to lead you to an evangelical church in your area that teaches God’s Word without compromise.

“And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” – Hebrews 10:11-14

*Postures and Gestures at Mass

Nail-biters doomed to hell?

It may seem a little quirky for a guy who writes a blog titled, “excatholic4christ,” tonb regularly listen to Catholic talk radio but that’s what I do. It’s part of my daily routine. I listen to podcasts of a daily talk show called “Calling All Catholics,” which is broadcast out of nearby Buffalo, New York on WLOF 101.7 FM and features Catholic priests responding to questions from listeners. It’s sadly entertaining to me. The priests give out information that is mostly unscriptural but it keeps me on my toes and periodically gives me fodder for this blog.

My favorite priest to listen to by a large margin is Rick Poblocki who appears on the show Tuesdays and Thursdays. Rick is an old-fashioned, blustering priest who sticks to the rule book and makes the proverbial bull in a china shop look like a graceful ballerina.

A couple of weeks ago Rick took a call from a mother who was very concerned about her daughter receiving communion. Just to give you a little background, when I was a young Catholic we were taught that we had to fast from all food and drink, with the exception of water, beginning at midnight prior to receiving communion on Sunday morning. For Catholics who went to 11 a.m. or 12 noon mass on Sunday, that was a long stretch and more than a few people became weak-kneed or even fainted during mass. Catholics are taught that the priest changes the bread wafers into the literal body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ and they didn’t want people eating the Jesus wafer and making him swim in a pool of masticated bacon, eggs, toast, and orange juice in their stomachs. We were taught that it was a “mortal” sin to eat anything after midnight before receiving communion.

On November 21, 1964, pope Paul VI changed the fast period from midnight to only one hour before receiving communion. But what about all the people who went to hell prior to 1964 because they had violated the midnight fast? Did they all receive a “Get Out of Hell Free” card from the pope? Yes, I’m being slightly facetious but, seriously, how does one explain the far-reaching consequences of such a change? How could one infallible pope abrogate the binding law of previous infallible popes in a matter of eternal significance?

On several of his shows, I’ve heard father Rick talk about the 60-minute fast prior to receiving communion. According to Rick’s brand of strident Catholicism, 60 minutes means exactly 60 minutes. Unscrupulous Catholics who try to cut corners and eat something 50 or 55 minutes before receiving communion commit “mortal” sin and are doomed to hell unless they confess their sin to a priest. Stopwatch anyone? What about 59 minutes? Can 59 minutes be rounded up, Rick?

Okay, now let’s return back to the anxious mother who called the show. The poor woman was distressed because her daughter was a nail-biter and she was worried the nail fragments her daughter swallowed less than one hour prior to receiving communion were a violation of the 60-minute fast resulting in “mortal” sin. Rick assured the woman that finger nail fragments were not digestible and were not classified as food so her daughter was okay. As another example of this ritualistic legalism, there are Catholics who think chewing gum before receiving communion is allowable since you don’t actually swallow it. Not so fast! The church specifies that, “Chewing gum as such would not break the fast but swallowing the juices and flavors released by the chewing process would do so.” Got that?

I am so grateful to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, for freeing me from the chains of Catholic legalism and saving me. Repent of your sins and accept Christ as your Savior by faith. The religious treadmill does not save.

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” – Galatians 5:1