Throwback Thursday: Swooning St. Catherine of Siena!

Today’s “Throwback Thursday” post was originally published on July 27, 2015 and has been slightly revised.


Catherine of Siena, Italy (1347-1380) is one of Roman Catholicism’s most highly revered and venerated saints. In 1970, she was proclaimed a “Doctor of the Church,” an august honor bestowed upon only thirty-six individuals to date.

WARNING: Some of the details of Catherine’s story below are not for the squeamish. 

The Middle Ages saw a flourishing of monasticism and mysticism. The thinking was that acts of penitential self-denial and self-mortification equated to climbing a ladder to spiritual perfection. Severe fasting and self-imposed sleep deprivation, forms of self-mortification used in monasteries, often brought on swoons of religious ecstasy and visions among the monastic nuns. One such mystic was Catherine of Siena. Jesus declares in the Bible that anyone who claims to have seen Him or been visited by Him prior to His second coming is a liar (Matthew 24:23-27), but Catherine, a Dominican nun, claimed that Christ visited her often, eventually joining with her in a “mystical marriage” and presenting her with a wedding ring consisting of his infant “prepuce” (circumcised foreskin), which only she could see. Revolting? Assuredly. And how could Catherine have had Jesus’s foreskin when the Charroux Abbey in France claimed possession of the actual “Holy” Prepuce? [a rhetorical question]

Catherine also claimed she received the stigmata wounds of Christ (as portrayed in the fanciful painting above) and that she was also able to levitate. In a disgusting example of extreme self-mortification, Catherine would drink the drainage from the ulcerous tumors and sores of patients in her care. Was the woman insane or demon possessed? Catherine was also an anorexic who often forced herself to vomit the little food she ate. Towards the end of her short life (dead at thirty-three), Catherine’s daily food intake consisted of one communion wafer. Academicians have termed this eating disorder that was common among monastic nuns during the Middle Ages as “anorexia mirabilis” or “holy/miraculous anorexia” (see here).

In today’s society, a person like Catherine would be correctly diagnosed as mentally ill, but her church rewarded her extreme “piety” and devotion to the popes of her day by proclaiming her a “saint” in 1461. The fact that Catholicism encouraged monastics and others to engage in self-mortification practices leading to sickness and death is a sign of its demonic nature.

Thank the Lord for the Gospel of salvation by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ ALONE!

“They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things (like the pope, Mary, “saints,” and bogus prepuces) rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.” – Romans 1:25

Interesting fact: Prior to being defined as infallible dogma in 1854, the doctrine of the immaculate conception of Mary had been roundly debated within Catholicism for centuries. In the early-Middle Ages, the immaculate conception was championed by the Franciscan order and strongly opposed by the Dominicans. In 1377, Catherine of Siena, a Dominican, claimed Mary visited her and told her the doctrine of the immaculate conception was fallacious (Pope Benedict XIV, “On Heroic Virtue” III.53.#16), another example of Catholicism being at odds with itself.


Mother Teresa?

…she believed in works salvation and universal redemption, both taught by her Catholic church.

“When I asked (Mother Teresa) whether she converted (anyone), she answered, ‘Yes, I convert. I convert you to be a better Hindu, or a better Muslim, or a better Protestant, or a better Catholic, or a better Parsee, or a better Sikh, or a better Buddhist. And after you have found God, it is for you to do what God wants you to do.’ She wanted people to come closer to God (however they understood Him) and believed that in this way they would also come closer to each other, love one another, and ultimately create a world that is better for everyone to live in.” – from What was Mother Teresa’s views on conversion?

Mother Teresa engaged in some charitable works, as have millions of others. But are works the way to salvation? Read more about Mother Teresa in the informative article below:

The Myth Of Mother Teresa

If your pastor is lifting up Mother Teresa as an exemplary Christian, it’s time to find a different church.

Postscript: What prompted another post on Mother Teresa after having written about her several times in the past? My wife and I were invited over for dinner by an evangelical Christian couple two Saturday’s ago. Somewhere in the conversation, our hostess stated that she believed Mother Teresa was a Christian because of her charitable efforts and “sweet spirit.” I replied with several concrete reasons as to why Mother Teresa was NOT a Christian, including her publicly professed beliefs in works salvation and Universal redemption. The woman countered that she had read a book about Mother Teresa (“Mother Teresa: A Life Inspired” by Roman Catholic author, Wyatt North) and “just knew in her heart” that she was a Christian.

These days, “discernment” for many within the church is not about Biblical doctrine, but about feelings and emotion.

Getting our throats blessed by Saint Blaise was a big deal!

Memories of our childhood and of family traditions can be a joy and a comfort in thisFEAST ST. BLAISE increasingly fast-paced world. But we shouldn’t be slaves to tradition and ritual. Perhaps some of the things we were taught by well-meaning but misinformed parents, teachers, and authority figures weren’t correct or were even harmful.

I was listening to a recent podcast of the “Calling All Catholics” talk radio show on the Station of the Cross, 101.7 FM, Buffalo, NY and they were discussing the feast of St. Blaise, celebrated this past Friday, February 3rd.

Oh, how I looked forward to the feast of St. Blaise when I was a young Catholic grammar school student! It was such a big deal for us Catholic children to get our throats blessed on that day. It seemed to us that Blaise was one of the most important and powerful saints next to Mary because we didn’t make special trips to church for the feast day of any other saint.

At the tail end of the mass on Saint Blaise’s feast day we would all line up at the altar rail. The priest would then place two crossed blessed candles at the throat of each supplicant and say the following formula:

“Through the intercession of Saint Blaise, bishop and martyr, may God deliver you from every disease of the throat and from every other illness. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

The supplicant would then respond with an “Amen.”

I enjoyed the ritual of getting my throat blessed every February 3rd but I would inevitably come down with sore throats during the year. My young mind even wondered why there was so much pomp and ritual for the blessing of the throat but not for other parts of the body. Why was that? A few years later, I questioned why we needed to pray to saints for help when it seemed like we should be able to go directly to God in prayer. And then, when I was around eleven, I remember thinking, “If we have to obey the Ten Commandments and church rules to merit Heaven, as the Catholic church teaches, then why did Jesus have to die on the cross?” I wouldn’t have a satisfactory answer to that question until sixteen years later when I realized from God’s Word that we are all sinners and could not possibly merit Heaven. It was then that I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior.

Blaise doesn’t hear prayers or bless throats. It’s all a man-made tradition. There is only one Mediator between God and man and that is Christ Jesus. Accept Him as your Savior and ask the Lord to lead you to an evangelical church in your area that preaches God’s Word without compromise. Traditions, rituals, and ceremonies don’t save. Only Jesus saves!

“For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.” – 1 Timothy 2:5

God’s Word says that “saints” aren’t super duper holy people, like the Catholic church teaches. No, rather saints are all those who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior by faith.

The Vatican prepares to declare Mother Teresa a “saint”

Mother Teresa (born Anjeze Gonxhe Bojaxhiu, 1910-1997) is scheduled to be canonized as aMTTTT Roman Catholic saint at a ceremony at the Vatican on September 4th. Hundreds of millions of Catholics around the world are eagerly anticipating the canonization. The Time magazine special edition on the life of Mother Teresa is already in place at the grocery store check out lines (see photo). I’ve put together a little question and answer exchange below to shed some light on Mother Teresa’s upcoming canonization.

What does it mean when the Catholic church canonizes someone?

Through a vetting process including the evidence of two intercessory miracles, the church determines a dead person is a “saint” who merited entry to Heaven and declares they can act as mediators between God and people. Normally the canonization process takes multiple decades if not centuries, but it’s in the church’s best interests to capitalize on Mother Teresa’s high popularity. The New Testament doesn’t teach anything about “saints” being super-spiritual people who merited their way to Heaven more quickly than most works religionists. The Bible refers to “saints” as all those who accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior and are sanctified in Him.

But doesn’t the Bible say there’s only one Mediator between God and people and that’s Jesus Christ? [1 Timothy 2:5-6] 

Nowhere in the Bible does a believer pray to someone other than God. Teaching that dead people can hear any prayers let alone the prayers of thousands and even millions simultaneously assumes they have powers that only God possesses. As someone who has accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior, I can come directly to the throne of grace. [Hebrews 4:16] To teach there are other mediators between God and mankind is blasphemous and repugnant to all those who have accepted Christ and been bought with the blood of our Precious Savior.

Why is Mother Teresa so famous? Other people have been deeply involved in charity work.

Influential British journalist, Malcolm Muggeridge, brought Mother Teresa to the world’s attention in 1967 and her reputation snowballed. Pastors – both Catholic and Protestant – held Mother Teresa up as THE standard of “Christian” charity.

Did Mother Teresa believe in the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone?

No. It’s clear from her many statements (see the article below) that Mother Teresa followed the Catholic gospel of sacramental grace and merit. She also supported her church’s teaching that people of all religions and even atheists can merit Heaven if they obey “the light they’ve been given” and are “good.”

If Mother Teresa followed a gospel of sacramental grace and works then why do so many evangelical pastors point to her as the standard of Christian charity?

Good question. We’re seeing the compromise and betrayal of the Gospel of grace by some in the cause of “Christian unity.” Notice that the forward to the Time magazine special edition commemorating Mother Teresa’s canonization was written by “America’s Pastor,” Rick Warren. That was no afterthought.

Isn’t it uncharitable to speak negatively about Mother Teresa?

I love all Roman Catholics and I pray they accept Jesus Christ as their Savior. Mother Teresa symbolizes a religion that teaches a person must merit their salvation. It’s much more charitable to be honest with Catholics and to point them to Jesus Christ than to remain silent about the unbiblical and spiritually deadly doctrines that were upheld by Mother Teresa.

I’ve posted Tim Challies’s informative article below on Mother Teresa a couple of times but here it is again for anyone who hasn’t seen it:

The Myth Of Mother Teresa

Patriotic saint or fascist collaborator?

We’ve seen a lot in the press over the past year regarding threats to religious freedom.Step Individuals and groups have made headlines in their opposition to new federal mandates which interfere with religious beliefs regarding insurance coverage for contraceptives and marriages of same-sex couples. We’ll undoubtedly see further assaults on religious freedoms in the future.

The Catholic church has been an outspoken defender of religious freedoms during this current controversy. The relics of saints Thomas More and John Fisher recently concluded their tour of several U.S. cities as part of the church’s “Fortnight for Freedom” campaign. More and Fisher were murdered by Henry VIII in the 16th century because of their refusal to acknowledge the king as the leader of the breakaway church of England. But the Catholic church conveniently forgets to mention that in the same era when More and Fisher were killed, hundreds of thousands of Protestants were put to death as heretics by civil authorities in league with the church in countries where Catholicism dominated. Also, when Donald Trump first made his negative remarks regarding Muslims last December, journalists were quick to remind us that Catholics had once been the target of nativist Protestants in 19th and 20th century America. What the pundits failed to mention was that anti-Catholicism in the United States was at least partially a reaction to the suppression and persecution of non-Catholics in Catholic countries. See my earlier post here.

Several days ago I saw the article below about Croatia overturning the 1946 conviction of Cardinal Aloysius Stepinac as a fascist, pro-Nazi collaborator. No one can deny that Stepinac was an early supporter of the murderous Catholic Ustase. Few Americans are familiar with the story of the bloody Ustase and their alliance with Nazi Germany. See here. But Croatians who currently campaign for Stepinac’s canonization view him as a patriot and supporter of Croatian independence rather than as a patron of fascist intolerance. Survivors of the Ustase and their families are understandably outraged at the canonization efforts on behalf of Stepinac.

But Stepinac and the Ustase weren’t alone. There were many other fascist movements in 20th century Europe that had the full support of the Catholic church including:

  • Francisco Franco and Nacionalcatolicismo in Spain
  • Antonio Salazar and Estado Novo in Portugal
  • Benito Mussolini and the Partito Popolare Italiano in Italy
  • Engelbert Dollfuss and Austrofacism in Austria
  • Jozef Tiso and the Slovak People’s Party in the Slovak Republic
  • Leon Degrelle and the Rexists in Belgium
  • Philippe Petain and Vichy France
  • The Endecja and post-Pilsudski Sanacja in Poland

For the purposes of this post I won’t digress into Catholic falangism that sprouted up throughout Latin America.

The church used its strong connections with fascist, pro-Catholic regimes to restrict and oppress non-Catholic religious groups, but only seventy-years after the peak of clerical fascism in Europe, the Catholic church portrays itself as the defender of religious freedom. Yes, European clerical fascism is water well over the dam at this point but there’s an irony here that should not be missed or forgotten.

Croatia overturns conviction of WW2 ‘collaborator’ Cardinal Stepinac

Green beer, shamrocks, and corned beef & cabbage

Today, many people, especially those of Irish descent, are celebrating Saint Patrick’sWH Day. Many are proudly wearing their green. Shamrock and leprechaun decorations adorn both homes and offices. Green bagels and green beer will be consumed by millions along with the traditional dinner of corned beef, boiled potatoes, and steamed cabbage. This is one of those “fun” cultural holidays that people celebrate without really putting much thought into it.

Who was Saint Patrick? History tells us he lived in the 5th century and was a missionary to Ireland and later anointed as the country’s “patron saint.” Did Patrick preach the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ that was preached by the New Testament church? That’s a tough question but hopefully that was the case. Error and anti-Biblical practices had already crept into the church by Patrick’s time but the situation was still a long way from the institutionalized Roman Catholicism we know today. Most Catholics would be very surprised to learn from history that many of their church’s doctrines evolved over time.

For many Catholics, celebrations like Saint Patrick’s Day represent the extent of their spirituality. It’s all about customs, rituals, and traditions without much thought about the God of the Bible and how He fits in. I don’t mean to come down hard on the revelers for having some fun but Saint Patrick’s Day is about as deep as it gets for many. People will go to great lengths and put an enormous amount of effort into making sure their Saint Patrick’s Day celebration is a success, but suggest they should pick up a Bible and find out about the Lord of all days and you’ll likely be met with a big guffaw!

“See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.” – Colossians 2:8

Mother Teresa to be declared a saint on September 4th

The Vatican has just announced that it will declare Mother Teresa to be a saint onmother-teresa-john-paul-4 September 4th. I’ve written about Mother Teresa several times in the past so I won’t go on at length but I will repeat a few points:

  • The Catholic concept of a “saint” is not Biblical. All those who accept Jesus Christ as Savior are saints.
  • Nowhere in the Bible does it mention a believer praying to anyone other than to God. Praying to dead people is heretical; a man-made, anti-Biblical tradition.
  • Mother Teresa, like all faithful Catholics, believed she needed to merit her salvation. Diaries published after her death revealed she had no spiritual peace.
  • Mother Teresa stated many times that she believed pagan religions were legitimate pathways to God (see “The Myth of Mother Teresa” below).

Many people have done many charitable acts over the centuries but Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation. Believers who turn a blind eye to all of this serious error in the interest of “Christian unity” become a part of the lie.

“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” – John 4:23-24


The Myth of Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa to be declared a saint September 4

Saint Valentine’s Day?

On February 14th people all over the world celebrate Saint Valentine’s Day. Tokens of loveVD will be exchanged between spouses, friends, parents and children, etc. Who was Saint Valentine and how did all of this “hearts and flowers” stuff get started?

Valentine was listed on some 5th-century church documents as an early martyr for the Christian faith. Several hagiographies (biographies of saints) of Valentine were written although all are now considered spurious.

Because of the lack of any reliable information regarding Valentine his feast day was dropped from the General Roman Calendar in 1969 although he is still on the church’s list of saints.

How did Valentine become connected with love and romance? That’s not altogether clear either. Some scholars attribute Valentine’s Day’s initial link to romance to 14th-century English poet, Geoffrey Chaucer.

The word, “saints,” can be found many times in the Bible but the contextual meaning is entirely different from that of Catholic tradition. The Catholic church teaches saints are those persons it officially canonizes (recognizes) for achieving an exceptional degree of holiness in their lifetime and for meriting Heaven. Saints can be venerated and prayed to and are said to act as intercessors between supplicants and God.

In contrast, the Bible speaks of “saints” as those who are set apart (the Greek “ἅγιος” or “hagios”); all those who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior. Saints are NOT spiritual superstars but sinners saved by grace. In his epistles to local churches, Paul sends his greetings, encouragements, and admonitions to “all the saints,” all those who are in Christ Jesus. Christians pray directly to the Lord, no other heavenly intercessors are needed or are even possible. There isn’t one single example in the Bible of any believer praying to anyone other than God.

“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” – Hebrews 14:6

“Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren who are with me greet you. All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household.” – Philippians 4:21-22

Yes, I’m so grateful to the Lord for the love of my wife, children, grandchildren, family, and friends. Most of all, I’m grateful for the love of my Savior, Jesus Christ, who paid the penalty for all my sins. Now that’s LOVE! No one can merit their way to Heaven. Accept the free gift of eternal life and fellowship with God by accepting Jesus as your Savior!

Mother Teresa to be canonized

On Wednesday, pope Francis approved a decree confirming a second miracle attributed toMTTTT the intercession of Mother Teresa, clearing the way for her to be canonized as a “saint” in 2016.

Mother Teresa died in 1997 and it’s VERY unusual for someone to be proclaimed a “saint” after only 19 years but the church knows it has a very hot marketing commodity on its hands.

Even some Evangelical pastors have used Mother Teresa as an example of “Christian” charity in their sermons but when you peel back the onion a few layers you’ll find there’s more to Mother Teresa’s legacy than the popular, group-think affirmations. I’ve already published a couple of posts on Mother Teresa here and here so I’ll restrain myself from any additional commentary.

Christian radio and podcast host, Todd Friel, provides some very interesting thoughts on Mother Teresa in a You Tube audio here.

Apologist Dave Hunt offers some comments on Mother Teresa in a You Tube video here.

The Myth of Mother Teresa

There’s an EXTREMELY popular notion out there that “good” people go to Heaven. But weMTTTTeee know from God’s Word there are NONE who are good, which is why God the Father sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to this world to die for our sins. But Jesus rose from the grave, conquering sin and death, and all those who accept Him as their Savior are given the free gift of eternal life.

These two conflicting messages of salvation – by God’s grace through faith in Christ alone or by trying to be “good” enough – have been competing for men’s souls since the Fall.

Speaking of “good” people, we’re seeing quite a bit of Mother Teresa in the news lately. A movie based on her life, “The Letters,” is currently playing at theaters as Catholics eagerly anticipate her canonization to sainthood. See the stories far below.

Well, there’s no argument that Mother Teresa accomplished a lot of good. She spent a large portion of her life caring for the sick and dying in India. But of course there are many people who have done as much or more for the needy than Mother Teresa without any recognition whatsoever. There were even atheists in communist Russia and China who devoted their entire lives to assisting their needy comrades without any acknowledgment. Mother Teresa rose to fame primarily through the efforts of British journalist and Catholic convert, Malcolm Muggeridge, and her legacy has been snowballing ever since.

Most people would agree that if anyone’s going to Heaven it would have to be Mother Teresa because of all the good she accomplished. Unfortunately, even some Evangelicals get sucked into this cultural group-think. Yes, Mother Teresa did a lot of good but she was also a sinner just like the rest of us. She needed to accept Christ like we all do. Did Mother Teresa accept Jesus as her Savior? She certainly may have in spite of her church’s works-righteousness legalism but many of her quotes indicate she was trusting in the “good people go to Heaven” philosophy. We can see from her quotes that Mother Teresa was, in fact, a Universalist who believed people of all religions would merit Heaven if they were “good.”

Evangelicals should read “The Myth of Mother Teresa” article below and rethink if they can embrace the legacy of someone who believed God’s salvation must be earned.

The Myth of Mother Teresa
By Tim Challies

“As it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” – Romans 3:10-12

“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” – Romans 6:23

The new movie about Mother Teresa is rather boring

Mother Teresa could be canonized in September
See my earlier post on Mother Teresa here.