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

Weekend Roundup – News & Views – 5/20/17

Catholic apologists like to present their church as a unified monolith compared to Protestantism’s 30,000 denominations (their mythical number), but many conservative Catholics eagerly anticipate the end of this current pope’s tenure. There once was a day when the notion of an American president visiting the pope at the Vatican would have been unthinkable.

Speaking of unpopular leaders, readers of this blog know I generally try to stay away from politics and nationalism, but it’s time to address the elephant in the middle of the room. Over the course of my life, I’ve witnessed eleven American presidents (I only vaguely remember Ike so I didn’t count him). Some were better than others but a lot of that depended on the crisis at hand. The last four months have only confirmed my earlier assessment of candidate Donald Trump as a junior high school bully in a business suit, totally lacking the temperament, statesmanship, and personal decorum required of the office. It’s a disturbing situation unlike anything I’ve seen in sixty years. He’s prone to blame a hostile media, but Trump continues to shoot himself in the foot week after week with his poor judgement and rash behavior. But our trust is in the Lord. We must continue to pray for all the leaders of this country so that we can live in peace so that the Gospel can continue to be proclaimed. That’s our bottom line, fellow sojourners. Presidents come and presidents go but the Lord God Almighty, our King, remains on His throne.

I admire the Duggar sons-in-law for throwing cable-tv etiquette to the wind and speaking the truth about Catholic error. That kind of courage has been sadly lacking in evangelicalism, which is why we now have the sheep partying with wolves, totally unaware.

The intervention of the Argentinian police is too little, too late. Where were the public safety officials of the past when North and South America were dotted with of convents, seminaries, and monasteries full of inmates/residents who were encouraged or forced to practice “self-mortification,” not to speak of the sexual abuse that proliferated throughout those institutions?

The Jews had the complete Old Testament without benefit of any church council declarations. How did that happen? No, the church didn’t give us the Bible, the Holy Spirit did. A wise man has compared the relationship between church councils and the Biblical canon to Sir Isaac Newton and gravity. Newton didn’t invent gravity, he merely described the force that was already in place.

Catholics flock in droves to every new claim of a Marian apparition. The alleged apparitions at Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina have been ongoing for 36 years, which is very unusual according to standard apparition protocol. The “Blessed Virgin” of Medjugorje is also reported to have said some things that aren’t exactly in agreement with orthodox Catholic teaching, so the hierarchy’s not on board, but they don’t shut down the ride because the zeal of the pilgrims is good for business.

Catholics dedicate the month of May to Mary. I can remember being in Catholic grammar school and every year all the children filed into church on May Day and crowned the statue of Mary with a ring of flowers. The nuns always selected the prettiest, most popular eighth-grade girl to do the crowning. I think I had a crush on each of them starting around when I was in fifth grade. Like everything in Catholicism, May Day was all about pomp and ritual and had nothing to do with a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Any illusions about America being a “Christian nation” should have been buried years ago.

Hopefully, this debate between evangelical apologist, James White, and Catholic apologist, Peter Williams, will be on-line soon. Mary would be so sad to see how people have replaced the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone with worshiping her.

If anyone has an idea of how to make the dead, boring liturgical ritual of the mass inviting and actually relevant to spiritual health, give the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops a call.

Interfaith dialogue and unity are completely unscriptural. Nowhere in the New Testament can you find any basis whatsoever for Christians embracing pagan religions as legitimate pathways to salvation. Scripture teaches faith in Jesus Christ as Savior is the ONLY way to salvation.

The death of one nun was just the tip of the iceberg

 

A new Netflix docu-series, “The Keepers,” premiers tomorrow, Friday, May 19th and it looks like something Christians may want to watch. I certainly will be.

The seven-part series focuses on the unsolved murder of a Catholic nun, Sister Catherine Cesnik, inKeep Baltimore, Maryland in 1969. One of the suspects was a priest, Father Joseph Maskell, a known sexual predator, who was shuffled from parish to parish by the church hierarchy. The documentary alleges that Maskell was abusing girls at the high school where Cesnik taught and she was attempting to expose him prior to her death.

It’s one thing to hear general information about the scandal of pedophilic and abusive priests and the subsequent cover-up by the church hierarchy. That’s bad enough. But it’s another thing to examine the personal aftermath of the abuse and cover-up in the lives of actual human beings with names and faces and in the lives of their families.

Catholicism has much to answer for, in regards to this scandal as well as for misleading its members with its false gospel. Not only were children, nuns, and young seminarians victimized by “celibate” sexual predators, but Catholics in general were and are being misled into believing they must merit their way into Heaven.

One-hundred-years ago, church spokespersons offhandedly dismissed accusations of abuse in Catholic schools, seminaries, convents, and rectories as “Protestant porn.” Now they’re keeping their mouths shut and wishing it would all just go away.


In Netflix’s “The Keepers,” a nun’s unsolved murder, a sexual abuse coverup and crumbling Vatican II hope
http://www.americamagazine.org/arts-culture/2017/05/17/netflixs-keepers-nuns-unsolved-murder-sexual-abuse-coverup-and-crumbling

Come home! Rome calls out to her daughters

Catholics and Protestants: What We Can Learn From Each Other
By Peter Kreeft
Ignatius Press, 2017, 204 pages

Peter Kreeft is one of Roman Catholicism’s most prolific apologists. When the new, young pastor of the Southern Baptist church we used to attend cited Kreeft as one of his favorite philosophers from the pulpit a couple of years ago, I knew it was time for us to leave.

In this new book, Kreeft makes an appeal in simple, everyday language to non-academic evangelicals to unite with Rome. In Catholic parlance, “unity” always means returning to the authority of the Vatican and to the Catholic sacraments and liturgical worship.

Right off the bat, Kreeft contends that the Reformation’s main debate over the issue of justification was resolved with the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification between Rome and Lutherans in 1999 so therefore evangelicals have no good reason for remaining outside of Catholicism. Not so fast, Professor! Mainline liberal Lutherans and Methodists may have signed this vague accord, but Catholicism still teaches the same false gospel of sacramental grace and merit that it taught in 1517. Nothing has changed. Catholicism teaches good works/sanctification merit justification/salvation. In contrast, Bible Christianity teaches good works/sanctification are the fruit of genuine justification/salvation through faith in Christ alone. The two approaches are diametrically opposed. For an excellent evangelical response to the Joint Declaration, see here.

After quickly dismissing the rhubarb over justification as yesterday’s news, Kreeft then looks at a few other Protestant objections to Catholicism including the “real presence” of Jesus in the eucharist and Mary’s role in salvation. Regarding the former, he simply advises Protestants to visit the nearest Catholic church and pray to the Jesus wafer in the tabernacle and ask if it’s really Him or not. For the latter, he uses the typical Catholic sophistry that all that veneration/worship of Mary is, at the bottom line, actually devotion to Jesus.

Kreeft strongly compliments evangelicals for their passion for Christ and roundly criticizes cultural Catholics for their apathy and begs evangelicals to return to Rome because the only proper place for the “flame” is the “authentic fireplace.” Kreeft drops the names of ecumenist C.S. Lewis and Mother Teresa throughout the text because he’s certainly aware these two religious celebrities are highly recognizable to doctrine-lite evangelicals and are possible bridges to interest in Rome.

Kreeft gently chides Protestants for basing their identity on a negative, i.e., “protesting” Catholicism, rather than joining Catholics and positively proclaiming the (g)ospel. He also defends Rome’s unscriptural interfaith approach to non-Christian religions, repeating the Vatican line that goodness and truth can be found in all faiths and can be Christ-sanctioned roads to redemption.

There’s no logical flow to this book; each short chapter encompasses an individual thought about Catholic-Protestant reunion so you can put it down and pick it up two days later without missing a lie…er…I mean, a beat. This book would appeal to Protestants who have scanty knowledge of Catholic theology and church history and are eager to embrace every person as a fellow Christian who says they “love Jesus, too” (a la Rick Warren). Please note that prominent evangelicals, Timothy George (always a Judas cheerleader for Catholicism) and Eric Metaxas, contribute glowing recommendations on the back cover. There’s already plenty of accommodation, cooperation, compromise, and betrayal within evangelicalism. With this book Kreeft is hoping many will take the next “logical” step.

Postscript: To read how Bible Christians came to be called “Protestants,” see here.

Postscript II: Imagine Spurgeon’s or Lloyd-Jones’s response if someone asked them what they could learn from Catholicism?

Weekend Roundup – News & Views – 5/13/17

Pope Francis is visiting Fatima, Portugal this weekend to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the alleged Marian apparition there. The pope is capitalizing on the big event by announcing the “canonization” to sainthood of two of the three persons who claimed to have been visited by the “Queen of Heaven,” Francisco and Jacinta Marto. Praise the Lord for the Christians who made the journey to Fatima to witness to some of the 1 million Catholic “pilgrims.” Catholics plead to “Mother Mary” for peace in the world but the only peace to be found is the spiritual peace that comes through accepting Jesus Christ as personal Savior. We’re always mindful of the millions of Catholics who are deceived followers of religious legalism rather than followers of Christ and we pray for their salvation.

The category, “Practicing Christians,” includes many non-believing religionists, but there’s no doubt that “New Spirituality” is also reaching into evangelical congregations.

Liberal Catholic congregations are already accepting of gay relationships. Evangelical churches will have to decide if they’re going to follow God’s Word on this or cave to societal pressure. Thanks, Maria!

The U.S. Catholic church is hemorrhaging membership with no end in sight. In order to stanch the exodus, Francis is minimizing doctrine in favor of “feel-good” religiosity.

Catholic street evangelists have the tough job of selling a VERY BAD product as per the following illustrative exchange:

“Excuse me sir, would you be interested in becoming a Catholic?”

“What do I need to do?”

“Just go to a year’s worth of religious classes, get baptized and confirmed, go to mandatory church every Sunday and receive the eucharist so you can obtain graces to help you avoid sin so that you can hopefully merit Heaven when you die. But of course you probably will sin, so you’ll need to confess your big sins to a priest regularly and of course there’s always purgatory for your small sins. And also keep in mind you’ll have to…etc., etc., etc.”

Conservative Catholics are champing at the bit for a new pope as Francis continues to sling pot shots at them.

A funny one but not far from the truth in today’s seeker mega-churches.

Come and see!

There was a man who walked on this Earth about two-thousand years ago named Jesus. In fact, every time you write the date on a check you attest to the reality of his existence. There are some today who say he was a great teacher. Others say he was a prophet. But Jesus claimed to be much more than that. He said he was God the Son and the ONLY WAY to eternal life.

What if He was right? What would that mean for you? People all over the world have an opinion about Jesus but wouldn’t you want to know what He taught for yourself?

Come and see about Jesus.

“Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, “What are you seeking?” And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and you will see.” – John 1:38-39

Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” – John 4:29

“Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good (like Jesus) come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” – John 1:46

Come and see what God has done: he is awesome in his deeds toward the children of man.” – Psalm 66:5

Who is Jesus? Come and see!
https://carm.org/who-is-jesus

A terrific little summary of the differences between Roman Catholicism and Biblical Christianity

Catholic Doctrine In The Bible
By Samuel Benedict
Faith Baptist Church Publications, (no date provided), 93 pages

In this booklet, Samuel Benedict compares Roman Catholic doctrine with God’s Word. The chapter headings are as follows:

  • The Church and St. Peter
  • Infallibility of the Pope
  • Transubstantiation
  • Sacrifice in the Mass
  • Purgatory
  • Prayers for the Dead
  • The Blessed Mary
  • The Crucifix and Other Images
  • Confession
  • Salvation
  • The Bible and Tradition
  • Catholic or Roman?

Benedict, who ministered for Christ in the early 20th-century, does an excellent job of succinctly presenting Catholic doctrine in comparison to the Bible. This short work would be a fantastic resource for Catholics who are seeking Christ and for evangelicals who wish to know about the main differences between Roman Catholicism and Biblical Christianity without wading thorough much lengthier examinations. Copies of “Catholic Doctrine In The Bible” can be obtained by contacting The Conversion Center. See here.

Resources on the differences between Catholicism and Christianity were once widely available but in this era of growing ecumenical compromise and apostasy, they’re becoming harder to find unless you know where to look. See my Books and Links lists here and here for resources.