Throwback Thursday: The Immaculate Deception

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on October 15, 2015 and has been revised.

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The Catholic church likes to present itself as the holy repository and guardian of God’s unchanging truths, but even a casual study of the church’s history will quickly burst that bubble. This post will illustrate how “unchanging” Catholic truths have evolved over time.

God’s Word makes only relatively minor mention of Mary, so how did devotion to her within Catholicism grow to match and even eclipse the devotion offered to Jesus Christ? Capture112In the early years of Christianity, a fringe, heretical group called the Collyridians (from collyris, Greek: the ritual offering cakes used in goddess worship) adapted elements of pagan mother-goddess worship into the worship of Mary. Beginning in the late-300s, aspects of this Mariolatry began to creep into the mainstream church. Because Marian worship had no explicit support in the Bible or in the writings of the early church “fathers,” Marianists spawned their extra-biblical novelties with the syllogistic argument that since it was possible for God to do thus-and-thus regarding Mary, then He “must have.” Devotees were soon extolling Mary as the new Eve, Mary as a type of Elijah, Mary as Wisdom, Mary as the Ark of the New Covenant, Mary as God’s beloved spouse, etc., as they advanced the new Mary-goddess ideology. The common folk eagerly embraced Mother Mary as the “Christian” alternative to their former, beloved pagan mother goddesses. For information on the Collyridians and the pagan roots of Mariolatry see the excellent, “The Virgin: Mary’s Cult and the Re-emergence of the Goddess” (1976), by historian Geoffrey Ashe.

Marian devotion continued to grow within Catholicism and was flourishing by the Middle-Ages. Constantly pushing the envelope, her enthusiastic followers began to claim that Mary was born without sin, just as Christ was. Devotees could not conceive of Mary, the alleged “ark of the new covenant,” being a sinner yet carrying the sinless Jesus in her womb. Catholic religious orders routinely opposed each other on a wide variety of doctrinal issues and this evolving belief in the “immaculate conception” of Mary was no exception. The Franciscans strongly supported the notion of Mary’s immaculate conception while the Dominicans strongly opposed it. Dominicans Thomas Aquinas and Bernard of Clairvaux, who were both eventually canonized as “saints,” denied the theological novelty as did fellow Dominican “saint” and “mystic,” Catherine of Siena. Now here’s where it gets really interesting. Catherine claimed to have been visited by Christ many times and the church enthusiastically acknowledges those visits as authentic credentials of her sainthood. However, in 1377 Catherine asserted that Christ had visited her and personally informed her that Mary was NOT conceived without sin as the Franciscans and the others claimed! Click here for more information.

Over the centuries, opposition faded and popular demand for the official recognition of the doctrine of the immaculate conception reached a feverish pitch and was finally defined as binding dogma by pope Pius IX in 1854. As an official dogma of the church, Catholics are bound to believe Mary was born without sin. Denial of the dogma is a “mortal” sin and is alleged to incur eternal hell fire.

But who is right about the dogma of Mary’s immaculate conception? Is pope Pius IX correct or is the jesus apparition who visited “saint” Catherine in 1377 correct? If Catherine’s jesus was wrong about this issue, what else was he wrong about? The church canonized Catherine in 1461, although she did not believe in the dogma of the immaculate conception. So did God send her to hell in 1854 when the doctrine was officially defined? And whatever happened to the jesus who appeared to Catherine in 1377 and told her Mary was not immaculately conceived? Did he appear to other saintly mystics and give them erroneous information, also? Or was that jesus actually right about the immaculate conception and the pope wrong? If it was necessary for Mary to have been immaculately conceived in order to be the sinless “ark” of Jesus Christ, wouldn’t it logically follow that her mother, and grandmother, and great-grandmother and so on would also have had to been sinless as well?

Catholics around the world are compelled to “celebrate” the feast of the immaculate conception by attending mass on December 8th every year under threat of mortal sin, although the majority don’t. But Catholics still pray to Mary as their mediator and co-redeemer. Mary would be sorely grieved by the worship Catholics accord to her.

“And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” – Luke 1:46-47

“As it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one.” – Romans 3:10

“But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” – Matthew 15:9

Catholicism’s Flying House!

The Miraculous Flying House of Loreto: Spreading Catholicism in the Early Modern World
By Karin Vélez
Princeton University Press, 2019, 292 pp.

4 Stars

About a month ago, as part of my Throwback Thursday series, I republished a post about the so-called Holy House located in Loreto, Italy. Catholic tradition has it that the small (13′ x 31′), stone structure was the childhood home of both Mary and Jesus in Nazareth in Judea and that angels miraculously transported the building, first to Trsat (in modern Croatia) in 1291. The inhabitants of that city were said not to have accorded the holy relic the proper degree of veneration, so the angels moved it to Recanati, Italy in 1294, and to an initial and then final location within Loreto in 1295. My those angels were quite capricious!

I had learned that a scholarly work on the “flying house” had recently been published and I discovered that our library had a copy much to my delight. Well, delight quickly turned to frustration as I began reading the book. The acadamese was as thick as pudding and I suspected the book was an expanded doctoral dissertation. A quick internet search confirmed that to be the case. Anyway, either my brain adapted to the affected pomposity or the author gradually toned it down because the last three-quarters of the book read pretty easily.

Okay, back to the “flying house” itself. The author barely examines the actual origins of the flying house myth, which she attributes to imaginative Catholics who had immigrated from Dalmatia (Croatia) to Recanati and Loreto. However, Vélez provides some fascinating information regarding the following:

  • Medieval Europe was awash with religious relics attributed to Jesus and Mary and claimed to have been brought from the Holy Land. Bishops and parish priests vied for the most spectacular relics. However, few relics could compete with the supposed house that both Jesus and Mary had allegedly inhabited.
  • The Holy House of Loreto myth was spread via the writings of influential 16th century Catholic writers. The pilgrimage destination of the Basilica della Santa Casa encompassing the Holy House, which was encased in an elaborate, carved marble “screen,” was largely completed by the end of the 16th century.
  • In that superstitious era, great spiritual powers were associated with relics. Pious pilgrims journeyed for hundreds of miles to view and possibly touch the relics. Vows were made and monies were contributed to the churches. It was big business. Evangelicals (and most modern Catholics) have no idea how popular pilgrimages once were as part of Catholicism. Many of the pilgrims to the Holy House scraped and collected dust from stone walls as a religious souvenir until the practice was prohibited. In a religion devoted almost exclusively to the sensory/tactile, a visit to the Holy House was to walk in the footsteps of the divine.
  • Another important relic, a painting of Mary attributed to Gospel writer, Luke, was initially displayed within the Holy House. Pilgrims journeyed to Loreto to view the painting as much as the Holy House. Inexplicably, the darkened painting was at some point replaced with a darkened statue of Mary and baby Jesus with no explanation. Luke was also claimed to have painted the famous Mary and Jesus icon located at Jasna Góra monastery at Częstochowa, Poland. Existing painted icons attributed to Luke number at least 28 (see here) although they are clearly different artistic styles.
  • Ignatius Loyola and the early Jesuits were champions of Marian veneration (i.e., worship) and adopted the Holy House of Loreto (174 miles from Rome) as their paramount Marian shrine. As part of their efforts to spread Catholicism throughout the world, they erected imitations of the Loreto flying house at several of their mission sites. While many of the painting and statue icons in Europe were purposely darkened to suggest antiquity as part of the relics charade, such as those at Loreto, in marked contrast no attempt was made to darken the icons created in Asia and the Americas because they clearly fell outside of the Medieval relics sham.

Despite its uniquely outrageous claim to contain the actual physical home of Mary and Jesus, the Basilica della Santa Casa was eventually eclipsed by other Marian shrines as pilgrimage destinations, such as those at Lourdes and Fatima. As a Catholic grammar school student, the nuns regaled us with tales of Lourdes and Fatima, but I don’t recall ever hearing about the Holy House of Loreto. No doubt the plausibility factor chipped away at confidence in the authenticity of this relic. Lourdes’ and Fatima’s apparition mythologies were safe and unassailable by comparison.

Although this book got off to a very slow start, I ended up really appreciating “The Miraculous Flying House of Loreto” for how it “deconstructed” Catholic relic “mythohistory” by example of the bogus flying house. The Holy House mythology and all of its trappings stands in marked contrast to the Gospel message of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.

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Above: In this fanciful mural, Mary with baby Jesus sits atop the Holy House as angels fly it up, up, and away.
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An ornately carved, marble shroud encases the alleged “Holy House” within the Basilica della Santa Casa in Loreto, Italy
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Pope Francis meditates inside the bogus “Holy House.” Note the icon of Mary and infant Jesus above the “altar.”
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The capricious flight of the “holy house” from (1) Nazareth, Palestine to (2) Trsat, Croatia, to (3) Recanati, Italy, to (4) two locations in Loreto, Italy.

Was Mary really sinless?

Roman Catholicism teaches that Mary was conceived without original sin and lived a totally sinless life. Why do they teach such a thing? Because Mary holds such an exalted place in Catholicism and is claimed to share many of the offices of Jesus Christ (e.g., Advocate, Mediatrix, Co-Redemptrix, Channel of all Graces, etc.), Catholics argue she must necessarily have been sinless just as Jesus was since they allege she also played a role in redemption.

But doesn’t the Bible say all men are sinners?

“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 all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” – Romans 3:23

How do Catholics get around those passages in defending the sinlessness of Mary?

A couple of weeks ago, I was listening to the 1/15/19 podcast of the “Called to Communion” Catholic talk radio show and apologist, David Anders (above photo), attempted to deftly sidestep Scripture’s clear and unambiguous teaching on the sinfulness of all mankind, including Mary. We begin at the 48:35 mark of the podcast:

Tom Price, show moderator: This (question) is from Andy, checking us out on Facebook. “My brother-in-law and I are discussing the sinlessness of Mary. He used Romans 3:23 as a proof-text that all have sinned, including Mary. How do I respond to that?”

David Anders: So Romans 3:23 says that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. What’s Paul’s point in the argument? His purpose in writing the book of Romans is not to speculate on the doctrine of Mary. Mariology doesn’t enter into the thing at all. He’s talking about the grace and “Judential”* relationships in relation to the Law of Moses. It’s just not even concerned with Mariology. And we use this kind of language all the time in an imprecise way. I remember Colin Donovan (Catholic theologist) used this illustration when he said, “Everybody went to the ballgame.” Well, NOT EVERBODY went to the ballgame, but you know what he meant. Or “Nobody goes to that restaurant anymore because it’s too crowded” as Yogi Berra would say. This is just colloquial language in how St. Paul’s speaking. He’s not making an argument about Mariology one way or the other. If you want to go for Mariology go to the Gospel of Luke.

Tom Price: Yeah, and don’t get hung up on the word “all” in this particular case.

David Anders: Right.

We can all agree that people sometimes use “all” as a generality without meaning every specific case, but was that Paul’s intention in Roman 3:23? The “no, not one…not even one” of Romans 3:10-12 precludes Anders’ sophistry. Mary acknowledges she was a sinner in need of the Savior in Luke 1:47. She also offered up a sin offering along with a burnt offering in Luke 2:22-24. Yes, Mary was a sinner in need of the Savior as we all are. Catholic apologists must deviate from the precise and crystal clear meaning of Scripture in this example in order to justify their doctrine of the sinlessness of Mary.

*Anders routinely invents words during “Called to Communion” broadcasts, such as this example; “Judential.”

Answering the alleged “95 Catholic Verses” – #s 77, 78, and 79: Veneration/Worship of Saints? – Part 1

Today, we will continue with our response to Dave Armstrong and his book, “The Catholic Verses,” in which the Catholic apologist presents ninety-five Bible verses or passages that allegedly validate Catholicism and are claimed to “confound” Protestants.

This week, we will examine three passages that Armstrong claims support Catholicism’s veneration of “saints.”

#77) 1 Corinthians 4:16: “I urge you, then, be imitators of me.”

#78) Philippians 3:17: “Brethren, join in imitating me, and mark those who so live as you have an example in us.”

#79) 2 Thessalonians 3:7-9: “7 For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us; we were not idle when we were with you, 8 we did not eat any one’s bread without paying, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not burden any of you. 9 It was not because we have not that right, but to give you in our conduct an example to imitate.”

Beneath these passages, Armstrong writes, “These verses provide a primary biblical basis for the Catholic practice of venerating the saints. We honor the saints because the Bible instructs us to do so. There is nothing wrong or unbiblical in venerating or trying to emulate the saints, unless we were to put them in the place of God, which is idolatry.” – p. 133.

First of all, Catholicism’s notion of “saints” is un-Scriptural. The New Testament refers to ALL believers as saints (Greek, “hagios,” called out ones, separated ones). The Roman church hijacked the word to mean super-sanctified individuals who, according to its judgment, definitely merited Heaven.

Secondly, in the three passages the apostle Paul is encouraging believers to follow the example he has set in living the faith. Paul was not perfect, but his faith in Christ and his submission to the Lord were exemplary. Paul was certainly not urging believers to venerate HIM!

“For I am the least of the apostles and am unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace to me was not in vain. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.” – 1 Corinthians 15:9-10

Paul never encouraged praise and honors to himself, but always deferred to the Lord.

“God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” – 1 Corinthians 1:28-31

The Roman church teaches that its members can pray to those it has canonized as saints as mediators. But nowhere in the Bible does a believer pray to anyone other than God. God’s Word specifically teaches that Jesus Christ alone is our Mediator (1 Timothy 2:5) and that we are not to attempt to communicate with dead souls:

“And when they say to you, ‘Inquire of the mediums and the necromancers who chirp and mutter,’ should not a people inquire of their God? Should they inquire of the dead on behalf of the living?” – Isaiah 8:19

If all of the dead Catholic saints were able to hear all of the prayers said to them by Catholics all around the world, they would have to be omnipresent, a quality that God alone possesses. By attributing various deitifical powers to saints, the Catholic church crosses the line from “venerating” saints to “worshiping” them. Catholics are encouraged to develop strong devotions to a particular saint and many Catholics spend most of the “prayer” time attempting to communicate with their “patron” saint.

No, the three Bible passages that Armstrong cites definitely do not support venerating/worshiping “saints.”

See the post below for more information on how Catholicism adapted paganism’s plurality of gods into saint veneration/worship.

Patron gods and patron “saints”
https://excatholic4christ.wordpress.com/2015/09/25/patron-gods-and-patron-saints/

A Prayer to Mary?

We know from Scripture that only Almighty God is worthy of our worship. The Bible is not fuzzy about this; it commands us to worship God alone.

“You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.” – Matthew 4:10

But Roman Catholics dedicate a large portion of their religious devotion to Mary. Protestants have even charged Catholics with worshiping Mary. Our Catholic friends strongly deny that they worship Mary. They claim that they simply honor her with the veneration she deserves as the mother of Jesus and “mother of the church.”

Despite the denials, the line between “veneration” and “worship” is not altogether clear in regards to how Catholics actually relate to Mary. Let’s focus on just one example; the celebrated Catholic saint, Alphonsus Liguori.

Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787) was an Italian Catholic bishop who founded the Redemptorists religious order of priests and brothers and is considered one of Roman Catholicism’s greatest saints. He was canonized in 1839 by pope Gregory XVI and proclaimed a Doctor of the Church (i.e. an honorific title bestowed upon the church’s 36 preeminent theologians) by pope Pius IX in 1871.

Liguori is best known for his absolute devotion to Mary. His book, “The Glories of Mary,” was first published in 1774 and became the standard work in promulgating devotion to Mary within Catholicism.

Below is a petition to Mary written by Liguori. I ask all evangelicals to read this “prayer” with open eyes:

“Most holy Virgin Immaculate, my Mother Mary, to thee who art the Mother of my Lord, the queen of the universe, the advocate, the hope, the refuge of sinners, I who am the most miserable of all sinners, have recourse this day. I venerate thee, great queen, and I thank thee for the many graces thou has bestowed upon me even unto this day; in particular for having delivered me from the hell which I have so often deserved by my sins. I love thee, most dear Lady; and for the love I bear thee, I promise to serve thee willingly forever and to do what I can to make thee loved by others also. I place in thee all my hopes for salvation; accept me as thy servant and shelter me under thy mantle, thou who art the Mother of mercy. And since thou art so powerful with God, deliver me from all temptations, or at least obtain for me the strength to overcome them until death. From thee I implore a true love for Jesus Christ. Through thee I hope to die a holy death. My dear Mother, by the love thou bearest to Almighty God, I pray thee to assist me always, but most of all at the last moment of my life. Forsake me not then, until thou shalt see me safe in heaven, there to bless thee and sing of thy mercies through all eternity. Such is my hope. Amen.”

In this prayer to Mary, Liguori fleetingly mentions Jesus Christ, God the Son, and God the Father, but the passion of the prayer is devoted entirely to Mary.

Among other offices and attributes, Liguori honors Mary as the following:

  • Queen of the universe, the advocate, the hope, the refuge of sinners.
  • Bestower of many graces, in particular the deliverer from hell.
  • Source of all hopes for salvation.
  • Deliverer from all temptations.

At the end of the prayer, Liguori pleads with Mary to assist him in his efforts to merit salvation, especially at the time of his death.

Evangelical believers must surely read this prayer with astonishment and revulsion. Liguori attributes to Mary all of the offices that uniquely belong to Jesus Christ: Advocate, Savior, and Deliverer. Catholics protest that they do not worship Mary out of one side of their mouth, and yet worship her unabashedly out of the other side.

Believers praise the Lord for Mary’s example of obedience in Scripture, but Mary was a sinner in need of the Savior as we all are. Mary would be sorely grieved by the veneration/worship Catholics accord to her.

The Redemptorists’ website says the following about their founder, Liguori, in his old age as he approached death:

“(Liguori)…was plagued with spiritual afflictions, scrupulously fearing he hadn’t done enough to serve the God he loved so much. To help him through these times, his confreres gathered with him to pray. They always included the Litany of Our Lady, usually followed by the rosary. They read to him from his own writings about the glory of Mary and how, as heaven’s queen, she welcomed all her true and faithful servants at the hour of their death. Early in the evening on July 31, 1787, Alphonsus made one final request. “Give me my lady,” he whispered. They placed a picture of Mary in his hands. He spent the night in prayer with the Blessed Mother. The next day at the stroke of the noon Angelus, Alphonsus died at the age of 91.”

Liguori was not trusting in Jesus Christ as his Savior by faith alone. He led millions upon millions into error by teaching them to worship Mary and to attempt to merit salvation through Mary with their own unrighteous works.

When the day comes when I approach the valley of the shadow of death, I will turn to my loving Savior and Shepherd, Jesus Christ, and say, “Take me home, Lord.”

Devotions: Evangelical vs. Catholic

If you mention the word “devotions” to an evangelical Christian, they will generally associate the word with the time they spend each day reading and studying God’s Word and praying to the Lord. But for Catholics, the word “devotions” conjures up an entirely different meaning.

In Catholicism, there are literally hundreds of particular ways of approaching (g)od, Mary, and the canonized saints and these are called devotions. Some of these approaches/devotions are very popular throughout Catholicism (e.g., the rosary, the stations of the cross), while others have only a small number of adherents or are limited to a specific geographical locale. Catholics are encouraged to adopt either a single devotion or several as an aid to their “spiritual development.”

Below is a partial list of Catholic devotions. There are many more than these:

  • Devotion to Christ the King
  • Devotion to Jesus Crucified
  • Devotion to One’s Guardian Angel
  • Devotion to One’s Patron Saint
  • Devotion to Our Lady Under Various Titles
  • Devotion to St. Joseph
  • Devotion to St. Michael the Archangel
  • Devotion to the Angels
  • Devotion to the Blessed Sacrament
  • Devotion to the Blessed Virgin
  • Devotion to the Child Jesus
  • Devotion to the Holy Face
  • Devotion to the Holy Family
  • Devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus
  • Devotion to the Holy Souls in Purgatory
  • Devotion to the Holy Spirit
  • Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary
  • Devotion to the Infant Jesus
  • Devotion to the Infant of Prague
  • Devotion to the Precious Blood
  • Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
  • Devotion to the Saints
  • Devotion to the Sorrowful Mother / Devotion to the Seven Sorrows
  • Devotion to the Wounds of Jesus
  • Divine Mercy Devotion
  • First Five Saturday’s Devotion
  • First Friday’s Devotion
  • Holy Rosary
  • Miraculous Medal
  • Scapulars
  • Stations of the Cross / Way of the Cross
  • Three Hail Mary’s Devotion

See the Catholic source here.

The above devotions encourage superstitious and idolatrous perceptions of God and anti-Biblical worship (aka “veneration”) of Mary, the “saints,” or the angels. In its efforts to convert the pagan masses, the Catholic church adapted pagan religious fetishes (amulets, good luck charms, talismans, rabbit feet, juju, etc.) into acceptable and church-sanctioned devotions. Many Catholics become strongly attached to a particular devotion and it becomes the central focus of their religious practice in much the same way as a superstitious juju for a pagan. Catholics aren’t obligated to follow any devotions, but are strongly encouraged to do so and may pick and choose from the church’s thick catalog of options as to whatever strikes their fancy. Many Catholics adopt the devotion/s of one of their parents or those of their favorite priest.

Bible Christians have no need of these superstitious religious fetishes. We have repented of our sin and accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior by faith alone. We commune with the Lord through reading His Word and through prayer to Him. Nothing else is needed.

“But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” – John 4:23-24

Tomorrow, I will focus on one specific Catholic devotion, the Infant Jesus of Prague.

Graven Bread: An Unexpected Twist

Graven Bread: The Papacy, the Apparitions of Mary, and the Worship of the Bread of the Altar
By Timothy F. Kauffman
White Horse Publications, 1994, 207 pages

Most books written by evangelicals that critically examine Roman Catholicism cover the various doctrinal differences in regards to such issues as justification, purgatory, Mary, confession, etc.

In “Graven Bread,” Timothy Kauffman takes a unique approach. The author demonstrates the symbiotic relationship between the papacy, the alleged apparitions of Mary, and the eucharist/consecrated bread wafers and the possible roles they will play in the future.

Popes have enthusiastically endorsed the church-approved Marian apparitions and even several unsanctioned apparitions such as those at Medjugorje, Bosnia. For their part, the Marian apparitions have consistently encouraged loyalty and unwavering devotion to the sitting pope. To complete the triumvirate, both popes and the Marian apparitions have strongly admonished Catholics to worship the consecrated eucharistic bread wafer, which they believe to be the literal body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ. Many “signs and wonders” have been attributed to the apparitions and to consecrated Jesus wafers.

After convincingly demonstrating the interdependent relationship between the three entities, Kauffman takes an unexpected turn and posits the possibility that the three may someday fill the roles of anti-Christ (the pope), false prophet (Marian apparitions), and the image/mark of the beast (the consecrated wafer) spoken of in Revelation 13. Far fetched? Perhaps so, perhaps not. As Kauffman points out, belief in the consecrated wafer as the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ was THE litmus test by which popes and the Catholic church once rooted out and executed heretics for multiple centuries and the author suggests that submission to belief in the consecrated Jesus wafer could also be the future defining mark referred to in Revelation.

I would recommend this book only to those who are already familiar with Catholic dogma and might be interested in giving a hearing to the author’s end-times hypothesis. Kauffman does an excellent job of examining the interrelationship between the papacy, Marian apparitions, and the eucharist, a tack I’ve never come across previously. Have no fears; this isn’t a Jack Chick-style, conspiratorial hyper-polemic. The author presents his views on the possible roles the papacy, the Marian apparitions, and the eucharist will play in the framework of Revelation 13 strictly as the theory that it is. Personally, I’m of the strong opinion that the pope and the Marian apparitions will play significant roles in the end times.

Used copies of “Graven Bread: The Papacy, the Apparitions of Mary, and the Worship of the Bread of the Altar” are available from Amazon here.

Crowning the statue of Mary on May Day

Back when I attended Catholic grammar school in the 1960s, the nuns would have all of the students assemble every year on the first weekday of May to honor the Blessed Virgin Mary. Weather permitting, the students would line up by class on a field adjoining the church, and then proceed in order into the church singing Ave Maria. Bringing up the rear of the procession was the May Queen and her two attendants. The nuns inevitably chose the prettiest and smartest eighth grade girl to be the May Queen. She was dressed to the nines for the occasion and carried a small crown of flowers. After she entered the church and proceeded to the small Marian altar to the right of the main altar, she placed the crown on the statue of Mary, honoring her as the Queen of Heaven.

Little did we know at the time how un-Biblical all of that “veneration” (aka worship) of Mary actually was. According to the Bible, Mary was a humble servant of the Lord who rejoiced in her Savior. She would be mortified by the idolatrous worship accorded to her by Roman Catholicism.

“And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” – Luke 1:46-47

Roman Catholicism, Mary, and Idolatry
https://carm.org/roman-catholicism-mary-idolatry

Below are some additional photos of Catholic May Day coronations:

MD1 MD2 MD3 MD4

Beware the rabbit hole: Mary’s “immaculate conception” and Catholicism’s other man-made traditions

This morning, I was listening to the 12/22/17 podcast of the “Calling All Catholics” talk radio show (The Station of the Cross, WLOF – Our Lady of Fatima, 101.7 FM, Buffalo, NY) and moderator, Mike Denz, and priest-host, Dave Baker, were discussing Mary. It was Mary this and Mary that. Don’t get me wrong, Mary is an example to us of a faithful servant of the Lord, but she was also a sinner saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone and she would be grief stricken if she were aware of Catholicism’s idolatrous worship (aka “veneration”) of her.

Scripture actually has relatively little to say about Mary (she is not mentioned in the last 170 chapters of the New Testament), so Catholic Mariolaters had to extrapolate their extensive Marian dogmas from thin air in order to justify her elevation to semi-deitifical status. The rationalization often used was, “Since God could and should have done such and such in regards to Mary, then it MUST have happened.” With this type of pushing-a-square-peg-through-a-round-hole thinking, such non-Biblical dogmas as the immaculate conception and assumption of Mary were concocted.

The virgin birth of Jesus Christ is a foundational truth of Christianity. From Scripture, we learn that man’s sin nature is passed down through the human father (see here), but Jesus’s virgin birth uniquely circumvented the transmission of the sin nature to Him. Jesus was conceived without sin within Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Without any Biblical warrant, Mariolaters claim that Mary MUST also have been born without sin, since she was the vessel that bore the sinless Christ. That is un-Scriptural nonsense. Jesus had close relationships with many people during His thirty-three years in Palestine, but His close, physical proximity to them did not require that any of them be sinless as He was. In contrast, God’s Word states several times that there is not a single person who is without sin, no, not even one (see here). No exception is made. Not for Mary, not for Joseph, not for John the Baptist, or anyone else (some Catholic dreamers even go a step further and postulate that Joseph and John the Baptist were also conceived without sin, like Mary).

But let’s follow this anti-Biblical claim of Mary’s sinlessness to its fallacious conclusion. Catholics assert that Mary’s parents were named Anna and Joachim, although there is no Scriptural or verifiable proof of that outside of fanciful post-Biblical traditions. But if Catholics are going to claim that Mary HAD to be sinless because she was the chosen vessel of Jesus Christ, then they must carry their argument to its logical extension. If Mary was conceived without sin, then it follows that Mary’s mother, who Catholics call Anna, was also conceived without sin, since she was the vessel of “sinless” Mary. And if Anna was conceived without sin, then her nameless mother must also have been conceived without sin since she was the vessel of Anna. And likewise Anna’s grandmother, her great grandmother, her great-great grandmother, and deeper and deeper we go down this bottomless rabbit hole!

Christians stand upon God’s Word and the Gospel of salvation by Gods’ grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Catholicism’s traditions and false gospel of sacramental grace and merit are one dangerous rabbit hole after another. Stand on God’s Word alone. Accept Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith alone.

“As he said these things, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!” But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” – Luke 11:27-28

Mary: A humble sinner saved by grace or an exalted semi-deity?

A Christian’s Pocket Guide to Mary: Mother of God?
By Leonardo De Chirico
Christian Focus Publications, 2017, 106 pages

There’s little doubt that the most important difference between Biblical Christianity and Roman Catholicism is how a person is saved. Christianity proclaims the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone while Catholicism teaches salvation by sacramental grace and merit. But the difference between how each group views Mary is also quite significant. Evangelicals take the Biblical view of Mary as a humble believer who submitted to God’s will, but was still a sinner who needed to trust in Christ by faith alone for her salvation. In contrast, Catholics exalt Mary as Advocate, Mediatrix, and Co-Redemptrix, offices that belong to Jesus Christ alone.

“Taken up to heaven, she did not lay aside this salvific duty, but by her constant intercession continued to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation.” – quoted from Lumen Gentium, paragraph 62

When Catholics read the New Testament for the first time, they’re amazed by the relatively small amount of emphasis Mary is given in Scripture in comparison to her exalted position in Catholicism, which rivals and sometimes even exceeds that of Jesus Christ (Mary is not mentioned directly in the last 170 chapters of the NT).

How did Mariolatry start? What sustains it? Leonardo De Chirico answers these questions and more in “A Christian’s Pocket Guide to Mary: Mother of God?” Don’t let the size of this book fool you. It’s an excellent, well-written, well-researched primer on the origin and development of Mariolatry within Roman Catholicism.

Pastor De Chirico is an expert on the Roman Catholic church. He’s previously written a pocket guide on the papacy (see here), he writes an informative monthly blog about Catholicism (see here), and he leads a ministry, The Reformanda Initiative, which seeks to educate evangelicals regarding Roman Catholicism so that they will continue to reach out to Catholics with the Gospel of grace (see here). Praise God for Dr. De Chirico and I pray the Lord continues to use him to reach out to Roman Catholics.

Order “A Christian’s Pocket Guide to Mary: Mother of God?” from Amazon, here.

RefIn