Throwback Thursday: Sister Rita of Cascia – “She returned the maggots to the fetid sore.”

For our first Throwback Thursday installment, we’re going to take a look back at this post that was originally published July 19, 2015, with a few minor revisions.

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Many canonized Catholic saints of the past are admired and venerated for their “asceticism” (definition: a lifestyle characterized by abstinence from sensual pleasures, often for the purpose of pursuing spiritual goals). However, some of those saints took their asceticism to an extreme level including self-harm. Bible Christians would rightly judge such practices as anti-Biblical and the practitioners as mentally disturbed and/or demonically influenced. Let’s examine one such “saint,” a nun, Margherita Lotti aka saint Rita of Cascia (1381-1451) using information from a Catholic source:

“On one occasion, a Franciscan friar named Blessed James of Mount Brandone, came to the church of St. Mary to preach on the Passion and Death of Jesus Christ, focusing mostly on the Crown of Thorns. Rita wept as though her heart was broken. After the sermon was over, she went to her cell and prostrated herself before the Crucifix, meditating on the pains Christ suffered from the thorns. She asked Jesus to give her at least one of the 72 thorns which pierced His poor head, causing Him so much pain and suffering, that she might feel a part of that pain. Upon completion of that prayer, Rita’s Divine Spouse granted her wish, making of His Crown of Thorns, so to speak, a bow, and one of the thorns, an arrow. Jesus fired it at the forehead of St. Rita with such force, that it penetrated the flesh and bone, and remained fixed in the middle of her forehead, leaving a wound that lasted all her life, and even to this day, the scar of the wound remains plainly visible.

The pain was so intense that Rita fell into a swoon. She would have died right there had Jesus not preserved her life. The pain caused by the wound increased daily. It became so ugly, foul smelling and revolting, that Rita became an object of nausea to many who saw it. As a result, Rita asked permission to spend most of her time alone in her cell, but she was happy. Little worms fed themselves on the open wound, thus giving her new occasion to practice patience.

The year 1450 was proclaimed by Pope Nicholas V as a Jubilee Year, thus providing many indulgences for those who would go on pilgrimage to Rome. Several of the sisters were given permission to go. At the feet of her superior, St. Rita also asked permission to go. Fearful that those who might observe the ugly and foul smelling wound might be scandalized, the superioress denied her permission to go unless the wound would disappear.

Rushing to the feet of her Divine Spouse, Rita humbly sought God’s will, asking Him to take away the wound, but to continue to allow her to suffer the pain from the wound. The wound disappeared at once. Rita gave thanks and rushed to her superioress, who was surprised and astonished – and Rita was granted permission to accompany the other nuns to Rome.

The sisters visited the stational churches and the tombs of the martyrs. Many were touched by Rita’s devotion and piety. As they returned to the convent – just as Rita stepped over the threshold, the ugly wound reappeared on her forehead, and she suffered intense pains. The offensive odor and the worms reappeared also. When one of the worms fell to the floor, Rita picked it up with care, and placed it back in the wound. She called them “her little angels,” as they were instruments for testing her patience as they recalled to her the intense suffering of her Jesus. She once again retired to her cell so as not to inconvenience the other nuns.”

http://www.sacramentals.org/saintritaofcascia.htm

As with this story of saint Rita, many of the accounts of the nun mystics include thinly-veiled erotic inferences. Academics refer to this as “bridal mysticism.” In addition to other elements, the visionary is often pierced by some type of instrument or light. The phallic symbolism is fairly obvious. If this information upsets you, I can certainly understand why, but let’s not shy away from the facts.

Today, Margherita Lotti aka Sister Rita of Cascia would be properly diagnosed as mentally ill, but the Roman Catholic church venerates this 15th-century nun as a “saint.”

Roman Catholicism betrayed its demonic elements by exalting extreme asceticism including various forms of harmful self-mortification as well as subjective, anti-Biblical religious experientialism/hysteria aka mysticism. Praise God for the Good News! of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone!

“28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30

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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
https://www.challies.com/articles/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.

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.”

Hypocritical double standard: Why was monk Luther “neurotic” for daily confession, but John Paul II “saintly”?

I listen to “Called to Communion,” a Roman Catholic talk radio show, for about one hour every work day in order to keep abreast of what’s going on within the RCC. The advertised aim of the show is to convert Protestants to Catholicism. There’s no ecumenism going on during this show, folks. Host, David Anders, is pretty blunt in his attacks on the Gospel of grace.

Last week, I was listening to the 11/1/18 podcast of the show, and the discussion focused on Reformer, Martin Luther. As in MANY previous episodes, Anders described “heretic” Luther as an overly-scrupulous neurotic, who suffered from an obsessive-compulsive disorder. On what does Anders base that ad hominem smear?

Prior to breaking from Catholicism, Luther was an Augustinian monk. Luther took his legalistic religion very seriously, unlike most Catholics, and constantly compared how his thoughts, words, deeds, and acts of deliberate omission measured up to God’s Ten Commandments. Catholics are obligated to confess their sins to a priest at least once per year or incur a mortal sin (only 12% of contemporary Catholics obey this rule). Luther confessed his sins to a priest EVERY DAY and would often spend hours in the confessional recounting his offenses against God’s Law.

Catholics like Anders brand Luther as hyper-scrupulous and neurotic, but the Holy Spirit was revealing to the monk his sinful depravity and his absolute inability to obey his way into Heaven. Luther would eventually trust in the promises of God’s Word and become spiritually reborn by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. Luther was finally able to rest in God’s forgiveness and salvation through Christ.

Anders naturally pushes his church’s false gospel, which states that people can successfully obey their way into Heaven with the help of sacramental grace, but in order to keep their sanity while on this legalistic treadmill, Catholics seriously downplay the extent of their sin. Most Catholics will tell you with a great degree of sincerity that they do a pretty good job of obeying the Ten Commandments.

It’s interesting, though, that there have been many Catholics over the ages who, like Luther, also had a sharp awareness of their sinfulness. However, rather than repenting of their sin and trusting in Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone, these Catholics practiced various methods of severe asceticism including painful self-mortification as part of their penance or as attempts to master the flesh. Mother Teresa wore a pain-inducing “cilice” (see here) daily. Catherine of Siena starved herself to death by restricting her food intake to only a daily communion wafer. Pope John Paul II flagellated himself daily and also, like Luther, went to confession every day. I wrote all of the above to ask this: Isn’t it contradictory for Anders and other Catholic apologists to slander monk Luther as being overly-scrupulous, neurotic, and an obsessive-compulsive when many Catholic saints, who these apologists extol with great gusto, were slaves of their legalistic religion to an even greater degree than monk Luther? Why was Luther’s daily confession a sign of neurosis, but John Paul II’s daily confession a sign of sanctity?

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.

Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 5/12/18

Who would give up one second of their time or one nickel to religious con artist, Jim Bakker (above with wife, Lori)?

Last week, I posted that liberal German Catholic bishops had encountered conservative resistance to their push for intercommunion with Lutherans. Both factions were summoned to the Vatican where pope Francis directed them to solve the disagreement themselves. This week, some conservative Catholics were railing about Francis’ lack of leadership. After all, deciding doctrinal disputes is supposed to be the infallible pope’s job! But savvy conservatives know Francis DOES have an agenda, it’s just not theirs.

Conservative Catholics were thrown into a tizzy this week over news of a gala celebrating the opening of “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination,” a new exhibit at New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, which will be displaying papal robes and accessories from the Sistine Chapel sacristy. Celebrities showed up at the gala wearing costumes “inspired” by Catholic clerical garments. Pop celebrity, Rhianna, wore an outrageous outfit based on the pope’s outrageous garb. Catholics called it all offensive and blasphemous, but true blasphemy is the Catholic sacrifice of the mass, which is staged 350,000 times on Catholic altars every day around the world.

Padre Pio’s relics are touring across the U.S. and manage to pack near-empty churches wherever they go. Church liberals have attempted to tone down this kind of blatant, superstitious voo doo, but traditional and conservative Catholics still crave this kind of stuff.

Oprah disciple, Dr. Phil, is certainly not the arbiter of what constitutes a cult, but the Church of Wells (Texas) is dangerous. When church leadership controls every aspect of members’ lives, that’s a cult. It was nowhere near as bad as the Wells church, but there were elements of leadership idolatry in the first Bible-preaching church we attended.

Some believers heard Bono mention Jesus a few times and overeagerly jumped the gun by claiming him as a fellow Bible Christian.

I initially wasn’t going to post the above news story because I thought it had been kicked around enough, but pastor Standridge has some interesting comments about Francis and the papacy.

The documentary, “Pope Francis: A Man of His Word,” opens in movie theaters across the country next Friday, May 18th. Pshaw! Will traditionalist and conservative Catholics be picketing on the sidewalks outside?

Thursday, May 10th was the Feast of the Ascension for Roman Catholics, in which they celebrated the ascension of Jesus into Heaven forty days after Easter. The feast day was a Holy Day of Obligation meaning Catholics were required to attend mass under threat of incurring mortal sin resulting in eternal damnation. But what percentage of Catholics actually attended mass on Thursday? According to church statistics (see here), 65% of Catholics seldom or never attend mass on Holy Days despite the threat of damnation. The ironic thing about the Feast of the Ascension is that Catholics claim to celebrate Jesus’ ascension while at the same time asserting that their priests call Jesus down from Heaven during every mass to be changed into consecrated Jesus wafers and offered as a sacrificial victim for sins. So is Jesus in Heaven or on Catholic altars?

Catholic dioceses continue to battle over corpse of Fulton J. Sheen

Centuries ago, it was very popular for Roman Catholics to make pilgrimages to designated “holy” sites and shrines as part of a spiritual/penitential exercise or in an effort to obtain indulgences to shorten time spent in Purgatory after death. Catholic churches across Europe competed with each other to obtain the best “relics” (body parts or personal effects of “saints”) in order to attract potential pilgrims. The pilgrimage busine$$ is definitely not what it used to be, but devotees still flock to various sites.

I’ve previously posted a number of messages regarding the strange, ongoing legal tug-of-war over the corpse of former archbishop, Fulton J. Sheen. Sheen was one of the first Catholics to use the new media of radio and television to propagate the Catholic religion and became a national celebrity in the 50s and 60s. Sheen died in 1979 and is on the fast-track to sainthood because of his celebrity except for one huge snag. As we see in the recent news article below, the dioceses of Peoria, Illinois and New York City continue to fight over the final “resting place” of Sheen’s remains. He was born in El Paso, Illinois near Peoria but earned his great fame in New York as auxiliary bishop from 1951 to 1966. Both dioceses desperately want to be “home” to the crypt of this soon-to-be-canonized saint, but the Vatican won’t canonize Sheen until his “resting place’ is settled once and for all. They surely don’t want the negative publicity that would follow if he were canonized in the middle of this squabble.

None of this has anything to do with Christianity.

  • “Holy” sites and relics impart no blessings.
  • Natural man glories in the creature rather than the Creator. Can anyone imagine a passage in the New Testament in which two churches were fighting over the remains of a deceased believer? The veneration/worship of Sheen’s earthly remains is idolatry.
  • According to the New Testament, saints are all those who accept Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone, NOT some subgroup of super-sanctified “holy” people.
  • Sheen proclaimed Catholicism’s false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit rather than the Good News! of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

“And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” – 1 John 5:20-21


Bishop Fulton Sheen’s bones at center of raging court case
https://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/news/2018/02/11/bishops-bones-center-raging-court-case/327174002/


See my previous post on the fight over Sheen’s corpse here.

Canadian Catholics flocking to venerate Francis Xavier’s arm?

I was perusing through Catholic news over the weekend and came across the articles far below, which mention the tour of a “relic” of “saint” Francis Xavier, specifically his right arm (see photo above), across Canada this month. Xavier was a co-founder of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), which was created in 1534 to counter the growing Reformation movement in Europe. Xavier spent the years 1541 to 1552 in India and the Far East, converting tens of thousands of souls to Catholicism’s false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit. Today he is one of Catholicism’s most celebrated “saints.”

The church defines a relic as “a piece of the body of a saint, an item owned or used by the saint, or an object which has been touched to the tomb of a saint.”

The Catholic church has been collecting relics of “saints” for centuries. Catholics are encouraged to make pilgrimages to sites where relics are displayed in order to venerate and pray to the saint.

The purpose of relics, according to the church, are to “remind (Catholics) of the holiness of a saint and his cooperation in God’s work. At the same time, relics inspire (Catholics) to ask for the prayers of that saint and to beg the grace of God to live the same kind of faith-filled live.”

None of the above is Scriptural. We are to pray to God alone. There’s not one instance in the New Testament when a believer prayed to a dead believer or venerated one of their body parts or personal belongings. Praying to dead people and worshiping aka “venerating” their body parts is blasphemy. See the article, “How should a Christian view relics?,” here.

Xavier’s right arm will be presented for veneration/worship at 26 churches in 15 Canadian cities from Wednesday, January 3rd to Friday, February 2nd.

Not to beat a dead horse, but I wonder what Stephen J. Nichols of Ligonier Ministries thinks about the tour of Xavier’s right arm across Canada? Nichols betrayed the Gospel of grace when he included Xavier as one of the 26 “Heroes of the Faith” in his children’s book, “The Church History ABCs: Augustine and 25 Other Heroes of the Faith.” See here.

Catholic friend, praying to dead saints or their body parts won’t save you. Repent of your sins and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith alone. He is the only way to Heaven.

Question: “Is Jesus the only way to Heaven?”


The holy and uncorrupted arm of St. Francis Xavier is crossing Canada for a two-week tour
The holy and uncorrupted arm of St. Francis Xavier is crossing Canada for a two-week tour

Canadian cities and churches where the relic is scheduled to visit:
https://cco.ca/relic/

Chasing after a spiritual “high” by following the “mystics”

Teresa of Avila: An Ancient Mystic Who Helped Shape Today’s Spiritual Formation Movement
By Carolyn A. Greene
Lighthouse Trails Publishing, 2017, 19 pages, $1.95

Within the evangelical church, we see trends and gimmicks come and go. Others stay around for awhile. Some hip pastor dreams up a new, “cutting edge” spirituality technique and then appears on TBN hawking his new book and the next thing you know “progressive” pastors all over the country are climbing on board so they don’t get left behind at the “last year’s news” station.

Such is the case with the “contemplative prayer” (aka “spiritual formation” and “centering prayer”) movement. It wasn’t enough just to read God’s Word and go to the Lord in simple prayer. No, as Christianity in America began moving farther and farther away from doctrine-based faith to subjective experientialism, “cutting edge” pastors began looking into methods for their congregations to “deepen” their prayer/worship “encounter.” But there was no need to reinvent the wheel. “Hip” pastors read accounts of the old Roman Catholic mystics and discovered exactly what they were looking for.

Cloistered monastic religious orders encouraged their monks and nuns to practice forms of extreme asceticism including self-mortification (flagellation, chronic fasting, sleep deprivation, etc.). Under these conditions, the mystics often fell into deep swoons and trances and claimed to experience ecstasies and the miraculous phenomena of levitation, bi-location, and stigmata as well as being visited by Jesus and/or the “Blessed Virgin.”

One such Catholic mystic was the celebrated “saint,” Teresa of Avila, Spain (1515-1582). In this pamphlet, Carolyn Greene refers to some of the writings of Teresa to illustrate her “otherworldly” experiences. This short pamphlet is not a thorough exposé of “contemplative prayer” or of the alleged experiences of Teresa, but serves only as a brief introduction.

Many “hip” pastors and church leaders have jumped onto the “contemplative prayer” band wagon. They extol the writings of Teresa and other Catholic mystics as guides for their followers to experience a deep, subjective, often trance-like “encounter” while in prayer/meditation. This technique began in the “emerging church” with people like Brian McLaren and Richard Foster and has since spread into mainstream “evangelicalism” through people like Sarah Young, Rick Warren, Dallas Willard, Tim Keller, Beth Moore, and Priscilla Shirer.

Contemplative/centering prayer promotes emptying the mind and experiencing a self-induced trance similar to the TM trancendental meditation practices taught in Hinduism. I believe voluntarily surrendering control of one’s mind exposes an individual to demonic influences. In contrast, God’s Word commands that we are to be ever sober and vigilant rather than slaves of hypnotic euphoria.

“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” – 1 Peter 5:8-9

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” – Galatians 5:22-24

The other great danger of the contemplative prayer movement is that it serves as a bridge between evangelical Christians and Roman Catholicism. Teresa of Avila was a faithful follower of Roman Catholicism’s false gospel of salvation through sacramental grace and merit. If your pastor proposes a contemplative/centering prayer initiative, it’s definitely time to find a new church.

For many resources that examine the dangers of contemplative spirituality and Roman Catholicism, see the link to Lighthouse Trails Publishing below.

Lighthouse Trails Publishing
http://www.lighthousetrails.com/

the_ecstasy_of_saint_theresa
Sculpted by Gian Lorenzo Bernini in 1652, “The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa” purports to show the “saint” in the throes of swooning ecstasy as an angel prepares to thrust a golden lance into her heart.