Ruminations on All Saints and All Souls Days

The Roman Catholic church’s yearly liturgical calendar is full of solemnities, feast days, and memorials. If you don’t know the difference between the three categories, you need to consult the Catholic encyclopedia. Anyway, yesterday Catholicism celebrated All Saints Day (a solemnity) and today it marks All Souls Day (a feast day). In brief, on All Saints Day, Catholics pay homage to ALL the “saints” who allegedly merited Heaven by living holy lives. Catholics celebrate the feast days of certain very popular saints throughout the year and All Saints Day gives them a chance to honor all the lower-profile, “bench-warmer” saints who don’t merit individual feast days on the official church calendar.

Today, All Souls Day, Catholics pray for the souls of the deceased who are allegedly in purgatory. Catholicism teaches purgatory is a way station for those souls who need to be cleansed of venial sins or for the remaining temporal punishment for forgiven mortal sins before they can enter Heaven. Catholics arrange for masses to be offered up as indulgences to shorten the time a deceased loved one must endure purgatory. Various other indulgences can also be applied. Many souls do not have family or friends assisting them out of purgatory, so the indulgences from the masses and prayers on All Souls Day are applied to the forgotten suffering souls in purgatory.

[Sigh]

Of course, none of the above is Scriptural. The Bible says everyone who accepts Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone is a saint. The Bible speaks of no intermediate cleansing station like purgatory. The doctrine of purgatory denies the ability of Christ to cleanse those who trust in Him as Savior from all sin.

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” – 1 John 1:7

In the Gospel of Luke 23:39-43, Jesus told the repentant thief on the cross that He would bring him into Paradise that very day. There is no purgatory for those who have accepted Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone.

Most American Catholics have no clue about the meaning of All Saints Day and All Souls Day. Yesterday, All Saints Day, was a holy day of obligation, meaning all Catholics were required to attend mass under pain of mortal sin and eternal damnation, but of course, the VAST majority didn’t bother. They can’t make it to mass on Sunday let alone during the week.

Catholics in America are generally very casual about All Saints-All Souls but that’s not the case in some countries. In Poland, the land of my paternal ancestors, they celebrate/reverence All Saints and All Souls Days with a devotion that would shock American Catholics. During “Zaduszki” (the day of prayer for dead souls), the entire country shuts down and millions visit the graves of family members to pray and leave behind flowers and lighted candles. A great amount of superstition and pagan-(c)hristian syncretism marks these two “holy days.” The dead spirits are believed to visit their old homes and warm themselves while enjoying the commemorative meal left for them. A bench is provided close to the hearth with a dish of water, a comb, and a towel so that the dead souls can wash themselves and comb their hair. Household activities are restricted so as not to interfere with the movements of the dead spirits. Bread is brought to the cemeteries along with the flowers and candles for the deceased to enjoy.

For more on the customs of Zaduszki, see here. The citizens of predominantly Catholic countries are notorious for mixing overtly pagan practices with their (c)hristian religion.

What does the Bible say about Purgatory?
https://www.gotquestions.org/purgatory.html

Advertisements

Curious minds want to know: Are blessings transferable?

Catholics are taught that their priests are endowed with unique powers to bless material objects. When a priest blesses an object he allegedly imparts spiritual qualities to the item, which then bestow physical and spiritual benefits to the owner. Catholics bring their religious objects like rosaries, crucifixes, candles, medals, scapulars, prayer books, and statues to their parish priest for his blessing. Once an item has been blessed by a priest, it is considered to be a “holy” sacramental. A sacramental that is no longer wanted or is in poor condition may not be disposed of in the trash but must be buried or incinerated. Catholics also arrange for their priests to bless non-religious items like their houses, cars, and boats.

Today I was listening to the 5/12/17 podcast of the “Calling All Catholics” talk radio show (The Station of the Cross, WLOF, 101.7 FM, Buffalo, NY) featuring moderator Mike Denz and priest host, Dave Baker, taking questions from the listening audience and there was an interesting query about priestly blessings:

Mike Denz: We have a question about blessings from one of our listeners who emailed in. It starts off, “If your car has been blessed and you sell it, does the blessing expire or end with the new owner?”

Priest Baker didn’t sound all too sure in his response but conjectured that the blessing upon the car and anyone who travels in it remains intact even after the transfer of ownership UNLESS the new owner does something “to kick the blessing out” by being involved in a way of life that is “completely out of synch with the spirit of Christ.” Baker admitted that he wasn’t sure in such a case if the blessing leaves immediately or gradually fades away over time.

Denz then referred to the second part of the same listener’s question, which asked why the mandatory rule regarding burying or burning of unneeded or worn out blessed religious objects doesn’t also apply to unwanted homes, cars, boats, motorcycles (or airplanes, farm tractors, space shuttles, nuclear submarines, etc.) that were also blessed?

Priest Baker got a condescending chuckle over that one and patiently explained that religious objects are blessed and “consecrated” as items used in worship while blessed dwellings and vehicles aren’t consecrated and therefore don’t have to be ceremonially disposed of.

Is your head spinning yet? All of these teachings and regulations about blessings are man-made and nowhere to be found in the New Testament. Come out of ritualistic religion and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith alone.

“If I take off my scapular prior to surgery and die on the operating table, will I still go to Heaven?”

This morning I was listening to the 1/13/17 podcast of the “Calling All Catholics” talkmg radio show broadcast on the Station of the Cross, 101.7 FM, Buffalo, NY, with Catholic priest, Dave Baker, and moderator, Mike Denz, taking questions from listeners.

Towards the end of the show, Mike read a question sent in from “Kim” in Rochester, NY regarding the brown scapular. But first, a little background:

Catholic tradition posits that the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to Carmelite friar, Simon Stock, in Aylesford, England in 1251 and presented him and his religious order with a brown scapular (a ceremonial apron), proclaiming, “the one who dies in it will be saved.” A smaller version of the scapular, basically two strings with patches of wool on each end that is draped over the head and rests on the shoulders (see photo of Catholic traditionalist, Mel Gibson, wearing his scapular), was created in the late-1500s so that lay people could also benefit from the scapular. A priest must first bless the scapular in order for it to transmit its advantages to the wearer. Untold millions of Catholics have worn the small, brown scapular over the last 430 years, believing that wearing the sacramental would earn or help earn their salvation as the Marian apparition had allegedly promised.

Okay, now let’s get back to Kim’s question. She asked, “If you have the brown scapular but you are having surgery and aren’t allowed to wear it, do the protections and benefits that it provides still apply if something happens?”

Priest Dave and Mike discussed this one for several minutes and concluded that while it’s extremely important to wear the scapular in order to gain Mary’s promise of salvation, there are probably some circumstances when it’s permissible to remove it temporarily such as during surgery, taking a shower, or while swimming. However, they acknowledged that some priests would advise that the benefits of the scapular would only be in effect if it was being worn. Dave and Mike also made sure to add in that the scapular wouldn’t do a person any good if they weren’t following the other teachings of the church. Dave also said that if a scapular becomes worn out, it can be replaced with a new one which does not need to be blessed. The blessing of the old one is grandfathered to the new. But hold on!!!! If the wearer of a brown Carmelite scapular switches to a different color scapular (red, black, blue, white, or green), Dave said they will need to have a priest bless the new one because each of the different colored scapulars has its own distinct protocols. Got that? Are you dizzy yet?

Can this ex-Catholic and born-again follower of Jesus Christ ask just a couple of questions?

1) Dave and Mike said a person needs to be following the prescribed teachings of the church for the scapular to be effective, but if a Catholic were already following the teachings of the church  – receiving the sacraments and obeying the Ten Commandments (impossible!) and church rules – why would they need a scapular? Well, in works-righteous Catholicism the thinking goes that every little bit helps.

2) Dave opines an individual who dies without the scapular can still earn the promise of salvation if it was removed for a “legitimate” reason (surgery, swimming, showering, etc.), but other priests disagree and say the promise is null and void as soon as the scapular is removed. Who is right?

If you’re a blood-bought, born-again follower of Jesus Christ, you know all of the above is sheer anti-Scriptural superstition. But to a Roman Catholic trying to merit their way to Heaven, it all makes perfect sense.

“This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men. You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” Mark 7:6-8

Come out of religious legalism and ritualism and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior.

https://www.gotquestions.org/sinners-prayer.html

Fragment of “true cross” stolen from a Catholic church?

News sources report a fragment of the “True Cross” TRCwas recently stolen from St. Dominic’s Roman Catholic church in San Francisco, California (photo shows empty case after theft). See one of the news stories far below.

According to legend, Helena, the mother of Roman Emperor, Constantine, traveled to Palestine around 326-328 AD in search of relics associated with Jesus Christ and allegedly discovered the actual cross that Jesus was crucified upon. She supposedly took a portion of the cross back to Constantinople but left the majority of it in Jerusalem. The invading Catholic crusaders of the Middle Ages were said to have taken fragments of the cross from Constantinople back to Europe. Many Catholic churches claimed to have a fragment of the cross. John Calvin coyly remarked:

“There is no abbey so poor as not to have a specimen. In some places there are large fragments, as at the Holy Chapel in Paris, at Poitiers, and at Rome, where a good-sized crucifix is said to have been made of it. In brief, if all the pieces that could be found were collected together, they would make a big ship-load. Yet the Gospel testifies that a single man was able to carry it.”

What are Christians to make of all of this? Did Helena actually discover Jesus’s actual cross 300 years after His crucifixion? The chances of that happening would have been most assuredly less than zero. But this whole “true cross” business is an interesting example of Catholic syncretism. Roman paganism relied heavily on amulets, talismans, and other good luck charms. Possessing such articles portended good health and prosperity. As the early church transitioned from simple, saving faith in Jesus Christ to institutionalized religious legalism, it borrowed from paganism and proclaimed that relics and other physical objects (candles, holy water, medals, crucifixes, etc.) would obtain blessings for the possessor or worshipper. Consequently, religious objects and ritual became the focus rather than seeking a right spiritual relationship with the Creator. Accumulating a few famous relics assured a church a steady stream of money-paying pilgrims eager to receive blessings.

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

Material objects mean nothing. If one person possessed Jesus’s entire cross, His crown of thorns, the whip that shredded His back, and the nails that held Him to the cross it would do them absolutely no good. It’s all worthless garbage. Repent of your sins. Accept Jesus Christ as you Savior by faith.

“God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” – John 4:24

“See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” – Colossians 2:8

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Matthew 6:19-21


Relic Believed to Be Fragment of ‘True Cross’ Missing From Catholic Church
http://abcnews.go.com/US/relic-believed-fragment-true-cross-stolen-catholic-church/story?id=41565832

Read more about the legendary “true cross” here.

Rules about “holy water.” Who knew?!?!

Today, I was listening to the April 8, 2016 podcast of the “Calling All Catholics” talkHW radio show on the Station of the Cross, 101.7 FM, out of Buffalo, New York. This particular broadcast featured Catholic priest, Dave Baker, and moderator, Rick Paolini, taking questions from listeners.

During the show, Rick related how he and his wife often volunteered at the Divine Mercy Shrine in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. According to Rick, visitors often bring empty receptacles and fill them with blessed “holy water” provided by the shrine from large dispensers kept outside. One winter day, a gentleman showed up with “14 or 15” plastic containers to fill up for his friends, but it was so cold outside that most of the holy water in the shrine’s dispensers had frozen. The gentleman improvised by filling each of his containers with just a little unfrozen holy water, saying he would return home and fill them to the brim with tap water before distributing them to his friends. Rick was troubled by this and asked father Baker if it was copacetic to dilute holy water as the gentleman had done. Father Dave answered that it was okay to dilute holy water, but the ratio of holy water to tap water had to be greater than 50 percent otherwise the holy water would lose its “holiness.”

Huh? Are you serious?

Catholics believe water blessed by a priest can bring great spiritual and temporal benefits to people and objects that come in contact with it. Catholics dip their fingers in holy water fonts at church and make the sign of the cross on their shoulders and forehead. Zealously pious Catholics often have holy water fonts in their homes. At Catholic religious services and events you can often see the officiating cleric blessing the crowd by sprinkling holy water on them.

Holy water has its roots in pagan amulets and talismans. There’s nothing in the Bible that hints at anything like holy water (see the comments section for clarification on Numbers 5). The Bible reader can’t imagine the apostles or disciples of the early church using pagan holy water. Father Dave says holy water can’t be diluted by more than 49 percent tap water. Really? Where do Catholics come up with these exacting ecclesiastical rubrics? The poor, deluded gentleman and his fifteen friends were unknowingly blessing themselves with holy water that had no holiness. Not that the results were ANY different either way.

Friends, none of this scrupulous and superstitious ritualism saves. Salvation is as simple as the story of the thief on the cross. Repent of your sins. Turn to Jesus Christ. Accept Him as your Savior by faith. Then ask the Lord to lead you to an evangelical church in your area that teaches His Word without compromise. You’ll never need another drop of holy water ever again. Jesus is all you need!

“I have spread out My hands all day long to a rebellious people, who walk in the way which is not good, following their own thoughts, a people who continually provoke Me to My face, offering sacrifices in gardens and burning incense on bricks.” – Isaiah 65:2-3

Nope, we’re not done with holy water rules quite yet. How do Catholics correctly dispose of holy water? Since holy water is a blessed sacramental, you can’t just flush it down the toilet like a bad clam. Excess holy water or holy water that’s become foul must be poured directly onto the ground or on plants growing outside.

Bleeding statue and painting in Malaysia

What’s going on in Malaysia? A few weeks ago we had a news story about a statue of Marymarymal in the town of Subang Jaya that was smiling, crying, and even growing taller!

Not to be outdone, a resident of the town of Pandan Indah claims she has a painting of Jesus and a statue of Mary in her home that allegedly bleed oil, blood, and honey!

What are we to make of these Catholic “miracles”? Catholicism has always put GREAT emphasis on the physical over the spiritual. Instead of accepting Jesus Christ by faith through the conviction of God’s Word by the power of the Holy Spirit, the Catholic church presents Jesus as a statue or a painted figure that is to be worshipped in much the same way pre-Christian pagans worshipped their gods. There’s no acceptance of Christ as Savior, only a pious determination to be more “faithful” and “obedient” to the teachings of the Catholic church. When Catholics talk about “receiving” Christ what they mean is ingesting the consecrated bread wafer. Instead of coming to Jesus for salvation without a single plea of their own, Catholics are taught to go to the more merciful Mary who will help them obey the Ten Commandments so they might possibly merit a place in Heaven.

All these bleeding, smiling, crying, and growing statues are cases of religious fraud at best and demonic manifestations at worst.

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

*********************************************

‘Bleeding’ painting, statue draw Catholics from across Malaysia

By Vincent Lian

http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2015/11/03/Bleeding-statue-painting-house/

More “Christian” Rabbits’ Feet

We’ve already taken a look at a few Catholic sacramentals in previous blogs such as holyagde water, the scapular, the rosary, and the “saint” Christopher medal. According to the Baltimore Catechism, sacramentals are “anything set apart or blessed by the Church to excite good thoughts and to increase devotion, and through these movements of the heart to remit venial sin.”

Let’s now look at a once very popular sacramental that has fallen a bit out of favor; the Agnus Dei. The Agnus Dei (Latin for “Lamb of God”) is a piece of beeswax taken from a paschal candle blessed by the pope and used previously at the Basilica of St. Peter or in the papal chapels that has been embossed with an image of a lamb bearing a cross or pennant. It is usually encased in a small locket and worn around the neck. Catholic vendors claim those who carry or venerate the blessed Agnus Dei are promised protection from “tempests, lighting, fire, water, malice of demons, adversity, pestilence, sickness, and sudden death.” It also allegedly protects “women bearing children that they may be preserved from all harm and are favored with a happy delivery.”

Church tradition has the Agnus Dei sacramental making its first appearance in the 5th-century, making it one of the oldest of the church’s sacramentals. But there’s actually no written record of the Agnus Dei until the 9th-century. Catholic apologists readily admit the Agnus Dei was a “christianized” replacement for pagan charms and amulets “from which the ruder populace were weaned by the enjoyment of this Christian substitute blessed by prayer.”

The Agnus Dei, like the church’s other sacramentals, is essentially a Catholic rabbit’s foot, allegedly warding off evil and eliciting good fortune.

Relatively few Catholics read the Bible but if they did they might be surprised that there is absolutely no mention of Jesus or His followers ever using religious charms or talismans. Neither were amulets used by the faithful Israelites of the Old Testament. Rather, such objects were always linked to pagan sorcery. As early Christianity transitioned into the institutionalized, official state religion of the Roman Empire it adopted many of the practices of the pagan religion which preceded it. Simple faith in Jesus Christ devolved into ritualism and legalism, all tightly controlled by an increasingly powerful hierarchy.

Can any believer who knows God’s Word with any degree of intimacy possibly imagine the Jesus of the Gospels passing out “blessed” charms and amulets to His followers? Thank you, Father, for freeing me from religious superstition and saving me by Your grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone! Accept Jesus Christ as your Savior and seek out an Evangelical church where the Gospel of grace is preached.

“When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord; because of these same detestable practices the Lord your God will drive out those nations before you.” – Deuteronomy 18: 9-12

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