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John Fontenot wrote:

Hi, guys —

Jesus never told us to pray to his mother. Catholics want to see Mary as just interceding for us. The Bible strictly states that Jesus is the great intercessor, so Catholics are using unbiblical teachings that don't coincide with the Bible. Also, Jesus told us not to pray in vain repetition, but Catholics do anyway by saying the Rosary. Period. Some will defend praying the Rosary by referring to the verse in Revelation where all the beasts are around the Throne saying holy, holy, holy, holy, holy, holy. First of all, they are around the throne in Heaven, and they are not praying, they are worshipping. Again, another unbiblical teaching. If Jesus tells us not to do something, then we should follow His Teachings not man's teachings.

  • Peter is supposed to be the first Pope, but Peter was married and so were many of the Apostles so why can't priest marry?

Catholics seem to think that if you're not married that means you can become more holy or if you are poor you can become more holy. This is false because there is no Scripture in the Bible that says this and like I said Peter and the Apostles were married and they were very holy.

Also, Purgatory is found nowhere in the Bible. Period. Absent from the body, present with the Lord. Period. And the thief on the cross was with Jesus in paradise that same day so he didn't go to Purgatory. According to the Bible the only way you get into Heaven is if your name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life and when you die no one can pray your name into the Lamb's Book of Life. Purgatory is a false teaching.

And here is the big question:

  • Why did the Catholic Church send known pedophiles to Catholic parishes to say Mass?
  • Do you really think God approves of this?

John

  { Can you answer some questions in three areas where the Catholic Church is obviously wrong? }

Eric replied:

Dear John —

You said:
Jesus never told us to pray to his mother.

Jesus didn't tell us a lot of things —- he didn't tell us to read Scripture, he didn't tell us to have altar calls, he didn't tell us that everything had to be written in the Scriptures for us to believe it. He didn't tell us pedophilia was wrong, either. Just because Jesus didn't tell us doesn't mean we can't believe it or do it. There is nothing in Scripture which teaches this.

15 Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.

2 Thessalonians 2:15 (KJV 1900)

You said:
Catholics want to see Mary as just interceding for us. The Bible strictly states that Jesus is the great intercessor, so Catholics are using unbiblical teachings that don't coincide with the Bible.

Even your language belies your error. You called him "the great intercessor", which implies there are lesser intercessors. In fact, Scripture commands us to intercede for one another (1 Timothy 2:1). Any time you pray for someone, you are an intercessor. By your logic, we should not pray for one another. Even evangelization is an act of mediation — you are trying to reconcile people to God by sharing the Gospel, standing between them and God, acting as God's hands and feet and mouth.

You said:
Also, Jesus told us not to pray in vain repetition, but Catholics do anyway by saying the Rosary. Period. Some will defend praying the Rosary by referring to the verse in Revelation where all the beasts are around the Throne saying holy, holy, holy, holy, holy, holy. First of all, they are around the throne in Heaven, and they are not praying, they are worshipping. Again, another unbiblical teaching. If Jesus tells us not to do something, then we should follow His Teachings not man's teachings.

I think, first of all, you are trying to weasel out of things by saying "they are worshipping and not praying", as if it's OK to use vain repetition in worship, but not OK to use it in prayer. Please, give me a break — come up with a better refutation than that.

Second of all, Jesus did not condemn repetitive prayer. He condemned vain repetitive prayer; in particular, the kind of babbling pagans did.

  • What kind of prayer did pagans do?

Pagans, you see, thought that they could wear down their gods by multiplying words.

Pagans would recite long litanies of divine names to gain the attention of gods. This was meant to ensure that the deity was addressed properly. Jesus considers the practice empty — i.e., devoid of faith and of love for the deity. Note that his warning is not aimed at repetitious or lengthy prayer in itself. With a pure heart, such prayer can be fruitful and intimate. Jesus himself prayed to the Father in Gethsemane three times "saying the same words" (Matthew 26:41-44) and "all night" (Luke6:12) before choosing the Apostles (CCC 2668):

Prayer to Jesus.
.
2668 The invocation of the holy name of Jesus is the simplest way of praying always. When the holy name is repeated often by a humbly attentive heart, the prayer is not lost by heaping up empty phrases, (cf. Matthew 6:7) but holds fast to the word and "brings forth fruit with patience." (cf. Luke 8:15) This prayer is possible "at all times" because it is not one occupation among others but the only occupation: that of loving God, which animates and transfigures every action in Christ Jesus.

(Mitch, Curtis, "Introduction to the Gospels," in the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: The New Testament (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2010), p. 17)

You aren't understanding "vain repetition" in the sense that Jesus intended it. You're cherry picking an interpretation that violates the text instead of making a good faith effort to harmonize what we do with the text.

You said:

  • Peter is supposed to be the first Pope, but Peter was married and so were many of the Apostles so why can't priest marry?

Catholics seem to think that if you're not married that means you can become more holy or if you are poor you can become more holy. This is false because there is no Scripture in the Bible that says this and like I said Peter and the Apostles were married and they were very holy.

You said:
Also, Purgatory is found nowhere in the Bible. Period.

It mentions passing through fire on the Day of Judgment, and worthless works are burned up, which sounds like Hell, but the end is salvation, so it can't be Hell, the only logical conclusion is Purgatory.

You said:
Absent from the body, present with the Lord. Period.

You are twisting the verse. The verse says, 2 Corinthians 5:6–8 (KJV 1900):

6 Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: 7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) 8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord."

2 Corinthians 5:6–8 (KJV 1900)

If I say I am willing rather to be absent from the office and present at home, I don't mean that as soon as I leave the office, I'm miraculously transported instantaneously to home, or that I have no commute. I simply mean I'd rather be at home than in the office. This verse makes no assertion about what happens between being absent from the body and being in the presence of the Lord.

Besides, some Catholic theologians have proposed that Purgatory is in fact an encounter with the presence of the Lord, for "our God is a consuming fire" (Hebrews 12:29).

You said:
And the thief on the cross was with Jesus in paradise that same day so he didn't go to Purgatory.

  • So you are saying everyone goes to Heaven?

You must be because you are projecting one particular case to everyone.

You clearly do not understand Catholic teaching if you think this refutes our teaching on purgatory. We do not believe everyone goes to purgatory. I won't go into the theological nuances here but suffice it to say if you think this is the first time we've encountered this verse, you're mistaken.

There is a saying in law that goes, hard cases make for bad law. You can't take an exceptional situation and apply it to everyone. Jesus is God. He had the prerogative to do what he wanted.

  • Even if the thief was subject to Purgatory, do you not think that Jesus could have waived that for him by a sovereign act of His Will, without necessarily waiving it for everyone else without exception?

You said:
According to the Bible the only way you get into Heaven is if your name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life and when you die no one can pray your name into the Lamb's Book of Life. Purgatory is a false teaching.

First of all, this is a gross misunderstanding of what Purgatory is. Purgatory is not a way of changing one's destiny. When you die, you're either a friend of God or you aren't, and nothing can change that.

If you are a friend of God, but you are still attached to sin and worldly things, or if you have sins that have been forgiven but your discipline and chastisement (See Hebrews 12:5-11) is not complete, it will be completed before you enter the full glory of Heaven. Think of it as the final stage of sanctification for believers. Again, no one who is wicked goes to Purgatory; it is not a "second chance", rather it's a process of cleansing of the effects of our sins (hence the name, "purgatory", place of purging).

You said:
And here is the big question:

  • Why did the Catholic Church send known pedophiles to Catholic parishes to say Mass?
  • Do you really think God approves of this?
  • Seriously, do you really think we think God approves of this?
  • And do you think there are not pedophiles in Protestant churches? (News flash: There are.)
  • Why did they do it?

The reasons are complex, but if your question is sincere: One reason is because during the time that most of these cases were going on, psychologists and psychiatrists thought the condition was curable, treated the cases in question, and pronounced them "cured", and the bishops, acting on this recommendation, returned them to ministry.

Another reason is because Pope John Paul had a blind spot because he grew up under Communism and whenever the Communists wanted to get rid of someone, they would trump up charges of pedophilia against people, priests in particular, so he never paid attention to real cases of pedophilia.

There are of course outright wicked reasons why this was done, for example, in a misguided attempt to preserve the pristine image of the Church (obviously that did not work out), or maybe they just didn't want or know how to deal with the problem. Clearly, all of these are inadequate or downright sinful responses to the crisis. But, another news flash, the history of Israel is riven with idolatry, and I don't see anyone today saying,

"Jesus's ministry was invalid because his ancestor's committed idolatry."

What's more, the first pope committed apostasy and one of the first bishops handed the Messiah over to be crucified.

What Christians do has no impact on the validity of Christianity, and what Catholic Christians do, including what their leaders do, including the pope, has no impact on the validity of the teachings of the Catholic Church.

Eric

Mike replied:

Hi John,

I just wanted to add to Eric's fine answer.

Purgatory is one of the most misunderstood teachings in our Church.

Some of it has to do with how we talk about it within the Church. Many times, you will see in Catholic bulletins, "Masses for the Dead". Well, they really are not dead, they are more alive than you, Eric, or me. We refer to them as dead as a means of separating them, from us, the Living.

It would be better if our bulletins consistently said "Masses for the Faithful Departed".

My Catholic Notes on Purgatory will also helpful:

Catholic Notes:

When talking with friends and family about Purgatory, it's important they know the basics:

  • Purgatory does exist.
  • Purgatory is not a third place along with Heaven and Hell nor is it a second chance.
  • Purgatory has nothing to do with Limbo, which was only a theological opinion and was never a doctrine of the Church.
  • Souls in Purgatory have been saved just as much as the souls in Heaven.
  • Purgatory is like the Holy Hospital of Heaven.

Purgatory refers to a temporary state of purification for those who have died in the state of grace but still need to get rid of any lingering imperfections (venial sins, earthly attachments, self-will, etc.) before entering the perfection of Heaven.

Purgatory has nothing to do with one's justification or salvation. Those in Purgatory are justified; they are saved.  Purgatory has to do with one's personal holiness and the burning away of remaining self-love.  Revelation 21:27 It's our personal holiness because each person uses their free will differently in life to make good or bad choices on our pilgrimage to our particular judgment.

The Scriptures tell us, Our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:29) We believe that All Consuming Fire is Our Very Lord Jesus Himself burning away all the self-love from our souls.

This article by Emily Stimpson from Our Sunday Visitor (osv.com) September 29, 2013 will also be helpful.

If you struggle to understand the Catholic view of Purgatory, this analogy may help:

Think of sin as a self-inflicted wound in your life.

When we physically hurt ourselves, many times we have to be brought to the hospital and the doctor or nurse will put an alcoholic disinfectant in our cut or wound. It will hurt ... a lot!!! but it's a good hurt; it's a holy hurt, that is needed to make us physically better.

We also have to distinguish between less severe physical injuries where we cut ourselves and require stitches and more severe injuries, like a NASCAR racing driver who gets into a major collision and ends up with third or fourth-degree burns over 90 percent of their body. There are varying degrees of damage that we do to our bodies, not only physically, but spiritually too!

Because Revelation tells us that nothing impure can enter Heaven (Revelation 21:27) and because God Himself is all Holy, we too, have to be all Holy to enter Heaven. To achieve this, any remaining self-inflicted spiritual wounds (meaning self-love) from our pilgrimage on earth has to be burned off, healed, and purified.

  • If our spiritual injuries are along the line of just needing stitches, that healing period where our self-love has to be burned off will be short;
  • but if our self-inflicted injuries are along the line of third or fourth-degree burns, the healing process will take longer.

Saints in the past have had private revelations from the souls in Purgatory. They (the Holy Souls in Purgatory) have shared that, while the (healing|burning) fires of God's Love in Purgatory are painful (Hebrews 12:29, Exodus 3:1-6), at the same time they had an internal, burning joy because they knew they were being conformed to the image of God and their final destiny would be total union with Him.

Instead of the good healing pain that the alcoholic disinfectant gave us under a doctor's care to prepare us to re-enter the earthly world again, in Purgatory, we experience a holy, healing pain under Jesus' Care which purifies our souls and and the Holy Souls in Purgatory and prepares (us|them) to enter eternal life with God who is all Holy.

  • Interested in helping the Saved, Holy Souls in Purgatory?

Think of the number of saved Faithful Departed who have passed from this life to the next since 33 A.D.: many with major spiritual injuries. There's a lot! This is why praying for the Holy Souls in Purgatory is very important — and they can't wait to be purified for Heaven! (Revelation 21:27) If there are any Catholics (who live in the United States) reading this answer, who have a strong devotion to praying for the Holy Souls, check out my other website at:

I work with another colleague, Brian Bagley on this. Together we are trying to re-kindle this devotion among the lay faithful and Catholic clergy in praying for the Holy Souls and for those interested, we will send out a FREE Purgatory Prayer Program for you to get started.

Finally, you said:
Also, Purgatory is found nowhere in the Bible. Period.

You won't find the word, Purgatory in the Bible because we get the word Purgatory from Latin which is "the language of the Church" and Greeks aren't going to give us a Latin word!

Hope this helps,

Mike

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