There are not over a 100 people in the U.S. that hate the Catholic Church, there are millions however, who hate what they wrongly believe to be the Catholic Church, which is, of course, quite a different thing.- Archbishop Fulton Sheen

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

"Take my word for it, it's not there"

"Take my word for it, it's not there" That was the end of the part of my conversation with an Evangelical Christian about if Purgatory is in the Bible. A nice lady, but I can't agree with her.

Purgatory, to Catholics, is a place/"condition of existence" (there isn't really a sense of "place" once you're spirit) of final purification after death for people going to Heaven. Note #1 after death, your soul is outside of time... we have no idea how Purgatory fits into that. Note #2 Purgatory is portrayed in art as a place of fire, like Hell. But after death, your soul has no concept of place... we don't really have any words to describe it. Unlike Hell, the people in Purgatory don't want to be there. Unlike Hell, people in Purgatory know that they will eventually get out. Unlike Hell, the fire is a purifying fire (Zech 13:9, or, the Bible says people can be purified in fire). Is the fire symbolic or real? I really don't know. When I die, I'll tell you.

But I really had no response to "it's not there" other than "it is there"... my word against hers. Given more time (and space) here I will try to educate myself.

The New American Bible has a lot of resources in the back... and one of them is a Doctrinal Bible Index. It names Purgatory as "a middle state of souls, suffering for a time on account of their sins, is shown by those many texts of Scripture which affirm that God will render to every man according to his works, so that suck as die in lesser sins shall not escape without punishment" The verses cited are 2 Mc 12: 43-46; Mt 5: 25f, 12, 32; Lk 12: 58f; 1 Cor 3: 15; 1 Pt 3: 18-20; 1 Jn 5: 16; Rv 5: 3, 13

The first one, 2 Maccabees 12: 42-46 (the complete passage is 38-46...I will start from 42) "Turning to supplication, they prayed that the sinful deed (of the dead men) might be fully blotted out. The noble Judas (Maccabeus) warned the soldiers to keep themselves free from sin, for they had seen with their own eyes what had happened because of the sin of those who had fallen. He then took up a collection among all his soldiers, amounting to two thousand silver drachmas, which he sent to Jerusalem to provide for an expiatory sacrifice. In doing this he acted in a very excellent and noble way, inasmuch as he had the resurrection of the dead in view; for if he were not expecting the fallen to rise again, it would have been useless and foolish to pray for them in death. But if he did this with a view to the splendid reward that awaits those who had gone to rest in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Thus he made atonement for the dead that they might be freed from this sin"

If you do not have the book of Maccabees in your Bible, you have a defective Bible and should ask for a replacement :). Seriously, though, the reason this book is not in Protestant Bibles is because the desire to not see Purgatory in the Bible led to the Bible being rewritten. See #4 here about how Evangelicals desire a "consistent view" in their canon... the basis of their Christianity is personal interpretation of the Bible... and the basis of their Bible is what they see as "accepted" theology... which turns into only accepting what they want to. Also, note that Evangelical Christians do not accept the Septuagint, their translations of the Bible more closely follow the Jewish canon, which, by the time it was settled, had also taken cutting and pasting measures in order to try to separate Judaism from the "fulfilled Judaism" of the early Christianity. This is probably a big reason why, for Evangelical Christians, "it's not there." Another interesting note, this passage not only implies a Purgatory (or, purification after death) but it promotes indulgences as well!

Next: Matthew 5: 25(22 & footnote talk about Purgatory, for 25 see Lk 12: 59), 12: 32 "But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment, and whoever says to his brother 'Raqa' (imbecile/blockhead) will be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, 'You Fool' will be liable to fiery Gehenna" Footnote: "Gehenna, in Hebrew ge-hinnom, "Valley of Hinnom" or ge ben-hinnom "Valley of the Son of Hinnom," southwest of Jerusalem, the center of an idolatrous cult during the monarchy in which children were offered in sacrifice. The Hebrew is transliterated into Greek as gaienna, which appears in the New Testament as geenna. The concept of punishment of sinners by fire either after death or after the final judgment is found in Jewish apocalyptic literature but the name geenna is first given to the place of punishment in the New Testament" So... as I see it, there are two ways to interpret this passage, and it hinges on what "Gehenna" is. Is Gehenna a place of eternal punishment (Hell) or is it a place of temporary punishment (Purgatory). Insults like "you fool" aren't a very serious sin. If God is Just, any insult, however small, needs repentance, forgiveness, and retribution. If God is Merciful, why would God send you to Hell as retribution for something so minor? Purgatory, (interpretation of a temporary Gehenna) is the middle ground of these two.

(from above) 12:32 "And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven; but whoever speaks against the holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.
So... If Jesus has to say something will not be forgiven in the "age to come," then doesn't that mean they believe that some things can be forgiven after death?

Ok... what now... (this stuff is coming out of my ears by this point) Luke 12:58 & 59... This story has pretty much the same idea as Matthew 5:25: "You will not be released until you have paid the last penny" If God is Just, then the correct retribution must be made, even if after death, but not at the expense of Mercy.

1 Corinthians 3:11-15 "But if someone's work is burned up, that one will suffer loss; the person will be saved, but only as through fire." A passage that is used a lot to point to a purgatory. A good person, who has done some bad things can still be saved.

1 Peter 3: 18-20 "For Christ also suffered for sins once, the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous, that he might lead you to God. Put to death in the flesh, he was brought to life in the spirit. In it he also went to preach to the spirits in prison, who had once been disobedient while God patiently waited in the days of Noah during the building of the ark, in which a few persons, eight in all, were saved through water." In the footnote, it says "It is not clear just who these spirits are. They may be the spirits of the sinners who died in the flood, or angelic powers, hostile to God, who have been overcome by Christ." What this passage does indicate is that there is a place of "prison" after death... so saying Everyone is "going to either Heaven or Hell" is Biblically inaccurate. So the argument is, if Jesus suffered for sins once and for all, why do people have to suffer more in purgatory? Jesus forgave all sins, completely, for everyone. However, that does not make us perfect people. Going to Purgatory does not mean that you have another chance at Heaven, you are going to Heaven. Jesus forgave you, you are going to Heaven. But we are imperfect, creatures. There needs to be some way for Jesus to "remove the remnants of imperfection." What is a remnant of imperfection? Ugh, big topic I don't want to go into now. If I do a post on sin, I'll go into it then. Sin is strange... it affects Everybody. Somehow. I don't know how, but... yeah. Strange stuff.

1 John 5:16 "If anyone sees his brother sinning, if the sin is not deadly, he should pray to God and He will give him life. This is only for those whose sin is not deadly. There is such a thing as deadly sin, about which I do not say that you should pray. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that is not deadly".. I may have included verse 17 too... but it sounds more finished with it. In modern terminology, venial sins are the lesser sins and mortal sins are the deadly sins. Deadly sins reject God, so it doesn't make sense to turn to God in prayer on your own. Venial sins do not cut all ties with God, so it is still possible to pray on your own. And John says that one should pray to God. Relation to purgatory? Sin is complex. It is still possible to go to heaven while holding venial sins, because purgatory will get rid of them for you. Deadly=Mortal=Going to Hell, do not pass Go, do not collect $200. So, go to confession for all your sins, especially mortal sins.

Revelation 5: 3,13 "But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to examine it...Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, everything in the universe cry out: "To the one who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor, glory and might, forever and ever." :) It actually took me two readings through to see how this is relevant. But, I'd heard the phrase "under the earth" before, and didn't ever have it brought to my attention or ever knew what it meant. By interpretation, it could mean purgatory. Where else do you have people not in heaven, not on earth, and praising Jesus?

In further research, Revelation 21:27: "but nothing unclean will enter it (Heaven), nor any[one] who does abominable things or tells lies. Only those will enter whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life." So, How do you get into the book? Ask for it? And... become clean! Accepting Jesus is one half of what you need to do. Becoming clean, through suffering on Earth or in Purgatory, is the other half.

And I found many, many more verses here and more explanation, that, actually, puts mine to shame :). QED.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Saint (disambiguation)

So... what does a kid get told is a fun job to grow up to be? Doctor? Teacher? How about a saint?

Do YOU want to be a saint when you grow up? Why not?

Part of the Apostle's Creed says we believe in the communion of saints. That's not just the Saints that the Catholic Church has canonized. Anyone with sanctifying grace on Earth, everyone in Purgatory, and everyone in Heaven is part of the communion of saints. All of us on Earth have the name "the Church Militant" because we are the ones directly able to choose good over evil. Everyone in Purgatory has the name "the Church Suffering" because of the suffering those souls endure for purification before entering Heaven. Everyone in Heaven is part of "the Church Triumphant" because good has completely triumphed over evil there.

The Catholic Church, at the time of a person's death, teaches that no one can know where that person's soul has gone. If a Christian, we do not know whether the person has gone to Purgatory or to Heaven. We believe everyone who gets to heaven is a saint (little s) A person is declared (or canonized, which literally means "put into the calendar") a Saint (capital S) if he has lived an extremely virtuous life, has all his writings in communion with the Faith of the Church, and has had God show us that he is in Heaven, due to miracles done by requests to him.

Everything here is done for a reason. All research into a future Saint's life is done with the greatest skepticism. It was common practice for most Saints, that the investigation was not started until most everyone who had known the person had died, so that there would be no emotional attachment in the investigation. As for proof that the person Was Really in Heaven, the only "proof" possible is through miracles attributed to them. If someone asks for the prayers of the future Saint, and they are answered, then that means the future Saint is in a position to ask things of God, ie in Heaven.

Friday, June 18, 2010

A Better Thing to Imagine

Imagine there's a Heaven
You can get there if you try
The hell I shy from
Above us God made sky
Imagine all the people
Living His sacrifice

Imagine there's no hatred
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to steal or kill for
All share a religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in truth

You may say that I'm a Catholic
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no attachment to possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

You may say that I'm a Catholic
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one

Original Lyrics by John Lennon. Parody by

Thursday, June 17, 2010

..and ooh look there goes a butterfly *easily distracted*

In the beginning, I only wanted to find out the origin of 'nom' (as in om, nom, nom for eating) and got distracted by use of NOM to mean "New Order Mormons." I was curious, and discovered a website for Mormons who had nowhere to go when they questioned their faith. I really don't know anything about Mormons (officially the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints). I tried to learn more today though because it seemed like the questions the NOMs were raising could be easily asked by a Catholic as well. What is the original source of our faith and is it trustworthy? Is my church the One, True church? What do I do with people in my church who don't act Christian? How do I deal with a difference in religiousness between me and my husband/wife? If I am disillusioned by this church, is there truth anywhere?

So I went to go look for the Mormon answers... and I found the answers jumbled, contradictory, and evolving. Do the Mormons know what the Mormons believe and used to believe? Overall, from looking at the history of the church, Mormons believe that after the 12 Apostles died, no one had the authentic teachings of Jesus anymore, called the Great Apostasy. Joseph Smith Jr. wrote (upon inspiration from visions) the Book of Mormon in 1830 and founded the church to be the restoration of Jesus Christ's teachings. He is considered a prophet and created his own translation of the Bible which is considered to be the correct version, with all other translations holding errors. The Book of Mormon is sacred scripture as well, and holds no errors. From what I was able to find, The Book of Mormon talks about a history of peoples on the American continent and how when Jesus ascended in front of the Apostles, He descended again on the American continent and formed new apostles and gave more teachings to the inhabitants of America. This is interesting history, but it really doesn't explain LDS belief. Most of what I could find was either from LDS sites general ideas like that Mormons believe in strong families and that the Holy Spirit gives you love, joy, and peace if you accept their beliefs as true (without intending to limit the Holy Spirit's gifts, I personally appreciate the Catholic Church trying to say there is a way to know truth without emotions getting involved). So to be fair for stuff I am nowhere near educated enough on:

My side (that I grew up learning) is what the Catholic Church says to these questions. The original source of our faith and church is Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit has guided the church from the beginning so nothing has been lost or corrupted. Is it the one true church? Well, it is the completely true church, but it is not the only church that has truth. I would recommend this site: (the 'answering your questions tab is very nice)

In a search of similarities between Catholicism and Mormonism, i came up with a site that compared the relative similarity of beliefs... until it became clear that they were being compared in order to criticize both of them as being non-Christian cults. I was curious what they thought of the Catholic Church. It was sad to read. The entire beginning of the article was spurning any discussion between Catholicism and Fundamental Protestantism. They accuse the Church of completely being overtaken by Satan, and say that all of the doctrines defined later in history were invented at that time rather than being perpetual beliefs of the Church that had been challenged (and so, defined) at that time. Interestingly, the site describes its belief that Apostolic Tradition existed, but all tradition went into the Bible, so you can't claim anything as tradition but not in the Bible. Since that belief is not in the Bible (they didn't have any Bible quotes to back it up) it is changing the truth to what they want it to be. And I can't rationally argue them out of the emotional attachment to what they want. But I was sad that some Christians don't want to pursue a Christian unity. Yes, maybe that means coming back under the Catholic church... but if that's the truth, isn't that what's best? You bring what you hold as fundamental truth, and we bring what's ours, and it's mostly the same. But if you believe, like this site, that the Catholic Church is out to deceive you... what is the deception? And being insulting doesn't help make them Christians who love their enemies.

Saying that the Catholic Church will come to a compromise with other denominations in order to create a common church? Jesus wanted one Church, one Body... but isn't it also of most importance that it is the True Body, not a reformed or corrected or compromised Body?...and ooh look there goes a (metaphorical) butterfly, let's go chase it! *stream of consciousness/train of thought organization continues*

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Night Thoughts 2

I grew up thinking I was a failure because I never dated. It was a status thing. I thought that once someone started loving me, I would then feel like I was loveable. I could say in words that I was fine with just having amazing friendships... but my heart didn't feel that way.

Now that I'm in a relationship, I appreciate singleness more. And last night I just wanted to share that insight with other people i know that may not be able to have a boyfriend or girlfriend.

The difference between a really close friendship and a relationship is the increased inordinate amount of worrying you do over them. In dating, the physical side of the relationship (kissing/hugging/...) only drives you apart. The rest of the relationship is hours and hours spent talking to them & spending as much time as possible together. It's just, for someone you're dating, you worry & miss them when they're gone & doing other stuff.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Catholic Social Teaching != large government; social justice == ending abortion

I was listening to Catholic radio today, and was surprised to hear the host and guest discussing how the communist movement has become less revolutionary and now takes a tactic of infiltrating a country’s culture and education systems. The conversation then went into how incompatible the communist/socialist worldview is with Catholocism… which impressed me more. I do agree with this view…my surprise came at it being openly espoused on the radio other than on the Rush Limbaugh program.

I would like all Catholic Social Justice talks (it’s not called Service or Serving the Community now, it’s “Social Justice”) to mention the role of government in Social Justice, just to be clear that “assisting” is not the same as “doing it for you.” The first lets people keep their dignity & the second makes people lose their dignity. And, human dignity is the basis of Catholic Social Teaching, and the basis for human equality (not economics, like communism says).

The last social justice talk I heard also ignored the biggest social justice issue today: abortion. If there ever was a group that has no voice in their fate, it’s the unborn. If there’s a group that is ill educated in their choices if pregnant, it’s women. I fail to see how making a choice for abortion is a real choice if it is an ill informed choice. How many women really go into an abortion because they hate children and wish there were less of them in the world? A few, of course, but I doubt it’s anywhere near a majority. To quickly deal with abortion in the case of rape or incest, I don’t see why one trauma deserves another. The post abortion health problems: depression, guilt, sometimes inability to have future children, and an increased risk of cancer, are sometimes not even admitted to by promoters of abortion.

Abortion is hard on doctors as well. Doctors must either deny science, lie, and say that it’s not a baby, which is difficult because doctors deal in science in order to give the best medical advice based on facts. If the doctor does admit it’s a baby, he (which I will use until a neutral pronoun is created) must begin to not care about life & harden his heart. Also, it's a business. It is hard to think that Americans have an entire industry making lots of money off of killing millions of humans, but here we are. It's hard to be surprised that America (and many places in the world) are struggling to be above the population replacement level?

And from a Catholic Christian perspective that is bad. Very bad. The bible verse that was originally told to me as “They choose to blind themselves to the truth, and God lets them!”Since it’s always better to find the actual quote (and between different translations, it’s pretty much the same)

Ever since the creation of the world, his invisible attributes of eternal power and divinity have been able to be understood and perceived in what he has made. As a result, they have no excuse; for although they knew God they did not accord him glory as God or give him thanks. Instead, they became vain in their reasoning, and their senseless minds were darkened. While claiming to be wise, they became fools… Therefore, God handed them over to …for the mutual degradation of their bodies. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie… Therefore, God handed them over to degrading passions.” NAB Romans 1:20-26

All humans have dignity. And humanity begins when you have 46 chromosomes. To be compassionate, it’s best to educate women on the depression after abortion, the guilt, and the long term health risks of cancer. And a woman can’t make a real choice on abortion if she does not know that there are places that facilitate adoption, the different types of adoption, or places that help woman with money and supplies if they want to keep their baby. Finally, it is overlooked how much women are pressured into getting abortions by family members, school officials, or by the father of the baby. If abortion is a violent procedure, isn’t advising a woman to have one tantamount to advocating, in this case, violence against women? By women's liberation movement, they have enslaved themselves. True freedom, true choice, true wisdom: all of these result from accepting the dignity of all humans.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Definition of a Catholic

Catholic (noun): a person who tries to understand and follow Catholic beliefs in their daily life. Is it really fair to call yourself Catholic otherwise?

The Bible describes how God purifies us through suffering, like gold is purified in fire. We all have a weak point or an imperfection.To some, this evokes the question "How can God (if he exists and is good) allow this?

But, the desire to please God is itself a gift from God. God wants to give you the gift of His grace, and only in grace is there strength to live another day imperfect, but perfecting.

Praise Jesus, true source of Hope! Praise the Spirit, giver of the best gifts! Praise the Father for... being a father!

Night Thoughts 1

How could we ever choose God if we never had a choice put in front of us? How could we ever learn to trust God if we never had to suffer?

If God is good, how can He allow suffering? How can He allow cancer? How can He allow people to lose everything and live poor? How can he allow people to be born with mental illness, sexual illness, or physical disability?

From the Bible itself, how could God throw Adam and Eve out of the garden of Eden? How could God allow Job to lose everything, and not only lose everything but have his best friends come and lecture him? How could God allow Joseph son of Jacob to be sold into slavery, taken to a foreign land, and unjustly thrown into prison there? How could God ask Mary to be the mother of a child that would be seen as illegitimate, in a culture that would stone her to death? How could Jesus let himself and most all of his closest friends and followers be killed and martyred?

Didn't God love them?

To quote Star Wars: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view"

Where suffering comes from is a complex question, that I don't even understand. In simplest terms, suffering is the result of a turning away from God. It's not only your turning away but you are also affected by Adam and Eve's turning away, other people's turning away and by Satan's turning away.

What you do with suffering depends greatly on our point of view. To ask God why He allows suffering is one response to suffering. It rejects the suffering and does not get anything in the end except resentment toward God and a lack of trust in Him.

The other point of view is that suffering is a blessing. For me, I tend to forget to talk to God in good times and more remember to talk to God when I'm not feeling well. How can you ask God for grace to get through something if getting through it is easy for you? God takes us where we are and as we are. There is hope in this point of view because there is trust in God. Trust that God will use the suffering to help us become His people and suffering to help others. In this point of view, it is a great blessing to be poor, to be martyred, to be given a desire to do evil, or to be sick. The only place to turn is God.

Suffering is not fun & I don't want to say suffering is a good thing in itself. But changes cause suffering, and if you want to change then you must get through the suffering to get there. The Marines have a saying "Pain is Weakness leaving the Body." Well... suffering is leaving your self-centeredness and becoming God-centered. Suffering is self-centeredness leaving the body. If I have the right attitude about it.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Faith not Works?

My opinion is like C. S. Lewis's in Mere Christianity : arguing whether faith or works is more important is like arguing which side of a pair of scissors is more important.

But the second reading at Mass today was Galatians 2:16,19-21 (11th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C)

"Brothers and Sisters:
We who know that a person is not justified by works of the law
but through faith in Jesus Christ,
even we have believed in Christ Jesus
that we may be justified by faith in Christ
and not by works of the law,
because by works of the law no one will be justified.
For through the law I died to the law,
that I might live for God.
I have been crucified with Christ;
yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me;
insofar as I now live in the flesh,
I live by faith in the Son of God
who has loved me and given himself up for me.
I do not nullify the grace of God;
for if justification comes through the law,
then Christ died for nothing. "

One stereotype is that Catholic Christians think that if they follow "the law" then they will be saved. The other stereotype is that Protestant Christians think that all they have to do in life is think they believe in Jesus and that's all they need to do to go to heaven.

I know the first one isn't true, as evidenced by this passage, and I hope the second one isn't either.

Today's context for this passage was a first reading from Samuel 2 and a Gospel from Luke. In Samuel, King David repented and God forgave him his adultery and murder. In the Gospel, Jesus is eating at the house of Simon the Pharisee, where a sinful woman comes and cleans, kisses and perfumes Jesus's feet. I don't know whether Jesus was mind reading or had really good ears, but he hears Simon's rejection of the woman. Jesus then proposes that the woman, though a sinner, is more welcoming to him than Simon was, and tells a parable: two men were forgiven of their debt, and the one who was forgiven more loves more.

All three passages have the same theme: God's forgiveness.
When King David repents, "The Lord on his part had forgiven (his) sin: (he) shall not die"
Paul says "I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me."
Jesus says "Her many sins have been forgiven because she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little"

This is nice to say, but what does it mean? What does Paul mean?
The passage's context was Paul writing to the Galatians, a community that had many converts from Judaism. Understandably, they wanted to continue following Jewish/Mosaic Law, and wanted the Gentile converts to follow it as well. This is the "works of the law" that Paul means. Paul wants to make it very clear that salvation is through Jesus rather than through following Jewish practices (especially circumcision).

Maybe defining some words would help:
works of the law: the old Jewish law, circumcision, dietary restrictions, etc...
justification: becoming just, being saved
love: actions that put others before yourself
Christ lives in me/live for God: following Jesus's teachings/imitating Jesus

If Paul is living for God, then he is following what Jesus taught, which, as shown in the Gospels was a new commandment: that they should love one another. To follow this you must die to the old law of "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth." In the end, Paul makes sense when he says that if this old law justified you/if it "saved" you, then there was no need for Jesus to bring the new law, and there was no need for Him to die on the cross for forgiveness of sins. Paul both has faith in forgiveness of sins from Jesus's death and imitates being "crucified with Christ." Is it too much of a stretch to say Paul sees these as the same thing?

Jesus says in the Gospel "her many sins have been forgiven because she has shown great love" and "your faith has saved you; go in peace". To Jesus, showing great love and faith are synonymous. I would say these are the same things as works and faith. If you are forgiven by God, then you are justified; you are saved.

Math! if great love (or works)=forgiven and forgiven=saved then works=saved
and Jesus said faith=saved, so faith=works.

Welcome to my blog!

Welcome to Ancient Doors. The title comes from Psalm 24: "O gates, lift high your heads; grow higher ancient doors. Let him enter, the king of glory!" For me, the Catholic Church and the Faith is the "ancient door" to the truth of how God set the world to run. "Liturgical junkie" is a phrase I got from a homily that fit me so well I adopted it. I plan use this blog as a release for my thoughts and insights on Catholicism that are getting kinda crowded in my head. :) Enjoy!