How Firm a Foundation

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I was lying in bed last night praying and listening to the Rosary on EWTN radio online. When it was done I was thinking about the past few months since I surrendered to the Lord’s will and rejoined the Catholic Church.

I was thinking about how long it had been since I had regularly prayed or read the Bible. Since I have come back into the fold, I have found that I spend a lot of my time in prayer.

I know that that is my own fault, but I’ve come to realize that EvaAnabaptimentalism doesn’t really make it any easier. By having no accountability to anyone except God alone, it’s easy to put Him on a shelf, along with our Bible, and forget He’s there. Later we feel guilty that we haven’t prayed all week long, even though we meant to, and told others that we would pray for them. We go to church and look for our Bible and realize that it is sitting in the same place that we left it last week when we got home from church.

But the Catholic Church, by making us accountable to the local priest, by obligating us to go to Mass every week, by making Mass about worship instead of listening to someone talk, by providing prescribed prayers to say throughout the day, having rosaries and medals in our pockets, by hearing with our own ears by Christ’s own representative on earth that our sins are forgiven, keeps Jesus at the forefront of our minds all the time.

I also thought about how different the attitudes are of people to go to church (Protestant churches), and people who go to Mass. At church people will be talking and laughing until the music starts and even then it takes a couple of minutes for people to be quiet. People in the narthex/foyer who have been socializing begin to take their seats.

At Mass, we come in and are immediately introspective and reverent in our attitude about where we are. We sign ourselves with holy water, genuflect before Christ, and immediately kneel to pray and prepare ourselves for worship and to partake of Christ’s sacrifice. We can socialize later. Now it’s time for God. Everything else can wait.

The difference is Christ’s physical presence in the form of the Eucharist present in the Tabernacle at the altar. Candles are burning as prayers to God and usually at least one is burning all the time. When you walk into a Catholic church, even if you are the only person there, there is already something going on. Worship is taking pace. You are walking on holy ground. Immediately I think of the great hymn:

Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
And with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly minded,
For with blessing in His hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth,
Our full homage to demand.

King of kings, yet born of Mary,
As of old on earth He stood,
Lord of lords, in human vesture,
In the body and the blood;
He will give to all the faithful
His own self for heavenly food.

Rank on rank the host of heaven
Spreads its vanguard on the way,
As the Light of light descendeth
From the realms of endless day,
That the powers of hell may vanish
As the darkness clears away.

At His feet the six winged seraph,
Cherubim with sleepless eye,
Veil their faces to the presence,
As with ceaseless voice they cry:
Alleluia, Alleluia
Alleluia, Lord Most High!

I don’t mean to disparage here the faith of anyone who is not Catholic. I have known a lot of good, reverent Protestants who are dedicated to daily prayer and Bible reading. Maybe it’s more a reflection on the way that I was than anything else.

I have never been so awed by the presence of God. It’s like for so many years I was swimming in a lake, having a good ol’ time enjoying the weather and the sunshine. Then someone came along and gave me some scuba gear. I then realized that everything I knew was only on the surface. There was a whole other world right below me that I didn’t know existed.

The Catholic Church is like that. Instead of being founded on someone’s interpretation of the Bible that he came up with only last Tuesday, it is firmly planted in history and tradition. Jesus said it pretty well. Whether you are talking about Jonathan Edwards, John Piper, or Billy Graham; Protestantism is built on the shifting sands of personal interpretations of the Bible, blown about by winds of doctrine—whereas, the Catholic faith is built on the firm foundation of Christ’s own body and blood, with the authority that He personally handed down to Peter and the apostles and on down to today.

Protestants, Catholics, and the “literal” interpretation of the Bible

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I really don’t understand why Evangelicals claim to believe in the literal interpretation of Scripture. It is certainly not true. A literal interpretation would mean that they would have to believe that:

  • Baptism is essential for salvation
  • Babies can, and should be baptized
  • Salvation can be lost
  • The bread and the wine at Communion actually become the Body and Blood of the Lord
  • Peter was ordained by Jesus himself as the earthly head of the Church
  • That there is one, and only one, Church ordained of God
  • Groups that splinter from the Church are outside of God’s will
  • That Purgatory is real

The only way that you can NOT believe in these doctrines/dogmas is to take the literal truth of Scripture and explain it away somehow. This is often done by taking verses out of context. It is done by saying that Jesus did not mean what he said. Instead he was only speaking symbolically or figuratively. It is also done by rewriting history, saying that the early Church believed as they do currently.

The truth is, the Evangelical position did not exist until Martin Luther and after. Even then, Luther himself still accepted most of these as truth.

Addendum: 5/1/2008 – I just wanted to point out that in writing this post, I did not mean to sound like Catholicism teaches a literal interpretation of Scripture. I was only commenting on those who say that they do, yet do not.

Our Lady of Guadalupe

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Often Protestants, in an effort to completely separate themselves from everything that even appears Catholic, overlook historical events that are the Providence of God made manifest. This is one of the reasons that Protestants are missing the fullness of God’s revelation.

One of these is Mary, in the form of the Holy Virgin of Guadalupe. The story of Our Lady is a story of the largest conversion from paganism to Christianity that the world has ever experienced.

If you saw Mel Gibson’s Apocalypo you can see what the Aztec religion was like. It was polytheistic, and to maintain control over the other tribes, they would conquer them then sacrifice alive as much as 20,000 men every day. The sacrifices were brutal, including ripping a man’s heart out of his chest and eating it in front of him before he had a chance to die.

Within ten years of Cortes’ conquest, very few had converted to Christianity. The people still had a fear of what would happen to them if they abandoned their former gods. They also saw a big inconsistency with the lifestyles of the conquistadores and the lifestyle that was preached.

Mary appeared to Juan Diego, and performed the miracle of the roses and her image appeared on his tilma (poncho). After the people saw incontrovertible proof of the Providence of God, they began paying attention to the Gospel. News of Christianity spread like wild fire, and within a span of a couple of years, over 9,000,000 (that’s not a typo!) people abandoned the pagan religion, and embraced Catholic Christianity.

This one incident completely obliterated the disgusting practices of the Aztec people.

For more details of this well-documented historical event go to http://www.sancta.org/intro.html