Apologetics

Why Are We Catholic?

by Steve Ray on September 22, 2017

This excellent little summary was prepared by the Faith Formation ministry in Escanaba Michigan and sent to me by Mike Cousineau. Enjoy and be challenged and edified. Sent it to a friend who needs to read it.

1.  St. Cyprian of Carthage, martyr & Bishop, wrote in 249 AD, “He who would have God as his Father must have the Church as his Mother.”

2.  Without the Catholic Church, there is no salvation.  All Protestant Christians, whether they believe it or not, are Christians because the Catholic Church exists.  Jesus prayed what is called the High Priestly Prayer in John, Chapter 17, when He said, “I pray that they are one Father, just as you and I are one.”  In the simplest terms, all Protestant Christians are wayward Catholics.  This statement would infuriate most Protestants.  That does not make this objective fact any less true.  We all have believed something, thinking it is true, only to find we have been misinformed.  Such is the case for every Protestant believer who thinks their denomination speaks nothing but truth.

3.  What happened?  Christian unity, as Jesus would have it, has fallen a long way from when the 12 Apostles were given the charge of going out to make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  To be clear about how difficult unity is to achieve, the Catholic Church has had many of its members disagree with certain doctrines of the Church.  The unity problem has always been real, which is always the reason for calling Church Councils, thus making many declarations of faith, known as Church Dogmas.  Dogma is a fancy word for a set of principles laid down by an authority that is incontrovertibly true.  There are 255 infallibly declared dogmas of the Catholic Church.

4.  How long did it take for a difference of opinion to filter into the newly formed Christian way of life?  We know from scripture it happened and it happened too often, resulting in the need for written instruction given to the Church by inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  Jesus said to His disciples, “teach them all that I have taught you.”  Yet, as we know, people don’t like submitting to someone else.  Most people prefer to “be in charge” and that form of pride has resulted in differences of opinion, many times resulting in severe spiritual disagreements.

5.  Knowing spiritual disagreements would enter the Church, Jesus put a plan in place.  The plan included a hierarchy, with Peter in charge, as he was the Apostle given the keys to the kingdom.  Whatever the Church bound on earth was bound in heaven, whatever the Church loosed on earth was loosed in heaven.  Peter was the rock on which the Church was built.  Further, Jesus said He would be with he Church always & the gates of hell would not prevail against His Church.  It should be noted, given the nature of man, it seems God could have come up with a better plan.

6.  Did Jesus really want and expect the Church to remain as one, with disagreements settled through church authority? …

For all 20 reasons we are Catholic, click HERE for the full document.

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He said, “You know you’re going to hell, right!”

by Steve Ray on September 11, 2017

As we entered the Luther Museum in Luther’s childhood hometown of Mansfeld a group of American Lutherans were leaving. They were all excited at first to meet Americans and asked where we were from. I said we were from all across the country.

He then asked what Lutheran Synod we were from and I told him we were not Lutherans but Catholics. He acted shocked as did his people.

I told him that many of us had been Protestants and we are now Catholics. He looked me in the eye and said, “You know you’re going to hell, right?”

I said that he was incorrect and when I was Protestant I used to think the same way about Catholics. I said most of us were Protestant and we had converted to the Catholic Church. He was angry and walked away.

But a lady with their group snidely said, “Maybe after you visit all these places you’ll become Lutheran.” I said, “Give me 1/2 hour with your group outside and I’ll convince you all to become Catholics.”

Our group could not believe how rude they had been but I understood their mentality completely because I used to bo one of them.

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Nine Truths about Purgatory: What Catholics need to know about the ‘anteroom of heaven’

By Emily Stimpson – OSV Newsweekly, 9/29/2013

(Steve Ray’s article on Purgatory HERE)

Some fear it. Others hope for it. Some see it as proof of God’s mercy; others as testimony to God’s wrath. Many don’t know anything about it, while many more have forgotten what they once knew.

The “it” is purgatory, and when it comes to Catholic beliefs about the afterlife, the Church’s teachings on purgatory have long been among its most contested and misunderstood.

Yet, despite all the confusion, the teachings themselves aren’t that complicated. At their most basic, they can be boiled down to nine essential truths — truths that not only illuminate the Church’s doctrine, but also reveal the eternal significance of those teachings for us and those we’ve lost.

So, what are those essentials?

1. Purgatory exists.

That may seem like stating the obvious, but for some Catholics, purgatory has become what pastor, author and blogger Father Dwight Longenecker called “the forgotten doctrine.”

“Many modern Catholics don’t know what purgatory is anymore,” said Father Longenecker, who blogs at Standing On My Head. “They’ve bought into the idea that sin has no consequences, that everyone goes to heaven because God is too nice to send anyone anywhere else.”

The Church’s doctrine on purgatory, however, proclaims the opposite. It reminds us that sin does have consequences — eternal ones — and that while God is Love, he still honors the free choices made by men and women.

“That’s the terrifying compliment God pays the creature,” said Dr. Regis Martin, professor of theology at Franciscan University and author of “Still Point: Loss, Longing, and Love of God” (Ave Maria, $11.95). “He takes seriously the freedom we exercise, even if it carries us straight into hell.”

That being said, he continued, “While hopefully few of us are so wicked that we would choose to be wretched forever without God, not many of us are so pure that we can be catapulted straight into the arms of God. Most of us are somewhere in between.”

Hence the need for purgatory — the final purification of those who die in friendship with God but who haven’t fully broken their attachment to sin or atoned for wrongs done in this life.

“When we stand before Christ the Judge, all the compromises we’ve made, all the gray areas into which our choices led us, have to be accounted for,” said Martin. “We’ve got to square accounts with the Judge.”

2. Purgatory isn’t merely a punishment.

It’s a merciful gift and a testimony to God’s love.

“Sometimes, people hear about the sufferings of the souls in purgatory and they think suffering is the desire of a vindictive God, a God who wants his pound of flesh,” said Robert Corzine, vice president for Programs and Development at the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology.

“But that’s not the case at all,” he continued. “God forgives us immediately when we ask. The role of suffering is to undo the damage we’ve done. It’s God the Healer applying the remedy to make us perfect images of Christ.”

And perfect images of Christ is exactly what God calls each of us to become.

According to the Catholic doctrine of salvation, God doesn’t simply desire to save us from hell — from a state of eternal separation from him. More fundamentally, he desires to save us from sin, from being anything less than the men and women he created us to be.

“God is like a great heart surgeon, trying to give us the new hearts we need,” Corzine said. “But we keep flopping around on the table, moving away from the knife. Death then is like the anesthetic. In purgatory, we’re no longer able to resist the healing we need, and he can finish the task he began during our lifetime.”

3. The suffering endured by souls in purgatory isn’t physical pain.

Through the centuries, artists striving to convey the sufferings of purgatory have depicted men and women tormented by a burning fire. But those illustrations aren’t a literal representation of the goings-on in the purgative state. They can’t be. In purgatory, the soul remains separated from its body, so it can only suffer spiritually, not physically.

Worshippers walk past a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe during a Good Friday pilgrimage in Ranchos de Taos, N.M., March 29. CNS photo from Reuters

That’s not to say, however, that the flames of purgatory aren’t real. They are.

“The fire by which we’re purified is an interior burning for the love of God,” explained Susan Tassone, author of seven books on purgatory, including “Prayers, Promises, and Devotions for Holy Souls in Purgatory” (OSV, $9.95). “Immediately after their death, the souls in purgatory saw God in all his glory. They saw his love, his goodness, and the plans he had for us. And they yearn for that. They burn for it, with a yearning that surpasses the heat of any earthly fire.”

In other words, the primary pain endured by those in purgatory is the loss of the sight of God. They suffer from what Tassone called, “a spiritual fever.”

As that fever rages, it separates the soul from sin, a process almost equally painful.

“To the extent we’re attached to our sin, becoming detached from it hurts,” said Corzine. “Seeing it in all its horror — how it wounded us and wounded others, how it led us away from God’s perfect plan — no physical flames could be as painful as that.”

4. The souls in purgatory experience joy, as well as pain.

In the “Divine Comedy,” as Dante makes his way through purgatory, the souls he encounters suffer, but unlike the souls he met in hell, they suffer willingly and gladly, with no self-pity and always eager to return to their sufferings when Dante’s questions cease.

Visit a loved one’s grave and say a brief prayer for them. Thinkstock

In their eagerness, those fictional souls testify to the enduring Catholic teaching that purgatory isn’t the outermost room of hell, but rather the anteroom of heaven. Every soul in purgatory is bound for glory. Their fate has been sealed, and ultimately it’s a blessed fate. Therefore, the time they spend in purgatory, whether short or long, is a time marked not only by suffering, but also by joy.

“Anything worthwhile requires pain to make progress, but it’s pain with a reward at the end,” said Father Longenecker. “Sometimes, it helps to think of purgatory like the process of getting physically fit. There’s pain, but it’s a sign of progress. It means you’re on the road to where you eventually want to be. That makes it a joyful pain.”

5. Our prayers for the dead matter eternally.

The souls in purgatory may be bound for glory, but the process of purgation still can be long and painful. Save for humbly submitting to the purifying fire of Christ’s love, there’s nothing those souls can do to speed up the process or mitigate the pain.

That’s where we come in.

“We need to be greedy for graces for the souls in purgatory,” said Tassone. “When the soul leaves the body, the time for merit is up. The soul is helpless. That’s why they need our prayers — the Rosary, adoration, the Way of the Cross and, most of all, the Mass. The Masses we have offered for the souls in purgatory are the best thing we can do for our beloved dead. That’s because the Mass is the highest form of worship, the highest form of prayer.”

“It really is one of the most consoling doctrines of the Church,” added Martin. “None of us stands alone. We stand on the shoulders of giants, the foremost giant being Christ. Our sufferings and sacrifices can be parlayed into actual assistance for the holy souls because of his suffering and sacrifice.”

In many ways, he continued, our relationship to those in purgatory is simply an extension of “the logic of love,” where “You extend yourself so that another might have an easier time of it. And that principle isn’t bound by death.”

It’s also not bound by time. The Church teaches that purgatory operates outside of space and time as we on earth experience it. Which means we should never stop praying for those we’ve lost.

“No prayer is ever wasted,” Tassone said. “The prayers we pray for our loved ones throughout the entirety of our lives play a part in helping them enter into heaven.”

6. The holy souls intercede for us.

The souls in purgatory can’t do anything for themselves, but the Church has long believed that they can do something for us: They can pray for us, helping obtain for us the graces we need to follow Christ more perfectly.

“We have such great intercessors in the holy souls,” said Tassone. “They’re interested in our salvation. They want to help ensure that we understand the malice of sin and the importance of conforming our lives to God’s will, so that we can go straight to heaven when we die.”

The same is doubly true, she continued, of the souls now in heaven, whom our prayers helped.

“Those souls become like our second guardian angels, taking us under their wing,” she explained. “That’s because the gift we helped give them was the Beatific Vision, which is the greatest gift of all.”

7. The Church’s teachings on purgatory are rooted in Scripture.

If you’re looking for scriptural evidence for purgatory, start in the Second Book of Maccabees (12:45), where Judas Maccabee orders prayers and sacrifices for fallen soldiers who committed idolatry shortly before their death.

“Their beseeching implies there is hope even beyond the grave for those who defiled themselves,” Martin said.

In the New Testament, St. Paul likewise hints at the cleansing fires of purgatory when he writes, “If any man’s work is burned up he will suffer loss though he himself will be saved” (1 Cor 3:12-15). He also seemingly prays for the soul of Onesiphorus in 2 Timothy 1:18.

Moreover, according to Corzine, the existence of purgatory is the only way to make sense of scriptural assertions such as, “No unclean thing will enter [heaven]” (Rv 21:27), as well as commands like “Be perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt 5:48).

“Logic demands purgatory,” Corzine said. “Without some process of purification after death, the population of heaven would be infinitesimally small, comprised of only the few who allow God to perfect them in this life.”

8. Purgatory wasn’t an invention of the medieval Church.

Have 30 days of Gregorian Masses celebrated for loved ones through the Pious Union of St. Joseph (piousunionofstjoseph.org) or other missionary orders that offer this ministry. Thinkstock

Although the Church didn’t begin to officially define the doctrine of purgatory until the high Middle Ages (starting at the Second Council of Lyons in 1274), the belief in a purgative state after death is as old as the Church itself.

“The uninterrupted witness of Church history tells us that Christians have always prayed for their dead,” said Corzine. “Even before people used the word ‘purgatory,’ they recognized the need to offer up prayers and have Masses said for those who’ve left this life.”

That uninterrupted witness includes the writings of Church Fathers and Doctors from the first century onward. It also includes records of Catholics commemorating the anniversaries of departed loved ones with Masses and prayers, the inclusion of burying the dead among the spiritual works of mercy, and centuries of Christians who left money in their wills for Masses to be said for their souls.

Said Corzine, “Since the damned cannot benefit by our prayers and the blessed in heaven have no need for our prayers, that enduring witness implies another place or state where souls exist who can benefit from them.”

9. Purgatory is like spiritual summer school.

How’s that?

To start with, just as sitting in a classroom during January is easier than sitting in a classroom during July, doing the suffering and sacrificing it takes to grow in holiness is easier on earth than it is in purgatory.

In part, that’s because “on earth we still have our physical bodies,” Father Longenecker said.

“Our task is to become conformed to Christ,” Father Longenecker told OSV. “That’s a task we’re supposed to do here, and it’s a task for which we’re supposed to use our bodies. It has a physical dimension to it.”

Which is to say, with our bodies we can do good works that break us of attachments to sin and self. We can take a meal to the new mom across the street, buy a coffee for the homeless guy downtown, fast from chocolate for all of Lent, and go on pilgrimages to holy places. Without a body, all those corporal works of mercy — all those ways of loving and serving others, as well as atoning for sin — are impossible.

Even more fundamentally, purgatory is like summer school because, just like summer school, no one has to go there.

“Purgatory is not supposed to be the norm,” concluded Corzine. “God gives each and every one of us all the graces we need in this life to become saints. We can do all the work necessary to become holy here. We just need to make use of the graces he gives us now.”

Emily Stimpson is an OSV contributor. If you like this article, you can sign up for future articles.

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“Call No Man Your Father”

September 2, 2017

Why do Catholics call their priests “Father” when Jesus said, “Call no man your father.” If you haven’t heard this question yet, some day you certainly will. We must understand what Jesus was saying and why he was saying it in order to understand his words. I was asked this question again and here is […]

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Mary, Queen of Heaven

August 22, 2017

A while ago a man called in to say my argument for the Assumption of Mary including references from the Old Testament was wrong. I had quoted 1 Kings 2:19 where Solomon had raised his mother up to a throne on his right hand to reign as Queen of the Kingdom. The man arguing with me […]

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My Response: Defending the Assumption & Queenship of Mary

August 15, 2017

Reposting a blog on Assumption I wrote ten years ago. Link to my long defense is here. The Assumption of Mary always ruffles the feathers of anti-Catholics. I understand why. I used to be in their camp — I joined them in lockstep chanting the same slogans and mantras against “Catholic Tradition” and “man-made dogmas.” But […]

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Seven Rules for Dealing with Non-Catholic Family and Friends

July 12, 2017

This is always an interesting topic that floods the phone lines. I was on Son Rise Morning Show today on this topic so I reposted by popular request discussing how we as Catholics can relate to and influence our family and friends. Ready to go! Family life can cause tension and strife among families. How […]

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The Bible out of Context: “Saved by Faith Alone”?

July 4, 2017

When reading the Bible devoid of its historical and textual context, there is no context except the context which any person might supply for it. or put otherwise, A text without a context is a pretext. I always get frustrated when self-proclaimed Bible students or teachers start pontificating about the meaning of the Bible and […]

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Prepare for the Skyline of the Future: Islam!

July 1, 2017

I wrote this about two years ago while in Adana Turkey and thought it worthy to post again, especially since I am seeing it again, everywhere I go in the world. I my country hometown in Michigan the Muslims have built the largest mosque in America. But I shouldn’t get ahead of my story. Europe […]

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Holy Father – is he Holy?

June 29, 2017

A young man stood up at my conference in the Philippines a while ago and parroted (yelled out) the Fundamentalist mantra: “The Pope is a sinner like everyone else; why do you call him ‘HOLY Father’?” I leaned into the microphone and said to the young man in front of 2,000 people, “You should really […]

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St. Paul did not Write to Us!

June 28, 2017

When arguments about salvation arise between Catholics and Protestants, the Bibles are usually opened to Galatians and Romans. Are we saved by faith alone or are works involved? Protestants quickly accuse Catholics of teaching a salvation based on works and Catholics quickly point out that Protestants have swung the pendulum too far in the other […]

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Pastor Bob “Preaches the Word” (Discussing A Sermon on Baptism)

June 27, 2017

Pastor Bob Preaches The Word (or does he?) By Steve Ray Josh left Sunday services full of excitement, anxious to discuss Pastor Bob’s sermon with his sister Jennifer who had recently converted to the Catholic Church. The pastor had explained how salvation was by “faith alone” and not by rituals and works. He was anxious […]

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Does John 3:16 Teach “Faith Alone”? (Link fixed)

June 22, 2017

 My mother asked me, “How would you like fifty cents?” I quickly responded, “I would like it very much.” What a silly question to ask an seven year old. Of course I would like fifty cents. Fifty cents was a lot of money when I was a little boy. My mother continued, “Here is a […]

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Do Catholics Worship Mary?

June 20, 2017

In response to the show I did with Drew Mariani on Relevant Radio: I thought it would be a good time to respond to an e-mail I received a while ago. It was a questions from a friend wrote to ask me for my take on Mary. He was corresponding with someone that said Catholics […]

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Were the Bereans “Bible Alone”?

June 6, 2017

Since we were in Thessalonki a while ago, just a few miles from Berea (which I have visited a number of times) I thought I’d share my argument which turns the PROTESTant idea of “sola Scriptura” on its head. You know, many Protestents appeal to the Bereans as proof of their false doctrine. Regarding the […]

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Interesting Explanation of Baptism from Protestant Dictionary – “baptism…in itself is unimportant”

May 25, 2017

I was looking up Greek definitions of the word baptism and found this interesting “definition.” This dictionary is usually very good but I found this summary of biblical passages on baptism very intriguing and disingenuous. Take a look at this definition and think about it for yourself. Analyze it and the verses used. Notice how they […]

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