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    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

  • The blog header depicts an important and yet mis-understood New Testament scene, Jesus flogging the money-changers out of the temple. I selected it because the faith that gives us consolation can also make us very uncomfortable. Both Divine Mercy and Divine Justice meet in Jesus. Priests are ministers of reconciliation, but never at the cost of truth. In or out of season, we must be courageous in preaching and living out the Gospel of Life. The title of my blog is a play on words, not Flogger Priest but Blogger Priest.

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Another Attack Against Catholicism

CHARISSE:

And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come. (John 2:1-4)

Jesus mildly rebuked Mary for trying to command him. It shows that Mary is not perfect and she had no right to interfere in His business. Jesus honored her anyway to fulfill the commandments He gave to Moses.

FATHER JOE:  Mary is “the Woman” and she does not argue with Jesus.  She tells the steward to do as Jesus says; she knows there will be no debate.  Such reminds us of the power of prayer.  Mary asks and she receives.  There is no rebuke of Mary.  You merely fail to appreciate a manner of speech.  Jesus will again call her “Woman” on the hill of Calvary.  She is the Woman, the new Eve, and at the Cross, the Mother of the Redeemer becomes the Mother of all the redeemed.

CHARISSE:

But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. (Matthew 6:7)

Why do priest advise repetitive prayers, when it says here not to? “Our Father” prayer is a model for praying but should not be prayed like a mantra. Prayer loses its meaning when you do so.

FATHER JOE:  Ridiculous!  Our Lord was criticizing the repetitious nonsense words recited by certain pagans.  They wrongly thought that if they stumbled upon a deity’s secret name they might have some power over him.  Catholic prayers are not gibberish.  Others thought that with accolades they might bargain with God.  This is also foolishness.  God is sovereign and he holds all the cards.  Catholics repeat certain prayers (like the Hail Mary) as elements of meditation.  It also acknowledges that we are creatures who live in time.  Each moment is an opportunity for “becoming” and grace.  The Lord’s Prayer constitutes the very words of Jesus and his word never grows old or forfeits its power.  It also gives us a pattern of prayer.  Repetition in itself is not bad, like breathing and the heart beating; when it stops, we die.  Some repetition is a good thing.

CHARISSE:

He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. (Mark 7:6-9)

The Catholic Church (and many other religions) have more tradition and commandments of men than of God.

FATHER JOE:  I cannot speak for other religions, but Catholics have a sound appreciation of the sources of revelation.  The Bible itself emerged from the adoption of the Hebrew Scriptures and an oral and written tradition.  Letters and books were collected.  The Church was preaching and worshipping even before we had a completely compiled and/or authored Bible.  This Sacred Tradition continues to this very day.  The commandments of God are combined with the laws of his Church, providing order and guidance to men.  Christ gave his shepherds the authority to loosen and to bind.

CHARISSE:  As for the rosary and purgatory, it is not in the Bible unless the Bible you have is altered.

FATHER JOE:  The Catholic Church is the Mother of the Bible.  You would have no New Testament without her.  Purgation reflects the mercy of God and reflects the Jewish practice of praying for the dead (see 2nd Maccabees).  But maybe you cannot, because you are the one with an abbreviated or incomplete Bible.  As for the Rosary, it is simply a manner of prayer.  Most of the meditations of the Rosary are mysteries from Scripture.  But I doubt you give much time to pondering such things given that you are more about attacking the faith of others than building up your own.

CHARISSE: Buddhism has prayer beads too and do their prayers as mantra or chants.

FATHER JOE:  And Islam has the Koran.  Critics might compare it to our Bible and argue that both camps are misguided to trust in holy books.  Similarities mean nothing in this context.  The trouble is that you are so closed-minded and such a reductionist that you will grasp at straws to attack the Catholic Church.  It is a terrible sign of your spiritual impoverishment.

CHARISSE: Also once you’re dead, you are dead.  There is no purgatory or second chances.

FATHER JOE:  You do not even understand what you ridicule.  Purgatory is NOT a second chance.  If you have damned yourself then you are destined for hell— the end of the story.  All the souls of Purgatory are going to heaven.  Purgatory is a purging or healing as they approach the throne of God.  They are perfected by the fire of God’s love.  Sinners must be more than forgiven, they must be changed.

CHARISSE:  When you pray for the souls of the dead, it has no effect and you become like the pagans that do the same. You have only one life to live here on earth, and after that it’s either life everlasting in God’s kingdom or eternal death.

FATHER JOE:  We pray for the dead so that we might join our love to that of God for our beloved dead.  Prayers will not rescue the damned.  Once they enter heaven, they have no more need of our prayers.  However, we do ask the heavenly saints to intercede or pray for us.  The reason you fail to appreciate this stems from two things:  (1) a faulty view of justification and (2) a negligible understanding of the Church and the communion of the saints.  We are a community.  We do not come to God alone.  At the final consummation there will be two realities, heaven and hell.  Believers hope to live with God forever in the heavenly Jerusalem.

CHARISSE:

Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. (John 3:3)

People are born of sin because of the sin Adam and Eve committed; it is not because of your profession, or ceremonies you do, or privileges of birth, or whether you were raised from a Christian family or not, or how religious you are that you are saved.

FATHER JOE:  We are conceived with original sin.  Through faith and baptism we are regenerated, born again, made into a new creation.  The sacraments of the Church are a way in which we enter into the mystery of salvation.  We encounter our saving Lord through the proclamation of faith and in the body of the Church.  Christ has redeemed us.  As Christians we live in the “real and certain” hope of our salvation.

CHARISSE:  It is by the mercy and grace of God that when you yourself decide to follow Him & accept Him as your ONLY Lord and savior, that he changes your heart and life. That is when you are baptized & given salvation, and not the baptism you were given when you were a baby. The baptism you take in flesh as an adult is a symbol of you being born again, and the actual baptism is when the Holy Spirit changes you inwardly.

FATHER JOE:  Our Lord speaks about a Church and obedience.  Saving faith is not merely a verbal profession or a private activity.  Catholics acknowledge the whole truth that we need both a personal and a corporate relationship with Christ.  You would make baptism optional or even something readily dismissed.  Philip did not think so when he baptized the Ethiopian eunuch.  It amazes me how some can so privatize faith when the Scriptures speak throughout about the Church.  At Pentecost the Spirit of God did not come upon one individual, but upon many.  It is a gift given to the Church.  The Holy Spirit makes conversion and faith possible.  The Holy Spirit inspires the Scriptures, protects the Church’s shepherds in the truth and gives efficacy to the sacraments.  You would deny this work of the Spirit over the living Church where he continues to abide.

CHARISSE:  So unless you are born again as it says in the Scripture, you will not see the kingdom of God, nor if you knowingly and continue to sin after being born again. But Catholics do not even emphasize that in their teaching.

FATHER JOE:  You know nothing about Catholic teaching.  We are cognizant that faith can sour.  We urge fidelity and obedience to God.  We ask for God’s mercy when we sin and we have the wonderful sacrament of Penance where we receive absolution, the mercy of Christ.

CHARISSE:  Now I see on Facebook going around my Catholic relatives to pray to St. Michael, the archangel, to protect the conclave.

FATHER JOE:  The angels are about the business of God.  St. Michael is regarded as one who has been given a measure of power over Satan.  It makes sense that his intercession might be sought in these perilous times.  But, whatever happens, we trust the guiding presence of the Holy Spirit to safeguard the Church.

CHARISSE:  God is a jealous God. No matter how you say that the prayers are directed to God, you are still praying to those who are not God, when there is no mediator but Jesus who is God.

FATHER JOE:  No, you are quite wrong.  All prayer, even intercessory prayer, has as its proper object, almighty God.  We ask the saints to pray for and with us.  Again, this is an expression of our corporate faith and union.  Christ is still the Mediator between heaven and earth.  Christ is still the sin-offering that purchased us at a great price.

CHARISSE:  I hope you are certain about what you preach because those who lead the people will have a great responsibility to God, for they are responsible in leading them to either God’s kingdom or to a great deception that will lead to their eternal death. And their punishment is greater.

FATHER JOE:  I am absolutely certain.  If this were not the case, I would never go through the motions.  I am also certain that you are in the wrong.  The reason I respond is that I hope you might begin to reconsider your posture to Catholics.

CHARISSE:  Many Christians are in hell for not preaching the Truth.

FATHER JOE:  I leave entirely in God’s hands those whom might or might not be in hell.  But I would warn you as I have others to be cautious so as not to blaspheme the Holy Spirit and his work.

CHARISSE:  By God’s leading, thru Jesus, and His Holy Spirit, I know where I stand and His truth has set me free. I have a lot to work in my life and my self, because God said to be holy for He is holy, and be perfect for He is perfect, but by God’s grace and mercy He will help me and I pray that He will do the same for you and many others.

FATHER JOE:  I would not want to attack your faith as you would assault that of Catholics.  I take you for your word that you count yourself a friend of Jesus.  But remember that everything is grace.  You cannot save yourself.  Even your obedience, which God desires, is not that which will save you.  Everything is a gift.  The Spirit of God calls us to repentance and faith.  The Spirit of God moves us to prayer and prays in us.  Apart from Christ our works have no value; and yet the works of Christ, on the Cross and in our lives has immeasurable worth.  We were made in the image of God.  But now through Christ we can be refashioned into his likeness.

CHARISSE:  I cannot change you nor convince you, that is for sure, Only God can. So I hope he reveals the same to you and move in your life. God bless!

FATHER JOE:  Many of our Protestant brothers and sisters love the Lord and there is a measure of truth in their faith.  There are many issues upon which we disagree and some of them may be significant.  God knows the sincerity of our hearts and will not utterly condemn those ignorant of the full truth.   However, some are also infected with a belligerence and blindness that comes from a dark spirit.  He numbs consciences and closes minds to the truth and hearts to compassion.  The devil hates the Catholic Church.  Believers of any sort should be wary of doing the devil’s work.  Amen.