“I still have problems with the institutional Church but I believe that Christianity, and especially the Catholic Church with its deep history, traditions and emphasis on reason, offers the best description of the ultimate reality (or as William O’Malley, S.J. describes it, the “least leaky boat”).”
What keeps this “least leaky boat” afloat, and why wouldn’t it be a bad thing to sink it? Let me pull some corks, and then I’ll cork up.
“If you have serious problems accepting the Roman Catholic Church, I would suggest—for your own sake—that you sit down and list them on a piece of paper, rather than letting them ramble around your mind, unfocused, vague and embittering. Really dredge them up. Then go back and cross out all those that are truly trivial: “A priest once bawled me out”; “I know some hypocritical churchgoers”; “How was Our Lady bodily lifted outside time and space where bodies don’t exist?” One consistent objection is, “All those rules!” but when pressed, the objector usually is hard put to specify what those rules are. Other than the ones that seem to overemphasize sexuality, what other specific rules do you find insupportable? Finally, go through the cut-down list and ask how many of the remaining objections result from idealistic expectations no humanly embodied institution could satisfy.”
Actually, my protestations result from a comparison between scripture and what I and many Protesants believe is the magnificent humanly embodied instituiton called “Unam Sanctam Catholicam et Apostolicam Ecclesaim.” Here are some of the main Roman Catholic doctrines that stick in the Protestant throat.
Plenary indulgences; for example, occasions as the Bi-millenium of St Paul and the World Meeting of Families and Sydney World Youth day.
If you were lucky enough to have attended this Youth day in Sydney officiated by Pope Benedict and died during or immediately after the meeting (having had no time to sin in thought or deed), you would have been granted a plenary indulgence and so have circumvented purgatory – one million years. Two million years – and winging your way straight to heaven.
THE MOTHER OF OUR LORD
Luke 1:46-47 “And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour.” What does the Saviour save a person from? Sin, of course.
In The Little Office of the Virgin Mary, “Mary occupies a place in the Church which is highest after Christ and yet very close to us, for you chose her to give the world that very Life which renews all things, Jesus Christ your Son and our Lord. And so we praise you, Mary, virgin and mother. After the Savior himself, you alone are all holy, free from the stain of sin, gifted by God from the first instant of your conception with a unique holiness.”
The “Seraphic doctor” of the Roman Catholic Church, Saint Bonaventure goes further. In his “Psalter of the Blessed Virgin Mary” he substitutes Mary for the Creator and Lord of the universe, making in effect Mary the fourth person of the Godhead.
Bonaventure’s psalter – Blessed is the man, O Virgin Mary, who loves thy name; thy grace will comfort his soul.
Bible – Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners,
Bonaventure (Mary replaces the Lord) – O Lady, why are they multiplied who afflict me?
Bible – O Lord, how many are my foes!
Bonaventure (Mary usurps God’s throne) – When I called upon thee, thou didst hear me, O Lady: and from thy throne on high thou hast deigned to be mindful of me.
Bible – Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have given me relief when I was in distress.
The MASS – A RECURRING PROPITIARY SACRIFICE
23 It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. 25 Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. 26 Otherwise Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.
The Catholic Forum mentions the following as an ”anti-Catholic whopper.”
”Catholics re-sacrifice Christ at every Mass because [they say] we don’t understand that His death on the cross was the FINAL sacrifice.”
In his teaching of the sacrifice of the Mass, Pope John Paul II writes: . . . the Church is the instrument of man’s salvation. It both contains and continually (my italics) draws upon the mystery of Christ’s redemptive sacrifice. Through the shedding of His own blood, Jesus Christ constantly (my italics) “enters into God’s sanctuary thus obtaining eternal redemption” (cf. Heb 9:12). (Pope John Paul II, Crossing the Threshold of Hope (New York: Knopf, 1995, p. 139). The underlined section is the Pope’s rendition of Hebrews 9:12.). The Pope’s “constantly enters” resonates with the Council of Trent’s declaration that the Mass is not merely a “re-enactment”, but a real propitiatory sacrifice, which is repeated at every consecration of the wafer and the wine. “And for as much as, in this divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the mass, that same Christ is contained and immolated in an unbloody manner who once offered himself in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross . . . For the victim is one and the same, the same now offering by the ministry of priests, who then offered himself on the cross, the manner alone of offering being different. . . If any one saith, that the sacrifice of the mass is only a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving; or, that it is a bare commemoration of the sacrifice consummated on the cross, but not a propitiatory sacrifice. . . and that it ought not to be offered for the living and the dead for sins, pains, satisfactions, and other necessities: let him be anathema.”
The Catholic Church teaches: “Through baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1213). Many baptised babies (reborn as children of God, bornof the Spirit) never come to have faith in Christ, yet, according to “baptismal regeneration” they once were children of God.
The Bible says the Christian was chosen before the foundation of the world to become a child of God:
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he[b] predestined us for adoption to sonship[c] through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us. … 11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.
Through God’s handiwork, the sinner is made alive by grace though faith. The sinner is created in Christ (born again) to do good works that God prepared in advance:
1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.”
if you are given, you will come (believe). And if you believe, then it inexorably you will be raised up – to eternal life, of course.
28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.
Believe, or disbelieve, anything as long as you remain faithful to your belief/disbelief. And be good and kind. Then you will be saved.
18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
Here is Pope Benedcit XV:
“For the whole of mankind was freed from the slavery of sin by the shedding of the blood of Jesus Christ as their ransom, and there is no one who is excluded from the benefit of this Redemption …” Benedict XV, Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum, #1, 1914.
Surely, you can only begin to know what true freedom is once you’ve entered into the life of Christ. So, how can mankind be set free if they ignore Christ: “So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (John 8:31-32).
Therefore, according to Benedict XV: if you’re a good Buddhist, Jew, Hindu, atheist (?) you receive – in Catholic terms – the ultimate gift of redemption, namely, salvation. It’s also ok to be a Jewish Hindu or a Catholic Buddhist.