Home » Posts tagged 'Catholicism'
Tag Archives: Catholicism
I was baptized a Catholic when I was about a month old. I went on to “receive” my First Holy Communion (at age 7, wearing a red mini-dress and fishnet stockings), after which I declared myself an atheist, and that was that. I was pulled from weekly religion classes and didn’t darken a church doorway again for decades.
Fast-forward nearly 30 years. I was born again on a deserted beach in South Australia. Knowing next to nothing about Christianity, I figured I was still somehow a Catholic, so I started attending Catholic mass every day (twice on Sundays) and was “confirmed” (a Catholic rite of passage) a few years later. I even considered becoming a nun.
Then one day while I was sitting all alone in a church after mass, God opened my eyes to the truth about Catholicism (that it’s not Christianity), and within a minute I was out the door. That was 16 years ago and haven’t been back since.
Here’s what God showed me that day: (more…)
When I was first born-again 20 years ago, I remember reading the phrase “pray without ceasing” in one of Paul’s letters and wondering how someone could possibly do that. At the time, prayer for me (because I was a Catholic) meant getting down on my knees and repeating vain repetitions that I either memorized, like the “Our Father” and “Hail Mary”, or read straight from a prayer book or prayer card, like a script. I could not understand how people would be able to be down on their knees reciting the Our Father or Hail Mary 24/7 and still carry out their daily duties, but I gave it my best shot. I bought rosary beads, chaplets, and any other prayer beads I could find at the Catholic store and started the daily recitations on my knees. Morning, noon and night, at pre-set times, you could find me in my room, mumbling vain repetitions and counting out beads as eagerly as Matthew had counted coins at his tax collector job before being sprung by Jesus. (more…)
The world is under the control of Satan: this is not news to anyone with knowledge of scripture. What does appear to be news, sadly, even to those who call themselves believers, is that God’s kingdom has already come.
All around us. (more…)
Sunday is the day that most Christians flock to church. They don their ‘Sunday-best’ and shine up their church faces to smile at other shined-up church faces. During the hour-long so-called worship service, they stand on command, sit on command, kneel on command, recite on command, sing on command, keep silent on command, and (most importantly) give money on command. This is what worship service is all about. After it’s over, they leave the church building and figure they’ve done their worshiping for the week. Then they go about their non-church lives.
Apparently these Christians didn’t get the memo: You don’t need to go into a building to be in church or to worship. If you’re born again, you’re already in church – God’s church, which is made up of born-again souls in human bodies. If you’re born again, you’re in church now, wherever you are. You’re in church all the time, and everything you do is your worship.
Everything you do is your worship.
Everything you do is your worship.
Make sure it’s worthy of God.
Jesus was not a fan of ritual during his ministry years on Earth. In the gospels, we see only two episodes that could be considered rituals – one was his baptism by John the Baptist, and the other was the Passover meal just before his crucifixion. Nothing he did in between could really be construed as ‘ritual’. Even his public prayers were in no way ritualized. He just talked to God the way I’m talking to you now. That’s what prayer is.
Contrast Jesus’ extreme lack of ritualized worship to the super-abundance of ritualized worship that characterizes most church services today. In some cases (Catholicism, for instance), the entire service is a ritual that is essentially just a performance, a show (as in “as show of piety”). There is nothing genuinely worshipful about it. You don’t even have to be a Catholic or even believe in God to take part in it; you just have to show up, preferably with your wallet.
Jesus said that God is looking for people to worship him in spirit and in truth. A ritualized worship service where everything is scripted and done on command is NOT worshiping in spirit and in truth. At the very best, it’s just “showing up”; at the very worst, it’s demon worship. Demons demand ritual and strict order in worship. God doesn’t: he just wants you to be yourself and do what you do, with him in mind.
This, here and now, is worship. I’m worshiping by writing, and you’re worshiping by reading.
This is what Jesus meant when he said to worship in spirit and in truth. He meant to be authentic. He meant to be real. Paul said to do all things as if unto God and to pray without ceasing. He meant to live your life knowingly and consciously in God’s presence. He meant to do your best at all times, and to look to God for help and guidance at all times. He meant to make your entire life your worship, not just one hour a week in a designated building.
Everything you do is your worship, from the time you get up in the morning until the time you go to bed at night. You are always in church. You are always in God’s presence.
Everything you do is your worship.
Let your life reflect that.
Prayer is the most powerful force in the universe. Through prayer, we open a direct line of communication with God who not only created the universe but is also able to completely destroy it, if he so chooses. This is the level of power we’re talking about. Paul says to “pray without ceasing”, which is what we do when we’re consciously in the presence of God. No words are needed. God is in the house, and we’ve got his full attention.
When the disciples asked Jesus how to pray, he first warned them against reciting “vain repetitions” like the “heathen” do, but instead gave them examples of how to open a conversation with God. He said: Ask him to get you something good to eat today. He said: Tell him you’re looking forward to his kingdom coming to Earth. He said: Tell him that you want your will to align with his, so that your will and his will are one. He said: Call him “Dad”. Then, somewhere along the line, maybe in translation or maybe on purpose, these very different ideas for conversation-openers with God got all merged together into one long vain repetition and became the very thing that Jesus warned us about.
The “Our Father” (or “The Lord’s Prayer”) was never meant to be a “prayer”. At the very most, it could serve as the words for a song, but it shouldn’t be used for praying. Prayer is simply having a conversation with God: your spirit with his spirit. If you’re born-again, God’s your Dad. Imagine what your earthly Dad would think if you called out to him, he came running, and then you stood in front of him looking skywards or with your eyes closed, your hands folded in front of you or extended, palms upward, and you babbled on and on and on about something that didn’t have anything to do with your current problems or interests and wasn’t even reflective of what was going on in your mind at the time? And even when your father tried to interject to find out what it was that you wanted, you just kept babbling on and on as if you didn’t hear him? Imagine if you did that every single time you called to your father and he came running. What do you think he’d think about you? What would you think if your child did the same to you? At some point, I think you’d either stop listening to your child or you’d call for psychiatric intervention. Children of sane minds do not talk to their father like that.
And yet, this is exactly what God, our heavenly Father, hears from most of us when we ‘pray’. It’s sad, really, because God is our Dad. Jesus told us that. Our Dad created prayer as a means for us to talk to him and hear from him. We can talk to him just like we can talk to our earthly Dad. He loves it so much when we talk to him! There’s never a time when he’s not available or when it’s not convenient for him. He never says: Go away, I’m busy. He never says: Call me later. He never says: Hold the line; I’ve got another prayer coming in. He’s always ready and waiting and he’s always all ours. The line is always open. It’s not even necessary to say anything to him. You can just share that wonderful comfortable silence of being together alone with someone you love.
For the three and a half years that I was a Catholic, I took Paul’s words to “pray without ceasing” to mean that I should recite the “Hail Mary” all day long. And so I did. I “prayed” the rosary three times a day, morning, noon and night, which amounted to something like 150+ repetitions, book-ended by a dozen or so “Our Father’s” and two rounds of mass. I also, every day, prayed about an hour’s worth of vain repetitions to angels and to assorted Saints This-and-That, which was in complete violation of God’s commandment and edicts. I wouldn’t have done any of it had I known what I was doing was wrong, but I didn’t know. As a Catholic, I was not encouraged to read the Bible to get informed. Had I read the Bible, I would have known about vain repetitions and about not praying to angels and dead people. But Catholics are warned not to study the Bible on their own because (or so they’re told) they lack the ability to understand it without the help of a priest or other official minister of God.
As a Catholic, I was told God was my Heavenly Father, but I wasn’t told that I could get to know him one on one, like Jesus knew him. For Catholics, God is always addressed as thee and thou and thine; God is always out there somewhere – up in the sky or in a box at the side of the altar. He’s never right here, right now, with us, and he’s certainly never right here, right now, inside us. Not for Catholics. Only the pope and priests and some special dead people have a ‘direct connection’ with God. The rest of us rabble have to settle for repeating vain repetitions in the hopes that if we accumulate enough frequent prayer points, we might win a trip to Heaven with a stopover in purgatory.
Sadly, the idea of prayer is even used as a form of punishment in the Catholic organization. After we confess our sins to a priest (not having a direct line of communication with God, we have no other option but to tell our sins to a priest), we’re invariably told that our sins are forgiven as long as we go and “say” ten Hail Mary’s and a few Our Father’s. That’s all it takes. Mumble a few words, and you’re good to go. You don’t even have to mean them.
This is what prayer has become in the largest so-called Christian organization in the world: The most powerful force in the universe has been reduced to a hurried recitation of some old-fashioned words that don’t even really make any sense anymore. How Satan is laughing at us, if he still can! He knows (though most of us appear not to) how powerful prayer is, and how ready and willing God is to intervene at even the slightest change in our thought direction. Remember what Jesus said when he was arrested? He said all he had to do was ask God and he would immediately send 12 legions of angels to rescue him.
That’s a lot of angel power, 12 legions. He probably could have made do with just one angel, if all he wanted to do was get rescued. Twelve legions (approximately 58,000 angels) would have destroyed all of Israel and then some.
This is the kind of power I’m talking about when I say that prayer is the most potent force in the universe. God is not only willing but more than able to move Heaven and Earth for us; all we need to do is ask.
But sometimes we don’t even need to do that. The most powerful prayer I ever prayed was exactly two words long, and one of those words didn’t even make it past my lips. And here’s the kicker – I didn’t know I was praying. I was an atheist. Atheists don’t pray. The words came from a place so deep down inside me that I can only identify it, in hindsight, as my spirit. They were the last gasps of a soul so weighed down by sin that it could no longer properly form words. But God heard. However unintelligible those words were, God heard. He’d been waiting a long time to hear from me. Even before the second word had finished forming in me, he’d swooped down and caught me up in his arms. Had he not, I know now I would have fallen. Forever.
This is prayer. It’s not repetitious mumbling and fumbling with bead counters – no. Prayer is your spirit connecting with God’s spirit, even if you don’t know you’re doing it. Jesus says that God knows what we need even before we ask him. But he still needs to hear us ask; he still needs our permission.
Through prayer, we control the most powerful force in the universe. And not only is this force powerful, it’s completely devoted to us.
So the next time someone tells you to bow your head and pray, tell them you don’t pray in public; you pray in private, like Jesus told you to. Tell them you don’t repeat vain repetitions because God doesn’t hear them. And tell them what they’re doing isn’t praying and that it’s a waste of time.
And then go somewhere alone and pray that they, too, come to know God as their Dad.
If you’re genuinely born again, you’re a saint, not a sinner.
Yet how many times have you heard the phrase “We’re all sinners” in relation to Christians?
If you’ve heard it even once, that’s already one time too many.
Catholicism states that you can’t be a saint unless you’re dead and a pope decrees you’re a saint.
Then Catholics are told to pray to you and you get a day named after you and maybe even some made-in-China trinkets molded in your image.
That’s right – in total violation of what God says in the Old Testament about praying to dead people or making graven images, Catholicism orders you to do both, if you’re a ‘good Catholic’.
A sinner is someone who is unholy. Born-agains certainly have the potential to be unholy (we’ll have that potential, through our free will, until the day we die), but by definition we can’t be sinners because then God’s holy spirit wouldn’t be with us. And if God’s holy spirit isn’t with us, then we’re not, by definition, born again.
God’s holy spirit cannot be in the same place as an unholy spirit. The two are mutually exclusive. Where evil dwells, God’s spirit will not dwell. You can’t have demons and God’s spirit in you at the same time.
You cannot be holy and unholy.
So you see the difficulty with born-again Christians being told they’re sinners.
We’re born sinners, but we’re born again saints.
The next time a preacher calls you a sinner even knowing you’re a born-again Christian, tell that preacher he’s dead wrong. You’re a saint. And if the preacher or the pope has a problem with you calling yourself a saint, tell them to take it up with God.
This is the first of a ten-part series on the most important set of guidelines in human existence: the Ten Commandments. I’m not covering them in numerical order or even in order of importance. This isn’t a count-down; it’s a refresher.
The Ten Commandments are as equally relevant today as they were when they were given to Moses. In fact, they’re even more relevant. The main attack against the Commandments is that they’re “old-fashioned” and out of step with current realities. Nothing could be further from the truth.
God’s truth doesn’t change. Hemlines change; beauty ideals change; scientific theories come and go, but God’s truth remains as fresh and clear and refreshing as ever. And the worse it gets down here on Earth, the more we need God’s help and guidance.
Thank God for the Ten Commandments! They’re both your first and your last line of defence. They’re meant to be memorized as a “To Do” list and a “To Don’t” list; you should know them as automatically as you know your name.
The commandments aren’t meant as a way to interfere with your pleasure, but to keep you from making choices that will lead to pain.
If you find yourself wondering what you should do, look to Jesus, because the solution to every problem we’ll ever face during our time here on Earth was modeled by something Jesus either said or did. And, as we know, Jesus based his teachings on the Ten Commandments.
THOU SHALLT NOT COMMIT ADULTERY
The commandment I want to talk about today is the one concerning adultery. We are not, of course, to commit adultery. Sounds clear enough. But what exactly is adultery?
Jesus made himself more than a few enemies and even lost some followers over his clarification of what constitutes adultery. Adultery means to engage in sexual relations with someone you are not married to. It also includes fantasizing over someone (who may or may not be aware of your existence) and becoming “emotionally involved” in a romantic way with someone who is not your spouse. Adultery extends to relationships you have after you divorce your spouse. Jesus explained that if you divorce someone and then remarry while that person you divorced is still alive, then you’ve committed adultery and the person you marry commits adultery. And if your spouse remarries while you’re alive, your spouse commits adultery, as does the person your spouse ‘marries’.
From this, we can see that divorce is wrong because it almost always leads to multiple instances of adultery. Jesus explained that divorce only became an option because the people in Moses’ time were so hard-headed and hard-hearted. In other words – it was meant to be an option for people who weren’t obedient to God, meaning mostly everyone (but that shouldn’t include us). Divorce is only acceptable in God’s eyes if the spouses involved live celibately until the other dies.
Being obedient to God is only hard when you have a disobedient mindset. God’s rules aren’t difficult either to understand or to follow; as Jesus said, his burden is light. If you find God’s commandments difficult to follow or out-of-step with today’s world, that’s because you’re out-of-step with God and Jesus.
Mainstream Christianity has, of course, embraced divorce, which essentially means they condone adultery. The Catholic organization has even tried to camouflage the sin as a ‘re-do’ by offering to annul marriages that allegedly were not consummated. Annulling means legally treating the marriage as if it had never occurred, as if the marriage vows made before God can be rescinded or made null and void. In this, Catholicism is fooling no-one, least of all God. Jesus said that what God has joined, let no-one tear apart.
Marriage is for life. That means, you stay married until you or your spouse dies. If you find yourself in an abusive or love-less marriage, you separate from your spouse and live celibately. Meanwhile, you pray that God will help you find a way to heal your marriage. But you don’t divorce and you don’t remarry, not as long as your spouse is still alive.
Jesus didn’t mince his words, and neither do I. The world will not only tell you it’s your right to divorce for any number of reasons, and then the world will seduce you into remarrying while your spouse is still alive. General rule of thumb here is: If the world encourages or approves it, it’s almost guaranteed to be the wrong choice.
Jesus explained that the sole grounds for divorce is fornication. Now, for fornication to occur, there has to be a non-marital situation, otherwise it’s adultery. A good example of fornication as grounds for divorce can be found in Jesus’ parents. Mary showed a pregnancy shortly after her marriage to Joseph but before they had consummated their union (meaning they hadn’t yet had sex). Joseph knew that Mary hadn’t had sex with him prior to their marriage, so he had clear grounds to divorce her. However, because Joseph was obedient to and loved God, God told him the circumstances of Mary’s pregnancy, and he agreed to continue with the marriage. What appeared to be fornication (Mary having sex before marrying Joseph) was instead a miraculous conception. Isaiah said that the Messiah was to be born of a virgin, and so he was.
Mainstream Christianity has skewed Jesus’ sole exception (fornication) to mean adultery. Catholics readily receive permission from “the Church” to divorce as long as they can prove adultery. But adultery was NEVER meant to be grounds for divorce. We see this in John 8, where Jesus forgives the adulterous woman while warning her not to commit that sin again. He didn’t advise her husband to find a good lawyer and file for divorce; he warned the weeping and repentant woman not to sin again.
As an escaped (and hopefully soon to be excommunicated) Catholic, I can honestly state that the problem with Catholicism is, well, everything. Catholicism consistently misrepresents the gospel because those in charge of that organization and those who laid the ground rules for it are blind and deaf; they aren’t born again; they haven’t got a clue what Jesus said. People who follow the advice of Catholic or other mainstream Christian organizations regarding divorce and adultery are classic examples of the blind leading the blind.
Someone out there needs to hear this today. Someone out there is “involved” where he or she shouldn’t be. You know that Jesus says that even to look at someone with lust is already to have committed adultery with them (if you or they are married). The best way to avoid this trap is to ask God to help you, to sincerely ask God to help you. Not in a lukewarm or half-hearted way, but to sincerely ask for help. Sin is not only knowing that you’re doing something wrong; sin is consciously persisting in doing something wrong even after you’ve been warned. God gives you second chances (think of the woman in John 8), but at some point, time’s up.
If you’re being tempted to sin, ask God for help. Don’t ask a minister or a friend; ask God. Ultimately, God is the only one who can really help you, so you might as well go right to the source, just like Jesus did when he was in our shoes.