Warum gibt es so viele Menschen, die anti-katholisch eingestellt sind?
1) Weil sie nicht wirklich den katholischen Glauben kennen (sie denken, die Katholische Kirche sei zu gesetzlich und außerdem abergläubisch)
2) Weil wir Katholiken den katholischen Glauben nicht richtig kennen!
(Frei nach Prof. Dr. Scott Hahn, "Evangelizing the Baptized", erhältlich bei www.saintjoe.com)
Eines wurde mir im Laufe der Zeit bewusst:
Der Grund, warum so viele Menschen die Katholische Kirche verlassen oder gar nicht dorthin finden liegt hauptsächlich darin, dass sie überhaupt nichts über den katholischen Glauben wissen. Sie mögen vielleicht ein ganzes Leben lang in die katholische Kirche gegangen sein, aber tatsächlich haben sie keine Ahnung, was der Katholizismus wirklich lehrt. Jeder glaubt ein wenig zu wissen - in Wirklichkeit aber sind das meist Vorurteile oder vage Vermutungen. Leider muss man auch sagen, dass viele Katholikinnen und Katholiken - Laien wie Geistliche - kaum in der Lage sind, ihren Glauben zu begründen und gegen Angriffe zu verteidigen. Und so haben "bibeltreue" Christen (dieser Ausdruck ist keineswegs als Schimpfwort gedacht!) leichtes Spiel, uns und andere zu verunsichern.
Kaum jemand lehnt die Katholische Kirche als solche ab. Viele aber lehnen das ab, was sie für die Katholische Kirche und deren Lehren halten.
Selbstverständlich gibt es da eine Menge konfliktbeladener Bereiche, mit denen viele Menschen Probleme haben: Maria, die Heiligen, den Papst usw.
Ich nehme die Kirche beim Wort, die so oft betont hat, dass die Kirche - Laien wie Geistliche! - sowohl eine lehrende wie eine lernende Kirche ist.
Zu beiden will ich meinen Beitrag leisten.
"Katholisch" bedeutet von seinem griechischen Ursprung her erstmal "universal" oder "allumfassend".
Dies heißt nicht nur, dass die Katholische Kirche die ganze Welt umfasst - Menschen verschiedener Völker, Geschlechter, Gesellschaftsschichten, Rassen, Herkunft, Charaktere usw., sondern auch, dass alle im Grunde dasselbe glauben, in mehr oder weniger derselben Art und Weise Gott anbeten (natürlich mit kulturellen und sonstigen Unterschieden. Am Grundsatz halten aber alle fest).
Es heißt auch, dass bei uns viele Richtungen ihre Heimat finden - von sehr konservativen Christinnen und Christen bis zu eher "liberalen" Menschen, die moderne Strömungen mit aufnehmen möchten. Von der Heiligenverehrung, Pilgerfahrt bis hin zu charismatischen Versammlungen.
Es bedeutet ferner, dass bei uns die gesamte Kirche lehrende und lernende Kirche ist. Das jede Katholikin und jeder Katholik gerufen ist, selbst zu lernen sowie den Glauben weiter zu geben - in Wort und Tat.
Dass wir glauben, was alle Katholikinnen und Katholiken überall und zu allen Zeiten geglaubt haben.
Und dass wir alle denselben irdischen Hirten - den Papst - haben, sowie Jesus Christus als Zentrum unseres Glaubens.
Dass wir uns mit anderen christlichen Brüdern und Schwestern im Glauben und in Liebe verbunden fühlen.
Dass wir schließlich ein Herz haben, dass groß genug ist für alle.
Prüfung des Gewissens und der katholischen Lehre:
Die Zehn Gebote:
Ich bin der Herr, dein Gott.
1. Du sollst keine anderen Götter neben mir haben.
2. Du sollst den Namen Gottes nicht verunehren.
3. Du sollst den Tag des Herrn heiligen.
4. Du sollst Vater und Mutter ehren.
5. Du sollst nicht töten.
6. Du sollst nicht ehebrechen.
7. Du sollst nicht stehlen.
8. Du sollst nicht falsch gegen deinen Nächsten aussagen.
9. Du sollst nicht begehren deines Nächsten Frau.
10. Du sollst nicht begehren deines Nächsten Gut.
Die zwei größten Gebote:
1. Du sollst den Herrn, deinen Gott, lieben mit ganzem Herzen und ganzer Seele, mit all deinen Gedanken und all deiner Kraft.
2. Du sollst deinen Nächsten lieben wie dich selbst.
Die Weisungen der Kirche:
1. Am Sonntag und an den anderen gebotenen Feiertagen an der Heiligen Messe teilnehmen und keine Arbeiten oder Tätigkeiten verrichten, welche die Heiligung dieser Tage gefährden
2. Wenigstens einmal im Jahr die eigenen Sünden beichten
3. Wenigstens zu Ostern das Sakrament der Eucharistie empfangen
4. Die Fast- und Abstinenztage einhalten
5. Im Rahmen der eigenen Möglichkeiten der Kirche in ihren materiellen Erfordernissen beistehen
Es gibt einen Gott in drei Personen: Vater, Sohn und Heiliger Geist.
Jesus ist eine Person: eine göttliche Person. Er hat zwei Eigenschaften: eine göttliche und eine menschliche.
Die wesentlichen Ereignisse im Leben Christi:
Empfängnis im Leib der Heiligen Jungfrau Maria, Geburt in Bethlehem, Vorstellung im Tempel, Taufe im Fluss Jordan durch den Heiligen Johannes den Täufer, Versuchungen in der Wüste zu Beginn Seines öffentlichen Lebens, Bergpredigt, Verklärung, Letztes Abendmahl, Tragen des Kreuzes zum Kalvarienberg, Tod am Kreuz, Auferstehung und Auffahrt in den Himmel.
Titel der Heiligen Jungfrau Maria:
Die neue Eva, Muttergottes, Mutter der Kirche, Unsere Liebe Frau, Allerheiligste Jungfrau, Königin, Fürsprecherin, Voll der Gnade, Helferin, Mittlerin.
Die vier Kennzeichen der Kirche:
Eine, heilige, katholische und apostolische Kirche.
Die sieben Sakramente:
Taufe, Beichte, Heilige Eucharistie, Firmung, Ehe, Weihe und Krankensalbung.
Was ist ein Sakrament?
Ein Sakrament (lateinisch; deutsch: Geheimnis) ist ein von Christus für seine Kirche und für immer eingesetztes, mit den Sinnen erfahrbares, besonderes und wirksames Zeichen einer unsichtbaren Gnadenwirkung.
Die göttlichen Tugenden:
Glaube, Liebe, Hoffnung.
Klugheit, Gerechtigkeit, Tapferkeit, Mäßigung.
Die Gaben des Heiligen Geistes:
Weisheit, Einsicht, Rat, Stärke, Erkenntnis, Frömmigkeit und Gottesfurcht.
Die Früchte des Heiligen Geistes:
„Liebe, Freude, Friede, Geduld, Freundlichkeit, Güte, Langmut, Sanftmut, Treue, Bescheidenheit, Enthaltsamkeit, Keuschheit" (Gal 5,22-23 Vg.).
Selig, die arm sind im Geiste; denn ihnen gehört das Himmelreich.
Selig die Trauernden; denn sie werden getröstet werden.
Selig, die Sanftmütigen; denn sie werden das Land erben.
Selig, die hungern und dürsten nach der Gerechtigkeit; denn sie werden satt werden.
Selig die Barmherzigen; denn sie werden Erbarmen finden.
Selig, die ein reines Herz haben; denn sie werden Gott schauen.
Selig, die Frieden stiften; denn sie werden Söhne Gottes genannt werden.
Selig, die um der Gerechtigkeit willen verfolgt werden; denn ihnen gehört das Himmelreich.
Selig seid ihr, wenn ihr um meinetwillen beschimpft und verfolgt und auf alle mögliche Weise verleumdet werdet.
Freut euch und jubelt: Euer Lohn im Himmel wird groß sein. (Mt 5,3-12)
Die leiblichen Werke der Barmherzigkeit:
Die Hungrigen speisen, den Dürstenden zu trinken geben, die Nackten bekleiden, die Fremden aufnehmen, die Kranken besuchen, die Gefangenen besuchen, die Toten begraben.
Die geistigen Werke der Barmherzigkeit:
Die Unwissenden lehren, den Zweifelnden recht raten, die Betrübten trösten, die Sünder zurechtweisen, die Lästigen geduldig ertragen, denen, die uns beleidigen, gerne verzeihen, für die Lebenden und die Toten beten.
Die drei herausragenden guten Werke:
Beten, Fasten und Almosengeben.
Die evangelischen Räte:
Keuschheit, Armut und Gehorsam.
Die sieben Todsünden und die ihnen gegenüberstehenden Tugenden:
1. Hochmut (Eitelkeit, Übermut) – Demut.
2. Geiz (Habgier) – Großzügigkeit.
3. Wollust (Ausschweifung, Genusssucht, Begehren) – Keuschheit.
4. Zorn (Wut, Rachsucht) – Sanftmut.
5. Völlerei (Gefräßigkeit, Maßlosigkeit, Selbstsucht) – Mäßigung.
6. Neid (Eifersucht, Missgunst) – Brüderliche Liebe.
7. Faulheit (Feigheit, Ignoranz, Trägheit des Herzens) – Fleiß.
Sünden gegen den Heiligen Geist:
1. Vermessene Hoffnung auf das Heil ohne Verdienste.
2. Verzweiflung am Heil.
3. Zurückweisung der erkannten Wahrheit.
4. Neid auf die Gnadengabe eines anderen.
5. Verstockung in den Sünden.
6. Unbußfertigkeit bis zum Tod.
Sünden, die zum Himmel nach Rache schreien:
1. Absichtlicher Mord.
3. Unterdrückung der Armen.
4. Arbeitende um ihren Lohn betrügen.
Neun Arten, wie man zum Gehilfen für die Sünden eines Anderen wird:
1. Durch Rat.
2. Durch Anordnung.
3. Durch Zustimmung.
4. Durch Provokation.
5. Durch Lob oder Schmeicheln.
6. Durch Verbergen.
7. Durch Teilnahme.
8. Durch Schweigen.
9. Durch Verteidigung der sündigen Handlung.
Die vier letzten Dinge:
Tod, Gericht, Himmel oder Hölle.
Gebet vor der Beichte:
Komm, Heiliger Geist, erleuchte meinen Geist, damit ich meine Sünden klar erkenne. Bewege mein Herz, damit ich sie aufrichtig bereue, ehrlich beichte und fest dazu entschlossen bin, mein Leben wieder in Ordnung zu bringen. Geist der Weisheit, gewähre mir, die Bösartigkeit der Sünde zu sehen und ebenso meine Undankbarkeit Dir gegenüber, dem all-liebenden Gott. Geist der Tapferkeit und Stärke, hilf mir, jedes notwendige Opfer zu bringen, um in Zukunft die Sünde zu vermeiden.
Habe ich Gottes Existenz bezweifelt oder sie geleugnet?
Habe ich mich geweigert, an Gottes Offenbarung zu glauben?
Habe ich an Horoskope, Wahrsagerei, Träume, Glückszauber oder Reinkarnation geglaubt?
Habe ich geleugnet, Katholik zu sein?
Habe ich den katholischen Glauben aufgegeben?
War ich verzweifelt oder habe ich nicht an Gottes Mitleid geglaubt?
Habe ich das Gebet über einen längeren Zeitraum hinweg vernachlässigt?
Habe ich nicht täglich gebetet?
Habe ich Gott gelästert oder Gottes Name missbraucht? Habe ich geflucht oder einen Eid oder Schwur gebrochen?
Habe ich durch meine eigene Schuld die Sonntagsmesse verpasst oder an einem Feiertag, an dem der Messbesuch verpflichtend ist?
Bin ich immer ehrfürchtig in Gegenwart des Allerheiligsten Sakramentes?
War ich unaufmerksam während der Messe?
Bin ich zu spät zur Messe gekommen?
Habe ich die Messe zu früh verlassen?
Habe ich am Sonntag unnötige Arbeit verrichtet?
Habe ich meinen Eltern oder meinen legitimen Vorgesetzten nicht gehorcht oder habe ich sie nicht respektiert?
Habe ich meine Pflichten meinem Gatten, meiner Gattin, meinen Kindern oder Eltern gegenüber vernachlässigt?
Habe ich nicht aktiv Interesse an der religiösen Erziehung und Bildung meiner Kinder gezeigt?
Habe ich mich selbst nicht weitergebildet, was die Lehren der Kirche betrifft?
Habe ich in der Arbeit auch jeden Tag vollständig das geleistet, wofür ich bezahlt wurde?
Habe ich Menschen – besonders junge – schockiert durch das, was ich gesagt oder getan habe?
War ich die Ursache dafür, dass irgendjemand den katholischen Glauben aufgegeben hat?
Habe ich meinen Angestellten einen fairen Lohn gezahlt?
War ich ungeduldig, wütend, neidisch, unfreundlich, stolz, eifersüchtig, rachsüchtig oder voll Hass gegenüber anderen oder war ich faul?
Habe ich ein schlechtes Beispiel abgegeben, Drogen genommen, exzessiv Alkohol getrunken oder mich gestritten?
Habe ich jemanden körperlich verletzt oder getötet?
Habe ich jemanden dazu gebracht, abzutreiben oder dazu geraten?
Habe ich an dem großen Übel, das unter dem Namen „Töten aus Mitleid“ oder Euthanasie bekannt ist, teilgenommen oder dies gebilligt?
Habe ich versucht, mich selbst zu töten?
Bin ich absichtlich unreinen Gedanken oder Sehnsüchten nachgegangen?
Habe ich mich nicht bescheiden und anständig gekleidet?
Habe ich unreine oder anzügliche Worte verwendet?
Habe ich unreine Geschichten erzählt oder ihnen zugehört?
Habe ich absichtlich unreine Fernsehsendungen, Sachen im Internet, in Spielen, Bildern oder Filmen angeschaut?
Habe ich absichtlich unreines Material gelesen?
Habe ich selbst unreine Handlungen vollzogen (Masturbation) oder dies mit jemand anderes getan (Ehebruch, Unzucht oder gleichgeschlechtlichen Verkehr)?
Habe ich außerhalb der Kirche geheiratet oder dies jemand anderem geraten?
Habe ich meine ehelichen Rechte missbraucht?
War ich meinen Ehegelübden gegenüber untreu?
Hatte ich Gesellschaft mit dem Ehepartner eines anderen?
Habe ich künstliche Empfängnisverhütung praktiziert oder wurde ich oder mein Gatte/meine Gattin dauerhaft sterilisiert?
Habe ich gestohlen, betrogen oder anderen geholfen zu stehlen oder gestohlene Waren zu behalten?
Habe ich Wiedergutmachung für gestohlene Waren geleistet?
Habe ich meine Verträge erfüllt, mich bestechen lassen oder dies selbst getan, meine Rechnungen bezahlt, unbedacht gespielt oder spekuliert oder meine Familie der Notwendigkeiten des Lebens beraubt?
Habe ich absichtlich gelogen, um andere zu täuschen oder zu verletzen?
Habe ich einen Meineid geleistet?
Habe ich mit einem gut informierten Gewissen gewählt und in einer Art und Weise, die mit den Lehren der Kirche übereinstimmt, besonders bezüglich der Unantastbarkeit des Lebens und allgemein Angelegenheit hinsichtlich des menschlichen Lebens?
War ich nicht wohltätig in Wort und Tat?
Habe ich Geschwätz verbreitet oder die Fehler und Sünden von anderen offenbart?
Habe ich Geheimnisse, die ich für mich behalten sollte, ausgeplaudert?
Habe ich an den Freitagen während der Fastenzeit oder am Aschermittwoch Fleisch gegessen?
Habe ich wie vorgeschrieben am Aschermittwoch und am Karfreitag gefastet?
Habe ich während der Osterzeit keine Kommunion empfangen?
Habe ich meine Sünden nicht wenigstens einmal pro Jahr gebeichtet?
Habe ich die Kommunion im Zustand der Todsünde empfangen?
Bin ich zur Kommunion gegangen, ohne nicht wenigstens eine Stunde vorher nicht gegessen und getrunken zu haben (Wasser und Medizin sind erlaubt)?
Habe ich eine schlechte Beichte abgelegt?
Habe ich bewusst nicht alle Sünden während einer meiner Beichten gestanden?
Habe ich die Kirche nicht unterstützt?
Wie beichtet man?
1. Der Beichtende bekreuzigt sich und spricht: „Im Namen des Vaters und des Sohnes und des Heiligen Geistes. Amen.“
2. Der Priester sagt in etwa folgendes: „Gott, der unser Herz erleuchtet, schenke dir wahre Erkenntnis deiner Sünden und seiner Barmherzigkeit“.
3. Der Beichtende antwortet mit „Amen“.
4. Es folgt das ehrliche und persönliche Bekenntnis des Beichtenden, das mit einem Reuegebet wie diesem abgeschlossen wird: „Ich bereue, dass ich Böses getan und Gutes unterlassen habe. Erbarme dich meiner, o Herr“. Der Beichtende wird nun mögliche Fragen beantworten, die der Priester an ihn stellt.
5. Der Priester wird dir Ratschläge mitgeben und eine Buße auferlegen.
6. Schließlich erteilt der Priester dem Beichtenden die Lossprechung (Absolution), sofern folgende Voraussetzungen auf der Seite des Beichtenden vorliegen: Reue über die begangenen Sünden, ehrliches Aussprechen der Schuld im Bekenntnis und der Vorsatz, schuldhaftes Verhalten zu ändern und Schaden wieder gutzumachen.
7. Die Lossprechung erfolgt mit folgenden Worten: „Gott, der barmherzige Vater, hat durch den Tod und die Auferstehung seines Sohnes die Welt mit sich versöhnt und den Heiligen Geist gesandt zur Vergebung der Sünden. Durch den Dienst der Kirche schenke er dir Verzeihung und Frieden. So spreche ich dich los von deinen Sünden. Im Namen des Vaters und des Sohnes und des Heiligen Geistes.“
8. Der Beichtende antwortet mit „Amen“.
9. Es folgt nun der Dank und die Entlassung.
10. Nach der Beichte kann der Beichtende etwa wie folgt beten: „Allmächtiger und gnädiger Gott, dessen Mitleid grenzenlos und immerwährend und dessen Güte unendlich ist, ich danke Dir, weil Du so großzügig all meine Sünden vergeben und Deine himmlische Gunst wieder hergestellt hast. Ich bin voll Ehrfurcht vor Deinem göttlichen Mitleid und der unfassbaren Liebe Deines Sohnes, die Ihn dazu gebracht hat, ein so mächtiges Heilmittel für Sünden einzurichten. In Verbindung mit all der Dankbarkeit, die jemals zu Dir von aufrichtig bereuenden Herzen aufgestiegen ist lobpreise ich Deine Güte und Dein Mitleid im Namen aller im Himmel, auf der Erde und im Fegfeuer – für alle Zeit. Amen.
(Quellen: www.fathersofmercy.com, www.kathpedia.com, www.bistum-eichstaett.de, www.vatican.va, www.de.wikipedia.org)
I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means
The One True Faith : Catholic Traitors
Auf dem Altar wird unsere Zukunft entschieden!
"Jesus brach auf und zug von dort in das Gebiet von Tyrus. Er ging in ein Haus, wollte aber, dass niemand davon erfuhr; doch es konnte nicht verborgen bleiben. Eine Frau, deren Tochter von einem unreinen Geist besessen war, hörte von ihm; sie kam sogleich herbei und fiel ihm zu Füßen. Die Frau, von Geburt Syrophönizierin, war eine Heidin. Sie bat ihn, aus ihrer Tochter den Dämon auszutreiben. Da sagte er zu ihr: lasst erst die Kinder satt werden; denn es ist nicht recht, das Brot den Kindern wegzunehmen und den Hunden vorzuwerfen. Sie erwiderte ihm: Ja, du hast recht, Herr! Aber auch für die Hunde unter dem Tisch fällt etwas von dem Brot ab, das die Kinder essen. Er antwortete ihr: Weil du das gesagt hast, sage ich dir: geh nach Hause, der Dämon hat deine Tochter verlassen. Und als sie nach Hause kam, fand sie das Kind auf dem Bett liegen und sah, dass der Dämon es verlassen hatte." (Mk 7,24-30 - Einheitsübersetzung)
Vom Tisch fallen also Brotkrumen ab - aber um diese Brotkrumen zu bekommen, muss erst einmal Brot auf dem Tisch sein! Und wieviele Kirchen kennst du, bei denen wirklich Brot auf dem Tisch liegt?
Jesus hatte bestimmte Vorstellungen, wie der Gottesdienst und die Liturgie ablaufen sollte - und die Kirchenväter geben uns hierzu ein ausführliches Zeugnis.
Denkst du nicht, dass die Art und Weise, wie die Menschen Gott anbeten, auch Auswirkungen auf die Gesellschaft hat, in der sie leben? Wenn ja, meinst du dann nicht, wir sollten zu der Art von Gottesdienst und Liturgie zurückkehren, die ursprünglich geplant war?
Die katholische Messe entspricht im Wesentlichen genau dem Aufbau der Messe des Urchristentums. Und sie hat "Brot auf dem Tisch" - den Leib und das Blut Christi! Sie hat die apostolische Sukzession, das heisst die ungebrochene Nachfolge seit Jesu Zeiten. Und wie die Apostel damals das Brot brachen, brechen heute deren Nachfolger, die Priester und Bischöfe, das Brot!
1.500 Jahre lang haben Christen in genau derselben Weise (nichts anderes heisst "katholisch"!) die Eucharistie gefeiert, bis neue Ideen aufkamen.
Sollten wir dann nicht zur alten Form der Liturgie zurückkehren, um unsere Gesellschaft zu retten?
(Quelle: www.saintjoe.com - "The Michael Cumbie Story" - DVD)
1Ich glaube an Gott,
den Vater, den Allmächtigen,
den Schöpfer des Himmels und der Erde,
2und an Jesus Christus,
seinen eingeborenen Sohn,
3empfangen durch den Heiligen Geist,
geboren von der Jungfrau Maria,
4gelitten unter Pontius Pilatus,
gekreuzigt, gestorben und begraben,
5hinabgestiegen in das Reich des Todes,
am dritten Tage auferstanden von den Toten,
6aufgefahren in den Himmel;
er sitzt zur Rechten Gottes,
des allmächtigen Vaters,
7von dort wird er kommen,
zu richten die Lebenden und die Toten.
8Ich glaube an den Heiligen Geist,
9die heilige katholische Kirche,
Gemeinschaft der Heiligen,
10Vergebung der Sünden,
11Auferstehung der Toten
12und das ewige Leben.
1Credo in deum patrem omnipotentem,
creatorem coeli et terrae;
2Et in Iesum Christum,
filium eius unicum,
3qui conceptus est de Spiritu sancto,
natus ex Maria virgine,
4passus sub Pontio Pilato,
crucifixus, mortuus et sepultus,
5descendit ad inferna,
tertia die resurrexit a mortuis,
6ascendit ad coelos,
sedet ad dexteram dei patris omnipotentis,
7inde venturus est iudicare vivos et mortuos;
8Credo in Spiritum sanctum,
9sanctam ecclesiam catholicam,
12et vitam aeternam.
EWTN Live: Dr. Scott Hahn - Signs of Life
Worin unterscheidet sich die Katholische Kirche eigentlich von anderen christlichen Kongregationen?
Vor allem durch die Eucharistie.
Ohne die Eucharistie wären wir nur eine von vielen christlichen Kongregationen.
Ja, Jesus ist spirituell überall gegenwärtig. Aber Seine einzigartige körperliche Gegenwart kann nur in der Eucharistie gefunden werden. Hier kommt es zur Wesensverwandlung von Brot und Wein in Leib und Blut Jesu Christi. Nichts kommt dem gleich, und gerade deshalb ist es so gefährlich, wenn sogar katholische Theologen diese Glaubenswahrheit verwässern wollen - selbst wenn dies in der guten Absicht geschieht, offener für die Ökumene zu sein.
Sehen wir uns das Alte Testament an: Das Volk Israel wurde in Ägypten aufgerufen, ein Lamm zu opfern, das Blut an den Türpfosten zu streichen und das geopferte Lamm zu essen. So ging der Todesengel an ihren Häusern vorbei und tötete nicht - wie bei anderen Häusern - die Erstgeborenen.
Hätten Sie aber das Lamm nicht gegessen, wären ihre Erstgeborenen getötet worden!
(Quelle: Fr. Bill Casey: "Mission for Truth - The Quest in an Age of Compromise")
Dr. Scott Hahn: "The Shock of Divine Kinship"
kathpedia.com über "Katholizismus"
Um das zentrale Stichwort, dem sämtliche Beiträge zur Kathpedia zuzuordnen sind, in angemessen kurzer Form zu erläutern, nämlich den Katholizismus als Begriff, sei es gestattet, auf einige Gedanken zu verweisen, die Jean Guitton auf dem Höhepunkt der nachkonziliaren Krise 1972 formulierte.
Wir können den Katholizismus verstehen als geistlichen Raum, der sich durch dreierlei Dimensionen auszeichnet: Zuerst ist derselbe als eine Lehre aufzufassen, diesbezüglich erinnert der Katholizismus an sämtliche Philosophien und Ideensysteme. Zum andern ist der Katholizismus aber auch ein Gott verehrender Kult. Insofern erinnert er an alle anderen Religionen. Schließlich ist der Katholizismus auch eine sichtbare, in der Geschichte greifbare Organisation, ein durch die Hierarchie gegliedertes Volk. Also erinnert er auch überdies an andere Gewalten.
Die katholische Kirche ist somit zugleich eine Schule, ein Tempel und eine Herde, sie vereinigt mithin Lehre, Kult und Volk zu einer "ethnischen Entität sui generis" (so Papst Paul VI., 23. Juli 1975). Sie ist ein wirkliches Volk eigener Art. Die in ihr zuverlässig verfasste geistliche Anleitung (Hierarchie) wirkt folglich zugleich lehrhaft, priesterlich und pastoral. Der Katholizismus ist als Wahrheit, geistliches Leben und verantworteter Weg in der Zeit zu charakterisieren.
"Celui qui ne peut pas suivre en esprit cette triple histoire à la fois et maintenir ces trois aspects sous un même regard ne comprendra jamais pleinement la réalité catholique." (Guitton)
Um die katholische Wirklichkeit vollends zu erfassen, ist es unabdingbar, diese dreifache Geschichte stets unter dem gemeinsamen Aspekt der Nachfolge Christi gleichermaßen zu betrachten.
Die Geschichte der Glaubensspaltungen der Christenheit ist von daher auch als die Geschichte der unterschiedlichen Wertung dieser drei Aspekte zu erklären. Während die Orthodoxie die Einheit der Kirche als supranationale "Herde" verlor, hat die Reformation überdies die priesterliche Dimension des Katholizismus abgeschwächt, so dass (in den diversen protestantischen Konfessionen) die christliche Lehre ganz stark in den Vordergrund tritt. Diese kann aber als ausdifferenzierte Gelehrsamkeit keine kultische Einheit mehr bewahren. (Das erklärt die relativ unproblematische Integration des fortan subjektiv vollzogenen protestantischen Bekenntnisses in das Gefüge moderner Monarchien.)
Der Katholizismus der Gegenwart hält daran fest, dass die Autorität des Evangeliums für die Lebenswirklichkeit der Menschen nur dann erkennbar, erfahrbar und wirksam ist, wenn das kirchliche Leben sich in dieser dreifachen Dimension vollzieht, die das II. Vatikanum auf die Ämter Christi bezog. Doktrinär, liturgisch und organisatorisch ruht der Absolutheitsanspruch des Glaubenslebens, in der Nachfolge der Apostel, mithin auf dem supranationalen und weltweit präsenten Kollegium der Bischöfe, die diese universale Realität jedoch nur ins Werk setzen können, wenn und soweit sie die Einheit mit dem Papst als Nachfolger Petri wahren (vgl. Lumen Gentium, insb. Nr. 23). Nur so ist der "katholische Internationalismus" möglich und wirksam. Nur eine Verständigung über den Episkopat wird sich so auch als Schlüssel zur sichtbaren Ökumene erweisen können.
Bereits in seiner ersten Enzyklika Ecclesiam Suam hat Konzilspapst Paul VI. 1964 dazu aufgefordert, das Selbstbewusstsein der Kirche zu vertiefen. Dies aber nicht als Selbstzweck: Die erste Frucht der Vertiefung des Bewusstseins der Kirche von sich selber ist die erneute Entdeckung ihrer lebendigen Beziehung zu Christus.
Aus diesem Grund ist der Katholizismus wesentlich als sakramentale Tradition zu begreifen, da die Kirche aus ihrer Beziehung zur realen Gegenwart Christi zu allen Zeiten lebt. Die Kirche ist tatsächlich Kontinuität des Gotteswortes; und in dieser dürfen die Konzilien der letzten beiden Jahrhunderte ebensowenig fehlen wie wesentliche Aussagen des päpstlichen Lehramts, etwa von Leo XIII. die Enzyklika Satis cognitum von 1896 oder Mystici corporis von Pius XII. (1943). Die Bischofssynode von 1985 prägte daher im Rückblick auf das II. Vatikanum zur Identität des Katholizismus die kurze Formel: "Die Kirche unter dem Wort Gottes feiert die Geheimnisse Christi zum Heil der Welt."
Mehr denn je zuvor in der Kulturgeschichte der Menschheit hat das Werk des großen Papstes Johannes Paul II. das Wesen des Katholizismus weltweit präsent gemacht. Nicht obwohl, sondern weil "Papstkirche" ist die katholische auch volksfähige Kirche, also die vermutlich einzige Form wahrer Religion, die der Vielfalt der Lebenswelten den Weg in die Einheit eröffnen kann. Vielleicht wurde der Christ in der Gegenwart zum Zeugen einer Aussaat, deren Früchte der Zivilisation nach und nach immer mehr zugute kommen werden. Denn die Welt von heute ist einerseits zwar gekennzeichnet durch die erstmalige Fähigkeit der Menschen, die Schöpfung zu zerstören, aber auch andererseits ausgezeichnet durch die nie dagewesene Chance, das gemeinsame Leben unter das Wort Christi zu stellen. Um es zu vervollkommnen, ruft die Kirche die Katholiken im Namen des Herrn dazu auf, ihren Glauben im Dialog zu bewähren.
Die drei Charakteristika des Katholischen
Es gibt Merkmale, die einen katholischen Christen gegenüber anderen christlichen Konfessionen auszeichnen. Darunter sind stets:
Papsttreue: Sie bedeutet, dem Lehramt des Papstes und der mit ihm verbundenen Bischöfe geistlichen Gehorsam entgegen zu bringen. Der Katholik folgt also der wahren Lehre.
Eucharistie: Die rechte Feier der Sakramente, insbesondere der Heiligsten Eucharistie in Theorie und Praxis auszuüben. Die Katholiken praktizieren mithin den wahren Kult.
Marienverehrung: Auch in der Verehrung der Mutter Jesu lebt der Katholizismus als ein wahres Volk in der Nachfolge Christi, "der Dich, o Jungfrau, im Himmel gekrönt hat".
G. Jaquemet (Hg.), Catholicisme. Hier- aujourd'hui- demain, Paris 1948 ff. (Lexikon)
Jean Guitton, Le catholicisme hier, aujourd'hui et demain, Paris 1972.
Interview mit Weihbischof Andreas Laun aus Salzburg:
KONGREGATION FÜR DIE GLAUBENSLEHRE
Papst Pius X. hat mit der Konstitution Sapienti consilio vom 29. Juni 1908 den Namen des Dikasteriums abgeändert in "Sacra Congregatio Sancti Officii". Gegen Ende des Zweiten Vatikanischen Konzils hat Papst Paul VI. mit dem Motu Proprio Integrae servandae vom 7. Dezember 1965 die Kompetenzen und die Struktur der Kongregation neu geordnet und ihr den heutigen Namen gegeben. Gemäß Artikel 48 der von Papst Johannes Paul II. 1988 promulgierten Apostolischen Konstitution über die römische Kurie Pastor bonus hat die Kongregation für die Glaubenslehre "die Aufgabe, die Glaubens- und Sittenlehre in der ganze katholischen Kirche zu fördern und schützen."
Die aus 23 Mitgliedern Kardinälen, Erzbischöfen und Bischöfen aus 14 verschiedenen Nationen bestehende Kongregation wird gegenwärtig vom US-amerikanischen Erzbischof von San Francisco, Kard. William Levada geleitet. Sekretär ist Erzbischof Mgr. Luis F. Ladaria, S.I., Untersekretär P. Joseph Augustine Di Noia O.P., Promotor Iustitiae Mons. Charles Scicluna. An ihr sind zur Zeit 37 Mitarbeiter beschäftigt. Entsprechend der unterschiedlichen Kompetenzbereiche ist das Dikasterium in drei Sektionen aufgeteilt: die doktrinelle, disziplinäre und die Ehesektion; letztere beschäftigt sich mit allem, was mit dem "privilegium fidei" zu tun hat.
Das Dikasterium wird beraten von einem Kollegium von 33 Konsultoren, die aus verschiedenen Ländern stammen. Sie sind in der Regel als Professoren an den Päpstlichen Fakultäten in Rom tätig und vertreten unterschiedliche theologische Disziplinen.
Bei der Erfüllung dieser Aufgabe, die katholische Glaubenslehre zu fördern und die Studien, die zum Wachstum des Glaubens beitragen, zu unterstützen, «damit auf die durch den Fortschritt in Wissenschaft und Forschung entstandenen Probleme eine angemessene Antwort im Licht des Glaubens gegeben werden kann» (vgl. Pastor bonus, Art. 49), bedient sich die Kongregation auch «wissenschaftlicher Symposien und Zusammenkünfte, die sich mit Fragen von lehrhafter Bedeutung beschäftigen» (vgl. Regolamento proprio, Art. 76) sowie «verschiedener Initiativen zur Verteidigung der wahren Lehre, der christlichen Tradition und des Lehramtes» (vgl. Attività della Santa Sede, Città del Vaticano 1997, S. 669)
Anläßlich der alle fünf Jahre in Rom stattfindenden "ad limina Apostolorum" Besuche empfängt das Dikasterium die Bischöfe «zu einem gegenseitigen Informationsaustausch, zur Besprechung der in den verschiedenen Ländern bestehenden aktuellen Probleme und zur gemeinsamen Klärung und Lösung der hauptsächlichen Probleme in den jeweiligen Gebieten» (vgl. ebd., S. 671).
Der Präfekt ist von Amts wegen auch Präsident der Päpstlichen Bibelkommission und der Internationalen Theologenkommission, deren Sekretariat und Sitz bei dem Dikasterium ist. Die Tätigkeit beider Kommissionen ist sehr eng mit der Glaubenskongregation verbunden. Bei ihr ist auch die von Papst Johannes Paul II. im Februar 1993 errichtete und unter der Präsidentschaft des Kardinal Joseph Ratzinger stehende interdikasterielle Kommission angesiedelt, die mit der Redaktion und Veröffentlichung des Katechismus der Katholischen Kirche beauftragt ist.
In Zusammenarbeit mit der Libreria Editrice Vaticana veröffentlicht das Dikasterium seit einigen Jahren in der Sammlung "Documenti e Studi" seine eigenen Dokumente, meistens begleitet durch entsprechende im "Osservatore Romano" erschienene Artikel oder Kommentare.
Adresse: Palazzo del Sant'Uffizio, 00120 Città del Vaticano
Müssen wir als Katholiken alles annehmen, was die Kirche lehrt?
Zum Beispiel glaubst du vielleicht, dass Frauen Priesterinnen werden sollten. Im Paragraph 1577 des Katechismus der Katholischen Kirche heißt es aber, dass nur ein getaufter Mann gültig die Weihe empfangen kann. Deshalb ist die Weihe von Frauen auch nicht möglich. Du glaubst das nicht? Nun gut, reiße einfach diese Seite aus deinem Katechismus du hast gerade den Katechismus deiner Katholischen Kirche daraus gemacht aber nicht meiner.
Denke aber daran, wenn du irgendwelche Doktrinen rauswerfen kannst, die dir nicht passen, dann kann das auch jeder andere, der sich Katholik nennt. So kann Hans Huber von der Pfarrei St. Josef etwa die Soziallehre der Kirche rausschmeißen er hat vielleicht keine Lust, die Hungrigen zu ernähren, für die Armen zu sorgen und das ganze andere herzergreifende Zeug. Die Paragraphen 2401 2463 müssen also verschwinden. Er hat also gerade den Katechismus seiner Katholischen Kirche gemacht aber nicht deiner oder meiner.
Du denkst vielleicht, Empfängnisverhütung sei in Ordnung? Paragraph 2370 des Katechismus der Katholischen Kirche verurteilt dies aber ausdrücklich! Was solls weg damit. Anton Schmid aus der Pfarrei St. Rupert mag vielleicht die kirchliche Lehre zum Thema Todesstrafe nicht also weg mit den Paragraphen 2266 2267. Dir gefällt vielleicht nicht, was auf den Seiten 55-60 steht? Weg damit. Er mag nicht, was auf den Seiten 128-140 gelehrt wird? Weg damit.
Siehst du nun, was dann geschieht? Es hat mal jemand gesagt, dass es einen Rückgang der Berufungen zum Priester gibt, aber keinen Rückgang der Berufungen zum Papst! Wenn wir nicht alles glauben, ernennen wir uns alle selbst zum Papst und werfen hier und da eine Doktrin raus. Dann aber ist unser Glaube alles Mögliche aber nicht mehr katholisch.
(Quelle: Dr. John Martignoni www.biblechristiansociety.com)
Sind mit "Kinder Gottes" alle Menschen gemeint?
"Allen aber, die ihn aufnahmen, gab er Macht, Kinder Gottes zu werden, allen, die an seinen Namen glauben," (Joh 1,12 Einheitsübersetzung)
Kinder Gottes sind hier also die, "die ihn aufnahmen" und "an seinen Namen glauben". Keineswegs aber alle Menschen.
"Aber er sollte nicht nur für das Volk sterben, sondern auch, um die versprengten Kinder Gottes wieder zu sammeln." (Joh 11,52 Einheitsübersetzung)
Unter anderem um die eben erwähnten Kinder Gottes wieder zu sammeln sollte Jesus also sterben.
"So bezeugt der Geist selber unserem Geist, dass wir Kinder Gottes sind. Sind wir aber Kinder, dann auch Erben; wir sind Erben Gottes und sind Miterben Christi, wenn wir mit ihm leiden, um mit ihm auch verherrlicht zu werden." (Röm 8,16-17 Einheitsübersetzung)
Der Geist bezeugt unserem Geist, dass wir Kinder Gottes sind, Miterben Christi. Wiederum ein Kriterium, das nicht für alle Menschen zutrifft.
"Auch die Schöpfung soll von der Sklaverei und Verlorenheit befreit werden zur Freiheit und Herrlichkeit der Kinder Gottes." (Röm 8,21 Einheitsübersetzung)
Verse wie dieser müssen in oben genanntem Zusammenhang gesehen werden.
"Das bedeutet: Nicht die Kinder des Fleisches sind Kinder Gottes, sondern die Kinder der Verheißung werden als Nachkommen anerkannt;" (Röm 9,8 Einheitsübersetzung)
Deutlicher geht es wohl nicht.
Enden wir mit einem Vers, der für sich selbst spricht:
"damit ihr rein und ohne Tadel seid, Kinder Gottes ohne Makel mitten in einer verdorbenen und verwirrten Generation, unter der ihr als Lichter in der Welt leuchtet." (Phil 2,15 Einheitsübersetzung)
Why be Catholic?
This article assumes that you already are a Christian, a Messianic Jew, or believer in Yeshua (Jesus), however you wish to call yourself. See the last page of this article for links to articles that may be more relevant to you if you do not believe in Jesus.
Why Be Catholic?
Perhaps you think that the idea of becoming Catholic is the most absurd idea you have ever heard.
Perhaps you think that the Bible alone is sufficient for you to know God's will for your life.
Perhaps you think that God is not interested in 'religion' or institutions but merely wishes to have a personal relationship with you.
Perhaps you think that the only thing really necessary to be saved is to receive Jesus into your heart as Lord and Savior.
Perhaps you are Jewish and think that to become Catholic would amount to a betrayal of your Jewish faith and heritage.
Perhaps you even hold anti-Catholic views and think that Catholicism is a pagan corruption of the pure biblical faith.
Yet perhaps you feel that there is "something missing" to your faith.
Perhaps you feel that God has "something more" for you, but you haven't quite figured out yet what this is.
Looking back through history, from the first to the twenty-first century, from the ancient Mediterranean world to modern America, countless people have thought like you - either mildly curious, indifferent, distrusting or even despising the Catholic Church... until one day they decided to seriously investigate the Church's claims. Again and again, an inquiry which began out of curiosity or even animosity toward the Church ended as a wondrous love story: the story of a God so passionately in love with us that He offered His only Son to die for us in order that we may have eternal life, and formed his human family, the Catholic (universal) Church for the purpose of sharing with His children His own divine life, most especially in the sacrament of the Eucharist.
In this article, as well as through the other resources available on this website, you can discover how:
God has never said that the Bible alone is enough to know His will, but rather has set up, both in the Old and New Testaments, a visible, hierarchical institution and endowed it with His own divine authority to guide us and lead us into His way of salvation.
God is indeed very interested in 'religion' today, just as He was interested in it when He set up the Tabernacle and Temple worship in ancient Israel. A genuine, honest, humble and well-informed personal relationship with the Father through the Son and in the Holy Spirit should logically and eventually lead you to seek full communion with His Body, the Catholic Church.
To "receive Jesus as Lord and Savior" by faith alone is not enough to be saved; for Jesus imparts his grace, his power, and his life to us chiefly through the Church, her teachings, her liturgy and sacraments, and her communion of saints.
The Catholic faith is the perfect and complete fulfillment of Judaism - yet this does not abolish the particular calling of the people of Israel nor the special vocation of Jews who enter the Church. As Rosalind Moss, who is Jewish-Catholic, has said, "you can't be more Jewish than to be Catholic!"
The Catholic faith is the most biblical form of Christianity, whereas other denominations have generally compromised important gifts that Jesus has given us.
What does it mean to be "Catholic"?
Perhaps you, like many other Christians, consider yourself to be "catholic" with a small "c", in the sense that you are a member of the universal (catholic), invisible community of followers of Christ, but not "Catholic" with a capital "C", in the sense of being a formal member of the Roman Catholic Church.
In a sense, it is true that if you are a baptized believer in Jesus, you are already a member of the Body of Christ, and the Holy Spirit certainly can work through you and your community in furthering the work of the Gospel. As the Church teaches:
"All who have been justified by faith in Baptism are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers in the Lord by the children of the Catholic Church." (CCC 818)
"Furthermore, many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside the visible confines of the Catholic Church: the written Word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope, and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, as well as visible elements. Christ's Spirit uses these Churches and ecclesial communities as means of salvation, whose power derives from the fullness of grace and truth that Christ has entrusted to the Catholic Church. All these blessings come from Christ and lead to him, and are in themselves calls to 'Catholic unity.'" (CCC 819)
However, the One Church that Christ has founded truly is the Catholic Church, united and governed by the successor of Peter, the pope. In it alone can be found "the fullness of the means of salvation":
"The sole Church of Christ [is that] which our Savior, after his Resurrection, entrusted to Peter's pastoral care, commissioning him and the other apostles to extend and rule it. . . . This Church, constituted and organized as a society in the present world, subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the bishops in communion with him... For it is through Christ's Catholic Church alone, which is the universal help toward salvation, that the fullness of the means of salvation can be obtained. It was to the apostolic college alone, of which Peter is the head, that we believe that our Lord entrusted all the blessings of the New Covenant, in order to establish on earth the one Body of Christ into which all those should be fully incorporated who belong in any way to the People of God." (CCC 816)
As we will see below, by remaining outside of the Catholic Church you therefore remain only in partial and imperfect communion with the Messiah's Church, and you are missing out on many of the great blessings that God wishes to give you:
"The Church knows that she is joined in many ways to the baptized who are honored by the name of Christian, but do not profess the Catholic faith in its entirety or have not preserved unity or communion under the successor of Peter. Those who believe in Christ and have been properly baptized are put in a certain, although imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church." (CCC 838)
Let us now examine some of these blessings that God wishes to give you.
Ten good reasons for becoming Catholic
Jesus has founded one Church* (not a collection of denominations), and it is His will that all would be part of His one Church.
Jesus founded a visible Church* with visible leaders, not an invisible body with no real authority.
Through apostolic succession and apostolic tradition*, the Church hands down the authentic teachings of Christ and his apostles.
Jesus gave to His Church a charism of infallibility* which gives us certainty in important matters of faith and morals and enables us to know with confidence what to believe and how to live.
In the Catholic Church alone can be found the fullness of the means of salvation* and all of the means to grow in holiness and in virtue*.
The Church's Sacred Liturgy* inserts us into the Paschal Mystery and joins us with the heavenly worship of the angels and saints.
The Church mediates to us Christ's sacraments*: the channels of God's grace, God's life and God's love poured out into us.
In the Church you can receive the Eucharist*, the Body and Blood of the Lord and the source and summit of the Christian life.
In the Catholic Church you become fully united with our earthly and heavenly family: the communion of saints*.
Jesus has given us His mother Miriam* (Mary) as mother of the Church and as our own mother who loves us and watches over us.
1. Jesus founded One Church*, not a collection of denominations
We know from the Gospel of John how serious was Jesus' desire that his followers be united. He prayed that all believers "may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me" (Jn 17:20-21). When we read the New Testament, we see that Jesus founded only one Church, united under the leadership of Peter and the apostles. He never established a loose collection of denominations as they exist today, each one differing and disagreeing with the other on important doctrines and moral issues. The Eastern Orthodox Churches broke away from unity with the pope in 1054. The protestant denominations further damaged the unity of Christianity when they began to break away from the Catholic Church in the sixteenth century, and they continue to fragment themselves to our own day. Even the newer "non-denominational" churches, although they avoid labeling themselves under a particular denominational name, really are another form of evangelical denomination. And the Messianic Jewish movement, while pursuing the noble goal of rediscovering the Jewish roots of Christianity, is plagued by the same lack of unity as the Protestant communities.
The one, universal Church which Jesus has founded and which has preserved its unity now for 2,000 years, all while spreading to all times and places, is the Catholic Church.
By remaining outside of the Catholic Church you are therefore contributing, even if unconsciously and through no fault of your own, to the disunity of the body of Christ. By joining the Catholic Church you join the original Church that Jesus the Messiah founded, and you contribute to the unity of the Church for which He prayed!
2. Jesus founded a visible Church* with visible leaders
Why is there such a lack of unity among Protestant / Evangelical / Messianic communities? Because of the absence of legitimately ordained authority. Often it is said that the church is simply the invisible union of all believers, led by the Holy Spirit and whose head is Christ, but left without any ultimate human authority here on earth. This theory, however, is not biblical and does not work in practice. In fact, it has caused tremendous confusion and division in the Body of Christ.
When one looks at the Bible one finds a completely different picture: At the time of the Exodus, God's people were united under the leadership of Moses and seventy elders, who transmitted the Word of God to the people, interpreted it, and settled disputes (Exo 18:13-26, Num 11:16-25). This continued at the time of the Davidic Kingdom, when the nation was united under the king's authority, subject to the words of the Prophets.
The picture is similar in the New Testament: Jesus gave to His Church a real human leader in the person of Peter. Jesus said that Peter would be the rock on his He would build his Church. He gave him the keys of the kingdom of heaven (Mat 16:17-19), appointed him as chief shepherd of the Church (Jn 21:15-17), and commissioned him to strengthen the other apostles in their faith (Lk 22:31-32). In addition, Jesus also gave his own authority to the other apostles, telling them "he who hears you, hears me" (Lk 10:16) and empowering them to forgive sins (Jn 20:23). You can read in the book of Acts how Peter and the apostles led the Church in proclaiming the gospel and in making important decisions (Acts 2:1-41, 15:7-12).
By joining the Catholic Church you become a part of the Church modeled after God's people in the Bible and you place yourself under the authority which Jesus himself appointed.
3. Jesus established an apostolic succession and apostolic tradition* which hands down His authentic teachings and those of the apostles
But, you may ask, has this divinely appointed authority been preserved in the Church until our own day? Yes it has, through apostolic succession and apostolic tradition. After Judas died, Peter and the apostles immediately chose a successor to replace him (Acts 1:15-26). We also see in the New Testament the apostles ordaining presbyters (Acts 14:23, Tit 1:5), and handing down their own authority to their successors: "what you heard from me entrust to faithful teachers who will be able to teach others also" (2 Tim 2:2). We also read of a triple structure of authority in the New Testament which includes bishops, presbyters (priests) and deacons (1 Tim 3:1,8, 5:17). From the earliest times, bishops have been considered to be the successors of the apostles, with the bishop of Rome being the successor of Peter, who died in Rome. And so the unity of the Church is safeguarded through the passing down of Christ's teachings by the apostolic succession of the bishop of Rome, the pope, in union with all the other bishops, the successors of the other apostles.
The first and most natural reaction to this claim is often: "why should I submit myself to the authority of these men? History has shown how people can abuse their authority and make errors of judgment!" It is true than whenever people exercise positions of authority there is a danger of abuse of authority. Yet we are never totally free of human authority in spiritual matters. The moment we attend a church, we begin to submit to the pastor's authority and teachings - which can also stray from truth and charity. And if we entirely reject authority and accountability, then we become our own authority, with our own fallibility, limitations and blind spots. In other words, we must chose the authority under which we submit: either it will be the authority that Christ himself appointed, under which he promised that "the Spirit of truth will guide you into all truth" (Jn 16:13) and against which "the gates of Hades will not prevail" (Mat 16:18), or it will be the fallible authority of someone else. Rejecting the authority of the pope means that every pastor, or even every individual becomes his own 'pope'. This is not a recipe for unity but for anarchy. Much better is to accept the authority which Christ has appointed and which faithfully guards Christ's teachings, as He has promised!
By joining the Catholic Church you get to tap into the authentic teachings of Jesus and the apostles as passed down through apostolic tradition!
4. The infallibility* of the Church gives us certainty in what to believe and in how to live
The best reason for submitting to the authority of the Catholic Church is because Jesus has endowed it with a special charism of infallibility which safeguards doctrinal unity and guarantees certainty in her teachings. If you have been a Protestant, Evangelical Christian or Messianic Jew for a while, you will probably have heard hundreds of different sermons and teachings interpreting the Bible in different ways that sometimes seriously contradict each other. Perhaps you count yourself among the many believers who feel more confused and less certain about your faith now than a few years ago because of all the different and contradictory teachings, theories, and interpretations of the Bible that you have heard.
Jesus never intended for it to be that way. Nowhere in the Bible do we see every believer consulting his/her Bible and deciding for himself/herself what to believe without appealing to a higher authority. Believers in the first four centuries of the Church did not even have a New Testament they could consult (the NT canon was only closed in 393-397 AD). Their ultimate authority in matters of faith and morals was the authority of the apostles and their successors. We have just seen how Jesus promised to the apostles that "the gates of Hades will not prevail" against the Church, and that the Holy Spirit would lead them into all truth and "will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you" (Jn 14:26). Indeed, the Church is called in the New Testament the "pillar and foundation of truth" (1 Tim 3:15).
Though our post-modern society exalts skepticism and uncertainty, it is impossible to build one's life without a solid foundation. Bible believers do have a foundation in Christ and in the Word of God, but this foundation is often undermined by all the conflicting interpretations of Scripture. By contrast, it is a wonderful thing to be certain about what to believe and how to live. The Holy Spirit has faithfully guided the Church for two thousand years so that we can know with confidence how the apostles and the first believers understood and interpreted the Scriptures. Read for yourself the Catechism of the Catholic Church (or its shorter Compendium) to gain clarity on what the Scriptures really say in light of the Church's tradition about important matters such as God's revelation, creation, the nature of man, the Trinity, the divinity of the Messiah, his expected second coming, the Holy Spirit, the nature of the Church, Mary the mother of Jesus, life after death, the effects of baptism, the Lord's Supper, how we are saved, and much more.
Equally as important is the question of how we are to live, or important moral issues. Though the Bible is clear on certain moral issues, on others it is not. Which commandments were preconditioned by time and culture, and which ones are absolute and unchanging? For example, the Bible forbids the shaving of the corners of one's beard, the printing of tattoos, and the eating of shrimp, and it commands women to cover their heads when praying; yet it has nothing to say against abortion, slavery, artificial insemination or human cloning. How are we to interpret the Ten Commandments today? Without authoritative tradition, believers remain at the whim of their pastor's interpretation of the Scriptures; or they must rely on their own private judgment, easily prone to error, and they will find it very difficult to clearly know what is right or wrong. The result can fluctuate between individualistic moral anarchy, where one falls into many sins out of ignorance, and slavish moral legalism, where one abstains from many good things through the fear that they may be sinful. Much better is to draw from the well of the Church's timeless wisdom, guided by the Holy Spirit, in order to really know what is right and wrong and thus find joyful freedom in living out a holy life.
Of course, the infallibility of the Church does not mean that its leaders will always lead an impeccable life. The pope, bishops and priests are sinners too, and they are not immune against moral failure, as this has often happened and, sadly, will happen again. Yet this is another testimony of God's faithfulness and greatness, that He infallibly guides in matters of faith and morals a Church made of fallible sinners like you and me.
By joining the Catholic Church you can know for sure what to believe and how to live regarding the most important matters of life!
5. The Church conveys to us the fullness of the means of salvation* and of the means to grow in holiness and in virtue*
If you believe in Christ and have been baptized, then you are already on the road to salvation. However, accepting Christ by faith as Lord and Savior is not enough to be saved, according to the Bible. Jesus himself said that "not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven" (Mt 7:21), and that only "he who endures to the end shall be saved" (Mt 24:13). Paul, the great apostle, warned believers to remain in God's goodness, "otherwise you also will be cut off" (Rom 11:22). He exhorts us to "work out your salvation in fear and trembling" (Phil 2:12) and speaks of disciplining his own body and bringing it under subjection "lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified" (1 Cor 9:27). Our works also play an important role towards our salvation, since "God will repay each one according to his works" (Rom 2:5-8, 2 Cor 5:10, 1 Pet 1:17, Rev 20:12-13).
We are saved entirely by God's grace, with no initial merit on our part (Eph 2:8). However, we must also work out our salvation in fear and trembling, and "must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22). As a believer in Jesus, you already have many of the "tools" that help you to work out your salvation in cooperation with God's grace: through faith in Christ and baptism you have had your former sins washed away and received His forgiveness; by reading the Word of God you learn His will to some degree and follow His guidance; through prayer you receive God's help and strength; through praise He touches you with His joy; through works of charity you grow in his likeness and in His selflessness.
However, by remaining outside of the Church, you are missing out on many of the "tools" that Jesus has given us to advance our salvation and that of the world, and to help us grow in holiness. You are continuing on the road to salvation with only "partial equipment" to reach the goal, and thus this goal will be much more difficult to reach. We have already discussed the importance of authority: detached from the Church's authoritative tradition you are exposed to false teachings which may slow you down and even stop you on your way to salvation. You are missing out on the Eucharist, Christ's own body and blood and the most intimate union between the Bridegroom and His bride (see below). You are also deprived of most of the other sacraments which the Lord has given us and which convey to us his power and his grace in a very real way. You do not fully benefit of the protection and intercession of our mother Mary and of the full communion of the saints in heaven and on earth, since possibly you do not even believe in them - and much more!
By joining the Catholic Church you get to tap into the fullness of the blessings that the Lord has given us for our salvation and sanctification!
6. The Church's Sacred Liturgy* inserts us into the Paschal Mystery and joins us with the heavenly worship of the angels and saints
If you have been going to an Evangelical church or Messianic congregation for a while, you have no doubt gotten accustomed to loosely structured meetings, perhaps charismatic, with much emphasis on lively praise and worship, and extensive preaching from the Bible. Though there is nothing wrong with this format, it does bear the problem that it is heavily dependant upon the quality of the ministers. If the worship team is lousy and the preacher boring or irrelevant, there is hardly any point in showing up there. It may well be more beneficial to stay at home and pray alone or with a few friends. Many believers who have been exposed to evangelical/messianic worship for a while begin to feel a need for worship which is less centered upon man and more centered upon God, with less talking, less activities and programs, less novelty, less hype, but rather more depth, more reverence, more mystery and more awe before our Maker. In other words, they long for liturgy.
Often, when we pray to God in our own words we run out of things to say. This is quite normal, for everyone feels at times spiritually weak, tired, uninspired, or dry. In this case, you may have picked up a Bible and prayed the psalms out loud, and felt how the inspired words of Scripture, turned into your own prayer, lifted your soul and expressed things that you could not have come up with on your own. This is the power of the liturgy: the lofty words of prayer uttered by the inspired biblical authors or the spiritual masters and saints, drawn from the rich spiritual treasures of the Church, become your own words. These words unite your mind and heart with the great spiritual figures that preceded us and draw you into the Church's timeless liturgy, united with the heavenly liturgy which transcends time and space.
Liturgical prayer, of course, has been the traditional and historical way of common prayer in both Judaism and Christianity since the origins of the two faiths. While it is important to always nurture a personal, spontaneous dialogue with the Lord in one's private prayer life, the public prayer of God's people has always been primarily liturgical.
By joining the Catholic Church you become a part of the rich Sacred Tradition of the Church and an active participant in her Sacred Liturgy, the very heart of Christ's Paschal Mystery celebrated in union with all the angels and saints in heaven and on earth!
7. The Church mediates to us Christ's sacraments*: the channels of God's grace, God's life and God's love poured out into us
The greatest and most powerful gifts that the Lord has given us, and the most amazing testimony of His love are the seven sacraments which He instituted. Through the seven sacraments the Messiah endows us with His very life and love. One could say that they are like "channels" connecting heaven and earth by which God pours out His grace onto His children. They fill us with the Holy Spirit; they heal us, cleanse us, feed us, and strengthen us. Since they impart to us God's life, they are the most effective means by which we are made holy; they are also the most powerful weapons by which we wage spiritual warfare. The sacraments are not just symbols but signs that actually convey God's grace and love. The seven sacraments are:
Baptism*: the new birth that washes away our sins (Tit 3:5), gives us the Holy Spirit, and baptizes us into Christ's death and resurrection (Rom 6:3-7).
Confirmation*: the fullness of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit which strengthens us and inserts us fully into the Church's mission (Acts 8:14-17).
The Eucharist*: the greatest of sacraments where the Messiah feeds us with His own Body and Blood, soul and divinity (Mark 14:22-24, Jn 6:53).
Reconciliation (Confession)*: the way to receive forgiveness for sins committed after baptism, entrusted by Jesus to the apostles (Jn 20:22-23).
Anointing of the Sick*: grants us help to endure illness and sometimes heals us, cleanses our soul, and helps us to prepare to meet God (Js 5:14-15).
Matrimony*: In marriage, husband and wife become a living sign of the faithful relationship between Christ and the Church (Eph 5:21-33)
Holy Orders*: Jesus called certain men to a special priestly ministry, in addition to our own role as 'kingdom of priests' (Rom 15:15-16).
Tragically, at the time of the Protestant reformation, large numbers of Christians lost five of these seven sacraments, and this sad situation remains to our own day. These sacraments were lost partly because the reformers lost faith in them, and partly because they rejected the priesthood (Holy Orders) upon which they are dependent, for the sacraments of confirmation, the Eucharist, reconciliation, and the anointing of the sick require a validly ordained priesthood (and apostolic succession) to be validly administered. Only the sacraments of baptism and matrimony remain among those believers who have not retained apostolic succession. Even worse, an increasing number of Messianic groups who baptize only in the name of Jesus rather than in the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, do not even have a valid baptism. The Orthodox churches, by contrast, though they are not in union with the papacy, have retained valid apostolic succession and Holy Orders, and therefore still have seven valid sacraments.
By joining the Catholic Church you get to receive the fullness of Christ's power and love that he gives us through the seven sacraments!
8. In the Church you can receive the great gift of the Eucharist*: the Body and Blood of the Lord and the source and summit of the Christian life.
The Eucharist is called "the sacraments of sacraments" and is "the source and summit of the Christian life." It is such a great gift that it is a reason in itself - indeed perhaps the greatest reason - for joining the Catholic Church. At the Last Supper - a Passover Seder - Jesus said to his disciples after he blessed the bread and the wine: "Take and eat; this is my body... this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins" (Mt 26:26-28). He then commanded them: "Do this in memory of me" (Luke 22:19). At the first Passover, which initiated the Exodus out of Egypt, God commanded the Israelites to sacrifice a lamb and sprinkle its blood on the doorposts as protection against the angel of death. Then they ate the lamb as a sign of their covenant with God. At the Last Supper Jesus revealed himself as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, seals a new covenant with us and protects us from eternal death.
Now we also must eat the lamb - the body and blood of the new Paschal sacrifice which becomes present before us at every Mass. Jesus himself had previously said: "unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life... For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink" (Jn 6:53-55). This was a shocking statement, and as a result many of his disciples left him (Jn 6:66). Sadly, this is similar to what happened at the Reformation, when many Christians decided they could no longer accept the words of the Savior. Since then, a large part of Christianity has tragically been deprived of the Eucharist, God's greatest gift to us, either because they don't have faith in the Real Presence or because they have no valid priesthood, necessary to consecrate the bread and wine so that they become the body and blood of the Lord. And so they remain with a communion service which, though it may remember the Lord's Passion in a beautiful way, merely consists of bread and wine rather than the Lord's true and substantial presence given to them. As a result, since non-Catholic believers do not accept the full teachings of the Catholic Church, they are not permitted to occasionally go to a Catholic church and receive the Eucharist. This is because the sacrament is a sign of full communion and full unity between believers (CCC 1400), and sharing the Eucharist together with those who do not fully accept the authority and teachings of the Church would falsely give the impression that there exists a full unity between us, while in reality we have not yet attained this full unity of faith. This is not a rejection of our non-Catholic brothers and sisters in Christ, but rather an invitation to them to learn more about the Catholic faith so that they too may come to full unity with the Church and partake of the Lambs banquet!
The loss of the Eucharist to so many believers is particularly sad because the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist was uncontested for the first millennium of Christian history. Paul himself wrote that "whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord" (1 Cor 11:27). About 50 years later (107 AD), bishop Ignatius of Antioch wrote that "heretics abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ" (Letter to Smyrnaeans 6,2,2). Many other Church Fathers used equally strong language testifying of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
By joining the Catholic Church you get to partake of the marriage supper of the Lamb and eat at the Lord's Table at every Mass. You get to receive God's greatest gift, the Eucharist - the body and blood, soul and divinity of the Lord who loved you and gave himself for you. This is the most possible intimate union on earth between God and man, a kiss between heaven and earth which nothing else can replace. When you receive the Eucharist, you receive God's very life of love which supercharges you with His power and His grace. Is this really something that you want to do without?
9. In the Catholic Church you become fully united with our earthly and heavenly family: the communion of saints*.
God does not only save us as individuals. He saves us "in bunches" - as a family, a community, a people, a kingdom. Many believers have a rather individualistic view of salvation, seeing it as primarily "me and Jesus." They do ask others here on earth to pray for them, but deny that any help from the saints in heaven is possible or desirable. They see such mediation as a form of spiritism condemned in Deut 18, or a violation of 1 Tim 2:5 which states that there is "one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus." Jesus is of course our one mediator before God, but this does not mean that we can't participate in this mediation. Every time you pray for someone, you are actually mediating for him/her before God. God in fact encourages this type of intercessory mediation (1 Tim 2:1), and we can see in the New Testament that it also continues after death, where the saints who have gone to be with the Lord continue to be with us and help us along the way towards our final goal. They are a "great cloud of witnesses" (Heb 12:1) that surrounds us, the "spirits of just men made perfect" to whom we come in the heavenly Jerusalem (Heb 12:22-23). Even the rich man who suffers in Hades intercedes for his brothers still alive and asks Abraham to send Lazarus to his father's house to warn them (Luke 16:19-31). The rich man plays here - in purgatory? - an intercessory role, and Abraham acts as mediator between him, God, and his brothers. In the book of Revelation we also see elders and angels bringing to God bowls of incense, which are the prayers of the saints on earth (Rev 5:8, 8:3), and the souls of martyrs supplicating God: "how long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?" (Rev 6:9)
God is interested in the personal salvation of each one of us, but He is just as interested in the communion of love between us, a communion which cannot be broken by death (Rom 8:35-39). God's family includes all members of His Church, whether on earth, in heaven, or those still being purified in purgatory (1 Cor 3:12-15). The saints who have preceded us are our examples in holiness; there in heaven their love has become complete, and they are in an even better position to help us with their prayers than when they were on earth. They pray for us from above, we can ask for their help from here below, and we are also called to pray for those who suffer in purgatory. If you have ever had a loved one pass away, is it not one of the most natural and human reactions to pray for him/her or to ask for his or her help from heaven?
By joining the Catholic Church you take a full part in the eternal, loving communion of saints in heaven, on earth and in purgatory.
10. Jesus has given us His mother Miriam* (Mary) as our own mother who loves us and watches over us
God has given us a mother. When Jesus, a few moments before his death, saw His mother Mary and his disciple John at the foot of the cross, he said to Mary "behold your Son" and to John "behold your mother" (Jn 19:26). In His hour of agony, Jesus was doing more than a private family arrangement. He was making Mary the mother of all humanity.
When the eternal Son of God became man, he dwelt in the womb of this young Jewish virgin for nine months. Just as the Ark of the Covenant had previously been a holy vessel containing the true presence of God in the Tabernacle and Temple, God chose Mary to be His holy "Ark of the New Covenant" containing His very presence. In order to prepare her for such a noble task, he gave her the fullness of His grace and saved her from all sin. This is why the angel greeted her with the words: "Hail, full of grace" (Luk 1:28).
God's 'business' throughout Scripture is to humble the proud and to exalt the lowly, as Mary herself said: "He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted the lowly" (Luke 1:51-52). God chose to enter humanity through this most humble young woman. In the Gospels her role is modest and self-effaced. Her greatness is not revealed through great words or actions, but rather through her quiet faith and obedience to God's Word, and her faithfulness in raising Jesus and in giving herself entirely to His person and work. Yet with prophetic foresight she also saw that God would give her an exalted place in the story of salvation when she said: "all generations will call me blessed" (Luke 1:48).
We can catch a glimpse of Mary's exalted role in the book of Revelation. In a heavenly vision, John sees the Ark of the Covenant appear in the heavenly temple (Rev 11:19). Immediately afterward, he sees "a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars," who "being with child... cried out in labor and in pain to give birth" to "a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron" (Rev 12:1-2,5). This child is the Messiah Jesus, and his mother, the woman, is Mary, daughter of Israel and mother of the Church. She is also the woman whose seed would bruise the head of the serpent, as God promised after the Fall of Adam and Eve (Gen 3:15). Mary plays a key role in spiritual warfare against the devil: "And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ" (Rev 12:17). Who are "the rest of the woman's offspring"? We are. Mary is our loving mother, our model, and our advocate. She prays for us and helps us along the way to heaven. She does not take Jesus' place but rather leads us to Him. By following her example of humility, obedience, faithfulness, holiness and love, we will grow in her likeness and in the likeness of Jesus.
By joining the Catholic Church you come into full communion with God's human family whose mother and model is Mary: daughter of Israel, mother of the Messiah, and mother of the Church.
An Eleventh Reason: "Outside the Church there is no Salvation"
Having reviewed ten reasons for entering the Catholic Church, it is worth examining an eleventh reason which logically derives from the first ten: the Church is necessary for salvation (though this statement needs to be understood correctly). Some of the Church Fathers expressed this in rather blunt statements. Cyprian of Carthage, for example, wrote in the third century:
"On him [Peter] [the Lord] builds the Church, and to him he gives the command to feed the sheep he founded a single chair, and he established by his own authority a source and an intrinsic reason for that unity. . . . If someone [today] does not hold fast to this unity of Peter, can he imagine that he still holds the faith? If he [should] desert the chair of Peter upon whom the Church was built, can he still be confident that he is in the Church?" (St. Cyprian of Carthage, De unit. 4; [A.D. 251])
"He cannot have God for his father, who has not the Church for his mother." (St. Cyprian, De unit. 6: PL 4, 519)
Does this mean that anyone who is not formally Catholic, including believing Christians, cannot be saved? No. As we have seen above, if you are a baptized Christian in good faith, you are already in partial communion with the Catholic Church, and you are tapping into Jesus' saving power which He entrusted to the Church.
Objectively, the one Catholic Church which Jesus founded and to which He has given the fullness of truth and of grace is necessary for salvation: "Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it" (CCC 846). In other words, if someone feels genuinely convicted by the Holy Spirit of the truth of the Catholic Church, but willfully and stubbornly resists the Lord's leading and guidance to enter it, then he may indeed be endangering his own salvation.
Subjectively, however, the Lord is merciful and will not condemn those who are not aware, through no fault of their own, of the salvific nature of Christ's Church - and this includes most non-Catholic believers (already in partial, imperfect communion with the Church) who are not fully aware or do not adequately understand the Catholic Church's claims:
"Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience - those too may achieve eternal salvation." (CCC 847)
Ultimately, it is Jesus who saves. The main question here is how does he save us? Is faith in Him enough? There is ample scriptural evidence* indicating that faith alone is not enough and that we will also be judged according to our works. Jesus also emphasized the importance of being baptized (Mark 16:16), of "eating his flesh and drinking his blood" (Jn 6:53-54), and of submitting to the authority of his apostles (Mat 16:19, 18:18, Lk 10:16, Jn 20:23) to receive his forgiveness and eternal life. This means that the fullness of Jesus' gifts has been entrusted to his Catholic Church. This does not mean, however, that Catholics are automatically in better standing with God than non-Catholic believers. On the contrary, Catholics who have received the fullness of truth and grace have a greater responsibility to bring forth fruits for the Kingdom: "to whom much is given, much will be required." On the other hand, there are many non-Catholic believers who live remarkable lives of faith, hope and love. God will surely not fail to reward them, provided they "persevere until the end" in seeking the truth, even if, through no fault of their own, they do not formally find their way into the Catholic Church.
God wants everyone to be Catholic?
What conclusion can we draw from all this? That God wants everyone to be Catholic so that they can have access to the fullness of His blessings and grace! As the Church teaches:
"To reunite all his children, scattered and led astray by sin, the Father willed to call the whole of humanity together into his Son's Church. The Church is the place where humanity must rediscover its unity and salvation. The Church is "the world reconciled." She is that bark which "in the full sail of the Lord's cross, by the breath of the Holy Spirit, navigates safely in this world." According to another image dear to the Church Fathers, she is prefigured by Noah's ark, which alone saves from the flood." (CCC 845)
Such as statement is not likely to be popular in our societies dictated by religious relativism and political correctness. In addition, you may think that the world would be a very boring place if everyone were Catholic. But this is not true: the fact that God is interested in everyone coming to the fullness of truth and salvation does not mean that He enjoys monotony. On the contrary, the unity of the Church leaves full room for the great diversity of peoples, cultures, customs and traditions of the world. "The great richness of such diversity is not opposed to the Church's unity" (CCC 814). Likewise, "the Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in [other] religions" (NA 2). And so there is ample room for Evangelical, charismatic and even Jewish spirituality and prayer within the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.
So... What's the Catch?
At this point you may be wondering: "If the Catholic Church has so much to offer, then... what's the catch? It seems too good to be true." You may have some common objections:
I have read some Church history and know that Catholics have done horrible things in the past...
This is true. No one denies that the Church is made of sinners, some of which have been a terrible scandal to the Christian faith. Pope John Paul II himself has invited the Church to become more fully conscious of the sinfulness of her children. She acknowledges as her own her sinful sons and daughters and encourages them to purify themselves, through repentance, of past errors and instances of infidelity, inconsistency and slowness to act (Memory and Reconciliation: The Church and the Faults of the Past 1.3). Yet the Church has also produced countless extraordinary saints throughout the ages - those who have faithfully lived the Church's life and teachings. They are the true children of the Church who best reflect the Church's nature to be the sacrament of Christ in the world. Despite the faults and weaknesses of Catholics, the Church remains no less the fount and source of Christ's life and love which He wishes to give you.
The Catholic Church just wants to control peoples' lives...
Quite honestly, 99.9999% percent of Catholics, including the clergy, will never know that you entered the Church. The pope does not get lists of names of the Church's latest "catches." The Church is not interested in controlling anyone; rather she is interested in the world's salvation, in obedience to the command of her founder to "go and make disciples of all nations," so that people may "share in the communion between the Father and the Son in their Spirit of love" (CCC 850) and turn from sin and death to joy and hope of eternal life.
I know many Catholics who are lukewarm or not even believers. I find much more life and faith in my Evangelical church...
It is true that many non-Catholic believers seem to have a more vibrant faith than many Catholics. These believers deserve praise for their living faith, hope and charity. Equally true is the fact that many Catholics are in dire need of being evangelized and converted back to God. Yet this does not change the fact that by remaining outside of the Church you are missing out on some of Christ's most important gifts which He gave to us, as we have seen above.
I have been to some Catholic churches where the priest is boring. I am not being spiritually fed by his sermons, and I sometimes wonder if he even has any faith at all...
Sadly, it is true that there are priests who are ineffective preachers, who have lost their own personal faith or even actively dissent from the Church's teachings. This is indeed a tragedy, and we must pray for these priests and even evangelize them if necessary. It is also tragic that there are some who are ineffective in teaching and preaching the Word of God. Sometimes it is possible to find another Catholic church in the area with a better priest. If this is not possible, even though such a situation is indeed a serious problem, it is important to know that even a "bad priest" remains empowered by the Church to validly administer the sacraments. And so it is not quite accurate to say that you are not "spiritually fed", since even a "boring priest" has the power to give you absolution from your sins in confession and to give you the Body and Blood of the Lord at Mass. As for teaching and preaching, the important thing is to be well versed in Scripture and in the teachings of the Church as summarized in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (and its Compendium). There are also countless books, and resources available on the internet, such as Catholics for Israel's Online Course, though which you can learn more about Scripture and the Catholic faith
I am Jewish. I will never betray my Jewish faith and heritage.
"You can't be more Jewish than to be Catholic!" Explore this website to find answers as to why the Catholic faith fulfills Judaism without abolishing it and how you can be fully Catholic and still live as a faithful Jew.
If you do begin to consider entering the Catholic Church, what obstacles and difficulties are you liable to encounter on your way "home"?
Becoming Catholic has a cost. You will need much humility, an open mind, possibly the willingness to let go of old prejudices, and a deep and prayerful desire to receive the fullness of what God has for you. You will need to pray much and study diligently. You will need courage, patience and perseverance, both before and after your baptism and/or formal reception into the Church, to "endure until the end." You may encounter a lack of understanding and possibly rejection and persecution from your family, friends, and current faith community. Or, you may be faced with a lack of encouragement and even apathy coming from Catholics who don't understand your journey of faith and the price that it has cost you.
The journey to God is paved with difficulties, but it is also surrounded by God's infinite grace and all-encompassing love for you. He is calling you to a life of self-giving love. He is calling you to Himself. Will you answer the call?
What should I do now?
If you feel that God may be calling you into the Catholic Church:
Build your relationship with God. Pray daily - speak with Him and ask Him to lead you and guide you into His truth and light.
Study the Catholic faith, either with Catholics for Israel, or through other Catholic resources (see links).
Find a Catholic Church in the area and begin to attend Mass and to learn about Catholic prayer and liturgy.
Get together with faithful Catholics who know and love their faith so that they can help you progress on your journey to God.
Speak with a priest about your desire to become Catholic. Pay close attention to what he says, and make sure he is faithful to the Church. If you find that he dissents from any of the Church's teachings as taught in the Catechism, or tells you that you don't really need to become Catholic, leave and find another priest.
May the Lord bless you and keep you on your journey to God!
(Quelle: Catholics for Israel: http://www.israelcatholic.com/)
The Walk of The Believer -Ephesians 4:1-3
What does it mean to walk the Christian Walk?
You have probably heard it said; Dont just talk the talk, but walk the walk as well. This phrase is common in many areas of society, whether it be in our jobs, at school, in sports, or whatever. What it means is if you are going to participate in such and such, do whatever it is you are going to do in such a manner that you bring honour to whatever it is you are involved in. Dont go at it half way, give it your best shot, do the best you can do at whatever it is you are involved in. It is all well to talk big saying I am real good at .. But do your actions back up your mouth? As a youth I often heard it said that talk is cheap, which is another way of saying something like, your actions dont back up your mouth.
In the Christian life, we also should back up our mouths with our actions. There are many nominal Christians out in the world who are good at talking Christianese. But their actions, their day to day behaviour says they are not Christians, because they behave like the world. They behave just the rest of the secularized world. Others looking at them would never recognise them as Christians.
What would you think for example of a guy who goes to church every Sunday, all dressed up to the max, and then when he goes to work Monday through Friday he drinks like a fish at night in the bars, swears like a sailor, and gets into bar room brawls on Saturday night? The outside world would never associate him as being a Christian, would they? But, sadly that is how many nominal Christians behave. What is a nominal Christian you may ask? It is one who is a Christian in name only, but in reality is really not a Christian. Those who profess to be Christians, but behave like the world, give the name of Christ a bad reputation. How can we blame unsaved people from not wanting to become a Christian if they see called Christianity behaving like drunken sailors, cheats, thiefs etc.? They have every good reason to call us hypocrites.
A story is told by an un-known writer, about an elderly man who retired after many years in the British army. One day a man who knew about his long history and distinguished military career decided to play a prank on him. As the old soldier walked down the street with his arms full of packages, the jokester sneaked up behind him and shouted, Attention! Without hesitation, the military man dropped his arms to his side, and every package went tumbling to the sidewalk. Without a conscious thought, the veteran was doing what comes naturally to a soldier.
Similarly, as believers in Christ, our behaviour as Christians should mirror, and correspond to the new life in Christ which has been granted us since we gave our lives over to Him. Our lives should mirror more the example of Christ living in us. Though we are still dealing with sinful flesh on this side of eternity, we need to exemplify the kind of person that God wants us to be. When an athlete is performing in the Olympics, he behaves as an Olympian. If he does not he is often disqualified, and he is shamed. A soldier also in training behaves like a soldier or he is discharged, or perhaps put into military prison. As a Christian we likewise need to put into practice the deeds of a Christian and we should not in any way be seen to be behaving in any manner that puts to shame the name of Christ.
By faith in Christ, we have become children of God, who are empowered and enabled to walk the walk of a believer by the enabling power of the Holy Spirit. To walk the walk of a believer is to put into practice the teachings and ways of Christ, so that the world may see Christ living in us.
Richard W. De Haan writes an analogy likewise showing how some do or do not walk the walk. A new Christian was reading through the Gospels. After she finished she told a friend she wanted to read a book on church history. When her friend asked why, the woman replied, Im curious. Ive been wondering when Christians started to become so unlike Christ. What a testimony that is to Christianity. Whether the story is real or not, it is a true statement of what the church has become. It is said, if you want to know what the world is like, look at the church. Why? Because if the church is strong, standing up to its beliefs, being the standard bearer, being in a sense the judge of the world, setting the moral example, the world will be in line with the church. But sadly, the mainline churches have slacked off; have allowed immoral standards to creep into her midst and the consequences are not hard to see. The world has slipped into a slimy pit of immorality, mirroring the days before God flooded the earth because the whole world had become corrupt and immoral.
And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. Gen. 5:5 KJV
How can we blame a new believer as above to wonder what has happened to true Christianity, when it would appear the majority of Christian churches have slipped, appearing to be no different than the world. We have become so un-Christ-like. Rather than trying to behave as true believers, imitating the life of Christ, many so called Christians are imitating the world, rather than Christ.
Roughly 2,000 years ago the name 'Christians' first appeared on the earth. (Acts 11:26) It is true that many today still bear that name, but how many bear the image of Christ? In other words, when he comes back to call His own home , will He find any true Christians? What a sad state of affairs that would be for Christ to come to call home His elect, and to find none but nominal Christians!
Paul writes; For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. Eph. 2:10 KJV
This tells us that we are saying unto the world, we are following Him, who is Christ Jesus our Saviour.
How dare we then, who bear His glorious name, foul the name of Christ, bring shame to Him, dishonour what He has done for us on the cross by behaving as the world, indulge in every fantasy, in every sinful act that God has decried as evil, as an abomination, doing the same shameful deeds as they who Jesus will one day say; Depart from me into everlasting fire to the pit of hell created for fallen angels.?
Should we not be more like the Master, should we not, live and grow, love as He has loved, showing the world the love of our Master? Should we not deny our self-indulgences, like the Galilean? Should not our motto be; 'More like the Master I long to be!
A true story is told of a missionary who was once captured by rebels and they held a gun to his head. They told him to renounce Christ or die. He replied; Pull the trigger. By Gods providence and mercy, the trigger was pulled, but it jammed. Shortly others came to his rescue and the rebels escaped. Can you picture in your mind, to be at church the following Sunday to hear this missionary say; Friends, we must be faithful, even unto death. Would his listeners not have heard him in a different more profound, powerful way than by one whom had not had a gun pointed at his head, and been told to renounce Christ? His message would have been; if it is important enough for me to die for Christ, should you also not live for him, being ready to die?
Paul likewise, when he was imprisoned for his undiminished testimony and stand for Christ wrote to his fellow brothers, telling them of his imprisonment and stand, and also telling them that what he was doing, he was doing so that they would also follow his example and live for Christ; to live as Christians, and if need be to die as a Christians, standing up boldly proclaiming Christ not only in word, but in-deed also.
Paul was telling them, to not only talk the talk, but to walk the walk also.
One of the biggest barriers we have to reaching the world for Christ is our witness to others by our walk. We are being witnessed every day by others, seeing how we live, how we behave. Do we portray a Christ-like life in our everyday words, deeds, behaviours? The world sees these so called Christians, these nominal Christians, and they see that they, like many of us are hypocrites. They see the office worker who goes to church on Sunday, but behaves like scum the rest of the week. So why, tell me why would they want to become Christians? Sunday morning pulpit preachers and teachers and parishioners are, found in adultery; found viewing pornography, found molesting kids, found in adult book stores, found smoking dope, drinking to excess, etc. Are they a true testimony to the world of what it is to walk the walk? Is it no wonder we are unable to reach the lost of the world for Christ with that kind of testimony? Our words have no power when the world sees us behaving the same as they are. The truth of the gospel is small talk; it is cheap talk to the eyes of the world, when so called Christians do the same as the world.
What does Paul say in Romans Chapter 2 regarding the likes of those who talk the talk, but do not walk the walk, doing the same as the world? Therefore, thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever that art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things. KJV Rom. 2: 1
Do you? Are you condemning yourself?
Is this not the hour to manifest once and for all true Christ-likeness? Shall we continue to debase the name of Christ? Shall we profess the name of Christ one moment and slander it at the next moment by our witnessed walk? True Christianity must not only be witnessed with the mouth, it must also be believed in the heart, and lived in our daily lives as we walk among the heathen, among our fellow workers in banks, in malls, bowling alleys, in the parks, down the ski slopes, and not only in the church alone.
The book of Ephesians is a strong commentary of the Christian life, both in the here and now and in the coming promises of eternal life. One of the main themes of the book of Ephesians is the mystery of the wonderful truth revealed now to both to the Gentile and Jew. Both believing Gentile and Jew are now one in Christ, being fellow members of the Body of Christ awaiting our redemption where we will be transformed into our new glorified bodies.
Chapter one called the mystery, looks forward to the time, (a dispensation,) when all things shall be brought under control, under the leadership of Jesus Himself. (Ephesians 1: 9,10, 21-23) and all believers shall reign with Him.
Chapter 2 describes the process of salvation by the grace of God, by which believing sinners are reconciled to Him, becoming one with Him as new creations, where God dwells in the human temple, by way of His Holy Spirit.
Chapter 3 continues to explain the mystery of Christ (verse 4) whereby all believers become fellow heirs, partakers of Gods promise (verse 6)
And now we look a little closer at what it is to be true walkers of the Christian faith emphasizing also unity of the body of Christ.
Read Ephesians 4:1-3 to see if we can get an idea what it is to Walk the Christian Walk, not to just talk the talk.
Remember this first though, to walk the Christian walk is not a Fire Insurance to make sure you get to heaven. Many so called Christians have taken on that attitude. They want a simple easy Christian life, getting that Fire Insurance to heaven, without the added responsibility to live as Christ would have us to live. They do not want to Walk the Walk but merely to just be good at Talking the Talk. Is this the life Christ has called us to? They may find at the time of reckoning that they will be surprised when God sends them in the opposite direction, of what they expected. Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatever a man soweth, that he shall also reap. Galatians 6:7 KJV
In the opening verse of Ephesians Chapter 4, there are two very important words which we should take notice of. They are the words, therefore and beseech. First of all, when you see the word therefore, in scripture you have to keep in mind that the writer is about to move from an important precious thought, idea, ready to expand on it to another dimension. In the previous chapters Paul wrote of the Spiritual Blessings of the Christian, both now and future, and now moves to the practical aspects, the importance of Walking the Walk.
The Apostle Paul, also uses the word beseech, when he says, I, (...), beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called. (Eph. 4:1 NKJV) The word beseech means to ask earnestly, to plead, to implore. It is an appeal to walk worthy of the calling of the life we now have in Christ. In other words we are to behave at all times, in all ways, in all manners as Christ would in all situations.
To be called of Christ is a calling which carries with it an honour, a prestige, nobility. To be called means that we are ambassadors for Christ. What higher honour can there be than to be called of Christ, to be followers, resembling His life in us? We are to walk worthy of that calling.
I submit to you that the walk of the believer according to these first three verses includes not just a calling, but a correct attitude, and an endeavour to live up to an expectation worthy of what we have been called to as ambassadors, representatives and followers of Christ. In the King James 1611 the word used instead of calling is: vocation. The word vocation literally means a calling, to which you have been called. What is this calling we are called to? In the secular world, we think of the word vocation, or calling as a job, i.e. banker, teacher or whatever. In church we often think it means our calling, perhaps to become a missionary, a music leader, pastor, Sunday school teacher, or what have you.
All this is good and true, but we have a prior, higher calling, and that is to be saved. 2 Tim. 1:9 tells us God has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began. KJV
This is the greatest calling that we could ever have, to be called and saved by God. Remember, it is not us who calls upon God, but He calls us. The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin, convinces us of the sufficiency of Christ and causes us to be drawn near to Christ and to be saved. (Phil. 3:14)
Therefore, now we have been called to the highest calling, we are to live a life worthy of the name of Christ and to be called Christians. We must not do anything that will bring shame or dishonour to the name of Christ, by the things we say, do, dress, act, think, work etc.
Our walk, the Apostle Paul says is to include a right attitude. Our attitude, he says, is to be "with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love" (Eph. 4:2 NKJV).
Lowliness means to be humble. We are not to be prideful. We are to be conscience of our nothingness, to esteem others better than ourselves. Lowliness is the opposite of conceit and arrogance.
We are to walk in gentleness, or as the King James 1611 says, in meekness. Meekness is not weakness as some would have us to believe. Meekness however is to display the qualities of kindness, mildness, gentleness, and to be teachable. Jesus Himself said to take His yolk upon him, and to learn from Him for He is gentle, and lowly in heart. For you will find rest in your souls when you allow Him to be your all in all, to allow Him to take control of your life. Matt. 11:29
The Christian attitude is to be one of longsuffering. Longsuffering is to endure trouble, pain or injury brought on by another, and to be patient with others. Longsuffering means to be able to put up with insults criticism etc. without lashing back and getting angry. Longsuffering means to take the punishment meted out to you, without defending and avenging yourself. Rom. 12:19 tells us,Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. KJV. See also Deut. 32:35; Lev. 19:18
Jesus gave us the example when He was abused and taken to the cross and crucified, though He did no wrong. Also before the cross, he said,To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either. Luke 6:29 (NKJV)
Longsuffering also means to patiently bear the faults of others. After all, which one of us is perfect? Just think how much happier would be our homes, churches and places of work if we learned to patient with one another, excusing each others faults and shortcomings.
Thirdly Christians are to walk with an attitude of love. What does Paul say about the subject of love in 1 Cor. 13:4-7? He says love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up. Love does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, and thinks no evil. Love does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in truth. Love bears all things, hopes in all things, and endures all things.
Why are we as Christians able to put up with each other despite all our quirks and faults? It is because we have the love of Christ in us. How does that song go? They will know that we are Christians by our love, by our love. (written by Peter Scholtes additional words and music by Carolyn Arends. © 1966 by F.E.L. Publications, Ltd./ASCAP (1925 Pontius Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90025)). This is how we ought to treat one another, with love.
If you truly loved your neighbour, would you be doing anything to offend them, or cause them to be upset with you? Of course not! Yet we all do from time to time dont we? It is a good practice to think before we speak. That way when you are tempted to say something that is not nice to another, you will think twice before doing so and say something nice instead.
In years past it was common to see some folks wearing a bracelet with the initials; WWJD. It stood for 'What Would Jesus Do'. This was a constant reminder to act as Jesus would in all situations. Would Jesus purposely insult you, cut you down? Would Jesus pick on you? Would Jesus swear at you? Would Jesus go out of His way to defame your character behind your back? So why do we?
In verse 3 of Ephesians chapter 4, Paul says that we are to Endeavour to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. The key word of course is endeavour. What does the word endeavour mean? It means to try hard, to attempt earnestly, to make an effort, to strive towards a goal of action.
So Paul is saying here that we are to try to make an earnest effort at maintaining unity. We are to work hard at, or strive diligently and apply ourselves earnestly at maintaining a unity, a oneness, a harmony in the spirit of peace with our fellow man. This follows well what Paul has been appealing for us to do already, doesnt it? It is hard work for many to keep the peace no matter where you are at, whether it is at home, at work, at church, or even in your marriage.
Most of us want to do things our own way, rather than making an attempt at being agreeable, working in unity with one another. We cringe at the thought of compromising or agreeing with one another, when in reality we would rather do the opposite. To get along with others is hard work. We have to work hard at it.
Here are some examples of what it is to Endeavour to Keep the Peace in Unity. Sometimes you need to bite your tongue when you want to speak out if you feel wronged. Sometimes you need to do what others are doing rather than doing things your own way. You must be careful not to spread rumours. You need to avoid gossip, slander and dissing someone. Dont cut others up. Avoid sarcasm. Do not be negative with one another. Do not assume things about others until you have all the facts.
What do you think are the biggest problems in the church today? Division and disunity are probably the biggest problems in many churches today. Jesus said in Mark 3:25, And if a house is divided against itself that house cannot stand. (NKJV).
A divided church you see, is a dying church. In many of the bigger churches they find it difficult to accomplish maintenance projects because of all the infighting among themselves. Everyone has his or her own opinions on how this or that should be done, what colour, what wallpaper to use etc. And no ones opinion is right except your own. That unfortunately is the prevailing attitude in many churches today.
Unfortunately also there are those within the church whose sole ambition seems to be to cause disunity, to sow the seeds of disharmony, rather than to do the opposite. Some unfortunately thrive on controversy. Some go out of their way to sow seeds of discontent, to catch the preacher at a mistake, always looking for a way to cause division.
In every church youll always find those who are critical of everything that goes on within, criticizing leadership, or the way things are done, often dissuading change. God says in Prov. 6:19 that He hates the one who sows discord among brethren. If this be so, then we must work hard at guarding our tongues, our thoughts, our words and our actions.
Division is just not common in the church. Division is alive and well also in the home as well. It is just as important to keep unity and peace at home as it is in the church or at work or at play.
For example someone may want and insist on having the biggest piece of pie at supper time. Another may make certain that they get the most comfortable chair in front of the television. You may push your way into the bathroom first thing in the morning. Kids especially will fight to sit beside the window in the car. At play you may argue to be the captain of your 'pretend' ship. An older bigger kid may insist on being the captain of the 'throw together' baseball team. Adults and kids fight to have the best seat on the boat. The list goes on and on.
The same problems are found at work. Why do you think there is so much trouble at the work place, why are there so many strikes? There is always someone who wants to be top dog, to get their own way.
Is this a new phenomenon? It surely is not.
Disunity and disharmony began way back even before there was time on earth. Let us read briefly Isaiah 14:12-15.
How are you fallen from heaven O Lucifer, son of the morning? How are you cut down to the ground. You who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation On the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High. NKJV
Do you see it? He wanted the best place in front of the T.V. He wanted the best seat in the ball park. He wanted to be top dog. He was not satisfied with the position and place God had given him in the universe. He basically had it all, yet he was still not satisfied. Greed and pride go hand in hand.
Greed and pride also breeds disharmony and disunity. Greed and pride breeds division.
Do you now see why it is important to endeavour to be at peace with one another? Do you now see why it is important to have an attitude of humbleness, meekness, longsuffering and love?
What is the fate of those who strive to do otherwise? Let us return again to Isaiah 14:15. To Satan, God says, Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit. KJV This is a solemn warning. This may not be the destiny of all, especially believers, but Jesus makes it plain to those who want to be first that they shall not be first, but they shall be last. Matt. 19:30 And Mark says in 9:35,If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and the servant of all. KJV
So where is your heart? Pray and ask God to show you where your heart is at. It may be a scary thing to do, because you may not like what you see. But is it worth your while to continue your life with an unclean heart? Or will you strive to be a better person and follow the desires and commands of God.
What kind of a Christian are you? Do your desire to strive forward and accept the calling of salvation as God has laid it out for you? Do you desire to strive forward and work hard to have an attitude of lowliness and longsuffering and love? Are you endeavouring to work hard at maintaining unity and peace with not just your fellow Christian, but also with your fellow man?
Have you been Walking the Walk, or are you just Talking the Talk? If you have just been talking the talk? Pray now that God will change you from the inside out. And obey the commands to walk the walk, endeavour to work hard at being the kind of person that God wants you to be, so that others will see a difference. Do others when they look at you see someone who is different, or do they just see another person of the world?
Are you a man or woman of God?
Are you Walking the Walk?
Unless otherwise mentioned: Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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