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This room is for discussion related to learning about the faith (Catechetics), defense of the Faith (Apologetics), the Liturgy and canon law, motivated by a desire to grow closer to Christ or to bring someone else closer.

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Is This Love?

Jun 24th 2014 new
I've mentioned once or twice before that I'm a "cradle Catholic", one born and raised in the Church, who has still stuck with the Church despite my family falling away for either Protestantism (for most of them) or agnostic/atheism (my younger brother). I came to this site and these forums very strong in my conviction in my faith. However, one thing these forums are good for, is that they have made me question! Granted, questioning and coming to conclusions is better than blind belief, but I am really starting to question more than I have in a long time.

Mainly, I am starting to wonder if perhaps various Protestant churches are actually getting to the core of what Jesus taught better than the Catholic Church has, despite the 2000+ years of history. I'm really starting to see where my family is coming from.

Christ teaches us, through his own words and through apostolic teaching after he returned to his Father, that God is love at his essence, and that God is a loving Father who became flesh in Jesus Christ and sacrificed himself so that all could be saved. In turn, we are to love our neighbors as Christ has taught us, and as Christ loves us.

However, more and more I am seeing and hearing from some here that apparently that love and that salvation extend only to those who believe, understand and follow Canon Law to a tee. Apparently, as I am reading, children who aren't baptized lose any chance to go to Heaven, along with anyone else who isn't baptized. And they can't just be baptized by anyone, they have to be a baptized Catholic. Too bad, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln, C. S. Lewis, and all those other people who didn't happen to have a Catholic baptize you, you're out of luck when it comes to Heaven despite your great lives. And now, according to the Institute, it's apparently not even OK to attend a friend or family member's wedding if it's not a Catholic wedding! I'm sorry, but that's just plain awful! Isn't this the kind of legalism Christ was teaching against when he criticized the scribes and Pharisees of his time?

If God is love, and God forgives all, where is the love in this? Why do we have to treat the Church like some exclusive club where only we, the Righteous, receive salvation while everyone else is doomed? Why do so many people seem to forget that nobody is perfect, and that God welcomes back people who have sinned instead of seething in some righteous indignation as they wander further away from the Church because we treat them like outcasts, as some seem to think we should?

In a theology class in college, my professor asked the class as our first assignment to offer our thoughts on our beliefs in God. I think one friend of mine had the best answer. He brought in The Beginner's Bible, a children's book detailing the basics of some commonly known Bible stories and teachings, of course emphasizing the love of God throughout. He held up the book and said, to paraphrase, "My view of God is all in here. It's as simple as God loving us and us loving each other. Too often we get caught up in all of the complicated stuff and we lose sight of what's important. We need to get back to this." That friend is a fellow Catholic, and I am starting to agree with him more and more.

Love doesn't mean agreeing with everyone on everything. We can vehemently disagree with many things, such as abortion, homosexual actions, capital punishment and injustice done to the poor, all of which the Church teaches against, and I agree with the Church on all those views. I still believe in Christ's true presence in the Blessed Sacrament, and the importance of the other Sacraments as well. I still believe in the Holy Father's teachings on most (but admittedly not all) subjects. I'm a 6/7 on my profile questions (I believe women who are still unmarried should not be denied the priesthood). But I'm really starting to wonder, with some of these teachings, especially when it comes to excluding salvation on some issues, where those teachings were coming from. Many of these seem to date back to the Council of Trent, when the Church was in the middle of fighting the Reformation, and I have the feeling that many of these teachings are possibly products of more trying to protect itself from Protestantism than actually about God in his love and mercy. The Church is human, humanity is not perfect, and even today Church teaching can change. Is it too much to believe that perhaps in some things, especially in those things we cannot prove, we may have interpreted some things wrongly or written contradictions into our own teaching?

Just some food for thought.
Jun 24th 2014 new
You bring up some very real struggles in your post, Ben. The dilemma we all face is this. We know that there is Truth. There is something real in this world, something objective, that God is fact We as Catholics believe that He founded a Church, gave it teachings, and then gave her the protections of the Holy Spirit in order to make sure that those teachings remained intact. Because let's face it, there's no other way we as fallible, broken human beings are going to get it right.

But then there we are as broken human beings who fight and argue and wander away from each other. We are by our nature at odds with each other. And this world by it's fallen nature is broken as well. All of that demands that we treat each other with great charity and love. Which puts us in a terrible, difficult position - how do we meet truth with charity and reconcile those two things?

The simple answer is we do what we can and leave the rest up to God. That's why He's the judge, not us. We just don't have the vision, the information, the omnipotence that He does. We can't make those kind of calls.

I thought about weighing in on the who can be saved thread but didn't, but here are my two cents on the matter. God put this Church here for a reason. You said it yourself, we've been here for two thousand years. We're the original. God didn't do that by accident. He meant for this Church to be here on purpose. We in our sinfulness screwed things up and broke the system and fractured things but God can work around in - we are bound to the sacraments - God is above them.

The short of it is we don't know any more than God revealed to us. We know how to be saved - through what Scripture reveals to us and by the paths the Church gives us. But we can great hope that God works beyond that as well. So for those outside the Church, outside Christianity, we have every reason to trust in the absolute goodness of God to save their souls. And if He does save them, they will be saved through His Church and they will be one with us in Heaven, though they weren't a part of this Body while on earth. But that means we have a great responsibility to do what we can to love them into the known body of Christ while we can, to put them into the known and not just trust them to the greatness of God's love, no matter how vast it is.

Follow God's commandment - baptize and teach in His name to the best of your ability. After that, trust the rest to Him. He'll make up for what we couldn't do.
Jun 24th 2014 new
(quote) Ben-1081622 said: I've mentioned once or twice before that I'm a "cradle Catholic", one born and raised in the Church, who has still stuck with the Church despite my family falling away for either Protestantism (for most of them) or agnostic/atheism (my younger brother). I came to this site and these forums very strong in my conviction in my faith. However, one thing these forums are good for, is that they have made me question! Granted, questioning and coming to conclusions is better than blind belief, but I am really starting to question more than I have in a long time.

Mainly, I am starting to wonder if perhaps various Protestant churches are actually getting to the core of what Jesus taught better than the Catholic Church has, despite the 2000+ years of history. I'm really starting to see where my family is coming from.

Christ teaches us, through his own words and through apostolic teaching after he returned to his Father, that God is love at his essence, and that God is a loving Father who became flesh in Jesus Christ and sacrificed himself so that all could be saved. In turn, we are to love our neighbors as Christ has taught us, and as Christ loves us.

However, more and more I am seeing and hearing from some here that apparently that love and that salvation extend only to those who believe, understand and follow Canon Law to a tee. Apparently, as I am reading, children who aren't baptized lose any chance to go to Heaven, along with anyone else who isn't baptized. And they can't just be baptized by anyone, they have to be a baptized Catholic. Too bad, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln, C. S. Lewis, and all those other people who didn't happen to have a Catholic baptize you, you're out of luck when it comes to Heaven despite your great lives. And now, according to the Institute, it's apparently not even OK to attend a friend or family member's wedding if it's not a Catholic wedding! I'm sorry, but that's just plain awful! Isn't this the kind of legalism Christ was teaching against when he criticized the scribes and Pharisees of his time?

If God is love, and God forgives all, where is the love in this? Why do we have to treat the Church like some exclusive club where only we, the Righteous, receive salvation while everyone else is doomed? Why do so many people seem to forget that nobody is perfect, and that God welcomes back people who have sinned instead of seething in some righteous indignation as they wander further away from the Church because we treat them like outcasts, as some seem to think we should?

In a theology class in college, my professor asked the class as our first assignment to offer our thoughts on our beliefs in God. I think one friend of mine had the best answer. He brought in The Beginner's Bible, a children's book detailing the basics of some commonly known Bible stories and teachings, of course emphasizing the love of God throughout. He held up the book and said, to paraphrase, "My view of God is all in here. It's as simple as God loving us and us loving each other. Too often we get caught up in all of the complicated stuff and we lose sight of what's important. We need to get back to this." That friend is a fellow Catholic, and I am starting to agree with him more and more.

Love doesn't mean agreeing with everyone on everything. We can vehemently disagree with many things, such as abortion, homosexual actions, capital punishment and injustice done to the poor, all of which the Church teaches against, and I agree with the Church on all those views. I still believe in Christ's true presence in the Blessed Sacrament, and the importance of the other Sacraments as well. I still believe in the Holy Father's teachings on most (but admittedly not all) subjects. I'm a 6/7 on my profile questions (I believe women who are still unmarried should not be denied the priesthood). But I'm really starting to wonder, with some of these teachings, especially when it comes to excluding salvation on some issues, where those teachings were coming from. Many of these seem to date back to the Council of Trent, when the Church was in the middle of fighting the Reformation, and I have the feeling that many of these teachings are possibly products of more trying to protect itself from Protestantism than actually about God in his love and mercy. The Church is human, humanity is not perfect, and even today Church teaching can change. Is it too much to believe that perhaps in some things, especially in those things we cannot prove, we may have interpreted some things wrongly or written contradictions into our own teaching?

Just some food for thought.
I left the church for about a quarter century, but then I came back. I couldn't determine which Protestant denomination was the correct one because they all had point with which to disagree on. It came to a head when I determined it was the wrong question that I was asking. Christ only set up one church, and it is the Catholic Church. Sola Scriptura is self-refuting. That in a nutshell brought me back to the Church
I can see why you should not attend two Catholics getting married in a non-Catholic setting. Our actions sometimes speak louder than words. We are essentially agreeing with what they are doing. We are agreeing with their disobedience That's how I see it.
As far as needing to know all those encyclicals and Canon law to get to Heaven, gee that leaves out a lot of people who don't have internet access, or even have the learning to go diving into the mass of paperwork involved. Jesus alone judges. In the meantime I will do my best not to be a hindrance to anyone who wants to join the church.

Jun 24th 2014 new
As for baptisim as long as it proper form and matter, words and water. I baptize you in the name of the father and the son and the holy spirit (while useing water) means vald. It may be illicit but still valid. Simply anyone using the above can do it and it be valid. It is possable for nonbelievers to be saved though baptism is needed and is the only way we know of to enter heaven, if one is is saved it must be explained in a way that does not deny baptism. More to come when I have pc
Jun 24th 2014 new
ok, first quick note on baptism. it is not about "you did not join our club", baptism is not about joining a denomination, it is about adoption into the family of God. So, you are either adopted, and Baptism is the door way into that relationship, or you are not. There is something knows as Baptism by desire, meaning if one i seeking baptism but was denied accesses to it and died before they could receive it, they may still receive that baptism by Jesus himself. Or, they followed there conscience as best they could, but were ignorant of the Truth of Jesus Christ and baptism, the we could argue baptism by desire AKA they would have received baptism if they had known the truth of it. How ever you want to argue it, one thing is certain, Baptism is need for heaven, because of original sin. We are conceived with it, which means we are not adopted into the family of God yet, we are a "child of Satan" in the sense that we are under the power of original sin. When the cross of Jesus is applied to us, aka baptism, we are then freed and adopted into the family. to say saved without baptism is the same as saying we are family without you even wanting to be apart of the family or taking the steps to be to join the family. We are not exclusive in the sense of you are not allowed, all are welcome to convert. we ARE exclusive, also called the elect, because we are not the world and the world is not us. cant have both, either you are in the ONE, HOLY, CATHOLIC, and APOSTOLIC Church or you are not, you are welcome to come join, but if you do not want to we wont force you, and God will not force you to join his family and enter heaven either. As i said though, if the baptism is administers with the right words and water is used, no matter what denomination, it is valid.
salvation does not come from canon law, canon law is more about what the duty's of Catholics are within the Church, and what is acceptable to the Church (that Jesus founded and gave authority too). It is closer to a system of governance. Now, some of those laws are connected to salvation, such as abortion and the consequences of supporting it. Canon law is based on what Jesus has taught his church through Revelation; which is Tradition (big T tradition) and sacred scripture, Tradition being the verbal teaching of Jesus that was not written down in the bible.
I have one more post coming, but it is prayer time with my nieces and i need to go lead or they will not learn.
Jun 25th 2014 new
I see you use the word love allot, it is important to know what we mean by that word. The thee loves are Eros, Filial, Agape. one could say Eros= passion, Filial = Duty, Agape = Will. While all three are real love, it is only together that it is what i would call true love. Love can have emotional aspects, or passion, as well as a sense of Duty, but it is in the will, that love reaches its highest point. God created us out of love, meaning he willed us to be. Love in this sense is about willing the greatest good of the other, the sacrificing of ones own will. Jesus said, "not my will but your will be done". The greatest good is is never divorced from Truth, out greatest good is Truth. When we talk about heaven, we are speaking about Truth himself; namely Jesus. "the way, the Truth, and the life". you see Truth and Love are so united they almost the same....much like the unity of the trinity. When you talk about simplicity of love...you are speaking about something that is not very simple, Love is a mystery, something we cannot know everything about. As Pamela i feel was expressing, we must stand firm in the truth, and in love. if you see love as i have expressed yes, love and do as you please...but if you are loving others and that love is leading you 1. away form the Catholic Church; 2. Watering down the Truth (baptism in this case); then you are not expressing love but emotivism. If someone is treating other as you said like an outcast that is wrong, but neither is going in the other direction.
I think you said female priesthood? that is something you would need to take up with Jesus. He chose his Apostles as his Bishops, and none were women. Paul talks about episcopate, priesthood, and do not talk about female ordination. Keeping it really simple, as you seem to like, a woman cannot be a Father, no more than a man be a mother. In theological terms, it would be incorrect matter. If any woman was to be a priest it would be Mary his mother, but she was not, and she and Jesus were fine with that. Saying a woman should be Priest not understanding Priesthood, and the fact that it is the Priesthood of Jesus. Also, the Church does not have the power or authority to allow that. If the Pope himself said it was o'k, and said the right or ordination over a woman she would still not have the gift of Priesthood (invalid matter, something she cannot change). If it is wrong for a woman to not be allowed Priesthood (fatherhood) then a man should not be denied nun-hood (motherhood). Last note, if the dogma of the church has become corrupted form any source, then the Holy Spirit is not protecting the Church and Jesus is a lier. (Dogma, teaching, Discipline are all different things by the way) (Oh and Truth does not change our understanding of truth may change but not the Truth itself...such as women cannot be a father)
Jun 25th 2014 new
Here's what I'm trying to get at with some of my statements:

What I mean by Protestantism perhaps doing love and forgiveness better than the Catholic Church is that, for example, in the Protestant services I have attended with my family and friends who are not Catholic, while many do emphasize that faith alone can save someone, they also very much point out that while we are all sinners, Jesus Christ died to save everyone, and the whole experience is entirely much more inclusive in both its feel and its message. If you want to join their church, in most cases all it takes is a short talk with the pastor and maybe a small amount of preparation. There is no months of an equivalent of RCIA, no having to do lengthy amounts of study, nothing you have to really do to, in a sense, prove that you're worthy to participate fully in worship. Those who sin, in my experience of these places, are not left out of any church or group activities. That's none of anybody else's business, and nobody there will judge you (as long as you are there). My family left because there were many in the Catholic parishes in our area who were very critical of the size of our family (I'm the eldest of six siblings and in my area, that's quite large) and critical of my mother for not even sinning, but choosing to continue to work instead of being a stay-at-home mother. The priest at the parish, according to my parents, began putting himself up on a pedestal and acting like he was so much holier than the other parishoners, and the other parishoners were acting like they were holier than my family. This was not an isolated incident, either. It apparently happened in at least two, if not three parishes my parents tried before they left.

Basically, I would think that if love is meaning that someone wants the best for someone else, we should not act in a way that would only separate those people from others. Jesus never did that; he reached out and he dined with some of the most "unclean" and sinful people of his time. He didn't push people away so as to keep his own image of himself pure. And I fear that for a long time, the Church has been making decisions and even preaching things, in its attempts to keep its own image pure, that have only been serving to drive a stake further between itself and the people it has been called to serve. Yes, many parishes have many programs that reach out to the poor and needy among us, and they serve those people's physical needs, but where my parents have had a problem with the Church, and where I am starting to worry, is, "What about us?" We nourish our souls with the grace of the Eucharist, but what about when we hit hard times ourselves? What about the person in our parish who has gone through a divorce? What about the woman who had an abortion? We do so much to try to ensure that these things never happen, and I do applaud those efforts, but sometimes we lose sight of those to whom it has happened.

We do need to reach out with the same mercy and compassion, and passion, empathy, that Christ has for us. We can't just sit there and say, "You need to be baptized or you're going to go to Hell" or "I'm sorry, but your soul is at risk unless you go to Reconciliation". Yeah, we should (gently) help them to find their way there, but the "fire and brimstone" approach, and constant reminders that we are "bad, sinful people" aren't gonna cut it in today's world. There's the term floating around out there called "Catholic guilt", which, yes, implies that we tend to guilt people into the confessional and love to remind people how evil the human race is. Frankly, I don't know of a single practicing Catholic who really thinks the human race is evil, but that's the perception we have because of this idea of original sin and its effects on our theology. I have seen people on this very forum tell others that their unborn or unbaptized babies are going to Hell because they died before a baptism could be administered. That, frankly, is an absolutely shocking and horrifying thing to say to someone who has lost a child, and as a poster put it in another thread, that only portrays a cruel and heartless God, not a God who has given us the Gospels, which are supposed to be Good News, and sent his own son for our salvation. Even if Protestant churches have the misguided ideas of sola sciptura and "faith alone" leading to salvation, among other incorrect ideas, they at least won't throw the hammer of papal nuncios that were maybe, if I am to be frank and honest in my beliefs, written more to protect tradition than provide real Truth (papal infallibility does not extend to absolutely everything a pope writes), at people thinking that it might somehow bring people closer to the Church. We need to bring a more personal Christ to people in this developed world which clamors for a strong balance between community and personal freedom. We have a strong community of faith in the Church, but we sorely lack when it comes to assistance and support for the individual members of that community, and especially when it comes to bringing the Good News to those who are not, or are no longer, members of that community, and for a long time it has bothered me greatly. Protestant churches have been exceedingly more effective at really getting to that basic message of Christ's love and salvation, and how one can apply it to one's own life, without pressing home the "fire and brimstone" message. I love the Church, and I want to see it grow and prosper, but right now, I think the deadly sin of pride has infected us so greatly that we're collectively losing our way. That said, I am greatly encouraged by Pope Francis' efforts to reach out to us, and I think he has really been on the right track to bring back that message of our loving God, and I pray he continues and strengthens those efforts more. I find it funny, that while I admire Pope Emeritus Benedict as well for his great contributions to our understanding of theology, Francis is everything Benedict was not in that regard, and yet Benedict was chosen as Pope back in 2005 to do what Francis is doing now.

Regarding the female priesthood, I hate to put it so bluntly, but that is the only justification I have ever heard in discussions on this, and I find it little more than, if not only, an excuse. It's essentially just saying, "well, all the apostles were men, therefore..." No. I don't buy it. Jesus basically had to choose men as the apostles because in the society in which he came to Earth women were barred from any real legal or religious authority, and if women were to be the leaders of Christ's new covenant in that era, it would have been immensely more difficult to spread that message. Men in that time had all the power, respect and authority, and if Christ wanted to spread his message to the people of that time and place, he had to choose men. It was a product of our society. That society has changed, and I would bet you that we would not be close to the shortage of priests we are today if we didn't keep denying 50% of our population the opportunity to join that priesthood. Nuns have about the same role as deacons or monks in the Church, and they don't really compare to priests in real authority or ability. Again, the Church is human and yes, can err, and only God is divine. I think this is one major error the Church needs to correct.
Jun 25th 2014 new
(quote) Ben-1081622 said: Here's what I'm trying to get at with some of my statements:


Hi Ben,

As a former Protestant, I can assure you that Protestants are every bit as judgmental as Catholics. Don't be deceived by "the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence" mentality. Many Protestants believe that anyone who doesn't accept Christ in their way (including Catholics) are going to hell. The reason there are thousands and thousands of Protestant denominations is that when they have a disagreement they just split off and form a new church, thereby giving the appearance of unity for any given tiny denomination (until the next split).

Regarding women as priests, that subject would justify a whole other thread, I'm sure. Here is how I see it: Women are very competent and could probably do a great job of running a church. But I do not see the priesthood as a job, I see it as a calling, and one which has mystical meaning...that of Christ the bridegroom. That aspect of it cannot be performed by a woman.

While I do not support women in the priesthood, I do support one change. In my diocese deacon's wives take the same training as their husbands, which I understand amounts to the equivalent of a college degree, but they do not get any degree or official role. I think it would be appropriate for these women to have a title like deaconess and make it official. This is not the exact equivalent of deacon as deacons have holy orders and that is only for men, but it would be more of an acknowledgment of their service to the church.

Keep searching in prayer, Ben. I don't believe what you are looking for is outside the Catholic Church in Protestantism. theheart
Jun 25th 2014 new
Ben said "The Church is human, humanity is not perfect, and even today Church teaching can change".

Ben said- "The Church is human"

Response -The Church was Divinely instituted by Jesus Christ,Son of God, the Second person of the Blessed Trinity.


ST. MATTHEW - Chapter 16

13 *And Jesus came into the parts of Csarea Philippi: and he asked his disciples saying: Whom do men say that the Son of man is?

14 But they said: *Some John the Baptist, and others Elias, and others Jeremias, or one of the prophets.

15 Jesus saith to them: But whom do you say that I am.

16 Simon Peter answering said: *Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God.

17 And Jesus answering, said to him: Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father, who is in heaven.

18 *And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

19 *And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. **And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Ben said " humanity is not perfect"

Response- Truly!
__________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Ben said " even today Church teaching can change".
Response-
From Catholic Answers www.catholic.com


"No, the Church cannot change its doctrines no matter how badly some theologians may want it to or how loudly they claim it can. The doctrines of the Catholic Church are the deposit of faith revealed by Jesus Christ, taught by the apostles, and handed down in their entirety by the apostles to their successors. Since revealed truth cannot change, and since the deposit of faith is comprised of revealed truth, expressed in Scripture and Sacred Tradition, the deposit of faith cannot change.

While it's certainly true that our Lord's words to the apostles in Matthew 18:18-19 grant authority to the apostles to "bind" the members of the Church to believe the doctrines of the Church ("He who listens to you listens to me. He who rejects you rejects me and the one who sent me" [Luke 10:16]), the "loosing" spoken of in Mathew. 18:18 does not mean the apostles can modify doctrine.

The Church does not have the power to do the impossible, to change or delete divinely revealed truth which forms the deposit of faith. Rather, the concept of loosing, as it pertains to the apostles and their successors, has more to do the Church's ability to dispense individuals or the whole Church from observing certai
Jun 25th 2014 new
Ben, everything you've said about how badly Catholic people treat others in the church is a very fair and very true statement about how people treat people in the church. Here's the thing. That's how people treat people in the church. Please don't confuse the Church with the people who make her up.

It is a great mystery (and I mean that in the mystical, theological sense) how a sinless, pure Body of Christ can be made up of sinful, imperfect people. But Christ gathers us up together and makes us holy in Himself.

It takes so long to enter the Church not as some gauntlet we want you to pass to make sure you're worthy but because there is so much to know, after 2000 years. Because we want you to be sure you know what you're getting yourself into. Christianity isn't a knee-jerk, feel good reaction. Christ demands that you die, perhaps literally in the flesh, definitely to yourself, in order to follow Him. That's major. RCIA should be a time of serious discernment, prayer, growth and learning for a person and really, how many of us get an opportunity for basic, straightforward catechesis anymore? RCIA should be a gift, not a burden or mere hoops to jump through.

And afterward, you're in a Church guarded by the Holy Spirit that contains all the Truth God wants us to have for salvation. That doesn't mean that Satan isn't working on her members to try and drive them apart, because he's definitely doing that. But that means that you need to work just as hard to bring that Body back together.

People are sinful, Ben. We all know that. The Church is Holy and True. As the saying goes, the Church is a hospital for sinners, not a hotel for saints.
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