The majority of mankind think that they think; they acquiesce, and suppose that they argue; they flatter themselves that they are holding their own, when they have actually grown up to manhood, with scarcely a conviction that they can call their own. So it was, and so it ever shall be.-E.W. Bullinger
In my 27 years in Christendom, I have discovered the above to be too often true. I can see where I have been guilty of adopting certain views or interpretations before doing the necessary work. But I believe this dangerous problem is no more true anywhere than it is in the Catholic Church.
This past Friday, according her wishes, a funeral mass was held for my mother. As the child who is in the city with the church, I was tasked with working with the church on the arrangements. I didn't have a lot of say, but I was asked to choose the scripture readings. I was given a list of choices for each reading (Old Testament, New Testament, Gospel). My choices:
- Job 19
- Romans 5
- John 11
I chose scriptures that speak of the hope and truth of resurrection because of the finished work of the Savior. Those familiar with my posts know that I hold that resurrection is the great hope of believers. This is how believers in scripture are comforted.
When it came time for the homily, we were pleasantly surprised. The priest gave a wonderful message on the great hope of resurrection for all who believe. I had chosen John 3:16 as the response verse and he referred to it as the great promise of life to those who believe. He cast a large net to all present who believe. Give the man his due, he spoke great truth! It was a message on the hope of resurrection rarely heard in Evangelical pulpits.
He spoke of what Christ did for all of us on the cross. He spoke of Christ's one act undoing Adam's one act. It was pretty spot on.
But then the man turned to the "Liturgy of the Eucharist" wherein we were offering a sacrifice for my mother's soul? The whole thing, and every prayer, turned from the Savior to our offerings for my mom's soul. (I won't quote the mass here, you can search Catholic prayers for those in Purgatory.) It was a complete denial of the work of Christ we were just celebrating. They also make clear that when they say "church" they mean the Roman Catholic Church alone. And, of course, only Catholics in good standing were invited to participate in communion (which is fine with me, I reject transubstantiation and I don't participate in the "Lord's Supper" in this age anywhere).
That brings me to my mother's friends. From the priest to every Catholic who visited the family receiving line, they all said things along two lines: her suffering is over, she is now in bliss with my deceased father. No. That is not what you teach! That is not what the Catholic Church believes at all! They teach and believe she is suffering beyond anything we can imagine. She is suffering for her sins in flames (the "flames of love" as one Catholic "saint" put it).
The even greater irony is that several of these people gave us cards informing us mass will be offered for her by some Catholic order or another. But you told me her suffering is over and she is rejoicing with my father?
I briefly covered Purgatory in a recent post. You can read that if you want more information. The point here is that they don't even follow their own doctrines. If I had said to these devout Catholics when they said her suffering was over that they were wrong and that she is suffering for hers sins in flames with pain we cannot imagine, I'd most likely be labeled a "Catholic-basher" or worse (I know because that has been true for the last 27 years). Or they might simply think I'm a cruel monster.
I am not even touching the hem of the garment on Papal teaching in regard to non-Catholics and ex-Catholics. As the priest spoke to all us as believers who will find life in resurrection, he was denying Pope, Council, and Catechism which teach salvation only for Catholics and the certainty of fiery torment forever for those of us who have left the CC.
People are free to believe what they want. But if you're going to claim the Catholic Church is keeper of all spiritual truth, then contradict it, don't trouble me when I contradict it. I'm glad these Catholics don't just parrot Catholic dogma, but when a clear contradiction is presented, they don't seem to care or question it either. As I noted in a another post:
On that day, no denomination, no church, no board, no council, no catechism, no creed, no pastor, no teacher, no seminary... no one will stand in your stead. There are 7 billion theologies in the world and you are responsible for ONE... your own.... and you will answer for it.
My mother is dead. My father is dead. Our hope is that the professions they made in Christ's perfect sacrifice and resurrection means we will see them in the flesh in an age to come. This is the hope the priest spoke of... I just don't think he really believes it. Of course, he could have purposely been speaking in double-speak. I attended a seminar as a Catholic Religious Education teacher wherein we were taught this technique when speaking with Evangelicals.
Since I have no way to read a man's heart, I hope he truly believes what he spoke in that homily and that he will experience resurrection. God is calling Catholics (as I was when he found me) into the light of the truth of the finished work of the Savior, unfortunately some choose to stay in the Catholic Church (more on that in another post).
All praise and glory and honor to our Great God and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ alone.