Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Does the Bible Condemn Repetitive Prayer?

One of the common arguments raised against Catholic devotions like the Rosary is that Catholics are praying the same few form prayers over and over again, and Scripture condemns repetitive prayer. After all, in Matthew 6:7, Christ says, “And in praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their many words,” or to use the KJV, “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

The answer to this is simple: Christ condemns vain repetitions, or heaping up empty phrases.  Repetitive prayer, including the use of form prayer, is embraced by Scripture, and practiced by the early Church.  Let's look at repetitive prayer first, and then form prayer.

The Bible Calls Us to Repetitive Prayer

One of the most vivid examples of this comes from Jesus' agony in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:39-44):
Carl Bloch, Gethsemane (1805)
And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt."  
And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, "So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."  
Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, "My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, thy will be done."  And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words. 
 So Jesus prayed the same prayer three times in a row.  That's certainly repetitive prayer.  But it's hardly vain repetition, or empty phrases.  Jesus was begging the Father intensely.  Likewise, we're invited to beg God for things, and even to nag Him.  This invitation comes from Jesus' parable of the persistent widow (Luke 18:1-8):
And he told them a parable, to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, "In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor regarded man; and there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, `Vindicate me against my adversary.' 
For a while he refused; but afterward he said to himself, `Though I neither fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will vindicate her, or she will wear me out by her continual coming.'" 
And the Lord said, "Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God vindicate his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will vindicate them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?"
So the model for continual prayer that Jesus holds up is a woman who asks the exact same thing (`Vindicate me against my adversary') over and over again, so much that it's obnoxious.

The Bible Calls Us to Form Prayer

Psalm 1, from Florian's Psalter (c. 1400)
The idea that the Bible condemns form (or pre-written) prayers is silly.  After all, the Book of Psalms is nothing but a set of 150 form prayers that can be prayed on a variety of occasions, and which Christ quotes extensively during His earthly life.

Plus, Jesus leaves us a form prayer of His own.  Immediately after Matthew 6:7, in which He denounces vain repetitions, Christ gives us the Our Father (a.k.a. the  Lord's Prayer, Mt. 6:9-13), introducing it, “This, then, is how you should pray...”  That's a form prayer, and one which we're to pray often.

Plus, the Lord's Prayer was recognized as a form prayer to be prayed repeatedly by the early Church.  The Didache is perhaps the oldest Christian document outside of the Bible, from sometime around the middle to late first century.  The oldest portions of the Didache are probably older than the latest portions of the New Testament.  It's something of a Church handbook, explaining the beliefs and practices of Christianity to the newly initiated converts.  In Chapter 8, Christians are instructed to pray the Our Father three times a day.  In the next chapter, form prayers for the Eucharistic preface are given. Plus, the Didache is describing what's already going on in church, meaning that we can safely date repetitive praying of the Lord's Prayer back to the time of the Apostles.


Conclusion

Christ condemns thoughtlessness in prayer, of mindlessly repeating empty words.  We shouldn't do that.  But the cure isn't to throw out all form prayer, or to throw out all repetitive prayer.  It's to pray these prayers with sincerity.  Sometimes this is hard, particularly when we're tired or have a lot on our mind.  But we should try our best to do it anyway.  Go back to the example of the Garden of Gethsemane. The Apostles were clearly tired, and it's an understatement to say that Jesus had a lot on His mind.  But while the Apostles shunned prayer in favor of sleep, He went ahead and prayed anyway, repeating the same impassioned prayer three times.  That makes all the difference.

Update: I'll be talking about this post tomorrow morning at 8:50 on Son Rise Morning Show.  You can listen to it live at that time online, or wait to hear if it gets re-aired on EWTN later in the week.

117 comments:

  1. Luke 18 is a beautiful handbook of prayer. Not only the widow, but also the sinner who repeatedly asks for mercy while the pharisee prays spontaneously, and the blind beggar whose repetitive cries caused others to attempt to silence him.

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  2. I've also heard it said that the "heathens" would pray by repeat God's name over and over again with the hopes of controlling him (getting him to do something even if it was against his will).

    Certainly Jesus's simple prayer of asking for God's will be done illustrates that our prayers should always be directed to what God desires and not what we desire.

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  3. @Joe: Yes, the persistence of the widow and especially Jesus was necessary. But how can't you call 50 Hail Mary's vain repetition? The widow was in very troubling times and Jesus was fighting off Satan's attempt to kill Him, the sins of the world were falling on Him, He knew He was about to be tortured, etc. Vain repetitions can't be the explanation of the widow and Jesus, whereas it is impossible for a vain repetition not to occur during 50 Hail Mary's. Plus, Jesus worded the three prayers slightly different as do the Scripture citations concerning the Our Father.
    @everyone concerning the Hail Mary:
    1) Much like the prayer to the infant Jesus, it would take a time machine for the Hail Mary to make any sense due to the fact that her womb is no longer holding Jesus and is no longer able to hold anyone since she is dead.
    2) Read my comment to Joe about what Elizabeth was really saying to Mary in his post 'Jesus Christ, the New Temple'. (my comment on 12/11/2011 at 6:32pm that starts: [On a side note:)
    take care

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  4. Michael,

    So three is okay, but fifty isn't? I'm not understanding what your argument is here, exactly, or where the cut-off is.

    And even if Jesus' wording was slightly different, Matthew explicitly characterizes it as the same prayer in Mt. 26:44.

    I'd prefer to focus specifically on the aspect of whether repetition is bad, rather than whether praying to Mary is bad. Having said that, it looks like I never answered your original comment (probably because you called us Mary-worshipers, and I wanted to wait until I could respond charitably, and then forgot about it).

    If I'm understanding your argument there, it was that Elizabeth was rejoicing with Mary about the fact that they were both pregnant. That corrupts the actual passage, in which Elizabeth proclaims (Lk. 1:42-45),

    Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!

    Elizabeth proclaims four blessings:
    1) Mary is blessed among women;
    2) Jesus, the fruit of her womb, is blessed;
    3) Elizabeth is blessed by being in the presence of Mary, the Mother of our Lord; and
    4) Mary is blessed for her faith.

    There's no way of faithfully taking that passage and concluding that Mary's just a random pregnant woman. Elizabeth is much too clear for that.

    As for your new comments, nothing in the Hail Mary even remotely suggests that Jesus is still in Mary's womb. He remains the Fruit of her womb, though. This is tied to the Eden imagery used throughout the New Testament, and wasn't a mistake on the part of Elizabeth or St. Luke. That is, Luke includes this blessing for a reason.

    I know people ask you this all the time, but where do you get the confidence to declare your own Scriptural reading as if it's the indisputably true one?

    I.X.,

    Joe

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  5. I'm in the ER right now with my wife who is about 10 weeks pregnant, and might have a pulmonary embolism...so if anyone wants to see how many Hail Mary's it takes to be vain and repetitive, please please please go for it.

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  6. Thanks. Ultrasound on legs was negative. Doing a BQ scan soon, worried about radiating the baby.

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  7. Daniel, be assured of my prayers, too, and thanks for the update.

    I.X.,

    Joe

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  8. Gethsemane is pretty easily refuted, or at least your characterization. Jesus does not pray the same prayer again and again, but chooses words extemporaneously. (Stick to the Persistent Widow.)

    And I wish Protestants would stop ignoring the mysteries of the Rosary when characterizing it as vainly repetitive. For that matter, I've prayed the Rosary before without the mysteries, concentrating on each image, and it still didn't take more than a half hour. But if wishes were horses, we all would eat well.

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  9. St. Matthew characterizes it as the same prayer (Mt. 26:44). But I think that objection misses the point, in any case. After all, would Protestants who object to the Rosary on "vain repetitions" ground really be okay with it if we reworded the Hail Marys ever so slightly each time?

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  10. @Joe:
    1) You know, whether you cite Matthew 26:44 or not, that the first two prayers were slightly different in word. So Scripture had to have been talking about how the subject matter was repeated three times. Not the exact words. So, as I stated, the argument is you say exact words repeatedly in the rosary, which is not from the heart; Jesus and the widow made requests from the heart. [How can you even use those two examples to okay the 50 Hail Mary's? Just look at your post's conclusion. You definitely admit vain repetition is a possibility.]
    2) I didn't call you a Mary-worshiper this time around. Do I think offering prayers to 'Mary', 'the angels', and 'saints' are worship? How couldn't you? But I didn't say so. I was being very 'charitable' compared to some past situations. You know that.
    3) I mentioned that the first part of Elizabeth's joy ("blessed are you among women") referred to Mary being blessed because she was to carry Jesus.
    4) About half the versions going around say, "blessed is the child you will bear"; and about half say, "blessed is the fruit of your womb". So, I was not out of line, saying Mary was some random pregnant woman. That was taken completely out of context. Or, to be blunt: a lie.
    5) As I've said before, it is not MY indisputable reading. In short, it's the Spirit's showing us all truth. [Don't you find it interesting that all 'Protestants', Orthodox excluded, think the Rosary is vain repetition and prayers to 'Mary', 'the angels', and 'saints' is blasphemy?]

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  11. Daniel - prayers for your wife, the baby and you and family.

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  12. @everyone:
    1) When reciting the rosary, are you in the widow's position where she is troubled by the enemy and has to come numerous times to the judge? No. Plus, would she have stated fifty times in a row the same request? No, she'd periodically come back with the request.
    2) When reciting the rosary, like Jesus, are you troubled because the sins of the world are coming upon you, Satan is attempting to kill you, and you know you're going to be tortured? No.
    That said, what's your excuse for the repetitive praying? It doesn't make sense. It's pagan.

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    1. You don't know what vain means so i'll put a definition up.
      vain (vn)
      adj. vain·er, vain·est
      Lacking substance or worth: vain talk.
      Basically, Jesus says (paraphrase) "When you pray to God or to a saint(in order that they may intercede for you just like any man could do on earth) , pray meaningfully." Now, the mysteries of the Rosary challenges every catholic who prays the rosary to contemplate the bible passage that goes along with the picture (there are books which have pictures with the mysteries). This isn't mindless prayer, which I have experienced a lot as a Protestant. This is a very deep and thoughtful prayer that focuses our soul on Jesus Christ (most importantly) through his Mother, Mary. So you can say what you like but guess what? That idiotic Protestant heresy is basically dead as of this day and age. In fact, most Protestant ecclesiastical communities don't even believe that Jesus is in the Communion. Only the Holy Apostolic Catholic church believes so (and the Orthodox Church. So why are you trolling this site when you should be saving your crappy community?

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  13. @Michael:

    One day I hope you rest not day and night,saying, "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come."

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  14. I just recently started praying the rosary. I am a revert recently returned to the catholic church. I had never prayed it. when I pray it, I either meditate on there mysteries or focus on the hail mary's. each time it is heart felt. I find it a deeply moving and spiritual experience... never vain. I once felt like you Michael, as recently as 10 months ago.

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  15. i actually just started praying it two or three weeks ago. truly I find it a contemplation and meditation on the life of our Lord Jesus. This form of prayer, a meditative prayer I never experienced as a protestant. it is deeper, than anything I had experienced. Also, honoring the mother of our Lord, calling her blessed like the angel did long ago, is something that for me, causes awe on the miracle of the incarnation. Christmas was much more special too me.

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  16. Welcome home, Black Beard. I remember when I first started praying the rosary too, my experieince was like yours- defineitely not vain or repetitive, but a true encounter with God.

    I explain the rosary to my younger students this way:

    The rosary is like a family photo album. You are sitting on the couch with Mary and she is saying, "Look, here's me when the angel told me I would bear the Son of God!" And you reflect on that as you pray together. Then she says, "Look, here's when I went to visit my cousin Elizabeth. We were so excited!" Then you pray together about it. Then she says, "Here's the day Jesus was born." And so on and so on. The Rosary is a reflection on the life of Christ, with Mary to pray with us.

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  17. Michael,

    How do you know people who pray the Rosary aren't doing so earnestly from their heart like Jesus and the Widow? You don't.

    Also, as Joe mentioned, if we rejiggered a word or two, then the Hail Marys would be okay?

    Finally, "As I've said before, it is not MY indisputable reading. In short, it's the Spirit's showing us all truth. [Don't you find it interesting that all 'Protestants', Orthodox excluded, think the Rosary is vain repetition and prayers to 'Mary', 'the angels', and 'saints' is blasphemy?]"

    Don't you find it interesting that there are more Catholics than Protestants--and that Protestants came 1,500 years after Catholics? Why shouldn't that mean that the Spirit us showing us the truth, and that Protestants decided to Protest against the truth? Furthermore, as someone mentioned elsewhere, Anglicans and some Lutherans pray the rosary, although they may substitate Hail Marys for the Jesus prayers.

    I find your arguments to be a little soft-ball in their theology. I don't mean that disrespectfully. It just seems you are really reaching and grabbing at straws at many times, and since you aren't used to playing hard ball, you have to resort to tangental or indirect replies to address the issues due to a weak theological framework.

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  18. If I can dovetail off of something that Taylor just said, Wikipedia lists 670 million non-Anglican, non-Restorianist Protestants. They're spread, of course, over a huge number of denominations, and includes a huge range of opinion about the Rosary (as Cary noted, you're acting as if Protestantism is a monolith, when it certainly isn't).

    In contrast, Catholicism alone is listed as having 1.2 billion members. Add another 230 million Eastern Orthodox, 82 million Oriental Orthodox. In other words, the number of Christians in Churches that embrace praying to Mary absolutely dwarfs (by more than 2:1) the number of Protestants.

    Yet your entirely argument is arguing from numbers, since excluding all of the Catholics and Orthodox (that is, if you ignore 2/3rds of Christianity), you have unanimity. Of course, if you exclude all of the Republican and Democratic votes in 2000, Nader won the election.

    If numbers are reflective of the Holy Spirit, we clearly are right. But what it really seems like you're doing is counting denominations -- i.e., using the fact that Protestants who can't agree on virtually anything else are united in their opposition to Catholic devotional practices as an argument that this must be the working of the Holy Spirit. That's entirely backwards. The Spirit is the Unifier. Factions and dissents aren't His marker: Catholicity and Oneness is.

    Besides that, the primary reason that Protestants are united on this is that virtually all of them trace their ecclesial heritage to the Reformation, so it's hardly surprising that rejection of Catholicism is about the only thing that Protestant denominations agree on.

    I.X.,

    Joe

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  19. Daniel,

    Used your Revelation 4 example on the radio this morning. Kudos!

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  20. I think I'm a little confused with regard to your arguments Michael, not about the Rosary, I think I understand you're making a prudential argument something like this: "If vain repetition is something we shouldn't do, and there are while praying a rosary a number of repetative prayers, some of the prayers, whether a Hail Mary, Glory Be, etc. will likely or even definately be merely repetitions unformed by the will? and therefore vain, we ougth not pray this way." At least that's the gist of what I understood, correct me if I'm wrong please. But what I am confused about is an impression I got from some of your arguments related to the honor due to Mary. My understanding is that, whether a random woman or not (which I'm convinced she isn't), Jesus Christ perfectly fulfilled everything in the old covenant. He did not sin once against any part of the law, but fulfilled each precept perfectly. But about the fourth commandment of the law, in what way was Jesus bound to fulfill this commandment?

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  21. @Michael, if prayer to angels is blasphemy, then how do you explain:

    " Bless the LORD, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments,hearkening unto the voice of his word."

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  22. Maggie, what a lovely explanation! Totally stealing that... ;-)

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  23. It appears that Michael's logic is that if the situation in Scripture doesn't *exactly* match your own then that passage cannot be used in support for a certain prayer practice.

    That's a pretty limiting way of interpreting Scripture...

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  24. I struggle with prayer. I drift off. I have trouble being motivated. I sometimes pray the rosary and ask God to hear my prayer intentions. For instance, when I pray for my mother during the Our Father I think of her problems, then my sister on the first hail Mary, my brother the second, and so on. Usually, by 5 decades (about 60 prayers) my intentions are all included. Also, on sleepless nights filled with anxiety the rosary is very calming.
    I remember as a child around 7 saying the rosary in bed because my mother was mentally ill and she often screamed through the night. My intentions at 7 were for her healing. It took about 30 years before my mother experienced total mental health and has for the last 30 years. She is presently 89. I believe my childhood prayers were answered. Bill

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  25. @RestlessPilgrim: Yes, the way Scripture says to pray IS the way it should be done.
    @Ryan: Your interpretation of my argument could not have been said any better.
    @Daniel: If you read all of Psalm 103 you'll know he was saying for all the Lord's creation to bless the Lord (Psalm 103:22). The psalmist was just more into detail about himself and the angels. That said, it had nothing to do with praying to the angels. Also, holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty!
    @Joe: So maybe there is a ratio of 2:1 of those that pray to Mary and those that don't. But the point was: Other than Orthodox and Catholics, there is at least an agreement on the prayers to 'saints'. And that agreement is: no.
    @Taylor: Common sense says that at least some of the 50 are going to be nonchalant/worthless, condemning the practice.
    @Joe&everyone: I must admit, saying "blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb" is not necessarily like saying "blessed are you for being chosen to carry our Lord, and blessed are you for being chosen to carry our Lord" (like I've said in a previous comment). In the way I questioned so, I was wrong. Although passionate and sincere, because of my love for Catholics and hatred for Catholicism, I was being obtuse on the subject of Luke 1:42. But I do still stand by the fact that Elizabeth was still rejoicing over the fact that she wasn't under a curse (Luke 1:25); she was blessed because of obedience to the Torah (Leviticus 26:9); she was rejoicing WITH Mary for both being blessed because of obedience to the Torah; she was also rejoicing with Mary because Mary was blessed and the Lord was, is, and shall be blessed.

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    1. Elizabeth's happiness was due to being filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 1 41). She felt humbled and honored that the mother of her Lord (Luke 1 43) had come to visit her.

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    2. @Michael...that is the right approach you've developed of not attacking the People(Catholics) but the object of discussion,this should definitely not be made personal, though hate is still a strong word.
      I would however urge you to exercise caution and lots and lots of it,infact sooooo much of it when talking about someone's, no sorry, JESUS' mother, especially the part where you say she was just some random pregnant woman...and she's dead. The love you feel for your mother(if she's still alive)I assume is very strong...We were made in God's image therefore everything good we feel or have,God has it in perfection and in infinity - in perfectio et in infinitum. Love being the first. So how much more do you think Jesus loves his mother????To perfection and in infinity.
      I don't think you'd be amazed if I talked of your mother as just another random pregnant woman who died, or will die.Imagine Jesus standing next to you and looking at you, do you have the guts to call his mother that to his face???

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    3. Even if your mother died, you still love her...infact the intensity grows because you begin to acknowledge her memories and legacy...you never miss the water till the well runs dry. Mary is in heaven with her son, who loves her more than you will ever imagine. And Christ calls us to imitate this love at the cross where he tells John, Behold your Mother, Woman behold your son.

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  26. Michael
    Wonderul, it's always good to have made an understanding; though i'm still curious about the latter half of my comment.

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  27. Michael,

    Couldn't you just as well make the opposite argument? Namely, that other than Protestants, there is at least an agreement on the prayers to Saints. And that agreement is: yes.

    In fact, this argument at least has the virtue of speaking for a majority of Christians (which seems like a bare minimum for an argument from unanimity).

    I.X.,

    Joe

    P.S. I appreciate your humility on your last point. I'll ruminate on it, and maybe address it later.

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  28. @Ryan:
    1) Jesus obeyed the 5th commandment (your 4th) to a T. He was, is, and shall be sinless. But, to an extent, he was treated differently within the commandment, calling Mary woman and leaving them at twelve for being zealous for the Temple (His Father's House).
    2) I believe Mary is the best example of a woman's humility and obedience.

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  29. Forgive me for being persistent, but what does Luke ch 2 mean when it says, v51 'And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was subject to them. And his mother kept all these words in her heart.'

    Also, does the use of the word 'woman', by Jesus detract at all from Mary's nature as Jesus's mother? Is there any passage in scripture wherein Jesus refers to Mary by the title 'mother'.

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    1. Luke also uses that phrase in v19. I do not know the theological perspective but to me they point to the blessed mother narrating what she remembered to the author of the gospel of Luke

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  30. Michael does your position about a hail Mary if said non challant can also be applied to hymns. therefore if a protestant sings non challant he would be guilty of repetitive prayer.

    also with all due respect, your hate Catholicism love the catholic comment is patronizing. we follow the fullness of the faith. we don't cherry pick bible verses and create churches.
    instead try please try to evangelize to our brethren who have fallen for the heresies Todd Bentley, Benny Hinn and the growing number of heretical church leaders from the reformed side of the body of Christ

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  31. While I continue to read all the Responses in this enlightening Post, I MUST hasten to plead with our Protestant Brethren that we do not pray thoughtlessly. And I must mention the most powerful Prayer Jesus has given us in these, our horrible, critical Years and Age in the History of the Survival of mankind. The Divine Mercy Chaplet. He instructed Saint Faustina that all Eucharist Apostles of the Divine Mercy and all Divine Mercy Devotees should pray this Chaplet unceasingly because it has the greatest power to obtain Graces upon Graces and Mercy from God. We pray hourly this Chaplet for the sick, the poor, the abandoned, the sinners the dying, the Holy Souls in Purgatory and the whole world. Jesus promised that anyone who prays this Chaplet with total Trust in His Mercy, and whose prayer is in accordance with God's Will will be granted whatever they are praying for - for themselves and also, more specifically for others. And obviously, we know the Holy Spirit guides us to pray for that which is in accordance with God's Will. Let us all pray for our Separated Brethren that one day - soon - they will see the light, understand and respect our Catholic Divine Worship and our centuries-honoured Catholic Prayers. May they come to know one day, just how powerful the Mother of God is and why we VENERATE - not worship - her..."Henceforth all ages shall call me blessed...." She is blessed. She is the most effective Intercessors for us all. She is the Mother of God. Christ's Saving Blood came from her. Christ's Body which was Crucified to save us came from her. May all of you be blessed this Year 2012. And let us continue to protect and defend our Holy Catholic Faith

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  32. @Mary: Christ's blood came to this earth to save us because He humbled himself (Philippians 2:5-11), not because of Mary; and Jesus is the most effective intercessor. What you say is all-out blasphemy. Also, who appeared to 'St.' Faustina was an unclean spirit, not Christ (2Corinthians 11:14, Galatians 1:8). Much like the one who claimed to be Samuel to Saul (1Samuel 28).

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  33. I was an evil wicked sinner (mostly sexual sin) until our Blessed Mother dragged me kicking and screaming to Christ.

    Do devils normally drag us to Christ?

    Update on my wife: multiple clots, pulmonary embolii, and received confirmation and 1st communion in extremis, thinners will probably work, but she is in a dangerous spot.

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  34. Michael you misunderstand what Mary said. Mary participated in human kind's salvation in a like manner like you participated in your salvation. She said yes, to God. She gave our Savior his humanity. Your acceptance of Jesus as the Son of God and eventual baptism (I am assuming you are baptized)was your participation his God's unmerited Grace that he bestowed upon humanity. Blessed Mary as the one chosen by God, to carry your Lord and Savior, the God incarnate, deserves much reverence from you. Our Lord honored her. You should at least do the same. He gave her to us on calvary (john 19:26-27) Woman behold your son (michael), and Michael behold your mother

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  35. Thanks for the update Daniel. Praying.

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  36. Daniel,

    What Restless Pilgrim said. Been praying for you guys since Tuesday, and y'all were one of the intentions at my men's prayer group on Wednesday. I'll keep praying, and feel free to update at you learn more. God bless!

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  37. Michael, I have nothing to respond to your so sad and unfortunate comments. As I have said before, I am a 73-year old Cradle Catholic whom, Michael, you cannot understand. As an Eucharistic Apostle of the Divine Mercy, all I shall do is pray for you.

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  38. Michel, for the benefit of our God-beloved Respondents on this Catholic Website, can you tell them how Satan could have dictated this very powerful Prayer - The Divine Mercy Chaplet - imploring Mercy from our Heavenly Father for mankind: "Eternal Father, I offer You the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins, and those of the whole world. For the sake of His Sorrowful Passion, have Mercy on us and on the whole world. Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world. O Blood and Water which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fount of Mercy for us, have mercy on us and on the whole world"....no doubt others would most definitely wish to hear your response. May add, in fulfillment of Jesus Christ's request - among several others - that a Feast of Divine Mercy be established in the Universal Catholic Church - which He made in 1931 - this Feast of Divine Mercy - celebrated on the First Sunday After Easter, was officially and solemnly promulgated on the 30th of April, 2000 when Mother Church also promoted Blessed Faustina Kowaslka to the Altar of the Catholic Church Saints - the Fist Saint of the Third Millennium.

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  39. daniel, your family is in my prayers

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  40. Daniel, I have read about your beloved wife. We shall pray this evening's Divine Mercy Chaplet with my family for her. And to-morrow onwards, I shall remember her before the Blessed Sacrament at 3.00 O'clock - The Hour of Great Mercy. May Our Holy Mother be with you and your Family and intercede with Her Divine Son for your wife.

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  41. Thank you all for the prayers. The doctor said she is temporarily stable if that makes sense. She received the Eucharist again this morning. They think her lung tissue is damaged, but her overall lung function is good.

    It's touch and go, but mostly touch.

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  42. I think Catholics are selling us Evangelicals a little bit short on how we feel about Mary. Yes, we don't venerate her as Catholics do but we do hold her in high esteem. Many songs,hymns of praise have been written about her. She is definitely blessed among women and we thank her for her obedience. She is no ordinary woman. She carried God.
    i just get the sense that you think we treat Mary like any other Bible character and that is not so.

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  43. WRA,

    That's a relief. I've heard a pretty wide range of Protestant beliefs on Mary, but it's heartening that there are folks like you who do hold her in high esteem. "All generations will call me blessed" means something, after all!

    Daniel,

    I'm thrilled at the mostly-positive prognosis, and want you to know that every time you comment, it's a reminder to say a short prayer. So feel free to keep the updates coming!

    I.X.,

    Joe

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  44. @BlackBeard: Mary is not my mother, nor yours. She is Jesus' earthly mother and his half-siblings mother. That is it. The Lord did not entrust her to the church as its mother. Otherwise He would have told the other believing Mary's that were at the cross that she was their mother, too.
    @Mary: Satan dictated that prayer by having you say: "For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world" fifty repetitive times.
    @Daniel: 'Do devils normally drag us to Christ?' No, but if they see you were seeking the Lord, they'd drag you to their false version of Christ for the sake of endangering your soul. (All differences aside, sorry about your wife. Said a prayer for her.)
    @WRA: My fellow Evangelical, you seem to be one who remains so and not one exploring the RCC out of confusion. If I'm right, Glory to God! But that said, I definitely wouldn't say we "thank her for her obedience". She can't hear every individual; she's not omnipresent. Although it is safe to say that we thank God for her being an example for us as far as obedience and humility are concerned. Also, yes, she is an ordinary woman who was blessed. And also, the hymns you speak of that praise her went too far; and it's safe to say that even though we don't know exactly which hymns you're talking of.

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  45. WRA,

    This is what I mean. As Michael's comment shows, there's a strain of Evangelicalism that treats any honor of Mary as offensive to God. That's how he's able to say, "the hymns you speak of that praise her went too far; and it's safe to say that even though we don't know exactly which hymns you're talking of."

    If it weren't for Luke 1:48's explicit permission, I'm quite positive that even calling her Blessed would be something we'd get in trouble for from the Anti-Marian police. After all, Blessed is what Elizabeth calls Jesus (Lk. 1:42), and according to this view, Jesus is insanely jealous of His own Mother.

    Needless to say, this is a view that we Catholics reject vehemently, and it runs 100% counter to the practice of the early Christians (the same folks who preserved and delivered the Holy Bible).

    I.X.,

    Joe

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  46. @Joe: I even stated that she is a great example of humility and obedience. I don't think I went too far, by any means. But songs of praise specifically for her: come on. Why wouldn't it be safe to say it went too far?

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  47. Michael,

    Are you similarly against Für Elise for being for Elise? Or every love song ever written?

    I don't see anywhere in Scripture where we're ever told that singing songs of praise for anyone other than Christ is verboten.

    I just think you're acting as if you're the arbiter of Christianity. Certain things seem "obvious" to you, and you impose them on all believers, and I think you do so without cause or Scriptural authority.

    I may be mistaken, but it seems from the outside like you're acting like one of the weaker brethren that Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians 8.

    I.X.,

    Joe

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  48. Michael, false Christs don't call us to holiness. That's my calling. I know it because it hurts when I fail at it.

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  49. Joe, you've inspired an innovation for when I say my last Glorious Mystery. Right after each, "Holy Mary, Mother of God," I'll say something like, say, "Queen of Heaven," just to spice things up. And there are plenty others for the rest of the decade:

    Queen of Heaven
    Queen of the Angels
    Queen of Peace
    Co-Redemptrix
    Mediatrix
    Ever-virgin
    Star of the Sea
    Mother of the Church
    Most Gracious Advocate
    Mother of the Redeemer

    Do you think the Protestants would like this version better? ;-)

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  50. MIchael, maybe it would be easier for you if I said songs about praise songs about Mary. Look, they always include Jesus of course, because to not do so would be absurd.

    Let me ask you; I know each one had their roles and played them well, but wouldn't you hold Mary, mother of God, in higher esteem than Sarah, Ruth ,Esther, or maybe even Eve(whoa!).

    And no, I am not seeking to join the RCC, but as I lurk this blog and see your comments, I'm sometimes embarrased brother. You really hate the RCC and it shows. Why?

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  51. Michael Revelations 12, v17 shows that she is your mother that is unless you do not hold to the testimony of Jesus. Let's pray for each other Michael maybe that is all we have left among the separated brethren. also let us all pray for Daniels wife.

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  52. The Jesus prayer, "Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me/us" is a particularly strong example of repetitive prayer. I first ran across this in reading "The Pilgrim's Tale" (Classics of Western Spirituality collection). It's similar to the Divine Mercy Chaplet. Here again repetition does equal vanity. On the contrary, repetition signifies a deep humility and dependence on Mercy of God. Extolling God's Mercy is not in Satan's toolbox, rather diametrically opposed to his fundamental choice to reject God and his plans to drag us down with him. Pray always as St. Paul recommends, and this little prayer will defeat any temptation by keeping the door shut.

    God's nature is love, which is seen in the very nature of the Trinity. Love is diffusive and poured out in many and various ways, and is similarly returned. Prayer is collective and individual. We all are called to share and be conduits of God's love in prayer for each other and that includes the Saints. Love not only calls us to prayer, but to action as being Christs to each other and so draw each other to Christ. Being Christs to each other refers God's/Jesus's gifts back to Himself and gives Him glory. In turn God, Who needs nothing, returns it as a place at the head of table. Those at the head of the table are those who have abandoned themselves to be the servants of all in His name. This is the nature of the Communion of Saints with Jesus as its head. Insofar as God chose Mary as the door through which Jesus stepped in and made this happen gives her a particularly distinctive role in bringing us all to her Son.

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  53. Ooops...meant to say "Here again repetition does NOT equal vanity."

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  54. @WRA:
    1) "...because to not do so would be absurd."
    That's just it. There are songs that are specifically for her, and it is absurd as you said. That said, I enjoy many Christmas songs, as an example, that nonchalantly mention her. But specific songs of praise to her. Na-ah.
    2) "but wouldn't you hold Mary... in higher esteem than..."
    No, I wouldn't. (Not to take away from the fact that she was blessed.)
    3) "You really hate the RCC and it shows. Why?"
    You don't need to be embarrassed. The reason I hate Catholicism is stacked up high: It is obviously condemned by our Master (Revelation 17&18 as only one example of many). Also, my family (on my dad's side) has been Catholic as far back as family history goes, and that makes my spirit weep. - That's why I'm so passionate about the subject.
    @Joe: But specific songs about Mary sung in assemblies of the brothers? (That Elise thing was way out of context, and you know it.)
    @Ben: I know you're provoking us 'protestants', but anyways, those titles for Mary are extremely blasphemous.
    @BlackBeard: Revelation 12 has nothing to do with Mary. It hasn't occurred yet. (Yes, we are separated, and I just got done sayin' a prayer for you and all Catholics whom see this site.)

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  55. Thanks for your prayers Michael. I must always remind myself that we as Christians should not discuss and debate, especially in regards to our faith, with pride but rather with love.

    Revelation 12 speaks of a woman who gave birth to a male child. That is not talking about a future event. The early church fathers identified her with Mary because of this verse. Furthermore, many have felt that this "woman" is the same "woman" from Genesis 3, the New Eve, the Ark of the Covenant, the one who said Yes to the Lord. Our Mother Mary. She has offspring, that offspring is you and the rest of the church who keep God's commands and hold fast to their testimony about Jesus.

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  56. Well, I wasn't trying to provoke anything. But since you asked, here's my challenge: Answer the following. Here.

    Since undoubtedly the mound of sand we call Protestantism has been around less time than the Catholic Church, either the Catholic Church or remarkably similar-in-content Eastern Orthodox has the presumptive case for being the Church founded by the apostles against which the gates of Hell shall not prevail. Protestantism, I believe, bears the burden of proof for showing both the Church with a Pope and the Communion of Patriarchs are not what simple history would otherwise show them to be. I submit that "Catholic Apostasy" is as central to Protestantism as the Eucharist is to Catholics. The Irish in me says: Chew on that.

    Since you have the burden of proof, let us consider what the earliest case against the Catholic Church has been: Luther took scandal as evidence of apostasy. But these are as different as weakness and hypocrisy: scandal is grave public sin leading others into sin; apostasy is officially teaching that this is a-OK. Despite that gloss, the initial force of this argument proposed the sad state of affairs that our only option was sola scriptura, to self-correct a purportedly apostate ecclesiology. Sola scriptura is necessary for every other anti-Catholic argument.

    Scandal does not necessitate apostasy; to wit, indulgences for almsgiving, if spun for Protestantism, is at best and at the point of principle only muddy, though at the point of practice certainly abused. However, if we apply this case for apostasy to the Legion of Magesteria called Protestantism, we see a far clearer case for unquestionable apostasy which cannot be sadly admitted as scandal. What small voices in this Legion who keep the faith on, say, divorce --- an utterly clear condemnation straight from the mouth of Christ --- can be heard over the cacophony of dissent against God we hear from the official voices of Protestantism? To wit, if there was ever a reason to break from the Church with a Pope, there is far, far more reason to break back from the Anarchism of Many Popes.

    As your historical argument unquestionably weighs more heavily against you than we, your burden of proof becomes far more burdensome. You must simultaneously balance justifying the original claim against Catholics while maintaining your own innocence at the same standard, despite the two-edged blade harming you more than us. I submit that your task is to grip that argument tightly, but not too tightly, because otherwise you cannot honestly maintain what I call a faulty Biblical hermeneutic. Moreover, without the sola scriptura shibboleth, The Tradition of Men's afactual, ahistorical and just plain bad arguments against the Church fail.

    Consider that the theory from pietic impulse called Protestantism is false, that the Church is a hospital for sinners just as Israel is a faithless bride, and that when Christ said the gates of Hell shall not prevail against his Church, the Logos Incarnate spoke plain truth.

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  57. Please notice how I back up several claims with links for further reading, particularly those I believe would be points of particular contention. If it has more heat than light, I apologize, but really: Show me the Catholic Apostasy is more than urban legend, that approaching the Church Fathers without preconception or rationalization we find, on balance, that they are more Protestant than Catholic. Show me that returning to an acorn, if it can even be known, is what God would want an oak tree to do.

    As a Protestant, and according to all the rules of honest debate, you are the one bearing this burden of proof. I submit that this yoke is not easy and this burden is not light.

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  58. @Ben: What!?!?!?
    @BlackBeard: In Genesis 3:15, Christ crushes the head of Satan; it's not Mary; although I can agree Mary is the her of 'and her seed'. And yes, Revelation 12 is a future event. Satan hasn't been cast out of heaven yet (Job 1&2). Read my comments to Joe in his post 'Mary, the Ark of the New Covenant' (12/5/2011 7:40pm; 12/5/2011 11:55pm). So, as said, Mary is neither my mother or your mother.

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  59. Protestantism makes a claim to legitimacy based on the apostasy of Catholics. It is a serious charge, with substantial evidence against it including an assurance directly from the mouth of God, but it is foundational to Protestantism's authority and right to exist.

    If you cannot make a solid case, independent of the question of if I agree, you are not allowed to use sola scriptura in your case against the Church. For that matter, your credibility will seriously be in question.

    My challenge does have one flaw: That there even exists a single thing we can call Protestantism. Really, it's more of a collection of attitudes and urban legends. If I am wrong in this, disprove me. I will eat as much crow as you can dish.

    I would sooner believe in the bodily assumption of Mary than the ecclesiological assumptions of Protestants, and I do.

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    Replies
    1. I saw this a year later, sorry:-) You should just be an apologist( if you already aren't)!!!

      Of course The Church has most credibility.
      Food for thought; 1st of all, sola scriptura is not in the Bible!!Since our dear brothers defense is always,'where is it in the Bible'. Nowhere in the Bible does it say solely scripture, it even says that not everything could be written down obviously because it was too much, so Luther is erroneous. The rest is what we call tradition, carried on from the Apostles;the early church.

      Delete
  60. If there is truth to what you say, it should be apparent to everyone here.

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  61. Michael I will look at that post and you look at revelation 11 verse 19, the final verse in that chapter... when God's temple is open and the Apostle John writes that the Ark of the Covenant is revealed...who then appears immediately in revelation 12....the woman...

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  62. Luke 10:18 suggests that Satan was already cast out of heaven by the way.

    I saw your post but frankly I am struggling to see how you arrived at your conclusions.

    You say, "the saints will rule during the thousand-year reign with some iron"..the text says Jesus not the saints.

    You also say ", as Scripture indicates, who won't believe until the Second Coming when He defeats the Mahdi (Antichrist) and Jesus of Islam (False Prophet)"

    Where did you get that from the book of revelation (ie the muslim references)?

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  63. @BlackBeard:
    1) "Luke 10:8... by the way."
    Yea, he is Satan and no longer Lucifer. He has been declared condemned, and in that sense has been cast out of heaven. But have you not read Job 1&2? He is allowed into heaven to accuse the saints. In Revelation he is cast out to the point where he can't accuse the saints before God in heaven. It's rather simple.
    2) "...the text says Jesus not the saints."
    Revelation 20:6
    Psalm 149:5-9
    3) Read Perry Stone Jr.'s 'Unleashing the Beast' to find out more about the end of days. It doesn't condemn any religion within Christianity. It just uses Daniel, Revelation, and other texts to come to the conclusions of the end times. And although he is COG(Cleveland), the biggest followers of his prophetic teachings are none other than Catholics.
    (Again, Revelation 12 does not have anything to do with the story of Jesus birth, going to Egypt, etc. The story of his birth is but a parallel to what has yet to be fulfilled in Revelation 12. Job 1&2 proves Revelation 12 hasn't been fulfilled.)

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  64. Mike: Since you ignore my previous challenge, here's a shorter one: Tell me something that couldn't be proved with Daniel, Revelation and a pretext.

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  65. LOL! I am laughing because we seem to have taken our discussion into an entirely different direction than the initial topic of the article:)
    we should start our own blog and name it point counter point or something like that.

    I think I understand where you are coming from. You must hold to pre-millenialism.

    As far as Perry Stone, I remember that name...when I was protestant Hank Hanegraaff wrote a piece on heresies in his teaching.

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  66. Thank you, Black Beard. Yes, yes, let us go back to the main topic of this Post. Merits and demerits of Repetitive Prayer and the disposition of the Faithful during Prayer. I also added another very powerful repetitive Intercessory Prayer to our Heavenly Father given by Jesus Christ Himself - The Chaplet of the Divine Mercy. So, please my beloved people of God, let us ignore the Protestants' abhorence of our Catholic Faith and educate and enlighten one another on how to pray as the Holy Spirit guides each one of us. Our Catholic Websites are for the sole purpose of Catholics sharing knowledge, experiences, their individual journeys, encouraging one another and strengthening others in our Faith as we walk together on our Road to our Destiny in Eternity. Be blessed

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  67. Michael: You present a contradicition by saying that Satan can enter Heaven, when we know from the Bible that "nothing unclean can enter Heaven."

    That is why some books of the Bible are allegorical or simply stories. The Book of Job falls into this category.

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  68. Michael,

    I wanted to address a couple of your points on your Revelation 12 exegesis, since this comes up frequently.

    You claim that it refers to a future event since Satan is still in Heaven. In support, you cite Job 1-2, a Book the Jews put in the Ketuvim, rather than the Nevi'im
    (in the very canon that you appeal to in defending the Protestant Bible, if I'm not mistaken). That's likely because the Book of Job was recognized from the beginning as not being a historical account. This is also why Job has no genealogy -- the author isn't claiming he was a historical figure.

    Black Beard pointed out that Luke 10:18 is really clear that Satan fell from Heaven. Your response was, "Yea, he is Satan and no longer Lucifer. He has been declared condemned, and in that sense has been cast out of heaven." But in Luke 10:18, Jesus says, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven." Not, "I saw Lucifer demoted from Lucifer to Satan." You're trying to argue around the explicit words of Christ.

    Next, you claim that the Son in Rev. 12 doesn't refer to Christ, but to some of the Saints, and cite to Revelation 20:6 and Psalm 149:5-9, which aren't on-point.

    Revelation 12:5 describes the Son as the One who “will rule all the nations with an iron scepter.” This is a quotation of Psalm 2:9, which is a Christological passage. Psalm 2:7 is explicitly applied to Christ in Hebrews.

    So I think that whatever else may be said about Revelation 12, your interpretation is contrary to some pretty explicit Scriptural passages. I don't think you can get around this by appealing to Perry Stone.

    I.X.,

    Joe

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  69. @BlackBeard: No joke, we are WAY off the original topic! But, to keep the conversation going, what were some of Hank's views of Perry's 'heresies'?
    @Taylor: It is blasphemy to call Job a story. Next time just say that the Word is a lie.
    @Mary: This is an apologetics blog. Ignoring people like me would defeat the purpose. Also, I have been ignored and blocked from a few other Catholic sites (as you seem to wish of me on this site), but Joe mans-up. He doesn't defeat the purpose as a few of the others do. That said, he has my respect, although it might not always seem so since some of my discussions have been slightly heated.
    Also, my presence on Catholic blogs hasn't always been for the sake of arguing. I'll admit I've learned some valuable insight from Catholic blogs:
    a) From Joe's blog, his post about interior peace vs exterior peace went well in my spirit.
    b) From Joe's blog, on one of his posts he talked of the difference of Christ using My Father/Our Father and how Christ never used the Our Father to be used WITH us and Christ to show the difference in relationship. That went well in my spirit.
    c) In Mr. Charles Popes blog (somebody who erases about 75% of my comments), I learned in the parable of Lazarus about how the rich man in hell was still unrepentant of his ways, admitting he was where he belonged, saying 'send Lazarus' as if the rich man was still above Lazarus. Again, that went well in my spirit.
    There has been other examples, but I just can't think of any at this moment.
    @Joe:
    1) I didn't say he's still in heaven, but I did say he has access to heaven as Job 1&2 and Revelation 12 confirms.
    2) So are you saying Job 1&2 is a lie? Is it to you like it is to Taylor? I'm confused.
    3) I'm not saying Christ lied. You just don't, as a Catholic, understand that you have to look at all Scripture. Otherwise you wouldn't deny Job 1&2.
    4) How weren't my previous citations of Revelation 20:6 and Psalm 149:5-9 on-point.
    5) Yes, some passages only refer to Christ ruling with an iron scepter. But look, as an example, at all the meanings for God's Temple (literal Temple, bodies of believers). So, like your denying Job 1&2, you deny Psalm 149:5-9. I don't get it.
    6) Rev. 12 talks of the man-child, not the Son.
    7) I'm just saying you should look to the teachings of Stone on end-times prophecy, especially 'Unleashing the Beast'. Specifically, I'm still using Dake on Revelation 12.

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  70. Job isn't a "lie", it's just not a piece of history. As Joe said, it is part of something that the Jews categorized as poetry-type stories.

    But if nothing can be a lie and it all must be literal...then maybe soon you'll receive Christ's body and blood in the Eucharist.

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  71. mike go to equip.org..it should be thre. hank is my favorite protestant apologist.

    i like the discussion mike. you seem to be sincere. God bless you my brother in Christ

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  72. @ Michael~January 20, 2012 5:24 PM

    This comment confuses me. "Mary is not my mother, nor yours. She is Jesus' earthly mother and his half-siblings mother. That is it. The Lord did not entrust her to the church as its mother. Otherwise He would have told the other believing Mary's that were at the cross that she was their mother, too."

    Here's the confusion. Is Jesus both divine (God) and human (man)? If he is only man, then sure I would agree with you that Mary was only his "early mother." But he is also God, which makes Mary the mother of God and not just an "early mother" but also a heavenly one.

    So I suppose my simple question is this: Do you believe that Jesus is both human and divine?

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  73. @Taylor: Even if Job 1&2 is poetry, does it make it a lie? Also, how do you know it wasn't a piece of history?
    @Deltaflute:
    1) I called her his 'earthly mother', not his 'early mother'.
    2) How is Mary His heavenly mother? He was who He was before Mary was born.
    3) Of course Jesus is human and divine. Why did you ask?
    @BlackBeard: This man should not be your favorite protestant theologian.
    1) He embraces once saved always saved. (CRI: "Can Christians lose their salvation?") Catholics even acknowledge you can lose your salvation. This teaching, possibly more than any, should not be tolerated.
    2) He believes you can't be a prophet anymore. (CRI: "Are there apostles and prophets today?") Look at your very own 'St.' Malachy. He predicted, to a T, the last 100+ popes. (The prophecy also states B16 is the second to last pope. But, there is controversy as to whether B16 of Peter the Roman with no papal name is the final pope, because some say Peter the Roman was an addition.)
    Also, he denies the rapture and is preterist, so of course he denies Stone. - take care, BlackBeard

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  74. Michael,

    It depends. Great Expectations is a story that takes place in our world. Was there really a "Pip" that got attacked while in a graveyard? No, but that doesn't mean what happened didn't act as a set-up to the story.

    It's the same thing here. Satan enters our Lords presence in this story to begin test, the challenge.

    It should be pretty obvious. I mean, would God simply chit-chat with Satan? He who cannot tolerate sin?

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  75. Benjamin Baxter, I really enjoy reading your comments. Do you have a blog?

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  76. Michael, I am not a protestant so I do not always come to the same conclusions as Hank Hanegraaff. With that said, I do think he is as sharp as an apologist as I have heard from the reformed tradition.

    Catholics do not believe in the rapture/premillennialism as most protestants believe. This interpretation of the book of revelation is probably no older than 150 years. It is a very recent approach to the book of revelation.

    Anyway therein lies the problem with reformed christianity. Everyone has their own interpretation of the bible. Stone disagrees with Hanegraaff. Michael disagrees with someone else. Yet they all claim that he is loyal to biblical teaching, that he is a bible only Christian. This is what drove me away from protestantism. Really the only thing they had in common was their hatred of Catholics. Their hatred for the Church. I was so frustrated that I bought books on the early church fathers. Read them, and I discovered that they way they worshiped was not the protestant way but rather the Catholic way. I still did not want to return so I looked into orthodoxy. I mean how could I return the catholicism? I refused, to make a long story short, it was the discovery of who was given the keys to the kingdom that humbled me..I went to confession, partook of the holy Eucharist and wept. I have not looked back since.

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  77. @ Michael- My apologies. It was either an auto-correct or typo/fatigue on my part. What I meant to do was quote "earthly mother."

    I ask because if she is only his earthly mother as you say, then that would only be the human side of Jesus. If Jesus is both divine and human, then that would make Mary also his divine (heavenly) and earthly (human) mother. Jesus didn't divide himself in the womb. Mary literally gave birth to God incarnate. So that would make her the Mother of God. This term is Theotokos.

    Which is why I asked. Because if you believe that Jesus is God, then Mary is not merely his earthly mother as you've said. It wouldn't make sense unless you think his natures were somehow divided.

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    1. True Deltaflute.
      We are also made up of both body and soul, if your mother dies, does she stop being your mother because her body is no more??Then her soul is not your mother - nonsensical. Then you should just forget about her forever...I bet you wouldn't.

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  78. @Taylor: With that logic, God wouldn't chit-chat with us before we repented, and that would mean there wouldn't be any conviction of sin.
    @BlackBeard: No, the teaching of the rapture began with the bible, not 150 years ago. (Zephaniah 2:1-3, Matthew 24:37-44, 1Thessalonians 4:16-18, 2Thessalonians 2:1-8, Revelation 3:10) Also, I'm sorry you believed the lies, and turned away from true belief. (Exodus 20:4-5, Deuteronomy 18:11, Isiah 46:6-7, 1Timothy 4:1-4, Galatians 1:8, Colossians 2:18,23, Revelation 17&18) Also, of course there will be disagreements. (1Corinthians 11:19, Acts 20:29 - apostolic succession, huh?) BlackBeard, may you look back and see the lies.

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  79. Michael,

    How many Christians within the first 1800 years of Christianity believed in the Rapture? I don't just mean Church Fathers, I don't even mean just Catholics. Use Catholics, Orthodox, Protestant, Gnostics, whoever you want. Can you find more than two Christians who unambiguously believed in the Rapture during that period of time (that is, the first 90% of Christian history)?

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  80. @Deltaflute: That's just it. He used to only have one nature: divine. That's why I said 'earthly mother'. To not take away from his pre-existence. That's why Scripture says he became the Son of God. Otherwise, why would he, in OT times, be revealed as an Angel of the Lord (Genesis 16:7,13) and not the Son; or a mediated/seen form of God (Genesis 16:7,13, Exodus 3:2-6 compared to the Father - Exodus 33:20) and not the Son? Mary is the mother of Yeshua (Jesus). That's it.

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  81. @Joe: Instead of asking me about some 'church father' or Catholic-preserved writing for proof, explain why the Scriptures I cited aren't for rapture teaching. (Oh, and all early true Christians believed in the rapture. Just look at the before cited Scriptures.)

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  82. Michael,

    We don't disagree that the saved who die are taken up into Heaven, nor do we deny that the saved are exalted on the Last Day.  What we do deny is the idea that sometime before the Last Judgment, the saved will be secretly whisked away. That idea is a total perversion of a handful of Scriptural verses.

    As a general matter, all of the passages you cite to refer to the Dies Irae ("Day of Wrath"), better known as Judgment Day.  Catholics have written (and sung) a lot about this Day.  This is the day that Christ will come in glory and judge the world -- it's the prophesied Second Coming, and the General Judgment.  There are numerous Scriptural references to it:  Catholic Encyclopedia lists 1 Cor. 15:23, 2 Thes. 2:1-9, 2 Thes. 2:8; 1 Tim. 6:14; 2 Tim. 4:1; Titus 2:13, 2 Thess. 2:7 1 Pet. 4:13, 2 Tim. 4:8, 1 Thess. 5:2, Phil 1:6 Luke 17:30, and John 6:39-40, but there are more.

    With that said, let's address the specific passages you point to.  Matthew 24:37-44 is explicitly about when the Son of Man returns (Mt. 24:37, Mt. 24:42), as is 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 (1 Thes. 4:16), as is 2 Thessalonians 2:1-8 (2 Thes. 2:8).  So these actually disprove the idea that Christ will rapture the elect before His Second Coming.

    Zephaniah 2:1-3 is expressly about the Day of Wrath, or at least a Day of Wrath (Zeph. 2:2), and we're to hope to be shielded from God's wrath on that day.  Nothing in there about being secretly raptured.  Revelation 3:10 talks about specific Christians being preserved from the Great Tribulation.  Revelation 7:14 is clear that not all Christians will be preserved from it, as are Matthew 24:29–31 and its parallel passages Mark 13:24-27 and Luke 21:25-27. I'd also point to Matthew 24:22 to show that the way Christ will preserve us from the Tribulation is by shortening it, not secretly whisking us away while the not-yet saved are left in some sort of half hellish state.

    Absolutely none of these passages point to a pre-Judgment Rapture.  I asked you for examples of more than two Christians who unambiguously believed in the Rapture prior to 1800,* and so far you haven't done it.  Even if you disagree, and think that the texts are ambiguous enough to support a Rapture interpretation, I think you'd have to at the very least concede (for the sake of honesty) that none of these are unambiguous.  All of them are easily and plausibly explained as about the Second Coming, without any recourse to a secret Rapture.

    Honestly, I'd rather not get bogged down into the usual routine, where you read Scriptures one way, and just assert that everybody else must be wrong since they disagree with you.  If your interpretation of Scripture is correct, you should be able to early Christians who believed this way.  If you can't do that, why not?

    I.X.,

    Joe


    *I really should have said 1700, rather than 1800, because you might be able to point to some of the Puritans' writings.  Either way, whether this doctrine was added on to Christianity in the 18th or the 19th century, it's absolutely an addition, and we can even name names as to who added it (John Darby in the 19th century, and possibly Cotton and Increase Mather in the 18th).

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  83. @Joe:
    1) I can at least say we agree that the pre-trib Scriptures I cited have something to do with the Second Coming. But anyways, you're ignoring the contexts, especially 1Thess. And to call it a perversion: psss. Wow!
    2) I'm not sure about the 'shortened tribulation' you're speaking of. It is seven years.
    3) "If you can't do that, why not?"
    a) For the most part, as said, it's because of who preserved them: RCC.
    b) I've mentioned in past comments how the protestant canon was obviously going around a long while back (Jerome's opinion). I've mentioned in past comments how there obviously wasn't an agreement on icons (the murderous iconoclast).
    That said, there were true Christians in the 'church father' days. To disagree would be obtuse.

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  84. @Joe: When I said, "...who preserved them: RCC", I was talking of being skeptical of citing 'church father' writings because almost all were preserved by the RCC, which doesn't exactly make it trustworthy.

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  85. Michael,

    We agree that there were true Christians in the days of the Church Fathers. The question is what they looked like. Were these true Christians Catholics or proto-Protestants?

    So let's address the excuses you provide for your inability to point to what we might call "early Church Protestants" in turn:

    a) This is a weak excuse. Most of what we know of Gnosticism, and much of what we know of Greek paganism, comes from either (i) the Church retaining ancient documents, or (ii) early Catholic writers arguing against these beliefs.

    For example, Against Heresies is an absolute encyclopedia of what Gnostics believed, since Irenaeus believed it was important to understand a heresy before refuting it.

    So to orchestrate some sort of historical coverup, where all evidence of these early Protestants is wiped away, the Church would have to destroy, not only all of the Protestants' writings, but all of the Catholic writings refuting them. And would have to do this globally. And would have to do this absolutely, so that no Dead Sea Scrolls-type situation popped up, where documents were secretly preserved.

    Now consider that the Church didn't cover up the existence of the pagans, or the Gnostics, or any of the scores of other heresies She bested. In fact, Her triumph over them was one of the jewels in Her crown, since it showed that Truth triumphed over error, and that Christ crushes the head of Satan. Why treat Protestants any differently?

    So the theory that the Church somehow suppressed the existence of early Church Protestants is sheer mythology. All the evidence points in the other direction.

    b) Your (b) actually further disproves your (a). The fact that the Catholic Church preserved Jerome's writings, even when he argued for what we would today call a Protestant canon, shows that She wasn't engaged this sort of historical conspiracy. And that doesn't even address arguments made by Origen or Tertullian, who She never canonized, owing to some dangerous and erroneous views that they advanced.

    Instead, folks like the "murderous iconoclast" were remembered by the Church (as were Caesar, and Pilate, and Nero, and Julian the Apostate, etc.). And where heresies like iconoclasm arose, the Church didn't cover them up. She assembled a Council addressing these heresies head-on (the 7th Ecumenical Council). So it was when Protestantism did arrive (the Council of Trent). An Ecumenical Council is the opposite extreme of a cover-up.

    Having said that, Jerome was advancing a view that was a novelty based on his own experience in Israel (I've addressed this elsewhere, and don't want to go over all of the evidence again here). And iconoclasm arose in the eighth century, although strains of it are recurrent throughout various periods in Church history.

    But none of those folks taught a secret Rapture, either, which gets us back to the real heart of the matter. How can you justify the lack of evidence that the early Christians believed what you believed here?

    I.X.,

    Joe

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  86. As you can see Michael, all the passages cited were interpreted another way for centuries. Not even Luther and Calvin held to pre-mill beliefs. Darby is the first who came up with this line of thinking.

    There is an arrogance to what you have put forth. How come early Christians did not write about your belief in the rapture. Do you think, that people in the past were stupid? they read the same new testament. Do you think, they did not understand it? did the Holy Spirit not illuminate them like He does you? How come you are so chosen but St. Augustine isn't? How come the rapture was revealed to you but not St. Ignatius?

    In essence you pre-mill believers propose two second comings of Christ.One in secret (rapture) and another in plain view of the entire world.

    You offer no proof that early christians believed the way you do. Your trump card is to say that somehow the church erased history....

    Really????

    Michael buy yourself books on the writing of early christians. They were men of great faith. Brilliant men and women. Read what they believed.

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  87. Oh yea and Jerome believed in the real presence of Christ. How come you don't since you accept his "canon"

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  88. Michael,

    "With that logic, God wouldn't chit-chat with us before we repented, and that would mean there wouldn't be any conviction of sin."

    This is not true for humanity, particularly not for baptized people (children of God). Satan is different; angels are beyond salvation, they aren't getting a second chance.

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  89. Michael.

    Your claims are for the most part unfalsifiable, and therefore becomes useless in intellectual discussion. Whatever evidence is provided to debunk your arguments is twisted to prove your own argument because the RCC somehow "controls" the evidence.

    The same type of arguments have been used elsewhere. For example, some young-earth creationists, after having evidence of an ancient fossil record presented to them, insist that God had to have put it there to test our faith. This immediately removes any intellectual basis for the discussion.

    If no evidence can change your mind or at least suggest to you that you might be wrong, then I don't see the point of you posting here. Joe has been debunking myth after myth, while you have not once shown any real evidence for your own position.

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  90. @ Michael~ So is it my correct understanding that you don't believe in the Trinity? Because you seem to be arguing against it.

    Mary didn't become the Mother of God until the conception of Jesus. True. But Jesus was fully human and fully God at his own conception as well.

    To separate the two natures of Jesus is to believe in the concept of Cristotokos (or Christ Bearer). To quote Wikipedia's explanation "this as dividing Jesus into two distinct persons, the human who was Son of Mary, and the divine who was not. To them [early Church fathers] this was unacceptable since by destroying the perfect union of the divine and human natures in Christ, it sabotaged the fullness of the Incarnation and by extension, the salvation of humanity."

    This is why early Church believers said that Mary is also the Mother of God because Jesus is both God and human not separate. To separate Jesus's two natures is to not fully believe in the Trinity: that is that God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are one in three persons. To quote Wikipedia again: "The Christian doctrine of the Trinity defines God as three divine persons the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The three persons are distinct yet coexist in unity, and are co-equal, and co-eternal, and consubstantial."

    In other words, Jesus is eternal like the Father is eternal. He has always been (has no beginning) regardless of when his human conception took place. He is both divine and human equally.

    Therefore one can conclude that because Mary is the mother of Jesus who is also God that she is the Mother of God who is and has always been. That is if you believe in the Trinity.

    If you separate the eternal aspect of the Father's and Son's relationship than you believe in something else. Of course my explanation of the Trinity is the best human understanding of it. God's ways are mysterious.

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  91. Jhn 6:39 And this is the Father's willwhich hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but shouldraise itupagainat the last day.

    Jhn 6:40 And this is the willof him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.

    Jhn 6:44 No man can come to me, except the Fatherwhich hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

    Jhn 6:54 Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.

    Jhn 11:24 Martha saith untohim,I knowthathe shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.

    Jhn 12:48 He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shalljudge him in the last day.

    POP QUIZ: When is the resurrection?
    ANSWER: On the LAST DAY.

    Why is this significant?
    Th 4:16 Forthe Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout,withthe voice ofthe archangel, andwiththe trump of God: and the dead inChristshallrisefirst: 1Th 4:17 Then we which are alive [and] remain shall be caughtuptogetherwiththeminthe clouds,tomeet the Lord inthe air:andso shallwe everbe withthe Lord.

    So if the resurrection happens before the living Christians are caught up in the air, and the resurrection happens on the last day, then being caught up in the air happens on the last day.

    The last day of the world as we know it is after the tribulation.

    Ergo, the pretrib rapture is a myth.

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  92. @Deltaflute: How you got that I denied the Trinity and pre-existence of Christ from my statement to you is beyond me.
    @BlackBeard: Like I said to Joe, the early church did acknowledge the rapture. Just look at Paul's writings (the ones I cited to you earlier.) Also, Jerome was a grave worshiper. He was not St. Jerome. So I don't care what he believed. I just thought it hilarious that you guys argue the 'protestant' canon, yet he who translated believed what he believed. Also, I never said you guys erased history.
    @Joe&George: Look, I just find it interesting:
    1) Over-exaggerations (lies) about the Montanists. (latter-rain.com)
    2) Joe and almost all Catholics claim the 'protestant' canon didn't exist, yet it just happens to be that the one who translated the Latin bible (Jerome) thought the 'protestant' canon was it.
    3) There were councils concerning icons that were against icons that Catholics just happen to not recognize; and, to my knowledge, there isn't really any writings of those that were against icons even though there were councils that specifically addressed such. (Although, I must admit, the iconoclasm was very eastern, so Islam might have had a little something to do with it.)
    4) Then there were those who followed Waldo, or whatever his name was, and various others at different times throughout history.
    But, hey, there's no evidence for 'protestantism' starting until the 1500s!!! Wow, Paul was so right when he said your consciences were seared as with a hot iron! But glory to God, there's still hope for you! Somehow, in the Lord's awesomeness, He can make it as if your conscience never was seared as with a hot iron. Glory to God!

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  93. @michael re: Jerome and the Canon, http://cantuar.blogspot.com/2011/09/did-st-jerome-reject-deuterocanoical.html

    @Joe, Job is historical per Ezekial 14:19-20, IMHO.

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  94. @Daniel: Yes, the Lord will raise us up on the last day. But to the Lord a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like a day (2Peter 3:8). In light of Revelation 21:1 happening directly before the perfect comes (1Corinthians 13:10, Revelation 21:2), 2Peter 3:10-13 happens at the end of the thousand-year reign. So a thousand years ARE like a day to the Lord. That said, the Scriptures you cited talk of the Lord not letting the pits of hell close on believers when ALL the condemned are where they belong after the thousand-year reign. But wait, that's not all. The Scriptures you cited have dual meanings since the Rapture takes place on the last day of the church age/period of mercy. So we will be raised on the last day of the period of mercy/church age AND the day of judgement. But I guess I shouldn't be so upset you all don't see this. Peter did prophesy what you mockers would say: "Where is this 'coming' he promised?"

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  95. Michael: Prove that the early church acknowledged the pre-mill rapture. We can point to the same scriptures but arrive at different conclusions. The fact is that you cannot. It did not exist. It is an invention of your tradition.

    I only mentioned Jerome because you held him up as a standard. He did not speak for the Church hence his version of the translation did not become canon. Also, his canon was different than the modern protestant canon so this is not a good support for your argument. Moreover, he later accepted the canon as adopted by the Church.

    He later in his writings quoted the deuterocanonicals. see his letters http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/2710.htm
    against rufinus.

    I am shocked that you would put him down. He was a pious man whose pursuit of God led him to achievements that still resonate to this day. I would hope to accomplish 1/100 as much in my life time.

    you are holding up the waldenesians as an example of reform theology. This is a bad example. Study who they were. Justification by faith alone which is the hallmark of protestantism is nowhere to be seen. Study them from legitimate sources. Your local library probably has something on them. Celibacy, vow of poverty, liked the practice of christian perfection (works)...you probably do not want to bring them up as support for your argument.

    As far your quote of 1 timothy 4 v 1-2
    But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons,by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron,

    St Paul is referring to the latter times. Our Church has held the same beliefs since about 33AD so he could not be referring to body of Christ. We have faithfully held to the teachings of the apostles. The Church only canonized the New Testament only after it was assured that it also was inline with what the apostles taught. We have not fallen away, we have stayed true.

    The people here have studied the Faith. They know what the Fathers taught us. We know the scriptures. I think I can speak for all to say the it is not our conscience that is burning. But rather the love we have for Jesus and his Holy Church that has set us on fire.

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  96. @Daniel: Thanks for the Ezekiel 14:19-20 reference. I didn't realize he was mentioned elsewhere. - There you go Joe, Taylor, and everyone else who denies the book of Job. There's your proof. (Although the Ezekiel passage shouldn't be the one to prove Job as trustworthy. The fact that it is in the canon should do so.) So now what do you say about Job 1&2?

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  97. @BlackBeard:
    1) I only brought up the Waldenesians as an example of 'protestantism'.
    2) What about the rest of 1Timothy? The next two verses? (1Timothy 4:1-4) Do you not condemn marriage for western-rite/Latin-rite priests? Do you not condemn marriage even in the case of adultery? Do you not condemn those who do not abstain from meats on Fridays pre-VaticanII, and those who do not abstain from meats on Fridays during Lent post-VaticanII?

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  98. but it isnt an example of protestanism not by a long shot. there were heretical sects since the begining of the church.

    we do not condemn marriage for latin rite priests and you know it. those called to priesthood for latin rite know upfront that the discipline is to have a vow of celibacy. you know very well that our other rites do not hold to celibacy. It is not dogma. It is discipline, the Church could change it tomorrow. Dogma could not be changed.

    You also know and if you don't I will tell you that the Friday meatless rule is fasting. Fasting to be used to be more spiritual. Noone is condemned. This is shameful on your part to twist it like this.

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  99. St. Paul held celibacy to be spiritually higher. You know this. You do and yet your purposefully twisted 1 Timothy and attacked the Church.

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  100. I can just imagine his excuse will be that St. Paul is "merely stating his own opinion".

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  101. Michael,

    Are you claiming to be a spiritual successor of the Waldensians? Otherwise, what's your point? Nobody's denying that there were heretics from the earliest days of the Church. We're denying that they were Protestants. If you think that they were, make a coherent argument, don't just make insinuations.  But if you concede that the Waldensians were wildly different from Protestants, then my original point stands.

    Regarding iconoclasm, yes, in 754, the Emperor called the Synod of Hieria (also called the Mock Council of Constantinople or the Headless Council) to  impose iconoclasm upon the Church.  The emperor's son was the presiding bishop.  “Catholics just happen to not recognize” this Council because it had no authority (being rejected by the pope) and was heretical.  It was condemned as such at the Seventh Ecumenical Council, the Second Council of Nicea, in 787.  To my knowledge, nobody accepts it as a valid Council, including Protestants.

    The rest of your arguments are the same old smokescreen.  I've previously addressed this misuse of 1 Timothy 4:3 here (continuing into the comments), Jerome and the (non) existence of a 66-Book Protestant canon in the early Church here and here and here, and Peter Waldo and the Waldensians here,

    But you're running away from the issue.  Yes, you can find an early Christian (St. Jerome) who argued against the Deuterocanon (although he was humble enough to defer to the Church).  And yes, you can find 8th century heretics hellbent on iconoclasm.  So why can't you find any gorup, within or without the Catholic Church, that taught the secret rapture?  If, as you claim, these New Testament passages are teaching the Rapture, surely you could find some evidence of this from the early Church.  So why this utter failure?

    It won't do to say that John Darby, a 19th century lapsed Anglican priest, dreamed up a secret rapture after reading these passages.  Show me that's what these passages originally meant to the audiences they were addressed to, or to some other group of early Christians. The rest of this “searing the consciences” and “abstaining from meat” business is just you getting defensive and trying to dodge the question.

    I.X.,

    Joe

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  102. Daniel,

    I'm pretty persuaded by Ezekiel 14:19-20. Thanks for pointing that out!

    Michael,

    To answer your follow-up question:
    a) No, just because something's canonical, it's not automatically history. The parable of the Prodigal Son is God-breathed (literally), yet I've never heard anyone claim that it's a historical account. Likewise, Song of Solomon is best understood as an allegory of Christ's love for the Church, not someone sharing their private business.

    b) However we understand Job 1-2, we can't understand it in a way that contradicts Luke 10:18. Jesus is too clear to simply ignore Him.

    I.X.,

    Joe

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  103. @Michael~ It's simple really the mystery of the Trinity is that Jesus, God the Father, and Holy Spirit have always been one. They are co-eternal with no beginning and no end. As you seem to believe in the pre-existance of Jesus, then you believe in the Trinity.

    If you believe in the Trinity, then you must also believe that Mary is the Mother of God, Theotokos. The reason is simple. If Jesus pre-existed as the Logos the word which as Calvin stated is part of his humanity and is also God and therefore is both equally divine and human, then Mary gave birth to both the divine and human. She gave birth to God and Christ. She gave birth to both natures. That makes her the Mother of God.

    To say that she only was the earthly mother of Jesus is deny Jesus's divine nature and therefore to deny the Trinitarian belief that Jesus is both divine and human and has always existed. Make sense?

    To downplay Mary as simply a good example of faith and only the earthly mother is to deny God's choice to have her give birth to himself.

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  104. Any favourite prayers or devotions? I vote Divine Mercy! Though I also love the Rosary.

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  105. SECONDED, Georg Laing. And let all of us prepare to appropriately to celebrate the Feast of the Divine Mercy Sunday on 15TH APRIL, 2012, with the Novena and recitation of the Divine Mercy Chaplet, commencing on Good Friday - the 6TH OF APRIL. What grater Mercy and Divine Love has Jesus bestowed upon us by giving us this Feast - The Day of Atonement..when mankind is dead set on self-destruction!!!! The very contemplation of Christ's own Words and Promises for this Feast are awesome:: "I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners. On that day, the very depths of My tender mercies are open......The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment.....It is my desire that it be solemnly celebrated on the first Sunday after Easter. Mankind will not have peace until it turns to the Fount of My mercy" What a Supra Indulgence has Jesus offered us - to restore our souls to the condition they were in on the one was Baptized!!!!! Praise be Jesus Christ

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