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Faith/Spirituality Forum: the Catholic faith

by Catherine Frakas 24 Jul 2001

the Catholic faith QUESTION from Naomi March 20, 2001 Dear John-Paul,
I'm a young northern irish girl who recently became a Christian. I have spent an hour reading some of the questions and answers in your forum, I was happy enough reading through them until I came across one post in which a lady was claiming her love for Our Lady and several other posts in which people claimed to be close to Mary and God. To be honest, I was totally shocked and confused by this at first. So, wishing to find some sort of justification for people claiming this, I went to my mum, she too is a Christian, she has been brought up in the purely Christian faith, I'm not a protestant or anything like that, my mum explained that in the Catholic religion you worship Mary. I'd just like to know one thing, why? I'm not trying to be rude or ignorant, if I appear to be acting like that, I apologise, but Jesus clearly says in the bible that HE and only HE is the way to Heaven. And also, isn't worshipping or praying to something other than God idolitary? I dont wish to disrespect Mary, but all in all she was human, fair enough God chose her, but He could've chosen anyone, He even chose to speak through a donkey once. There is also nothing in the bible to indicate that Mary is in any way divine. One of my friends, who is catholic, but refuses to worship mary, says that it's catholic's feeling of inadequacy to pray to God, so they pray to the saints or mary. Also, confession, shouldn't your confessions of sin be to the One who can forgive them? I fail to see how you need a priest to confess to, he can't do anything to further your salvation or forgiveness. Please understand, I love Jesus and I know Him personally, my questions are genuine.
thank-you and best of Papa's blessings
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, OLSM on June 4, 2001 Dear Miss Naomi:
I am afraid your mother is wrong. Catholics do NOT worship Mary. worshipping Mary is a serious sin. Anyone worshipping Mary is risking their soul to hell.
Catholics (which by the way are Christians. Catholic were the first Christians. We were teh Christians of the 1st Century), Catholic believe the Bible and obey it. The BIBLE tells us that Mary is above all women and is to be honor and blessed above all women for all generations.
Thus Catholics obey the Scripture, I am at a loss as to why non-Catholic Christians don't obey Scripture
LUKE 1:26 26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, Hail, full of grace, * the Lord is with you! * 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. 30* And the angel said to her, Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31* And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33* and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end. 34* And Mary said to the angel, How shall this be, since I have no husband?
35* And the angel said to her, The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born * will be called holy, the Son of God.
36 And behold, your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37* For with God nothing will be impossible. 38 And Mary said, Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word. And the angel departed from her.
39 In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah, 40 and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit 42* and she exclaimed with a loud cry, Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy. 45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be * a fulfilment of what was spoken to her from the Lord. 46* And Mary said, My soul magnifies the Lord, 47* and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed; 49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. 50 And his mercy is on those who fear him from generation to generation. 51 He has shown strength with his arm, he has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts, 52 he has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted those of low degree; 53 he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away. 54 He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, 55* as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his posterity for ever. 56 And Mary remained with her about three months, and returned to her home.
Amen and Amen.
As to confession, again Catholic believe the Bible and Jesus' teachings. Why don't non-Cathilics?
Matthew 9:2-8 states that Jesus has the authority to forgive sins. He who has authority has the authority to delegate.
In John 20:23 we see Jesus delegating this authority to his priests. We know that these were his priest because of who he was talking to and because he laid hands on them and said receive the Holy Spirit in John 20:22. This is the image of Holy Orders (being ordained).
And Jesus said: 21* Jesus said to them again, Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you. 22* And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, Receive the Holy Spirit. 23* If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained. (John 20:21-23) Jesus gave the presbyters the delegated power to forgive or not to forgive in his name. Jesus said it, that settles it.
Usually non-catholics say this verse is referring to forgiving other in general. But that cannot be. We are commanded by God to ALWAYS forgive 70 x 70. But this says that if the priest retains the sins of any (others) they are retained. No Christian in their right mind would say that is your neighbor refuses to forgive you that your sins are never forgiven.
No, this must be talking about something else. Jesus is talking to his priests, not the general Christian, and he is delegating the power of forgiving to them in His Name in the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession). This is how this verse has been interpreted since the First Century.
Other examples of ordination to back up the verse in John, this practice of laying on hands for ordination to the priesthood,is seen again in Acts 13:2 and the appointment of prebyters (priests) is again mentioned in Act 20:28; Acts 6:6; ACts 14:22; 1 Tim 4:14; Titus 4:4
Saint Paul reaffirmes that one of the ministries of these priest is the Ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor 5:17-20). Reconciliation is the official name of the Sacrament of Confession.
St James reaffirms that we confess to a priest in James 5:13-16
St. John describes a difference between mortal and venial sin in 1 John 5:16
Jesus gives the power of binding and loosening to the Pope, who delegates it to the bishops, and then the priests in terms of Confession (per John 20:23)
Bottom line: IF one believes in the Bible then one MUST believe in what the Catholic Church teaches.
The Catholic Church is the Church founded by Jesus personally, and contains the FULLNESS of ALL the teaching of Jesus and the Apostles. All other Churches and faith communities are man-made.
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