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Faith/Spirituality Forum: First Communion

by Catherine Frakas 21 May 2001

First Communion QUESTION from Barbara on November 24, 2002 My husband is Catholic and I am Lutheran. My children are baptized Lutheran, but my daughter attends Catholic school. I'm very impressed with the school and the religious presence in the classroom.
She is in second grade, and her class will be going through First Communion courses in February. I am not sure what this will mean for her- if she completes these courses, will she then be deemed a Catholic? I wouldn't mind this, but need to know if one fundamental belief that I have is consistent with the Catholic faith. I believe that when someone who believes in God dies, their soul immediately goes to heaven.
Also, my sister has told me that I shouldn't let my daughter go through this course because there are so many antiquated beliefs that Catholics have, such as women are subservient.
Please inform me of any major differences between the Catholic and Lutheran faiths that would help me in my decision.
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, OLSM on December 19, 2002 Dear Barbara:
Your child should NOT take first communion if she is not converting to the Catholic Faith. I presume she can be released from obligation to attend the Communion Classes. In any event she should NOT take communion unless she wishes to formally convert to the Catholic Faith and you approve of this conversion.
As to your question about purgatory. The Bible teaches purgatory. The textbook definition of purgatory is 1 Cor 3:15
Jesus makes reference to purgatory in Matthew 12:32 when he talks about the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit not being forgiven in this age or the age to come. If all people who have passed on are in either heaven or hell, this does not make sense. Those in heaven do not need forgiveness and those in hell do not ask for it and cannot receive it.
Pope Peter also makes reference in 1 Peter 3:18-20 when he talks about preaching to the spirits in prison. This cannot mean hell since preaching to those in hell is a waste of time.
2 Maccabees 12:44-46 specifically talks about a purgatorial place. Although Luther ripped this book out of the original Bible, Maccabees was in the version of the Old Testament that Jesus read and loved (and the deuterocanonicals are quoted or referred to more than 300 times in the New Testament).
A REAL PROOF of a purgatorial place is found when St. Paul actually prays for his dead friend. Why would he do this? If his friend is immediately in heaven he does not need the prayers. If his friend is in hell then the prayers are to no avail. 2 Tim 1:16-18 is clear proof that an purgatorial place exists.
Purgatory MUST exist because the Bible tells us without perfect HOLINESS we cannot see God (Heb 12:14; Rev 21:27). While we might be forgiven of our sins we may not be perfectly HOLY yet.
If I through a rock through your window I have committed a sin. You can forgive me of that sin. God can forgive me of the sin. But the CONSEQUENCES or RESIDUE of the sin remains. I am FULLY forgiven, but the window is still broken.
I have a responsibility to PAY for the repairs of that window. Although I am FULLY forgiven, I am FULLY responsible to pay you for the repairs of the window.
Purgatory is a place where we can pay the debt of all the broken windows we caused in this life. We are FORGIVEN of all those sins of breaking windows, but we may not have made reparations by the time we die. If not, then we pay that reparation in purgatory (1 Cor 3:15). If we have NOTHING but good works in our life then we go straight to heaven without taking the shower of purgatory (1 Cor 3:15) to clean us from the residue of our negative deeds.
As for the differences between Lutherans and Catholics, we have been in discussion for years. Many of the historic differences between Lutherans and Catholic have been almost resolved.
In short, Lutherans and Catholics believe mostly the same thing, but the Catholic also have a few extra things that the Lutherans do not have. BUT, ALL Catholic doctrine is derived from Scripture.
Bottomline, your child should NOT take first communion unless she TRULY believes the Catholic Faith and you allow her to convert.
If she converts then she will be required to attend the Catholic Church and follow the precepts and teachings of the Catholic Church. Attending the Lutheran church will NOT meet her obligation to attend Mass if she converts.
I hope this helps a little.
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