Catholic Faith: Blog
This Catholic Faith Blog is Maintained by the Catholic Rebuttals Research Team. Here You Will Find Responses to Reader's Questions, Catholic Commentary and Other Resources!
Recently, A Catholic Rebuttals reader asked posed to me the following:
“My son has turned away from the Catholic Church because he feels that the Catholic Church insist that…
1. He cannot have a direct relationship with Christ because he must go through a priest.
2. The Pope is called the ‘Vicar’ which he interprets as "Christ on Earth."
3. The Eucharist is not transformed into the body and blood of Christ; the Catholic Church is not the first church because many families practiced the faith in their homes.
4. The bible verse "And I say to you, that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it" is technically incorrect because Jesus called Peter “Simon” after he denied him three times. Any rebuttals?”
Sounds like our friend’s son has some serious questions concerning the Catholic Faith. Let’s try to our best to point him, and his father, in the right direction.
Rebuttals to Question 1: Matthew 18:15-20 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector. Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.
Also, read through our post on priests and Apostolic succession here: http://www.catholicrebuttals.com/priests.html
Rebuttal to Question 2: Ignatius of Antioch once said, "See that ye all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery as ye would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution of God. Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. Whatsoever [the bishop] shall approve of, that is also pleasing to God, so that everything that is done may be secure and valid." ~ Ignatius of Antioch , Bishop and priest, died in 107 AD.
Regarding the Papacy, review this post: http://www.catholicrebuttals.com/papacy.html
Rebuttal to Question 1,2 and 4: Paul encourages his disciples to call him ‘father,’ in 1 Corinthians 4 : 14. Priests are our spiritual fathers since they teach us how to worship God the Father. Aren't we humans capable of relationships with more than one person at a time? I can love my wife, my children, siblings, and my paster all at once. This doesn't take away my love from my wife or Jesus for that matter. A priest is Jesus’ representative, he is Christ’s Ambassador, (one who sits or takes the place of the one who has the Authority).
Can a man not be forgiven for his sins? Can a great man fall, get up and still accomplish great things? The Pope is the official Authority by secession from the first Pope, Peter. Paul addresses Peter several times as “Kepha” which he (St. Paul) might have used this word to emphasize St. Peter's role as the Rock or leader of the Church; which Jesus says He will build His Church on Kepha (ROCK), such as emphasizing that he had to even rebuke the 'Rock' of the Church. Yes, Peter sinned against Jesus by denying him; however, Jesus knew his heart… forgave him… and still called him to lead the Christian Faith and Catholic Church. What’s that say about a Pope’s humanness? Peter was the first and most influential Pope. He walked with Jesus and his sin lead to Jesus’s death on a cross, yet he was forgiven, fueled by the Holy Spirit and helped to change the course of history forever as the ROCK of the Church.
In Corinthians 5:17, Jesus gives the Apostles the power to forgive sins by binding and loosing. In Matthew 18:8 and John 20:22 Jesus said to his Apostles to go and teach all nations. We see in Matthew 28:19 that we most certainly can and must have a personal relationship with Jesus. However, in order to have the type of relationship with Him, Jesus says, we must do what He commands us to do. Matthew 28:18 “And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Whenever you confess your sins to the priest you are in fact confessing to Jesus, it is he who absolves your sin in and through the priest .
Jesus has two natures, His human nature and his divine nature. We humans also have two natures, our human nature (I call this one lower nature) and our supernatural nature(I'll call this one our higher nature). Our higher nature is supernatural because we have a soul which is where God’s grace resides, so to speak. When Jesus was addressing Simon Peter about his sins of denying Him, He called him by this name because He was talking to Peter’s lower nature which can be sinful. Keep in mind that Peter had not yet experienced the Holy Spirit at Pentecost yet. After Pentecost Peter and the others received the Holy Spirit which empowered them to be bold in their faith and carry out what the Lord had commanded. After Pentecost in Acts 10:13 Jesus calls him “Peter” in a dream giving him instructions.
“There is one God and one Christ, and one Church, and one chair founded on Peter by the word of the Lord. It is not possible to set up another altar or for there to be another priesthood besides that one altar and that one priesthood. Whoever has gathered elsewhere is scattering.” ~ Cyprian, Bishop he died on September 14, 258
Rebuttal to Question 3: Yes, the early Christians having Mass in homes. This was a normal practice in the beginning. It stands to reason as the community grew larger the houses where to small to accommodate everyone, so larger building where erected which became our church buildings. Notice how these Churches resemble a home; whereas the alter is the dinner table and the congregation is the family gathered around it - “Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.” ~ Ignatius of Antioch, Died 107 AD
Here are Justin Martyr’s words (born in 100 AD and died in 165 AD) about the true presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist - “Not as common bread or as common drink do we receive these.....We have been taught that the food that has been Eucharistized by the word of prayer, that food which by assimilation nourishes our flesh and blood, is the flesh and blood of the incarnate Jesus.” He believed what the Catholic Church teaches to this very day, that the true presence of Jesus is found in the Eucharist - body, blood and divinity. Here is some more reading on the Eucharist: http://www.catholicrebuttals.com/eucharist.html
Considering the issues and circumstances surrounding, and examining other people, places; you may think that our culture is falling apart. Governments, Religious institutions, and societies throughout the world are losing their grip on reality. Many who are in the highest of authorities have lost their way, from local leadership positions all the way to top of civilized society. Despite all this turmoil, there still is many people of good will. It's unfortunate that the misfortune and evil in the world get the attention of the human mind. With all of this and so much more going on, which I don't have the space to mention here, there is no wonder it seems people are losing hope. When man loses hope he will rely on his lower nature to survive. He becomes self-centered and everything and anything is up for grabs. Eventually despair enters the mind and nothing matters. If you judge the world based on what the media says, which is mostly negative, one can’t help thinking that people have given up on the common good of all and are taking everything, they can.
“Give me mine”, and what's yours is also mine. Even to the point where killing a baby, whether in the womb or not, is justified as a right. We thought the middle ages were barbaric, imagine what future generations will think of us. We say the human sacrifice of the Aztec is so barbaric and evil. And yet we kill 10’s of thousands of babies every year. To what end is this despicable act justified? How is it people will fight tooth and nail to stop the execution of a mass serial killer for his right to live, but an innocent child’s right to live is snapped away for the simple reason of convenience.
For those who live, who try to base decisions by the facts of any situation, and have a balanced objective with the truth, it is mind-blowing to understand how people can believe what they say they believe. We must not lose hope. Natural hope is concerned with things of the world while supernatural hope is concerned with both natural hope and the goodness of God’s love for us His children. It seems at times all is lost for humanity, but hope in the future (that is, what Jesus has promised to those who believe) is the fact that that should keep you going. It’s natural to get discouraged at times. We must encourage each other and support anyone who is working hard toward the good of all, wherever and whenever we can. If you can be honest with yourself and you are the type of person that continues to do your best in improving yourself and others; then you have the gift of supernatural hope, otherwise what’s the point in doing what’s right if we are all doomed? (1 Thessalonians 5, For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,)
I think it's important to protect all children. Many government officials think it's only important to protect the immigrant children, well they at least seem to care about them. I say "seem" because they have the power to change the immigration laws but rather keep the failing policies and then blame President Trump for the problem. The Dems. raise huge concerns for the so called immoral treatment of the children are getting at the border yet they wont do anything about it but complain. They scream these children are kept in cages and are mistreated daily, yet for the children who are in their mothers womb they can care lest about these children who are slaughtered before they cross over the boarder of a mothers womb. They say its a women's right to choose for her body. doesn't babies have a right also, a right to life. No argument on any side can stand against the truth of the highest virtue. A mother has rights to her body sure, however, the highest right to LIFE trumps her right to do whatever she wants with her body. A baby's right to life is of higher virtue or value, it's the very first right, for without the right to life all other rights are meaningless aren't they.
This week begins what the Catholic Church calls Holy Week. Holy Thursday commemorates the last supper of Jesus with his disciples. It is the night Jesus give his disciples the sacrament of Holy Orders, the ordination of priest. He told them to “Do this in memory of me”, the breaking of bread, and the cup of wine turned into his blood for the forgiveness of sins, the new covenant. Good Friday is the day Christ is crucified, dies and is buried. It is good because the Lord has made atonement for our sins to the Father. For 3 days the disciples mourned, they hid and were terrified about what had just taken place. They were terrified because they thought they would be crucified next. Holy Saturday is the day Jesus our Lord descends to the dead and preaches to those who had been waiting for this great day of salvation. Holy Sunday, (Easter Sunday) is the day of the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He is alive again! This day is the “Day of the Lord”, and is the day Christians assemble to do what he told his disciples to do back on Holy Thursday night, to break bread and eat it, (it is the flesh that came down from heaven) also the cup of wine turned into the blood of Christ by his ministers the priest. And so they ate and drank the Body and Blood of salvation, the Lord Jesus Christ. Every first day of the week (Sunday) the disciples gathered for the banquet. The priest offers up to the Father the Body, Blood Soul and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ in memory of His life death and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins and for our salvation. Jesus’ Passion is made present here and in every place a Catholic priest is following Jesus’ command to, “do this in memory of Me”. Happy Resurrection Day!
Question From Reader:
Please decipher this. Are people in heaven now? The Bible says, “for the living know that they will die; but the dead know nothing… their love, their hatred, and their envy have now perished” (Ecclesiastes 9:5, NKJV, see also Psalm 146:4; 115:17). It makes sense that after Lazarus was raised from the dead, he doesn’t share what he saw or experienced. He didn’t have anything to tell, except that once he was dead, and now he is alive! He didn’t experience hell or heaven. He was simply “sleeping” in his tomb.
Short answer: It is suggested by the ancient texts that no one who died prior to Jesus’s death, entered into heaven, for no person was righteous enough (without the sacrifice of The Lamb of God) to get in. Therefore, Lazarus himself, having died prior to Jesus’s death would not have gone to heaven, but would have entered into the Bosom of Abraham to await the death of The Messiah.
The question you raise here is a good one (thank you) and has to do with biblical history in its proper time. Your question also points towards the progress of salvation history and what Catholics call the “Communion of Saints” (holy ones in heaven). Before I get to the root of your question, I want to address the biblical passages you quoted. It’s important to keep in mind that regarding this particular issue these quotes are found in the Old Testament (more on that later). After reading these passages in the context of the entire chapter it was clear to me what the author was explaining that those who die in their sin are damned; Psalm 146:3 says, “Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation”. Here, the author is saying that we should not put our trust in any normal man but in God; for God is hope for the believer.
You make a good point, we can’t really know for certain whether or not Lazarus shared his experience or not since the Scripture does not reveal this. This passage doesn't say one way or the other if Lazarus talks about what happens. But I could imagine his sister Martha asking him about it, I sure would if my brother came back to life after being dead for 4 days. Keep in mind that not one of the Patriarchs, prophets, or even Lazarus were able to go to heaven at this point in time because Jesus had not come to redeem those that were “asleep” or dead. At this point in time, Jesus was currently proclaiming the coming of the kingdom of God. His Passion, Death, and most importantly His Resurrection had not come to pass. Remember what Jesus did/said before his death on the Cross? He tells the thief who repented, “Today you will be with Me in Paradise.” He didn’t tell Martha, Martha don’t worry about Lazarus, he is in paradise, no instead Jesus used this opportunity to demonstrate His power and authority over death and raised Lazarus (whom He loved). After Jesus’s death Scripture tells us, He descended to the dead and spent 3 days there. This place was not the hell of everlasting damnation. Indeed, Jesus went to preach to those who died in good graces with God before his Resurrection, Scripture called this place the Bosom of Abraham, also known to the Jews as Sheol, in Greek, Hades, and latter as Paradise. According to the OT, Sheol was the place of bliss although not complete bliss, a place where those who died righteously went to wait for the coming of The Messiah. (Luke 16:22) And it is by this illustration that they pictured the next world. They conceived of the reward of the righteous dead as a sharing in a banquet given by Abraham, "the father of the faithful" (Matthew 8:11), and of the highest form of that reward as lying in "Abraham's Bosom". Since the coming of Our Lord, "the Bosom of Abraham" gradually ceased to designate a place of imperfect happiness, and it has become synonymous with Heaven itself.
Sorry for the long answer but I wanted to give some context first. The Bible and the Tradition (teachings) of the Catholic Church with regards to your main question, “Are people in heaven now”, depends on what you mean by people. People are made in the image and likeness of God, meaning, people have a soul (the divine part of God’s image, or spiritual part) and our physical part the body (the natural part of the image of God). When someone dies his/her natural body returns to the natural (dust to dust) and the supernatural part the soul either goes to heaven, purgatory or hell. A person’s soul, once created, can never die. Your soul will reside either temporarily in purgatory or permanently in heaven or hell. This depends on the state of your soul at the time of your death. If you are in a state of sanctifying grace when you pass, you will enter into the heavenly kingdom (but I no man can judge you - only God). So my answer is “yes” I believe people are now in heaven, alive and well, but only the supernatural part of people, the soul.
The communion of saints is the spiritual solidarity which binds together the faithful on earth, the soul in purgatory, and the saints in heaven in the organic unity of the same mystical body under Christ its head, and in a constant interchange of supernatural offices. The participants in that solidarity are called saints by reason of their destination and of their partaking of the fruits of the Redemption (1 Corinthians 1:2 — Greek Text). The damned are thus excluded from the communion of saints. The living, even if they do not belong to the body of the true Church, share in it according to the measure of their union with Christ and with the soul of the Church.
The Book of Revelation 6:9, discusses the Martyrs whose souls are in Heaven and they are having a conversation with the Lord in prayer. Eph 1:22;23, regards Jesus as the head of His church, and that the Church is His body. This Church incompasses those saints in heaven and those on earth and those in that special place were the righteous who don't deserve hell but are not yet prepared for heaven, go. Eph 4:4 mentions the Church, the body of Christ, as one body one spirit, and for those people who remain in His body the Church, cannot be separated from Christ or from his body the Church, not even death will separate the saints. This is why the saints in heaven are joined with the saints on earth in and through Christ the head, and all together make up the church which is Christ’s body - His complete, whole and singular body.
Ecclesiastes 11:9; 12:1 sq.; and Hebrews 9:27, are sometimes quoted in proof of the particular judgment, but though these passages speak of a judgment after death, neither the context nor the force of the words proves that the sacred writer had in mind a judgment distinct from that at the end of the world. The Scriptural arguments in defence of the particular judgment must be indirect. There is no text of which we can certainly say that it expressly affirms this dogma but there are several which teach an immediate retribution after death and thereby clearly imply a particular judgment. Christ represents Lazarus and Dives as receiving their respective rewards immediately after death. They have always been regarded as types of the just man and the sinner. To the penitent thief it was promised that his soul instantly on leaving the body would be in the state of the blessed: "This day thou shalt be with me in Paradise" (Luke 23:43). St. Paul (2 Corinthians 5) longs to be absent from the body that he may be present to the Lord, evidently understanding death to be the entrance into his reward (cf. Philemon 1:21 sq.). Ecclesiasticus 11:28-29 speaks of a retribution at the hour of death, but it may refer to a temporal punishment, such as sudden death in the midst of prosperity, the evil remembrance that survives the wicked or the misfortunes of their children. However, the other texts that have been quoted are sufficient to establish the strict conformity of the doctrine with Scripture teaching.
We hear now is the time of the Christmas season, not according to the Church. This is the season of Advent. a period before the celebration of Christ's birth. Advent of the incarnation, the arrival of the Son of God, and also the son of man. Advent season is 4 weeks before Christmas morning, it is a time for prayer and penance (fasting) in preparation of celebrating the coming of the Lord Jesus. To learn more about how to best prepare ourselves for Christ's birthday and to de-commercialize Christmas visit NCR article: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/its-advent-time-to-prepare: Have a very Merry Christmas: And thank you for visiting this site and blog.
Go Find it in Scripture
What the Church Teaches
St. Ignatius of Antioch, the preceding bishop of St. Peter, and a disciple of St. John was consecrated bishop of Antioch in 69 AD. He said, “Through the ordained ministry, especially that of the bishops and priests, the presence of Christ as head of the Church is made visible in the midst of the community of believers.” That was close to 30 years after the death of our Lord, Jesus Christ! The Church still teaches this to this day.
In Other Words
The community of believers referenced here, is the structure that the Catholic Church uses today. The ordained bishops and priests of the Church understand that Christ is the Highest Priest so that by keeping the traditions of the Church, He is made visible to all. It is clear that those who are servants of the gospel, deserve our highest respect and a share of material resources (tithing). The Catholic Church neither holds up the Pope (the chair of St. Peter) higher than Jesus, nor does it teach to do so. Therefore, it is not the “chair” of Peter, but the “throne” of God that we are honoring. We honor these men because of the office they hold and being our spiritual 'fathers' as Paul states in 1 Tim 5:17. We hold them in high regard because they point the way to Christ. The body of Christ, the Church, respects these men of honor - and we should too. After all, they are the best examples on earth to what it means to be Christ-like. To be clear, Catholics do not worship the Pope nor do they worship Saints - we worship The Son through those He has given his authority and sanctifying grace to.
One of the essential areas of the Catholic Church is its hierarchical design; which Catholicism takes from its origin of the New Covenant. Not only did Jesus hand the keys down to Peter, Peter followed suit and handed the keys down to the next Pope; this process has carried on to present day with Pope Francis.
For the past few weeks, the themes of the readings in mass have been regarding Jesus’s description of heaven and our relationship with it. St. Augustine calls the kingdom of heaven, “The City of God” and this is also the title of one of his most popular books. As we all know, a 'city' is a community of people with all sorts of different backgrounds, ethnicity, and experiences. Within this mixed group of people there is often a common thread that pulls everyone together. This thread is an awareness, understanding, a belonging to and an acceptance by all.
In order for any community (whether heavenly or earthly) to thrive there must be a particular order, rules or laws in which those with authority administer. The purpose of order and regulation is to guide a community towards the common goal of peace and solidarity. During our journey toward the heavenly kingdom we too seek peace and solidarity. The Kingdom of God can be considered the mystery of Christ; (Luke 17:20, the kingdom is in your midst), wherever he is, there lies the kingdom. After his death, Jesus had to return to his Father’s kingdom (John 3:13) and from there he will reign over both the heavenly kingdom and the earthly kingdom. Before Christ Ascended to heaven he comforted his disciples with the words “I will not leave you orphans”, (John 14:18) and “As the Father sent me, so I send you”, (John 20:21).
Christ also gave the keys to his kingdom (heaven) to Simon, which whom he renamed Peter meaning “rock” (Matt 16:19). In the Old Testament, whoever had the ‘keys’ to the kingdom was considered the Ambassador to the King, thus had control over the kingdom; “Then I will set the key of the house of David on his shoulder, When he opens no one will shut,When he shuts no one will open” (Isaiah 22:22). Who ever held the keys has the authority to open or to shut, meaning he is in control. Jesus told Peter he would build his Church on him and Peter was given the authority in binding and loosening on earth, a decision that would be admissible in heaven.
Peter is now Christ’s Ambassador to the kingdom on earth; this earthly kingdom is truly Jesus’s Church. (Matthew 4:23): “And He (Jesus) went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every infirmity among the people” (The gospel of the Kingdom is also known as the gospel of The Church). Peter, by the power and authority given him through the Holy Spirit, went about doing just what Jesus did = binding and loosening demons, sin and even death (Acts 3:1-26). One of the essential areas of the Catholic Church is its hierarchical design; which Catholicism takes from its origin of the New Covenant. Not only did Jesus hand the keys down to Peter, Peter followed suit and handed the keys down to the next Pope; this process has carried on to present day with Pope Francis.
If you have been baptized, Catholicism agrees with the scriptures you are a child of God, for there is only one baptism. (Ephesian 4:5) So please, if you aren’t Catholic, consider coming into full communion with the kingdom the Catholic Church.
His Thoughts & Beliefs
In episode three of "Sex, Death and the Meaning of Life", Dawkins expresses his deep passion and zest for life. He explains that as humans we are to experience, live, love and search for deeper understanding. Throughout this particular episode, Dawkins seems to articulate his devotion to the scientific method; what he calls the greatest discovery of mankind. Various scenes of Dawkins walking around a wooded area, pointing to plants, animals and stars showcase his deep appreciate for nature and its infinite wisdom. As the episode continues, Dawkins begins interviewing Ricky Gervais, a famous English comedian who is also an atheist. The two become so wrapped up in the conversation, so overwhelmed by the emotion of the discourse that Gervais seems to well up with tears.
As the camera pans out and the episode concludes, Dawkins says:
"Just look how far we have come in my lifetime... we constantly push the frontiers of possibility, imagine what is still to come.... We are made by the laws of physics, working through 4 billion years of evolution. We have a brief sliver of life and the opportunity to understand how we came to be in it. The truth may not always be comforting in the face of suffering, but it has a majesty of its own. That's what I tell people when they ask me why I bother to get up in the morning."
Our team has written about our opinions as well as the Catholic Church's stance on Evolution and suffering; two CR posts that I encourage you to read. I agree that the earth is a glorious place and that our lives are "sacred" as Ricky Gervais says in episode three. I also agree that the scientific method is one of the most important and one of the greatest discoveries by mankind. Furthermore, I also agree that a big part of our purpose in life, as humans, is to challenge the status quo, discover and understand how we came to be. Alas I am compelled to wonder about the likelihood that all of this 'majesty' happened by mere chance.
Would Dawkins not agree that in order for us to figure something out - it must already be understood... maybe not by us, but by the very being that created the principles to which that 'something' was created. Therefore, if we are made by the laws of physics, worked through 4 billion years of evolution (which I agree with), who (or what) created the fundamental principles of physics? What about other scientific principles?
We humans are tasked with the burden of learning and understanding how things work - but they seem to work regardless of our understanding of them!