HAS THE ANSWER
THE CATHOLIC CHURCH is the world's largest,
and Christianity's oldest, religious body. Her 1 billion members inhabit the
width and breadth of the earth, comprising almost one-fifth of the total human
population. She is far and away the most popular religious concept the world
has ever known. Paradoxically, however, the Catholic Church is also the world's
most controversial religious concept. Catholic belief is different, too
different to be orthodox, say Protestants and Christian cultists. Catholic
belief is too ethereal to be logical, and too strict to be enjoyable, say the
humanists and agnostics. Hence to millions of people, Catholicism is not only a
colossal success, it is also a colossal enigma. Of course, there has to be an
explanation for these contradictory opinions -- and there is an
explanation: Protestants and others who have questions about Catholic belief
too often make the mistake of going to the wrong place for the answers. Too
often books written by religious incompetents are consulted. The result is
incomplete and distorted information. With such information, one cannot help
but see the Catholic faith as a colossal enigma.
The right place to go for information about Catholic belief
-- in fact the only place to go for complete and authoritative
information -- is the Catholic Church herself. As any detective will tell you,
no investigation is quite so complete as an on-the-spot investigation. Hence,
dear reader, if you are a Protestant, an unaffiliated Christian, or an agnostic,
who wants to know the truth about Catholic belief, take this friendly advice:
Seek out a Catholic priest and put your questions to him. You will find him a
very understanding and obliging person. Or read this little booklet. This
booklet was written by a Catholic who knows the questions you are likely to ask,
as well as the answers, because once he, too, was outside of the Catholic
Church, looking in. The questions in this booklet are basically the same ones
he put to a Catholic priest, and the answers are basically the same ones given
him by that priest. Read this booklet; then forget all the fiction you have
heard about the Catholic Church, for you will have the gospel truth.
- Why do Catholics believe that the universe and all life in it was
created by, and is governed by, an all-powerful Spirit Being called God?
What actual proof is there of God's existence and omnipotence?
- Why do Catholics believe that God is three Persons, called the Holy
Trinity? How can God be three Persons and still be one God?
- Why do Catholics believe that Jesus Christ was God the Son -- the
Second Person of the Holy Trinity? Would it not be more reasonable to
believe that He was a great and holy man... a religious leader of
exceptional talent and dedication... a prophet?
- Why do Catholics believe that their Church is the one true Church of
Jesus Christ? Wouldn't it be more reasonable to believe that Christ's true
Church is a spiritual union of all Christian denominations?
- Why do Catholics refuse to concede that their church became
doctrinally corrupt in the Middle Ages, necessitating the Protestant
- If the Catholic Church never fell into error, how does one explain
the worldly Popes, the bloody Inquisitions, the selling of indulgences and
the invention of new doctrines?
- Why do Catholics believe that Peter the Apostle was the first Pope,
when the word "Pope" doesn't even appear in Catholic Bibles? Just where
does the Pope get his authority to rule over the Catholic Church?
- Why do Catholics believe the Pope is infallible in his teachings when
he is a human being, with a finite human intellect, like the rest of us?
What is the scriptural basis for this belief?
- Why do Catholics believe in seven sacraments, while Protestants
believe in only two? Exactly what is a sacrament, and what does it do for a
- Why does the Catholic Church discourage Bible reading when, according
to the Apostle, "All scripture, inspired of God, is profitable to
teach...[and] to instruct in justice"? (2 Tim. 3:16).
- If the Catholic Church really honors the Bible as the holy Word of
God -- if she really wants her members to become familiar with its truth --
why in times past did she confiscate and burn so many Bibles?
- Why does the Catholic Church base some of her doctrines on tradition
instead of basing them all on the Bible? Did Christ not tell the Pharisees
that in holding to tradition they were transgressing the commandment of
God? (Matt. 15:3, Mark 7:9).
- Why do Catholics try to earn their own salvation, despite the fact
that salvation can only come as a free gift from Jesus Christ?
- Why do Catholics believe that good works are necessary for
salvation! Does not Paul say in Romans 3:28 that faith alone
- Why do Catholics worship Mary as though she were a goddess, when it
is clear in Scripture that she was not a supernatural being?
- Why do Catholics pray to Mary and the saints when Sacred Scripture
states that there is one Mediator between God and man -- Christ Jesus? (2
- Why do Catholics repeat the same prayer over and over again when they
pray the Rosary? Is this not the vain repetition condemned by Christ in
- Why do Catholics believe in a place between Heaven and Hell called
Purgatory? Where is Purgatory mentioned in the Bible?
- Why do Catholics confess their sins to priests? What makes them
think that priests can absolve them of the guilt of their sins? Why don't
they confess their sins directly to God as Protestants do?
- Granting that priests do have the power to forgive sins in the name
of God, what advantage does confessing one's sins to a priest have over
confessing directly to God in private prayer?
- Do Catholics confess all the sordid details of their sins to the
- Why do Catholics believe that Christ is sacrificed in each and every
Mass, when Scripture plainly states that He was sacrificed on Calvary once
and for all?
- Why do Catholics believe their Holy Communion is the actual Flesh and
Blood of Jesus Christ? Why don't they believe as Protestants do that Christ
is only present symbolically, or spiritually, in the consecrated bread and
- Why are Catholic lay people usually given Holy Communion only under
the one form of bread? By not giving the consecrated bread and wine, isn't
the Catholic Church depriving its people of the full benefit of Holy
- Why is Latin the language of the Church? How can the congregation
understand the Mass whenever it is said in Latin?
- Why do Catholics call their priests "Father" despite the fact that
Christ said: "Call no man on earth your father; for one is your Father, who
is in heaven"! (Matt. 23:9).
- Why do Catholics practice fasting and abstinence from meat on certain
days? Does not St. Paul call abstaining from meats a "doctrine of devils"?
(1 Tim. 4:1-3)
- Why don't Catholic priests marry? The Bible says that a bishop should
be "blameless, the husband of one wife" (1 Tim. 3:2), which certainly
indicates that Christ approves of marriage for the Christian clergy.
- The Bible says that after Christ was baptized He "came out of the water"
(Matt. 3:16), indicating that He was baptized by total immersion.
Why doesn't the Catholic Church also baptize by total immersion instead of
by pouring on the head?
- Why does the Catholic Church baptize infants, who have no understanding
of what is taking place?
- Why is the Catholic Church opposed to birth control? Where in the Bible
is birth control condemned as being contrary to the Will of God?
- Why does the Catholic Church make no exceptions when it comes to
divorce? Does not the Bible say that Christ permitted divorce in case of
fornication? (Matthew 19:9).
- Why have Catholic women traditionally worn hats in church? Are
bareheaded women forbidden to enter Catholic churches?
- Why must Catholics pay money for a Mass that is offered up for deceased
relatives and friends when the Bible states that the gift of God is not to
be purchased with money? (Acts 8:20).
- Conclusion One man's story of conversion.
Catholics believe that the universe and all life in it was created by, and is
governed by, an all-powerful Spirit Being called God? What actual proof is there
of God's existence and omnipotence?
Catholics believe that the universe is the creation, and the
exclusive dominion, of an infinitely powerful Spirit Being, called God, because
the evidence which points to that conclusion is so overwhelming that there is no
room left for even the slightest vestige of doubt. First, there is the evidence
of logic. Through the process of simple mathematical-type reasoning, man
inevitably comes face to face with certain indisputable principles: Everything
has a cause; nothing can bring itself into existence. Obviously there is a long
chain of causes in the universe, but ultimately there must be a first
cause, an uncaused cause. This uncaused cause we call "God." (The theory of
evolution, even if it could be proved, would not explain the origin of anything;
evolution simply deals with what may have happened after matter came into
existence.) Further, 1) personal creation (man) presupposes a superior Personal
Creator, 2) universal order presupposes a Universal Orderer, 3) cosmic energy
presupposes a Cosmic Energizer, 4) natural law presupposes a Universal Law
Maker. Basic principles of reason such as these explain why so many of the
world's leading scientists are firm believers in God.
Then, there is the evidence of divine revelation -- on
countless occasions God has revealed Himself by voice, vision and apparition (by
means which are receptive to the human senses), and demonstrated His Omnipotence
by stupendous, obviously supernatural miracles. Many of these revelations are a
matter of authenticated historical record. The Scriptures, for example, are
full of such accounts; and in modern times the world has been witness to such
Heaven-sent miracles as those at Fatima,
Lourdes, and St. Anne de
Beauprč in Quebec, Canada, where the cured have left a forest of crutches in
testimony. (The Lourdes Medical Bureau is open for examination by any doctor.)
In addition, there is the liquefaction of the blood of St. Januarius which still
takes place in Naples each year on September 19, his feastday; the incorruption
of the bodies of many Catholic saints (such as St. Bernadette, who died in
1879); and the miraculous Eucharistic Host of Lanciano, Italy, which has been
scientifically proven to be human flesh and human blood, type AB--to mention
only a few of the miracles still on-going in the 20th century, which point to
the existence of a God.
And lastly there is the evidence of human intuition.
Psychologists have long known that every human being -- the atheist included --
intuitively seeks God's help in times of great calamity, and instinctively
pleads for God's mercy when death is imminent. Hence the renowned Voltaire, who
was so eloquent in his denial of God while he enjoyed health, fame and fortune,
repudiated all of his atheistic writings on his deathbed and frantically sought
the ministrations of a Catholic priest. Nikolai Lenin, as he lay on his
deathbed, looked around him and frantically asked pardon of the tables and
chairs in the room. For as hunger for food proclaims the existence of food,
man's intuitive hunger for God proclaims the Reality, the Omnipotence and the
Justice of God. Catholic belief in God, therefore, is purely and simply an
expression of intellectual sanity.
Catholics believe that God is three Persons, called the Holy Trinity? How can
God be three Persons and still be one God?
Catholics believe there is one God consisting of three
distinct and equal divine Persons -- Father, Son and Holy Spirit -- because on
numerous occasions God has described Himself thus. The Old Testament gives
intimations that there are more than one Person in God. In Genesis 1:26,
God says, "Let us make man to our image and likeness." In Isaias 9:6-7,
God the Father revealed the imminent coming into the world of God the Son. In
Psalms 2:7, we read, "The Lord hath said to me: Thou art my son, this
day have I begotten thee." And in the New Testament, God reveals this doctrine
even more clearly. For example, at the baptism of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit
appeared in the form of a dove, and the voice of God the Father was heard:
"This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." (Matt. 3:16-17). In
Matthew 28:19, God the Son commanded the Apostles to baptize "in the name
of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." And in 1 Cor.
12:4-6, the Bible refers to God with three names: Spirit, Lord, and God --
corresponding to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Three divine Persons in one Godhead may be incomprehensible
to the human mind, but that is to be expected. How can man fully comprehend
God's infinite make-up when he cannot fully comprehend his own finite make-up?
We have to take God's word for it. Also, we can satisfy ourselves as to the
feasibility of God's triune make-up by considering various other triune
realities. The triangle, for example, is one distinct form with three distinct
and equal sides. And the clover leaf is one leaf with three distinct and equal
petals. There are many physical trinities on earth, therefore a Spiritual
Trinity, who is God in Heaven, is not against human reason -- it is simply above
Catholics believe that Jesus Christ was God the Son -- the Second Person of the
Holy Trinity? Would it not be more reasonable to believe that He was a great
and holy man... a religious leader of exceptional talent and dedication... a
Catholics believe that Jesus was God the Son, incarnate in
human flesh, firstly because God's physical manifestation on earth, plus all the
circumstances of that manifestation, were prophesied time and again in Divine
Revelation, and Jesus fulfilled that prophecy right to the letter; secondly,
because He claimed that He was God (John 10:30, 14:9-10 and numerous
other passages), and He never deceived anyone; thirdly, because He proved
His divinity by His impeccable holiness and the flawless perfection of His
doctrine; fourthly, because only God could have performed the miracles He
performed miracles such as walking on the sea, feeding five thousand people with
five loaves of bread and two fish, and, after His death on the Cross,
resurrecting Himself from His own tomb; fifthly, because only God could have, in
the brief space of three years, without military conquest, without political
power, without writing a single line or traveling more than a few score miles,
so profoundly affected the course of human events; sixthly, because only God can
instill in the soul of man the grace and the peace and the assurance of eternal
salvation that Jesus instills.
Catholics believe that their Church is the one true Church of Jesus Christ?
Wouldn't it be more reasonable to believe that Christ's true Church is a
spiritual union of all Christian denominations?
Catholics believe that theirs is the one true Church of
Jesus Christ, firstly, because theirs is the only Christian Church that goes
back in history to the time of Christ; secondly, because theirs is the only
Christian Church which possesses the invincible unity, the intrinsic holiness,
the continual universality and the indisputable apostolicity which Christ said
would distinguish His true Church; and thirdly, because the Apostles and
primitive Church Fathers, who certainly were members of Christ's true Church,
all professed membership in this same Catholic Church (See Apostles' Creed
and the Primitive Christian letters). Wrote Ignatius of Antioch,
illustrious Church Father of the first century: "Where the Bishop is, there let
the multitude of believers be; even as where Jesus is, there is the Catholic
Church." Our Lord said: "There shall be one fold and one shepherd", yet it is
well known that the various Christian denominations cannot agree on what Christ
actually taught. Since Christ roundly condemned interdenominationalism ("And if
a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand." Mark 3:25),
Catholics cannot believe that He would ever sanction it in His Church.
Catholics refuse to concede that their church became doctrinally corrupt in the
Middle Ages, necessitating the Protestant Reformation?
Catholics refuse to concede such a thing out of faith in
Jesus Christ. Christ solemnly pledged that the gates of Hell would never
prevail against His Church (Matt. 16:18), and He solemnly promised that
after His Ascension into Heaven He would send His Church "another Paraclete...
the spirit of truth," to dwell with it forever (John 14:16-17), and He
inspired the Apostle Paul to describe His Church as "the pillar and ground of
the truth." (I Tim. 3:15). If the Catholic Church (which Protestants
admit was the true Church of Jesus Christ before Luther's revolt) became
doctrinally corrupt as alleged, it would mean that the gates of Hell had
prevailed against it -- it would mean that Christ had deceived His followers.
Believing Christ to be the very essence of truth and integrity, Catholics cannot
in conscience believe that He could be guilty of such deception. Another
thing: Catholics cannot see how the division of Christianity into hundreds of
rival camps and doctrinal variations can be called a "reformation" of the
Christian Church. In the Catholic mind, hundreds of conflicting interpretations
of Christ's teachings do not add up to a true interpretation of Christ's
the Catholic Church never fell into error, how does one explain the worldly
Popes, the bloody Inquisitions, the selling of indulgences and the invention of
A careful, objective investigation of Catholic history will
disclose these facts: The so-called worldly popes of the Middle Ages -- three
in number -- were certainly guilty of extravagant pomposity, nepotism and other
indiscretions and sins which were not in keeping with the dignity of their high
church office -- but they certainly were not guilty of licentious conduct while
in office, nor were they guilty of altering any part of the Church's
Christ-given deposit of faith. The so-called bloody Inquisitions, which were
initiated by the civil governments of France and Spain for the purpose of
ferreting out Moslems and Jews who were causing social havoc by posing as
faithful Catholic citizens -- even as priests and bishops -- were indeed
approved by the Church. (Non-Catholics who admitted they were non-Catholics
were left alone by the Inquisition.) And the vast majority of those questioned
by the Inquisition (including St. Teresa of Avila) were completely cleared.
Nevertheless, the popes roundly condemned the proceedings when they saw justice
giving way to cruel abuses, and it was this insistent condemnation by the popes
which finally put an end to the Inquisitions.
The so-called selling of indulgences positively did not
involve any "selling" -- it involved the granting of the spiritual favor
of an indulgence (which is the remission of the debt of temporal punishment for
already-forgiven sins) in return for the giving of alms to the Church for the
building of Christendom's greatest house of prayer -- St. Peter's Basilica in
Rome. One must understand with regard to indulgences that there are always two
acts to be fulfilled by the one gaining the in-dulgence: 1) doing the deed
(e.g., alms-giving) and 2) saying of some prescribed prayers with proper
spiritual dispositions. In the case in point, the first act for gaining the
indulgence was "giving alms." If the almsgiver thereafter failed to say the
requisite prayers, he would not receive the indulgence because he had failed to
fulfill both required acts. The indulgences therefore were not "sold"; the very
giving of money was itself the first of two requisite acts for gaining the
indulgence in question.
The so-called invention of new doctrines, which refers to the
Church's proclamation of new dogmas, is the most baseless and ridiculous charge
of all -- for those "new" dogmas of the Church were actually old doctrines
dating back to the beginning of Christianity. In proclaiming them to be dogmas,
the Church merely emphasized their importance to the Faith and affirmed that
they are, in truth, part and parcel of divine revelation. The Catholic Church
followed the same procedure when, in the fourth century, she proclaimed the New
Testament to be divinely revealed. Hence it is obvious that the Catholic Church
did NOT fall into error during the Middle Ages as some people allege, for if she
had, she could not have produced those hundreds of medieval saints -- aints the
calibre of St. Francis, St. Bernard, St. Bonaventure, St. Clare, St. Anthony,
St. John of the Cross, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Elizabeth and St. Vincent Ferrer
(who performed an estimated 40,000 miracles).
Why do Catholics believe that Peter the Apostle was the first Pope, when the
word "Pope" doesn't even appear in Catholic Bibles? Just where does the Pope
get his authority to rule over the Catholic Church?
True, the word "Pope" doesn't appear in the Bible -- but then
neither do the words "Trinity," "Incarnation," "Ascension" and "Bible" appear in
the Bible. However, they are referred to by other names. The Bible, for
example, is referred to as "Scripture." The Pope, which means head bishop
of the Church, is referred to as the "rock" of the Church, or as the "shepherd"
of the Church. Christ used that terminology when He appointed the Apostle Peter
the first head bishop of His Church, saying: "Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona .
. . Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church." (Matt.
16:17-19). "There shall be one fold and one shepherd." (John 10:16).
"Feed my lambs . . . feed my sheep." (John 21:15-17). The words "rock"
and "shepherd" must apply to Peter, and they must distinguish him as the head
Apostle, otherwise Christ's statements are so ambiguous as to be meaningless.
Certainly the other Apostles understood that Peter had authority from Christ to
lead the Church, for they gave him the presiding place every time they assembled
in council (Acts 1:15, 5:1-10), and they placed his name first every time
they listed the names of the Apostles. (Matt. 10:2, Mark 3:16,
Luke 6:13-14, Acts 1:13).
In addition, there is the testimony of the Church Fathers.
In the second century St. Hegessipus compiled a list of Popes to the time of
Anicetus (eleventh Pope) which contained the name of St. Peter as first. Early
in the third century the historian Caius wrote that Pope Victor was "the
thirteenth Bishop of Rome from Peter." In the middle of the third century St.
Cyprian related that Cornelius (twenty-first Pope) "mounted the lofty summit of
the priesthood . . . the place of Peter." Even Protestant historians have
attested to Peter's role as first Bishop of Rome, first Pope of the Catholic
Church. Wrote the eminent Protestant historian Cave in his Historia
Literaria: "That Peter was at Rome, and held the See there for some time,
we fearlessly affirm with the whole multitude of the ancients." Hence the
source of the Pope's authority to rule over the Catholic Church is quite
obvious: It was given him by none other than Jesus Christ -- by God Himself.
Catholics believe the Pope is infallible in his teachings when he is a human
being, with a finite human intellect, like the rest of us? What is the
scriptural basis for this belief?
The doctrine of Papal Infallibility does not mean the Pope is
always right in all his personal teachings. Catholics are quite aware that,
despite his great learning, the Pope is very much a human being and therefore
liable to commit human error. On some subjects, like sports and manufacturing,
his judgment is liable to be very faulty. The doctrine simply means that the
Pope is divinely protected from error when, acting in his official capacity as
chief shepherd of the Catholic fold, he promulgates a decision which is binding
on the conscience of all Catholics throughout the world. In other words, his
infallibility is limited to his specialty--the Faith of Jesus Christ.
In order for the Pope to be infallible on a particular
statement, however, four conditions must apply: 1) he must be speaking ex
cathedra . . . that is, "from the Chair" of Peter, or in other words,
officially, as head of the entire Church; 2) the decision must be for the
whole Church; 3) it must be on a matter of faith or morals; 4) the Pope must
have the intention of making a final decision on a teaching of faith or morals,
so that it is to be held by all the faithful. It must be interpretive, not
originative; the Pope has no authority to originate new doctrine. He is
not the author of revelation -- only its guardian and expounder. He has no
power to distort a single word of Scripture, or change one iota of divine
tradition. His infallibility is limited strictly to the province of doctrinal
interpretation, and it is used quite rarely. It is used in order to clarify, to
"define," some point of the ancient Christian tradition. It is the
infallibility of which Christ spoke when He said to Peter, the first Pope: "I
will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt
bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven." (Matt. 16:19).
Certainly Christ would not have admonished His followers to "hear the church" (Matt.
18:17) without somehow making certain that what they heard was the truth --
without somehow making the teaching magisterium of His Church infallible.
For a complete understanding of the Pope's infallibility,
however, one more thing should be known: His ex cathedra decisions
are not the result of his own private deliberations. They are the result of
many years -- sometimes hundreds of years -- of consultation with the other
bishops and theologians of the Church. He is, in effect, voicing the belief of
the whole Church. His infallibility is not his own private endowment,
but rather an endowment of the entire Mystical Body of Christ. Indeed, the
Pope's hands are tied with regard to the changing of Christian doctrine. No
Pope has ever used his infallibility to change, add, or subtract any Christian
teaching; this is because Our Lord promised to be with His Church until the end
of the world. (Matt. 28:20). Protestant denominations, on the other
hand, feel free to change their doctrines. For example, all Protestant
denominations once taught that contraception was gravely sinful; but since 1930,
when the Church of England's Lambeth Conference decided contraception was no
longer a sin, virtually all Protestant ministers in the world have accepted this
human decision and changed their teaching.
Why do Catholics believe in seven sacraments, while Protestants believe in only
two? Exactly what is a sacrament, and what does it do for a person?
Catholics believe in seven sacraments because Christ
instituted seven; because the Apostles and Church Fathers believed in seven;
because the second Ecumenical Council of Lyons (1274) defined seven; and because
the Ecumenical Council of Trent (1545-1563) confirmed seven. In short, the
enumeration, seven, arises from the perpetual tradition of Christian belief --
which explains why that enumeration is accepted not only by Catholics, but by
all of the other ancient and semi-ancient Christian communities -- Egyptian
Coptic, Ethiopian Monophysite, Syrian Jacobite, Greek Orthodox and Russian
To understand what a sacrament is, and what it does for a
person, one must know the correct, the traditional Christian, definition of a
sacrament. Properly defined, a sacrament is "an outward sign instituted by
Christ to give grace" (holiness) to the soul . . . that is to say, it is a
divinely prescribed ceremony of the Church in which the words and action combine
to form what is at the same time both a sign of divine grace and a fount of
divine grace. When this special grace -- distinct from ordinary, inspirational
grace -- is imparted to the soul, the Holy Spirit of God is imparted to the
soul, imbuing the soul with divine life, uniting the soul to Christ.
As the Scriptures point out, this grace is the grace of
salvation -- without it man is, in a very real sense, isolated from Christ. And
as the Scriptures point out, Christ gave His Church seven sacraments to serve as
well-springs of this ineffable, soul-saving grace, the grace which flows from
His sacrifice on Calvary:
BAPTISM -- the sacrament of spiritual rebirth through which
we are made children of God and heirs of Heaven: "Amen, amen I say to thee,
unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the
kingdom of God." (John 3:5. Also see Acts 2:38, Rom.
CONFIRMATION -- the sacrament which confers the Holy Spirit
to make us strong and perfect Christians and soldiers of Jesus Christ: "Now
when the apostles, who were in Jerusalem, had heard that Samaria had received
the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John. Who, when they were come,
prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost. . . . Then they laid
their hands upon them, and they received the Holy Ghost." (Acts
8:14-17. Also see Acts 19:6).
The EUCHARIST -- the sacrament, also known as Holy Communion,
which nourishes the soul with the true Flesh and Blood, Soul and Divinity of
Jesus, under the appearance, or sacramental veil, of bread and wine: "And
whilst they were eating, Jesus took bread; and blessing, broke, and gave to
them, and said: Take ye. This is my body. And having taken the chalice,
giving thanks, he gave it to them. And they all drank of it. And he said to
them: This is my blood of the new testament, which shall be shed for many."
(Mark 14:22-24. Also see Matt. 26:26-28, Luke 22:19-20,
John 6:52-54, 1 Cor. 10:16).
PENANCE -- the sacrament, also known as Confession, through
which Christ forgives sin and restores the soul to grace: "Receive ye the
Holy Ghost. Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins
you shall retain, they are retained." (John 20:22-23. Also see
EXTREME UNCTION -- the sacrament, sometimes called the Last
Anointing, which strengthens the sick and sanctifies the dying: "Is any man
sick among you? Let him bring in the priests of the church, and let them pray
over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord . . . and if he be in
sins, they shall be forgiven him." (James 5:14-15. Also see Mark
HOLY ORDERS -- the sacrament of ordination which empowers
priests to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, administer the sacraments, and
officiate over all the other proper affairs of the Church: "For every high
priest taken from among men, is ordained for men in the things that appertain to
God, that he may offer up gifts and sacrifices for sins . . . Neither doth any
man take the honor to himself, but he that is called by God, as Aaron was."
(Heb. 5:1-4. Also see Acts 20:28, 1 Tim. 4:14). Also:
"And taking bread, he gave thanks, and broke; and gave to them, saying: This is
my body, which is given for you. Do this for a commemoration of me." (Luke
MATRIMONY -- the sacrament which unites a man and woman in a
holy and indissoluble bond: "For this cause shall a man leave father and
mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they two shall be in one flesh.
Therefore now they are not two, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined
together, let no man put asunder." (Matt. 19:5-6. Also see Mark
10:7-9, Eph. 5:22-32).
There you have it, the Word of Christ and the example of the
Apostles attesting both to the validity and the efficacy of the seven Sacraments
of the Catholic Church. In truth, every one of them is an integral part of
Christ's plan for man's eternal salvation.
does the Catholic Church discourage Bible reading when, according to the
Apostle, "All scripture, inspired of God, is profitable to teach...[and] to
instruct in justice"? (2 Tim. 3:16).
If the Catholic Church discourages Bible reading, the Pope,
the thousands of Catholic Bishops, and the many millions of Catholic lay people,
are not aware of it. For the Popes have issued pastoral letters to the whole
Church, called encyclicals, on the edifying effects of Bible reading. The
Catholic Bible far outsells all other Christian Bibles worldwide. In fact, it
has always been thus. The very first Christian Bible was produced by the
Catholic Church -- compiled by Catholic scholars of the 2nd and 3rd century and
approved for general Christian use by the Catholic Councils of Hippo (393) and
Carthage (397). The very first printed Bible was produced under the auspices of
the Catholic Church -- printed by the Catholic inventor of the printing press,
Johannes Gutenberg. And the very first Bible with chapters and numbered verses
was produced by the Catholic Church -- the work of Stephen Langton, Cardinal
Archbishop of Canterbury. It was this perennial Catholic devotion to the Bible
which prompted Martin Luther -- who certainly cannot be accused of Catholic
favoritism -- to write in his Commentary on St. John: "We are compelled
to concede to the Papists that they have the Word of God, that we received it
from them, and that without them we should have no knowledge of it at all."
the Catholic Church really honors the Bible as the holy Word of God -- if she
really wants her members to become familiar with its truth -- why in times past
did she confiscate and burn so many Bibles?
The Bibles which were collected and burned by the Catholic
Church in times past -- notably the Wycliff and Tyndale Bibles -- were faulty
translations, and therefore, were not the holy Word of God. In other
words, the Catholic Church collected and burned those "Bibles" precisely because
she does honor the Bible, the true Bible, as the holy Word of God and
wants her members to become familiar with its truths. Proof of this is seen in
the fact that after those Bibles were collected and burned, they were replaced
by accurate editions. There can be no doubt that the Wycliff and Tyndale
translations were corrupt and therefore deserving of extinction, for no church
has ever attempted to resurrect them. Nor can there be any doubt that the
Bibles which replaced them were correct translations, because they have long
been honored by both Protestants and Catholics.
does the Catholic Church base some of her doctrines on tradition instead of
basing them all on the Bible? Did Christ not tell the Pharisees that in holding
to tradition they were transgressing the commandment of God? (Matt.
15:3, Mark 7:9).
Observe that in the Bible there are two kinds of religious
tradition -- human and divine. Observe that when Christ accused the Pharisees
He was referring to "precepts of men" (Mark 7:7), to their human
traditions. Christ wanted divine tradition preserved and honored because
He made it part and parcel of the Christian deposit of faith -- as the Apostle
Paul affirmed: "Stand fast; and hold the traditions which you have learned,
whether by word, or by our epistle." (2 Thess. 2:14. Also see 2
Thess. 3:6). This divine tradition to which Paul refers -- this revealed
truth which was handed down by word rather than by letter -- is the tradition
upon which, along with Sacred Scripture, the Catholic Church bases her tenets of
faith -- as the primitive Christian Fathers affirmed. Wrote St. Augustine:
"These traditions of the Christian name, therefore, so numerous, so powerful,
and most dear, justly keep a believing man in the Catholic Church." The New
Testament itself is a product of Christian tradition. Nowhere in the New
Testament is there any mention of a New Testament.
"The Church or the Bible"]
do Catholics try to earn their own salvation, despite the fact that salvation
can only come as a free gift from Jesus Christ?
Catholics fully recognize that Jesus Christ died on the Cross
for their sins and thus "opened the gates of Heaven," and that salvation is a
free gift which no amount of human good deeds could ever earn. Catholics
receive Christ's saving and sanctifying grace, and Christ Himself, into their
souls when they are baptized. Yet they also know that Christ has established
certain conditions for entry into eternal happiness in Heaven -- for example,
receiving His true Flesh and Blood (John 6:54) and keeping the commandments
(Matt. 19:17). If a Christian refuses or neglects to obey Our Lord's commands
in a grave matter (that is, if he commits a mortal sin), Our Lord will not
remain dwelling in his soul; and if a Christian dies in that state, having
driven his Lord from his soul by serious sin, he will not be saved. As St. Paul
warned the Galatians with regard to certain sins: "They who do such things
shall not obtain the kingdom of God." (Gal. 5:21). It must be added that Christ
will always forgive and return to a sinner who approaches Him with sincerity in
the Sacrament of Penance.
Catholics follow St. Paul, who did not think that his
salvation was guaranteed once and for all at the moment he first received Christ
into his soul; for he wrote: "I chastise my body, and bring it into subjection:
lest perhaps, when I have preached to others, I myself should become a
castaway." (I Cor. 9:27). Also: "With fear and trembling work out your
salvation. For it is God who worketh in you..." (Phil. 2:12-13). "And unto
whomsoever much is given, of him much shall be required." (Luke 12:48).
"He that shall persevere unto the end, he shall be saved." (Matt.
10:22). Nevertheless, Catholics realize that even the fulfilling of Our Lord's
requirements for salvation is impossible without the free gift of His grace.
"The Number of Those Who Are Saved"]
do Catholics believe that good works are necessary for salvation! Does not Paul
say in Romans 3:28 that faith alone justifies!
Catholics believe that faith and good works are both
necessary for salvation, because such is the teaching of Jesus Christ. What Our
Lord demands is "faith that worketh by charity ." (Gal. 5 :6).&NBSP;
Read Matthew 25:31-46, which describes the Last Judgment as being based
on works of charity. The first and greatest commandment, as given by Our Lord
Himself, is to love the Lord God with all one's heart, mind, soul, and strength;
and the second great commandment is to love one's neighbor as oneself. (Mark
12:30-31). When the rich young man asked Our Lord what he must do to gain
eternal life, Our Lord answered: "Keep the commandments." (Matt. 19:17).
Thus, although faith is the beginning, it is not the complete fulfillment
of the will of God. Nowhere in the Bible is it written that faith alone
justifies. When St. Paul wrote, "For we account a man to be justified by faith,
without the works of the law," he was referring to works peculiar to the old
Jewish Law, and he cited circumcision as an example.
The Catholic Church does NOT teach that purely human good
works are meritorious for salvation; such works are NOT meritorious for
salvation, according to her teaching. Only those good works performed when a
person is in the state of grace -- that is, as a branch drawing its spiritual
life from the Vine which is Christ (John 15:4-6) -- only these good deeds
work toward our salvation, and they do so only by the grace of God and the merit
of Jesus Christ. These good works, offered to God by a soul in the state
of grace (i.e., free of mortal sin, with the Blessed Trinity dwelling in the
soul), are thereby supernaturally meritorious because they share in the work
and in the merits of Christ. Such supernatural good works will not only be
rewarded by God, but are necessary for salvation.
St. Paul shows how the neglect of certain good works will
send even a Christian believer to damnation: "But if any man have not care of
his own, and especially of those of his house, he hath denied the faith, and is
worse than an infidel." (1 Tim. 5:8). Our Lord tells us that if the
Master (God) returns and finds His servant sinning, rather than performing works
of obedience, He "shall separate him, and shall appoint him his portion with
unbelievers." (Luke 12:46).
Furthermore, Catholics know they will be rewarded in Heaven
for their good works. Our Lord Himself said: "For the Son of man . . . will
render to every man according to his works." (Matt. 16:27). "And
whosoever shall give to drink to one of these little ones a cup of cold water
only in the name of a disciple, amen I say to you, he shall not lose his
reward." (Matt. 10:42). Catholics believe, following the Apostle Paul,
that "every man shall receive his own reward, according to his own labor." (1
Cor. 3:8). "For God is not unjust, that he should forget your work, and the
love which you have shown in his name, you who have ministered, and do minister
to the saints." (Heb. 6:10). "I have fought a good fight, I have
finished my course, I have kept the faith. As to the rest, there is laid up for
me a crown of justice, which the Lord the just judge will render to me in that
day: and not only to me, but to them also that love his coming." (2 Tim.
Still, Catholics know that, strictly speaking, God never owes
us anything. Even after obeying all God's commandments, we must still say: "We
are unprofitable servants; we have done that which we ought to do." (Luke
17:10). As St. Augustine (5th century) stated: "All our good merits are
wrought through grace, so that God, in crowning our merits, is crowning nothing
but His gifts."
Had St. Paul meant that faith ruled out the necessity of good
works for salvation, he would not have written: ". . . and if I should have all
faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing." (1
Cor. 13:2). If faith ruled out the necessity of good works for salvation,
the Apostle James would not have written: "Do you see that by works a man is
justified; and not by faith only'? . . . For even as the body without the spirit
is dead; so also faith without works is dead." (James 2:24-26). Or:
"What shall it profit, my brethren, if a man say he hath faith, but hath not
works? Shall faith be able to save him?" (James 2:14). If faith ruled
out the necessity of good works for salvation, the Apostle Peter would not have
written: "Wherefore, brethren, labor the more, that by good works you may make
sure your calling and election. For doing these things, you shall not sin at
any time. For so an entrance shall be ministered to you abundantly into the
everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." (2 Peter
1:10-11). If faith ruled out the necessity of good works for salvation, the
primitive Christian Fathers would not have advocated good works in such powerful
words. Wrote St. Irenaeus, one of the most illustrious of the primitive
Christian Fathers: "For what is the use of knowing the truth in word, while
defiling the body and accomplishing the works of evil? Or what real good at all
can bodily holiness do. If truth be not in the soul? For these two, faith and
good works, rejoice in each other's company, and agree together and fight side
by side to set man in the Presence of God." (Proof of the Apostolic
Preaching). Justification by faith alone is a new doctrine; it was unheard
of in the Christian community before the sixteenth century.
do Catholics worship Mary as though she were a goddess, when it is clear in
Scripture that she was not a supernatural being?
Catholics DO NOT worship Mary, the Mother of Christ -- as
though she were a deity. Of all the misconceptions about Catholic belief and
practice, this one is the most absurd. Catholics are just as aware as
Protestants that Mary was a human creature, and therefore not entitled to the
honors which are reserved to God alone. What many non-Catholics mistake for
adoration is a very profound love and veneration, nothing more. Mary is not
adored, first because God forbids it, and secondly because the Canon Law of the
Catholic Church, which is based on Divine Law, forbids it. Canon Law 1255 of
the 1918 Codex strictly forbids adoration of anyone other than the Holy
Trinity. However, Catholics do feel that Mary is entitled to a great measure of
exaltation because, in choosing her as the Mother of Redemption, God Himself
exalted her -- exalted her more than any other human person before or since.
Catholics heap tribute and honor on Mary because they earnestly desire to be
"followers of God, as most dear children." (Eph. 5:1). Mary herself
prophesied: "For behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
Because he that is mighty, hath done great things to me; and holy is his name."
(Luke 1:48-49). Catholics know that every bit of the glory they give to
Mary redounds to the glory of her divine Son, just as Mary magnified God, not
herself, when Elizabeth blessed her. (Luke 1:41-55). They know that the
closer they draw to her, the closer they draw to Him who was born of her. In
the year 434 St. Vincent of Lerins defended Christian devotion to Mary this
way: "Therefore, may God forbid that anyone should attempt to defraud Holy Mary
of her privilege of divine grace and her special glory. For by a unique favor
of our Lord and God she is confessed to be the most true and most blessed Mother
of God." Today 75% of all Christians still hold to this same view.
do Catholics pray to Mary and the saints when Sacred Scripture states that there
is one Mediator between God and man -- Christ Jesus? (1 Tim. 2:5).
When Catholics pray to Mary and the other saints in Heaven
they are not bypassing Christ, whom they acknowledge as the sole Mediator
between God and man. They are going to Christ through Mary and the other
saints. They are asking Mary and other saints to intercede for them
before the throne of Christ in Heaven. "For the continual prayer of a just man
availeth much." (James 5:16). How much more availing is the unceasing
prayer of the sinless Mother of Our Lord Jesus Christ! St. Paul asked his
fellow Christians to intercede for him: "Brethren, pray for us." (2 Thess.
3:1). And again: "I beseech you therefore, brethren, through our Lord Jesus
Christ, and by the charity of the Holy Ghost, that you help me in your prayers
for me to God . . ." (Rom. 15:30). Christ must particularly approve of
our going to Him through Mary, His Blessed Mother, because He chose to come to
us through her. And at Cana, He performed His first miracle after a word from
His Mother. (John 2:2-11).
It is clear in Sacred Scripture that the saints in Heaven
will intercede for us before the throne of Christ if they are petitioned in
prayer (Apoc. or Rev. 8:3-4), and it is clear in the records of
primitive Christianity that the first Christians eagerly sought their
intercession. Wrote St. John Chrysostom in the fourth century: "When thou
perceivest that God is chastening thee, fly not to His enemies, but to His
friends, the martyrs, the saints, and those who were pleasing to Him, and who
have great power." If the saints have such power with God, how much more His own
do Catholics repeat the same prayer over and over again when they pray the
Rosary? Is this not the vain repetition condemned by Christ in Matthew
Catholics DO NOT just repeat the same prayer over and over
again when they pray the Rosary. The Rosary is a progression of many prayers --
the Apostles' Creed, the Lord's Prayer, the Gloria, the Hail Mary and the Salve
Regina -- and these prayers are accompanied by many holy meditations. As the
Rosary progresses, Catholics meditate on the joyful, the sorrowful, and the
glorious mysteries of the life of Christ and His Mother. True, the Hail Mary is
repeated many times during the course of the Rosary, and some of the other
prayers are repeated several times, but this is not "vain" repetition, certainly
not the vain repetition condemned by Our Lord. The vain repetition He condemned
is that of people who pray standing "in the corners of the streets, that they
may be seen by men."
No prayer is vain, no matter how often repeated, if it is
sincere, for Christ Himself engaged in repetitious prayer in the Garden of
Gethsemani (". . . he went again: and he prayed the third time, saying the
selfsame word" -- Matt. 26:39, 42, 44), and we are informed in the
Apocalypse (Revelations) 4:8 that the angels in Heaven never cease
repeating, night and day, the canticle: "Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty,
who was, and who is, and who is to come." The publican humbly repeated the
prayer: "O God, be merciful to me, a sinner," and he went away
justified; whereas the pharisee went home unjustified after his long-winded
extemporaneous prayer. (Luke 18:9-14). God was likewise pleased with
the repetitious prayer of the three young men in the fiery furnace, whom He
preserved miraculously untouched by the flames. (Dan. 3:52-90).
Protestants also engage in repetitious prayer: the same prayers at mealtime
grace, the same prayers at Benediction, etc. The time lapse is no factor; it is
do Catholics believe in a place between Heaven and Hell called Purgatory? Where
is Purgatory mentioned in the Bible?
The main body of Christians have always believed in the
existence of a place between Heaven and Hell where souls go to be punished for
lesser sins and to repay the debt of temporal punishment for sins which have
been forgiven. Even after Moses was forgiven by God, he was still punished for
his sin. (2 Kg. or 2 Sam. 12:13-14). The primitive Church
Fathers regarded the doctrine of Purgatory as one of the basic tenets of the
Christian faith. St. Augustine, one of the greatest doctors of the Church, said
the doctrine of Purgatory "has been received from the Fathers and it is observed
by the Universal Church." True, the word "Purgatory" does not appear in the
Bible, but a place where lesser sins are purged away and the soul is saved "yet
so as by fire," is mentioned (1 Cor. 3:15). Also, the Bible
distinguishes between those who enter Heaven straightaway, calling them "the
church of the firstborn" (Heb. 12:23), and those who enter after having
undergone a purgation, calling them "the spirits of the just made perfect." (Heb.
12:23). Christ Himself stated: "Amen I say to thee, thou shalt not go out from
thence till thou repay the last farthing." (Matt. 5 :26). And: "Every
idle word that men shall speak, they shall render an account for it in the day
of judgment." (Matt. 12:36). These are obviously references to
Purgatory. Further, the Second Book of Machabees (which was dropped from the
Scriptures by the Protestant Reformers) says: "It is therefore a holy and
wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins." (2
Mach. 12:46). Ancient Christian tomb inscriptions from the second and third
centuries frequently contain an appeal for prayers for the dead. In fact, the
custom of praying for the dead -- which is meaningless if there is no Purgatory
-- was universal among Christians for the fifteen centuries preceding the
Furthermore, ordinary justice calls for a place of purgation
between Heaven and Hell. Take our own courts of justice, for example. For
major crimes a person is executed or sentenced to life imprisonment (Hell); for
minor crimes a person is sentenced to temporary imprisonment for punishment and
rehabilitation (Purgatory); for no crime at all a person is rewarded with the
blessing of free citizenship (Heaven). If a thief steals some money, then
regrets his deed and asks the victim for forgiveness, it is quite just for the
victim to forgive him yet still insist on restitution. God, who is infinitely
just, insists on holy restitution. This is made either in this life, by doing
penance (Matt. 3:2; Luke 3:8, 13:3; Apoc. 3:2-3, 19), or in
Also, what Christian is there who, despite his faith in
Christ and his sincere attempts to be Christlike, does not find sin and
worldliness still in his heart? "For in many things we all offend." (James
3:2). Yet "there shall not enter into it [the new Jerusalem, Heaven] anything
defiled." (Apoc. or Rev. 21:27). In Purgatory the soul is
mercifully purified of all stain; there God carries out the work of spiritual
purification which most Christians neglected and resisted on earth. It is
important to remember that Catholics do not believe that Christ simply covers
over their sinful souls, like covering a manure heap with a blanket of snow
(Martin Luther's description of God's forgiveness). Rather, Christ insists that
we be truly holy and sinless to the core of our souls. "Be you therefore
perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matt. 5:48). This
growth in sinlessness -- in Christian virtue and holiness -- is of course the
work of an entire lifetime (and is possible only through the grace of
God). With many this cleansing is completed only in Purgatory. If there is no
Purgatory, but only Heaven for the perfect and Hell for the imperfect, then the
vast majority of us are hoping in vain for life eternal in Heaven.
do Catholics confess their sins to priests? What makes them think that priests
can absolve them of the guilt of their sins? Why don't they confess their sins
directly to God as Protestants do?
Catholics confess their sins to priests because -- as it is
clearly stated in Sacred Scripture -- God in the Person of Jesus Christ
authorized the priests of His Church to hear confessions and empowered them to
forgive sins in His Name. To the Apostles, the first priests of His Church,
Christ said: "Peace be to you. As the Father hath sent me, I also send you...
Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven
them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained." (John
20:21-23). Then again: "Amen I say to you, whatsoever you shall bind upon
earth, shall be bound also in heaven; and whatsoever you shall loose upon earth,
shall be loosed also in heaven." (Matt. 18:18). In other words,
Catholics confess their sins to priests because priests are God's duly
authorized agents in the world, representing Him in all matters
pertaining to the ways and means of attaining eternal salvation. When Catholics
confess their sins to a priest they ARE, in reality, confessing their sins to
God, for God hears their confessions and it is He who, in the final analysis,
does the forgiving. If their confessions are not sincere, their sins are not
Furthermore, Catholics DO confess their sins directly to God
as Protestants do: Catholics are taught to make an act of contrition at least
every night before retiring, to ask God to forgive them their sins of that day.
Catholics are also taught to say this same prayer of contrition if they should
have the misfortune to commit a serious sin (called a "mortal sin" by
Granting that priests do have the power to forgive sins in the name of God, what
advantage does confessing one's sins to a priest have over confessing directly
to God in private prayer?
Catholics see several advantages in confessing their sins to
a priest in the Sacrament of Penance. First, there is the Church's guarantee
of forgiveness, which private confessions do not provide; secondly, there is the
sacramental grace which private confessions do not provide; and thirdly, there
is the expert spiritual counseling which private confessions do not provide.
With the Apostles, Catholics recognize that the Church is, in a mysterious way,
the Body of Christ still living in the world (Col. 1:18); therefore they
recognize that God will receive their pleas for mercy and forgiveness with far
greater compassion if their pleas are voiced within the Church, in union with
the Mystical Body of His Divine Son, than if they are voiced privately,
independent of the Mystical Body of His Divine Son.
Catholics confess all the sordid details of their sins to the priest?
No, Catholics are instructed NOT to confess the sordid
details of their sins, because it would serve no useful purpose. All that is
required of the penitent is the number and classification of sins committed, as
well as a sincere contrition for having sinned, a promise to make restitution if
the sin has harmed others, a firm resolve to avoid future sins and the occasions
of sin, and the carrying out of the penance assigned by the priest (usually the
praying of a few prayers). Actually, there are fewer intimacies revealed to the
priest in the confessional than are usually revealed to one's doctor, lawyer, or
psychiatrist; hence the Sacrament of Penance is not the embarrassing experience
many non-Catholics imagine it is. Rather, it is a wonderful relieving
experience, for it is through this sacrament that sins committed after Baptism
are washed away by the blood of Christ and the sinner becomes once again
reconciled with God.
do Catholics believe that Christ is sacrificed in each and every Mass, when
Scripture plainly states that He was sacrificed on Calvary once and for all?
Most non-Catholics do not realize it, but Christ Himself
offered the first Mass at the Last Supper. At the Last Supper He offered
(sacrificed) Himself to His Father in an unbloody manner, that is, under the
form of bread and wine, in anticipation of His bloody sacrifice on the cross to
be offered on the following day, Good Friday. In the Mass, not now by
anticipation, but rather in retrospect, Christ continues to make that offering
of Himself to His Father -- by the hands of the priest. "And whilst they were
at supper, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke: and gave to his disciples,
and said: Take ye, and eat. This is my body. And taking the chalice, he gave
thanks, and gave to them, saying: Drink ye all of this. For this is my blood of
the new testament, which shall be shed for many unto remission of sins." (Matt.
26:26-28). Christ ordered His Church to perpetuate that sacrificial rite for
the continued sanctification of His followers, saying, "Do this for a
commemoration of me" (Luke 22:19) -- so the Catholic Church complies
with His order in the Mass. In other words, every Mass is a re-enactment of Our
Lord's one sacrifice of Calvary. The Mass derives all its value from the
Sacrifice of the Cross; the Mass is that same sacrifice, not another. It is not
essentially a sacrifice offered by men (although men also join in), but rather
it is the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Christ's bloody sacrifice on Calvary was accomplished "once"
(Heb. 10:10), just as Scripture says. The Catholic Church likewise
teaches that the sacrifice of the Cross was a complete and perfect sacrifice --
offered "once." But the Apostle Paul -- the same Apostle who wrote this text in
the book of Hebrews -- also bears witness that the sacrificial rite which Christ
instituted at the Last Supper is to be perpetuated -- and that it is not
only important for man's sanctification, but is the principal factor in man's
final redemption. In 1 Corinthians 11:23-26, St. Paul tells how, at the
Last Supper, Our Lord said: "This do ye, as often as you shall drink, for the
commemoration of me. For as often as you shall eat this bread, and drink the
chalice, you shall show the death of the Lord, until he come." Thus at every
Mass the Christian has a new opportunity to worship God with this one perfect
sacrifice and to "absorb" more of Christ's saving and sanctifying grace of
Calvary. This grace is infinite, and the Christian should continuously grow in
this grace until his death. The reason the Mass is offered again and again is
not from any imperfection in Christ, but from our imperfect capacity to receive.
Finally, the holy sacrifice of the Mass fulfills the Old
Testament prophecy: "For from the rising of the sun even to the going down, my
name is great among the Gentiles, and in every place there is sacrifice, and
there is offered to my name a clean oblation: for my name is great among the
Gentiles, saith the Lord of hosts." (Mal. 1:11). The Sacrifice of the
Mass is offered every day throughout the world, and in every Mass the only
truly "clean oblation" is offered, that is, Christ Himself; thus the Mass is the
perfect fulfillment of this prophecy.
Catholics believe their Holy Communion is the actual Flesh and Blood of Jesus
Christ? Why don't they believe as Protestants do that Christ is only present
symbolically, or spiritually, in the consecrated bread and wine?
Catholics believe that their Holy Communion, the Blessed
Eucharist, is the actual Flesh and Blood of Jesus Christ, because that is what
Christ said It was: "This is my body . . . This is my blood" (Matt.
26:26-28; see also Luke 22:19-20 and Mark 14:22-24); because that
is what Christ said they must receive in order to have eternal life: "...
Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not
have life in you . . ." (John 6:48-52; 54-56); and because that is what
the Apostles believed: "The chalice of benediction, which we bless, is it not
the communion of the blood of Christ? And the bread, which we break, is it not
the partaking of the body of the Lord?" (1 Cor. 10:16). "Therefore
whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily,
shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord. But let a man prove
himself: and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of the chalice. For he
that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself,
not discerning the body of the Lord." (1 Cor. 11:27-29). Also,
Catholics believe that Holy Communion is the actual Flesh and Blood of Jesus
Christ because that is what all Christians believed until the advent of
Protestantism in the 16th century.
Wrote Justin Martyr, illustrious Church Father of the second
century: "This food is known among us as the Eucharist... We do not receive
these things as common bread and common drink; but as Jesus Christ our Savior,
being made flesh by the Word of God." Wrote St. Cyril of Jerusalem, venerable
Church Father of the fourth century: "Since then Christ has declared and said
of the bread, 'This is my Body,' who after that will venture to doubt? And
seeing that He has affirmed and said, 'This is my Blood,' who will raise a
question and say it is not His Blood?" In addition to the witness of Sacred
Scripture and Christian tradition, Catholics have the witness of the Holy
Eucharist itself: On numerous occasions great and awesome miracles have
attended its display, and seldom has its reception by the Catholic faithful
failed to produce in them a feeling of joyful union with their Lord and
Saviour. In the face of all this evidence, Catholics could hardly be expected
to adopt the Protestant position.
Catholic lay people usually given Holy Communion only under the one form of
bread? By not giving the consecrated bread and wine, isn't the Catholic Church
depriving its people of the full benefit of Holy Communion?
In the Catholic Church the congregation is usually given Holy
Communion only under the one form of bread because, if the consecrated "bread"
is accidently dropped on the floor in the serving, it can be wholly retrieved --
particles of the Body of Christ would not be left on the floor to be
desecrated. If Holy Communion were given under both forms, and if the
consecrated "wine" were accidentally spilled on the floor in the serving, it
would be a virtual impossibility to retrieve all of the precious Substance --
some part of the Blood of Christ would, through smearing and absorption,
inevitably be desecrated. By not giving the congregation Holy Communion under
both forms, the Catholic Church is not cheating anyone, because in receiving
EITHER the consecrated "bread" OR the consecrated "wine," the communicant
receives the complete Body of Christ, including His Flesh AND His Blood, His
Soul and His Divinity. The consecrated "bread" by itself imparts a true Holy
Communion with Christ, a full measure of sanctifying grace, even as Christ
said: "The BREAD that 1 will give, is my flesh, for the life of the world....
He that eateth this BREAD, shall live for ever." (John 6:52,59). And
the Apostle Paul: "Therefore whosoever shall eat this bread, OR drink the
chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of
the Lord." (1 Cor. 11:27). After the Consecration the priest receives
Holy Communion under both forms, and this suffices to complete the Holy
Communion part of the Mass service.
is Latin the language of the Church? How can the congregation understand the
Mass whenever it is said in Latin?
The Catholic Church began in the days of the Roman Empire,
and the language spoken throughout that Empire was Latin. St. Peter moved the
seat of Church government from Antioch to Rome, and the Catholic Church
government remains centered there to this very day. It was only natural that
Latin became the language of the Church. As the centuries elapsed, for example,
Latin still remained the language of the educated classes -- even into the 18th
and 19th centuries. Therefore, it is not at all surprising that Latin should
still be the official language of the Catholic Church. It simply always has
been. Furthermore, a universal language greatly facilitates the unity of the
Church. Ecumenical Councils, for example, have always been held in Latin,
enabling bishops from all over the world to communicate with each other easily.
Moreover, unlike English, French, German and the other
languages of the Western world, Latin does not change over the centuries -- it
is not affected by national idioms, slang and the like -- therefore, in Western
countries Latin is the official language of the Mass because it helps to
preserve the original purity of the Mass liturgy -- although today, the Mass is
usually said in the language of the people. Catholics have always had a
complete translation of the Mass Latin in their missal, or Mass handbook, so
they have always been able to understand and follow everything the priest says
and does at the altar, even when the Mass is in Latin. It should also be borne
in mind that the Mass is never exclusively in Latin. All sermons, Gospel and
Epistle readings, parish announcements and closing prayers are in the language
of the congregation.
do Catholics call their priests "Father" despite the fact that Christ said:
"Call no man on earth your father; for one is your Father, who is in heaven"! (Matt.
Catholics call their priests "Father" because in all matters
pertaining to Christ's holy faith they perform the duties of a father,
representing God. The priest is the agent of the Christian's supernatural
birth and sustenance in the world. "Father" is a title which does not conflict
in the slightest with Matthew 23:9. Christ forbids the Christian to
acknowledge any fatherhood which conflicts with the Fatherhood of God -- just as
He commands the Christian to "hate" his father, mother, wife, and his own life,
insofar as these conflict with the following of Christ. (Luke 14:26).
But Christ does not forbid Christians to call His own representatives by the
name of "Father." Catholic priests share in the priesthood of Jesus Christ (not
a human priesthood), and their sacred ministry partakes of the Fatherhood of
God. Like St. Paul (himself a Catholic priest), every Catholic priest can refer
to the souls he has spiritually begotten as his children in Christ. (1
Cor. 4:14). St. Paul considered himself to be the spiritual father, in
Christ, of the Corinthians: "For if you have ten thousand instructors in Christ,
yet not many fathers. For in Christ Jesus, by the gospel, I have begotten you."
(I Cor. 4:15). The title of "Father" is entirely proper for an ordained
priest of Jesus Christ.
do Catholics practice fasting and abstinence from meat on certain days? Does
not St. Paul call abstaining from meats a "doctrine of devils"? (1 Tim.
Catholics give up eating meat -- for example, on Good Friday
-- to commemorate and honor Christ's Sacrifice on that day, and to follow His
instruction to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him. (Matt.
16:24; Mk. 8:34; Lk. 9:23). It is a practice that dates back to
the earliest days of the Christian Church. Tertullian and Clement of Alexandria
both mention it in their writings. It is a practice which is thoroughly
Christian, for we note that Christ Himself recommended fasting, saying: "When
thou fastest anoint thy head, and wash thy face... and thy Father, who seeth in
secret, will repay thee." (Matt. 6:17-18). In the same vein the Apostle
Paul described his own suffering for Christ: "... in hunger and thirst, in
fastings often..." (2 Cor. 11:27). Fasting was practiced both by
Christ's followers (Acts 14:22) and by Christ Himself. (Matt.
4:1-2). And Our Lord told His disciples that some devils cannot be cast out
"but by prayer and fasting." (Matt. 17:20). Paul's denunciation of
those who abstain from eating meat applies to those who reject the eating of
meat entirely, as though it were evil in itself. His denunciation has nothing
to do with the abstinence of Catholics, for on other days Catholics eat as much
meat as do other people. Moreover, the abstinence from meat is not binding on
all Catholics. Young children, old people, sick people, and all Catholics in
countries where meat is the principle diet, are excused.
don't Catholic priests marry? The Bible says that a bishop should be "blameless,
the husband of one wife" (1 Tim. 3:2), which certainly indicates that
Christ approves of marriage for the Christian clergy.
Catholic priests do not marry because, while Christ does
indeed approve of marriage for the Christian clergy, He much prefers that they
do not marry. He made this quite clear when He praised the Apostles for giving
up "all" to follow Him, saying, "And every one that hath left house, or
brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands for
my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall possess life
everlasting." (Matt. 19:27-29). The Apostle Paul explained why the
unmarried state is preferable to the married state for the Christian clergy:
"He that is without a wife, is solicitous for the things that belong to the
Lord, how he may please God. But he that is with a wife, is solicitous for the
things of the world, how he may please his wife: and he is divided." (1
Cor. 7:32-33). In other words, matrimony is good -- Christ made it one of
the holy sacraments of His Church -- but it is not conducive to that complete
dedication which is incumbent upon those who submit themselves to another of
Christ's holy sacraments -- that of Holy Orders. Even so, the unmarried state
of the Catholic priesthood is not an inflexible law -- under certain conditions
a priest may be dispensed from this law.
Bible says that after Christ was baptized He "came out of the water" (Matt.
3:16), indicating that He was baptized by total immersion. Why doesn't the
Catholic Church also baptize by total immersion instead of by pouring on the
The Catholic Church usually baptizes by pouring: 1) because
water sufficient for total immersion is not readily obtainable in some
localities, 2) because total immersion would be cruel for babies, fatal for some
sick people and impossible for some prison inmates, and 3) because the Apostles
baptized by pouring. In the Didache, composed by the Apostles, the
following procedure for Baptism is prescribed: "Pour water three times on the
head in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." The
words "came out of the water" do not necessarily imply total immersion.
They could just as well imply that Christ came up on the shore of the river
Jordan after standing ankle deep in the water. This is not to say that the
Catholic Church considers Baptism by total immersion invalid -- she simply does
not consider it practical as a universal form.
does the Catholic Church baptize infants, who have no understanding of what is
The Catholic Church baptizes infants because Christ wills
it. He must will it because He said, "Suffer the little children, and forbid
them not to come to me." (Matt. 19:14). According to the Apostle Paul,
one cannot truly come to Christ except through Baptism. (Rom. 6:3-4).
Christ must will it because the Apostles baptized "all the people" (Luke
3:21) and whole households (Act 16:15, 1 Cor. 1:16). Certainly
"all the people" and whole "households" included infants. Christ must will it
because He stated categorically that Baptism is a necessary prerequisite for
salvation (John 3:5), and He certainly desires the salvation of infants.
He must will it because the primitive Christian Church, which had fresh
firsthand knowledge of His Will, baptized infants. In the ancient catacombs of
Rome the inscriptions on the tombs of infants make mention of their having been
baptized. One such inscription reads: "Here rests Archillia, a newly-baptized;
she was one year and five months old; died February 23rd."
An unbaptized infant is not simply in a "natural" state; it
is in the state of reprobation, living under the reign of Satan, with the sin of
Adam "staining" its soul. Therefore infants should be baptized as soon as is
reasonably possible -- usually within 2-3 weeks of birth. When children grow up
with Our Lord dwelling in their souls, they have a powerful protection against
sin. Moreover, Our Lord can thereby draw children to a deep love for Himself at
a very early age -- as He did with St. Therese, St. Maria Goretti, St. Dominic
Savio, and Francisco and Jacinta Marto.
is the Catholic Church opposed to birth control? Where in the Bible is birth
control condemned as being contrary to the Will of God?
The Catholic Church is not opposed to birth control when it
is accomplished by natural means, by SELF control. She is opposed only to birth
control by artificial means, by the employment of pills, condoms, IUD's, foams,
jellies, sterilization, non-completion of the act of sexual union -- or any
other means used to prevent conception from resulting from this act -- because
such means profane the marital embrace and dishonor the marriage contract. God
slew Onan for practicing contraception (Gen. 38:9-10); the word "onanism"
derives from Onan's deed. In fact, up until the Church of England's Lambeth
Conference of 1930, which accepted contraception and thus broke with the
Christian tradition, contraception had been considered by all Christian
churches, both Catholic and Protestant, to be gravely sinful. The Catholic
Church does not feel free to change the law of God, as do Protestants.
In the New Testament, there is only one instance where sin is
punished by God with immediate death, this was the fate of Ananias and Saphira,
a husband and wife who went through the motions of giving a gift to God but
fraudulently kept back part of it. The Bible says they lied to the Holy
Spirit. (Acts 5:1-11). In contraception, two people go through the
motions of an act of self-giving, but obstruct the natural fruition of their
act, i.e., the conception of children, which is the ultimate purpose for which
God created sexuality. Sexual union is a gift from God to the married, but by
practicing contraception, married couples are accepting the pleasure God built
into the act and yet denying Him its purpose, new people. They are in effect
mocking God. But "Be not deceived, God is not mocked." (Gal. 6:7).
Christ cursed the fig tree which, despite a fine external appearance, bore no
fruit. (Matt. 21:19; Mark 11:14). Marriage is God's plan for
populating Heaven, yet contracepting couples refuse Him the specific fruit of
their marriage, which is children, when they engage in the act which should
produce children yet frustrate the natural, God-intended result.
Further, the sin of "sorceries" or "witchcrafts"
("pharmakeia" in the Greek -- Gal. 5:20; Apoc. 9:21; 21:8) --
which the Bible condemns along with fornication, murder, idolatry, and other
serious sins -- very possibly includes secret potions mixed to prevent pregnancy
or cause abortion. Such potions were known and used even in the first century.
Common sense and conscience both dictate that artificial
birth control is not only a violation of the Natural Law but is a perfidious
insult to the dignity of man himself. For it implies free reign to physical
impulses; it implies total disregard for the fate of the human seed; it implies
utter contempt for the honorable birth of fellow humans, those fellow humans who
are born as the result of a contraceptive having failed and whose very existence
is therefore considered to be an unfortunate "accident," rather than a gift of
God; it implies the most extreme selfishness, for no advocate or practitioner of
artificial birth control would have wanted it for his or her own parents.
Further, contraception undermines the respect of husband and wife for each other
and thereby loosens the marriage bond. Worst of all, many "contraceptives,"
such as the IUD and most if not all birth control pills, work by actually
causing an abortion early in the pregnancy; thus, this so-called "contraception"
is in reality abortion -- the killing of a human being -- rather than the
preventing of conception.
In every age there is some favorite sin which is accepted by
"respectable" worldly Christians; in our times the "acceptable" sin is
contraception -- a sin which fits in perfectly with the view that the purpose of
human life is to attain earthly happiness. The true Christian couple, on the
other hand, will realize that God desires them to have children so that these
children can come to know Him and love Him and be happy with Him eternally in
Heaven. Marriage is God's plan for populating Heaven. How wise it is to let
God plan one's family, since He loves children much more than do their earthly
parents, and His plans for them go far beyond any plans of these parents.
Innumerable stories are told of God's Providence to Christian
parents who trusted in Him and obeyed His law. For those who have a true and
serious need to space or limit the number of their children, the new methods of
natural family planning based on periodic abstinence have proven to be extremely
reliable (unlike the earlier "rhythm" methods).
Finally, the Christian will realize that the self-denial
involved in bearing and raising Christian children is a school of
Christlikeness. Our Lord said: "If any man will come after me, let him deny
himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." (Matt. 16:24). But He
also said: "My yoke is sweet and my burden light." (Matt. 11:30). God
promises sufficient grace to those who seek to obey Him. And the resulting
peace of soul which the obedient married couple enjoys is beyond all price.
does the Catholic Church make no exceptions when it comes to divorce? Does not
the Bible say that Christ permitted divorce in case of fornication? (Matthew
The Catholic Church makes no exceptions when it comes to
divorce because Christ made no exceptions. When Christ was asked if it was
lawful for a man to put away his wife "for every cause," He replied that a man
"shall cleave to his wife, and they two shall be in one flesh . . . What
therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder." (Matt.
19:3-6). And the Apostle Paul wrote: "But to them that are married, not I but
the Lord commandeth, that the wife depart not from her husband. And if she
depart, that she remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband. And let not
the husband put away his wife." (1 Cor. 7:10-11). In Matthew
19:9 Christ does not permit divorce in cases of fornication. He permits
separation. This is clear from the fact that those who separated were cautioned
not to remarry. Read Mark 10-12 and Luke 16:18.
Also, we know that divorce is against Divine Law because it
is plainly against right reason. Were it not for our man-made laws which
"legalize," popularize, and even glamorize divorce, discontented married couples
would make a more determined effort to reconcile their differences and live in
peace; they would be obliged by necessity to swallow their false pride and
accept the responsibilities they owe to their spouses, to their children, to
society as a whole, and to God. Any sociologist will confirm that there is far
less immorality, far less suicide, far fewer mental disorders and far less crime
among peoples who reject divorce than among the so-called "progressives" who
have Catholic women traditionally worn hats in church? Are bareheaded women
forbidden to enter Catholic churches?
The Apostle Paul explains that Catholic women should cover
their heads while in church: "You yourselves judge: doth it become a woman, to
pray unto God uncovered?" (I Cor. 11:13). "Every man praying or
prophesying with his head covered, disgraceth his head. But every woman praying
or prophesying with her head not covered, disgraceth her head: for it is all one
as if she were shaven...." (I Cor. 11:4-5). Paul's words do not imply
that the Church is closed to women who have no head covering immediately
available, nor does the custom of the Catholic Church imply this.
Catholics pay money for a Mass that is offered up for deceased relatives and
friends when the Bible states that the gift of God is not to be purchased with
money? (Acts 8:20).
Catholics are not compelled to pay for Masses offered up for
someone's special intention. They are simply reminded that giving a "stipend"
(usually $5) is the custom. Priests will oblige without a stipend being paid if
the one making the request can ill afford it. Giving stipends for special
intention Masses is the custom because it is only fitting and proper that there
should be some token of appreciation for the special service rendered,
especially in view of the fact that the average priest draws a very small
salary. For many priests these stipends mean the difference between standard
and sub-standard living conditions. And this custom definitely has scriptural
approval. Wrote the Apostle Paul: "Who serveth as a soldier at any time, at
his own charges? . . . Who feedeth the flock, and eateth not of the milk of the
flock? . . . So also the Lord ordained that they who preach the gospel, should
live by the gospel." (I Cor. 9:7-14). Of course the gift of God is not
to be purchased with money. But that does not imply that God's ministers are
free-serving slaves. Protestants will generally agree to this because within
Protestantism it is likewise customary to give the minister who performs
baptisms, marriages, etc. a token of appreciation in the form of money.
Protestants do not call their gift of money a stipend, but that is exactly what
There it is -- the truth about Catholic belief and practice.
This is the truth which brought the author of this booklet into the Catholic
Church . . . the truth which brings millions of people into the Catholic fold
year after year... the truth which explains why Newman, Chesterton, Knox,
Brownson, Maritain, Mann, Swinnerton, Muggeridge and a host of other
world-famous intellectuals chose to embrace the Catholic Faith. This is the
truth which inspired the following confession by the renowned scientist, John
Deering -- a confession which expresses in eloquent fashion the fundamental
motivation of every Catholic convert, be he famous or unknown:
"I was born and raised in an atmosphere of proud, agnostic
intellectualism. My father, a medical doctor by profession, was a disciple of
Schopenhauer and Freud, and my mother was an ardent disciple of my father. My
own favorite dish as a youth was Voltaire. Thus by the time I reached manhood,
I was quite thoroughly baptized in the pseudo-religious cult of humanism. I
preferred to call it humanism because, unlike the blunt Voltaire, I never could
profess publicly to being an out and out atheist, even though there really isn't
much distinction between the two.
"Being of a curious, speculative turn of mind, with strong
leanings toward the more challenging fields of dialectics, I eventually took up
the study of metaphysics -- the science of the fundamental causes and processes
of things. This subject intrigued me, indeed obsessed me, as no other subject
had before. Here, I told myself, was the science of sciences. Here was
the supreme test of my personal philosophy. If God exists, I told myself,
metaphysics would reveal Him. Either I would be justified in my quasi-atheism,
or I would be compelled in conscience to abandon it completely.
"Then the inevitable happened. I came face to face with the
proposition, proved by all the principles of logic, that God does indeed exist.
The evidence was so abundant as to be incontrovertible. Just as sure as two and
two make four, God not only exists, He is existence. To argue the point would
have been tantamount to arguing against all reality!
"Toppled at last from the vainglorious perch of agnosticism,
I immediately set about making another intellectual ascent -- this time up the
great imposing structure of Christian theology. I procured a Bible and spent
every free moment absorbed in its sacred content. I had established the
existence of God in my mind; now I must know something of the nature, the
personality, of God. The Bible, I figured, would give me a clue.
"Much of what I read in the Bible was vague -- I was not,
after all, familiar with the customs and language idioms of the ancient Jews who
wrote the Bible -- but I could grasp the central theme. Quite obviously, the
central theme of the Bible portrayed God not only as an Omnipotent,
All-lntelligent Spiritual Being, but as the Essence of Love, Essence of Justice
and Essence of Mercy. In other words, God is pre-eminently a personal
Being. And Jesus Christ was God personified, come into the world not
only to make atonement for the sin of Adam, but to reassert His Sovereignty,
elaborate on His Laws and illuminate with brighter light the pathway to heavenly
immortality. And the torchbearer of this light was His Church, founded on the
Apostles. Endowed with the authority of God, and imbued with the Holy Spirit of
God, His Church was given the holy task of perpetuating His ministry of
salvation after His return to Heaven.
"There was the divine plan of redemption, life's real
purpose, brought into clear and beautiful focus by the Author of the plan -- God
Himself. There, in brief, is man's only real hope for happiness and security.
"Only one thing remained to be solved. God's Church -- Where
amidst the vast galaxy of the world's churches was God's true Church to be
found? Then I recalled something Christ said: 'Seek and ye shall find... knock
and it will be opened unto you.' Inspired by these words of divine wisdom, I
embarked on the search. I undertook an extensive study of comparative religion,
concentrating on the Christian religions. Since the other religions rejected
the divinity of Christ, they naturally were in default.
"With painstaking impartiality I held every Christian church
up to the light of Scripture, logic and history, checking and double-checking
lest I overlook some small but significant piece of evidence. Three years of
this meticulous checking, then I found the object of my search. I finished with
one name superimposed in great bold letters on my conscience -- 'Catholic!'
"On every ground I found the claims of the Catholic religion
valid and altogether irresistible. The Catholic Church is the oldest Christian
church, I determined; therefore, she is the original Christian Church,
the one Church founded, constituted and sanctioned by Jesus Christ Himself.
"I had no other recourse in conscience but to embrace the
Catholic Faith. And now I must testify that it satisfies my mind, solaces my
heart and gratifies my soul. My blessed Catholic Faith fills my soul with a
peace and a sense of security I had never before thought possible.
"Now that I am in the Catholic Church I have a much clearer
picture of its true image. I see in all her vitals the Image of Christ.
In the reception of her sacraments I feel His comforting hand; in her
pronouncements I hear His authoritative, cogent voice; in her manifold
world-wide charities I see His love and compassion; in the way she is harassed
and vilified I see His agony and humility on Calvary; in her worship I feel His
Spirit girding my soul.
"This compels my obedience. All else is shifting sand."