Jegsy Scarr

Ask a Catholic! (i.e, me...)

300 posts in this topic

Just thought I'd weight in on the reason why Mary wasn't a lifelong virgin, in my opinion:

 

Mark 3:31-35

 

Jesus had siblings - surely they weren't divinely conceived also?

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Sorry I'm bad at taking quotes from the previous posts. But I hope I've covered all the objections mentioned above.

 

Let's start with tradition:

 

It is often alleged that the Catholic Church focuses on tradition rather than Scripture. That is simply not so. The Church focuses on Scripture and Sacred Tradition as they both flow out of the same divine wellspring, making up a single sacred deposit of the Word of God (Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation 2:9, 10). This is verified by the teaching of Scripture.

 

Scripture speaks of two kinds of tradition. One is condemned, and the other requires belief. Paul tells us In 2 Thessalonians 2:15, to "Stand firm, and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter." Notice how Paul ranks oral tradition with written tradition equally. Why does he do that?

 

He gives us the answer in 1 Thessalonians 2:13: "And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the Word of God which you

heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the Word of God…" So the oral traditions and the written were both the word of God. No wonder Paul was pleased when the Corinthians accepted the traditions that he passed on to them.

 

"I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you" (1 Corinthians 11:2). It is sometimes claimed that the oral tradition that Paul is speaking of is what he later put into Scripture. But the Bible nowhere says this.

 

Bible Christians rely on Catholic Tradition. For instance, how do they know that the 27 books of the New Testament belong in the Bible? How do they know that Mark wrote the Gospel of Mark? His name doesn't appear in the manuscripts. How do they know that public revelation ended with the death of the last apostle? They know these things the same way that Catholics know them, because the Catholic Church tells us so.

 

 

The canon of the New Testament at the councils of Hippo (393) and Carthage (397, 419) - 27 books chosen from 400 documents.

 

 

 

 

So then, what type of tradition does Jesus condemn? Mark records the following statement made by Jesus to the Scribes and Pharisees:

 

"You leave the commandment of God, and hold fast the tradition of men." And he said to them, "You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God, in order to keep your tradition! For Moses said, 'Honor your father and your mother'… but you say, 'If a man tells his father or his mother, ‘what you would have gained from me is corban’ (that is, given to God), then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, thus making void the Word of God through your tradition" (Mark 7:8-13).

 

The Scribes and Pharisees were violating one of the commandments with their own tradition (tradition of men), and Jesus corrects them with the traditional interpretation (Sacred Tradition). The Apostles taught in the same manner and, according to the Bible, apostolic teaching was the standard in the early Church: "And they devoted themselves to the Apostles teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and prayers" (Acts 2:42).

 

How can we recognize the traditions of men? Well, if they cannot be traced back to the early Church, they would have to be man-made. To believe otherwise would imply that God didn't get it right the first time. What Catholics call Sacred Tradition can be traced back to the early Church.

 

Early Christians knew the importance of Sacred Tradition. In the year 200 AD Tertullian wrote, "Wherever it shall be clear that the truth of the Christian discipline and faith are present, there also will be found the truth of the Scriptures and their explanation, and of all the Christian traditions" (The Demurrer against the heretics 19:3). A few decades later, Origen writes, "That alone is to be believed as the truth which is in no way at variance with ecclesiastical and apostolic tradition"

(Fundamental doctrines 1, preface: 2, circa 225 AD).

 

It is only when we embrace Scripture and Sacred Tradition that we have the complete Word of God. And as Jesus once said,

"Man shall not live by bread alone, but by EVERY WORD that proceeds from the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4).

 

Other passages if you want to use for tradition:

 

John 20:30-31

 

30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book;31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name.

 

John 21:25

25 But there are also many other things which Jesus did; were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.

 

2 John 1:12

12 Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink, but I hope to come to see you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete.

 

3 John 1:13-14

13 I had many things to write to you, but I am not willing to write them to you with pen and ink;14 but I hope to see you shortly, and we will speak face to face.

 

 

 

 

There is no doubt that scripture is infallible, but the question arises who interprets scripture? Is it meant for private interpretation?

 

2 Peter 1:20

20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.

 

I’ll use a simple argument for this, very basic one:

Look at this sentence “I never said she stole my moneyâ€

This sentence has 7 different meanings depending on the stressed word.

I didn't say she stole my money - someone else said it.

didn't say she stole my money - I didn't say it.

I didn't say she stole my money - I only implied it.

I didn't say she stole my money - I said someone did, not necessarily her.

I didn't say she stole my money - I considered it borrowed, even though she didn't ask.

I didn't say she stole my money - only that she stole money.

I didn't say she stole my money - she stole stuff which cost me money to replace.

 

Imagine the interpretation of scripture that isn’t even written in English ( most protestants rarely refer to the greek or Hebrew) and compiled in various different languages; I think god would have a better plan then individual interpretation of scriptures. To make matters worse many of the protestant teachings have evolved over time. I believe within 10 years of the reformation there were around 50 denominations. Fast forward 500 years and you know the story.

 

Whether Protestants like to admit it or not every single protestant or protestant denomination has his / her own traditions whether they follow their preacher or use certain websites to help them interpret scripture.

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Perpetual virginity

 

When the Archangel Gabriel visited Mary and declared unto her that she was called to be the Mother of God, as we see recorded in Luke 1, her response would become the cause of the spilling of a whole lot of ink over the centuries: “How shall this happen, since I know not man?†(v. 34, Douay Rheims, Confraternity Edition).

For Catholics this is an indication of Mary’s vow of perpetual virginity. It’s really quite simple. If Mary and Joseph were just an ordinary couple embarking on a normal married life together, there would be no reason to ask the question. Mary would have known very well how it could be that the angel was saying she would have a baby.

 

As St. Augustine said it:

Had she intended to know man, she would not have been amazed. Her amazement is a sign of the vow (Sermon 225, 2).

 

There was no such thing as engagement (as it is understood in modern Western culture) in ancient Israel. The text says Mary was “betrothed†or “espoused†(Gr.—emnesteumene), not engaged. Betrothal, in ancient Israel, would be akin to the ratification of a marriage (when a couple exchanges vows in the presence of an official witness of the Church) in Catholic theology. That ratified marriage is then consummated—in the normal course—on the couple’s wedding night. So when Luke 1:27 says Mary was betrothed, it means they were already married at the time of the annunciation. If this were an ordinary marriage, St. Joseph would then have had a husband’s right to the marriage bed—the consummation.

 

For those who are not convinced “betrothed†equals “married†for Mary and Joseph; fortunately, the Bible makes this quite clear. If we move forward in time from the “annunciation†of Luke 1 to Matthew 1 and St. Joseph’s discovery of Mary’s pregnancy, we find Matthew 1:18 clearly stating Mary and Joseph were still “betrothed.†Yet, when Joseph found out Mary was “with child,†he determined he would “send her away privately†(vs. 19). The Greek verb translated in the RSVCE to send away is apolusai, which means divorce. Why would Joseph have to divorce Mary if they were only engaged?  

 

Further, the angel then tells Joseph:

Do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit . . . When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took his wife (vss. 20-24).

Notice, Joseph took Mary “his wife,†indicating both St. Matthew and an archangel considered this couple married even though they were said to be “betrothed.†“Betrothed†is obviously much more than “engaged.â€

 

Moreover, months later we find Joseph and Mary travelling together to Bethlehem to be enrolled as a family according to the decree of Caesar Augustus, just before Jesus would be born. They were obviously married; yet, even then, they were still said to be “betrothed†(see Luke 2:5).

 

First, Joseph had already taken his espoused “wife†into his home and was caring for her. Second, Scripture reveals him to be her legal husband and to have travelled with Mary to be enrolled with her as a lawfully wedded couple and family. Third, she was called St. Joseph’s “wife†by the angel of the Lord… and yet, they were still referred to as betrothed.

Referring to Mary and Joseph as “engaged†in the face of all of this evidence would be like calling a modern couple at their wedding reception “engaged†because they have yet to consummate their marriage.

 

Once the fact that Mary and Joseph were already married at the time of the annunciation is understood, Mary’s “How shall this happen…†comes more into focus. Think about it: If you were a woman who had just been married (your marriage was “ratified,†but not consummated) and someone at your reception said—or “prophesiedâ€â€”that you were going to have a baby—that would not really be all that much of a surprise. That is the normal course of events. You marry, consummate the union, and babies come along. You certainly would not ask the question, “Gee, how is this going to happen?† It is in this context of Mary having been betrothed, then, that her question does not make sense… unless, of course, you understand she had a vow of virginity. Then, it makes perfect sense.

 

One final thought: When Mary asked the question, "How shall this happen, since I do not know man," the verb to be (Gr.-estai) is in thefuture tense. There is nothing here that would indicate she was thinking of the immediate. The future tense here most likely refers to… the future. The question was not how she could conceive immediately. The question was how she could conceive ever. The angel answered that question for her. 

 

St Augustine’s Commentary on perpetual virginity:

Saint Augustine famously interpreted the “closed gate†through which passed the “prince†in Ezek 44 as a type of Mary’s perpetual virginity. Mary is the closed city and the prince miraculously passed through the closed gate.

 

Here is the beautiful passage from Augustine describing from Scripture why Saint Joseph and Saint Mary did not consummate their marriage:

 

“This gate shall be shut, it shall not be opened, and no man shall pass through it. Because the Lord the God of Israel hath entered in by it†(Ezek 44:2).

 

What means this closed gate in the house of the Lord, except that Mary is to be ever inviolate? What does it mean that ‘no man shall pass through it,’ save that Joseph shall not know her? And what is this:

 

“The Lord alone enters in and goeth out by it,†except that the Holy Ghost shall impregnate her, and that the Lord of Angels shall be born of her?

 

And what means this – “It shall be shut for evermore,†but that Mary is a Virgin before His birth, a Virgin in His birth, and a Virgin after His birth.â€

 

Saint Augustine was one of history’s best Bible scholars and his interpretation of Ezekiel’s prophecy has been followed by the Catholic Church ever since.

 

I can provide more quotes from early church if it’s needed.

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Ark of the new covenant

I love the ark of the covenant argument to defend the sinlessness of the Blessed Virgin  Mary and it explains the assumption too.

 

Luke’s gospel tells us more about the mother of Jesus than any other book in the New testament. Most of this information is packed within his first two chapters, where Luke strings some of the most beautiful traditions we have about her life and mission.

 

Let’s talk about the ark of the covenant for a moment:

God was very specific about every exact detail of the ark (Ex 25-30). It was a place where God himself would dwell (Ex 25:8). God wanted his words—inscribed on stone—housed in a perfect container covered with pure gold within and without. How much more would he want his Word—Jesus—to have a perfect dwelling place! If the only begotten Son were to take up residence in the womb of a human girl, would he not make her flawless?

 

Luke weaves additional parallels into the story of Mary—types that could be overlooked if one is unfamiliar with the Old Testament. After Moses died, Joshua led the Israelites across the Jordan River into the Promised Land. Joshua established the Ark of the Covenant in Shiloh, where it stayed for more than 200 years. One day the Israelites were losing a battle with the Philistines, so they snatched the ark and rushed it to the front lines. The Philistines captured the ark, but it caused them great problems, so they sent it back to Israel (1 Sm 5:1-6:12).

 

David went out to retrieve the ark (1 Sm 6:1-2). After a man named Uzzah was struck dead when he touched the ark, David was afraid and said, "How can the ark of the Lord come to me?" He left the ark in the hill country of Judea for three months. We are also told that David danced and leapt in front of the ark and everyone shouted for joy. The house of Obed-edom, which had housed the ark, was blessed, and then David took the ark to Jerusalem (2 Sm 6:9-14).

 

 

 

Compare David and the ark to Luke’s account of the Visitation:

 

In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and she exclaimed with a loud cry, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord." (Lk 1:39-45)

 

•        Mary arose and went to the hill country of Judea. Mary and the ark were both on a journey to the same hill country of Judea.

•        When David saw the ark he rejoiced and said, "How can the ark of the Lord come to me?" Elizabeth uses almost the same words: "Why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" Luke is telling us something—drawing our minds back to the Old Testament, showing us a parallel.

•        When David approached the ark he shouted out and danced and leapt in front of the ark. He was wearing an ephod, the clothing of a priest. When Mary, the Ark of the New Covenant, approached Elizabeth, John the Baptist leapt in his mother’s womb—and John was from the priestly line of Aaron. Both leapt and danced in the presence of the ark. The Ark of the Old Covenant remained in the house of Obed-edom for three months, and Mary remained in the house of Elizabeth for three months (1 luke:56). The place that housed the ark for three months was blessed, and in the short paragraph in Luke, Elizabeth uses the word blessed three times. Her home was certainly blessed by the presence of the ark and the Lord within.

•        When the Old Testament ark arrived—as when Mary arrived—they were both greeted with shouts of joy. The word for the cry of Elizabeth’s greeting is a rare Greek word used in connection with Old Testament liturgical ceremonies that were centered around the ark and worship (cf. Word Biblical Commentary, 67). This word would flip on the light switch for any knowledgeable Jew.

 

Although the Greek verb translated as “exclaimed†seems ordinary enough, it is hardly ever used in the bible. In fact, it is found only here in the entire New Testament. It’s presence in the Greek Old Testament is likewise sparse, appearing only five times. Why is this important?

 

 

Because every time this expression is used in the Old Testament, it forms part of the stories surrounding the Ark of the Covenant. In particular, it refers to the melodic sounds made by the Levitical singers and musicians when they glorify the lord in song. It thus describes the “exulting†voice of instruments that were played before the Ark as David carried it in procession to Jerusalem ( 1 chron 15:28) ( 1 chron 16:4-5) and as Solomon transferred the ark to its final resting place in the temple ( 2 chron 5:13). Alluding to these episodes, Luke connects this same expression with the melodic cry of another Levitical descendant, the aged Elizabeth ( Lk 1:5). She too lifts up her voice in liturgical praise, not before the golden chest, but before Mary. Luke’s remarkable familiarity with these ancient stories enables him to select even a single word that will whisper to his readers that his young mother of the messiah is the ark of the new covenant.  

 

•        The ark returns to its home and ends up in Jerusalem, where God’s presence and glory is revealed in the temple (2 Sm 6:12; 1 Kgs 8:9-11). Mary returns home and eventually ends up in Jerusalem, where she presents God incarnate in the temple (Lk 1:56; 2:21-22).

 

It seems clear that Luke has used typology to reveal something about the place of Mary in salvation history. In the Ark of the Old Covenant, God came to his people with a spiritual presence, but in Mary, the Ark of the New Covenant, God comes to dwell with his people not only spiritually but physically, in the womb of a specially prepared Jewish girl.

 

The Old Testament tells us that one item was placed inside the Ark of the Old Covenant while in the Sinai wilderness: God told Moses to put the stone tablets with the Ten Commandments inside the ark (Dt 10:3-5). Hebrews 9:4 informs us that two additional items were placed in the Ark: "a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded." Notice the amazing parallels: In the ark was the law of God inscribed in stone; in Mary’s womb was the Word of God in flesh. In the ark was the urn of manna, the bread from heaven that kept God’s people alive in the wilderness; in Mary’s womb is the Bread of Life come down from heaven that brings eternal life. In the ark was the rod of Aaron, the proof of true priesthood; in Mary’s womb is the true priest.

 

While the apostle John was exiled on the island of Patmos, he wrote something that would have shocked any first-century Jew. The ark of the Old Covenant had been lost for centuries—no one had seen it for about 600 years. But in Revelation 11:19, John makes a surprising announcement: "Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple."

 

At this point chapter 11 ends and chapter 12 begins. But the Bible was not written with chapter divisions—they were added in the 12th century. When John penned these words, there was no division between chapters 11 and 12; it was a continuing narrative.

 

What did John say immediately after seeing the Ark of the Covenant in heaven? 

 

"And a great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; she was with child" (Rv 12:1-2). The woman is Mary, the Ark of the Covenant, revealed by God to John. She was seen bearing the child who would rule the world with a rod of iron (Rv 12:5). Mary was seen as the ark and as a queen.

 

The Bible begins with a real man (Adam), a real woman (Eve), and a real serpent (the devil)—and it also ends with a real man (Jesus, the Last Adam [1 Cor 15:45]), a real woman (Mary, the New Eve [Rv 11:19-12:2]), and a real serpent (the devil of old). All of this was foretold in Genesis 3:15.

Psalm 132:8

 

Arise, LORD, and come to your resting place, you and the ark of your might.

 

St Augustine:

Chapter 42 [XXXVI.]— The Blessed Virgin Mary May Have Lived Without Sin. None of the Saints Besides Her Without Sin

We must except the holy Virgin Mary, concerning whom I wish to raise no question when it touches the subject of sins, out of honour to the Lord; for from Him we know what abundance of grace for overcoming sin in every particular was conferred upon her who had the merit to conceive and bear Him who undoubtedly had no sin.

http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1503.htm

 

St. Thomas didn’t reject the fact that Mary had no sin all he said Mary was cleansed of original sin in the womb, rather than conceived without original sin. He still did affirm she was sinless.

https://www.ewtn.com/library/MARY/STTOMHMY.HTM

 

I believe this was the position of the popes and other church fathers.

 

Other quotes:

"He was the ark formed of incorruptible wood. For by this is signified that His tabernacle was exempt from putridity and corruption." Hippolytus, Orations Inillud, Dominus pascit me (ante A.D. 235).

 

"This Virgin Mother of the Only-begotten of God, is called Mary, worthy of God, immaculate of the immaculate, one of the one." Origen, Homily 1(A.D. 244).

 

 

 

I hope I've covered all the points. apologies if anyone is offended and let's keep the argument in here in good spirit  :)

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Vince, you are 1000x better at explaining stuff than I am lol. I can reply but it looks like People may be taking things personally.

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tl;dr (too long; didn't read) until someone gives me a simple answer on how Jesus had siblings.

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tl;dr (too long; didn't read) until someone gives me a simple answer on how Jesus had siblings.

 

I'm away from home right now with limited internet access, so I'll have to expand on stuff later - but saying that, Staying Pure's done an awesome job so far, so I'll just stick with clarifications and whatnot.

 

Aussie, other than the stuff SP's given, there isn't anything in the Bible that says Mary had other children. There are a couple of issues with the verses that talk about "Jesus's brothers/sisters." Firstly, the terms brother and sister were often used as general terms for extended family. The verses could refer to Jesus's cousins, for example.

 

Secondly, even if we are to accept these as literal brothers and sisters, nowhere in the Bible does the text say that Mary the mother of Jesus is also the mother of these people. They just say that they are Jesus's brothers and sisters. Although the Church teaches that Mary was a virgin her whole life, there is no such teaching about Joseph. The brothers and sisters referred to could be Joseph's children from a previous marriage, making them Jesus's step-siblings. This interpretation makes a lot of sense since it is generally believed that Joseph was much older than Mary. It was also common practice at the time for consecrated virgins (as it is often believed that Mary was) were married to older widowers, men who already had families of their own and no desire for another. This is another possibility.

 

Because we believe that the titles that the Catholic Church has given to Mary throughout the centuries have elevated her to the status of a goddess because many of them imply traits that only a deity would have. If you compare all of them, you can see each has a clear parallel to Jesus:
 
Mary is called "Queen of Heaven"  parallels Christ as "King of the Universe"
Mary was immaculately conceived parallels Christ's sinlessness
Mary was assumed bodily into heaven parallels Christ's ascension into heaven
Mary was a perpetual virgin parallels Christ's perpetual virginity
Mary is called "Mediatrix of All Graces" parallels Christ as Mediator between God and man
Mary is called "Co-redemptrix" parallels Christ as Redeemer of mankind
Mary is called "the New Eve" parallels Christ as "the New Adam"

 

The title of Mary as Queen of Heaven does indeed parallel Christ's as King of Heaven, and for good reason. That's how a royal family works. Look at King Solomon, for example, in the Bible. Who is his queen? It's not a wife, but rather his mother. This was how royal families worked. Kings often had several wives, so the title of queen was given to the woman who had brought the king into the world. In Britain, the mother of the monarch is still referred to as Queen Mother. If Christ is King, Mary is Queen. It does not detract from the King's ultimate authority, however. In the Bible, although people would honour the Queen, and would often ask her to petition the King on their behalf rather than go directly to him (praying to Mary, hint hint), it was still up to the King to grant the petition. The Queen could not do it without him. We also see this with Mary and Jesus, at the wedding at Cana. They want Jesus's help, but request that Mary petitions them on their behalf. Mary then has to receive permission from Jesus to grant their request.

 

One thing about the Immaculate Conception. SP's given some good answers already, but I'll add in another one I like that. Original Sin is a deadly disease. Even when it's cured with baptism, we still suffer some of its effects. If you had the chance to prevent your mother from having that disease, you'd do it. I don't see anything about the Immaculate Conception that makes Mary like a "goddess". It only shows how much she was loved by Jesus.

 

Mediatrix of all Graces - kind of states the obvious. It's through Jesus that we receive all grace, but it's through Mary that we have Jesus. I don't think pointing out that fact makes Mary sound like a goddess, since she's not the one who gives us grace. The only thing it reminds us of is where Mary fits into God's plan, and how generous He is in letting a human being co-operate with that plan. Same with Co-redemptrix.

 

And there's no reason why not to call Mary the New Eve. It's very obvious in Scripture that if Jesus is the New Adam, then she's the New Eve. There's nothing goddess-like about that, just stating fact.

 

As for Mary's perpetual virginity, it's not just something referred to in extra-Biblical sources. As SP said, there are many references to it throughout the Bible.

 

Actually, the Catholic Church doesn't say a marriage isn't valid until it's consummated. The marriage is completely valid, but not indissoluble until consummated. So Mary and Joseph's marriage was valid, just not indissoluble. 

 

As for St Paul, I can think of two things. One is that he's talking there about not denying sex in marriage in case the husband and wife are tempted by impurity. A marriage contracted by an elderly man and a young women who's consecrated herself to virginity? They're not going to be tempted by impurity. Paul's already said, it's good to remain unmarried unless you think you'll struggle with not having sex. Mary and Joseph aren't marrying because otherwise they'll struggle with impurity. The rule isn't going to apply here.

 

And secondly, we can assume that Paul is talking generally about marriage. Mary and Joseph's marriage is unique. Even in ordinarily a husband and wife will have sex, this is not an ordinary marriage. The ordinary rules do not necessarily apply.

 

I do have a video by Scott Hahn that I watched a few days ago, and although it's an hour long, I think it's very helpful!

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8HQy8XjM51I

 

xxx

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All I'm interested in adding is that it's not at all surprising that people see things differently. To a non-Catholic Christian or a non-Christian, the way Roman Catholics treat Mary (and the pope, in many ways) very clearly and very understandably comes across as treating them in a manner in which one would (and from a Protestant perspective, should) only treat a God. One could even look no further than this thread to find some great answers for why this is. In fact, there probably even are some Catholics who would agree that for non-Catholics and non-Christians it would fit their definition of worship and godly reverence.

 

That being said, I 100% of course expect a strict Roman Catholic to argue things differently. In accordance with the religion they have chosen, they essentially have to. And if one puts themselves into the system and perspective of a strict, conservative Catholic one can see why the answers would make sense to them.

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All I'm interested in adding is that it's not at all surprising that people see things differently. To a non-Catholic Christian or a non-Christian, the way Roman Catholics treat Mary (and the pope, in many ways) very clearly and very understandably comes across as treating them in a manner in which one would (and from a Protestant perspective, should) only treat a God. One could even look no further than this thread to find some great answers for why this is. In fact, there probably even are some Catholics who would agree that for non-Catholics and non-Christians it would fit their definition of worship and godly reverence.

 

See, this is what I don't understand. The very basic definition of "worship" is to recognise someone or something as God, or as a replacement for God. If Catholics believe that Mary is not God, just a human being, how can we possibly worship her? If someone said, "I don't believe that Christ is God, but I still worship Him," we'd see that's a logical contradiction. At the very foundation of worship is the recognition: "You are my God" or "I choose you over God." Without that, you don't have worship. All you could do is say, "I love you," or "I respect and honour you," or "I promise to obey you," and none of these expressions are of worship, or exclusive to God. We could easily say these things to our parents, for example. Give me a definition of "worshipping someone" that doesn't at the very least include putting them in God's place.

 

Honouring someone is not worship. Saying, "Mary deserves to be recognised as a great human being who greatly contributed to humanity" is not worship. We don't choose Mary over God. We worship God, but don't forget that Mary deserves respect even if she's not God.

 

I'm not an American, but I've seen the ways in which Americans honour the early Presidents and founding fathers of the US. You have songs about them. You recount their stories. You have monuments dedicated to them. You have buildings and institutions named after them. You have parties and parades in their honour. You have special days and holidays dedicated to celebrating them.

 

I have never looked at any of this and said, "Oh, they treat those men like gods," because you don't. You have God, but you also recognise that it's good to honour and celebrate worthy human beings, and that doing so doesn't take away from God and worship of Him. All those things listed above, Catholics do for Mary and for other saints like her. All the time, we know that she's not God, nor can she replace Him. How can people rightly honour people who did great things for their nation, but not rightly honour people who have done great things for humanity in general?

 

Once we clear up the misconception that Catholics think Mary's somehow a god or super-human, then we still have to honour her. I think the most important reason why Christians have to honour Mary is because it's what Jesus wants. She's His mum! He loves her! If we are to follow and imitate Christ in all things, why not in this, too? There's no way Jesus would say, "Oh, no, don't write songs about My mother, she's just a human being. Don't do things in her honour. Don't have special days celebrating her."

 

I think the opposite would be true: "Hey, everyone, this is My mum! Love her! She's the one who brought Me into the world, and gave birth to Me, and fed Me and clothed Me and taught Me and loved Me so much! She suffered so much pain when I was on the cross, so don't forget her!" Even if she's not God, that doesn't mean we should just ignore her.

 

I remember hearing a story that happened with Mother Teresa years ago. She was attending a Catholic festival where they had put on a parade and a party and whatnot celebrating Jesus. The organisers were planning to have a similar event the next day, this one celebrating Mary, and the planner went to the people in charge saying, "I've pulled a few strings, and I've managed to extend our budget. I think we'll be able to have just as big a parade as we did today, so we won't have to skimp on flowers and decorations and so on." And the people in charge were a little concerned, and said, "Well, we don't want to have as big a parade in honour of Mary as the one we had for Jesus. That'd be like saying she's equal to Christ. No, I think we'll have to go with the plan to have fewer flowers and decorations, make Mary's parade a bit more low-key." But the planner said, "Well, what does that look like to Christ? 'Oh, we're going to skimp on Your mother's parade, deliberately not make it as good as Yours?' We might as well just not have a parade in honour of Mary, if we're just trying to emphasise how important Jesus is compared to Mary."

 

They couldn't decide on what to do, so since Mother Teresa was there, they figured they'd ask her, see if she had an answer. And she just said, "Love her as Jesus loves her." After that, they knew exactly what to do. If Jesus had been there, He wouldn't have told them to skimp on the flowers. I imagine it would be, "More flowers! More flowers for My mum!" while He taps Mary on the shoulder, "Look, Mum, see all the flowers down there? They're all in your honour. The people all love you so much for what you did for Me."

 

Vince, you asked why Catholics go to all the trouble to develop understanding and doctrines about Mary if she's not God. Just because she's not God doesn't make her unimportant, or unworthy of our attention. God doesn't say, "I'm your only God, and therefore anyone who's not Me doesn't matter." Mary's the one through whom the Word became flesh and dwelt amongst us. She's the one who loved and protected the infant Jesus. She's the one who stood by Jesus as He suffered and died on the cross. She obeyed God perfectly in everything, a perfect role model. And to top it all, she's our mother too. Christ gave her to us.

 

We don't have to worry about loving or honouring Mary "too much." We could never love her as much as Christ loves her, or as much as He wants us to love her. Besides, the whole reason we honour her is because we love Jesus. You can't love or honour Mary if you don't love Christ, because the whole reason she's honoured is because she brought Jesus into the world, and obeyed and followed Him as she did. Without that, there's no reason to honour her.

 

xxx

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Sola Scriptura does not mean it's the only source of truth, nor does it deny that biblical content was originally in oral form. What we argue is that it's the only reliable and infallible rule of faith for salvation. It does not deny that creeds or councils or even tradition are authoritative, it just means that all those things must submit to Scripture and must not contradict it. While it is true that the Bible doesn't explicitly say it's the only infallible source, Jesus and the Apostles frequently appealed to Scripture in their teachings and Jesus often spoke against tradition. Now one may argue that the tradition He was only speaking against was the traditions of man and not the tradition that 2 Thess. 2:15 is speaking of. Well if one is to argue that the Tradition that Paul is speaking of consists of infallible teachings not in Scripture, then the burden of proof is on them. Which I do not believe it can be proved.

 

Why do I say this and how does all this relate to the topic at hand? Well all Christians agree that the Bible is infallible, but there was lots of disagreements in church history over alleged oral teachings apart from Scripture or even over what Tradition actually means. But lets assume that it means oral teachings not in Scripture. In the case of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, a whole slew of great theologians, saints and popes denied the Immaculate Conception. Among them was Augustine of Hippo, Thomas Aquinas, St. Bernard, Clement of Alexandria, Pope Gallatus, Pope Leo I, Pope Gregory I and Pope Innocent III. So it's a little difficult to rely on Tradition as a reliable source of revelation if there is vast disagreements over what the content entails. As far as I'm concerned, the oral tradition and the written tradition is the exact same thing in content.

 

In addition, Luke 1:28 is often used to support the Immaculate conception when the angel said Mary was "full of grace" and was therefore preserved from Original and personal sin. We also see that phrase attributing to Jesus in John 1:14 in that He was "full of grace and truth." Except when you read onto verse 16 it says, "Out of his fullness, we have received grace in place of grace already given." Grace simply means "unmerited favor" which Jesus bestowed on all mankind. So even though it is possible that God can preserve someone of Original Sin, it is not taught in the Bible that Mary was specifically preserved. Also, if one is to say "full of grace" means Immaculate Conception, then Stephen the first martyr in Acts 6:8 would be such as well since he was said to be full of grace. 

 

Reading further into Luke 2: 41-49, we see that Mary had faults and indeed had sinned. First, she lost track of where Jesus was which is a sign of irresponsibility as a parent. Then in verse 48, Mary said, "Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you?" To complain to God and to question Him is a sin and a sign of a lack of faith which is not unlike the apostles.

 

In regards to the Assumption of Mary, I admit that is the one Marian doctrine that I have the least issue with. You are correct that Enoch and Elijah was assumed into heaven so it's not impossible Mary was too. My issue is that the Catholic Church requires belief in that doctrine for salvation as Pius XII threatened mortal sin on anyone who denies it. First off, Jesus says He is the only way to salvation. Secondly, if the Assumption of Mary is as vital to Christian belief as the Catholic Church makes it out to be, then I think the Apostle John would have recorded it in one of his books since he was the one Jesus entrusted to take care of Mary after His death. Also, the Church Father Ephiphanius in 377 AD wrote that no one knew Mary's fate and no one in the early church mentioned the Assumption. In fact, Pope Gelasius condemned the doctrine as heretical in the 4th century and was later reaffirmed by Pope Hormisdas in the 6th century. Kind of ironic that eventually became a dogma and it took the Church almost 2000 years to defined it. I'm not saying it didn't happen because it might have. But I don't think it was likely and I definitely don't think it's wrong to deny it.

 

 

Because we believe that the titles that the Catholic Church has given to Mary throughout the centuries have elevated her to the status of a goddess because many of them imply traits that only a deity would have. If you compare all of them, you can see each has a clear parallel to Jesus:

 

Mary is called "Queen of Heaven"  parallels Christ as "King of the Universe"

Mary was immaculately conceived parallels Christ's sinlessness

Mary was assumed bodily into heaven parallels Christ's ascension into heaven

Mary was a perpetual virgin parallels Christ's perpetual virginity

Mary is called "Mediatrix of All Graces" parallels Christ as Mediator between God and man

Mary is called "Co-redemptrix" parallels Christ as Redeemer of mankind

Mary is called "the New Eve" parallels Christ as "the New Adam"

 

The Catholic Church officially teaches that Mary neither adds nor subtracts from the merits to Christ. If that's true, why go through all the trouble to develop all these doctrines about Mary? It seems to me that they are required to believed salvation in Catholic theology otherwise we would not be threatened with mortal sin if we didn't. All these doctrines are a distraction for Christ as best. At it's worst, it's hard to believe that she can be seen as anything but a goddess.

 

 

If we read the full text of 1 Corith. 7 regarding marital duties, it says,

 

"Now for the matters you wrote about: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.†But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband. The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time,so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. I say this as a concession, not as a command. I wish that all of you were as I am. But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that."

 

It is clear that Paul is commanding married couples to have sexual relations both as a marital duty and to guard each other from sexual immorality. While he does give permission to be abstinent for a time, a couple is to come together again so a sex free marriage cannot be for all time. So if the CC claims Mary is Immaculately Conceived, then she can't possibly be a perpetual virgin because she would have neglected her marital duty to Joseph (and vice versa) and therefore would have sinned. I'm also confused as to why the Catholic Church believes in this doctrine if it teaches that a marriage isn't valid unless it's consummated.

 

The idea of Mary's perpetual virginity was first found in an 2nd century work called the Gospel of James, which Catholics and Protestants agree was an apocryphal book. The document claims Mary took a life long vow of celibacy. However, there were all sorts of things in it that contradicted the Bible. Among them was the claim that Jesus was born in a cave outside of Bethleham and it says Mary and Joseph hide Jesus in Jerusalem to escape Herod when the Bible says they fled to Egypt. We should not be making doctrine from any source that isn't inspired by God.

 

I may talk about the other things that was said about prayer to saints, priestly celibacy etc. later. But I think I've said enough for now and my fingers are getting tired. :P

 

I do want to end by saying that while I do believe Catholics over emphasis Mary in their theology, I think Protestants don't emphasize her enough. It could be simply out of reaction to Catholicism's seemingly obsession with her. But i do think that Mary is the greatest woman to have ever lived and was given a high honor for birthing Jesus and she should be honored for that. At the very least, she provides a great example for girls since she was humble, brave, loving and submissive to God's will.

 

I hope you don't take offense to any of this, Jegs. This is just friendly discussion is all :)

I like the clam tone of this discussion :)

Yes what your describing is sola scriptura and not solo scriptura , but no where in the bible does it say that scrioture is the ultimate authority in the Christian faith. Granted we both believe that scripture is God inspired , there are a few problems with believing that scripture is the ultimate authority here.

1. The bible never says this. In fact when Paul is preaching to the Corinthians he told them to hold fast the teachings that he has passed down to them whether by written form or orally. This tells us that Paul gave importance to both scripture and sacred tradition .

2. You cannot establish through scripture as your ultimate authority which books belonged in the bible as we needed an authority outside scriptures themselves to determine which books belonged and which didn't belong in the bible. As late as the 4th century the African church personally didn't believe that the book of Hebrews was God inspired scripture. Did the bible determine it was or was it an authority outside of the bible that did.

3.While Jesus himself taught us the importance of scripture , he also taught us the importance of sacred scripture when he implored the Jews to follow the preachings of the Pharisees but not to act as they do. He taught that the Pharisees had the authority to preach from the chair of Moses as it gave them authority to interpret scripture infallibly. No where is the chair of Moses written about in the Old Testament but it was a well known sacred tradition that everyone knew about. Christ knew it as well.

Universalist and pluralists as well as docetists and Arianists had and have access to the same scriptures as we so yet they interpreted them way differently then we do. The docetists were immediately called heretics by the apostolic fathers (the students of the apostles), not because they didn't follow scripture but because they didn't interpret it the way the students of the apostles were taught the word both orally and in written word.

Ignatius of Antioch (a student of John the apostle, who was ordained by the apostles to part of the next group of church leaders) called the docetists heretics , not because they didn't follow scripture , but because they didn't follow scripture in context of the oral tradition teaching also passed down to them.

Not one of the early Christians challenged him when he did this, which is a pretty good indicator that sacred tradition was just as important as the written word here.

The docetists were a group in the 2nd century that believed that Christ never really had a physical body . That it was an illusion to his only true spiritual form, and since they believed he never had a physical body he never really died on the cross for our sins.

They had the same scriptures as the apostolic fathers (students of the apostles) but didn't have the direct oral,teachings that the apostolic fathers must have had since they were students of the apostles.

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See, this is what I don't understand. The very basic definition of "worship" is to recognise someone or something as God, or as a replacement for God. If Catholics believe that Mary is not God, just a human being, how can we possibly worship her? If someone said, "I don't believe that Christ is God, but I still worship Him," we'd see that's a logical contradiction. At the very foundation of worship is the recognition: "You are my God" or "I choose you over God." Without that, you don't have worship. All you could do is say, "I love you," or "I respect and honour you," or "I promise to obey you," and none of these expressions are of worship, or exclusive to God. We could easily say these things to our parents, for example. Give me a definition of "worshipping someone" that doesn't at the very least include putting them in God's place.

 

Honouring someone is not worship. Saying, "Mary deserves to be recognised as a great human being who greatly contributed to humanity" is not worship. We don't choose Mary over God. We worship God, but don't forget that Mary deserves respect even if she's not God.

 

I'm not an American, but I've seen the ways in which Americans honour the early Presidents and founding fathers of the US. You have songs about them. You recount their stories. You have monuments dedicated to them. You have buildings and institutions named after them. You have parties and parades in their honour. You have special days and holidays dedicated to celebrating them.

 

I have never looked at any of this and said, "Oh, they treat those men like gods," because you don't. You have God, but you also recognise that it's good to honour and celebrate worthy human beings, and that doing so doesn't take away from God and worship of Him. All those things listed above, Catholics do for Mary and for other saints like her. All the time, we know that she's not God, nor can she replace Him. How can people rightly honour people who did great things for their nation, but not rightly honour people who have done great things for humanity in general?

 

Once we clear up the misconception that Catholics think Mary's somehow a god or super-human, then we still have to honour her. I think the most important reason why Christians have to honour Mary is because it's what Jesus wants. She's His mum! He loves her! If we are to follow and imitate Christ in all things, why not in this, too? There's no way Jesus would say, "Oh, no, don't write songs about My mother, she's just a human being. Don't do things in her honour. Don't have special days celebrating her."

 

I think the opposite would be true: "Hey, everyone, this is My mum! Love her! She's the one who brought Me into the world, and gave birth to Me, and fed Me and clothed Me and taught Me and loved Me so much! She suffered so much pain when I was on the cross, so don't forget her!" Even if she's not God, that doesn't mean we should just ignore her.

 

I remember hearing a story that happened with Mother Teresa years ago. She was attending a Catholic festival where they had put on a parade and a party and whatnot celebrating Jesus. The organisers were planning to have a similar event the next day, this one celebrating Mary, and the planner went to the people in charge saying, "I've pulled a few strings, and I've managed to extend our budget. I think we'll be able to have just as big a parade as we did today, so we won't have to skimp on flowers and decorations and so on." And the people in charge were a little concerned, and said, "Well, we don't want to have as big a parade in honour of Mary as the one we had for Jesus. That'd be like saying she's equal to Christ. No, I think we'll have to go with the plan to have fewer flowers and decorations, make Mary's parade a bit more low-key." But the planner said, "Well, what does that look like to Christ? 'Oh, we're going to skimp on Your mother's parade, deliberately not make it as good as Yours?' We might as well just not have a parade in honour of Mary, if we're just trying to emphasise how important Jesus is compared to Mary."

 

They couldn't decide on what to do, so since Mother Teresa was there, they figured they'd ask her, see if she had an answer. And she just said, "Love her as Jesus loves her." After that, they knew exactly what to do. If Jesus had been there, He wouldn't have told them to skimp on the flowers. I imagine it would be, "More flowers! More flowers for My mum!" while He taps Mary on the shoulder, "Look, Mum, see all the flowers down there? They're all in your honour. The people all love you so much for what you did for Me."

 

Vince, you asked why Catholics go to all the trouble to develop understanding and doctrines about Mary if she's not God. Just because she's not God doesn't make her unimportant, or unworthy of our attention. God doesn't say, "I'm your only God, and therefore anyone who's not Me doesn't matter." Mary's the one through whom the Word became flesh and dwelt amongst us. She's the one who loved and protected the infant Jesus. She's the one who stood by Jesus as He suffered and died on the cross. She obeyed God perfectly in everything, a perfect role model. And to top it all, she's our mother too. Christ gave her to us.

 

We don't have to worry about loving or honouring Mary "too much." We could never love her as much as Christ loves her, or as much as He wants us to love her. Besides, the whole reason we honour her is because we love Jesus. You can't love or honour Mary if you don't love Christ, because the whole reason she's honoured is because she brought Jesus into the world, and obeyed and followed Him as she did. Without that, there's no reason to honour her.

 

xxx

Mother Teresa is one of my heroes as she went through the dark night of the soul (I did also), so I constantly ask her to pray for me during my own prayers for others :)

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Not sure if These questions were asked but.....

1. Why pray to Mary if you can just go straight to Jesus?

2. Why use a rosary? Isn't it considered an idol?

3. Why make confession to a priest when you can get on your knees and ask God to forgive you?

4. Why light a candle before prying?

5. Why kneel/bow to the figurine that's supposed to be Jesus on the cross?

6. Why pray to so many people..... st.paul, st. Peter, st. Jude, st. Michael, and the rest when you can just pray to Jesus/God?

I know so many questions... I have more but these are the main for now.

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Not sure if These questions were asked but.....

1. Why pray to Mary if you can just go straight to Jesus?

2. Why use a rosary? Isn't it considered an idol?

3. Why make confession to a priest when you can get on your knees and ask God to forgive you?

4. Why light a candle before prying?

5. Why kneel/bow to the figurine that's supposed to be Jesus on the cross?

6. Why pray to so many people..... st.paul, st. Peter, st. Jude, st. Michael, and the rest when you can just pray to Jesus/God?

I know so many questions... I have more but these are the main for now.

 

Okay, I'll take these one or two at a time. The first and sixth are kind of the same: why pray to anyone else if you can just go straight to Jesus? One thing to remember is that it's not an either/or, praying to the saints or praying to God. It's a both/and. Catholics do pray straight to God a lot of the time. We say the Our Father together at every Mass, and we have many other set prayers addressed specifically to God, for example, the Glory Be, the Gloria, "Come Holy Spirit...", the Fatima prayer ("Oh my Jesus, forgive us our sins..."), and so on.

 

So we pray directly to God a lot of the time. But we also recognise, as non-Catholic Christians do too, that God wants us to pray for each other. For example, we often ask friends and family members to pray for us to God, on our behalf. The reason God wants us to pray for each other is because we're a family, and praying for each other strengthens that connection. Catholics also remember that those who die in Christ are raised in Him, too. People who have gone before us and are now in Heaven are not dead, but are more alive than those on earth, since they are now with God Himself. Right from the beginning, Christians have always prayed to the saints asking for their intercession.

 

We find references in Scripture to the saints in Heaven praying for those on earth, in Revelations 5:8, for example. Early Christians also refer to praying to saints. Clement of Jerusalem in 350 AD refers to this in his Catechetical Lectures: "Then [during the Eucharistic prayer] we make mention also of those who have already fallen asleep: first, the patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and martyrs, that through their prayers and supplications God would receive our petition..." And there are some lovely quotations that have been found on graves also dating to about 300 AD, which I really like: "Atticus, sleep in peace, secure in your safety, and pray anxiously for our sins" and "Pray for your parents, Matronata Matrona. She lived one year, fifty-two days"

 

Questions two, four and five are fairly similar, too. Catholics use symbols in prayer, like candles and Rosary beads, because they're outward symbols of an internal reality. Humans aren't like angels, purely spiritual. We're body and soul, so we never want to limit ourselves to just praying and worshipping in "spiritual" ways without using the physical. God gave us our bodies, so we give them back to Him by trying to involve the physical in our prayers. We can and do sometimes pray the Rosary without any Rosary beads - you don't think, "Oh, no, I forgot the beads, and now I can't pray!" But the beads do help, as does taking the correct physical posture, kneeling, in a quiet place, etc. Imagine if we were to pray slouched back, with our phones in our hands, and with the TV blaring in the background. It wouldn't be nearly as easy to pray, and it would seem obviously insulting to God, because even if we're praying in our souls, our bodies are saying something different.

 

Rosary beads order the body towards prayer, and therefore help the soul to order itself. You engage your senses by praying aloud, using your sense of touch to keep track of your prayers as you meditate, and so on. Candles are similar. Flames and fire are symbolic of God and His grace, for example, the burning bush to Moses, and the fire of the Holy Spirit. Smoke travels up, symbolising prayer rising to God. They're also beautiful, and it's wonderful to see a church full of candles knowing that every single one represents someone's prayer, and as long as that candle remains burning, it's a reminder of that prayer. Again, candles don't make a prayer more powerful just as Rosary beads don't in and of themselves do anything for prayer. But they're physical signs that help order us to prayer.

 

Figurines like statues and crucifixes are similar. They're not necessary, but we're physical creatures, and visual aids do help to order us to prayer. As for kneeling and bowing, it's sometimes misinterpreted as being "worship" of statues, but it's nothing like that. We're not under any illusions that the statues are Jesus, but we recognise that it's a symbol of Him. All Christians, even non-Catholics, will show reverence to things that are symbols of God. For example, we'll kiss Bibles, not because we think that the physical book and its pages are a god or have any power, but rather as an outward manifestation of the love we have for the Scriptures. We take a lot of time and effort to set up a Nativity scene, and get everything looking "right", not because the statues are actually special but because what they represent is special. Little kids especially love looking at the Baby Jesus statues, and they instinctively want to pick it up and kiss it. Again, they're not under any illusion that the statue is Jesus, but kissing and hugging the statue is their way of expressing their love for the real Baby Jesus. Bowing to a statue of Christ, for example, is a way of representing your service to the real Christ.

 

The third question was about confession to a priest versus confession to God. Again, it's not an either/or, but a both/and. Catholics do ask God for forgiveness directly, too, and we have many prayers which reflect this. Less serious sins don't require confession to a priest, although it's encouraged. However, we also recognise that Christ established a priesthood, and gave His priests the ability to forgive sins. We see this happening in the Old Testament, with people going to the Levitical priests (Leviticus 19:20-22), and Christ didn't abolish this in the New Testament. We see Him giving His apostles the power to forgive sins in the New Testament in John 20:21-23. I've heard people trying to argue that that power was only given to the apostles, and not to their successors, but that seems very implausible. What would be the point in giving the power to forgive sins to the apostles if we were ordinarily supposed to just confess to God directly? Would the apostles teach people, "Well, ordinarily, just confess straight to God, but while I'm here, tell me all your sins and I'll absolve you of them"? There's no other purpose for the apostles to have that ability. It's not like the ability to heal people, which would be a way for them to prove to people they were sent by God - you can't see someone's sins being forgiven. Rather, it's a power given not just to the apostles but to their successors.

 

It makes sense, since the new priesthood is supposed to be more powerful than the Levitical priesthood. Confessing your sins to a priest has a lot of practical benefits. Unlike confessing just to God, you have the assurance of someone telling you that your sins are forgiven - you don't have to worry, "Is God really going to forgive me?" We also can't minimise our sins: "Oh, what I did isn't so bad, God," because someone else is there to give an objective opinion. The priest will also give you a penance, some sort of act to begin atoning for your sin. If you have a problem, perhaps a recurrent problem with a particular sin, then the priest can give advice. I also find it's a great lesson in humility. It's easy to confess your sins aloud to God in the privacy of your room; it's humbling to do so through another human being, even if you know they can't tell anyone what you tell them.

 

And the biggest reason is because it's a sacrament. God uses physical means to convey His grace to us, and confession is one way of receiving that grace. With frequent confession, you'll be strengthened, and hopefully find it easier to stay away from sin.

 

Anyway, hope all that is helpful!

 

xxx

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However, what your friend is doing (sex outside of marriage, taking drugs, for example), are definitely not venial sins. These are what's known as "mortal" sins. If you commit a mortal sin, knowing full well how serious the sin is and choose to do it anyway, then you effectively turn away from God. Mortal sins are so serious that they can only be forgiven through the sacrament of reconciliation (confession). Providing that your friend knows that she's committing mortal sins and chooses to do them anyway, her soul's in serious danger. She needs to go to confession as soon as she can.

 

I have a question about this. So, in my case, I am not Catholic. I am aware that the Catholic church exists, and I am aware that some behaviors are considered mortal sins in that belief system. But I don't know that they *are actually* mortal sins, because I see no evidence to support that belief. I'm certainly not consciously turning away from any God by doing what I do -- I just don't see a God at all, if that makes sense. If I were given evidence that Catholicism is the truth, then of course I would convert. But I've never found anything that has persuaded me, so of course I have not converted. Am I considered someone who knows that I am committing a mortal sin when I engage in certain behaviors, or am I considered one of the unknowing people who is going to be judged after death on the basis of whether I would've converted to Catholicism upon discovering the truth as you see it? 

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I have a question about this. So, in my case, I am not Catholic. I am aware that the Catholic church exists, and I am aware that some behaviors are considered mortal sins in that belief system. But I don't know that they *are actually* mortal sins, because I see no evidence to support that belief. I'm certainly not consciously turning away from any God by doing what I do -- I just don't see a God at all, if that makes sense. If I were given evidence that Catholicism is the truth, then of course I would convert. But I've never found anything that has persuaded me, so of course I have not converted. Am I considered someone who knows that I am committing a mortal sin when I engage in certain behaviors, or am I considered one of the unknowing people who is going to be judged after death on the basis of whether I would've converted to Catholicism upon discovering the truth as you see it? 

 

You're asking whether you're "considered" by the Church to be in one group or the other. The answer is, the Church can't say with any certainty what group someone is in - whether they have sufficient knowledge to commit a particular mortal sin or not. That's really something only God could say for sure. I certainly couldn't say whether you have sufficient knowledge or not.

 

It's even more complicated than that, because you're not just going by, "I don't believe in Catholicism, therefore I don't believe the things the Church considers mortal sins to be sins." For example, something like murder, you don't have to believe in Catholicism to know it's wrong. Other sins might be less obvious than that, but you'll still have some knowledge that they could be wrong.

 

The main thing to remember is that God doesn't judge us for what we can't know. As long as you're being completely honest with yourself, and you're searching for the truth, you should be fine. In my opinion, at least, it doesn't sound like you'd be committing a mortal sin. You didn't give any examples of things the Church considers sins that you don't agree with, but I'm assuming you're not talking about things like stealing or adultery and so on...

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Yeah, I'm not talking about things like stealing and murder! I'm going off of this list I found on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mortal_sin#Mortal_sins

 

Things like atheism, not going to mass, fornication, and masturbation are all listed, even though those seem like pretty harmless activities to me. That's the kind of mortal sin I was talking about.

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Yeah, I'm not talking about things like stealing and murder! I'm going off of this list I found on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mortal_sin#Mortal_sins

 

Things like atheism, not going to mass, fornication, and masturbation are all listed, even though those seem like pretty harmless activities to me. That's the kind of mortal sin I was talking about.

 

For atheism, we're talking about people who are wilfully shutting out God from their lives, or who don't honestly try to answer the questions they have about religion and God, for example. Someone who'd be open to believing in God, is honestly searching for the truth and simply hasn't found the evidence yet isn't really what we're referring to when we say atheism is a mortal sin. There are a lot of factors at play: the perception of theism given in the media, or the behaviour of religious people, for example. Saying that, I think it's possible to know God exists through reason alone. But remember that for something to be a mortal sin, you have to commit it with full knowledge and full consent, and that's not always so clear. 

 

Technically, missing Mass is a mortal sin, too, but if you're not Catholic, then you're almost certainly not going to have full knowledge of that fact. So again, God is not going to hold against someone something they couldn't possibly know.

 

The other two, fornication and masturbation, I think are more complicated. Remember what I said about the Natural Law. There are certain sins which can be known to be wrong through reason alone. I gave murder, adultery and stealing as examples, but I'd argue that you can use reason alone to find out about things like sexual sins. Here are some links I think might be useful:

 

http://oce.catholic.com/index.php?title=Natural_Law

^This is from the Catholic Encyclopaedia - it's long, but it's not a bad overview.

 

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/aquinas/summa.XP_Q65_A3.html

^This is from Aquinas' Summa Theologica. It's Aquinas' teachings that form the basis for Catholic theology on the subject. For something written in 1265, it's actually a very well presented argument, I think. (Just to clarify, Aquinas begins, as he always does, by setting forth the objections to his argument, then goes on to rebut them.)

 

http://www.catholic.com/blog/matt-fradd/c-s-lewis-on-lust-women-and-masturbation

^CS Lewis. I think he was one of the best Christian writers we've ever had. I highly recommend "Mere Christianity"!

 

xxx

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For atheism, we're talking about people who are wilfully shutting out God from their lives, or who don't honestly try to answer the questions they have about religion and God, for example. Someone who'd be open to believing in God, is honestly searching for the truth and simply hasn't found the evidence yet isn't really what we're referring to when we say atheism is a mortal sin. There are a lot of factors at play: the perception of theism given in the media, or the behaviour of religious people, for example. Saying that, I think it's possible to know God exists through reason alone. But remember that for something to be a mortal sin, you have to commit it with full knowledge and full consent, and that's not always so clear. 

 

Technically, missing Mass is a mortal sin, too, but if you're not Catholic, then you're almost certainly not going to have full knowledge of that fact. So again, God is not going to hold against someone something they couldn't possibly know.

 

Thanks, your explanation made things much more clear. I will take a look at the articles you linked when I have a bit more time to really read them.  :)

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Hi Jegsy! I have 2 questions.

1. Does the Catholic Church have any views on reality? And the possibility of aliens or other worlds/dimensions, or maybe something like The Matrix?

2. Does the Catholic Church think it is possible that everyone eventually goes to heaven?

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Hi Jegsy! I have 2 questions.

1. Does the Catholic Church have any views on reality? And the possibility of aliens or other worlds/dimensions, or maybe something like The Matrix?

 

 

lol! I like that question!

 

Okay, to the Matrix one, no, the Church wouldn't agree that reality is an illusion. Some religions teach that kind of idea, but Christians have always believed that this world is very real indeed. As for whether we're in a real world, but some mad scientist has kidnapped us and plugged us into an alternate reality device...Yeah, I've never really understood the concept and why it would matter. Since I couldn't prove that it had happened, there doesn't seem much point in worrying! lol! But no, the Church doesn't believe in the Matrix...

 

Ooh, aliens! Actually, the Church is open on this one. We don't know whether aliens exist or not. Since God created the whole universe, it's not unthinkable that He created other creatures besides us. So Catholics can believe either way. Personally, I'm undecided about the whole thing, but it's fun to think about! Ditto with alternate worlds/dimensions/universes - we can speculate whether we exist in the only universe, or in a multiverse, or whatever, but it all would come back to God as the creator.

 

 

2. Does the Catholic Church think it is possible that everyone eventually goes to heaven?

 

The only people we know for sure are in Hell are the Devil and the other fallen angels. But we can't say for sure that any human person is in Hell - even those like Hitler and Osama bin Laden - because we don't have any knowledge of what state they were in when they died, and whether or not they rejected God. Only God could know something like that. That's why Christians are not to judge whether someone is saved or not. It's not our place. All we can do is pray for them, and hope that they did repent before death, or that for one reason or another they weren't culpable for their sins, because Hell isn't something to be wished on our worst enemies.

 

Because we can't say for sure whether any particular (human) person is in Hell or not, you get people who will argue, "Oh, well maybe everyone's saved," and they'll argue something like, "God is a loving God, and He would never send someone to Hell." Which is true. The problem is, God doesn't send people to Hell. Hell is a fate which is freely chosen, when a person chooses to turn away from God. In its most basic essence, Hell is just that state of separation from God. I think some people have trouble with this concept, because they think of Hell as some sort of "additional" punishment. For example, if someone kills their parents, they are additionally punished by being sent to jail. But Hell is not that kind of punishment, but rather, it's a natural consequence of our actions. For example, if someone kills their parents, the natural cause of that is they become orphans - it's not some "extra" punishment. Same with Hell - if we reject God in this life, then we're separated from Him in the next.

 

So do people actually go to Hell or not? It seems very obvious just by reading the Bible that it's a real possibility, and we should be concerned about it. Those who argue, "Maybe no one is in Hell" seem to do it to present some kind of nicey-nice-don't-worry-be-happy-everyone-hold-hands-and-sing-Kumbaya-my-Lord view of religion. Which is utter nonsense! I did a quick check on Wikipedia for the Parables of Jesus, and they've given a list of 37 of them. I counted at least eight of them that were directly about Hell, and several others that at least referred to judgement and punishment. In the eight parables where Hell is directly mentioned, it's not discussed as a "don't worry about Hell" kind of thing. For example:

 

The parable of drawing in the net (Matthew 13:47-52): "The angels will come forth, and separate the wicked from among the righteous, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth."

 

The parable of the great banquet (Matthew 22:1-14): "Then the king said to the servants, 'Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and throw him into the outer darkness; there is where the weeping and grinding of teeth will be.' For many are called, but few chosen."

 

The parable of the sheep and the goats (Matthew 25:31-46): "Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels [...] These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."

 

In all of these, Jesus doesn't say, "The angels might come forth and separate the good from the wicked" or "There may be grinding and gnashing of teeth" or "They may go away into eternal punishment." It sounds pretty absolute - these things will happen. Therefore, I think that although we can't say for sure who's going to Hell, and we're not to judge that for ourselves, it would seem incredible if Jesus had warned about Hell if no one was going there!

 

xxx

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lol! I like that question!

 

Okay, to the Matrix one, no, the Church wouldn't agree that reality is an illusion. Some religions teach that kind of idea, but Christians have always believed that this world is very real indeed. As for whether we're in a real world, but some mad scientist has kidnapped us and plugged us into an alternate reality device...Yeah, I've never really understood the concept and why it would matter. Since I couldn't prove that it had happened, there doesn't seem much point in worrying! lol! But no, the Church doesn't believe in the Matrix...

 

Ooh, aliens! Actually, the Church is open on this one. We don't know whether aliens exist or not. Since God created the whole universe, it's not unthinkable that He created other creatures besides us. So Catholics can believe either way. Personally, I'm undecided about the whole thing, but it's fun to think about! Ditto with alternate worlds/dimensions/universes - we can speculate whether we exist in the only universe, or in a multiverse, or whatever, but it all would come back to God as the creator.

 

 

 

The only people we know for sure are in Hell are the Devil and the other fallen angels. But we can't say for sure that any human person is in Hell - even those like Hitler and Osama bin Laden - because we don't have any knowledge of what state they were in when they died, and whether or not they rejected God. Only God could know something like that. That's why Christians are not to judge whether someone is saved or not. It's not our place. All we can do is pray for them, and hope that they did repent before death, or that for one reason or another they weren't culpable for their sins, because Hell isn't something to be wished on our worst enemies.

 

Because we can't say for sure whether any particular (human) person is in Hell or not, you get people who will argue, "Oh, well maybe everyone's saved," and they'll argue something like, "God is a loving God, and He would never send someone to Hell." Which is true. The problem is, God doesn't send people to Hell. Hell is a fate which is freely chosen, when a person chooses to turn away from God. In its most basic essence, Hell is just that state of separation from God. I think some people have trouble with this concept, because they think of Hell as some sort of "additional" punishment. For example, if someone kills their parents, they are additionally punished by being sent to jail. But Hell is not that kind of punishment, but rather, it's a natural consequence of our actions. For example, if someone kills their parents, the natural cause of that is they become orphans - it's not some "extra" punishment. Same with Hell - if we reject God in this life, then we're separated from Him in the next.

 

So do people actually go to Hell or not? It seems very obvious just by reading the Bible that it's a real possibility, and we should be concerned about it. Those who argue, "Maybe no one is in Hell" seem to do it to present some kind of nicey-nice-don't-worry-be-happy-everyone-hold-hands-and-sing-Kumbaya-my-Lord view of religion. Which is utter nonsense! I did a quick check on Wikipedia for the Parables of Jesus, and they've given a list of 37 of them. I counted at least eight of them that were directly about Hell, and several others that at least referred to judgement and punishment. In the eight parables where Hell is directly mentioned, it's not discussed as a "don't worry about Hell" kind of thing. For example:

 

The parable of drawing in the net (Matthew 13:47-52): "The angels will come forth, and separate the wicked from among the righteous, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth."

 

The parable of the great banquet (Matthew 22:1-14): "Then the king said to the servants, 'Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and throw him into the outer darkness; there is where the weeping and grinding of teeth will be.' For many are called, but few chosen."

 

The parable of the sheep and the goats (Matthew 25:31-46): "Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels [...] These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."

 

In all of these, Jesus doesn't say, "The angels might come forth and separate the good from the wicked" or "There may be grinding and gnashing of teeth" or "They may go away into eternal punishment." It sounds pretty absolute - these things will happen. Therefore, I think that although we can't say for sure who's going to Hell, and we're not to judge that for ourselves, it would seem incredible if Jesus had warned about Hell if no one was going there!

 

xxx

Wow, really thorough answers :) thanks. How do you keep all this in your mind? xD I kinda paraphrase things from the Bible when I mention them.

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Wow, really thorough answers :) thanks. How do you keep all this in your mind? xD I kinda paraphrase things from the Bible when I mention them.

 

Honestly? I listen to/read a lot of apologetics material, and try to memorise all the information and Bible passages. Then when I have to actually answer a question, I cheat, and look the answer up to see what someone else has said, and copy-paste the Bible passages that I couldn't remember. :P

 

Seriously, I can't remember Bible passages, or at least, not the actual chapter/verses (and sometimes, not even the book). But if I can just remember the argument and answers themselves, I can write about that and flesh it out with appropriate info later.

 

One of these days, I'm going to go through all these posts and copy everything into a Word document, so I can use it all later without retyping. Because as I say, a good apologist plagiarises; a great apologist auto-plagiarises.

 

xxx

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Again, that would depend on the Catholic. I would hope that most Catholics understood that it's not just a case of "The Bible means whatever they want it to mean", but I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of Catholics didn't get it.

xxx

I really really hate when people do that whole the Bible means whatever they want it to mean. For example, certain things in the Bible are expressed very very clearly as being right or wrong but people look for one TINY exception and say well actually in this chapter this person did this so it means I don't have to follow said principle/rule because they didn't. If people are looking for exceptions to every rule why bother having a religion, why say you are a follow of Christ if you are looking for escape routes to everything God wants to you follow. I don't think true Christians do that type of thing but try their best to follow what God says. I'm not saying there aren't exceptions to some things I'm just saying when you are looking for the exceptions you cannot be a true Christian because a true Christian would want to follow what God says and try their best to rather than looking for ways out before they've even tried.

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I really really hate when people do that whole the Bible means whatever they want it to mean. For example, certain things in the Bible are expressed very very clearly as being right or wrong but people look for one TINY exception and say well actually in this chapter this person did this so it means I don't have to follow said principle/rule because they didn't. If people are looking for exceptions to every rule why bother having a religion, why say you are a follow of Christ if you are looking for escape routes to everything God wants to you follow. I don't think true Christians do that type of thing but try their best to follow what God says. I'm not saying there aren't exceptions to some things I'm just saying when you are looking for the exceptions you cannot be a true Christian because a true Christian would want to follow what God says and try their best to rather than looking for ways out before they've even tried.

 

Reminds me of this:

 

1381711_650897721665159_4895902299685747

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Reminds me of this...

 

post-319-0-38802300-1401044733_thumb.jpg

 

Or this...

 

post-319-0-25191100-1401044808_thumb.jpg

 

This one's cool! :P

 

post-319-0-71368400-1401044835_thumb.jpg

 

xxx

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