It should go without saying that Roman Catholic saints are intentionally held up as examples for the flock to imitate. Lest it be alleged that we have imagined this, we defer to Pope John Paul II, who at World Youth Day 2002, explained this in no uncertain terms: Continue reading “We Don’t Worship Mary*” part 2
One of the most prevalent and visible forms of devotion among Roman Catholics is their veneration of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Such attributes are assigned to her, and so many accolades poured out upon her by Roman Catholicism, that the veneration paid to her appears to outsiders to be nothing less than worship. Roman Catholic apologist, Fr. William G. Most, answers these charges with the theological equivalent of “This is not what it looks like.” A summary of his reasoning comes from his tract, Devotion To Our Lady And The Saints:
Do Catholics worship her? Protestants often claim that. But let us examine the command of Our Lord: ‘Judge Not.’ We distinguish two things:
Long before Jesus turned water into wine, He turned Mary’s amniotic fluid into meconium, and her breast milk into transitional stools. Anyone who has ever changed a child’s diaper knows that the resulting odor offends the nostrils greatly. As Jesus would later instruct us, “whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly” and ends up in the toilet (Matthew 15:17), or in His case as an infant, in the diaper. Thus did Jesus’ lower gastrointestinal tract operate as it must for all men, and thus did our Lord endure the gastrocolic reflex, as all we mortals do. We therefore have no doubt that Mary’s milk passed through Him according to the course of nature, and into His diapers in a common and necessary movement. And thus did Jesus come all the way down to earth to save us, “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities” (Hebrews 4:15).
If that opening paragraph offends you, you do not know why Jesus came to earth, and you have not understood the Gospel. Continue reading Removing Jesus
[This is the third installment of a three part series.]
When former Protestant, Taylor Marshall, wrote Eternal City, he sought to explain why Christianity is necessarily Roman. “The Church,” he wrote, “receives the Roman empire” from its previous custodians. But in concluding this, Marshall has mistakenly transposed two kingdoms—both of which Daniel addressed, and both of which Daniel set against the background of the rise and fall of four world empires. One kingdom is of earth and the other of heaven, and Marshall has unfortunately confused the two. Continue reading One Kingdom Too Late
[This is the first installment of a three part series.]
This week, two “Marian” Popes are to be canonized as saints of the Roman Catholic church: Popes John XXIII and John Paul II. Both were very public about their devotion to Mary and frequented the sites of Marian apparitions. John XXIII was particularly devoted to the apparition of Mary at Lourdes, and emphatically commended “her” message to the faithful. In 1959, at the close of the 100-year anniversary celebration of the Apparitions of Mary at Lourdes, John XXIII said:
Following the pontiffs who, for a century, have recommended to Catholics that they should be attentive to the message of Lourdes, we urge you to listen with simplicity of heart and sincerity of mind to the salutary warnings of the Mother of God. (Mariology: A Guide for Priests, Deacons, Seminarians, and Consecrated Persons, Miravalle, ©2008, p. 862)
John Paul II was also devoted to the apparitions of Mary, and believed that Mary of Fatima had protected him throughout his papacy. On a papal visit to Fatima on May 13, 2000, a message from John Paul II was read to the faithful gathered there:
On this solemn occasion of his visit to Fatima, His Holiness has directed me to make an announcement to you. As you know, the purpose of his visit to Fatima has been to beatify [two of the visionaries]. Nevertheless he also wishes his pilgrimage to be a renewed gesture of gratitude to Our Lady for her protection during these years of his papacy. (Announcement by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Secretary of State)
In that same message, John Paul II had it announced that he would finally make public the “third secret of Fatima,” a prophecy that had been delivered to the popes from the vision of Mary through the visionary, Lucia.
But public and private teachings are not the only things the apparitions of Mary have to offer. Continue reading Like the Sun Going Down on Me
According to the Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church, everything that is to be known and taught by the Church is to be found in the original “Deposit of Faith,” beyond which, “no new public revelation is to be expected before the glorious manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Catechism, p. 66).
As we have discussed elsewhere, Mary is alleged to have appeared many times and in many places over the last 2,000 years. During those appearances, the visions of Mary leave behind explicit instructions and other information: one provided a design for a medal for a particular form of devotion; another provided the design for an image to be venerated; others have provided private messages for the pope; and others have left behind prophecies of things to come. These visions of Mary, or what we call “apparitions of Mary,” have very much to say. “However,” warns the catechism, “They do not belong … to the deposit of faith“: Continue reading Mother Mary Speaks to Me (part 1)
In Rome’s unwavering efforts to honor Mary with the accolades of immaculacy, the mantle of inviolable purity, the admiration of angels and the veneration of men, there is an unfortunate tendency to see Mary in every reference in the Bible. It would seem that there is not a verse in the Old Testament that does not prefigure her: she is the “land of Havilah” in Genesis 2:11. She is, at once, Noah’s Ark, the dove he released, and the olive branch it returned. She is Aaron’s Rod Blossoming, from which the Almonds of Jesus grew. She is Jesse’s Rod from which the branch of Jesus sprung (for “rod” in Latin is “virga,” which must refer to the Virgin), and she was present when the Spirit blew upon the seas at creation (for the Latin word for “seas” is “maria,” which must refer to Mary). She is the virgin soil from which Adam was made, and she is the cloud that led the Hebrews out of Egypt. She is Gideon’s fleece, the temple, the tabernacle, the ark, as well as the golden urn containing the manna within it. When David danced, he danced for her, and what Moses saw in the burning bush prefigured her—she was at the same time the flame and the unconsumed wood of the bush. She is even prefigured in the rotting manna, and Jesus is prefigured by the worms that fed on it.
There are, of course, dangers in finding Mary in everything, Continue reading Was Mary the Mother of John the Baptist, too?
Last week, we highlighted the attempts by Fr. William G. Most to extract an infallible teaching from the Magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church. (The Magisterium is essentially the pope and the bishops who are in communion with him.) By studying the teachings of the Magisterium, William Most thought he had discovered how to arrive at an infallible teaching. By way of example, to prove that it is an infallible teaching of the Roman Catholic Church that Mary’s physical virginity was uncompromised when Christ was born, all Most had to do was demonstrate repetition by popes and councils. Surely, Fr. Most thought, repetition is evidence of an intent to teach infallibly:
A doctrine taught with multiple papal approval plus that of Vatican II should be called infallible, for these texts show the intention to make it definitive by their repetition.
By this standard, we can conclude that it is an infallible doctrine of the Roman Church that it is Mary who will crush the head of the serpent in Genesis 3:15. After all, multiple popes and at least one council have confirmed this. The Council of Trent made Jerome’s translation of the Vulgate the official translation of the Roman Catholic Church. Jerome’s translation of Genesis 3:15 indicates that it is Mary who will crush the head of the serpent. Here is the English rendering of the Roman Catholic translation of that verse: Continue reading Why “Infallibility” Doesn’t Work
The Christian who must wrestle with Roman Catholic apologists (trained and untrained) will often hear them appeal to the ancient, non-scriptural, sources as proof of what the Apostles taught. We dealt with a part of that issue in a prior post about going all the way back to the written Word, instead of just going back to the first few post-apostolic generations. We acknowledge that some foundational Roman Catholic errors emerged early in the post-apostolic era, as Paul predicted they would (Acts 20:30-32), but we deny that those errors must be canonized along with God’s revelation to us in the Holy Bible. Ancient unbiblical teachings do not become more biblical with the passage of time.
What will be interesting to the Christian reader, however, Continue reading When the Word just isn’t enough
Let us first answer the question with an emphatic, No! The Scripture says that God owes no man anything, and He has no need of anything that man may offer or produce. The reason is that He already owns everything. What does He need from us that is not already His for the taking?
“The earth is the LORD’S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.” (Psalms 24:1)
“For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fulness thereof.” (Psalms 50:10-12)
Despite this, Roman Catholic tradition has God in Mary’s debt Continue reading Is God in debt to Mary?
One of the most fervent forms of devotion in Roman Catholicism is to the visions of Mary, commonly called “apparitions.” For many centuries, in many locations around the world, Mary is alleged to have appeared to visionaries of the Roman Catholic Church. These visionaries typically report conversations with Mary, and the apparition of Mary has many times delivered messages that have been documented through the official channels of the Roman Catholic Church. There have been many hundreds of alleged apparitions throughout history, but only a few have been approved officially by the Roman Catholic Church. These few are considered to be actual bodily appearances of Mary, and therefore “worthy of belief.” Among them are the Apparitions of Mary at Guadalupe, Mexico (1531); Paris, France (1830); La Salette, France (1846); Lourdes, France (1858); and Fatima, Portugal (1917).
The approval process for an alleged apparition can take many years, and it is rare for one to be elevated formally to the same level as those listed above. When that approval becomes official, it provides a tremendous amount of insight into the visions of Mary themselves because interviews with the visionaries are meticulously inspected, and the vision’s messages and teachings are rigorously documented through the approval process. It also provides tremendous insight into the Roman Catholic Church, because the teachings of approved apparitions are consistent with Roman Catholic teaching—otherwise they would not have been approved.
The recent approval of the Apparitions of Mary in La Laus, France is significant Continue reading The Apparition of Mary at La Laus, France (1664)