Responding to Anti-Catholicism on the Internet
Testimonies of former Catholics are always tragic and often tainted by doctrinal distortion. Such is the case with Sandy Hooper's tale posted on the Internet under Independent Baptist Churches. Please pray for those who are lured away from the true Church, particularly when they have been failed by those charged with their faith formation.
An Open Letter to a Former Catholic:
If it were not for the tragedy that befell you and your abandonment of the Catholic faith, your recollections of your first communion and confirmation would have been quite beautiful. Please find it in your heart not to condemn the Church or the priesthood for the failings of the perverse clergyman who took advantage of you. You had every right to be shocked and angry. He will have much for which to account when he meets the Lord. I can understand the nature of the obedience you were taught to render to the priests; however, I am at a loss to fully comprehend how a young person preparing for confirmation would have acquiesced to what was clearly wrong. Even your parents cannot demand obedience, if such is toward evil acts. The fourth commandment requires that we honor our parents, and even our spiritual fathers, but it is conditional upon them being honorable. In any case, you were an innocent school girl and the fault was his. It must have been a month-and-a-half of torture. Despite all this, you continued your catechetical studies and at 16 desired to enter the convent.
It is here that the story becomes troubling. You dropped out of high school and thus had trouble finding an order that would accept you, that is until you contacted the Sisters of St. Martha. Despite the fact that you had abandoned your studies, you seemed to resent the fact that yours was a domestic order charged with the household chores for priests and brothers. While I know you would render protestation otherwise, it seems to me that you lacked the humility which categorizes such women and which aids their growth in holiness, by doing the ordinary tasks of life. Their life was hard, but supposedly you had chosen it. No one forced you into the convent. You say yourself that the silent time was to aid the sisters in concentrating on God. As for the quality time, the recreation was for more than playing pool, it was to help you develop "communio" with the other sisters. Were they not your friends?
Your testimony about not reading and studying the bible seems to place yourself more at fault than the institution. Your breviary prayers, the Mass, and your bible were to be prime sources of Scriptural richness, and you failed to fully utilize them. As is typical of dependent personalities, if no one told you to do something, you did not do it. As a possible kindness, knowing that you had quit school and that others were probably in the same situation, I have to wonder if the matter of bible study was not pressed because of concerns regarding literacy and intellectual competency? You make a big deal in complaining about all the prayer as if that somehow absolved you from picking up your bible more often. Sorry, it does not wash.
You became angry when another sister was required to leave. This intensified when you rejected the slogan, "Many are called, but few are chosen." However, it has to do with a religious vocation and not our common baptismal mission. The former sister could still serve God. You missed the point. However, I suspect that your decision to leave the convent was the right choice, given that the gravity of this commitment and your faith "didn't make sense" to you.
You remained, however, "in Romanish chains" as you put it, saying your rosary and going to Church. I have to wonder if you ever internalized the external devotions and your participation at Mass? I doubt it. You remained empty. You wanted a quick fix religion. You wanted a faith with fireworks, a show with Mary appearing to you and supernatural interventions. Even your penance was all done to be seen, crawling up the stairs of the shrine on your knees while failing to raise your heart up to the Lord. Penance is the joining of our crosses to the cross of Jesus; stripping away various gifts that we might better set our eyes upon the divine giver. Your lack of humility emerges from your testimony, "I must prove I am worthy." How can you prove that which is a lie. Catholicism teaches that we can be made holy by God's grace, but ultimately we are all sinners in need of a redeemer. Every Catholic is to set his sights on heaven, knowing that he can only reach that promised shore through divine assistance and intervention.
What you experienced at La Salette was a healing service, not unlike those conducted in Pentecostal circles. The "sleeping in the Spirit" experience is said to come over a person as a great peacefulness. Paraliturgical in nature, there is nothing official about it in Catholic teaching. However, since the priest calls upon the healing power of Christ and invokes the Holy Spirit, I think we can trust that it comes from God. This is not to exclude that mentally or emotionally disturbed individuals might parrot a genuine spiritual experience as part of their malady.
I only refer to this latter point because you admit to attempting suicide twice. Later you gravitated to a "charismatic" parish. The very thing which impressed you most, the elongated sign of peace with the priest leaving the altar is a violation of liturgical discipline and good taste. And yes, as you observed, speaking and even singing in tongues is an aspect of their spirituality. As in many charismatic prayer groups, anti-Catholic pentecostals had infiltrated the music ministry which you joined. They put receiving Jesus in the spirit and the laying on of hands as something akin or even more important than sacramental baptism. You could hardly condemn the true Church for these happenings. As for the book given you on the subject, it was written by pentecostal Episcopalians, not Catholics!
As for your bible study, how do you know that you are not still falling for false doctrine? Can you trust yourself as an infallible authority in this regard? Ah, how little you still know . . . It is not surprising that those who disagreed with the priest went off and started their own church. That is what the early Protestant reformers did and, if you think about it, you too fell in step with this rebellion against the true Church. The fact that the priest allowed no disagreement regarding Mary, confession, the intercessory role of saints, etc. did not in itself signify that the bible contradicted these stances. Again, the matter of authority emerges. You were taught that salvation came through the Church and yet you deemed the friendship with those who maligned the Church as something equivalent to this great gift. What a pathetic story about a lonely girl. It is indeed quite sad. Your conscience would urge you to renewed fidelity to the Church, but the seed to future dissention had been planted.
You moved and drifted into other charismatic Catholic communities. You were married in the Church. The Word of God community experienced a "going of separate ways" over the concern of excessive control over members. All this has been played out before in such groups. God blessed you with four children and you had them reborn in the gift of Catholic baptism. However, your failth weakened and you stopped going to Mass.
Despite this loss of faith, you attempted to teach and to defend the faith to others. However, your errant bible study led you to dismiss the Catholic faith and her teachings. You decided to become a Protestant. Instead of conforming your mind and will to that of Christ and his Church, you sought out a community that reflected your views and feelings. In other words, you got matters backwards. This is all tragic. While God may look upon the faith and devotion of our Protestant brothers and sisters with some favor, the situation is probably quite different for one who has "personally" rejected the Catholic Church. If you had been serious, and not cowardly, you would have sought out a Catholic priest or another "knowledgeable Catholic" with whom you could have honestly explored your questions. Instead, you dismissed Catholic teaching out-of-hand, disrespected the teachers of faith, and brought shame upon yourself in the eyes of almighty God.
"Why should I believe in something that profits nothing?" Yes, and this is precisely the question I ask you for believing in the watered-down faith you now possess. Next, you write, "Where it concerns the Lord's body, we never hear John 6:63 read before communion, "It is the spirit that quikeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing." Dear Sandy, I am surprised at you. Do you not know that this is a LIE? The ritual for Catholic worship is a stable affair; however, the readings are variable and come prior to communion. The Lectionary for Mass lists John 6:60-69 as falling on Sunday, the Twenty-First Week of the Year (B). Jesus is defending the truth about his statements regarding the Eucharist, not the opposite as you contend. He allows some to walk away from his fellowship rather than to alter this truth. Are you implying that Jesus is himself a liar or an amnesiac who now discounts all that he has just said? Ridiculous! The Hebrew saying, "It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless," wonderfully touches the heart of this "sacramental" mystery. He affirms that his words are true, that they are "spirit and life." You fail to appreciate Hebrew forms of speech, albeit, translated through the Greek language. No doubt you will cast dispersions upon intelligent interpretation of the Scriptures, preferring fundamentalist revisions. The same Gospel pericope emerges in the liturgy during the week, on Saturday, the Third Week of Easter. You cite Genesis 9:4 and Leviticus 17:14 against Jesus, showing clearly that you are like the murmuring Jews. They could not accept the "real presence" of the Eucharist and so they abandoned Jesus. You left the Lord and his sacrament which comes to us through the Apostolic community of the Catholic Church. Jesus asked you, "Do you want to leave me too?" And you said, YES.
As for bible translations, even the KJV is not safeguarded from error or from distortion due to the chaning meaning of words and the distance between our culture and that of the ancient Hebrews. Regarding salvation, I suspect that the KJV was the one with the agenda. Modern translations, except when they are caught up in the inclusive language nonsense, try to retain verb tenses and agreement with subjects and objects. Accepting this particular bible as entirely authoritative means that you have placed the bible of the Anglican Church and of Protestant kings and queens over that of the successors of St. Peter and the bishops. Interestingly enough, this same church which offered this translation now admits that there were thousands of mistakes made in the original texts. What, did you think Baptists translated this bible? No, not by a long-shot. Indeed, some of the attacks you make against the Catholic Church would also apply to the English Church of the Reformation. How do you rationalize this away? Why do you allow "Englishitis" to close your heart, mind, and soul to the truth. Only a counterfeit spirit would steal you from Christ's Church.
I wonder if Adam and Eve cried out, "Free at last!" when they ate of the forbidden fruit? The serpent tempted them with their own pride and that their "eyes [would be] opened." But, they were fooling themselves. Now more than ever they would "walk in darkness" and not with their loving Creator. Are you really free now?
You ask the question, "How many times do we need to be saved?" I suspect you confuse salvation with the Catholic understanding of redemption. Once baptised, always baptized. We have been bought at a great price and are called to a faith in Christ actualize by charity. The truth is not that Christ abandons us, but rather through sin we forget him. How many times have you forgotten Christ? How many of the commandments have you broken, and continue to break? Do you love your God and allow this love to overflow in a marvelous divine love of others?
Why do we repeatedly receive holy communion? Again, the answer says more about us than about God. We have a hard time keeping God at the center of our lives. The Eucharist strengthens us in our Christian discipleship and is a sacramental sign making present the Lord of life. Just as we eat and drink to preserve biological life, the Lord instituted this sacrament so that we might be spiritually nourished.
I cannot speak for whether or not Jesus will condemn you for your attack against his Church and the divine mysteries. If the rejection of the Eucharist brings judgment, then you have brought it upon yourself. "You took your chances" and left the Catholic Church. You were fearful of Purgatory and missed the meaning of God's vast mercy. They are souls on their way to heaven. What moves us toward heaven is not suffering as such; it is the purification of our hearts. Faith in Jesus is saving. And yet, how often have our hearts yearned for things forbidden us or we have not loved God as we should have. The flame of God's love rids us of those things which have no share in divine glory and mold us more perfectly into the image of God's Son. As Catholics, we realize that a believer might reject Christ and his Church, it is in this sense that the road to salvation is not smooth. However, as the funeral rites remind us, we live "in the sure and certain hope" of our salvation.
The Roman Catholic Church preserved and collected the books that make up the bible. The New Testament is the result of divinely inspired books and letters by her members. She preaches God's Word and the prayers of the Mass all have biblical parallels. Nevertheless, you state that the Church is the enemy of the bible and that she disavows any historical significance to the book of Genesis. Crazy! The Church definitively teaches that God is the Creator and that he made our first parents who fell from grace by an act of disobedience. Sin and death entered the world. But not all was lost, we were promised a Redeemer. Once more, you are inaccurate. Further, you cite Mark 10:5-8 to stress the literalism of Genesis 2 and 3 while missing the point of the text, a prohibition against divorce, that virtually all Protestant churches ignore or explain away. Despite your claim to full authority over the bible, you write: "Jesus also quotes Moses verbatim from Genesis 2:24" (Mark 10:7-8). This sentence is wrong any way you look at it. Jesus quotes from Genesis against the writ of divorce allowed by Moses. Moses himself does not appear or speak in Genesis 2:24! Jesus quotes from Genesis against divorce and classifies any subsequent marriage as adultery. Is this preached by the Baptist church? No. Only the Catholic Church still officially teaches that marriage is until "death do us part." I can also use John 5:45-47 for my own purposes. If you believed in Jesus, you would have trusted in the Church he established and continues to protect by his Holy Spirit. But, you reinterpret the words of Christ and the prophets to your own ends.
If you think that the Catholic Church has dismissed the book of Genesis and the doctrines contained there, then you have been very much misled. Original sin came into the world through the primordial rebellion and thus all need to have faith in Christ and to be washed clean in the waters of baptism. In passing, you mention the baptism of babies between 500 to 1997 AD. However, even the New Testament mentions that a whole household (including babies no doubt) might be baptized upon accepting Christ. The Church goes back directly to Jesus.
The various texts you draw out against Catholic practices are indeed non-topical. You take passages out of context and give them new meanings. Please cease your assault, dare I say RAPE, of the Word of God!
You attack the following:
The reference to Job discounting the saints is similar to chapter 4, verse 18: "Lo, he puts no trust in his servants, and with his angels he can find fault." All this is to emphasize the singular fidelity of Job who suffers, seemingly through no fault of his own. And yet, all fall short of the glory of God. Every living thing is dependent upon him. The holy ones, the saints and angels, cannot save us; however, they can pray for us and watch over us as special messengers of God. The verse cited against the saints really says nothing about their ability to pray for us.
I find the reference to Leviticus quite odd. Ritual atonement had to do with being put back into right relationship with God, not simply in terms of eternal salvation, but as a member of God's chosen people. There is nothing wrong with this in regard to Mary (Luke 2:22,24). She was a Jewish woman who followed the rituals and teachings of her faith. The ritual of purification becomes for her more of a presentation of the Christ-child as the long-awaited Messiah. If true justification comes through "faith in Jesus Christ" (Romans 3:23), then obviously this ritual of purification could not do what faith and baptism would in the new covenant of Christ. Indeed, the passage you cite, Luke 1:47 from her Magnificat helps to prove the Catholic stance. Note that she says, "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior." She does not say in Christ who "will be" my savior. Although the passion, death, and resurrection is still thirty plus years in the future, she ALREADY calls God her "savior." How can this be if she is still not saved? The Catholic Church teaches that just as we are touched by the saving activity of Christ by faith and the sacraments, particularly baptism, FORWARD in history; Mary is touched by the saving merit of her Son BACKWARD in time, at the very first moment of her life in the womb of St. Ann. This honor was granted her since according to divine providence, she had been chosen as the mother of the Savior. Further, since original sin is transmitted from one generation to the next, it was only fitting that Jesus not be touched by sin in the womb of Mary.
The last bit dishonors your own motherhood. Some fundamentalists act as if they are embarassed that Jesus even had a mother. Jesus loved her. Jesus obeyed the commandments and honored his parents, God first, then his foster father Joseph and his mother Mary. We imitate Jesus by loving and honoring her. Luke 11:27-28 is no rebuke of Mary. It has never been interpreted by believers as such until after the reformation. "While he was speaking, a woman from the crowd called out and said to him, 'Blessed is the womb that carried you and the breasts at which you nursed,' He replied, 'Rather, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.'" The woman in the crowd praised Mary because she was his biological mother. Jesus raises her honor even higher. Long before she had born him in her womb and nursed him at her breasts, she had, as the handmaid of the Lord, received him in her heart and soul. She received the Word of God and kept it, allowing it to come to fruition in her. She was the first disciple of her Son, bearing the Christ in her arms in Bethlehem and again at Calvary. Jesus expanded her motherhood; he did not repudiate it. According to the gift of grace, and living by faith, we are also to receive God's Word and to give it birth in a world still hungering for meaning and salvation. We are also called to be disciples.
It is my prayer that you will reconsider. Talk to a holy and informed priest, and come home.
Peace and blessings,
Fr. Joe Jenkins
You admit that you are depriving your children of the sacraments. God forgive you such a terrible thing. You will be quite surprised when you see your Savior, even without your modern imaginery Rapture. May you make peace with Christ and his holy Church. Do not allow the poor witness or novel teachings of those either inside or outside the Catholic Church to steal this great treasure from you. Jesus offered his life as a perfect oblation on the Cross for you. He shed his blood to save you from your sins and to grant you a share in eternal life. Now we can join ourselves to our Savior as one offering acceptable to the Father. This is a key meaning of the Mass. COME HOME, come home to JESUS and to his CHURCH.
YES, Jesus is the ONE MEDIATOR! (1 Timothy 2:5). Love Jesus and obey God's commandments. YES, imitate Mary in hearing the Word of God and keeping it, allowing it to be fruitful in us! (Luke 11:28). YES, we are saved by GRACE ALONE, but not by faith alone! (Ephesians 2:8,9).
Oh yes, and REMEMBER: "Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven. I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the kingdom of heaven."
And yes, REMEMBER THIS TOO: "What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? . . . So also faith itself, if it does not have works, is dead. . . . Indeed someone might say, 'You have faith and I have works.' Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works. . . . See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. . . . For just as a body without a spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead" (James 2:14,17-18,24,26).
Scripture texts taken from Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition, 1965 & 1966.
Revised April 2, 1998.
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