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Roman Catholic Business as Usual

May 26th, 2007
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A number of years ago somehow my name and home addresss made its way on to a Roman Catholic mailing list, and, as these things go, my name was passed to other RC charities, and now I regularly receive fund raising requests from various Roman Catholic charities. Today a particularly interesting one came in the mail. It is a stark reminder that for all the fine-sounding words we hear coming from certain corners in Romanism, when it comes down to it, it is, literally, "business" as usual–the business of selling masses, merits and works. The mailing I received came from the Marianist order of priests and contained a memorial card to use to give to a friend or loved one who has  had a death in the family. The fund raising letter urges you to use the card, by sending in money to the order. In the center of the card is a "Memorial Remembrance." It states: "Perpetual Membership in the Marianist Spiritual Alliance has been conferred upon (fill in the blank) who will share forever in the Masses, Prayers, and Good Works of the Marianists. Requested by (fill in the blank). And it is signed "Father Pat" Father Patrick Tonry, SM, Spiritual Director." If that were not troubling enough, it is shocking that nowhere in the card is there any word of Christ and the Gospel. There is a picture of Jesus standing in clouds, but the card nowhere mentions a word about the Resurrection of Christ. It indicates simply that many people see death as an ending, but "religious people" know that death is just the beginning of eternal life. The inside cover of the memorial card states that paying for a loved one’s "Perpetual Membership" in the Marianist Spiritual alliance will bring with it the guarantee of "One holy Mass offered each day of the year for those enrolled" and the promise that every Marianist Priest offers four masses every year for all the enrolled. It is very important for us to keep these things in mind whenever we are tempted to think that Rome really has taken a turn for the better. In fact, it is just, literally, business as usual: the same old anti-Gospel confession and teachings of Rome against which the Lutheran Confessions speak out so forcefully and reject and condemn. Why? Because the grace and glory of Christ is horribly obscured and set aside when people are led to place their hope, and find their comfort, in the good works of another human being. This is false and damning doctrine indeed. And, it just so happens I receive this mailing the day before the anniversary on which the Edict of Worms was issued, declaring Luther a heretic and public criminal, subject to the death penalty wherever he went and at any time. Yes, it’s business as usual. But thanks be to God through our Lord Jesus Christ, is still the pure, free, true Gospel, as usual, that provides the antidote to Rome’s legalism and that inherent legalist inside each of us that would have us believe that we must "do something" in an effort to placate God and earn His favor. Christ has done it all, for us.

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Categories: Roman Catholicism
  1. May 27th, 2007 at 15:32 | #1

    Paul,
    The Divine Liturgy (Leitourgia) is not the good work of the priest as you insinuate above. It is the sovereign work of God, his divine work, which he accomplishes through his ministers (leitourgos) as his instruments.
    McCain: I would not disagree with you on this point. However, it has nothing to do with my post. The mailing from the Marianists was very explicit that people could pay to be enrolled to receive the merits earned by the priests and a share in their meritorious good works.

  2. May 28th, 2007 at 20:54 | #2

    I get many of the same mailings as you do. In a forthcoming article in the “Forum Letter” I address many of these same issues as found in “Sacramentum Caritatis”, recently released by Pope Benedict XVI as a summary of the recent Synod of Bishops in Rome. While a local parish may exhibit characteristics that make them look “almost Lutheran” there has been no change in the neuralgic issues addressed in the BOC.

  3. May 29th, 2007 at 22:57 | #3

    So the less than admirable practices of a group of Catholics is a good reason to deny oneself membership in the the One Holy Catholic Apostolic Church? To lose access to the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, who promised that those who eat it will not die, and those who don’t have no life in them?
    Perhaps you would do better to come home to Rome and help restore Christian unity – one Faith, one Baptism! On the way you can discard the false, and unbiblical doctrines of “sola scriptura” and “sola fidei”. Pick up a rosary and say a few Hail Mary’s (the founder of your religion was a big believer in the value of having the Mother of God intercede on our behalf with her beloved Son).
    God Bless,
    Matt
    ps. Dave, that’s a riot. You really think the successor of Peter is trying to make the Catholic Church look more like a largely regional and shrinking breakaway sect? Good grief.
    How bout that Letter of James? Luther called it an “epistle of straw”, what say you?
    McCain: Matt, to which Rome would you have us come home? Your blog site takes issue with your own infallibly teaching Pope and Church Council. Seems you are a bit confused yourself.

  4. May 30th, 2007 at 17:01 | #4

    Wild. When I was younger, after the Revolution, er, Vatican II, and RC or trying to figure out what that even meant this week, a joke went around among traditional (read, actually believed what the Church taught) Catholics that a lot of time and paper could have been saved to just issue one statement, Luther Was Right, and go home rather than drag on for years.
    Being Lutheran now, I see in the Lutheran reaction around me and in my own now Lutheran reaction that while much has changed, nothing has changed, in that the Roman church has merely re-arranged its heterodoxy.
    At least time has taken me off those bloody mailing lists, although I do get appeals for money from the Society for the Propagation of the Faith from time to time.

  5. Christian E
    June 2nd, 2007 at 17:09 | #5

    However, Divine Liturgies are offered for certain people in the Lutheran Church often, so I don’t find it to be heresy when a Catholic priest offers mass for someone.
    McCain response: Christian, this is not true. I would encourage you to speak to your pastor about this. Can you tell me what congregation you attend?

  6. June 21st, 2007 at 22:31 | #6

    Flippng through the digital cable tonight, EWTN has this show called “Web of Faith” with two priests who take emailed questions and answer them. One of the emails tonight was on plenary vs. partial indulgence. The spiritual gymnastics they went through bordered on Tetzel. Certainly they denied that the indulgence could be bought, but they went on and on about the state of the sinner, the level of attachment or detachment from sin, and worthiness to receive the complete forgiveness of sins.
    Another email was about offering Masses for the dead and how it was effective. Gosh, a Mass offered for someone already in heaven or hell went into that veritable “treasury of the Church” to be dispensed to those who are worthy.
    I tell you, when I pronounce Holy Absolution on Sunday morning, I am going to speak a bit slower and savor each word of Gospel I am privileged to announce to my congregation!

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