Roman Catholic Business as Usual
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.