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In essence, yes, though they do not call it purgatory. Jews do believe in a purification (a purgation) which takes place after death. When a Jewish person’s loved one dies, it is customary to pray on his behalf for eleven months using a prayer known as the mourner’s Qaddish (derived from the Hebrew word meaning “holy”). This prayer is used to ask God to hasten the purification of the loved one’s soul. The Qaddish is prayed for only eleven months because it is thought to be an insult to imply that the loved one’s sins were so severe that he would require a full year of purification.

The practice of praying for the dead has been part of the Jewish faith since before Christ. Remember that 2 Maccabees 12:39-46, on which Catholics base themselves for one of  the main evidence for the observance of this practice, show that, a century and a half before Christ, prayer for the dead was taken for granted. Unlike Protestantism, Catholicism has preserved this authentic element of Judeo-Christian faith. 

Read also: Is Purgatory a second chace at Salvation?

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According to Wikipedia the “Once Saved, Always Saved”, is a Christian teaching which holds that once a person is saved they can never lose their salvation. This notion was formulated by Calvin in the 1600’s and is shared by most Evangelical and reformed Protestant churches, such as the Church of England, as it is stated in the Westminster Confession of faith. However, there are some variations of the original doctrine of Calvin – no surprise here, protestants must do what they do best: Protest. Those who didn’t entirely agree with Calvin felt they needed to make changes… I believe the Baptist Church holds a non-Calvinistic OSAS doctrine.

Anyhow, Calvin sustained that a true believer can never lose his/her salvation. His doctrine argues that although individuals are free and responsible, they cannot choose salvation of their own accord. Rather, God selected certain individuals before the world began to whom he would draw to faith. According to Calvinism, since faith is not something they choose to do, but rather a work that God performs in them, it cannot be walked away from. Note that this Calvinist notion also denies the gift of Free Will.

Many Protestants, mainly born-again Evangelicals, like to quote verses such as Romans 10:9 which states that if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. They mention other passages where assurance of salvation is made to those who believe in Christ, in order to defend their view:

I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. John 10:28

There are two main problems with this approach. Most protestants like to think of salvation as a one-time event, not an ongoing process. Also it is tremendously common for Evangelicals to assert on isolated passages without the back-drop of the whole context of the Bible. In the case of John 10:28, which has a similar language to Romans 8:39, Jesus is telling us that no-one can take a person’s salvation away, but He is not saying that an individual can’t refuse the free-gift of salvation offered by God, through his own rejection or refusal to lead a life pleasing to God. In other words, one cannot be snatched away, but one can walk away. It all comes down to free will, which Calvin seems to ignore in his doctrinal formulation.

What else does the bible say?

Here are a few examples that refute OSAS:

New Testament:

Matthew 7: 21-23. Not every one that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but the one who shall do the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name, and in thy name have cast out devils, and in thy name have done many wonderful works? And then will I confess to them, I never knew you depart from me, you who work iniquity.

Phi. 2:12 “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;”

Matthew 24:13 – But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

1Pe 4:18 Now “If the righteous one is scarcely saved, where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?”

Heb 6:4-6 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.

Jas 5:19-20 Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.

Old Testament:

Num 14:11-12 Then the LORD said to Moses: “How long will these people reject Me? And how long will they not believe Me, with all the signs which I have performed among them? I will strike them with the pestilence and disinherit them…”

1Sa 15:23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He also has rejected you from being king.”

1Sa 28:6 -7 And when Saul inquired of the LORD, the LORD did not answer him, either by dreams or by Urim or by the prophets. Then Saul said to his servants, “Find me a woman who is a medium, that I may go to her and inquire of her…”

Pro 2:13 …From those who leave the paths of uprightness To walk in the ways of darkness…

Those who believe in the doctrine of eternal security often wonder why Catholics aren’t terrified of the possibility of being lost since we reject the assurance that they believe to possess. I would explain to them that Catholics neither presume God’s grace or despair of it. I would explain we are created in the image and likeness of God, and as a point to demonstrate the reality of free will in our experience and as an attribute that we possess as children of God.”

But what is the Catholic view on Salvation? Read more on the Catholic Doctrine of Salvation.

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Where the totality of grace is, there is the totality of Salvation. Where grace no longer exists in the fractured state of simul justus et peccator, but in pure “Yes”, death, sin’s jailer, has no place.

Naturally, this involves the questions: What does the assumption of body and soul into heavenly glory mean? What, after all, does ‘immortality’ mean? Man is not immortal by his own power, but only in and through another, preliminary, tentatively, fragmentarily, in children, in fame, but  finally and truly and only in and  from the Entirely-Other, God. We are mortal due to the usurped autarchy of a determination to remain within ourselves, which proves to be a deception…

Nevertheless, where the innate propensity to autarchy is totally lacking, where there is the pure self-disposession (= grace), death is absent, even when somatic end is present. Instead, the whole human being enters salvation, because as a whole, undiminished, he stands eternally in God’s life-giving memory that preserves him as himself in his own life.  

                                                                                                                                                                                                 Pope Benedict XIV

Read also: Saved by faith, not by Faith Alone

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 In 1521 Martin Luther declared at the Imperial Hearing of Worms to which he was called to answer questions on his controversial views on the fundamental Christian Doctrine of Salvation taught by the Catholic Church.

 “Unless I am convinced by Scripture and plain reason – I do not accept the authority of the popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other – my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me. Amen.”

And thus was ‘officially’ created the Doctrine of Sola Scriptura or Scripture Alone. Luther’s rejection of the authority of the Church as the Gardian and interpreter of the Divine Revelation created another series of problems, namely, misguided interpretations of the teachings in the Gospel of Christ, for instance the Doctrine of Faith Alone.

Luther supported his doctrine of Salvation mainly by the writings of St Paul. However, in order to justify his understanding, when translating the works of St Paul, Luther added  the word ‘alone’ in Romans 3:28 in his German translation of the Original – “For we hold that a man is justified by faith alone”. Therefore, we can affirm that he corrupted the text of the Scripture to support his views and interpretation, because in a clean translation from the original Greek, St Paul actually explains justification as:

“For we consider that a person is justified by faith apart from works of the law. Does God belong to Jews alone? Does he not belong to Gentiles, too? Yes, also to Gentiles, for God is one and will justify the circumcised on the basis of faith and the uncircumcised through faith. Are we then annulling the law by this faith? Of course not! On the contrary, we are supporting the law”. (Rom 3:28)

Luther regarded the teachings of St Paul very highly, thus he once declared: “St Paul taught a simple gospel that relies on the Christian believing in the person and the works of Jesus Christ to be justified.” In simple terms, this affirmative institutes the doctrine of imputed righteousness, an alien righteousness that is imputed to the believer, which is held until today by most protestant denominations.

The Catholic Church teaches, as we will see in a moment, that men are justified by faith but not by faith alone. As Catholic we must receive the Sacrament of Baptism –  or Sacrament of Faith – through which the righteousness of Christ is infused in into the soul of the Christian, and becomes the righteousness of the believer AND believe in Christ Jesus as our Saviour. The Church also teaches that faith is a gift of God’s grace which is given to us only by God.  Therefore, we can say that salvation comes from grace alone.

The writings of St Paul demonstrate that he agrees with St James’ statement that a man is saved ‘not by faith alone’ (James 2: 24), and as we have seen, he writes that justification is  by ‘faith apart from the works of the Law’. But what does St Paul mean by works of the Law?

WORKS OF THE LAW:

The debate within the Catholic & Apostolic Church on the definition of ‘Works of the Law’ goes all the way back to St Jerome, who defined it as being the “ceremonial precepts of the Old Testament’, which are the precepts that Moses gave to the people of Israel to distinct them from the Gentiles, such as prohibition of eating certain foods, circumcision or any other cultural law kept by Jews. St Jerome did not include in his view neither the Judicial Precepts or the Moral Precepts, or the Decalogue – the Ten Commandments – in his definition of works of the Law.

The Council of Trent of the Catholic Church, on the other hand, included the entire body of the Mosaic Law as ‘works of the Law’, which at a first glance seem to be in accordance with Luther, except for the fact that the Catholic Church does not exclude the role of works off the process of sanctification of the believer. Therefore, we come to God with faith, and faith prepares us to walk in works. These works integral of justification are not merely the fruits of faith, because they cooperate with the faith.

In the Book of James the Apostle cites Gen 22 where Abraham is justified as he attempts to sacrifice his son and is said to be justified because his faith is cooperating with the works. The book of Genesis demonstrates that justification is not a one time event process, but continues to be developed, as we see Abraham himself being justified at least in two other occasions (Gen 12, 15) additionally to the one mentioned above.

Therefore, when St Paul speaks of ‘works of the Law’ we know that he refers to the 613 precepts of the Jewish law, but he is equally condemning anyone who would seek to impress God by his works alone, or  that he taught that the 10 commandments no longer apply to Christians. In Romans 3:31 St Paul writes:

31 Are we then annulling the law by this faith? Of course not! On the contrary, we are supporting the law.

Many Protestants wrongly believe that Catholics hold that we are justified by works. This is wrong, because Catholics know that works without faith is empty! Instead, Catholics believe that man is justified by faith working through love!  A view which is confirmed by St Paul, for instance, in his Epistle 1Corinthians 13: 1-3

If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I HAVE ALL faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.

St Paul is saying that faith must be formed with love and to love Jesus is to keep his commandments.(Jn 14:15). Therefore, a faith formed by love obeys the commandments and acts or works, and this has been the teaching of the Catholic Church. Justification does not occur by faith alone, but by faith through works of love. 

For in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor un-circumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love (Gal 5:6)

 This is ecchoed in the teachings of St Peter in Second letter:
 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtuewith knowledge, 6and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Pet 1:3-10)

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In the past few months I have been somewhat engaged in defending the Catholic faith whenever there is an opportunity. This is not because I find that other Christian churches are not good, but because I believe it is wrong that Catholics should be discriminated and even attacked in such a relentless and unfair way. 

Here is a letter that I posted recently on an online Christian Social-Network, in response to an extremely resentful and anti-Catholic article.

I must admit I find it somewhat difficult to debate the Catholic Church with most non-Catholics, especially fundamentalist Christians and Evangelicals. Not because I don’t have the answers to their arguments and, sometimes, their accusations, because I do have. In fact, the more I study my faith to reply to such arguments, the more I become convinced that I don’t want leave the Catholic Church. The problem is anti-Catholics are never  prepared to listen with an open heart and mind, because they are fuelled with prejudice and misconceived ideas.

I am not sure of what some protestants mean with ‘man-made laws that have been mixed into the Church’s teachings’, but this is just one example of the accusations that are thrown at Catholics. Obviously, the Catholic Church cherishes the Sacred Traditions passed onto to us by the Apostles of Our Lord, but these are certainly not  man-made or conflicting with Jesus’ teachings. 

For instance, this abusive letter I received talked about many misinterpreted ideas about Catholicism and in my response I tried to cover them to the best of my ability, as it follows:

According to the Catholic Church, worship and adoration in due to GOD only and no-one else. God commands that we should have NO idols and only He can be Adored and worshiped. However, the understanding that God forbids any representation of ‘heavenly beings’ is inaccurate; otherwise God would be contradicting Himself when  he commanded Moses to decorate the Tabernacle with Cherubim ‘skilfully worked into them’ or place two 5ft tall pure gold angle statues in His holy temple (Ex. 25: 18-22 ; 36:8 ).  

Regarding our reverence to Sacred symbols and objects, it is important to say that, for instance, when a priest kisses the Sacred Scripture or the Sacrificial Table at Mass, he is not kissing the matter which those objects are made of, but what they represent. Namely,  Jesus’ Sacrifice and the Word of God.

The same is true for when a Catholic venerates a Sacred Icon of the Blessed Virgin – the Mother of God, for example, he/she is not venerating the wood or marble of the statue, but who and what the object represents, namely her example of loyalty and obedience to God, her meekness and discipleship. When a marble Icon of Jesus is made and blessed for veneration ( NOT worship), it is NOT to represent God, who is invisible and Divine, therefore Impossible to be represented (and who we are forbidden to represent, anyways) but to honour the humanity of Christ, God in His human form, as well as his gentle act of love in humbling Himself as a mere human being, who although was Divine was also true man, for the love of us!

The use of Sacred Icons was an efficient way found by the early Christians to evangelize, by depicting passages of the Gospel in order to spread the teachings of the Lord even to those illiterate people in the end of the world, as Jesus commanded.

After Jesus was resurrected it took about 365 years for a Bible to be compiled. Furthermore, before the Bible came about as we know it today, only an extremely small percentage of the population of the world could actually read and write. And even after the Bible was compiled, because there was no printing press, which only happened in the 1500’s, Christians did not have access to the Holy Scriptures as we do today. Therefore, they HAD to rely on the oral teachings passed on by the leaders of the Early Christian Church! Thus, the Church’s Apostolic heritage.

Some non-Catholics claim that they have ‘studied’ the Church’s history. The problem is that they never go to the Church’s owns sources in order to learn what she actually teaches. Instead, they ‘study’ anti-Catholic literature which is widely available both on the internet or any book store. The problem is, these materials are, with very rare exceptions, full of errors and by no means provide an accurate understanding of the Catholic Church and faith. 

I wish those who are really interested in learning the truth, would refer to the writings of the Early Christians of the first and second century, or records such as The Didache (also known as the Teachings of the Twelve), which is the oldest existing Christian document (50AD), as well as Scholars such as St. Ignatius of Antioch (35AD), St. Thomas Aquinas, Justin Martyr (100AD) and so on. For if that’s what you mean, I am happy to inform you that I am hard at work on those…

In reponse to the notion that the Catholic Church discourages Bible reading, it is important to point out that Liturgy of the Mass is composed of two parts. The Liturgy of the Word & the Liturgy of the Eucharist. This has been the same for 2000 years. Everyday we hear three passages, two from the NT and one from the OT and then a homily based on the readings. But the point is, although the Church has always encouraged private reading of the Scriptures, the Holy Mass is not a Bible study assembly. We congregate to worship the Lord in thanksgiving and praise, but it is our duty as Christians to read the word at home, to reflect on the aily readings heard at Mass, and to study them at home. 

Having said that, the Church does promote many extra-Mass activities, such as prayer groups, Bible study classes, that are designed to deepen our knowledge of the Scriptures. At Mass we celebrate the word of God and receive Jesus in the Holy Communion.

Criticism of the Catholic can be cinical and unfounded. For instance, antagonism to clergy vestiments.  As most Bible reader would know, such  vestments are indeed Biblical and are refered to in OT.  This tradition is in fact so sacred that it was first observed by the Jews themselves, who still keep it, as well as the Orthodox and Anglicans alike….

Some people like to come up with outrageous Biblical interpretations to motivate their antagonism toward the Catholic Church and support the fact their views. For some Catholics have the ‘mark of the beast’ on their forehead, as the Church is the ‘whore of Babylon’. Whenever I hear   nonsensical interpretations, I am obliged to point out that Catholics also have interpretations of their own…

We believe, for instance, that we are the True Church of Christ because Jesus Himself founded her: In Mt 16:18 we read:

“You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church.” Or ‘You are Kepha, and on this kepha I will build my Church. ( Kepha, that’s a transliteration of the Aramaic word (in which the Gospel of Matthew was written) Kepha (rendered as Kephas in its Hellenistic form of Greek).

According to this  Catholic view there is no-way the Church can be the so-called whore of Babylon. Why not? Because if we read on, in Mt 16:19 Jesus promised:

 “And the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven”. (Matt. 16:18-19)

This passage says it all: The Apostolic authority given by Jesus, the founding of His Church and an Eternal Promise, these elements are not compatible with the evil attributed to the Church! Therefore, the Church has got it all covered just as God has!

Catholics have kept the Apostolic Tradition, which can be tracked back to St Peter, our first Bishop and leader – who you stated to be the pagan god Neptune, re-named by the Church – currently called the Pope, as well as everything else that was practiced by our forefathers.

David prophesied about the Catholic Church as being Zion:

Among those who know me I mention Rahab and Babylon, Philistiatoo, and Tyre, with Ethiopia – “This one was born there“, they say. And of Zion it shall be said, “This one and that one were born in IT, for the Most High Himself will establish it. (Psalm 87:5-4).

Such “understandings” Catholics have gives them any right or authority to go about judging other Christian Churches for not uniting with or following the True Church of Christ? Absolutely not!! Because the Scriptures (1Cor 13: 1-7) say:

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Finally, let us not lose sight of what happened as soon as M. Luther broke up with the Church. In the following years of after the Reformation there were many others who disagreed with him, and walked out to found their own “truthful” church. It well documented that before M. Luther’s death there were already 280 sects of Christianity, all of them claiming to be the right one. Nowadays there are 38 thousand, of which not a single one fully agrees with the others. Therefore, to try to argue about who is right and wrong under such circumstances would require an enormous amount of time reading and studying, to say the least.

Therefore, I will not boast about being right nor will I write resentful posts on the internet. I will pray much that the prayer of Jesus in Jn. 17:11 will not be in vain and that one day all followers of Christ will be one in Him, as He and the Father are One.

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Read also: Saved by Grace Alone! and Catholic Doctrine of Salvation Revealed: By Grace alone

One of the biggest misconceptions about the Catholic teaching regarding salvation is the notion that says Catholics believe that they can ‘earn’ their salvation through good works. This is inaccurate and must be addressed. Catholics believe that Salvation is a free gift of God to all mankind and that we receive it through the merits of Jesus’ Sacrifice on the Holy Cross, not by our own efforts. However, we do believe that we have to diligently strive to do God’s will so that we may appear before the Lord wearing wedding clothes (Matt 22:11). Our offenses or sins distance us from God, which can ultimately impact  on our salvation because nothing unclean shall enter Heaven (Revelation 21:27).  In other words, our good works are the fruits of the faith we have (James 2:15-18).

WORK out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12).

 “And I heard a voice from Heaven saying, ‘Write: blessed are the dead who die in the Lord henceforth. Yes, says the Spirit, let them rest from their labors, for their WORKS follow them.” (Rev 14:13)

We believe that through His Sacrifice, we were granted a hope  to attain eternal  life.  As opposed to the Protestant notion that Salvation is a certainty for all those who ‘believe’ in Jesus, in spite of one’s actions in life. This ’doctrine’ is called ‘Sola Fide’ or Faith alone.

Hebrews 10:23 – Let us hold unswervingly to the HOPE we profess, for he who promised is faithful.

Titus 3: 6-7 – “whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Saviour, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the HOPE of eternal life”.

Now, if the scriptures assure us in many instances that there is no condemnation for those who are ‘in Christ’ (Rom 8:1) and that those who are ‘in Christ’ shall enter heaven, why can’t Catholics be certain? The definition of being ‘in Christ’ is certainly more complex that just saying the ‘sinners prayer’ and proclaiming Jesus as Lord and Saviour. To be truly ‘in Christ’ one needs to abide in His teachings.

Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will KEEP my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. (John 14:23)

Above Jesus talks about the importance of KEEPING His teachings as the key to being loved by the Father, not merely ‘confessing faith’ in Him. Obviously, keeping His teachings is a consequence of having faith in Him, and both are clearly interconnected, but in saying this Jesus signals that we have to live our faith, which opposes the faith alone belief.

James 2: 24 “You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone”.

Although Jesus’ Sacrifice on the cross meant the forgiveness of sins, it didn’t mean sins were covered up. The Catholic understanding is that faith in Christ is necessary for Salvation,  but His death did not take away our free will to do evil or good. 

Do the Scriptures Support good works?

Mt 16: 27 – For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, & then he will reward each person according to what he has done. (has done = deeds)

Matt. 25: 40,45 – Jesus says “Whatever you did to the least of my brothers, you did it to Me”. We are judged and our eternal destiny is determined in accordance with our works.

Luke 14:14-13 – But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

Jesus says we are repaid for the works we have done at the resurrection of the just.

A oppositor wrote me this:

There are other verses that make it impossible to believe our salvation would be judged by our works.

Rom 9:16 – It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. And John 6:37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.

So I’m guessing you believe this verse to be a lie since you disagree with it. Our salvation is not up to us or by what we do. You are a liar. Catholics DO NOT believe we are saved by God’s grace. They believe we have to earn salvation through works also.

As stated, Catholics do not deny that Salvation is received by Grace. The official teaching of the Church is that we can be saved only by God’s grace.  With this said, for an accurate understanding of the Scriptures  above – John 6:37 and Rom 9:16 –  these verses must  be read in the light of what the Scriptures convey as a whole, and not through selected excerpts.

“Behold, I come quickly! And My reward is with Me, to render to each one according to his WORKS.” (Rev 22:12)

For instance, the same way St Paul talks about the role of Faith for salvation in Galatians 2:15–16, he also asserts on the value of our works in 1 Cor 3:12-15 and explains that even if our works are burned, we are ultimately saved, but only through purification or ‘fire’.

Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and he fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. 1 Cor 3:12-15

I asked an objector of  faith & works: Why would God judge our works?  And if He is not interested in our deeds, why did Jesus promise to reward our good actions, can you explain this?

This is the answer I received:

Of course good works matter, I can’t imagine anyone going through sanctification of the Holy Spirit and not becoming a new creature resulting in Good works, but like the Bible says We are elected by God, called by God, Justified by God, Glorified by God. Salvation comes from him not us or anything we do to try to achieve it.

The  Catholic teachings do not contradict the above statement in anyways. I’d only add that we must take into account the fact that there is no sanctification without justification. No-one is sanctified – made holy – before they are justified – made just. The Catechism of the RCC says:

The Holy Spirit is the master of the interior life. By giving birth to the “inner man,” justification entails the sanctification of his whole being: Just as you once yielded your members to impurity and to greater and greater iniquity, so now yield your members to righteousness for sanctification…. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the return you get is sanctification and its end, eternal life.

It is relevant to also consider that the importance of good works is also  implicitly taught in the Scriptures in passages such as this:

Matthew 7: 14 – For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

In saying ‘the way is hard’, Jesus is signalling to us that we have to ‘stick’ to His teachings, even the hard ones, in order to be true followers. It is easier for some-one to declare he believes, than to faithfully live his life to Jesus’ standard!

But why do you call Me Lord, Lord, and do not do the things that I say? (Lk 6:46)

Did Jesus clearly tell us that we have to do good works?

But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbour to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.” Luke 10: 33-37

“Go and do likewise” is a command for us to act in our faith by good deeds and not only have a passive faith.

Furthermore, Jesus said that if we keep the commandments we will inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. Keeping the commandments incurs in not offending God by evildoing against our neighbours or directly against God. We can understand with this that if we do no good works or evil, we will enter Heaven, simply by keeping God’s Word. But Jesus goes on to say:

Mark 10:21, Mathew 19:21 & Luke 18:22 – “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

Finally, I’d like to address a common objection made by some Protestants who base their ‘faith alone’ belief on Romans 3:28. The original Greek text differs from Luther’s translation because the word faith – pistei in Greek – is not accompanied by the word alone, rather it literally translates as ‘apart from work’. In fact, the only place where faith alone appears in the New Testament, is in James 2: 24 quoted above.

In order to understand Paul’s definition of ‘apart from work’ in Romans 3:28, we need to look at what he means by works elsewhere, otherwise, he would be contradicting James, who is definitely saying that we are justified by works, not faith alone.  In other Scriptures, Paul specifies what kind of works he is referring to: works of the law of circumcision, which he strongly opposes (Galatians 5:2). 

Furthermore, Paul  explains that we must show the “fruit of the Spirit” (Gal 5:16–26), which are our good deeds – and bear one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:5), again our good actions towards our neighbours – as a way of fulfilling the “law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2), which means abiding in His teachings.

Therefore, the Scriptures do  confirm the Catholic understanding for Faith & works regarding salvation. This doctrine, does not imply, however, that a soul can never go straight to heaven, because for Catholics  certainty of eternal life is a reality for those who follow Jesus with strict and unconditional obedience throughout life.

 

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In the liturgy of the word Catholic Christians come together to thank God for God’s gifts. Listening to God’s word (the Bible) they grow in faith more conformed to the mind of Christ. Liturgy celebrates the wonders of creation and gives thanks for the reality of redemption. The liturgy is a celebration not of what God has said, but of God today is speaking to our hearts and souls. The daily readings are not a random selection of scriptural passages that will form the Liturgy of any given Mass. Rather it is the result of a carefully selected set of passages that are specially related and intended to shed light upon the Gospel Scripture. The daily readings are, therefore, are relevant within the context of the liturgical calendar and conform a progression and logical account of the history of salvation, culminating on Our Lord’s  redeeming works. If a Catholic assiduously attends Mass during the course of two years, he/she will be able to go through the entire bible with the Church.

A). The First Reading: -The Hebrew Scriptures: The first reading is mostly chosen from the Old Testament and during some seasons the Book of Acts might be read. This reading usually harmonizes with the Gospel reading (see below). This reveals the continuity between Israel and Jesus who comes not to replace but to fulfill Israel.

B). The Responsorial Psalm: The Psalm reflects themes in the readings. The Psalm consists of an antiphon. This is a vehicle of prayer and praise – an atmosphere of prayer within which the readings occur.

C). The Second Reading – The Christian Scriptures: This reading is also referred to as the Epistle, is usually from one of the letters in the New Testament which may also include the Book of Acts or the Book of Revelations. While the letters address particular situations in the early Church, their message transcends the centuries to motivate contemporary Christians and deepen our appreciation of the mystery of Christ.

D). The Gospel – Alleluia: “Alleluia” is a Latin echo of the Hebrew acclamation “Praise God!” and is a key word in Christian worship. Here it heralds the Gospel. In a solemn celebration the church deacon goes to the altar where the Gospel is enthroned. He lifts the book and, accompanied by servants (altar-boys) with candles and on some occasions incense (symbols of Christ’s light), processes with the Gospels held high while choir and community acclaim the good news with “Alleluia,” alternating with verses appropriate to today’s Gospel. Christians acclaim the most wonderful deed of God among humankind, Jesus Christ, here made visible in the book containing His words and message to us all.

E). The Gospel Reading: The Gospel is the climax of the liturgy of the word. Catholic faith teaches that in proclaiming the Gospel, Christ is truly present to the community. For this reason the community stands to witness to Christ’s resurrection which allows him to be present to his people.

As the deacon or priest introduce the Gospels all in the community sign themselves with the sign of the cross traced on the forehead, the lips and over the heart. This signing reminds us “Christ in my thoughts” <forehead>, “Christ from my lips or what I say”<lips> and “Christ in my heart” <over the heart>.

Hearing the Gospel proclaimed also reminds and identifies Catholics with the first community which heard these words for the mouth of Jesus. On the conclusion of the reading the minister proclaims, “This is the Gospel of the Lord.” He means not the book, but the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the “Good News” itself. The community affirms in faith by responding, “Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ”.

F). The Homily (or mini-sermon): Christians believe that “faith comes through preaching.”(Romans 3:13-15). This idea is rooted in Jewish belief that the creative power of God’s word transforms human life.

The Scriptures are not always easy to understand and apply to present life. For this reason the homily breaks open the Scriptures, showing how the word of God addresses us today. What import does the Gospel have for our lives today, for the world we live in, for issues in the community forum?

G). The Profession of Faith: (the Creed): The Creed is a written profession summarizing the community’s search for an ever deepening understanding of Jesus and His message. The Nicene-Constantinople Creed is most often used at Mass, although the Apostles’ Creed may be used at some liturgies. Please note that both creed’s are used by not only the Catholic Church, but also by Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Methodists, Lutherans, Orthodox and many other Christian faiths.

H). General Intercessions (Prayers of the Faithful): The people petition God for the needs of the Church, society, the parish, people in need, the sick and suffering, and those who have died. They direct our faith which has been deepened through prayer and listening to God’s word to specific situations today. These prayers conclude the Liturgy of the Word.

An overview of the Liturgy of the Eucharist will be posted shortly.  Please visit this page soon again!

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I struggle to accept the Protestant argument for their belief in Sola Scriptura,  and I have not yet encountered a Protestant brother in Christ who could prove to me, without a doubt, that indeed Sola Scriptura is the rule of faith that Jesus Christ gave us. This is because, as Catholic, I acknowledge that when Jesus gave his authority to his disciples he was instituting the teaching authority of his Church.

 “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to OBEY everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Mattew 28:17-20)

Protestants wrongly accuse the Catholic Church to value tradition over the Scripture, to despise the Bible and even discourage its reading. So lets us first have a look at what the Church actually says about the Divine Revelation and the word of God. 

“Therefore, since everything asserted by the inspired authors or sacred writers must be held to be asserted by the Holy Spirit, it follows that the books of Scripture must be acknowledged as teaching solidly, faithfully and without error that truth which God wanted put into sacred writings (5) for the sake of salvation. Therefore “all Scripture is divinely inspired and has its use for teaching the truth and refuting error, for reformation of manners and discipline in right living, so that the man who belongs to God may be efficient and equipped for good work of every kind” (2 Tim. 3:16-17, Greek text). Vatican II, Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, n 11

Most Protestants also reject the authority of the Church of Rome and, as I understand it, their view is based on one single scripture passage from which they concluded that the ‘Bible is complete, authoritative, and true‘. 

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). 

The problem with the protestant interpretation of this passage is that it does not declare that the Scripture alone is sufficient or the exclusive means to receive the Divine Revelation. Rather, it says that it is useful. Logic prompts us to ask ourselves: If truthful oral transmission of Jesus’ teachings were not good, but Scripture alone, why would Jesus command the Apostles to ‘go and teach’ and not ‘go and write’? And what can we make of scriptures that actually contradict what protestants say 2 Timothy 3:16 intends to convey? 

What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 1:13). 

” guard what have been entrusted to you” […] (1 Timothy 6:20)

Now there are also many other things that 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. (Jn 21:25) 

So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter. (2 Thessalonians 2:15)  

As I discussed this issue with a protestant brother, he referred me to an apologetic website were it stated: “For centuries the Roman Catholic Church had made its traditions superior in authority to the Bible. This resulted in many practices that were in fact contradictory to the Bible.”

Firstly, we can see from this statement that there is a profound lack of knowledge of the Catholic Church’s teachings. It  indicates  that the understanding of the definition of ‘Infallible Doctrine’ and ‘Dogma’ is lacking here. Furthermore, it is easy to prove that no Doctrine proclaimed by the Roman Catholic Church lacks scriptural support.

The Catholic view is that the Word of God is the Truth, and that the only way for believers to know God and His will  is to stay truthfully loyal to what He has revealed through the Scriptures.  Protestants argue that all believers are perfectly and equally equipped to have an accurate understanding of the Truth, because they are aided and guided by the Holy Spirit, regardless of  any external conditions or interference, such as the individual’s level of commitment to attain an accurate understanding of the Scriptures or even the danger of an evil influence, that might play a role on the individual’s outlook on matters of faith and morals. 

The protestant argument collapses, however, when it fails to explain why there are different ramifications of Christians with so many conflicting views and interpretations of the same scriptures, where each and every one of them reflect the interpretation of mortal men, such as Luther, Calvin and others.

If the Word of God is self-explanatory and if we always succeed to follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance; surely all Christians should have a perfectly consensual interpretation of what the Scriptures convey, which as said, is not the case. Now, in practical terms, Protestants seem to believe that God  intended for us to perpetually re-invent the wheels (meaning, individually  ‘re-learn’ the truth conveyed in the Scriptures), since we cannot trust what others who came before us received from Jesus’ very Apostles, and handed on to humanity either through writings or oral teachings.

So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?”And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. (Acts 8:30-31) 

There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. (2 Peter 3:15)

About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. (Heb. 5:10-13) 

The examples above seem to confirm two things to us: 1- Oral transmission is not only acceptable, but necessary; 2- we ought to be aware of the risk of misinterpreting the Scripture, otherwise it would be the same as to state that the Constitution of a given country is the sole authority for civil conduct of all citizens, and that civil affairs are subject only to the interpretation of each individual. Each person can have their understanding of any specific law without the authority of an appointed judge/law expert to interpret the law. 

Catholics believe that we not only need such an authority, but that Jesus bestowed a special ‘Teaching Authority’ onto the Apostles to lead all Christian in the honest, truthful way to God. 

And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Acts 2:2-4)

If Christians have failed to ’listen’ to the Holy Spirit, or at least some of us have, since there is no consensus between Catholics and Protestants ( or even amongst Protestant), can we really believe that Jesus expected each individual to be born on earth to be responsible not only for the task of seeking the truth, but also understating it with unerring accuracy? 

The Catholic Church, through the Fidei Depositum, has been a guardian of both the Divine Revelation contained in the Scriptures and of the oral teachings handed on to her by the Apostles. The Church has fought through the centuries not only for the proclamation of the Gospel worldwide; but has also shed blood to protect it. 

The Authority of the Catholic Church, in the light of the Apostolic Succession, comes not from man-made tradition but from the Bible itself! In Acts 15:1-14 we read how Peter solved a doctrinal issue without referring to the Scripture, but in the authority given to him as leader by Jesus, as well as through the wisdom of the Holy Spirit bestowed upon him at Pentecost. The truth revealed to the Apostles by Jesus and the Holy Spirit has indeed been transmitted through the centuries in the history of the Church with the backing of Jesus’ promise to the Apostles to be with His Church to the end of time. Note here that Jesus is not only promising this to the Apostles, who we know did not live in the world perpetually, rather ‘the end of time’ indicates that He refers even to their successors and followers yet to come. Therefore, there can be no doubt that the Catholic Church is indeed the instituted authority on earth to teach and protect the teachings of Lord. 

“We can know, beyond the shadow of any doubt, that Scripture is true, authoritative, and reliable. The same cannot be said of tradition.” 

This is another serious misconception and distortion of facts, since neither does the Catholic Church deny that the Bible is the complete revealed truth nor does she base any of her Doctrines merely on Tradition.

Some protestants, not all, recognize the conditions that early Christians faced in early days of Christianity, when there was no Bible, and therefore the need for them to accept the oral teachings of the Apostles. In fact, Jesus did not commission the Apostles to write, or even to circulate the Scriptures. Instead he commanded them to go and make disciples of all nations (Mark 16:20). Amongst the seventy-two disciples, and early followers of Christ, only eight have left any sacred writings. This proves to us that from the early days Christian believers accepted the living authority of the disciples, not private interpretation of the Scriptures.

When protestants are confronted with historical facts, such as non-existence of printing press, which caused the Bible to be very rare for over a thousand years, or the very high rates of illiteracy throughout history, and so on, they are left no convincing argument, except for acknowledging the role of an early teaching authority, namely, the Church. 

The website I mentioned above fails to explain how the early Christians living under such conditions could still be in accordance with the concept of Scripture alone. Instead it blames the Catholic Church for not ensuring Bibles were widely available: 

Further, rather than this being an argument against sola scriptura, it is actually an argument for what the church should have done, instead of what it did. The early church should have made producing copies of the Scriptures a high priority. […] . Instead of building traditions upon traditions and passing them on from generation to generation, the church should have copied the Scriptures and taught the Scriptures (2 Timothy 4:2). 

Firstly, I can’t see how 2 Timothy 4:2 can support such claim: “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching”, for it states exactly what the Catholic Church has been doing for 2 millennia. Secondly, history proves this statement to be thoroughly untrue, in fact the Church has not only always protected the Scriptures from destruction but encouraged Scriptural reading: 

St. John Chrysostom
Doctor of the Church. 

“To become adult Christians you must learn familiarity with the scriptures” 

[On the Letter to the Ephesians – Education of Children.] 

“But what is the answer to these charges? ‘I am not,’ you will say, ‘one of the monks, but I have both a wife and children, and the care of a household.’ This is what has ruined everything, your thinking that the reading of scripture is for monks only, when you need it more than they do. Those who are placed in the world, and who receive wounds every day have the most need of medicine. So, far worse even than not reading the scriptures is the idea that they are superfluous. Such things were invented by the devil.”
[St. John’s Second Homily on Matthew section 10 (which is sometimes labelled as section 5.)] 
Bishop and Doctor of the Church 

“Holy Scripture is invested with supreme authority by reason of its sure and momentous teachings regarding the faith. Whatever, then, it tells us of Enoch, Elias and Moses — that we believe. We do not, for instance, believe that God’s Son was born of the Virgin Mary simply because He could not otherwise have appeared in the flesh and ‘walked amongst men’ — as Faustus would have it — but we believe it simply because it is written in Scripture; and unless we believe in Scripture we can neither be Christians nor be saved.” [S. Aug., Contra Faustum, 26, 3, 6.] 

 Pope St. Gregory I 

“The Emperor of heaven, the Lord of men and of angels, has sent you His epistles for your life’s advantage—and yet you neglect to read them eagerly. Study them, I beg you, and meditate daily on the words of your Creator. Learn the heart of God in the words of God, that you may sigh more eagerly for things eternal, that your soul may be kindled with greater longings for heavenly joys.”
[Letters, 5, 46. (EnchBibl 31)] 

So here we are faced with a never-ending disagreement that, to my view, will only end through the divine intervention. For this I see no other way but pray, in the meaning time I keep thank God and praising him to have placed me in the holy Mother Church.

For more evidence on the early Catholic Church and the Bible click here. 

(died 604 AD)Saint Augustine (354-430 AD) (344/354 – 407 AD)

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“‘They are a power, a command given by God through Christ to all of Christendom for the retaining and remitting of the sins of men.’”  (Reformer Martin Luther on confession, 1531)

Modern day Protestants, especially  Evangelicals,  have a problem with  many  teachings of the Catholic Church. But most of all, for them the claim that the Catholic Church makes as being the ultimate guardian of the Divine Revelation on earth, can sound not only offensive, but arrogant. The fact is that the Catholic Church indeed claims  to be the guardian of the Truth revealed to the Apostles and that she received such  Authority from Christ Himself. Many secondary issues spring from the protestant rejection of the Catholic claim for her Authority, such as the existence or the need  for Popes,  or simply the authority for a priest to forgive sins. 

Pastors and teachers are in charge of interpretation of the Scriptures to keep doctrine whole and pure among believers (Book 4 . 3. 4 – Reformer John Calvin)    

We admit therefore that Ecclesiastical pastors are to be heard just like Christ himself.  (John Calvin – letter to Sadoleto)
 

Before I go on discussing this, for the sake of clarity, since many non-Catholics lack some basic understanding of what Catholicism actually teaches; I feel that I need to address some fundamental concepts in order to answer this properly: 

I-Ecclesiastical Authority  
II- Apostolic Succession   

Whenever someone says “this” or “that” teaching/doctrine of the Catholic Church is not Biblical; for the sake of discussion, I must to ask them to consider a couple of important points:      

1- For almost 400 years Christianity had no published Bible, in fact, for the next thousand years after the Bible was compiled, until the printing press was invented, there were scant few Bibles available, in a world almost completely illiterate and impoverished. Needless to say that the few lucky ones who possessed a Bible were a wealthy, privileged and literate minority.      

This surely must prompt any reasonable person to ask themselves: how did the early Christians, especially those living in the first centuries of Christianity, learn the Gospel if there was no Bible?      

History tells us that they HAD to rely on the  Oral Tradition, which was passed onto them by the Apostles and then their elected disciples. This is what the Catholic Church calls Sacred Tradition ( with Capital T), which some Protestants prefer to call man-made tradition.      

2- The Church declares she is Apostolic – this is historically documented and can be proven (for instance, we can refer to the oldest document of Christianity,  The Didache 50 AD, discovered in 1886) – and that therefore, her teachings are infallible.  Since the Church is Apostolic, she proclaims also that her Authority comes from Christ. Why does she say that?      

Because Christ founded His Church upon one of the Apostles, Simon Peter or Cephas, who was the first  *overseer of the early Church ( *episcopos in Greek or bishop in English) and thus a Pope (which means father – 1 Cor 4: 14-15), and also because of Jesus’ promises to the Apostles:          

“Then Jesus also said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matt 28:18-20).      

Before I give further evidence to this, let us stop here to analyze what his last sentence (in Matt 28:20) means:      

Why would Jesus say: I am with you always, to the end of the age? Surely Jesus knew that the Apostles, like the rest of us, would expire (die) one day. This is because His promise applied not only to the Apostles themselves, but also to the disciples or successors that He, Jesus, had commanded them to make in all nations.  Obviously Jesus, in His Divine wisdom, was foretelling the history the Apostolic Succession in the Church.     

Then we see Jesus promising the Apostles the necessary wisdom to teach the Truth:      

“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit comes, he will guide you into ALL TRUTH.” (Jn 16:12-13)  

“This things I have spoken to you, ABIDING with you. But the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring all things to your mind, whatsoever I shall have said to you… When the Paraclete comes, whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of Truth, who proceeds from the Father, he shall give testimony of me. And you shall give testimony, because you are with me from the beginning. ( Jn 14:25-26 ; 15:26-27)      

This is where the Catholic & Apostolic Church takes her assurance for her Authority, as well as the comfort for the accuracy of her teachings. Because the truth of the Gospel was received without error by the Apostles, who in turn, transmitted it without error to their disciples (2 Tim 2:2), who are the successors who later formed the Catholic Chuch in the 1st century – As, for instance, St Ignatius of Antioch, who was a disciple of the Apostle John and became the Catholic bishop of Antioch. The Catholic & Apostolic Church has preserved the Apostolic teachings throughout the centuries, and her discernment on dogmas and doctrines comes from the Holy Spirit as per Jesus’ promise, and are, therefore,  free of error.      

Furthermore, Jesus said: As the Father has sent me, I also SEND you. ( Jn 20:21). After giving the Apostles authority and reassurance of wisdom, Jesus makes it clear that His Church, which He founded upon Cephas, His Rock, is to be no less of a teacher than He Himself was.      

Our brothers Protestants may argue that Jesus was giving His authority to the whole body of believers, which was going to become His Church, not only to the Apostles. Well, this is not what Scriptures tell us. Jesus was talking to His chosen disciples not to the crowds. Had He meant that the Teaching Authority of the Church was to be given to the whole body of believers, Jesus would have either told it to all believers or commanded the Apostles to do so. He did neither.  

Furthermore, we can clearly verify how the Apostles embraced this Teaching Authority given to them in the Scripture themselves. Paul talks about this in his letters, when he says that only some have been placed in the Church as TEACHERS, not all (1Cor 12:28-29).      

For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. I am your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. (1 Cor 4: 14-15)    

3- Confessing to a Priest

Having discussed the issues of Authority as well as Succession, I would like to reiterate that all priests in the Catholic Church are anointed in the Spirit and are, in their priestly ministry, successors of the Apostles.

But why does the Church declare the need for Confession?      

Because Jesus instituted it Himself:      

Those whose sins you forgive are forgiven, and he whose sins you retain, are retained (Jn 20:22-23)      

Jesus gave the Apostles authority to forgive sins just as He had authority given by the Father to forgive sins on earth as the Son of Man (Matthew 9:6), not as Son of God.  Jesus forgave sins while He was in the world in spite of the Pharisees’ contempt for His authority, because up until that point only God could forgive sins!      

Now, Jesus gave the Apostles the authority to forgive sins, but He did not confer to them the ability to read the minds of the sinners. How could we expect the Apostles to be able to exercise their authority to forgive without accepting that the believer would have to verbally express their sins and repentance to the Apostles?    As we can see in St. Paul’s epistoles  the Apostles did take their role seriously:

[…] ‘What I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been [forgiven] for your sake in the presence of Christ.’ (2 Cor 2:10)     

There are plenty of evidence in the writtings of the ealry Christians that the new-believers, just as the Jews would confess publicly their sins, they embraced this Sacred Tradition and confessed their sins. The problem is that many Sola Scriptura Protestants will not accept any historic document that can prove this fact, because they are ruled only by what is explicitly written in the Sacred Scriptures.

Jesus Christ arranged things so that the Sacramental forgiveness would come through the ministry of the priest. If someone argues against that he is not so much arguing with the Catholic Church, but with Christ Himself.  (P. Madri)    

Catholics are members of an Apostolic Church and for this reason we take the Apostolic character of the Church very seriously because the Lord said  to the Apostles:    

“Whoever listens to you, listens to me. Whoever rejects you, rejects me“. (Lk 10:16).     

Lastly, I is important to point out that whenever a Catholic confesses to a priest, he is confessing to Our Lord Jesus through a priest, just as St Paul tells us in (2 Cor2:10). The forgiveness comes from God, not from the priest, who is acting as a ‘alter Christus’ because of the Scriptural authority given by Jesus.   

In spite of private confession, Catholics preserve an ancient Tradition, as the Jews of the OT would do, to admit our sins  at   Mass everyday, when we recite a public Penitential Prayer:      

I confess to almighty God, and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have sinned through my own fault in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done, and in what I have failed to do; and I ask blessed Mary, ever virgin, all the angles and saints, and you, my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord our God.      

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