A Visit to Heaven

This is now part 1 of 2. Check out part 2, brand new as of February 2012, here.

My brother is a Roman Catholic seminarian, and I visited him at Mount Saint Marys Seminary the last couple days to see him installed in his second-to-last office (acolyte) before hopefully being ordained a priest (in about two years). I’ve been hoping to visit John for a long time, and finally got the opportunity.

My Evangelical brothers and sisters typically misunderstand and mischaracterize the Catholic Church, its leaders and theology and practices, so I felt compelled to write this to them, an “open letter” if you will.

First off, much of what Evangelicals believe about Catholicism, what they believe and who they are, is flat out incorrect. I will not dedicate any space here to that, except to say that people don’t listen to each other all that well in the 21st century, even though it’s easier than ever, technologically, to do. We should all try harder.

So let me tell you what I found among the more than 150 seminarians I spent a couple days with.

I found men who love Jesus with a passion and wholeness that I find rare among Christians of any stripe in these days.

I found men who struggle with the same kinds of things that we all do, regular guys who are dealing with what we all deal with… with the amazing support of Christ, of their brothers, and of the church.

I found men who can chuck a frisbee way farther than I ever will be able to.

I found a place where worship is very deep, even sublime, and regular and intentional and heartfelt… and amazing, and where prayer is an intentionally regular and essential and practiced part of every day. I found that Jesus was palpably present in every room and hallway.

I ate one of the tastiest meals I’ve had in forever.

I found generosity that is inspiring.

I found a group of guys that, when it’s time to have fun… have some serious fun.

I found real intelligence, insight and wisdom being leveraged for the kingdom of Heaven. Almost any of these guys could probably lead, and lead well, in any secular company and probably make a lot of money.

I found the presence of Christ in community that I was, frankly, a little envious of.

I found a love of Christ’s body on earth that you don’t find very often anywhere.

I found that not everybody will make it, but if they don’t, it is handled with grace and love. I didn’t find any ambition, though, really.

I didn’t actually really hear anybody say anything that wasn’t uplifting and encouraging.

I met leaders and instructors who care for those under their charge with passion and charity.

I found the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit elevated and exalted and magnified in every single thing. I found some things that are not my particular practices, but even those things did nothing but lift up and exalt our Lord.

Men, what a blessing you were to me! I have news for you. Heaven will be just like this!

If these men are any indication of the kinds of people who will emerge as the priests and leaders of the Catholic Church in this new century, there are great days ahead for them, and more and more people are going to experience the Gospel in real, tangible ways.

Note: Since I wrote this, this post has become most of my internet traffic for the entire year, receiving thousands of hits. Thanks for sharing my joy in people who are passionately in love with Jesus and His Church.

But… I have received some comments (VERY few) I am not allowing to be posted here that were, in my opinion, inflammatory or negative. Sorry. It’s my blog… You’re welcome to start your own… but divisiveness among those who love and follow Jesus, especially divisiveness built on prejudice and ignorance and even past hurts, is not something I can stand any more at this stage in my life. My life’s background has included mainline and evangelical Christianity as well as Roman Catholocism (which I grew up in). I know what I speak of, and many of you that are saying the things you are saying are flat out incorrect, and I’m sorry for your hurts or feelings, but they have no place here. Blessings!


91 thoughts on “A Visit to Heaven

  1. Thanks for your kind words brother! I’m glad you had a chance to visit, and that you saw Christ here. Christ is Risen; He is Risen indeed!

  2. It was good to meet you this weekend, Peter. These kind words above are edifying. It is good to read an “outside” perspective, because, over the years, it is easy to take it all for granted.

    God bless,


  3. Dear Peter … it was a pleasure meeting you this weekend. Thank you for sharing your heartfelt observations. I rejoice that the Lord revealed His presence so powerfully through us unworthy vessels … all praise and honor and glory to Him! Many blessings on your walk with Him. G from Atlanta.

  4. Praise be to Jesus Christ, now and forever. Amen. Your story is very uplifting in this day of cynics and venomous vitriol. We are all Christians and Jesus Himself told us to “Love One Another.” Thank you for your words of encouragement to that end.

  5. Thank you for your kind and encouraging words about our future priests. It brought me great joy. In the words of Jesus Christ, echoed by popes like Blessed John Paul II, may we all be one, as Christ prayed us to be. One flock, one faith, one church! May this day come soon!

  6. Really interesting post Peter. I have through the years heard people who were genuinely surprised to know that Catholics are Christians. Maybe because Christians are either protestant or catholic and each group thinks the other is not Christian for some reason. But that’s not the case. I like what you said about the current group of men you mention here becoming the leaders and priests in the Catholic church of this new century. That is so encouraging for the Christian Faith of all denominations. We need to realize we all serve the same God and the same Son and have the same Holy Spirit and the same desire to see others know them too. Good post Peter! thanks

    1. Deana- What you wrote about ALL Christians serving the same God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and that we Christians are all called upon to see that others know the Holy Trinity too, describes The Great Commission command.

      There are many different denominations of Christianity – and yet, most Christians have as their source, the Holy Bible. I too, have had people ask me, “Are Catholics Christian?”

      I believe it is due to the fact that while we have readings at Mass, Old Testament, Psalms and the Epistles and Gospels too, few priests preach in an expository fashion, “exposing” Scripture truths, verse by verse.

      For instance, the Book of Romans, considered by many to be “The Christian Constitution”, is rarely taught, although it is sometimes read in Mass.

      1. @Born Again Craddle Catholic – I do not know what you mean by expository fashion and I am not in the same country with you but listen to the proclamation of the same words. I do however know that I get to connect the various readings at each Mass from the preachings unless I am distracted. This distraction, which I believe might be your problems here, is expecting the priests to preach in a particular fashion that appeals to you irrespective of whether it brings home the readings or not. Just try to have a more relaxed mindset and listen. It is important. As for the preaching on St. Paul’s letter to the Romans, the same distraction rears its head. The priest cannot read from Ephesians and decided to preach on Romans. There is orderliness and each circle brigns with it uniquely arranged readings. Follow the leading of the Church and you will be better off. May God enlighten our hearts through Christ our Lord, Amen.


  7. What a wonderful post. Thank you for this. Some of us need to hear this to in order to understand that our seminaries are back on track after some rather dark days.
    Peace to you and your brother.

  8. Thank you for your gracious telling of your recent visit to Mount Saint Mary Seminary. These whom you describe are those whose precious hands God shall be leaving His Church, here in the USA. We eagerly await their priesthood, as we cry out for the noticeable and increasing courage and goodness of this upcoming generation of priests. Thanks be to God for every one of them and for your encouraging words on their behalf.

  9. As a Catholic, I am so grateful for such supportive and genuine words for our priests. They sacrifice so much in their vocation. Society tends to really be unkind to anyone who loves Our Lord, so thank you for sharing your thoughts and building the Body up!
    God bless!

  10. My husband and I travel from Frederick most Sundays to attend Mass with the Seminarians. It is good to be in this Holy Place and to join these men, young and old, who have responded to a call….it is indeed a tiny piece of Heaven. The Baldwins

  11. What a nice and uplifting article.Thank you for your positive and fair portrayal of our seminarians,and future priests.As a Catholic I am quite aware of the ignorant and hateful remarks directed towards our faith.Most of these people only know what they are taught.I pray that those who hurl negativity and lies will step back and see themselves.Is this Christian?God bless you and may God bless our priests.May He increase their numbers,increase their faith,increase their holiness,increase their strength.For those who attack out of ignorance I pray that you will take the time to actually learn what it is you attack and not go by some biased preaching.

  12. Great post! I just said a prayer for you and for the Seminarians you met. What a positive writing and thanks for it! I’m not afraid to say I love my Catholic faith and I thank God for it. God loves everyone. Praise be Jesus Christ now and forever – AMEN!

    1. I love your article and thank you for defending the seminarians…who will be our future priests.Thanks for being so brave as to write this article.I remember,Blessed John Paul2.He would always say..”DO NOT BE AFRAID”.And,that is you.
      I am so proud and happy to be a Roman Catholic.

      God bless you and more power to you,

  13. Thank you so much for sharing this, it gives joy and hope for the future. We need more posts like this .

  14. I worked with a fraternity of Italian missionary priests many years ago, as well as having been active in the Catholic Church experiencing the ministry of the Catholic priesthood.

    All in all, I found in my entire life, that the Catholic priests are the nicest people in the world.

    Thank you very much for your kindness and honesty as well, Peter.

  15. Loved your post. Praying when we shall all be one, the children of One Father, then we can have Heaven down here. Thanks to God for the miracle of the men who heed His call and for all the faithful who love Him like there is no tomorrow!

  16. My faith journey has been a long one. I have joined almost all the churches going but when my husband died i went with a catholic friend to fatima portugal where i found in the catholic church a deep reverence to Jesus The Holy Spirit and Almighty God and like you i found the deep peace and love of heaven. In all the churches that i have been to there was the same love of the trinity but expressed in their own way and why not God created us all differently. We must always remember that we are all CHRISTIANS and live our Lords last command to love ye one another as I have loved you. Dear christians out there i love you all in Jesus Christ and may His Devine Mercy forgive His foolish children,

  17. I just want to say “Thank You” for the courage it took to write this article. I’m sure you were aware of some of the back-lash you would receive and yet you handled it beautifully. I am Catholic to the core…and being one has taught me that God loves all of us. A Christian never gains anything by putting another religion down. Aren’t there enough subjects about which to speak without having to stoop to name-calling and doesn’t it speak so very poorly of another church to, in order to make themselves look better, feel the need to another one down?
    Our most precious Lord and Savior said it all……….”Love one another”.
    Thanks and God bless!

  18. What a heartwarming article!!!! A million thanks to you. So how to I seek unity with my ‘born-again’ relatives who came to the Catholic Mass for my daughters wedding and exclaimed loudly in my church, ‘boy…you’d be hard-pressed to find the Holy Spirit in this place!’. I just about cried and begged the Lord to forgive them and my angry broken heart. Again, thank you!!!!

    1. Nancie – It was not charitable for anyone to loudly proclaim anything derogatory at a wedding, especially by your relatives and as your guests.

      Thus, I ask you to reconsider what it means to be “born again” according to the Bible. The “fruit” of the Holy Spirit & of someone that is “born again” is: love, joy, peace patience, KINDNESS, goodness, faithfulness and SELF-CONTROL.

      Real “Born Agains” are looked down upon Catholics. I used to think that odd, myself.
      Yet, Jesus told Nicodemus of the importance of being born again, and we have that reading in our Masses too.

      A helpful tip: being born again has nothing to do with the charismatic movement or of speaking in ‘tongues’. I do not speak in tongues. I am “Born Again”.

    2. Dear Nancie –
      I am rally moved by your desire to firgive them. You thought about forgivness even in the midst of your hurt and anger. That is a true sign of the Holy Spirit it you. I know the pain you are in. In some kind of weird way, I think our relatives think they are helping us by saying these things. And, to tell the truth, I often want to be like them and say things back that might be just as cutting! But, of coure, I don’t. I, like you feel angry and hurt inside and pray that God heal them, and me. The Catholic silence is often seen as laziness or spiritual dryness, but I think of the grandmas in the pews saying their rosaries year after year and I know it’s not. It is a strength. It is the calm in the storm. Keep praying! Be at peace. One day we will all be united with Our almight God and these things will fade away! PAX

    1. The seminary largely serves diocesan seminarians. There are a few other religious orders that send men there. Currently, there are a handful of Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word (MFVA)and one brother from the Missionaries of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary (MSSCC).

  19. I’m so glad you enjoyed your time here at the Mount with us! It was great having you here. It really is a blessing for each one of us to be here with the Lord. Ah, the incredible experience we’ve been given is indescribable. Know that you are in my prayers; God love you!

  20. Thank for the detail and the sincerity. I’ve visited there too and sensed what you sensed.

    God bless you and your brother, and all seminarians.

  21. I just wanted to say it was wonderful to read the joy in your heart as you expressed yourself and your time with your brother in the seminary. Jesus has truly found his way into your heart! When you get those negative remarks you must remember that the evil one is working overtime on people and jealousy is one of the biggest sins out there now. I am so glad you can overlook them! God has truly blessed you with this gift and He is waiting with open arms for you to embrace Him!

  22. As a mom of a seminarian, I just want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart. If and when I say the things you said my evangelical brothers and sisters look at me as if I’m brainwashed – as if what I share can’t possibly be true. It hurts. Reading your post begins to heal that hurt. Thank you. May God continue to bless you and your brother. I will keep him in our prayers as he approaches his ordination. It is a wonderful time to be a priest.

  23. Dear Pietrosquared, You write with such passion and such a true deep love for Christ! You found Him in the seminary and came away blessed. Is it possible that perhaps Christ is looking at you too with eyes of love and saying to you, ‘Pietro, follow me!’? May God’s Will for you, whatever it may be, be done in your life and bring you to Heaven.

    1. Thanks, I already actually work in the ministry, and being married and having a small child would make seminary life like these gentlemen live fairly impossible.

      1. Pietrosquared- I didn’t understand what you meant to say, in your post. Are you married with a small child, and in *lay* ministry now?

        I ask because I’d like to point out from someone else’s post, it’s mentioned that Christianity is a way of life, and not just separate denominations.

        Christians are all brothers & sisters, comprised of everyone that believes in Jesus Christ as the Messiah that was promised in the Old Testament.

        There are Orthodox churches in union with Rome, where priests are married, many with children, as were the newest Anglican congregations that joined with Rome.

        So when you wrote, “being married and having a small child would make seminary life like these gentlemen live fairly impossible”, I pray it does not offend any of our wise & God-honoring brothers & their wives in our sister-churches that may be reading this blog, as their congregations love them.

        I know a Catholic woman from Syria whose Catholic pastor and his wife are well thought of & he was beautifully formed in a seminary. It is all in union with Rome. We need to be mindful of that now – especially with our new Anglican brothers & their families having joined the RCC.

      2. @Born Again Cradle Catholic – I think he just meant that he doesn’t have a vocation to the priesthood – he’s not even Catholic (yet – lol). I don’t think anyone would take offense at that. PAX

      3. Thanks for clarifying it for me, Mary. I’m a new reader to this blog.

        He sounds nice. Since he’s already in ministry – albeit music ministry? – he could still be a priest, remaining married with children, in the Orthodox branch of the Catholic church.

        Anyone taking the time to maintain a blog cares about the health of the Church. And leading worship indicates he *knows* and *honors* God.

  24. I went to the Mount and I had the same experience the entire time I was there. I was blessed to be able to attend that seminary. It is a fantastic place.

  25. My son is a seminarian at the mount. We visited last fall and also felt the wonder and joy of this seminary and the young men there. I hope your kind words travel far and wide.

  26. God bless you and your family! As I reflect on this post, something Archbishop Fulton Sheen once said comes to mind. He said more than 90 percent of the people who are against the Catholic Church oppose the Church out of ignorance (not really knowing what’s going on) and that less than 10 percent who oppose the Church do so with full knowledge and clear intent.

    My prayers are also with your brother and his fellow seminarians at Mount St. Mary’s and around the world.

    Praise be Jesus Christ now and forevermore!

  27. There was a priest that served for a time at my parish in the Diocese of Winona, MN some years ago, and I was most impressed with him. I recall that he said he attended Mount St. Mary Seminary in Maryland. His name was Father Farrell. I am wondering if this is the same seminary he attended. What a wonderful priest he is!

  28. I was thinking this past Sunday(Divine Mercy Sunday) what a grace it is to receive Christ in the Eucharist and what a grace to have faith. None of these gifts are of our own merit and how much God loves us. I will keep you in my prayers and thank you for answering the call. That is mercy itself and how blessed we are to have priests who give us the sacraments and for the ability to receive Christ’s forgiveness in the sacrament of reconciliation. May Mary Our Mother and St Joseph her most chaste spouse watch over your vocation.

  29. Thank you so much! As a convert I am really gratified to read your loving testimonial to the Church so often abused these days. And happy to hear how beautifully these men are faring. Bless you and praise our Lord!

  30. WoW!!! What a refreshing web site… I too am a lot like these people and I am tired of the “Catholic Bashing”… Your Brother is in a very Holy place, and is very Blessed, and he is passing those Blessings on to You and your Family… Peace Be with You in this Beautiful Easter Season and May GOD continue to Bless You and Your Family abundantly Today and Always…

  31. I remember growing up and going to a guy for counseling. He called himself a Christian counselor. He attended mass instead of a Christian church. I was in high school at the time, so I was very confused. I remember him talking to me and all I could think about was how this guy was Catholic and I was taught at my old church that Catholics were legalistic and Pharisees. But let me tell you, Mark Stoltz is one of the most Godly, gentle and wise men I’ve ever known.

  32. This piece truly is a gift! I have been working and serving the wonderful priests of my Diocese for 20 years. I made sure I shared this with them and I know, in this difficult time, this was music to their ears. Thank you and God bless you and every one of those seminarians.

  33. Wow. Great article with details making me feel like I was right there! Someone I know (from Massachusetts)forwarded me this link and I am just reading it now. My father grew up in DuBois!! I hope your family enjoys the town. It’s such a precious hometown I know it well. The priests at St. Catherine’s and the hospital there would all remember my grandmother- Margie (Noble) Howey. Small world.

  34. Hi Dear,
    I write you from Argentina. Your “open Letter” is great! I’m catholic and I have many evangelic friends, and we pray together to our Lord…
    Many times I thought that for a non catholic Christian was impossible to understand a seminary life.
    Thank You for shearing , it’s a testimony for my. And it’s is very well written.
    ( PD: Sorry for my English!)

  35. Great post and so true! After 30 years as Evangelical Protestants and hearing all the myths, misinformation, and untruths about the Catholic Church (including “Catholics are not Christians, they’re a cult”), by God’s marvelous grace (and the surprise of EWTN), our whole family joyfully entered the Catholic Church. My teenage children were absolutely thrilled. One of my young adult sons is joyfully heading for the priesthood! We are more in love with and closer to Jesus than ever before, deeper prayer lives, and the other blessings are too numerous to list here. By comparison, being Protestant was like standing on the threshold of an open door looking in to something beautiful. Becoming Catholic has been like stepping over the threshold into a huge marvelous space filled with Treasures. The Catholic faith is a bottomless treasure chest overflowing with riches and graces. We have never heard a Catholic make a derogatory remark about Protestants, but rather, in charity, refer to Protestants as fellow Christians or as “our separated brethren.” The greatest thing that has happened in our lives is becoming Catholic! The holy priesthood is all about Jesus Christ through humble vessels! Thank you for your post. We have experienced the same – from within!

    1. To Happy Convert- While I am very happy for your family, and rejoice with you at the news of the Catholic Church in your area bringing you peace & happiness, when you pointed out you’d never heard a Catholic make a derogatory remark about Protestants, but rather, in charity, refer to Protestants as fellow Christians, or as ‘separated bretehren’, I had to comment.

      I am a cradle Catholic, and with 12 years of Catholic education. I never left the Roman Catholic church. I have no axe to grind. I was always treated respectfully by priests and nuns, and even during my youth.

      But one thing I did differently from most fellow Catholic pew people was to sit down one day, and read the Bible, daily for four months. When I was finished, I remembered thinking, “Why did they never teach us this?” I’ve been in the Bible ever since.

      I have found that sorely lacking at Sunday Mass is any in-depth teaching from the writings of St. Paul. The reason I share this with you is I have been SO rudely treated by fellow Catholic pew people, it’s beyond belief.

      I have been called a “mole” in blogs, accused of posing as Catholic, while these people *insist* I am Protestant. Yet, I have never been in any denomination other than Roman Catholic, since I was 4 weeks old.

      I used to go by “Cradle Catholic”. But I had a few Catholic bloggers loudly complain it was like false advertising. That’s when I changed my name to “Born Again Cradle Catholic”, which is actually closer to reality, since I have realized I’ve been born-again for about 12 years.

      But even that was not good enough for them. One blogger took the time to single out several posts that were months old, and she slandered my name to the other bloggers – saying how she thought I was so sincere, and it made her cry when she realized I was just having fun on the blogs, ACTING like I wanted to learn about the Catholic faith, when I was really a die-hard Protestant!

      How can I disprove a negative? I am a Roman Catholic, but I have read the Bible (several times and from cover to cover). My only consolation is knowing that since I was writing mostly about what Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans, if Paul were alive today, and writing on blogs, he too, would be treated rudely, and called Protestant!

      I am not going to allow these fellow Catholic pew people to dampen my faith. Unless each is knowlegeable in Scripture, and in the writings of St. Paul, they are, to me, blind.
      But, please know that not all Catholics are wonderful and kind, and charitable. That may be your experience, but in my area (& in the blogosphere) frankly, Protestants are much more Christ-like, and Catholics (not all but many) can be downright brutal.

      1. I am a 60 yr. old cradle Catholic who has always been puzzled by those who say Catholics don’t read the Bible. I remember my parents buying a new Bible at our local Catholic bookstore in 1963. We read the Bible. Reading the Bible was never discouraged by the Church, but the Church did point out the need for guidance in reading the Bible since it was necessary to understand the type of writing involved in various books ( historical, poetic, allegorical, etc) and it was also necessary to understand the nuances of the language in which a particular book was written. A wonderful example given to us in grade school was one of our common phrase: “It’s raining cats and dogs.” Should someone totally unfamiliar with common English sayings translate this phrase 2000 years from now, should they take it literally? Thus there was sometimes a need for further explanation beyond just a literal translation, and the Church offered that explanation through those who were much more well versed in the Bible than the common man. More recently in Church history, footnotes have been added and so the average person can read the Bible with a more complete understanding. I first started reading the Bible as a child and have also read it over and over. As you must be aware, the Liturgy follows a repeating 3 year cycle and in the course of those 3 years, the messages of both the Old and New Testaments are covered. Our Sunday bulletins always listed the readings for the next Sunday and we were (and still are) encouraged to read them in preparation for the following Sunday. It stands to reason that once you are instructed to pick up the Bible and read certain passages, you would read them and more. If you didn’t read more, it would indicate you weren’t really interested in the first place. Just because Catholics don’t advertise that they read the Bible in their homes doesn’t mean that they don’t do it. Maybe they’re humble about it. After all, so many people talk about their Bible-reading as if it proves they are more pious than someone who doesn’t (and I don’t enjoy pointing that out!). Anyway, God bless you and keep you ever close to Him.

  36. Thanks for the good post. I pray daily for vocations “..for the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.” I remember telling a fellow Catholic years ago that I hope my sons go up to be priests and I got a look as if I hoped my sons grow up to be derelicts and drug abusers. But the culture within the church and without is changing and a new day dawns! God has tempered the steel of the faithful with fire and I believe this next generation will be blessed with faithful shepherds.
    Parents, teach your children in whatever Christian denomination that you are in to love and serve the Lord.
    Pax Christi

  37. My Brother.
    Thanks from the other side of the world for your open heart and the grace of God in it.
    You are one more step (a big one) towards the unity for which our Blessed Lord prayed and our world so desperately needs.
    May He bless you and your brother et al.

  38. You made the newadvent.org blogroll. Could explain your thousands of hits. Newadvet is kind of a big deal in the Catholic blogosphere. Great article, glad you were inspired.

  39. I TRULY appreciate your write-up of your experiences at your brother’s ordination. I am a convert to the Catholic church from a protestant denomination, and can appreciate both “sides of the coin”, so to speak. I am SO grateful to God for the heritage of my upbringing, and also UNSPEAKABLY thankful for His leading me into the Catholic Church. I have found my spiritual “home”. May God bless you for your work of attempting to show kindness, patience and understanding between brethren as believers in Christ. We should all be bridge builders – both Catholics and Protestants – so that one day, we may all “be one” in Christ, as He Himself prayed we would be. God bless, and Pax Christi!

  40. To Born Again,

    Clarification…Orthodox is not a “branch” of Catholicism. While there are differnt “RITES” in the CC the Orthodox are not one of them. He coud be married and a priest in some of those Rites. If he became Orthodox however, he would not be a Catholic.

  41. To Clarification:
    Thank you for providing me with the proper term. I think you’re referring to my use of the word Orthodox in my thanks to Mary, posted on May 4th at 8:10PM.

    I’ve only been Roman Catholic, and am only familiar with the Bible. I’m not at all informed about church history or which segments of Eastern Christianity are, or are not, in union with Rome. So – I’m grateful to you for the proper term: The Rites.

    A Christian friend would talk about her parish priest in the Middle East, telling me how nice his wife was. And when I once mentioned the Eucharist at Mass, I was shocked that she knew all about Communion.

    She told me, “Well I’m Catholic too!” That was the first time I heard about other Rites, and that they too, are “Catholic” -large “C”, not just catholic, as in universal. Because they are in the Middle East, I always think of them as Orthodox. When I was in high school, a classmate was Russian Orthodox; I thought her church was in union with Rome too. But I’m probably wrong about that.

    Regarding Rites in union with Rome, that recognize our Pope of the Day as Supreme Pontiff (again – my words only, I don’t know the proper term but am referring to whomever man is in charge in Rome, from the time of Peter … to perpetuity), is that pope considered Supreme Pontiff over their Rite too?

    And a follow-up question:
    If there is another leader in their Rite that is “Supreme” – maybe not taking Peter’s role, but perhaps James or John’s roles, is he considered infallible in faith and morals too?

    Or for Rome and *all* Rites, is there only ONE leader = Rome: whomever is the successor of Peter? I’ve always wondered about that. Thanks, in advance.

  42. Born Again Catholic – you are a dear. I love your sincerity. It’s so refreshing. To answer your question about “James and John” they would be other bishops. Each bishop has their own flock, so to speak. The Pope is also bishop. He is the bishop of Rome, and he is the chief shepherd for the whole Church. All the bishops are like brothers, and the Pope is kinda of like the oldest brother whos been put in charge while dad’s away 🙂

    1. Thank you, Mary. That’s a nice way to think of how authority is viewed in our church. It made me think of how the apostles handled the first Council of Jerusalem, detailed in Acts of the Apostles, when Paul sought to have Peter’s ear about his issue of concern then.

      It would be wonderful if more bishops were on the same page about teaching with one voice, the Deposit of Faith, and the doctrines handed down to us by the apostles.

      I live in a very liberal area. Our bishop is not much different from Catholics in the diocese, many even supporting same-sex marriage. When that came up on the ballot, our diocesan newspaper gave even more coverage to those supporting same-sex marriage, than to those wanting God-honoring laws protecting the sanctity of marriage as being between one man and one woman.

      Although our bishop never fails to speak in union with the USCCB bishops, on his own in our diocese, we are ON OUR OWN, in protecting marriage. That would never have happened with Peter, Paul, James, John, etc. and as detailed in Acts of the Apostles, and in the Council of Jerusalem.

      While each had their own flock, they were not free to teach whatever they wanted in each area, but rather, teaching the Deposit of Faith only, resulting in God-honoring behaviors for their society. Their being of “one mind” is what caused their early church to grow and to flourish. God increased their numbers for them, daily.

  43. Born again Cradle Catholic –

    I would like to address your ‘theory’ that “born again” Christians are looked down upon by Catholics. “Born Again” actually means “regeneration” or “spiritual rebirth”. This happens to all people at Baptism. This means all Catholics are born again. This has been understood by the Catholics throughout most of history. It wasn’t until the Protestant reformation that “born again” took on a new meaning. Many protestants believe that you can be “born again” more than once and cannot be “born again” until you are an adult. This is where the Catholics disagree and where you might be confusing that we look down upon those that say it. It is the Protestants that say we are NOT born again and it is the Catholics that disagree with them and say we are born again as we have been Baptised.

    You will note that in the book of John, chapter 3, Jesus is speaking to Nicodemus who is a Jewish Rabbi. The Jews were not accepting what Jesus was teaching. Jesus was telling Nicodemus that he must be born spiritually with God. Meaning, Nicodemus needs to accept his teachings.

    We also must remember that the book of John was wrote in Greek and the word “anothen” was used. This word can also mean “from above”. This is the problems with translations. Did Jesus say we are to be “born again” or “Born from above” meaning spiritual birth. BEcause of Adam and Eve’s sins, we lost our spiritual connection with God. With Jesus ultimate sacrafice, we can now be born physically and spiritually.

    I’m sure you have also noticed that Peter clarified all this in 1 Peter 1: 22-25 He explains that born again is indeed sprititual and it is God that gives us that spiritual birth, not us.

    I also would like to add – and I’m not being disrespectful – that you seem to have a very negative view of Catholics. I’m not sure why that is, but perhaps this is why other Catholics think you are a Protestant. You definatley have put us on the defensive from your first comment. Plus, by your own admission, you didn’t know the difference between Roman Catholisism and Orthodox (Frankly, I’ve been confused myself sometimes!) It makes me wonder if you have clouded your vision about Catholics because of where you live. I think you mentioned that where you live the Catholics are “brutal”.

    Hopefully, by reading this blog and others you will see that Catholics are not all (or most) like that.

    (Please excuse any misspelled words. The spell check isn’t working. I’m notorious for not knowing how to spell!)

    1. To Lily M- thank you for your detailed response and for taking the time to outline your thoughts so it was easy for me to follow.

      Regarding my mention of Catholics often being “brutal”, I meant many are brutal on blogs, not in real life, so these people are from all over the USA, and indeed world-wide.

      Not only have I had this experience, but I used to read much of what they write to non-Catholic Christians; it’s not charitable. From what I gather, most unkind remarks come from what is known as a “revert”, a Catholic that left the church, and then came back, or from converts that had been non-Catholic [coming from Protestant or non-denominational Christian churches] converting to Roman Catholic.

      Please know I am not referring to anyone on THIS blog. But on other blogs, I have had people write hurtful & untrue comments to me.

      Someone may not like how I think, but it is frustrating to be told I’m not Catholic, especially, with my background.

      I’m a revert. I never left the RCC. And I have a reason for not wanting to leave the church: my sister-in-law, to the angst of her parents, converted to Roman Catholic so the children would be raised RC & they can worship as a family.

      If it wasn’t for that (and I do understand and love the Mass) I’d leave the RCC, in a heartbeat. But instead, I stay, trying to encourage fellow Catholics to get in the Bible.

      This week I got 3 teen girls to PROMISE me they will not grow up like I did. They PROMISED me they’d read the Bible regularly, something they do not do now.

      I told them reading the Word is like food. We need it every day & it’s God’s love-letter to us. BIBLE = Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.

      About unkind bloggers- I have felt badly for the non-Catholic Christians that take time to write their thoughts on blogs, trying to reach out. Jesus’ REAL prayer was for Christian unity. Yet, when someone tries to open up & dialog with many reverts/converts – the temperature goes to *boiling hot* & gets ugly. I stopped even looking at many of those blogs, because it is often like talking with an angry wall.

      Lastly, perhaps you can answer something that confuses me about Catholics being born-again in the Holy Spirit at Baptism-

      Hitler was baptised as a baby, even confirmed Roman Catholic a young boy, I believe. So was he born-again in the spiritual sense that Jesus taught Nicodemus? Was his infant baptism sufficient?

  44. Correction – I am “NOT” a revert. Oh, how important is one little word! I left out the word: not.

    Not a revert. Not a convert. I never left the RCC, and was baptised as an infant, confirmed at 12, and had 12 years of Catholic education. I’ve never attended any other church -other than for a wedding, gone to any other religion or denomination, coming from a family on both sides, that are Roman Catholic.

  45. Cradle – Now I’m really confused. On May 20 at 6:48pm you posted “That may be your experience, but in my area (& in the blogosphere) frankly, Protestants are much more Christ-like, and Catholics (not all but many) can be downright brutal.”

    And then yesterday you said: “Regarding my mention of Catholics often being “brutal”, I meant many are brutal on blogs, not in real life, so these people are from all over the USA, and indeed world-wide.”

    At first the blogosphere was an afterthought and you were discussing where you live, then you changed it to not where you live but in the blogosphere only. Or am I misunderstanding something?

    The blogosphere is full of unhonest people. I can go on a Baptists blog claiming to be Baptist (it would be real easy for me as my step Mom is a Southern Baptist) and make a bunch of accusations. Just because someone claims they are Catholic doesn’t mean they are Catholic. If these rude comments are indeed only from the blogosphere how do you know they are not protestants trying to give us a bad name? I’ve seen it happen many times. You can google “why Catholics are wrong” and see many venemous websites devoted to trashing our faith. On those websites they give directions how to “behave” like a Catholic in order to ‘convert’ all us wrong believers.

    I live in the Bible belt – I’m surrounded by Protestants. To my face, I’ve been told that I’m a cult member, an idol worshiper, not knowledgable to God’s Word, a devil worshiper, and that I’m going to Hell – just to name a few. I brush that off (when your used to it, its easy to do) and start discussing with them why they have been misinformed. Some believe me, some don’t.

    I am going to be 100% honest with you and I’m really hoping you don’t take it the wrong way. I’m worried about your negative attitude towards the people of the Church. I understand that you are Catholic and that you love the Mass, but you admit that you would leave the church “in a heartbeat” if it wasn’t for you wanting to stand by your sister in law. (An admirable thing to do, by the way.) Plus, it is obvious that you don’t have a very high opinion of Catholics (the people, not the Church.)

    I don’t know what has happened in your life and I don’t want to make any assumptions. However, I’m wondering when you went through your 12 years of Catholic education. I’m asking because when I went through – in the ’70’s and early 80’s – we didn’t learn very much about anything. It was sort of that Kumbaya ambiance. I have heard many people my age make the same complaint. With my kids in Religious Ed. I know that they are learning the Bible, ways of the Mass and the teachings of the Church. They have been using Veggie Tales as a tool, which I think is done by Protestants. Our Church also does the Vacation Bible School’s program, this year it is Pandamania, which is non-denominational. However, ask any of the Protestant Church’s to do anything that was sponsored, or done by, a Catholic. That just wouldn’t happen!

    It is the Protestants that said Catholic were wrong and left the Church. Do you like to be told you are wrong? I know I don’t. I think this has to be taken into account sometimes when religion is being discussed among all denominations. It is a very touchy subject for most people because of how dear it is to our hearts.

    I also feel compelled to address something else you said earlier that I missed somehow the first time I read through. You said that your diocese is on their own in protecting marriage and then comparing that to the apostles. I think you are forgetting that the apostles were on their own for everything. They had no guidence, no rules. They set up everything for us through trial and error. This is what the epistles are for. It is Paul, Luke and others answering questions from the various people who were spiritually lost. So, you can consider yourself just like the apostles in being on your own. The Church is about action, right? Maybe your Church is supposed to act on God’s behalf for a reason. I do believe that God has a plan for everyone and every group. We just don’t see it while going through it.

    As for the Hitler argument for infant baptism. Yikes! That certainly is the main protestant “gotcha” question around here. It is consistently used to prove how wrong we are, even though it has ben answered over and over again. What it boils down to is that the people trying to “getcha” just doesn’t like the answer. Maybe that is what is confusing you? The answer is hard to accept?

    The answer can be found in 1 Peter 3:19-22; Romans 6; Col 2 9:15; 1 Cor 5:11; Gal 5:19-21; Rev 22; John 5:24

    In all those you will see that it is not bapism alone that “saves” us. Along with baptism you must have faith and your faith must be shown in your action. (Ever wonder why most of the 10 Commandments have to do with our actions and not our faith?)

    Was Hitler Spiritual reborn by his baptism? Yes. Does this mean he was saved? No. We have free will and that free will means we can turn our backs on our spiritual rebirth.

    Now, I disagree with you that Catholics don’t read the Bible. What I’ve seen is that Catholics do not read the Catechism of the Catholic Church. You can read all about Baptism in sections 1213-1284. There are also tons of references to the bible to help us understand more in depth.

    1. Lily- Wow. You made excellent comments. I was wrong in phrasing my point about the brutality of some Catholics. So I can see how what I wrote was confusing. I apologize.

      In my area, a handful of Catholics told me to go to another denomination if I object to how priests (do not) teach the Bible. But I do *not* consider that brutal. Frankly, many Catholics here do that already, they have not left the church. They just go to Mass on Sunday with their families, keeping quiet, then later that day, they go to a non-Catholic Christian parish and learn the New Testament. It’s the best of both worlds and while I have not done that, I too, may resort to it, just to be able to grow in knowledge that has eternal value.

      In non-Catholic Christian parishes in my area, ministers preach for at least 50 minutes, with the Bible open. None of these Catholic families makes waves. They don’t tell anyone they’re going to Mass first & a teaching service later. I speak up because I’d like to see our church grow & prosper in matters of Eternal Value, by teaching the Deposit of Faith (teaching with the Bible open).

      As far as my own real life experience of a local “brutal” Catholic- I have one incident.
      It happened not long ago:
      After the funeral Mass of an elderly parishioner everyone has known for years, a woman yelled my name in the parking lot, asking me harshly, “Why did you come today? With how you feel about the church, why don’t you just leave the Catholic Church?”

      She said it loud enough for three people nearby to hear her yelling at me. I stayed calm, and asked, “Have you ever heard about speaking the truth in love?” That caused her face to soften for a second, and she got into her car.

      The reason for her being angry was her comfort zone was threatened by my writing in the newspaper. My making waves, drawing attention to what our church lacks made her livid. How she chose to handle it, right after a funeral Mass, after receiving Communion, in front of people, is what I would call, brutal. But she is not the norm in real life. On Catholic blogs (other than THIS blog) she is the norm from my experience, and from what I have read.

      While there MAY be an occasional blog person writing under the guise of being Catholic, frankly, I don’t think many would take the time. Maybe a teenager thinking it’s fun for a period of time. But it wouldn’t last long.

      I’m just tired of being called Protestant on blogs when I’m Catholic. People that know me KNOW I’m Catholic. Up until a few years ago, I went to daily Mass, which is how I knew the elderly man that died, & the woman that told me off in the parking lot.

      Based on what you wrote, Protestants in your area are, in real life, worse models of Christianity than even Catholic bloggers.

      I’m so sorry you have to endure that. All I can say is we all pray for God to place a guard over our mouths & hearts, so how we respond will be God-honoring. Calling ourselves “Christian” bears responsibility to act as Jesus would in the world.

      About my mention of being on our own here sans a bishop to lead in protecting marriage-our bishop went on a 3 month sabbatical before, during and after the issue being on a ballot. Our diocese issued an “edict” that no politics be done even in church parking lots on the Sunday before the election. Pastors were told to call the police if parishioners violated the edict, meaning even those of us working to protect marriage could have been arrested by our pastors.

      The threat to the apostles were Jewish leaders & the Roman government. The threat to the apostles was not other apostles in good standing with each other & the Church.

  46. Born Again Cradle Catholic – I’m beginning to wonder exactly what you do believe about Catholics. You have said that you openly criticize Priests along with criticizing “Catholic Pew People”. What exactly is it that you are saying? Perhaps it is in your delivery of the topic and maybe people aren’t understanding what you say?

    I’m also wondering why the people you discuss are going to Mass but then to a non-Catholic Parish to learn the Bible when Catholic Churches have Adult Faith Formation classes? And there are online Catholic Bible Studies. There is Agape bible studies, Crossroads initiative, Catholic Bible study, and Beginning Catholic Bible study websites to name just a few.

    Not to mention all the Catholic Bible Studies that Churches have for Adult Faith classes. The best one is called “The Great Adventure Bible” It goes book by book in the Catholic Bible and has a study series for kids, teens and adults. There is also “The Bible Timeline” which is a fascinating look at when the Bible was written. Jeff Cavins (Who I think did both those study series) is wonderful and has many books published on Catholic Bible Studies. I think the best one, which is his newest I believe, is called “Walking with God – A journey through the Bible”. I have also taken classes that focus on the Acts of the Apostles and the book of Revelations (which was fascinating!) OH…and there is the ‘Women of Grace’ study series by Johnette S. Benkovic. It is wonderful! See if you can find one in your area – it is well worth it. Oh, and there is the National Catholic Bible Study Conference that is in Atlanta this year.

    In daily Mass there are two readings from two different books of the Bible. On the weekends there are 3 readings (I think Palm Sunday actually has 4, doesn’t it?) We READ the Bible! In seven years the entire bible is read during Mass. This is something many Protestant Churches do not do. Most pick and choose what they like and stick with that. The Homilies are not a bible study “section” of the Mass. It is when the Priest talks to us as a community and what it means to be a Christian. Bible Study is for Catholics to pursue on their own time. Heck – we only have Mass for an hour to an hour in a half on the weekends! If Catholics say they don’t have time it is because they are not trying. You should look into being a facilitator for your Church! From the little I know about you, you would be perfect for that role in adult ministries.

    And there are many, many, many people out there trying to “convert Catholics to Christianity”. Just this year there was a booklet published that said it is for “Bible belieiving, born again, evangelical Christians” to get Catholic to convert to Christianity. I have accidently stumbled on many websites whose name sounds like it is for Catholics only to discover that they are actually Protestants trying to convert Catholics. (‘Just for Catholics’ is the name of one.) One of the tactics is to go on Catholic blogs to start the conversion process. One tactic they have is to use a “catholic” name – like that of a saint – and then after finding a Catholic with weak faith post their name and email to try to get them to talk privately. I’ve seen that on so many Catholic websites, so many times I can’t count! There are also countless Aps for it too! I mean think of it – They keep saying you sound Protestant? That’s not exactly subtle. They want you to convert. It’s really sad they have to start with a lie to get someone to listen to them.

    I didn’t mean for this to be this long! One more comment and then I’ll go. I’m going to assume that you live in California – that is the only place that has just recently dealt with gay marriage that went uber political. You do know why you were told not to discuss politics on Church grounds, right? The pro-gay groups, along with many anti-Catholic politicians, have been trying to remove the Catholics tax exempt status in California. If they found anyone discussing politics on Church grounds they were going to petition to stop the tax exemption. Your Church did the right thing. Once one Catholic dioceses looses its tax exempt status, then it can go on a roll and stop Catholics from being seen as a religious group in many area’s.

    1. Lily M- Yes, I do write from California. Thanks to the brilliance, courage, wisdom & savvy of the Archbishop of San Francisco, George Neiderauer, who had recently come from Salt Lake City, Utah by 2008, the Knights of Columbus here had help from Archbishop George’s Mormon contacts in Utah and in California.

      So I was in a Mormon home, with a bunch of Knights of Columbus & like-minded Mormons, making phone calls to support YES on Prop 8, during the weeks before the 2008 election.

      But most Catholics here either had no opinion about Prop 8 OR they were against it, as one of them told me, “Forbidding same-sex marriage promotes hate”. So I guess God Himself promotes hate? I asked her to read Romans Chapter 1. But it fell on deaf ears.

      Another Catholic woman used the bishops “Form your own conscience” paper to sport a huge NO on Prop 8 button on her handbag, wearing it everywhere. The US bishops were not clear with that letter -“Faithful Citizenship”? I can’t remember its name. Her conscience told her same-sex marriage was good.

      There was only ONE brave priest that, from the PULPIT, spoke about the COVENANT of marriage between one man and one woman, prior to the election. It was in a town about 10 miles from here. I applauded him. But it was too little, too late. One man talking for 7 minutes one Sunday? Won’t cut it.

      No one need fear losing a tax exempt status for speaking about an ISSUE. Go to the American Center for Law and Justice – attorneys working for Jay Seculo outline our First Amendment Rights. I think it’s http://www.aclj.org A church cannot (legally) endorse a CANDIDATE, but it can speak to an ISSUE.

      One priest in our diocese spoke out FOR same-sex marriage. His parish even held a forum for it, with THREE avid same-sex marriage supporters to one outnumbered Knight of Columbus, an elderly man. It was pathetic. He was never corrected by the bishop. He continues to this day to speak for the acceptance of homosexual marriage, with him and his parishioners whining that Yes on Prop 8 passed, by a hair, and they’re happy that it continues to be challenged.

      The way I see it is: if we Catholics supporting God-honoring laws do not find our courage, wisdom & savvy (as did Archbishop George) NOW, we will lose a God-honoring system of government, & left will take away our rights anyway. By that time, we will have NO SAY ABOUT IT. It’s the old adage: if you snooze, you lose. And “Silence is consent”.

      The worse thing is by remaining quiet, huddled together, afraid, being tolerant of everything (so we don’t lose our tax exempt status) we will lose everything.

      More importantly, we will lose the respect of the majority of our society. So instead of being Salt and Light to a world that does not know God, we will be like lumps of coal, existing, going to Mass on Sunday, making ourselves feel good for having done our duty.

      Archbishop George gives a reflection about upcoming Sunday readings. This week, he told a little joke about a man’s love poem to his ladyfriend. In it he wrote he would climb mountains to see her, swim lakes to be by her side, brave heat and snow to visit her… and he closed his letter with, “But I may not see you tomorrow, because it’s supposed to rain.” I ask, how do *our actions* prove we love God?

    2. Lily-
      I forgot to mention I’ve taken Jeff Cavin’s “The Great Adventure: A Journey Through the Bible” – the 24 week class, & his Acts of the Apostles- 8 week class, if memory serves. Each were very good.

      I took it at the parish about 10 miles from here, where the pastor spoke for the preservation of traditional marriage. Cavin’s classes were offered at a few other parishes here, but not many.

      About 8 years ago, my parish & three others got together and held a large gathering for people to attend an “Alpha” Program.

      Alpha was excellent – absolutely excellent!! From it, a group of 15 like-minded, Bible believing Catholics get together every Wednesday night at our parish, and study the Bible. I love it.

      It’s lay run – one man facilitates, spending the week studying and preparing a lesson for us, and we all participate. We meet from 7:15PM-8:45PM.

      For those not comfortable with sharing their own thoughts and insights, we all have verses of the Bible to read, connecting the dots, so to speak, from one reading to another.

      We DO use the Bible to explain the Bible. It’s amazing to see how the Old Testament and the New Testament fit together.

      Lastly, I too, heard over a period of 3 years, the entire Bible is read, IF one goes to Sunday Mass AND weekday Mass.

      But a Jesuit priest – I forgot his name but a web search should bring it up easily – did a recent study, finding not much of the Old Testament is read at Mass. The statistics were pathetically low.

      Since I read his data, I’ve been bringing my own Bible to Mass, following along as the lector reads. I noticed a LOT is left out of paragraphs. I understand the Magesterium does it, in order to follow a *theme* for the weekend.

      But it also deprives us of hearing it ALL. I want it all. The way to know God is to see how He works & thinks in the Old Testament.
      By depriving us of it comes the idea of there being a “God of the Old Testament that is punishing, and a God of the New Testament” that is a sort of marshmallow. Yet, even we say God is the same: yesterday, today and forever.

      And I’ve found most fellow Catholics, while they know the Gospel stories, do not recognize the writings of St. Paul when they hear them. Getting them to READ the Bible for themselves, like when I asked the same-sex marriage supporter to read Romans Chapter One, is hopeless.

      Please take no offense to my use of the term “pew people”. I became unhappy with the terms: the clergy and ‘the laity’. To me, it means “We, the superior clerical elite; and you, the lower among us.”

      It’s an attitude for so many. ‘The laity’ accepts it so easily, I just coined the phrase “pew people” as an alternative. I read it somewhere else, and I liked it. Really, that’s what we are: the pew people. I mean no harm. This pew person has a voice though!

      And when I speak up – it’s about obvious things. The woman at my parish got so angry with me because she and her husband are good friends with a priest that admitted to having molested an adolescent boy several years ago, and who placed himself in a monastery in 2005.

      She felt too much was made of what he had done. She feels he should still be in ministry. I believe there are consequences to our actions, be we pew people or ordained clergymen. We all must show good judgment and we pay a price for not acting honorably. Ordained ministers are held to a higher standard, although they are not “superior” in and of themselves.

  47. Born Again Cradle Catholic – The gay marriage vote was a ‘proposition’, not an issue. This would be endorsing or not endorsing an amendment to the states constitution. This is the same as endorsing or not endorsing a candidate. It is in the IRS code section 501(C)(3). It was not specifically the Mormon Church that was active; It was Mormon organizations. Kind of like how you mentioned the Knights of Columbus were involved – they are a 501(C)(8) which is not a religious organization, it is a fraternal order. You mentioned many activities that were going on to stop gay marriage – the Church was just as active as the Mormon Church was. As for the “Faithful Citizenship” letter – it specifically states that marriage is between a man and a woman in 3 different sections and even quotes from Sacramentum Caritatis. (I looked it up) I think blaming the Catholic Church for a woman misusing a letter is a far stretch.

    You also have to remember that you live in the most “gay friendly” state. Gay lifestyles have been accepted by that community for decades now. It isn’t surprising that this kind of tolerance is now accepted in religious organizations too. California has elected more pro-gay politicians than most other states. People are sheep, as we all know, and they just follow the crowd. If they think the majority of the crowd goes one direction, they will follow. The problem is that long before and after prop B not enough people were speaking up.

    Your mentioning “Silence is consent” reminded me of some news alerts I got from the Catholic League last month and brings up another point I was trying to make. There is an organization of “Catholics” that were trying to do the “gotcha” thing to a number of Priests somewhere in the east coast. I can’t remember all the details on it, but they sent out some survey and if Priests didn’t respond they put them as agreeing out of “silence is consent” in their statistics. This group, I think it is Voices of the Faithful, claim to be Catholic even though they do not follow much of the Catholic teachings. I’ve found that some people in these types of “Catholic” organizations like to go on Catholic blogs to ‘discuss’ the wrong ways of the Church. Those people may be the ‘Catholics’ that keep accusing you of being Protestant. If they make you feel bad enough for not agreeing with other Catholics they would try to convince you to agree with them and you can still say you are Catholic.

    People can be very devious sometimes. Especially if they want other people to think like them.

    Also, it is odd how you were saying before that Catholic’s don’t read the Bible, but then discuss times when you and other Catholics studied the Bible together.

    As for the Jesuit Priest – first of all, when you hear the Jesuits name – run far far away! They are teaching pro-choice idea’s in their schools right now so I consider them “Catholic” by name only. I do remember something about a study coming out saying what you are saying, but there was a sly move done. They studied only 3 years of what Catholics read in Church. It is 7 years to read the Bible not three. Only problem is that some Protestant took that information and ran with it and didn’t listen to the facts. Even Protestants don’t study the Bible in 3 years. If you take any of their classes on studying the whole Bible, it is a 5-7 year commitment. The only times I see three year commitments in their Churches is when they don’t read everything. If you take your Bible to Mass for 7 years you will see that all sections are read. Mostly, it is up to the Priests to read the ‘long’ version or the ‘short’ version. The short version eliminates some sections, but if you look at the books provided, missalette , or the Magnificat the congregation can read the section in its entirety. It’s not like the Catholics are ‘hiding’ things from us. Once again, the Catholic Church doesn’t spoon feed us. It is up to us to study on our own time. The Church provides us with the community gathering. It is up to the ‘pew people’ to stop being ‘pew people’ and learn, like what you did and the others you’ve mentioned. Once I got into ministry work I never felt like there was an “elite” clergy. I am part of the team. I work directly with the Deacon and Priests. This is because I have chosen to keep learning beyond the Mass. It’s like what you said Archbishop George was trying to teach – our actions prove we love God. And this goes beyond our actions of going to Mass.

    Trust me – Protestants and all other religions have ‘pew people’. It’s just easier to see the ‘pew people’ within the Catholic Church because that is where you sit.

  48. Lilly- When you pointed out Voice of the Faithful, I must comment — when VOTF first began in Boston in 2002, I thought it was going to be the best thing since sliced bread, being *The Answer* to what ailed the church.

    I was the first person to join in my area – and was happy with the three VOTF goals – 1) to support survivors of sexual abuse 2) to support priests of integrity and 3) to work for structural change-vague at first, but later pinned down to transparency and accountability in church governance. Each were God-honoring goals.

    I became active in Goal #1 & Goal #2. But almost from the start, I became increasingly leary of VOTF national leadership in Boston that seemed to be influenced by (what I thought were) New Age-type nuns.

    Further, I noticed VOTF was being influenced and almost infiltrated with CTA (Call to Action) and FC (Future Church) people, at least locally. It greatly alarmed me. I began a litany of complaints to Boston & here, within a few months of joining. My complaints were heard but I had no effect.

    During the meantime, I met other members like me, church-going Catholics with good intentions, concerned about the lack of trust in our church, and the caliber of leadership that caused agony & division in the pews, wanting to see our church brought to health.

    Bottom line: everyone that thinks like me left VOTF officially a few years ago, seeing a left-leaning crowd had overtaken national leadership and the local group.

    In fact, I boycotted a conference in SF because a local New Age-type nun, a darling to Call to Action people, was the keynote speaker. I knew this woman had publically supported women to be ordained to the priesthood, as does CTA.

    So I wouldn’t doubt it if “Silence is consent” was abused by some. But it would be shallow way to gain support and a hollow victory that NO ONE would honor-I’d be angry, if it happened to me, and I would cause the sleazy deceipt to backfire for them, if it indeed happened that way. “Silence is consent” IS a fact, but it cannot be used to calculate a survey. That’s just silly.

    There are many reasons to NOT respond- mail getting lost, someone being ill, or away, or… there’s a multitude of reasons.

    But the big picture is we need to stand up and do something. What ails our church is not going to self-correct. If it could self-correct, we would not still have the same problem St. Peter Damian wrote about in his day. If he were alive today, Peter Damian would not be surprised. That is sad.

    Regarding the study done on how much of the Bible is read on Sundays:

    1) Lilly, surely you will agree with me that MOST Catholics only go to weekend Mass, right? If most Catholics go to church DAILY, most certainly it’s only in *your* area, or maybe even just in your own parish. I don’t know where you write from – but I would be downright shocked to know a majority of American Catholics go to daily Mass. And even by what you wrote, in order to get the whole Bible, they’d have to go to DAILY Mass for seven years.

    Just today, large portions of Acts of the Apostles (first reading) were left out, and it was a very important section. Perhaps this Wednesday, that portion of Simon the Magician will be read. But how many Catholics would hear it? And it’s not going to be read for another 7 years? It’s too little. Only 15 or so people in my parish attend our weekly Bible study & that’s out of around 750 people. Too little.

    2) No Protestant had anything to do with the priests study. While I agree with you 100% about many Jesuits, not all are left-leaning. In THIS priests case, since he WANTS us to hear more of the Bible (or at least he is obviously showing concern if his study shows we are not hearing all of it) his study is God-honoring. It’s not to throw a stone at the church as much as to point out something MAY BE wrong. I am grateful for his research, and from what I have experienced, I think his numbers are accurate.

    3) You wrote, “As for the Jesuit Priest – first of all, when you hear the Jesuits name – run far far away! They are teaching pro-choice idea’s in their schools right now…”

    You pointed out something important. My brother was Jesuit trained, and frankly, he has some odd ideas about the Christian faith. While being Catholic is of utmost importance to him, he does not recognize teachings that come directly from Paul’s letters! He’ll often tell me, “Well, that’s your opinion”. How can he NOT RECOGNIZE Paul?

    Paul was the only apostle taught directly by the Holy Spirit, when he was in the desert for those early years (reference: Letter to the Galations).

    The Jesuits should have been all over that – even Peter wrote that Paul’s writings were “Scripture”. My brother should have been taught Paul, by the Jesuits, in the 4 years he was in their high school.

    By the way- I’m glad to “meet” you, Lily. I just scan the church articles every day, and saw this blog. I’ve not commented on it before – and I’m happy that someone with your passion and knowlege is in lay ministry. Thank you for your work. While I agree with you that there are pew people in every denomination, I am interested in seeing Catholics self-educate in Scripture (more than 15 out of 750) and in our priesthood being equipped to lead so that we pew people (aka lay/laity) can be salt and light to a fallen world, giving a reason for the faith that lies within us.

  49. Born Again Cradle Catholic – Oh, how funny! Your one small comment made me think of a group you had once been involved with! With so many different Catholic groups out there too. There have been a lot of “organizations” that think they can make the Church change 2,000 years of tradition just because society right now thinks it should be changed. The Church moves slowly for a reason, so the whims of the community don’t affect the future badly. I have found that most of those groups start with good intentions, then they just move to one topic, which usually is something that isn’t popular with the majority of Catholics.

    I think we’ve seen here that most of what needs to be changed isn’t a national or global one, it is a local one. My Church has 3 daily Masses with one daily Mass on Saturday mornings. All Masses are full. There is an early morning one that people go to before work, a mid morning one that many retired and Mom’s go to and then a noon one that people go to during their lunches. Then there is one Saturday night vigil Mass and 4 Sunday Masses. Once again, all those Masses are full. My Church has many people reading the Bible during services.

    My point about the entire Bible being read in Church was in response to your comment that Catholics don’t read their Bible and an implied thought that it is the Churches fault. I know many Protestants that don’t know their Bible because they don’t want to take the time to do it. However, name me one Protestant Church that goes to the effort to read the entire Bible during services. It is up to the Community to learn, we can’t force it down their throats. I hear so many Protestants around here say that Catholics don’t know their Bible, however they ignore the fact that we can all hold our own in any debate or argument on the teachings of the Bible. Most Catholic don’t memorize chapter and verse because it is ridiculous to think that one chapter and verse proves anything. Even when I referred to sections of the Bible for the Hitler Baptism question, I still didn’t even come close to all the references to show my point. The Bible is not to be taken section by section but as an entire book. This is one of the main differences between Catholic and Protestants. Being able to quote chapter and verse isn’t proof that you know anything about the Bible. It means you can regurgitate the words, not the meanings.

    I need to clarify that I did not mean to imply that any Protestant had anything to do with that study the Jesuit Priests did. When I said the ‘Protestants ran with it’ I meant that they used the study to show that Catholics don’t know their Bible, not that they had anything to do with the study. The study showed only 3 years of a 7 year cycle. It was accurate for 3 years but it was inaccurate because it didn’t finish the study. He stopped where he did to prove a point, not to show the truth.

    I’m not sure why you think Catholics don’t study St. Paul’s words. The school and Church I grew up in was named St. Paul! We learned everything about him because of his wonderful story of conversion. I remember writing a paper on how strong his conversion and how he was able to use that strong conversion to form the Church. And that was in the Kumbaya phase of the Church!

    Some people are not going to read the Bible. Unfortunately, it is usually those people, who are the minority, that is the loudest. Really annoyingly the loudest!

    I am usually just a reader and rarely comment. To be honest, I don’t know why I did comment this time! The Priesthood is doing much better. More and more good men are joining the seminary and completing their studies and taking their vows. I think the Catholics in America were trying to “protestantize” the Church in order to ‘fit’ in after the 2nd Vatican. It didn’t work and we lost many good men and women who would have been great leaders. Well, we are shifting back towards tradition and better ways of teaching. It’s a big organization so it can’t change overnight. We just need to stay strong and be faithful. We are made in the image of God, not the other way around. Mistakes will be made by us and those that lead us, but God will always be there to guide us as long as we listen.

    If you don’t mind me saying – I think you need to be a facilitator or join a specific ministry to strengthen your bond with the Church. You do seem to have a connection with the Protestant belief’s so perhaps you should look into the ‘Stephen Ministries’. It is a non-denominational ministry that was started in a Lutheran Church, I think. Our Church has just started one and so far it has been very successful. Please do not take that as me saying your are a Protestant – I’m just thinking that you would be an asset to an organization that would allow you to show your passion for the Bible to more than just Catholics. You see failings in the Catholic Church more because that is where you are. It’s like that old saying ‘The grass is greener on the other side’. But that usually isn’t the case.

    1. Lilly M- What a blessing for us that for some reason you decided to comment on this blog, not just read it. Thank you for your comments and the charitable manner in which you approach explaining your thoughts. You are refreshing & I’m grateful to you!

      I never heard of ‘Stephen Ministries’ before, but you’d mentioned it was successfully started in your parish. First, I’d love to hear more about that.

      Secondly, you mentioned our church would have considered Adolph Hitler to be “born again” in the sense Jesus instucted Nicodemus-born again in the Holy Spirit, and sealed.

      You wrote you just touched on one verse to prove your point. So I’d be grateful if you’d dig deeper into how the Catholic church considers his baptism, and how it compares with what Paul wrote about doctrines we know as “Justification and Sanctification”.

      From what you wrote, Hitler would have been “Justified” at his baptism, and by his actions, he likely lost it. Just like us, we’re baptised & made clean, but if we commit a mortal sin at age 16, we then lose our Justification, separating ourselves from God.

      But we have the Sacrament of Reconcilliation to be justified again. So we take advantage of it, being truly sorry for our sin.

      But then we commit a mortal sin at age 26, and lose our justification again. So we go to Confession, and are made clean again. Then at age 30, we commit another mortal sin, and in the process of committing the sin, we are killed, and thus…lost forever.

      So be we Hitler or just an average 30 year old person that commits a mortal sin, our fate is the same, according to Catholic church teaching. Is that how you understand it?

      Of course, Catholic Church teaching allows for Purgatory. But I’m not talking a veniel sin. I’m talking a MORTAL sin, which is 100% separation from God, committed at age 30.

      I ask because *my understanding*, based on reading Paul is this:

      An infant unaware of anything outside of himself is “dedicated” by his parents and Godparents, at baptism.

      When a child is older – anywhere from 8 years old to 12 years old, or even in teenage years, is “confirmed”, taught about the Holy Spirit. Confirmation is almost a “completion” of the infant baptism, with the child being made aware of what it is he/she is rejecting (Satan) and accepting (the Holy Spirit).

      While the child is made aware of it, a change of HEART must take place within the child. No one can know if it actually happened. We can only discern it, based on the “fruit” of the childs life. Also, all of us are given a gift of the Holy Spirit, when we are born again of the Spirit. — By the way, I do not speak in tongues. While a valid gift, is the lowest among all the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

      The key point is recognizing and confessing our sin, seeing our need for a Savior (Jesus) and knowingly accepting the free gift of God’s grace, reconciling us with the Father, causing us to be “sealed” by the Holy Spirit.

      Then He promises never to leave us, seeing us through life. We can grieve the Holy Spirit, we can quench the Holy Spirit, but we can never lose the Holy Spirit, once we are sealed in Him.

      When we are “sealed” we are also “Justified”- meaning although we WERE sinners, we ARE sinners and we will always BE sinners, our status in God the Father, through Jesus, is “not guilty”. If we enjoy sinning= our actions will prove we never had the initial repentance and change of heart. If we enjoy sinning, we were never sealed by the Holy Spirit.

      But when we are Justified and Sealed, we are declared Righteous not on our own account, but through Jesus. We are IN Him, and He lives in us, until our natural death, or until He comes again; He, the Vine, and we, the branches. = the process of Sanctification.

      We can be pruned (brought to our knees, humbled) or even taken out of the world, but never abandoned or forsaken. Even when we are UNfaithful, He remains faithful to us.

      I maintain that Adolph Hitler never recognized he was a sinner in need of a Savior (based on his actions- “You will know them by their fruit”), and because he never had a change of heart, or a turning to God, he was never sealed by the Holy Spirit, and thus, he was never saved from God’s wrath. Even though Hitler went through infant baptism and most likely even Confirmation, based on his life, there was no evidence to show he had a change of heart.

      Only God knows for sure, but it’s likely that Hitler’s soul is in Hell, forever separated from God, which was his own choice.

      By the way, heinous criminals Jeffrey Dahmer and Son of Sam both became born-again Christians in prison. “The Dark Journey to Faith: the life of Jeffrey Dahmer” was about the last several months of his life, and his turn to Jesus. Son of Sam is still in prison, refusing parole. He has a prison ministry to elderly lifers, right now. Both just read the Bible, and recognized we are all sinners (sin is sin, to a holy God), and they repented, and changed, turning towards Jesus, and being sealed by the Holy Spirit.

  50. Here is information on the Stephen Ministry from St. Louis: http://www.stephenministries.org It is a great ministry.

    You said: “Secondly, you mentioned our church would have considered Adolph Hitler to be “born again” in the sense Jesus instucted Nicodemus-born again in the Holy Spirit, and sealed.”

    No, I didn’t say that. Adolph Hitler was baptized which means he was born spiritually. As far as his actions tell us, Hitler chose to walk away from the spiritual birth. Nicodemus was a believer and wanted to know how to enter the Kingdom of God. Jesus answered that the way to enter is to be spiritually born. This is not a guarantee that you will obtain Heaven. It is the first step. Peter then clarifies all this in the section called “The Gift and Call of God in Baptism” where he specifically says it is God who gives us our spiritual birth and that it is our actions that keep us close to Him, or away from Him.

    I know you want me to quote only from Paul, but there is more to the Bible than Paul. Paul was a great teacher and one of the founders of our faith. His words are powerful and important to all. But I’m not going to ignore the words of Peter, or Mathew, or John, just so I can say I follow Paul.

    1 Cor 1:12-13 “For it has been reported to me about you, my brothers, by Chole’s people, that there are rivalries among you. I mean that each of you is saying, “I belong to Paul”, or “I belong to Apollos,” or “I belong to Cephas” or “I belong to Christ””

    We are to be in one mind according to Paul. We are not to take just what he says and ignore the others. He was quite specific on that.

    If you truly want to understand all this, and you truly want to know what and why the Catholic Church teaches, you need to know the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Your statements on justification, sanctification, reconciliation and Baptism tell me that you do not fully understand all of this in depth. And don’t just read the words. Read all the endnotes. Have the Bible, code of Cannon law and Council of Trent information handy.

    There isn’t enough room in cyber world for the discussion that you seem to desperately want. It isn’t us that need to answer your questions, but you who needs to answer them. If you feel you have the right answer and know this in your heart, then you shouldn’t be questioning it.

    However, here is what the Catechism says about infant Baptism:

    1250 Born with a fallen human nature and tainted by original sin, children also have need of the new birth in Baptism to be freed from the power of darkness and brought into the realm of the freedom of the children of God, to which all men are called.50 The sheer gratuitousness of the grace of salvation is particularly manifest in infant Baptism. The Church and the parents would deny a child the priceless grace of becoming a child of God were they not to confer Baptism shortly after birth.51
    1251 Christian parents will recognize that this practice also accords with their role as nurturers of the life that God has entrusted to them.52
    1252 The practice of infant Baptism is an immemorial tradition of the Church. There is explicit testimony to this practice from the second century on, and it is quite possible that, from the beginning of the apostolic preaching, when whole “households” received baptism, infants may also have been baptized.53

    50 Cf. Council of Trent (1546): DS 1514; cf. Col 1:12-14.
    51 Cf. CIC, can. 867; CCEO, cann. 681; 686,1.
    52 Cf. LG 11; 41; GS 48; CIC, can. 868.
    53 Cf. Acts 16:15,33; 18:8; 1 Cor 1:16; CDF, instruction, Pastoralis actio: AAS 72 (1980) 1137-1156.

    You have also mentioned a couple times that you feel someone can just read the Bible and know what God wants. Well, if that was true then we wouldn’t have all the religious cults out there. Those are people that read the Bible and thought God was talking directly to them. By saying all we have to do is read the Bible, how can we all be right? We are obviously not agreeing now? There are approx 33,000 Christian religions worldwide. This is proof that just reading the Bible isn’t enough. Guidance is needed. Knowledge of historical distance is needed. Good translations are needed.

    Just reading the Bible has changed many hearts. That is the first step – reading the Bible. It is not the only step. That is why we all desperately want to study the Bible together, and not individually.

    I’m sorry if this is harsh, or rude. It is not my intention. You are wanting me to answer questions that cannot be answered correctly by me in writing on someone’s blog. I am not a blind follower. I study, listen, question and try my best to live a Christian life. I am just not equipped with the proper writing skills to answer such important questions.

  51. Lilly- Thank you so much for the information about Stephen Ministries. I’ll share it with a pastor that’s receptive to new methods of spreading the Gospel and helping those that are already believers. There are so many excellent ideas here!!! All I can say is “Wow!”

    Also thank you for providing specific sections of the catechism about Baptism. I own a catechism, but when I try to start reading it, I often feel like Excedrin Headache Number … will come forward. So I quickly close the book, and just read the Scriptures.

    I love Paul. But please don’t misunderstand me – I love Peter too, and James, John, Matthew, Mark and Luke (my most favorite Gospel is that of Luke, because he is so detailed; my most favorite prophet is Isaiah.)

    All are very consistent, when read, as you wrote, as a WHOLE. It’s like all of them together are one big pie; separately, they’re just pieces of it. But it’s the same large pie.

    Key to me is how one defines terms. I say this because a few weeks ago, a former co-worker who was Mormon died. I attended her memorial service & was shocked when her pastor actually gave a “testimony”. In it, he said Jesus Christ was his Savior. The deceased’s husband even quoted a verse from Ephesians.

    Only the quote from Ephesians sounded a bit off to me, and upon further questioning, Jesus Christ is not the same to Mormons as we know Him to be. I’ve learned we have to be careful about the details, and it’s of utmost important to define terms.

    Based on everything in Scripture (Old Testament and New, and in *all* the writings of the New Testament), a changed heart is required as evidence of being filled with the Holy Spirit, and thus: “born-again” of the Spirit. An infant cannot have a changed heart.
    An infant can be given a chance, such as was Hitler, but, everyone must come to God on his/her own, and with a repentent and changed heart. God loves everyone. But not all of us will come to Him.

    Being ‘re-born’ is 100% spiritual. And once we are re-born in Christ, we can never be un-born, just like when we are born physically, we can die, but we can never be un-born.

    A way to put it simply is:
    We are all born once, physically. But spiritually, we are born separated from God, through sin (spiritually, we are all born dead.) So unless we are born again spiritually, we die twice: physically and spiritually.

    But if we are born again spiritually, we only die once, physically. Being alive in Christ spiritually we are promised eternal life with Jesus. Eternal life starts now – the Holy Spirit lives in us, and little by little, our hearts are transformed into thinking more like Jesus. “Be transformed by the renewing of your minds.”

    So born once – die twice.
    Born twice – die once.

    While what I wrote above is best explained by Paul (especially in the first several chapters of Romans), all other New Testament writers were in agreement. Even Peter wrote Paul’s writings were “Scripture”, and we Catholics believe the entire canon of New Testament writings really has One Author = the Holy Spirit.

    That’s the beauty of trying to respond to atheists or agnostics, whose objection is “The Bible was just written by a bunch of men and it contradicts itself.”

    The whole Bible (Old and New Testament) has only One Author, the Holy Spirit, and it does not contradict itself, when read in context and as a whole, as you pointed out in your last comment. God is the same, yesterday, today and forever, and one of His attributes is that He is immutable: He does not change.

    I’m enjoying communicating with you, Lilly. You’ve written nothing that is harsh – it’s good for us to share our thoughts. And if you never wrote in this blog, I’d not be able to spread the word about Stephen Ministries to a local Catholic pastor. Thank you!

  52. Dear Peter:
    a link to your blog is on fb right now and making the rounds and is how I came here. Thanks for your kind comments regarding your brother’s seminary and the Catholic faith. It is a breath of fresh air compared to what I have seen in the past 7 years since my reversion to Catholicism.
    You and I have so much in common. I was born Catholic and my brother and I left the Church in 1973 when we had a genuine conversion in the Jesus movement at the time. We weren’t very good Catholic kids and basically just went through the motions not really understanding the faith and in need of conversion. So when we saw genuinely onfire Christians we were drawn to the flame. I found Jesus but lost His Church!
    I too was a worship musician for about 31 years. In 2004 I returned to the Catholic faith after discovering that everything I had been taught about it was completely untrue!
    I was embarrassed and saddened that I could graduate college and go to medical school and yet base my facts on the Catholic faith from a Chick tract I read as a teenager! To make a long story short, I am back to the faith and my brother is an evangelical/charismatic pastor and worship leader. Sadly we don’t discuss religion much at all because of the conflicts it causes.
    I hope and pray that more folks will appreciate the truth and beauty of the faith as you have expressed in this blog. God bless you
    Russ Rentler, M.D.
    check out my music as well if you get the chance.

  53. I have to agree with you. I am a United Methodist pastor and have had the opportunity to meet several really great priests who graduated from this seminary and they are incredible men of God. We need to open the dialogue with all Christians and stop looking so hard at our differences and focus on our similarities. We are all the body of Christ and over the last several hundred years we have been mutilating our body.

    I send prayers for your brother and his continued studies.

  54. I was also brought here because your very inspiring post is making the rounds on Facebook. Thanks so much for your very elegantly written post about these men who are giving their lives to serve Christ and his Church!

  55. Thank you for posting this! I realize I’m a little late to this post, but it couldn’t have come at a better time. It’s so easy for Catholics (me) to feel condemned by Protestants, and the other way around. How encouraging to hear that true communication and understanding CAN and DOES happen! This gives me so much hope.
    Yours, Kaitlin

  56. What a blessing!!! Thank you for sharing this experience with us!!
    It is so nice to have people sharing good news and trying to bring us closer to each other and to The Lord!!

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