Make It Stop

Yet another conversion account with these un-Francis like asides from a former Dutch Calvinist:

I also realized that there was actually no real Protestant faith in itself. The Protestant faith was founded on a protest against a faith, the Catholic Faith. Why would I ever want to part of a “church” that was actually no church at all; one that was racked by division and founded on protest!

The blindness that had always covered me was now gone. I saw that there were countless Protestant denominations, and that they all disagreed with each other on at least one important point of doctrine. This defied the very nature of Truth itself, and rendered all of them imperfect. I finally saw that there must be an authority to clear the air, which I now understand is the See of Peter.

But these questions soon evaporated into joy:

Towards the end of the Vigil, when I saw a number of people receiving their First Sacraments, I knew God was calling me to do the same thing. Mother Church was opening her arms out to me, and even though I knew many crosses would come my way if I ran to Her, I could not resist Her love. Family members of mine would shun me, professors would shake their heads as I had received prestigious scholarships in the Reformed Theology department, my future would be so uncertain, and friends would laugh, but it didn’t matter anymore.

Why doesn’t the fine print of conversion include mention of a stop in purgatory?

Purgatory (Lat., “purgare”, to make clean, to purify) in accordance with Catholic teaching is a place or condition of temporal punishment for those who, departing this life in God’s grace, are, not entirely free from venial faults, or have not fully paid the satisfaction due to their transgressions.

The faith of the Church concerning purgatory is clearly expressed in the Decree of Union drawn up by the Council of Florence (Mansi, t. XXXI, col. 1031), and in the decree of the Council of Trent which (Sess. XXV) defined:

“Whereas the Catholic Church, instructed by the Holy Ghost, has from the Sacred Scriptures and the ancient tradition of the Fathers taught in Councils and very recently in this Ecumenical synod (Sess. VI, cap. XXX; Sess. XXII cap.ii, iii) that there is a purgatory, and that the souls therein are helped by the suffrages of the faithful, but principally by the acceptable Sacrifice of the Altar; the Holy Synod enjoins on the Bishops that they diligently endeavor to have the sound doctrine of the Fathers in Councils regarding purgatory everywhere taught and preached, held and believed by the faithful” (Denzinger, “Enchiridon”, 983).

Further than this the definitions of the Church do not go, but the tradition of the Fathers and the Schoolmen must be consulted to explain the teachings of the councils, and to make clear the belief and the practices of the faithful.

Temporal punishment

That temporal punishment is due to sin, even after the sin itself has been pardoned by God, is clearly the teaching of Scripture. God indeed brought man out of his first disobedience and gave him power to govern all things (Wisdom 10:2), but still condemned him “to eat his bread in the sweat of his brow” until he returned unto dust. God forgave the incredulity of Moses and Aaron, but in punishment kept them from the “land of promise” (Numbers 20:12). The Lord took away the sin of David, but the life of the child was forfeited because David had made God’s enemies blaspheme His Holy Name (2 Samuel 12:13-14). In the New Testament as well as in the Old, almsgiving and fasting, and in general penitential acts are the real fruits of repentance (Matthew 3:8; Luke 17:3; 3:3). The whole penitential system of the Church testifies that the voluntary assumption of penitential works has always been part of true repentance and the Council of Trent (Sess. XIV, can. xi) reminds the faithful that God does not always remit the whole punishment due to sin together with the guilt. God requires satisfaction, and will punish sin, and this doctrine involves as its necessary consequence a belief that the sinner failing to do penance in this life may be punished in another world, and so not be cast off eternally from God.

Venial sins

All sins are not equal before God, nor dare anyone assert that the daily faults of human frailty will be punished with the same severity that is meted out to serious violation of God’s law. On the other hand whosoever comes into God’s presence must be perfectly pure for in the strictest sense His “eyes are too pure, to behold evil” (Habakkuk 1:13). For unrepented venial faults for the payment of temporal punishment due to sin at time of death, the Church has always taught the doctrine of purgatory.

Can you really be so happy about the uncertainty that awaits 99.9% of those who have to make, grace-assisted of course, satisfaction for their sins? If perfection is necessary, how can the imperfect ever be perfect? Protestantism may seem like a legal fiction. But Rome’s fiction is moral. Alien righteousness matters and this convert doesn’t seem to know that her welcoming mother church not only rejects but condemns such teaching.

Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD?
And who shall stand in his holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not lift up his soul to what is false
and does not swear deceitfully.
He will receive blessing from the LORD
and righteousness from the God of his salvation. (Psalm 24:3-5 ESV)

18 thoughts on “Make It Stop

  1. Notice what makes a “real Catholic”:

    “I marvel. I admire. A masterfully intricate wall rosary, handmade by my husband with over 10,000 beads, is nailed to the family room wall. A painting of the Holy Family hangs over my children’s play kitchen set, and ultra-Catholic looking statues rest on the piano. A stack of Catholic devotionals and a rickety old chaplet sit next to my prayer chair. Wow. I’m definitely Catholic – and I’m raising a really Catholic family!”

    And how sensuality is really what rules: “the gorgeous religion”

    Realistic? Do tell: “In the waiting room of the clinic hung a realistic-looking crucifix…”

    “I knew that the religion I encountered in California was truly beautiful…” (aka gorgeous)

    “And the beauty of the liturgy was just breathtaking…”

    Paul wrote of silly women and sensuality for good reason.


  2. The amount of head-shaking I did while reading the linked conversion account has hurt my neck.

    I understand her annoyance at the divisions of Protestantism, but that’s no reason to convert to a religion that blatantly disobeys God and His law:

    Exodus 20:3-6 – “Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.”

    This is some really basic stuff here, yet the Catholics completely disregard it, as do some Protestant denominations. I know Catholics will argue that they aren’t worshipping their “saints,” but what about the whole “graven image” thing? It pretty clearly says you aren’t supposed to make any of those, and you aren’t supposed to bow down to them. Nevertheless, at mass, the Catholics bow down to statues of Mary, and they have statues of Jesus on the cross everywhere. I don’t remember the Jews ever being told to have a statue of God the Father in the temple, so why would you make a statue of Jesus and put it in your church building?

    I remember asking a group of Catholics why they prayed to Mary, and they asked me if I ever asked my own mother to pray for me. Of course, I said yes. They responded that they are doing the exact same thing – asking Mary to pray for them. Small problem, though – only God is omnipresent. My Mom is alive, so I can ask her to pray for me. Mary is no longer with us, so she can’t hear their pleading. Even if they aren’t worshipping her (which it looks like from the outside), they are wasting their breath.

    Back to this conversion story – why the heck would anyone want to convert to a so-called Christian religion that can’t even get the most fundamental rules right? The 10 commandments aren’t up for discussion – screwing those up is a clear departure from Christianity. Please, make it stop.


  3. Funny how cradles don’t go mushy over mother church:

    First, a quick explanation of my background. I was raised Catholic, went to church every Sunday during some periods of my life, and attended more than a decade’s worth of what I knew as “catechism classes.” Somehow I didn’t know there was such a thing as “the catechism” when I finished those classes, though, so I guess they weren’t very good. And I suppose I dropped out rather than finishing: my senior year of high school I decided not to get confirmed, and today I’m an agnostic.


  4. cw, if you want a gorgeous religion, sign me up for the Church of England. Best choral music on God’s green earth. Arguably the best monarchy in history as head of the church — just finished The Crown. And it’s priests and bishops dress funny too. At least British monarchs can dress in civilian clothes. Not sure why the curia can’t update their fashions — coming alongside the modern world and all.


  5. These freaky converts. I have yet to meet a Protestant who’s based their faith on any awareness of Catholicism whatsoever. And yet these apologists think people believe *in reaction to* the Catholic Church? Please. Also, for anyone familiar with Mormonism, this woman sounds an awfully lot like Joseph Smith in her flaky earnestness. Just saying…. Where are the Roman converts whose Rosary fixations are not wince-inducing? Not Hahn or Kreeft, for crying out loud. Their accounts are high school sophomoric, at best. David Mills? One notch higher, but still cult-like in his Mother Church Knows Best hook-line-and-sinkerism. Sola Scriptura is hardly less a leap than Mother Mary, no matter what the starry-eyed Rome Knows Best say to the otherwise.


  6. jm, ring a ding a ling.

    Here‘s another for your list:

    We are now into serious Catholic cool arcana.

    The penitential virga or ferula, bachetto penitenziario, wand, or rod, is sadly out of use … for now.

    These were instruments – longish rods – used by special confessors with wider jurisdiction and my major and minor penitentiaries, especially the Major Penitentiary of the Church, whose jurisdiction when it comes to matter of confession or indulgences is second only to the Pope’s.

    I suspect it’s use stemmed from Ps 23: “Virga tua et baculus tuus consolata sunt… Thy rod and thy staff they have comforted me.” The sight of these churchy gizmos would have given great confidence and consolation to the penitent or one seeking an indulgence; he would know that this confessor had greater jurisdiction.

    Christian life as antiquarianism.


  7. How did your encounter with Rome’s views on purgatory and indulgences go?

    In fact, in every encounter I had with the Catholic Church, whether through her writers, her music, her philosophy, her prayers, or her actual members, my prejudices were being challenged. I simply left it in the “inexplicable” category as to how so much insight, virtue, and holiness could be present in a Church that had long since given orthodoxy the bum’s rush.


  8. Did you convert to this?

    I just know that the pope has said that life is not black and white. It is gray. There are a lot of nuances, and we have to discern nuances.

    This is the meaning of the Incarnation — the Lord took flesh, which means we are involved with real humanity, which is never fixed or too clear. So the pastor has to get into the real dynamic of human life.

    BTW, isn’t that a reason for clergy to marry? Hard not to see gray in the give and take of conjugal “bliss.”


  9. “if a modern Catholic and a modern Protestant could hop in a time machine and travel back to the early Church, which of the two would feel more at home?”
    ***So I’ll just take the question literally. It depends on how early, I imagine. Very early Christian worship would have no doubt borrowed the structure of synagogal worship–blessing of the name of God, praise, confession of sins, intercession, and, lastly, glorifying of God for His work in history. I haven’t been to a protestant service since I was 6 or 7, so I don’t know if your services mimic this basic structure. Let’s assume they do. So then what would indicate the at-homeness? It would seem to be exterior issues–all chanting, no music, icons, incense.

    But what about after the break with Judaism? The Christian synaxis of synagogal assembly combined with the Eucharistic service (which was most likely a borrowing of the kiddush) formed the foundation, no doubt. Again, I don’t know what Protestant communion/Lord’s Supper looks like, but would a Protestant be shocked by this service? I ask because I don’t know. Again, I have to imagine it would simply be the external theological expressions the service that would be problematic (idolatrous).

    I’d feel at home simply because ethnic churches usually make outsiders feel like outsiders, so I’d no doubt feel like an outsider having traveled back in time and all. American Orthodox churches are usually warm and inviting; I blame the Protestant converts.


  10. Justin, not sure about the synagogue. Read about it sometime ago. But my sense is that Protestants think long sermons dominated synagogue worship. You’d think it had to without the altar or sacrifice.

    Is Orthodox identity so wrapped up with “the church Jesus founded”?


  11. “But my sense is that Protestants think long sermons dominated synagogue worship. You’d think it had to without the altar or sacrifice.”
    ***There’s more to it than Scripture and preaching. What I outline above obviously includes more than Scripture and preaching only. Again, a rough structure would be: Profession of faith, prayer of 18 blessings, readings, sermon, priestly blessing. The early Christian service would resemble this closely: Profession of faith, prayers of intercession, readings, sermon, priestly blessing. Throw in the liturgical calendar (for both Jews and Christians) and readings and sermons would correspond and would also highlight the conscious understanding of history (eschatological history for Christians) within the service. There were some 20+ expressions of Judaism in the 1st Century, so one isn’t going to find any purely distilled “Jewish service.” I mean all of this descriptively and not apologetically.

    “Is Orthodox identity so wrapped up with “the church Jesus founded”?”
    ***Yes, but my sense is that that identity is more concerned with theology and not with externals (though externals come into play when symbolism is important to communicating proper theology). Salvation is union with God (which is why the legal/forensic narrative is downplayed in Eastern services and its theology), and is this role that the Church plays in offering Her Mysteries to believers–the Spirit unites us to the Son who unites us to the Father, the source of life itself. Again, I offer this as a description of self-understanding and the Church’s claims, but not as an apology. I imagine you’ll find Orthodox who think the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom is the service the Church has always used, but this is silly. Again, one can see in it the basic structure of the liturgy outlined above, but one can’t claim that they’re identical. The Liturgy of Saint James is the earliest Liturgy, I think, and it was probably developed in the 4th Century. I think it’s still the main liturgy in the Syriac Church.

    Now if you’re asking if the Orthodox can be nauseatingly triumphalistic about being THE Church, oh man, it can be unbearable. It’s why I avoid apologetics. In fact, I doubt anyone beats us in this area: combine a heavy sense of nationalism with correct theology, and your jaw would ache for aeons!


  12. Justin, thanks.

    Look at all the ecumenical dialogue that transpires when Christians don’t pretend to have all-of-me piety — that is, when they have a life.


  13. Converts need to remember where they put their trust:

    The estuary where the rivers of church and state run into each other began to change currents in 2016 in ways that were always interesting, sometimes fearful, sometimes hopeful. At both the grassroots level and among leadership, change is in the works.

    The appointment of three new American cardinals changed the complexion of the leadership of the Catholic church in the U.S. As noted yesterday, there will be ramifications for the internal life of the church in these appointments to be sure, but there will also be a change in the public face of the Catholic faith in the public square. Cardinal Kevin Farrell has taken a post in Rome, but look to Cardinal Blase Cupich in Chicago and Cardinal Joseph Tobin, soon to be in Newark, N.J., to increasingly drive the message from the Catholic hierarchy in the public square.

    We saw some evidence of this already. In December, it fell to Cupich to announce that the U.S. bishops had formed a working group to monitor the immigration issue and develop strategies for political advocacy on behalf of immigrants. There had been no official notice from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The year before, both Tobin and Farrell confronted political opposition when resettling refugees through Catholic Charities in their dioceses. All three have been attacked by archconservative groups like LifeSiteNews and the Lepanto Institute for being too progressive.

    Tobin is heading to the largest media market in the country. While he is not the kind of man to throw his weight around, he bench-presses 225 pounds. And, as he showed in an interview with The New York Times, he is not afraid to show his wisecracking side when he looked forward to his move to New Jersey and then pointed to the guys he works out with at the gym in Indianapolis, saying, “None of those Sopranos are going to mess with me. This is my crew.” Friends speak of his quick wit and razor-sharp intellect. Pope Francis knows how to pick them.

    Cupich began focusing on two major projects, one more ad intra and one more ad extra, but both of which have the potential to alter the church’s public face.

    First, he has embarked on a restructuring of parishes, always a fraught task, but instead of bemoaning the lack of resources or changing demographics, Cupich talks about seeking evangelical vitality in Chicago, and promoting it. He doesn’t start with demographics, but with a sense of mission. That is no guarantee that the restructuring will go smoothly, but it shows a deeper understanding of the role of a bishop from merely managing the construction, or deconstruction, of brick and mortar.

    Second, he has pledged the resources of the Catholic community to help confront the scourge of violence in Chicago. His convoking power alone is unique: There is no one else in Illinois who could get the Democratic mayor and the Republican governor into the same picture frame, but Cupich did it in Rome in November when both men came to the ceremonies surrounding his becoming a cardinal.

    In addition, the resources of the Catholic school system, including its universities and colleges, are focusing on what they can do, as are parishes and Catholic Charities. The problem of gun violence in Chicago is huge, and won’t be solved without national initiatives to curb the ready availability of guns (and such initiatives are unlikely), but making a dent will help.


  14. Where conversion, apologetics, and transformation meet:

    Again, we cradle Catholics are blessed, and the Catholic Church is blessed – to have a family like yours coming into full communion with Christ and with us! This isn’t a game of poaching members. It is about TRUTH AND UNITY, which Christ desires we have. Divided, Christians just confuse the world. I listen to Dr. David Anders every day, a real prince of a man! I hope you can, like him, in your own way, teach many cradle Catholics such as myself, and most importantly so many other poorly catechized, fallen away Catholics, the beauty and truth of their church and the errors of their ways and bring them back into the loving embrace of our Lord, in the Catholic Church. My heart is so saddened to see so many truly good men and women, Protestants, who I love, and respect, labor under so many false ideas in their constantly schisming churches, and who also have the burden of so many untruths about the universal Catholic church. God bless you my good man, and your wife, and your beautiful beautiful children. May we have the gift of perseverance to strengthen the Kingdom together.

    No sense of living in mortal sin, being outside the church, not having access to grace through the sacraments. No worries about purgatory or hell. Become a Roman Catholic and join the biggest Christian team.

    Oh my Allah!


  15. Why don’t converts ever tout this road to salvation?

    What an Indulgence does is to take an occasion of such expiation (a certain prayer, penance, charity or other designated work) and add to its intrinsic merit before God an additional value based on the treasury of merits of Jesus Christ, and those perfectly united to Him in heaven (the saints). This can either partially, or under certain conditions, totally remit the temporal punishment due to sin. This depends, naturally, on our openness to God’s grace. A mechanical performance of an indulgenced work would not have effect. Performing an indulgenced work should have the consequence of fixing our will away from our sins and entirely on God. This is why among the most important of the conditions for receiving a plenary indulgence, and the hardest to satisfy, is the complete detachment or detestation of our sins. By detesting our sins we orient our will away from creatures (to the degree we love them inordinately), towards God. In this way we open our will to the action of His mercy flowing into our souls, which alone is able to effect the complete remission of the temporal punishment to our sins.

    Remember, only on certain days can you acquire a plenary indulgence.

    Otherwise, indulgences are partial (and confusing):

    In the past partial indulgences were “counted” in days (e.g. 300 days) or years (e.g. 5 years). Catholics often mistakenly thought that this meant “time off of purgatory.” Since there is no time in purgatory, as we understand it, it meant instead the remission of temporal punishment analogous to a certain amount of penitence as practiced in the early Church. This was a very generous standard, since the penitence required for sacramental absolution in the early centuries was arduous, indeed. However, with Pope Paul VI’s 1968 revision of the Enchiridion Indulgentiarum (Collection or Handbook of Indulgences), this confusing way of counting partial indulgences was suppressed, and the evaluation of a partial indulgence left to God.

    There are many prayers still circulating on prayer cards and in prayer books which have partial indulgences in days and years attached to them. However, all grants of indulgence issued prior to 1968, unless re-issued in the Enchiridion or specifically exempted by papal decree or privilege, were suppressed by Pope Paul VI. Thus, these many specific prayers with their attached indulgences, as well as the manner of measuring partial indulgences, are no longer valid. Some of them may still receive an indulgence, though, because of being re-issued in the new Enchiridion (e.g. the Anima Christi, the Prayer before a Crucifix and many other formal prayers). All other prayers previously indulgenced could, nonetheless, receive a partial indulgence under the general grants of indulgence which Pope Paul VI, and Pope John Paul II in his 1999 revision of the Enchiridion, established. These general grants establish partial indulgences for devout prayer, penitence and charity, and are a new and very generous inclusion in the Church’s grants of indulgence. They have made it unnecessary to grant specific indulgences to prayers and other pious acts, as was done in the past.

    And we are how many years from Luther’s 95 Theses? Lutherans and Roman Catholics together? psshaw.


  16. Interesting. I attended a Catholic wedding sometime around 2002 in which 50 years of indulgence were granted to man and to wife.


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