Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Analysis of a Conversion - Why I left the Catholic Church, I didn't like to kneel.

Kneeling?  Yep.  Kneeling.  I didn't like to kneel

In the last, "Analysis of a Conversion", I related how, when I was about 5 years old,  my grandmother taught me about the power of the faith of a mustard seed.  And how I completely missed the point.

In the conclusion of that article, I said that my grandmother didn't do anything wrong.  That is what you are supposed to do, teach the little children.  That's not the case this time.

Before I go on, I have to tell you something about my grandmother.  She was tiny, all of 4' tall, but she was powerful.  When I was 18 years old, she could lift me bodily.  She had to do it, one day, because I had passed out from a fever.

And, she could kneel forever when she was praying.  And she couldn't understand why others wouldn't do it.  I don't think it ever occurred to her that they couldn't do it.

My Grandmother

My grandmother was one of those grannies that always had a Rosary wrapped around her knuckles.  She seemed to be in constant prayer.  And she was a little Theologian.  Many of the things she taught me, come back to me when I'm reading my Bible or the Catechism.  She's the one who first said to me, "have the faith of a mustard see and you can do anything", "we are in this world to suffer", and "don't worry about tomorrow, tomorrow will take care of itself."  I had no idea that these were lessons straight from Scripture.  And they are principles by which I live my life today.  But in that day and age, it was different.  I had no idea what she was talking about.

The poor thing was always trying to organize Rosary prayers in the neighborhood.  But when people got wind of it, they avoided her like the plague.  Because she didn't broach slouching, standing or sitting from anyone less than 90 years old.  Everyone had to kneel to pray.

So, the result was that she would go out in search of lost sheep to gather for prayer.  But while she was searching for one, the rest would scatter.  The only ones who would remain was her equally faithful sister and the grandson, when he didn't escape.

At that age, I couldn't sit still for very long.  Much less kneel.  The result was that prayer became a very unpleasant experience for me.  Something to be avoided at all costs.  And since I avoided prayer, I lost out on the graces which one accumulates with prayer.  Thereby making it easier for me to fall away from the faith.

Now, my grandmother had the best of intentions, but she was a bit too zealous for the rest of the world.  And, in my case, she expected a bit too much from a child of my age.  But for every cloud, there is a silver lining.

Therefore, I believe that kneeling may have been one of the reasons why I fell away.  But when I came back to the Faith, I was determined not to make the same mistakes that my own parents had made.  So, whenever I pray, I invite my children and I am just happy that they join me, no matter what posture they prefer.

And I'm happy to announce that, thanks be to God, to my knowledge, my four children are still faithful Catholics.  Some of them are over twenty years old, now.

What?  Are you saying we shouldn't kneel to pray?

No, no, no.  I kneel all the time now.  Especially in the Mass.

But at that age, I was neither mentally nor spiritually ready to KNEEL and pray.  I think I might have prayed if they had simply requested of me, one Hail Mary and an Our Father.

Whether I was spiritually ready is open to question.  However, I can safely assume that most of the grownups were mentally and physically capable of kneeling and praying.  But, few of them were spiritually ready, either.  Its as though my grandmother were Jesus and she asked them, "can you not spend one hour with me?"  And most of them said, "No."  And scattered.


The lesson I draw from this, is that faith is not coerced.  People are at all stages in their journey of faith.  Some can happily and readily kneel to pray.  But some are struggling even to sit nearby and listen to others pray.

So, let's not add to their burdens.  Let's make prayer a pleasant and joyful experience for all concerned.

Does Jesus condemn people for their good works?

A Protestant said:
In Matt. 7:22-23, We see an account where Jesus condemns people on the day of judgment. Why would they be condemned? They were appealing to their faith in Christ and their works for their salvation. By adding any works into the active salvation, it means that the work of God is not sufficient but that needs to be perfected, completed by human effort. This is why salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. It cannot be by faith and any of our works.
I wonder,  how can they get it so twisted?  What I do know is that Scripture prophecies that this will happen:

2 Peter 3:15-16King James Version (KJV)
15 And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;
16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. 
Let's look at Matt 7:21-23 with a little more care:

21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
This can be understood to mean that simply considering oneself a Christian is not sufficient to enter heaven.  It is Christians who admit that Jesus is Lord.  Yet, unless they do the will of the Father, they will not be admitted into heaven.

This directly contradicts the Protestant teaching that says, "All you need to do is confess Christ and you will be saved."

22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
Now, these people have the impression that they can judge their own souls.  They recount to Jesus that good which they claim to have done.  Yet, Jesus casts them out.

That directly contradicts the idea that one can declare himself saved, whether by their claim to having faith or by their claim to anything else they have done.  Christ is the Judge.  Not anyone else.

23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
 So, unless you do the will of the Father, you will be cast into the Lake of fire.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Paraphrasing the Summa: First part, Question 1, Article 4

 Question 1: The nature and extent of sacred doctrine.

Is Christian doctrine revealed by God?  Does it teach us about the supernatural as well as the natural?
Article 4. Whether sacred doctrine is a practical science?
Is Christian doctrine an applied science?  In other words, is Christian doctrine a body of knowledge which teaches how to apply true sciences to solve problems?
Objection 1. It seems that sacred doctrine is a practical science; for a practical science is that which ends in action according to the Philosopher (Metaph. ii). But sacred doctrine is ordained to action: "Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only" (James 1:22). Therefore sacred doctrine is a practical science.
 The first objection uses Scripture to designate Christian doctrine merely as a body of knowledge which teaches us how to overcome problems.
Objection 2. Further, sacred doctrine is divided into the Old and the New Law. But law implies a moral science which is a practical science. Therefore sacred doctrine is a practical science.
Christian doctrine is divided into Old and New Law.  Law implies justice and ethics.  These are practical applications of life.  Therefore, Christian doctrine is not a true science, but an applied science, like Engineering which uses mathematics and other sciences to design vehicles, dwellings and roads.
On the contrary, Every practical science is concerned with human operations; as moral science is concerned with human acts, and architecture with buildings. But sacred doctrine is chiefly concerned with God, whose handiwork is especially man. Therefore it is not a practical but a speculative science.
A speculative science is not one which "speculates" in the sense of guessing or hoping.  A speculative science considers that which is true but does not apply it to mundane problems.

St. Thomas says that applied sciences deal with human creations.  And moral sciences deal with human behavior.  But Christian doctrine deals with God and God's creations, especially man.   Therefore it is not a practical or applied science, but a speculative science.
I answer that, Sacred doctrine, being one, extends to things which belong to different philosophical sciences because it considers in each the same formal aspect, namely, so far as they can be known through divine revelation. Hence, although among the philosophical sciences one is speculative and another practical, nevertheless sacred doctrine includes both; as God, by one and the same science, knows both Himself and His works. Still, it is speculative rather than practical because it is more concerned with divine things than with human acts; though it does treat even of these latter, inasmuch as man is ordained by them to the perfect knowledge of God in which consists eternal bliss. This is a sufficient answer to the Objections.
In this case, St. Thomas does not address each objection individually, but addresses them with one general response.

Essentially, he says that Christian doctrine is a speculative science which includes aspects of God's revelation which can be applied towards achieving union with God and man's salvation.