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Al Foytek following-up from a previous posting wrote:

Hi, Mike —

Thank you for summarizing and taking an interest in answering. I am still struggling with this.
I continue to research, but I must say I liked John's answer better than yours — at least as
I understood it but I am looking for a consensus.  I do not want to violate the Catholic Church's Communion doctrine.

I do have doubts, but not about morals; I believe the Catholic Church is right on there. I read their position on these things and it rang as true to the core similar to when I first read the Sermon on the Mount. I have made changes in my life over them and strictly follow these to the best of my ability.

It's other stuff, like:

  • indulgences
  • infallibility of the Pope
  • Mary being:
    • Queen of Heaven
    • Immaculate, and
    • Assumed bodily into Heaven.
  • I also do not believe the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Lord Jesus, but is of the Father,
    as Jesus Himself is.
  • There are other issues too, like Holy Days of obligation and
  • the whole concept of the Church hierarchy defining sin by not doing certain religious practices.

These are not based on God's commandments or, at best, only seem to be loosely based:
i.e. derived via a circuitous theological analysis. Jesus said the law is fulfilled in two commandments:

  1. loving God with all ones heart, mind, soul and strength, and
  2. loving our neighbor as our self.
  • How does this other stuff become sin? It seems pharisaical.

  • Mike, you mentioned that the third Commandment should not be ignored, but don't Catholics ignore it since they do not celebrate it on the Sabbath, i.e. the last day of the week?

That commandment is for rest on the seventh day, not a demand to go to a worship service or church on the first day of the week. In fact, since I live nearly an hour's drive from the nearest Catholic parish, one might say going to Church is work for me (as it is) and breaking of the commandment; half a day is gone just in attending a service.

Believing something is largely an intellectual endeavor, for me. I examine the evidence and make a decision. I'm no scholar of ancient history. I do not read Greek or Hebrew. I rely on translated resources, language dictionaries, and other references but I do read both sides of the issues and read multiple translations when they exist. I also look for secular history and support for positions.

I appreciate what you all are doing. Thank you!

God Bless,

Al

  { I have no doubts nor disagreements with the Church on the moral issues, just the other stuff. }

Mike replied:

Hi, Al —

I'm not surprised that my colleagues reply with answers better than mine; I have a strong team and I learn a lot from them.

On the Sabbath:
My colleague Eric addressed that issue in this posting:

You can find the writings of Justin Martyr on the web or you can read it from this site.

Although I can't empathize with the long commute you have, I do know that the spiritual benefits of attending Sunday Mass and receiving the Blessed Sacrament in a state of grace will really help in being able to make correct decisions during the week.

You said:
one might say going to Church is work for me (as it is) and breaking of the commandment; half a day is gone just in attending a service.

Well, there are 168 hours in a week. Even if it did take you 12 hours to attend Sunday services,
it would be only 7% of your whole week.  Think if it like food.

  • Could you ever go 7 days without food or drink?
  • If not, why starve your soul for one week, or Heaven forbid, more than one week.

As far as the other issues you mentioned, I would get a copy of Karl Keating's, Catholicism and Fundamentalism.


Mike

Al replied:

Thank you Mike,

I am so sorry my brother, surely I did not mean to imply anyone's answers were better than yours, only that I liked their implications better.

Your reply gives me no admittance to Holy Communion if I doubt Catholic Church doctrines and
I do. I could be wrong, but my doubts are there and I cannot just remove them.

While I have reasonable trust for the hierarchy in the Catholic Church now, it has been very corrupt, at times, even here in the U.S. — According to Fr. Corapi, there are many in high places, even now, who should not be there. There is:

  • the schism
  • atrocities of Crusades
  • sacking of Constantinople — where Christian brothers were killed
  • the inquisition
  • the recent scandals of sex abuse and cover-ups
  • and many other things in and out of the Vatican.

I just see another very flawed organization — like every one I have ever seen men in charge of. The fact that the Catholic Church still exists today is a testament to God's will. I don't know whether the Church ever promulgated any incorrect doctrine on faith and morals — they may have, then covered it up in later centuries. The corruption in the Church from time to time seems to support such an expectation.

I very much appreciate your work, on my behalf, to answer unanswered questions. I study each reply I get. Our parish priest is so busy I cannot get replies from him.

Karl's book was the first one I read. I have since read ones from:

I've also learned much from:

  • web sites like New Advent - the Catholic Encyclopedia and
  • videos that Dr. Hahn made on Mariology related subjects.

I bought the Ignatius Press New Testament Commentary and am currently reading it with notes.
I have read the Bible through multiple times, but with a Protestant bias and commentaries.
I find there are different ways to "spin" many verses.

I use New Advent and some Protestant sites for the writings of the early church fathers. Thank you for you and your team's replies. Reading these, on top of other evidence, convinced me that Protestants are wrong about the Eucharist not really being Our Lord.

I agree with Eric's conclusion, re: Sunday. My point in saying what I did is that the third commandment cannot be used by the Catholic church, or anyone (like Seventh Day Adventists),
to say we are commanded to go to a church, service or anything else on a certain day — as the Catholic Church does.

I agree that seven days is a long time to not enjoy Christian community, God's word, and being focused on our Lord. I have not received Holy Communion for 50 years, and, it seems I am not close to doing so now. Going to Mass is humbling since I imagine the stares we get by people wondering what awful sin is preventing me from receiving Holy Communion.

  • Do I trust the Church?
  • The things I don't believe, I could be wrong about — I am no theologian, historian, etc.
    I could trust in the Church now, but how about the future?
  • Doesn't Communion include trusting all future pronouncements too?

Thus, it is not enough to believe they are right now, but that the Church will always be right.
I suppose this goes back to my doubts on the infallibility of all Popes past, present, and future.

Thank you again Mike — your reply has given me some hope as did John's. I will keep studying and perhaps the doubts will be removed.

God Bless,

Al

Paul replied:

Hello Al,

I'd like to take a shot at a couple things in your paragraph here:

You said:
It's other stuff, like:

  • indulgences
  • infallibility of the Pope
  • Mary being:
    • Queen of Heaven
    • Immaculate, and
    • Assumed bodily into Heaven.
  • I also do not believe the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Lord Jesus, but is of the Father, as Jesus Himself is.
  • There are other issues too, like Holy Days of obligation and
  • the whole concept of the Church hierarchy defining sin by not doing certain religious practices.

These are not based on God's commandments or, at best, only seem to be loosely based: i.e. derived via a circuitous theological analysis. Jesus said the law is fulfilled in two commandments:

  1. loving God with all ones heart, mind, soul and strength, and
  2. loving our neighbor as our self.
  • How does this other stuff become sin? It seems pharisaical.

When it comes to papal infallibility, the Immaculate Conception, and Mary's Assumption,
a question you might ask is:

  • Did Christ give His Church the Holy Spirit to inerrantly teach in His name the truths relating to salvation, or not?

The Church's identity as Christ's body means the Holy Spirit is the soul leading its body to follow its Head into heaven. If Christ did not promise that the Holy Spirit would infallibly ensure that we could have the truth and grace that leads to salvation then heaven's gate that Christ's sacrifice opened would mean very little to us.

Church precepts such as days of obligation also relate to this belief that Christ through His Spirit gives His Church His own authority to govern. Hence, in these matters of authority and infallibility we don't trust in men, but rather in the promise of Christ Himself and the power of the Spirit He gives to form, animate, and guide His body, the Church. This is not at all pharisaical. Scripture itself states (at the end of John's gospel) that not all truths of Christ are explicitly stated in the Bible. The Holy Spirit deepens the Church's understanding of the Word through the centuries through the authority that Christ established in Peter and the apostles (today's pope and bishops). When we reject Christ's authority, we reject Christ.

As for the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father and the Son, consider the analogy of a married couple.

  1. One could say their child proceeds from the father and the mother as their personified love.
  2. You could also say the child proceeds from the act of the father.

Both statements are true. So too, one could say:

  1. The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son as the love between them;

    but it could also be fair to say:

  2. that the Spirit proceeds from the Father.

One compromise proposed is the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father through the Son.
That, of course, is reflected in the family, in that the child comes into being from the act of the father through the mother.

Regardless of which terminology is used, it is safe to say that there is nothing theologically incorrect about saying that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son.

Peace,

Paul

John replied:

Hi, Al —

The issue of the "Filioque":

that is the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father and the Son

verses

only from the Father

boils to down to focus.

Scripture teaches both. In some places, Jesus says He will send the Advocate.  Elsewhere He says He will ask the Father to send the Spirit. In John, Jesus breaths on the Apostles and says: "Receive the Holy Spirit."

The addition to the Creed was made in a local council of Toledo and it was done for good reason. The West was plagued with various strains of the Arian Heresy. It would not die. Hence, we see the development of the Rosary which emphasized the Incarnation, the Hail Mary which did the same — but added more emphasis on Jesus being God in the Womb of the Virgin Mary, and the Council of Toledo adding the Filioque.

The East didn't reject it (at first) on it's merits. Rather, they got twisted because it was a local Western Council that did it and Rome approved it without input from the East. The East may have worded it differently, after all they have a different approach. I spoke with some Armenian Apostolic priests (Monophysites). They said they omit it because it's not part of original creed,
but they would say the Spirit, proceeds from the Father, through the Son. So see, the Ancient East expressed the same truth in different ways.

In the Catholic Church, the Western Church uses the filioque but the Eastern Church doesn't.

That tells you, right there, it's not a real source of division.

John

Mary Ann replied:

Al,

Keep receiving the Eucharist and praying for light, while you adhere with your will, if not your mind, to the teachings of the Church.

God's grace is in the sacraments, and He knows the doubts. We all have doubts. Just be sure that you are not demanding to understand everything first, because God's revelation is beyond our understanding. Also be sure that you are not making yourself a sort of Pope, yourself.

God bless.

Mary Ann

Al replied:

Excellent point!

  • Am I making myself a pope?

I see the need for authority — it rings out like a air raid siren whenever I listen to Protestant preachers contradict each other and God's word. I have been looking to the Catholic Church for a long time on issues not decided within my circle of Christianity.

I believe the Catholic Church has descended from Christ via Peter and its successors. I believe in all its morals and the kind of faith mirrored in its Saints. I want that kind of faith. I identify with the early Church, not the reformation churches. I understand it is not by faith alone we can be saved but through our sanctification with faith through works. Gods wants all our resources.
If we are not willing to die for Christ — if we would deny Him at a time to save our lives, we are not worthy of Him. I want that kind of courage and conviction of faith. For that, I know I will need a lot of God's grace!

I believe God can keep the Pope from doing wrong in the doctrines of morals and faith. He can do anything and I have witnessed much personally. I am not sure if there have been Popes whom God allowed to do otherwise, perhaps not. He has allowed some priests, bishops and cardinals to act contrary to the faith and morals found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

I have complete faith in God and His Son, Jesus and I believe His Church, as He defines it, will be here when Jesus comes back.

  • Are these the kind of doubts that keep one from receiving Holy Communion?
  • Or, am I OK?

I went to an RCIA class, but left because I did not want to derail the faith of those present.
Everyone there, only appeared to have a topical understanding of the Church. They seemed to have already made up their minds and would do whatever was needed to belong.

I don't receive the Eucharist because I do not want to sin in doing so. I understand that I must believe everything that is proposed by the Church and I doubt some things. I currently hang around the Church, go to Mass on Sundays and some days during the week. It is a beautiful worship service and I never knew how meaningful each little thing was. I have learned a lot.

I certainly do not know everything. I have been dead wrong a lot in my life, and especially on spiritual matters; starting with Atheism, eventually Hinduism, and lastly Protestant Evangelicalism.

  • Could I go to the sacrament of Confession and receive the Eucharist?

That was my original question — I am the Catholic I was asking this question for. It was not hypothetical. A Deacon here told me I am Catholic, just not a good one at this time since I am not doing all I should be. Seems almost like a catch 22.

I will continue to pray for light, faith and trust. I guess I just don't trust anyone, except God and Him, I am afraid of as much as anything.

Thank you,

God Bless!

Al

Mary Ann replied:

Al,

If you have officially come into the Church, by all means receive the sacraments. Doubts are doubts. They are not refusals to believe. Bring your doubts to the Lord. You say you have faith in the Church as Church, as teacher of faith and morals. All the sin and error in lesser things just makes this gift shine all the more brightly. If you have not been accepted into the Church, however, (you said you did not finish RCIA, so I am not sure), then don't receive the sacraments until you make your official profession of faith.

God bless. No worries.

Mary Ann

John replied:

Al wrote:
"I believe God can keep the Pope from doing wrong in the doctrines of morals and faith.."

Not quite. The Holy Spirit protects the Pope from teaching error in matters of faith and morals — when speaking as the universal pastor and supreme pontiff — and when speaking definitively.

This is called infallibility. The Pope is not impeccable, which would mean he can't do wrong or sin.

Some Popes have been some of the biggest sinners. Even St. Peter, when visiting Antioch, violated his own doctrinal declaration. In Acts 15, Peter gets up at the Jerusalem Council and declares non-Jewish believers in Christ didn't need to be circumcised. That meant they didn't have to follow the Mosaic Law (i.e.: Kosher Laws, etc.) and that they were to be treated equally with Jewish Christians. Yet St. Paul tells us that when Peter visited Antioch, he suddenly stopped eating with the "gentiles" because certain Jewish Christians were getting offended.

Peter's Teaching was correct, yet he broke the very same Teaching he had pronounced.

As for your situation, in many ways Al, you are a better Catholic than many of the folks who sit in the pew, who are never concerned, themselves, if they actually submit to Church doctrine. Your desire is to love, serve, and obey the Lord. It's obvious or you wouldn't be so concerned about receiving Holy Communion in an unworthy manner. It's natural to struggle with doctrines but you've submitted yourself to Christ and His Church.

If you can at least say:

  • although you have doubts
  • don't understand certain issues
  • realize that you don't know more than the Church

then you are fine. Your faith seeks understanding and that's a good sign. Continue to receive our Lord in the Eucharist.

God Bless you brother.

John

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