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Allan Porchetta wrote:

Hi, guys —

I was wondering about your quotes on Isaiah:

  • Aren't these passages from Isaiah pointing to Jesus rather than the Pope?

We are not sure of exactly what part Eliakim played at the court of Hezekiah. The Chronicles of the kings of Judah were lost when the Babylonians destroyed the city and palace. The passage states that he has the key of David, just as the Messiah does in Revelation 3 so Eliakim is a type of Messiah —

  • what he says, gets done.
  • What he establishes, comes to pass.
  • What he sets in motion, continues until it has run its course.
  • His fixed points remain fixed for all eternity.

22 And I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David; he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open.

Isaiah 22:22

7 And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one shall shut, who shuts and no one opens.

Revelation 3:7

Allan

  { Aren't these passages from Isaiah pointing to Jesus rather than the Pope and why burn Bibles? }

Eric replied:

Hi Allan,

You forget that Jesus gave these keys to Peter in Matthew 16:18-19. Also consider that the prime minister is not the king, but the one who serves the king. He stands, as it were, in the stead of the king and exercises his authority in his name. One thing to keep in mind is that Catholicism tends to think "both-and" and Protestants think "either-or".

  • Is it Jesus, or is it the pope?

It's both, because Jesus delegates his authority to the pope.

The authority of Eliakim cannot be pitted against that of Hezekiah because the latter derived his authority from the former. So the pope, who is Eliakim to Jesus' Hezekiah, exercises his authority in the name of Jesus who is mentioned in that Revelation passage you quoted.

Eric

John replied:

Allan —

The passage in question is found in Isaiah 22. Most Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox scholars agree that Jesus is basically quoting this passage when he's speaking to Peter in the singular tense "you" in Matthew 16. In fact, many Protestant study bibles will cross reference Matthew 16 with Isaiah 22 in the foot notes.

Jesus is talking to Peter and He gives Peter the keys. Jesus sits on the Throne of David and so did Hezekiah.

So you are correct, but Eliakim was given the key to act on Hezekiah's behalf. He was a Viceroy or a Prime Minister. The passage clearly indicates that he would speak and act on Hezekiah's behalf.

In the Matthew 16 passage, note that Jesus is giving the keys to Peter. He's not retaining for Himself. Obviously, Jesus has the ultimate control of the keys and that is the assurance that Peter and his successors will be prevented from publicly teaching error in the area of faith and morals. That doesn't mean they will be perfect saints or always correct in matters of discipline but when it comes to defining doctrine they hold a unique office which has been granted a unique protection.

Returning to the point, in the Isaiah passage, the prototype of Christ is Hezekiah, not Eliakim and in Matthew 16, Jesus is speaking to Peter.

If Eliakim were a prototype of Christ then Christ would be talking to Himself, not Peter.

Now, in order for Jesus to give the keys to Peter, they would have to be His keys to begin with; on this point we agree. When you understand the nature of the Church, you realize that the Church, being the Body of Christ on earth, is one and the same with Christ.

It isn't Peter, the man's Church, it's Peter's office.

John

Allan replied:

John,

As a Catholic, one thing I find difficult is that many times, in history, the pope has prevented the reading of the Bible; even burning them and issuing anathemas against the reading of the Bible.

Since we are commanded to read all of the Scriptures by Jesus and the Apostles to strengthen our faith, surely this would be an error against faith and morals.

Allan

John replied:

Allan,

That's not quite the whole truth. The Church at times has forbidden Catholics from reading unapproved translations and, at the time, there was good reason.

For instance in Martin Luther's German translation inserted the word "alone" in Romans 3:28. The texts reads:

"For we account a man to be justified by faith, without the works of the law."

Luther's first translation read:

"For we account a man to be justified by faith alone, apart from works of the law."

Luther retracted the word in his second edition, because even his fellow Protestants disagreed with his mistranslation. They agreed with faith alone but word doesn't appear in the original Greek.

In addition Luther ripped out seven books from the Old Testament (you can check through our data base for extensive explanations about the canon of scripture and what Luther did).

Our data base also has answers that explain the doctrine of justification by faith which is Catholic, verses the heresy known as faith alone.

He also wanted to remove the Epistle of James and the book of Revelation.

Now first we have to understand that prior to the printing press, bibles weren't readily available. So from the very beginning, even before we an official canon (which was established in 382 A.D.), letters, gospels, and Old Testament scrolls were always approved by the local Bishop in order that they may be read to the people or by the people.

Nevertheless, the average person, if they could read, didn't have access to the Scriptures the way do today. Heck today, we don't need to buy a bible if you have access to the internet. You can look up any translation you want. But this emphasis on reading the scriptures simply was not there.

But returning to my point, the Church has an obligation to protect the faithful from heresy.
In days past, people were uneducated so if they picked up a bad translation, or in the first few centuries, if they picked up a heretical Gospel like Thomas, they'd be vulnerable to adopting heresies. Information was not easily available to them so they couldn't check for heresies. In fact if you notice, most of Paul's letters were sent to correct heresies that some of the early local Churches had adopted. But think about the months involved in the process:

  1. First the news that a heresy had taken root in a Church had to get to Paul,
  2. then he had to send the letter and
  3. then local pastors or Bishops had to process Paul's letter and then try to stamp out the heresy.

So the Bishops from the very beginning relied on Apostolic authority and Tradition to verify the content of writing to make sure it agreed with what their predecessor had taught them.

Once we got the printing press, the dissemination of heretical translations become a serious problem. The printing presses were mostly found in Protestant Northern Europe and bad translations were being distributed in large quantity so the Church had to step in and simply forbid the reading of any Bible that was not approved from the local Catholic Bishop who was loyal to Rome and the Church, hence the Church started the famous index of forbidden books, which included any bible that was not approved.

Now, please tell me where Jesus or the Apostles commanded us to read all of the Scriptures.

  • Jesus never wrote anything.
  • Jesus never said to read a thing.
  • He never said to write a thing, except when He told John in the book of Revelation to record what he saw and the letters to the seven Churches He dictated in the first chapters of Revelation.

The Apostles, never said that we should read all of the Scriptures. In fact, when they referenced the Scriptures, they were talking about the Old Testament Scriptures, the only Scripture they had at the time. Most of the New Testament was being written and it wouldn't be canonized for close to another 400 years. The reading and meditation on the Scriptures is encouraged in the bible but most people couldn't read at that time. There was no Christian book store in every town where you could go buy a bible.

Also even if the people were forbidden to read the bible, that is not a matter of faith or morals.
It would be a pastoral discipline just like the prohibition on eating meat on Fridays — that's not doctrine, it's a practice.

The protection against error is very specific. It protects the Church and the Pope from officially teaching a heresy.

If this protection doesn't exist, then you have no way of knowing for sure what books belong in the Bible. That is a matter of Church Teaching. If the Church and the Pope are not infallible in all Teachings of faith and morals, then they are not infallible in any Teaching on faith and morals.

That means:

  • the Trinity as defined by the Council of Nicea
  • the Christological definition of the Council of Chalcedon
  • the Divinity of Christ, and
  • like I said, the Canon of Scripture

are now all up for grabs.

John

Allan replied:

John -

But Jesus said man cannot live by bread alone but by every (the whole bible as written by the Holy Spirit) word which proceeded from the mouth of the Father. (Matthew 4:4)

If Jesus needed Scripture, the sword of the spirit to make the devil flee, then how much more do we now and at that time.

The New Testament letters would have circulated very quickly to the addresses of the various churches such as Ephesus, Corinth etc.

It was the atheists that delayed the date of production to ridiculous lengths - e.g. the Church of Ephesus letter would have been read out to the congregation and then copied by trained scribes and distributed. People also had wax writing tablets and they were eager for the Scriptures.

Allan

John replied:

Hi Allan,

Firstly, I'd ask that you Reply to All. This allows the entire team to follow the conversation and hop in if they have something to add. Now let's talk about your points.

Jesus was the Living Word. He spoke the Word of God and again I'd remind you that when He spoke about the Word, He was referring to Himself and the Old Testament.

Now, you need to realize that these scrolls weren't available outside the synagogues. They were kept in a tabernacle. People couldn't even touch them. When a male member of the Synagogue took his turn to read from it, he didn't even touch it. He used a piece of wood, to unroll it and to keep his place as he was reading it.

Also, you have a misunderstanding about the term the Word of God as being only written, whereas Paul talks about the Teaching being transmitted by Written Word or Oral Tradition:

Therefore, brethren, stand fast; and hold the traditions which you have learned, whether by word, or by our epistle.

2 Thessalonians 2:15

I would refer you to Dei Verbum, the Vatican II document on the Word of God, and how it is transmitted. The Church has always taught, and Catholics are bound to believe, that the Word of God is revealed to us by Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition. Both come to us through the Magisterium which is the Teaching Authority of the Church. This is in keeping with Peter's admonition.

19 And we have the more firm prophetical word: whereunto you do well to attend, as to a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: 20 Understanding this first, that no prophecy of scripture is made by private interpretation. 21 For prophecy came not by the will of man at any time: but the holy men of God spoke, inspired by the Holy Ghost.

2 Peter 1:19-21

In other words, when it come to doctrine, people can't just pick up the bible and rely on their own interpretation.

As it relates to the distribution of epistles or the ability of the early Church to conduce doctrinal clarification, you are simply mistaken on your Church history. The Council of Nicea for example dealt with the Arian heresy, in spite of the clear condemnation of the heresy and the distribution of the dogmatic definition of the Trinity.

Arianism persisted in various forms for centuries. The same can be said about other heresies. The Nestorian and Monophysite heresy continue to this day in Eastern Churches. These sects went in to schism in 431 and 451 A.D. For centuries, the rule of Islam in certain areas prevented easy communication. Finally, in recent years, communication lines between East and West have been re-opened and the substance of the Christological doctrines are being discussed. We've discovered that language barriers contributed greatly to their misunderstandings and there is much agreement being found in these areas.

The same sort of obstacles also existed in Paul's day. He wrote the letter to Galatians to address the Judaizers. But history and the book of Acts tell us that the Judaizers remained strong and Paul was never able to stamp them out in his life time. The same holds true with respect to John and his fight with the Gnostics. The Gnostics didn't just disappear once John wrote his epistles. In fact, much of North Africa remained Gnostic. They wrote and accepted as canonical the Gospel of Thomas, but rejected John's writings entirely. Here is another shocker. The Churches in the East such at the Armenian Church, didn't accept Revelation as part of their canon for centuries after the entire bible was canonized in 382 A.D.

It's wonderful that you love reading and meditating on the Scriptures. It's great that we live in a world where it is easily accessible.

More Catholics should show the same zeal. I must have more than a dozen translations including the original Greek and Hebrew. I use them all but we must remember God's Word is revealed in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition. In fact, the Bible (the Canon) is part of Sacred Tradition and it was given to us by the Teaching Authority of the Church. When we start trying to be our own interpreters of doctrine from the Scriptures, we wind up falling in to heresy and becoming Protestants. The reason there are so many different Protestant denomination (at last count 30,000!) is because every time some one disagrees with what a Scripture passage means, they go form another denomination.

Trust me, I left a Protestant pulpit to become a Catholic lay parishioner primarily because of that insanity. I would encourage you to purchase a copy of the Catechism. It's only about $20 in soft cover. It has a whole section on Sacred Scripture.

I'll end by returning to your original question.

First of any prohibition on reading the bible was not a Teaching, but a discipline so we are free to disagree with the discipline but we must obey it and it is not covered by the teaching on infallibility.

Second, it was not a prohibition on reading the Scriptures. It was a prohibition regarding unapproved and unauthorized translations of the Bible. It is not unlike the prohibition of the distribution and reading of:

  • the Gospel of Thomas
  • the Gospel of Peter
  • the Gospel Pilate
  • the Gospel of Nicodemus
  • the Gospel of Mary Magdalene, etc.

These were heretical Gnostic works that were poisoning North Africa and to this day we see the Gospel of Thomas being used by people like Dan Brown who wrote the Da Vinci Code. Some of these, like the Gospel of Mary Magdalene, are being used by radical feminists to promote their agenda. Today the Church doesn't ban the reading of these books because other methods for rapidly combating these heresies exist. We have a published Catechism that anyone can buy. Check these writings against the Teaching of the Church. The Church uses the internet as well to disseminate authentic Church Teaching.

You have to understand these pastoral provisions and disciplines in the context of the times.

I hope this helps. Keep reading the Bible and buy and read the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

God Bless,

John

Eric replied:

Allan,

An additional factor is that some bibles contained notes that were viciously anti-Catholic.
This was a major reason bibles were banned by the Catholic Church.

Eric

Allan replied:

John,

You quoted:

19 And we have the more firm prophetical word: whereunto you do well to attend, as to a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: 20 Understanding this first, that no prophecy of scripture is made by private interpretation. 21 For prophecy came not by the will of man at any time: but the holy men of God spoke, inspired by the Holy Ghost.

2 Peter 1:19-21

I understood this to mean that the Scriptures did not come to be written by men on their own but by the Holy Spirit.

Allan

John replied:

Allan,

You are interpreting Scripture on your own with the benefit of Tradition. As Eric pointed out earlier, it's not "either or" it's "both and". There is a principle here. The Scriptures are not only interpreted but must be applied.

Notice the text says it didn't come from "the will of man", but the Holy men of God spoke inspired by the Holy Ghost. It doesn't say "Holy men of God wrote", it said they spoke, so right there we have an indication that Sacred, Oral Tradition is part of Prophecy. Secondly, we see that God uses men. Likewise, God uses the Church.

Jesus Himself in Matthew 16, gave authority to Peter and the Church. He gave the authority to bind and loose. That is a rabbinic expression that covers a wide range of things which include Teaching Authority and the authority to impose disciplines. A perfect scriptural example of this is found in Acts 15 which records the actions of the Jerusalem Council.

In Matthew 16, He also states the "gates of Hell" would not prevail against the Church. Well,
if you understand what "gates" meant in that society, you'd know that the elders of every community would gather at the gates of a city and there they would come together in council.
So Jesus is saying that the council and judgments of Hell or Satan would not corrupt the Teaching of the Church. We don't trust the Pope, as a man, or the Magisterium as men, we trust in the promise made by Jesus to the Church. Without this guarantee we have nothing to go on.

Again, please read Dei Verbum. You need to start learning how to read the Scriptures in the light of Sacred Tradition. I would also recommend you begin reading the Early Church fathers. These men were one, two, or three generations away from the Apostles. While their writing aren't inspired, they shed tremendous light on how the Scripture was understood from the very birth of the Church. Sacred Scripture is an ancient document. We need to understand the entire cultural context of the times during which:

  • the Written Word was being developed
  • the issues being addressed, and
  • so forth.

Back then, they used a Semitic Eastern writing, so we can't look at it strictly with our 21st century Western mind-set.

Reading the Scriptures and letting the Holy Spirit speak to you through them is fine, so long as you're not trying to forge your own set of doctrines.

Paul wrote to the Corinthians regarding prophecies. He said let them be tested and confirmed by the elders. (1 Timothy 5:17) Again, their is a principle that if you have a prophetic word by the Holy Spirit, then it must line up with the Scriptures and Church Teaching and our understanding of the text lines up with the Magisterium.

John

Eric replied:

Hi, Allan —

A good introduction to the early Church Fathers is The Fathers Know Best by Jimmy Akin, available from either:

Eric

Mike replied:

Hi Allan,

I've been following the discussion you and John have been having and just want to add one thing
to the issue of the Bible being burned or prevented from reading.

As Catholics, on issues of faith and morals, we believe the Pope is protected by the Holy Spirit from teaching error, but this is not true for:

  • Printers
  • printing presses
  • printer's apprentices, or
  • editors

There were numerous times, where by pure accident errors crept into the written Scriptures.

  • The Wicked Bible - the King James Version of 1795, the book of Exodus was printed saying:

    "Thou shalt commit adultery"!

    For those not very religious, you can imagine how popular this version was : )

  • The Vinegar Bible - the King James Version of 1717, so called because on one of the chapter titles was "The parable of the vinegar", instead of the parable of the vineyard.

  • In the first King James version of 1611, Exodus 14:10 is duplicated and repeated twice; the printers for some reason had the exact same verse in twice and we know the Holy Spirit does not stutter.

  • There was another King James Bible called the Murder's Bible because in Mark 7:27 it says, "But Jesus said unto her:

    "Let the children first be killed, for it's not good to take the children's bread."

    when it should have said, "let the children first be filled."


  • Well, Guess what Protestant churches did with Bibles like that?

The same thing the Catholic Church did: they burned them!! They were blasphemous and wrong.

Some may say,

"Yeah, but the Catholic Church chained the Bible, limiting its reach."

Our reply is Yes!, the Church did chain the Bible, for the same reason banks chain pens inside their banks. So they wouldn't get stolen and everyone, who could read, could have a crack at it.

In reading through some of your replies to John, I sense that some of what you have heard has come from Protestant Bible studies. There can be many dangers for Catholics who attend Protestant Bible Studies. If you hear something said over and over again, you start to think that way. So if what is being said is not Catholic, you will start think, and say things that are not Catholic. In addition, Protestant bibles are only as authoritative as the are in accordance with approved Catholic Bibles.

Stick with Catholic interpreters via good Catholic Scripture Commentaries. If you read it with Catholic eye's you will really be nourished by it. You have to watch out for what is called Bibliolatry - worshipping the book and the book alone. The Bible was intended to stand within the Church and the Church venerates the Bible just as She venerates the Body of the Lord in the Eucharist; she doesn't venerate the Bible more than the Body of the Lord.

The Bible is intended to stay within the Church. When someone takes the Bible and uses it against the Church, it's like taking someone's arm, ripping his arm out of his arm socket, and then beating him over the head with his own arm. That's not how the Bible was intended to be used.

The Bible is a part of the Church; it is a product of the Catholic Church. It was written by Catholics and their Old Testament ancestors, for Catholics, for use in the Catholic Mass. It was never intended to be used against the Church.

  • Is it true the Catholic Church isn't Bible based?
    <Yes, it's Christ's based.>

  • Is it true the Catholic Church burned Bibles?
    <Yes, it got rid of the bad ones just as the Protestants did.>

  • Is it true the Catholic Church chained Bibles?
    <Yes, so everyone could get a crack at one.>

Keep in mind that it was Jesus who taught with His lips, not with his pen. It was Jesus who gave the Church authority over the Book, not the Book over the Church. 1 Timothy 3:15

2 You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; 3 clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.

2 Corinthians 3:2-3

12 Having many things to write to you, I did not wish to do so with paper and ink; but I hope to come to you and speak face to face, that our joy may be full.

2 John 12

That was the way Jesus taught, face to face. He gave us a Church that would teach face to face. The Book, the Bible, is a Catholic book which the Church has used to teach us. It should become part of our hearts, it shouldn't take the place of our heart, so let's always keep the Bible close to us, let's always keep it in the Church, and hope and pray that those who follow the Bible will follow it right back into the Catholic Church.

Kudos to my very good friend, Clayton Bower Jr., who was the source of my answer and who passed away on September 13, 2010.

Clayton, my good friend, Rest In Peace.
Readers of this posting, please say a prayer for my good friend.

Mike

Eric replied:

Mike's observation that bibles were chained to keep people from stealing them is a good one.

Before the printing press, bibles were handwritten and were very, very costly. Even after the printing press, bibles were still very expensive. People tend to project today's universal literacy back on the Middle Ages. This is anachronistic.

Which reminds me, not only are today's books much cheaper than books back then, but literacy was so low back then it did very little good to give people the Scriptures because they could not read them. Often people complain about the lack of vernacular translations, but the fact is, anyone who could read, could read Latin, and some languages didn't even have a standard written form.

Eric

Allan replied:

Hi, guys —

In Glasgow, Scotland, I had the feeling that the Catholic Church was anti-bible and apart from the very short readings and short homilies, they didn't seem very evangelical. Nevertheless, it was good for primary school children to be introduced to Jesus though at their school.

I went to the Catholic Church at the age of 35; — 15 years after attending church, I became baptized by sprinkling. I did not realize the importance of it. i.e. giving my life completely to Jesus, so for 15 years I was an unprotected Christian who had 100% belief but did not walk in faith. I mistook unwavering belief for actually walking in the faith.

I was not generally one to talk about the homily or the bible; there was little Christian fellowship. When I look back I can hardly believe it. I did not come off the narrow road because I was never on it in the first place. If only a bible preaching minister had given me the fear of God at the beginning and the necessity of being baptized by water and the spirit. As David W. said, the moment you become a believer a massive gun points at your head, manned by the devil.

So being a baby Christian, I filled my life up with so much worldly junk. I used up the incredible amount of time God gave me, opening every door that I needed. I thought if I attend all the Catholic services with my wife (who is a Catholic) this should be OK.

I got involved in coffee mornings and church hall dances with drinking, anything but Bible study. The church hall was more like a social club where you did worldly things like dances and race nights but since everything was done for charity it was OK.

What I needed was holiness and hell fire preaching but this never happened in 25 years. I can make no excuse for being so deceived. Looking back now, I know God was giving me grace after grace but I ignored it.

When you goggle up the sermons of the New York Times Square church you get nearly an hour of profitable teaching without compromise. I feel that the Catholic Church in America has benefitted from the Bible-based Protestant churches.

I never quite took to the prayers to Mary or the Rosary which many Catholics do in the Church.

Allan

Eric replied:

Thanks for the reply Allan,

You said:
In Glasgow, Scotland, I had the feeling that the Catholic Church was anti-bible and apart from the very short readings and short homilies, they didn't seem very evangelical. Nevertheless, it was good for primary school children to be introduced to Jesus though at their school.

The liturgy is just dripping with Scripture. If you count the Psalms, there are four readings from Scripture proper during each Catholic Sunday liturgy.

  • How many does your church do?

Plus the rest of the liturgy is replete with references to Scripture, quotes, and so forth.
"The Lord be with you. And with your spirit."

"So that from the rising of the sun to its setting, a perfect offering may be made."

Malachi 1:11

There are several books that go over how Biblical the whole Mass is:

You said:
I went to the Catholic Church at the age of 35; — 15 years after attending church,
I became baptized by sprinkling. I did not realize the importance of it. i.e. giving my life completely to Jesus, so for 15 years I was an unprotected Christian who had 100% belief but did not walk in faith. I mistook unwavering belief for actually walking in the faith.

The Catholic Church does not baptize by "sprinkling"; that's the Presbyterian church. We baptize by immersion or by infusion (pouring). Nevertheless there is biblical precedent for sprinkling.
In one of the prophecies of baptism, it is written:

"Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them."

(Ezekiel 36:25-27)

You said:
I was not generally one to talk about the homily or the bible; there was little Christian fellowship. When I look back I can hardly believe it. I did not come off the narrow road because I was never on it in the first place. If only a bible preaching minister had given me the fear of God at the beginning and the necessity of being baptized by water and the spirit. As David W. said, the moment you become a believer a massive gun points at your head, manned by the devil.

The quality of the priest may vary, and certainly a Catholic priest isn't going to talk the same way about the Scriptures as your minister because your minister is from a different culture and interprets the bible in a different context.

  • Do I wish that more priests preached explicitly from the Bible?

Sure, that's what they are supposed to do in the homily. But this is a problem of praxis, not doctrine.

You said:
So being a baby Christian, I filled my life up with so much worldly junk. I used up the incredible amount of time God gave me, opening every door that I needed. I thought if I attend all the Catholic services with my wife (who is a Catholic) this should be OK.

I got involved in coffee mornings and church hall dances with drinking, anything but Bible study. The church hall was more like a social club where you did worldly things like dances and race nights but since everything was done for charity it was OK.

  • Where does it say in the bible these things are "worldly things"?

I love it when people condemn dancing yet dancing is portrayed positively in Scripture. David's wife was struck barren for disapproving of him dancing.

You said:
What I needed was holiness and hell fire preaching but this never happened in 25 years. I can make no excuse for being so deceived. Looking back now, I know God was giving me grace after grace but I ignored it.

  • So are you expecting to be spoon-fed your faith by your priest?
  • Did you ever once go out and read spiritual books on your own or seek a spiritual director?

I'm glad you found the Lord, and this is important of course, but as you say, you were ignoring God's grace. No wonder you weren't going anywhere. That was your responsibility.

I think if you're honest with yourself, you'd realize that the Catholic Church that you attended laid the groundwork for you to receive the Gospel. It prepared the ground for you so you'd be receptive. If you had never attended a Catholic church, I wonder if you would be Christian today. I'd argue that the Gospel was there for the taking in the Catholic Church — I mean the Gospel is read at every Mass, how could you miss it my friend? — but let's say you are correct and no one preached it to you. Nevertheless you had heard the words of Scripture and had been exposed to the Gospel, planting a seed that would later, with the right water, sprout.

You said:
When you goggle up the sermons of the New York Times Square church you get nearly an hour of profitable teaching without compromise.

Well there are certainly Catholic churches or preachers you could goggle and get similar results.

You said:
I feel that the Catholic Church in America has benefitted from the Bible-based Protestant churches.

And likewise, I'd argue many Bible-based Protestants churches have benefited from the Catholic Church.

You said:
I never quite took to the prayers to Mary or the Rosary which many Catholics do in the Church.

Study Psalm 45, verses 9-17, especially verses 12, 16, and 17, about the Queen.

Eric

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