Friday, August 20, 2010

The Vacation Part 3: The Interview

Sorry this took so long, I have been packing for school all week, taking care of the fam since my momma broke her foot, & visiting my gram at the hospital. It's been a crazy couple of days...I'm exhausted already and the worst is yet to come...homeworkk!!! :O haha oh well part of life. I am excited to go back, but I'm a wee bit nervous. I need to break out of my shy box and meet good Christians & Catholics...I need to actively seek them out and not accept foolish company, because I too became a fool last semester. Prayers Please!

So here it goes: The Interview.

My brother & I were walking the boardwalk while on one of our many escapes from the vacation house. I saw this demonstration going on and I was intrigued...the man was using bright neon paints and I wanted to see what he was doing. Before I could see, a little girl ran up to me and asked me if I had gotten one of her pamphlets yet, and I couldn't help but smile and accept it. She was so cute! When I looked at the pamphlet, it said "Where will you spend eternity?". I was naturally loving it, I wanted to stay and watch! But my brother groaned and basically made it clear he was not going to be bothered by these people.

I just kept walking with him because I didn't want to make him annoyed or anything...but on the way back I stopped to listen to the tail end of the man's speech. It literally ended a minute later and we started walking again, but this woman ran after us...she had smiled at me in the crowd, but I figured she was just an audience member. She gave me another pamphlet and asked me what religion I was most familiar with. HA! I was "in heaven", but you could see the discomfort on my brother's face, he wanted out.

The woman was excited to hear I was "most familiar" with Christianity, and she proceeded to ask where I fellowshipped. Uhh?? I think that just means where do I go to church? So that introduced my faith-I explained I was Catholic & went to my local parish. And then I could see the smile on her face lessen (lol! I knew it was coming...but I thought she may have just accepted that we were both believers in Jesus...)

She told me how she and her pastor had done tons of research on my church and that there were things I "needed to know". Even though I had heard many of her arguments before. The few I was baffled by were as follows:

1. The Church does not teach purgatory anymore

She said her sister sends her kids to Catholic school and they refuse to teach this doctrine now. Uhm...I was unfamiliar with this? I thought it was still well in practice? She asked me to explain the doctrine to her, and I did, saying that at death, we being sinners cannot just walk into God's presence tainted by our evil...we need a period of cleansing to enter the pure loving presence of our Lord. It's not an evil place...and not just anyone can get into purgatory.

2. Purgatory is corrupt

On EWTN one show covered this-they said how only true believers can even get into purgatory, because they are already on their way to the heaven. This woman acted like any Joe-shmo can be in, and then, hopefully, his family will pay his way into heaven...WHAT?!! Pay??? I was soooo confused! I think she meant that in the middle ages, when the church suffered much corruption, many priests sold indulgences, promising the dead would be released to heaven? No matter what was true, she asked me how Jesus' sacrifice was even meaningful if we need to be cleansed of sin in purgatory...what purpose was His blood then? And that was where I was confused...I have never doubted the saving power of Christ's blood & sacrifice on the cross, but why isn't that sufficient itself? Anyone care to help a girl out over here? I totally dislike not being able to explain these things.

3. Purgatory didn't exist until the late 1800's because the Church needed money for statues

She then said Catholics created purgatory in the 1800's to raise money to buy statues...I think I just remember my mouth being agape because I didn't know how to respond. She assured me this was only her research and that she could be wrong...and I insisted she was. I was a little heartbroken that that was what some people are being taught about the RCC...who could even spread that information? At this point I realized I NEEDED to make a post about this for my protestant readers...because this was the kind of misinformation that creates tension between us and it's unnecessary. The woman then asked me if I thought Catholic art and statues was an ok practice...she reminded me how much we could do with that money to help charities. I did appreciate her concern here, but when you look at the facts, the RCC does help the poor, sick, orphaned, etc everyday in every country. There are so many Catholic relief funds & charities...perhaps our money spent on art could be useful elsewhere, but it's part of our tradition and worship to have beautiful help us ponder the immense beauty that is our Lord and His creation.

4. Our Bibles are the same, read the Bible and see how false the RCC is

Well...I don't know what she meant by this because our Bibles are not the same. After the Reformation I believe, Protestants removed many books from the old testament (the apocrypha) that the Catholics retained. I believe the Jews removed these books from their Torah because they were not originally written in Hebrew and, thus, were not accepted as divinely inspired. But no matter what, the Bible that was compiled from the beginning was the Catholic Bible and in fact it proves how all Catholic doctrine is biblical because they made the Bible and drew from it!

She concluded with say how she loves us and how in the end we are both believers in the trinity and that was what matters. She encouraged me to always be researching & learning because when we die, we won't have our priest, pastor, rabbi, imam, etc with us on the day of judgment. We won't be able to say "well he taught me this...". And that's VERY true. We won't have help on that day, it'll just be us & God. Scary reality, but it made me think a little. Even though my brother was annoyed by this experience I was elated! Not only did she get to witness, but in a way, I felt like I did too. I liked the dialogue we shared, teaching each other truths of our own respective faiths and not being mean or impatient with each other over the differences. Sure I was appalled by what she had been taught, but I know it wasn't her fault entirely. I'm learning to not take these accusations personally anymore, and that is a trait I need to have.

We're all a little be lost on this journey, I understand completely!
That's why I think this blog is still useful in a way.
Dialogue between all faiths is key, so lets always be willing to talk & learn.

Peace always my dears!


Deltaflute said...

Purgatory is mentioned in the apocrypha. In maccabees, a solider (?) prays for those who are dead but not yet in heaven. This isn't in a Protestant Bible so they don't believe there is a separate place.

Also Jesus died for a sins which puts us in a state of grace but we are obligated to confess those sins. If we are unable to confess venial sins before death we are sent to purgatory to purify ourselves before entering his kingdom. Think of the Jews who were in state of uncleanliness that had to purify themselves before being able to enter the Temple. They were still able to partake of the sacrifice but had to be purified after a period of time. There was a ritual cleansing with water.

Hope that helps.

caraboska said...

The problem I have with the notion of purgatory is as follows: in Hebrews, it is written that it is appointed unto man once to die, and then the judgment. There's nothing in between. Plus that book (Hebrews) and other places in the New Testament devote so much time to showing that Jesus' blood is the only and sufficient sacrifice that can cleanse us from our sin, that to me it is clear that there is just no place for purgatory, and that verse about purgatory in the Apocrypha is one of the reasons that Protestants do not accept the Apocrypha. It is not just a matter of the Hebrew Bible vs. the 'other books'. It is that they view the extra books as in some way contradicting the remainder of Scripture. So this idea that the Bible compiled in the beginning (actually, a good couple hundred years or more after Jesus' death, even if the books that went into it all existed long before then) is the Catholic Bible and therefore must be evidence that Catholic doctrine is right just won't wash with a Protestant.