Dec 30, 2014

Are Catholics Christians?

     I have heard it before, "Catholics aren't Christians." I am sure you all have heard this before. If you are among the various Protestant or non-Catholic Christians you may actually believe this statement. That is what this post is all about to answer the claim that Catholics aren't Christians. My first thought is how could anyone make such a claim in the first place. Don't all Christians love Christ? Don't all Christians profess a belief in the death and resurrection of Christ the Son of God our Savior! For the Catholics I can say YES WE DO, and the faithful Catholic like the faithful Christian thinks no different on these points. 
"Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor..."
To learn more about the marks of a true Christian refer to Romans 12:9-21.

Christ through Saint Paul in the book of Romans gives us the standard that we must follow. Being a Christian is not just something you believe in it is also something that you do! Believing is one thing, but we are called to act on what we believe. The Catholic and the non-Catholic alike are subject to these standards which are Christ's! There are so many more verses that I could show you here to make the point, but I think you will get it.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." Matthew 7:21 
Now that we know what a Christian is and DOES, lets take a quick look at a verse that tells us what a Christian most definitely is not.
"Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son." 1 John 2:22
Along with not acting like a Christian another way to NOT be a Christian is to be "antichrist" and not a Christian. Any denomination that denies Christ is "antichrist." Catholics as well as other Christian denominations do not fall into this category who profess a belief and obedience to Christ at least most of the time
"for all have sinned and fall short to the Glory of God." Romans 3:23
Romans 3:23 is no excuse to do what you wish even commit sin because our Lord also says, "You therefor must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect" Matthew 5:48 The thing here is we as Christians are called to a higher standard and must do our very best to meet those expectations if we want to reach the goal which is heavenly perfection and the beatific vision (seeing God as he is.) This is where the Sacraments of the Catholic Church come in which I will talk a little bit about. This article is not about Sacraments so I strongly encourage you to learn more about them. 

A little bit on the Apostolic Church. The Catholic Church is The Apostolic Church which was founded on the Rock of Christ who then passed on this authority to Peter his first Apostle who is also a rock to act in "Persona Christi" (in the person of Christ) for his Church here on earth.
"And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”" Matthew 16:18-19
This Church was to be an everlasting Church that exists both in heaven and on earth simultaneously encompassing all believers from all corners of the world, a Universal Church founded by Christ himself! This Catholic Church is given by Christ the authority to "bind and loose." In other words to bind the things of heaven right here on earth like the seven Sacraments (Baptism, etc..) and to loose also as in the nullification of a marriage, etc.. Regarding Sacraments this is how I define it, "a Sacrament is the physical reality of a spiritual good." You can also say that they are channels God uses to distribute his Grace. Catholics are in fact Christians as all who have faith in Christ the Son of God are. Don't you ever let anyone tell you other wise especially if your Catholic! Give this article to them or others like it. This is a common misconception among non Catholics. Here is a little history on the word Catholic being used to represent the early Church Christ founded. The word Catholic comes from the Greek word for "Universal" you can look it up in the dictionary to see that. It signifies the Universal Church that Christ established through the Apostles which included not only Jews, but Gentiles as well. In other words Everyone! 
The reason why Catholics are called Catholic is to differentiate the Catholic with the non-Catholic. Starting in the first century of Christianity there were a lot of people claiming to be Christians, (not much has changed) but were not among the sect of the Apostles. And in many cases teaching something other than what the Apostles taught.
"So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter." 2 Thessalonians 2:15
 "Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us." 2 Thessalonians 3:6
The term Catholic was coined to identify those Christians who follow Christ's Church through the Apostles (Apostolic Church) and the others. The earliest record of the early Church being Called Catholic exists in the writings of Saint Ignatius of Antioch and later writings from many other Fathers of the Church contain the term Catholic as well when referring to the Apostolic Church.
"You must all follow the bishop as Jesus Christ follows the Father, and the presbytery as you would the Apostles. Reverence the deacons as you would the command of God. Let no one do anything of concern to the Church without the bishop. Let that be considered a valid Eucharist which is celebrated by the bishop, or by one whom he appoints. Wherever the bishop appears, let the people be there; just as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. Nor is it permitted without the bishop either to baptize or to celebrate the agape; but whatever he approve, this too is pleasing to God, so that whatever is done will be secure and valid."
This Saint Ignatius quote is taken from a very early Christian erra--- (LETTER TO THE SMYRNAEANS - ST. IGNATIUS BISHOP OF ANTIOCH, AD 110 (2nd century) The Faith of the early Fathers page 25, section 65.)

Saint Ignatius' quote is also interesting because he was Bishop of Antioch in the 2nd century less than a century after Acts of the Apostles was written. Antioch is also the place where the followers of Christ are first called Christians.

"The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch." Acts 11:26
Also notice that Ignatius also mentions that this early Church consisted of bishops, presbyters (which are priests), reverence to the deacons, and the validity of the Sacraments, like Eucharist, baptism and the mass in the Catholic Church alone. Which confirms what scripture teaches us about there being one faith and one baptism!
"one Lord, one faith, one baptism" Ephesians 4:5

There is so much more I could say on this that I could write a book on it. In fact many books have been written on them as well. Let me recommend first anything by Scott Hahn. Please take a look at my recommended reading page on this blog for a nice list of books that I have read. You may also want to refer to the Catholic answers website and most importantly the Catechism of the Catholic Church for more information. The Catechism link above that I have provided you will take you to the Apostolic succession page in the Catechism. I think you will find it helpful if you will take the time to read it. Also keep in mind that the Catechism is always available online for free for your reading pleasure.

Many people make lots of claims about the Catholic Church claiming to know what the Church teaches on one teaching or another. I have found that most people have a lot to say regarding what the Catholic Church teaches and most are acting upon misinformation that has been given to them sometimes even among Catholics them selves. 

Unfortunately many Catholics have not read much of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I want to urge all Catholics and non Catholics alike to pick it up and study it along with your bible. 

The Catechism helps us to study scripture in the light of Christ resurrected and in light of the almost 2,000 year history and tradition of the Church! I also often wonder how many people who claim to know what the Church teaches actually have read the Catechism. From my experience those who appose the Church's teachings have not read even one line in the Catechism, and do not understand the biblical origin of her teachings. 

How about you? 

Speaking for my self I have it, and read it often, and love it. I make it a regular part of my spiritual reading. I have just gotten it also for my Kindle for more convenient reading that way anytime I promote a religious or spiritual view it is in line with authentic teachings of the Apostolic Church. I find it a very beautiful, Theological book which loves and honors Christ.

For more information about the early Church Fathers like Saint Ignatius is The Fathers Know Bestby Jimmy Akin. You can also read many of the writings of people like Saint Ignatius online just by doing a search.

Please also take a look at these previous posts:

Eucharist in Scripture Study Guide

And feel free to take a look at the Bible Study page at the top of this blog :)

Thank you for your time and the likes to this page.

God bless! From Joanne Utke

Quotes used in this article:

Romans 12:9-21

Matthew 7:21
1 John 2:22
Romans 3:23
Matthew 5:48
Matthew 16:18-19
2 Thessalonians 2:15, 3:6
Acts 11:26
Ephesians 4:5

All bible quotes are taken from the English Standard Version of the bible which I happen to love!

Dec 23, 2014

God's Birthday

                                                 Christmas and God's Birthday

       Is December 25 really the true date of Christ's birth?

Was December 25 chosen to replace pagan celebrations like Saturnalia or Natalis Solis Invicti which means Birthday of the Unconquered Sun?

The answers to these and many other questions about the date of Christmas explained in this wonderful ebook called God's Birthday by Taylor R. Marshall. A must read for the holidays for any one who questions the date of Christ's birth!

I suggest that you get this book right away Taylor Marshall does an awesome job  in this book! Every year I read about Christmas and the debates over the date of December 25, but no one puts it into such common sense as Taylor.

This book is short it is an ebook, but it is packed with historical facts proving the date of December 25 for the birth of Christ. I also learned some other interesting dates in this book.

Did you know that Christ is believed to have died and been conceived on the same day March 25? I also learned that Saint Hyppolytus' in his works titles Chronicon the earth is said to be created on what is identified as March 25, 5500 B.C.!

There is one for the creationists :)

"Thus, March 25 was identified by the Church Fathers as the Creation date of the universe, as the date of the Annunciation and Incarnation of Christ, and also as the date of  the Death of Christ our Savior."

This makes 9 months earlier from March 25 exactly December 25!

Every year I am reminded about the many Christmas nay sayers out there who do not want to believe that Christ was born on December 25. These same people tend to shoot out all of the other myths concerning Christmas as well, for one reason or another.

I have found that there is more proof to support a December 25 birthday for our Lord than any other date. But, don't take my word for it. You can read the book and see the proof for your self.

I strongly encourage you to get this ebook by Taylor Marshall especially if you have any dought about the birthday of Christ. This book is also a must read for those who believe that December 25 is not really Christ's birthday.

Anyway, thank you Taylor Marshall for writing this book! Get God's Birthday ebook for FREE a limited time only! Just click the link and in the post there is a link to get the book.

Thanks for reading my post :)

Joanne Utke

Dec 22, 2014

Holy Day Season

Have a Happy Holy Day Season!  

    Christ's life is a mystery that we can begin to understand with the help of the Holy Spirit leading us through the scriptures with the eyes of faith. This Christmas lets continue to contemplate on Christ's life starting with his birth! The Catechism can help. Also read the Gospels especially the Nativity story. A great thing to do with the family this Christmas. I have a past post about The Christmas Story that takes a look at Christmas in Luke's Gospel please take a look.

Christmas is a season about giving and charity, but not just material things. Ultimately Christmas in about Christ. Christmas is about giving of yourself to others just like Christ did. Anyone can give a store bought gift, but does everyone always give of them self? After we have learned about the birth of the savior of the world and how to give of our self to others just as Christ did we go on to Lent when we can put all of this into practice.

Then we have Easter when we can learn about and contemplate on the death and resurrection of Christ. We are reminded about his life, death, and resurrection and can live it through the Church.. We should use this to again be Christ like giving of our self to others. I want to urge you every year to get out your bibles and don't just live through the Holy Days like everyone else, but read about it in Scriptures and then really live it as well.

I would have to say that the Christmas season is my favorite time of year. It is a great time to get together with family and friends. It is an even better time to share Christ with others which can give us a good start for the new year. God knows that we need a reminder to be Christ like and we need this reminder many times each and every year. I am constantly reminded of Christ and I contently live to imitate him in my life. I also always fail at this. 

Here is a Scripture that I have on my white board as I write this post; 
    "Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.  And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." (Ephesians 5:1-2) 

In conclusion I hope that we can all be not just observers of the holidays, but active participants in mind, body and spirit. This is my goal anyway. I don't want to just do the holidays. I want to understand them and see Christ in them and do as Saint Paul says in the Ephesians verse "be imitators of God" and "walk in love." If we open our eyes to Christ we will see him everywhere and I think that is what he wants. I feel that this is how we can come to really know him.  

Please check out my The Christmas Story post as well as The Season for Giving and Charity. There is also some links to activity posts specific for the holidays.

I also did a nice post about Hanukkah if you would like to check it out. 

Thank you for reading!