Protestants removed 7 (the perfect number) books from the Old Testament, and ended up with 66 (a rather ominous number) books in their Bibles. The real Bible has 73 (the perfect number, and the trinitarian number) books.
The Protestant ten-commandments is split into 4 (about God) and 6 (about man). The Catholic’s is split into 3 and 7 (again trinitarian and perfect).
Just an interesting observation.
Sex and marriage, prayer and God
This is an email I sent to a friend, but I thought I’d post it here, as it seems helpful:
Tonight, I was reflecting on the subject of this email. I had a thought, and based on your desire to effectively evangelize, I thought of you.
If you agree with the thought (which follows at the end of this email), then you will see that you don’t need to do any scheming or superficial prompting in order for evangelism to happen. You don’t need to put signs on water coolers, or wear Christian slogans on your shirts. I don’t think the apostles did these sorts of things, though maybe they did, and there is nothing wrong with it.
But this occurred to me earlier: in a culture which has been immunized to Christianity, that is, a culture which has had a superficial taste of Christianity, slogans and in-your-face messages won’t do. They’ve heard the messages. They’ve been inundated with them. The images and messages are now associated in their minds with phoniness, hypocrisy, and manipulation.
In a culture which hasn’t heard the gospel message, a bold, fresh proclamation of it is a good technique. In a culture which has heard nothing but a watered down gospel, mere snippets of it will not work. In a way, the south is the most difficult place in all of the USA to do evangelistic work. Seattle is much more pagan, and therefore much easier to evangelize. The luke warm are almost impossible to save.
The only thing that can work is an all-out inundation with the pure, unadulterated, raw Gospel.
What does that look like? Probably nothing like you’ve ever experienced in any church. I’m reading a book called: “Living the Gospel Without Compromise”. It’s a kick in the pants.
I would ask you this question: how often do you read the gospels of Matt, Mark, Luke, and John? You should read from them daily. Inundate yourself in the gospels. Look at Jesus as he was on this earth. Become his disciple. See him afresh, with eyes encumbered by preconceived theology and man-made constructs. Who do you see? Someone radical, surprising, ancient, and always new.
The second thing is to foster a deep, intimate prayer life.
Without these things, you cannot evangelize. And note, too, that evangelism isn’t the end goal. Your prayer life, your deep intimacy with God— that is the end-goal. Seek the end, and all else will fall into place.
Well, anyway, that was a lot of sermonizing which I didn’t intend. Probably, I can blame the late hour for that. Here is my meditation that prompted this email in the first place (and yes, it is about sex and prayer):
They are the hidden, most secret, most vulnerable parts which bring intimate union. And through this union, hidden from the world, new life is created which is visible to the world. Fruit is the visible effect of an intimate love life. And so, this: if you want to evangelize, there is only one thing you must do: cultivate a hidden, secret, intimate life of love. “You have died, and are hidden with Christ in God.”
De Sales on Purgatory
Besides the standard defenses of the doctrine of Purgatory, St. Francis De Sales provides a handful of gems, which I have provided in condensed form for your reading pleasure. Enjoy.
Baptism for the Dead
In the 1st of Corinthians, chap xv, appealing to it as praiseworthy and right, Paul says: “What shall they do who are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not again at all? Why then are they baptized for them?” This passage properly understood evidently shows that it was the custom of the primitive Church to watch, pray, fast for the souls of the departed. For, firstly, in the Scriptures to be baptized as often taken for afflictions and penances, as in S. Luke, chap xii, where Our Lord speaking of his Passion says, “I have a baptism wherewith I am to be baptized, and how am I straitened until it be accomplished!” and in S. Mark, chap x, he says, “Can you drink of the chalice that I drink of; or be baptized with the baptism wherewith I am baptized?” in which places Our Lord calls pains and afflictions baptism. This then is the sense of that Scripture: if the dead rise not again, what is the use of mortifying and afflicting oneself, of praying and fasting for the dead? And indeed this sentence of S. Paul resembles that of Machabees quoted above: “It is superfluous and vain to pray for the dead if the dead rise not again.”… It must not be said that baptism of which S. Paul speaks is only a baptism of grief and tears, and not of fasts, prayers, and other works. For thus understood his conclusion would be very false… [for] should we not have more occasion to afflict ourselves by sadness for the death of friends if they rise no more— losing all hope of ever seeing them again— than if they do rise? … Now it was not for those in Paradise, who had no need of it, nor for those in hell, who could not benefit form it; it was then for those in Purgatory.
The World to Come
If there are some sins that can be pardoned in the other world, it is neither in hell nor in heaven, therefore, it is in Purgatory [as no unpardoned sinner may enter into heaven]. Now, that there are sins which are pardoned in the other world we prove, firstly by the passage of S. Matthew in chap xii, where Our Lord says that “there is a sin which cannot be forgiven either in this world or in the next”, therefore, there are sins which can be forgiven in the other world… [The reformers] try to say that these words, “neither in this world nor in the world to come,” only signify, for ever, or, never; as S. Mark says in chap iii, “shall never have forgiveness.” That is quite true, but our reason loses none of its force on that account… S. Augustine, S. Gregory, Bede, S. Bernard, and those who have written against the Petrobusians, have used this passage in our sense, with such assurance that S. Bernard to declare this truth [of Purgatory’s existence] brings forward nothing more, so much account does he make of this.
The Parable of Prison
In S. Matthew (v), and in S. Luke (xii), “Make an agreement with thy adversary quickly, while thou art in the way with him; lest perhaps the adversary quickly, while thou art in the way with him; lest perhaps the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Amen, I say to thee, thou shalt not go out from thence until thou pay the last farthing.” … As in a large jail, there are many buildings; one for those who are damned, which is as it were for criminals, the other for those in Purgatory, which is as it were for debt. The farthing of which it is said “thou shalt not go out from thence till thou pay the last farthing,” are little sins and infirmities as the farthing is the smallest money one can owe. We find from most ancient fathers that [they hold this passage to refer to Purgatory]: Turtullian, Cyprian, Origen, with Emissenus, S. Ambrose, S. Jerome, S. Bernard. When it is said “till thou pay the last farthing,” is it not implied that one can pay it, and that one can so diminish the debt that there only remains at length its last farthing? But just as when it is said in the Psalm (cix), “Sit at my right hand until I make thy enemies,” and so on, it properly follows that at length he will make his enemies his footstool; so when he says “thou shalt not go out till thou pay,” he shows that at length he will pay or will be able to pay.
Under the Earth
In the Apocalypse (v) “Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof? And no man was able neither in heaven, nor in earth, nor under the earth.” And further down in the same chapter, “And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth… I heard all saying: To him that sitteth upon the throne and to the Lamb, benediction and honour and glory and power for ever and ever. And the four living creatures said Amen.” Does he not hereby uphold a Church, in which God is praised under the earth? And what else can it be but that of Purgatory? (De Sales had previously established the somewhat obvious fact that none in hell would thus praise God, as Hell by definition is a persistence in the rejection of God.)
"If thy brother shall offend thee… tell the Church. And if he will not hear the Church let him be to thee as the heathen and the publican." Let us hear then what the Church says on this matter, in Africa, at the third Council of Carthage and at the fourth; in Spain, at the Council of Braga; in France, at the Council of Chalons, and at the second Council of Orleans; in Germany, at the Council of Worms; in Italy, at the sixth Council under Symmachus; in Greece, as may be seen in their synods, collected by Martin of Braga. And by all these Councils you will see that the Church approves of prayer for the departed, and consequently of Purgatory. Afterward, what she had defined by parts she defined in her general body at the Council of Lateran under Innocent III, at the Council of Florence in which all nations assisted, and lastly at the Council of Trent.
But what more holy answer from the Church would one have than that which is contained in all her Masses? Examine the Liturgies of S. James, S. Basil, S. Crysostom, S. Ambrose, which all the Oriental Christians still use; you will see there the commemoration of the dead, almost as it is seen in ours.
Among the disciples of the Apostles, S. Clement and S. Denis. Afterward, S. Athanasius, S. Basil, S. Gregory Nazianzen, Ephrem, Cyril, Epiphanius, Cyrostom, Gregory Nyssen, Tertullian, Cyprian, Ambrose, Jerome, Augustine, Origin, Boethius, Hilary, that is, all antiquity… Calvin [himself] in book iii of his Institutions thus speaks, “More than 1300 years ago, it was received that prayers should be offered for the dead,” and afterward he adds, “But all, I confess, were dragged into error.” We need not then seek out the names and localities of the ancient fathers to prove Purgatory, since in reckoning their value Calvin puts them at zero. What likelihood that one single Calvin should be infallible and that all antiquity should have gone wrong!
[Calvin asserts that Augustine doubted purgatory, but in truth, Augustine] seems to doubt about the fire of Purgatory, but to doubt the nature of the fire of Purgatory is not to doubt Purgatory. He puts not then Purgatory in question, but the quality of it, as will never be denied by those who will look at how he speaks of it in chapters 16 and 24 of the same book of the de Civitate and in the work De Cura Pro Mortins Agenda, and 1000 other places. See then how we are in the track of the holy and ancient fathers, as to this article of Purgatory.