Sunday, May 3, 2009

Hail Mary, full of somethin'

Today I went to a catholic mass for the first time for my niece’s first communion and it was an experience I will not soon forget. This may weave back and forth and seem a little discombobulated but I’m trying to cover everything I saw.

First off let me say that I have nothing against anyone who is catholic. You are a follower of Christ just the same as me and in reality as long as you follow what SCRIPTURE says that you should we should all arrive at the same party. That being said here’s how it went down:

We arrive and step into the sanctuary and the first thing that you notice is that it is massive. This place makes apex look like a hole in wall compared to the size of it. The next thing I notice is all the crap everywhere. There are crosses and cups and boxes and thrones and organs and pulpits and tables and chairs and crosses and candles and lanterns and crosses…and this is just the stage. The organ alone was the size of a movie theater screen.

After we find our seats I see that there are three books in front of us in the book holder thing on the back of the pew. Also attached to the pew was a fold out knee rest for those that want to be serious bout some prayin. I opened the first book to check out the Bible, because I’ve always heard that the catholic Bible has more books in it the standard Bible. Alas it was a hymn book. I opened the second book, it was also a hymn book. I knew that the final book was too small to be a Bible, and I was correct, It was another hymnal.

By this time the priest has walked in carrying the largest Bible I’ve ever seen, and I don’t mean in thickness, I mean in size, it was like 30 inches by 20 inches and he held it over his head the whole time. Everyone stands and sings a song and then the priest sing-talks a psalm which was the first thing that freaked me out. He sounded like a monk. And since this post will take forever to cover everything I saw, I’m just going to go over likes and dislikes.


Likes

The Priest: the priest was named father Satish and to my surprise was a young Indian man, rather then a old white dude. He interacted well with the children who were known as the “first communicants” and was engaging. We were there for over an hour and his sermon was only 10 minutes long but what he talked about I enjoyed. He spoke to the kids about something that I found to be completely unbiblical but the main point he was trying to make was heard loud and clear, “accepting Christ into your life is the most important thing that you’ll ever do.” I couldn’t agree more, but the way he wanted the children to go about it I’ll go into in a little bit.

The time: I thought we would be sitting there for 3 hours but it took just over and hour.

The exercise: with all of the stand up sit down, I got a bit of a workout.

Dislikes (this list may be longer)

The idolatry: the two biggest things on the stage had the least to do with Christ, unless there is some meaning that I don’t understand. One was a huge gold and blue sun with stars and triangles all over it. What it had to do with Christ I wasn’t sure. The second was this huge square gold picture hanging from the ceiling. It was divided into four pictures: a lion, a goat, an eagle, and a fourth thing that the sun was glaring off of, so I couldn’t really see it, but again, where is Jesus in this?

Scripture: Father Satish told this to innocent children, and I quote, “once you take this sacrament of the body and blood of Christ, you will then be one of God’s children and be allowed to enter Heaven and have Jesus Christ as your savior.” WOW so I sent out a twitter about it:

“I just learned that in order to be saved you have to take communion. He never said where it says that in the Bible, but im sure its in there.” OH WAIT, IT’S NOT!! You know how you become a Christian, let me tell you.

“Romans 10:9-13”
9That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. 11As the Scripture says, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame." 12For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13for, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. “


Or if you don’t like that, then take this one

Acts 16:29-31

29The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30He then brought them out and asked, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" 31They replied, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household."


None of those have to do with crackers or wine. or baptism for that matter.

Now I did catch some flak for the things I tweeted during service and I’ll address those now.

One person stated:
“I'm not sure this is correct. In order to be saved, you must be baptized - to have the "original sin" removed from our soul. Which is why babies are baptized. We receive communion because Jesus asked that we "take this bread and eat, for this is my body; take this wine and drink, for this is my blood". We need years to understand the Catholic religion...Everyone practicing is still learning! 8-)”


The following comes from www.gotquestions.org

“The Bible is abundantly clear of what baptism is, who it is for, and what it accomplishes. In the Bible, only believers who had placed their faith in Christ were baptized - as a public testimony of their faith and identification with Him (Acts 2:38; Romans 6:3-4). Water baptism by immersion is a step of obedience after faith in Christ. It is a proclamation of faith in Christ, a statement of submission to Him, and an identification with His death, burial, and resurrection.

With this in view, infant baptism is not a Biblical practice. An infant cannot place his or her faith in Christ. An infant cannot make a conscious decision to obey Christ. An infant cannot understand what water baptism symbolizes. The Bible does not record any infants being baptized.

Baptism does not save a person. It does not matter if you were baptized by immersion, pouring, or sprinkling - if you have not first trusted in Christ for salvation, baptism (no matter the method) is meaningless and useless. Water baptism by immersion is a step of obedience to be done after salvation as a public profession of faith in Christ and identification with Him. Infant baptism does not fit the Biblical definition of baptism or the Biblical method of baptism.”


But to the point at the bottom, I’ll completely agree with that. “We need years to understand the Catholic religion...Everyone practicing is still learning!” To me this just states that there are so many rituals and rules within your faith that it needs a huge overhaul.

Here are the rules for Christianity

1.Love the Lord and Savior of mankind, Jesus Christ, as your own personal savior and follow his commandments.

2. See rule number 1.

The one thing that I did not mention of the above is the endless chanting. There was a constant call and response during the whole service. “and praise be to you” “Thanks be to God.” “and also with you.” “Praise to you, Lord, Jesus Christ.” “Glory to you, oh Lord” “Lord, hear our prayer.”

I again caught flak for this too.

“For those raised in the Catholic faith, it is not mindless repetition. I think we gain the same benefits as you gain from your church. Every individual experiences different emotions. We seek what inspires us, speaks to our heart. Isn't it funny that every religion thinks it is "THE" religion, and all others are lost?”


Now I hate to keep quoting the Bible, but it is the inerrant word of God, so here goes.

Matthew 6:7-8
7And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him."


Now I’m not saying that Catholics are pagans, far from it, but what I am saying is that prayer is not a ritual. Rather, it is personal conversation between you and God. It is not the length of the prayer that makes it effective, but the sincerity of heart, the depth of faith. "Christians' prayers are measured by weight, not by length." Don't bore God with many words, but no heart! (www.scripturestudies.com)

When I was hearing these people pray at this church, I couldn’t honestly say that God was there. I know that may sound harsh but the point I’m making is that if your prayers sound like they are hurting you, STOP DOING THEM! It’s a slap in God’s face to just be going through the motions and checking the boxes. If you’re going to pray, do it with zeal and heart or don’t do it at all.

All this being said, I know I’ve made some people rather upset with me today but you know what, I looked at today’s experience through biblical lenses and what I saw is what I saw. If you can argue for anything I saw today with SCRIPTURE, let me know I’d love to see it. I was not judging any person in that building today, nor am I saying that my way is the right way, but what I am saying is that if the Christian faith is based upon the Bible and I saw and heard things today that are not in there, then it’s simply not something I can follow.

L’Chayim,
-Ryan

6 comments:

PhotoKate said...

I have to say that I really like what you said about prayer. About it being a conversation between God and you. Sincerity of prayer is most important as it does no good to speak to God unless you are sincere. I grew up Catholic and I have to say that many of their practices are ritualistic in nature. I no longer practice Catholicism, but I sometimes do find comfort in the "chanting" (for lack of a better word)and ritual of Mass. However, there are so many things within Catholicism that I do not agree with, which is why I am now a Methodist. I do still keep a few of my old favorites with me though as they can be comforting at the times I need them. Oh yeah, and all that exercise...you forgot to mention the kneeling before you sit in the pew, and the constant crossing of yourself...LOL. Gives the arms a bit of a workout. And yes, I believe that accepting Christ into your life and into your heart is the true way to be saved. God's grace and mercy are given freely and lovingly to those who truly want it and accept it.

Madeleine said...

To try to understand something that you are not a part of, is a difficult thing to do. Even the most spiritually educated of men would agree they are still learning. May you go with God.

kenny said...

I guess the real crime is that you would have such little respect for God that you would tweet comments during one of his services.

The rituals of the Roman Catholic church (e.g. the chants) date back to Gregorian chants that were used to put people in a religious mood not unlike the singing and music that goes on in many modern day churches. These used to be done in Latin, but are now done in English in many American cities.

Although cults may use the same technique for putting people in a relighious mood, I wouldn't compare the Romanc Catholic faith, based off the same protestant Bible we read from, a cult.

So, whether you agree with another faiths beliefs or rituals you should still have enough respect for God to not tweet or blog during the service.

Just my thoughts, bud.

Madeleine said...

The Catholic Church has seven sacraments. After the Holy Communion which you attended today, we have the sacrament of Confirmation - usually between the age of 12 to 14. It is then that we confirm our faith.

Thacher said...

This was a really interesting look at faith and the different aspects of its application and practice. Thanks for this Ryan.

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