The Roman Catholic Church has a grandeur all its own. In its ornate cathedrals, the faint smell of sweet and spicy incense, the dancing reflections of flickering candles, the well-timed mysterious gestures of those offering and participating in the mass, each plays a part. Hollywood cannot match it and assuredly, Christ would find it very alien to His simple Gospel.
The entire structure of this ancient religion is geared to suit the weaknesses of human nature. It possesses elements of power that weigh far more with the multitudes than logical argument or spiritual insight. On the one hand, it gains all the advantages accorded to religion, and on the other, all the benefits, profits, and power that accrue to politics and big business.
Its ritualistic worship may be listed as a major factor that makes Roman Catholicism attractive, not only to its devout members, but even to those of no religious affiliation. There is something about success that demands the respect of the world.
What spiritually sensitive souls most condemn has the greatest attraction for the great mass of people who, though without interest in religion as such, are moved by sensuous spectacular religious displays and mystifying symbolism. In Roman Catholicism much emphasis is placed on the external. The Council of Trent, at it’s XXII Session, defended Rome’s mysterious pageantry declaring: “Whereas such is the nature of man that, without external helps, he cannot easily be raised to the meditation of divine things, therefore, has Holy Mother Church instituted certain rites, to wit, that certain things be pronounced in the Mass in a low and others in a louder tone. She has likewise employed ceremonies, such as mystic benedictions, lights, incense, vestments, and many other things of this kind, derived from an Apostolical tradition, whereby both the majesty of so great a sacrifice might be recommended and the minds of the faithful be excited by those visible signs of religion and piety to the contemplation of those most sublime things which are hidden in this sacrifice.”
There are six vestments worn by the priests at mass: the amice, alb, cincture, maniple, stole, and chasuble. The Roman Catholic Church claims that these, with one exception, represent the ordinary daily dress of the second century Roman, and that they are indeed an excellent witness of the Church’s continuity. The amice is a rectangular piece of linen. It was originally a hood to cover the head and ears in a cold church, or as others claim, a scarf to protect the throat. Generally, on the middle of the upper edge is stitched a small cross, which the priest must kiss before putting the amice on his shoulders. This garment is always white, and is symbolic of the weapons of war which a soldier of Christ must put on, and its purpose is to recall to the priest that life is a constant war in which he must continually seek victory. The alb, is a long white linen garment reaching almost to the ground. It is held around the waist by a cincture, a belt or a sash with tassels. It typifies newness of life. The maniple, originally a white linen handkerchief carried in the left hand, or thrown over the left arm used in touching the sacred vessels. It is usually two feet long, has three crosses embroidered on it, one in the middle and one at each end, and is symbolic of the chains that held Christ tied to the column of flagellation. This is particularly symbolic, as the Roman Catholic priest is considered to be alter Christus, another Christ, one who daily offers the sacrifice of Calvary, a better sacrifice than Christ offered on Calvary according to John D. Delany in My Mind Wanders. “By offering the mass you add something to Calvary, you almost improve on Calvary.” (Italics ours) The stole, is a band of cloth which is worn around the neck of a priest, crossed on his breast, and held in place by the cincture. It was originally a long scarf worn by Roman officials and magistrates when on duty, and is used today when the priest administers the sacraments, as a badge of his authority to do so. Its color must correspond to the liturgical color of the day. The chasuble is the priests outer garment. This is opened at both sides and the top so it can rest on the shoulders. It reaches to the knees. This was originally worn by Roman soldiers and was a bell-shaped rain-cloak, but even Roman Catholic sources admit, “it has been so cut away since the fifteenth century as to be almost unrecognizable.” The chasuble is emblematic of the charity that envelopes the soul.
A calendar year is regarded by the Roman Catholic Church as a liturgical year, and by a law of her liturgy, the church directs that vestments worn by Roman Catholic priests and the drapery used in the decoration of the altar and images of saints should correspond in color to the prescribed color of the day. According to the official Roman Rubric, the Roman Catholic priest is obligated sub grave to use the appropriate liturgical color of the day.
The history of liturgical colors is not easily traced. Benedict XIV says that up to the fourth century white was the only liturgical color in use. But before the 10th century, different colored vestments are noticeable in mosaics and fresco-paintings. There are five primary liturgical colors: white, which speaks of purity and innocence of life, joy, and glorification; red, the symbol of life and sacrifice; green, symbol of hope and peace; purple, of penance and mortification; and black, the color of death and the grave.
The color of the mass is determined by the liturgical color of the day. In the fall of the year, one will read of the red mass—the mass on the feast of the Holy Ghost which is dedicated to members of the legal profession—when the Holy Ghost is invoked to grant wisdom and justice to its members. Likewise, a black mass is said on Good Friday and in all masses for the dead, when black draperies adorn the church and black vestments are used.
Rome teaches that these liturgical colors are visible expressions of religious feeling that the church is embued with when the mass is offered. It also holds that the priest bears through these liturgical colors the whole history of the Roman Catholic Church on his shoulders and that the liturgical colors tend to remove the thoughts of the faithful from earthly things and turn them to the heavenlies.
But in all this the Roman Catholic Church has failed. The intensity of no drama, no tradition, the flame of no candle will bring a soul to Christ. There is only one medium of access to heaven: “Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” “By grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast.” Jesus warned against outward appearance, “Woe unto you, scribes, and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but are within full of dead men’s bones and of all uncleanness.” Paul gave the secret for real peace, real satisfaction and joy, “And I, brethren, when I came unto you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” And Timothy declared, “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame and is set down at the right hand of the throne of the majesty on high.” Let us faithfully proclaim the true Gospel of Jesus Christ among those who have been steeped in the grand, but empty, traditions of man.
I was born and raised Roman Catholic. As far as I know both my family and my husband’s are all Roman Catholic. As one might imagine, it was very difficult for us to leave. We had always been taught that ours was the one, true church and all outside of it are destined for hell.
I was a very devout Catholic. Unless I was very sick, I never missed Sunday mass or days of obligation. I loved the sacraments of the church as a child. But, like so many normal selfish teenagers, I didn’t want to go to church anymore, but went for my parent’s sake.
Not long after graduating from high school I married Ted. When our first child was born, we decided it was important to get back into the church, for our son’s sake. As we had more children, we became more devout Catholics. We got involved in the Fatima message and Ted’s mother made us two “most holy” rosaries with three loops in one rosary. We said this rosary every first Saturday of the month, plus the regular rosary every day. We never took our scapulars off. We even got a Douay Rheims Bible from which some of the chapters in the Apocrypha helped make Mary a virtual goddess to us. We were sincere and devout Catholics again and this was the right time for God to step in.
Of all those that God could use to start the process of opening our understanding of Salvation, He used the Jehovah’s Witnesses! When they came to our door, I let them in and tried to convince them that the Roman Catholic Church is the one, true church. One day I was switching stations on the radio and heard the words, “Christ in prophecy.” Since I was so involved with the Fatima prophecies, I decided to keep listening. That day the speaker talked about Jehovah’s Witnesses. I was immediately interested. When he offered information on witnessing to them, I wrote for it. I made sure to listen to the program again and this time he dealt with Mormons. A few days later, he started on us Catholics. That is when I reacted! I got angry. He said that he couldn’t understand why Catholics worship Mary. He said she was a sinner, like you and me. He said she was not always a virgin and that she had other children. These statements hurt me deeply. With tears in my eyes, I determined to prove him wrong! About the time I began digging in the Bible, the Tutors for Christ on how to witness to Jehovah’s Witnesses arrived. As I read the Bible verses proving Jehovah’s Witnesses wrong, I realized that many of them also proved my faith wrong! I tried to push this proof away, thinking that there was more information that should have been put in the Bible, but such reasoning didn’t last in the light of the proofs I had already read. My husband and I had to settle this issue once and for all. It was a very frightening and painful time as we studied. Finally, we decided to forget all we had learned in the Roman Catholic Church and start all over with just the Bible. It took a while, but our eyes were finally opened. We found a Bible preaching church where we openly proclaimed Jesus as personal Lord and Saviour and were Scripturally baptized.
A number of years ago, Ted went to be with the Lord. There is no way I could have handled that trial without being born-again and trusting Jesus through it all. I have full assurance of where my husband is and that I will see him again, but more wonderful than that, I will see Jesus, my Saviour, one day and live in His presence for all eternity!
Relics Of The Past
A top U.S. theologian, Avery Dulles, S.J., says that Catholics who believe that the Church’s teaching continues the teaching of Christ are viewed as “relics” in a secular society that increasingly values religion only for its ceremonial and therapeutic functions. The priest said, “Terms such as dogma, hierarchy, and orthodoxy evoke negative reactions. . .To cherish any of the three is considered a sign that one is not a really modern person, but a living relic of some past era, hostile to freedom, equality, and progress.”
Aid to Reaffirming Belief
Statistics showing that 73% of Catholics don’t believe that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist motivated one priest to take a unique approach toward reaffirming belief among his parishioners. He is asking parishioners to extend their right hand toward the altar, close their eyes, and repeat the words: “Lord Jesus, I believe. . .that you have given the power to the priest. . .to change the substance of the bread and wine. . .into the substance of your body and blood. . .We believe. . .and we thank you.”
Call for Women’s Ordination
Dr. Hans Joachim Meyer, leader of Germany’s most important Catholic lay organization, believes his church should allow women to become priests and is calling for their ordination.
Priest Wins Lottery
Pastor of St. Frances Cabrini Church in Scituate, Paul MacDonald, has a dream of starting a Catholic elementary school in his South Shore town. He recently bought two instant lottery tickets and prayed, “Lord, if you want something to happen here, you have to help.” He scratched one card and won $5, then scratched the other and won $20,000. The winnings were exactly what was needed for a required study to determine whether the school would be financially feasible.
“Do you believe that traditions that have their origins in sin, can, through time and culture, evolve into something wholesome and harmless?” (IL) EDITOR: If something, by its very nature, is intrinsically sinful, then it cannot evolve into something right. Culture cannot dictate what is right or wrong. The final court of appeal must be Scripture. The admonition of I John 4:16 is to distinguish between truth and error. It amazes me that believers today have adopted religious traditions from various cultures without any concern for their nonscriptural origins. A practical rule: If it is not taught in Scripture, leave it alone. If in doubt, toss it out! Examples: many modern children’s toys, guardian Angel pins, religious symbols, and various popular religious holidays. Christians need to do their homework! “Prove all things, hold fast that which is good.”
“My church recently collected charity funds for Saint Vincent De Paul and a few other questionable organizations. This is the first time the church I grew up in has given money to a Catholic organization. My head pastor is in deep trouble as well. One of his closest friends is a Catholic priest who has been invited to our church as a guest speaker! Could you please send me some literature exposing the lie that we should be uniting with Catholics? So many of our Christian friends are in the dark regarding this.” (CA) EDITOR: As a believer, you must do your best to prayerfully, graciously and Scripturally persuade your pastor that ecumenical trends are not of God. Knowing the times, your admonition will be unwelcome and unheeded. This may be the Lord’s way of leading you to a church that is more faithful to the Word.
“Thanks so much for your autobiography. I got so interested that I couldn’t put it down ‘til I finished. It brought to memory so much of my own ‘pilgrimage.’ Praise God for His wonderful mercy in bringing us up from the black hole of the R.C. system. And even more so for His tender guidance through all the potholes of the cults after we became children in Christ. There are so many beautiful, but ignorant Catholics. You have a big job witnessing to them. God bless you.” (TX) EDITOR: It is every believer’s job to be witnessing to Roman Catholics as well as anyone who has not already trusted Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. Be prepared and be faithful. Regular witnessing is one of the best ways to grow in your Christian life and appreciate the wonderful grace of God in your own life.
Several very special events occurred last month. One was to awaken to a beautiful blanket of white and enjoy show flurries for two days. There are so many lessons to be learned in the beauties of nature! Another was to be contacted by Dr. Ray Sleiman (Ex-RC/Lebanese) and be invited to speak at Grace and Truth Arabic Church. Bart’s mother (Ex-RC/Lebanese) would have been thrilled to meet these Arabic speaking believers. They have an international day of prayer for the Arabic world coming up June 27th. All believers are invited to join in the 9th year of this event. Call us for location and time or simply give special attention to prayer on the 27th. Yet another special blessing was having so many opportunities for ministry and fellowship in Ohio. It was only ten days, but very full days. The Lord opened many opportunities for Bart to minister, including two Christian high schools, three radio broadcasts, four churches, and a number of personal visits. We are always thrilled to see how God works. One very old Roman Catholic lady prayed, trusting Jesus Christ alone for her salvation. Then, unexpectedly, the Lord took her home just two days later. Friends from near and far came to visit with us while we were there—both missionaries and pastors. The believers who shared testimonies and showed interest in evangelizing Roman Catholics were a real encouragement to us. We arrived home with a full calendar awaiting us, but we are nearly caught up now. I wonder if we will ever really be caught up? At least, we don’t feel quite so behind! Two new booklets have been sent to the printer and they will be available soon. The Lord is good and we feel so tremendously blessed and privileged to be working in this mission field. Regarding Steve: Your prayers, sympathy cards, and calls continue to be a blessing. Steve is doing much better. This kind of adjustment takes a long time in most cases and he continues to need your prayers.
A Tribute To Colonel Alfred Furrell
1911 – 1998
Years ago, when we first began ministering in the San Diego area, an enthusiastic gentleman encouraged me to write a book telling my life’s story. Several years later we saw him again and he offered to help me write the book. Little by little, facts were gathered and an outline begun. It was during the writing of Pilgrimage From Rome that I had ample opportunity to become personally acquainted with Al. His was a very colorful life. He was a man of many interests and talents. He often told the stories of his many adventures in the military during World War II. He spoke often of his father, a pastor, his beloved family members, and friends. After losing Dorothy, his wife of many years, Al was never quite so happy. His health failed and along with it, much of his zest for life. Through it all, he still loved to sing the old Gospel hymns, loved by so many. And that special twinkle never really left his eyes. His presence among us is already missed. But his life is in the hands of our Lord and Saviour, which is far better.
As a tribute to his contribution to this ministry, funds have been designated to pay for the American flag which is flown daily from the Mission To Catholics flag pole.