It is shocking but true. When Catholics go to Mass, what we hear preached is...the Bible! The Liturgy of the Word consists of a layperson reading aloud a passage from the Old Testament, followed by a Responsorial Psalm, then a reading from the New Testament epistles. The priest preaches from one of the four Gospels, and concludes with a homily which brings a present-day perspective on eternal truth. Over the course of three years, most of the Bible is covered. Maybe some begats are omitted. Catholics do not bring bibles to Mass. We don't flip through the pages during the homily to make sure what the priest says "squares with the Word" because we are there to listen not exercise private interpretation. Some Protestants take this to mean Catholics are ashamed of Sacred Scripture. On the contrary, Catholicism is the most biblical form of Christianity.
|Baptism saves||1 Peter 3:21||The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.||St. Peter teaches the saving value of water baptism, which is an outward sign of the inner sanctification of the soul made possible by Christ's death and resurrection.|
|Brothers of Jesus?||Mark 6:3||Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.||Mary wife of Cleophas and sister of the Virgin Mary (John 19:25) is the mother of James and Joseph (Mark 15:47; Matthew 27:56) who are called the "brothers of Jesus" here. So at least two of Jesus' "brothers" are really cousins. Earlier in Genesis, Abraham calls Lot his "brother" when he is really a nephew. If Jesus had brothers, why did Jesus, dying on the cross, hand off his mother to John the Apostle rather than one of them?|
|Confession||John 20:22-23||And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.||Jesus ordained his Apostles as priests to mediate ("remit" and "retain") the forgiveness of sins merited by Christ at Calvary.|
|Confirmation||Acts 8:14-17||Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.||The Holy Spirit comes through the laying-on of hands of the bishops of the Church, who are the successors to the Apostles. This was instituted by Christ to put the new faithful into a real, not symbolic, relationship with the rest of His flock.|
|Deuterocanonicals||Hebrews 11:35||Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection.||This is a summary of the events of 2 Maccabees 6:18-7:42, which not only demonstrates that the deuterocanonicals were in use by the First Century Church, but that they were used to teach doctrine.|
|Eucharist||1 Corinthians 11:29||For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.||St. Paul plainly believed that the bread and the cup of the Lord's Supper were the literal body and blood of our Lord.|
|Extreme Unction||James 5:14-15||Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.||St. James outlines here the sacrament now called the Anointing of the Sick, complete with the prayer of absolution and the blessed oil.|
|Faith alone?||James 2:26||For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.||The kind of faith that doesn't produce good works is not saving faith.|
|Graven images||James 2:26||And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.||God commanded that graven images be made. See also the cherubim he commanded be made in Exodus 25:18-22, and all manner of images made by Solomon in 1 Kings 6:23-29; 25; 7:29|
|Holy Orders||1 Timothy 4:14||Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophesy, with the laying on of the hands of the presybtery.||St. Paul teaches there is an institution called the "presbytery" of ministering priests which is spread by a ritual of laying on of hands. This does not refer to the so-called "priesthood of all believers" because St. Paul warns Timothy in 1 Tim. 5:22 not to be rash performing this sacrament, "Lay hands suddenly on no man..."|
|Infant Baptism||Colossians 2:11-12||In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.||Baptism replaced circumcision, which was normally perfomed on Hebrew infants on their eighth day of life, without an accompanying profession of faith.|
|Once Saved Always Saved?||Romans 11:22||Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.||St. Paul warns the faithful not to grow haughty and complacent, for Jesus said, "If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned." (John 15:6)|
|Papacy||John 21:17||He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.||Jesus handed over to Peter the responsibility to shepherd His flock on Earth after He returned to His Father.|
|Purgatory||1 Peter 4:6||For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.||This teaches that the dead waited in a third place which is not hell (from which there is no reprieve) nor heaven (where souls already live according to God in the spirit).|
|Scripture Alone?||2 Thess. 2:15||Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.||St. Paul commands us to hang on to both the written and the spoken-word traditions of the Apostles.|
|Soul Sleep?||Luke 9:30||And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias.||Moses died some 1,500 years before Jesus was born. If his soul is unconscious until the general resurrection, how could he speak with Jesus?|
|Sunday vs. Saturday||Acts 20:7||And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.||This refers to the Eucharist, not just a brunch or potluck, because St. Paul condemns (1 Cor. 11) the practice of using the Lord's Supper as an opportunity to get a normal meal. So the passage is telling us the Eucharist occurred on the first day of the week, which is Sunday.|
What's the deal with Mary?
Catholics call the Blessed Virgin Mary the Mother of God but this doesn't mean the eternal God was preceded in time by a mother. It affirms both the humanity of Christ, who was born of a woman, and the divinity of Christ as the Word who became flesh. Some Protestants attempt to demote Mary by saying she only gave birth to Christ's human part. This means that the Word is not made flesh like the Bible says, but only wears flesh like a cheap suit. This is the ancient heresy of Nestorianism. Catholics believe the Ark of the Covenant, which was the receptacle for the written Word, prefigured Mary, who was the receptacle for the Word made flesh. She was set aside as holy by God, and we believe her womb was not later appropriated by St. Joseph her husband for procreation. Since Jesus kept all the commandments of God, and one of the commandments is to honor your parents, Mary is the only human being that God Himself is bound by His own Law to honor. We can do no less.
What's the deal with Immaculate Conception?
Many people confuse the dogma of Immaculate Conception with the Virgin Birth. Immaculate Conception refers to Mary being conceived without original sin in the womb of her mother, St. Anne. The thinking is that God cannot co-exist with sin, so Mary had to be conceived without it. Baptism has the same effect on all the faithful, to cleanse from every sin, including original sin. I like to think of Mary as having received the very first baptism, in the waters of her mother's womb. Christ was paying his redemption forward, by one generation.
What's the deal with Transubstantiation?
Transubstantiation refers to what happens to the sacramental bread and wine when it is consecrated. Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians believe it literally becomes the body and blood of Jesus Christ, but retains the appearance of bread and wine to the human senses. Lutherans believe "communicants eat and drink the Holy Body and Blood of Christ Himself as well as the bread and wine". Anglican belief ranges from the transubstantiation of Catholic belief to the "spiritual" presence of Christ which is the belief of the churches derived from Calvin. Methodists affirm the Real Presence but leave the details unexamined as a "holy mystery". All other Protestants consider the Lord's Supper to be an ordinance commanded by Christ where nothing miraculous happens. It is interesting to note that the further a religious group gets from belief in transubstantiation, the more divided it becomes. The endless division and subdivision of most Protestant sects testifies by reverse to the Holy Eucharist as the Sacrament of Unity.
What's the deal with pedophile priests?
The issue is troubling. Some priests, about two percent of them, are taking advantage of their authority to entice minors into having sex. And the problem is not rooted in celibacy. There are scattered incidents on the other side of the Reformation divide. The married pastor of a large Protestant "Megachurch" in Bellevue, Washington was forced to resign after similar allegations. What makes the Catholic incidents so controversial is that some bishops are moving these priests around, pawning them off on unsuspecting parishes instead of defrocking them altogether. This has resulted in lawsuits that threaten to bankrupt entire archdioceses. This is a rough time for the faithful Catholic sacrificial giver, and people with an anti-Catholic bent are having a field day. But Christ said that in his Church tares would grow together with the wheat, and they would not be completely rooted up until Harvest Time.
(Matthew 18:6) But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
What's the deal with those seven extra books?
There are two versions of the Old Testament. From historical records, and also by analyzing the text of Matthew 1:23, Matthew 3:3, Acts 2:19-29, and Hebrews 3:7-9 we know that First Century Christians, and indeed Christ Himself, used the 46 books of the Greek version from Alexandria called the Septuagint, or "Seventy" (so called because it was said to have been translated by 70 scribes in 70 days). In 90 AD the Jewish council of Jamnia, in order to distance classic Judaism from the upstart Christian sect, selected the 39 original books of the Masoretic text, written in Hebrew, as the "official" Bible of Judaism. The Church went happily along for centuries, with the East relying on the Septuaging, and the West relying on a Latin translation of the Septuagint called the Vulgate, until 1054 when the two halves of the Church broke ties with each other. In the West, after the Protestant Reformation began in 1517, some question arose as to which books should be canonical. The Council of Trent laid the issue to rest in 1546 by listing all 46 books of the Septuagint plus the 27 books of the New Testament. Even the original 1611 Authorized Version, called the "King James Bible", had all 73 books. Then in 1644, Parliament outlawed seven books from being read in the Church of England during the Liturgy of the World. The seven books were termed "apocrypha" and moved out of the Old Testament into a special section before the New Testament, and finally by the 1800s dropped altogether. Meanwhile, the Eastern Orthodox continue to use the Septuagint, and Catholics continue to use the Vulgate.