Out of the Fire: On Leaving Roman Catholicism 8 (Witnessing to RC’s–A Labor of Love and of Angst)

Phyllis Nissila

From the riches of reader responses to my posts, I often glean inspiration for more essays, devotionals, and commentaries. This reader, with whom I share a common joy–having through time come further out of and away from the non-biblical aspects of Roman Catholicism–inspired me today with the next installment in this series. She writes:

This has been a grueling journey, out of the Bondage of Roman Catholicism. Slowly, the Chains are coming off. It’s hard, when your Family, believe in, the System, and you are opposed utterly!
This has been my 7 year awakening, when, I was chosen, by the Lord. I am, so blessed to know, He has adopted me, into the Family of God, as a Child Of God!
Sister In Christ…

DEAR SISTER,

“Slowly the Chains are coming off…” I can so relate. When God opens our eyes through the truth of His Word and we SEE what the mind, soul, and spirit-benders have been up to in the name of Christ to often further their own agenda, it causes what I think can be described as “righteous” anger.

The hard part in our deliverance process, I believe, is to know how to appropriately apply this anger and how and when to let it go so that it doesn’t damage us—and others. At least this is what I’ve found.

I’ve come a long way from my early zealot days of putting the flamey tracts with the devils on the covers inside the priest’s lectionary up near the altar, but those old feelings can still flare up when I hear of yet one more outrageous thing coming from the papacy.

For just one example, how about maybe fifteen, twenty years ago when the papacy announced there were no longer a sum total of 36, as I recall the number printed, “mortal sins,” but now just the original, far fewer, “seven deadlies” that would automatically re-assign one to Hell and cancel grace (remember this? But I don’t want to spoil your day, here ;))? [1]

Okay, so, when I read about this, I screamed inside my head, So, is there an ex post facto provision included for Catholics assigned to Hell through the ages BEFORE the papacy, speaking “ex cathedra” (“as if God on matters of faith and morals”) came up with this little gem?

And I don’t care what papal word-smithing convinced the faithful this was what God was now saying after all those centuries. I teach word-smithing, that is, how to discern it in the process of critical thinking. THE EMPEROR IS STILL NAKED. As it were…

Okay.

I’m done…

(Breathe…)

What we DID hear of the Word of God (in Mass “readings”), carefully wrapped up in Catholic dogma, was often so overshadowed by all the pomp and circumstance, incense and presumption, except for the grace and power of God, how could we have understood it, let alone have believed it?

Sin and penance was ever paramount; grace, just another word for legalism (“Just do this,” the venerable ones would hawk, “and you, too, can get some time off of the fires of Purgatory! Get re-saved, even, should you commit mortal sin!”).

And yet, look at you and I, sister, WE’RE OUT! And millions of others through time, as well.

The Jesuits, with whom you often seem most frustrated, and their ilk are smart, well-educated, rich, and exceedingly powerful in the things of this world; however, all of that is nothing compared with the power of God, as His Word–even a fragment here, a shard, there—penetrates those sincerely seeking Him…and transforms them, minute by day by month by year …

JESUS’ RESPONSES TO TWO

I have often thought about two difficult relationships Jesus had in his earthly ministry. The first one was Judas, of course. Judas was in Jesus’ closest circle of friends and disciples, one of the original apostles. And yet Jesus, who could discern hearts, knew who he was.

Jesus ate, traveled, and spent his life, those last three years, with this saboteur close by. Yet He, God’s expression of love incarnate, also loved Judas.

I wonder, HOW did Jesus withstand the temptation to frustration (for He was tempted in all ways, as Scripture notes, was this one of them?). HOW did He do it, knowing that despite His transforming Words of truth and hope and redemption and healing spoken and exemplified 24/7 to His intimate circle, this one, Judas, would remain double-minded, double-hearted?

I think about how hard, at the end, it must have been for Jesus the human, to LET Judas go to do what he did as a necessary player in the final, bloody tableau, while at the same time Jesus, the Redemptor, knew this needed to happen?

So I believe Jesus understands how much harder it is for us with our loved ones still caught up in religious systems (or no faith “systems” at all) while still dealing with our own fears and angst and frustration as we process through the exit… But yet we can still have the hope that even as we came out, so can they…

I also think about the rich young ruler (Luke 18:18-23) who asked Jesus what else he needed to do to attain salvation. Jesus, again, knowing men’s hearts and this young man’s attachment to his riches, a hindrance specific to him, told the youth to sell what he had, give to the poor, and follow Him (Jesus).

The story continues: the rich man turned back because, as verse 23 notes, “When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth.”

If it were me talking to this dude, I think I would have RUN AFTER HIM IMPLORING HIM TO LISTEN! PLEASE! LET ME EXPLAIN!…THERE’S AN ETERNITY AHEAD WITH ONLY TWO DESTINATIONS! TRUST ME! I KNOW ABOUT THIS! ONE OF THOSE PLACES IS REALLY REALLY GOOD AND THE OTHER IS REALLY REALLY BAD! YOU WILL BE SO GLAD YOU FOLLOWED ME INSTEAD OF GOLD AND SILVER AND POWER!!! Or something like that, in the Aramaic.

But we don’t read that Jesus did this. We realize only, from the narrative, that Jesus. Let. Him. Go.

(And, being human, did Jesus’ heart break a little for him even though He may have foreseen that one day this man, too, would realize with new understanding that what transpired there between him and the Son of God was the prelude to his opportunity to trade the transient baubles and bangles of earth for the riches of eternal salvation through faith in Jesus Christ…?)

Maybe the latter, I’m thinking, because elsewhere, when queried by his disciples about whether or not it was possible for rich men to enter the kingdom, especially after hearing how difficult it is, Jesus replied, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).

And so, as we “plant the seeds” of the Word of God, or “water them,” or get to be present at the “harvest”, whatever is our specific ministry, we can have this hope, too, for all the people in our own intimate circles, whatever the nature of their particular “riches,” be it money, power, false doctrine, or something else.

And when we are tempted to frustration by all the “wealth” of Roman Catholicism, consider this: In a sense, but a kind of stealth sense, if you will, all those “readings” at Mass, even though blended with Roman Catholic dogma, are far, far more powerful as the potent Word of God planted in people’s minds and hearts than even the Jesuits can comprehend.

(But shhhhh…let’s not tell them….)

In the meantime, from one “gardener” to another, hope and encouragement to you.

Blessings,

P.

***

[1] For one explanation on Roman Catholicism re mortal sins: http://www.catholic.com/blog/tim-staples/mortal-and-venial-sin

For another : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mortal_sin

 

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8 Responses to Out of the Fire: On Leaving Roman Catholicism 8 (Witnessing to RC’s–A Labor of Love and of Angst)

  1. Cathy says:

    Thank You, for this Post!
    It reminded me, of the Peace, that ONLY our Lord, can provide!
    I was recently, stunned, when my cousin, who is confined, to a Wheelchair, with a Chronic Disease said she pray for me. I have been going through Kidney Stone Lithotripsy 4 X’s, since .Easter, and she was really concerned , for my well-being. As, A Traditional Roman Catholic, who attends “Diocese Approved Latin Mass,” she says her Rosary (religiously !) She said, she’s been saying/praying the Rosary for me!
    This, made me feel, saddened!
    I felt “Two Faced” in not speaking “The Truth!” How could I, with her Affliction?
    We are just humans, and we Must Cast Our Cares to him, For HE Cares For Us!
    Be Still, and Know That I am God!

    Many Blessings

    Like

    • pnissila says:

      Cathy,

      I know how you feel about your cousin’s offer…what does one say?! Her intentions are certainly precious…but…the Rosary? And yet, here you are in her life. I believe God will give you wisdom in His timing as to what to say to her.

      In the meantime, my prayers your way!

      Phyllis

      Like

  2. healingInHim says:

    I have so much I would like to share but don’t have the time … keep me posted:-)

    Like

  3. Dale Rudiger says:

    Hi Phyllis. Thanks for the eighth episode of “Out of the Fire.”

    Tomorrow would be my deceased Catholic mother’s 99th birthday (she died in 2012). She lived with us for the last nine years of her life. She was quite resistant to any attempts at evangelism; but in her final hours I once again pointed her to Jesus, read to her from the Scriptures, sang some hymns and spiritual songs, and prayed with her. She soon passed into unconsciousness, and died a few hours later. I am thankful for those precious hours with her, and so glad that she was unresponsive when the priest came in to give her “last rites.” [Viaticum was out of the question, since she could not swallow the host, nor speak to confess any sins]. The priest pointed her to Mary and St. Januarius at the her hour of death. Very sad.

    I am consoled that perhaps she was an “eleventh hour worker.” In any event, our great God is in control, and He is wise in all His ways. Salvation is from the LORD (Jonah 2:9).

    Like

    • pnissila says:

      Dale and family,

      Sorry to hear of your mother’s death…at 99! My mother died at 86, last year, August 19th.

      I can’t help but think our efforts did bear fruit. I wrote a while back in another post that even though my mother’s Rosary slid from her hands to the floor the moment she passed, it occurred to me just recently that perhaps the beads didn’t “slide,” but she actually dropped them as Jesus came into view…

      At any rate, we got to extend love to them even though there was the “faith divide,” or, as far as we know,…a divide… 🙂

      Like

    • Hi Phyllis, hope you don’t mind this response to Dale. His comment reminded me so much of my mother and brother’s passing. Not Catholic; but non-believers; but believing that they passed as believers in the arms of Jesus. I can’t bear to think otherwise. http://poetrycottage.wordpress.com/2013/01/12/never-give-up/

      Like

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