The Catholic Mass…Revealed!

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I love this video.

I may end up in the RCC after all.

Beaux


Video on Roman Catholicism

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The Episcopal Church

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A fun video explaining the Episcopal Church. Check it out!


Being without a proper Gnostic Church to attend, I’ve given heavy consideration over the past few years about joining the Catholic Church or the Episcopal Church. I’ve even attended Mass a few times with Tyler at the Episcopal Church and enjoyed it.

Beaux


To Pray or Not to Pray: The Mother of God and Saints

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Having an evangelical Protestant upbringing and living in a largely evangelical area, the notion of prayers addressing anyone but God the Father (no, seriously) are often regarded with distrust, suspicion, and outright condemnation.

I honestly was confused when I first found myself inside of the evangelical world about the Holy Trinity, and eventually the formula presented was, “Pray IN the Spirit, THROUGH the Son, TO the Father.” Okay, that was nice and all, but I don’t think it’s necessarily THE ONLY way to pray.

Someone asked me recently about what I thought concerning prayers addressing the Blessed Virgin Mary, and I think here I can express my thoughts completely.

My ultimate feelings are that, with regards to spirituality in general, any kind of prayer, practice, or devotion that draws one closer to God is a good thing. However, this must be done within reason. Allow me to try to explain.

If, for instance, a devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary were to completely eclipse devotion to God, then the devotion would be defeating the original purpose. The point of being devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary is by virtue of her being the Mother of God.

Prayers to the Saints are a little more foreign to me but nonetheless have an archetypal resonance.

Also, the experience of addressing the Saints is a bit different as well- one naturally doesn’t regard them as being God Himself, and yet in a way, because of Theosis, they are somehow related to God. It’s all very subtle and complicated on the psychological level but makes sense according to the intuition.

Some day, I’ll start creating charts and put them on here to explain things when I can conceived of suitable chart.

Beaux


Common Misconceptions about Catholicism

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Growing up, I was provided with innumerable misunderstandings of Catholicism. Whether they were outright fabricated, misconceptions, or something in between, I’m not totally sure, but here I’ll address a few of the things I’ve heard over the years.

#1. Catholics believe you must have faith and works to attain salvation.

TRUE, but there’s a reason for this: the Holy Scriptures support it.

James 2:14-26

“What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe; and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”

The point is, it’s strange how the Sola Scriptura-ists are so adamant about believing the Bible, knowing what the Bible says, and then slamming Catholics as being oh-so-unbiblical, and then someone such as myself can pull out said verses and point out that the Catholic Tradition is actually more rooted in the Bible in this case.

So basically, the Catholics don’t say anything more than the fact that one’s Faith should be reflected in one’s Works to help people; it’s a pretty simple concept.

Could be worse…the Gnostics say that it is by direct experience of God and not by faith OR works that we experience salvation. Personally, I think all three are important, but that’s for another blog.

Next!

#2. Catholics “pray to Mary.”

This is a statement that never made a lot of sense to me. I was told Catholics prayed to Mary, and that you were only supposed to pray to God. But the concept of what they meant by “pray to Mary” seemed to be ill-defined; when people said this, they meant it almost in the context of, “Catholics pray to Mary and exclusively to Mary because they feel unworthy to pray to God.”

That would be FALSE.

But what IS true are that prayers for intercession are offered to the Blessed Virgin Mary, as well as to the Saints, and sometimes even Angels. However, the majority of prayers, and by majority, I mean VAST majority, are directed to God.

#3 Catholics are all hell-fire and brimstone, stodgy, and fuddy-duddy.

This was my own misperception that happened early on, but in my experience, largely FALSE; every Catholic I’ve personally known has been rather amicable, and they’ve also been the people who were vegetarians, eco-friendly, in bands, funny, and not afraid of alcohol.

Even many of the Catholics I’ve talked to online have been great; the only scary Catholics I’ve seen are in certain forums online, and even then most of them are open to having a dialogue or educating people. The frightening, condemning ones are definitely in the minority, at least within the English-speaking world, or I haven’t run into them very often.

Okay, well, that’s enough for now.

Beaux


Working Towards a Definition of “Catholic” and Some Observations

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Within certain traditions, notably that of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion, there is huge debate on the meaning of the word “Catholic” and the means by which one can identify specifically as Catholic.

With no doubt, there are a number of people in the Anglican Communion which identify as “Anglo-Catholic,” and the official position of the Communion is that it is both “Catholic and Protestant,” or more appropriately, “Catholic and Reformed.”

But within the Anglican Communion, there is a wide spectrum of worship styles: the High Church, which is no less than a Mass and Catholic, and Low Church, which is rather evangelical and would identify with being Protestant, and the Broad Church, which incorporates elements of both.

The actual word “Catholic” means “universal” and refers to the Christian Church as a whole. In the common language, people use it to mean “a member of the Roman Catholic Church.”

Initially, during the 1500s and the Protestant Reformation, the term “Protestant” referred to someone who was anti-papal; this came because of the continued abuses of the papacy in the Roman Catholic Church in those days. These days, however, “Protestant” has come to mean more so “anti-Catholic.”

If we should suggest that the Episcopal Church is anti-papal, in the sense that Anglicans as a whole do not recognize the Bishop of Rome/Pope as the absolute pontiff or having authority over their church but rather as a Bishop of special honor and recognition among other equal bishops, we might rightly use the term “Protestant.”

However, if we should suggest that the Episcopal Church retains the historical episcopate, that is, the Apostolic Succession, that the Church retains the Sacraments of old, that the Church celebrates the Holy Eucharist as the Source and Summit of the Christian Faith, that the Church relies on the councils of the Church in the past and on the writings of the Church Fathers as well as on the Nicene and Apostle’s Creed as the sufficient summary of the Faith, then we might rightly deem them, unabashedly, to be Catholic.

The Episcopal Church under this situation cannot be deemed “Roman Catholic,” but certainly “Anglo-Catholic” or “English Catholic” may suffice.

On another note, it is oft-quoted that Henry the VIII “founded” the Church of England.

The Church of England was founded, strangely enough, in the 600s. Henry the VIII, in his political debacle with the Pope, declared that he, not the Pope, was the head of the Church of England. Thereto in addition, we must also consider that the concept of the Pope having primacy above and beyond other Bishops was a doctrine defined later in Christianity, around the year 1000 or so. It is, in fact, this very doctrine that contributed to the Eastern Orthodox Church breaking with the Roman Catholic Church. As I understand it, the concept of the Pope never did completely become accepted in England.

Many Anglicans also subscribe to what is known as the “Branch Theory.” The Branch Theory entails that the Original Church is comprised of three denominations- the Anglicans, the Roman Catholics, and the Eastern Orthodox.

When religious debates begin on online forums, many snide Roman Catholics will claim that the Anglican Holy Orders are simply invalid. The Anglican Holy Orders are, however, recognized by the Eastern Orthodox Churches, and the Anglicans issued a statement back as to why their Orders are valid.

One thing to also consider is that there are, believe it or not, Independent Catholic Churches. That’s right, Catholic Churches that are not Roman Catholic, Anglican, or Eastern Orthodox. This is part of a movement known as the Independent Sacramental Movement. The Ecclesia Gnostica and other Gnostic Churches recognize the validity of the Holy Orders of the Church of England, and therefore it is the Roman Catholic Church’s ancient prejudice and political agenda that is invalid, not the Anglican Holy Orders.

Just some more thoughts.

Beaux


Heirs to the Tradition that is Christianity I

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Many people do not necessarily understand why I even bother with Christianity, in any form, at this point in my life or in the progression of humanity. I established this blog in part for the sake of explaining, in as much length and grandeur and detail as I might deem appropriate, precisely why I would continue to bother with Christianity.

The problem is that the projection of Christianity is often one of conservatism and fanaticism. Christianity is claimed most loudly and boldly by, for want of better terms, the stupid and the hateful.

The people who attempt to deal with these things by holding varying theological opinions or, God forbid, actually doing research and inner spiritual work are quickly labeled as “progressive” and “liberal” and demonized as attempting to destroy the Gospel and as Satan’s henchmen.

Another form of Christianity we often see is a watered-down, semi-therpeutic variety that screams about the transformative power of Jesus but offers none of said transformation; people so often give the spiel about how Jesus Christ can heal you and offer it and offer it and offer it, and so rarely does it ever happen.

Salvation, too, has been watered down from an actual ontological alteration of the human being on all levels (body, soul, and spirit) into a new creature, a process which is lengthy and devastating in many regards, to simply being a mental event in which you shift gears and start using the secret password of “Jesus is Lord.”

I, for one, do not buy into the notion of the so-called “getting saved” or “salvation experience” that is marketed by evangelical Protestantism; it’s the equivalent of putting a band-aid on cancer and saying someone has been truly transformed. This is, however, a blog for another day.

Christianity does not belong exclusively to people who are ultra-conservative, hateful, dogmatic, and rigid; it is a system, a religion, a faith, a revelation of God to mankind as a whole. There is a nucleus to it, an essence, a core of Love, yes; there are sustaining aspects, manifestations and references back to the essence that is the Love of Christ, which take many forms; there are traditions and scriptures that refer to the essence that is the Love of Christ and through which Christ speaks to all mankind.

Christianity is not solely understood through a literalistic, immediate reading of the Scriptures, which is a point that, incidentally, both fundamentalists and atheists alike often miss.

Fundamentalists and those who believe in Biblical inerrancy on all matters scientific, social, and otherwise, will insist that if God wanted us to know something, He would spell it out, and that is that, never considering that maybe what God has told us is something that is quite powerful, perhaps too powerful for an ordinary and easily corruptible person to be given, as they could cause harm.

Likewise, fundamentalists are often people who want things spelled out for them, like dogmatists. Dogmatists differ from fundamentalists in that they may not accept Biblical inerrancy, but they accept Church Authoritarianism and Pronouncement as the absolute authority on all matters. Either way, both groups are likely to argue and throw around the word “liberal” as though it were a slur. These are the sort of people who, in reality, are so very confused and doubtful of their own faith and understanding of religion that they scream with fury at anyone who dares question it.

Provided, it is far more comfortable in reality to have something spelled out for you, so you know where the boundaries are, you know what rules to follow, and you don’t get in trouble. However, that’s not really how God and His Reality work, so…be wary.

Atheists, (and by atheists, I mean more the Modern Evangelical Atheists, not your garden-variety doesn’t-really-care type atheist) also ask stupid questions, such as, “What else could it mean but the surface meaning?” These are the sort of people who look around, and not seeing a man on a throne, declare there is no God, no meaning to life, that they can do whatever they want, that we live in an irrational universe but use rational means to understand the universe, think that if you are at all interested in religion that you’re a complete, ignorant nitwit…you get the picture.

But getting back to my blog: we are all the heirs of the Tradition of Christianity; it does not belong solely to one denomination or another or one theological persuasion or another.

It is the duty of people of any culture to carry on the customs of that culture, and the religious rites of a culture, in so far as they are not hurting anyone, by practicing those religious rites.

One thing we must remember is that the Tradition of Christianity has produced immensely valuable tools for spiritual journey. Somehow, whether by intuition or by other means, I can perceive these so-called “tools” in Christianity very well. Having been raised in a Christian context and having had a familiarity with the symbolism from an early age, I can easily relate to them in a way that I cannot with other religions. That doesn’t mean I find the traditions of other religions any less alluring, but they are less immediately connected to me, my culture, and my own psychic heritage, if you will.

In many cases, it is difficult to separate the spiritual current running through a religion and the cultural context in which the religion evolved. There are many, many cultural artifacts which are written into the Bible, into Tradition, hold-overs from a different era that are not Divine Mandates but rather world views as those people understood the universe according to their science and culture at the time.

Yet these are the very things that so many people become so nit-picky over! The leftover garbage that happens to be the incidentals and not the meaning of the story suddenly become deified and elevated to the level of Holiness, and frankly, if you will forgive my harshness, enough of us have smelled the bullshit long enough.

On track again: I cannot know if any of my ancestors were ever Buddhists or Hindus. I can know with some certainty that many of my ancestors in the last 2000 years were Roman Catholic, and with greater certainty that some of my ancestors within the last 500 years were Anglican.

Thus I can reason that my own ancestors at some point worshiped in a soaring church buildings and knelt at the altar to take the Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist, and somehow, feeling that connection with them and with Europe is important to me.

As I write this blog, it is late, and I’m tired, so I’ll have to return to the theme at a later time.

Beaux


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