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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Three Misconceptions of Catholicism

The misconceptions of Catholicism are numerous and widespread. If people took a moment to find out what Catholics really believe and why all these misconceptions could be dispelled. Unfortunately, many people don't take the time to investigate things concerning religions and instead accept something they heard as the truth without considering it could be wrong.

A few common misconceptions about Catholic beliefs that I'd like to respond to are Catholic views of Mary, earning salvation by works and holy relics. First, Catholics don't worship Mary. They never have and never will because the Catholic Church teaching is that only God is worthy of worship. To worship anyone besides God is a sin. Mary is the Mother of God incarnate, Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. The angel Gabriel called her "full of grace" and "highly favored". When Mary had given birth to the Savior she said "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior. For he has looked upon his handmaiden's lowliness; behold, from now on all ages will call me blessed." (Luke 1:46-48) The Catholic faith calls her 'full of grace' and 'blessed' because Sacred Scripture records this fact. She is not worshipped, she is honored and highly favored.

Secondly, Catholics do not 'earn' salvation. Salvation comes by grace from God. Faith and good works go hand in hand, neither 'earns' us our salvation, they are the fruits of the grace God gives us. Jesus Christ is God incarnate and came to bring salvation. No one 'earns' their salvation, if we could there would have been no need for Jesus.

And finally, those holy relics. Catholics don't worship holy relics and they are not magic charms. Relics are scriptural and found in both the Old and New Testaments. In 2 Kings 13:21 we see a man brought back to life when his dead body touched the bones (relics) of the Prophet Elisha. In the New Testament we see that handkerchiefs touched by Paul were taken to the sick and they were healed. These healings are all from God. God using ordinary things to do extraordinary miracles with relics.

Saint Augustine said something like "Remember, you will be faulted not because you are ignorant against your will but because you neglect to seek out what it is that makes you ignorant." I think that applies to all of us in our assumptions of things that we take as fact without bothering to seek out the truth of a matter.

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