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Questions From Catholics


Answers by Donna Morley





Introduction by Donna Morley: Over the last few years I have received emails from Catholics who have asked me some good questions, and have made some thought provoking statements. I’ve decided to collect some of the more common questions and comments and provide them here for those interested.





Why don’t you believe the Apocrypha is part of the Bible?



The earliest manuscripts of the Bible did not include the Apocrypha. I know you would disagree with me on this. But historically, the Apocrypha was included into the Catholic Bible by the Catholic church in the year 1546. Here are some other reasons why the Apocrypha can't be considered part of the Bible:


1) Some of the church fathers emphatically opposed the Apocrypha: Origin, Tertullian, and Athanasius. If you read the Old and New Testaments, you will not find any prophet, apostle, or Jesus Himself quoting from it. Even when 1 Maccabees was written, the prophetic period had ended (1 Maccabees 9:27).


2) There are some factual errors. For instance, take a look at the Book of Judith. It calls Nebuchadnezzar king of the Assyrians (see Judith 1:7), yet he was king of Babylon (Daniel 1:7). Also the Book of Judith conflicts with apocryphal book Baruch which says Nebuchadnezzar was king of Babylon (Baruch 1:9).

 

3) There are teachings in the Apocrypha that conflict with the Old and New Testament. For instance:

 

Prayers are offered for the dead (2 Maccabees 12:41-46; contast this with Hebrews 9:27; John 3:36). There are no second chances for the dead.
Let's not forget the thief on the cross. He had no time to get baptized; no time to be good, but because he embraced Jesus Christ, Jesus said to him, "I assure you: this day you will be with me in paradise" (Luke 23:24). As we see, no one would need to pray for the thief when he was dead, helping him get out of purgatory. No, instead, through Jesus Christ alone he immediately goes to Heaven. Anyone of us who commits our entire lives to Jesus Christ will indeed go directly to Heaven (1 John 5:11-13).

 

Suicide is justified (Maccabees 14:41-46. Contrast this with the man whose life is full of distress but he places his trust in the Lord, Psalm 31:15).

 

Atonement and Salvation comes by Almsgiving (Tobit 4:11; Sirach 3:3, 29. Contrast this with what the New Testament says about Salvation: Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5).

 

Cruelty to slaves is justified (Sirach 33:25-29. Contrast this with Deuteronomy 23:15-17).

 

An apocryphal book appears to accept lying. In the Book of Tobit, the angel Raphael lies to Tobiah and later to his father Tobit (Tobit 5:1-7). It was no small lie. And yet, Raphael is not regarded as a "fallen" angel. In fact, every October 24 a Mass celebrates him as an archangel.


Now, take a close look at Judas Maccabee's words towards the end of 2 Maccabees: He says,

 

I will bring my own story to an end here too. If it is well written and to the point, that is what I wanted; if it is poorly done and mediocre, that is the best I could do....so a skillfully composed story delights the ears of those who read the work. Let this, then, be the end. (2 Maccabees 15:37-39)


The Bible, God's Divine Word, would never say of His own Word, "if it is poorly done and mediocre, that is the best I could do." And even the Jerusalem Bible (the Catholic Bible) admits that the book of Tobit has oriental folklore.



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Why don’t you believe we should pray the rosary? The rosary is built around Jesus---meditating on His life, ministry, passion and resurrection.



Interesting statement. How does the rosary build around Jesus, meditating on His life, ministry, passion, and resurrection? One of the prayers in the rosary is the Hail Mary. This is recited 150 times. We certainly can’t say this prayer is built around Jesus. Nor does it allow one to meditate on His life, ministry, passion and resurrection. Nor, are you even praying to Jesus. You are praying to Mary (who cannot hear our prayers).

Additionally, while Catholics believe it's Mary who is our mediator between God and man, this is not what the Bible tells us. . God's Word tells us that Jesus is our one and only Mediator. "For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all..." (1 Timothy 2:5).

It's not Mary who intercedes for us, but Jesus Christ and His Spirit. His Word tells us:

"He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God." (Romans 8:27).

"Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died--more than that, who was raised to life--is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us." (Romans 8:34).

When Mary was with 150 others praying in the upper room (on the day of Pentecost). On this day, it would have been PERFECT occasion for everyone to go to Mary and ask her to intercede for them, yet they didn't. Mary was just like everyone else, praying to the Lord.

Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day's journey away. When they had entered the city, they went up to the upper room where they were staying; that is, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas the son of James. These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers. At this time Peter stood up in the midst of the brethren (a gathering of about one hundred and twenty persons was there together..." Acts 1:13-15).


You are asking her to PRAY for you...now and at the hour of your death. Wouldn't it be better to go directly to Jesus, the LIVING Lord? Rather than pray the rosary, wouldn’t it be better to talk to Jesus? We can praise Him, thank Him, share our inner thoughts with Him. He wants a personal relationship with us—and, He certainly doesn't want us focusing upon Mary.


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You have said Jesus doesn’t want us to pray repetitiously. Jesus was condemning vain repetition, not all forms of repetition. The Greek word battalogeo here means to "repeat idly" or "Meaningless and mechanically repeated phrases" as in pagan modes of prayer, prayer uttered without proper reverence or respect. God sees the heart, the inner dispositions of the worshiper (See Is 1:11-15, Mt 7:20-23, 15:9) not mere outward appearances.



I agree with you that the Greek word is battalogeo, again meaning, to “repeat idly” or “meaningless and mechanically repeated phrases.” Now, seriously consider. When praying the rosary, you are praying the Apostles' Creed once, the Our Father ten times, the Hail Mary one hundred and fifty times, and the Glory Be ten times. Don’t you think this is quite repetitive? Don’t you think this could get people to the point of reciting the prayers without much thought? As a former Catholic I always prayed the rosary without much thought. To be honest I often prayed it with the thought, “I can hardly wait to get this overwith!”


The Catholic Saint Joseph Daily Missal taught me that,


* If I pray five decades of the Rosary--on my behalf or on the behalf of a dead family member or friend, I or the deceased one, would get 5 years off the time we spend in Purgatory (praying the Rosary is viewed in the church as a type of Indulgence).


* If I was to recite five decades of the Rosary in unison with others, publically or privately, I earn ten years off of Purgatory.


* I was able to gain an additional 10 years off if I recited in unison the Rosary with my family.


* If I was praying the Rosary while driving a car or doing housework, I was guaranteed to get time off Purgatory, but there was a condition–I had to at least have the Rosary hang around my neck or be attached to my person (such as a sweater I might be wearing), while I was praying.


None of the above is biblical, and actually these are false promises being made to the people--people that even sincerely are repetitively praying the rosary so that they could get time off in Purgatory or a dead family member off. This is not Christian teaching. It is false.


True prayer, like true worship centers on God's glory, not on man's needs (such as praying to get out of Purgatory). It's to acknowledge God's sovereignty, to see the display of His glory, and to obey His will.


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Why don’t you believe we should put Mary in an exalted place? Wouldn’t Jesus desire that we exalt her? And, why not pray to her? Mary is our intercessor, just like she was at the wedding when she asked Jesus for more wine.



I don’t believe Jesus would have us exalt Mary. Read the New Testament and you will see, during Christ’s earthly life, that He never gave His mother an exalted position. Christ spoke to Mary as "woman" (John 2:4, 19:26-27). When a woman in the crowed, shouted out to Jesus, "Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts at which You nursed" (Luke 11:27), this would have been the perfect time for Jesus to tell everyone to exalt Mary--to worship her, to pray to her--even after she is dead. Instead Jesus responded by saying, "On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God, and observe it." (Luke 11:28).


Mary cannot intercede for us in prayer for a few reasons. First, a dead person cannot intercede for a living person. As you recall in her requesting wine at a wedding (John 2:3), Mary was alive. Secondly, there is only one mediator between God our Father and man and that’s Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 2:5, John 14:6). Take a look at Acts 1:13, 14. You will find followers of Jesus praying in the upper room. Mary was in this room with them. Now, notice. They are all praying to God. Not one of the believers thought of going to Mary and ask her to pray for them.



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Why don’t you believe Mary was a “perpetual virgin?