Posts Tagged ‘Roman Catholicism’
Hello Lighthouse Trails:
I am wondering if you can help me out here. I have been a long-time financial supporter of Voice of the Martyrs and each Sunday I try sending an encouraging postcard to a persecuted Christian somewhere (from their prison letter writing list). Imagine my shock when last Sunday one of the prisoners profiled in Voice of the Martyrs prisoner list was a Catholic “Father” in Vietnam!! Catholics were responsible for many Protestant deaths over the centuries!! I am deeply concerned about this and plan to terminate my financial support with them and switch to Open Doors (or some Protestant organization which supports the persecuted church); however I want to research this a bit more. I vaguely recall you once had an article about VOM concerning this and am wondering if you could kindly forward this to me? Also what can you tell me about your version of Foxe Book of the Martyr’s vs the VOM version?
Thank you in advance, John (not real name)
In 2010, Lighthouse Trails posted this article, “Concern Expressed Over Voice of the Martyrs Article on Mystic Madame Jeanne Guyon” and this one: “Voice of the Martyrs Responds to Lighthouse Trails Readers.” And in 2011, we posted these articles: “Letter to Tom White of Voice of the Martyrs” and “Lighthouse Trails Regretfully No Longer Carrying Voice of the Martyrs Materials.”
In response to your concern about VOM including the name of a Catholic priest on their August prisoner list, we share your concerns. We do not say that people who are Catholics should not be defended if they are being cruelly persecuted and imprisoned; however an organization like Voice of the Martyrs has built its reputation of being an advocate for evangelical and Protestant Christians. Many of the people who have donated money to the organization would not have done it had they known of VOM’s ecumenism. As the letter to the editor above points out, the historical Catholic church was responsible for the deaths of untold numbers of believers who would not bow to the heresies of the papacy (in particularly the Eucharist – that Christ is in a wafer that should be worshiped). See our article “Mrs. Prest – She Said No to Apostasy and Became a Martyr” as one example. So it seems strange that an organization that stands for persecuted Christians would in any way pay homage to Roman Catholicism which, by its very belief system (I.e., it is anathema to not embrace the Eucharistic sacraments), persecutes Christians.
In answer to the question about Lighthouse Trails’ edition of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs versus the VOM edition, here is our statement on why we were compelled to publish our own edition:
Foxe’s Book of Martyrs was first published over five hundred years ago. Today, there are many editions of this book available. When Lighthouse Trails decided to start offering this book to our readers, we began our search for a suitable edition. Much to our dismay, we discovered that many of the current editions were compromised in one form or another. For example, in one edition (ironically, published by an advocacy group for persecuted Christians), front page endorsements included the names of those who promote contemplative spirituality and/or the emerging church. When one realizes that contemplative/emerging spirituality embraces some of the very same beliefs that Foxe’s martyrs opposed to the point of suffering cruel persecution and death, it is most troubling and misleading to see these names in the cover of an edition of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs.
In another edition we reviewed, the book was among a special set of “Christian classics.” We were once again perplexed to see that some of the other books in that series were written by contemplative mystics.
And yet another edition, published by a secular publisher, advertised mystical and occult practices on the back cover.
Finally, after an unsuccessful search, Lighthouse Trails decided to publish our own edition of this truly incredible and unforgettable account.
“And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” Colossians 3: 17
Worth noting, in John Foxe’s original Book of Martyrs, Foxe wrote much about the persecution from the Catholic church. But in some of today’s editions, you will find stories of this papal persecution omitted.
In closing, there are many wonderful Christian organizations that are helping the poor, needy, and persecuted that are standing firm in the faith and not compromising the Gospel set forth in Scripture. We hope you and other LT readers will seek out these groups and consider supporting them.
Thank you for your letter.
Editors at Lighthouse Trails
LTRP Note: The following news article shows how Bible prophecy of the days before Christ’s return is again being fulfilled. In the Catechism of the Catholic church, homosexuality is a “mortal sin” (a sin, they say, that will condemn you and send you to hell). Now the Catholic church is being led by a man who implies that homosexuality is not a mortal sin ( i.e, homosexuality is acceptable to God). When you couple Pope Francis’ spiritual grounding in contemplative practices1 and his connection to the Jesuits (who are traditionally mystics) with his views on issues such as homosexuality and abortion, you basically have an emerging church Pope. What we foresee happening is the new Pope is going to reorient the Catholic church away from its traditionalist mortal sin approach (i.e., morality) and take it in the direction of Anthony DeMello and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (both panentheistic Jesuit priests and fervent mystics).
William Shannon (Thomas Merton’s biographer), in his book Silence on Fire, states that Catholicism has been traditionally based on the spirituality of devotion (trying to get to Heaven through pious acts and deeds). Contemplative spirituality is the antithesis of this, in that man, in essence, is already good because he (meaning all mankind) is intricately connected to God (that is, man has divinity inherently within him already).
We can see more clearly than ever now that even the Catholic church is “falling away” from its own traditional “faith.” This is going to allow Catholic contemplative teachers and leaders to really come out of the contemplative closet. The last pope constrained the contemplative view, for the most part. This one will bring it to the forefront of the Catholic church. This is closing the gap even more between the “new” emerging “progressive” Christianity (of which many Protestant and evangelical members are embracing) and the Roman Catholic church, a paradigm shift which will eventually develop into a world-wide ecumenical interfaith religious body that will ultimately reject the Messiah, Jesus Christ and rather will worship and follow a one-world global religious leader of which the Bible predicts.
While Bible-believing Christians observe what is happening today in the world around us, may we encourage ourselves in the Lord that the plan of salvation as laid out in Scripture in not found in either of these spiritual outlooks: man cannot earn his way to heaven and neither is he already connected to God through his own virtue. It is only through humbly acknowledging that we are lost sinners (anything but Divine) in need of a Savior who died on the Cross as an atonement for our sins and then by faith believing on Jesus Christ and accepting Him as Lord and Savior can we be saved by His grace. No earning our way and no Divinity within ourselves.
For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. (1 Corinthians 2:2)
For more understanding, read “A Jesuit Pope? Understanding The Jesuit Agenda and the Evangelical/Protestant Church.”
By Heather Clark
Christian News Network
“Pope Francis: Catholics Should Not Be ‘Obsessed’ With Speaking Against Homosexuality, Abortion”
ROME – In an article published on Thursday by the Italian magazine La Civilta Cattolica, Pope Francis explained that he believes the Roman Catholic Church needs to find a “new balance” in reaching unbelievers, rather than focusing on the issues of homosexuality and abortion.
During the lengthy piece, which covered a variety of topics, from being a Jesuit to the role of women in the church, Francis pointed back to comments he made last month when asked how Catholics can reach out to people who are divorced or involved in same-sex relationships.
“In Buenos Aires I used to receive letters from homosexual persons who are ‘socially wounded’ because they tell me that they feel like the church has always condemned them. But the church does not want to do this,” he said. “During the return flight from Rio de Janeiro, I said that if a homosexual person is of good will and is in search of God, I am no one to judge. By saying this, I said what the catechism says. Religion has the right to express its opinion in the service of the people, but God in creation has set us free: it is not possible to interfere spiritually in the life of a person.”
“A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality. I replied with another question: ‘Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?’ Click here to continue reading.
By Ahn Do
L.A. Times (From June)
(courtesy Deception in the Church)
On the plaza of the future Christ Cathedral, 3,000 chairs and 7,000 water bottles awaited the faithful. On Saturday [June], before Mass welcomed families from St. Callistus Church to their new home, an organizer said into the microphone: “Those sitting in the sun will get more blessings from God.”
The service on the grounds once belonging to the Crystal Cathedral started on time at 4 p.m., as a parade of priests led by Bishop Kevin Vann let their words — English, sprinkled with Spanish, Tagalog and Vietnamese — embrace the multicultural crowd.
“No matter the weather, we must be here,” said Rosa Maria Rosales, a 26-year member of the Garden Grove Catholic church. After lunch, she had attended the parish’s farewell service at the old church, then continued on to this gathering with her friend Mary Sanchez, who cradled a 5-month-old baby.
“Hello and goodbye. Of course, we don’t like to leave the old place, but look at this new place!” Sanchez exclaimed, gesturing at the wide expanse of 35 acres — nearly four times the size of the former place of worship less than a mile away.
“And look at all the people together, for the same reason. Es un milagro,” she added, describing it as a miracle. Click here to continue reading.
The following is from Understand the Times, International:
- July 3 – Human liver grown inside a mouse
- July 8 – Pope’s Marian Prayer at Lampedusa
- July 9 – Ramadan postponed after failure to sight the moon
- July 6 – Pope: we should not be afraid to renew the Church’s “ancient, passing structures”
- July 9 – Decree of Plenary Indulgence for World Youth Day
- July 10 – Opus Dei bishop to be beatified after newborn’s miracle cure
- July 10 – Laborers in the Vineyard: Inviting the Ecclesial Movements to Catholic Online
- July 8 – Ahmadinejad says Holocaust denial was his major achievement
- July 8 – BBC Says Christians Who Oppose Gay Marriage Are ‘Damaging the Church’
- July 6 – Experts: DNA ruling could lead to national ID
Christian News Network
Rome, Italy –White smoke arose from the Sistine Chapel this evening in Rome, signaling to those watching that a new pope had been selected to lead the Roman Catholic religion.
Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 76, was announced as being the successor of Pope Benedict XVI, a Jesuit Argentinian who was elevated to the role of cardinal in 2001 after serving as archbishop since 1998. He appeared dressed in white as the curtains opened on the balcony of St. Peter’s.
“First and foremost, I would like to pray for our emeritus Pope Benedict XVI that Christ and the Madonna watch over him,” he declared to the hundreds of thousands gathered, who began screaming as his image came into view. “Let us begin this journey together, this journey for the Roman Catholic Church. It’s a journey of friendship and love and faith between us. Let us pray for one another; let us pray for all the world.”
Bergoglio stated that one of his first acts as pope will be to pray to Mary, or as he referred to her, the Madonna. . . .
Rick Warren, author and megachurch pastor of Saddleback Church in California, however, was enthusiastic about the election of the new pope. As previously reported, Warren called for fasting and prayer yesterday for the cardinals that would be voting on the matter. Click here to continue reading.
My Journey Out of Catholicism by David Dombrowski
The Catholic Chronicles by Keith Green
I had always been confused as to the real nature of this advance in the Catholic church. Was this just the work of a few mavericks and renegades, or did the church hierarchy sanction this practice? My concerns were affirmed when I read in an interview that the mystical prayer movement not only had the approval of the highest echelons of Catholicism but also was, in fact, the source of its expansion. – Ray Yungen
“Contemplative Spirituality – the Source of the Catholic Church’s Expansion”
by Ray Yungen
While many Christians are still not even aware that a practical Christian mystical movement exists, momentum is picking up, and an obvious surge towards this contemplative spirituality has surfaced. Evidence regarding the magnitude of this mystical prayer movement is now within reach of the average person. In 1992, Newsweek magazine did a cover story called “Talking to God,” which made a clear reference to it. The article disclosed:
[S]ilence, appropriate body posture and, above all, emptying the mind through repetition of prayerâ€”have been the practices of mystics in all the great world religions. And they form the basis on which most modern spiritual directors guide those who want to draw closer to God.1
It is amazing to me how Newsweek clearly observed this shift in the spiritual paradigm over fifteen years ago, while many Christians (including most prominent leaders) still live in abject ignorance of this change. Are the teachings of the practical Christian mystic actually being assimilated so well that even our pastors are not discerning this shift?
In September 2005, Newsweek carried a special report called “Spirituality in America.” The feature story, titled “In Search of the Spiritual,” is seventeen pages long, and for anyone who thought that a Christian mystical movement did not exist, this article is all the proof needed to show it not only exists but is alive, well, and growing like you wouldn’t believe.
The article begins by describing the origin of the contemporary contemplative prayer movement, which began largely with a Catholic monk named Thomas Keating:
To him [Keating], as a Trappist monk, meditation was second nature. He invited the great Zen master Roshi Sasaki to lead retreats at the abbey. And surely, he thought, there must be a precedent within the church for making such simple but powerful spiritual techniques available to laypeople. His Trappist brother Father William Meninger found it in one day in 1974, in a dusty copy of a 14th-century guide to contemplative meditation, “The Cloud of Unknowing.”2
The most obvious integration of this movement can be found in Roman Catholicism. Michael Leach, former president of the Catholic Book Publishers Association, made this incredibly candid assertion:
But many people also believe that the spiritual principles underlying the New Age movement will soon be incorporated–or rather reincorporated–into the mainstream of Catholic belief. In fact, it’s happening in the United States right now.3
Incorporating it is! And it is assimilating primarily through the contemplative prayer movement.
Contemplative leader Basil Pennington, openly acknowledging its growing size, said, “We are part of an immensely large community … ‘We are Legion.’”4 Backing him up, a major Catholic resource company stated, “Contemplative prayer has once again become commonplace in the Christian community.”5
William Shannon [a mystic proponent and the biographer of Thomas Merton] went so far as to say contemplative spirituality has now widely replaced old-style Catholicism.6 This is not to say the Mass or any of the sacraments have been abandoned, but the underlying spiritual ideology of many in the Catholic church is now contemplative in its orientation.
One of my personal experiences with the saturation of mysticism in the Catholic church was in a phone conversation I had with the head nun at a local retreat center who told me the same message Shannon conveys. She made it clear The Cloud of Unknowing is now the basis for nearly all Catholic spirituality, and contemplative prayer is now becoming widespread all over the world.
I had always been confused as to the real nature of this advance in the Catholic church. Was this just the work of a few mavericks and renegades, or did the church hierarchy sanction this practice? My concerns were affirmed when I read in an interview that the mystical prayer movement not only had the approval of the highest echelons of Catholicism but also was, in fact, the source of its expansion. Speaking of a meeting between the late Pope Paul VI and members of the Catholic Trappist Monastic Order in the 1970s, Thomas Keating, disclosed the following:
The Pontiff declared that unless the Church rediscovered the contemplative tradition, renewal couldn’t take place. He specifically called upon the monastics, because they lived the contemplative life, to help the laity and those in other religious orders bring that dimension into their lives as well.7
Just look at the latest official catechism of the Catholic church to see contemplative prayer officially endorsed and promoted to the faithful by the powers that be. The new catechism firmly states: “Contemplative prayer is hearing the word of God … Contemplative prayer is silence.”8
I realized just how successfully Pope Paul’s admonitions have been carried out when I discovered the following at one popular Catholic bookstore. Many shelves were marked as spirituality–the focal point of the entire store. Eighty to ninety percent of the books on those shelves were on mystical prayer. It was clearly the overriding theme….
Contemplative spirituality reaches far beyond the walls of the Catholic church. Mainline Protestant traditions (Episcopalians, United Methodists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, United Church of Christ, etc.) have dived into the contemplative waters too. Their deep tradition of twentieth-century liberalism and sociopolitical activism has left them spiritually dry and thirsting for supernatural experiences. This school of practical mysticism gives them a sense of spirituality while still allowing them a liberal political correctness. Marcus Borg, [former] professor of Religion and Culture at Oregon State University and someone who resonates with mystical spirituality understands the popularity of mystical prayer. He states:
In some mainline denominations, emerging-paradigm [contemplative] Christians are in the majority. Others are about equally divided between these two ways of being Christian.9
A sales person at a bookstore that caters to these denominations once told me the contemplative prayer view has found a large audience in the Protestant mainstream, and many pastors are very open to these practices. She added that some members of the clergy did show resistance, but a clear momentum towards the contemplative direction was nevertheless occurring. An article in Publisher’s Weekly magazine addressing the move toward contemplative prayer in mainstream religious circles confirmed her observation. One woman in the publishing field was quoted as saying, “[M]any Protestants are looking to satisfy that yearning by a return to the Western contemplative tradition.”10 Another college professor pointed out:
My students have been typically middle-aged and upper middle class Methodists, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, and Baptists, active in the lay leadership of their churches. To outward appearances, they are quite conventional people. Yet I have found that virtually every one of my students has encountered the new age in one of its many forms and has been attracted by its mystery.11
Contemplative spirituality provides a seemingly profound experience of God without having to adhere to a conservative social outlook. It also gives its practitioners comfort to know they draw on a so–called Christian well of tradition. This dilutes any reluctance some might have about the orthodoxy of these practices.
To underscore the scope and reach of the contemplative prayer movement let’s look at the numbers put out by an organization called Spiritual Directors International (SDI). On their website this group gives ample evidence of what their practices are. In one national conference, the following was presented:
This workshop offers an opportunity to study and experience the [spiritual] director’s role in a person’s move into the beginning and early stages of contemplative prayer, silence, and openness to new sorts of praying.12
One of the objectives of SDI is “Tending the holy around the world and across traditions.” A 2008 membership list showed 652 Episcopalians, 239 Presbyterians, 239 Methodists, 175 Lutherans, and a whopping 2,386 Roman Catholics; counting another forty or so “traditions,” the total was 6648. To show the nature of just what they mean by “across traditions,” the list included Buddhist, Gnostic Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Jewish, Siddha Yoga, and even Pagan/Wiccan.* (see below)
(For more information about contemplative spirituality, spiritual formation, and New Age mysticism coming into the church, read A Time of Departing.)
1. Kenneth L. Woodward, “Talking to God” (Newsweek , January 6, 1992), p. 44.
2. Jerry Alder, “In Search of the Spiritual” (Newsweek, August/September 2005, Special Report: “Spirituality in America”), p. 48.
3. Michael Leach (America, May 2, 1992), p. 384.
4. M. Basil Pennington, Centered Living: The Way of Centering Prayer (New York, NY: Doubleday Publishing, Image Book edition, September 1988), p. 10.
5. Sheed & Ward Catalog, Winter/Lent, 1978, p. 12.
6. William Shannon, Seeds of Peace (New York, NY: Crossroad Publishing, 1996), p. 25.
7. Anne A. Simpson, “Resting in God” Common Boundary magazine, Sept./Oct. 1997, http://www.livingrosaries.org/interview.htm), p. 25.
8. Catechism of the Catholic Church (Urbi et Orbi Communications, 1994), p. 652.
9. Marcus Borg, The Heart of Christianity (San Francisco, CA: Harper, 2004), p. 7.
10. Kimberly Winston, “Get Thee to a Monastery” (Publisher’s Weekly, April 10, 2000), p. 39.
11. Bruce Epperly, Crystal & Cross (Mystic, CT: Twenty-third Publishers, 1996), p. 14.
12. Spiritual Directors International, Conference Workshops: “Exile or Return? Accompanying the Journey into Contemplative Prayer” (http://www.sdiworld.org/conference_workshops.html).
*Note on Spiritual Directors International. Since 2005, there have been significant increases in the SDI’s demographic statistics of spiritual director members. The overall increase went from around 5000 members in 2005 to 6648 in 2008 with new denominations and religious groups added.
By RACHEL DONADIO
New York Times
VATICAN CITY — Citing advanced years and infirmity, but showing characteristic tough-mindedness and unpredictability, Pope Benedict XVI shocked Roman Catholics on Monday by saying that he would resign on Feb. 28, becoming the first pope to do so in six centuries.
Speaking in Latin to a small gathering of cardinals at the Vatican on Monday morning, Benedict said that after examining his conscience “before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise” of leading the world’s one billion Roman Catholics.
The statement, soon translated into seven languages, ricocheted around the globe.
A shy, tough-minded theologian who seemed to relish writing books more than greeting stadium crowds, Benedict, 85, was elected by fellow cardinals in 2005 after the death of John Paul II. An often divisive figure, he spent much of his papacy in the shadow of his beloved predecessor. Click here to continue reading.