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Friday, February 7, 2014

Idolatry -- Am I An Idolator?

Photo Credits : Mars Hill Church


Being a Catholic by birth and by choice, I hear about this word and am accused of this sin far too often than I am comfortable to admit. :( Honestly this accusation still hurts me every now and then (especially when the accusers are vile and rabid!) :( but since I know where I stand before the Lord, I just forgive them and allow myself to search my heart each and every time, if I am indeed guilty of this particular sin.

To some die-hard Fundamentalists and 'Christians', this is their "favorite sin" to condemn us Catholics with. The accusations are: that Catholics are idolators because we make use of graven images, 'bow down' to graven images, 'worship' statues, 'worship' Mother Mary, 'worship' saints, 'worship' angels, etc. etc. :( I can actually see where the judgment (or misjudgment) is stemming from, but it still hurts nonetheless, when one's own faith (which no human can "see") is being questioned and harshly judged by human standards. :(

I can only speak for myself, being a Catholic Christian, and this is what I have to say for myself on the issue of 'graven images':

At my cousin A and Bubs' Wedding - 2008
While it is true that Catholic churches have statues and during Mass or while praying, I kneel on pews while sometimes directing my gaze towards those statues, I do not believe that those graven images hold any power over me. I also do not believe that the Jesus Image on the Cross I am looking at, is actually Jesus. He "represents" Jesus and reminds me of Jesus, but is NOT Jesus. 

Jesus, Whom I consider my Lord and Savior, is in heaven and in my heart. Even without any statue, even with my eyes closed, even while sitting down or lying down, or just simply thinking of Him, I feel that I  already am right there before Him, in His Presence. I do not NEED a statue or a graven image to pray to God. But sometimes it helps to have something to direct my attention towards, or something to focus on, other than a blank wall. But even without those, I do not really mind. In fact, our own home barely has any graven image. (We do have a crucifix on our wall.) Most Catholic homes have a whole room full of them.
My grandparents and parents -- now all gone. :(

I liken this to looking at the framed pictures of my dead parents and loved ones. When I see those pictures, it reminds me of them, but they, being not here anymore on this planet, I am well aware that the pictures are NOT really them, but of them.

And as for "bowing down to statues", it is a Catholic gesture of respect to God. God is in my heart and mind when I "see" or "bow" my head to it. The gesture is symbolic of my respect for the real God, not the graven image. I usually bow down my head when I am praying whether before meals, after meals, in the car, or while reflecting on God's Word... without any statue.

God is not in that graven image and my God definitely is not that graven image of Him, as I have explained. God is Spirit.

John 4:24 
"God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."

Lest I be accused that I do not know the "REAL" Ten Commandments (Some 'Christians' accuse Catholics of 'hiding' some portions) , I will include in this post the Commandment that we Catholics are often accused of violating: the FIRST COMMANDMENT. Here are the First and Second Commandments as they are written in the Catholic Bibles, contrasted with the Protestant Bibles, taken from :

The Bible gives two versions of the Ten Commandments, in essential content identical, one in Exodus and another in Deuteronomy. The enumeration of the commandants (which is number one, which is two etc.) are traditional and neither contained in the texts nor obvious. The Catholic Church has traditionally used the Deuteronomy account and followed the division of the text given in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Scriptures made by second century BC Jews in Egypt and used by the early Church as its Old Testament. The Anglican Church and the Lutheran Church also use this account. The other Reformation churches use the Exodus listing, and adopted the Jewish enumeration of the Hebrew text. 
The Commandants are probably best known from the traditional formulas used in catechesis. 

I. I am the Lord your God: you shall not have strange gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a graven image.I. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
II. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.II. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.
III. Remember to keep holy the Lord's Day.III. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.
IV. Honor your father and mother.IV. Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy.
V. You shall not kill.V. Honor thy father and thy mother.
VI. You shall not commit adultery.VI. Thou shalt not kill.
VII. You shall not stealVII. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
VIII. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.VIII. Thou shalt not steal.
IX. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife.IX.  Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
X. You shall not covet your neighbor's goodsX. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbors goods

Comparison of the Full Text

Catholic:Deuteronomy 5:7-21
Protestant:Exodus 20:3-17
I.  [7] You shall not have other gods besides me.  [8] You shall not carve idols for yourselves in the shape of anything in the sky above or on the earth below or in the waters beneath the earth;  [9] you shall not bow down before them or worship them. For I, the LORD, your God, am a jealous God, inflicting punishments for their fathers' wickedness on the children of those who hate me, down to the third and fourth generation  [10] but bestowing mercy, down to the thousandth generation, on the children of those who love me and keep my commandments. I.  [3] You shall not have other gods besides me.  
II. [4] You shall not carve idols for yourselves in the shape of anything in the sky above or on the earth below or in the waters beneath the earth;  [5] you shall not bow down before them or worship them.For I, the LORD, your God, am a jealous God, inflicting punishment for their fathers' wickedness on the children of those who hate me, down to the third and fourth generation; [6] but bestowing mercy down to the thousandth generation, on the children of those who love me and keep my commandments
Cf. Mt 4:10, 22:36-38; Mk 7:22
Commands: Adoration, prayer, sacrifice, promises, vows
Forbids: Idolatry, superstition, magic, divination (the occult), irreligion, atheism, agnosticism
II. [11]  You shall not take the name of the LORD, your God, in vain. For the LORD will not leave unpunished him who takes his name in vain.III. [7]  You shall not take the name of the LORD, your God, in vain. For the LORD will not leave unpunished him who takes his name in vain. 
Cf. Mt 5:33-37; Acts 19:13-17; Col. 3:17; Mt 22:36-38
Commands: Respect for God's Name, Saints, etc., confession of faith, promises and vows which honor God.
Forbids: Blasphemy, cursing and perjury 

I am a Filipino and a Catholic Christian, and I have questioned the use of us Catholics of these graven images and some other practices that seem to me, unnecessary and sometimes, even confusing. Just to share a fact.. In the Philippines, out of the 96.8 million Filipinos, 76.18 million are Catholics. I am a cradle and cultural Catholic, and also a Catholic by choice. At this point in my life however, I don't just take in everything the Church says without much thought. I do not believe in everything that the Church tells me to do, hook, line and sinker just because it says so. I study it, find its source and meaning, and ponder over it. I am constantly in search for the Truth. Our Faith is rich in both oral and written tradition, and the Bible stems from those Sacred Traditions...

When faced with accusations, I usually just keep my silence.

( Long Note: I find that defending my faith to people who are not open to what I have to share is senseless, i.e. people who are just looking for an opportunity to put me down for being 'Catholic'. I even had one instance when somebody from an independent 'Christian' sect said to me as a birthday "wish": "My "prayer" for you is that you see the light.", implying that he was "enlightened",  and I was, well... "in the dark" because I was a Catholic(Well, it was true that I was "in the dark" but not because I did not belong to their religion. It was because I was so full of myself and had myself as "idol.") Some have seemingly made it their "main goal" to 'open up the eyes' of us "Catholic pagans" (to their mind) by constantly posting offensive anti-Catholic posts on their Facebook pages -- one of the major reasons too why I had deactivated my personal account from that social network for good. I have always felt that debating and challenging each other and
The Satanists' proposed monument at the Oklahoma state capitol depicts Baphomet,
a goat-headed pagan idol sitting on a 7-foot-tall throne inscribed with
an inverted pentagram.  In an artist's rendering provided by the Satanic Temple,
smiling children look adoringly at the devilish figure.
engaging in a "verbal fistfight" on "whose religion is the TRUE RELIGION", not only grieves both parties, but God's Heart as well.
Nobody wins in that prideful contest. I even think the referee there is the devil! He enjoys the heated and angry and boastful oral arguments! If there is a winner in that battle, it is he! There is truly, really, only ONE Loving CREATOR (redundancy intended). We can debate all we want till our vocal cords run dry, but that still won't be a true measure of our LOVE for God and FAITH in Him. 
He alone knows what is in our hearts)

                                       James 1:26

26 "If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless."

Sometimes though, I feel that there is a 'need to defend' my faith amongst 'Christians' who 'enjoy' judging  labeling us as 'pagans'. It is really hard to explain all of this without feeling a bit defensive about my Catholic Faith, but for purposes of enlightenment for the non-Catholics reading this blog, I am trying to explain it calmly :), so somehow, you will have a grasp as to why we do what we do.

I cannot discount the fact though that there are Catholics who have crossed over from just symbolically remembering God through these images to actually giving power to the graven images themselves! That is really alarming!!! That is plain as day, IDOLATRY!

The Feast of the Black Nazarene every January 9 is a super well-attended event with millions joining the procession and some even getting hurt or dying because of the hugeness of the crowd, the heat of the sun and from mere exhaustion of accompanying the statue of Jesus as a Black Nazarene around the streets of Manila. :( Miracles supposedly abound in this yearly devotion.

Okay. So, where exactly did the making of graven images start and why do we do it?

Here is the answer of Thomas, the Reflective Revert, a licensed marriage and family therapist, who left the Catholic Church for over 20 years only to go back again. He said it took a while but his relationship with Christ eventually led him back to Catholicism.

I will post here a copy of our exchange over this issue on "idolatry". The conversational exchange could be seen on his blog dated December 23, 2013:

  • Merry Christmas too, Brother Thomas! :) Should I have questions about our faith, would it be okay to post it here? I do have many! I am devout as devout goes, I still have a long way to go in terms of being able to explain about our faith. When amongst non-Catholics, I get tongue-tied and very defensive, without being able to graciously clarify their doubts/accusations against our faith. :(
  • Of course! Please feel free to ask questions here. I will answer as many as I can. If I don’t know the answer I might be able to direct you to a place that does. We all have a lot to learn, and the process never stops. Asking questions is a great way to learn the faith.
    I understand what you mean about getting tongue-tied and defensive. It happens to me, too. I just let those experiences make me more determined to learn and grow. Sounds like you are doing the same. God teaches us things in those moments. He teaches us patience with ourselves and with others. He also teaches us humility and trust. He teaches us holiness.
    I have learned much by reading books by reputable Catholic apologists. There are also some great websites that are very helpful such as,, and also has a forum for people to ask questions and discuss the faith. Their radio show is good to listen to because people call in with questions.
    When someone challenges my faith, there are a few things I can do. If I know the answer, I answer them. If I don’t know the answer, I tell them, “That’s a good question. I’ll find the answer and get back to you.” (Then I must actually follow through and get back to them later). I can also say, “I know a great website that explains the answer very well.” The most important thing to do is pray for grace and patience. Some people genuinely want an answer, but others just want to test you to see how you will react. They want to see if your faith has made you a kind, compassionate, gentle, loving person. In their heart they are looking for God, and they want to see evidence of Him in you. Many people don’t care so much about the information you have. They just want to see that your faith is real.
    So, pray for peace and love in your heart in those moments. Pray for patience. Keep studying. God will use you.

  • I will follow your advice on how to answer them when I don’t know the answer. :) Thanks too for reminding me that more than my ANSWER, what they would remember more is HOW I answered. Was it in anger, in spite, or with pride? Or was it in peace, with kindness and humility? That’s how they will know if Christ is in my heart. :)
    A favorite question that non-Catholics like raising and which most of them sneer at and taunt us with, is our use of statues and “graven” images, which in their eyes makes us pagans or idolators. (Exodus 20:4) I myself do not consider any statue a god. I know there is only one God with Three Persons, but it doesn’t hurt to remember Him, His Son, His Mother, or His saints for that matter by having these images… just like I want to remember my dead parents with pictures. Nothing makes me MOST DEFENSIVE and TONGUE-TIED than THIS accusation. :(
    What is the Biblical basis, implied or otherwise, of our use of statues? And how does it not constitute IDOLATRY? I would love to hear your answer on this. Peace! :)
    • Your answer is the same as what I would say. We do not worship statues or images. We simply use them to remember the heros of the Faith, as you stated. Non-Catholics often have a limited perspective on the Church as a family. They see Christians on earth as being the Church. But the family of the Church also includes those who have left this life. They are not dead, they are alive in Christ. We do not worship them; we worship God along with them as members of a family. Images simply remind us of who some of them are. A crucifix is John 3:16 in picture form.
      I would also add that it is certainly a sin to worship a statue. The Catholic Church teaches that to do so is idolatry. However, the same God that said, “Do not worship graven images (or other gods)” also instructed the Israelites to make statues for use in worshiping Him. For example, God told them to make statues of angels to place upon the Ark of the Covenant. He also ordered the making of a statue of a serpent which was placed on a pole. When people looked at it they were healed. God does not tell His people to sin. Obviously, making a statue and using it as an aid in worshiping God can not be a sin.
      The Catholic Church uses statues appropriately. We do not think they are gods. We know they are only plaster, plastic, wood or stone. They remind us of our family and add beauty to life and worship of God.


    "But I, the LORD, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve."

    I have said this in my other posts and I will say this again. Though I am a Catholic by religion, I do not like labeling myself as a 'Catholic', the same way I do not take it so kindly when 'Christians' label themselves as 'Christians' and feel 'self-righteous' or 'elitist' over it, as though just by the mere belonging to a certain religion or denomination already makes them superior or closer to God or have "exclusive rights" to salvation. I feel that this type of thinking is prideful and causes division instead of unity. :(

                                                Galatians 3:28

    28 "There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus."

    There are some things that I still question and look for answers to in my Catholic Christian Faith, but I leave it to God to fill in the gaps. There is no perfect religion but our Heavenly Father is PERFECT, and I trust that He will show Mercy on me for whatever errors I might have committed, am committing, or may commit from being a very limited and sinful human being.

    Mr. and Mrs. Dong Alejar - Catholic Christians
    I have kept my faith simple though. I like 'labeling' myself simply now too. I am a follower of Christ, period. I found and answered Him where He called me (as a Catholic). I have repented for my numerous sins when He convicted me of them in September 2013, and I know that without having to change religion, by virtue of my having accepted Him into my heart, I am already saved. I have died to my old self and am a new creation. I am no longer a slave to sin but to righteousness.

                                         Romans 6:15-18

    15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! 16 Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. 18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.

    (Note: To those still interested in the issue of "ARE CATHOLICS GUILTY OF IDOLATRY?", please read this, -- a blog post by a fellow Filipino. I think he explained the issue far better than I ever could!) 

    With this particular issue of IDOLATRY out in the open, (Whoooo! That was haaaard!) allow me to explain further what is IDOLATRY, the type of idolatry which any Christian may commit whether he/she uses 'graven images' or not. (Note: ALL Catholics are Christians but not all Christians are Catholics.) But, before that...

                             First, let us define WORSHIP.

    The blog of the Mars Hill Church explains it so beautifully...

    "Worship is responding to God for who He is, what He has done, and what He is doing. For an image bearer to worship, it means mirroring back to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit who they are in gratitude for What All Three have done. When we reflect God’s Thinking, love what God Loves, grieve over the Things that grieve God, and mirror the Mercy and Comfort God has shown us, this is WORSHIP."

    Now, let us define IDOLATRY (the definition of 'worshiping graven images' explained above and put aside). 

    April sets a loving example of what it is to be a
    true Christian.
    April Cassidy's, the Peaceful Wife's definition of "idol" in her blog post on "The Idol Of Control -- I Am Right. I Know Best. I Know Better Than God" was such an eye-opener for me that I lost my breath for a while after reading it, at the start of my submission journey in 2013. As I've said, I am already judged as "guilty by association with the Catholic Church" to be an idolator (!), even if in my heart of hearts I worship only the True God and not strange gods. After reading this piece though, I changed my mind...

    I was guilty of idolatry! Not because of the graven images but because my heart was an idol factory! 

    (Note: April's a Southern Baptist Christian and my sister in Christ. Together with all the other "peaceful wives" around the world,we live by and spread God's Word, not by focusing on our differences,but by celebrating our common love for God and His Word. There's much room in Heaven for ALL of Christ's followers!:)

    Here's an excerpt of that convicting post written by April on idolatry:

    "I loved Wes Church’s definition in his class last night at church.  “An idol is anything we put in the place of preeminence in our lives, the place of glory.  And an idol is also something we are willing to sacrifice for in order to serve that person/thing.”
    It’s easy to think that we don’t worship idols in America today.  We don’t relate to bowing down to a statue and praying to it. (Peaceful Wife Philippines' Note: I can relate but I have explained myself above so I hope that somehow clears things. If not, just leave it be. :) I do not want to debate on my faith: That one's between me and my Creator.) But, as Wes said, “the human heart is an idol factory.”  We worship created things or things that we have made or other people have made.  “We are made to worship, and we will worship something!  The question is not will we worship.  The question is what will we worship?”
    An idol can be anything that we have as the center and focal point of our lives.  Many people live for money, careers, power, fame, sex, food, beauty, nice things, materialism, sports, hobbies, following rules, religion, home schooling,  children, marriage…  We can make an idol out of anything.  When we put something else before God in our hearts, we are idolators.  God HATES idolatry.
                                                  WHAT DOES IDOLATRY LOOK LIKE TO GOD?

    God equates idolatry, our worshipping something other than Him, with adultery in a marriage relationship
    God intends for us to be in a relationship to Him that is very much like a sacred marriage covenant.  He vows to protect us, love us, cherish us, provide for us, and give us a home with Him in heaven forever. He came as Jesus to die in our place so that we could be His own.  When we say “yes” to becoming part of the bride of Christ, we vow to give ourselves totally to Him, to worship only Him, to praise and glorify only Jesus,  to submit our will to His, to follow Him and to sacrifice and honor only Him.   This is a sacred covenant between a believer and God.
    To God, when we put something in His rightful place of worship in our lives, when we live to glorify something other than God and we sacrifice in order to serve that idol – it is as detestable to Him as it would be to a husband to walk in on his wife with another man.  God is a jealous God – and rightfully so.  He alone deserves our worship.  He alone deserves our praise.  He will not share His glory with another.  This is REALLY serious stuff!  That’s why the first two commandments in the 10 commandments dealt with not having idols or worshiping other gods.
    Wes Church also said in class last night that idolatry leads to all the other sins.  If we are properly worshipping God, serving Him alone and sacrificing for Him – we won’t commit the other sins.
    Addictions are idols.  And I love what Wes said – we don’t have addiction problems, we have a worship problem.  It’s not the alcohol, the food, the drugs or the money… that is the problem.  It is that we are worshipping those things instead of worshipping God and worshipping Him properly.

    Idols can’t fulfill us.  In fact – they will ultimately destroy us."

                                                                    HOW IDOLS DESTROY US
    Think about someone who is a slave to an addiction – it is their idol.  No matter what the addiction is – it will always begin to destroy the person spiritually, emotionally, financially and physically.  It will destroy the person’s marriage and family.  And many times it destroys a person’s life.

    I highlighted in red all the important points. Everything April pointed out via Wes Church was so important though, I should just have reddened the whole text! :)


    That was convicting, right?

    Here I was so upset over being called an 'idolator' for supposedly "worshiping graven images" when I should have been more concerned about something much, much worse... I was putting things and people in my heart over God! I was even guilty of worshiping myself!

    My heart was an idol factory!!! It was churning out idols 24/7!

    Before the Lord convicted me of my sins in September 2013, I had the following 'idols':


    ...among many others.

    I also had 'addictions':

    I was addicted to people's high opinions of me.
    I was addicted to pleasing people.
    I was addicted to approval.
    I was addicted to sexy outfits (to validate my worth).
    I was addicted to compliments.
    I was addicted to validation.

    Etc, etc.

    Now that I have understood what IDOLATRY really was, there is no denying it... I WAS AN IDOLATOR!  :(

    I was addicted to compliments on my beauty.
    I 'worshiped' myself believing that things would only be alright if I controlled people and events, including my husband and our marriage. It caused depression in both Dong and I -- sleeping problems for him, migraine problems for me -- and nearly made us separate in 2010. I felt that my plans were better than God's! I was following my will, not His! I kept on putting things in my hands, and not His Hands! I was disrespectful not only to my husband, but to God Himself!

    I 'worshiped' weight and beauty spending most of my waking hours dieting or exercising, so that I would not be called "fat" and I endlessly worried over not being fair-skinned enough, pretty enough, tall enough, sexy enough. In my mind, I was never "enough", so I developed an eating disorder and resorted to dressing in sexy clothes to be given attention, so I would be validated of my "attractiveness".

    I 'worshiped'  career believing that "if I put my heart and my mind to it, I can achieve success!". "Believe in myself!"; "Eyes towards the finish line!"; "The world is my oyster!"... These were some mantras that I chanted to myself daily, thinking that if only I were 'famous', I would be happy. I also was obsessed on becoming a 'successful' broadcaster, thinking that being such would validate me as a human being and that would mean that I mattered.

    I 'worshiped' my father when he was alive and more so in his death. I craved for his attention, validation, approval and high opinion of me. I was in bondage for so many years over my abnormal fixation with Papa, which seeped through most areas in my life. I wrote about it in length herehere, and here.

    I praise God though for breaking me free from all my bondages!!! I thank God for opening up my spiritual eyes to my mountains of sin!!! I was an idolator and I no longer am now!!!

    Isabelle Veronica, our 4th child :)

    After I gave birth to our fourth child on our ninth wedding anniversary, the Lord had instilled in me a desire so strong for Him to search my heart. He did. Then He convicted me of my many sins -- of pride, of envy, of self-righteousness, of being judgmental... for many days. When He 'showed' my numerous sins to me, I did not 'blink', but I cried for days and I could hardly speak.

    When I found my voice after the Lord had removed every single filthy thing from my heart, I went to my husband. After submitting to God, it was time to submit to Dong. I told him that I no longer wanted to lead, that I just wanted to follow his leadership.

    It was in this simple and humble gesture of submitting to my God-ordained authority over me, my husband, that He found the tiny opening He needed for Him to work His Miracles in my life. Little by little, my bondages were loosened and then broken, by His Able Hands. I was freed from the devil's strongholds that had me enchained for almost all of my 37 years on earth!!! By the time I turned 38, I was already a new me. The old Nikka was gone and the new Nikka has come. :)


    2 Corinthians 5:16-18

    16 "From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.[a] The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation"

    To quote April's own realization...

    True worship of the One True God brings glory to Him and satisfaction to me.  My obedience to and worship of Jesus brings me peace, joy, fulfillment and contentment like nothing else can!
    I share this sentiment too. :)

    We Catholics are always being told that we 'worship' too many dead people -- Mama Mary, the Holy Saints, the Holy Souls in Purgatory -- and maybe in a way, yes we "do". That is a BOLD statement coming from a devout Catholic like me. Maybe Catholics do 'worship' them in the same sense of the word that I 'worshiped' the idols I have mentioned above.


    "To God, when we put something in His rightful place of worship in our lives, when we live to glorify something other than God and we sacrifice in order to serve that idol – it is as detestable to Him as it would be to a husband to walk in on his wife with another man.  God is a jealous God – and rightfully so.  He alone deserves our worship.  He alone deserves our praise.  He will not share His glory with another. " 

    Therese is named after St. Therese.
    It would be best to search within our hearts if "asking for prayers" from our Heavenly Family Members are getting in the way of really
    My favorite Saint, whose "way to heaven
     was being childlike in her faith in God." - St. Therese
    praying directly to God Himself.

    There are Catholics who "pray" more to their patron saints than to Jesus.

    There are Catholics who are more devoted to Our Holy Mother than to Our Heavenly Father.

    There are Catholics who are more concerned with fiestas and processions over having a real, living relationship with Christ.

    There are Catholics who attend mass every Sunday, but have no good works to show for their "faith" for the rest of the week. :(

    I think it is time to simplify our faith. 

    Though I do not chastise people who pray the rosary, novenas and the like (God will judge us. I do not claim to know what is in people's hearts when they pray. I myself still do pray the rosary and I still love Mama Mary, the saints in heaven and our dearly departed....), I challenge you fellow Catholics to SIMPLIFY your prayers and strengthen your faith in Jesus Christ and in Him alone.

    I have experienced for myself, that focusing ALL my attention on the Way, the Truth and the Life,  and reading His Word, has brought me much FREEDOM and JOY, that the 'detours' of my prayer life, have not.

              John 14:6

    6 "Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." 

    I think even our Blessed Mother, the Saints, the Angels and the Holy Souls will ALL agree with me if I speak on their behalf to say that: They would be happier if they decrease, in order for Jesus to INCREASE. He is the Reason why they are all in Heaven in the first place. They looked to Jesus, not to each other or to any other...

                                                        John 3:30

                                                         30 "He must increase, but I must decrease.”

    This is a VERY, VERY HUGE THING for me to say, given that I am Catholic by choice and by birth, but as I've said, I do not like labeling myself 'Catholic' (although I think I have probably mentioned that word a hundred times in this post! LOL. :) I belong not just to the Catholic Church but to the One True Church of Christ -- the One Where all of those who have loved Him and have anchored their faith in Him (and Him Alone )-- will be a member of, at the end of time.
                                       Colossians 1:18

    18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.

    I write this blog post in the spirit of unity, not of
    division; in the spirit of love, not of hatred; under the cloak of humility, not of pride. 

    I look forward to reuniting with God, along with my brothers and sisters in Christ who loved Him and served Him while here on earth -- in spite of and regardless of denomination and religion. :)

                                  Ephesians 4:13

    13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

    I end this with April's challenge to all of us followers of Christ:

                                  SELF-EVALUATION TIME
    What are you living for?  What is most important in your life?  What do you give glory to?  What do you sacrifice for?  What is the focus of your worship, attention, time, efforts and money?  Is there anything that is more important to you than Jesus?  If so, it’s time to dig that idol out by the root!  Idols don’t satisfy.  We have exchanged the truth of God for a lie when we buy into idolatry.
    May the Holy Triune God live in our hearts and in the hearts of all people.

    May we all be richly blessed!!! :)


    1. Nikka,
      I admit that I used to think all Catholics practiced idolatry, and I felt a bitterness towards the Catholic Church. There are so many misconceptions and much hatred within the different denominations of Christianity, and it is so sad! It is certainly not godly to say someone is not a Christian, though they DO believe in Jesus. Many Christians say that about Mormons as well, and that is not true! (My sister in law is Mormon, and she is a loyal follower of Jesus!)
      Thank you for shattering the idolatry accusations of Catholicism. I actually admire the way Catholics, Anglicans, and Lutherans still value tradition. I have began incorporating some of these traditions into my own faith, like celebrating the full 12 days of Christmas and recognizing the saints. I think that these old ways should not be forgotten...they add a special beauty to everyday worship, and give us more godly holidays to look forward to every year.


      1. Hi Paulina! :)

        It is easy to judge other people based on the Wikipedia definition of a person' religion.

        I try my best not to judge other people's faith now. I was guilty of it too in the distant past. The Catholic Church teaches us that Jesus instituted the Church starting with St. Peter "the Rock", the first "Pope." I used to believe that Catholics were the blessed members of Christ's Kingdom and everyone else outside of it, were for a lack of a better word, "lost". However, the Catholic Church teaches too that though these "lost members" are not with the Church, they can still be saved because "Catholic" means universal and so, the Church embraces all who still imbibe Christ's Teachings regardless of religion. That was my immature and limited understanding of it based on some Christian Living classes taught to us when I was just a young child... I think that was how the Protestants became known as Protestants, because they 'protested' the Catholic Church's Teachings and Traditions... Now, Protestants are known as "Christians" and Catholics are now being asked if they are Christians... when in fact, people who follow Christ and His Teachings should ALL be called CHRISTIANS.

        After some personal experiences of discrimination against my own faith, I have come to realize that I was as guilty of religious discrimination, as they were against me. It was in being persecuted that I started thinking of my own judgmental and self-righteous attitudes. I thank God for that experience because it humbled me and made me more embracing of other people's faith.

        I mean, who's to say what is the 'BEST RELIGION'or the "TRUEST RELIGION"? The Bible is interpreted differently by different denominations. One Bible and yet it's understood differently by soooooo many religions. I wish Jesus would just come down and say, "Oh, Nikka... Your understanding of this verse is wrong, my child. So-and-so's interpretation is correct. Can you follow that instead?" But, no. Jesus is not alive on earth and so we do our best to understand His Words based on how our particular Church interprets it, or how we ourselves understand it. Some denominations are more legalistic, others more Spirit-led.. All are in constant search for the Truth, and despite the different interpretations, somewhere out there IS The Truth.

        It pains me so that in the search for this Truth, people fight and condemn others who do not share their version of the "truth". Some religions even claim that they are the only ones to be saved. If that were so, Heaven must be a lonely place where only very few "exclusive members" are allowed. I don't know why Jesus would even die for just a select few, especially if outside of that "exclusive club" are people who love Him, serve Him and have accepted Him as their Lord and Savior...


      2. If I may quote a portion of the head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis' speech:

        An “open and unprejudiced dialogue” between Christians and those of no religious faith is “rightful and precious” today for at least two reasons, Pope Francis wrote.

        Such a dialogue could “open doors for a serious and fertile encounter” between secular culture and Christian culture, which have lost the ability to communicate due largely to modern views of faith as the “darkness of superstition opposed to the light of reason”.

        In fact, the Pope wrote, the impulse toward communication springs out of the very nature of Christian faith.

        “Since it is born of love,” he wrote, quoting his own encyclical Lumen Fidei, “faith is not intransigent, but grows in respectful coexistence with others… Far from making us inflexible, the security of faith sets us on a journey; it enables witness and dialogue with all.”

        This loving quality of faith offers a path of dialogue with skeptics, despite modern ideas of truth as “relative and subjective,” he added.

        “I would not speak, not even for a believer, of ‘absolute’ truth, in the sense of absolute as disconnected, lacking any relationship,” the Pope explained.

        “Truth, according to Christian faith, is the love of God for us in Jesus Christ. Therefore truth is a relationship.

        “This does not mean that truth is variable and subjective – on the contrary,” he wrote. “But it means that truth is given to us always and only as a path and a life… In other words, truth being after all one in the same as love, it requires humility and openness in order to be sought, welcomed and expressed.”

        Asked whether the Church condemns those who lack and do not seek religious faith, the Pope replied that the “mercy of God is unlimited if directed to someone with a sincere and contrite heart”.

        “The question for someone who does not believe in God lies in obeying one’s own conscience,” he wrote. “Sin exists, even for one who does not have faith, when one goes against conscience. To listen to and obey it means, in fact, to choose between what one perceives as good or as bad. And on this choice is staked the good or evil of our action.”

        Nikka: I am not a Catholic apologist, not a theologian, not a learned Bible scholar, but I do LOVE God. :) I want to share that love to all -- regardless of religion and even to those without a religion.

        I think, to even simplify further my faith, I believe that GOD IS LOVE. When I LOVE others, they see God. So, my "religion" is LOVE. That's something any person can understand. :)

        Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Paulina! God bless you, my sister in Christ! :)




    Feel free to comment. I would love to discuss things with you. :)