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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Catholics vs. Protestants -- Were We Ever At War? (Musings of a Catholic Christian on the Iraq Tragedy)

I am a Catholic Christian. I love God. I love Jesus. I love the Holy Spirit.
 I love reading the Bible.
I love our Blessed Mother.

I am often seen holding my torn maroon Catholic Bible beneath my armpit, or simply holding it close to my chest, and many stop to ask me if I am "Christian."

The security guard at our local grocery store said, "Ma'am, are you 'Christian'?"

The old lady selling food at our children's Catholic school said, "Mommy Nikka, are you 'Christian'?"

There were several other incidents, and to all of them who asked my answer was:

"Yes, I am. I am a Catholic Christian. I follow Christ, so I am a Christian. I read the Bible and you should too!". 
Afterwards, I give them a smile.

What is it about Bibles and Catholics, that fellow Catholics will dare ask me if I was a "Christian", just because they see me with my Bible or reading my Bible?

I even have some non-Catholic friends asking me if Catholics were Christians.

The answer to that is:
 "Not all Christians are Catholics, but 
ALL Catholics are Christians."

What I find more than just a tad uncomfortable is the use of the term "Christian" to denote Protestants, leaving out Catholics from that term. Christianity, I believe is NOT a religion. It is a WAY OF LIFE. Early Christians in the time of Saint Paul had no name for their newfound faith. They used to call themselves "Followers of the Way" (Acts 24:5) because Jesus was "the Way". In the same way, that all who follow Jesus now and who believe Him to be "the Way, the Truth and the Life" (John 14:6) are called Christians.

Didn't Jesus Christ die for both Gentile and Jew
Didn't Jesus die for ALL of us, regardless of nationality, culture and race
Didn't Jesus get crucified not only for the people of the olden past, but also for the people of today, and the people of the still unknown future
Didn't he SAVE all of us?

But, of course, though the Lord Jesus died for all of us, it is still up to us, by virtue of FREE WILL to accept this FREE gift of salvation. Faith is both a gift and a responsibility. Though we may have been baptized, we still can act "unsaved", like I did for those many years, when I was in deep depression, bondage and despair, seemingly hopeless and wanting to commit suicide very often. :(

Save for the Grace of God and my love for God, despite my sinfulness, I am still alive today.

I am alive to tell the Truth, that I was once blind but can now see! The Lord has saved me! In my brokenness, I cried out to Him and He comforted me, and made me new. The old Nikka has died, and I am "born again". No, I have not changed religions for I still remain Catholic by choice, but I now am a TRUE FOLLOWER of Christ. I am a Christian! I follow Jesus, and I am a new creation!

* * * * * * * * 
A very heartbreaking world event led me 
to writing this post... 

 The beastly killings by ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) of Christians in Iraq. 

I apologize in advance and send out a warning that the photos I have taken from the 
Catholic Online site are gruesome and graphic. 

Unfortunately, this is reality.:(
Kurdish men carry the bodies of children who died after being driven from their homes with nothing to eat or drink.

Here are some excerpts of the sickening and condemnable acts of terror that the Islamic extremists have done or have been doing to our Christian brothers and sisters in Iraq:

From Catholic Online:

"The world hasn't seen this kind of atrocity in generations," he told CNN. He's mostly correct. Although genocides have happened repeatedly throughout history, including famous genocides in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, as well as Cambodia, the genocide perpetrated against Christians and other minorities is extreme, partly because it is being gleefully publicized.

The terrorists who have invaded Mosul and other ancient Christian communities in Syria and Iraq have made music videos of themselves murdering civilians and captured soldiers.  They are literally enjoying the act of killing and the fear and suffering experienced by others. This sadism may be the purest manifestation of evil witnessed since the Rape of Nanking during WWII. 

Already, several images have emerged of Christian children beheaded by ISIS, merely for being Christian. 

According to Arabo, women are being raped, then murdered, and men are being hanged. These are the people who were warned - convert to Islam or be put to the sword.
* * * * * * * * 

Babies are being beheaded, women are being raped and murdered, men are being hanged... simply for being Christian.
How can anyone turn away from a child, facing mortal terror? All Christian the children in Mosul are reportedly being killed.

In response to this crime against humanity, this was the response of the South African Catholic Bishops:

Christianity in Iraq is a tradition that goes back 2000 years and the "utter destruction" of dioceses, parishes and families because of their loyalty to faith is a crime against humanity, the Catholic Church of Southern Africa said on Monday.

"It is absolutely abhorrent that the Christian community of Iraq, a tradition that goes back almost 2000 years, is suffering expulsion from their country and martyrdom," the church said in a statement.

"As Catholic bishops of Southern Africa, we beg for religious tolerance in Iraq. We assure our Christian brothers and sisters of our deepest concern and we assure them that we have not and will never forget them."
* * * * * * * * * * *

Note that the call for a stop to religious persecution and impending genocide was made by Catholic bishops. This was a cry for urgent help for ALL CHRISTIANS -- not just Catholics, but also  for Protestants and those from independent Christian sects/denominations. 

When faced with certain death, all Christians will unite. 
When faced with inhuman atrocities, all Christians will call on the Lord Jesus to save them and comfort them.
When faced with enemies of  their faith, all Christians regardless of doctrine, dogma and theology, will cry out to God and ask our Lord Jesus Christ to please save them from death and protect them from evil.
The Islamic militants sure didn't have a problem putting the Christians under one group.  :( 
Convert or die. ISIS militants are crucifying victims because to them crucifixion is especially humiliating due to its Christian implications.

So, what is the problem between Catholics and non-Catholics, or those from the other Christian denominations, whether big or small, or 

Why is it that Catholics are constantly being labeled slandered as 

- idolaters
- Mary/Saints worshippers
- pagans

Why is it that our Pope is always being tagged as the "AntiChrist" 
and the Catholic Church as the "Whore of Babylon?"

Why do some non-Catholics look down on Protestants for not partaking of the Sacraments or 
for not praying the rosary?

Why do some independent Christian sects consider Christmas, Easter and other Catholic/Protestant traditions as pagan feasts, and look with disdain on any well-meaning Christian who does celebrate these occasions?

Tell me, who has a monopoly on goodness?
Tell me, who has a monopoly on grace?
Tell me, who has a monopoly on love?
And lastly, tell me who has a monopoly on Jesus Christ 
and salvation?

When our Christian faith is being attacked; when people are being killed for simply loving Jesus and believing in His Gift of salvation; when children are being beheaded; when women are being raped and when men are being tauntingly hanged like Jesus at Golgotha.... 

Can anyone -- Catholic, Evangelical, Methodist, Baptist, or any other Christian church have time to debate on theology

Will Protestants/other sects have energy to debate with us Catholics on why we love the Blessed Virgin, being the Mother of Christ, and on why we consider her our greatest intercessor (not Mediator -- Jesus is the ONLY Mediator between God and Man) who leads us to her Son? 

Will Catholics have the leisure, at the brink of crucifixion, to tell non-Catholics, that they should have the Sacrament of Extreme Unction because they are about to die and this sacrament is the only sure way to Heaven? 

Will any person, especially a child about to be beheaded, even care if the other children beside her are not from her religion or denomination?

A child is photographed, waiting to be killed by militants. ISIS uses these images to terrorize others and to glorify their spree of terror.

We are all brothers and sisters in Christ. 
We should pray for each other and LOVE each other.
 We may differ in dogmas, in practices, in doctrines, and in theology... but if we believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and try our darndest best to love Him and follow Him -- then by all means, PLEASE stop the name-calling and branding and monopolizing of salvation and even of Jesus Himself.

John 11:51-52 (ESV)

51 He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.

April Cassidy, the Peaceful Wife, my very good friend and
sister in Christ is a Southern Baptist Christian. She longs too
for a united Church of believers of Jesus. 
I am a Catholic Christian and I love my 
non-Catholic brothers
and sisters in Christ.

We should be constantly praying that the Holy Spirit would reconcile the invisible Church into one holy, catholic, apostolic, and visible Body of Christ.
 And by "catholic" I mean universal, 
not the Roman Catholic Church.

1 Corinthians 12:12(ESV)

12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and 

all the members of the body, though many, are one body, 
so it is with Christ.

* * * * * * * * * *
Heavenly Father,
A father holds the decapitated body of his child. :(
We lift up unto you our brothers and sisters in Christ who are suffering from persecution and certain death in Iraq. We lift up unto you the souls of the babies and children who were beheaded. We lift up unto You our sisters who have been raped and dehumanized. We lift up unto you our brothers who have been crucified and taunted for their faith.
A woman killed by Islamic militants. Christians are under a sentence of death
 in ISIS-controlled parts of Iraq and that includes women.

Lord God, You sent us Your Most Holy Son to die for us, in order that we may achieve salvation. We believe in Him, we put our trust in Him, we put our hope in Him. Grant that You cover our dear brothers and sisters with Your Son's Most Holy Blood. Protect them from evil, o Lord. If they cannot be freed from death, then please Lord, welcome their spirits into Your Presence. Have Mercy on them, o Lord. We beg of You.

I pray too for the Islamic militants whose hearts have been hardened by satan, and whose eyes are blinded to the Truth. I believe that nothing is impossible with You, o God. You can turn hearts of stone into hearts of flesh. You, o Lord, hold our lives in Your hands. Please, o Lord, we beg You, o God. Have Mercy on us. We pray that peace will reign even if it looks hopeless. Even if we are in the midst of so much darkness.
All humanity owes a debt to this baby girl, to find her murderers
and bring them to justice, dead or alive.  Let us not be
apathetic to her plight. Get down on our knees and pray NOW.
In the midst of evil, o Lord, we trust in You. You are our Refuge and our Fortress, our God in Whom we trust. 
This we ask in the Name of Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, Who lives and reigns with You, with the Holy Spirit... ONE GOD, forever and ever.


This is a war against evil and against satan, my dear sisters in Christ. This is not even against Islam or the militants. This is against the Father of Lies himself who wants to kill, rape, humiliate, and desecrate churches, in order to spite the One True God. It is satan who uses people blinded with hate and religious fanaticism to carry out his mission. 
Let us not for an instant lose sight of whom we are up against.
Ephesians 6:12

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Let us never lose hope. 
Let us continue to pray. 
Together, as ONE Church, we can make a difference. 
Let us unite ourselves in prayer for our Christian brothers and sisters, not just in Iraq, but in all parts of the world, who are currently being persecuted, for simply believing in Jesus Christ. 

As we seek for earthly justice to recompense for the crimes ISIS has done against humanity and against God, let us...
Above all, still continue to LOVE. 
Let us love our fellow Christians, no matter what denomination they may belong to.
And best of all, even if it hurts, even if it sounds stupid and crazy...
Even if every atom in our body screams for revenge... 
Let us love and pray for our enemies. 

Let us pray that satan remove his bonds from them in order that they stop this evil and see the Light.
Let us pray that they realize the depths of evil that they are causing to their fellow human beings. 
Because we are Christians and that is what our Christ wants us to do.

We are all God's Children, even if some have turned their hearts away from God. :(

Matthew 5:43-48
43“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbori and hate your enemy.’ 
 44But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45that you may be children of your Father in heaven.

He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 

46If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 

48Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

May God have Mercy on all of us. 

"There is one Lord, one faith, 
one baptism." 
(Ephesians 4:5)

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