One thing that unites most Protestants and Catholics is our belief that the Bible is the inspired and inerrant word of God. Regarding this, the Catechism of the Catholic Church says,

“In Sacred Scripture, the Church constantly finds her nourishment and her strength, for she welcomes it not as a human word, ‘but as what it really is, the word of God.’ ‘In the sacred books, the Father who is in heaven comes lovingly to meet his children, and talks with them.’” (CCC, #104)

Yet the thing that still keeps us separated—one of many—is what we believe the modality of the Bible’s interpretation should be. For Catholics, the written word of God is interpreted by the magisterial teaching office of the Church, with the Pope at its head—who functions as the earthly representative of Christ, the living Word of God. In Protestant faiths on the other hand, interpretation is individualistic—on either the personal level or the congregational level. Ultimately, the Protestant modality only goes as far as, “if it agrees with what I believe the Bible says, I will affirm it as truth”. IMHO, the Protestant modality (i.e. Sola-Scriptura/personal interpretation) is inherently defective. It has a circulatory approach that often comes up inconsistent with church history, and sadly, with scripture itself. What I want to cover in this post, and in posts to follow, are those inconsistencies with scripture itself.

For this reason, I am calling this series, “Where is that in Protestantism?” as a Catholic retort to the common Protestant objection, “where is that in the Bible?”—a question that comes up often in dialogue between Protestants and Catholics. While Protestants use the Bible as their only rule of Faith, the Catholic Church says she does not derive all truths from Sacred Scripture alone. Therefore, there is a number of things found in Catholic teaching that are not literally found in the Protestant Bible. Yet, the challenge I would like to make is that there are a number of things in the Protestant Bible that are not literally found in Protestantism itself. This series will examine the parts of scripture that seem to fall on deaf ears in Protestantism… the parts that are in no way fulfilled by Protestant or Evangelical Bible churches, and so happen to disappear from their Bible altogether. In this post and the following one, we will consider the scriptural nature of the Church that Christ founded.

The first scriptural topic is a basic one. Here it is:

The Visible Oneness of the Church

1 Corinthians 1:10

I urge you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and in the same purpose.

Where is that in Protestantism? There are tens of thousands of Protestant denominations that exist today—which continue to grow and divide at an exponential rate yearly. I remember it happening often when I was a Protestant, whenever a family or a person had a disagreement with a congregation or its leader(s) that, out of personal interpretation, they would leave and start another “church” or leave and attend another “church”. For Protestantism therefore, this verse seems to carry little to no weight. Yet, in Catholicism, this verse finds complete fulfillment. There are no divisions in Catholicism when it comes to the one mind and purpose of the Gospel. Of course, there are some subjective cases with certain Catholics who may not agree with, and therefore not believe in, the entire teaching of the Catholic Church… but those persons aren’t completely Catholic in the full sense of the word. The word “Catholic” means universal. In order to be called “Catholic”, one must be in communion with the universal, or entire, Church and must profess to believe in the universality, or fullness, of the Faith. So yes, certain members of the Catholic Church, in their humanity, sometimes fall short of this scripture. But unlike Protestantism, the Catholic Church possesses the Sacrament of Reconciliation—a safety net to help prevent and repair divisions.

The next scriptural topic goes hand and hand with the previous one:

The Legislative Quality of the Church—Honey, where are the keys?

Matthew 16:18-19

And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

Where is that in Protestantism? “Keys” are generally a symbol of authority. In the Old Testament specifically, this symbol was used to convey the transference of authority in the Davidic Kingship to a “second in command”, the royal steward, who would act in extension of the Messiah’s authority in his physical absence. See for instance Isaiah 22:20-24 which reads,

“In that day I will summon my servant, Eliakim son of Hilkiah. I will clothe him with your robe and fasten your sash around him and hand your authority over to him. He will be a father to those who live in Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. I will place on his shoulder the key to the house of David; what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. I will drive him like a peg into a firm place; he will be a seat of honor for the house of his father. All the glory of his family will hang on him: its offspring and offshoots–all its lesser vessels, from the bowls to all the jars.”

Contextually, this verse refers to the replacement of King Hezekiah’s original royal steward, Shebna, with Eliakim son of Hilkiah. To read more about Davidic stewardship and the meaning of “keys” in the Davidic kingdom read this post.

Additionally, the words “bind” and “loose” are legislative terms. Here, our Lord through Peter’s stewardship makes it possible for the Church’s earthly legislation to have full partnership with the will of Heaven (“whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven…”)… to the full effect that whoever hears the Church on earth will hear Christ, and whoever hears Christ will hear the One Who sent Christ (Luke 10:16). Through Peter’s stewardship, therefore, the Father’s will is done “on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). When has a Protestant denomination ever legitimately and effectually legislated in a way that united its will to Heaven? Can Protestantism, with all of its divisions, truly ever claim to do so? Was this authority, given to Peter and the Apostles by our Lord, just something to be thrown away after the 12 Apostles died? Or was it intended to be a perpetuated reality of God’s Kingdom via apostolic succession?

Well, that’s it for the first post. In the next post, we’ll talk more about the scriptural nature of the Church… specifically regarding the forgiveness of sins.

I found this video via a Called to Communion thread. It’s an EWTN Live special interviewing a convert to Catholicism from Calvinism by the name of Dr. David Anders on the nature of Calvinism today.

So you’ve given up on being in schism. Your misgivings and disappointments with Protestantism have reached their limit, and you realize the only road out is the one that leads to Rome. Relatives, friends, and even mentors have shown their teeth at you. Yet, you know that faith working through love means everything. After all, God is love. You respond out of meekness and express, in word and deed, that your choice to follow this specific yet universal path is one informed—not by inexperience—but by hands-on, doctrine-relevant, history-appropriate, and truth-loving devotion to God.

Now, you’ve reached that telltale point of resolution. You’ve googled the local parish and have written down the phone number to the director of the RCIA program. Or, maybe you haven’t gotten that far at this point. Maybe the stages of inquiry you’ve been involved in have only gone so far as defending Catholicism on theology blogs and in social circles, or finally finding common ground with a friend whose own conversion to the Catholic faith has started to make more sense to you. Yet with all your questions feasibly answered, there is still something holding you back. At this point, what is stopping you? To be brutally frank, what are you thinking?! I know what you are thinking. Because, at one point, I was in your shoes and thought what you are thinking. As a matter of fact, I still find myself “relapsing” into those reserved thoughts. And I’ve converted.

Here’s where the title of this post comes in. As an obvious reference to the beloved Mary Poppins song, love is the sugar and doctrine is the medicine for those who sojourn on the road to Catholicism—with all their doubts and insecurities. To be more specific, there is one thing that I keep in my heart as a reminder when I face those moments of reservation on certain Catholic doctrines… when I pick up the bible and Tobit seems strange and unfamiliar, when I don’t meditate on the mystery of the Assumption of Mary with the same belief and fervor as I would the Annunciation, when I start picking and choosing in a passive or active way, which claims made by the Catholic Church are expendable, I call to mind Love. Love that said His Holy Spirit would lead His bride the Church into all truths (John 16:13). That the gates of Hell shall not overcome her (Matthew 16:18). That She will speak with His voice (Luke 10:16). That she will have the power to forgive sins (John 20:23). And most importantly, that He will be with Her always, even till the end of the age (Matthew 28:20). Only one Church can holistically claim all of the above, and that is the Catholic Church. All other Churches have at one point said, by word or deed, “the Church has strayed from her Master, she has strayed from the truth. God has thereby abandoned her. Lets split from her. Lets start over and rediscover the true Faith.” But not the Catholic Church. She stands strong and undefiled by any error that would allow the gates of hell itself to overcome her. By the gift of the Holy Spirit’s guidance, she stands infallible, and is indeed guided into all truths.

And that, my brothers and sisters, is the sugar that makes the medicine go down. Medicine is always good for you, but it may not always suit your taste. That’s where love–the universal sweetener–comes in. Your taste was defined by your previous life of Faith. You have a gag reflex whenever something seems unfamiliar (the Pope, nuns, prayers to saints, etc.) but the phenomenon is, that you agree with that unfamiliarity… you agree with it because you know it will heal you. Taste and see that it is good and let it heal you. Let it heal your mind. Run to be initiated into the Catholic Church so you can receive the Eucharist–the medicine of eternal life. Hastily run to receive it, for it is the Lord’s Passover (Exodus 12:11). And if you are converted already, but still find yourself relapsing into your former schismatic self, pray the Rosary. Empty your mind of everything but the Love of God made manifest in the Sacred Mysteries and the truth shall set you free. Peace be with you!

I pray the Divine Office every now and again–though I wish I would more often–and at Matins today, this Psalm stood out to me as having a very eucharistic flavor. In Catholicism and various other Christian traditions, Thursday is set aside in a special way for Eucharistic devotions—since Christ instituted the Eucharist on a Thursday (On the night before He was given up to death…). Here is the Psalm with my comments in red:

Psalm 116:12-19

How can I repay the LORD for all the good done for me?

I will raise the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD. The “cup of salvation” is an obvious allusion to the Blood of Christ of which He said would be poured out unto the forgiveness of sins (Matt. 26:27-28). To “call on the name of the LORD” is also anticipatory of the part of the rite of the Eucharist when the celebrant extends his hands over the bread and the cup and calls on God to “send [His] spirit to come upon these gifts and make them Holy so that they may become for us the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ”

I will pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people. The Blessed Sacrament, like all Sacraments, is a covenantal and communal oath (or vow). And since we Catholics believe that Heaven and Earth are wedded at the table of the Eucharist, we truly do participate in the “presence of ALL his people”.

Too costly in the eyes of the LORD is the death of his faithful. The Psalmist here is speaking of how it grieves God when His saints are given over to death. In the Eucharist, we give thanks for the triumph over death God brings us through the re-presentation of the life, death, and resurrection of Christ.

LORD, I am your servant, your servant, the child of your maidservant; you have loosed my bonds. Obviously for Catholics, whenever the scriptures refer to the Lord’s “maidservant” or “handmaiden” we believe they are speaking of Mary, the mother of God and our mother. St. Thomas Aquinas wrote that in the Eucharist, Mary is especially present. Since Christ received 100% of His human nature from His mother, and since He gives us 100% of Himself in His Body and Blood as well as His Soul and Divinity in the Eucharist, its obvious that our communion with Mary grows as our bonds are loosed through the Sacrifice of Christ.

I will offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the LORD. As most well know, the word Eucharist derives from the Greek for “thanksgiving”. The Psalmist here is of course speaking of the todah (which also translates “to give thanks”) sacrifice of ancient Judaism. The Eucharist is essentially the todah sacrifice fulfilled—as well as all other sacrifices of the Mosaic Covenant.

I will pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people,

In the courts of the house of the LORD, in your midst, O Jerusalem. Hallelujah! Again, the Eucharist is our Communion with Christ and with the courts of the new Jerusalem—on Earth as it is in Heaven. Hallelujah indeed!

A whole year has passed since my wife and I received our Sacraments of initiation into the Holy Catholic Church. Each day we grow more grateful for the Faith that we have received. It is difficult to imagine how we ever lived without it. It goes without saying that we highly recommend everyone to become part of the Catholic Church. Give her a chance, and she will give you the fullness of truth.

We would like to thank our Father in Christ, Msgr. Tom Welbers for guiding us and receiving us.

We would like to thank our Sponsor and brother, Christopher Morrison.

We would like to thank our friends and family—both on Earth and in Heaven—for their prayers and support.

And we would like to thank God Almighty, who lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen.

Blessed be God.
Blessed be His Holy Name.
Blessed be Jesus Christ, true God and true man.
Blessed be the name of Jesus.
Blessed be His Most Sacred Heart.
Blessed be Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.
Blessed be the Holy Spirit, the paraclete.
Blessed be the great Mother of God, Mary most holy.
Blessed be her holy and Immaculate Conception.
Blessed be her glorious Assumption.
Blessed be the name of Mary, Virgin and Mother.
Blessed be Saint Joseph, her most chaste spouse.
Blessed be God in His angels and in His Saints.

May the heart of Jesus, in the Most Blessed Sacrament, be praised, adored, and loved with grateful affection, at every moment, in all the tabernacles of the world, even to the end of time. Amen.

Today, on the Liturgical calendar for the Latin rite of the Catholic Church, we celebrate the memory of Saint Bernardine of Sienna. Saint Bernardine was an Italian Franciscan missionary priest during the early 1400’s. He was best known for his ministry in spreading devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus throughout most of Italy. I have just recently stumbled upon this saint, and I am very excited about his patronage….being that I am an asthmatic graphic designer.

So, how does one become the Patron Saint of breathing problems and advertising? This takes many forms. In brief, Saints are chosen to be patrons when an interest, talent, or event in their lives overlaps with a special area. For a Catholic, a saint’s patronage is about three things, or rather three devotional qualifiers: example, empathy, and intercession. Let’s consider for instance today’s Saint and look at each of the three qualifiers to patronage.

As stated above, Saint Bernardine is the patron saint of breathing problems and advertising. How he became the patron of breathing problems was through a personal miracle. Unfortunately, Bernardine was born with a pulmonary defect in his lungs which prevented his voice from being heard by large groups. Since Bernardine was a preacher by nature, this was cause for some personal conflict. After a considerable amount of prayer for the Blessed Virgin’s intercession, Bernardine was healed of his defect and his voice grew more powerful with every sermon. For an asthmatic like myself, St. Bernardine’s patronage is important to me. I make his patronage practical in my spiritual life by looking to him for an example of trust in God’s healing power over breathing ailments that ultimately have no power in controlling me or what God has planned for me. I then trust in his intercessions because of his empathy. He’s walked in my shoes too, so to speak. He knows my pain. And he can only know my pain because ultimately Christ knows my pain. St. Bernardine’s life testimony ministers to me an example of how I too can ” overcome the world” (John 16:33). So, I am excited to imitate his example and seek his prayers. For more about why Catholics pray to saints read my post here. And to read a sermon quote by St. Augustine that further elaborates saintly patronage and veneration click here.

Saint Bernardine is the patron of advertising because of his main preaching ministry, which was to spread devotion to the Holy Name. St. Bernardine manufactured and distributed beautifully designed sacred images with the name of Jesus in the ancient monogram “I.H.S.”. What the monogram actually stands for has been lost in translation but most think it displays the first three letters of Jesus’ name in Greek (Latinized: Iota Eta Sigma). It is used as a symbol through which we can venerate Jesus’s name. Simply, what St. Bernardine did was create a “sacred advertising campaign”. Through it, he was able to successfully encourage greater devotion to Christ. As a Graphic Designer, I am reminded by Bernardine’s example that the ultimate goal and gain of my Advertising talents is to encourage devotion to the good news of Jesus – whose very name is good news enough (Matthew 1:21). So, I make an effort, in a variety ways, to include God in my design processes and to keep myself open to the possibility of facilitating the Church’s ministry through them. And, when my work stresses me out and makes me reach for my inhaler, I call on my brother for help…

Saint Bernardine of Siena of the Holy Name of Jesus, pray for us!

Leaving this life is a profound part of our existence. Having everything as you know it dynamically changed, in so many breaths, seems scary to most of us – especially to those that we will leave behind. But what if you knew exactly when this change of dynamic would come? What if you knew exactly where you were going while you drew your last dying breaths? What if you knew exactly what your loved ones would live through once you had gone? What if you possessed the words of eternal life? What would you then say to all who could hear you?

When my grandfather passed away around 8 years ago, I regrettably could not be physically present to see him off. The rest of my family was there at his bedside though, with my grandmother, while I was up in Seattle on a school-related trip. I went on the trip selfishly, knowing that my grandfather would pass soon. I suppose it was a way for me to try escaping having to experience the grief of his death–which of course did not work as planned. When I got back home and heard about him passing, some of the first things out of my father’s mouth to me were what my grandfather said and did in his last moments… Like how when everybody went into his room individually to say goodbye, he gave a herald as they entered–as if he was introducing them to an old friend. “This is Shannon, my beautiful granddaughter,” “And this is Michael, my son”. Dad also told me about how one day when my grandfather was at his weakest, my dad walked into my grandfather’s room and saw him sitting at the foot of his bed. My dad asked him what he was doing and my grandfather replied, “I’m trying to get out of this body.” Another time, when my grandfather returned home from his last round of chemotherapy, and needing to eat, my dad made him a hamburger via the household George Forman grill. Since he was inherently nauseated from the chemo, my grandfather took one look at the burger and gagged. Dad then turned away to clean up and after he turned back towards my grandfather, he saw that his plate was clean. My grandfather knew that my dad saw him gag, so he ate the entire hamburger as if he enjoyed it. He did this so that my dad wouldn’t feel discouraged thinking he had made my grandfather nauseous. These were some of the beautiful things that my family was given to experience during my grandfather’s death while I was away, so that they could keep his memory alive in its truest form. And that memory was one at peace with his old friend the Creator, one that reaffirmed death as the soul’s mere departure from the body, and one that put his children’s feelings before his own physical infirmities. The last words of a dying friend or loved one are treasured things, even if you weren’t within ear’s reach of them.

In Catholic spirituality one of my favorite devotions is the devotion to the seven last words of Christ. On the cross, our Lord said seven things that spoke to or referenced the people that witnessed his death. These seven words, or sayings, have very significant meanings. After all, they came from the Word made flesh who knew exactly when and how he was going to die (John 13:1), where he was going once he died (John 14:3), and what his loved ones would endure after he died (Matthew 10:16-18). All of this combined with the fact that he possesses the words of eternal life (John 6:68), has led Christians for centuries to meditate on the profound importance of his last words. And like all persons of good will, aware of their impending death, his last words projected the truest form of who He was (and is and is to come). The devotion is especially powerful when you consider the implications of being crucified. When one was crucified, they ultimately died from suffocation. This made it obviously difficult to say anything, so anything said would have to be of great importance since it would be such a strain to muster the breaths to say it.

Let’s now take a look at Christ’s seven last words and what they mean to us as Catholics. The devotion may be spread over an entire week, meditating on one of the seven each day, or all seven may be meditated on in their entirety during a single day. I won’t post the entire devotion here, only his sayings and what the Church teaches about their meanings–which can be realized in the specific prayers following each word.

The First Word

Luke 23:33-34

When the soldiers came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. Then Jesus said, “Father forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”

Prayer:

Merciful Savior, and friend of the human race, in your compassion you forgave your mortal enemies who sentenced you and nailed you to the cross. By your gracious example, help us to forgive our enemies from the heart and make friends even with the sinful. Blest be your forgiving heart, now and forever. Amen.

May the bitter passion of our Lord Jesus Christ † bring us to the joys of paradise. Amen.

The Second Word

Luke 23:39-43

One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He replied, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

Prayer:

Merciful Savior, and friend of the human race, you heard the repentant plea of the criminal on your right hand and promised him paradise for his faith. As we are dying in the midst of our sins, let us hear this same word from your lips in response to our prayer of faith and the life-giving power of your holy sacraments. Blest be your undying mercy, now and forever. Amen.

May the bitter passion of our Lord Jesus Christ † bring us to the joys of paradise. Amen.

The Third Word

John 19:25-27

Standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.

Prayer:

Merciful Savior, and friend of the human race, on Golgatha you pitied your martyred mother and bequeathed her to your beloved disciple. By her tears and prayers, break our proud hearts as we worship your cross and passion and let us take her into our hearts and homes, now and forever. Amen.

May the bitter passion of our Lord Jesus Christ † bring us to the joys of paradise. Amen.

The Fourth Word

Mark 15:33-34

When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. At three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Prayer:

Merciful Savior, and friend of the human race, as darkness came over the whole land you cried out in agony to your Father. By this cry of dereliction, rescue us from the torments of despair, and entrust us to your sacrificial death. You live and reign with the Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

May the bitter passion of our Lord Jesus Christ † bring us to the joys of paradise. Amen.

The Fifth Word

John 19:28-29

When Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfill the scripture), “I am thirsty.” A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth.

Prayer:

Merciful Savior, and friend of the human race, as your life drew near its end, you cried out in thirst, a thirst for souls. By this dreadful and abiding thirst, draw our hearts and minds to your great love for us, and especially at the hour of our death. Blest be your merciful love, now and forever. Amen.

May the bitter passion of our Lord Jesus Christ † bring us to the joys of paradise. Amen.

The Sixth Word

John 19:30

When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Prayer:

Merciful Savior, and friend of the human race, as darkness closed in on you, you gave a loud cry, bowed your head, and died. By your perfect surrender to the Father, make us worthy disciples of the cross and defend us from our spiritual enemies, now and forever. Amen.

May the bitter passion of our Lord Jesus Christ † bring us to the joys of paradise. Amen.

The Seventh Word

Luke 23:44-46

Darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, while the sun’s light failed; and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” Having said this, he breathed his last.

Prayer:

Merciful Savior, and friend of the human race, in a final act of surrender you breathed forth your spirit into your Father’s hands. By this ultimate commitment to the Father’s loving care, deliver us from despair in our dying hour and help us die in hope and full confidence in your precious blood poured out for us. Blest be your gracious caring, now and forever. Amen.

May the bitter passion of our Lord Jesus Christ † bring us to the joys of paradise. Amen.

* The “†” is supposed to prompt the sign of the cross at different points during the devotion