Yesterday Steven and I attended a funeral service for the mother of one of our church members. Actually, it was a funeral mass. It was the very first time that either of us had ever been inside a Catholic church. What a new experience!
There was quite a large crowd gathered to honor the life of the 92-year-old woman who had passed away, but only a small group seemed to be of the Catholic faith. The majority of people there were just as unsure of the protocol for a funeral mass as we were and, unfortunately, we somehow didn’t pick up the order of service as we entered. That would have been helpful. We just sat in a pew near the back and took it all in.
The music was beautiful, the organist talented, and the priest eloquent. He spoke highly of this well-loved, generous, and joyful lady. He also prayed for the dead and went through many other rituals. He said that this dear lady was “now beginning her journey to be with her heavenly Father,” and that, “hopefully, she will soon cross that great sea to be with God.” Those words didn’t seem very comforting to me because they lack assurance. For those of us who are in Christ Jesus, our journey is complete the moment we pass from this earthly existence.
Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. II Corinthians 5:6-8
My purpose is not to debate the tenants of Catholicism. There are some very good people who are Catholic, but that doesn’t mean that they (or any other religious person) are going to heaven when they die just because they adhere to a set of rules. God’s word, the Bible, doesn’t tell us to follow a pope or confess our sins to a priest. God’s word doesn’t tell us to pray for the dead or pray to idols.
For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; I Timothy 2:5
You might be a good Catholic reading these words right now, but maybe you’ve never heard the wonderful news that Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay for all of your sins and reconcile you to God. It’s not something that you have to wonder about and fret over; you can know for sure.
These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. I John 5:13
The Bible tells us that we all have sinned and that, because we have sinned, we deserve death. God provided a way for us to escape eternal death when His Son, Jesus Christ, willingly died on the cross to make the payment for our sins.
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Romans 3:23
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:23
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
Being religious doesn’t get us into heaven. Going to church, giving money to help others, or getting baptized doesn’t save a person’s soul. Our salvation is found in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary. We have to put our faith and trust in Him alone and not in the good works that we do.
But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Romans 4:5
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Titus 3:5
You can know for sure that you will spend eternity in heaven with the Lord.
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Romans 10:9-10, 13
That 92-year-old woman did just what these verses told her to do. Just over a year ago she realized that if she could do enough good things to get her into heaven, there would not have been a reason for Jesus Christ to die on the cross. She put her faith and trust in Him. She didn’t need a priest to pray her into heaven at her funeral; she was already there with her Saviour.
Praise the Lord she had put her trust in Jesus! And your last paragraph sums things up *perfectly*.
Beautiful Mrs C. Wow…..I am praising God that this dear lady is now worshiping and rejoicing at the feet of Jesus…maybe she has met my mom 🙂
I have Catholic friends who are actually born again (and now go to our church) and I have soooo many, relatives included, on my dad’s side that think they are going to heaven besides they have a good moral compass. I am trying to be a bit more bold when I speak with them, without getting pushy. The best thing I can do right now with some relatives, is to just be like Jesus to them, and pray. Thanks for this encouraging post and for including the salvation message!!
Mrs. C (Paula) says
Faith, I so agree with you that sometimes all we can do is let our light shine and let God do the rest. 🙂
Years ago Gordon and I attended the funeral mass for a friend’s mother. We also had never attended one and were amazed at some of the “rituals”. My friend had been raised Catholic, but had accepted Christ as her Savior a couple of years before her mother passed away. Sadly, she never could get her parents to do the same.
Beautifully written post, Paula.
First, I’m offering prayers for the grieving family. My grandma is 93, and I cherish every day that I spend with her! It will be a hard day when she is called Home.
I know that none of us can fully understand with our human minds the intricate workings of our awesome God! It is something that we will all understand when we meet Him face to face, and what a GLORIOUS day that will be!
Explaining faith (or religion) is something that takes hours of discussion, years even, and I am still learning and growing in my faith after three decades as a Christian and Catholic. I would just like to point out that we Catholics are Christians, and it is so very difficult to break past the misconceptions about Catholicism that are too common in the Christian Community. As a Catholic Christian, I can tell you it is heart-wrenching to watch some of my non-Catholic Christian friends judge me, keep me at arms length, and think less of my faith because of details of my faith that they have not researched fully. We Catholics are CHRISTIANS, but we are sometimes alienated by other denominations (or non-denominations). Just think what we could do if we were all focused TOGETHER on the Glory of God!
One thing that I know to be true is that the beliefs of the Catholic church are DEEPLY rooted in biblical scripture. The Catholic church does not at all discount other Christian religions. This, of course, does not mean that individuals all follow the teachings of the church they attend. The very word catholic means universal or all-embracing, and it is the view of the church that all Christian religions are of the same body of Christ! We are parts of the same whole and we should to work together for the glory of Christ Jesus.
I invite you to read the catechism which details Catholic beliefs as well as the scriptures on which they are based. This is a great site, though you can usually google “Catholic catechism ________” and find links to the same site.
I am happy to explore some of the misconceptions listed in your post if you’d like. I do not find it appropriate to hijack your blog post to do so. 🙂
Mrs. C (Paula) says
Thank you for your thoughtful comment. 🙂
My husband said that I sounded angry. I’m sorry if it came across that way. I’ve read your blog for several years and think that you are so admirable and a great Christian example. Thanks for sharing your blog!
Thank you for this beautiful post. So true. The truth of Scripture says it all.