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Tag Archives: Roman Catholic Church

Innocent or Guilty?

Blameless, in the clear and not responsible are words associated with innocent.  Growing up in the Roman Catholic Church, I was taught to let God be the ultimate judge.  At some point during the catechism process, I was introduced to the passage below.  First century religious leaders began to serve as the judge and jury, publicly criticizing and condemning less spiritual people.  Overhearing what these men were doing, Jesus provides an important lesson about being innocent or guilty.

Do not judge and criticize and condemn [others unfairly with an attitude of self-righteous superiority as though assuming the office of a judge], so that you will not be judged [unfairly]. For just as you [hypocritically] judge others [when you are sinful and unrepentant], so will you be judged; and in accordance with your standard of measure [used to pass out judgment], judgment will be measured to you, Matthew 7:1-2.

The metaphor opening up a can of worms was coined sometime during the 1950’s.  The expression refers to inadvertently creating numerous new problems while trying to solve a current issue.  Just as newly exposed worms begin to freak out, judging others without looking inwardly at your own life first infuriates those people being called out.  The person doing the finger pointing often alienates everyone else in the room regardless if a rule has been broken or violated.

Why do you look at the [insignificant] speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice and acknowledge the [egregious] log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me get the speck out of your eye,’ when there is a log in your own eye?  You hypocrite (play-actor, pretender), first get the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye, Matthew 7:3-5.

According to Jesus, outward guilt or innocence shouldn’t be your main concern.  Rather, everyone should examine their own life first, removing any hints or traces of hypocrisy.  Once you have gotten your own life in order, then your own credibility can be used as a resource to help others.  Unfortunately, modern times have revealed new religious leaders, the mainstream media.  With one article, blog or video clip, lives can be ruined without any concern for innocence or the truth.  Perhaps, members of the media need to read the passage above so that their hypocrisy, play acting and pretending will cease in the near future.

by Jay Mankus

Consider It a Pure Joy?

As someone born and raised in the Roman Catholic Church, I guess you can say the Bible was forced upon me.  The congregation my family attended was old school, believing priests were the only ones who could accurately handle and interrupt the Bible.  Reading the Bible outside of church was not recommended.  However, as I began to search for the meaning of life in high school, the homilies I heard from the pulpit didn’t sit well with my soul.  As a teenager I wrestled with respecting authority figures when their message seemed to be contradictory.  When I began to study the Bible on my own, several passages were difficult to comprehend.

Consider it nothing but joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you fall into various trials, James 1:2.

My spiritual mentor in high school, Ken Horne, encouraged me to read the book of James, written for first century Christians scattered throughout the Middle East.  I didn’t get very far before coming across a foreign concept, the second verse in this book.  Consider it a pure joy when you endure trials?  Huh?  Did I miss something?  Well, over time I realized that trials serve as opportunities to grow spiritually.  However, when you are sitting in the emergency room, receiving bad news from a phone call or going through a rough stretch in life, joy is the last thing on my mind.  Like an undefeated athlete or team, sometimes you have to lose to see what you need to address, improve or solidify going forward.

Be assured that the testing of your faith [through experience] produces endurance [leading to spiritual maturity, and inner peace]. And let endurance have its perfect result and do a thorough work, so that you may be perfect and completely developed [in your faith], lacking in nothing, James 1:3-4.

Perhaps, the author of this epistle, the earthly brother of Jesus is reflecting upon the mistakes of his past.  When Jesus is your older brother, every child who follows has impossible shoes to fill, a disappointment to mom and dad.  Yet, James learned the more his faith was tested, maturity and peace increased.  As I look back on my own life, celebrating my 35th anniversary of accepting Jesus into my heart today, Romans 10:9-10, I can relate to James.  If I didn’t go through a 20 year battle with iritis, arthritis of the eye, I wouldn’t have a special appreciation for the gift of sight.  Likewise, my recent health issues with high blood pressure and my heart has opened my eyes to the importance of nutrition.  I’m sure there will be other unforeseen events in my future, but as I face each challenge, I do so with a quiet joy, knowing that I am an unfinished product, pottery in the hands of an almighty Potter.

by Jay Mankus

You Don’t Deserve Until You Serve

I spent most of my teenage years attending a Roman Catholic Church.  While this tradition style of service can become boring quickly, every so often I was surprised by a timely message.  One of the heroes of the church was Mother Teresa.  This Catholic nun turned missionary dedicated her life to helping and serving the less fortunate.  Despite living most of her adult life in poverty, Mother Teresa became the hands and feet of Christ.

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves, James 1:22.

When certain things in life don’t go my way, I have a tendency to complain.  Gripping to God, I can’t believe that I was passed over while someone else got the honor or position that I sought.  This unproductive practice didn’t make me feel better or resolve any of my unanswered questions.  Yet, a recent whisper from the Holy Spirit helped me understand my current plight, “you don’t deserve until you serve.”

“So the last will be first, and the first last,” Matthew 20:16.

In the Parable of the Workers in the Field, Jesus illustrates the importance of service.  Trying to give a glimpse of what heaven is like, the temptation to compare yourself with others leads to meaningless debates.  Those who accept God’s free gift of eternal life by receiving as your own, Romans 10:9-10, all receive the same reward, a place in heaven.  Yet, some devote their entire lives to God while others become Christians on their bed beds.  This discrepancy in time make some jealous, expecting a greater reward for their additional years of service.  Nonetheless, Jesus is clear, “the first will be last and the last first.”  Or in modern terms, you don’t deserve unless you serve.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Something Greater Than the Temple

Traditions play an important role in life.  Religious traditions passed on by parents influence what you believe, especially early on in life.  During the first century, Pharisees displayed a holy reverence for Solomon’s Temple.  This passion for a physical place to worship the Lord soon became a stumbling block, limiting God’s power in their lives.  Subsequently, during one encounter with religious leaders Jesus refers to something greater than the temple.

 I tell you that something greater than the temple is here, Matthew 12:6.

Today’s Roman Catholic Church shares some of the practices of Judaism.  Modern priests play a similar role as great high priests in the Old Testament.  However, instead of sacrificing animals to forgive sins, confessionals are used to hear and forgive the sins of their congregation.  While there is a movement to encourage members to read and study the Bible on their own, traditions of the past have stunted spiritual growth.  Thus, the concept of a place greater than the temple is still foreign to many.

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.

The apostle Paul understood what Jesus meant by something greater than the temple.  Shortly after Jesus’ crucifixion, an earthquake destroyed the temple that the Jews held in high esteem.  This event opened the door for a transformation to occur, from the temple into your own heart, Romans 10:9-10.  Thus, using a priest as a mediator between God and man was no longer necessary.  Instead, followers of God need to view their bodies as a living temple of the Holy Spirit.  When modern believers make this connection, the human heart becomes greater than the temple.

by Jay Mankus

Actions Affect Access

Since I grew up in the Roman Catholic Church, I was taught to go confession whenever I made a mistake, messed up or sinned.  Initially, this meant going to a confessional booth.  However, as I got older I meet face to face with a priest.  After bearing my soul, I was usually told to say x amount of Hail Mary’s or Our Father’s, then I would be forgiven.

When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you; even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening. Your hands are full of blood! – Isaiah 1:15

Looking back, this practice doesn’t make sense.  Then again, I was also encouraged not to challenge authority so I conformed until college.  Through Bible studies, conferences and retreats, I learned that my actions affect access to God.  While you have to be careful not to fall into an Old Testament view of God, acts of contrition following confession is a essential.

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective, James 5:16.

The prophet Isaiah first informed the Jews that there are conditions when God will not listen to your prayers.  Unconfessed sin is like a barrier that blocks your connection with God.  Without genuine repentance people will experience periods of mundane prayer where the Holy Spirit is absent.  Following the model displayed in James 5:16 can awaken the Spirit of God.  If you want to improve your spiritual Wi-Fi connection with God, think twice before giving into temptation since actions affect access.

by Jay Mankus

I’ll Pray for You

Recently, a public school teacher in Augusta, Maine told a co-worker “I’ll pray for you” at the end of a conversation.  While the context is unclear, I’m assuming this individual shared some concerns, issues or trial in life.  Despite attending the same church, these words were deemed offensive by the other woman.  Subsequently, the political correct “police” are now investigating this matter with some sort of discipline likely to follow.  I wish this was a practical joke, but its just another day in America.

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours, Mark 11:24.

After completing my confirmation of faith in the Roman Catholic Church in 8th grade, I began to attend a Methodist youth group in high school.  Beside Sunday night, there were other activities offered to get to know people.  Initially, I chose a sharing group.  Students talked about what was going on weekly with a short prayer at the end of each meeting.  This non-threatening environment was a great way to ease into a relationship with God.  Shy at the time, I was afraid to ask for prayer as my life wasn’t as bad as those who constantly requested prayers.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words, Romans 8:26.

Today, I have a new appreciation for prayer.  Early on I saw how some individuals sought attention, almost as if to elicit a pity party on their behalf.  Yet, now I am no longer timid about requesting prayers, especially for my eyes.  I’m sure there is a happy medium, but prayer leads to healing.  Thus, regardless of how outsiders may respond, don’t ever give up verbally expressing the words “I’ll pray for you.”

by Jay Mankus

Petitions, Prayers and Intercession

If you are moved, passionate or perturbed by a certain issue, you might choose to start a petition.  This formal written request attempts to organize a body of concerned citizens uniting over a common cause.  While I have signed petitions in the past, I’ve never thought of prayer in this context.   According to the apostle Paul, Christians should come together to petition God through concerts of prayer.

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—1 Timothy 2:1.

Growing up in a Roman Catholic church, I was taught prayer was suppose to be a private matter.  Jesus reaffirms this in the Lord’s Prayer, Matthew 6:6.  Nonetheless, Solomon professes in Ecclesiastes 3 that there is a time for everything.  Thus, whether its drug addiction, suicide or violence, its time to petition God with other like minded individuals to cease these cancers of society.

Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise, James 5:13.

In times of desperation, intercession is one of the last lines of defense.  I’ve read several amazing testimonies from church members interceding on behalf of missionaries in the field.  One of my favorites involves a group of believers witnessing to a tribe of head hunters.  During one particular evening, this group’s village was surrounded, fearful for their lives.  Yet, instantaneous prayers ushered angels into action, spooking these warriors away in a biblical like miracle.  Though the situation you are currently encountering may seem dire, petition, prayer and intercession is the best solution to confront mounting issues in life.

by Jay Mankus

 

Where it All Began

Initially, the Bible was a gift I received after partaking in my first Holy Communion as a 2nd grader.  This white leather covered book was filled with pictures, perfect for someone that age.  As I grew older, busyness, distractions and other interests caused me to leave these pages on my shelf, collecting dust for years.  By the time junior high rolled around, the Roman Catholic Church informed me that it was time for confirmation, usually a year long process filled with a detailed checklist.  Despite receiving an adult black leather King James Bible for my hard work, I treated this book like a hotel visit, inside my nightstand.

 

As I entered high school, the priests at my parent’s church claimed that only they could properly interpret the Bible.  Sarcasm inside of me thought; “why did you give me 2 Bible’s if you knew I wouldn’t understand it?”  Turned off by men of the cloth, God placed me into an unique setting.  Although superficial at first, I began running cross country to get my name in the news paper, like our paperboy who always finished in the top 3 of each race.  The Lord used this artificial motivation to bring me into something special, like a small family of strangers who seemingly hit it off from the beginning.  Cross Country was no longer just running, it was eating meals together, spending time dreaming about life and sharing burdens to help each other to get through the day.

 

The Bible became more than just a book before each cross country race.  It all began during chapels, pre-race huddles when a senior would share an inspirational story, our coach would read a verse from the Bible about running and a captain usually closed in a short prayer.  Hearing passages like Hebrews 12:1, 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 and Galatians 5:7 transformed my perspective of the Bible.  Prior to high school cross country, the Bible was a book, too holy for me to comprehend.  Yet, when my own peers began to recount the words of the apostle Paul, an avid sports enthusiast, there was an instant connection, Romans 10:17.  By the end of my sophomore running season, I was ready to take the plunge, Romans 10:9-10, a leap of faith.  For me, this is where it all began.

by Jay Mankus

Resisting the Holy Spirit

As far as I can remember, I grew up in a strict Roman Catholic Church: taking my first communion there, going to C.C.D. and finally completing the confirmation process.  In my early years, nuns would strike you with a yard stick if you couldn’t quote the Our Father or Hail Mary when put on the spot.  When I got older, it bothered me  that the priest had the final  say, only his interpretation of scripture was valid.  Thus, in high school, I began a quest to find out more about the Bible, looking beyond just the Catholic faith for answers.

This journey has lead me to passages like Acts 7:51.  Whether you are a Catholic, Protestant , Jew or some other religion, sometimes its hard to break the traditions that have been engraved within your mind.  When your priest, pastor or rabbi says something, most assume, this must be true.  However, religious practices often enable leaders to usurp power over their flock, holding them captive to traditions.  Similar patterns exist today, as seminary teaches future shepherds to follow theological practices, often overlooking the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.

The Bible says live by faith, not by sight, 2 Corinthians 5:7.  The apostle Paul furthers this concept in Galatians 5:25, keeping in step with the Holy Spirit, day by day, not just when we feel like or want to follow.  I am afraid that many Christians are so busy following orders and pursuing practices, they have been oblivious to the fact they are actually resisting the Holy Spirit.  Wherever you are in life, make room for the Counselor, John 14:16-17.  Resist the urge to follow human traditions, test everything you hear with the Bible and when God’s whisper appears, follow!

by Jay Mankus

Missing Ingredients in Modern Marriages

Back in the 1970’s, divorce was rare, something that happened only as a result of extreme circumstances.  In fact, to the best of my recollection, the Roman Catholic Church threatened couples with excommunication if this option ever crossed their mind.  The King James Version of the Bible does not use the term reputation as our culture does today.  Instead, King Solomon encouraged people make a good name for themselves, Proverbs 22:1, to develop a good repute in their community.

In a typical wedding ceremony, there is a portion devoted to vows.  Some creative couples write their own, others follow the traditions of their denomination and most simply repeat vows first spoken by a pastor or priest.  Ecclesiastes 5:4-7 warn individuals to take their vows serious, especially ones which include “for better or for worse.”  Yet, mere words don’t hold a marriage together.  Rather, one of the missing ingredients in modern marriages is a will to love once feelings fade.

With this in mind, one of the commands Solomon gave his son is detailed in Proverbs 3:3.  Let love and faithfulness never leave you is a joint command, not to be separated.  In the New Testament, 1 Corinthians 13 is one of most popular passages read out loud during marriage ceremonies.  The original translation uses the term charity in place of love.  Thus, Solomon is introducing a concept to demonstrate charity faithfully.

The last portion of Proverbs 3:3 explains how one must carry out this command.  The term bind means to knit together, joining two pieces into one.  When a person fastens love and faithfulness to their neck, its always in their peripheral vision.  However, this still isn’t enough to save marriage.  Therefore, Solomon adds one further instruction to insure love and faithfulness endures.  If you enter, engrave or mark something mentally to remain in your heart, a will to love is born.  Follow the words of Proverbs 3:5-6 to complete these essential ingredients for a life long relationship.

by Jay Mankus

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