Can Catholics Worship God?

The Roman Catholic Church teaches that baptism removes the stain of sin, regenerates the soul and makes one adopted son of God, among other things

1265 Baptism not only purifies from all sins, but also makes the neophyte "a new creature," an adopted son of God, who has become a "partaker of the divine nature," member of Christ and co-heir with him, and a temple of the Holy Spirit.Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), 2nd Ed., © 1994/1997 United States Catholic Conference, Inc.

The above has the ring of truth, for it includes bits and pieces from 1 Peter, 2 Corinthians , Galations, Hebrews and a few other New Testament books. It sounds good, but it is sophistry, a syllogism created from a false premise. Nowhere in the Scriptures are we informed that baptism results in the above. Not that it makes much difference to the Catholic, for though he is said to bear an indelible mark on his spirit after baptism, he can lose all the above-mentioned benefits and a lot more. All it takes to erase the promised blessings of baptism is a single mortal sin.

1033 We cannot be united with God unless we freely choose to love him. But we cannot love God if we sin gravely against him, against our neighbor or against ourselves: "He who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him." Our Lord warns us that we shall be separated from him if we fail to meet the serious needs of the poor and the little ones who are his brethren. To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God's merciful love means remaining separated from him forever by our own free choice. This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called "hell." – Ibid. [My emphasis]

The Catholic Church being the way it is, there is an abundance of escape clauses to prevent the loss of grace altogether or to restore the lost blessings.

1857 For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: "Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent." Ibid

Even if an out-of-grace Catholic is unable to find some means to prevent his sins from “sticking” to his spirit, there is always the tried and truth appeal to confession and penance.

1496 The spiritual effects of the sacrament of Penance are:
- reconciliation with God by which the penitent recovers grace;
- reconciliation with the Church;
- remission of the eternal punishment incurred by mortal sins;
- remission, at least in part, of temporal punishments resulting from sin;
- peace and serenity of conscience, and spiritual consolation;
- an increase of spiritual strength for the Christian battle.
Ibid.

It is at this point that Catholic fantasy-as-theology begins to seriously conflict with the Scriptures. Assuming for the moment that Catholic teaching concerning the redemptive and regenerative powers of baptism are true, then must we not also believe that the salvific effects of baptism are lost when one falls from grace? In essence, the formerly regenerated sinner has been returned to his unregenerated, spiritually dead condition. This is really bad news, because the dead in spirit are not able to obtain a new baptism and likely are now dancing to Satan's fiddle.

1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,
2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience
3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.
4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,
5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),
-- Ephesians 2:1-5

Granted, Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus concerning their having been saved, but it does appear reasonable to me that if one can lose his salvation then he surely must again become a child of wrath. Rome does teach that one can be restored to a “state of grace" and once again be saved. Is it really so easy?

10 For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God.
11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God.
12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God,
13 which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.
14 But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.
-- 1 Corinthians 2:10-14 [My emphasis]

The whole point of this is that, I suspect, a vast number of Catholics who have committed mortal sin like believe that they have not gone from being Catholics in a "state of grace" to once again being a natural man who is unable to understand the ways of God. While that person may believe that he/she has lost their salvation they would not believe that they have been struck dumb in the ways of God in an instant. However, if you are saved then you possess the indwelling Holy Spirit.

17 that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. -- John 14:17, see also Ephesians 1:13; Galatians 4:6; 1 Thessalonians 4:8

If you lose your salvation then the indwelling Holy Spirit would leave you [1 John 3:24 and 4:13]. If you are without the indwelling Holy Spirit then you indeed have become a natural man who cannot discern the ways of God [see 1 Cor 2:10ff, quoted above].

The Catholic with shipwrecked faith may argue, "I still know the ways of God, but I sinned and must repent and have my grace restored." How can he know this, for the Spirit has left him and he is once again walking with the prince of this world. Thus, as Paul infallibly teaches, he cannot discern the ways of God. The out-of-grace Catholic must either accept the above points or else label Paul a liar. Paul's words are obvious and there is no other option that can apply.

Of course this brings another crucial matter into the mix:

4 For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit,
5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come,
6 and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.
-- Hebrews 6:4-6 [My emphasis]

If the above is true, and I believe that it is, once the Catholic has lost his/her salvation [assuming for the sake of argument that it were possible to be saved by the Catholic Church], "it is impossible to renew them again to repentance". This would mean that the Catholic works of confession and penance are a sham.

If, in accordance with Romish teaching, Catholic who has lost his "state of grace" and the Holy Spirit, then, according to Scripture, he is incapable of worship that God accepts. He might ask what kind of worship God will accept. Jesus explained to the Samaritan woman what manner of worship God accepts:

19 The woman said to Him, "Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet.
20 "Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship."
21 Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.
22 "You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.
23 "But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.
24 "God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."
-- John 4:19-24

The Samaritans, much like the Jews, were fixated upon a mode of worship rather than the spirit of worship, as does Catholicism. The Samaritan woman associated worship with a place, in her case a mountain. Apparently worshipping apart from the mountain was to be inferior or worthless.

The Jews associated their worship with the physical structure of the temple. Burnt offerings, for example, were to be offered by a Levite priest at the appropriate place [the tabernacle and later the temple, per Leviticus 1]. After speaking with the angel of the Lord, Samson's parents offered a burnt offering without outside help. This offering neither prepared by a priest nor offered at the “official” location for burnt offerings. In spite of this, God accepted their offering. Why? The answer is obvious--due to the manner in which it was offered. The externals of the offering were not in line with what God had ordained, yet the spirit with which the offering was made must have been right because God accepted it. These offered worship in spirit and truth, not in rite and ritual.

How can the Catholic who has lost his state of grace [according to Catholic teaching] worship in spirit and truth? He cannot. According to Catholic doctrine, he has lost not only his state of grace but also the indwelling Holy Spirit who makes it possible for him to discern spiritual things. Thus any worship such a person offers must be unacceptable to God. That being the case, how could such a person's penance be accepted by God?

Then there is the difficulty described in the above-quoted words from the book of Hebrews, which state that salvation once lost can never be regained. This is all so confusing and convoluted. None of these points coincides with another, which leads me to the obvious conclusion that the Roman Church once again stands in disagreement with God's clear teaching.

Just a reminder: Catholic doctrine aside, Scripture clearly informs that salvation once granted will never be lost or withdrawn.

39 And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.
40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.
– John 6:39,40

24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. – John 5:24

Home | More Catechetics | Catholic Stuff | PTG Forum