Rome promotes the image of a monolithic religion. How often have we seen the fictional unity of the Roman Catholic Church flaunted in comparison to those fantasy "Protestant denominations" Catholic apologists so like to refer to? Certainly the RCC, being a long-standing bureaucracy, has a multitude of quite specific dogmas, rules and disciplines to govern the beliefs, worship and daily lives of those under her control. Interestingly, many of these controls appear to be more honored in violation than in compliance. Fortunately, the ever-flexible Vatican cult has provided escape clauses to protect her wayward children. One such escape clause is found in this logion from the official catechism:
Reading this, I understand that, even in matters of dogma and worship, a dissenting Catholic may escape the terrible wrath of the Roman cult by appealing to the rule of conscience. Given the invincible intransigence of the Romish hierarchy, I can but wonder at the difficulty those who refuse to assent to the Vatican's dogmas and practices in all things have convincing their judges in the Curia that they are guided by conscience. I suppose we could ask the Old Catholics, the Feeneyites and others to whom Rome has denied the relief this paragraph seems to provide. How sad that we cannot ask the Albigenses, Huguenots and others who, over the centuries dared to resist RCC domination and mind control.
When you get right down to it, an honest look at actual practice clearly shows that many religious and lay Catholics exercise freedom of conscience in both their Catholic beliefs and religious practice that seems to border on anarchy. Take the matter of blessings, for example.
When dealing with matters Catholic, it is vitally important to have a clear understanding of the meanings assigned to terms. One respected Catholic dictionary defines the term thusly:
Well, that seems straightforward enough and somewhat in line with the Old Testament teaching on blessings and consecration, but is that all a blessing is? Another Catholic dictionary tells us that a blessing is a:
Were it not for the parts about ritual, right hand, Sign of the Cross and Eucharist, I would be able to accept this definition of blessing without reservation. This is a wonderful example of how Rome weaves her lies and paganism into the fabric of biblical truth. How often I have read and observed that the most effective lies are those that contain a lot of truth. Perhaps a more biblical definition can be found in some other Catholic reference:
Now THAT is a clear, concise and biblically accurate definition of what a blessing is. How unfortunate that this source then continues by adding a Catholic twist:
I invite the reader to observe that three distinct Catholic sources, edited by Catholic priests/theologians and declared by ecclesiastical authority to be free of doctrinal error, provide three somewhat different definitions for blessing. Should one consider each of those sources to be a distinct denomination under the Catholic umbrella? Certainly, some of those 28,000 Protestant denominations Catholic apologists crow over are separated by theological understandings no greater than these. But that is something for another article.
In the RCC scheme of things, blessings are important -- can even be sacramentals. As with just about everything the Roman Church declares to be important in the spiritual lives of those whom she has enslaved, the flow of blessing is primarily controlled by the priesthood, as is the very process of bestowing blessings.
To some who have not submitted their minds to RCC control, I suspect the above definitions might seem reminiscent of pagan ritual. Certainly they do to me. Be honest. Don't those definitions evoke images of some pagan shaman or voodoo priestess casting a spell or invoking some demon spirit? Who hasn't watched such scenes in a dozen B movies?
Catholic priests and laymen seem to have a formula prayer and/or ritual to cover blessing just about anything you can think of:
Most of those objects for blessing seem reasonable, Certainly one can understand invoking God's favor for brides, grooms, children and those who give their lives to religious service. Similarly, it seems not unusual to consecrate a church, a home or even a cemetery to God's service. Things do seem to get weird when one speaks of consecrating chalk, gold and bonfires to God, seems a lot like making offerings or sacrifices on pagan altars.
Blessings are closely related to the popular RCC fiction concerning indulgences. I don't fully understand the full nature of this relationship, which at times seems tenuous and at other times seems inseparable. At this point, it might be well to establish what Catholicism understands an indulgence to be.
OK. Now we know what an indulgence is and we know what a blessing is, but how are the two linked? I haven't figured out how long a blessing given to a person or critter endures, but one source makes clear that some objects might retain their blessings and indulgences virtually forever, under certain conditions.
This information, as so often is the case when Catholic sources define terms, generates more questions than answers. For example, one might ask just what distinguishes a pious object from a normal object. I imagine an altar cloth would be considered a pious object, but what about stuff like wine or lard or salt? One might imagine that wine consecrated for use in Catholic worship might be considered a pious object, but what about wine intended to be consumed at home? One online Catholic prayerbook offers a quite large list of prayers, devotions and liturgical blessings of interest to those living on the countryside. Among these is a Blessing of Wine of the Feast of Saint John, Apostle and Evangelist:
Blessing wine to be used in Catholic worship can be understood in the context of religiosity, but this blessing seems more like some pagan rite casting a spell to ward off evil and protect those who drink the wine from being poisoned. That this is so may be seen in the prayer of the priest after the principle Mass of the day as he blesses the wine brought by parishioners:
And what about critters? Certainly chickens, bees and horses cannot be considered pious objects, or can they? In any case, another Catholic source simplifies the question a bit by eliminating the modifier:
Let's say Farmer Jones, a pious Catholic, brings old Dobbin to church on the Feast Day of St. Francis and has it blessed by the parish priest. After a few years, the horse dies. Jones is a sentimental guy and cannot bring himself to sell Dobbin's lifeless corpse to a glue factory, so he buries the animal on a back lot.
In that Farmer Jones did not sell Dobbin's body after the beast died, one might assume -- on the basis of the above definition -- that when it was buried it retained that blessing bestowed by the parish priest some years previously. Over the course of a few months creatures and acids in the soil would consume or convert Dobbin's flesh. However, the hooves, hair and bones might endure for years, perhaps centuries or even millennia, should the bones become fossilized. Does the blessing endure then? If not, at what point does it cease?
Some might argue that the above is not a good case in point; that a horse, even a horse that has been blessed, is not an object. Okay. Let's look at something else. How about a bit of gold, a religious medal let us say, that has been properly blessed by a priest? The pious owner of the blessed gold medal has it fashioned into a pendant and wears it on a necklace until the day he dies. At his death, all the person's worldly goods, including the blessed medal, pass to his sole surviving son, who happens to be a Buddhist. The son donates the medal to the monks at the temple where he worships and they beat the blessed gold into fine gold leaf, which they use to decorate a statue of the Buddha in their temple. In this case, the form of the blessed gold was altered but the gold itself was not completely destroyed. The blessed gold was not sold but was given as an offering to adorn an idol of a pagan god. Is the blessing still in effect?
At first blush, the above examples might seem extreme, but after honest reflection should be recognized as valid. How many blessed pets and farm animals have died over the centuries the RCC has been blessing critters? How many churches and Catholic homes have been plundered by marauding armies and thieves? How simple a matter for blessed objects to be put to non-Catholic use.
It is precisely this type conundrum that often causes me to question whether those who invent Roman Catholic dogmas and doctrines really take time to think through what they are proposing. This illustrates a fundamental weakness of manmade religion: half-baked teachings and practices that are incompletely thought out.
Look to the Bible for God's truth.
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