Often when there are those 'bearing false witness', are losing an argument, or have an agenda they are trying to hide, they will falsely accuse someone else of the same thing in order to hide their own actions and motives. That is the case with certain individuals, including the clergy, who have the hidden agenda of trying to 'protestantize' the Catholic Church.

During Vatican ll our beloved Pope, in an effort to be ecumenical, used some Protestant clergy as observers in order to determine what changes could be made to make the Catholic faith more open to other religions. Obviously the Catholic Church can not change, nor will it ever change, dogma. It can however, change external signs of our religion. Some of our clergy have taken down our statues, removed our crucifixes, and eliminated the rosary and other forms of Marian Devotion. However, we are still the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church established by Jesus Christ. Although Vatican ll did not have this in mind, there are a number of individuals, including some of our clergy, that are attempting to do this and much more. This includes rural parishes as well as the larger ones in so-called 'progressive' metropolitan areas.

This hidden agenda to 'protestantize' the Catholic Church is a very misguided attempt to bring more Protestants into the Church. Unfortunately, this is having the reverse effect. First they remove our crucifixes, our statues, and our traditions. Then they suppress our devotion to the Holy Eucharist, provide 'religious' education that does not even mention the Catechism or the sacraments, and deliver inane homilies. When was the last time you heard abortion or any other sin mentioned from the pulpit? When was the last time you were made aware of the need for contrition and forgiveness of sin, i.e., the Sacrament of Penance? Now, what do we have? We have Catholics that are poorly trained in the true faith and can be easily evangelized by Protestants.

If we want to become more Protestant why don't we do a better job at tithing, dressing better when attending church services, giving more emphasis to 'Sunday School' and youth projects, and improving how we evangelize? There are many things we can do to become more 'protestantized' without throwing away our customs, our Sacramentals, and our Sacraments.

Our clergy should realize that the things we treasure are not really obstacles to ecumenism. As an example, before I became a Catholic the rosary was a Catholic custom that I did not understand nor appreciate. Now that I more fully understand it I can actually use the rosary as a bridge to my separated brethren; it just needs to be properly explained. If you ask a Protestant what they think of when you mention the word Catholic they probably have an image of the crucifix or the rosary. When they think of the rosary they have in mind what they remember from the movies of an old lady in the back of the church fingering her beads and silently moving her lips as she looks upon the crucifix. That is their entire concept. Unfortunately, some of our young Catholics have the same impression.

Most Protestants do not know that the prayers that make up the rosary are highly scriptural. The Apostles' Creed simply outlines the faith and is identical to a prayer used in the Episcopal and some other Protestant churches. The Our Father (or Lord's Prayer) is from Matthew 6:9-13 and, to my knowledge, used by all Protestant churches. (Interestingly, the Protestant version of the Lord's Prayer has an extra sentence that was not in the original gospel but added by a Catholic monk during a copying process in a monastery.) The next prayer in the rosary, and the prayer, which is really the center of the devotion, is the Hail Mary. In the full rosary of 15 decades it is recited 153 times. (This is the same number of Psalms in the Bible and, probably coincidental, the exact number of fish the apostles caught when instructed by Jesus to lower their nets (John 21:11).) Since the Hail Mary is a prayer to Mary, many Protestants assume that it is not from the Bible. It is actually from several parts of the Bible plus custom.

The prayer begins, "Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee." This is the greeting from the angel Gabriel (Luke 1:28). The next part is: "Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb." This was said by her cousin Elizabeth when Mary went to visit her (Luke 1:42). The final part, not taken from the Scriptures, reads: "Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen." Some Protestants object to saying "Holy Mary" because they believe Mary was a sinner like the rest of us. We believe that because God specially favored Mary she is sinless. The title 'Mother of God' means that Mary is the mother of Jesus who had, of course, two natures - divine and human. While we do not adore Mary, the request by Catholics for her prayer of intercession is similar to non-Catholics who ask others to pray for them. I am sure that as children many Christians have often asked their earthly mothers to pray for them.

The fourth prayer, the 'Glory Be' is a hymn of praise of the Holy Trinity. All Christians can say this prayer.

The last prayer of the rosary is the 'Hail, Holy Queen' or 'Salve Regina' composed at the end of the eleventh century. This prayer, composed in a time of more flowery language than we would use today, tells of our love and admiration for Mary using words of one very thankful for her saying "Yes" to the angel Gabriel.

Not known to many Protestants is the fact that each of the 15 decades of the rosary is devoted to a mystery regarding the life of Jesus or His mother. (Here the word 'mystery' refers to a truth of the faith, not necessarily something we cannot comprehend.) The 15 mysteries are divided into three groups of five: the Joyful, the Sorrowful, and the Glorious. When we 'say' the rosary we normally mean a set of five mysteries depending upon the day of the week or the choice of those meditating upon the mysteries.

The recitation of the rosary is not just a recitation of the prayers as described above, but really a meditation on the mysteries of the life of Jesus and His mother. It is this meditation on the mysteries that gives the rosary its enormous power.

The Joyful Mysteries are these: the Annunciation (Luke 1:26-38), the Visitation (Luke 1:40-55), the Nativity (Luke 2:6-20), the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple (Luke 2:21-39), and the Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple (Luke 2:21:39).

The Sorrowful Mysteries are: the Agony in the Garden (Matthew 26:36-46), the Scourging at the Pillar (Matthew 27:26), the Crowning with Thorns (Matthew 27:29), the Carrying of the Cross (Luke 23:26-32), and the Crucifixion (Luke 23:33-36).

The Glorious Mysteries are: the Resurrection (Luke 24:1-12), the Ascension (Luke 24:50:51), the Descent of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-4), the Assumption of Mary into Heaven, and the Coronation of Mary is Queen of Heaven.

With the exception of the last two mysteries, each mystery is scriptural. The Assumption and the Coronation of Mary are not found in the Bible, but definitely are not contrary to it.

The rosary can actually be a bridge to our Christian brethren. Many Protestants are even expressing interest in it. In fact, I know of at least one case, at an abortion clinic where many Catholics congregate every Saturday to pray the rosary for the unborn, where we have at least one Protestant walking in line with the Catholics praying the rosary with great devotion.

Some of our clergy are missing the message sent by the Holy Spirit. We do not have to take down our statues, remove our crucifixes and eliminate the rosary to become ecumenical. We do not have to eliminate genuflecting in front of the Holy Eucharist. We do not have to eliminate prayers to the saints. We need to strengthen our faith. We need to join our brethren in fighting sin and praising the Lord. We need to take on their strengths while we encourage them to share ours. More articles will be presented concerning the crucifix, statues, and other topics related to the hidden agenda of some clergy.

Jim Fritz


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