Differences such as the Crucifix compared to the empty Cross

When I was a Presbyterian at church one day I remember Our Minister was explaining defensively why our new church had a large cross at the pulpit. Presbyterians I have been told are the true Protestant Church, because it is in fact the complete opposite from the Catholic Church in many ways. Presbyterians at that time, I don’t know if it still applies, but definitely in those days they didn’t even consider a cross should be placed inside of a church was the correct thing to do. I don’t understand why not. Most Protestants don’t wear a crucifix for example they concentrate on the Resurrection, they say Jesus is now off the cross, He has paid for our sins, so they don’t have crucifixes at all, and they sometimes wear plain crosses instead of crucifixes. Many Catholics on the other hand will wear a crucifix or have a crucifix hanging up on their walls. So they can meditate on the price Jesus has paid for us often. A crucifix is a cross with a figure of Jesus stretched out on it. Devout Catholics want to keep in mind the cost Jesus suffered, so we can really meditate and appreciate what we owe Him. When we do this often, it strengthens our faith and love for Him.

A friend buys a Crucifix

One of my Protestants friends, when she visits my place she often admires my altar. On top of my altar I have a crucifix hanging on the wall. One day she rang me and she was going through a hard time and said that she wishes she had a crucifix like I did. So I invited her to go to a Catholic shop with her where she could buy herself one, which she did. She rang me another day upset because one of her Protestant friends saw her crucifix and was worried about me leading her astray and told her that Jesus has rosed from the dead and that He is not on the cross any more. She said ‘she doesn’t understand how much comfort I get out of seeing the crucifix.’ She said ‘it reminds me every time I see it that Jesus truly loves me and that He has paid for all my sins.’ She was at that time in great need of reinforcing her faith, because the devil was tormenting her so much. I told her that it is important to remember and meditate on the Resurrection, but it is also important to remember how Jesus died for our sins. So that we can have a greater appreciation of what He did for us. Then she picked up and said ‘they are both just as important as each other.’ I said ‘yes.’ People can get so technical or another word for it may be legalistic about their beliefs that they can’t see the forest for the trees, so as to block God’s will from ever happening.

Religious Pictures and Statues

I remember the days when I was a Presbyterian, it was considered wrong to have a picture of Jesus hanging on your wall. It was considered to be idolatry to have a picture of Him. I think back now and wonder if that is how they truly saw it, then the same rule should also had been applied to the pictures that are in their photo albums and the pictures they have of their love ones hanging on their walls. We all love photos of people we love and when we look at them they bring back beautiful memories, especially if they are no longer with us. Pictures of Jesus and the saints, whom we consider our brothers and sisters in Christ, we should have a need to hang their pictures on our walls too. If you truly love Jesus and the people who have truly served Him in their lives, their pictures has the same kind of effect on us as pictures of our love ones have. It makes us feel close to them and because we see them hanging there so often we keeping thinking of them. In just the same way you do with any picture of a family member. This also applies to statures of Jesus and the saints. They have even a greater effect on us. And God does use them many times. There have been so many times when God has used the stature of Mary for instances to draw people’s attention to the times we are living in and warning us to repent. One statue of Mary is known to move her eyes and lips and other statues have been known to weep oil etc. Of course some of those statures are fakes but not all of them. It is important to keep God in your mind all the time. We are suppose to be in love with Him. When people are in love they think of their love one all the time. Pictures and statues help us do that.

Many times God will use them to any person at all, who looks at them reflecting on the person the statues represents. The greater the love and the greater the affection we have for the person it represents the more likely God will use it to bring us even closer to Himself-God. When we look at the picture or statue of Jesus we think of Jesus’s great love for us and all the sacrifices He made for us and how we best can please Him in our day to day life. When we look at pictures or statues of Saints we look at it with affection for the Saints it represents, for how they brought us closer to God, through their examples of their lives that showed us the way to Jesus. Or maybe we are considering the many times they have answered our prayers by interceding to God on our behalf. I remember a friend of mine many years ago had so much faith in Saint Anthony prayers, because He always helped her to find things and so many times it would be done in such a way that it was a miracle, an answer to prayer.

Confusion about the use of Statues

Protestants are often confused about Catholics kneeling in front of a statue and actually believe we are worshiping the statue. That is far from the truth. We are intelligent enough to know a statue is only a statue. We are kneeling at what the statue represents. If it is a statue of Jesus we are worshiping Jesus not His statue. If we are kneeling in front of the statue of Mary or a saint we are showing our respect and are honouring them for their services to God in their life time. And we are also acknowledging for example that they are now reigning with Jesus in heaven as it is written in the bible. We will all reign with Him in heaven if we are faithful to Him on earth. They have made it! We are still on our journey to heaven and we are asking them to pray for us, to help us get there. It is an ancient custom to kneel before another, showing both humility and respect for the other person. It has never meant worship in the past and it still does not mean worship now unless you are kneeling before God, which Jesus is the second person of God. If we look at an example of an old ancient custom such as a man proposing to a woman for her hand in marriage, he would get down on his knees to do this. The woman and the man knew he wasn’t worshiping her, he was showing her that he respected her and he was going to be a good husband for her, which of course was not always the case. It was an act of humility. Humility is not honoured much these days and often when people kneel in front of a statue some people consider the person is worshiping the statue or the person the statue represents.

A fine line between honouring and worshiping a saint

There is a fine line sometimes between honouring and worshiping a saint. I am talking about mature Catholics that know the difference. Because some people go too far with their devotion of a saint, doesn’t mean all Catholics do. Some people will look at for example all the hypocrites that call themselves Christians regardless of what denomination they belong to, and then say all Christians are like that. We know that is not true. Sometimes I think it is a cover up to excuse themselves from following Christ, even when they know He is the true Messiah. And I believe deep down they know Jesus expects us to behave differently from what the many so called Christians are. Only a few Christians stay on the straight and narrow road that leads to eternal life. The visionaries are saying when Jesus comes for His Church at the rapture, only twenty percent of people who call themselves Christians will be ready to go with Him. So let’s be warned and do everything we can to get ready. Lets take the bible seriously and start acted out what Jesus has taught us.

Patron Saints

I was twenty three years old when I decided to become a Catholic. Originally I was raised as a Presbyterian. My mother was a Catholic so while I was growing up I was learning both the Protestant beliefs and the Catholic’s beliefs alongside each other. So I knew beforehand that Catholics would chose for themselves a patron saint to watch over them during their life time. They chose the patron saint they wanted for themselves at the time of their confirmation. Catholic children can be confirmed into the church at the age of eight years old. Confirmation is a time when you fully enter the church by your own decision. When you are baptised as a baby your parent’s faith covers you, but as you grow older you have to make your own decision. The advantage of being confirmed later, I put more thought into who I wanted to be my patron saint. It was between Saint Teresa of Avila and Saint Francis of Assis. They both had a great influence on me in choosing to become a Catholic.

Why I was attracted to Saint Teresa

is1DPX2JISSaint Teresa was called to reform the Carmelite order by God. So there are now two Carmelites orders. The one Saint Teresa originally belonged too and the one she started. The one she started there are three orders within the one order, they are all considered equal, but have different roles. In the old days you would say the first, second and the third order. I still prefer to think that way myself. The first order is the enclosed order, which I have always been the most attracted to all my life and I wanted to join it, but it seems it was not meant to be. In the first order you stay in the convent and never leave, you are enclosed for life and concentrate on full time prayer, silence, penance and fasting. The second order the religious, live together but they do secular work, which prayer being the most important and the third order that I was privileged to join at a later date for a short time, is the third order, in this order people live in the world just like the rest of us, they go to work, have a career maybe, marry and raise up a family, but all along they live by the Carmelite rule. Which basically is practising a deep prayer life under the care and guidance of the Carmelites order.

I am a real believer in prayer and I have been attracted to the enclosed order from the age of eight years old, I even picked out a name for myself. I said to myself ‘if ever I joined the Carmelite order, I will choose the name ‘the lamb of God.’ When I did decide to join the third order and it was now the time to choose a name I started to think to myself that name was too high for me, that I wasn’t worthy of it, but I could not find another name that I felt connected with, so I am sure God was saying, ‘I want you have the name you chose for yourself when you was eight years of age.’ When my fellow Carmelites asked me who was my patron saint was? They were always completely taken back, because they naturally expected me to have chosen a Carmelite saint, but instead it was Saint Francis of Assis, who started another order, completely different from Saint Teresa.

Why I chose Saint Francis to be my Patron Saint

isSA7LX265If I feel so strongly about prayer and was naturally attracted to the Carmelites, especially the enclosed order, why then did I chose for myself Saint Francis to be my patron saint who is so different? Purely because I knew I lacked self-discipline in the denial section and I thought Saint Francis was very strong in that area. He taught me the importance of carrying my cross. And that if I wanted to go to heaven with all the greats I had to learn to deny myself. Now I can hear all the complaints coming from the Carmelites, which are saying things like ‘what do you think we are doing?’ It is true they practise self-denial too. But it was Saint Francis that convinced me of that. Saint Teresa convinced me of the importance of praying without ceasing.

When a Catholic chooses a patron saint, they take on that person’s name. It is called a confirmation name. So even though I still go by my Christian name, I also have a confirmation name Francis. Protestant’s don’t chose for themselves a patron saint, because they believe that it is a form of worshiping saints. Catholics completely disagree. To worship somebody you have to actually worship them. We do not worship saints, but we definitely honour them. Some more than others. We don’t believe once you are in heaven you have nothing to do, but stand around the Throne worshiping God all the time. There are all sorts of activities going on in Heaven. They are always in the presence of God, doesn’t matter where they are or what they are doing, and they also have work to do, just like the angels in heaven do. Believe it all not! they are even more powerful than angels. While we are on earth the angels are more powerful than we are, but once we have proven ourselves worthy by faithfully serving God on earth, and accordingly to the level of how much we had surrendered to God while we were on earth, will determined how high our ranking is in Heaven and the power that goes with that rank. When I mean we have power I am talking about the power of God working through us, it is a gift from God’s. Protestants may ask how can I be confident of this, the answer is simple. Catholics from its very beginning of it creation, (which we Catholics believe that our church started with the disciple Saint Peter,) people have always have had visions from God and God does reveal secrets to the humble even now, especially now!  Catholics have not received visions as a majority, because somewhere on the line, people started to believe these things only happen to special people. God will talk to anyone who humbles themselves before Him and believes in Him in all truth.

One of My Favourite Saints is Called Sister Josefa Menendez

I read a book on another saint, though she is not canonised by the church, she is by far superior to many of the saints that are. Her name is Sister Josefa Menendez. Her book called ‘the way of divine love.’ Is now a classic and you can still buy it on the internet. She knew what suffering for the Lord was all about. I admire her complete surrender and courage. I had a friend who was very gifted in God’s spirit and I said to her I wanted to change my patron saint to Sister Josefa, and my friend who was a Protestant herself said that God said that I can’t change my patron saint, that my patron saint is Saint Francis. So I learn something that day, how disloyal and how ungrateful I was to Saint Francis.

The Reason Why Saint Francis Got Upset With Me

Once I was going through a period of being terrified of being alone. And I looked at the part of Saint Francis life, being very involved in helping the lepers, the sick and preaching things like that. I forgot all about the times he was alone in prayer with God. So I was calling on another saint, Saint Anthony, the one who lived in the desert. I thought he knew how to be alone, because he lived a life of a hermit for God. So I started calling on him to help me face solitude and then my patron saint, Saint Francis showed up and he showed me how hurt and offended he was with me for not believing that he didn’t love solitude for God. Saints communicate to people too, just like angles do or God himself for that matter. If you do not believe it, is possible then you have closed a door on them, and only by a special grace will it be open to you. What comes to my mind is Saint Paul, he was at first a non-believer and he was on a journey to find the Christians to hand them over to be killed. Jesus appeared to him, and after that experience he became a Christian himself. I believe it happen only because so many Christians at the time were praying for his conversion. There is no proof of what I have just said, it is just something that I believe in. I remember reading about a guy who lived some centuries back, Jesus appeared to him on the cross five times before he converted to Christianity, I believe somebody must have been praying real hard for him and persistently.

Asking Saints to help us

When Catholics call on the saints to help them, it is not the same thing as calling on God to help us. I think that is where there is so much confusion and why Protestants tend to think we worship saints. When we call on saints we believe God gives them the ability to work on earth as another Christ, they are not Christ, but it is the honour God gives to His Children if they have been faithful to Him on earth. I have actually been told by Jesus one day and then the God the Father the next day to intercede through my earthly father who is now in Heaven. To ask my father for help; help would be given to me as if I asked Jesus Himself. I know there is going to be a lot of protest from the Protestant over what I have just said. And of course I can’t prove to anyone that God did spoke to me. All I can suggest is try it for yourself. God’s ways are not like our ways, because we are mean and miserly with our gifts we think God is the same way. God has given us the authority that Jesus has earned for us on the cross as if it is our authority, which we know it isn’t. Jesus has earned it for us because He is no way like us. He is so generous there are no words on earth to describe how generous our God is towards us. Everything He owns He has given to those who serve Him. If we make it to heaven we will rule with Him. He said so it is in the Bible.