To believe or not to believe, it is your choice!
Suppose someone comes up to you proclaiming they have found a new religion that promises there is no place called hell. You might revolt at such a statement since from the earliest years you were taught the opposite. Maybe a second person announces that there is no after-life and he can prove it. Again the thoughts of any of these philosophical adherences will quickly provoke questions and the proof of any negative suggestions as to God, creation, Heaven or hell, and what about all the sacraments I was told to believe in.
Looking back at Old Testament scriptures we can find some tid-bits of wrong interpretation of the words God handed down over the centuries. The early Jewish religion comprised several groups of believers; The Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, and Zealots. Each had a specific need to fulfill in Judaism and each had a varied set of beliefs somewhat like 21st century denominations in Christianity.
Pharisees were rabbis who believed the Temple was unnecessary and the Torah (The first five books of the bible) aspect of Jewish life. They worshiped in Synagogues, interpreted the Torah, and most notably believed in the importance of oral law.
The Sadducees were the wealthy upper class who were involved with the priesthood. They completely rejected oral law, and unlike the Pharisees, their lives revolved around the Temple.
Our third sect, the Essenes, left Jerusalem as a desert community, dedicated to prayer and study waiting for the Messiah.
Finally, the Zealots ((the Sikarim) who completely opposed Roman rule and were ready to kill all Romans and any Jews who did not help in overthrowing the Romans.
One important fact the Sadducees did not believe in the Resurrection of the dead.
These facts lead us to the probability of how thousands of years later religious sects have many varied approaches to God and today accepting the teaching of God’s Son, Jesus Christ when it comes to the many discrepancies we have in Christian belief and worship among believers.
How many christian denominations accept the teaching on Purgatory? We as Roman Catholics follow the CCC where this article of faith is spelled out. Yet, there are a lot of catholics who do not accept this. One priest said “I can't believe God would put a soul through this type of punishment. After all, Jesus suffered for our sins and did away with eternal death.”
That is one of many aspects facing us who follow the teaching of Catholicism. With all the various sects of the Jews, the different denominations of today’s christians, and so many views from intellectuals who refuse to even search the reasons of so much confusion, is it any wonder there is splintering of the faithful today.
What is correct, or to put it in a better frame of mind, what do we as Roman Catholics hold as an authoritative direction for our adherence to these issues; “Tradition” as well as Sacred Scripture. If we, like many Protestant denominations, hold strictly to scripture alone, the very tenets of Christ’s teaching would not hold water in any professional gathering. One important miracle of Jesus; “The feeding of thousands” where the actuality of this was not symbolic but a real miracle from which we base the Eucharist upon (Jn. 6” 1 - 15). How often have you heard Prorestant ministers relate to this as a miracle or to our teaching of the real presence of Christ?
Without the Sacred Tradition that goes far beyond just bible verses we would become verse by verse believers taking much of the gospels out of context without reading between the lines. Yes we believe in the biblical teaching as well as the very depth of the mission of Jesus.
When viewing a crucifix, whether someone wearing one or upon the large crucifix in the church, on the altar and hanging in the sanctuary, these are symbols, but with a look to remind us of our savior’s presence.
Some may say Jesus no longer is on the cross, take his image down. Wrong, we as catholics preach Christ Crucified and if we adhere to the Passion as renewed daily at every mass then he still is on the cross. Remember, each mass you attend is not a video being replayed of something that occurred 2,000 years ago. It is a reality happening before your very eyes. That is what makes the Holy Mass so alive at the moment the priest says; “This is My Body and this is the chalice of My Blood” Those words of the priest are also being said by Jesus at that very moment. The altar at your church, the table at the Last Supper, and the cross on Calvary. All three places are simultaneously connected together at the moment of consecration.
Ralph B. Hathaway