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The Many Differences Between Catholicism and the Reformation churches.

The Many differences between Catholicism and the Reformation churches.

There are very many differences between Catholicism and the reformation communities. Broadly, on a governing level and on a spiritual level.

By way of governing, the Roman Catholic Church has Her 'Deposit of Faith' and "ex cathedra" (from the Chair) teaching built from the very start; from source! This is "The Rock" The one deposit of Faith. And which cannot(although modern influences might try) be altered or changed. It of course pertains to Our Lord's words to St Peter in Matt 16:18

"And I say to thee, thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall
not prevail against it. And I will give thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever thou shalt
bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."[Mt 16:18-19]

Catholic teaching is that there is only one true Church and the Roman Catholic Church is that Church. And, as one Catholic Encyclopedia states:

"Christ founded His Church as a visible and perfect society: [and]
that He intended it to be absolutely universal and imposed upon
all men a solemn obligation actually to belong to it, unless
inculpable ignorance should excuse them; that He wished
His Church to be one, with a visible corporate unity of
faith, government and worship; and that in order to secure
this threefold unity, He bestowed on the Apostles and
their legitimate successors in the hierarchy [the Pope
and the Bishops] - and on them exclusively - the plenitude
of teaching, governing, and liturgical powers with which He
wished this Church to be endowed."(Catholic on line encyclopedia:new advent.org)

The reformation churches have various forms of government. The Anglican church is, ultimately, subject to parliament since the monarch is now a figure head, but it has various church structures and organizations. Non-conformist churches are governed mostly at a local level; by their own church groups of councils.

On a spiritual level:

When King Henry VIII broke with Rome(The Holy See)the question was what would he seek to replace Catholicism; the faith of the English with? And how is what he introduced different from Catholicism?
The King was, in fact, quite uncomfortable with what the foreign protestant reformers were seeking to impose and dismissed much of what they asked for. But in 1536 the King adopted what were known as the Ten Articles. The Articles were introduced as being: "Articles devised by the King's Highness' Majesty to stablish Christian quietness and unity among us." The King having given himself final say on all matters religious.
The Ten Articles mirrored much Catholic teaching but specifically excluded Catholic teaching itself along with the Pope and the Catholic Church and Papal authority. The articles affirmed baptism, confession and transubstantiation (the changing of the sacramental bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ, but which, in any case can only be carried out during a Roman Catholic Mass) and the necessity of good works. It affirmed that images can be useful and that the saints should be honoured; that they further our prayers and are intercessors and that holy days should be observed. Ceremonies were kept and prayers for the dead were affirmed as being good and useful. A book produced by Cranmer, known as the "Bishop's book" and as "The Institution of a Christian Man" contained the articles. Also included was a form of Justification by Faith alone: Luther's main doctrine and the main doctrine of all protestants. It was later adopted fully. It is in stark contrast to the sacramental economy of the Catholic Church; the Sacramental economy pertaining to the grace to be had from partaking of the sacraments and especially at Mass.
Luther's 'Justification by Faith alone' teaches that all a person needs for justification [salvation] is to accept the grace sent for faith in Jesus Christ (to believe in Him)and that nothing else is needed. And which 'doctrine' specifically teaches that one can have no influence over one's salvation; it teaches that good works have no effect and that bad works have no effect. And that good works should follow on as the 'fruits' of justification.
This is very different to Catholicism which teaches that the partaking of the sacraments of the Church are necessary for salvation and are great channels of grace and that good works too are necessary. Good works are defined both in the devotional sense (prayers, devotions, penance, sacrifices, reparation etc) and in the charitable sense of practical benevolent help given to others [Mt25:31-46.]The devotional context includes, for example, a person who is ill or disabled offering their sufferings as a sacrifice to God; this is a good work seen as having great value.1 Pilgrimages are also examples of a good work and often involve both the devotional and the charitable aspects. St James the apostle wrote:

"You will see, then, that it takes deeds as well as faith if a man is to be justified."[Js2:24]

Luther excluded the epistle of St James from his bible because it did not agree with his doctrine of Justification by Faith alone. (see more on this doctine and how it differs from Catholic belief, below)

Nine year old Edward VI became King following the death of his father in1547 and continental protestantism soon followed. That year a visit to all churches was ordered: "to eradicate Catholic use." It was a strong indication of the direction in which King Edward VI's reign, under the influence of his two Lord protectors; the Duke of Somerset and then the Duke of Northumberland, would head. Within seven months of Henry's death, full continental protestantism was being introduced and with injunctions put in place in all parishes to eliminate any image that may have any suspicion of devotion attached to it.
Wooden tables replaced stone altars, pictures and devotional objects were removed, and the pulpit, not the altar, became the focus of attention. Chantry chapels and altars were eradicated during the reign of Edward VI. Cranmer, who produced the Anglican Book of Common Prayer followed the theological views of his current king.
Chantries focused on the saying of Masses for the dead and especially for dead relatives; a most important feature of the Catholic faith. The wealthy would often contribute Churches or chapels as well as land and monies, statues and gifts for the saying of these Masses. Financial gifts that were left in perpetuity would benefit many and Chantry priests would very often also be educators of the poor.
Mary I, a devout Catholic, became queen following the death of her brother and set herself a huge task in trying to convert the country back to Roman Catholicsm. However, her brief reign lasted for just five years.
Elizabeth I (1558-1603) a protestant, inherited the theological likes and dislikes of both her father and her brother. Her father's wish to copy and imitate Roman Catholic ceremony and ritual and her brother's preference(or rather his two Lord protector's preference) for low church continental protestantism. But whichever approach she chose, Elizabeth was imposing her choices onto an existing framework and structure of Roman Catholic Church buildings and premises; built by the English for themselves and for their children, that had been seized by the Tudor crown.
Elizabeth I's Thirty Nine Articles of Faith defined Anglicanism and the Anglican clergy are still required, by oath, to uphold them today. They differed in many ways from the Ten Articles devised by King Henry VIII and reveal many fundamental differences to Roman Catholic belief. As in the Ten Articles, papal authority is not recognized, nor papal teaching, nor tradition. Transubstantiation is not recognized, nor is the Mass as a sacrifice. Papal authority is not recognized, nor papal teaching, nor tradition. The sinlessness of the Blessed Virgin is not recognized. Purgatory is not believed in, nor the invocation of the saints. Prayers for the dead are seen as "blasphemous fables and dangerous deceits"(art 31.)
Only two sacraments are recognized; baptism and "the supper of the Lord." Justification by Faith (alone) and good works as the fruit of Justification are expressly taught in the Articles.

In stark contrast to Anglican beliefs, the Roman Catholic Mass can only be understood in relation to the Last Supper and in relation to Christ's death on the Cross. And Our Lord's Church is faithful to Her founder's words:

Catholics most certainly do believe in transubstantiation and it most certainly is papal/Church teaching. We find the following words of Our Lord in St John's gospel:

"Amen, amen I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has life everlasting and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, abides in me and I in him. As the living Father has sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me, he also shall live because of me."[Jn.6:54-58]

And at the Last Supper:

"And while they were at supper, Jesus took bread, and blessed and broke, and gave it to his disciples, and said, "Take and eat; this is my body.' And taking a cup, he gave thanks and gave it to them saying, "All of you drink of this; for this is my blood of the new covenant, which is being shed for many unto the forgiveness of sins." [Matt:26:26-29]

Our Lord's very own words.

Roman Catholic belief is that although Our Lord's Sacrifice was complete and for all time, the Mass is as Our Lord's Sacrifice renewed, although in a different form, during each Mass "every day on the altar." And that, through Transubstantiation we partake of Our Lord's own Body and Blood. We are also enriched by the graces and merits won for us by Our Lord; at each Mass according to His merciful dispensing our own disposition.

Meanwhile, to not believe in the sinlessness of the Blessed Virgin is the most fundamental of errors. Firstly it
means that the reformers, and protestants generally, are saying that Jesus, and who is God, was born of a sinner and which can never be! Secondly it means that protestants do not recognize how the role of the Blessed Virgin had to contrast with what happened to Eve:
In conceiving Our Lord God and Saviour, by the power of the Holy Spirit, the Blessed Virgin, from whose Immaculate Heart the Sacred Heart of the Baby Jesus grows, must be and must have always been entirely free from sin (Her Immaculate Conception) this Her great privilege. And through this, be able to reject the temptations of the devil. It would be a contradiction of Her role if She was subject to, and vulnerable to sin, as Eve was.
Whereas the fallen angel, Lucifer, had extracted the dreaded response from Eve, now we find Mary "full of grace," full of Eternal Wisdom, and when the good angel; the Archangel Gabriel, appears to Her, She responds in exactly the right way. We should always note how important this is, because in Mary's fiat; Her "Yes" to become the Mother of God, Her "Yes" is for Her to be this great part in God's great plan of salvation. All of which is in contrast to Eve

And the Blessed Virgin is our Mother. Jesus Himself, our Redeemer, gave the Blessed Virgin, His Mother, to be our Mother during His most painful moments on the Cross, in words addressed to St John:

"Woman, behold, thy son....Behold, thy mother."[Jn19:26-27]

We are called upon to have a great love for and devotion to the Blessed Virgin, our Mother. She is the Mother of God, the Mother of Mercy, the Spouse of the Holy Spirit, one related to the Holy Trinity, and the one who protects us as She guides us to Jesus; Her Son.
The Catholic Church has traditionally taught, down through the centuries, that the redeemed must have the same Mother as the Redeemer!

(CONT:)

The Sacramental economy of the Catholic Church is very different (in effect opposite)to The doctrine of Justification by Faith (alone)

What is 'Justification by Faith alone'? and which is so closely associated with the Reformation Churches (protestantism.) It is said that Martin Luther, at the time of the Reformation, developed the doctrine of Justification by Faith (alone), alleged to have been from St Paul. We will look shortly at evidence as to whether St Paul began this doctrine or not. First, the doctrine of 'Justification by Faith alone.' The doctrine teaches that all a person needs for justification [salvation] is to accept the grace sent for faith in Jesus Christ, nothing else is needed. It teaches that good works follow as the 'fruits' of justification, but that they, as with bad works, do not affect justification.
Justification by faith sees man or woman as justified as part of Christ's Redemptive act itself; that is, all mankind are automatically justified as long as, individually, he or she responds to the grace given for faith. Now joined with Christ in the resurrection from the dead, and this having already taken place in time, no further acts on the part of man or woman is needed. Justification by faith also teaches that mankind's unworthiness means that there is no way of influencing our part in our redemption ourselves, all relies on belief in Christ.
Catholicism teaches something very different; that is that we, in Christ's Redemptive act, are called, in humility, to be joined with Him in His Resurrection from the dead; it is a process that begins with our baptism and continues through the grace filled Sacraments with, first and foremost, the Eucharist; Our Lord's own Body and Blood. It is a process in which we seek to be made worthy through our good lives and faith practices; our good works. Good works in both the devotional and in the benevolent (helping others) sense. And with the help of the one who is worthy, the Blessed Virgin, our Mother, and our heavenly family of Angels and Saints to be identified with Christ in His Resurrection.
Fallen mankind is in the most deplorable state; through sin we are not worthy. Rather than all being saved no matter what we do, as 'Justification by Faith alone' suggests, we know that there is a narrow path of salvation. That there is a narrow path is told of by the Lord Himself in scripture. Our Lord says:

"Make your way in by the narrow gate. It is a broad gate and a wide road that
leads on to perdition, and those who go in that way are many indeed; but how
small is the gate, how narrow the road that leads on to life, and how few
there are that find it."[Mt 7:13-14]

What follows from Justification by Faith alone? Since justification has already taken place, how are good works and right living, that which is supposed to follow from justification but which is the subject of subjective interpretation, to be defined? Traditional, devotional Catholicism developed a very specific criteria of good works/deeds and which are our adherence to the sacraments and our devotional prayers and practices, which centre on our Lord's Sacrifice, and which identify us with Him and in Him, whilst helping ourselves and others, both living and dead, on the way of Salvation; good works/deeds in the context of practical help for others is also, of course, joined with this.
With 'Justification by Faith alone' however; with 'Justification' having already taken place, and with the consequent abandonment of faith practices, behaviour is left vulnerable to being orientated subjectively. Indifference and secularism, the chaotic worldly direction will surely be affirmed, as is indeed evidenced in the world in which we now live. Thus a persons actions, what one does, must not be orientated to the world, but must be orientated towards the narrow path way of salvation; and which our sacramental and devotional prayers and practices, aligning ourselves with our heavenly family, the Blessed Virgin and with God Himself and the graces and blessings this brings, align us with.
'Justification by Faith alone' is orientated as coming from man, when God alone can justify and which He does, ultimately, through His Mercy; it is His Mercy that is set against His Justice, which no human being can withstand!
It is from the generosity of His bounteous Mercy that the great gifts of the sacraments and our devotions are given to us; given to help us. We are called upon to have great faith and trust in Our Lord's great Mercy and which we must constantly implore. The words of the Blessed Virgin in Her Magnificat are poignant here: "His mercy is from age to age on those who fear him.."[Lk 1:50] 'Justification by Faith alone' detracts from fear of the Lord.

Did the doctrine of Justification by Faith (alone) come from St Paul?

Paul's conversion to Christianity saw him vehemently rejecting some of the laws he once extolled [laws as differentiated from the commandments which are Eternal] laws which he now sees as being the "sentence of death."[Rm 3:7] He clearly sees them as having been in place until the redemptive act of the Saviour.
Many claim that at this stage Paul introduced the doctrine of 'Justification by Faith alone' a very serious matter, and the question we must ask is, did Paul, in seeking to do away with [some of] the old laws and the works associated with them, introduce this doctrine of 'Justification [salvation]by Faith alone' into Christianity? Those who say that he did point, of course, to Romans 3:28:

" ...our contention is, that a man is justified by
faith apart from the observances of the law"[Rm 3:28]

In taking Romans 3:1- 28 it would seem that Paul is teaching Justification by Faith alone, however, he does keep coming back to the laws, and which would be the works, the practices observed in relation to the laws as he knew them. And circumcision, the issue at the beginning and the end of Romans 3 is an example. The law of circumcision was an issue for the Church at this time, the Acts of the Apostles tells us that Paul's visit to Jerusalem saw him speaking to Peter and James and that they spoke mainly on the issue of circumcision.[Acts 15]
'Justification by Faith alone' would, of course, suit Paul's way of teaching the gentiles in the developing early Church, since it needs no particular faith practices, however, there are several factors to consider and which point away from Paul wanting to put any such doctrine in place.
Firstly, Paul was setting in place an early Church that had not, as yet, developed the essential faith practices which must soon, of necessity, follow. Closely associated with this is the fact that the early Church, after St Paul, clearly did put these practices into place and did not, therefore, take any account of any alleged doctrine of 'Justification by Faith alone'. And also that Paul was seeking to remove only the works; the practices, that he saw as being part of the old way and that, in taking his teachings as a whole, he does include the necessity of good works. In Romans we also find, for example:

"....God will reveal the justice of his judgments. He will award to every
man what his acts have deserved; eternal life to those who have striven
for glory, and honour, and immortality, by perseverance in doing good;
the retribution of his anger to those who are contumacious, rebelling
against truth and paying homage to wickedness" [Rm 2:5-8]
and
"To have heard the law read out is no claim to acceptance with God; it is
those who obey the law that will be justified." [Rm 2:13]

And so it would seem clear that Paul included good works and that Romans 3 evidenced only his seeking to exclude certain practices. It was an issue that would have occupied Paul, a pharisee, a great deal. Paul was also seeking to emphasize the life of grace [apart from these laws] in Jesus Christ. The sacramental and devotional prayers and practices of the Catholic Church are channels of grace.
'Justification by Faith alone' is indeed very different from the encouragement of good works and the Faith practices as developed by the Catholic Church but which works and practices would later be cast, by Martin Luther at the time of the Reformation, into the same bracket as that which Paul sought to exclude from the 'old' ways. Luther will indeed take this theme of 'Justification by Faith alone' and destroy the Catholic faith for many at the time of the Reformation, and eventually the whole of Christendom will collapse. We must always keep in mind that the apostle St James taught definitively that good work are necessary for salvation:

"You will see, then, that it takes deeds as
well as faith if a man is to be justified."[Js2:24]

Indulgences. What they are and how to gain them.

Those who know about the Reformation will know that Martin Luther focused on what he regarded to be an abuse of indulgences; that is, evidence that they were being sold.
This should not, however detract from what an indulgence is nor from their great significance. Indulgences are as important today as they ever have been.
Indulgences are a great treasure of the Church, and they are a great treasure for us. They are,
however, sadly overlooked today because many people do not know about them. Sad for us and sad for our heavenly family who seek for the Church on earth; the Church militant, to have access to the wealths of our heavenly family; the Church triumphant. Their knowing and seeing the punishments due for sin means we can scarcely imagine how much our heavenly family wants us to partake of their merits gained.
What is an indulgence? Our Lord Jesus Christ has a "superabundance of merits;" His merits are infinite; limitless. So too the Blessed Virgin, being sinless, She gained a great abundance of merits. And the saints too, we can say that their merits far outweighed any wrongdoing that they did whilst they were on earth.
This excess of merits is the theological basis for indulgences. The merits are contained in what is known as the "treasury"of the Church and which the Church, as Minister of Redemption, draws upon under Her authority of "bounding and loosing;" the "Keys":

And I say to thee, thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates
of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and
whatever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever thou shalt loose on
earth shall be loosed in heaven."[Mt 16:18-19]

An indulgence draws on the treasury of merits through an indulgence having been attached by Popes, and sometimes the Church hierarchy, to a good work(s) i.e. prayers, sacrifices, devotions, vigils, pilgrimages, visiting a cemetery to pray for the dead etc.
Examples of indulgences are the reading of scripture for half an hour daily, for which a partial indulgence is granted, the same is granted for visiting a cemetery with the intention of praying for the dead; the first eight days in November (the month of the Holy Souls) brings a plenary indulgence. Indulgences are granted for the saying of the rosary, publicly or privately, as is the saying of the Stations of the Cross. etc. etc. Indulgences are attached to many prayers and actions.
These and other such works must be undertaken to gain the full (plenary) indulgence (remission) or partial indulgence (remission) of the punishment due for sin. Such punishment; the debt owed for sin that must be paid off to God's Justice either in this life or the next!
To gain an indulgence one must be a baptized Catholic, must be in a state of grace, not in mortal sin (i..e the mortal sin must be confessed), and must have confessed (all sins mortal or venial) and received communion; and which is covered by regular confession and communion. There must be an intention to gain an indulgence. Confession is vital as the sin for which remission is sought must have been forgiven, through the sacrament of confession. Indulgences cannot be bought, they cannot be transferred to another living person but they can always be transferred to the dead.
The Church, traditionally, attached a specific number of days to particular prayers/ good works, the prayer to St Michael, for example, gained a 300 day indulgence. The number of days related to days that would otherwise, at one time in the earlier Church, have been served as public penance for sins, and which in turn related to an amount of time that would have been served in purgatory. The classification of years and days was abolished under Paul VI in 1967. Some say that this detracted away from the great significance of indulgences and even more so, the exclusion of many of the prayers/good works previously included for which an indulgence was granted, and which, in turn, affected many Church groups, for example, confraternities; pilgrimage sites etc. However, against this, more general intentions were now included. The list of prayers and good works to which an indulgence(s) are attached are found in the Enchiridion Indulgentiarum.

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