Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Traditional English versus Common English

The Holy Bible in Traditional English

My wife and I home educate our children. Today, I just gave them their first lesson in Traditional English, or what some people call "King James English" (that's not a proper term but whatever). Traditional English is proper English, wherein the second person pronoun is expressed very particularly, and this is absolutely NECESSARY when translating the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures into English. It's also necessary when translating Latin Church documents into English as well. Modern Common English does not have these second-person pronoun equivalents, which makes Common English translations of the Bible inferior to Traditional English, and yes, this stuff really does matter.

Now I should make it clear here, when I say Traditional English, that doesn't mean the language is somehow "more holy" than Common English. It's not. Nor does it mean that one version of English is better than another. It just means that one form of English (Traditional English) is specifically geared toward dealing with the ancient languages from which our religion comes (primarily Hebrew and Greek and secondarily Aramaic and Latin). I should also point out here, this is not a Protestant "King James Only" website. There are multiple Bible versions that use Traditional English, and this author does not limit himself to just one. Nor do I believe modern Common English translations are somehow diabolical. That's just silly. Granted, some Bible translations are better than others, but that's how it's always been, throughout English history, and in multiple different languages. Personally, I find myself partial to both the King James Bible and the Douay–Rheims Bible for study purposes. For casual reading however, I prefer the Revised Standard Version -- Catholic Edition.

Traditional English translations of the Bible include the following...
  1. Great Bible (1539)
  2. Geneva Bible (1557-1560)
  3. Bishops Bible (1568, revised in 1572 and 1602)
  4. King James Bible (1604-1611, revised in 1769)
  5. Douay–Rheims Bible (1582-1610, revised in 1750)
In addition, Traditional English is used in various editions of the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, as well as the recently released Catholic Book of Divine Worship. (The Book of Divine Worship is currently under revision as of the date of this essay. The revised Mass and Occasional Services have already been released.) These, along with the above translations of the Bible, are standards of Traditional English in the Christian world.

Every English speaking child should be schooled in Traditional English. It's not hard. There are only a few rules, and not only will this give them a better appreciation of religious literature, but it will also improve their appreciation of Shakespeare and the English classics.

This short essay is by no means intended to be a comprehensive review of Traditional English, but rather a short overview of how the rules of the language work. First of all, we call it Traditional English because this is the form of English that was commonly used in the translation of the Greek and Hebrew Scriptures, as well as the Latin documents of the Church. This particular form of English was adopted specifically for this purpose, because Common English (the language spoken by the common everyday Englishman) did not have the proper second person pronouns to translate the Greek and Hebrew Scriptures properly. The same goes for Latin translations of the Scriptures, as well as Latin documents of the Church. Thus a specific set of rules was adopted for this purpose. When you understand them, the Scriptures come alive with very specific meaning that is often missed with modern Common English translations of the Bible.

With the rise of Traditional English came a golden age of English poetry, plays, songs and literary classics. In truth, nobody ever really spoke in the "thees and thous" of Traditional English exactly as it's written in the older English translations of the Bible. To be sure, people did use some of that in common speech, here and there, but for the most part, it never really was exactly as we read in ancient literature. There is the issue of accent too. Around the time of Shakespeare, Englishmen spoke with an accent that would sound very Scottish to us today in the modern world. As a result of this, much of Shakespeare's plays actually rhymed, and were filled with colourful plays on words that are often lost on modern audiences.

For a brief time in English history, there was a class war between the usage of Common English and Traditional English, Common English eventually prevailing because it was seen as more aristocratic than Traditional English. This is the exact opposite of what one would think today, but as I often say, the truth is stranger than fiction, and when it comes to history (especially English history) you just can't make this stuff up.

So today, Traditional English has fallen into disuse and neglect, probably for two reasons. The first is that ridiculous class war they had in England some centuries back, wherein Englishmen got it in their heads that the word "you" sounds so much more sophisticated than the word "thou". The second is probably because of general laziness. It's easy to move a language in a downward trend, with less rules to follow and more ambiguity, while as it's harder to move a language in an upward trend, with a few more rules and greater clarity. Sadly, as a result of this, many modern English speakers are intimidated by Traditional English. The "thees and thous" seem too confusing, and as a result, they avoid it entirely. Who suffers as a result? We all do, and most especially our language suffers. Shakespeare and the English classics fall into neglect, unappreciated for the masterful works they are. The older Traditional English translations of the Bible sit forgotten on the shelves, collecting dust, while our newer Common English translations may give us a cursory understanding of the Greek and Hebrew Scriptures, but they often leave us in the dark concerning their specific meaning in many cases. Sometimes those cases are very important. More than a few doctrinal errors (outright heresies) are the product of Common English translations. So it behoves us to learn a little Traditional English, and teach it too our children, both for their good and ours. It is, after all, part of our English language and heritage.

Let's begin with the basics. It all starts with a little thing called a pronoun. A pronoun is a word that substitutes a noun. It usually applies when talking about people, but it can apply to an animal or object too. We're all familiar with pronouns. I use them all the time. I bet you do too...

First Person Singular Pronouns
  • I          (subjective, usually at the beginning of a sentence)
  • Me      (objective, usually at the end of a sentence)
  • My      (possessive, subjective)
  • Mine    (possessive, objective)
First Person Plural Pronouns
  • We     (subjective, usually at the beginning of a sentence)
  • Us      (objective, usually at the end of a sentence)
  • Our    (possessive, subjective)
  • Ours   (possessive, objective)
That's simple enough. These first person, singular and plural pronouns have carried over between Common English and Traditional English very well. There is virtually no difference between them. The same is true for third person pronouns...

Third Person Singular Pronouns
  • He/She/It     (subjective, usually at the beginning of a sentence)
  • Him/Her/It   (objective, usually at the end of a sentence)
  • His/Hers/Its  (possessive)
Third Person Plural Pronouns
  • They      (subjective, usually at the beginning of a sentence)
  • Them     (objective, usually at the end of a sentence)
  • Theirs    (possessive)
Once again, the transition between Common English and Traditional English is almost flawless. There is virtually no difference at all.

Now, where Common English and Traditional English really deviate is over second person pronouns. This is where Common English really falls short in comparison to the ancient languages of Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek and Latin. All of these languages had very specific pronouns for the second person singular, which differentiated between the second person plural. For example; when saying "you", these ancient languages would have a very specific pronoun for the singular version of you, as in "just you" (one person), and the plural version of you, as in "you all" (more than one person). But in Common English we just say "you" and there is no way to know, especially in writing, if you're talking to just one person, or to a group of people. People in the southern American states (otherwise known as the Deep South or Bible Belt), they have tried to correct this Common English deficit by creating the word y'all which is just a contraction of the two words "you all". Many people in the northern American states look down on this vernacular as backward or uneducated, but in reality, what southern Americans have done is really quite intelligent. They've recognised a significant deficit in Common English and have supplemented it with a short, grammatically accurate, and gender-neutral contraction. That's pretty darn smart if you ask me, and it's a lot better than what their supposedly more sophisticated northern American counterparts do when they say "you guys", whether the intended audience is male, female or a mixture of the two. I don't know about you, but if I were a woman, in a group of women, and somebody called us using the words "you guys", I would feel a little awkward about that. I would much rather be called with the contracted pronoun y'all. As a man, it doesn't bother me quite as much, except when someone calls "you guys" in reference to my family: wife, son, daughter and myself. I could care less for my son and I, but for my wife and daughter, I do feel a little annoyed. I would much rather people use the more courteous, gender-neutral, and much more sophisticated contraction y'all. It may not sound all that sophisticated to the northern or western American ear, but at least it respects the gender of my wife and daughter.

This is where Common English and Traditional English really part ways. Let's examine the problem in Common English a little more closely...

Common English Second Person Singular Pronouns
  • You      (subjective, usually at the beginning of a sentence)
  • You      (objective, usually at the end of a sentance)
  • Your     (possessive, subjective)
  • Yours    (possessive, objective)  
Common English Second Person Plural Pronouns
  • You      (subjective, usually at the beginning of a sentence)
  • You      (objective, usually at the end of a sentence)
  • Your     (possessive, subjective)
  • Yours    (possessive, objective)  
Did you notice anything? There is no difference at all in Common English between Second Person SINGULAR Pronouns and Second Person PLURAL pronouns. This is a HUGE deficit in Common English. We encounter it in every day speech, but we're so used to it, we almost never notice it. However, the creation of the southern American y'all and the northern American "you guys" is a tacit recognition that there is a problem in Common English. Now let's take a look at the second person pronouns in Traditional English...

Traditional English Second Person Singular Pronouns
  • Thou      (subjective, usually at the beginning of a sentence)
  • Thee      (objective, usually at the end of a sentence)
  • Thy        (possessive, subjective)
  • Thine      (possessive, objective)
Traditional English Second Person Plural Pronouns
  • Ye        (subjective, usually at the beginning of a sentence)
  • You      (objective, usually at the end of a sentence)
  • Your     (possessive, subjective)
  • Yours    (possessive, objective)  
Wow! See the difference? What we have here is absolute clarity in the second person pronoun, especially between singular and plural usage. Singular second person pronouns start with a T, while as plural second person pronouns start with a Y.

What you'll immediately notice is the second person singular rhyming with the first person singular: me and thee, my and thy, mine and thine. This accounts for the explosion of poetry, music and theatre after the adoption of these terms for Traditional English. Linguistic artists and performers love this stuff.

Now try something just for fun. Try using these second person pronouns in regular Common English speech. It takes some practice, but not a whole lot. Once you get use to the proper objective and subjective case, it will get much easier. However, you'll start to notice something. The verbs don't sound quite right. The Common English verbs tend to clash with the Traditional English pronouns, and there is a reason for that. So what the authors of Traditional English did was dress up the verbs a little more carefully...

Common English Verbs
Present Tense Third Person
Past Tense

Traditional English Verbs
VerbPresent Tense Second PersonPresent Tense Third PersonPast Tense

Now granted, this can be a little more complicated, which is why it was almost never used in common everyday speech. However, when translating from Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek and Latin into English, it is essential. This is how we know in the Scriptures who is giving and to whom. Remove these from the translation, and the text becomes more ambiguous. Again, a number of new doctrinal errors (heresies) can be attributed to Common English translations which don't pick up on this.

The following is an example of why this is all so important from a religious perspective. Below we have a popular passage from the New Testament which is constantly misinterpreted due to Common English translation...
Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” -- Matthew 16:17-19 NIV (emphasis mine)
I've highlighted the word "you" in this passage to illustrate a point. In Common English, you cannot tell if the "you" is singular or plural. Now the context should seem pretty clear. Jesus is talking to Peter. But when I was an Evangelical Protestant, this interpretation was unacceptable, because it seemed that Jesus was vesting too much authority into one man, and that might lend to the Catholic understanding of the Petrine office of the papacy. So this is what was commonly done. Our pastor, or group leader, would say that when the word "you" is used in the highlighted portions above, Jesus was really speaking to all of the apostles, and he was telling them that they all had this authority. This in turn means the passage applies to all Christians in total, and Jesus is speaking in a broad and general sense. When we bind spiritual forces on earth, they are bound in heaven, and if we loose them on earth they will be loosed in heaven. Thus, you'll sometimes hear Evangelicals in prayer says such things as: "I bind this spirit of depression in the name of Jesus, and loose the healing of God." I've even heard some Evangelicals invoke the "keys" when doing this. This is actually a fairly common Evangelical misinterpretation of the passage.

Now let's look at that passage again in Traditional English from the King James Bible...
And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That 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 unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. -- Matthew 16:17-19 KJV (emphasis mine)
You can clearly see here from the second person singular pronouns "thee" and "thou" that Jesus can only be speaking to one person -- Peter -- and he cannot be speaking to anyone else. This eliminates all misinterpretation of the passage. Only Peter is given the "keys" to "bind" and "loose", nobody else. So when properly interpreted, using a form of English designed to interpret the case of Greek pronouns, we get an interpretation of the passage that strongly supports the Petrine office of the papacy.

Then we have another example with this verse, when Jesus said to Peter...
“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat,  but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” -- Luke 22:31-32 ESV (emphasis mine)
Now the Common English translation of the original Greek here does not specify exactly who Jesus is talking about when he says "you". The impression one gets when reading this particular Common English translation is that Peter is the sole object when Jesus says the pronouns "you" and "your". Thus the typical Protestant interpretation is that Jesus is prophesying that Peter would fall, denying him three times after Christ's arrest, and then be restored later. That's it. There is nothing really significant in this passage, other than the fact that Jesus is telling Peter he knows the future. But there's a problem here. Jesus is so much more specific with Peter in the following verse, where he specifically tells Peter that he will deny him three times. Why such a vague reference in the previous verse then? Is Jesus just repeating himself? The answer is in this Traditional English translation from the Douay–Rheims Bible...
And the Lord said: Simon, Simon, behold Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and thou, being once converted, confirm thy brethren. -- Luke 22:31-32 DRV (emphasis mine)
Whoa! What just happened here? Jesus just switched pronouns in the middle of a passage. He went from second person plural to second person singular. This is something that is easily rendered in Greek, but Common English misses it entirely. Thankfully Traditional English picks up on it. Remember from above, the pronouns "ye" and "you" are always second person PLURAL. While the pronouns "thee", "thy" and "thou" are always second person SINGULAR. Jesus is talking about two different people here. The first "you" is Peter plus the group of apostles. The second "thee" and "thou" is Simon Peter himself.

Allow me to illustrate using my own personal translation into Common English...
And the Lord said: “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have all you disciples, that he might sift all of you like wheat,  but I have prayed for you personally that your faith may not fail. And when you personally have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” -- Luke 22:31-32 SEV (Schaetzel English Version)
Then Peter goes on to say he will never deny him, and Jesus responds with that famous passage that assuredly Peter would deny him three times before the rooster crows. So what are we to make of this? Jesus just told Peter he prayed for him. Then he told him he would fall. Are we to assume God the Father did not answer Jesus' prayer? Are we to assume Jesus' prayer was a fail? No. It's quite the opposite really. The clarity comes in the Traditional English rendering of the plural followed by the singular pronouns. The last sentence is the give away. The prayer of Jesus didn't apply to before Peter's fall. It applied to after he had been restored. Jesus knew Peter's faith would fail, but he prayed that after he was restored, it would never fail again. He didn't do this for the other apostles, just Simon Peter. So from this passage of Scripture we know that Peter really would be the one apostle most qualified to strengthen (confirm) his brethren, because by supernatural grace, granted by the prayer of Jesus Christ, his faith could not fail again. So here we have yet another Biblical passage strongly supporting the Petrine office of the papacy. Peter, and by extension his successors, would be protected by a special divine grace that would make it impossible for him to lose faith, or officially teach anything contrary to the faith. Jesus didn't ask this for any of the other apostles, and their successors. So they, or their successors, could have their faith fail, and even teach something contrary to the faith. Not so for Peter and his successors. Peter, and his successors, exercising the Petrine ministry, would be protected by this prayer of Jesus, and therefore able to strengthen (confirm) the others. Such an interpretation of this passage would be virtually impossible using a simple Common English translation without adding words that aren't there in the original Greek, because it completely misses the Greek pronoun case. However, Traditional English picks up on this Greek pronoun case and gives us a greater degree of clarity.

My entire religious life has been about the search for clarity. By that I mean clarity in Christian doctrine, practice and Scripture. Common English is fine for speaking around the house and out in public. In fact, it's one of the most versatile languages in the world. It's also the third most widely spoken language in the world, behind (1) Mandarin Chinese and (2) Spanish. It's actually a great language, with a lot of history, a nearly perfect mixture of German and Latin. Yet if we want to understand it fully, we need to understand this aspect of it. Traditional English is what made our understanding of ancient languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek and Latin) more precise, and it's what gave birth to our golden age of music, poetry and theatre. For the next few years I'll be working with my children on Traditional English, so that by the time they get into high school grade levels, they'll be able to read Shakespeare and the English classics with understanding and appreciation. They'll also be able to decipher the Traditional English bibles and liturgy with ease.



Shane Schaetzel is an author of Catholic books, and columnist for Christian print magazines and online publications. He is a freelance writer and the creator of 'FullyChristian.Com -- The random musings of a Catholic in the Ozarks.'

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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Pope and Illegal Immigration

 Caltrans warning sign for immigrants potentially entering and crossing the freeway.

I lived in Southern California for the first 23 years of my life. I am very familiar with the problem of illegal immigration. I personally met and knew some of these people. I went to school with them. I worked with them. My neighbours hired them. They were all around me, and that was back in the 1980s! I have also seen the above road sign more times than I can count. I remember specifically driving to visit my grandmother who lived in San Diego for a number of years. These signs were everywhere. Illegal aliens would regularly run across the freeways, knowing that border patrol would not pursue them across, for fear of causing a traffic pileup. This is the reality of the situation in Southern California. It's been this way for a VERY LONG TIME.

Now we've finally reached a point in this nation when Americans are at their wits' end. They've had enough of this problem, and they're eager to see it finished. Our healthcare system is taxed to the brink of collapse. Our schools are overcrowded. Our legal system is overwhelmed. Indeed, a solution is long since past due.

To be clear, the popes have been fairly consistent about this sort of thing. On the one hand, they've always said that we must be open and willing to help the foreigners among us, showing true Christian compassion and mercy, as is consistent with a Christian people. On the other hand, the popes have asserted that nations do have a right to regulate their borders, and are not called to allow themselves to be engulfed by migrants to the point of overwhelming their resources and losing their identity. It's a delicate balancing act, which the popes have maintained for decades.

I'm not going to address the current immigration and refugee problem in Europe. That is a completely different matter that involves totally different dynamics. What I am going to address here is America's illegal immigration problem, and what I have to say, as somebody who's lived through it in Southern California, will be both sensible to some and irritating to others.

First we must look at the causes of illegal immigration from Latin American countries (particularly Mexico) into the United States...

  1. America does not police its southern border in any kind of reasonable way. This is by design. Our politicians have been bought and paid for by big business that benefits from illegal immigration in order to keep wages low. Our federal government also benefits from this in the form of payroll taxes (which big businesses must still pay) when illegal immigrants are hired. So one of the roots of the problem is corruption in the American political system, which benefits big business and big government at the expense of a certain class of people.
  2. America has a fertility problem. Americans don't make enough babies any more, and our fertility rate has dropped below the lowest sustainable rate of 2.1 children per household. That is not only the result of abortion-on-demand in this country, but also the result of artificial contraception, which easily prevents 5 times more lives than abortion murders. This means America's domestic population is in decline. No economy has ever been built that can grow under these conditions. No government has ever been able to support a social security safety net under these conditions. So our government must allow millions of immigrants into the country annually to make up for this fertility gap. If it doesn't the American economy will go into endless recession, and the social security safety net will collapse. Americans will not make more babies on their own, nor will they tolerate millions of new legal immigrants every year. So the government simply bypasses the will of the American people by keeping the southern border porous, allowing the much-needed warm bodies to come in illegally. 
  3. Mexico is as corrupt as it can be. I'm not going to mince words here. Mexico is a failed narco-state. It's primary export is illegal drugs. The drugs coming from, and through, Mexico are incalculable. Therefore, the primary political force in Mexico is not the government. It is the drug traffickers. The Mexican Mafia is just as much in control of Mexico as the government is. Where are those drugs being exported to? That would be the United States of America, which is the primary consumer of those drugs. The porous border policy of the United States, which is needed to keep the American population from collapsing, is what also makes this Mexican drug trafficking so successful and lucrative. 
  4. Mexico is a failed economy, this is primarily because of its narco-state status, but there are other reasons too, the chief of which is the prohibition of any long-term foreign investment into the nation. As a result, more than half of Mexico's gross domestic product comes from money sent back by relatives in the United States. If that income supply were cut off, by building a border wall for example, the entire Mexican economy would completely collapse. This would throw the country into anarchy and civil war, worsening the situation both for Mexico and America.
  5. Both Mexico and America share a similar problem. Both countries are militantly Secularist. Contrary to popular belief in America, Mexico is NOT a Catholic nation. A lot of Catholics live there, just like a lot of Protestants live in America, but the Mexican government is actually militantly Secular. In fact, at one time (during the 1920s) it was even Anti-Catholic. Look up the Christero War for more information on that. Thus Christianity does not play a major role in official Mexican government policy. America has likewise become a militantly Secular nation over the last half century, even though many Protestants live in America, it is not a Protestant nation. It is Secularist. This is something America and Mexico now share in common. Both countries are governed by Secular interests, at the expense of human lives and traditional family values as defined by Christianity, and this plays a major role in the illegal immigration crisis between the two nations.
When you understand the big picture, as I've outlined in the five points above, things start to make more sense. Mexicans come to America because they have to. They have only two choices in front of them. They can either (1) go to America and make some money to send back home, or (2) get involved in the Mexican Mafia and make money off drug trafficking. To be sure, some Mexicans pick option one and two together, living in America and making money off the drug trafficking at the same time. The situation is the way it is because both Mexico and America allow it to continue, and they allow it to continue because it benefits the people at the top in both societies. 

Recently, presidential candidate Donald J. Trump criticised the pope for being "too political" and getting involved in our American border policy. This of course stoked the old flames of anti-Catholicism in our American culture. Internet blogs and radio talk-show hosts echoed with a chorus of anti-papal and anti-Catholic rhetoric. However, it's not the pope's job to define political policies for both America and Mexico. The pope's job is to call attention to the anti-Christian situation that our Secular policies create at the border, and to venerate the victims that have fallen there as a result of it. So Mr. Trump is wrong to criticise the pope in this way. He should apologise for it, but I won't hold my breath waiting.

Many Republicans think the solution to the problem is simple. Just close the border! They want to erect a border wall that will prevent any further illegal migration to the United States. Admittedly, they know this will not stop it completely, as people can still be shipped in by trucks, planes and boats. If the states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California are shut off by a border wall, the illegal immigration problem will simply shift to the California coast, the Texas coast, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. A border wall will simply redirect traffic. It won't stop it. That doesn't mean we shouldn't build it. But at the same time, we should be realistic about its likely effect. Instead of dying of thirst and heatstroke in the southwestern deserts of the United States, illegal immigrants will drown in the waters of the Pacific and Gulf of Mexico. Then there is always the issue of tunnels. Mexican drug lords have used them for years to smuggle narcotics into the United States. A border wall cannot stop this, and there is no reason why those tunnels could not be used to smuggle people in as well. The border wall solution is not a solution in and of itself. It could potentially help in some areas, but if the root causes of illegal immigration are not addressed, the problem will only be redirected into other areas and could potentially get worse. 

Many Democrats think the solution is amnesty. Just wave the magical legislative wand, making all illegal immigrants legal, and set them on the path to citizenship. While that will address the fertility problem America has, and stop big-business from profiteering off the low wages of illegal workers, it does nothing to address the ongoing illegal immigration problem itself, nor does it stop the flow of migration from Mexico northward. We've tried amnesty before, but it only resulted in more illegals coming in.

Furthermore, amnesty exacerbates the problems of an Anglo American culture that is already in demographic retreat thanks to the fertility gap. Some Americans have attempted to address this problem with English-Only laws, that will mandate the English language in all public and official business, including public schools. This would go a long way toward at least addressing some of the cultural issues, but many Democrats feel this is discriminatory. Latinos are the people saving America from a demographic crisis. Therefore, in their minds, it only makes sense that America should become a Latino nation. Anglo America is in decline. So let it fade away. Those who protest, must be racist. At least, that's the mantra of many Democrats today.

To be sure, there are some racists in the world, and I would be remiss to ignore that. However, its unfair to characterise everyone who loves Anglo American culture as "racist". Most people who demand English-Only, and want cultural assimilation of immigrants, are not racists. They could care less what colour somebody is. They just want them to speak English and understand things that are important to Americans! I have known many Hispanic people in my life, and those that surround me now in the Ozarks of Southern Missouri usually speak perfect English with a hillbilly twang. Quite often I forget they're Hispanic, and isn't that the way it's supposed to be? Americans have just as much right to revere their Anglo heritage (Anglophone language, English Common Law, Angloceltic culture, etc.) as Mexicans have a right to revere their Latino heritage (Spanish language, Spanish Law, Spanish and Indigenous culture, etc.). I think the English-Only law proposals are simply a reflection of the frustration many Americans feel toward those who would replace Anglo culture with Latino culture. For example; most Americans like myself had ancestors who migrated here from other non-British nations. My own ancestry, though significantly British and Irish, is predominately Swedish and German. My Swedish and German ancestors came to America with the complete understanding that while they could still hang on to some of their most cherished cultural traditions, they would have to become fully American by adopting the English language and much of the Anglo American culture. This they did willingly and enthusiastically. Today, nobody in my immediate family speaks Swedish or German as a primary language. Our family has fully assimilated into the American melting pot. Unfortunately, this just isn't the case for many Mexicans who have taken up residence in the United States in recent decades, and it's almost never the case for illegal aliens. This is a problem. It's made many European and Asian American feel slighted. "How come our families had to assimilate, and theirs didn't? It's not fair!" Indeed, if Mexicans can come to America and never learn English, then there is no reason why Americans with German ancestry can't start speaking German again, and forget about English. In fact, if that were the case, there is no reason why I can't move up to Minnesota with my Swedish relatives and start speaking Swedish again, abandoning English entirely. After all, Swedish is an easier language to learn anyway, especially for English speakers. I have no doubt my family could pick it up within a year, and with enough similar-minded people, we could take the Swedish City of Lindström and turn it into a linguistic colony. Within a generation, half the state would be ours, and all the street signs would be bilingual. Does that sound like a good way to go? Should we make "Another Sweden" out of State of Minnesota? Most of the people up take pride in their Scandinavian ancestry already. They only need a little push to take it to the next step. Is that the way we should go? Should the whole country do this; Swedes, Germans, Italians, etc.? I don't think so. Multiculturalism has proved to be an absolute failure in Europe. It will fail here too. One culture will always dominate over the others. Americans must choose which culture that will be. Shall we carve the nation up into ethnic-linguistic regions, or shall we be one nation with one common language and culture again?

The American model of immigration has always worked because of the way we went about it in the past. We opened the flood gates for a few decades, allowing millions of new foreigners to arrive, then we closed them for a few decades, giving these new arrivals time to assimilate into the larger Anglo American culture. The latter hasn't happened in a long time, and that's largely because we've kept our borders open for decades without any real checks and balances. 

So what's the solution?

I am by no means an expert. I understand the problem, but that doesn't mean I know how to fix it. There are some things that do make logical sense to me though. So I'll share them with you here...
  1. The first thing we need to do is acknowledge that even though are governments may not be Christian, our people are, and we should act accordingly. That means our national policies and actions should be directed toward improving the overall human condition in both countries (America and Mexico) and that includes uplifting the traditional family.
  2. A border wall (or fence) could be erected, to curb the illegal flow of migrants and drugs. It won't stop them, but it would redirect them. This buys us a window of opportunity to address the root problems. It's a short window to be sure, so we must act quickly, otherwise that border wall will become a huge waste of time and money. It may even cause more problems than it solves.
  3. Mexico needs relief. A border wall would curb and redirect narco-traffic into the United States. That's going to crush the Mexican economy. So we have got to come up with a migrant-worker system that is fast, effective, and reasonable. Once the drug flow is obstructed, Mexicans will need to send more workers into America, or their economy will totally collapse. We have to be ready for that, and we have to process these people as quickly as possible. Making them legal documented workers will force big business to pay them fairly, and that will do two things. (1) It will put them on equal footing with American workers, eliminating the unfair hiring practices of big business. (2) It will allow fewer Mexican workers to send back more American dollars to their relatives in Mexico. Instead of a father and son crossing the border to work for $5/hour each, just the father could cross the border and work for $10/hour, making the same amount of money at only half the travel expense. Thus he would be able to send more money back home to Mexico while the older son could watch over the family until papa returns. There is no need to put any of these migrant workers on the path to citizenship. If the worker programs are fair and effective, they won't need to become Americans. They can send the money back home until things improve in Mexico enough to go back home.
  4. Building on #3, and this won't work without #3, we put a moratorium on all further legal immigration for 30 years. Foreigners can come here to work, but they can't become citizens. Those already in line for legal citizenship will be grandfathered in. Those who haven't applied yet, won't get another chance for 30 years. Those here illegally will have 6 months to apply for worker visas or be deported, and application for citizenship will not be permitted for those here illegally. This allows the great American melting pot to do its job of assimilation of legal immigrants already here.
  5. Repeal the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and replace it with a common sense American citizenship amendment. The 14th Amendment is an obsolete relic of the Civil War, that has already served its purpose and is long overdue for repeal. This is what creates "anchor babies", and it puts Mexican families with pregnant mothers at extreme risk crossing the border.  
  6. The American and Mexican military are going to have to work together to stop the drug trafficking. A border wall will help in this regard, but it won't stop it. There must be the proverbial "boots on the ground". The Mexican government needs help regaining control of the country from the Mexican Mafia. This is going to have to become an American priority. Instead of "nation-building" on the other side of the world, among people who will always hate us, why not redirect those efforts toward our neighbour next door, among people who will probably appreciate it in the long run. 
  7. On the same note as #6, American politicians are going to have to lean on Mexican politicians to allow some real foreign investment in Mexico. If Mexico doesn't cooperate in this area, they're only shooting themselves in the foot.
  8. Americans need to start going back to church again. A culture with no religion is no culture at all. The root word for culture is the Latin word cultus, which means religion. Culture, in its most basic form, is the way religion interacts with various ethnicities in various regions. If you don't have religion, you have no culture. Anglo culture is built on religion, just like Latino culture is. That religion is Christianity, and Anglo American culture is just as much Catholic as it is Protestant. Anglo American culture has absorbed French Catholics, Mexican Catholics, German Catholics, Irish Catholics and Italian Catholics. Catholicism is as American as apple pie. So remember that!
  9. Finally, Americans need to start having babies again. The culture of death, combined with the contraception mentality, is causing Anglo American culture to go into retreat. The ideal American family size should be three to four children, not zero to one. Since we cannot count on our governments to do anything about it, the churches are going to have to step up to the plate on this one. If they fail, it's on their heads.
  10. We should unashamedly love Anglo American culture. Building on #8 and #9, we need to be a culture in advance not decline. There are many positive things our Anglo American culture and heritage can give to the world. We can export that to other countries in a respectful way, if they're open to it. If not, it's their loss. That's how we need to think again. Mexico could benefit from some of our values and way of life. Granted, they need to preserve their own culture too, and I respect that. At the same time however, just as we Americans have benefited from Latino culture, so they too could benefit from Anglo culture. This is something for future generations to work out.
This is just how I look at things. The pope will not tell you this, because he's not an American, and he's not as deep into politics as people say he is. The pope cares about people, and if people are dying at the American southern border, than it's his job to acknowledge that and call for us to do something about it. What we do is not as important as how we do it. Whatever solution we employ, both in Mexico and America, it must be one that draws upon our common Christian values. That's what the pope is calling us toward.



Shane Schaetzel is an author of Catholic books, and columnist for Christian print magazines and online publications. He is a freelance writer and the creator of 'FullyChristian.Com -- The random musings of a Catholic in the Ozarks.'

Catholicism for Protestants

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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Why Do Catholics Use Graven Images?

The Interior of Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem
Notice the Temple is filled with "Graven Images"
Image Source: Bible Architecture 

QUESTION: Why do Catholics have statues of Mary and other Saints?
ANSWER: Statues, sculptures and paintings of various figures from the Bible, and various persons throughout history, are called icons, and they serve as visual reminders of these persons and the virtues they represent. They are used as visual aids in the same way a Bible serves as a written aid. When one enters a private home it is common to see pictures of family members on the walls, both living and deceased. In the same way, when one enters a Catholic Church, the images of loved ones in the Church are commonplace. (Catechism 1159 - 1162)

QUESTION: Doesn't the Bible forbid the use of statues and "graven images?"
ANSWER: I certainly hope not, since a photograph of any kind would qualify as a "graven image" even if it is only graven with ink. You better toss those family photos if that is the case! The Biblical passage most commonly used to support the notion that graven images are forbidden by God is Exodus 20:4-5.  However, just five chapters later (Exodus 25:18-19) the very same God that supposedly forbade all graven images then commanded Moses to make graven images. So which is it? Are we to have graven images or not? Was God effectively saying; "Make no graven images, except this one?" Then in Numbers 21:8-9, God again commanded Moses to make a graven image. Then in 1st Kings 6:23-29 and 1st Kings 7:25-45, we see that God actually blessed Solomon's Temple (depicted above), made in God's honour, which was covered with graven images inside and out!  Clearly, God does not have a problem with graven images; not statues, nor icons, nor paintings.

If we take a closer look at the context of the prohibition against graven images in Exodus 20, we can see that what God was really forbidding was the making of graven images dedicated to false gods. What God actually forbade was the worship of false gods, and any image that represented such false divinity. He was not prohibiting the creation and display of graven images in general. Nor did he forbid their use in places of worship dedicated to him. What God forbade was the creation of images that represent a deity (god or goddess) other than himself.  For God is not only a jealous God, but he does not contradict himself either.  It is illogical to say that God prohibits all graven images, but then commands and blesses the use of graven images.  When reading the Bible, remember the Rule of Context, which is "context rules!" To say that God prohibits all graven images because of one particular verse, and then just leave it at that, is a gross violation of the rule of context. God does not prohibit all graven images! What he prohibits is graven images of false gods. There is a difference.

We need to stop and think about this. Many Christians go around condemning Catholics for having "graven images", but then quite hypocritically put up nativity scenes at Christmas time. How is this any different? Those same Christians might have a painting or two of Jesus around the house, and they might even have a statue of Jesus, or some symbol of him, such as a lion or a lamb, in their churches. If God truly did forbid all graven images, of any kind, than Christian churches would have to look like Islamic mosques to be compliant with the commandment. All paintings, sculptures and photographs would have to be destroyed, not only in churches, but in people's homes, museums and in the public square as well. If God truly did forbid all graven images, than every photograph of our loved ones would have to be burned, and the Internet (filled with all sorts of images) would have to be avoided entirely. It's ridiculous isn't it? It's absurd! Obviously that can't be what God meant. Again, it's all about context. When God forbade graven images, he was talking about false gods (Pagan divinities).

Catholics don't use images of false gods (Pagan divinities). We use statues of real people instead, such as; Jesus, Mary, Joseph and all the Saints and Angels. This cannot be a sin, as I cited above that God even commanded the use of graven images in his own Temple during the Old Testament period.

More information on this topic can be found in my book Catholicism for Protestants.

More answers to questions on Catholic Christianity can be found on the Apologetics Page.


Shane Schaetzel is an author of Catholic books, and columnist for Christian print magazines and online publications. He is a freelance writer and the creator of 'FullyChristian.Com -- The random musings of a Catholic in the Ozarks.'

Catholicism for Protestants

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Do Catholics Worship Mary?

Catholic Children Pray to the Blessed Virgin Mary
Photo Credit: Fr. Christopher Phillips
Our Lady of the Atonement Catholic Church, San Antonio Texas
QUESTION: Do Catholics worship Mary?
ANSWER: No, Catholics do not worship (adore) Mary, nor do we worship anyone or anything other than the Trinitarian God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Catholic Church condemns the worship of anyone or anything else as idolatry (Catechism 2112 - 2114) and such idolatry could be punishable by excommunication, if such an idolater does not repent.

QUESTION: If Catholics do not worship Mary, why then do Catholics pray to Mary?
ANSWER: Catholics pray to Mary, other Saints and the holy angels, because we do not believe prayer, in and of itself, is worship (adoration). Catholics understand worship in the Biblical sense, which usually involves the presentation of an actual flesh and blood sacrifice (Genesis 4:4; Genesis 8:20; Exodus 22:20; 1st Samuel 15:22; Romans 5:10; 1st Corinthians 5:7; 1st Peter 2:5). This, coupled with the act of adoration (full submission of the mind, body, soul and will) is how Catholics understand worship in the usual Biblical sense. In the act of Holy Communion we unite ourselves with Christ's perfect sacrifice thus participating in real Biblical worship. (Catechism 2099 - 2100) The mere act of prayer is simply to offer requests and does not, in and of itself, constitute worship in the full Biblical sense.

QUESTION: Why pray to Mary and the Saints at all when you can take your prayers directly to God?
ANSWER: As Catholics we do take our prayers directly to God all the time. We do so publicly during the Divine Liturgy (Holy Mass) and also during the Divine Office (Liturgy of the Hours), as well as during the administration of all the sacraments. We also take our prayers directly to God during private devotion and prayers as well. In addition to this, we also pray to Mary, the Saints and the holy angels, because we view them as "prayer partners" in our devotion to God. (Catechism 2683 - 2684) They assist us in our prayers in the sense that they pray with us to God. Just as we ask friends and neighbours in this world to pray for us, so we also ask friends in the next world to pray for us as well. The Bible itself gives us indications that this is a wholesome and acceptable practise (Tobit 12:12; Mark 12:26-27; Mark 9:4; Hebrews 12:1; Revelation 5:8; Revelation 8:4).

QUESTION: How is praying to the Saints not necromancy or witchcraft which is forbidden in the Bible?
ANSWER: There is absolutely nothing in the Bible that forbids praying to the Saints. Jesus himself did it in Mark 9:4. While Jesus is divine and able to communicate with the dead freely, he was also a Jewish man under the Law of Moses when he did this.  If he broke the Law of Moses he could not be God nor a perfect sacrifice for our sins. Thus simple communication with the dead, through the Holy Spirit, cannot be a violation of God's law.  If it's good enough for the Son of God, than it's good enough for us.

The Scripture passage that is commonly used here, in an attempt to equate prayer to Saints with necromancy or witchcraft, is Deuteronomy 18:10 in which God strictly forbids witchcraft. This is then combined with the Scripture that recalls King Saul's encounter with the witch at Endor (1st Samuel 28). Because the witch engaged in conjuring up the dead (a medium), it is mistakenly interpreted that any attempted contact with the dead is a form of witchcraft.

First of all, when Catholics pray to a deceased person, we do not expect that person to answer us in a way we can hear, as is typically expected when one visits a medium. Second, when we pray to a deceased person, we do so through the Holy Spirit, and it is the Holy Spirit who makes that communication possible. We make no attempt to circumvent (get around) God and talk to the dead ourselves, expecting some kind of reply apart from God.  That really would be witchcraft and necromancy. The very definition of witchcraft is to attempt to do spiritual things apart from God.  We Catholics have no desire for this and such things are forbidden by the Church anyway.

As I said, there is no Scriptural prohibition against praying to the Saints and I defy anyone to present me with one.  You see, Catholic Christians believe that death is truly conquered in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We do not believe people in Heaven are really dead.  We believe they are living, and they are just as connected to the Holy Spirit as we are, if not more so. They are more finely attuned to what is happening in the Body of Christ than we are. Therefore, we can communicate with them. We can send messages to them, through the Holy Spirit in prayer, and we most certainly can ask them to pray for us, which is what we do. The real question here is to ask; why do some Christians not pray to Saints?  Has not the power of death truly been conquered in the resurrection of Jesus Christ?  Why do some Christians assert that the dead are truly dead and helpless when the Bible says they are not? (Hebrews 12:1; Revelation 5:8)  Perhaps the answer can be found in their refusal to pray to angels as well.  They mistake prayer for worship.

More information on this topic can be found in my book Catholicism for Protestants.

More answers to questions on Catholic Christianity can be found on the Apologetics Page.



Shane Schaetzel is an author of Catholic books, and columnist for Christian print magazines and online publications. He is a freelance writer and the creator of 'FullyChristian.Com -- The random musings of a Catholic in the Ozarks.'

Catholicism for Protestants

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Wednesday, February 03, 2016

How to Keep Your Kids Catholic

Bible Belt sidewalk preacher, Covington, GA. Wiki Commons: Ncsr11, source

It's the nightmare every Catholic parent dreads. The thought of their adult child, coming home from college, and telling his/her parents that he's left the Catholic Church, has been 'born again', and that the Catholic Church is a 'false religious system' that is taking his/her parents to Hell. It's happened millions of times in the United States, and in other nations with a heavy Evangelical presence. Actually, it's been going on for a long time -- five centuries to be exact.

The purpose of this essay is to help Catholic parents keep their kids Catholic. I have a little experience in this area, not only because I'm a Catholic father, but because I am a convert from Evangelicalism. In fact, during my days as an Evangelical, I converted no less than a handful of Catholics to Evangelicalism. Yes, I drug young people out of the Catholic Church, and I was fairly good at it. I've spent the last 15 years trying to make atonement for that behaviour, by helping Catholics understand their faith and defend it. Now I want to help Catholic parents save their kids from Evangelicalism, and this essay will do so by outlining some of the tactics this former Evangelical used, and how to counter them in a proactive way. I had thought of making a more detailed version of this information in the form of a booklet for purchase, but I've since decided this information is just too important to put a price tag on. So I give it to you now -- free of charge. Please don't just gloss over this. Take it seriously.

The following is straight talk. I'm going to be blunt and direct, because this is serious stuff, from one Catholic parent to another. We don't have time for flowery language. I need to get this point across to you. It really is that important. So expect a little street vernacular here. I'm trying to drive a point home!

Please share this essay using social media (social media icons below), and by email, with whomever you like. Use this essay as a springboard to save you children and rescue their Catholic faith before its too late...


This is perhaps the greatest problem in the Catholic Church. Catholic parents simply don't know their faith well enough to pass it on to their children. Or, even worse, they have a lopsided understanding of the Catholic faith, putting too much emphasis on the details of Catholicism, and not enough emphasis on the core Gospel. This is how Evangelicals get your kids. That's how I did it, and they're still doing the same thing today. Nothing has changed since I joined the Catholic Church over 15 years ago. If anything it's only gotten worse.

Evangelicals approach your children with a basic proposition. What they give them is the core of the Gospel. It's basically the same stuff the Catholic Church officially teaches, but the Evangelical has its presentation down to a science. Then they ask your child; 'Now, have you ever heard it said that way in a Catholic Church before?' Most of the time, your child will answer 'no', and for the most part, he's usually right. Catholic churches in America have done an absolutely HORRIBLE job presenting the core Gospel in a clear and succinct way in recent decades. I'm not going to go into the reason for this. It doesn't matter. What matters is that what is passed off as a homily in most parishes these days actually sucks! Sorry to be so bold with common street vernacular, but it's the truth and it needs to be said. Catholic priests and deacons need to do a better job at this. The core gospel needs to be repeated regularly and succinctly from the pulpit. If it's not, than pastors should be prepared for an ageing and shrinking congregation. Again, sorry to be so bold, but it must be said. As an Evangelical I relied heavily on Catholic priests and deacons to give long-winded homilies that focused on feel-good messages that spent a lot of time on details, without going into the core of the Gospel too deeply. I couldn't have done what I did, if they hadn't done what they did. In fact, my ability to pull teenagers and young adults out of the Catholic Church was 100% dependent on bad teaching from the Catholic pulpit. Couple that with Catholic parents who were basically clueless, and presto! I had a new Evangelical in the making. It was easy! I mean super easy. If I were still at it today, which by the grace of God I am not, I have no doubt I could have easily pulled hundreds of people out of the Catholic Church by now. With the advent of the Internet, I could rake them in by the dozens. Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I was better at it than the average Evangelical street preacher, and a lot more likeable too. I converted Catholics away from the Church primarily through the personal relationships I made with them. Yes, my friendship was sincere. I wasn't faking it or anything like that. But at the same time, I understood that making friends was a big part at getting them to eventually follow my Evangelical beliefs. I was sincere in everything I did. I didn't use people, or manipulate them, and most Evangelicals are the same. Yes, I was sincere in my faith, my intentions, and even my tactics. Sadly, I was also sincerely wrong. I know that now, and that's why I'm revealing all.

The Core Gospel

So what is the core Gospel? Parents, this is essential. If you don't know this, and know it by heart, and convey this to your kids, than it's over. It's over before it ever began. You might as well hang up that rosary now, because your Catholic faith ends with you. Your kids will not pass it on. So here is the core of the Gospel...
God is real, and God hates sin. The 'wages of sin is death' (Romans 6:23), that is eternal separation from God in Hell. This is God's absolute justice, and since we are all sinners, this is exactly what we all deserve -- ALL OF US! (Romans 3:23) However, God loves us, and he doesn't want this to happen to us. 'For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.' (John 3:16) Therefore, God sent his Only Begotten Son, the Word, or Second Person of the Trinity, to take on human flesh and become fully man. (John 1:1-5 & 14) This God-Man, Jesus Christ, representing the whole human race, took on all of our sins, and died for us on the cross, paying our penalty in our place. (Romans 5:8; 2 Corinthians 5:14; 1 Peter 3:18) 
So now, anyone who places his/her trust in him and follows him, may be saved and brought into Heaven at the end of this life (Psalm 13:5; Psalm 20:7; Psalm 84:12; Proverbs 3:5-6; John 11:25; John 14:1; Romans 15:13), and then be resurrected at the end of the world, to live with God forever in glory (Luke 14:4; John 6:40, 54;  Romans 6:4; 1 Corinthians 6:14; 1 Thessalonians 4:14). We each must make a personal commitment to Jesus Christ. It begins with our baptism and confirmation, but it doesn't stop there. The commitment must be daily, to trust in Jesus as King, Lord and Saviour, to have a relationship with him as such. We must communicate with God daily (prayer), share our lives with him, and obey him, as would be required in any other relationship we had with a king.
That's the gist of it folks. That's the core Gospel. Surely you've heard most of this before. We recite almost all of it weekly in the Nicene Creed said at mass. The trick is to make this personal. It needs to be integrated into our lives as a daily thing. There are many other Catholic teachings which are very important, but this is the CORE of our Catholic Christian faith. If we don't have this down, we've got nothing.

I want to make this crystal clear, because you cannot give to your children that which you do not have yourself. Now the state of catechises, liturgy and homilies in our parishes may be poor, but that doesn't mean that the state of catechises and prayer in our homes has to be poor. We can have watered-down Catholicism in our parishes, but that doesn't mean we need to have watered-down Catholicism in our homes too. While the state of catechises, liturgy and homilies is gradually improving in our parishes, thanks to the arrival of younger (and better trained) priests, the progress is slow, and we can't wait for that to happen while our children are growing up. If we were to wait until our parishes change, our kids would be grown, married and living in their own as Evangelicals before the necessary changes are FINALLY in place. We, as parents, just don't have that kind of time. Our children are growing fast, and we can't wait for the Church to catch up. We, as parents, need to act in a preventive way.

You'll need to begin teaching your kids this stuff immediately, starting at about the age they can coherently speak, in words they can understand. Then you'll want to continue teaching them this throughout the rest of their childhood, teen years, until they become adults. There can be no compromise on this, and there can be no laxity. Repetition is essential! Adjusting the message, in age-appropriate words is important too. Give them more information as their little brains are able to handle it. Keep elaborating as they get older.

So it begins with the core Gospel, which I outlined above, and it continues with solid teaching on the Eucharist and Apostolic authority. I'm sorry, but if you want to keep your kids Catholic, there just can't be any compromise on these things. Not even an inch.

The Eucharist

The next teaching you'll need to reinforce regularly is the Eucharist. Now the Eucharist is the literal body and blood of Christ. It's not figurative. It's not representational. It's not symbolic. It's real. That is the primary reason why we go to mass, so that we may physically communion with God in the Eucharist. If you need more information on that, read my essay on the Eucharist here. If you want to keep your kids going to mass, you need to tell them this, with no compromises and without apology. If they want to commune with God physically, there is only one place they can do that -- the Catholic Church.

All other 'communion services' in Protestant churches are not legitimate offerings of the Eucharist. When a Protestant minister offers bread and wine, it remains just that, bread and wine. In most cases, especially among Evangelicals, there is no attempt to hide this. They will freely admit that everything they're doing in regards to Holy Communion is just symbolic, and they make no pretence about this. If you ask them if it remains bread and wine, they will tell you it remains bread and wine. They'll tell you everything they do is just symbolic. They're very honest about this. So when you ask them; what is meant by 'Holy Communion'? They will tell you they are really communing with each other, and the act of taking bread and wine is just to symbolically 'remember' Jesus together. That is all.

However, when a Catholic priest offers bread and wine, we know it becomes the literal body and blood of Christ. So the when Catholics partake of Holy Communion, we really are having actual COMMUNION with God! For us, it's not just about gathering together to remember something or Someone. No! For us it's about all of us having direct physical contact with God in a very physical way. We are communing with HIM, not each other. Though admittedly, by communion with HIM, we are additionally coming into greater communion with each other too, but this happens through HIM, because we share his body and blood. In effect, we become what we eat -- the Body of Christ. As parents we cannot compromise on this. If we fail by compromising here, like the core Gospel, you can plan on visiting your grandchildren in an Evangelical church.

Apostolic Succession 

This last issue of Apostolic Succession, is related to the first two, and is intimately connected to the second especially -- the Eucharist. Apostolic succession is about the authority of Jesus Christ. You see while he was on earth, both before and after his resurrection, Jesus vested full authority in his apostles to not only preach and safeguard his teachings, but also administer his sacraments. Only the apostles had this authority from Jesus. However, one of their authorities was the ability to pass on this authority to others through ordination. So the apostles passed on their full authority to their successors, hence the name Apostolic Succession. These successors we call the Catholic bishops. If you need more information on this, read my essay on Authority In Focus.

Apostolic Succession is related to the core Gospel because we wouldn't have the core Gospel today without Apostolic Succession. You see, over the centuries, lots of different groups preached lots of different gospels that were very different from the core Gospel I outlined above. Some of these groups even had their own version of the Scriptures -- their own version of the New Testament.

Now the New Testament that all Christians use today, including all Protestants, is the same as the Catholic New Testament. It consisted of exactly 27 books from Matthew to Revelation. It was first published, in a single volume, in AD 367 by a Catholic bishop in northern Africa named Athanasius. It was later canonised after multiple synods and a papal decree in AD 405. Yes, the writings of the New Testament date back to the first century, but they were not compiled into a single volume that everyone could read until the late fourth century. So how do Christians, even Protestants, know that the New Testament we have today is accurate? Simple. The bishops and pope who canonised them (made them official), were legitimate bishops who had Apostolic Succession, and by their authority, they said it is accurate. That's it! That's the only thing we really have! That means you could trace their ordinations back to the original apostles. The other New Testaments that various people compiled gradually went extinct, because their compilers didn't have Apostolic Succession, so nobody trusted them.

Today, Protestant and Evangelical ministers can't canonise Scripture, and they usually make no pretence about it. Ask almost any Evangelical pastor if he has Apostolic Succession, and he'll freely tell you 'No!' That is, if he even knows what it means. So the long and short of it is this. Protestant pastors cannot trace their ordination back to the original apostles, and they know it, and they make no attempt to hide it. Furthermore, in order for them to preach on Sundays, they need to use a Bible, particularly a New Testament, which was compiled by Catholic bishops 1,600 years ago who did have Apostolic Succession. So Protestants rely on the New Testament, which is a Catholic book, in order to preach their Protestant message. Go figure!

That's how Apostolic Succession relates to the preaching of the core Gospel, even in non-Catholic churches. Protestants needed Catholic bishops to get the Bible they so heavily rely on. Without those Catholic bishops, 1,600 years ago, they wouldn't even have a Bible today.

Now getting Protestants to understand this is difficult. Most of the time it just goes right over their heads. There have been a few times I've actually been successful at getting some Protestants to understand this, and in almost every case when I did, they immediate replied with something to the extent of: 'Well, that may be true, but I believe that the Holy Spirit was capable of inspiring those bishops to pick the right books for the New Testament, in spite of them being Catholic.' So they acknowledge the Holy Spirit operating through the Catholic bishops, to give us the New Testament, but then immediately dismiss any inspiration from the Holy Spirit before or after that event. I'm not sure how anyone is able to make this illogical leap, but they do it all the time.

However, as Catholic parents, it's not our job to convince Protestants of this. That's their problem, not ours. Our job is to keep our kids Catholic, and that means when they're old enough to understand these things (about age 10) you're going to have to tell them about it, and you should not only tell them once, but repeatedly. It should be drilled into their heads so they remember it. That is, when they're old enough to understand this concept (about age 10).

So in addition to relaying what I described above about the Bible, you'll want to tell them this...
  1. The Bible is a Catholic Book. It was compiled by Catholics in the 4th century to counter the errors of non-Catholics, and that even Protestant ministers have to use a Catholic book to be able to preach their messages every Sunday morning.
  2. The Bible nowhere tells us that we must only use the Bible Alone. In fact it says the opposite, telling us to listen to our bishops and obey their Traditions too. So saying we only need the Bible, and nothing else, actually goes against the Bible.
The second point is a strong one to make with you kids, when their old enough to understand, because most Protestants approach every religious conversation with the presupposition that we should only use the Bible and nothing else. They broach the topic of religion with the idea that it is wrong to use anything but the Bible. That concept actually contradicts the Bible. If you want more information about this, read my essay about how the Bible is not Alone.

I can't stress this enough. There is not a single verse in the Bible that tells us to follow the Bible ALONE -- not a single verse. However, there are plenty of verses telling us to follow tradition and the bishops. This is the Achilles Heel of Evangelical Protestantism. They have no Bible passage they can use to support their most important Evangelical tenet -- their Bible Alone teaching. They're literally helpless on this, and most of them don't even know it. Make sure your kids do!!!

Additional Catholic Teaching

Additional Catholic teaching is very important too, and we should not neglect that for the sake of (1) the core Gospel, (2) the Eucharist and (3) Apostolic Succession. However, when it comes to dealing with Evangelicals, additional Catholic teachings are distractions. If you want to keep your kids Catholic, you've got to focus in on these above three things like a laser beam.

Having good answers for accusations of Mary worship, Saint worship, papal worship, Pagan practises, etc., these are good to have, but they're not always necessary. Remember, while converting Protestants would be nice, that is not our initial goal here as Catholic parents. Our goal as Catholic parents is to keep our kids Catholic, and that means giving them the tools they need to resist attacks on their faith. If they can effectively do that, than converting some of their friends will happen naturally and organically. A knowledgeable Catholic is an attractive Catholic, and some Protestants will take notice of that. Some Protestants will even want to become Catholic as a result. It's inevitable. Now that doesn't mean turning our kids into little Catholic apologists, but it does mean helping them know their own faith. And that in turn will help them recognise Protestant baloney when its presented to them.

If you're looking for good age-appropriate catechisms, I recommend these...

The New Saint Joseph Baltimore Catechism is one of the best out there for children, and adults like it too. The pink Number 1 book is for younger children (12 and younger), and the grey Number 2 book is for older children (over 12). The blue First Communion Catechism booklet is a short condensed catechism that is fantastic for very young children. Any parent can go through these catechisms with their children easily. They're copiously illustrated, and filled with useful information that any Catholic, young or old, will appreciate. As for retailers, you can check with your local Catholic book store, or you can order online with many retailers. Just do a web search for: 'New Saint Joseph Baltimore Catechism' and take your pick.

If you really want to go that extra mile, there is but one more thing you could do, and it's completely optional. It's called the Friendly Defenders Catholic Flash Cards...

These are great, because they're designed to get kids mentally prepared for the kind of questions Protestant children often ask. They not only give the appropriate responses, but also back it with Scripture passages and citations from the Catechism and Church history. You can make a game out of this with your children, but I think the appropriate age category is about 10 and up.  Again, check your local Catholic book store, and if they can't get it, you can pick your retailer online by doing a web search for: 'Friendly Defenders Catholic Flash Cards'.

You also really should read the Bible to your children too. I have found a good place to start is with picture Bibles when their young. There is one Bible I will highly recommend. It's not a Catholic Bible, unfortunately, but I haven't yet found anything in it that is harmful to Catholicism, and I've actually been impressed with the catholicity of some aspects of it. It's called The Action Bible, and it's laid out in a comic book format. It's a good place to start with children ages 5 to 12, but when they get to be teenagers, you really need to switch to an adult Bible. When you're ready to make the switch, I recommend the Revised Standard Version -- Catholic Edition (RSV-CE). As for letting your older children get involved in Bible study groups, don't do it, unless you know they're Catholic. I mean you need to be 100% sure they are Catholic. They should be put on by your local Catholic parish or some kind of Catholic youth group. Do not, under any circumstances, allow your children or teens to attend Protestant Bible studies. Historically speaking, this is where Protestants apply the most pressure on our Catholic kids.

Look, back when I was an Evangelical, whenever I encountered a Catholic who understood these things, even just partly, his/her ability to resist my Evangelical approach was solid. I couldn't get him/her to budge. It seemed they had an answer to most of my questions and accusations against the Catholic Church. They seemed to genuinely have a relationship with Jesus Christ that I couldn't deny. And even when I thought I had them with a real zinger, the fact that they didn't have an answer didn't seem to bother them much. They were confident in their Catholic faith, and to be quite honest with you. As an Evangelical, I really didn't know what to do with that. Their spiritual defences were ironclad. To be quite honest with you, that didn't happen very often. Most young Catholics were not so well prepared.


Children can smell a hypocrite. If you're not living your faith, they'll know it. If you're not taking your Catholic Christian faith seriously, than neither will they. It's like I said above, you can't give your children what you yourself don't have. If your Catholicism sucks, theirs will too. It's as simple as that. So what if your Catholicism does suck. Now what?

They have a saying in the U.S. military. It's called 'fake it until you make it'. I know, it sounds silly, but actually it's pretty good advice. Soldiers use it all the time. They fake being good soldiers, until the figure out how to be good soldiers, and finally get used to it. They literally fake it, until they make it.

Sometimes we have to pretend to be good Catholics for a while, at least while we're trying to learn how to be good Catholics. It's not hard really. For example; let's say you haven't been to confession since your first communion. You don't even remember how to do it! No problem. This is what you do. You say to your child you're going to confession, then you go. You have your child wait in the pew outside the confessional. You go inside, close the door, and then spill the beans to Father. Tell him everything. Tell him you haven't been to confession in decades, you have no freaking clue what you're doing, and you need his help to get through this. Trust me, he'll help you. Then, you casually exit the confessional, go do you penance (pretending like its second nature!) while your child is watching, then take him/her by the hand and go do the rest of your errands for the day. Your child never need be the wiser. You just fake it until you make it. Repeat this approach for every sacrament until finally you're back into the routine of being a good Catholic. You see; you faked it, until you made it! It really does work.

The same goes for standard practise in your home. Kids need prayer, both ritual prayer at meals and bedtime, as well as spontaneous prayer when the need arises. Pray with your kids regularly, so that they know God is a regular part of their lives.

On that note, think about how you're living, acting and speaking around your children. You don't need me to tell you the difference between right and wrong. You know what to do, and what not to do. So if you're not living, acting and speaking like a Catholic should, work on changing that. Ask God for help, and don't be afraid to chat with a priest about it, especially in confession.

Beyond that you should really consider what kind of Catholicism your exposing your children to at your local parish. You should seek out more traditional forms of Catholic worship. Here is why. Some decades back, many Catholic leaders got it in their heads that the best way to keep kids from leaving the Church for Protestantism, was to redesign Catholic worship and make it look more Protestant. Did it work? Look around. It was a miserable failure. The best way to keep kids Catholic is to provide for them a style of worship that is the opposite of Protestant worship. It should be something they CAN'T get in a Protestant church. So the more traditionally Catholic your parish is, the better. The old traditional Latin mass stands as the STANDARD of traditional Catholicism. I'm not saying you need to go Latin though. What I am saying is that you should try to seek out a Catholic parish that tries to emulate this standard as much as possible in their regular vernacular worship. If you can't find such a parish nearby, then talk to your priest about it. Just ask him to bring in a few traditional elements to the mass; like bells, incense, some more chant, and maybe even an altar rail for people who want to kneel. Some priests may not be receptive to this. Others will be, especially younger ones. But you'll never know what side your priest falls on until you politely ask. On that note, I will tell you this. There is no more powerful way to convey to your children the divinity of Christ in the Eucharist, than to kneel for communion.


If you decide to get the Friendly Defenders Catholic Flash Cards, this section will be covered there. We just can't keep our kids in the dark about this stuff. They need to understand what is going on around them, and why their friends go to other churches, and most of all, why they are so intent on getting your kid to join them. It's all very tempting for a Catholic child, and especially a teenager. It's all about peer pressure. Their Protestant friends will undoubtedly try to get them to go to Protestant Bible studies, youth groups, and even Bible camps. All their friends may be going. So this is something you need to prepare them for ahead of time. You need to explain what is wrong with Protestantism, and why there is so much confusion. It will help your child understand when you say 'no' to their requests to join their Protestant friends in Protestant activities.

The following is a graph that explains the origins of some of the more popular Protestant groups...

click image to enlarge

As you can see, they all resulted from two major schisms with the Catholic Church about 500 years ago. Probably the best advice I can give you is to avoid spending a lot of time studying Protestant beliefs. The variations are endless! Study your own Catholic faith instead.

You only need to know just a few things. The most aggressive Protestants tend to follow the Evangelical belief system. Biblically speaking, they're fundamentalists, but that doesn't mean they're all mean and judgemental. Protestants are just like Catholics, in the sense that there are all types, and everyone has their own personality and disposition. That being said, there are a few things to look out for...

Are you saved? Are you born again? Are you a Christian? Is Jesus Christ your personal Lord and Saviour? Basically all of these questions mean the same thing. What they're asking is 'Are you an Evangelical?' But the trick is, they're asking it in such a way that if you answer wrong, or dismiss their question, it makes it appear as if you don't love Jesus. Here is how you answer all of these questions in a way that will stump them...
Yes, I am a Catholic Christian, and I was born again at baptism. I am being saved because Jesus is my personal Lord and Saviour, and I trust in him alone for my salvation. Praise the Lord!
I guarantee you, most Evangelicals won't know what to do with that. You see, they're not used to hearing that from Catholics. It will stump them. Some will just accept you as a brother/sister Christian, and that will be that. Others, still won't accept that answer coming from a Catholic, but they won't know what to do with it either.

Evangelical Protestants see salvation as a one-time magical event, that happens when you stand in front of a church, or a group of Evangelical believers, and profess your faith in a format called the 'Sinner's Prayer'. Then once that is done -- POOF! -- you're 'saved' and your entry into Heaven is guaranteed! So that's what they're trying to get your Catholic kid to do. Actually, the 'Sinner's Prayer' in and of itself is harmless. They just ask Jesus Christ to come into their lives as their Personal Lord and Saviour, and then they ask the Holy Spirit to help them live good Christians lives. Again, this is harmless. What follows is what's problematic. Often, after saying the prayer, they want you to attend their Evangelical church, and they'll often say just about anything to get you to do it. That's when they pour on the anti-Catholic rhetoric. By using the above answer, you demonstrate that Jesus is already your personal Lord and Saviour, thus the 'Sinner's Prayer' is unnecessary, because you've already professed your faith. This leaves Evangelicals confused, not knowing what to do next.

The statement I suggested above is also doctrinal accurate from a Catholic perspective, because it acknowledges the Catholic truth that salvation is not a one time magical event. It happens gradually, over a lifetime. It begins with baptism, and is strengthened through confirmation and the Eucharist. Then it is completed upon our death, assuming we have been faithful to Christ, and trusted him in everything.

Remember, as Catholic parents it's not our job to get our kids to convert their Protestant friends, but it is our job to make sure our kids understand where the problems are with Protestantism, and why we shouldn't fall into those same errors ourselves. The biggest errors of Protestantism centre around Apostolic Succession and the Eucharist. There are many other errors too -- lots of them -- but these are the two biggest.


It's our job as Catholic parents to keep our kids Catholic, and that means explaining our own faith well, living it well, and making sure our kids understand the problems with Protestantism. At the same time however, we don't want to come across to them as unfairly prejudiced toward Protestants either. Remember, Protestants are NOT a bogeyman! Those that have been baptised in the name of the Trinity are actually our separated brothers and sisters in Christ, and we need to make sure our kids understand that.

At the same time, our kids need to understand that Protestantism is not equal to Catholicism. They're not the same thing, and yes the differences do matter. Many Catholics who leave Catholicism for Protestantism end up leaving Protestantism eventually to, and move on to... well, nothing. For many Catholics, not all but many, Protestantism is the last stop on the train ride to atheism or agnosticism, or 'spiritual but not religious' nothing-ism. Our kids need to understand this, when they're old enough to emotionally deal with it, we have to tell them. Not all Catholics who convert to Protestantism go this way, but a large number of them do.

On the flip side, I have experienced that some Catholics, who turn Evangelical Protestant, don't end up losing their Christian faith (thank God), but sadly they turn into the most rabid anti-Catholics I've ever seen. They end up with an axe to grind against the Catholic Church, like a disgruntled fired employee hates his former employer. They attack it at any chance they get, and feel it is their mission to get their friends and family out of the Catholic Church. In my experience, whether it be an eventual slide into atheism, or a disgruntled former Catholic that's turned anti-Catholic, conversion of Catholics to Protestantism almost never goes well. It's like poison to the Catholic soul.

We need to love our separated brethren in Protestant communities, show them charity, and work with them whenever we can. Those who were born into such communities can never be held responsible for the sin of schism. It wasn't their fault. They were born into it. They didn't have a choice. Catholics, however, who left Catholicism to join Protestant communities are probably victims too. They are usually victims of poor catechises, parents who didn't care to show them how to be good Catholics, and Catholic parishes that gave them the impression that Protestantism is 'okay' because of their Protestantised masses.

So we have to level with our kids, and be brutally honest with them, showing no sentimentality toward Protestantism, but at the same time showing them charity toward Protestants. It's a fine line, but one that we as Catholic parents have to walk. We have no choice. It's the job we signed up for, whether we realised it or not.


I hope this essay has been of some help to you. If it has, I ask that you share it using the social media icons below.


Shane Schaetzel is an author of Catholic books, and columnist for Christian print magazines and online publications. He is a freelance writer and the creator of 'FullyChristian.Com -- The random musings of a Catholic in the Ozarks.'

Catholicism for Protestants

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