I was taught that there were two types of sin, one was ”mortal sin” (the more serious) and the other was ”venial sin” (the less serious). I remember thinking to myself ”how can anybody keep up with all of that stuff?” I was taught that it was a mortal sin to miss Mass on Sunday which I had already done, and I knew that I had committed more than my share of ”venial sins”, so I started to become a little concerned about my soul. I was taught that there was a heaven, a hell, and another place called purgatory. Purgatory was described as a temporary place of punishment where the Catholic would stay until their love for God was perfect, and then they would proceed to heaven. Even at that young age their was enough conviction within my own heart to block out any thought of going to heaven, and even purgatory looked like a longshot to me. I went on to become an altar boy and being one of nine children I witnessed many ”First Communion” and ”Confirmation”ceremonies within my family. I must say that I always had a nagging question in the back of my mind, which was ”where would I go after I die?”
During the 1970′s I had an insatiable desire to know the truth. I would travel to a shopping mall on Long Island, because there were two large bookstores in the mall. I would head straight to the philosophy and religious section where I would browse through the books, shelf by shelf, from bookcase to bookcase. After the first bookstore I would head to the other bookstore and repeat the same process over again. I wanted to know the truth and I eventually filled a large box with books on a variety of topics. I read books on Zen and I read books on meditation. I bought books on self improvement and how to improve the mind. You name it, I bought it and I read it.
One night in late 1980 I was drinking at a club and around midnight I decided to leave. I headed out to the south shore of Long Island to check out another club. I had been drinking for a couple of hours, and I was tired, but I can remember thinking that I wanted to get my ”moneys worth” out of the weekend because it was back to work on Monday. I met my wife Cathy that night, and I remember when I left the club there was a ticket waiting on my windshield for parking on the street after 4AM. That was a typical weekend for me and many others of my age group during that time.
Cathy and I got married in July of 1981 and I still had the same desire and interest to seek out the truth. I read about a free seminar on mind control that spoke about improving ones mind power and memory. The seminar was being given a few miles from where we lived and I convinced Cathy to go with me. At the beginning of the seminar the teacher was talking about relaxation, emptying the mind, and visualization techniques. During this part of the class the teacher forgot what day it was and that just struck my funny bone. I could not stop laughing, to the point of tears, and this made Cathy laugh also. The teacher noticed us but simply smiled. The rest of the class had their eyes closed and they were in ”visualization mode.” As I look back on that day I truly believe that it was the Lord who protected us from becoming involved in that sort of thing. I believe when a person starts ”emptying their minds” that they can open themselves up to the occult, which in reality is the realm of the demonic.
During the mid 1980′s Cathy and I became aware of the Catholic Charismatic movement. The Mass was livelier and the songs were similar to those sung in Christian churches. We attended ”healing masses” which focused on healing and praying the rosary. The rosary contains prayers which are mostly ”Hail Mary’s”. At that time we became aware of what was known as the Marian apparitions at Medugorje. The ”Virgin Mary” was allegedly appearing before some young men and women and bringing forth a monthly message. We were fascinated by stories of rosary beads changing colors, from silver to gold, when people went to Medugorje.
During this same period we began visiting a church in New York City where the gospel of Jesus Christ was being preached. We heard testimonies of how people’s lives were being changed by the power of Jesus Christ. This fascinated us also because we were so accustomed to the rituals and rote prayers we said every Sunday at the Catholic Mass. As time went on we would attend Mass in the morning and visit the other church in the evening, and the power of God’s Word was bringing us into the knowledge of the truth.
Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (John 8:31-32)
Cathy told a Christian woman at that other church about the alleged appearances over in Yugoslavia. The woman quoted a verse of scripture to her:
And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. (2 Corinthians 11:14)
This troubled Cathy and she went before the Lord and asked Him to show her the truth no matter what. She prayed before the Lord with an open Bible and an open heart, and began to see many scriptures which contradicted the messages that were coming from the ”apparition of Mary” in Yugoslavia. This was very upsetting to her because we were really into this apparition thing. We had purchased videos and invited others to come to our home to view them with us. We also handed out pamphlets which promoted the apparition. We were evangelists for Mary at that time. Cathy was convinced that this whole thing was not of God and she tried to convince me, but I was not willing to listen. This went on for several weeks until one day she came down the stairs with tears in her eyes and asked me to listen to her. Something inside my heart told me to listen, and I did, and I told her that I would pray about it.
I knew that I had a choice to make. It was either the word of God (the bible) or the messages of ”Mary” from Medugorje. I chose to believe the word of God. I can remember the day when the Lord lifted the spiritual veil of deception which had covered my eyes. I was reading the gospel of John and it seemed that the words were jumping off the page at me. I knew at that moment that the Lord Jesus Christ was the Son of God who came down from heaven. I knew that the Lord Jesus Christ was persecuted and slain on the cross for my sins. This was”head knowledge” before but now it was revelation truth from heaven straight into my heart. The Lord Jesus Christ had become ever so real to me and I knew that He died for me. A change had taken place inside my heart, and I was born again in the true biblical way. Jesus said this:
That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. (John 3:6-7)
Cathy and I researched the messages from Medugorje and it was as if the Holy Spirit had taken a fluorescent hi-liter pen and began to expose the contradictions and falsehoods within those messages. We did the same with the other apparitions of Mary and we found them to contain similar errors.
As new Christians we now believed what Peter said and that we were now part of the ”priesthood of believers” (1 Peter 2:9) which encompasses people from every nation on planet earth. We now knew that we did not need the Roman Catholic Mass, which is called the ”Perfect Sacrifice Continued” (item 360 Baltimore Catechism p171), and which declares as its purpose ”to satisfy the justice of God for the sins committed against Him” (Item 361 Baltimore Catechism p173). We now believed what Jesus Christ proclaimed right before His life expired ”It Is Finished” (John 19:30). We now believed what Peter told us in one of his letters:
For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: (1 Peter 3:18)
We now believed what the apostle Paul told us in his letter to the Romans. We saw the value of the blood of Jesus Christ like never before.
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. (Romans 5:8-9)
We now knew that the Mass, which declares that Christ through the ministry of the priest is offering Himself to God in ”an unbloody manner” (item 357 Baltimore Catechism p168), was not in agreement with the Word of God which tells us this:
For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul. (Leviticus 17:11)
We also knew from studying the scriptures that the real Mary was a sinner just like the rest of us:
And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. (Luke 1:46-47)
Only sinners need a Saviour, and the Bible tells us that every single one of us has come short of the glory of God.
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.(Romans 3:23)
The last time that I find Mary mentioned in the scriptures is in the book of Acts:
And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren. (Acts 1:13-14)
Mary is listed here along with everyone else and she most certainly is not exalted above the others who are mentioned here. Mary was praying along with the rest of the other believers in Jesus Christ unto her God. None of the others are found praying to her as I did for many years and is still done today by multitudes.
One of the most striking things to me was the fact that the second commandment found in the Baltimore Catechism was not the same second commandment found in the bible. The real second commandment is found in Exodus 20 and reads as follows:
Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. (Exodus 20:4-6)
In the Roman Catholic Baltimore Catechism the second commandment is listed as “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.” (Baltimore Catechism item number 195, p 100)
How could there still be Ten commandments if the second commandment which dealt with graven images (statues) and which took up three verses in the scriptures is removed from the list?
The answer is found by taking a look at the ninth and tenth commandments in the Baltimore Catechism which are as follows:
9) Thou shalt not covet thy neighbors wife.
10) Thou shalt not covet thy neighbors goods.
(Baltimore Catechism item number 195, p100)
But the Bible relegates only one single verse to this subject which is found below.
Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s. (Exodus 20:17)
The Lord really opened up my eyes with this one because statues are found in Roman Catholic Churches all over the world. There are shrines to Mary all over the world. There are statues built to honor ”saints” all over the world. I can remember visiting a Catholic shop in search of a statue of Mary because I wanted to have my own little shrine in the attic of my home. A person had a choice of a plain white statue or one which included the colors of blue and white. I was shocked at the prices for even the smaller statues, and I never bought one. It was not long after that visit to the Catholic shop, that I got saved and saw all of these things as nothing but idolatry according to God’s word.
As the Lord continued to open up my eyes about the deception of Roman Catholicism I would share this with others including pastors. I soon found out that this is an issue which most pastors refrain from speaking about. There was so much compromise I did not know where to begin. I have to remind myself that the bible warns us about such things in the following verse:
Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; (1 Timothy 4:1)
If the Spirit of God, which is the Spirit of truth prophesied of such apostasy then it must certainly happen. Many pastors walk under the disguise of a ”love” which is nothing but a counterfeit love which creates a false ”unity” of believers in Jesus Christ. They lay aside the truth of God’s word and accept the doctrines of devils which Paul warned us about. On the surface they appear to be ”anointed” but in reality they are crafty compromiser’s of God’s word. Some are very aware of what is going on, but they remain silent because it is not popular to speak out against these things. True love warns people about false doctrine and calls it what it is in order to protect the sheep. True Godly and biblical love can be found in the ministry of the Jewish apostle Paul who never failed to warn the people whom he loved so dearly.
Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. (Acts 20:26-31)”