Monday, May 21, 2012

All Souls Day: A Christian Practice?



"19 And when they say to you, “Seek those who are mediums and wizards, who whisper and mutter,” should not a people seek their God? Should they seek the dead on behalf of the living? 20 To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.21 They will pass through it hard-pressed and hungry; and it shall happen, when they are hungry, that they will be enraged and curse their king and their God, and look upward. 22 Then they will look to the earth, and see trouble and darkness, gloom of anguish; and they will be driven into darkness." - Isaiah 8:19-22 NKJV . . .

In this account found in the book of Isaiah, Isaiah is rationalizing with a people who are seeking everything but God, including the dead. This practice is clearly seen as something God does not want us to be involved with. Yet we find an event titled “All Souls Day” or “Dia De Los Meurtos” (Day Of The Dead) being practiced today and it claims to be rooted in the Christian faith. I hope to enlighten you on what these events are and what God’s word says about such things. “All Souls Day” or “Dia De Los Muertos” is defined as an event held on November 2nd to commemorate those who have passed on usually in the form of a celebration. It appears to be connected to Catholicism and its view on a place named “purgatory”.







What is “purgatory” ? Let’s see what the Vatican website (1) has to say on such things (Vatican holds all information concerning Roman Catholicism, the text from their site will be posted in white text.) I also will fill in in the dark blue text verses from God’s word, and my input in light blue text as demonstrated here) to shed some more light on this interesting observance:

“III. THE FINAL PURIFICATION, OR PURGATORY

1030 All who die in God's grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.
(“6 So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. 7 For we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. The Judgment Seat of Christ” - 2 Corinthians 5:6-10 NKJV Scripture indicates we will be with the Lord and be with Him in heaven remember what we read Jesus tell the criminal in Luke “39 Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.
40 But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.” 42 Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” 43 And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”- Luke 23:6-39 NKJV
"9 Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. -2 Corinthians 5:9-10 NKJV"
)

1031 The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned.606 The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent. The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire:607
(We read that Jesus was purged for us “ 3 who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,” - Hebrews 1:3 NKJV More mentioned in the “Origin” section. )

As for certain lesser faults, we must believe that, before the Final Judgment, there is a purifying fire. He who is truth says that whoever utters blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will be pardoned neither in this age nor in the age to come. From this sentence we understand that certain offenses can be forgiven in this age, but certain others in the age to come.608
(This is a misunderstanding of the text, because this is the only thing mentioned that scripture declares will not be pardoned / forgiven and is meant to show the severity of the matter and no where else in scripture could we conclude that there are other sins having to do with the “age to come” (Matthew 12:31-32 NKJV) Let’s look at Mark’s account of Jesus' words concerning this issue (Mark 3:28-30 NKJV)
28 “Assuredly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they may utter; 29 but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to eternal condemnation”— 30 because they said, “He has an unclean spirit.”
What scripture teaches us is that their is only one way of cleansing and that is through  Jesus Christ“ 7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” - 1 John 1:7-9 NKJV All means all and what a blessing that is.

1032 This teaching is also based on the practice of prayer for the dead, already mentioned in Sacred Scripture: "Therefore [Judas Maccabeus] made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin."609
(Jesus is the only one who can make atonement for us now “ 26 For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; 27 who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. 28 For the law appoints as high priests men who have weakness, but the word of the oath, which came after the law, appoints the Son who has been perfected forever.“ - Hebrews 7:26-28 NKJV) From the beginning the Church has honored the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic sacrifice, so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God.610 The Church also commends almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead:

Let us help and commemorate them. If Job's sons were purified by their father's sacrifice, why would we doubt that our offerings for the dead bring them some consolation? Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them.611”
(We can not do anything for those who have died, and almost interesting enough if I could recall your attention to the verse in Isaiah 8 quoted at the beginning of this article listed at the end of verse 19 “. . . Should they seek the dead on behalf of the living? “ This teaching of purgatory directly goes against scripture. The scripture referenced is taken out of context, first of all Job’s children were not dead, here’s the verse : “5 So it was, when the days of feasting had run their course, that Job would send and sanctify them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, “It may be that my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus Job did regularly.” - Job 1:5 NKJV Keep in mind this was prior to Jesus’ death on the cross, all through out the Old Testament we see that people had to find a way to atone for their sins, it usually involved seeking the High Priest of the time (Think Leviticus 17:11 NKJV “11 For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.’)
And according to a document listed on the Vatican’s website (2) these have been some views on this thing called "purgatory" :
“committed to praying for the souls in purgatory, and the 40th anniversary of the bulletin Lumière et vie, which promotes prayer for the dead, I gladly join in spirit all those who will take part this year in the celebrations offered for those who have gone before us. Indeed, on the day after the feast of All Saints, when the Church joyfully celebrates the communion of saints and human salvation, St Odilo urged his monks to say special prayers for all the dead, thus mysteriously contributing to their entry into beatitude; the custom of solemnly interceding for the dead in a celebration which St Odilo called All Souls Day gradually spread from the Abbey of Cluny and is now the practice throughout the universal Church.”








As I read this I can’t help but notice how praying for the dead is being encouraged, but yet there’s more:

“The Lord always lets himself be moved by his children’s supplications, for he is the God of the living. During the Eucharist, through the general intercessions and the Memento for the dead, the assembled community presents to the Father of all mercies those who have died, so that through the trial of purgatory they will be purified, if necessary, and attain eternal joy. In entrusting them to the Lord, we recognize our solidarity with them and share in their salvation in this wondrous mystery of the communion of saints. The Church believes that the souls detained in purgatory “are helped by the prayers of the faithful and most of all by the acceptable sacrifice of the altar” (Council of Trent, Decree on Purgatory), as well as by “alms and other works of piety” (Eugene IV, Bull Laetantur coeli). “In fact, that same holiness, which is derived simply from their participation in the Church’s holiness, represents their first and fundamental contribution to the holiness of the Church herself, which is the ‘communion of saints’” (Christifideles laici, n. 17).

7. I therefore encourage Catholics to pray fervently for the dead, for their family members and for all our brothers and sisters who have died, that they may obtain the remission of the punishments due to their sins and may hear the Lord’s call: “Come, O my dear soul, to eternal repose in the arms of my goodness, which has prepared eternal delights for you” (Francis de Sales, Introduction to the Devout Life, 17, 4).

As I entrust the faithful who will pray for the dead to the intercession of Our Lady, of St Odilo and of St Joseph, patron of a happy death, I cordially grant my Apostolic Blessing to them and to the members of the diocesan community of Autun, to the members of the Archconfraternity of Our Lady of Cluny and to the readers of the bulletin Lumière et vie. I willingly extend it during the millennial year to all who pray for the intention of the souls in purgatory, who take part in the Eucharist and who offer sacrifices for the dead.

From the Vatican, 2 June 1998. “









“ Origins”

Let’s also take a look at the supposed origins of this thing called “purgatory”. It is claimed (3) to be borrowed from Judaism and they claim Zechariah 13:9 NKJV
“9 I will bring the one-third through the fire, Will refine them as silver is refined, And test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, And I will answer them. I will say, ‘This is My people’; And each one will say, ‘The LORD is my God.’ was the basis for this belief. As we take a look at the text if we were only to read the “through the fire” portion than we would walk away with that same view as well, but as we continue on, we find a couple of interesting observations in the text, such as the word “refine” (check out this page: http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H6884&t=NKJV (4)) and the word “test” (Check this out: http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H974&t=NKJV (5)). These words reveal to us that the text is talking about a situation they will be going through where they (Those who claim to be right with the Lord) will be tested to see if they will be found to be one of His people through their faith. God always keeps a remnant of His people, its all through out scripture. If we take a look to a similar passage found in 1 Peter 1:6-9 NKJV it might help give us better incite to the passage we just looked at in Zechariah : “6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, 8 whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls. “ Remember Peter the author was Jewish (a fulfilled/ messianic Jew thanks to Jesus the Messiah) and he would of known the scriptures (Tanakh = Old Testament) and recognizes in v.6 “you have grieved by various trials” in light of v. 7 reveals that the “tested by the fire” reference is clearly referring to their trial they are going through as much of Peter’s audience (Jewish believers) were those being persecuted for their faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior. We can start to better distinguish scripture in light of scripture and we start to see that the fire they are talking about is referring to "trials / tribulation". Some defenders of the "purgatory" view try and use a book that it not found in the Bible titled “ The Acts of Paul and Thecla”(6) to try and prove that purgatory is real Yet in the account they qoute as read here: “And after the exhibition, Tryphaena again received her [Thecla]. For her daughter Falconilla had died, and said to her in a dream: ‘Mother, you shall have this stranger Thecla in my place, in order that she may pray concerning me, and that I may be transferred to the place of the righteous’” (Acts of Paul and Thecla [A.D. 160]).”  we see this is nowhere found in actual scripture and the closest account to something similar in the actual book of Acts does not involve those same characters (Click here for the scripture: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=acts+9%3A37-40&version=NKJV) This is not an account of Peter praying to the dead, since she was brought back (In the verses found in the link above in Acts 9:37-40) shows that it was the Lord’s will for her to return and continue in her ministry and her rising might have been used to be a witness to those around to encourage their faith and belief in the Lord. Also interesting to take note of is nowhere do we find in the New Testament anybody who has died talking/ instructing people in their dreams as in the “ The Acts of Paul and Thecla” (6), and whenever a vision or dream took place it was either directly from the Lord or they were visited by an angel. Scripture also encourages us to “test the spirits” “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” - 1 John 4:1 NKJV The only Old Testament account listed (which went against laws outlined by God : Leviticus 19:31 NKJV, Leviticus 20:6 NKJV to name a few, the Lord was not pleased with this) was in 1 Samuel 28:6-22 NKJV (click here to read the text: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1%20Samuel%2028:6-22&version=NKJV)
As we have covered we see it’s Jesus who cleanses us from all of our sins as He was purged once for our sins. The scripture teaches you either go to heaven or hell and we are not to be consulting with the dead in any manner, Biblically this is a practice forbidden according to the very word of God. To find out more about how Roman Catholic teachings stray from the Bible check out :
*http://www.alwaysbeready.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=35&Itemid=53
*http://www.moriel.org/Discernment/5Q_6_Catholic/01_Intro.html
*http://www.moriel.org/Discernment/Discernment.html
(Click on “Catholicism”)
This helps us understand one stem of this event titled “All Soul’s Day” and reveals that as far as Roman Catholicism's teaching on "purgatory", Biblically this is not something scripture encourages or permits and should be avoided. Our heart is to lift up all of the Roman Catholics who practice this and those who teach this unbiblical doctrine of purgatory in prayer that they might be set free from this false practice / teaching and come to the truth of God‘s word. We love the Catholics but do not love the false teaching and want to see them free from its bondage. At the heart of the matter, just as scripture encourages we might want to ask ourselves if it met this criteria:
"17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him." - Colossians 3:17 NKJV If we know Jesus wants to give us life, and life more abundantly "10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." - John 10:10 NKJV We can see that the thief "satan" would do the opposite of Jesus. Paul points us to our victory, and our eyes should be on Jesus"54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory." 55 “ O Death, where is your sting?
O Hades, where is your victory?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law." - 1 Corinthians 15:54-56 NKJV
When we accept what Jesus has done on the cross (dying for our sins) and rising on the third day proving deity if we repent and believe that death no longer has a sting. In concluding I would encourage all to pray on for those who still partake in this practice, that involves celebrating death, praying to the dead, making offerings to the dead to be set free. As we read " 1 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory." - Colossians 3:1-4 NKJV lets seek those things above and in this case not "below". The only two deaths we celebrate result in life and focus on life not on death and those two deaths are: 1.) the death of Jesus on the cross (for our sins), where He had victory over death through His resurrection and 2.) the death of the old man or woman (our old selves before we were saved) we are called a "new creation" and "born-again", both of these focus on life because of the death of Jesus. May you be encouraged to do the same. We will continue on in this series tackling the different aspects of “All Soul’s Day” and how it responds Biblically in articles to come, may our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ bless you and your loved ones.

-Michael-Anthony Rene Chavez




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1. http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p123a12.htm
2. http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/letters/1998/documents/hf_jp-ii_let_19980602_cluny_en.html
3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purgatory “Judaism & Islam”
4. Blue Letter Bible. "Dictionary and Word Search for tsaraph (Strong's 6884)". Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2010. 4 Dec 2010. >< http:// www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm? Strongs=H6884&t=NKJV >
5. Blue Letter Bible. "Dictionary and Word Search for bachan (Strong's 974)". Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2010. 4 Dec 2010. <http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?
Strongs=H974&t=NKJV
>
6. http://www.churchfathers.org/category/salvation/purgatory/ “The Acts of Paul and Thecla”
.

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