Relics, Holy Water, and Other “Stuff”

Relics, Holy Water, and Other “Stuff”

Many non-Catholics are scandalized by the physical nature of Catholic life. They view things like relics, holy water, and other sacramentals as either materialistic or superstitious. But Catholics know that from the beginning God looked upon the created world and saw that it was “good.” Since the beginning He has used created things and material rituals for our sanctification, and He has never stopped using them. (Leviticus 17:11, John 9:7) The immaterial uncreated God took flesh in a material and created body for our sakes. We become children of God through the water of baptism, and we are nourished with the true Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.


Catholics like to honor the bodies of saints. We like to pray near them, and even touch or kiss pieces of them. We honor them, because God will some day glorify them. (Philippians 3:21)  A non-Catholic may object that these bones or even pieces of clothing can do nothing to save us, only God can. But God can and does act even through these things.

The Bones of Elisha

“And Elisha died, and they buried him. And the bands of the Moabites invaded the land at the coming in of the year. And it came to pass, as they were burying a man, that, behold, they spied a band of men; and they cast the man into the sepulchre of Elisha: and when the man was let down, and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived, and stood up on his feet.” 2 Kings 13:20-21

Handkerchiefs of Paul

“And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul: So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them.” (Acts 19:11-12)

The power of God raised a man from the dead through the bones of Elisha. God cured diseases and cast out demons through handkerchiefs and aprons which had touched Paul. Catholics use of relics from the saints is entirely biblical. We even have relics of the saints in our altars as an imitation of the Book of Revelation, where the souls of the martyrs cry out to God from underneath an altar. This was imagery taken from the catacombs of the early Church where mass was offered on the tombs of the martyrs.

Holy Water

Non-Catholics may object that Holy Water is a superstitious practice, but Christ did not condemn the Jews for their faith in the waters of Bethsaida. The New Testament even confirms that it was an angel which stirred the waters.

“Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.”

If God can work miracles through the dead bodies and clothing of his holy people, or an angel stirring up water, how much more so can He work miracles and blessings through the decree of the Church? The Church uses its authority to bless objects such as holy water or other objects, so that the faithful might receive the blessing of the Church through  them. This is why Paul ordered that the sick be anointed with oil.

“Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.” (James 5:14-15)

None of this takes away from God’s glory, any more than the miracles wrought by Paul’s handkerchief took away from  God’s glory. God is glorified when He works, even through material things.

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Why Pray to Jesus?

For this article, scriptural references are taken from the New World Translation (NWT), and the Kingdom Interlinear Translation (KIT) of the New Testament, which are both published by the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Catholics pray to God, and worship the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as one Almighty God. We also pray to the saints, honoring them as our faithful brothers and sisters in Christ, and ask for their own prayers. However, Jehovah’s Witnesses do not pray to Jesus on the grounds that this would be worship. This post will demonstrate that Jesus intended for us to pray to Him, and that the New Testament Christians did just that.

Jesus invites us to pray to Him. 

“Most truly I say to you, whoever exercises faith in me will also do the works that I do; and he will do works greater than these, because I am going my way to the Father. Also, whatever you ask in my name, I will do this, so that the Father may be glorified in connection with the Son. If you ask anything in my name, I will do it.”  (John 14:12-14 NWT)

After telling the apostles that He is going to the Father, Jesus tells them that He will do anything they ask in His name. Verse 14 in the KIT makes it clear that these petitions were intended to be addressed to Jesus.

Ask Me Anything

“If ever you ask me anything in my name this I shall do.”

This was an invitation to the apostles to pray to Him after He goes to the Father. He intended for them to address petitions to Him while He was at the right hand of the Father.

The First Christians Prayed to Jesus

Consider also the following verses.

“Then you must call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of Jehovah. The God who answers by fire will show that he is the true God.” (1 Kings 18:24 NWT)

“But I called on the name of Jehovah: ‘O Jehovah, rescue me!'”                   (Psalm 116:4 NWT)

These verses demonstrate that to call on the name of the Jehovah is to pray to Him.

“And everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah will be saved;”             (Joel 2:32 NWT)

“For everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah will be saved.'”      (Romans 10:13 NWT)

No ancient texts of the Bible exist which include the name  Jehovah in the New Testament, not once in thousands of ancient copies. But every copy of scripture, including the New World Translation, has the first Christians calling on the name of the Lord Jesus.

“Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by God’s will, and Sosʹthe·nes our brother, to the congregation of God that is in Corinth, to you who have been sanctified in union with Christ Jesus, called to be holy ones, together with all those everywhere who are calling on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours:” (1 Corinthians 1:1-2 NWT)

 The reason is that there is no other name by which we can be saved, and it is the name above all names, because it belongs to Jehovah God.

“Furthermore, there is no salvation in anyone else, for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must get saved.” (Acts 4:12 NWT)


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Jesus Christ is Jehovah God

For this article, scriptural references are taken from the New World Translation (NWT), and the Kingdom Interlinear Translation (KIT) of the New Testament, which are both published by the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Jehovah’s Witnesses translate the John 1 :1-3 erroneously in order to make Christ into a god, who is lesser than Jehovah God.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god. This one was in the beginning with God. All things came into existence through him, and apart from him not even one thing came into existence.” (John 1:1-3 NWT)

Such a distinction would have been impossible in the original New Testament, because the Koine Greek of the New Testament, like both modern and ancient Hebrew, had no distinction between upper or lower case letters. Also, the Greek has no indefinite article. The context of John’s Gospel, to which we shall return, makes the intended meaning of the text clear.

Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Jesus was a created being through whom God created all other things. They erroneously add the word “other” to their translation of 1 Colossians 1:16.

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; because by means of him all other things were created in the heavens and on the earth, the things visible and the things invisible, whether they are thrones or lordships or governments or authorities. All other things have been created through him and for him.” (1 Colossians 1:15-16 NWT)

The Kingdom Interlinear translation demonstrates that the word “other” does not belong anywhere in the text.

KIT Colossians 1 16

In the scriptures, the title firstborn frequently means heir. Just one example of many is when David, a youngest child, is described as a first born.

“And I will place him as firstborn, The highest of the kings of the earth.” (Psalm 89:27 NWT)

The title firstborn of all creation is not problematic for Christians who recognize the divinity of Christ because we believe He possesses both a created human nature and an uncreated divine nature. In His human nature, Christ is the heir of all creation. (See Hebrews 1:2 NWT). At the same time, He is the creator and God of all.

Regardless of what Colossians 1 says, let us consider the idea that Jehovah God created all things through “god the word.”

“This is what Jehovah says, your Repurchaser, Who formed you since you were in the womb: ‘I am Jehovah, who made everything. I stretched out the heavens by myself, And I spread out the earth. Who was with me?'”(Isaiah 44:24 NWT)

In the Old Testament Jehovah God says that He “stretched out the  heavens by myself.”  Yet in Hebrews 1, after scripture again reiterates that all things were created through Christ, Paul applies these words of the Old Testament, originally applied to Jehovah God, to Jesus Christ;

 “At the beginning, O Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the works of your hands. They will perish, but you will remain; and just like a garment, they will all wear out, and you will wrap them up just as a cloak, as a garment, and they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will never come to an end.” (Hebrews 1:10-12 NWT, compare to Psalm 102:24-27 NWT).

 So Jehovah says that He “stretched out the heavens by myself” and St. Paul, speaking of Christ, says that the Heavens are, “the heavens are the works of your hands.” 

If Jehovah stretched out the heavens by Himself, and the heavens are the works of Christ’s hands, then it stands to reason that Jesus is Jehovah. Jesus cannot simply be an instrument that Jehovah God used to create the heavens, because Jehovah God said He stretched them out “by myself” or alone. He must be part of the very being that acted alone.

Let us return to the Gospel of John 1:1-3.

Jehovah’s Witness publications justify the use of “god” in John 1:3 based on the following;

 “Additionally, the word for “god” (Gr., the·osʹ) in its second occurrence in the verse is significantly without the definite article “the” (Gr., ho).”

However, the article “ho” is missing later in the same text, John 1:6,  when “theos” applies to Jehovah God. Therefore this grammatical rendering is inconsistent.

no ho theos John 1 6 Now consider the words at the end of John’s Gospel, spoken by Thomas upon encountering the risen Lord;

“In answer Thomas said to him: ‘My Lord and my God!’” (John 20:28 NWT).

ho theos John 20 28

Thomas, in the Gospel of John, describes the risen Christ as “ho theos.”

The Divinity of Christ is the constant theme of the Gospel of John. Consider John 12;

“Although he had performed so many signs before them, they were not putting faith in him, so that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, who said: ‘Jehovah, who has put faith in the thing heard from us? And as for the arm of Jehovah, to whom has it been revealed?’ The reason why they were not able to believe is that again Isaiah said: ‘He has blinded their eyes and has made their hearts hard, so that they would not see with their eyes and understand with their hearts and turn around and I heal them.’ Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory, and he spoke about him. All the same, many even of the rulers actually put faith in him, but they would not acknowledge him because of the Pharisees, so that they would not be expelled from the synagogue; for they loved the glory of men even more than the glory of God.” (John 12:37-43 NWT)

“Although he had performed so many sings…” refers to Jesus. “All the same, many even of the rulers actually put faith in him,” again refers to Jesus. To Whom is it referring when the text says, “Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory, and he spoke about him.”? The answer is Jesus.

In the quoted section of the book of Isaiah we read;

 “In the year that King Uz·ziʹah died, I saw Jehovah sitting on a lofty and elevated throne, and the skirts of his robe filled the temple. Seraphs were standing above him; each had six wings. Each covered his face with two and covered his feet with two, and each of them would fly about with two. And one called to the other: ‘Holy, holy, holy is Jehovah of armies. The whole earth is filled with his glory.’” (Isaiah 6:1-3 NWT)

This text speaks of the glory of Jehovah, and the Gospel of John says this vision was of Jesus. This makes sense, because the Gospel of John previously stated that; “Not that any man has seen the Father, except the one who is from God; this one has seen the Father.” (John 6:46 NWT).

Therefore when Isaiah said;

 ““Woe to me! I am as good as dead, For I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, Jehovah of armies himself!” (Isaiah 6:5 NWT)

 It was not the Father that Isaiah saw, but Jesus Christ.

The context of John’s Gospel makes it clear that Word is Jehovah, the Almighty God.


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Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Afterlife

For this article, scriptural references are taken from the New World Translation (NWT), and the Kingdom Interlinear Translation (KIT) of the New Testament, which are both published by the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Ecclesiastes 9:5

Some non-Catholic groups, such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, teach that there is no afterlife between death and the resurrection.  They believe that we are only composed of a material body, and that the soul is simply a life-force, a breath, which ceases to exist at death. They believe that spirits refer to angels, or to resurrected human beings who do not have their earthly bodies.

They might base this on Ecclesiastes 9:5.

“For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing at all, nor do they have any more reward, because all memory of them is forgotten.” (Ecclesiastes 9:5 NWT)

This statement may reflect the ancient Jewish understanding of death, because the fullness of revelation had not yet been given. Even at the time of Christ, Jews were divided over the belief in an afterlife and a resurrection.

Regardless, if we go back to verse 9:2 it is clear that no Christian can take this chapter literally.

“All have the very same outcome, the righteous and the wicked, the good and the clean and the unclean, those sacrificing and those not sacrificing. The good one is the same as the sinner; the one who swears an oath is the same as the one who is cautious about swearing an oath.” (Ecclesiastes 9:2 NWT)

No Christian believes that the righteous and the wicked will come to the same end.  The good and the sinner are absolutely not the same. Christ says He will judge the living and the dead and reward them according to their works. Therefore, from a Christian perspective, Ecclesiastes 9 is not an appropriate text on which to base a theology of the afterlife or eschatology.

A Jehovah’s Witness may respond that this wouldn’t take away from the inspired meaning of the text. This is true. But, the inspired purpose of much of the book of Ecclesiastes is to use hyperbole to instill in the reader a sense of the futility of human effort. The book begins, “‘The greatest futility!’ says the congregator, ‘The greatest futility! Everything is futile!’” (Ecclesiastes 1:2 NWT) Is the worship of God really futile?

Jesus uses hyperbole when He says;

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26 NWT)

Jesus does not want us to hate anyone. The point of this hyperbole is to make the point that every other love must be subordinate in comparison to love of God. Likewise, the dead have consciousness, and life isn’t completely meaningless. But God wants us to see the futility of a mere human life, and the meaninglessness of a life lived without union with God in Christ Jesus.

The Belief of the Pharisees 

The first century Jewish historian Josephus wrote of the Pharisees that;

 “They also believe that souls have an immortal rigor in them, and that under the earth there will be rewards or punishments, according as they have lived virtuously or viciously in this life; and the latter are to be detained in an everlasting prison, but that the former shall have power to revive and live again; on account of which doctrines they are able greatly to persuade the body of the people; and whatsoever they do about Divine worship, prayers, and sacrifices, they perform them according to their direction; insomuch that the cities give great attestations to them on account of their entire virtuous conduct, both in the actions of their lives and their discourses also.”  (Antiquities of the Jews, XVIII, Chapter 1, Paragraph 3).

The Teaching of Christ 

Jesus, knowing full well what the Pharisees taught, told the people;

 “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the seat of Moses. Therefore, all the things they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds, for they say but they do not practice what they say.” (Matthew 23:3 NWT)

Jesus never condemned the Pharisees for their teaching about immortal souls, and reward and punishment in the afterlife. In fact, He reinforced this teaching with His own teaching in the parable of Lazarus.

“There was a rich man who used to dress in purple and linen, enjoying himself day after day with magnificence. But a beggar named Lazʹarus used to be put at his gate, covered with ulcers and desiring to be filled with the things dropping from the table of the rich man. Yes, even the dogs would come and lick his ulcers. Now in the course of time, the beggar died and was carried off by the angels to Abraham’s side.

“Also, the rich man died and was buried. And in the Grave he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and he saw Abraham from afar and Lazʹarus by his side. So he called and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazʹarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this blazing fire.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you had your fill of good things in your lifetime, but Lazʹarus for his part received bad things. Now, however, he is being comforted here, but you are in anguish. And besides all these things, a great chasm has been fixed between us and you, so that those who want to go over from here to you cannot, neither may people cross over from there to us.’ Then he said, ‘That being so, I ask you, father, to send him to the house of my father, for I have five brothers, in order that he may give them a thorough witness so that they will not also come into this place of torment.’ But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to these.’Then he said, ‘No, indeed, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone rises from the dead.’” (Luke 16:19-31 NWT)

It is clear that Jesus affirmed the Pharisees’ position regarding the afterlife. St. Paul, who was a Pharisee taught that life goes on after death.

St. Paul

We know that St. Paul was a Pharisee.  But St. Paul teaches that even now we are composed of a body, a soul, and a spirit.

“May the God of peace himself sanctify you completely. And may the spirit and soul and body of you brothers, sound in every respect, be preserved blameless at the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ.”                      (1 Thessalonians 5:23 NWT)

St. Paul’s words elsewhere demonstrate that he believed the soul or spirit of man could exist outside of the body. He wrote;

“I know a man in union with Christ who, 14 years ago—whether in the body or out of the body, I do not know; God knows—was caught away to the third heaven. Yes, I know such a man—whether in the body or apart from the body, I do not know; God knows—who was caught away into paradise and heard words that cannot be spoken and that are not lawful for a man to say.” (2 Corinthians 12:2-4 NWT)

This demonstrates that St. Paul recognized the possibility of existing “out of the body,” which means that the soul, spirit, or at least consciousness of a person, can exist without the body.

St. Paul says three times that it is better for Christians to die, because then they can be with Christ.

“But we are of good courage and would prefer to be absent from the body and to make our home with the Lord. So whether at home with him or absent from him, we make it our aim to be acceptable to him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of the Christ, so that each one may be repaid according to the things he has practiced while in the body, whether good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5:8-10 NWT)

 “For in my case, to live is Christ and to die is gain. Now if I am to live on in the flesh, this is a fruitage of my work; yet what I would choose, I do not make known. I am torn between these two things, for I do desire the releasing and the being with Christ, which is, to be sure, far better. However, it is more necessary for me to remain in the flesh for your sakes. So, being confident of this, I know I will remain and continue with all of you for your advancement and your joy in the faith, so that your exultation may overflow in Christ Jesus because of me when I am again present with you.” (Philippians 1:21-26 NWT)

“He died for us, so that whether we stay awake or are asleep,* we should live together with him.” (1 Thessalonians 5:10 NWT) (*Or “asleep in death.” NWT’s Footnote)


Saint Paul even says that we are surrounded by the dead. We are surrounded by “a great cloud of witnesses.” After listing the examples of holy forefathers in Hebrews 11:1-38 Paul says,

“And yet all of these, although they received a favorable witness because of their faith, did not obtain the fulfillment of the promise, because God had foreseen something better for us, so that they might not be made perfect apart from us. So, then, because we have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also throw off every weight and the sin that easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, as we look intently at the Chief Agent and Perfecter of our faith, Jesus (Hebrews 11:39 – 12:1 NWT)

When are we made perfect, and when are the faithful deceased made perfect? They are made perfect together. St. Paul spoke of this event in the present tense.

“For it is by one sacrificial offering that he has made those who are being sanctified perfect for all time.” (Hebrews 10:14 NWT)

He goes on in Hebrews 12 to say that;

“But you have approached a Mount Zion and a city of the living God, heavenly Jerusalem, and myriads of angels in general assembly, and the congregation of the firstborn who have been enrolled in the heavens, and God the Judge of all, and the spiritual lives of righteous ones who have been made perfect, and Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and the sprinkled blood, which speaks in a better way than Abel’s blood.” (Hebrews 12:22-24 NWT)

 Hebrews KIT 1228

The NWT says that we have approached “the spiritual lives” of the righteous ones who have been made perfect. The Kingdom Interlinear Translation makes it clear that it should read, “the spirits of the righteous having been perfected.” This clearly refers to the same righteous ancestors listed in Hebrews 11, and their perfection has already been accomplished by Christ at the same time we are being perfected by Christ.

1 Peter 3:19 

St. Peter tells us that after He died Christ went to preach to the spirits in prison.

“For Christ died once for all time for sins, a righteous person for unrighteous ones, in order to lead you to God. He was put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit. And in this state he went and preached to the spirits in prison, who had formerly been disobedient when God was patiently waiting in Noah’s day, while the ark was being constructed, in which a few people, that is, eight souls, were carried safely through the water. Baptism, which corresponds to this, is also now saving you (not by the removing of the filth of the flesh, but by the request to God for a good conscience), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” (I Peter 3:18-21 NWT)

Since they do not believe that the dead are conscious, Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that this refers to the Nephilim, whom they believe to be fallen angels. They believe these angels fell by mating with human women in the days of Noah. Here is the relevant passage from Genesis:

“Now when men started to grow in number on the surface of the ground and daughters were born to them, the sons of the true God began to notice that the daughters of men were beautiful. So they began taking as wives all whom they chose. Then Jehovah said: “My spirit will not tolerate man indefinitely, because he is only flesh. Accordingly, his days will amount to 120 years.” The Nephʹilim were on the earth in those days and afterward. During that time the sons of the true God continued to have relations with the daughters of men, and these bore sons to them. They were the mighty ones of old times, the men of fame. Consequently, Jehovah saw that man’s wickedness was great on the earth and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only bad all the time. Jehovah regretted that he had made men on the earth, and his heart was saddened. So Jehovah said: “I am going to wipe men whom I have created off the surface of the ground, man together with domestic animals, creeping animals, and flying creatures of the heavens, for I regret that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of Jehovah.” (Genesis 6:1-8 NWT)

Nephilim means fallen ones, but it refers to fallen humans. The idea that the Nephilim were angels who mated with human women is actually an old idea, but it was rejected by both Rabbis and the early church fathers. As we shall see, it was also rejected by Christ.

The idea that Nephilim are angels is based on their title “sons of God.” In the book of Job, most commentators interpret this to mean angels. However, in the genealogy of Luke’s Gospel, Adam is called “son of God.” (Luke 3:38 NWT). In context, Genesis, like the Gospel of Luke, is referring to the ancestry of mankind. The fallen ones refers to the sons of Cain, who were either of great stature and/or great earthly rulers. The sons of God refers to those who were faithful to the worship of God. Genesis 6 is speaking about the corruption of mankind, and how the holy men, “sons of God” were corrupted by marrying sinful descendants of Cain.

Christ confirms this interpretation when He says;

 “For just as the days of Noah were, so the presence of the Son of man will be. For as they were in those days before the Flood, eating and drinking, men marrying and women being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and they took no note until the Flood came and swept them all away, so the presence of the Son of man will be.” (Matthew 24:36-39 NWT)

The men and women of Noah’s day were marrying without any thought to their sanctity, and it will be the same way in the end times. Christ does not teach that angels mated with human women. Otherwise, how could they be called sons of God when they are fallen? The sons of Seth can be called sons of God to distinguish them from the sons of Cain, highlighting their corruption overtime.

Christ’s preaching to the spirits in prison, was preaching to the souls who had not heard His gospel. Peter says that the flood washed them and their sins away, just as baptism now wipes away our sins. The spirits of the deceased from Noah’s day had the opportunity to be saved by Christ’s preaching. St. Peter confirms this, when in the next chapter he writes;

“But these people will render an account to the one who is ready to judge those living and those dead. In fact, this is why the good news was declared also to the dead, so that although they are judged in the flesh from the standpoint of men, they might live in harmony with the spirit from God’s standpoint.

Jehovah’s Witnesses try to explain this verse by saying that “the dead” referred to in this instance are not the physically dead who will be resurrected and judged (John 5:28-29 NWT), but those who are spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1). This interpretation does not fit with the text, because it says that “although they are judged in the flesh by the standpoint of men, they might live in harmony with the spirit from God’s standpoint.” Ephesians 2:1 refers to those who were spiritually dead in the past, but were now made alive with Christ. Peter would not describe in the present tense those who are now alive in the spirit as “spiritually dead.” The contrast Peter is drawing is between physical death and spiritual life. Those He preached to are dead in the flesh, yet might be alive in the spirit.

The New Testament makes it clear that between now and the resurrection, the dead are capable of knowing, seeing, experiencing, feeling, and even repenting.” (1 Peter 4:5-6 NWT)

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Some non-Catholic groups accuse Catholics of practicing “a doctrine of demons” (1 Tim 4:3) for having a celibate priesthood and celibate religious orders.  In this article we are going to see how Our Lord and Saint Paul praised celibate life, and answer objections to the celibate priesthood,

Matthew 19:12

“His disciples say unto him: If the case of a man with his wife be so, it is not expedient to marry. Except it be: In the case of fornication, that is, of adultery, the wife may be put away: but even then the husband cannot marry another as long as the wife is living.

Who said to them: All men take not this word, but they to whom it is given. For there are eunuchs, who were born so from their mother’ s womb: and there are eunuchs, who were made so by men: and there are eunuchs, who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven. He that can take, let him take it.” Matthew 19:10-12

In these verses the disciples remark that it is better not to marry. Christ does not correct them, but goes on to say that while some are born eunuchs, there are others who choose to be so for the sake of the kingdom. He that can handle celibacy, let him take it. Christ therefore praises celibacy “for the sake of the kingdom,” and offers it as a way of life that anyone can choose.

1 Corinthians 7:1-9

“Now concerning the thing whereof you wrote to me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. But for fear of fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. Let the husband render the debt to his wife, and the wife also in like manner to the husband. The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband. And in like manner the husband also hath not power of his own body, but the wife. Defraud not one another, except, perhaps, by consent, for a time, that you may give yourselves to prayer; and return together again, lest Satan tempt you for your incontinency.

But I speak this by indulgence, not by commandment. For I would that all men were even as myself: but every one hath his proper gift from God; one after this manner, and another after that. But I say to the unmarried, and to the widows: It is good for them if they so continue, even as I. But if they do not contain themselves, let them marry.” (1 Corinthians 7:1-9)

In these verses St. Paul clearly indicates that it is better not to be married. When he encourages them to marry it is “by indulgence, not by commandment.” He would prefer all were unmarried like himself, but this way of life is a “gift from God” that is not given to all. In verses 23-35 of the same chapter St. Paul continues to recommend the celibate way of life.


A Protestant may object that while Our Lord and Saint Paul praised celibacy, the Church has no right to forbid priests to marry. They will point to three verses in particular. (1 Timothy 3:1-5, 1 Timothy 4:1-5, 1 Corinthians 9:1-5)

1 Timothy 3 & 4

“A faithful saying: if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. It behoveth therefore a bishop to be blameless, the husband of one wife, sober, prudent, of good behaviour, chaste, given to hospitality, a teacher, Not given to wine, no striker, but modest, not quarrelsome, not covetous, but One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all chastity. But if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?” (1 Timothy 3:1-5)

“Now the Spirit manifestly saith, that in the last times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to spirits of error, and doctrines of devils, Speaking lies in hypocrisy, and having their conscience seared,  Forbidding to marry, to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving by the faithful, and by them that have known the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be rejected that is received with thanksgiving: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.” 1 Timothy 4:1-5

In Timothy chapter 3 St. Paul cannot be making it a requirement for a bishop to be married. He is making a limit on the number of times a bishop has been married. We know from 1 Corinthians 7:7 that St. Paul would prefer that everyone were celibate. If he is celibate as an apostle, then surely a bishop could also embrace this higher “gift of God,” celibacy. If it were a strict requirement that a bishop be married, then a married bishop would have to resign if he became a widower.  This is surely not the intended meaning of the verse.

In 1 Timothy 4 St. Paul calls forbidding to marry a doctrine of devils. Is the Roman Catholic practice of a celibate priesthood a doctrine of devils? It cannot be, for no one is forced to become a Roma Catholic priest. Roman Catholic priests take their promises of celibacy voluntarily. It is also not unheard of for priests to be released from their promises or vows and to return to the lay state, and to be married. There are even exceptions where married men are ordained priests. In fact Eastern Catholic priests are usually married.

1 Timothy 5

The practice of taking promises or vows of celibacy is not unheard of in the Church. In 1Timothy 5:9-12, St. Paul speaks of widows being enrolled. These were widows who promised before the community not to marry again, but instead to commit themselves to good works in the community. He forbids younger widows from being enrolled, lest they marry again and bring damnation upon themselves! So in the same epistle where St. Paul speaks of forbidding marriage as being a ‘doctrine of demons,’ he forbids those who have made promises of celibacy from being married.

“Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man. Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints’ feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work. But the younger widows refuse: for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry; Having damnation, because they have cast off their first faith.” (1 Timothy 5:9-12)

1 Corinthians 9: 1-5

“Am I am not an apostle? Am I not free? Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? Are not ye my work in the Lord? If I be not an apostle unto others, yet doubtless I am to you: for the seal of mine apostleship are ye in the Lord. Mine answer to them that do examine me is this, Have we not power to eat and to drink? Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas?” (1 Corinthians 9:1-5)

A non-Catholic may object that it is the right of an apostle or a clergyman to be married based on this verse. There are two things to consider about this verse. Perhaps of secondary importance is a translation issue. The word for wife, used after sister, is gynaika, which can be translated either as wife, or as woman. The traditional Catholic Douay Rheims Bible translates it as woman. The commentary reads;

“…he only speaks of such devout women, as, according to the custom of the Jewish nation, waited upon the preachers of the gospel, and supplied them with necessaries.”

This may or may not be accurate. The context of the verse makes it likely because in this chapter St. Paul is talking about his general welfare as an apostle. He has a right to wages and a helper, but he doesn’t want to put a burden on the community.

There is evidence that St. Peter and other apostles, while once married, had embraced a celibate life to follow Christ.

“Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.” (Matt 19:27-29)

However, even if we grant that St. Peter and other apostles remained married, the Church still has a right to require a celibate priesthood.

In 1Timothy 4:3, St. Paul also calls it a doctrine of demons to forbid the eating of meats, all of which had been declared clean by God (Acts 10:15, Romans 14:20). However, at the Council of Jerusalem, the Church, using the authority to bind and loose given by Christ, forbid the eating of strangled meats and of blood.

“But that we write unto them, that they refrain themselves from the pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.” (Acts 15:20)

Scripture declares that all foods are clean, (Romans 14:20) and yet the early Church forbid the eating of certain meats. Even if the early Church had a married clergy, it is the Church’s right to require celibacy of future clergy.

It is impossible for the Church Christ founded to bind a “doctrine of demons” onto any of her faithful. Therefore we can know that the Catholic practice of celibate priests and religious is not contrary to the gospel, but rather it flows from the Lord and St. Paul’s praise of the celibate life.


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Baptism in Scripture

What does scripture say about Baptism?

“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.” Romans 6:3-5

Romans 6 says that baptism makes us participants in the death of Christ, so that we might ‘walk in newness of life’ and share in resurrection.

“But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” Titus 3:4-5

Titus chapter 3 says that Christ saves us not by works of our own righteousness, but by ‘the washing of regeneration,’ that we are justified by grace and come to possess the hope of eternal life.

“In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.” Colossians 2:11-5

Colossians chapter 2 says that baptism corresponds to the circumcision of the Old Testament. This indicates that baptism can be given to children. Also Colossians 2 says that baptism brings about the forgiveness of sins.

“…God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.” 1 Peter 3:20-22

 1 Peter 3:21 says plainly that, “Baptism now saves you.” 1 Peter 3:20 again shows that baptism cleanses the soul.

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Mary in Scripture

Learn the Faith is not responsible for this video, but we recommend it highly!

We’ve reproduced the relevant scripture verses in the order of their appearance in the video below! Enjoy!

Genesis & John Comparisons

Genesis 1:1 & John 1:1Genesis 1:5 & John 1:5Genesis 1:2 & John 1:32-33

John 1:29 Day 2, John 1:35 Day 3, John 1:43 Day 4, John 2:1 Day 7,

Mary as “the Woman”

Genesis 2:23, John 2:4, John 19:25-27,

Genesis 3:15 & Revelation 12:17, Genesis 3:20

Mary as the New Ark

Exodus 25:11-21,

Exodus 2:34 & Luke 1:352 Samuel 6:9 & Luke 1:43, 2 Samuel 6:17 & Luke 1:44,

2 Samuel 6:11 & Luke 1:56

1 Chronicles 15 & 16

Psalm 132:8

Queenship in the Davidic Kingdom and Christ’s

Luke 1:32, 1 Kings 2:17-20, 2 Chronicles 15&16, 2 Chronicles 22:10, Jeremiah 29:2, 1 Kings 2:17-19, John 2:5



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Why Does the Catholic Bible Have 73 Books?

The Catholic Church has 73 books in its Bible. Protestants only have 66. Some Protestants think that it was the Catholic Church that “added” to the Bible, and that the seven books they don’t accept are “apocryphal.” The truth of the matter is that those seven books were always accepted by Christians, and that Martin Luther dropped the books because they did not correspond with his theology. These books are referred to by Catholics as the “deuterocanonicals.”

First what does apocrypha mean? It comes from the Greek word, “apocryphos” which means, “obscure.” To call a book apocryphal means that the book has dubious or “obscure” origins. The word has also developed the connotation of a book having heretical or false content.

The first Christians used the Greek Old Testament called the “Septuagint,” which includes the seven books that Protestants don’t have. The Septuagint has its origins ca. 70BC in Alexandria, Egypt. The Jewish diaspora lived scattered throughout the Mediterranean world and spoke Greek as their main language. So in Alexandria seventy Jewish scholars gathered. According to tradition they separated themselves each into their own room to translate the scriptures from Hebrew to Greek. After seventy days they each finished, to find that they had all translated the text with exactly the same Greek words. The work was considered miraculous. Septuagint means “seventy,” because in 70 BC, 70 scholars translated the Old Testament in 70 days.

For centuries critics in Protestantism, Judaism, and secular academia, held the Septuagint suspect because it had phrases and text not found in the Jewish Masoretic texts of the middle ages, which were assumed to be more faithful to the ancient Hebrew. But the Septuagint was largely vindicated by the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Hebrew texts found among the Dead Sea scrolls pre-date Christ, and more closely match the Greek Septuagint than the medieval Masoretic texts.

(At the bottom of this page there are a series of links to a documentary about the history of the Bible, which discusses the Septuagint in detail.)

Martin Luther did not like seven books in the Catholic Old Testament, so he dropped them from his Bible. One of the reasons he dropped the books is because the books of Macabees record Jewish practices that have been continued by Catholics, such as praying for dead, which is strong evidence for the doctrine of Purgatory. Luther justified dropping the books by appealing to the Jewish tradition. The Jewish canon, likely codified around the year 100 at the Council of Jamnia, does not have the seven books rejected by Luther. They were rejected by the Jews either because they were not written in Hebrew, or because ancient Hebrew texts were no longer extant. It also very well may have been because they so clearly pointed to Christianity.

Who can read Wisdom chapter 2, written in 300 BC, and not see a clear prophecy of Christ. What Christian can deny it was inspired by the Holy Spirit?

“Let us therefore lie in wait for the just, because he is not for our turn, and he is contrary to our doings, and upbraideth us with transgressions of the law, and divulgeth against us the sins of our way of life. He boasteth that he hath the knowledge of God, and calleth himself the son of God. He is become a censurer of our thoughts. He is grievous unto us, even to behold: for his life is not like other men’s, and his ways are very different. We are esteemed by him as triflers, and he abstaineth from our ways as from filthiness, and he preferreth the latter end of the just, and glorieth that he hath God for his father. Let us see then if his words be true, and let us prove what shall happen to him, and we shall know what his end shall be.  For if he be the true son of God, he will defend him, and will deliver him from the hands of his enemies.  Let us examine him by outrages and tortures, that we may know his meekness and try his patience. Let us condemn him to a most shameful death: for there shall be respect had unto him by his words. These things they thought, and were deceived: for their own malice blinded them.”  (Wisdom 2:12-21)

We can also know that Christians should accept the Deuterocanonical books because Paul refers to them. In Hebrews 11 Paul refers back to the miracles of the Old Testament.

” Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection.” Hebrews 11:35

The first part of this which speaks of the dead being raised to life again refers to instances in 1Kings 17:22, and 2Kings 4:36.

But the second part of the verse refers to events recorded in 2 Maccabees 7:1-42.

“There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection.” Hebrews 11:35

 “So bending herself towards him, mocking the cruel tyrant, she said in her own language: My son, have pity upon me, that bore thee nine months in my womb, and gave thee suck three years, and nourished thee, and brought thee up unto this age. I beseech thee, my son, look upon heaven and earth, and all that is in them: and consider that God made them out of nothing, and mankind also: So thou shalt not fear this tormentor, but being made a worthy partner with thy brethren, receive death, that in that mercy I may receive thee again with thy brethren. While she was yet speaking these words, the young man said: For whom do you stay? I will not obey the commandment of the king, but the commandment of the law, which was given us by Moses.”  (2 Maccabees 7:27-30)

 Another Catholic website has a great compilation of verses which show parallels or references to the deuterocanonical books in the New Testament.  Rather than reinvent the wheel, go check out Scripture Catholic’s list.

Now as promised a great documentary on the History of the Bible we found posted at

Where Did We Get the Bible?

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Part V

Part VI

Part VII


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Call No Man Father

Call No Man Father?

In Matthew chapter 23 Christ condemns the Pharisees for their hypocrisy and vainglory. Many non-Catholics point to verse 9 to condemn Catholics for calling priests by the title of “father.” Let’s look at Matthew 23:8-12.

“But be not called  Rabbi. For one is your master: and all are your brethren. And call none your father upon earth; for one is your father, who is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your master, Christ. He that is the greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be humbled: and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.”

The Catholic Church understands these verses, not as Christ strictly prohibiting the use of titles, but rather a warning about the dangers of vainglory and pride that poisoned the Pharisees. Father, master, and teacher, are not titles that a man should lightly take upon himself.  That being said, we know from other verses from scripture that Christ did not mean to prohibit the use of these titles all together.  In the inspired word of God, Paul wrote:

“I do not write this to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” I Corinthians 4:14-15

John referred to his disciples as his children,

“No greater joy can I have than this, to hear that my children follow the truth.” 3 John 1:4

Even in the Gospels, Christ referred to Abraham as father. (Luke 16) In Acts 7:2 Stephen refers to the assembled Jewish leaders as fathers, and again to Abraham as father of them all. There are countless examples in scriptures of the title of father being applied to men, both in the New and Old Testaments.

Those who are truly fathers, either in a biological or a spiritual sense can rightly be called father. Bearing in mind Christ’s warning, the one who is given that title ought to receive it in a spirit of humility. Their fatherhood is a gift, a sharing in God’s fatherhood, of which they are unworthy to participate.

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Statues & Images in Worship

Images and Statues in Scripture

Many people believe that Exodus 20:1-6 prohibits the Catholic practice of using images and statues to show our devotion toward God and His saints. In the Catholic numbering Exodus 20:1-6 is  the first commandment. In the Protestant numbering it is both the first and the second, making the prohibition of images a commandment of its own.

The First Commandment

“And the Lord spoke all these words: I am the Lord thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt not have strange gods before me. Thou shalt not make to thyself a graven thing, nor the likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or in the earth beneath, nor of those things that are in the waters under the earth. Thou shalt not adore them, nor serve them: I am the Lord thy God, mighty, jealous, 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 to them that love me, and keep my commandments.” (Exodus 20:1-6)

“Thou shalt not make to thyself a graven thing, nor the likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or in the earth beneath, nor of those things that are in the waters under the earth. Thou shalt not adore them, nor serve them”

It’s easy to see how this verse could be interpreted to condemn all images, but what the verse is actually driving at is the prohibition of idols. This commandment cannot be a taken as a blanket condemnation of images, because there were instances when God commanded the use of graven images. In the book of Numbers, God ordered Moses to make a graven image of a serpent.

The Brazen Serpent

“And speaking against God and Moses, they said: Why didst thou bring us out of Egypt, to die in the wilderness? There is no bread, nor have we any waters: our soul now loatheth this very light food. Wherefore the Lord sent among the people fiery serpents, which bit them and killed many of them. Upon which they came to Moses, and said: We have sinned, because we have spoken against the Lord and thee: pray that he may take away these serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people. And the Lord said to him: Make brazen serpent, and set it up for a sign: whosoever being struck shall look on it, shall live. Moses therefore made a brazen serpent, and set it up for a sign: which when they that were bitten looked upon, they were healed.” (Numbers 21:5-9)

“Make brazen serpent, and set it up for a sign: whosoever being struck shall look on it, shall live.”

God didn’t just command Moses to make an image, He commanded that people look upon it as a means of healing.

“Moses therefore made a brazen serpent, and set it up for a sign: which when they that were bitten looked upon, they were healed.”

As Christians we know that the statue of the serpent was a prophetic sign of Christ.  This graven image served the purpose of manifesting God’s glory. This is not the only instance of God commanding the use of graven images.

The Ark of the Covenant

God gave Moses specific instructions on how the Jewish people were to worship Him.

“And they shall make me a sanctuary, and I will dwell in the midst of them: According to all the likeness of the tabernacle which I will shew thee, and of all the vessels for the service thereof: and thus you shall make it: Frame an ark of setim wood, the length whereof shall be of two cubits and a half: the breadth, a cubit and a half: the height, likewise, a cubit and a half. And thou shalt overlay it with the purest gold within and without: and over it thou shalt make a golden crown round about.” (Exodus 25:8-11)

God ordered that two graven images of angels should be part of the Ark.

“Thou shalt make also a propitiatory of the purest gold: the length thereof shall be two cubits and a half, and the breadth a cubit and a half. Thou shalt make also two cherubims of beaten gold, on the two sides of the oracle. Let one cherub be on the one side, and the other on the other. Let them cover both sides of the propitiatory, spreading their wings, and covering the oracle, and let them look one towards the other, their faces being turned towards the propitiatory wherewith the ark is to be covered. In which thou shalt put the testimony that I will give thee. Thence will I give orders, and will speak to thee over the propitiatory, and from the midst of the two cherubims, which shall be upon the ark of the testimony, all things which I will command the children of Israel by thee.”   (Exodus 25:17-22)

Heavenly Worship

David also prepared a dwelling place for the Lord and His Ark which included gold cherubs.

“And for the altar of incense, he gave the purest gold: and to make the likeness of the chariot of the cherubims spreading their wings, and covering the ark of the covenant of the Lord. All these things, said he, came to me written by the hand of the Lord that I might understand all the works of the pattern.” 1 Chronicles 28:18-19

“All these things, said he, came to me written by the hand of the Lord that I might understand all the works of the pattern.”

Once again, God commanded it, but for what purpose?  “…that I might understand all the works of the pattern.” The Old Testament worship, of Moses and of David, was revealed by God as a pattern or a foreshadowing of the Heavenly worship which we now have access to through Christ. St. Paul explains to us;

“Now of the things which we have spoken, this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of majesty in the heavens, A minister of the holies, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord hath pitched, and not man. For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices: wherefore it is necessary that he also should have some thing to offer. If then he were on earth, he would not be a priest: seeing that there would be others to offer gifts according to the law, Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things. As it was answered to Moses, when he was to finish the tabernacle: See (saith he) that thou make all things according to the pattern which was shewn thee on the mount.” (Hebrews 8:1-5)

In the Old Testament worship graven images of angels were used to represent the angels who really are in Heaven before the throne of God. In the Eucharistic Sacrifice Christians truly take part in the Heavenly worship, but it is still through a veil. We use images of saints and angels to represent the saints and angels in Heaven who stand before the throne of God offering Him the prayers and petitions of the faithful. (Revelation 5:8, 8:2-4)

“And when he had opened the book, the four living creatures, and the four and twenty ancients fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints” (Revelation 5:8)

“And I saw seven angels standing in the presence of God; and there were given to them seven trumpets. And another angel came, and stood before the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given to him much incense, that he should offer of the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar, which is before the throne of God. And the smoke of the incense of the prayers of the saints ascended up before God from the hand of the angel.” (Revelation 8:2-4)

In conclusion, Catholics use of images and statues in our churches are reminders to us of God’s holy presence, and that of His angels and saints. Catholics do not adore or worship them as gods, nor do we believe that God or the saints are present in them as pagan idolaters did. They are simply visible reminders of God’s presence and the cloud of Heavenly witnesses that surround us. (Hebrews 12:1)

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