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The Monopoly of the Holy Roman Catholic Church

The holy Catholic Roman church, by the time of Martin Luther and John Calvin, had been in power for a thousand years and held one third of the land in Europe. The pope, cardinals and bishops came exclusively from the aristocratic elite of Europe. Because of this the clergy already wielded an incredible amount of wealth, and influence. As the heads of the church they were practically un-opposable. Should an outside power pose a problem the church could often call forth forces from various kingdoms in Europe, by influence caused by a direct link from the pope and his family to the government in question, or by threatening excommunication and damnation on its king. Against threats from domestic problems offenders were branded heretics, witches, or other undesirables and were quickly, or slowly and excruciatingly, dealt with by the various branches of the inquisition. Even after the break up of the churches monopoly on knowledge by this time, they still held complete control on salvation.

The church knew how to sap every last drop of wealth they could from this monopoly. Between donations in church, heavy papal taxation, and indulgences, the church was draining its followers and everyone else they could. The church hierarchy was stagnant with corruption. The list of the disgruntled was long, but until the reformation no one proved adequate to the task of opposing the church, but now the situation was right.

Martin Luther was to be a lawyer but during an intense lightning storm he made an oath to become a monk if he were saved. He did become a monk, and eventually a theology teacher at the suggestion of a priest. During this time he came to the revelation and belief that salvation was based on faith alone, instead of faith and an endless series of good works. He saw complete observance of the commandments and laws of god as impossible, and the numerous rituals and works as inadequate to achieve salvation. Only god in his infinite glory and mercy could give salvation to the undeserving, which was everyone. The reformation is seen by many historians as starting in 1517 when Martin Luther posted ninety-five theses objecting to the indulgences, beginning his separation from Rome.

For hundreds of years the church had been rewarding followers with indulgences, which were treated as extra good deeds and works, which could be reallocated to sinners. Indulgences were originally given to those going on crusades, but with the continued degradation of the church they were now being given out for monetary donations. Indulgences were used for lowering the amount of time spent in purgatory, which was the place one would spend time paying for ones sins before going to heaven. You could spend thousands of years in burning pits of torture before being allowed to ascend. The church eventually sunk to the level of selling indulgences, which would get ones dead relatives out of purgatory.

For the entirety of this practice there had been monks, priests and others who had objected to it, but there were some key differences that made Luther a success. He had written his theses in the scholastic language of Latin, as it was written for his colleagues, but it was taken and translated into the local German, and then printed and distributed to the public. So unlike most of those who came before him, his word was heard by many, and spread.

Normally Luther would have been quickly dealt with by the church, and even his direct attacks on the pope may have amounted to little, but we cannot forget the disgruntled nobility, the Germans in particular. Pope Leo X had sent a bull to Luther ordering him to recant, which Luther threw into a bonfire, along with all of the church laws, in front of a crowd. He was now seen as a heretic by the church, if he had not been seen as this before. His lay overlord, Frederick the wise of Saxony, was German and so had an underlying bitterness towards the church, so decided not to burn Luther as a heretic on account of him not having a fair hearing. Luther was then summoned to the city Worms to be tried by a council of the princes of the Holy Roman Empire. The head of this council was the emperor of the empire itself Charles V, who was not German. Luther was officially labeled a heretic, but not before he was whisked away to the safety of the castle of the Wartburg by Frederick.

From Wartburg Luther continued his works. As Luther believed in salvation by faith alone, he denounced the whole ecclesiastical hierarchy as no more holy or virtuous than other followers. The particular bitterness of the German aristocracy was primarily caused by the lack of agreements between the pope and emperor limiting the power of the church in Germany. From this Papal taxes were exorbitantly high. Unsurprisingly Lutheranism first took hold in the German Aristocracy. Germany was in the heartland of the Holy Roman Empire, and now it was by large rejecting the Catholic Church.

Kings and lords began converting to Protestantism, whether for spiritual, or other purposes it had a profound impact on the church in their lands. Without the pope, or regional clergy office to assign and control the churches in an area, the prince or reigning government would do so, maintaining more of their own power over their land. Also monasteries, nunneries, and other ecclesiastical organizations were disbanded by the state, their wealth typically seized at the time.

With Luther’s success, many others found the audacity to challenge the church(,) and its practices, more openly. From this stemmed variations of Protestantism, as Lutheranism and its offshoots came to be known, such as Zwinglianism which was founded by Ulrich Zwingli who had objected against the church since before Luther’s time but had not voiced himself until after Luther’s reformation had begun. Another contemporary was the Anabaptist faith, an extreme form of Protestantism who believed in adult baptisms and a communal, communistic way of government and living. Also came Calvinism as I will mention soon.

Zwinglianism was the most moderate of the protestant sects. Zwinglianism was accepted and adopted by Zurich and northern Switzerland, but only lasted for about ten years when Ulrich Zwingli was killed in battle against Catholic forces, and most of its followers were absorbed into Calvinism. One determining factor in the short life of Zwinglianism was the difference in beliefs between Zwingli and Luther in that Luther believed in the real presence of Christ’s body in the sacrament, while Zwingly just saw it as a symbolic reminder of Christ. This difference maintained a separation of Zwinglianists and Lutherans that left Zwinglianists to defend themselves against the Catholics, without help. As fleeting as it was this movement still helped break up the Catholic monopoly, and served as a sag-way for Calvinism.

Anabaptists were the extremist offshoot of Protestantism. They believed in adult baptisms, that believers needed to understand the significance of the baptismal for it to be a true baptism. In a similar way to Lutheranism, Anabaptism did not agree with the catholic ecclesiastical hierarchy. They viewed the ‘true’ church as a small community of believers who were not merely members at birth, but had to intentionally join. In 1534 a group of Anabaptists took control of the German city of Munster. They tried to turn it into a new religious center, its leader calling himself the successor of David, and the king of the new temple. A year after taking control Catholic forces took the city. The Anabaptists, in the city and elsewhere, were tortured, prosecuted, and scattered beyond cohesion.

The next aspect of Protestantism’s spread and social impact has much to do with Calvinism, so let us introduce this sect. Like Luther, John Calvin was to be a lawyer but turned to religion. Calvin believed in the complete omnipotence of god, and that it was the fate of every sinning human, of which was all of them, to be either damned to hell for eternity, or to be saved by god. Naturally Calvinists were the only ones predestined to be saved, and all others were damned no matter what. The signs of being saved were to be a Calvinist, as above, to follow the laws of the bible, and to be successful. The upper class outside of Germany was content with remaining within Catholicism as they had the money to buy indulgences and lacked the bitterness of the German aristocracy.

Typically the only way to make a substantial headway towards salvation under Catholicism for the middle class was by fighting in crusades, which by this time were not as common as at the founding of indulgences. Calvinism thus became the religion of the middle class. Catholicism had placed a cap of 15% of profit, and a ban on money lending, which Calvinism did not. This helped pave the way for increased mercantile trade, and banking. Calvinists believed in hard work, and were against drinking, dancing, whoring, and any temptation. (Synonym: FUN). Naturally a new drink appeared during this time, coffee. This was the drink of the middle class, ironically enough. Calvinists were industrious and strove to be successful, as the saved must be successful.

 

How to Worship in the Catholic Church

Are you interested in worshiping in the Catholic Church? In this article, I will discuss how to worship in the Catholic Church, even if you are not a member.

The Catholic Church actively encourages non-Catholics to worship with them as much as they like. Non-Catholics are welcome to attend any Catholic sacrament or prayer service that they like.

If you are interested to see what types of worship are available at the Catholic Church, check the “bulletin”, a weekly pamphlet given out by the parish detailing the various worshiping activities.

Some of the most common of these activities are the following:

The Eucharist: This is the most common activity at parishes, and in it, Catholics participate in the Last Supper, when Jesus offered his body as a sacrifice of atonement for sins.

Eucharistic Adoration: Often, Catholics will pray in front of the Holy Eucharist, simply speaking to Christ non-verbally or quietly. There is a short set of communal prayers at the beginning and end, but even if you don’t know them, you can still participate easily.

The Rosary: In this prayer, Catholics say a number of prayers while meditating on the important moments of the lives of both Jesus and Mary. There will usually be “how to pray the rosary” pamphlets at the back of the church, and people will usually be happy to help. If you don’t have a rosary, someone may be willing to lend you one and the priest will have some extras if you ask.

The Stations of the Cross: In this prayer, people follow the fourteen stations detailing components of Jesus’ trial and death and pray a selection of prayers and meditations. If you can’t find a “how to pray the stations of the cross” book in the church (they’re less common than the rosary ones), just Google it before you go or ask someone once you’re there.

Pilgrimages: Pilgrimages are trips that people take to holy sites, sometimes in the same city and sometimes as far away as Israel. They will often include trips to shrines, which honor particular saints, relics, or other places of religious significance.

As you can see, even non-Catholics have a wide range of worshiping options in the Catholic Church. The one thing the Church asks is that non-Catholics not receive the sacraments, meaning that, in the case of Eucharist, that they not eat the bread or drink the wine. In order to participate in worship in this way, speak to the priest about the “RCIA” or “Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults” program.

 

Christian Healing and the Catechism of the Catholic Church

There are many ways that we humans seek healing. We seek to heal ourselves physically, as we wish to heal ourselves of illness, injury and disease. We seek also to heal ourselves mentally, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually. Healing can come to us though many avenues.

Healer

The healer can heal the person by administering God’s grace, through the Holy Spirit, by praying over them, by allowing God’s power to emanate through them, to reach out to gently touch that person’s heart and heal their spirit, body and mind. Healing begins with the person’s soul and this healing then emanates through the physical body.

Healing through teachings of the Catholic Church

The Eucharist

We receive Jesus and he becomes a part of us.It is a profound source of healing; as it helps us to cope with the struggles in our lives and helps us to remember the pain and suffering of Jesus.

Holy Sacraments

There are seven sacraments of the Holy Catholic Church-These are Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Eucharist, Penance, Extreme Unction or the Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders and Matrimony. Each of these give sanctifying grace and sacramental grace.

Sacred Scriptures

God speaks personally to us in the Sacred Scriptures through the Holy Bible.The bible is a source of deep wisdom, teaching and reflection and is very healing.

Mary Mother of God

Mary acts as an intermediary between us and God and if we ask for help, she will come to our aid. Reciting the rosary is also very healing and gives us many graces. Mary is also a great healer and will never let us down.

Jesus our Lord and Saviour

Jesus’ spirit is among those who are lonely, sad, weak and suffering. You are never alone with Jesus by your side. Jesus’ compassion embraces the world.He walked among us and understands humanity and how fragile we really can be. He works miracles and is here for us.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled, trust in God and trust in Me.” John 14:1

Christian Saints

Christian saints are recognized by the Catholic Church as having performed miracles during their lives and they bestow graces, healing and miracles on mankind.

Angels

Angels are beautiful beings of light and joy that assist us in our journey through life. They are always there for us but we have to reach out and ask them for their help.

Power of Prayer

When we pray, we are putting forward in a very prayerful way, our wishes and hopes before God.Some people when they pray, speak their words of truth to God, others may recite formal prayers. Both are equally powerful. What matters is that the prayer comes from your heart. Here is one of the prayers I wrote.

“Lord, this is who I am,
This is how You created me to be,
I kneel before You just as I am,
I know that You love and accept me unconditionally,
Envelop me in Your love, For You are love,
And I wish to be a part of that love,
I am sorry for any time that I have hurt You
Or for any time that I have
Broken away from that love.
Heal me in Your love,
Through You, In You, For You,
With Your love, I am set free.”

Healing through the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God. His mission is salvation and he brings people together in peace and delivers comfort and wisdom to mankind.

Forgiving ourselves and our past family tree

Forgiving ourselves first for any hurt done and forgiving those who have gone before us is vital if we are to heal all mankind. When we show forgiveness towards others, people will forgive us too.

Alternative Healing Methods

Some alternative forms of healing are Acupuncture, Bio-energy healing, Reiki healing, Kineiseology, Reflexology, Shiatsu and many more. Many healing therapies try to heal the root cause of their ailment rather than mask over the problem. Many wonderful benefits are received.

 

 

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