ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST
Presently, my attention was arrested by a shadow that fell across the opening, and upon looking up, I observed a man standing at the top of the well. Instantly, hope stirred within me and, staggering to my feet, I cried aloud for help!
In the midst of my soliloquies there came a call from above. It was a man’s voice, clear and strong.
“My son, where are you?”
“Here, here,” I cried, “in the well. But tell me, who are you, and can you aid me?”
“I am a Catholic priest, my son. Are you willing to confess?”
“Yes, yes, holy Father! I will gladly do anything.”
“Now,” he said, “I will explain our old Catholic faith, through which along you may hope for deliverance.”
“Do, Father,” I urged. “Tell me what must I do in order to get out of this well?”
“First of all, you must know that the Roman Catholic Church has many traditions, which though not found in the Bible, are nevertheless binding and authoritative. Then too, the priest of the Catholic Church are called ‘Father’ and are forbidden to marry.”
“As for you, my son, you must never eat meat on Friday, or during Lent.”
“Now I want you to accept this rosary from me, and with it say your prayers. You must repeat as many prayers as there are beads, fifty-three ‘Hail Marys’ and six ‘Our Fathers’. It was the Virgin Mary who gave the rosary to St. Dominick.”
“And when you pray, my son, pray to the Virgin Mary and to the saints, for they are our intercessors and advocates, who can obtain favours for us from God.”
“And now a word about the mass. The mass, you must know, is a daily sacrifice, a repetition of the sacrifice of Calvary. Through the mass forgiveness is procured.”
“But most important of all is the Confessional. You must confess your sins to a priest, who will give you absolution, and prescribe penances for you to do. When you die you will go to purgatory—that is, if you are a good enough Catholic to escape Hell. There your soul will be purified and made fit eventually to enter Heaven. Your time in purgatory may be shortened, however, by leaving sufficient money to pay for masses to be said for the repose of your soul. Even the Pope has this hope.”
I listened attentively to all this and much besides, and then immediately confessed my sins, whereupon he gave me absolution, told me to be faithful to the Church, to pray to the Virgin Mary, pay my dues, be a good Catholic, and sin no more.
I promised him I would do all he asked to the best of my ability. Yet my condition remained unchanged. I was still in the well. And, lying there, I had ample time to think. My thoughts kept going back to what the priest had said.
First of all, I recalled what the Bible has to say about Roman Catholic “traditions.” For Christ said this: “Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition” (Matt. 15:9). Paul says:
“Beware lest any man spoil you after the tradition of men.” (Col. 2:8). Hence, human traditions are to be rejected utterly.
When I remembered the priest’s commands to eat no meat on Fridays or during Lent, and his own celibacy, I was confronted with what Paul had written to Timothy, where “forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats” is spoken of as “doctrines of devils” (1 Timothy 4:1-3). And in the third chapter of 1 Timothy, verses two and four, Paul says that “a bishop must be the husband of one wife, one that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection.” I remembered too, that Peter was a married man. Moreover, that priests were not forbidden to marry until fully a thousand years after Christ.
Then I was reminded of the rosary, and I distinctly recalled the statement of the Lord Jesus Christ where He said, “When ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking” (Matt. 6:7). Furthermore, I reasoned that the Virgin Mary, never having made use of a rosary herself, could not have given it to St. Dominick. I was able to remember many passages in the Bible that required prayer to God, but none to the Virgin Mary.
As for statues and images, I knew they were absolutely forbidden by God (Exodus 20:5), even though sanctioned by the Roman Catholic Church. The Council of Trent says: “It is lawful to have images in the Church and to give honour and worship unto them,” and: “Images of the saints are put in churches that they may be worshipped.” What idolatry!
The man in the well’s musings about what this priest has told him will continue next week in Part 3b…
(From Smith, Oswald J., The Battle for Truth, Marshall, Morgan & Scott, publisher, 1962, pp. 7-23)