I came across your email address on the internet. I am a practicing catholic and I am over 50 years old. Several things have always bothered me. In reading the New Testament it is clear that Jesus did not agree with the Jewish religious leaders and their. He called them hypocrites. The Church has evolved into just as many man made rules, laws and bureaucracy through the magisterium. It seems to me that all Jesus wanted was a simple faith filled group of followers.
Additionally no where is scripture is the word sacraments used. And yet the Church teaches Jesus instituted the sacraments. I know the Catholic Church claims its basis on Scripture and "tradition". It is with the tradition part that I have problems with in as much as "man" developed the traditions.
Can you explain any of the above?
Thanks for your time and consideration.
Len Mardeusz - firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for your letter. The thing to keep in mind about the scribes and pharisees is that they were the "best and brightest" of Jesus' day. Their status would be comparable to doctors or scientists in our culture. They had a role in people's lives much broader than what a priest or minister has today - and they were held in high esteem. So Jesus was hardly attacking an easy target - but he saw thru the pride and complacency which tends to mark elites in every society. For better or worse, the Catholic priesthood has been severely humbled in the last 35 years, but still we priests have to examine our consciences in terms of Jesus' sharp words to the religious leaders of his society.
I see the Catholic faith as simple (hence the name of my website). It has four pillars: the apostle's creed, the seven sacraments, the ten commandments and the Lord's prayer which are expounded in the Catechism. I worked seven years with Aymara Indians - even those who were illiterate could grasp the basics of the faith, sometimes better than the educated.
The Latin word sacramentum translates the Greek mysterion ("mystery") which occurs over twenty times in the New Testament. We are not talking about mystery in the sense of a detective novel, but as a point of sensible meeting between God and man. Have you seen Catholic Answers? They have some excellent online tracts explaining the sacraments.
About bureaucracy: I hate it too, altho not always so easy to cut thru rules and regulations. A friend of mine did it for a 4 year old who wanted to receive communion - and he was soon deluged with angry parents who asked why he did not make an exception for their children. The complexity of man-made laws and traditions comes from trying serve everyone, but also take into account individual difference.
I hope this is some help, Len. God bless,
Fr. Phil Bloom
P.S. Are you able to get any help with this at Madonna University?