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Myrrh23
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« on: October 08, 2008, 03:26:14 AM »

Okay, I grew up with the idea that God is sadistic and is breathing down our necks for any small sign of sin. Not very pleasant, yes.
I did not grow up knowing anything about Jesus other than he died on a cross and He's the Son of God. My mother focused on Hell and damnation and all that fun stuff.
Here's my problem: I don't understand Jesus' sacifice. I don't. (shrugs) Here's what I don't understand:

1. Why didn't God just forgive the First Parent's sin of eating the apple?
2. Does Jesus' death mean that God would only forgive us through the death of someone innocent for our filthy sins?
3. Does Jesus' death mean that God apparently sacrificed himself to himself to save US from himself? I know WHO the sacrifice was for, but WHO was the sacrifice paid to?
4. Did Jesus have to die for God to be merciful towards us and let us into Heaven?
5. If Jesus died to save us from the wrath of his Father, angry that humanity is less than perfect, does that then show a selfish, vengeful, unjust and malevolent being? If not, explain.

I would really appreciate it if people would try to teach me and not write something sarcastic or angry about my ignorance. Smiley
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« Reply #1 on: October 08, 2008, 04:25:23 AM »

I wish I could find my notes from class! Your questions are not bad ones. But the perspective (and even phraseology) of an Orthodox Christian is completely different. For one Orthodox do not believe in substitutionary atonement, debt/payment of sins etc. I will keep looking for my notes so I can give you some better answers if no one else jumps in.
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« Reply #2 on: October 08, 2008, 05:34:56 AM »

Okay, I grew up with the idea that God is sadistic and is breathing down our necks for any small sign of sin. Not very pleasant, yes.
I did not grow up knowing anything about Jesus other than he died on a cross and He's the Son of God. My mother focused on Hell and damnation and all that fun stuff.
Here's my problem: I don't understand Jesus' sacifice. I don't. (shrugs) Here's what I don't understand:

1. Why didn't God just forgive the First Parent's sin of eating the apple?
It would be a superficial fix.  Ancestral sin brought an ontological change.  If God had said "if you eat the fruit I will kill you," a simple forgiveness would have sufficed.  But He told the truth "If you eat it you will die," because in misusing free will, man decided to detatch himself from the source of Life.  Part of free will is the Creator respecting the creation's choice's.  That includes allowing consequences.

Quote
2. Does Jesus' death mean that God would only forgive us through the death of someone innocent for our filthy sins?

Not quite.  Jesus died for us, but not instead of us.

Quote
3. Does Jesus' death mean that God apparently sacrificed himself to himself to save US from himself? I know WHO the sacrifice was for, but WHO was the sacrifice paid to?

No, to save us from ourselves, and the consequences of our own actions.

It is like the sacrifices parents make (or should) in having children and rasing them.  Who are they paying?  No one.  But yet the debt has to be paid.

Quote
4. Did Jesus have to die for God to be merciful towards us and let us into Heaven?

If He wasn't merciful in the first place, He wouldn't have sent His Son to die for sinners.

Quote
5. If Jesus died to save us from the wrath of his Father, angry that humanity is less than perfect, does that then show a selfish, vengeful, unjust and malevolent being? If not, explain.

A parishoner worked in the burn unit, where there was a man who was only on alleviating pain, as 80% of his body was burnt, muscles needed to be torn so he could bend his arm again etc.  He was a father who went into the family home while on fire, and saved all nine of his children, who were unharmed.  Again, Our God got Himself burnt, not from His own wrath, but the consequences of our alienation from Him, to come get us out.  As the hymns in Holy Week say, when God couldn't find Adam in the Garden, He went looking for him even to the depths of Hell.

Quote
I would really appreciate it if people would try to teach me and not write something sarcastic or angry about my ignorance. Smiley

I hope my usual sarcasm was in check. police
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« Reply #3 on: October 08, 2008, 06:01:40 AM »

Myrrh, Our Lord died as part of a planned rescue mission. He had to die so that He could enter Hades and overpower Death and the Devil and deliver the souls they held captive. It was a case of deceiving the deceiver. Hades received a dead Man, but that Man turned out to be God Himself.
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« Reply #4 on: October 08, 2008, 06:06:04 AM »

Okay, I grew up with the idea that God is sadistic and is breathing down our necks for any small sign of sin. Not very pleasant, yes.
I did not grow up knowing anything about Jesus other than he died on a cross and He's the Son of God. My mother focused on Hell and damnation and all that fun stuff.
Here's my problem: I don't understand Jesus' sacifice. I don't. (shrugs) Here's what I don't understand:

1. Why didn't God just forgive the First Parent's sin of eating the apple?
2. Does Jesus' death mean that God would only forgive us through the death of someone innocent for our filthy sins?
3. Does Jesus' death mean that God apparently sacrificed himself to himself to save US from himself? I know WHO the sacrifice was for, but WHO was the sacrifice paid to?
4. Did Jesus have to die for God to be merciful towards us and let us into Heaven?
5. If Jesus died to save us from the wrath of his Father, angry that humanity is less than perfect, does that then show a selfish, vengeful, unjust and malevolent being? If not, explain.

I would really appreciate it if people would try to teach me and not write something sarcastic or angry about my ignorance. Smiley

These are excellent questions.  This stuff is what got me more interested in Orthodoxy.  Do you have a Protestant background?  Anyway, I'm not the expert, but I'll try to answer your questions.

I think you might be coming at this from a Protestant perspective.  The classic Protestant way of understanding Jesus' death is that God the Father is holy, and He must pour out His wrath on sinners because He can't stand the sight of them and His wrath must be satisfied.  God is also supposed to be merciful, so in order for God to be merciful, He sent His Son to suffer His wrath on our behalf.  In other words, Jesus has to bear all the punishment we deserve. 

Obviously, there are some things wrong with this picture. 

First, the Holy Trinity has one will. That means that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit all share the same actions and dispositions toward humanity.  The Father's anger over our sin is shared by the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Likewise, the self-sacrificing love of the Son is shared by the Father and the Spirit.  Because they share the same will, it is strange that the Father would be so wrathful, and yet the Son be so merciful and self-sacrificing.  Protestants make a lot out of the Father's "sorrow" over sending His Son to die and suffer His own wrath, but it's hard to see that as significant in the slightest.

Second, the almost exclusive mode in which we relate to God, in Protestantism, is one in which we have to pay off our debt of unrighteousness or suffer the punishment.  Why can't God deal with us directly as persons instead of as delinquent debtors or dirty underwear?  Granted, Jesus is supposed to have paid our debt for us, and to have been righteous enough for all of us, but the problem still remains: God deals with us like a creditor, not like a Father.

Third, according to this Protestant understanding, God is soooo holy that He can't let us in His sight, and must punish us for ever and ever, and yet our sin is so detached from us that it can arbitrarily be credited to His own innocent Son!  If God was so concerned with justice, why wouldn't He care that the guilty party doesn't get punished?  Why would we consider God just when He sends an innocent person to die in a criminal's place?  It seems that it doesn't matter to the Protestant god who gets punished, just that someone does.

These are all huge problems, in my opinion.  The Orthodox understanding of these things, as far as I know, is much different.  The Holy Trinity loves all people, and cannot stand the sight of us perishing.  Although God can forgive us when we repent, He can't simply erase our physical death and corruption like He can erase our offense to Him.  He also can't heal our passions, our sinful addictions, just by forgiving us.  In order for us to experience eternal life, we must repent and become united to the life of God in Jesus.  This is why the eternal Son of God came to be a man - to be the second Adam.  We all died on account of our corruption in Adam, and we will be made alive by union with the life of God in our natural and spiritual union with Christ.  Jesus took on our human nature in order to fill it with His life, not to satisfy the wrath of the Father.  Remember, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit all share the same wrath and the same love and mercy.  We can use the analogy of payment of a debt to describe Jesus' sacrifice in a way, but it isn't the operative understanding of His reason for becoming man.  Jesus became man to unite us to Himself and to the Trinity as a whole.  He became an infant to save infants, and child for children, and young adult for the same, an adult for the adult, and He suffered every temptation, yet without sin, so that through our union with Him, our corruption at every stage of life might be healed.  He even died on a cross, voluntarily, in order to destroy the bonds of death.  On Pascha we sing, "Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life."  Christ literally destroyed death, thereby transforming our physical death in this life into a gateway to the life of God.  Thus, hell is not a place God created where He is just pouring out His wrath on us, but a state in which we are united to God but refuse to unite our hearts to him.  Those who experience His light experience it as eternal life and infinite love, but those who experience Him in unrepentance, experience Him as a consuming fire.  It is not by His choice that we suffer, but by our own choice.  This is why we pray for the dead: God is ever-merciful!

Again, Jesus did not come to suffer the wrath of the Father on our behalf, rather, He came to unite us with himself, fill us with His life, and destroy death for us.  Here are some quotes from the Fathers to that effect:

"And being clothed with the Spirit, [the prophets] saw that none among the creatures was able to heal that great wound, but only the bounty of God, that is to say His Only-begotten, Whom He sent to be the Saviour of all the world, for He is the great Physician, Who is able to heal the great wound. And they asked God and of His bounty the father of creatures spared not His Only-begotten for our salvation, but delivered Him up for us all and for our iniquities. And He humbled Himself, and by His stripes we all were healed. And by the word of His power He gathered us out of all lands, from one end of the world to the other end of the world, and raised up our hearts from the earth, and taught us that we are members one of another." - St. Anthony the Great

"For by the sacrifice of His own body, He both put an end to the law which was against us, and made a new beginning of life for us, by the hope of resurrection which He has given us. For since from man it was that death prevailed over men, for this cause conversely, by the Word of God being made man has come about the destruction of death and the resurrection of life; as the man which bore Christ saith: For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive: and so forth. Fort no longer now do we die as subject to condemnation; but as men who rise from the dead we await the general resurrection of all, `which in its own times He shall show,' even God, Who has also wrought it, and bestowed it upon us." - St. Athanasius

"God's Majesty that had clothed Itself in all sorts of similitudes saw that humanity did not want to find salvation through this assistance, so He sent His Beloved One who, instead of the borrowed similitude with which God's Majesty had previously clothed Itself, clothed Himself with real limbs, as the First-born, and was mingled with humanity: He gave what belonged to Him and took what belonged to us, so that this mingling of His might give life to our dead state." - St. Ephraim the Syrian

"If it was for us that the Word of God in His incarnation descended into the lower parts of the earth and ascended above all the heavens, while being Himself perfectly unmoved, He underwent in Himself through the incarnation as man our future destiny. Let the one who is moved by a love of knowledge mystically rejoice in learning of the great destiny which He has promised to those who love the Lord." - St. Maximos the Confessor

"The purpose of the incarnate economy of God the Word, which is proclaimed by all the divine scriptures and which we read but do not understand, is surely summed up by saying that He has shared in what was ours to let us share in what was His. The Son of God became the Son of Man in order to make us men the sons of God. By grace He lifts up our race to what He is by nature. He gives birth to us from on high in the Holy Spirit, and then straightway leads us into the kingdom of heaven; or rather, He gives us the grace to have this kingdom within us. We therefore have more than just the hope of entering here; we really possess it as we cry out: 'Our life is hidden with Christ in God." - St. Symeon the New Theologian

"The Devil had used the flesh as an instrument against us; and Paul knowing this says, 'But I see another law in my members warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity' (Rom. 7:23). By the very same weapons, therefore, wherewith the Devil used to vanquish us, have we been saved. The Lord took on Him from us our likeness, that He might save man's nature: He took our likeness, that He might give greater grace to that which lacked; that sinful humanity might become partaker of God." - St. Cyril of Jerusalem

So, now that we have more information to shed some light on this, we can answer your questions.

1. He can forgive us, but we need to be united to Christ in order to be reunited with the eternal life of God.  God's forgiveness alone won't overcome the death we have caused for ourselves.  Our union with Christ by the Holy Spirit and the Eucharist, however, will destroy our death once and for all.

2. God would never punish a righteous person on behalf of a guilty one.  Therefore, Jesus didn't come to suffer punishment.  God doesn't want to punish us and destroy us in the first place!  He wants us to abandon our destructive ways and to cease being separated from Him.  The whole Trinity wants our salvation, together.

3.  No!  Jesus died to destroy death for everyone, and through His mercy in our prayers, works, and partaking of the Eucharist, His own body and blood, we can partake of the life of the Trinity.  The whole Trinity wants our salvation, together.

4.  Jesus' Incarnation, death, and resurrection, are God's mercy.  God doesn't want to just give us a ticket and "let us into heaven."  He, and His Son, and the All-Holy Spirit want us to be united with them.

5.  Absolutely!  Fortunately, our God isn't like that at all.  He is ever-merciful, long-suffering, and willing to send His Son to destroy death and give us life.  He has nothing but love for us.  Even His anger is the anger of a loving Father for His creation.

I hope that answers your questions, and I hope you can be free from this notion that God is constantly waiting for you to slip up so He can throw you into hell forever.  I read from some Orthodox elder that when you have a true spirit of humility and self-abasement, that is from the Holy Spirit, it will naturally lead you to hope in God's mercy in Jesus Christ.  If it leads you to despair, then it is from the devil and it must be rejected.  We must be always humble and abased, but always thankful for God's never-ending love for us.

Every time you look at the icon of our Lord Jesus Christ, remember the cross in His halo, which is His suffering for you, and the weapon He used to destroy death, the devil, and all the demons, on your behalf.

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« Reply #5 on: October 08, 2008, 07:40:44 AM »

Okay, I grew up with the idea that God is sadistic and is breathing down our necks for any small sign of sin. Not very pleasant, yes.
I did not grow up knowing anything about Jesus other than he died on a cross and He's the Son of God. My mother focused on Hell and damnation and all that fun stuff.
Here's my problem: I don't understand Jesus' sacifice. I don't. (shrugs)
These are very good questions! I'll try to help.

Quote
1. Why didn't God just forgive the First Parent's sin of eating the apple?
The sin was not eating an apple (actually, you'll find no reference to an apple in that story at all). The sin was disobedience. God does forgive disobedience in all of us, not just Adam and Eve. That is what repentance is all about. Just as Adam had to repent through hard work and Eve through labour pains, so we have to repent in our lives to erase the effects of sin on us.

Quote
2. Does Jesus' death mean that God would only forgive us through the death of someone innocent for our filthy sins?
This is a common misconception. It is not Christ's Death, but His Resurrection which allows us to be forgiven. Through His Birth, Christ became human, so that He could share in our sufferings. By His Death, He traveled to hell and raised up all those whom death had taken, and by His Resurrection, He brought them to heaven. In the Resurrection, Christ defeated sin, death, and the devil once and for all. They still exist, but they are powerless over us.

Quote
3. Does Jesus' death mean that God apparently sacrificed himself to himself to save US from himself? I know WHO the sacrifice was for, but WHO was the sacrifice paid to?
He didn't save us from Himself. He saved us from ourselves. It is the effects of our own sin that we need to be saved from. The consequences of sin are bad enough that no additional punishment is necessary.

Quote
4. Did Jesus have to die for God to be merciful towards us and let us into Heaven?
I don't know. Jesus' Incarnation, Death, and Resurrection are evidence of God's mercy, but I don't think we can say what might have happened had they not occurred.

Quote
5. If Jesus died to save us from the wrath of his Father, angry that humanity is less than perfect, does that then show a selfish, vengeful, unjust and malevolent being? If not, explain.
Yes. That's exactly what that would show. It's a good thing Christ did not die for that reason. Rather, He died to free us from the enslavement of sin, death, and the devil. It is these, rather than God, who would seek to harm us.

Quote
I would really appreciate it if people would try to teach me and not write something sarcastic or angry about my ignorance. Smiley
I hope you find this helpful.
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« Reply #6 on: October 08, 2008, 09:20:47 AM »

Okay, I grew up with the idea that God is sadistic and is breathing down our necks for any small sign of sin. Not very pleasant, yes.
I did not grow up knowing anything about Jesus other than he died on a cross and He's the Son of God. My mother focused on Hell and damnation and all that fun stuff.
Here's my problem: I don't understand Jesus' sacifice. I don't. (shrugs) Here's what I don't understand:

1. Why didn't God just forgive the First Parent's sin of eating the apple?
2. Does Jesus' death mean that God would only forgive us through the death of someone innocent for our filthy sins?
3. Does Jesus' death mean that God apparently sacrificed himself to himself to save US from himself? I know WHO the sacrifice was for, but WHO was the sacrifice paid to?
4. Did Jesus have to die for God to be merciful towards us and let us into Heaven?
5. If Jesus died to save us from the wrath of his Father, angry that humanity is less than perfect, does that then show a selfish, vengeful, unjust and malevolent being? If not, explain.

I would really appreciate it if people would try to teach me and not write something sarcastic or angry about my ignorance. Smiley

Hopefully you will get far better answers then what I can provide, but I'd like to take a shot:

1.  Christ ( who is God) personally descended into Hell the day after the Crucifixion, kicked down the gate and brought them out.

2. His death ( you didn't mention his reserection) harmonized the material world, put it back on track towards what it was meant to be. Death was defeated. Orthodox do not subscribe to the doctrine of Jesus'es death as a payback to an angry God.  That's a Protestant idea.

3. See #2. We don't think in terms of payback. Also, Christ was also fully human and a distinct person from God the Father, one in essence but different persons of the Holy Trinity.

4.Same answer.. Go to some Orthodox web pages and read through our criticism of the theory of "Satisfaction". It doesn't add up for us either

5. Ditto
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« Reply #7 on: October 08, 2008, 09:39:04 AM »

One little aside here, I find it helpful to remember that Jesus was incarnated not because his sole purpose was to sacrifice himself.  The Word was always meant to be incarnate regardless of the choice Adam and Eve made.  As I understand it, when we brought death upon ourselves, that made it so that the Incarnate Word would also experience death.  (Please feel free to correct me here as I'm still new to Orthodoxy.)

I agree with Mr. Y's thought that God is not saving us from himself but from the consequences of our actions.  That's not to say that he shelters us from every consequence, the same as a good parent will not (and cannot) shelter their children from everything.  I hate seeing Caitlin fall down and bonk her head on the floor, but she's learned to control her balance better and roll so that she doesn't hit her head as much because we've taught her to get back up after she falls and not treat it like it's the end of the world.  If I cushioned her every fall, she wouldn't learn this (at least not as quickly).  Now if she hits her head too hard, I'm not going to allow her to bleed to death. 

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 11"Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he?

 12"Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he?

 13"If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?"
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« Reply #8 on: October 08, 2008, 11:20:52 AM »

Two articles that may help to understand:

http://www.oodegr.com/english/swthria/antil1.htm
http://www.oodegr.com/english/swthria/antil2.htm
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« Reply #9 on: October 08, 2008, 08:21:03 PM »

Thanks a lot for your theological diamonds, guys! I really appreciate it.

Ignatios, I actually come from a conservative Roman Catholic background! My mother is into the Three Days of Darkness, Victim Souls, End Times stuff, and going to Mass 5 times a week--I kid you not! I remember having to get up for 5 o'clock Mass as a kid almost everyday except weekends because my mother thought it was good for us and, later, because my brother was an altar server. We practically lived in the Confessional box... Wink I also remember many times being late to school because my mother wouldn't let me out of the car before I said the appropriate number of Hail Mary's, Our Father's, a prayer to St. Michael, a prayer for the Pope, and a prayer to St. Francis, a prayer to the three angels: Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, and a prayer to this saint that looked interesting and a prayer to that saint that looked interesting, like St. Philomena or St. Catherine of Siena. Roll Eyes Sometimes less, sometimes more, but many times made me late. Wink
Unfortunately, I learned plenty about the Pope, Mary and the Saints, but next to nothing about Jesus. So, thanks for your help and your patience.  Smiley Kiss
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« Reply #10 on: October 08, 2008, 08:31:38 PM »

These are excellent questions.  This stuff is what got me more interested in Orthodoxy.  Do you have a Protestant background?  Anyway, I'm not the expert, but I'll try to answer your questions.

I think you might be coming at this from a Protestant perspective.  The classic Protestant way of understanding Jesus' death is that God the Father is holy, and He must pour out His wrath on sinners because He can't stand the sight of them and His wrath must be satisfied.  God is also supposed to be merciful, so in order for God to be merciful, He sent His Son to suffer His wrath on our behalf.  In other words, Jesus has to bear all the punishment we deserve. 

Keep in mind that not EVERY Protestant church has this view.  Smiley  Some do.  It sounds like the concept I'm finding in the "Left Behind" novels.  I was in an Evangelical Free church which held this view.  It was one of the reasons my hubby was turned off by that church: He's Lutheran and grew up with the concept of God as loving Father, not God as offended monarch.  When I contrasted the view we heard in the E-Free Church with the Orthodox view, he said it sounded very much like what he was taught.  He's back in the Lutheran church now....
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« Reply #11 on: October 08, 2008, 08:49:11 PM »

A phrase that helped me a lot from my priest was; "the light of God's love shines equally on the just and unjust. But the sensation of that love is different based upon our capabilities to love God in return." The gates of Hell are locked from the inside. God the Father loves everyone, but we do not all love Him. And so what would feel like a lovely warmth of sunlight to one person, feels like the burn of a magnifying glass held over an ant in the sun to another. The same sunlight shines on both, but the sensation is different for each.

I highly suggest you find a local Orthodox priest and ask him some questions. You have some very good ones that really need to be answered face to face.
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« Reply #12 on: October 08, 2008, 08:55:57 PM »

Suppose I have my own child and another persons child in my care. I find them both doing something wrong and I discipline them each in identical manners. They each have a 5 minute time out. The punishment on the child that is not my own will feel much harsher to them than the identical punishment on my own child because my own child is aware of my love for them.
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« Reply #13 on: October 08, 2008, 08:59:27 PM »

One of the aspects of Orthodoxy I really love is that suffering does not always mean that you are in disfavor with God. Growing up when tragedy struck the first thing a lot of people would say is; "What did you do to allow this to happen?"
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« Reply #14 on: October 08, 2008, 10:47:30 PM »

Thanks a lot for your theological diamonds, guys! I really appreciate it.

Ignatios, I actually come from a conservative Roman Catholic background! My mother is into the Three Days of Darkness, Victim Souls, End Times stuff, and going to Mass 5 times a week--I kid you not! I remember having to get up for 5 o'clock Mass as a kid almost everyday except weekends because my mother thought it was good for us and, later, because my brother was an altar server. We practically lived in the Confessional box... Wink I also remember many times being late to school because my mother wouldn't let me out of the car before I said the appropriate number of Hail Mary's, Our Father's, a prayer to St. Michael, a prayer for the Pope, and a prayer to St. Francis, a prayer to the three angels: Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, and a prayer to this saint that looked interesting and a prayer to that saint that looked interesting, like St. Philomena or St. Catherine of Siena. Roll Eyes Sometimes less, sometimes more, but many times made me late. Wink
Unfortunately, I learned plenty about the Pope, Mary and the Saints, but next to nothing about Jesus. So, thanks for your help and your patience.  Smiley Kiss

I dunno..They sound like pious folks to me.
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« Reply #15 on: October 09, 2008, 01:26:24 AM »

I don't know how pious it is to force some one to pray and not let them out,until completion of all the prayers...i agree catholic know more about the pope, mary,and the saints than Christ Himself....

That is some what similar to what  happened to me and my brother and sisters,we had to go to church, had to fast,the food was fasting food and nothing else made at home,,i sort of rebelled against religion for a while, due to this,,later i came back to my senses,,,

Parent's mean well God Bless them ...God doesn't force himself on us,,,so parents shouldn't force God on us either.....SmileyCentral.com" border="0the fastest way to bring out the rebelious nature is to push...
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« Reply #16 on: October 09, 2008, 11:22:33 AM »

i agree catholic know more about the pope, mary,and the saints than Christ Himself....
Are you describing ALL Catholics, or just a few SPECIFIC Catholics?
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