From the time Jesus gave the “Keys of the Kingdom” (Matthew 16:19) to St. Peter (the first pope), to approximately seventy-four years after the death of Christ when Bishop St. Ignatius of Antioch—a direct disciple of the apostle John—defined the Church of Jesus as the “Catholic Church” in one of his letters to the Smyrnaeans, till now, “the gates of hell [have] not prevail[ed] against it [the Catholic Church]” (Matthew 16:18). We need to trust the saints and God’s Word when they tell us the Catholic Church is the one true Church.
The Catholic Church is the only church founded by Jesus. Yet, as magnificent as it is, it’s run by men, and so it’s had its share of difficulties during the almost two thousand years it’s been in existence. And men, even though they want to do the right thing (most of the time), from their sinfulness, can some times error greatly. Nonetheless, the Catholic Church is still God’s only Church. He founded no others. The eruption of different Christian faiths, established by men and not by Jesus, that we have today, have only been around for, at the most, 500 years.
Those faithful to the Catholic Church—not to the imperfect men of the Church, but to the teachings and foundation of Christ in the Church—who didn’t abandon God’s Church when it was going through its trials and sufferings but patiently stayed by its side through better or worse, have greatly benefited by the magnitude of grace God has delivered to them because they loyally stayed obedient to His Word. They didn’t break unity with the Church but instead carried their crosses, prayed for those in need, and worked for justice in all love and peace while staying untied in the one true faith.
“I, then, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace: one body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 1:6).
Wonderfully the Catholic Church today—despite any imperfections of individuals—still has the same doctrine (teachings) and traditions that Christ taught His apostles, which are the true requirements of salvation that Christ gave us. It is the largest of the Christian faiths, and the faith that constructed the original Bible. No one individual (ordinary man) created the Catholic faith using whatever limited wisdom they have thinking they know the correct Way like sadly many others have been tricked into doing when establishing their faiths.
As we know, pride is blinding. We are talking about eternity; we don’t want to mistakenly follow someone who thinks they were given more wisdom than the Church Jesus founded, and be lost forever. What other churches say might sound good, and some of it might be the correct Way, but not all of it is. If all sounds true that is because we are still lacking grace to correctly know the Way too. That is why we have the Catholic Church. We don’t need to have perfect wisdom, and we can still make it to Salvation. We can trust in the teachings of Christ’s Church even if we still don’t have the grace to understand everything and be on the path of Life through holy obedience.
The Catholic Church (its true members united) is Jesus’ Living Body guided by the Holy Spirit. (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:27-31). As well-intentioned and loving as other churches may be, everyone can be deceived, and they are unintentionally teaching an incorrect translation of the Word. God has touched them and they, for the most part, are trying to do good and some are doing just wonderful things, but they are still blinded to the true teaching of the faith that saves. We have all suffered from wrongful teachings and pride to some degree, but we mustn’t let that blind us, but humbly seek the truth so we can be saved. God established one Church, with the assurance it will never fail. He told us to stay united in order to keep us from going astray and falling into any deadly deceptions. There is nothing of greater importance than following the true Way. Eternity is forever.
It is so easy to misinterpret the Word since the Word is “veiled [hard to understand]” (2 Corinthians 4:3). We have to be very careful we don’t create our own faith and interpret the Word differently than the faith Jesus taught us through His Church and the saints. The devil will confuse us into thinking we are doing the right thing. He will have us believing wholeheartedly, and even coming up with great justifications on how we are right and the ones with greater wisdom. Yikes! That devil is so deceptive; we need to be on guard. However, the Catholic faith—according to the Word— has been given special grace that no matter what good or bad does happen, even though some individual men, even within the Church, will incorrectly interpret the Word as Peter said in his letter, “there will be false teachers among you [in the Church]” (2 Peter 2:1), it is the Church’s doctrine (Catechism/teaching of the faith) that we follow, not any imperfect man, and “hell shall not prevail against it [the Church]” (Matthew 16:18).
That is a wonderful assurance from God that we should humble ourselves and “obey your leaders [in the Church]” (Hebrews 13:17)–even if we don’t agree with them. Jesus told St. Faustina that, “Satan can even clothe himself in a cloak of humility, but he does not know how to wear the cloak of obedience” (Diary #939). God values humble obedience above all. Even if we are right, and the leader is misguided, we are still to stay united, obedient and then pray for our leaders and work for justice (if absolutely necessary). Much of the time, God will show us we are actually the ones in error, and it was our pride confusing us. Nonetheless, we have been told to never abandon the faith that saves—even when human error is involved—since that is disobedient to God’s Word. We are to pray for others knowing God will make all good—in time—through faith by trusting in Him. He always does. “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6).
“[The teachers of the law] so you must obey them and do everything they tell you” (Matthew 23:1-3).
Today, the Catholic Church still teaches the same doctrine and has the same traditions the apostles taught from when Christ established the faith. Sure some of its teachers are misguided since nobody is infallible, but like I said we don’t believe in any individual leader but we believe in the true teachings (the doctrine of Catholic Church). It’s hard for us to know right from wrong with all of the false things being said about the Catholic Church—God’s Church—but pay no attention to it. The Word says God’s Church will be persecuted; this is how we know we are doing God’s work. “If they persecute me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:20). Do any of the lies, the hate, or the anger, others bring about, promote love and unity? No. The truth is proven by history, which is fact, not opinion. And history proves God only established one Church—the Catholic Church. That cannot be disputed because it is a historical fact and God tells us His Church has the “Keys of the Kingdom” and“hell shall not prevail against it [His Church].” We need to believe God. His Catholic Church truly is the correct Way.
God might have even brought us to know Him through other churches, which is great, but God wants us to continue to grow and find the true Way. He wants us in Heaven. Other churches might be more “modern” in their thinking and doing fantastic fun things. They may even have greater fellowship, preaching, classes, music, ministries, or other things and that’s why some of us attend other Christian faiths. I’m sure the other churches are doing much good and make us feel happy. We might be learning some things about God too. But as good as those things may be, do any of those reasons save our souls? When all is said and done, nothing matters except knowing how to save our soul. Eternity is forever. Of course, God will still come to us–to a certain extent–in those churches too, but in the end, if we aren’t part of God’s only Church that He gave us to guide us correctly, we are being led astray. The other churches are lacking what is most important to our faith; the correct teachings, and the sacraments that strengthen, guide and send us God’s incredible grace to help us obtain the saving faith we need to accept His sanctifying (saving) grace.
Many of the other faiths have wonderful things they are doing. If we think what another church does helps us to grow closer to God and serves the people better, we can bring those practices, if God wills (always humbly submitting to what God allows), into the Catholic Church. Please always remember what is most important in life needs to be in the forefront of our priorities, which is the salvation of our souls. We must cling to the correct teachings of the Catholic Church, for better or for worse, and never allow ourselves to be led astray. Our Eternal Life with Christ depends upon it.
St. Margret Mary Alacoque of the Sacred Heart of Jesus wrote of her mystical revelations with Our Lord when Our Lord showed her His Heart and inside of His Heart was a vineyard of living water to where Our Lord said beared 12 fruits (virtues) as written in (Galatians 10:22) which are to cleanse us from all stains (sins). Our Lord also said, “My vineyard is also the Catholic Church. I labored in it with pain and sweat during thirty-three years; come and work with Me in this vineyard.”
“There undoubtedly is such a true devotion [that leads to salvation], there are also many spurious and idle semblances thereof [false ways]; and unless you know which is real, you may mistake, and waste your energy in pursuing an empty, profitless shadow” (St. Francis de Sales).
St. Francis de Sales has many wonderful books written with easy to understand guidance to Eternal Life. They can guide the souls craving for holiness correctly to Life. His works are considered to be one of the easier of the saints works to understand and in general they are written for the laity (non-consecrated religious person). However many people run into problems with his work because they enter into his instruction without having a strong conviction to change. His works don’t deliver much “fear of the Lord” to inspire us to persevere when struggles come along like St. Alphonosus or St. Anthony Mary Claret, and other saints do. Therefore, to begin reading St. Francis de Sales wonderful guidance one needs to gain much fear of the Lord or his works would just wind up being read for entertainment or misunderstood and not being utilized as life changing instruction that it is meant to be.
St. Francis wrote his books for souls who are already strongly convicted to strive to become saints and understand the consequence of sin, who already want to wholeheartedly surrender everything for the love of God but simply don’t know how or want to gain more incite to the Way. His books are reletively easy, but they aren’t easy enough for the true novice to religious life as they jump into much sacrifice and prayer right away using terminology many don’t understand. Sadly, there aren’t any books by saints, that I have found, which to lead souls from the first call or for souls who have been pursing holiness but on the wrong path, with little progress and need much correction. Lifting Our Values has done our best to create a resource “Out of Darkness into Light” that will repair the wrongful paths we have been lead to travel on and give us the proper foundation we need to have the grace to be able to successfully live St. Francis de Sales instruction. Some, who already have an established religious life, can even use both books together as much of his style and order of change in “Introduction to the Devout Life” parallels to the guidance in “Out of Darkness into Light.” Nonetheless, after the correct foundation has to be established and firm reason to change before anyone can pick up St. Francis de Sales spiritual direction or any saints books, and continue to grow in holiness towards salvation.
The following are just some of the 16 books he has published:
- Introduction to the Devout Life (pdf)
- Treatise on the Love of God (pdf)
- Discerning God’s Will
- Letters from St. Francis
- Letters on Eternity
- Letters on Prayer and Joy among Difficulties
(e-book links are complements of goodcatholicbooks.org)
“Christians are now acting towards me as the Jews acted towards me…Only pride is delightful in their ears, only the lust of the world [pleasures of the world] delights their eyes…Nevertheless, I am still so merciful that I will happily receive each and everyone who begs for my forgiveness and says: ‘Lord, I know that I have sinned severely and I gladly want to better myself through your grace.'” (Jesus to St. Bridget of Sweden).
St. Bridget of Sweden was a wife and mother of 8 children, who later upon her husband’s death became a third order Franciscan and then the founder of her own nuns. She was a mystic who went to confession daily and desired to love God perfectly. She had visions and revelations starting at the age of 10 that are fantastic, which an angel, the Blessed Mother, and Jesus spoke with her mostly about the suffering of Christ because of our constant unrepentant, unchanged, sins.
Her writings “The Prophecies and Revelations of St. Bridget of Sweden” are a must read for someone who wants to develop a greater understanding of the consequence of sin.
(pdf. of St. Bridget of Sweden’s online Book is complements of saintbooks.net)
“The elect [those who obtain Heaven] who are willing to be made conformable to the crucified Christ by carrying their cross are few in number. It would cause us to faint away from grief to learn how surprisingly small is their number.” –St. Louis De Montfort, (A Letter to the Friends of the Cross, II. The Practices of Christian Perfection, #14)
St. Luis de Montfort entered studies to become a priest at a young age. He developed a strong devotion the the Blessed Mother and a passion for preaching. Needing help to save souls, He would beg the angels to help him wins souls for God.
He was constantly occupied with seeking Gods’ will and preaching missions. He didn’t waste a moment of his time on worldly interests but devoted all moments to the honor and glory of God and found time to write several books about the incredible blessings we obtain from having true devotion to Mary, as he titled one of his books.
For those who struggle with having the grace to abide by God’s commands, reading St. Luis de Montfort’s work will surely give anyone great incite to the necessity of having the constant assistance of the Mother of God, known as Marian Spirituality, by our side to help us in our efforts to run and win the race towards Life and be motivated to carry our cross, with Christ in His Letter to the Friends of the Cross.
The following is a .pdf online resource of St. Louis de Monfort’s books:
God Alone which includes all of his major works including the following:
Please read: “Why ‘Very Few Christians are Saved'” –St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church
p.s. please understand there are many translations of each book and each translation might have the quotes from the saints slightly different.