Perfection of Christian Life


#1

To my Protestant friends:

Our Lord gave us countless examples of how to live the perfect Christian life. He left us examples and showed us living in poverty, giving up our possessions, not marrying, self-denial, virginity, and martyrdom were all good practice for our salvation. He also taught us to be humble, meek and obedient even to those of which we have no obligation. His Apostles left us examples of risking their lives to travel to foreign countries to spread the faith and make conversions, without other expectation than of labors, miseries, and martyrdom, and without other aim than the honor of God and the salvation of souls.
Consider the countless Saints who dedicated their lives to giving up all, and practicing these virtues. Why have we seen these virtues practiced so continually with Catholic Saints, priests, nuns, monks and other religous in the monastic life, but few Protestant denominations living the monastic life and putting these virtues into practice? Of what purpose were all these examples from Our Lord if they were not to be put into practice?

bhlincoln
www.protestanterrors.com


#2

Protestants are rightly suspicious of a “two-tier” spirituality. Yes, following Jesus may mean literally giving up our possessions and living in celibacy. But to say that Christian perfection necessarily means monasticism is to say that not everyone is called to perfection. Which clearly contradicts Our Lord’s own words. Anything necessary to a perfect following of Christ must be something to which all Christians are called.

That being said, there are quite a few Protestants who have lived in poverty and celibacy because it was necessary for what God was calling them to do. And I’m not denying that far too many Protestants have lost any concept of asceticism. But as is so often the case, there are failings on both sides. Many Catholics seem to think that they don’t have to live in Christian perfection because there are religious to do it for them. At least this has been a very prevalent attitude in the past (probably the worst period for this was the early Middle Ages just after the Christianization of Europe–there’s been steady progress since in this regard).

Edwin


#3

[quote=bhlincoln]To my Protestant friends:

Our Lord gave us countless examples of how to live the perfect Christian life. He left us examples and showed us living in poverty, giving up our possessions, not marrying, self-denial, virginity, and martyrdom were all good practice for our salvation. He also taught us to be humble, meek and obedient even to those of which we have no obligation. His Apostles left us examples of risking their lives to travel to foreign countries to spread the faith and make conversions, without other expectation than of labors, miseries, and martyrdom, and without other aim than the honor of God and the salvation of souls.
Consider the countless Saints who dedicated their lives to giving up all, and practicing these virtues. ***Why have we seen these virtues practiced so continually with Catholic Saints, priests, nuns, monks and other religous in the monastic life, but few Protestant denominations l***iving the monastic life and putting these virtues into practice? Of what purpose were all these examples from Our Lord if they were not to be put into practice?

bhlincoln
www.protestanterrors.com
[/quote]

I’m quite surprised by your questions. It shows me your lack of knowledge and experience of protestant denominations.

Your first question (which is bolded) is really strange. My answer is this: These virtues of renunciation, missionary activity, honoring of God are all practiced very much by many protestants. Just because there are no “franciscans” or such orders doesn’t mean prots are ignorant of these virtues. They do practice them. Ever talked to more than 5 prots in your life?

Your second question (more of a statement) is what purpose the Lord’s examples of the above virtues. My answer is: Where are these examples of monastics and the examples Christ Himself gave to the Church and Christians in general? I don’t see them.

In summary, I’m apalled by your post. It reeks of condescending, ignorant rhetoric barely fit for me to respond to. There are countless examples of righteous “saints” in protestant history. They just aren’t called that because in protestant theology we are all saints if we are Christians. We don’t have to have a Church define those for us. God makes them. We acknowledge them.

Peace…


#4

[quote=Contarini]Protestants are rightly suspicious of a “two-tier” spirituality. Yes, following Jesus may mean literally giving up our possessions and living in celibacy. But to say that Christian perfection necessarily means monasticism is to say that not everyone is called to perfection. Which clearly contradicts Our Lord’s own words. Anything necessary to a perfect following of Christ must be something to which all Christians are called.

That being said, there are quite a few Protestants who have lived in poverty and celibacy because it was necessary for what God was calling them to do. And I’m not denying that far too many Protestants have lost any concept of asceticism. But as is so often the case, there are failings on both sides. Many Catholics seem to think that they don’t have to live in Christian perfection because there are religious to do it for them. At least this has been a very prevalent attitude in the past (probably the worst period for this was the early Middle Ages just after the Christianization of Europe–there’s been steady progress since in this regard).
Edwin
[/quote]

I absolutely agree that living the monastic life and practicing other virtues continually are not required for our salvation. At the same time Our Lord states in Scripture that to “be perfect” we should do these things. My point is, just like in school there are some who are content with average grades and others who strive for perfection. If we look at the history of the Church the monastic life has always been practiced and if we look at the lives of the Saints, they practiced every virtue and strove for perfection for the greater glory of God.

Then since the Reformation, most monsteries were closed and many virtues no longer practiced, whereas this was never done in the Catholic Church. Why abandon these virtues and on what grounds should we no longer imitate Christ’s examples in Scripture? Did it suddenly go out of style? How could something be true at one time, then change to being unnecessary later? Our Lord left us these examples for a reason so my point is there is no excuse to have abandoned practicing the perfections of Christian life.

BH
protestanterrors.com


#5

[quote=ahimsaman72]Your first question (which is bolded) is really strange. My answer is this: These virtues of renunciation, missionary activity, honoring of God are all practiced very much by many protestants. Just because there are no “franciscans” or such orders doesn’t mean prots are ignorant of these virtues. They do practice them.

[/quote]

I never said ALL Protestants no longer practice the virtues which are considered the perfection of Christian life. But I’m saying in general these practices are hardly practiced in comparison to the way the Catholic Church has always practiced them.

For example, there is simply no doubt monasteries in Protestant churches are not common and most were closed at the time of the Reformation and afterward. There is no doubt that the monastic life is no longer practiced like we see in the lives of the Saints. We rarely if at all see Protestant ministers not marrying, living in virginity, practicing self denial etc. Some may do but I’m saying the majority don’t and this is not at all like the early Christian Church. The early Christian Church (the Catholic Church) has always practiced these virtues in imitation of Christ and taken holiness to a higher degree. This may upset you but if we look at historical writings on the subject, it is clear.

You’re kidding right? You don’t see ANY examples in the Gospels?

BH


#6

[quote=bhlincoln]I never said ALL Protestants no longer practice the virtues which are considered the perfection of Christian life. But I’m saying in general these practices are hardly practiced in comparison to the way the Catholic Church has always practiced them.

For example, there is simply no doubt monasteries in Protestant churches are not common and most were closed at the time of the Reformation and afterward. There is no doubt that the monastic life is no longer practiced like we see in the lives of the Saints.

[/quote]

The saints were, after all, saints, were they not? And were they or were they not a small percentage of practicing Catholics? And are not monastics a small percentage of practicing Catholics? And were all Christians to live celibate, chaste and in self-denial?

You continue to show your ignorance, sorry.

We rarely if at all see Protestant ministers not marrying, living in virginity, practicing self denial etc. Some may do but I’m saying the majority don’t and this is not at all like the early Christian Church. The early Christian Church (the Catholic Church) has always practiced these virtues in imitation of Christ and taken holiness to a higher degree. This may upset you but if we look at historical writings on the subject, it is clear.

Priestly celibacy is only a practice, not a mandate from Scripture and only the Latin Rite Church practices it. So, what is your point? Did you start the post to glorify your church’s holiness and therefore go against your own call for people to “deny self”. I’m not upset about history. History is fairly clear. The early Christian Church did not practice celibacy as can be shown historically. The apostles themselves were not celibate and rules for the marriages of bishops were clearly given in Paul’s epistles. I suggest you read them.

You’re kidding right? You don’t see ANY examples in the Gospels?

BH

I asked you to show me some. You haven’t done that yet. You expect me to prove your points. Find them yourself. Show proof for your assertions.

Peace…


#7

No, Jesus did not say this. Jesus did indeed teach the value of the evangelical counsels of poverty, celibacy and obedience. But Jesus also taught that celibacy was a gift that is given only to a few, and that not all of his disciples can embrace this way of life.

The disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is not expedient to marry.” But he [Jesus] said to them, "Not all men can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given. For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to receive this, let him receive it."
Matt 19:10-12

The call to Christian perfection is a command by Jesus all his disciples, not just those who can embrace the evangelical counsels of poverty, celibacy and obedience. Perfection in the Christian life is a matter of living in perfect charity, and not a matter of a living in a monastery. A parent of six children can be a perfect Christian through the grace of God.


#8

sanc·ti·fy tr.v

  1. To make holy; purify.
  2. To free from sin
    Catechism of the Catholic Church

**824 ** United with Christ, the Church is sanctified by him; through him and with him she becomes sanctifying. “All the activities of the Church are directed, as toward their end, to the sanctification of men in Christ and the glorification of God.” It is in the Church that “the fullness of the means of salvation” has been deposited. It is in her that “by the grace of God we acquire holiness.”

825 “The Church on earth is endowed already with a sanctity that is real though imperfect.” In her members perfect holiness is something yet to be acquired: “Strengthened by so many and such great means of salvation, all the faithful, whatever their condition or state - though each in his own way - are called by the Lord to that perfection of sanctity by which the Father himself is perfect.”

**826 ** Charity is the soul of the holiness to which all are called: it “governs, shapes, and perfects all the means of sanctification.”


#9

[quote=ahimsaman72]The saints were, after all, saints, were they not? And were they or were they not a small percentage of practicing Catholics? And are not monastics a small percentage of practicing Catholics? And were all Christians to live celibate, chaste and in self-denial?
I asked you to show me some. You haven’t done that yet. You expect me to prove your points. Find them yourself. Show proof for your assertions.

[/quote]

My point here is not that the virtues I speak of are mandatory, but they are GOOD and encouraged as we see in Scripture.

Here are some examples from Scripture that I am referring to, taht you asked for. Note these were always practiced by the early Christian Church (see the lives of the Saints and writings of the early Church fathers) and these continue to be practiced in the Catholic Church today. Again, not mandatory but highly encouraged as Scripture tells us:

Poverty and almsgiving:
If thou wilt be perfect, go sell what thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven." Matthew 19:21
"And every one that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall possess life everlasting." Matthew 19:29
"For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that being rich he became poor, for your sakes; that through his poverty you might be rich" 2 Cor 8:9
"Yet one thing is wanting to thee: sell all whatever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me" Luke 18:22
And he, lifting up his eyes on his disciples, said: Blessed are ye poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Luke 6:20
But woe to you that are rich: for you have your consolation. Luke 6:24

Riches:
“Lay not up to yourselves treasures on earth” Matthew 6:19

Denial and Martyrdom:
“And he said to all: If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life, shall lose it; for he that shall lose his life for my sake, shall save it.” Luke 9:23-24

Remaining unmarried:
“But I say to the unmarried, and to the widows: It is good for them if they so continue, even as I” 1 Cor 7:8

“But I would have you to be without solicitude. He that is without a wife, is solicitous for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please God. But he that is with a wife, is solicitous for the things of the world, how he may please his wife: and he is divided” 1 Cor 7:32-33

Chastity:
“And after those days every man returned to his house, and Judith was made great in Bethulia, and she was most renowned in all the land of Israel. And chastity was joined to her virtue, so that she knew no man all the days of her life, after the death of Manasses her husband. And on festival days she came forth with great glory” Judith 16:25-27

Virginity:
“For there are eunuchs, who were born so from their mother’s womb: and there are eunuchs, who were made so by men: and there are eunuchs, who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven. He that can take, let him take it.” Matt 19:12

Other virtues, such as chastity, modesty, and continency (self denial and virginity):
“But the fruit of the Spirit is, charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, longanimity, mildness, faith, modesty, continency, chastity” Gal 5:22-23

“For a bishop must be without crime, as the steward of God: not proud, not subject to anger, not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre: But given to hospitality, gentle, sober, just, holy, continent” 1 Titus 7-8

BH
protestanterrors.com


#10

[quote=bhlincoln]My point here is not that the virtues I speak of are mandatory, but they are GOOD and encouraged as we see in Scripture.

Here are some examples from Scripture that I am referring to, taht you asked for. Note these were always practiced by the early Christian Church (see the lives of the Saints and writings of the early Church fathers) and these continue to be practiced in the Catholic Church today. Again, not mandatory but highly encouraged as Scripture tells us:

Poverty and almsgiving:
If thou wilt be perfect, go sell what thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven." Matthew 19:21
"And every one that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall possess life everlasting." Matthew 19:29
"For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that being rich he became poor, for your sakes; that through his poverty you might be rich" 2 Cor 8:9
"Yet one thing is wanting to thee: sell all whatever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me" Luke 18:22
And he, lifting up his eyes on his disciples, said: Blessed are ye poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Luke 6:20
But woe to you that are rich: for you have your consolation. Luke 6:24

Riches:
“Lay not up to yourselves treasures on earth” Matthew 6:19

Denial and Martyrdom:
“And he said to all: If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life, shall lose it; for he that shall lose his life for my sake, shall save it.” Luke 9:23-24

Remaining unmarried:
“But I say to the unmarried, and to the widows: It is good for them if they so continue, even as I” 1 Cor 7:8

“But I would have you to be without solicitude. He that is without a wife, is solicitous for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please God. But he that is with a wife, is solicitous for the things of the world, how he may please his wife: and he is divided” 1 Cor 7:32-33

Chastity:
“And after those days every man returned to his house, and Judith was made great in Bethulia, and she was most renowned in all the land of Israel. And chastity was joined to her virtue, so that she knew no man all the days of her life, after the death of Manasses her husband. And on festival days she came forth with great glory” Judith 16:25-27

Virginity:
“For there are eunuchs, who were born so from their mother’s womb: and there are eunuchs, who were made so by men: and there are eunuchs, who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven. He that can take, let him take it.” Matt 19:12

Other virtues, such as chastity, modesty, and continency (self denial and virginity):
“But the fruit of the Spirit is, charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, longanimity, mildness, faith, modesty, continency, chastity” Gal 5:22-23

“For a bishop must be without crime, as the steward of God: not proud, not subject to anger, not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre: But given to hospitality, gentle, sober, just, holy, continent” 1 Titus 7-8

BH
protestanterrors.com
[/quote]

Thanks for the examples. These examples are practiced by many protestants today. Almsgiving (protestants give enormous amounts of money to their churches - think “Mormon”), virginity, chastity, denial of riches are all practiced by many - Catholic or otherwise. That’s my point.

You will find some of the most considerate and passionate Christians in protestant churches. And you will find them in Catholic Churches. And you will find them in Buddhist temples and Hindu temples and Mosques.

These characteristics are universal in scope, not just belonging to one group.

Peace…


#11

[quote=Matt16_18]No, Jesus did not say this.

[/quote]

See my other post for plenty of examples of recommended virtues in Scripture.

Absolutely. Every Christian doesn’t have to live in a monastery. But living in one is the perfection of Christian life because one in that state gives their entire selves to God without distraction. Yes, parents with many children can also be excellent Christians just as those in a monastery. If we look at canonized Saints who had families, we see that they too practiced the same virtues repeatedly throughout their lives. This says much.

BH
protestanterrors.com


#12

Thanks for the examples. These examples are practiced by many protestants today. Almsgiving (protestants give enormous amounts of money to their churches - think “Mormon”), virginity, chastity, denial of riches are all practiced by many - Catholic or otherwise. That’s my point.

You will find some of the most considerate and passionate Christians in protestant churches. And you will find them in Catholic Churches. And you will find them in Buddhist temples and Hindu temples and Mosques.

These characteristics are universal in scope, not just belonging to one group.

Well said, Ahimsa.

But living in one is the perfection of Christian life because one in that state gives their entire selves to God without distraction.

How is retreating from the world perfection? I’d agree that it is an excellent path to take, but did Jesus and his apostles hole themselves up in some monastary? I think not. One foot in this world, the other in eternity - that would be much closer to perfection, if such a thing were possible.


#13

[quote=ahimsaman72]Thanks for the examples. These examples are practiced by many protestants today. Almsgiving (protestants give enormous amounts of money to their churches - think “Mormon”), virginity, chastity, denial of riches are all practiced by many - Catholic or otherwise. That’s my point.

You will find some of the most considerate and passionate Christians in protestant churches. And you will find them in Catholic Churches. And you will find them in Buddhist temples and Hindu temples and Mosques.

These characteristics are universal in scope, not just belonging to one group.
[/quote]

Actually to the contrary, the Protestant Reformers scrapped many of these virtues, or watered them down heavily. Monasteries (as I said, the ideal dedicating of ones life to God) was dropped for the most part by the reformers. Another virtue; priests not marrying was practiced for centuries, the reformers and Protestants thereafter hardly observe this in most cases. Virginity among the clergy always practiced in the early Christian Church, now mostly discarded by Protestants. Birth control always forbidden in the early Christian Church, and was dropped by the reformers. Intentionally living in poverty, especially among those in the religous life was ALWAYS practiced in the early Christian Church, though I can’t say for sure what is the case today with Protestants, it is definitely not seen much. Nun habits, always a sign of self denial strictly for the love of God in the early Christian Church, discarded by the reformers. Just some examples.

Though I agree there are those that still practice many of these virtues, I’m saying before and after the Reformation, there is a night and day difference.

BH


#14

Have you read the lives of the Saints? Most of them refer to retreating from the world and practiced it first hand. You may want to read a little about them to understand fully…

BH


#15

Have you read the lives of the Saints? Most of them refer to retreating from the world and practiced it first hand. You may want to read a little about them to understand fully…

Sorry if this sounds a little contentious, but I don’t really care what the Lives of the Saints has to say. I want to hear what you have to say. How can retreating from the world give one the opportunity to practice and display Christian charity (one the greatest virtues possible)? And doesn’t it seem kind of selfish to leave the world to its own devices for fear of temptation?

And even if one doesn’t retreat into a monastery, but rather lives a secluded life; isn’t that still rather selfish? I mean, Jesus dined with sinners ( and wasn’t Jesus called a glutton for doing so?) and lived “in the world.” None of the apostles hid away. So how can living the monastic life be “perfection” when none of our founders seemed to practice it?

Oh, and one more thing: are you living the monastic life? Do you practice all these virtues? If not: take that plank out of your own eye before you go criticizing others.


#16

[quote=KnightoftheRose]Sorry if this sounds a little contentious, but I don’t really care what the Lives of the Saints has to say. I want to hear what you have to say. How can retreating from the world give one the opportunity to practice and display Christian charity (one the greatest virtues possible)? And doesn’t it seem kind of selfish to leave the world to its own devices for fear of temptation?
[/quote]

The perfect answer to your question can be found in St. Theresa of Lisieux’s autobiography. She is one of the greatest Saints of our day and is a Doctor of the Church. In her autobiography she explains exactly how and why she retreated from the world and she explains every detail of living the perfect Christian life. While she was alive, hardly a person on the face of the earth knew who she was other than her immediate family. She died of a sickness at age 24 in a convent and is now one of the most popular and widely known Saints in the history of the Church. How can someone so unknown and who was not known for doing anything spectacular become so popular and so saintly? The secret lies in her autobiography, Story of Soul. I didn’t understand the concept either until I read her book, which is one of the best selling Catholic books of all time. My life was changed forever when I read it. You wanted to hear from me on the subject, and all I can do is refer you to the expert, St. Theresa.

BH


#17

Living in the monastery is helpful for the perfection of a Christian that has the calling to live that life. But a person that has a vocation of parenthood can achieve Christian perfection without ever setting foot in a monastery and without ever take the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. It would be a big mistake for a person that has the calling of parenthood to deny their vocation and try to live a monastic life that they are not called to. Religious orders have a period of discernment to help people from making these mistakes.


#18

[quote=bhlincoln]Actually to the contrary, the Protestant Reformers scrapped many of these virtues, or watered them down heavily. Monasteries (as I said, the ideal dedicating of ones life to God) was dropped for the most part by the reformers. Another virtue; priests not marrying was practiced for centuries, the reformers and Protestants thereafter hardly observe this in most cases. Virginity among the clergy always practiced in the early Christian Church, now mostly discarded by Protestants. Birth control always forbidden in the early Christian Church, and was dropped by the reformers. Intentionally living in poverty, especially among those in the religous life was ALWAYS practiced in the early Christian Church, though I can’t say for sure what is the case today with Protestants, it is definitely not seen much. Nun habits, always a sign of self denial strictly for the love of God in the early Christian Church, discarded by the reformers. Just some examples.

Though I agree there are those that still practice many of these virtues, I’m saying before and after the Reformation, there is a night and day difference.

BH
[/quote]

The protestant reformers did nothing of the kind. The same Scriptures that called for holiness in the early church still exist in the Scriptures today. I’ve told you repeatedly that all the things you mention are practiced by protestants, yet you refuse to listen.

The only practices in the Catholic Church compared to the protestant churches that are different are priestly celibacy and monasticism. The virtues of love, compassion, almsgiving, holiness reside in Christians across the board, whether Orthodox, Catholic or protestant.

To keep comparing the few saints and monastics to the mass general population of Christians is a terrible mistake. It is a special calling to live a celibate life and the monastic life. It is not for everybody. And perfection (sanctification) comes from God. It is an outpouring of God’s mercy and grace that sanctifies.

Peace…


#19

So why did this type of life virtually disappear from the fundamentalist Protestant world? Why are there no Southern Baptist monks and nuns?

One finds celibate priests, monks and nuns among even the Buddhists - surely it can’t true that among the Protestant fundamentalists that there is no one called by God to live a consecrated celibate life.


#20

[quote=Matt16_18]So why did this type of life virtually disappear from the fundamentalist Protestant world? Why are there no Southern Baptist monks and nuns?

One finds celibate priests, monks and nuns among even the Buddhists - surely it can’t true that among the Protestant fundamentalists that there is no one called by God to live a consecrated celibate life.
[/quote]

The last instructions given to the disciples was, “Go ye into all the world”. That’s the mission of the protestant churches - not to live in monasteries and walk around being “holy”.

I don’t know why it disappeared totally. You would have to consult someone with historical knowledge.

I don’t advocate it either way. I believe the ones called to it are the ones in it now - faithful to the Catholic Church. By far it is a small percentage of the Christian population that regards this kind of life as meaningful and one in which they are called. It is not for everybody. It is not for most.

Peace…


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