If you used to be Catholic, have been re-baptized, are a protestant, etc. Read this!

A disclaimer: This is a hard subject. So first, please don’t just read part of what I have to say and then stop. Read it all. From top to bottom. Thank you!

I have friends and yes, even family members who have left the Catholic Church for one reason or another. I pray each day that they might one day return home to the folds of the One, Holy, Catholic (the word means: Universal), and Apostolic Church, which Christ founded.

Why leave? Each person will say something different. They each have different reasons. And while those reasons have a value to them and deserve to be honored, and discussed so that wounds and misunderstandings can be healed, there is one main reason they leave which they won’t tell me, and I’d even dare to say it’d be something that some of them would argue about and deny. But I know. I know what the answer is that is at the root of their leaving. Because even with all of the other problems they might have with the Church, if they knew. If they believed. If they would vouch their life upon this ONE thing. They never would leave. Because that which they don’t believe is the most precious thing, the most precious person, this side of Heaven. What is the root of them leaving?

They don’t understand the Eucharist. They don’t believe Jesus at his word, that “This IS My Body…This IS My Blood.”

And who can blame them? I mean, even in the time of Jesus, as he taught this in Capernuam, many of his disciples turned and left him. Jesus says: “I am THE Bread of Life…Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood has eternal life…For my Flesh is TRUE food, and my Blood is TRUE drink.” As John 6:6o says: “This saying is HARD…who can accept it?” And then later in John 6:66: “As a result of this, many [of] his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him.” (full text provided below)

Mayan woman kneeling in prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament during the Octavo of Corpus Christi at the Cathedral in Antigua, Guatemala 2018

Today. In the Church. In 2018, many, many, many leave the faith. They leave the Church for one reason or another, but altogether at it’s core: “Because this teaching is hard.” If we took Jesus at his word, if we believed what he said, we would work to forgive any fault and heal any wound, because being able to consume and receive the living Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is a gift we would never, ever want to be without.

So they leave the Church. They leave the Eucharist, the very Body and Blood of our Lord, and they leave his Body of the Church on Earth to join a broken part of that Body. Yes, while many protestant religions fall under the category “Christian,” they are not fully united to the Body of Christ on Earth. These aspects of “differences of faith and belief” separate and break the Body of Christ. But there is one thing that does unite us.

Baptism. Through the saving waters of Baptism, through the invocation of the Holy Trinity: “N. I baptize you in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” All are united to Christ and to one another. We as Catholics profess “One Baptism for the forgiveness of sins.” Once you have been baptized, whether as a baby, or a child, or an adult, the door to a Life of Grace is opened to you.

I have to admit. It stings when someone leaves the Church. It literally breaks my heart. It breaks my heart as well to see those Protestant brothers and sisters who have not yet come to the knowledge of the truth. They have intimate encounters with our Lord in prayer, with the Holy Spirit moving through their lives, but they are part of that broken body. On Good Friday, during the Solemn Intercessions, we pray and chant the beautiful prayers, praying for the whole world. The 5th Intercession is a prayer of Unity for All Christians. In it, we acknowledge that we pray for all who believe in Christ, that they who have been consecrated by Baptism, might be gathered together and united in Christ’s One Church.

V. For the unity of Christians

Let us pray also for all our brothers and sisters who believe in Christ,
that our God and Lord may be pleased,
as they live the truth,
to gather them together and keep them in his one Church.

Prayer in silence. Then the Priest says:

Almighty ever-living God,
who gather what is scattered
and keep together what you have gathered,
look kindly on the flock of your Son,
that those whom one Baptism has consecrated
may be joined together by integrity of faith
and united in the bond of charity.
Through Christ our Lord.

R. Amen.

 

Many times, when someone leaves the Church, they are “re-baptized.” It’s as if they say that their Baptism didn’t work. Many say: “Oh, this time I chose it for myself.” Okay, real-talk-sassy, Corey is coming out now. When someone says that, do you know what an insult it is? I mean really. Saying that the faith your parents raised you in, that the saving waters pouring from the Side of Christ and opening the recipient to new life “didn’t work,” “didn’t take,” or “wasn’t your own decision” is a huge insult to the faith, the love, and the desire of your parents for you to be with them and more importantly, Jesus, forever in Heaven. By being “re-baptized” one is saying, that their parent’s desires of passing on the faith, of opening the Kingdom of Heaven and the Life of Grace to you through the saving waters of Baptism shouldn’t have been done. It’s not saying that it’s your own choice, it’s saying that Christ’s saving act wasn’t good enough for you the first time. He, the creator of perfection, the all-powerful God couldn’t do something right? I don’t think so.

It’s like when someone gives you a gift at Christmas, they thought you would love, and instead of taking and saying thank-you, you say: “Oh, I don’t want that, you can go return it.” Seriously. It’s a huge insult. Parents at baptism, give their children the second greatest gift they can after choosing life for their child. They give them the gift and hope of Eternal Life. That’s not a gift with a gift receipt. It’s not returnable. It’s eternal. *Sassy Corey, checking out…

NB: If you have been “re-baptized,” I’m not mad, and I hope that I didn’t offend you too much with my sassy-talk. There’s a reason though that re-baptism is a sting to the faith you practiced/were raised in. And the good news is that it’s just a sting. It’s not the end of the world, it’s not the worst thing in the world. Be happy that you have chosen Christ. Be happy and rejoice in your Baptism, and in the saving gift of Grace it offers you, but please read on and see why you shouldn’t go for that third “re-baptism.”

So, what does the Church have to say in all of this? She says, as long as Baptism has been performed through the Trinitarian formula, we acknowledge it and respect it for we are baptized once for the forgiveness of sin. Throughout my years of working with men and women coming into the Church through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, I am always overwhelmed and overcome with joy when they learn that they don’t have to (nor can they) be re-baptized. The marks of Baptism form an indelible mark on the Soul of a Human person. They claim that soul for Christ. It is a mark that can never be washed away or erased. For someone who has had a long life as a member of another Christian denomination, to hear that those years of learning and growing in their relationship with Jesus mean something, that their choice to choose Baptism (or their parent’s choice to choose Baptism for their child) means something is always an overwhelming moment for those individuals.

The Church recognizes the unity and the joining into the family of God which Baptism initiates in the lives of the Christian. We respect that. We honor that. Because we honor Christ. Because we honor the faith. Because we honor and take him at his word.

St. Augustine put it beautifully in the second reading from the Office of Readings today (the full text is provided below): “Those then who tell us: You are not our brothers, are saying that we are pagans. That is why they want to baptize us again, claiming that we do not have what they can give. Hence their error of denying that we are their brothers. Why then did the prophet tell us: Say to them: You are our brothers? It is because we acknowledge in them that which we do not repeat. By not recognizing our baptism, they deny that we are their brothers; on the other hand, when we do not repeat their baptism but acknowledge it to be our own, we are saying to them: You are our brothers.”

You are our brother. You are our sister. That is what the Church says when she says that we recognize one Baptism for the forgiveness of sin. We recognize the unity of the Family of God, even though that Body might be broken, that Body is still one.

One of my friends has a very, very deep faith life. She has an incredible relationship with Jesus Christ, one which at times I could be a little envious of. She was telling me the other day about how she lives down the road from a Catholic Church. She said that when life gets stressful, when she doesn’t know what to do, when she is struggling in prayer she walks down to the Catholic Church because they have a “24/7 prayer room.” (her words) She said that when she is in that room, she can’t explain it but she has the deepest prayer experiences and the greatest amount of comfort and experience of peace she ever has. I had to laugh.

The prayer room she talks of is the Perpetual Adoration Chapel at this Church. It is the chapel where Jesus Christ, our Lord and God, our Savior and Redeemer, is exposed in the Monstrance upon the Altar. He the Lord of all, the King of Kings, the Creator of the Universe is hidden under the simple form of a piece of bread. The ultimate act of humility. God becomes man and not only does he become man to redeem man, he hides his flesh under the forms of simple food; bread and wine, which he gives to man to nourish him, restore and strengthen man’s relationship with God and bestow upon him grace upon grace upon grace. I laughed, because she experienced this peace,  the greatest sense of comfort she has ever felt because as she sits in that “24/7 Prayer Room.” She sits face to face with the Body, the very person of her Risen Lord, Jesus Christ. And slowly. Slowly she’s coming like the men along the Road to Emmaus to know Him in the Breaking of the Bread.

Whether they like it or not, those who are outside the Church are our brothers. And as our brothers and sisters, I promise you that we will strive to treat you with love, respect, and dignity.

To my brothers and sisters, my friends, my family members, come home. Please. I mean this with all of my heart. Whatever is keeping you, is separating you, is stopping you from remaining in the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church that Jesus Christ founded upon the rock of Peter and the 12 Apostles, don’t let it have any more power over you! Don’t let Satan continue to deceive you and keep you from Him, the Creator, the Master Sculptor who created you wonderfully, and beautifully, to be his and His alone. Come home to Jesus. Come home to his Church. Take him at his word. If Jesus Christ, the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords said that: “This IS My Body, This IS My Blood” Why not believe him? Why not take his words and believe them completely?

If you have wounds. If someone in the Church has wronged you, if you don’t understand something, I’m sorry. I truly, truly am. And I extend to you the invitation to reach out, I won’t be sassy. I won’t be judgmental. I just want to listen, acknowledge and honor your wounds, misunderstandings, your past and I want to invite you to be healed. And I promise to stand by you and walk beside you as you explore, search, and consider coming home to Him who died for you.

We love you! HE loves you! Come home!

 

 

Full texts to both John 6:48-69 and St. Augustine’s words are provided below:

 

From a discourse on the psalms by Saint Augustine, bishop:

(Ps. 32, 29; CCL 38, 272-273)

Whether they like it or not, those who are outside the Church are our brothers

We entreat you, brothers, as earnestly as we are able, to have charity, not only for one another, but also for those who are outside the Church. Of these some are still pagans, who have not yet made an act of faith in Christ. Others are separated, insofar as they are joined with us in professing faith in Christ, our head, but are yet divided from the unity of his body. My friends, we must grieve over these as over our brothers; and they will only cease to be so when they no longer say our Father.

The prophet refers to some men saying: When they say to you: You are not our brothers, you are to tell them: You are our brothers. Consider whom he intended by these words. Were they the pagans? Hardly; for nowhere either in Scripture or in our traditional manner of speaking do we find them called our brothers. Nor could it refer to the Jews, who do not believe in Christ. Read Saint Paul and you will see that when he speaks of “brothers,” without any qualification, he refers always to Christians. For example, he says: Why do you judge your brother or why do you despise your brother? And again: You perform iniquity and common fraud, and this against your brothers.

Those then who tell us: You are not our brothers, are saying that we are pagans. That is why they want to baptize us again, claiming that we do not have what they can give. Hence their error of denying that we are their brothers. Why then did the prophet tell us: Say to them: You are our brothers? It is because we acknowledge in them that which we do not repeat. By not recognizing our baptism, they deny that we are their brothers; on the other hand, when we do not repeat their baptism but acknowledge it to be our own, we are saying to them: You are our brothers.

If they say, “Why do you seek us? What do you want of us?” we should reply: You are our brothers. They may say, “Leave us alone. We have nothing to do with you.” But we have everything to do with you, for we are one in our belief in Christ; and so we should be in one body, under one head.

And so, dear brothers, we entreat you on their behalf, in the name of the very source of our love, by whose milk we are nourished, and whose bread is our strength, in the name of Christ our Lord and his gentle love. For it is time now for us to show them great love and abundant compassion by praying to God for them. May he one day give them a clear mind to repent and to realize that they have nothing now but the sickness of their hatred, and the stronger they think they are, the weaker they become. We entreat you then to pray for them, for they are weak, given to the wisdom of the flesh, to fleshly and carnal things, but yet they are our brothers. They celebrate the same sacraments as we, not indeed with us, but still the same. They respond with the same Amen, not with us, but still the same. And so pour out your hearts for them in prayer to God.

 

Bread of Life Discourse:

John 6:48-69

48I am the bread of life.49Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died;z50this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die.51I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”a

52The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us [his] flesh to eat?”53Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.54Whoever eats* my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.55For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.56Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.57Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me.b58This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.”59These things he said while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.

The Words of Eternal Life.*60Then many of his disciples who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?”61Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, “Does this shock you?62What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before?*63It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh* is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life.64But there are some of you who do not believe.” Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe and the one who would betray him.c65And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father.”

66As a result of this, many [of] his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him.67Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?”68Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.69We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”

48I am the bread of life.49Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died;z50this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die.51I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”a

52The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us [his] flesh to eat?”53Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.54Whoever eats* my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.55For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.56Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.57Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me.b58This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.”59These things he said while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.

The Words of Eternal Life.*60Then many of his disciples who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?”61Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, “Does this shock you?62What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before?*63It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh* is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life.64But there are some of you who do not believe.” Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe and the one who would betray him.c65And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father.”

66As a result of this, many [of] his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him.67Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?”68Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.69We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”

 

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