Crossed The Tiber

An Evangelical Converts to Catholicism

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Location: Pennsylvania, United States

I was born into the Catholic faith. At 14, I was "born again" and found Jesus personally but lost His Church. After thirty years as an evangelical protestant, I have come full circle to find that He has been there all the time, in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. I wish others to find the beauty and truth of the Catholic faith as I have found.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

"Apart From Me You Can Do Nothing"


Today's gospel reading in morning Mass got me thinking. Thinking about the absurdity of those who claim Catholics think they can earn their way to heaven and by the same folks who think you can never lose their salvation. Let's hear the word of the Lord:

Jesus said to his disciples:

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower.

He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit,

and everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.

You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you.

Remain in me, as I remain in you.

Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own

unless it remains on the vine,

so neither can you unless you remain in me.

I am the vine, you are the branches.

Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit,

because without me you can do nothing.

Anyone who does not remain in me

will be thrown out like a branch and wither;

people will gather them and throw them into a fire

and they will be burned.

If you remain in me and my words remain in you,

ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.

By this is my Father glorified,

that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.”


Without abiding in Christ, remaining in Him, we can do nothing. When a Catholic is accused of "doing good works to get to heaven" the accuser is missing a very big point here. The faithful Catholic knows that by His grace and our faith we remain in Him and He provides the grace (impetus/power/desire/motivation) to bear fruit. Only by grace can we abide in Him and only by His grace we can remain in Him and only by virtue of our "branchedness" do we produce the fruits that He expects of us.
If we choose to detach ourselves from the vine, walk away from Christ, he tells us we will wither and be burned. St Paul further re-enforces this idea by telling the Church(the Christians) they they are grafted in and should be even less presumptuous to believe they can't be cast out if they start bearing bad fruit. "Do not become proud, but stand in awe. For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. Note then the kindness and severity of God: severity towards those who have fallen, but God's kindness to you, provided you continue in His kindness: otherwise you too will be cut off." Rom. 11:20

Thank you Jesus for making me a part of your vine. Only by your grace Lord am I here. I pray that you keep me close to you and prune me so I bear much fruit for you and your Kingdom.
In Your name I pray Amen.

8 Comments:

Blogger kkollwitz said...

"Catholics think they can earn their way to heaven"

No, Catholics simply understand that works count.

"And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works."

May 06, 2010 8:57 AM  
Blogger kkollwitz said...

Your post prompted a long post at my blog.

May 08, 2010 11:15 AM  
Anonymous Gabriel said...

The Great White Throne Judgement quoted by a previous comment siting Rev. 20:11-15 is for those who are unbelevers. They are judged by works, and because they are not born of the Spirit of God and have their sins forgiven by His blood and their life lived in His will and goverance, they are thrown into the eternal lake of fire, as apart from Christ one cannot produce holy works.

Christians are judged at the Judgment Seat of Christ where their relationship to Jesus Christ ensures their salvation and their rewards are given for their increase, their motives in doing what they do. In other words what they do with the grace given, whether they walk by faith, or have done their own will. If they have not shown an increase in holiness they wil be judged as not being true Christians. Works do not give us merit for salvation but show whether we truly lived for God as branches or let the divine nature lie dormant. If we are truly born of the spirit, we live in dependency on God and He lives His life through us causing us to become Christ-like.

July 27, 2010 3:15 PM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

31"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

37"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'

40"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

41"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'

44"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'

45"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'

46"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."

July 27, 2010 9:16 PM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

"Do not become proud, but stand in awe. For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. Note then the kindness and severity of God: severity towards those who have fallen, but God's kindness to you, provided you continue in His kindness: otherwise you too will be cut off." Rom. 11:20

July 27, 2010 9:20 PM  
Blogger mdmason said...

At the aforementioned harvest i.e. end, it should be clear that those branches that were cut off did not produce fruit and they were not getting back on the vine. (1 John - they show that they were not of us by going out from us). Those branches that were producing fruit were never coming off and showed that by ALWAYS staying on the vine. Therefore, at the end, those branches that produced could have never been anything but ALWAYS saved. There is no choice to make. A good branch NEVER goes bad.

September 06, 2011 1:14 PM  
Blogger Russ Rentler, M.D. said...

@MDMASON
You say there is no choice to be made, yet Jesus the Lord Himself offers the choice in the very same verse you choose to eisegete:

"Anyone who does not remain in me

will be thrown out like a branch and wither;

people will gather them and throw them into a fire

and they will be burned."

Those who don't remain are those who started out in Christ, in the vine as a branch, but produced no fruit and thus in the end are removed from the vine, and lose their salvation.

Try to read this verse without having the preconceived calvinist notion that you can't lose your salvation. It takes a lot less parsing and twisting and reading into the meaning of what the plain reading clearly points out.

Saint Paul writing to Christians (who were engrafted onto the vine)makes it even clearer that one can very easily lose their salvation:
"Do not become proud, but stand in awe. For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. Note then the kindness and severity of God: severity towards those who have fallen, but God's kindness to you, provided you continue in His kindness: otherwise you too will be cut off." Rom. 11:20

Clearly the plain reading of scripture indicates we have to "continue in his kindness, otherwise we too will be cut off."

September 06, 2011 7:55 PM  
Blogger Russ Rentler, M.D. said...

@Md mason
when you do post it please make sure you send a link to your blog. I noticed you don't link to a blog when you leave comments and you have only 3 profile views on your blogger account. I won't venture to say what that implies.

September 15, 2011 8:02 AM  

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