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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Lutheran Intervention

Sister, I was hoping you could help me find a saint or two I can pray to for my Lutheran friends that believe that it's not important to have faith in Jesus, you'll end up in Heaven no matter what you believe in. I didn't realize that this is what they believe until today and it made me so sad. So I want to pray for them even more, and I could use some good friends to pray with :)

Well, I think I can help you with more than a patron saint here. Either you misunderstood your Lutheran friends about what they believe, or your Lutheran friends are very, very confused about their own faith.

So for you, and your separated brethren buddies, I'll go out on a limb here and try to explain what Lutherans believe. Good luck to all of us. (You realize that, as Catholics, we don't believe in luck.)

Martin Luther was mad at the Catholic clergy back in the 16th century. He was not wrong. He personally witnessed a lot of debauchery. His anger was personal on two levels: one, he was a Catholic priest himself, so all of that bad behavior reflected on him (ring a bell?), and two, he witnessed said debauchery on a trip to the Vatican. He had been dreaming of this trip his whole life, couldn't wait to go, was so, so excited to finally get there in an era where travel was not easy breezy lemon squeezy and then, BLAM, trip ruined. Like if you went to Kuai and the second you got there all your bags were stolen by the first person you met and no one there gave a fig about your troubles. You wouldn't be recommending Kuai to anyone.

On top of that, there was the indulgences issue. That's the straw that broke the Luther's back.

So basically, Martin Luther decided that since the representatives of Jesus on earth we not to be trusted, it should be every man for himself. There should be no person standing between you and the Word of God and everyone should just interpret the Bible for himself.

I have to stop here and say, that was a really, really stupid idea, because you and I are just not qualified to go digging around in the Bible on our own.

But Martin Luther did not throw out 1500 years of Catholic teaching when he posted his grievances on the church door. He believed that you need to believe in Jesus for Salvation. Even if you go digging around in the Bible on your own, you're not going to get around this fact of faith.

So on count one, you, or your friends are confused. Belief in Jesus is job one for every Christian. That's what it means to be Christian....hence the name CHRISTian.


Even though Lutherans are called Lutherans, it only means they believe in the teachings of Martin Luther who began a Christian sect named after him. Lutherans are still Christians. They are wrong about a lot of things, but they are Christians.

Martin parted company with the Catholic Church in his belief that if you believed in Jesus you would automatically do everything Jesus said to do, which would mean behaving as a Christian at all times. So he preached that belief was all you needed, that good works were not important.

Sort of. Because truly, he believed that the good works were a given once you believe in Jesus.

The world in which we live proves otherwise.

So I have this to say to your friends (I'm quoting myself from previous posts here):

"I go about my merry life 'believing in Jesus" and walking by all the homeless people judging them as winos and stepping over them to get into Target to buy a new set of coffee mugs with chihuahuas on them and go home to watch "The Bachelor" and I'm still going straight to heaven? What a good deal!!!!!"

Meanwhile I have a recommendation for you. Not a patron saint, but the Green Scapular, which is a prayer just for this very problem.

Stealth Catholicism. My favorite kind.


Claudia said...

St. Jude, perhaps????

Donna. W said...

Hey Sis, that last link doesn't work.

Sister Mary Martha said...

Thank you! It's working now.

Anonymous said...

"I have to stop here and say, that was a really, really stupid idea, because you and I are just not qualified to go digging around in the Bible on our own"

Sister who do you think is qualified, in this case?

ps enjoy your opinions even if we don't always agree

greetings in Christ


Anonymous said...


Thank you :)
It turns out my friends are somewhat confused, even though they believe in Jesus they continue to argue that faith in Him is not necessary for salvation. I am reassured to know that this is not what the Lutheran church teaches.
I have decided that my plan of action will be praying :) They will have lots and lots of prayers comming their way.

Tracy said...

Perhaps they are infected with the sort of liberalism that thinks that any belief of any sort is ok, everybody will go to heaven because God is Santa Claus in the sky. Not Lutheranism at all...

Amy said...


I normally love reading your posts, but as a former Catholic nun who is now one of the "separated brethren" I must say that your explanation of the Reformation is rather insufficient. I long for better unity and understanding amongst all true believers, but I remember as a Catholic how certain and dismissive I was of Protestant theology. But anyway...

That aside, I agree that those friends of hers need prayer and some good biblical teaching!

Peace and Love,

Janelle said...

From my perspective as an erstwhile biblical scholar, Sister Mary Martha is right. In terms of faith definition, no one is allowed to go digging through Scripture alone. Even Lutherans have to have the Holy Spirit guiding them. Matthew 18 talks about having two or three gathered. They read that... usually with fair trade coffee in sustainable mugs.

As Catholics, we have the benefit of having Tradition. This is important. We don't live in the Roman Empire. Institutions like slavery, which exists in the New Testament in its Roman form, have been modified and thankfully abolished. Technologies have changed the nature of ethical debate (e.g., in vitro fertilization, nuclear warfare). No one was talking about UFOs and aliens from other planets in the Roman Empire. Barbarians, yes. Men from heaven, yes. Aliens from outer space, no. Tradition connects all the non-UFO and UFO times together.

So, while we can read the Bible on our own with study guides or the Holy Spirit, there is no way we can know Scripture apart from our community (the body of Christ). Each historian of the Bible has a puzzle piece for the ancient picture. Theologians find issues that transcend individual times. However, not even historical and theological scholars can read the Bible alone in their monastic cells. There are individuals from the clergy and laity who can talk about how they apply Scripture to their lives (at least with clues from Tradition). These voices matter because the living Church is where Tradition is going (through the Holy Spirit).

In sum, it takes a village to read the Bible. Preferably, the whole world.

This is just how I see things.

starpastor said...

I am a Lutheran pastor and enjoy your comments, even when you play fast and loose with history. Luther did not believe that believing in Jesus automatically meant you would do what Jesus wants. Luther did teach that we are saved only by God's grace in Christ and not by anything we do. St. Paul clearly teaches this in Ephesian 2:5-10 as well as many other places. You might want to look at the Joint Declaration on Justification by Faith which was approved by both the Vatican and the Lutheran World Federation. Here is one paragragh:

15.In faith we together hold the conviction that justification is the work of the triune God. The Father sent his Son into the world to save sinners. The foundation and presupposition of justification is the incarnation, death, and resurrection of Christ. Justification thus means that Christ himself is our righteousness, in which we share through the Holy Spirit in accord with the will of the Father. Together we confess: By grace alone, in faith in Christ's saving work and not because of any merit on our part, we are accepted by God and receive the Holy Spirit, who renews our hearts while equipping and calling us to good works.[11]

Maggie said...

Hi Sister!
I little issue of grammar I've been wondering.... is capitalizing the word "mass" the norm when the term is used in writing? (Just to be clear: I'm referring to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, not mass as a measure of how much matter an object contains...) I've seen it both ways, and I'm curious as to what is "correct." It seem odd to see something so important and beautiful *not* be capitalized, but maybe it shouldn't be.

Anonymous said...

Sister, my question is how does humility, as practiced by St. Joseph, measure up against "tough love"? In particular, I am trying to get through to a relative who continually twists situations around to make herself look innocent of any wrong doing while makeing me look the guilty party. My husband says you just have to let some things go, but I've had enough after 50 years and I don't think it is good for her to keep up this behavior either.

Maureen said...

I remember, to this day, the nins at school saying that martin Luther wen to his grave thinking that he was a better Catholic than the Pope - he didn't have any intention of starting a new religion!
I'm presently reading a wonderful book about The Reformation by Patrick Collinson - a sort of "Reformation 101". I'm finding it very interesting and easy to read.

Laura said...

And I'm just going to say

Anonymous said...

I am very intrigued by the religious life, and as a married woman and mother, I sometimes feel as if I missed my calling to join a religious order. I didn't revert back to Catholicism (from a life of darkness) until after I had a child and was married...in that order. Now that I feel so close to Christ, it is as if I had my path chosen for me and even though I absolutely love my husband and my child, I sometimes yearn for the ability to join in a community of religious sisters. I am wondering if there is something out there for me, a lay person, to join that would give the same sense of community and consecration to Christ, given that I am married and have a child.

Smiley said...

To Anonymous

This is a massive temptation that the devil uses. You are in the married vocation, but the devil makes you long for another vocation. Sister will explain what i mean in great detail. Just focus on your current vocation which involves being a dutiful wife and mother. if you wish you could join any of the third orders, but your first and foremost duty and means of salvation which God has chosen for you is your vocation to the married life.

Anonymous said...

You know I hadn't even thought of that. It makes total sense, though. Especially considering my husband isn't Christian. (He's Deist, believes in a "hands off" Creator, doesn't think He is involved in our lives) My desire for him to see the Truth is still very strong but requires much patience and strength. I'm still interested in hearing what Sister might have to add to this, but I really want to thank you for your response. It will help me stay focused in the meantime. :)

Smiley said...

hi C (Anonymous)
I gather from your two posts that your Husband is not a Catholic. I dont know how you got married, but if it was in the Church here are a few things to remember. Despite your husband not being a Catholic, Catholic marriage is for keeps, that is for better or worse etc etc. Also there was a Third partry present at your wedding and that would Be God and the enitre heavenly court. It was before them that you professed your vows to love and serve and cherish and honour all the days of your life.
So now for the practical bits. Each of us is called to be saints and our vocations leads us to sanctity. I guess in your case that would be to pray a lot for the conversion of hubby dearest not preach as much as pray and keep praying and never stop.
Be good to him if he walks in the door leaving a trail of his clothes starting with his socks, instead of nagging pick it up and put it away and do it in a spirit of love and reparation for your sins.
When you cook and clean the hosue dont be grumbly offer it as a sacrifice of love to Jesus.
I shall pray for you.
Also pray to St. Monica that is St. Augustine mummy, her husband Patricius was a heathen.

Tracy said...

Dear Anonymous,
If you are interested in one of the third order groups, you might contact Brother Jerome Leo (jeromeleo@stmarysmonastery.org). He writes a daily meditation for holyrule@yahoogroups.com. The group is worth joining for the discussions about monasticism, and for his daily meditation on the Rule of Benedict. He might be able to put you in touch with a women's monastery near you that has an external oblate program.

I'm also looking forward to what SMM has to say...

Peter said...

I'm an Ex-Lutheran minister and happily Catholic now, but I still get a little grumpy when Luther is summed up in a few trite phrases. You did a fair job here mind you! :)

I'd like to back up the comment above that Luther didn't intend to start his own 'cult'. He thought of himself as being faithfully Catholic. He was wrong, but that was his intention. Mind you, he crossed himself, prayed to Mary, read the Fathers and insisted divorce was wrong. If Luther were here today, he wouldn't be a Lutheran.

Pablo the Mexican said...

Martin Luther was a Priest who suffered from sexual self abuse. He married a Nun and they had twelve children together. When she asked him if they could go to Heaven, he said no. She went insane.And so on.
In Martin Luther's former study, ink covers some of the walls where Luther smashed his ink bottles throwing them at Satan, who had come to taunt him for opening the door that allowed Satan to spread the heresy of Protestantism like wildfire.
How do I know these things? I grew up Catholic before the Vatican II freemason infiltration of Holy Mother Church. Sermons then were catechisms; good ones.

Want to learn how to be Catholic? Turn to Tradition. Want to help save souls; pray the Rosary. Don't look for results, you will see them upon your judgement. Those will be the souls that appear on your behalf.

And pray for the Holy Father.


With the assurance of my Holy Rosary prayers for all your good work in the vineyard of the Divine Master, I remain yours truly in Jesus and Mary Immaculate.


May God our Lord in his infinite and supreme goodness be pleased to give us his abundant grace, that we may know his most holy will, and entirely fulfill it.

My God, I believe, I adore, I trust and I love Thee! I beg pardon for all those that do not believe, do not adore, do not trust and do not love Thee.