The Cedar tree of Lebanon

 

My Hindu convert – Preacher - friend.

 

A friend lately got himself baptised in a protestant church. I knew him for more than 10 years as a missionary in a well-known Catholic retreat centre. My acquaintance with this Gentleman had been long before he embraced Christianity. He was a Hindu then, boldly witnessing Christ. I know him very well and I am sure he was truthful to Christ more than the ninety nine percent Christians around me. After he joined the retreat centre, we lost direct contact with him but most of my Catholics friends looked at him with envy for his sincerity and uprightness. The last thing I heard about him was his financial difficulties. Then came this news that he was born again.

I felt very sorry for him. More, I felt sorry for the Roman Catholic Church. We lost a great warrior for Christ. We hardly come across people who are very sincere to the evangelical mission but we treat them so badly, we add to the wounds they already had in the past, we don’t even consider them as normal human beings anymore, they are forced to leave even though reluctantly.

There are so many non-believers who find the truth in Christ, they give up their old religion, give witness to Christ, but are not brave enough to get themselves baptised. I regarded this man, as a man with a backbone because as soon as he realised the truth he was ready to wear the wedding dress Jesus had kept apart for him. He worked for the Catholic Church 24 hours a day and 7 days a week and we don’t consider him being worth paid for all the spiritual advantages we obtained from him. Was it not right to help him in his financial difficulties? St Paul says “If you are being taught the Christian message , you should share all the good things you have with your teacher . do not deceive yourselves no one makes a fool of god. You will reap exactly what you plant” People going to worship in Protestant churches pay tithes to their churches. If you don’t pay willingly the pastor asks you to pay it. We shouldn’t consider this as a loss. But as St. Paul puts it, spiritually it is to our advantage. Most of the Protestant pastors are financially sound, because the churches to which they give spiritual guidance pay their tithes to them. But we as Catholics are not willing to lift even our smallest finger to help the laymen who work for the evangelical mission. We think that they have offered themselves to God, so let them undergo some hardship. Does it matter? Who cares? This is our attitude.

My friend –A Seminary Superior Preist

I know a Superior priest who used to borrow money from a relative of mine regularly to support the other priests living in his monastery. We went to their church regularly for daily mass but we never paid any offerings, even during Sunday mass. Tithes were not in my knowledge those days. We are so dumb we don’t realise these priests have to pay someone for the communion and wine we receive. The electricity bills have to be paid (fan and light). If the church is hot we don’t lose the opportunity to grumble against the authorities of the church. They also have their personal necessities. They do not have the opportunity to go out and work like we do so we are liable to pay them for their necessities. Some parishioners are under the impression that it will all be paid by the Bishops house. Where does the bishops’ house get the money? If we had paid our tithes regularly, then our churches would have had surplus. You would not have priests going around borrowing money. In fact the money he borrowed from my relative was owed to him in the form of tithes. My relative was ignorant about tithes and the priest never even once mentioned about our responsibilities as parishioners to help our church in their needs. I do not know weather the priest was aware that as parishioners we were obliged to pay him more than the money he borrowed from us - as tithes. I have never heard our priests ask for tithes, so most of us feel uneasy when we hear that protestant pastors take money from their people as tithes.

“We are in war, not against flesh and blood, but against the Lords of the dark world”.

The priests and Nuns have the authority to ask money from us. The problem for them is we don’t pay them enough to keep going with their evangelical mission. I am not discussing about the Priests and Nuns who go around accumulating funds for constructional purposes. There are so many of them who really need money to buy a second set of clothing.

This is not the case with laymen who are in involved in the evangelical mission. They cannot go around asking for money. They too like the priests or nuns have left everything they had to serve the lord putting behind them their families, their jobs and their worldly pleasures giving first priority to God. When they left their Jobs they believed that their Lord would provide for them. The way of Jesus is very narrow, they chose it willingly but we as onlookers put thorns into this narrow path so that they barely have any space to walk. All we were supposed to do was to encourage these men or women by giving them moral support (financially or mentally). We wait to pounce on them for the slightest mistakes they make. Jesus expects us - the people who benefit from their spiritual guidance - to give financial or mental support to these laymen. “If you give even a glass of water for my sake you shall certainly be rewarded”. This is the promise of Christ. In theory there is a lot of provision for the participation of laymen in the church but in practice the Catholic Church does not encourage the evangelical mission by laymen.

A parishioner who found Christ

Two weeks ago a friend of mine approached his parish priest for permission to have a prayer meeting – anywhere - either in his house or at the church. The reply was “No”. The priest did not see the necessity to have a prayer group and advised him to pray alone. If I have to conduct a prayer meeting in my house I need my Parish priests permission (which I may not get eventually) but if I want to have a liquor party or even worse have adultery I don’t need anybody’s permission. Nobody is going to question me. As parishioners faithful to the Roman Catholic Church I cannot go against the will of the parish priest, so I sit at home doing nothing to spread the word of God. These laymen who work in these difficult situations need our moral support. Please help them. They are already walking in fire don’t add oil to it. Let us not be the reason for these faithful warriors to leave the church and let us pray for the day when the church receives these laymen with a broad mind.

An active charismatic prayer group Member

Recently a friend of mine went home to India. He is a very sincere and an active member in the church charismatic prayer group. He was presiding the annual feast, which was being conducted, in his parish. He decided to conduct a three-day retreat and counselling to boost the spiritual atmosphere for the parishioners on the special occasion. Later when we met again he said he paid the two preachers eighteen US $ (in total) for three days retreat and no transport allowance. This preacher could have earned 5 US$ per day even if he had gone to till the field. We the so-called charismatic leaders of the Catholic church consider these preachers not even worthy to be given a labourers wage. This very close spiritual friend of mine earns more than 3000 US$ Per month. And we pray as Jesus taught us “give us this day our daily bread.” We do not pay for those who have worked for us and we expect Jesus to give us our daily bread. They are unable to go to work because of their commitment to Christ and because there are few workers “the harvest is plenty but the labourers few”. he is worthy of benefiting our worldly assets when he has helped us with spiritual guiding”. They may not complain but isn’t it an obligation to pay them justly if we expect to be paid justly.

A fellow Catholic in financial difficulties

Let me conclude with a small incident. A friend of mine working away from his home became very friendly with two priests of his parish. He and his wife cooked food for them on the weekends and had long hours of friendly chat with them. When he ran into financial difficulties and to the point of starvation he informed them. To his surprise these priests never called back even once to enquire about his difficulties or weather his wife and children had any food to eat. The protestant churches would not react in this manner, they would definitely have gone out of their way to help families in situations like this. If a protestant had found him in that situation he would have been a “born again” today. Especially because he was well known for his evangelical mission among the Catholics.

The Big Banyan tree

Once a priest told me “The church is like a big Banyan tree with its branches spread out and its roots have gone very deep. Nothing can destroy it”. Does this mean we can behave in a very irresponsible way to our fellow Catholics who have set aside their lives for the sake of Christ? If we start cutting off the branches one by one there will be no tree at all.

 

 
 

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