Relics, saint worship and superstitious practices have not been relegated to the Dark Ages. These practices are going on today with the full support of the Church and fulfilling prophecy in the process.
While the world’s focus is zeroed in on the revolutions sweeping North Africa and the Middle East, the Bible is in the news elsewhere as well. The Vatican has been popping up in the news all over the place as the Great City moves closer to Easter celebrations of the Beatification of John Paul II. Reuters reported on April 5th:
Vatican officials expect at least 300,000 people -- including tens of thousands from his native Poland -- to come to Rome for the three days of events during which he will be declared a "blessed," the last step before sainthood.
The star of the Rome events will be Sister Marie Simon-Pierre, a 49-year-old French nun who is said to have been miraculously cured of Parkinson's disease months after John Paul's death after she and fellow nuns prayed to him. John Paul's wooden coffin will be exhumed from its current place in the crypts below St Peter's Basilica.
After the beatification mass in St Peter's Square on May 1, it will covered with a white drape and placed before the main altar in St Peter's Basilica and remain there for viewing and veneration non-stop until everyone who wants to can see it.
To be beatified, a dead person must be declared by the Church to have interceded with God to perform a miracle that is otherwise inexplicable by medicine.
For John Paul to become a saint, the Church would have to declare that a second miracle had occurred after beatification.
The idea of dead people performing miracles is obnoxious to Bible truth. The concept of praying to a corpse, which somehow listens, and then performs miracles is completely out of the realm of Biblical reality. The scriptures clearly teach in Ecclesiastes 9:5–6:
For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.
This isn’t an anomaly either. Psalm 146:3 informs us:
Put not your trust in princes, Nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help. His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; In that very day his thoughts perish.
We are not supposed to put our trust in living men, let alone dead ones whose thoughts have perished. Rather we are encouraged in to put our trust in the living God v4-9.
“Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, Whose hope is in the Lord his God: Which made heaven, and earth, The sea, and all that therein is: Which keepeth truth for ever: Which executeth judgment for the oppressed: Which giveth food to the hungry. The Lord looseth the prisoners: The Lord openeth the eyes of the blind: The Lord raiseth them that are bowed down: The Lord loveth the righteous: The Lord preserveth the strangers; He relieveth the fatherless and widow: But the way of the wicked he turneth upside down.”
Honouring the God of Forces
So where does all this “saint making” of the Catholic Church come from. Its deceptive role is prophesied in Daniel 11v36-38:
“And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished: for that that is determined shall be done. Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all. But in his estate shall he honour the God of forces: and a god whom his fathers knew not shall he honour with gold, and silver, and with precious stones, and pleasant things.”
This is Daniel’s commentary on the “man of sin” that Paul speaks of in 2 Thessalonians 2. Here we find this false religious system will “speak marvelous things against the God of gods” and that he will “honour the God of forces”. Forces is the Hebrew word mauzzim and means defense or fortress. So this false religious system is said to honour or worship, or glorify the “protector gods”, commonly known in the church as saints.
John Chrysostom, an early church father living in the 4th Century, describes the supposed power of the bodies of dead saints in his Homily on the Martyrs of Egypt:
‘The bodies of those saints fortify the city more effectually for us than impregnable walls, and like towering rocks placed around on every side, repel not only the assaults of enemies that are visible, but the insidious stratagems also of invisible demons, and counteract and defeat every artifice of the devil as easily as a strong man overturns the toys of children.’
These dead men are prayed to as though they had power to perform miracles. Their dead bodies are venerated and decorated with many expensive jewels, being honoured “with gold, and silver, and with precious stones, and pleasant things.”
The UKPA press association reported that the British Museum would be showing relics from the Vatican in an exhibit entitled “Treasures of Heaven: Saints, Relics and Devotion in Medieval Europe:”
The museum is mounting a summer exhibition on sacred relics, such as thorns once thought to have come from Jesus's crown and breast milk originally billed as the Virgin Mary's.
The body parts of Christian figures were thought to work miracles and were housed in precious metal reliquaries during the medieval age.
Relics of Jesus, such as a reliquary said to contain splinters from the cross he was crucified on, were the most highly prized and are going on display.
Yet the veneration of body parts of saints is not a practice relegated to the dark ages when superstition reigned, it forms a large part of the worship of the Catholic Church today. Relics of John Paul II are all the rage. The Guardian Newspaper reported on a sculptor making statues of John Paul II and reliquaries, (or special containers made out of precious metals and jewels), to house official relics of John Paul II’s body. The April 5th article states:
“He has been working on a set of altar pieces in time for John Paul II's beatification. They are made of precious metal shaped as a sunburst with a round hole in the centre to house reliquaries – earthly remnants of a pope's life. These pieces are for second-degree reliquaries – items that have been touched by the pontiff, such as a bandage.
First-degree reliquaries include vials of the pope's blood taken during medical tests and hair left over from visits by the Vatican barber, kept by the Polish nuns who looked after John Paul II throughout his papacy. These will all be objects of adoration after beatification, and will be even more so once he is elevated to sainthood.
So as the church digs up the corpse of a former pope, and collects bits and pieces of his body for worship, should we be surprised if the scripture describes the worshippers of this false system as those who:
“…repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk.” (Revelation 9:20)
Even though he may be exhumed from the ground, John Paul II will not be going for a walk any time soon, and though bits of his body are mounted in gold, silver, brass and stone, they wont be seeing any time soon, nor hearing the prayers of deluded devotees. The idea of a dead man performing miracles is not only ridiculous, it is an identifier of the system of false religion described in Revelation 19:20 as the “False Prophet that wrought miracles.”
Reviving Exorcism Miracles
Is it any surprise that this week, during a six-day conference in Rome on the Internet and Satanism. The Sydney Morning Herald reported this week:
More than 60 Catholic clergy, as well as doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists, teachers and youth workers, gathered for the conference to share information about exorcism, Satanism and sects. Seminars scrutinised Satanism with ''seriousness and scientific rigour'', avoiding a ''superficial or sensational approach''.
Giuseppe Ferrari, the secretary of the Socio-Religious Research and Information Group, said more priests who felt confident dealing with problems arising from the occult were needed in order to reserve exorcists for cases that really needed their expert attention, the Catholic news agency Zenit reported.
So not only is a dead pope to be prayed to, expert priests are to be employed in performing “exorcism” miracles to cast out “devils.” The revival of medieval superstition is being fully supported.
Decked with Gold
The other item of great interest in the news this week was the revelation of money laundering through the Vatican Bank. The Associated Press Reported:
The chairman of the Vatican bank, who has been placed under investigation for alleged violations of Italy's anti-money laundering laws, questioned Friday why Italian prosecutors insisted on seizing €23 million ($30 million) from a Vatican bank account.
He said the bank's image may have been "irreparably" damaged by widespread news coverage of the investigation and asked what people "from the United States to China" will now think of the Catholic church.
The paper goes on to point out:
The Vatican bank was implicated in a scandal over the collapse of the Banco Ambrosiano in the 1980s in one of Italy's largest fraud cases. Roberto Calvi, the head of Banco Ambrosiano, was found hanging from Blackfriars Bridge in London in 1982 in circumstances that remain mysterious.
Banco Ambrosiano collapsed following the disappearance of $1.3 billion in loans the bank had made to several dummy companies in Latin America. The Vatican had provided letters of credit for the loans.
While denying any wrongdoing, the Vatican bank agreed to pay $250 million to Ambrosiano's creditors.
The story of the Vatican Bank being caught with its “finger in the pot” is captured in the book The Vatican Billions by Avro Manhattan, a recommended read.
Interestingly, the Associated Press points out who the clients of the Vatican Bank are. We read:
The bank is not open to the public. Depositors are usually limited to Vatican employees, religious orders and people who transfer money for the pope's charities.
This means any banking sins are limited to the employees and religious orders of the Roman Catholic Church.
Is it any wonder the Bible describes this Great City as being clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls! (Revelation 18:4, 19:16), and that she is involved in “the merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones, and of pearls…” (Revelation 18:12).
The Associated Press reported in September of last year when this story first broke,
The Bank’s chairman rejected suggestions that the Vatican bank, which was implicated in a major banking scandal in the 1980s, was being targeted, although he said the bank's "unique" role in service of the Catholic church is misunderstood.
News reports circulated more than a year ago that Italian investigators were scrutinizing millions of euros worth of Vatican bank transactions to see if they violated money-laundering regulations.
The Globe and Mail reported:
The new law, according to Reuters, will force the bank and other Vatican branches to meet global standards, set by the Financial Action Task Force, to fight money laundering and financing for terrorists...
So are we to understand by this that money has been laundered through the Vatican Bank to finance terrorists, since only Vatican employees and religious orders can bank there? The article continues:
The changes were ordered last year by Pope Benedict XVI. Before now, The Wall Street Journal notes, Vatican finances were not subject to the same regulations as global banks.
The question now is how the regulations will be enforced, given that the Vatican doesn't have a legal system as do other countries, the newspaper pointed out.
So the Vatican Bank has been running amuck without proper regulations for years. Even now it the whole process is being considered disingenuous as it will police itself. Reuters reported:
The modern Vatican has little experience in bringing criminals to justice. In 1929, Italy and the Vatican signed a pact in which Rome recognized the Holy See's sovereignty but also allowed popes to shield Vatican officials from investigations and prosecutions by foreign governments by invoking diplomatic immunity. There is no prison inside the world's smallest state. Under the new rules, the Vatican will send people convicted by Vatican courts to prisons in Italy, said the person familiar with the matter.
So the Vatican has been committing financial fornication with the Government of Italy since it was given city-state status! Its diplomatic immunity makes it untouchable by human law inside the sovereign walls of the Great City.
So far from being a footnote in history, the Catholic Church remains the great enemy of the Truth who will marshal the forces of mankind to rebel against the Lord Jesus Christ when he returns. It will be riding the European beast of which we read in Revelation 17:14:
“These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.”
So let us remain amongst the class of “watchers”, who being instructed by the word “have the mind of wisdom” (17:9) and are able to identify the great false religious system and disassociate ourselves from it, following the command of our Lord in Revelation 18:4-5:
“Come out of her, my people, That ye be not partakers of her sins, And that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, And God hath remembered her iniquities.”
The hour of her judgments is almost upon us. Before this, there is the judgment seat of Christ, where his saints will be gathered and judged according to their works. Let us prepare for that great day.
This has been Jonathan Bowen joining you for the Bible in the News.