Proverbs 4:7 The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom,and whatever you get, get insight.
Ecclesiastes 7:12 For the protection of wisdom is like the protection of money,
and the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom preserves the life of him who has it.
We recently returned from another Highland Festival gathering which took place once again in Canada. We decided to take an additional few days before the games to take a tour of the north eastern part of Canada since we were going to be so close. So off to Quebec City we drove. There is so much to share about our trip, yet one part of it continues to haunt my thoughts and is something I have been praying over for the last week.
When I began writing this blog, my earlier posts had a theme of “why”? I thought it would be interesting to write in that direction, however, many other things popped up that had me writing and sharing outside of that why box. Well, I have over the last week continued to pray about and ask why about one small hour in time that took place on our trip. I know and am very aware that this subject could be a hot point and am not certain how many will continue reading once I get to my point, however, I certainly hope that more will at least consider that this is me asking why and maybe they will consider my question and God’s truth on the subject. After all, 2Timothy 3:14-16 says “14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
On our country tour of Quebec City, we were taken to St. Anne’s Basilica, or as the French call it Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré Shrine. My first why was questioning “shrine”. In the dictionary this is how they describe shrine: a building or other shelter, often of a stately or sumptuous character, enclosing the remains or relics of a saint or other holy person and forming an object of religious veneration and pilgrimage. My second question was more of a “who” rather than why. Who was St. Anne? On the tour bus we had the explanation given through our tour guide describing her as the mother of the virgin Mary. Now comes the third question, why is the mother of Mary a saint? Well, saint in the dictionary reads as such: any of certain persons of exceptional holiness of life, formally recognized as such by the Christian Church, especially by canonization. Did she lead an exceptional life? Her name is not listed in the bible and from what I researched it is only listed once in the middle of the second century in the apocryphal Protevangelium of James. Everywhere I looked for information about Anne, there were different stories and legends about her life. From her being barren and sharing the same story as Hanna and Samuel, to her being married once to her being married three times and having three daughters. I repeatedly found the word “tradition” used when describing her and her importance. Making me wonder what the definition of tradition was: a : an inherited, established, or customary pattern of thought, action, or behavior (as a religious practice or a social custom)
b : a belief or story or a body of beliefs or stories relating to the past that are commonly accepted as historical though not verifiable.
Ah, definition b. is where I see the bigger picture. “Commonly accepted as historical though not verifiable.” With such inconsistencies, no clear biblical explanation into her importance, why is she a saint? It must be obvious at this point I am not catholic. I do not understand praying to someone other than directly to the Lord in the name of Jesus.
Back to the trip…off through the country’s winding roads and small towns we went to see a shrine dedicated and named after a woman who is a part of history yet whose name is not even in God’s holy scriptures. The driver went on to explain that St. Anne was prayed to for healing and that people have hobbled into the basilica crippled and walked out leaving canes and crutches behind. As I sat uncomfortably in my seat, knowing that my body is riddled with spirochetes and various other infections, I was no longer concerned over my own health, yet was concerned over the spiritual health of those who pray to someone other than Christ. I began to pray for the miracle of His divine power to change the heart. I began praying for all of those who ooed and awed at the thought of seeing the basilica, seeing her hip bone under glass, and their praying to “St. Anne”. I asked Christ directly to show those who did not know Him to be shown Him. Just as my peace and healing has come from prayer directly to Christ himself, they too can feel healing if they only knew Him.
Exiting the bus, it was hard not to breath deeply at the beauty of such a towering “shrine”. It certainly was beautiful from the parking lot, and from the road. I took a great number of pictures of the beautiful windows that the suns rays shown through, and the enormous copper doors which a local man had made. However, as I studied the sculpture above the door as we entered in, I was wrought with sadness. Sadness at seeing a woman (St. Anne) portrayed as an idol by those who were bowing down before her. (I tried for 3 hours to download the picture, not sure why it will not upload.) Why? Her name is not listed in scripture, she is not the reason for Mary’s immaculate conception, her history is sketchy at best and there is no history of her doing anything spectacular other than being a mom to someone else who was an important part of history. Bus loads and car loads of people unloaded to go into the basilica and pray to her. There was even a campground across the street and a small building behind the church to buy your souvenirs. Why pray to her? Scripture tells us even in the old testament prayers were lifted to either the creator of the earth, our Lord God Almighty, or to man made idols. So, since we know she herself is not God, does that make her an idol? After all, people make pilgrimages to her basilica where miracles of healing are proclaimed and they pray to her.
The following prayer was found laying out for people to read and use in their prayers. (Please note 1/2 way down the page under Before a relic of Saint Anne, second paragraph..)
It must be mentioned that the Catholic Church in 1677 condemned the belief that Anne also participated in the immaculate conception of Mary. Another why… why then is this prayer sitting in a Catholic Church dedicated to a woman who is not listed in scripture enticing people from all over the world to visit and to pray to her?
1 Timothy 2:3-6 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.
I know that the answer falls back onto the shoulders of those who taught such ideas, as well as tradition. Tradition passed down from generation to generation. It is possible however, to be the one person to break with tradition and begin reading scripture as God intended for us to do. We no longer live in an age where all we have is personal reflection and stories passed down due to the lack of writing and paper. We have bibles in our stores, churches, hotels and prayerfully in our homes. We have internet, Bible aps and ipads. If one begins reading them and praying directly to the Lord in the name of Jesus Christ one may find wisdom. As Christians we need to ask hard questions when something doesn’t seem right in the teaching of the scriptures. If people do not know truth, how will they know Him?
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
To the reader that has read all the way through, thank you. Thank you for pondering with me the questions which need to be asked. I hope that you will continue to read the scriptures below and listen to the following sermon posts on the first two commandments so you may understand my concern for those who pray to anyone other than Jesus Christ.
I titled this post Beauty or Truth? because I think it’s another pondering question. Would you rather have a beautiful sanctuary with gold and silver relics and copper doors or would you rather have truth? I would rather have truth.
Who should we pray to:
John 14:13 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
John 14:21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.
If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.
(Please note that the Father in this text is God, not the local priest or pastor.)
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
Let us remember:
6″I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
7 “‘You shall have no other gods before me.
8 “‘You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 9 You shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 10 but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.
11 “‘You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.
12 “‘Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. 13 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 14 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter or your male servant or your female servant, or your ox or your donkey or any of your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates, that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you. 15 You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.
16 “‘Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may go well with you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.
17 “You shall not murder.
18 “And you shall not commit adultery.
19 “And you shall not steal.
20 “And you shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
21 “And you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife. And you shall not desire your neighbor’s house, his field, or his male servant, or his female servant, his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.’
But my people have forgotten me;
they make offerings to false gods;
For the household gods utter nonsense,
and the diviners see lies;
they tell false dreams
and give empty consolation.
Therefore the people wander like sheep;
they are afflicted for lack of a shepherd.
Idols and the Living God
10 Hear the word that the Lord speaks to you, O house of Israel. 2 Thus says the Lord:
“Learn not the way of the nations,
nor be dismayed at the signs of the heavens
because the nations are dismayed at them,
3 for the customs of the peoples are vanity A tree from the forest is cut down
and worked with an axe by the hands of a craftsman.
4 They decorate it with silver and gold;
they fasten it with hammer and nails
so that it cannot move.
5 Their idols are like scarecrows in a cucumber field,
and they cannot speak;
they have to be carried,
for they cannot walk.
Do not be afraid of them,
for they cannot do evil,
neither is it in them to do good.”
6 There is none like you, O Lord;
you are great, and your name is great in might.
7 Who would not fear you, O King of the nations?
For this is your due;
for among all the wise ones of the nations
and in all their kingdoms
there is none like you.
8 They are both stupid and foolish;
the instruction of idols is but wood!
9 Beaten silver is brought from Tarshish,
and gold from Uphaz.
They are the work of the craftsman and of the hands of the goldsmith;
their clothing is violet and purple;
they are all the work of skilled men.
10 But the Lord is the true God;
he is the living God and the everlasting King.
At his wrath the earth quakes,
and the nations cannot endure his indignation.
11 Thus shall you say to them: “The gods who did not make the heavens and the earth shall perish from the earth and from under the heavens.”
12 It is he who made the earth by his power,
who established the world by his wisdom,
and by his understanding stretched out the heavens.
13 When he utters his voice, there is a tumult of waters in the heavens,
and he makes the mist rise from the ends of the earth.
He makes lightning for the rain,
cand he brings forth the wind from his storehouses.
14 Every man is stupid and without knowledge;
every goldsmith is put to shame by his idols,
for his images are false,
hand there is no breath in them.
15 They are worthless, a work of delusion;
I hope that you will consider listening to these two sermons on the first two commandments. Very thought provoking.
For more information on biblical teaching of the commandments, visit CRBC.us.