Understanding Roman Catholicism
The final doctrine we will review is also the last ritual many Catholics perform - viaticum, also known as the Last Rites:
"As the sacrament of Christ's Passover the Eucharist should always be the last sacrament of the earthly journey, the 'viaticum' for 'passing over' to eternal life." Pg. 379, #1517
This ritual includes anointing the dying person:
"If the sacrament of anointing of the sick is given to all who suffer from serious illness and infirmity, even more rightly is it given to those at the point of departing this life... The Anointing of the Sick completes our conformity to the death and Resurrection of Christ, just as Baptism began it." Pg. 381, #1523
The belief that this anointing "completes our conformity to the death and Resurrection of Christ" is another tradition of men the Scriptures say nothing about.
Since this ritual can only be performed by a priest or other Catholic leader, it keeps members in bondage to the Catholic religion right up until the moment of their death:
"Only priests (bishops and presbyters) are ministers of the Anointing of the Sick." Pg. 379, #1516
The Catechism also teaches that the Last Rites are the "seed of eternal life":
"In addition to the Anointing of the Sick, the Church offers those who are about to leave this life the Eucharist as viaticum. Communion in the body and blood of Christ, received at this moment of 'passing over' to the Father, has particular significance and importance. It is the seed of eternal life and the power of resurrection..." Pg. 381, #1524
But the Bible disagrees, declaring that this ritual is neither the "seed of eternal life" nor the "power of resurrection." These are man-made doctrines that God neither initiated nor endorsed.
This act is nothing more than one final earthly good work, which the Bible proclaims to be useless:
"...that I may win Christ. And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:" Philippians 3:8-9
Here are a few more man-made rules associated with this ritual:
"If a sick person who received this anointing recovers his health, he can in the case of another grave illness receive this sacrament again. If during the same illness the person's condition becomes more serious, the sacrament may be repeated. It is fitting to receive the Anointing just prior to a serious operation. The same holds true for the elderly whose frailty becomes more pronounced." Pg. 379, 1515
Rules on top of more rules. Please remember, God never ordained any of them. Men created them all.
As you make your own decision on this doctrine, here are a few points to consider:
- This ritual is never taught in the Bible.
- Not one Bible character ever received the Last Rites, including Paul, who said:
"For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:" 2 Timothy 4:6-7
- Not one Bible character ever administered the Last Rites.
This doctrine overflows with commandments of men. Will you place your faith and trust in these man-made rules and regulations, or in Jesus Christ?
Remember, Jesus warned:
"But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." Matthew 15:9
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Understanding Roman Catholicism © 1995 by Rick Jones