Mary Ann Pakiz
The Authority Issue
For many years, I had been led to believe that the Catholic Church was the final authority of my faith, and that I had no right to question its teaching. The Roman Catholic system teaches that all authority comes from God, but that God has appointed the Catholic system to be the guardian of His authority. Therefore, everything has to be weighed in the light of Catholic tradition and teaching, as theirs is held to be the only system in which truth is deposited. A Catholic cannot believe in the Scriptures without the authority of the Church to accredit the Scriptures! The Roman Catholic Church declares that God's authority is not sufficient to oblige men to believe and bow to it; it seeks to place church authority above God's authority. True faith is faith in what God has said because God has said it! Faith in God is belief in God's Word, the Bible, without any authority other than itself. "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve" (Luke 4:8).
I came under Catholic authority in 1948 when I was re-baptized and converted to Catholicism. I was born in 1930 to Finnish immigrant parents of a Lutheran persuasion. Our neighbors, who were immigrants from Yugoslavia and Italy, had a strong influence on my formative years. As exemplary Catholics, who witnessed to us about their faith, and who lived lives of good works and good deeds, of which we often were the recipients, they were committed to bringing the neighborhood under the headship of Rome. They reached out to us with what they thought was the truth. They were sincere, but sincerely wrong. It is important to remember that individual Catholics are not our enemies; rather, they are precious souls whom God loves and for whom He commands us to reach with the Gospel of His Grace. Salvation is by grace. Grace is unmerited favor. We cannot earn grace, nor do we deserve grace. "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9).
The Roman Catholic believes that salvation is based on water and works. Baptismal regeneration is the cornerstone of the Catholic system. The Church teaches that no one can enter the kingdom of heaven unless he or she is baptized. The source of Catholic faith is the Church. Its object is loyalty to the Church. Therefore, Catholic faith is in itself. The Christian, however, knows that salvation is based on Christ's work alone, a finished work to which nothing can be added. The source of Christian faith is the Bible. Its object is Jesus Christ. Therefore, true faith is in a Person. In order for faith to be operative, it must be anchored to the person of Jesus Christ.
Rather than searching the
Scriptures for truth to find out if Catholic teaching was in line
with God's Word, I blindly accepted everything the priest told me
during my instructions to become a Catholic, except for one
request. He asked me to bring my King James version of the Bible
to the rectory which he said had to be burned because it was not
the official Catholic version. Instead, I gave it to my
Becoming a "Bride of Christ"
In 1950, I took another step to
come further under Catholic authority by entering the Order of St.
Benedict to become a sister. I had been working as a nurse's aide
at a local hospital run by the Benedictine Sisters, and, as I was
so impressed with their gracious service to the patients and
staff, I decided that I, too, wanted to spend my life serving
A Stockpile of Good Works
During the five year preparation period for our final vows, we studied the Rule of Saint Benedict, canon law, church history, a bit about Jesuit causistry (the end justifies the means), and the lives of the saints. The emphasis was on self-denial and submission of one's will to the authority figure under whose charge we were. St. Therese, the Little Flower, was held up before us as a role model so we would emulate her way to God. It was a way based on "offering up" the daily vexations of life to make up for our sins or the sins of others. We were busy trying to build a stockpile of good works by which we could make ourselves more acceptable to God. We were offering our self-made sacrifices to God because we did not know that we could get to God because of the offering Jesus Christ made of Himself in our behalf at Calvary. When Jesus said to God, "I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do," He meant the work He did in behalf of sinners was complete and could not be added to (John 17:4).
Back in the World
In our last three years as
scholastics, some of the group left the motherhouse for teaching
assignments in the diocese. We returned in the summer, and it was
great to be back together again. I needed the rest and relaxation
after my first year of teaching forty-five students in grades five
and six combined. I had no training in elementary education but
was told there would be a blessing in obedience. In 1955, five
months before my final vows, I left the convent due to health
problems and returned to the home of my parents.
Salvation's Meaning Brought Home
In 1972, my children, then ages
twelve and five, were invited to a neighborhood backyard Bible
club. We asked our priest-uncle if they could attend; he didn't
seem to be concerned about it and gave his consent. This had to be
the work of God! From that point on, our lives were dramatically
True Christian Faith and the Roman System
As I witnessed to my Catholic
friends and relatives, I saw more clearly that the eternal destiny
of many souls was at stake here. I was grieved by their response
to the Gospel, they continued to believe that the Catholic Church
was the one true church and they trusted it for salvation
regardless of what the Bible said. In other words, they had been
brought up allowing other human beings or a set of man-made rules
to do their thinking for them. In 1545, the Council of Trent
declared that church tradition was of equal authority with the
Bible. To put anything on a par with or above God's Word is
idolatry! In fact, the "leaven" of the Catholic system is the
discrediting of the Bible as the sole, absolute, and final
authority of faith.
My Mission Field
The differences between the true Christian faith and the Roman Catholic system were becoming so obvious to me that in 1976, I left the Catholic Church and took my place with Bible-believing Christians. When I was saved in 1973, I told the Lord that I would be willing to go to the mission field anywhere. He took me at my word, and, in 1994, sent me to my mission field--dialysis. He permitted my kidney to fail first, and in order to survive, I need dialysis therapy three times a week. I thank and praise God in these circumstances as He has given me the opportunity to share His precious Gospel of Grace with seriously ill patients who need to prepare to meet God!
Taken from: The Truth Set Us Free: Twenty Former Nuns Tell Their Stories
Under the title The Truth Set Us Free: Twenty Former Nuns Tell Their Stories, this important new collection is now available. The testimonies give authentic first hand documentation of how under the authority of the Bible by the grace of God alone, these women saw through the Roman Catholic system.
Many Catholics exhibit intense, consistent, and often covert interest in the testimonies of nuns who have left "Holy Mother Church". It stands to reason that the drawing card for these readers, haunted by their own lack of peace with God, is that in these testimonies of the Catholic system's own dedicated women leaving her and surviving, there may be a clue for them personally. Indeed, they may be right--since the thread which binds the testimonies together is the witness of the truth of the Bible as the factor which converted each nun from Roman Catholicism to true faith in God through Jesus Christ alone.
The second purpose of the collection is to inform truthfully all Bible believing churches and people about the realities of the Roman system. These converted women straightforwardly articulate the deception which they had been taught, the form of the deception which they had lived, and the truth which has set them free.
In form, the book is classic: each woman tells her own story. Strong draught which destroys today's proffered ecumenical sop, these testimonies of conversion from the Roman Catholic system to Biblical faith which these women voice are wrung from their hearts, by the Spirit. Thus the conflict--some of it of long duration, some of it quite intense--reflects clearly the light of Scripture as each tells of how that light circumcised her own heart.
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