Jesus my Saviour
By Dr Abraham Cutajar
I was born and brought up in Malta, an island that
is "more Catholic than the Vatican". Some days after I was
born I was sprinkled with "holy water." By this ceremony I
was supposed to have been made a Christian. I was sent to the nun's
school just before I was three. I used to be stood upon the nun's
table and called to recite in front of the class. Not only could I
recite the "Hail Mary" but also the much longer "Hail
holy Queen." The sister would make the class tell me "bravu"
(good boy). Pride was pouring in.
One day came the "Dun" (the honourable
title of Maltese priests) and I was called to recite in front of
him. Forty-five years later I still remember them talk that I should
become a priest. An aunt was persuaded that I should become take
holy orders and accordingly bought me a toy altar, a leaden cross
and a set of candlesticks.
The candles burned out in minutes and the leaden
candlesticks were first misshapen and then used to make graffiti on
the walls that my father had labouriosly white-washed with lime. The
box-like toy altar imprisoned a hapless baby gecko, some ladybirds
For this unseemly behaviour I was taken to a
much-loved pious priest called Dun Gorg (who recently became the
first Maltese to be canonised, that is, declared a saint by the
pope). He granted them their wish -- he laid his hand upon my head
and prayed. Many years later I was to become one his disciples.
At this point I want to make very clear that
although the actions of these people were totally against the Word
of God, they were acting in good faith as children of Rome. I am
sure they were doing their best for the good of my soul in
accordance with the teaching of Rome and the culture of the Maltese
nation. They are very dear to me and I pray daily for them that if
it is God's will He may save them.
I went through the state-school system, Catholic to
its core. By the age of five I was attending mass, garbling in Latin
without understanding. Then I passed the examination for my First
Holy Communion and received a certificate and a "Bravu"
for parroting the question and answer of the Catechism (by the
Italian Gasparri) notebook which was translated into Maltese many
generations ago. I was then led to "Confession". I had to
confess my personal sins before my First Holy Communion the night
before and had to be extra good lest I sin and would not be able to
receive Holy Communion.
The first Communion is a momentous event in the life
of the Maltese. Each family spends a small fortune for each child --
the girls in splendid miniature bridal costume and the boys in
immaculate white. Even though it was hot June I wore a frilled
shirt, a white jacket and short trousers, white gloves, socks and
shoes. All adorned with the medal of the "sacred hearts"
of Jesus and Mary. A beautifully embroidered armband with golden
tassles depicted the Bleeding Sacred Heart, a golden Chalice and the
host and ears of wheat and black grapes. O what a contrast did these
make with the white apparel! No wonder that an aunt "who knew
how" came to dress me up early in the morning. Then I was
escorted to church. The fashion parades of the parents and their
relatives, the priestly festal robes of gold and purple, the candles
and huge crystal chandeliers, the red carpet strewn with red and
white carnations and roses; then the church bells, the fire-works,
the church organ, the Latin choir, the smells of incense, crushed
flowers and herbs mixed with that of cordite from the fireworks.
Truly I believed that Jesus had come to me on that
day and I felt very happy. Soon I was whizzed in a car to have my
photo taken. My great-uncle, a professional, made a splendid job to
make me look so angelic reading a little white children's
missal....Then off to a party at home where I was met by numerous
relations who bestowed upon me more little white missals, fonts for
holy water, rosary beads of every weight shape size and colour --
some already blessed by a priest and some others still awaiting the
needed blessing at my next confession -- various statues and
pictures of saints, angels crosses and even pictures of our Lord.
The new toy candlesticks were hastily removed from sight as my
pyromania was to be feared.
Can you imagine what a powerful influence Romanism
has on a child's mind? My experience was not exceptional but average
for a working class family. Poorer families would have borrowed so
that their children would not be at a disadvantage. I shall thus not
elaborate on Confirmation the following year at the age of seven.
Rome believes in "catch 'em early and you've got 'em".
Suffice the sight of the mitred archbishop, his escorts, his
Cadillac, pearls, purple, scarlet and gem on his ring underneath
which I was told lay a splinter from the Lord's cross. And then he
approaches and "confirms" and anoints the lad with a
fragrant ointment. I still remember the slaps on my cheek, a token
that henceforth I was to prove myself a "soldier of
Indeed I was soon enrolled in the "Milites
Christi Regis", the soldiers of Christ the King, a branch of an
organization called Catholic Action. There I learned to defend the
pope and his magisterium while playing billiards. But we also played
a brutal game called "harba," part pitched battle, part
rugby without a ball and part wrestling on stones. I lost blood,
skin and clothing but still have my front teeth. If the pope needed
us we were ready -- we were so reckless...
Our enemies were no longer the legendary Turks but
the Russian Communists and the notorious Protestants. We were told
to pray for them but never to have anything to do with them. When
Kennedy was killed we were told to mourn because he was one of us --
a Catholic. I concluded it was either Russians or Protestants who
One may conclude that life in a "
Catholic" country was blissful. At the time the Maltese seemed
"truer" than most people but as I grew I learned more and
more about treachery in politics, in business as well as in private
and public life.
During secondary school I could have been carried
away by the currents of worldly and devilish evil. Some of my mates
were already fornicating, stealing what they could, fouling with
their mouths and going to the cinema for X-rated films. As it
happened a disciple of Dun Gorg persuaded me to attend the lessons
of the Societas Doctrinae Christianae (Society of Christian
Doctrine), also known as MUSEUM. The offer was attendance at
catechism classes with football following. I lied about my age so
that he'd put me in a class with older boys. I also intended to
scorn and taunt and I was successful.
Although they preached nothing but Catholicism they
used Scripture, and they used Maltese not Latin. The Lord used them
to teach me His word and I love them very much and pray to see them
saved. I learned to resist the temptations of the self, the world
and the devil. I believed revelation came from the Bible and the
Tradition of the Church of Rome. I was a devotee of Mary and other
saints. I swore blind obedience to the Pontiff and to his teaching.
All the same I realized that I was sinful and sinning constantly.
Sinning constantly left me in fear of losing my
soul. One lustful look at a girl out of a bus window on the way to
school condemned me to Hell. Weekly confession was not enough. I
applied self-mortification intermittently and prayed as often as I
remembered. I was getting frustrated with the Lord who was not
making me the saint I wanted to be. I played football as hard as
possible and ran or cycled to exhaustion so that at night I'd be so
tired that evil thoughts would not come to me. I found solace in the
rituals of Rome but at other times I found them meaningless. I was
paying lip service but my heart was away from the Lord.
Come what may, I had to earn my salvation. Jesus did
his part. Now I must do mine. I must start working. So I thought.
But how do I placate Divine Justice since His Word says "it is
a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God"
I tried harder. In my late teens I started teaching
younger ones. What better sacrifice can one make than giving up
one's right to marriage and lead a celibate life, just like the
priests? My mentor often said "a great reward demands great
work." If this was a ticket to heaven it was still cheap, and I
could fortify myself with harsher self-mortification. I decided to
have full membership in the "Society" despite my
inadequacy. This demanded celibacy. For me it wasn't a problem to be
misunderstood even by parents, some priests and fellow Catholics. I
was persuaded this was my vocation, the cross I had to bear to
I was happy. The disciples met daily to study
Scripture and theology, for prayer, rituals and devotions and for
convivial conversation afterwards. We were a brotherhood and all I
know from them is brotherly love, sincerity, mutual support and a
desire to bring upon earth God's kingdom by preaching the Gospel. We
then planned our teaching campaigns under the guidance of the elders
and ensured that we were totally obedient to the hierarchy of the
church. Some carried the mission abroad. Having to separate from
them was a big wrench in my heart, but I had to leave Malta to
continue my medical studies in London. The government of the day had
closed the medical school.
I remained faithful to the Society as long as
possible but lonely and starved of fellowship I was very vulnerable
to the devil. The hectic life as a medical student and worse as a
junior doctor made it very difficult to pray. I was not made of
steel. I understood I had no vocation for celibacy, not any more
In contrast to the Roman priesthood, my celibacy was
voluntary. In tears I wrote my resignation from the Societas
Doctrinae Christianae. I married a good Catholic wife in the church
I was now spiritually comfortable, even smug. I was
"not bad" and far less aware of my sinfulness, I performed
the rituals and did some good "for God." I became more
tolerant and more humanistic and accepted a lot of moral relativism
in others. I felt mature. God was so good He'll save us all if we
were genuine. Prayer was limited to a residue; occasionally
interspersed with some fervour in times of need. Sometimes we said
the rosary. We never missed Sunday Mass. God was at a safe distance
had not my wife started searching in Teresa of Avila and John of the
Cross. She was also fond of Dun Gorg, founder of SDC. We left Malta
and came back to England in 1990.
In ways which only the Lord can bring up she started
questioning the Scriptural basis of the Roman Catholic religion and
was finding it wanting. If not wanting, at least it was replete with
man-made additions. You can imagine how angry I got and for weeks we
argued passionately. I had reason to get angry because despite my
intensive teaching I could not rebut that which is contrary to
Scripture. I was relying on "Tradition" to persuade her
that the Roman religion was true.
One Sunday morning she told me, "I will come to
mass as your companion not as a believer." Two Sundays later my
son, then aged eight, said he will not come to a Roman Church
anymore. I was in tears. I was hale, wealthy, successful and was
bringing up the family reasonably well. Why did the Lord let me
down? This was seven years ago. My parish priest was unhelpful, he
could at least have consoled me and no one could understand. I went
on a retreat to ask questions and pray with the monks at Ampleforth
After some years a truce was established in the
family. We were settled as long as we did not talk about religion.
But once again the Lord was at work. While arguing with my wife and
son about their denial of evolution I found out that not only was
evolution (as taught to me by Jesuit biologists and philosophers)
anti-Biblical but also very bad science. With time the Lord showed
me that there is no logic and no Scriptural basis for purgatory,
that works do not save, that there is only One Mediator and only One
High Priest and that the Scriptural basis for the
"Sacrament" was dodgy and subject to speculation.
Even with these strong fallacies of Catholic
teaching I clung even more firmly to Rome. I forced myself, if it
was ever possible, to will myself to believe that the host given to
me at communion was truly the Lord Jesus. I tried to force myself to
believe that at Mass our Lord is truly sacrificed as a re-enactment
of Calvary. I got involved with ecumenism even when I could see it
was a deceit of Rome and the devil. I kept saying "Rome says
so, it must be true". Thus I actively resisted the Word of God
to cling desperately to Rome.
While on holiday in Malta I took my wife and my son
to the Evangelical church that met at Hal Luqa. I had already made
it clear that I was a fervent and convinced Romanist and I was there
only as a companion to my wife and son. However, at the end of the
service I went to take issue with the preacher who was Paul Mizzi.
Rather then rebut my arguments, Paul simply said, 'Just take and
read the Scriptures. Then decide what is TRUEST to the Word of God:-
What you have seen us do and heard us preach OR What you see Rome
doing and preaching ?'
Months of troubled searching in the Scriptures
showed me clearly that the Roman Catholic religion is ALIEN and at
times AGAINST the Word of God. To be true to my conscience I had to
leave Romanism. Yet till the Lord took hold of me I clung to Rome
with all my might.
One evening I went Nicodemus-like to Dr. Joe Mizzi
while on a week's holiday in Malta. I was not humble though. I
wanted to argue my points in favour of Rome. As an evangelical
believer he patiently explained the Scriptures. I saw the point but
resisted. Likewise I discussed with Mr. W. H. Molland and Mr P
Nutkins of North Road Chapel in Bideford, Devon; with Mr. D. Blanton
of California and with Mr. R. Lentzch in Malta. They gave me
passages of Scriptures to read but I refused to read them. I read
The Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church instead. But I was not
satisfied with the explanations of the catechism. The
"two-edged Sword" proved much more powerful. At mass in
church I was now a spectator praying to be convinced that I was
re-enacting Calvary. My soul was a black hole. The Lord persuaded me
to go and read the Scriptures I feared, Romans 3 and the epistle to
the Hebrews. It was so clear. I read the Bible more and more, trying
to clutch at straws. I found none. Purgatory, Marian devotion,
indulgences, salvation by works, infant sprinkling, Peter going to
Rome, Sacraments....I found NONE, none at all. Was the mass anywhere
to be found? It is so central to Roman Catholicism. Did I find once
an exhortation to go to Mass? No. Not once.
Instead I found out about sovereign election by free
grace, the ONCE ONLY Sacrifice of the ONE and ONLY Saviour Jesus
When I saw what the mass really meant, I knew I was
excommunicated from Rome ipso facto. Rome fell down upon me with an
iron hand. I found myself desperate and bereaved without
consolation. I felt that sin was of my very substance. I knew I was
abhorrent to God and was going to Hell as I deserved. For many days
I endured this state and would have died in it had I not cried,
"Lord, what should I do to saved?" The answer came in Acts
16:27-33, so simple as to be a stumbling block, "Believe on the
Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved"
By the grace and mercy of God, I was quickened by
the Holy Ghost who brought me to repentance. Then I stepped over
that stumbling block: I believed in the Lord Jesus Christ and now I
I thank and praise the Lord for saving me in His appointed time.
Hallowed be His Name!