Monday, October 8, 2018

Is The Catholic Church the Church That Jesus Founded?


A letter to the Trallians by:
--St Ignatius of Antioch
I wish to forewarn you, for you are my dearest children
Ignatius, also called Theophorus, to the holy church at Tralles in the province of Asia, dear to God the Father of Jesus Christ, elect and worthy of God, enjoying peace in body and in the Spirit through the passion of Jesus Christ, who is our hope through our resurrection when we rise to him. In the manner of the apostles, I too send greetings to you with the fullness of grace and extend my every best wish.
Reports of your splendid character have reached me: how you are beyond reproach and ever unshaken in your patient endurance – qualities that you have not acquired but are yours by nature. My informant was your own bishop Polybius, who by the will of God and Jesus Christ visited me here in Smyrna. He so fully entered into my joy at being in chains for Christ that I came to see your whole community embodied in him. Moreover, when I learned from him of your God-given kindliness toward me, I broke out in words of praise for God. It is on him, I discovered, that you pattern your lives.
Your submission to your bishop, who is in the place of Jesus Christ, shows me that you are not living as men usually do but in the manner of Jesus himself, who died for us that you might escape death by belief in his death. Thus one thing is necessary, and you already observe it, that you do nothing without your bishop; indeed, be subject to the clergy as well, seeing in them the apostles of Jesus Christ our hope, for if we live in him we shall be found in him.
Deacons, too, who are ministers of the mysteries of Jesus should in all things be pleasing to all men. For they are not mere servants with food and drink, but emissaries of God’s Church; hence they should guard themselves against anything deserving reproach as they would against fire.
Similarly, all should respect the deacons as Jesus Christ, just as all should regard the bishop as the image of the Father, and the clergy as God’s senate and the college of the apostles. Without these three orders you cannot begin to speak of a church. I am confident that you share my feelings in this matter, for I have had an example of your love in the person of your bishop who is with me now. His whole bearing is a great lesson, and his very gentleness wields a mighty influence.
By God’s grace there are many things I understand, but I keep well within my limitations for fear that boasting should be my undoing. At the moment, then, I must be more apprehensive than ever and pay no attention at all to those who flatter me; their praise is as a scourge. For though I have a fierce desire to suffer martyrdom, I know not whether I am worthy of it. Most people are unaware of my passionate longing, but it assails me with increasing intensity. My present need, then, is for that humility by which the prince of this world is overthrown.
And so I strongly urge you, not I so much as the love of Jesus Christ, to be nourished exclusively on Christian fare, abstaining from the alien food that is heresy. And this you will do if you are neither arrogant nor cut off from God, from Jesus Christ, and from the bishop and the teachings of the apostles. Whoever is within the sanctuary is pure; but whoever is not is unclean. That is to say, whoever acts apart from the bishop and the clergy and the deacons is not pure in his conscience. In writing this, it is not that I am aware of anything of the sort among you; I only wish to forewarn you, for you are my dearest children.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Feast of St. Michael, St. Gabriel, & St. Raphael -Archangels (September 29)

"The word “angel” denotes a function rather than a nature . . . . Some angels are given proper names to denote the service they are empowered to perform . . . ". 
Michael means: Who is like unto God
Gabriel means: God is my strength
Raphael means: God Heals
~St. Gregory the Great (excerpt from a homily on the Gospels)

St. Augustine says: "'Angel' is the name of their office, not of their nature. If you seek the name of their nature, it is 'spirit'; if you seek the name of their office, it is 'angel': from what they are, 'spirit,' from what they do, 'angel.'" With their whole beings the angels are servants and messengers of God. Because they "always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven" they are the "mighty ones who do his word, hearkening to the voice of his word" (CCC 329; Mt 18:10).
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St. Michael the Archangel - The name Michael means "one who is like God". His will is focused, immovable, and entirely driven toward accomplishing goodness; he is the protector of souls, and wields his powerful sword against the poisonous and vindictive aspirations of he who is known as a liar from the beginning.
During a visit to the Sanctuary of Saint Michael the Archangel, John Paul II said, "The battle against the devil . . . is the principal task of Saint Michael the archangel."
Scripture relates such a truth: "Then war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels battled against the dragon. Although the dragon and his angels fought back, they were overpowered and lost their place in heaven. The huge dragon, the ancient serpent known as the devil or Satan, the seducer of the whole world, was driven out; he was hurled down to earth and his minions with him" (Rev 12:7-9).
Michael the Archangel said to the three children at Fatima, "Fear not. I am the Angel of Peace. Pray with me." Then he prostrated himself, and repeated three times: "My God; I believe, I adore, I hope, and I love Thee! I beg Thee forgiveness for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope, and do not love Thee!"
In mind of the powerful experience related by Lucy, the above prayer of St. Michael brings tears to our eyes when we contemplate the utter serious nature of this committed warrior who strives after peace with all his being. Too, we can fathom the seriousness of our situation in regards the reality of life, of good and evil, of the battle that rages around us, and of God's wondrous love in giving us such a vigilant and magnificent protector.
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St. Gabriel is an angel who serves as a messenger for God to certain people. He is one of the three
archangels. Gabriel is mentioned in both the Old and the New Testaments of the Bible. First, in the Old Testament, Gabriel appears to the prophet Daniel to explain his visions. Gabriel is described as, "one who looked like man," as he interprets Daniel's visions. He speaks to Daniel while he is sleeping. After Gabriel's first visit, Daniel becomes tired and sick for days. Gabriel later visits Daniel again providing him with more insight and understanding in an answered prayer.
In the New Testament, Gabriel, described as "an angel of the Lord," first appears to Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist. He tells him, "Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth." Luke 1:13.
After Elizabeth conceived and was six months pregnant, Gabriel appears again. The Book of Luke states he was sent from God to Nazareth to visit the virgin married to a man named Joseph. Gabriel said to Mary, "Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women." Luke 1:28.
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St. Raphael is one of the seven Archangels who stand before the throne of the Lord, and one of the
only three mentioned by name in the Bible. He appears, by name, only in the Book of Tobit. Raphael's name means "God heals." This identity came about because of the biblical story that claims he "healed" the earth when it was defiled by the sins of the fallen angels in the apocryphal book of Enoch.

Disguised as a human in the Book of Tobit, Raphael refers to himself as "Azarias the son of the great Ananias" and travels alongside Tobit's son, Tobiah. Once Raphael returns from his journey with Tobiah, he declares to Tobit that he was sent by the Lord to heal his blindness and deliver Sarah, Tobiah's future wife, from the demon Asmodeus. It is then that his true healing powers are revealed and he makes himself known as "the angel Raphael, one of the seven, who stand before the Lord" Tobit 12:15.
The demon Asmodeus killed every man Sarah married on the night of the wedding, before the marriage could be consummated. Raphael guided Tobiah and taught him how to safely enter the marriage with Sarah.
Raphael is credited with driving the evil spirit from Sarah and restoring Tobit's vision, allowing him to see the light of Heaven and for receiving all good things through his intercession.
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Friday, June 8, 2018

Beware the “Soloists”

Msgr. Charles Pope hits the nail on the head once again . . . and with such an edifying and eloquent analogy! I must also mention that his play on words about "singing solo" is wonderful! This well organized, easy to read, article is a "saver" for sure. The bolded RED words are my emphasis. I have also included my crib notes or "take-aways" at the end of this post.
Beware the “Soloists”  A Concern for the Protestant “Solos”: Sola Fide, Sola Scriptura, Sola Gratia  • June 7, 2018
There are a lot of “solos” sung by our Protestant brethren: 
1) sola fide (saved by faith alone) 
2) sola gratis (grace alone 
3) sola Scriptura (Scripture alone is the rule of faith)
Generally, one ought to be leery of claims that things work “alone.” Typically, many things work together in harmony; things are interrelated. Very seldom is anyone or anything really “alone.”

The problem with “solos” emerges (it seems to me) in our mind, where it is possible to separate things out; but just because we can separate something out in our mind does not mean that we can do so in reality.

Consider, for a moment, a candle’s flame. In my mind, I can separate the heat of the flame from its light, but I could never put a knife into the flame and put the heat of the flame on one side of it and the light on the other. In reality, the heat and light are inseparable—so together as to be one.

I would like to argue that it is the same with things like faith and works, grace and transformation, Scripture and the Church. We can separate all these things out in our mind, but in reality, they are one. Attempting to separate them from what they belong to leads to grave distortions and to the thing in question no longer being what it is claimed to be. Rather, it becomes an abstraction that exists only on a blackboard or in the mind of a theologian.
Let’s look at the three main “solos” of Protestant theology. I am aware that there are non-Catholic readers of this blog, so please understand that my objections are made with respect. I am also aware that in a short blog I may oversimplify, and thus I welcome additions, clarifications, etc. in the comments section.

Solo 1: Faith alone (sola fide) – For 400 years, Catholics and Protestants have debated the question of faith and works. In this matter, we must each avoid caricaturing the other’s position. Catholics do not and never have taught that we are saved by works. For Heaven’s sake, we baptize infants! We fought off the Pelagians. But neither do Protestants mean by “faith” a purely intellectual acceptance of the existence of God, as many Catholics think that they do.
What concerns us here is the detachment of faith from works that the phrase “faith alone” implies. Let me ask, what is faith without works? Can you point to it? Is it visible? Introduce me to someone who has real faith but no works. I don’t think one can be found. About the only example I can think of is a baptized infant, but that’s a Catholic thing! Most Baptists and Evangelicals who sing the solos reject infant baptism. 
Hence it seems that faith alone is something of an abstraction. Faith is something that can only be separated from works in our minds. If faith is a transformative relationship with Jesus Christ, we cannot enter into that relationship while remaining unchanged. This change affects our behavior, our works. Even in the case of infants, it is possible to argue that they are changed and do have “works”; it’s just that they are not easily observed. 
Scripture affirms that faith is never alone, that such a concept is an abstraction.
Faith without works is dead (James 2:26). Faith without works is not faith at all because faith does not exist by itself; it is always present with and causes works through love.  
Galatians 5:6 says, For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith working through love.Hence faith works not alone but through love.  
Further, as Paul states in 1 Corinthians 13:2, if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing.Hence faith alone is the null set. True faith is never alone; it bears the fruit of love and the works of holiness. Faith ignites love and works through it. Beware of the solo “faith alone” and ask where faith, all by itself, can be found.
Solo 2: Grace alone (sola gratia) – By its very nature grace changes us. Again, show me grace apart from works. Grace without works is an abstraction. It cannot be found apart from its effects. In our mind it may exist as an idea, but in reality, grace is never alone.
Grace builds on nature and transforms it. It engages the person who responds to its urges and gifts. If grace is real, it will have its effects and cannot be found alone or apart from works. It cannot be found apart from a real flesh-and-blood human who is manifesting its effects.
Solo 3: Scripture alone (sola Scriptura) – Beware those who say, “sola Scriptura!” This is the claim that Scripture alone is the measure of faith and the sole authority for the Christian, that there is no need for a Church and no authority in the Church, that there is only authority in the Scripture.
There are several problems with this.
First, Scripture as we know it (with the full New Testament) was not fully assembled and agreed upon until the 4th century.
It was Catholic bishops, in union with the Pope, who made the decision as to which books belonged in the Bible. The early Christians could not possibly have lived by sola scriptura because the Scriptures were not even fully written in the earliest years. And although collected and largely completed in written form by 100 AD, the set of books and letters that actually made up the New Testament was not agreed upon until the 4th century.
Second, until recently most people could not read.
Given this, it seems strange that God would make, as the sole rule of faith, a book that people had to read on their own. Even today, large numbers of people in the world cannot read well. Hence, Scripture was not necessarily a read text, but rather one that most people heard and experienced in and with the Church through her preaching, liturgy, art, architecture, stained glass, passion plays, and so forth.
Third, and most important, if all you have is a book, then that book needs to be interpreted accurately.
Without a valid and recognized interpreter, the book can serve to divide more than to unite. Is this not the experience of Protestantism, which now has tens of thousands of denominations all claiming to read the same Bible but interpreting it in rather different manners?
The problem is, if no one is Pope then everyone is Pope! Protestant “soloists” claim that anyone, alone with a Bible and the Holy Spirit, can authentically interpret Scripture. Well then, why does the Holy Spirit tell some people that baptism is necessary for salvation and others that it is not necessary? Why does the Holy Spirit tell some that the Eucharist really is Christ’s Body and Blood and others that it is only a symbol? Why does the Holy Spirit say to some Protestants, “Once saved, always saved” and to others, “No”?
So, it seems clear that Scripture is not meant to be alone. Scripture itself says this in 2 Peter 3:16: 
 . . . our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, also wrote to you, Our Brother Paul speaking of these things [the Last things] as he does in all his letters. In them there are some things hard to understand that the ignorant and unstable distort to their own destruction, just as they do the other scriptures. 
Hence Scripture itself warns that it is quite possible to misinterpret Scripture.
Where is the truth to be found? The Scriptures once again answer this: you should know how to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth (1 Tim 3:15).
Hence Scripture is not to be read alone. It is a document of the Lord through the Church and must be read in the context of the Church and with the Church’s authoritative interpretation and Tradition. As this passage from Timothy says, the Church is the pillar and foundation of truth. The Bible is a Church book and thus is not meant to be read apart from the Church that received the authority to publish it from God Himself. Scripture is the most authoritative and precious document of the Church, but it emanates from the Church’s Tradition and must be understood in the light of it.
Thus, the problems of “singing solo” seem to boil down to the fact that if we separate what God has joined we end up with an abstraction, something that exists only in the mind but in reality, cannot be found alone.
Here is a brief video in which Fr. Robert Barron ponders the Protestant point of view that every baptized Christian has the right to authoritatively interpret the Word of God.


Some quick "take-aways" for me:
Attempting to separate them (the 'solos') from what they belong to leads to grave distortions and to the thing in question no longer being what it is claimed to be. Rather, it becomes an abstraction that exists only on a blackboard or in the mind of a theologian.
SOLA FIDE: faith alone is the null set 
SOLA GRATIA:  By its very nature grace changes us. Again, show me grace apart from works. Grace without works is an abstraction. It cannot be found apart from its effects. 
SOLA SCRIPTURA: It was Catholic bishops, in union with the Pope, who made the decision as to which books belonged in the Bible. The early Christians could not possibly have lived by sola scriptura because the Scriptures were not even fully written in the earliest years. 
Until recently most people could not read. Given this, it seems strange that God would make, as the sole rule of faith, a book that people had to read on their own. Even today, large numbers of people in the world cannot read well.  
If all you have is a book, then that book needs to be interpreted accurately. If no one is Pope then everyone is Pope! 
Scripture itself says that it is not meant to be alone. 2 Peter 3:16
You should know how to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth (1 Tim 3:15). Read it again . . . and what is the pillar and foundation of truth? The church!
Thus, the problems of “singing solo” seem to boil down to the fact that if we separate what God has joined we end up with an abstraction, something that exists only in the mind but in reality, cannot be found alone. 

http://blog.adw.org/2018/06/beware-soloists-concern-protestant-solos-sola-fide-sola-scriptura-sola-gratia/

Friday, April 27, 2018

19 of the Most Inspiring Quotes from the Master of Apologetics, C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis is widely considered to be one of the best Christian apologists of the 20th century. Though he was led to Christianity by his Catholic friend J.R.R. Tolkien, Lewis became Anglican and remained one the rest of his life. His writings have helped lead innumerable people to the Catholic Church.
Here are 19 of his most powerful quotes:

1) “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”

2) “I didn’t go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity.”

3) “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal.”

4) “The Christian does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because He loves us.”

5) “God can’t give us peace and happiness apart from Himself because there is no such thing.”

6) “A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell.”

7) “It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea.”

8) “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.”

9) “Human history is the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.”

10) “A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is… A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness. They have lived a sheltered life by always giving in.”


11) “Die before you die, there is no chance after.”

12) “No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good.”

13) “Aim at Heaven and you will get Earth ‘thrown in’: aim at Earth and you will get neither.”

14) “Progress means getting nearer to the place you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turning, then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man.”


15) “Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.”

16) “Everyone thinks forgiveness is a lovely idea until he has something to forgive.”

17) “Love may forgive all infirmities and love still in spite of them: but Love cannot cease to will their removal.”

18) “I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer. You are yourself the answer. Before your face questions die away. What other answer would suffice?”

19) “God is no fonder of intellectual slackers than He is of any other slacker.”





SOURCE:
https://churchpop.com/2017/02/08/19-powerfully-inspiring-quotes-from-the-master-of-apologetics-c-s-lewis/

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Upon This Rock



Matthew 5:14
You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.

Matthew 16:17-19
Jesus said to him in reply, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.

And so I say to you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, 
and the gates of the hell shall not prevail against it.

I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven."

1 Timothy 3:15
"But if I should be delayed, you should know how to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth."
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Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Annunciation - St. Bernard


You have heard, O Virgin, that you will conceive & bear a son; you have heard that it will not be by man but by the Holy Spirit. The angel awaits an answer; it is time for him to return to God who sent him. We too are waiting, O Lady, for your word of compassion; the sentence of condemnation weighs heavily upon us.

Answer quickly, O Virgin. Reply in haste to the angel, or rather through the angel to the Lord. Answer with a word, receive the Word of God. Speak your own word, conceive the divine Word. Breathe a passing word, embrace the eternal Word.

Arise in faith, hasten in devotion, open in praise and thanksgiving. Behold the handmaid of the Lord, she says, be it done to me according to your word."

St. Bernard (excerpt form a sermon)

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

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