Sunday, December 27, 2009

Woman knocks down Pope

During our family's Christmas celebration, I was shocked to hear that someone had knocked down the Pope during Christmas Eve Mass.  Evidently, during the procession, when the priest and altar servers begin the Mass celebration by walking down the center aisle with the crowd joining the beginning of the Mass by standing, someone hopped over the pew, and knocked down the Pope.  The Pope is fine and was able to celebrate Mass.

At the same time, this whole incident got me thinking.  Here we have the Leader of the Church, arguably the man in the most influential office in the world, about to share the Good News of the Birth of our Savior with his congregation / family.  Just before he gets a chance to do so, someone attacks him - attempting to disrupt the gospel.  How many times has that happened to all of us?  Just when you are about to share the Gospel with someone, the enemy attacks, disrupts, causes confusion?  How many times has that happened to me, when I try to share the Gospel, the enemy tries to take me down - if not through an external threat but an internal one?  "You don't know enough about your faith to share it......Only a fool would believe in God....How and Why would God, the all powerful God come down and suffer the most horrendous death for who have sinned against Him so many times....".  How many times have I allowed the enemy's attacks to succeed....?

Please pray for me and I will pray for you - that we will not allow the enemy's empty threats disrupt our conviction in the Gospel.  That in 2010, we will all share the Good News of Jesus Christ, and His Church, no matter who comes up against us, no matter what form the enemy's attack may take.

God bless you all.....

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Long time no blogging....

Some of you may be wondering where I have been all of this time. Truth be told, I have not been feeling that much inspiration to blog as of late. Instead, during this Advent, I am focusing more on my own spiritual growth as oppose to the apologetics nature that this blog has undertaken.

With that being said, I am definitely interested in the following topics. You can expect to hear more about them later...most likely after Christmas and New Year.....
If I do not write again before 2010....
Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year....God bless

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Standing Ovation for Bishop Tobin of Rhode Island

Bishop Tobin of Rhode Island has banned Congressman Patrick Kennedy from receiving Communion. The media is having a field day with this one. (The fact that the media is having a field day with this is very unfortunate because that means that they are not used to the Catholic Bishops exercising their authority to ban pro-choice politicians from the Communion Table. It is common knowledge that there are plenty of outspoken pro-choice Catholic politicians that should be banned from receiving Communion)

I have the utmost respect for Bishop Tobin and his decision against Congressman Kennedy. This action of the Church is not dissimilar to St. Paul's actions regarding the Church in Corinth where an openly sinful man was expelled from the community due to his actions 1 Cor 5:1-13. Congressman Kennedy has been put outside of the Grace received from the Lord's Supper. More than anything, this is an act of love of the Church.

The Church, by expelling him from the Eucharistic Table, is showing the world and all faithful Catholics the difference between right and wrong. Congressman Kennedy has a very poor view of Catholic Teaching regarding life. As a politician, he causes confusion (scandal) amongst the faithful because he is a publicly pro-choice Catholic. Some may get the impression that it is legitmate to be Catholic and Pro-Choice. Bishop Tobin has made it perfectly clear that this is not permisable.

My hope and prayer is that more Bishops would follow Bishop Tobin's lead and start sending clear messages to pro-choice Catholic politicians and the rest of the world, that to be pro-choice and Catholic is ridiculous. My prayer is also for my pro-choice Catholic brothers and sisters, that they would reconsider the teachings of Christ as it relates to the sanctity of life.

God bless...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Reformation Sunday :- One Protestant Minister's Perspective

Believe it or not, I have spent most of my life as a Protestant, and I had no idea that there was a such thing as Reformation Day, until now. Reformation Day is the annual celebration commemorating the day when Martin Luther posted his 95 Thesis, which most believe was the beginning of the Protestant Reformation (or Protestant Revolt...depending on your view).

A friend of mine recently sent me an article that a Protestant pastor published regarding his thoughts on Reformation Day. Stanley Hauerwas is a Duke Divinity School professor and Protestant Minister. Some of his thoughts are below:

Reformation names the disunity in which we currently stand. We who remain in the Protestant tradition want to say that Reformation was a success. But when we make Reformation a success, it only ends up killing us. After all, the very name ‘Protestantism’ is meant to denote a reform movement of protest within the Church Catholic. When Protestantism becomes an end in itself, which it certainly has through the mainstream denominations in America, it becomes anathema. If we no longer have broken hearts at the church’s division, then we cannot help but unfaithfully celebrate Reformation Sunday.


I often point out that at least Catholics have the magisterial office of the Bishop of Rome to remind them that disunity is a sin. You should not overlook the significance that in several important documents of late, John Paul II has confessed the Catholic sin for the Reformation. Where are the Protestants capable of doing likewise? We Protestants feel no sin for the disunity of the Reformation. We would not know how to confess our sin for the continuing disunity of the Reformation. We would not know how to do that because we have no experience of unity.

You can read the whole sermon at Stanley Hauerwas on Reformation Sunday.

So what do you think? Is Stanley Hauerwas position regarding Refomation Sunday an accurate one? Is Reformation Sunday something that should be celebrated, or is it something that all Christians should look back on with shame? Are you still broken-hearted over the disunity within the Body of Christ - the Church? If not, why not? Is there still hope for reunification of the Church?

God bless...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Discuss: Catholics and Protestants - Why the distinction?

In a previous comment, someone asked the question:

isn't that (Catholicism) another denomination of Christianity?


why is it always Catholic and everything else...instead of another denomination of Christianity?

These are great questions. I think what is at the heart of these questions is a true desire to know and understand why the line is drawn between Catholicism and Protestantism. Sure, there are lines drawn between various Protestant denominations, but there is a true and undeniable distinction between Catholics and Protestants. This distinction sometimes leads people to believe that one or the other, or perhaps even both, are not Christian at all.

The point of this discussion is to talk about why is there such a distinction. Why is it always Catholics and everyone else? To kick things off, I would like to start by offering a possible explanation...

The term Protestant literally means, someone who protests. Well, what is a Protestant protesting against? Protestants are actually people who protest against the Catholic Church. In one way or another, they do not accept the teachings of the Catholic Church. As a matter of fact, most Protestants denominations, identify themselves as to how much or how little their belief system aligns with the belief system of the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church is the standard that many denominations measure against. For that reason, the comparison is always Catholics and Protestants, as oppose to Baptists and Catholics, when talking about Christianity.


Saturday, October 10, 2009

Non-Catholics know about the Church Fathers?

Okay, I have to admit. I am always shocked to hear about someone who is not Catholic, yet they know about the Apostalic and Church Fathers. Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus of Lyons, Polycarp....if you would have asked me who these folks were when I was a Protestant, I couldn't have told you. More than that, I wouldn't have cared. Of course, my feelings have completely changed.

These men is part of the reason why you call yourself a Christian today. They fertilized the soil of Christianity with their blood and converted a pagan Roman Empire. For almost 400 years, it was illegal to be a Christian and Christians could be executed without a second thought. That did not deter the faith of these men.

Not to mention, many of them are only one degree separated from the Apostles themselves. That is right. Polycarp, for instance, was made the Bishop of the Church in Smyrna by St. John. (Click here for a really great video, by Non-Catholics, on the ordination and martyrdom of Polycarp) Clement of Rome was probably baptized by St. Peter. Clement of Rome also became the 4th Bishop of Rome, Peter of course being the first. (FYI - Bishop of Rome = Pope). Why so many Bishops of Rome in such a short span of time? Remember, Christians were being martyred for the faith left and right.

Another great fact about these individuals, and many more, is that today, we can still hear their voices through their writings. Do you want to know what they were taught by the Apostles? Do you want to know what they believed? Do you want to know what they thought the appropriate age for Baptism is? Do you want to know how they were taught to worship God? It is all there. Or, it is all here rather:

Question for you, for anyone? How important is it to you that your faith resembles the faith of these that were taught by the Apostles? Is it important or not important at all? If not, why not? If you found out that they believed something that completely contradicts what you believe, would you be shocked? Would you investigate why they might believe this? Would you consider looking at other Apostalic Fathers and figure out if that particular belief was shared? Would you be willing to change your belief to match theirs?

God bless...

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Fr. Dwight Longenecker on Married Catholic Clergy

I have been a fan of Fr. Dwight Longenecker ever since I read More Christianity, and listening to his conversion story on the Journey Home with Marcus Grodi, where he told the story of how he went from a married Anglican priest to a married Catholic Priest.

Recently he published an article sharing his thoughts on the discipline (not dogma / doctrine) of the Catholic Church regarding married priests. I recently had a conversation with a good friend of mine regarding this discipline, and thought that Fr. Longenecker's post was quite timely.

If you can spare a couple of minutes, I would highly suggest the read.

From time to time I am asked to justify or explain the fact that I am a married man with four children, and also a Catholic priest. There are strong feelings in the 'celibate priests' debate on both sides, and people expect me to have all the answers. I hate to disillusion those who wish to recruit me for either side of the debate. My own views are a mixture of common sense and loyalty to the traditions and teachings of Mother Church....

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Celebrating St. Therese of the Child Jesus

Today we celebrate and rejoice in the life of one of God's marvelous saints. St. Therese, also known as the "Little Flower", was a remarkable woman whose life still impacts many faithful Christians today. We look to her and what she coined as her "Little Way".

You see, St. Therese was not very good at much. She was not going to be the next Aquinas writing theological treatises on the faith. She also was not going to be a great missionary spreading the Gospel to the far reaches of globe. Recognizing this, she decided to honor God in the "little things" that she did from day to day. This is way of honoring and recognizing God became known as the "Little Way".

She wrote an autobiography called the Story of a Soul, that to this day introduces the faithful to her "Little Way". Her life was one of humility that should be imitated and shared. If you struggle with pride and pray for the grace of humility, you would have a hard time choosing a better Saint to study and whose intercession you should rely.

Ora pro nobis

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Heresy or Not.... - God the Master Artist

Continuing the line of thinking from my original post of Heresy or Not....

God can be likened to a master artist. His greatest piece of work is Jesus Christ.

Heresy or not?

God bless...

Monday, September 21, 2009

My Response :- Scriptural Basis for Sacrifice of the Mass - Part 1

After a brief conversation on my friend's blog, where I decided to use the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) in order to further explain my belief, I was challenged with the idea that the CCC contradicts Scripture. Triednotfried said that she was going to give some factual evidence of how the CCC contradicts Scripture, in a later post. Curious, I decided to pay attention to her blog again, and waited for the post to arrive. She has decided to focus on the Sacrifice of the Mass / Holy Eucharist / Holy Communion....(God is good!!!)

Before I get started rebutting her statements, and showing how Catholics hold a very biblically (not to mention historically) rooted understanding of the Eucharist, I feel as though I should explain why I am not commenting on her blog. In the past, I have tried to have conversations with her on her blog. Unfortunately, it has not proven to be a very hospitable environment for civil discussion. There has been personal attacks made and many of my comments have been edited if not deleted there. As such, I have decided to not comment on her blog again. Instead, I will post my comments here, where I can be sure that my complete thoughts are heard and shared.

(Quotes from her blog will be in blue)

Catechism #1367, p381… Th sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice: “The victim is one the same: the same now offers through the ministry of priest, who then offered himself on the cross; only the manner of offering is different.” In this divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the Mass, the same Christ who offered himself once in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross is contained and is offered in an unbloody manner.”

Problem: If it’s the sacrifice of Jesus, it cannot be done in an “unbloody manner.” According to the Bible: “and without the shedding of blood there is no remission.” Hebrews 9:22. The victim, is always Jesus Christ…and will never be the same as the “host” who offers it. What happened at Calvary was a ONE time historical event and accomplished its purpose:

Hebrews 10:14 ” For by One Offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.

With the above statements, there are many points of agreement. However, in an effort to be brief, I will only point out the points that we disagree or that should be explained more fully.

It would seem that her whole argument against the quote from the Catechism rests on this assumption.

...If it’s the sacrifice of Jesus, it cannot be done in an “unbloody manner.”...

Catholics believe that the bread and the wine truly do sacramentally become the Body and the Blood of Jesus. We believe that Christ is sacramentally present in the Eucharist. We do not believe that the Sacrifice of the Mass is identical to the Sacrifice at Calvary. We believe that it is the "unbloody" re-presentation of Christ's eternal sacrifice. Since we do not believe that it is identically the same, that is why it can be re-presented in an unbloody manner.

The victim, is always Jesus Christ…and will never be the same as the “host” who offers it.

Triednotfried is getting her BCW's mixed up again (BCW - Big Catholic Words). The "Host" is not the priest that is performing the ceremony. It is the bread that becomes the Body of Christ. Either way, she is right, the priest performing the ceremony will never be the same as Christ. Thank God (...literally, thank God) this is not what Catholicism teaches.

What happened at Calvary was a ONE time historical event and accomplished its purpose

Triednotfried, is absolutely correct here again. However, what many Protestants, like her, fail to realize is that while it is a one time event that has happened in the past and it has accomplished it's purpose, in heaven there is no time. In the Book of Revelation, we actually get a glimpse of Heaven.

And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders, I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain...Rev 5:6a

Who is the Lamb? Jesus Christ of course!!! Yet in Heaven He appears to be slain? But that happened in the past and is a ONE time historical event and accomplished it's purpose, so how can He appear to be slain in Heaven? Simply because there is no time in Heaven. Jesus'one time sacrifice, in time, is forever present before God in eternity.

The Book of Hebrews is a testimony to Christ's eternal Priesthood. Triednotfried made a good choice in using it. What is the function of a priest? Simply to offer sacrifices. In most cultures, that is what priests do. This is definitely the same in Biblical times, starting with the Old Testament and into the New.

For every hight priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. Hebrews 5:1

Priests offer gifts and if you continue to read the Chapter you will find the following:

So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him, "You are my Son today I have begotten you", as he says also in another place, "You are a priest for ever, according to the order of Melchizedek"

Christ is a priest of the order of Melchizedek? The order of who??? Who in the world is Melchizedek? Is that important to know? YES!!!! Before sharing with you who that is, you can see the Book of Hebrews over and over and over again proclaim that Christ if a priest of the Order of Melchizedek - Heb 5:10, 6:20, 7:1-28)

So who is this man Melchizedek? And, remember, this Book was written in a time and culture where there would not have been a question of who Melchizedek was. Every good Jew would recognize the one who was Priest and King. Priest and King....hmmm....doesn't that sound just like Jesus?

And Melchizedek, king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was priest of God Most High. Gen 14:18 

Melchizedek was the King and Priest of Salem.....Salem is JeruSalem.  Christ is the High Priest and King od the New Jerusalem.  Hmmm....the offering / sacrifice of Melchizedek was bread and wine? Doesn't that sound a lot like Holy Communion? Jesus is a High Priest from the order of Melchizedek who offers bread and wine. Combine this with the sacrificial overtones of the Last Supper...

Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said "Take, eat,; this is my body". And he took a chalice and when he had given tanks he gave it to them saying, "Drink of it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins..." Matt 26:26-28

So what have we learned here? The Sacrifice at Calvary is not identical to the Sacrifice of the Mass or Holy Communion. However, we do believe that Christ is sacramentally present in the Eucharist, and as such, it is the only sacrifice that can fulfill the following prophecy from Malachi:

For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name is great among the nations and in every place incense is offered to my name and a pure offering; for my name is great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts. Malachi 1:11

It is re-presented every hour of every day across the world (since Mass is always being celebrated somewhere on Earth). We also learned that Jesus ONE time historical sacrifice on Calvary is a forever present sacrifice before God. We learned why it is important that Jesus Christ is of the order of Melchizedek and the relationship between that priest and king to our Priest and King and the sacrifices that are offered....and this is just the rebuttal of triednotfried's first and second statements. Triednotfried's second statement alludes to the idea that Christ's sacrifice is once in time, which hopefully I showed, is perpetual present before God. It is going to take longer in order to address her third accusation.

Personal Note: Not everyone is going to agree with what the Catholic Church says. My hope is that people will take the time to understand what exactly the Catholic Church says and believes before making a decision about it. I would rather someone come to a fuller understanding of what Catholicism actually teaches and then disagree with it, as oppose to someone disagreeing with what the think the Catholic Church teaches.

God bless us all in our search for truth...

Friday, September 18, 2009

Defending the Catholic Faith, one prayer at a time...

Recently, while having a very civil conversation on a friend's blog regarding the faith, and digging deep into understanding predestination and free will, someone decided to post a very anti-Catholic comment in a response to a comment that I posted, where I admitted to use the Catechism of the Catholic Church as a reference.  Out of respect for my friend's blog, and the topic at hand, which had already taken a turn, I decided that it would be more appropriate to post my response here.

If you would like to get the full context of the discussion and comments, please feel free to visit his blog post, titled Seeker Friendly.  Now....onto the my response....

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.
Lord, there are many people in this world that are actively searching for you.  Many want to know you more and have the desire to share your good news with the rest of the world.  The have the religious zeal that is prayed for during the Fifth Joyful Mystery.  Help them to share your Love in a way that is not offensive, but instead peaceful.  Truly, How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, "Your God reigns!", Help them to fully live the instructions in Scripture for how to share your good news:

...Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander 1 Peter 3:15,16.

Help to bring them ever closer to the Truth.  Pour into their souls the grace that is necessary to find that Truth, and once they find it, to recognize it.  Thank you God for hearing my prayer.  We love you Lord.  Amen
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Today's Reading Reflection: Holy Orders / Apostolic Succession

Mass is celebrated every day at every hour all over the world. Somewhere on this Earth, while you are reading this blog post, there is a Catholic Mass going on. Every Catholic Mass, around the world, have the same readings from the Holy Scriptures. This way, if you were to attend Mass daily, you would make it through most of the Bible within the span of 2 years.

Today's readings can be found here.

The reading that I want to focus on is the New Testament Reading and the Gospel reading.

1 Tim 4:12-16
Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you.

Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

Here we see that Paul is encouraging Timothy to teach the faith, and not let anyone intimidate him or think down on him because of his age. From the text, we can imagine that Timothy is not an older man. Instead, it is likely that his youth may have been seen as a stumbling block for others to take him seriously. As you can see, not much has changed from one culture that existed 2000 years ago to now. We have all, at one point or another, have not been taken seriously due to our age, or how long we have been a Christian (wink).

As you can see in this passage, Paul encourages Timothy due to the special gift that Timothy has. What is the special gift? How did he receive it? Did he receive a vision of God that called him to the ministry? Even if he did, would that be enough? Using context clues, one can definitely see that this gift was not something that he earned. He did not go to school in order to receive this special gift. He received it...

...when the body of elders laid their hands on you [Timothy]

What is this talking about? This is talking about the Sacrament of Holy Orders. Timothy was an ordained priest. He received this ordination from the elders of the church - who were also ordained priests. If you watched the video from my last post, then you can see how this ordination process still exists in the Catholic Church today. What you may not realize, and what is not completely obvious is that the same gift that Timothy received in the Early Church is the same gift that those priests received in the video and resides in every Catholic religious person in the Catholic Church today.

It is a gift not of man, but from God Himself. Jesus Christ ordained 12 men, those 12 men ordained others, with the imposition of hands, and those other ordained others in an unbroken line of succession that exists in the Catholic Church today. Another name for this is Apostolic Succession.

This may seem like I am boasting - and I am partially. Wouldn't you be proud to be in the Church that still retains the gift of Jesus Christ through a properly ordained preisthood? But more than boasting, I am simply telling the truth of a historical fact. The lineage of every bishop, priest and deacon can trace back to Jesus Christ, Himself.

God bless...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows

Today, September 15, the Catholic Church recognizes Mary as Our Lady of Sorrows. When I woke up this morning, I thought of this image above. It is one of the few images that I have seen that seems to best depict the pain that Mary experienced, watching her Son die on the Cross for the salvation of the world. Did she know that it would come to this? Did she know that she was going to watch Her Divine Son be tortured, beaten, mocked at, spat on, then nailed on a tree to die? Yes, this is Jesus our Savior. Mary's Savior. But also, Mary's Son. Her Son that was announced to her by St. Gabriel. Her Son that she nursed. Her Son that she bathed. Can there be anything more terrible than to watch your child suffer and die?

There are 7 sorrows of Mary. They are:
  • prophecy of Simeon
  • flight into Egypt
  • losing Jesus in Jerusalem
  • meeting Jesus on His way to Calvary
  • standing at the foot of the Cross
  • Jesus being taken from the Cross
  • at the Burial of Christ.
For this reason, you may encounter images of Mary with 7 daggers piercing her heart, like this one:

...each dagger representing a different sorrow.
As a Protestant looking at the Catholic Church, I used to think and wonder why is there so much emphasis placed on Mary. If I would have come across this blog, I would have thought, "there goes another Catholic taking attention away from Christ and placing it on Mary". That claim, no longer has any weight.

Mary is nothing without Christ. We would not even be talking about her, we wouldn't even know who she was, except for her relationship with Christ. Even look at the seven sorrows. They are all in relationship to Jesus Christ. The Catholic Church did not choose to place so much emphasis on Mary. God made Mary an integral part of the story of our salvation. By giving honor to Mary, we are in fact, giving honor to God.

God bless...

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

If you enjoyed the last video...

Then you are going to love this one. This video was shared with me by a friend of mine who enjoyed the last video. If you are receiving this post through email, use this link in order to watch the video.

I have been sharing it with my family and friends, and they absolutely love it.

Hope you enjoy it.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Another Amazing Video

Although I had heard this advertisement on the radio, I did not know that there was a video that accompanied it. When I first watched it, I cannot express in words how it made me feel. I hope that you enjoy it as much as I do.

For those subscribed through email, here is a direct link to the video.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Feast Day of St. Augustine

August 28th marks the Feast Day of St. Augustine of Hippo. This is the day that the faithful are called to remember this Saint and his contribution to the faith as well as to humanity.

St. Augustine was born in Africa around 354A.D.. His mother, St. Monica whose Feast Day is celebrated August 27th, was a very devout Catholic. She spent most of her life, chasing after her wayward son, praying constantly that he would change his sinful ways and become a devout Catholic.

Through her prayers, as well as the influence of St. Ambrose, this extremely intelligent man finally decided to abandon the Manichean Heresy that he found himself involved in, embrace the faith and submit his life to Christ and the work of the Church.

Sometimes, intelligence can hinder our ability to have a relationship with Christ and find true happiness. Instead of relying on God, we may rely on ourselves. Instead of relying on the Giver, we rely on the gift of knowledge. This was the case with St. Augustine. In The Confessions, St. Augustine remarks:

Unlearned people are taking Heaven by force, while we, with all our knowledge, are so cowardly that we keep rolling around in the mud of our sins!

St. Augustine has had a lot of impact on Christianity, whose effects can still be felt today. Perhaps this is the reason why Catholics and Protestants both want to claim him as one of theirs. In earlier conversations, I have had the chance to refute the idea that St. Augustine believed in Sola Scriptura. All of the research and reading of this man that I have done, has shown me that St. Augustine was definitely Catholic in his beliefs.

Praying with the Saints
There is an ecclesiastical discipline, as the faithful know, when the names of the martyrs are read aloud in that place at the altar of God, where prayer is not offered for them. Prayer, however, is offered for the dead who are remembered. For it is wrong to pray for a martyr, to whose prayers we ought ourselves be commended. - Sermons 159:1

For on these very grounds we do not commemorate them at that table [The Lord's Table, Communion] in the same way, as we do others who now rest in peace, as that we should also pray for them, but rather that they should do so for us, that we may cleave to their footsteps - Comment on John's Gospel, Tractate 84

Temporal punishments are suffered by some in this life only, by some after death, by 'some both here and hereafter, but all of them before that last and strictest judgment. But not all who suffer temporal punishments after death will come to eternal punishments, which are to follow after that judgment - City of God 21:13

Baptismal Regeneration
It is this one Spirit who makes it possible for an infant to be regenerated ... when that infant is brought to baptism; and it is through this one Spirit that the infant so presented is reborn. For it is not written, `Unless a man be born again by the will of his parents' or `by the faith of those presenting him or ministering to him,' but, `Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Spirit.' The water, therefore, manifesting exteriorly the sacrament of grace, and the Spirit effecting interiorly the benefit of grace, both regenerate in one Christ that man who was generated in Adam. - Letters 98:2

And the list goes on...and on....and on....

Thank you God for giving us so great of an example of what it means to be a Christian and contend for the faith that has been passed down from Christ and the Apostles. Thank you St. Augustine for your living witness that is still with us today...

[1] Collection of St. Augustine's Work - as well as other Church Fathers
[2] Collection of St. Augustine Catholic Quotes

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Denominational Stand on Abortion

Just out of curiosity, I was very interested to know what the various denominations stands were on abortion. After doing a quick internet search, I happened upon the following article that goes into detail on the stance of various religious groups and their stance. What I found was quite surprising.

If you are interested in learning more details, please follow the link. For those of you, who just want the general breakdown, here it is:

Roman Catholic Church - Pro-Life
Lutheran Church (Missouri Synod) - Pro-Life
United Church of Christ - Pro-Choice
Southern Baptist - Pro-Choice then later Pro-Life
American Baptist - Pro-Choice
Presbyterian Church of America (PCA) - Pro-Life
Presbyterian Church (USA) - Pro-Life then later, not entirely sure
United Methodist Church - Pro-Choice
Episcopal Church - Pro-Choice
Lutheran Church (ELCA) - Pro-Choice
Orthodox Churches - Pro-Life

We are living in very uncertain times. There is legislation that is being considered to allow for tax dollars to support abortion. While this is an atrocity, I find it equally offending, if not more, that many Pro-Life Christians are part of church institutions that support abortion.

If you are Pro-Life, and you happen to support, or be a member of one of these denominations, I would strongly encourage you to talk to your pastor and see if your tithes and offering is contributing to this atrocity.

God bless...

Monday, August 17, 2009

Asking the Saints to Intercede for us in prayer...

In my last post, My First Novenna - St. Joseph, I seemed to have possibly caused some concern for my Non-Catholic Brothers and Sisters. Being a Protestant for most of my life, I too shared this concern for my Catholic friends and family members - so I do understand where it is coming from, and I do not doubt that the concern is genuine.

Dave Armstrong, who I consider to be one of my favorite Catholic Apologists, has a blog called Biblical Evidence For Catholicism. He just recently posted a blog post titled, Asking Mary and the Saints to Pray for Us, Rather than Going Straight to God: An Introductory Explanation. For those of you interested in understanding why one would choose to ask for the prayers of the saints, or if you need some help in defending this practice, I would recommend reading this article.

Word of Caution: I have been known to spend a lot of time on Dave's site. It is full of great theological material on the Catholic Faith and Apologetics. Visiting his site can be habit forming. Enter at your own risk...

God bless...

Monday, August 10, 2009

My First Novena :- St. Joseph

What is a Novena? A Novena is a prayer / devotion that is made for nine consecutive days for some petition to God. The nine days of prayer biblical root can be found after the Ascension of Jesus when the disciples and Mary spent 9 days praying in the upper room. At the end of those nine days, was Pentecost, where the Holy Spirit descended upon them. There was something in particular that I wanted to pray for, and praying a Novena seemed like the most appropriate thing to do.

I decided to pray the Novena to St. Joseph. What a beautiful experience. How much I have overlooked this man and his great example of faith. Over the course of the nine days, you take the time to thank St. Joseph for his contribution to the faith and all of the roles that he played, many of which I can relate to, including:


This is a new type of prayer for me, and I have to say that I really enjoyed it. I felt closer to St. Joseph and I have confidence that he is one of the Saints in heaven that presented my prayers before the throne of God, Rev 5:8.

Thank you St. Joseph....Ora pro nobis.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Participation Requested: Faith Alone vs. Faith and Works a Semantic Issue

Followup: Now that the poll is closed, I wanted to share with you the results.
There were 11 people who voted, and out of those 11, here is what was recorded:
6 Non Catholics Agree
2 Non Catholics Disagree
2 Catholics Agree
1 Catholic Disagrees

Thanks for participating

On a recent post, Non-Catholic Question: Faith Alone and Lukewarm Christians, I received a very interesting response that has caused me to pause and reflect. Could the Sola Fide vs. Faith and Works be an issue, not of faith, but of semantics?

Below is that response. If you are willing, I would appreciate if you would at least participate in the poll that you will find on the right hand side of this webpage, titled Faith Alone vs. Faith and Works Semantic Issue. If you are willing to invest more time, please comment on this post, indicate your faith tradition and share your thoughts on why you agree or disagree with the following.

Here is that response:

In my opinion, The terms "faith alone" and "works" should be removed from our vocabulary or at least defined every time we use them. Catholics believe "works" are necessary for salvation. Protestants claim this is wrong and that you cannot earn your salvation, which is by achieved by "faith alone". Some protestants claim that Catholics are not really Christians because they are trying to earn their salvation. And Catholics think that protestants believe they can say a 2 line prayer, live however they want, change nothing, and still get into heaven. I am going to make the claim that the difference is merely semantics. Let me explain...

The word "works" can refer to effort exerted for a reward (such as a paycheck, favor, or even entry into heaven). But it can also refer to God's work in the life of a believer. I don't believe either a Catholic or a protestant would argue that God is at work in the life of every believer. God does not sit idle. If he is present, he is at work. If someone claimed to have faith but that God is not at work in their life, I would ask them for their definition of the word faith. To me, faith and works (again works as defined as God's work not mine are one and the same. Our faith is not simply that God exists, but also that he is actively working to accomplish what he wills... and that he does it through us.

Others may see what God is doing in our life and say "I can see evidence of your faith" or "I can see God at work in life". Is there a difference?

God bless....

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman

"To be deep in history, is to cease to be a Protestant"

I cannot recall the first time that I have heard this quote from Cardinal John Henry Newman. I would imagine that it was some conference or it was a friend of mine who loves theology. No matter the source of where I first heard this, in my case, I found it to be absolutely true.

Cardinal John Henry Newman was a very wonderful man. He has volumes and volumes of theological work. I remember the first time I picked up one of his books, namely Development of Christian Doctrine. It didn't take long to realize that I was definitely out of my league.... It was the first but hopefully not the last time that I attempt to read such a deep theological mind.

Recently, Cardinal Newman has received the honor of being Beatified. Beatification is one of the final steps necessary before the Catholic Church officially recognizes an individual as a Saint. If you are interested in reading more about the process and what is required, please read this article.

Congratulations Blessed John Henry Newman....Ora pro nobis

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Non-Catholic Question: Faith Alone and Lukewarm Christians

Most Non-Catholics believe that we are saved by faith alone.  All one has to do is accept the Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior and you are saved.  Some would even go as far as to say that once you do this, you will have an eternal security of salvation.  Heaven is yours.  Doesn't it sound great???

So here is my question (and Catholics please feel free to join in and answer as well):

If all you need is Faith Alone to be saved, why did Jesus condemn the lukewarm Christians in Revelation saying that He will spit them out of his mouth: Rev 3:14-22?

..and how about a follow up..

What constitutes a lukewarm christian?  How much they believe or what they actually do? (Hint:  The answer is in the same bible passages mentioned above)

God bless... 

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Happy Anniversary!!!!

Today, is my 9 year wedding anniversary to my lovely wife. Please join me in thanking God for the past 9 years, and also please join me in prayer for His Blessing on the years to come....

God bless...

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Do Catholics Re-Sacrifice Christ at the Mass?

Divine Providence.  That is the only way that I can describe something that happened today.  I have been involved in an ongoing conversation with some Non-Catholics regarding the Eucharist.  Just this morning, I responded to someone's concern saying that Catholics believe that we are Re-Sacrificing Christ over and over and over again.  How many Catholics out there have ever had to answer that one?

Well, on my way in to work today, I was listening to the audio of Common Ground.  If you are not familiar with this interview, please take the time to read my original post about it here.  During the interview, the Non-Catholic Pastor Steve Andrews asks Fr. John Riccardo about the accusation made by Non-Catholics that we Re-Sacrifice Christ during the Mass.  What follows is a great explanation of what Catholics truly believe.  I have cropped the MP3 for your listening pleasure.  It is about 6 minutes long, but well worth it, especially if you want to have a correct understanding of what the Catholic Church believes and teaches - regardless if you are Catholic or not.  Enjoy!!!

Is the Mass a Resacrifice of Christ?

God bless...

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Fr. John Riccardo - Common Ground Complete Free Audio

Not too long ago, I posted about Fr. John Riccardo and the DVD that he participated in called Common Ground, where he is interviewed by a Protestant Minister on many of the Catholic beliefs.

Recently, I was informed that the complete audio is available at Fr. John Riccardo's site.  While I would still suggest anyone and everyone to purchase / borrow the DVD, if that is not an option, consider listening to Common Ground instead.  Be warned, the subject matter is very interesting and engaging, and if you have any interest, whatsoever, in bringing the Body of Christ back together, you will really enjoy it.

Thanks and God bless...

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Introducing the Least of These...

...whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me. Matt 25:40

Monday, July 6, 2009

Fr. John Riccardo :- Common Ground

For a while now, I have been mentioning Fr. John Riccardo and some of his sermons. I was first introduced to him by a friend of mine in my RCIA class, through the video Common Ground. In Common Ground, Fr. John Riccardo is questioned by a Non-Catholic Pastor of Kensington Community Church Steve Andrews about different articles of the Catholic Faith. I would highly recommend this DVD to anyone and everyone - Catholic and Non-Catholic alike - who have any interest in dialogue across barrier that separates us.

Believe it or not, I was able to snag a promotion of this video from YouTube. If you can spare 4 minutes, please watch it. The style that Fr. John Riccardo uses to present the mysteries of our faith, is what drew me to him and his podcasts. You should be able to view the video here in the blog, or you can click this link.

God bless....

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Discussing Sacraments...

Lately, I have been discussing the Sacraments with my Separated Brothers and Sisters in Christ. I was very surprised to find out that some Reformed theologians actually believe that the Sacraments do, in fact confer grace.

Charles Hodge says:

The first point clearly taught on this subject in the Symbols of the Reformed Church is that the sacraments are real means of grace, that is, means appointed and employed by Christ for conveying the benefits of his redemption to his people. They are not, as Romanists teach, the exclusive channels; but they are channels. A promise is made to those who rightly receive the sacraments that they shall thereby and therein be made partakers of the blessings of which the sacraments are the divinely appointed signs and seals.(Systemmatic Theology Volume 3, The Efficacy of the Sacraments, )

Of course there are obvious differences between the Catholic understanding of Sacraments and the Reformed perspective - however, I was excited to see that a Reformed theologian actually realizing that God is at work through the sacraments.

What timing this discussion was, since I was just listening to a podcast series by Fr. John Riccardo on the subject of Sacraments. I have taken one of those podcasts where he reads an excerpt from one of my favorite theologians, Peter Kreeft book titled Jesus Shock. If you can spare 7 minutes, please listen as Peter Kreeft explains in his own words, the journey of how he viewed the Sacraments as a Protestant and now how he views them as a Catholic.

Peter Kreeft: Excerpt from Jesus Shock - Journey from a Protestant to Catholic Perspective of the Sacraments.

If you click on the link it should automatically start playing. If this does not work, then right click on the link and choose Save As... From there, choose a location. After saving it, just double click it and it should open up.

Thanks and God bless...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Denominations : Is it our fault?

Ever since I started this new journey of faith, which eventually led me to the Roman Catholic Church, I have had the opportunity to talk to many people who cling to various faith traditions.  They have been Baptists, Christian Reformed, Pentecostals, Agnostics, Non-Denominatonals, and of course Catholic.  Some of these experiences have been great, including great conversation and dialogue, while others have not been so fruitful, which have included personal insults and damaged potential relationships.  Even though some of the experiences have been less than optimal, I am still very interested in continuing conversation with my Non-Catholic and even Non-Christian brothers and sisters, because I believe that Truth is completely worth it.

Not too long ago, I had a very good conversation with my friend who was raised Baptist.  He has been with me through a great deal of my experience in joining the Catholic Church.  He is not Catholic, but like me, loves to discuss things of God.  During this discussion, which was a very polite exchange of ideas, we started to discuss the Protestant Reformation, and the divisions that it has caused throughout the Body of Christ - which is His Church.  He made the argument that the reason why we are in the predicament that we are in (with 30,000 different denominations) is because of the Catholic Church.  He stressed that the state of the Church was horrible, and it is going to be up to the Catholic Church and Catholics to fix it.

There is no doubt that during the time of the Protestant Reformation, the state of affairs of the Church were less than desirable.  At the same time, is it really a logical stance to think that it is up to Catholics to fix the mess that we are in?  Immediately, I went on the defensive and suggested that Protestants and Catholics are going to have to work together if we are ever going to restore the Church to the unified body that it was intended to be.  We should not put aside our differences, but work through them one by one and at least come to a better understanding of each other and why we believe what we believe.

However, later on, I reflected more on what my friend said.  I think that he has a point.  In many ways, it is going to be up to Catholics in order to fix the divisions that exist among the Christian Community.  Is it solely our responsibility?  No, but a great deal of it will and does fall on our shoulders.  Thinking back to the Early Church, what was it that caused the conversion of a whole pagan empire to Christianity?  It was the very witness of the Christians who sang songs and hymns while being burned at the stake or devoured by lions.  The many spectators may have thought that the Christians were crazy, but they did not doubt that the Christians believed exactly what they said they believed.  I wish that the world could look at us Catholics and say the same thing today.

After listening to one of Fr. John Riccardo's talks, he mentioned a Catholic study that was taken by Georgetown University.  In this study, there are many statistics regarding Catholics and what they really believe.  Here are just some of the unfortunate statistics:

- 23% of Catholics attend Mass on a weekly basis
- Of those asked why they missed Mass at least once in the past 6 months, most reported that it was due to their busy schedule or lack of time
- Of the Catholics who attend Mass on a weekly basis, 39% of us go to confession less than once a year, if  ever

If we truly believed that Christ is Lord and Savior, and that we can go and meet Him every Sunday, heck every day for that matter, why don't we?  If we truly believed that through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, God will forgive our sins, why don't we go?  What kind of a witness are we being to our Non-Catholic and / or Non-Christian brothers and sisters?  As Catholics, do we truly carry a heavier load of responsibility to heal the divisions that exist within the Church?


Friday, June 19, 2009

Heresy or Not....

Do you know what a Heresy is? Would you be able to recognize one if you saw it? Well okay, let's put it to the test....

Is the following statement heretical, or not?

"God became man so that man may become a god"

If you believe it is or is not a heresy, please explain why.

God bless...

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Why Confession is Better Than Counseling...

Reason #1 - Much better Rates
Reason #2 - The Priest doesn't want to see you again
...taken from Fr. John Riccardo

Friday, June 12, 2009

Journey Home - Part 2 - Christian Maturity

Well this post is long overdue.  It is a continuation of my journey home story that I started with Journey Home - Part 1 - Choosing a Tradition.

After high school, I decided to attend Aquinas College in Grand Rapids MI.  Looking back now, it was one of the best decisions of my life, and I recognize the hand of God at work there.  I was pretty immature when I started college.  Most people would have looked at me and thought that I was mature, and in some ways, I was.  But in the most important way - my Christian and spirtual life - I had a lot of growing up to do.

Even though I had attended all of the Christian schools and had all of those religion classes, my faith life was very weak.  I knew a lot about God and I knew Scripture very well, however my life did not reflect that  knowledge.  My decisions and my behavior and the things that I got into would have made people wonder if I knew Christ at all.  Don't get me wrong, if you would have seen me or if you would have known me then, you would not have been able to tell the sinful life that I was living, but I definitely had things that I had to yet overcome.

It was not until my Sophmore year of college that things started to turn around for me.  My new roommate, Xaviar, had a big impression on my life.  Xaviar was truly a God fearing man.  I knew that he put God first in his life.  One of the things that he asked me when he first started Aquinas was which church did I go to.  Xaviar, coming from Jamaica by way of New York, was not familiar with the area, and wanted to know where he should go to worship God.  Now at this time, I was not going to church that often.  I may have gone a total of 5 times my freshman year of college, but that was about it.  Trying to be a good role model, him and I started to visit churches in the area, and ended up finding a really good Pentecostal Church that him and I felt comfortable going to.  I stayed a member of Renaissance C.O.G.I.C. until I became Catholic.

Xaviar was not the only person that had a huge influence on my spirtual development in college.  My lovely wife to be, then just my friend, had a great impact as well.  Her and I were literally the best of friends.  I saw her go through relationships and she saw me go through relationships.  She was a cradle-Catholic (meaning born and raised Catholic), but I decided to look past that.  Of course her and I would get into deep theological conversations regarding Scripture Alone and Faith Alone, and unfortunately, I would always win those arguments - which just delayed even further me joining the Catholic Church.  When our relationship became more romantic in nature, I made it clear to her that if we were to ever get married, I would never become a Catholic.  Well, you know what they say..."never say  never".

Without going into too much detail, something happened while I was in college that made me reevaluate how I was living and the decisions that I was making.  This event's outcome would have changed my life forever.  All of the dreams that I had would have had to stay just that - dreams never to be realized.  Is it really just human nature to turn to God especially when you need Him?  If it is human nature or not, I really needed Him, and needless to say, my prayer life increased tremendously.  I prayed for His Mercy - knowing full well I didn't deserve it.  I prayed to completely change my life and the decisions that I was making.  I prayed long and hard for a very long time.  And He decided to give me His Mercy.

From that point on, my relationship with God changed.  I went from being an immature Christian with head knowledge only to a mature Christian living his faith.  I stopped making bad decisions and I put all of my head knowledge to work.  I started to live my faith.  God became a guiding light for me.  Not just someone that I went to when I was in trouble, but someone that I could go to anytime.  To thank him and to apologize for my sins and to seek his forgiveness and mercy.  I did not become perfect, but my attitude about life and how I was going to live it became more of a reflection of the gift of faith that I received from my mother and all of the Christian Religious Education classes that I received.  I knew right from wrong, and at this point, I was going to try harder to do what was right.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Celebrating Justin Martyr

As a nation, we celebrate the lives of many of the heroes of our country.  We celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. on Jan 19, Lincoln's Birthday on Feb 12, and Washington's Birthday on Feb 22.  This past Monday, was the celebration or Feast Day of St. Justin Martyr, my confirmation saint.

There is no better way that I can think of to celebrate the life and death of this great man than to attend Mass.  On my drive to Mass over lunch, I thought and reflected on the impact that this one man had on my life.  Little did he know, that 1900 years after his death, an African American man in Michigan would be inspired to join the Catholic Church based on many of his writings.

I was first introduced to Justin Martyr through the book, The Four Witnesses.  Being one of the Four Witnesses, the others were Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch, and Ireneaus of Lyons, I had a chance to catch a glimpse of what his life may have been like in the Early Church.  After spending some time reading his letters to the Emperor of Rome regarding the unjust treatment of putting Christians to death, I found that I enjoyed his literary style and his courage.  Not only that, but he took the time to explain to the Emperor exactly what it was that Christians believed and practiced behind closed doors.  To my surprise, it was pretty Catholic. 

In one of his letters, he remarks:

Reason directs those who are truly pious and philosophical to honour and love only what is true, declining to follow traditional opinions, if these be worthless. For not only does sound reason direct us to refuse the guidance of those who did or taught anything wrong, but it is incumbent on the lover of truth, by all means, and if death be threatened, even before his own life, to choose to do and say what is right.

And regarding the Eucharist (Holy Communion), he says:

And this food is called among us Eukaristia [the Eucharist], of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins, and unto regeneration, and who is so living as Christ has enjoined. For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh.   

And then his comments regarding the Mass....

And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons.  

Thank you Justin Martyr for your sacrifice and the courage to write these things down in the midst of persecution.  You faith has become my faith.

God bless...

Monday, June 1, 2009

Are Heresies a Blessing....?

There is one verse, above many others, that I think that I struggle with the most:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

Since I believe that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God, I have to submit and believe all that is included within it. That does not mean that I / we will not struggle with some of the teachings that it contains. I believe it, yes, but I still have a hard time wrapping my head around it.

What about heresies? Is there an occasion to be happy about heresies that plagued the Church of God? While doing some research on the development of doctrine, I came across two quotes by St. Augustine (born 354 A.D.) that shows that there is an occasion to be happy about heresies:

For while the hot restlessness of heretics stirs questions about many articles of the Catholic faith, the necessity of defending them forces us both to investigate them more accurately, to understand them more clearly, and to proclaim them more earnestly; and the question mooted by an adversary becomes the occasion of instruction. (St. Augustine, City of God Book 16 Ch 2)

Seems as though St. Augustine had the right frame of mind when considering heresies. They are opportunities for instruction - however those opportunities are not just limited to the heretics themselves, but also to the believer.

There have been plenty of heresies throughout the history of the Church. Each one of them has forced the Church to dig deeper and deeper into the teachings of Christ. Using both Scripture and Sacred Tradition (and most importantly, guided by the Holy Spirit into all areas of truth John 16:13), they have formally declared the difference between an article of faith and a departure from that faith. What is in complete alignment of the teachings of faith, and what is outside of it.

Augustine also writes:

For many things lay hid in the Scriptures: and when heretics had been cut off, with questions they troubled the Church of God: then those things were opened which lay hid, and the will of God was understood. (St. Augustine, Exposition of Psalm 55, Chapter 21)

Treasures of Scripture which lay hid, are opened up when challenges that trouble the Church of God come about. I guess that is just like God - to have a good thing, a blessing, come out of an unfortunate heretical situation.

God bless...

Friday, May 29, 2009

Friday Humor: How Many Christians to Change a Lightbulb

I am a huge fan of Steve Ray.  Not too long ago, he posted this joke, on his blog.  I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did:

CHARISMATICS: Only 1 - Hands are already in the air.
PENTECOSTALS: 10 - One to change the bulb, and nine to pray against the spirit of darkness.
PRESBYTERIANS: None - Lights will go on and off at predestined times.
ROMAN CATHOLICS: None, they only use candles.
BAPTISTS: At least 15 - One to change the light bulb, and three committees to approve the change and decide who brings the potato salad and fried chicken.
EASTERN RITE CATHOLICS: Don’t know yet. They’re still waiting for permission from Rome to change the bulbs.
EASTERN ORTHODOX: None. Orthodoxy never changes, and, in addition to burning candles like the RCs, they use oil-burning lamps. Electricity is for those Gregorian calendar-using, liberal ecumenist jurisdictions.
ANGLICANS: Eight. One to call the electrician and six to say how much they liked the old one better. Plus one dissenter saying they should steal the RC’s candles.
ANGLO-CATHOLICS: At least eight as well: crucifer, torch-bearers, thurifer, boat-boy, sub-deacon, deacon and priest carrying the new bulb on a silk pillow…
EPISCOPALEANS: 3 - One to call the electrician, one to mix the drinks, and one to talk about how much better the old one was.
MORMONS (non-Christian of course): 5 - One man to change the bulb, and four wives to tell him how to do it.
JEHOVAHS WITNESSES: None, too busy knocking on doors telling everyone they have the wrong lights.
UNITARIANS (non-Christian of course): We choose not to make a statement either in favor of or against the need for a light bulb. However, if in your own journey you have found that light bulbs work for you, you are invited to write a poem or compose a modern dance about your light bulb for the next Sunday service, in which we will explore a number of light bulb traditions, including incandescent, fluorescent, 3-way, long-life and tinted, all of which are equally valid paths to luminescence.
METHODISTS: Undetermined - Whether your light is bright, dull, or completely out, you are loved. You can be a light bulb, turnip bulb, or a dim bulb. Bring a bulb of your choice to the Sunday lighting service and a covered dish to pass.
NAZARENES: 6 - One woman to replace the bulb while five men review church lighting policy.
LUTHERANS: None - Lutherans don’t believe in change.
AMISH: What’s a light bulb?
JEWS: Where’s Jacob’s ladder when you need it?
UNBELIEVERS: None, they’d rather sit in the dark

God Bless....

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Walking Contradiction

Some things just go great together.  Peanut butter and Jelly.  Cookies and Milk.  Coffee and Scones.  Other things don't mix very well.  Oil and Water for instance.  This is a classic example of a contradiction.

There was a time in my life, when I would have considered someone who is in my current state, a Walking Contradiction.  To be African American and Catholic (at the same time) was an absolutely ridiculous concept.  I mean, the two just didn't go all.  Of course, since I have been attending a Catholic Mass for the better part of 9 years now, I have occasionally ran into a Catholic that was Black.  In the same breath, I have always wanted to ask them, "How in the world did you become a Catholic?".  I never did muster up the courage to do so.  And thankfully, I didn't have to...

I heard about Alex Jones many years ago.  Alex Jones, and myself have many things in common.  We are both African American, from Detroit and attended a Pentecostal Church Of God In Christ Church - except he was the pastor.  When I had first heard about this man, who after 25 years of pastoring his church, decided to leave his church and become a Roman Catholic, I just chalked him off to being a nut.  It is one thing for a Lutheran, Episcopalian, or an Anglican to become a Catholic, but it is a completely different story when an African American Pastor leaves his gospel music church to become a Roman Catholic.  Not only that, but also to bring a considerable amount of people from his church into the Catholic Church with him...all of them were nuts.

After a couple of years of chalking him off to being a fruitcake for doing such a thing, I finally decide to watch his testimony that just so happen to be amidst my collection of VHS tapes (thanks to my lovely Catholic wife)....and this is where the story of my conversion began....

Fast forward almost a year, and I find myself a Roman Catholic.  A Walking Contradiction.  I had a chance to speak briefly with Deacon Alex Jones this past weekend.  I shared with him my story, and how his testimony played a role in me being a member of the 2009 Tiber Swim team.  I gave him a huge hug, and thanked him for the courage to share his story.

Do I miss the Gospel music in the church service - of course.  Do I miss all of the hand-clapping and catching the "Holy Ghost" and all of the things that come with being a member of an African American church - definitely.  However, I would not trade in the Sacraments and the Treasures of being in full communion with the Church that Christ began for any of it.

God bless...

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Deacon Alex Jones in Belmont

If you didn't know, Deacon Alex Jones was one of the most influential people in my journey to the Catholic Faith. I was just told that he will be speaking, this weekend, in the Greater Grand Rapids Area. I am forwarding this information to you all.

God bless.

In 1993, Alex Jones was the pastor of a primarily African-American Pentecostal church in Detroit. His decision to research the beliefs and practices of the early Church began an eight-year spiritual journey that would lead him, his wife, and over half of his flock to conversion into the Catholic Church.
Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Belmont is happy to present An Afternoon With Deacon Alex Jones, author of No Price Too High, on Sunday, May 17th at 2:00. Deacon Jones will passionately preach about The Treasures of the Church. There is no charge to attend, but a free will offering will be taken.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Ground Rules...

Before we dive into the next topic, I thought that it may be beneficial in order to setup some ground rules. Evidently, there are people who have commented in the past, and they are upset at the way that I am moderating the conversation.

I humbly apologize to those who feel as though they have been slighted by the way I have moderated the conversation, and I ask that they will help me come up with ground rules that will be beneficial to everyone.

So, to start off, I will offer two ground rules..

1.) Everything that is said in the comment section, should be said in a spirit of charity.

We should not be attacking each other personally. The only thing that should be grounds for debate are the theological positions that we hold, not the person that is holding them. In other words, no personal insults.

2.) I will no longer block comments...

This one is a stretch for me, but so long as it fosters communication, I am willing to do it. In the past, I have blocked comments, due to not being on topic, or violating the 1st ground rule that I mentioned. Instead, of blocking comments, I will respond to the comment asking that the commenter stay on topic. In the case of comments that violate the 1st ground rule, I will let the comment of the commenter speak for itself.

Are there any other ground rules that you think would be appropriate to consider?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Sacraments: The Sacrament of Baptism...

For the first time ever, in the history of this blog, I have a contributor. Willison, has been involved in some of the discussions on this blog post in the past, and motivated by the current discussion happening on the post titled, Anonymous Challenges Salvation, where we have talked more about Sacraments and specifically the Sacrament of Baptism, he offered to contribute this blog post. I hope that you enjoy reading it as much as I did. Thanks Willison...

Let’s cut to the chase: What is a sacrament?
If a sacrament DOES something, than it becomes a lot more important than if it only SYMBOLIZES something. It’s awful hard to argue that something “symbolic” is “necessary”. It might be helpful, therefore, to consider sacraments generally, to better understand the sacrament of baptism specifically.

Jesus taught us to call God “Father” not just so we would feel close and cuddly to God, but so we could better understand why he does some of the things he does. Anyone who has been a parent of a 3 year old has dealt with those never ending “why” questions. The answers to “why does it rain?” or “why do things die?” or “why do we use money?” are very complicated issues that a 3 year old couldn’t understand even if he wanted to. Yet, a growing mind with a question deserves an answer. So a good Dad boils it down. He starts using words the kid will understand and draws on experiences the kid can relate to. That’s what we do – the sinful flawed version of a parent. God – the perfect version of a parent – who is infinitely more advanced compared to us than a human adult compared to a human child – would do no less. Thus, he made sacraments.

As far as we know, humans are unique in all of creation. We are physical beings – formed out of the dust of the earth – with a spiritual soul – breathed into us by God himself. Angels are only spirit. Animals are only physical matter. Humans are both. In fact, the Church teaches that BOTH body and soul are ESSENTIAL to be “human.” (That is why we believe in the resurrection of the body. Our physical form is not a “soul transportation device.” It is – and always will be – half of what God created us to be. Humans do not become angels in Heaven.)
So let’s say that God – the perfect parent – wants to transmit his grace to a human. Two issues come up: First, he chose to design humans with this dual nature, so undoubtedly he would want to impart his grace to the whole creature, not half of it. Second, like a parent, he wants us to understand what is happening - and he knows that our physical experiences are more familiar to us than the purely spiritual ones.

Consider Matthew 21:24-25. Jesus was being questioned about his authority to act as he was. In classic Jewish style of debate, he answered a question with a question, “John’s baptism – where did it come from? Was it from Heaven or from men?” Of course, the chief priests and elders were trapped and couldn’t answer that without shooting themselves in the foot. It seems to me, that is still what we are talking about. Clearly I think Jesus was saying it came from God, as did his authority. And the Priests thought it was John gone wild, just like they thought Jesus was doing, but they couldn’t say that because the people would disagree. Notwithstanding the Priests, Jesus’ question all but says Baptism is an institution ordained by God.

But more than that, the questions to Jesus were, “By what authority are you doing these things?” “And who gave you this authority?” His response was to bring up his baptism! Now sure you can argue that they are two unrelated issues that happen to have the same answer, but Jesus rarely did that when he taught. I believe he brought up his baptism and the Baptist, because they were the answers. By what authority? Through the grace of God received in my baptism. Who gave it to you? God Himself, through John the Baptist. But instead of saying that, Jesus tried to get the priests to realize it for themselves by asking, “John’s baptism – where did it come from? Was it from Heaven or from men?” When they responded with “we don’t know”, he basically said, “then I’m not telling.” But I believe the answer is there nonetheless.

This “symbol-only” view of baptism doesn’t seem in line with something created and given by Heaven. Did God give us a ceremony simply as a public display of what he already did? If true, this symbol would be intended to glorify God, but glorifying Him is something from us to Him (From men to Heaven). Jesus implied baptism was from God to men. So consider two things: If baptism was designed by God to be the method by which he chooses to give us His grace, wouldn’t that clearly be “from Heaven” and not from men? And secondly, does God, anywhere in the Bible, create any institution (other than holidays and activities to remember his great acts like Passover) where humans are supposed to do certain things simply to symbolize a passing of grace which they have already received? Let me save you some time: no.

So, can THE BIBLE, prove for us that this is how God works? Of course! The Bible is filled with references to actions God requires humans to do BY WHICH he chooses to confer his grace. This is not an exhaustive list, but consider the following examples:

1- Circumcision – In Gen. 17 God told Abraham circumcision was a sign of the covenant, but went on to say if a man is not circumcised he is not part of it. In other words, your part of the covenant when you become circumcised. The surgery does something. If you argue it is ONLY a sign of the covenant, you must overcome the fact that without the sign, you don’t get the covenant. He said to the Jews if you’re 9 days old and not circumcised, you’re not part of the covenant. The moment you become circumcised, you’re part of it.

2- Priests – In Exodus 28:40-42 God says to anoint and ordain certain men as priests. Then later in Leviticus 8 He describes how it should be done and it gets VERY relevant to our discussion. 1st the man had to be washed, but it is not until oil is poured on him that he becomes the consecrated priest of God. The oil does something, the ritual washing doesn’t. In fact, this sacred oil to make things Holy is so special God himself specifies the recipe and limits both its use and the people who can use it in Exodus 30:22-33.

3- In Exodus 17, when the Israelites were thirsty, God said go on ahead and you’ll see a rock. Strike the rock, and I’ll make water come out of it. He didn’t say, up ahead I placed a well. Or there’s a rock with water coming out of it up ahead. He made Moses strike the rock, with a particular stick, to get the water. A physical act THROUGH which he chose to give his blessing. In fact later, Moses struck a rock too many times and God was so mad he didn’t let Moses go to the Promised Land.

4- When Israel decided they wanted a king, Samuel anointed Saul in private (1 Sam 10:1) and from that moment on he was King. Not when he accepted. Not when Samuel recognized him. But when the oil hit him. We know this wasn’t symbolic because later, in the public ceremony, he was not re-anointed as a symbol of his submission to God for the people. He was simply presented as their king. Then later when David had a chance to kill Saul, he refused – not because he was king – but because he had been anointed. (1 Sam 24:10) In the same way, the Bible says David got God’s power after his anointing (1 Sam 16:12-14).

5- In 2 Kings 5 God cured a King with leprosy. Elisha told the king to be healed he would have to wash 7 times in the Jordan River. He didn’t cure him and command he go through the traditional washings commanded in Mosaic Law. In fact the king was mad that Elisha didn’t just pray over him. He couldn’t understand why the Jordan River when he had perfectly good rivers close by. But to be healed, he had to do it God’s way. The 7th washing actually cured him.

6- In Mark 6:12-13 the Apostles anointed the sick with oil and healed them. The anointing with oil is how God chose to heal them. In the same way, James tells us at James 5:14-15 that sick people should have elders of the church (not just any believer) pray over them and anoint them to get better. Certain people, doing certain things, to receive God’s blessing.

7- In 2 Cor. 1:20-22 Paul explained that by anointing us, God put His spirit in our hearts, and His seal of ownership on us. He doesn’t specifically mention baptism, but I can’t think of what else he would be referring to. Because of our anointing, through our anointing, by our anointing, God put His spirit in our hearts.

I believe the Bible is pretty clear. God often chooses to bless us through physical actions and tangible things. Of course, sometimes He also blesses without a physical act. But I have never seen where he blessed someone in the quiet of their hearts and then required, or even suggested, they go perform some physical act to symbolize the blessing. (No, not lepers Jesus healed presenting themselves to priests. The presentment was a legal procedure so they could rejoin the community.) That is why the Church teaches the baptism Jesus and the apostles keep talking about is not symbolic, but a transference of grace. If you are not baptized, you are not part of the kingdom of God. You have not received his grace. At the moment you are baptized, you receive the grace.

Now does God NEED sacraments to produce his grace and power? No. He is almighty. He can do it whatever way he wants. However, he has created us and knows we are physical creatures in addition to our spiritual nature. Therefore, it was out of His kindness and understanding of human nature that he has chosen to use physical things that we can witness to pass His grace on to us. Now because He has chosen to do that, He also requires us to utilize it. I believe God is not the type of God who institutes something and makes it optional. That’s why I believe it is required, and actually causes us to receive His grace and be cleansed of original sin.