Monday, March 30, 2009


What's missing?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Wisdom of Judas

Jesus chose twelve Apostles.  He handpicked these men to be responsible for the Faith.  He chose these men, along with Himself, to be the foundation of the Church (Eph 2:19-22).  Let me ask this?  Why in the world did Jesus choose Judas?  Didn't Jesus know that Judas would one day betray Him?  He must have or else we would not consider Jesus to be omniscient - all knowing.  Yet, He still chose Judas.  Why?  I am sure that there are many reasons why God chose Judas to be a part of the Twelve.  One reason that I believe that Judas was chosen, was to show that His Church would not just be made up of Saints, but sinners as well.

Peter Kreeft, in Seven Reasons to Be a Catholic (I highly recommend people listening to this...), put it best when he said,

The Church is not a museum for saints, but a hospital for sinners

Not everyone in the Church is a Saint.  Although we are all called to be Saints and to be perfect, most of us are not there yet, and we may never reach that level of holiness on this side of heaven.  This, of course, is not to be used as an excuse to not live up to our duty of:

Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.  (Heb 12:14).

This is our sacred duty, yet the reality is, many of us are still on the road and have not yet reached that final destination of holiness.

I believe that there is a strong lesson to be learned by Jesus choosing Judas.  Although Jesus knew that Judas would one day betray Him, although He knew that Judas would stop believing that Jesus was the Messiah (even though he saw with his own eyes, our Lord perform miracles and he himself, preached the Gospel) Judas was still welcome in the Church.  This is because, the Church is supposed to accept you, not when you have gotten everything together, but while you are in the midst of your sin.

Judas committed the worst sin imaginable - yet he was still a part of the Church.  Should we completely throw the baby out with the bath water?  I mean, if one of Jesus' own followers couldn't stay true to the faith, is Christianity really true?  I am saying this because it is this same flawed logic that I have heard when people talk about the Catholic Church.  How can the Catholic Church be Jesus' One True Church?  What about the Crusades?  What about the Inquisition?  What about blah, blah, blah?

Like the Twelve Apostles, the members / leaders of the Catholic Church are not perfect, and believe it or not, they are prone to sin.  That, in of itself, is not reason enough to condemn it.  The only perfect Church is the one that does not have any  members.

God bless...

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Potential Future of Protestantism...

One of the best books that I have ever read during my time of discernment, would be More Christianity by Fr. Dwight Longenecker.  Unlike some of my other readings, Fr. Longenecker writes in a literary style that is not offensive to Non-Catholics.  It is a very good introduction to Catholic Theology, by showing the relationship and shared beliefs between Catholics and Protestants.  For instance, many Non Catholics believe in sacramentals, although they would never, or may have never heard of the term sacrament.  Many believe in using Holy Oil and Holy Water, both of which are considered sacramentals in the Catholic Church.  The Non-Catholic view, in one sense, can be thought of as the beginning understanding of Catholic sacramentals.

Just recently, I discovered that Fr. Longenecker has a blog called Standing on My Head.  In one of his recent postings titled, Liturgical Baptists, he discussed how many of the Protestant faiths have changed over time.  His overall impression is that:

American Protestant denominationalism is disintegrating. Can anybody really tell the difference anymore between a Baptist or a Methodist or a Presbyterian or an Episcopalian?...Do you have to be a Calvinist anymore to be a Presbyterian? I doubt it. Do you have to believe in consubstantiation if you want to join a low Lutheran Church. Probably not. If you are a Baptist do you still have to deny infant baptism? Probably not always.

It has been my experience that he is absolutely right.  The reason why I share his view is that I have many times had conversations with people who are not Catholic, and are members of different denominations, but have no idea what the doctrine of their particular faith teaches.  I have spoken with Methodists, Pentecostals, Christian Reformed and Non-Denominationals and they have no clue what the doctrine of their faith teaches.  Many of them have no idea what separates them from each other.  Even though they are separate from each other and disagree on at least one if not more doctrinal issues, they do seem to find their commonality in their disagreement or misunderstanding of what Catholics believe.  Speaking as someone coming from a Protestant background, there was definitely a comradery between me and Protestants of other faiths, that agreed that Catholics were way off base.

Unfortunately, this ignorance of the doctrine of their faith not only resides with Protestants, but also with the Catholics.  There are so many Catholics throughout the world that have no idea what their faith teaches and why.  They unfortunately miss out on the beauties of their faith.  As one of my friends put it, she is always bothered to see Catholics walking into Mass and genuflecting the piano which is on one side of the Church instead of the tabernacle, which is on the other side.  (FYI - always look for the little red candle).

All in all, Fr. Longenecker's post is very insightful, and if anyone is interested in reading it, and discussing, I would love to talk about it.

God bless...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Remembering the Saint in Saint Patrick's Day


My confirmation sponsor sent me an email today regarding St. Patrick and I thought it would be appropriate if I were to share it with you all:

I thought you might like to see an awesome example of why Patrick is a Saint even more than he is Irish.  This gets horribly lost today.  Read the life story of Patrick – it is amazing in itself.  This prayer is said to have been prayed by him on the day he woke up and planned to go visit a Celtic King about becoming Christian.  Almost unanimously, everyone KNEW that this king would kill Patrick in some horrible way just for bringing up the topic.  He had done similar acts numerous times before.  The only question is whether Patrick would die before, during or after he got a chance to share the Gospel message.

But Patrick prayed.  He prayed in a way I would love to learn to emulate.  Then he went.

Patrick didn’t die that day.  The king became Christian which opened the door to the conversion of the entire island.  Legend has it that the king was particularly impressed when Patrick used a clover leaf to explain the Trinity that day (3 and yet 1) which is still a powerful symbol in Ireland.  Read the prayer and you will see how powerful the Trinity was for SAINT Patrick.

God bless!

Here is the prayer....

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through the belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness
Of the Creator of Creation.
I arise today
Through the strength of Christ's birth with his baptism,
Through the strength of his crucifixion with his burial,
Through the strength of his resurrection with his ascension,
Through the strength of his descent for the judgment of Doom.
I arise today
Through the strength of the love of Cherubim,
In obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels,
In hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In prayers of patriarchs,
In predictions of prophets,
In preaching of apostles,
In faith of confessors,
In innocence of holy virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.
I arise today
Through the strength of heaven:
Light of sun,
Radiance of moon,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of wind,
Depth of sea,
Stability of earth,
Firmness of rock.
I arise today
Through God's strength to pilot me:
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's way to lie before me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptations of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone and in multitude.
I summon today all these powers between me and those evils,
Against every cruel merciless power that may oppose my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man's body and soul.
Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come to me abundance of reward.
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness,
Of the Creator of Creation.
God bless...

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Does Mary Detract attention from Christ?

 Well, what do you think?  Do you like this picture?  What is your immediate emotional reaction to this picture?  Think about it.  Why are you reacting that way?

The first thing that comes to my mind, is that it is a picture that only a Catholic would feel comfortable with.  I could be wrong, but these are my feelings that I am sharing.  As a matter of fact, I would not have been comfortable with this picture before deciding to become Catholic. 

The reason why I feel that only a Catholic would feel comfortable with this picture is because it has Mary in it.  Is it only Catholics that love Mary?  Shouldn't all Christians in the world over, love Mary, even to the point of appreciating and loving art that depicts her and Christ together?  One would think so, but at least for me, that was not the case.  My belief was that anything that detracts away from Christ, was to be avoided at all cost.

I am reading a book titled, The World's First Love by Archbishop Fulton Sheen.  As a Catholic in training, I am learning to overcome my Protestant misconceptions about Catholics relationship with Mary.  This book is helping me to do just that.  In it, Fulton Sheen discusses the feelings that I had regarding taking away glory from Christ by focusing attention on His mother.  In it, he says:

No mother whose son has won distinction for himself, either in a profession or in the field of battle, believes that the respect paid her for being his mother detracts from the honor or dignity that is paid her son.  Why, then, do some minds think, that any reverence paid to the Mother of Jesus detracts from His Power and Divinity?

How true.  By calling attention to Mary, Catholics in no way shape or form detract from Christ.  It was God that made Mary a part of the plan of salvation.  Fulton Sheen goes on to say:

Now, it must never be thought that the Incarnation would have been impossible without the Virgin Birth.  Rash, indeed, would be the human mind to dictate to Almighty God the methods that He should use in coming to this earth.  But once the Virgin Birth is revealed, then it is proper for us to inquire into its fitness, as we are now doing.

God chose to enter into this world, through the Virgin Mary.  Did He have to do it that way?  Of course not.  He could have assumed human flesh by creating it without the aid of the Mary.  He could have just appeared as an adult walking from the desert lands - but He didn't.  The fact that He chose her, should give us moment to pause and consider her.  God loved Mary more uniquely than He has loved or will love any other of His creations.  Mary is special, unique.  Think about it, when Jesus ascended into Heaven and as He sits at the right hand of the Father, whose flesh does He share?  Mary's of course.  No other human being in the world will be able to make that claim.  For this reason alone, she is special, and is worthy of our respect, honor, and gratitude.  Why shouldn't we honor Mary?  Jesus did.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Wives Really Should Submit to their Husbands

This past weekend, I was blessed to be part of an Marriage Preparation retreat.  There were about 21 engaged couples who attended, and through this conference, we provided them with an opportunity to talk about different aspects of the vocation of marriage.  We touched on many different topics, including finance, sex and communication.  The main focus of the weekend was to discuss marriage in God's eyes and how to live a married life that will be blessed by God.

One of the verses in the Bible that we looked at regarding marriage, was one that I was already familiar with.  It was actually one of my favorites.  It is the dreaded verse that many women have a very hard time with.  It is Ephesians 5:22-24, and it says:

Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Eph 5:22-24

This is one of those verses in the Bible that many believe degrades women.  Many read this, and believe that for a woman to serve a man and to be submissive, is to be the slave of a man and his needs.  After this weekend, I learned that this verse is less of a challenge for wives, and more of a challenge for husbands.

Paul says that wives should submit to their husbands just like the Church submits to Christ.  Why does the Church submit to Christ?  Why does the Church do all that Christ commands?  Why do we follow God's commandments at all?  It is because we trust, and we know that He has our best interest in mind.  There are things that God asks of His people, that the people do not understand, but they do it anyways.  This is because we  know that God will always lead us to truth.

Not only that, but Christ came to serve.  His mission is to serve us.  I think that many of us takes this for granted.  The Creator of the Universe came down to suffer for us.  He did not come down to suffer for Himself.  He loved us so much that he took on our human nature and suffered horribly for us.  He literally loved us to death.  For this reason, we submit ourselves to Him.  We live in submission (under the mission) of Christ.

The ultimate challenge of submission is not for the wife, but for the husband.  Paul tells us:

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her Eph 5:22 

Our challenge as husbands is to love our wives just like Christ loved His Church.  How much did Christ love his Church?  So much that he spread out his arms and died for it.  That is the level of love that we are to have for our wives.  We are to forsake ourselves and sacrifice our life for our wives.  Many of us will not have to physically die for our wives, but that does not make our lives less sacrificial.  We are to put our needs and desires second to our wife.  We are to love her completely and fully.  If that means that we do not get a chance to buy the new fancy car that we want, or to go to all of the sports games, or hang out with the fellas at the bar, then that is what it means.  This is our mission.  Now, what wife would not be able to submit (be under the mission) of a husband who loves them like Christ loved the Church?

Lord, I pray for all of the husbands and the wives that may encounter this post.  Please strengthen their marriage, and give them the grace that they need in order to meet this holy obligation.  Strengthen the husbands that they may love their wives just like you love your Church.  Strengthen the wives so that they will be able to submit to their husbands the way that the Church submits to you.  Only through you is this possible.  Help us all, Lord to live out the type of marriage that you have called us into.  Amen.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Private Interpretation...(An Analogy)

A man walks into the local zoo one day, with a huge smile on his face. As he approaches the information desk, it is obvious that this man is excited about being here. He approaches the woman attending the information desk and begins to tell her the reason why he is so excited.

Man: "I am so excited, ma'am, I just cannot contain myself".
Woman: "What are you so excited about, sir?"
Man: "I have just finished reading the Bill of Rights, and I learned the most exciting news!!!"
Woman: "Really?"
Man: "Yes. You see, I am a hunter and my favorite game to hunt are bears. Unfortunately though, I have never been successful at killing any."
Woman: "Okay."
Man: "Then I read in the Bill of Rights, that I have the Right to bear arms"
Woman: "Of course you do. That is a right that has been protected for American citizens for a very long time now"
Man: "Really? Then I wonder why this place is not filled with unsuccessful bear hunters"
Woman: "What do you mean?"
Man: "Well, it is like you said. The right to bear arms is something that every American citizen has. I don't understand why people have not come down to the zoo, and chosen which bear arms they have a right to. Too bad for them. Thanks to the perpescuity of the Bill of Rights, I am now ready to claim my bear arms. Can you point me in the right direction of where they keep the bears?"

There are two points that I am trying to make...

This gentleman had great intentions. He was doing his best at trying to understand a document that has huge ramifications on his life. Unfortunately though, although he has read the words of the document, he did not understand the message that the authors were trying to convey. In this scenario, he did not understand what it meant when the author said that every citizen has a right to bear arms.

It would be beneficial for him to take the time to study not only the Bill of Rights, but also the authors that put the Bill of Rights together, the time in which they lived, and how the Bill of Rights was formed. It would also be beneficial to understand on whose authority did the Bill of Rights come to fruition in the first place.

It would also be beneficial for this man to understand that with the Bill of Rights, it takes an authoritative interpreter in order to judge what the document says and how they go about making their official judgement. Those individuals who practice law would be that authoritative interpreter. Not only do they use the Bill of Rights itself, in order to interpret it, but they also rely on the history of past cases and earlier decisions. One may say that they depend on the tradition of the law as much, if not more, as they depend on the written letter of the law as well.

A friend of mine practices law, and mostly what he does is research historical accounts of past decisions that may impact a case that is currently being held in the courtroom. Can you imagine a legal system where every case is tried brand new, without reflections and contemplation on past decisions?  Without the guidance of the legal system that reflects on the history of the matter?  Instead, every individual would be responsible for interpreting the Constitution and Bill of Rights on their own?  The world would be full of judges - each able to make the authoritative interpretation of what the law says.  That would be crazy, right?

The second point that I want to make is that it is imperative for the woman to point our misguided friend in the right direction. This is not done in order to discipline the poor misguided soul - instead it is done out of charity / love. If she is aware that this man is interpreting the Bill of Rights wrongly, then she should spend the time correcting him. Assuming that she is aware of it, she should spend the time to explain to him the true meaning of what the Bill of Rights is saying. She should also share with our friend that the author of the Bill of Rights was so smart, and knew that there were things that were not addressed and situations that the citizens may find themselves in that could not be authoritatively defined in the document, that they setup a whole structure that one can depend on in order to continually ratify and speak authoritatively on what the document says.  In essence, they carry the same authority that the original authors had in creating the document.  They are the successors of the Founding Fathers.

I just love our legal system.  The Founding Fathers must have been led by God in order to come up with something so brilliant.  Thank you God for leading the Founding Fathers and for creating The America.  May we all find your will for us in Her.

God bless...

Monday, March 2, 2009

Almost Home...

I know that Lent is a time of sacrifice and penance, but I am finding it very hard to contain my excitement for Easter Vigil. During the Easter Vigil, I will be brought into full communion with the Catholic Church.

I have spent the better part of my life serving God the best way that I knew how. I have been a member of many different Non-Catholic denominations - Lutheran, Baptist, Non Denominational, Pentecostal. I am thankful and grateful for many of the things that they taught me. I now realize that they have all prepared me for joining the Catholic Church, which is the fullness of truth.

This week, I will be celebrating two major events in a Catholic Convert's life:

Rite of Sending
Rite of Election

The Rite of Sending occurs on the first Sunday of Lent. It is during this time that all of the catechumen , as well as their sponsor, are brought forth in front of the congregation during Mass. The priest asks the sponsor if the catechumen is ready to enter the Catholic Church. In this manner, the sponsor, is speaking on behalf of the congregation, vouching that the catechumen is ready to enter into the Catholic Church.

Catholicism is a very communal faith. Unlike other faith traditions that I have been a member of in the past, instead of heeding the altar call or walking up when the pastor invites you to become a member of their church, you have to be brought into the fold by someone who is already a part of the fold. In one dimension, they themselves represent the whole Catholic Church and exercise right judgement as to whether or not, the catechumen is ready to enter the Catholic Church.

The Rite of Sending is all about being sent to the Bishop, for the Rite of Election. All of the Catholic parishes will send all of their catechumens to the Bishop. During this time, the Bishop will recognize the catechumens and candidates who desire full communion with the Catholic Church.

Please continue to pray for me as I continue my journey home.

God bless...