Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Contemplating Religious Life

Here is another inspiring video that I just came across reading Steve Ray's Blog.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

My Pilgrimmage to the Holy Lands

It has been a long time since I last posted, but it has not been without good reason.

I have just returned from my 10 day pilgrimmage to the Holy Lands.  It was an awesome experience.....hmmm....I can do better than that.  It was an

AWESOME Experience!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

When I first heard about this plan to go to Israel, I was not that excited about going.  I couldn't stand the thought of leaving my family for that amount of time, and I thought that it was too much to ask of them.  If it were not for my God-fearing wife, family and friends encouragement, I would not have gone.  They encouraged me because it would be a unique time to go since it would not just be with a random touring company, it was specifically with my parish family and priest.

Over the next couple of weeks, I will be sharing photos and experiences with you from my journey.  Fr. Troy said that a pilgrimage is not a personal endeavor, but one that should be shared with those that you return home to.  With that in mind, I feel that it is my obligation to share with you some what I experienced and what I saw, and what I learned - about myself and our Lord.

The overall unescapable feeling that I had was this stuff is for real.  Now as a practicing Christian for all of my life, that may sound weird.  It may sound like I didn't have a real faith in Christ or the Scriptures.  I don't think that is the case.  I do not doubt the faith that I had before my trip.  Instead, I think there is a big difference in reading the Scriptures and actually seeing the places where these things took place.  It has solidified my faith even more than before.  I know that these places exist.  I have seen them.  I have touched them.  I have walked the same city that Our Lord Jesus Christ have walked, breathed the same air, wept in the same places that He wept.  And I do believe that I am changed because of it.

Church of the Holy Sepulchre :- Stone of Anointing

God bless....

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Heard any good Catholic Jokes Lately....

In case you haven't....here is one:

The Pope goes to New York. He is picked up at the airport by a limousine. He looks at the beautiful car and says to the driver, "You know, I hardly ever get to drive. Would you please let me?"

The driver is understandably hesistant and says, "I'm sorry, but I don't think I'm supposed to do that."

But the Pope persists, "Please?" The driver finally lets up. "Oh, all right, I can't really say no to the Pope."

So the Pope takes the wheel, and boy, is he a speed demon! He hits the gas and goes around 100 mph in a 45 zone. A policeman notices and pulls him over.

The cop walks up and asks the Pope to roll down the window. Startled and surprised, the young officer asks the Pope to wait a minute. He goes back to his patrol car and radios the chief.

Cop: Chief, I have a problem.
Chief: What sort of problem?
Cop: Well, you see, I pulled over this guy for driving way over the speed limit but it's someone really important.
Chief: Important like the mayor?
Cop: No, no, much more important than that.
Chief: Important like the governor?
Cop: Wayyyyyy more important than that.
Chief: Like the president?
Cop: More.
Chief: Who's more important than the president?
Cop: I don't know, but he's got the Pope driving for him!

Find this joke an more at the Fish Eaters :- Jokes....

Thanks and God bless....

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Dissension Amongst Protestant Theologians :- New Perspective on Paul

Two years ago, in my post titled Protestant Theologians Re-Examining St. Paul and Justification, I commented on what is now being commonly referred to as the New Perspective on Paul.  I have recently come to learn that this New Perspective on Paul is causing much more controversy in Protestant circles than I could have anticipated.

Every month, me and some Protestant and Catholic friends get together to discuss theology.  The last time we met, we spent a little bit of time discussing the New Perspective on Paul, which is currently being promoted by many renowned Protestant theologians (Angilcan Bishop of Durham N.T. Wright, James G. Dunn, E.P. Sanders, Krister Stendahl).  I had recently read about the conversion of Dr. A. David Anders, to the Catholic Church in the May 2010 issue of the Coming Home Network Newsletter, and he mentioned that the New Perspective on Paul played a role in his conversion.

He writes,

According to Stendhal and others, justification by faith is primarily about Jew and Gentile relations, not about the role of morality as a condition of eternal life...My discovery of this “New Perspective” was a watershed in my understanding of Scripture. I saw, to begin with, that the “New Perspective” was the “Old Perspective” of the earliest Church Fathers. I began testing it against my own reading of Paul and found that it made sense. It also resolved the long-standing tension that I had always felt between Paul and the rest of the Bible. Even Luther had had difficulty in reconciling his reading of Paul with the Sermon on the Mount, the Epistle of St. James, and the Old Testament. Once I tried on the “New Perspective” this difficulty vanished. Reluctantly, I had to accept that the Reformers were wrong about justification. [1]

During the meeting with my friends, I asked them if they have ever heard about the New Perspective on Paul and what do they think about it.  One of my Protestant friends, who is a chaplain, had heard of it, and mentioned that it is causing a stir in the Evangelical Protestant community as a whole.  This, of course furthered my curiosity in the matter.  I decided to see what exactly my Evangelical Protestant brothers and sisters were having a hard time with, in regard to this New Perspective.

I happened upon a letter written by Dr. Bryan Chappell, who is the President and Professor of Practical Theology at Covenant Theological Seminary, titled An Explanation of the New Perspective on Paul.  In it, he has many positive things to say about the New Perspective including [2]:

  • We are not saved alone
  • Saving faith is not alone
  • The sacraments are not signs alone
  • The Bible is not propositions alone
However, as a Christian in the Presbyterian tradition, he does have some concerns about this New Perspective.  Namely [2]:
  • An unnecessary and dangerous ambiguity regarding the nature of justification
  • An unnecessary and dangerous lack of clarity regarding what the sacraments accomplish
  • An unnecessary and dangerous eagerness to critique historic understanding rather than enrich it
There are so many reactions that I am having to this subject that unfortunately, I do not have the time now to get into all of them.   Instead, I am going to save those reactions for different posts.

Overall, I find this ground swell occurring in Protestant circles very interesting and the impact will hopefully be felt by many.  Think about it.  The New Perspective is causing Protestants to consider the possibility that the Reformers were not right in how they were interpreting Paul.  Can you imagine the impact that may have one someone's faith?  If not, just ask Dr. A. David Anders....

God bless...

[1] - Coming Home Network May 2010 Newsletter - Dr. A David Anders
[2] - An Explanation of the New Perspective on Paul - Dr. Bryan Chapell

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Recommended Read: How John Calvin Made Me a Catholic

Living in a predominantly Calvinistic city, I found the article, How John Calvin Made Me a Catholic by Dr. David Anders, a very interesting read.  Here are some quotes that struck me:

I discovered that Calvin upset my Evangelical view of history. I had always assumed a perfect continuity between the Early Church, the Reformation and my Church. The more I studied Calvin, however, the more foreign he seemed, the less like Protestants today. This, in turn, caused me to question the whole Evangelical storyline: Early Church – Reformation – Evangelical Christianity, with one seamless thread running straight from one to the other. But what if Evangelicals really weren’t faithful to Calvin and the Reformation? The seamless thread breaks. And if it could break once, between the Reformation and today, why not sooner, between the Early Church and the Reformation? 

Calvin shocked me by rejecting key elements of my Evangelical tradition. Born-again spirituality, private interpretation of Scripture, a broad-minded approach to denominations – Calvin opposed them all. I discovered that his concerns were vastly different, more institutional, even more Catholic. Although he rejected the authority of Rome, there were things about the Catholic faith he never thought about leaving. He took for granted that the Church should have an interpretive authority, a sacramental liturgy and a single, unified faith.

I would highly recommend reading this article.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Fr. John Riccardo :- Abuse Scandal

I am sure that many of you are aware of the abuse scandal that has been circulating over media lately.  Honestly, I have been pretty much out of the loop on these stories, and I have only recently started to give them some attention.  Child abuse is a horrible sin, and those who have committed those sins should be brought to justice and be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

You all know how big of a fan I am of Fr. John Riccardo.  He is articulate, funny and just an all around great pastor.  Earlier this month, he held a Catholicism for Cradle Catholics talk devoted to the topic of the abuse scandal.  In it, like many of his talks, he invites the audience to come and ask their questions and then after they have been asked, he spends time on each, answering them to the best of his ability and also interjecting personal experiences and perspectives on the matter.  He addresses how the Catholic Church reacts to abuse allegations at a Diocesean level, as well as the popular allegation that the reason why abuse is committed by priests is due to their vow of celibacy.

If you are interested in listening to this talk, you can find it here:

Catholicism for Cradle Catholics :- Abuse Scandal

If you are interested in the other talks from Fr. John Riccardo, you can find them here:

Fr. John Riccardo Talks

Thanks and God bless...

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Chrism Mass :- WOW!!!!

This past week, I was fortunate enough to have a ticket to attend the Chrism Mass at the Catehedral. For those of you who don't know what the Chrism Mass is, it is when the oils that are used for many of the sacraments - including Baptism, Holy Orders, Anointing of the Sick, Confirmation - are blessed by the Bishop in the Diocese. These oils are then transported to every parish within the Diocese. It was easily the most amazing Mass that I have ever been to - second only to the Easter Vigil where I was welcomed into the Church.

It wasn't the humongous choir and orchestra that made it so amazing for me, although that was awesome. It wasn't the pounds of incense that was used, although I love incense during Mass. It wasn't the fact that we had readings in both Spanish, Vietnamese and English, although that was amazing (I mean what else would you expect from the Universal Church that encompasses all languages and nationalities).

During this Mass, I was most taken back by another realization of a different facet of my Church. My parish is but one of the parishes in Grand Rapids, MI. My parish is not the Church, it is but a part of it. Every priest from all of the different parishes were in attendance and during the procession, all of those priests and deacons processed in. It was the most beautiful sight. My parish is united with all of these other parishes under one Bishop. I know that this is Catholicism 101, but when you see it live, it really takes you back. We are truly One, Holy, Catholic Church.

Bishop Hurley stressed that every parish's altar is but an extension of the altar of the Cathedral. The Cathedral is the Parish where the Bishop resides. Since the Bishop is in control of the Diocese and we are not separate individual institutions, we are all united under the Bishop and our altar's are truly extensions of the Bishop altar.

Now let's take it to the next level. There are many Dioceses around the world. Every inch of soil on this earth falls under the jurisdiction of a Bishop. There is one Cathedral in each Diocese. Each of the parishes in their respective Diocese are but an extension of the Cathedral. Each Cathedral is but an extension of the Church in Rome. We are truly One Church united under the Bishop of Rome, the Pope.

When I came back home to tell my wife about the Mass, and even as I reflect on these things now, all I can say is...

"My Church is sweet!!!!!"

God bless...

P.S. If you want to see the Chrism Mass Homily, click here

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Peter Kreeft Event :- Favorite Quote

So, shame on me. One of my heroes in theology came to Grand Rapids to speak, and I have not found the time to share one iota of knowledge that I gained. Well, in light of that, I thought that I at least have enough time to share with you my favorite quote of his that night.

"I am an Evangelical Catholic....I evangelize Catholics and catholicize Evangelicals"

That was great, and it got a great laugh from the audience.

If you are interested in hearing Peter Kreefts entire talk that night, it is now available on Immaculate Heart of Mary's website.

Wisdom of Jesus - Part 1
Wisdom of Jesus - Part 2
Wisdom of Jesus - Part 3
Wisdom of Jesus - Part 4
Wisdom of Jesus - Q/A

If you are interested in more podcasts from Immaculate Heart of Mary, consider becoming a subscriber to the Podcast Site (also available on iTunes).

Thanks and God bless....

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Protestant Myth Busters :- They believe in Sacred Tradition

I am making a huge assertion with the title of this post, I know, but I sincerely believe it to be true.  I believe that Non-Catholics, Protestants, and Anglicans (hehehe) all believe in Sacred Tradition.  Before continuing, let us define what Sacred Tradition is:

The teachings of Tradition are not written down, but are lived and are handed on by the lives of those who lived according to its teachings, according to the example of Christ and the Apostles (1 Corinthians 11:2, 2 Thessalonians 2:15). This perpetual handing on of the teachings of Tradition is called a living Tradition; it is the transmission of the teachings of Tradition from one generation to the next. [1]

In other words, Non-Catholics do not really believe in Sola Scriptura, or Scripture Alone.  They can't.  It is completely impossible for them to believe that.  I am sure by now you are wondering how I came to this conclusion, so let me tell you...

All Non-Catholic believers say that their authority is in Scripture and in Scripture Alone.  They all believe that the Bible is the inerrant inspired Word of God.  If they really believe that....then someone must have told them.  As far as I know, there is not one infant born into this world that inherently knows that the Holy Bible is the inspired Word of God and the Book of Mormon is not.  No.  Instead, they have had an encounter with someone that they know and trust, and that someone had to tell them that Scripture was the inspired Word of God.  Someone had to "instruct" them that the Bible was the inerrant, God breathed Word of God.  Isn't that instruction the same as Sacred Tradition?  Doesn't that instruction make up part of the Sacred Tradition that has been passed on down through the centuries (about 20 to be exact)?  How is that really any different than Sacred Tradition?  My assertion is that it is not.

Therefore, Non-Catholics do in fact believe in Sacred Tradition and not in Scripture Alone.  What do you think?  Am I on to something, or am I completely off base?  Is my logic sound or no?

God bless...

[1] - Wikipedia :- Sacred Tradition

Friday, January 22, 2010

Am I my brother's keeper?

Ezekiel 33:7-9
Now, son of man, I am making you a watchman for the people of Israel. Therefore, listen to what I say and warn them for me. If I announce that some wicked people are sure to die and you fail to tell them to change their ways, then they will die in their sins, and I will hold you responsible for their deaths. But if you warn them to repent and they don’t repent, they will die in their sins, but you will have saved yourself.

YES, I AM!!!!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Peter Kreeft coming to Grand Rapids

It is with great pleasure that I share with you that Peter Kreeft, one of my favorite theologians / philosophers, is coming to Grand Rapids Michigan on January 28th 7:30p.m. at Immaculate Heart of Mary. His talk titled Wisdom of Jesus, is sure to inspire and challenge us all. To learn more about his talk and this event, please visit our website.

I was first introduced to Peter Kreeft by way of C.S. Lewis. After looking online for more information on C.S. Lewis, I happened upon a couple of Peter Kreeft's talks where he comments on many of C.S. Lewis writings. While looking through all of the talks that are available on the Featured Audio section of his website, I noticed a talk on ecumenism. Since ecumenism is one of my passions, I listened to his talk Ecumenism without Compromise, and I have been hooked ever since.

Here is a couple of other talks of his that I have enjoyed:
Needless to say, I am very excited to see him live, and I hope that I get an opportunity to meet him face to face.

God bless you all...

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Catholic Answers :- Open Forum for Non Catholics

I remember the time when I was not a Catholic, but I was taking steps (okay not steps, but leaps) learning more and more about the Catholic faith.  I had plenty of questions (still do), and I had a group of friends that had a lot of answers.  Some of the answers were perfect, others I found still wanting.

In search of Truth, I found a radio program called Catholic Answers Live.  It is a radio program where they bring in priests and lay apologists onto the show and they talk about various topics.  Every month, they do one show where the discriminate against their Catholic audience called Open Forum for Non Catholics.  They ask all of the Catholics not to call in and they devote a whole hour to fielding questions from Non-Catholics.  I have to admit, this is my favorite show of the month and I look forward to it.

Tim Staples, renowned Catholic Apologist and fellow convert to the faith, was the guest for January's Open Forum for Non Catholics.  His conversion story can be found in Surprised by the Truth, but more than that, he is someone that loves God and loves His Church.

If you are interested in listening to this month's episode, where Tim talks about the biblical precedence for Purgatory and the Perpetual Virginity of Mary, amongst other things, you can find it here.  If you are interested in listening to more Open Forum for Non Catholics, then feel free to use the search functionality on their website, which you will find here.  (Search for "non catholic" in the title if you are interested in more Open Forum for Non Catholics / Tough Questions from Non-Catholics)

Thanks and God bless...

Monday, January 11, 2010

Does the Bible teach abstinence from alcohol?

I had one of the best weekends.  A friend of mine that I grew up with, came to stay with my family this weekend.  I was very glad to hear that he is growing more and more in his faith.  It was very inspiring.

As a new Christian, he has a lot of questions.  One of his friends had told him that the Bible is against drinking alcohol.  His friend also told him that every reference in scripture where it talks about wine, is not fermented and pretty much amounts to grape juice.  For this reason, he abstains from alcohol altogether.

If someone believes that abstaining from alcohol brings them closer to God, I am all for it.  I think that sacrifice / fasting is one of the ways that we grow in our faith and get closer to God.  However, with that being said, I do not think that it is necessary to misinterpret scripture in order to support this practice.

In order to debunk this false interpretation of Scripture, we discussed many different verses - however, the most important verse that we found together was the following:

Luke 7:33-34
For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, 'He has a demon.' The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, 'Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and "sinners." '

There are a couple of obvious things that we can gain from this verse.  Wine is alcoholic in scripture.  It is not just grape juice.  It must be, since they slandered Jesus saying that he was a drunkard.  Which of course leads us to our next fact.  Jesus drank wine.  Jesus drank alcohol.

There is plenty of support in scripture that we are not to drink alcohol in order to get drunk.  We should never let drinking get out of hand to where it impairs our judgement.  But it is completely in line with Scripture to drink alcohol.

God bless...