Sunday, October 9, 2016

The Church on Abortion`

The Catholic Church is pro-life.  She teaches that abortion is always wrong.  Where does this teaching come from?  It all starts “in the beginning.”  In Genesis chapter one – “God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them.”  Every human person, from the moment of their conception, is created in the image and likeness of God.

Interestingly, the teachings on abortion in the  Catechism of the Catholic Church are in the section on the Fifth Commandment – “You shall not kill.”

This is not a new teaching, something that the Church has been trying to figure out for centuries.  Quite the contrary.  In the Catechism paragraph 2271, it says, “Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion.  This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable.”

What about exceptions for things like rape and incest?  Regardless of the circumstances surrounding its conception, the child in the womb is still a child of God.  In paragraph 2270, the Catechism puts it succinctly – “Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception.”

For further study:

CCC 2270-2273;  Genesis 1:26-28;
Exodus 20:13;
  Deuteronomy 5:17

Gus Lloyd,
A Minute in the Church, Vol II,  p.9, 2010

God Bless

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Apostolic Succession

The first Christians had no doubts about how to determine which claimant, among the many contending for the title, was the true Church. The test was simple: Just trace the apostolic succession of the claimants. This simple procedure worked every time. (Why not try it yourself?)


Clement of Rome

"Through countryside and city [the apostles] preached, and they appointed their earliest converts, testing them by the Spirit, to be the bishops and deacons of future believers. Nor was this a novelty, for bishops and deacons had been written about a long time earlier.... Our apostles knew through our Lord Jesus Christ that there would be strife for the office of bishop. For this reason, therefore, having received perfect foreknowledge, they appointed those who have already been mentioned and afterwards added the further provision that, if they should die, other approved men should succeed to their ministry." (Epistle to the Corinthians 42:4-5, 44:1-3 [A.D. 80]).



"It is possible, then, for everyone in every church, who may wish to know the truth, to contemplate the tradition of the apostles which has been made known to us throughout the whole world. And we are in a position to enumerate those who were instituted bishops by the apostles and their successors down to our own times, men who neither knew nor taught anything like what these heretics rave about....Surely they wished all those and their successors, to whom they handed on their authority, to be perfect and without reproach" (Against Heresies 3:3:1 [inter A.D. 180-199]).



"For all these [heretics] are of much later date than are the bishops to whom the apostles handed over the churches, and this fact I pointed out most carefully in the third book. It is of necessity, then, that these aforementioned heretics, because they are blind to the truth, walk in devious paths, and on this account the vestiges of their doctrines are scattered about without agreement or connection. The path of those, however, who belong to the Church goes around the whole world, for it has the firm tradition of the apostles, enabling us to see that the faith of all is one and the same" (Ibid. 5:20:1).



"Polycarp was instructed not only by the apostles and conversed with many who had seen Christ, but was also appointed bishop of the church in Smyrna by the apostles in Asia. I saw him in my early youth, for he tarried a long time and when quite old departed this life in a glorious and most noble martyrdom. He always taught those things which he learned from the apostles and which the Church had handed down and which are true. To these things the churches in Asia bear witness, as do also the successors of Polycarp even to the present time" (Ibid. 3:3:4).



"It is necessary to obey those who are the presbyters in the Church, those who, as we have shown, have succession from the apostles, those who have received, with the succession of the episcopate, the sure charism of truth according to the good pleasure of the Father. But the rest, who have no part in the primitive succession [of bishops] and assemble wheresoever they will, must be held in suspicion....The true gnosis [knowledge] is the doctrine of the apostles, and the ancient organization of the Church throughout the whole world, and the manifestation of the body of Christ according to the succession of bishops, by which succession the bishops have handed down the Church which is found everywhere" (Ibid. 4:26:2, 33:8).



"Far be it from me to speak adversely of any of these clergy who, in succession from the apostles, confect by their sacred word the Body of Christ and through whose efforts also it is that we are Christians" (Epistle to Heliodorus 14:8 [inter A.D. 374-379]).

For more:

God Bless

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Tradition and Authority

In your worldview if one has a different understanding even on eternal matters of truth as in matters of faith and/or doctrine then they are the ones who must be wrong.  That makes YOU the ultimate authority, the pillar and bulwark of the truth if you will.

Protestant replies:
1. The word of God is the authority but you rob the authority with your tradition don't you? Matt:15:6

2. The called out separated ones (ecclesia) is the pillar and base of the truth aren't they?  1 Tim.

Catholic answers:
About comment #1
First, the Word of God is not wholly contained in Scripture (John 21:25). 

Second, I would only be robbing the authority of the word of God with our traditions IF I went against the Word of God instead of what you (mis)understand the written Word of God to mean. 

Third, the final authority given to us by God in understanding the Word of God (whether written or oral) is not Scripture or your understanding of Scripture but the Church.

About comment #2
Unless the Church is visible, somewhere to go to settle issues between the called out separated ones then the collection of called out separated ones cannot determine with authority what is true in such a matter as to settle the issue.  Without an authoritative Church, the Church is useless in settling issues making Jesus' directives moot in Mat 18:15-18 and Paul's description of the Church as useless in 1 Tim 3;15.

Protestant replies:
your spirit is dead.


What do you do when someone answers your well-thought out replies with something like this?  Sometimes the best thing to do is to just let it go.  You’ve done your job.  You’ve planted the seeds.  Hopefully, with the help of God and your ongoing prayers those seeds will germinate and grow.

God Bless

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Consuming Fire: A Reflection

Consuming Fire:
Scott Hahn Reflects on the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time


Our God is a consuming fire, the Scriptures tell us (see Hebrews 12:29;Deuteronomy 4:24).
And in this week’s Gospel, Jesus uses the image of fire to describe the demands of discipleship.
The fire he has come to cast on the earth is the fire that he wants to blaze in each of  our hearts. He made us from the dust of the earth (see Genesis 2:7), and filled us with the fire of the Holy Spirit in baptism (see Luke 3:16).
We were baptized into his death (see Romans 6:3). This is the baptism our Lord speaks of in the Gospel this week. The baptism with which He must be baptized is His passion and death, by which He accomplished our redemption and sent forth the fire of the Spirit on the earth (see Acts 2:3).
The fire has been set, but it is not yet blazing. We are called to enter deeper into the consuming love of God. We must examine our consciences and our actions, submitting ourselves to the revealing fire of God’s Word (see 1 Corinthians 3:13).
In our struggle against sin, we have not yet resisted to the point of shedding our own blood, Paul tells us in this week’s Epistle. We have not undergone the suffering that Jeremiah suffers in the First Reading this week. 
But this is what true discipleship requires. To be a disciple is to be inflamed with the love of God. It is to have an unquenchable desire for holiness and zeal for the salvation of our brothers and sisters.
Being His disciple does not bring peace in the false way that the world proclaims peace (see Jeremiah 8:11). It means division and hardship. It may bring us to conflict with our own flesh and blood.
But Christ is our peace (see Ephesians 2:14). By his cross, he has lifted us up from the mire of sin and death—as he will rescue the prophet Jeremiah (see Jeremiah 38:10).
And as we sing in the Psalm this week, we trust in our deliverer. 

Yours in Christ,Scott Hahn, PhD

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Is Missing Mass a Mortal Sin?

Rather than just approaching this question from the angle of "missing Mass is a sin," we should first call to mind the importance of the Mass. Each Sunday, we gather together as a Church with hearts filled with joy to worship Almighty God. We remember and profess our faith once again in the mystery of our salvation,that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, suffered, died, and rose for our salvation. The saving actions of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday coalesce in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy of the Vatican Council II asserted, "For it is the liturgy through which, especially in the divine sacrifice of the Eucharist, 'the work of our redemption is accomplished,' and it is through the liturgy, especially that the faithful are enabled to express in their lives and manifest to others the mystery of Christ and the real nature of the true church" (#2).

Moreover, at Mass, each faithful Catholic is fed with abundant graces: First, we are nourished by the Word of God — God's eternal truth that has been revealed to us and recorded under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. We then respond by professing our Holy Catholic Faith as presented in the Creed, saying not simply “I believe" as a singular person, but “we believe" as part of the Church.

Second, if we are in a state of grace, then we have the opportunity to receive our Lord in the Holy Eucharist. We firmly believe that our Lord is truly present in the Holy Eucharist, and that we receive His body, blood, soul, and divinity in Holy Communion. Not only does the Holy Eucharist unite us intimately with the Lord, but also unites us in communion with our brothers and sisters throughout the universal Church. The Holy Eucharist is such a precious gift!

With this in mind, no one should simply think of attending Mass as fulfilling an obligation. To attend Mass is a privilege, and any faithful Catholic should want to attend Mass. Our perspective should not be, "I have got to do this"; rather, we should think, "I get to do this."

Nevertheless, because the Mass offers such precious gifts, provides the nourishment of great graces, and unites us as a Church, we do indeed have a sacred obligation to attend Mass. Remember that the Third Commandment stated, "Keep Holy the Sabbath." For the Jewish people, the Old Testament Sabbath was on Saturday, marking the "Day of rest" after creation. For Christians, we have always kept holy Sunday, the day of the resurrection. Just as creation unfolded on the first day of the week with God commanding, "Let there be light," our Lord, the Light who came to shatter the darkness of sin and death, rose from the dead on that first day marking the new creation.

Given how precious the Mass is plus the Old Testament precedent which was rightly adapted by the Church, the Code of Canon Law (#1246) proscribes, "Sunday is the day on which the paschal mystery is celebrated in light of the apostolic tradition and is to be observed as the foremost holy day of obligation in the universal Church." Moreover, "On Sundays and other holy days of obligation, the faithful are bound to participate in the Mass..." (#1247). Therefore, the Catechism teaches, "Those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit grave sin" (#2181), and grave sin is indeed mortal sin. Recently, our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, repeated this precept in his apostolic letter Dies Domini (Observing and Celebrating the Day of the Lord, #47, 1998).

Of course, serious circumstances arise which excuse a person from attending Mass, such as if a person is sick, has to deal with an emergency, or cannot find a Mass to attend without real burden. A pastor may also dispense a person from the obligation of attending Mass for serious reason. For instance, no one, including our Lord, expects a person to attend Mass who is so sick he cannot physically attend Mass; there is no virtue in further hurting one's own health plus infecting everyone else in the Church. Or, in the case of a blizzard, a person must prudently judge whether he can safely travel to attend Mass without seriously risking his own life and the lives of the others. When such serious circumstances arise which prevent a person from attending Mass, he should definitely take time to pray, read the prayers and readings of the Mass in the Missal, or watch the Mass on television and at least participate in spirit. Keep in mind when such serious circumstances arise, a person does not commit mortal sin for missing Mass.

In examining this question, a person must really reflect on how valuable the Mass and the Holy Eucharist is. Every day, faithful Catholics in the People's Republic of China risk educational and economic opportunities and even their very lives to attend Mass. In mission territories, people travel many miles to attend Mass. They take the risk and they make the sacrifice because they truly believe in the Mass and our Lord's presence in the Holy Eucharist.

When a person negligently "bags Mass," to go shopping, catch-up on work, sleep a few extra hours, attend a social event, or not interrupt vacation, the person is allowing something to take the place of God. Something becomes more valuable than the Holy Eucharist. Sadly, I have known families who could walk to the Church but choose not to attend Mass; ironically though, they send their children to the Catholic school. Yes, such behavior really is indicative of turning one's back on the Lord and committing a mortal sin.

God must come first in our lives. On Sunday, our primary duty is to worship God at Mass as a Church and to be nourished with His grace. The Didascalia, a third century writing, exhorted, "Leave everything on the Lord's Day and run diligently to your assembly, because it is your praise of God. Otherwise, what excuse will they make to God, those who do not come together on the Lord's Day to hear the word of life and feed on the divine nourishment which lasts forever?" Yes indeed, what excuse will they make?

God Bless

Friday, July 22, 2016

Which Churc is THE Church

Which Church is THE Church?

Q) Did Jesus found a church?  A) Yes; Matt 16:18

Q) How many churches did Jesus found?  A) One; the church is the Body of Christ and there is only one body of Christ - Rom 12:5, Eph 4:4, Col 1:18

Q) So, if Jesus founded a church, then when was it founded?  A) 2000 years ago

Q) Was that church guided by the Holy Spirit?  A) Yes; John 14:26, John 16:13; Acts 2:3-4

Q) If the church was founded by Jesus Christ and was guided by the Holy Spirit, could it teach doctrinal error?  A) No; 1 Tim 3:15

Q) So, could we say that the church founded by Jesus Christ and guided by the Holy Spirit, taught doctrinal truth infallibly - without error - to the 1st century Christians?  A) Yes; Luke 10:16, John 14:16-17, 1 Ptr 1:12

Q) Did the church of the New Testament teach different doctrinal truths to different people in different areas?  A) No; 2 Tim 1:12-14, Eph 4:14, Titus 1:9

Q) Are there any denominations in the church of the New Testament?  A) No.  The church in the New Testament is one, just as the Body of Christ is one - 1 Cor 1:10, 1 Cor 11:18-19, Jude 19

Q) Would a church founded by Jesus Christ and guided by the Holy Spirit still be in existence today?  A) Yes; Matt 16:18, Matt 28:20, Eph 3:21

Q) How old would that church be?  A) 2000 years old

Q) Would that church still be guided by the Holy Spirit?  A) Yes; Matt 28:20, John 14:16

Q) Could that church founded by Jesus and still guided by the Holy Spirit teach doctrinal error?  A) No; 1 Tim 3:15, 1 Cor 12:28

Q) So we could say that the church founded by Jesus Christ and guided by the Holy Spirit would still teach doctrinal truth infallibly?  A) Yes; Luke 10:16, John 14:16-17, 1 Ptr 1:12

Q) Would that church founded by Jesus Christ and guided by the Holy Spirit teach different doctrinal truths to different people in different areas?  A) No; Malachi 3:6, Heb 13:8, 1 Tim 4:6

Q) Would there be any denominations in that church?  A) No; 1 Cor 1:13

Q) Can the Lutheran denomination be the church founded by Jesus in Israel 2000 years ago?  A) No; It was founded by Martin Luther in Germany in the 1500's.  

Q) Can the Anglican/Episcopalian denomination, or any of its offshoots, be the church founded by Jesus in Israel 2000 years ago?  A) No; It was founded by King Henry the VIII in the 1500's because he wanted to divorce his wife.

Q) Are there any Protestant, Baptist, Evangelical, Pentecostal, Fundamentalist, or Non-Denominational denominations that were founded by Jesus in Israel 2000 years ago?  A) No.

Q) So is there any Protestant, Baptist, Evangelical, Pentecostal, Fundamentalist, or Non-Denominational denomination that could be the church founded by Jesus Christ in Israel 2000 years ago?  A) No.

Q) So if Jesus founded a Church - one Church - in Israel 2000 years ago that was guided by the Holy Spirit and that Church is still in existence today and is still guided by the Holy Spirit, which means it teaches doctrinal truth infallibly, and there are no denominations of that Church now, just as there were no denominations of that Church 2000 years ago, then shouldn’t all Christians be in that one Church founded by Jesus?  A) Yes

Q) Does it make sense to be in a church that was not founded by Jesus Christ in Israel 2000 years ago?  A) No.

Q) How can we identify which Church - of the thousands upon thousands -  is THE Church founded by Jesus?  A) The Church founded by Jesus, should at least claim to be THE Church founded by Jesus; it should be able to trace its leadership back 2000 years to the Apostles; and it should claim to be guided by the Holy Spirit and to thus teach doctrinal truth infallibly with the authority of Jesus Christ, its Founder.  

Q) How many churches fit that description?  A) 1

Q) Which Church is that?  A) The Catholic Church

God Bless

Tuesday, July 5, 2016


A few days ago I was asked by a friend what I thought of the fact that one of her family members was refused baptism for their child because they wanted to have their brother, a baptized and confirmed Catholic who just happened to be living with her girlfriend, as their prospective godfather.

Being put on the spot, my reply was not as diplomatic as I would’ve liked but I gave it a good college try.  Well first, the Church Christ founded has a primary role of “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Mat 28:20)

So, one of the primary roles of the Church is to teach its members.  One way to assure a proper teaching is by making sure that those who are being baptized as babies will be raised learning the faith.  The Church simply needs a reasonable expectation that the child will be raised in the Catholic faith and the godparents are supposed to be role models for them.

Everybody sins, but if you repent, ask forgiveness and intend not to repeat the sin, then you are forgiven and are then accepted as a godparent to the child in question.  BUT, if you are an unrepentant sinner, that is that you are living with your girlfriend outside of marriage, well that’s called fornication and if you are unwilling to repent and turn of your ways then the Church simply tells you that you are not suitable as a godparent and the mother needs to choose another prospective godparent.

Now, if the mother is dead-set on an ineligible godparent then she herself inevitably delays the baptism until she is able to select someone who meets the requirements of the law.

So, let’s recap.  First the Church will never, ever refuse baptism to anyone which is a primary function of the Church is to teach and baptize, a commission given to the Church by Jesus directly (Mat 28).

Second, in performing their duty in teaching and performing baptism the Church also expects the parents and godparents to raise the baptized child in the Catholic faith by requiring the parents to choose godparents whom the Church can reasonably expect them to teach the child the Catholic faith even if only by example.  Is that really too much to ask?

God Bless