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.
3:15





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.

END





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
Nathan

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Consuming Fire: A Reflection

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

 
Readings:


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
Nathan

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
Nathan

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

God-parents


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
Nathan

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Masonic Associations


It has come to my attention that many Catholics who are otherwise faithful Catholics are unaware of the official position of the Catholic Church that not only are faithful Catholics not to associate (to become members) of any Masonic associations (including Shriners) but they are not to participate in Communion if they do join a masonic group.  The seriousness of this association is so severe that we are to avoid receiving the Eucharist as if they had performed a mortal sin.

Below is the entire document explaining the Church’s position on this situation written because of the many confusions on why the most recent Code of Canon law seemed to have changed its position from the previous years and centuries.

This document can be found at the Vatican website located at the address below or one can simply do a Google search with the terms “Masonic Associations Vatican” the first link should be the actual document in question, http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_19831126_declaration-masonic_en.html

This most recent and official declaration on this subject was written by Joseph Card. RATZINGER who later became Pope Benedict XVI and was ratified, ie accepted, by Saint Pope John Paul II.  Please pay particular attention to the highlighted areas.

DECLARATION ON MASONIC ASSOCIATIONS



It has been asked whether there has been any change in the Church’s decision in regard to Masonic associations since the new Code of Canon Law does not mention them expressly, unlike the previous Code.

This Sacred Congregation is in a position to reply that this circumstance in due to an editorial criterion which was followed also in the case of other associations likewise unmentioned inasmuch as they are contained in wider categories.

Therefore the Church’s negative judgment in regard to Masonic association remains unchanged since their principles have always been considered irreconcilable with the doctrine of the Church and therefore membership in them remains forbidden. The faithful who enrol in Masonic associations are in a state of grave sin and may not receive Holy Communion.

It is not within the competence of local ecclesiastical authorities to give a judgment on the nature of Masonic associations which would imply a derogation from what has been decided above, and this in line with the Declaration of this Sacred Congregation issued on 17 February 1981 (cf. AAS 73 1981 pp. 240-241; English language edition of L’Osservatore Romano, 9 March 1981).

In an audience granted to the undersigned Cardinal Prefect, the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II approved and ordered the publication of this Declaration which had been decided in an ordinary meeting of this Sacred Congregation.

Rome, from the Office of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 26 November 1983.

Joseph Card. RATZINGER
Prefect


God Bless
Nathan

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Questions and Answers


Q. Do stories of evil acts in the Bible necessarily mean that that the Bible is an “evil book” or take away from its overall truth as the word of God?

 

A. Just because the Bible records an act, that doesn’t mean God recommends it. The Bible is not evil because of the evil deeds it describes any more than high school history textbooks are anti-Semitic because they document the Holocaust. For example, Exodus 21:18 describes what should happen “if men quarrel and one strikes the other with a stone or with his fist and the man does not die but keeps his bed.” Clearly the sacred author is not commanding people to hit each other in the head with rocks. He is just giving sound advice about what should be done if something like this happens. Likewise, Exodus 21:10 and Deuteronomy 21:15 both describe a man with two wives and how he should treat his wives and children, but the texts don’t recommend marrying two women in the first place.



Q. Many accuse the Bible of being “anti-woman,” probably more so in the current social and political climate. Does this claim have any legitimacy?

 

A.  It’s true that women had less rights in the ancient world than they do today, but the Bible is testament to God’s plan for equality amongst the sexes. For example, Genesis 1:27 says, “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” It is not simply biological males who share in the image and likeness of God; women, too, share this honor. In fact, God’s eternal wisdom is personified as a woman (see Proverbs 8).

 

 Also, women often served God’s purposes by being the heroes in salvation history who paved the way for the coming of the Messiah. Jesus’ genealogy includes Tamar, who outwitted her uncle Judah and exposed his moral hypocrisy; Rahab, who protected the Israelite spies and allowed them to conquer Jericho; Ruth, who courageously left her Moabite heritage and became an Israelite; and Bathsheba, who secured Solomon’s succession to David’s throne.

 

 Let’s not forget the other women in Israel’s history, like Deborah, who led Israel to victory against the Canaanites; Judith and Esther, who saved the Jews from extermination; and of course, Mary, the Mother of God, who the Bible says all generations will call “blessed” (Luke 1:48). No other man in the Bible, save for her son Jesus Christ, is given such an honorific title.



Q. Would you say that most of the internal difficulties or contradictions that people find in the Bible are a result of the manner in which they read the Bible?

 

A. Most of the internal difficulties arise when people think the Bible is written in the genre of a newspaper or a courtroom transcript and so every detail needs to correspond exactly. However, in the ancient world authors could vary secondary details in an account in order to meet the needs of their audience. For example, consider what God says at Jesus’ baptism. In Mark 1:11 and Luke 3:22, God says, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased." But in Matthew 3:17 God says, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased." So which is it? Did God say, “You are my beloved son” or “This is my beloved son?”

 

 All three evangelists agree that at this event God publicly revealed himself to be the father of Jesus. Matthew, Mark, and Luke differ only in the words they used to describe that revelation. Matthew chose to emphasize how this message affected the crowd, whereas Mark and Luke emphasized how the message affected Jesus. There is no contradiction, because all three writers are asserting the same truth—that Jesus is God’s Son—but they do so in different ways.



Got to www.catholic.com for more



God Bless
Nathan