Friday, December 27, 2013

Holy Mary Mother of God

            Solemnity of Holy Mary,
Mother of God
(Jan 1st)

Fundamentalists are sometimes horrified when the Virgin Mary is referred to as the Mother of God. However, their reaction often rests upon a misapprehension of not only what this particular title of Mary signifies but also who Jesus was, and what their own theological forebears, the Protestant Reformers, had to say regarding this doctrine.

A woman is a man’s mother either if she carried him in her womb or if she was the woman contributing half of his genetic matter or both. Mary was the mother of Jesus in both of these senses; because she not only carried Jesus in her womb but also supplied all of the genetic matter for his human body, since it was through her—not Joseph—that Jesus "was descended from David according to the flesh" (Rom. 1:3).

Since Mary is Jesus’ mother, it must be concluded that she is also the Mother of God: If Mary is the mother of Jesus, and if Jesus is God, then Mary is the Mother of God. There is no way out of this logical syllogism, the valid form of which has been recognized by classical logicians since before the time of Christ.

Although Mary is the Mother of God, she is not his mother in the sense that she is older than God or the source of her Son’s divinity, for she is neither. Rather, we say that she is the Mother of God in the sense that she carried in her womb a divine person—Jesus Christ, God "in the flesh" (2 John 7, cf. John 1:14)—and in the sense that she contributed the genetic matter to the human form God took in Jesus Christ.

To avoid this conclusion, Fundamentalists often assert that Mary did not carry God in her womb, but only carried Christ’s human nature. This assertion reinvents a heresy from the fifth century known as Nestorianism, which runs aground on the fact that a mother does not merely carry the human nature of her child in her womb. Rather, she carries the person of her child. Women do not give birth to human natures; they give birth to persons. Mary thus carried and gave birth to the person of Jesus Christ, and the person she gave birth to was God.

The Nestorian claim that Mary did not give birth to the unified person of Jesus Christ attempts to separate Christ’s human nature from his divine nature, creating two separate and distinctpersons—one divine and one human—united in a loose affiliation. It is therefore a Christological heresy, which even the Protestant Reformers recognized. Both Martin Luther and John Calvin insisted on Mary’s divine maternity. In fact, it even appears that Nestorius himself may not have believed the heresy named after him. Further, the "Nestorian" church has now signed a joint declaration on Christology with the Catholic Church and recognizes Mary’s divine maternity, just as other Christians do.

Since denying that Mary is God’s mother implies doubt about Jesus’ divinity, it is clear why Christians (until recent times) have been unanimous in proclaiming Mary as Mother of God.

The Church Fathers, of course, agreed, and the following passages witness to their lively recognition of the sacred truth and great gift of divine maternity that was bestowed upon Mary, the humble handmaid of the Lord.

"The Virgin Mary, being obedient to his word, received from an angel the glad tidings that she would bear God" (Against Heresies, 5:19:1 [A.D. 189]).

"[T]o all generations they [the prophets] have pictured forth the grandest subjects for contemplation and for action. Thus, too, they preached of the advent of God in the flesh to the world, his advent by the spotless and God-bearing (theotokos) Mary in the way of birth and growth, and the manner of his life and conversation with men, and his manifestation by baptism, and the new birth that was to be to all men, and the regeneration by the laver [of baptism]" (Discourse on the End of the World 1 [A.D. 217]).

Ephraim the Syrian
"Though still a virgin she carried a child in her womb, and the handmaid and work of his wisdom became the Mother of God" (Songs of Praise 1:20 [A.D. 351]).

"The Word begotten of the Father from on high, inexpressibly, inexplicably, incomprehensibly, and eternally, is he that is born in time here below of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God" (The Incarnation of the Word of God 8 [A.D. 365]).

Council of Ephesus
"We confess, then, our Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, perfect God and perfect man, of a rational soul and a body, begotten before all ages from the Father in his Godhead, the same in the last days, for us and for our salvation, born of Mary the Virgin according to his humanity, one and the same consubstantial with the Father in Godhead and consubstantial with us in humanity, for a union of two natures took place. Therefore we confess one Christ, one Son, one Lord. According to this understanding of the unconfused union, we confess the holy Virgin to be the Mother of God because God the Word took flesh and became man and from his very conception united to himself the temple he took from her" (Formula of Union [A.D. 431]).

Copy/pasted from:

God Bless

Friday, December 20, 2013

The First Christmas


Was Christ really born on December 25th?

One would think that if anyone's date of birth were remembered exactly, it would be that of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, the gospels do not pinpoint the date of Christ's birth. The reason is probably that the focus of the gospels is on the kerygma or mystery of redemption — the passion, death and resurrection of Christ. This focus is also probably why St. Mark's Gospel does not even include the Christmas story, but begins with the Baptism of the Lord at the River Jordan. Easter, on the other hand, can be better dated because of its concurrence with Passover.

Prior to the legalization of Christianity by the Emperor Constantine in the year 313, no universal date or even formal celebration of Christmas is found. For instance, Origen (d.255), St. Irenaeus (d. 202), and Tertullian (d. 220) do not include Christmas or its date on their lists of feasts and celebrations.

After legalization, the Church was better able to establish universal dates of feasts and to organize the public celebration. Moreover, we now see the Church addressing controversies concerning Jesus as true God and true man and how He entered this world. Such concern would focus more attention on the importance of celebrating Christmas, the birth of our Lord.

On the more practical side of this issue, Roman pagans used to gather at the hill where the Vatican is presently located to commemorate the "Birth of the Unconquered Sun" This pagan feast was celebrated throughout the Empire either on Dec. 25 (according to the Julian Calendar) or on Jan. 6 (according to the Egyptian calendar). Although not proven with certainty, some historians credit Constantine, who declared Sunday as a day of rest in the Empire, with replacing the pagan festival with that of Christmas. Interestingly, since the 200s, Jesus was honored with the title, "Sun of Justice."

Somehow all of these elements converged to the formal celebration of Christmas on Dec. 25. For instance, Christmas was celebrated in Rome by Pope Liberius (352-66) on Dec. 25. On Dec. 25, 379, St. Gregory Nazianzus preached a Christmas sermon in Constantinople. In the Cathedral of Milan, St. Ambrose (d. 397) celebrated Christmas. Therefore, by; the year 400, generally, the birth of Christ was set on Dec. 25 with the exception of Palestine, where it was celebrated on Jan. 6 until the mid-600s, when it was then transferred to Dec. 25.

As an aside, the Feast of the Epiphany also emerged in Gaul (the Roman province of present-day France) about the year 361. This feast was moved to Jan. 6, which remains the official date.

While the concern for exact dating may preoccupy us at times, I believe the most important point is celebrating the birth of our Lord. Remember that the title "Christmas" is derived from the Old English title "Cristes Maesse" which means "The Mass of Christ." This Christmas, may we lift up our hearts at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and receive our Lord, born into our souls through the grace of the Holy Eucharist.

God BlessNathan


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Friday, December 6, 2013

2nd Sunday of Advent Reflections

Preparing the way of the Lord

John the Baptist could be the central figure in today’s homily. He prepared the way for the people of his time to understand the good news of their salvation. That is the way God normally works; He sends the message of salvation to us through each other. As St Paul once put it, how can people know the truth about God if they have never heard it; and how can they hear if nobody is sent to them?

Jesus found his first disciples among those who were influenced by the preaching of John the Baptist. He had showed them the value of self-control and of prayer; he urged them to listen to the inner voice of God, with repentance and a faithful heart. The high point of John’s short ministry was his meeting with Jesus. Not only did he get to baptise Our Lord but he also helped some of his own followers to go with Jesus and become the first Christian disciples. Through him, Andrew and his brother Peter, and Philip and Nathanael became apostles of Jesus.

Clearly, God wishes us Christians also to help help other people to know and love him. If in the first place, we were more committed to our own Christian calling, we would be more effective in influencing others towards religious commitment. Parents have the first opportunity to point their children towards God. But their words will only be effective when backed up by the actual example of their own faith and prayer.

People can influence others, for good or ill, in all sorts of ways. A special kind of influence rests with the journalists and opinion-formers who work in the media, press, radio and television and through the internet. But ordinary people outside the media can also influence the views and values of those with whom they talk and live. When looked at in light of today’s Gospel, does our way of speaking and behaving in any way help others to share our values, or do we confirm their suspicion that this world is a selfish and cynical place?

And what about fostering vocations to the priesthood and religious life, or to some active form of church service? The ability of our Church to go on as a visible, organised community continuing in the prayer-life and values of Jesus is under serious question today. But if enough people open their hearts to God’s work, as did John the Baptist and those first disciples, Andrew and Philip and Peter, then a way will be found to keep the world aware of the saving message of Christ.

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God Bless

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Advent 2013: Reflections

Today is the first day of the liturgical season of Advent during which the Church prepares, by prayer, fasting, almsgiving, in the Mass and other forms of expression, for the return of our Savior at His second coming in which the first coming in His incarnation reminds us.

St Charles Borromeo, bishop, once said that “In her concern for our salvation, our loving mother the Church uses this holy season to teach us.  She shows us how grateful we should be for so great a blessing, and how to gain its benefit:  our hearts should be as much prepared for the coming of Christ as if He were still to come into this world.”

Indeed, one of the ways the Church prepares us is through the readings in the Mass.  Each Sunday of Advent has a theme to help us in our journey towards salvation.  Today, the first Sunday of Advent, the Church chose Scriptural passages to accentuate the fact that many of us slumber through life and that we need to wake up.  Jesus said that we must “be watchful!  Be alert!” because no one knows the day or time of His return, His Second-Coming.  And so He councils us to “Wake up!”

This coming Sunday, the second Sunday of Advent the Church chose Scriptures that accentuate our need to be instructed so that we are prepared for this unexpected return.  As was prophesied, Jesus His coming, and as we see in the New Testament Readings He will return.  And so we are instructed by our past through our traditions and Scripture in passages that speak of the voice crying out in the desert proclaiming “Prepare the way of the Lord, and make straight his path” (Mark 1:3) as John the Baptist did.    

But in the third Sunday of Advent the Church changes gears so-to-speak.  Instead of looking at our lack of perfection, or our failures the Church points to the fact that the battle is already won so as to re-invigorate our hope of salvation.  Jesus defeated death and therefore we are to “Be strong and fear not!” (Is 35:4) as the first reading says.   The Gospel reading of that day tells us to rejoice because we are clothed with the garments of salvation as procured by Jesus and proclaimed by John who came “to testify to the light, so that all might believe through Him.”

In the last Sunday before Christmas, the fourth Sunday of Advent, the Church show us that we are to be assured of the imminent coming of our Lord by giving us a sign, that a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel (which means ‘God with us’).  This coming of the Son of God is found in the incarnation narrative, where He was conceived in her womb and bore a son that she was to name Jesus.  He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father (Luke 1:31-32).  God is indeed ‘with us’.  The Lord God has come, and the Lord God will come again.

So let us begin our preparation of His second coming as we celebrate His first.  For the first week of Advent the Church reminds us to wake up and be alert.  And so we are to work out our salvation by becoming spotless, by being perfect as the heavenly Father is perfect.  This goal is extremely difficult to attain and yet we know that the longest journey begins with a single step.  And so I challenge you to persevere and to do what is good and right.  As a first step of this journey, will you take responsibility for the freedom God gives you?  Will you make a space within each day of Advent to go off with Jesus, listening in the silence for the Word?


God Bless

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Inspiration of Scripture

This question poses some serious problems for those who believe in Scripture alone as ones authority in right-Christian living.  Since Scripture nowhere indentifies the Book of James as divinely inspired for example means that one must go to an authority other than Scripture to determine if it is indeed inspired Scripture.  The same applies to any book that one might consider divinely inspired (literally translated as ‘God-breathed’).


If one looks at historical texts of the first century after Jesus’ death and resurrection, even those that are against the Christian church, we find unanimous agreement that the followers of Jesus believed that Jesus actually rose, body and soul, into heaven.  They believed it so deeply that they were willing to die instead of denying it.  Certainly if Christ had not risen his first disciples (the original 12 chosen by Christ Himself) would not have died horrible deaths affirming the reality and truth of the resurrection. The result of this line of reasoning is that we must conclude that Jesus indeed rose from the dead. Consequently, his claims concerning himself—including his claim to be God—have credibility. He meant what he said and did what he said he would do.


Further, Christ said he would found a Church. Both the Bible (still taken as merely a historical book, not yet as an inspired one) and other ancient works attest to the fact that Christ established a Church with the rudiments of what we see in the Catholic Church today—papacy, hierarchy, priesthood, sacraments, and teaching authority.


We have thus taken the material and purely historical and concluded that Jesus founded the Catholic Church. Because of his Resurrection we have reason to take seriously his claims concerning the Church, including its authority to teach in his name.


This Catholic Church tells us the Bible is inspired, and we can take the Church’s word for it precisely because the Church is infallible. Only after having been told by a properly constituted authority—that is, one established by God to assure us of the truth concerning matters of faith—that the Bible is inspired can we reasonably begin to use it as an inspired book. 


For a more detailed look at the inspiration of Sacred Scripture please go to:

God Bless

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Passover Lamb

Is there a connection between the original Passover lamb and the Lamb of God (Jesus)?


Yes, there is a very strong connection between the two lambs.  First, let us go back to the begining.  It all started on that fateful night when the Angel of Death came to kill the first-born son of every family whether Egyptian or Hebrew.  The Hebrew people were to sacrifice an unblemished lamb and mark the posts of their door so that the Angel of Death should ‘pass over’ their household. That night marked the birth of the nation of Israel but it also was a picture of a greater birth and a greater sacrifice to come many centuries later; the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ and his sacrificial death upon the cross as the true Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.  But before going on let’s see what John wrote about the circumstances of Jesus’ death, the death of the Lamb of God (John 1:29).


John is at the foot of the Cross holding Mary, suffering a mothers grief at losing ones son.  John tells us in his account of Jesus’ death that although they broke the legs of the other two being crucified they didn’t break those of Jesus “so that the scripture passage might be fulfilled: ‘Not a bone of it will be broken.’” Here John is referencing the requirement that the bones of the Passover lamb were not to be broken as found in Exodus 12:46 “You shall not break any of its bones.”


We can confidently say that John wants us to link the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross to the first Passover because not only does John mentions ‘not breaking any bones’ but even before that statement John still points to this night of the first Passover when he mentions how Jesus was given wine to quench His thirst by using a sprig of hyssop, the same type of plant used to mark the doorframes with the blood of the sacrificial lambs on that fateful night (Exo 12:22).


So what happened at the first Passover that John would bring us back to this point in time while Jesus is being crucified?  Maybe so we see the connection between the sacrificial lamb (John 1:29) who saved us from the bondage of sin with the lamb who saved the Israelites from the bondage of the Pharaoh in Egypt.  Maybe because he believed the same as Paul did when he wrote to Timothy that “All scripture is…useful for teaching… and for training in righteousness” (2 Tim 3:16).  So we know that the sacrificial system of the Jewish liturgy of the Passover celebration teaches us, trains us in righteousness.  We also see in Malachi that this liturgy will be changed and fulfilled or brought to fruition through his prophecy that: “For from the rising of the sun, even to its setting, my name is great among the nations; And everywhere they bring sacrifice to my name, and a pure offering; For great is my name among the nations, says the LORD of hosts.” (Malachi 1:11)


First, we see that at the time the book of Malachi was written, God’s name was NOT great among the nations, therefore this is a prophecy of things to come.  Second, at the mention of “a pure offering”, what is the only pure offering ever brought to His name?  Jesus.  Third, we see that at that same event incense is also brought.  This rules out most Evangelical and Fundamentalist groups as they cannot and do not fulfill this part of the prophecy because they don’t use incense in their worship/liturgical ceremonies. And finally, “from the rising of the sun to its setting”.  All day long in other words.  Which worship ceremony uses incense and brings a pure offering all day long (from rising to setting of the sun) all around the world?  The Catholic Church is the only church which can claim this. 


But what about the pure offering?  What are we to do with it when we offer it to God?  Well, just look at what John was pointing to when Jesus was dying on the Cross.  Look at what the Israelites had to do at the first Passover sacrifice – they had to kill the lamb and then eat it (Exo 12:7-8 or Exo 12:43-47).  It wasn’t enough to sacrifice the lamb and to put its blood on the door frames.  To save the first-born sons of each household, they also had to eat the lamb as well.  How can we be sure of this?  By listening to Jesus’ own words of John 6 which states I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world(verse 51).  And to confirm this suspicion, the account of the Last Supper as described by Matthew, Mark, Luke and Paul all say the same when holding the unleavened bread once it was blessed.  Jesus says “This IS my body…this IS my blood”.


God Bless



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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Christian Love

Today’s readings converge at the point of family—of choosing and claiming our spiritual family as God’s children over and against our merely biological family. In the old covenant, God’s grace was dispensed primarily through natural ethnicity and kinships. God chose Israel and the Jewish people, by the very fact that they were the children of Abraham, and thus blessed in a way that other tribes were not. Yet, the moment God became human, his covenant became literally Catholic—a universal promise to all people that God is now present in their midst. If this is true, our old identities must be transformed: we are no longer simply the child of this family, no longer simply a citizen of this or that community, not just a member of that political party, and so on. Now we realize that we have been made for nothing other than life in heaven.

Accordingly, we can look upon God, and the human family, in the same way no more. God is no longer tied to a particular people but now to the entire human race. That is how we are to interpret those places in Paul where he teaches that, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:28; cf. Rom 10:12; 1 Cor 12:13; Col 3:11). To interpret these passages correctly is not to say that there are no longer historical (personal, gender, social) differences, but that God no longer distributes his grace determined by these differences. All are now one in Christ!

This is what makes the opening reading from Maccabees (a family name traceable, appropriately enough, to the word “hammer”) all the more remarkable. In the reading in 2 Maccabees, we hear the story of Judas Maccabeus who led a revolt against Antiochus Ephiphanes IV (King of the Greek Seleucid dynasty, covering most of modern-day Turkey and beyond) defeating his army in 161 B.C., so as to free the Jews from foreign domination.

The lesson here for us Christians is obviously what the Apostles themselves knew very early on as well: it is better to follow God than to capitulate to man (cf. Acts 5:29). It is ironic that we are a people who claim to have a unique friendship with one we know created the world, rules all things providentially, who became one with us in the incarnation of Jesus Christ, and with one who has pledged his own sacred body and blood to us at each moment of our lives, and yet, we still fear to trust him completely. We are still afraid of death.

However, this is what we proclaim as Christians: that love is infinitely stronger than death and we have been lovingly made members of an eternal family. God is now our true and everlasting Father, Mary is our Mother, and all the saints are our newly-acquired siblings. This is why we hear the Apostle Paul refer to those in the Church at Thessalonica as “brothers and sisters.” These Christians are closer to him than any would have been to their own naturally-born siblings. It is the Faith that thus binds, and Paul realizes that not all have such life within them.

This might be an opportunity to comfort those before us by reminding them that this world was never meant to be their true home. Instead of feeling sad and despondent that we are not closer to others (especially our members of our immediate families), or that we find many aspects of our lives lacking, perhaps we could see these tears and aches as the realization that we know we are not made for earth only, and that our true destination and character is still to come. As Tolkien realized, as opposed to the elves who could not die, death is the “great gift” of humans because it finally transposes us from this “veil of tears” into an everlasting community of joy.

That is where today’s Gospel strikes. We are to live in this world as if we were already claimed for heaven. Even the closest possible human relationship, the sacrament of matrimony, is to be lived sub specie aeternitatis—with the realization that your spouse on earth is not your eternal spouse but a living icon through which you are to see your eternal love. Marriage’s ultimate purpose is for you to hand your spouse over to Jesus each day, and to assure that your life together is cemented by Jesus’ love and care. This is why matrimony is a sacrament: even on those days where you feel like being selfish and vindictive, the grace is offered you to become other than you might feel at any unfortunate particular moment.

When Luke says the married are like the angels in heaven, it is important to stress what this means. The elect are like the angels in heaven, not because they leave their bodies behind, but because there will not be marriages celebrated in heaven. Nothing makes me more upset when I hear well-meaning (but poorly catechized) Christians assure someone that their deceased loved one is “now an angel.” No! Angels are spiritual substances who were created without bodies, and who never will have bodies; we humans are incomplete without our bodies, and will one day enjoy glorified and resurrected bodies. Angels cannot become human, humans do not become angels. The point here is that, if lived rightly, marriage fulfills its purpose by one’s getting one’s spouse to heaven. For Christ must be the first and the form of all our loves, the union by which all the cares and affections in our lives are brought together.

Toward the end of his classic, The Great Divorce, C. S. Lewis depicts a young, grieving mother named “Pam” who is claiming that the love she has for her son, who died at an unfortunately early age, is what should grant her heaven. The angel of God points out that the lavish attention she showed her son, Michael, was never, in fact, true love, but her own possessiveness: “You’re treating God as only a means to Michael. But the whole thickening treatment consists in learning to want God for his own sake.” “You wouldn’t talk like that if you were a mother.” “You mean if I were only a mother. But there is no such thing as being only a mother. You exist as Michael’s mother only because you first exist as God’s creature. That relation is older and closer.”

Today’s homily, then, can focus on how we Christians are currently landlocked, but are given the grace to live as if we were already in heaven. Heaven is not a place, but that relationship with Jesus Christ which transforms our every thought, word, and action here on earth. Christ does not want to take away our families, and our deepest desires, but to become the “glue” that holds them all together. As long as our hearts remain divided between creator and creatures, we will never be happy. Once we surrender all of our seemingly “human” loves, and plunge them into the Heart of Christ, thus allowing him to become the love that unites us to even the most natural of our affections, our world becomes consecrated. For this reason Jesus asks us today to put him first in order that we may love ourselves and others, not only rightly, but eternally.


God Bless

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


All Hallows' Eve
Halloween or All Hallows' Eve is not a liturgical feast on the Catholic calendar, but the celebration has deep ties to the Liturgical Year. These three consecutive days — Halloween, All Saints Day and All Souls Day — illustrate the Communion of Saints. The Church Militant (those on earth, striving to get to heaven) pray for the Church Suffering (those souls in Purgatory) especially on All Souls Day and the month of November. We also rejoice and honor the Church Triumphant (the saints, canonized and uncanonized) in heaven. We also ask the Saints to intercede for us, and for the souls in Purgatory.

In England, saints or holy people are called "hallowed," hence the name "All Hallow's Day." The evening, or "e'en" before the feast became popularly known as "All Hallows' Eve" or even shorter, "Hallowe'en."

Halloween is the preparation and combination of the two upcoming feasts. Although the demonic and witchcraft have no place for a Catholic celebration, some macabre can be incorporated into Halloween. It is good to dwell on our impending death (yes, everyone dies at one point), the Poor Souls in Purgatory, and the Sacrament of the Sick. And tied in with this theme is the saints, canonized and non-canonized. What did they do in their lives that they were able to reach heaven? How can we imitate them? How can we, like these saints, prepare our souls for death at any moment?

All Saints Day, the day on which Catholics celebrate all the saints, known and unknown, is a surprisingly old feast. It arose out of the Christian tradition of celebrating the martyrdom of saints on the anniversary of their martyrdom. When martyrdoms increased during the persecutions of the late Roman Empire, local dioceses instituted a common feast day in order to ensure that all martyrs, known and unknown, were properly honored.

Often overshadowed by the two days preceding it, Halloween (October 31) and All Saints Day (November 1), All Souls Day is a solemn feast in the Roman Catholic Church commemorating all of those who have died and now are in Purgatory, being cleansed of their venial sins and the temporal punishments for the mortal sins that they had confessed and atoning before entering fully into Heaven.

God Bless



Sunday, October 27, 2013

Assurance of Salvation

“From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me.” 
(1 Tim 4:8)

Paul seems to be certain of his final destiny in this passage but is he claiming that once one becomes Christian that heaven is a guarantee upon our deaths?  

The context of this passage tells us that Paul was writing this letter on the eve of his announced execution.  The study notes from the Ignatius Study Bile explains this passage thussly:

“The reward of everlasting righteousness (Gal 5:5) that awaits the saints, who have persevered in the grace of God (James 1:12; 1 Pet 5:4).  The image alludes to the garland or victory wreath used to crown winning athletes in the ancient Olympics (1 Cor 9:25).  Paul’s confidence that such a reward awaits him rests on his sense of accomplishment, since after 30 years of ministry, toil and suffering, he has remained firm in the faith without straying from the course set for him by Christ (2 Tim 4:7; Acts 20:24).”

Does this mean though that even though we have persevered up to now that we are guaranteed heaven?  If we died today possibly, if we have no unforgivien mortal sin on our souls at the time of death but how do we know that we will persevere until the end since we are not imminently clear that we are on the threshold of death at the moment?  Earlier in his ministry Paul himself wasn’t so sure of his final destiny because he didn’t presume to know the future while the race was still in progress.  He said: “If I proclaim the gospel, this gives me no ground for boasting, for an obligation is laid on me, and woe to me if I do not proclaim the gospel!” (1 Cor 9:16) or even more clearly, also early on in his ministry.  He says: “I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me.” ( 1 Cor 4:4)

No, it is quite clear that our final destiny, our salvation is not necessarily assured once we’ve truly accepted Jesus into our hearts as our Lord and Savior.  There are many Scripture passages describing this reality.  Jesus Himself said that even those who call on Jesus as their Lord shall not necessarily enter the kingdom of heaven (Mat 7:21).

Don’t be discouraged because we have a just and loving God.  He does indeed promise us eternal salvation if we persevere and that no trial shall be too great to bear with Him at our side for our trust in Him lightens our burden.  Jesus explains: “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Mat 11:29-30).

Lay your burdens at the cross and pick up your own and do it daily (Luke 9:23) knowing that whatever burdens may come He will give you whatever strength you need once you put your confidence in Him (Sir 52:23,26).

God Bless

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Sola Scriptura

 The most damaging criticism of sola scriptura is the reality that the Bible doesn’t teach it.  This leads to an absurdity.  Those who believe in sola scriptura claim that everything that is essential for a Christian to know is clearly taught in the Bible.  However, the Bible does not teach that everything that is essential for a Christian to know is clearly taught in the Bible.

The passage that is most often cited as a proof text by those who support sola scriptura is 2 Tim 3:15-17.  Let’s examine that passage beginning with its immediate context.  Paul is clearly instructing Timothy and the church in Ephesus to be a faithful witness during difficult times.  There is no indication anywhere in this Epistle that he is contrasting Sacred Scripture with other sources of revelation, or even discussing the subject.

In addition, the “Scriptures” with which Timothy has been acquainted “from childhood” (verse 15) refers to the Old Testament.  Are we to believe that St. Paul is teaching that the Old Testament constitutes the only source needed to know what Jesus taught?

Secondly, Paul has many important things to say about the scriptures.  They “are able to instruct you for salvation in Christ Jesus” (v.15).  However, he doesn’t claim that only the scriptures can instruct one for salvation in Christ Jesus.  All scripture is inspired by God” (v.16), but Paul does not claim that only scriptures are inspired by God.  Paul also affirms that scripture is “useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (v.17), but he never asserts that only scripture is so useful.

Thirdly, This passage doesn’t teach formal sufficiency, which excludes a binding, authoritative role for Tradition and Church. Protestants extrapolate onto the text what isn’t there. If we look at the overall context of this passage, in 2 Timothy alone, Paul makes reference to oral Tradition three times (1:13-14, 2:2, and 3:14). And to use an analogy, let’s examine a very similar passage:

Ephesians 4:11-15 (RSV) - And His gifts were that some should be Apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, for the equipment of the saints, for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the cunning of men, by their craftiness in deceitful wiles. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are able to grow up in every way into Him who is the head, into Christ.

If 2 Timothy 3:16-17 proves the sole sufficiency of Scripture, then by analogy, Ephesians 4:11-15 would likewise prove the sufficiency of prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth for the attainment of Christian perfection. In Ephesians 4:11-15 the Christian believer is equipped, built up, brought into unity and mature manhood, knowledge of Jesus, the fullness of Christ, and even preserved from doctrinal confusion by means of the teaching function of the Church. This is a far stronger statement of the perfecting of the saints than 2 Timothy 3:16-17, yet it doesn’t even mention Scripture!!

So if all Tradition and Church elements are excluded in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, then, by analogy, Scripture itself would logically have to be excluded in Ephesians 4:11-15! It is far more reasonable to recognize that the absence of one or more elements in one passage does not mean they are nonexistent. Hence, the Church, Tradition, and Scripture together are equally necessary and important for teaching. And of course this is the Catholic view.

As you can see, advocates of the Protestant principle of Sola Scriptura (the “Bible only” theory) have a problem on their hands here.

If the doctrine of Sola Scriptura is true then we must be able to prove all doctrines from Scripture alone. If that is true, then we must be able to prove Sola Scriptura from Scripture alone. If we cannot do that then Sola Scriptura turns out to be self-refuting, an idea that cuts its own basis out from under itself, like the proposition “No generalizations are true.”



Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Freedom of Conscience

Two recent court cases illustrate the incoherence and remarkable intolerance of “liberal” views regarding conscience.

One involves the bottomless pockets of the atheist Michael Newdow, who most recently joined several plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the U.S. Treasury Department demanding the words “In God We Trust” be scrubbed from U.S. currency. Newdow advocates what Richard John Neuhaus called the “naked public square,” a public life stripped of all references to God or to the duties we owe to Him. The “Constitution” is invoked, that document granting jurists ultimate authority over the local customs of citizens a thousand miles away. The courts have been as wary of religion approaching the minds of impressionable children as an epidemiologist is wary of meningitis. A child in a public school must never have to endure even the vicinity of any common, publicly acknowledged prayer, lest it wound him in his feelings, and lest it undermine a parent’s conscientious objection to giving homage to the Guarantor of conscience.

That supersensitive concern must puzzle a young Christian couple in New Mexico, the Hugenins. They run a small photography business, and they were sued, not for doing anything, but for begging to decline from doing something. They cannot in good conscience take pictures for a celebration of sodomitical relations. They are not saying, like Melville’s Bartleby, that they should prefer not to. They are saying that they must not. They have no choice in the matter—unless they wish to betray all that they hold most dearly. And, with stunning insouciance and callousness, the New Mexico Supreme Court has ruled that such betrayal is the price you must pay to live in a civil society.

Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s like saying that one must cease to be fully human in order to attain to the human flourishing which civil society is for. That is a contradiction in terms. That the court does not see it as such suggests that it has not considered the nature of religious faith, the claims that the worship of God makes, and the centrality of conscience to the human person.

Think of the violence the state wishes to wreak upon that young couple. Their involvement in the celebration would not be incidental. Unlike people attending a graduation ceremony, they would not be merely present while others did something ordinary, something that even the atheist would not call indecent. If you’re going to take successful photos of the groom and groom, you have to enter into the spirit of the occasion. You have to ask them to kiss one another. You have to photograph their embraces. You have to be a participant.

Alter the terms of the situation. Suppose the Hugenins were asked to shoot photographs at a party thrown to celebrate a friend’s divorce. Would they be required by law to participate in that? Suppose it was a celebration of a porn magazine’s jubilee. Must they assist in that, if the editor comes a-calling? Why should they be compelled to stifle their consciences and be less than human, just to run a business? Aren’t business and politics meant to serve the flourishing of human persons, and not the other way around? Why should running a business expose you to what Jefferson called tyranny upon the mind of man?

Conscience-forcers will argue that the Hugenins are like a racist restaurateur who turns away a black customer. I wonder whether Americans have lost the capacity for rational thought, so feeble are their powers of analogy. First, the restaurateur is in the position of Bartleby, not in the position of Daniel, who refused to do homage to the statue of the emperor. He would prefer not to serve the black customer; but his objections are not moral. It is not his conscience speaking, but his self-will. He does not say that it is wrong for a person to eat. If he believed that, he’d not have gone into the business in the first place. He’d be six feet underground. He simply does not want to serve the man his dinner. But that won’t do, not for someone whose business is to serve the bodily needs we all share in common. It is wrong not to feed the hungry, and people do not digest food through the skin! But the Hugenins most certainly believe that two men or two women celebrating a mimic-marriage are engaging in behavior that is gravely wrong. It’s the behavior and not the persons that they cannot in conscience serve. If one of them were to ask them to photograph her brother’s graduation, there would be no problem.

Second, the restaurateur is not being asked to cooperate in a deed. What the man at the lunch counter does when he leaves the diner is not his business. A bad man may show up at your stationery shop to buy paper. What he does with that paper is not your business. But it’s another matter entirely if the chef or the stationer is asked to take action to support something he believes to be evil. Suppose a Kleagle from the Ku Klux Klan shows up at your bakery and wishes to order a cake with a flagrantly racist decoration—are you required to make that cake? Why? Keep the law out of it for the moment. Consider only the demands of conscience. What would we call the chef who gives in, who knows that what the Kleagle is ordering is wrong, and whose conscience tells him that to comply is evil? We call him a coward, that’s what.

The real question is not whether the Hugenins have a duty to obey their consciences, but why any lover not merely of freedom but of humanity would want to compel them to disobey. Here it’s not just that a Hugh Hefner claims a supposed right to produce pornography. He is claiming the right to make you look at it, to be a part of it, knowing full well that you believe it is evil. He wants you to be either a coward or a hypocrite. What is going on? What kinds of people want to leave the souls of their fellow human beings a twisted mess, by forcing them to violate their consciences? Who would want to make Quakers shoot to kill, not because they need the Quakers to do that, but just because they revile their pacifism and want to rub it out?

One way to blunt your own consciousness of wrongdoing is to bully as many people as possible into it, to compromise them, to wear down their defenses, to entice them if possible, to badger or threaten them if necessary. The homosexuals in question cannot tolerate dissent. If even one person is allowed to decline to manifest a tacit approval of sodomy, that is a punishable offense. You must be suborned or silenced. A child may not be made to endure the proximity of prayer, but he may be required, in some of our schools, to say “I am gay,” or to imagine it, regardless of his conscience or his parents’ moral directives; and if he doesn’t, he will be castigated for his intolerance.

What we see here is the imposition of a religion—the religion of the sexual revolution, as bizarre and incoherent and dehumanizing as it proves to be. The state has become the church, and hearkens to no commandments but those of its own devising.

God Bless

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

White Martyrdom

You are now living in a country which is rapidly becoming secularized. Now we have a White House that begins to make distinctions between freedom of religion and freedom of worship. Freedom of religion is a right. It’s guaranteed in the First Amendment. And yet, by euphemism and turn-of-phrase, the present administration talks about freedom of worship. The Red Chinese speak about freedom of worship; the old communists and the Soviet Union spoke about freedom of worship. There is a big difference between freedom of religion and freedom of worship.

Freedom of religion, guaranteed to us by the Constitution, tells us that we have a place in the public square, that we have a right and an obligation in conscience, not given to us by a state, but given to us by Almighty God. That is our fundamental right, a right to go out and to speak the truth to power.

But instead, we hear now about a freedom of religion now called freedom of worship. What does that mean? It means you go to your little church, or synagogue, or mosque on Sunday, or Saturday, or Friday night, and you make your prayers over there quietly and don’t bother anybody. And we’ll all get along just fine in this godless, secular world that we are creating; a world in which there is no truth except the truth that man manufactures. And without a truth that comes from Almighty God, all of our rights are in jeopardy.

Will you have the courage to exercise your First Amendment right, freedom of religion? Or are you going to be satisfied with freedom of worship?—I’ll say my prayers quietly; I won’t bother anybody; I won’t disturb the society in which I live.

Right now our Church is being threatened. You don’t often think of it that way; this couldn’t happen in America. And so you hear about an administration that is forcing an HHS Mandate on us, telling us that we must provide in our Catholic institutions abortifacients, sterilizations. For us, that is a moral aberration. It is something that we cannot do. And why is it being pushed on us? Because if we do not obey, then our Catholic colleges, and our hospitals, and our Catholic outreach institutions will be fined and eventually closed down. That will remove the presence of the truth of the Church, remove the mission that Christ gave us to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to give drink to the thirsty, to heal the sick. That will remove us from the public square.

This is no accident, my sons and daughters in Christ. This is well-planned. Don’t be fooled. Don’t be fooled.

You’ve heard, the Catholic Church has had one of the most successful adoption services in the country for years. And all of a sudden, in some states, and now in the District of Columbia, there’s a new human invention called same-sex “marriage.” And we are told that our adoption agencies have to supply babies for same-sex couples. This is abhorrent to Almighty God. And we cannot put children in jeopardy of losing their souls and their identity in homes that are now led by same-sex couples. And so our adoption agencies have had to close in those states because the states say that we are not practicing “equality.”

We have had one of the most successful operations to save women who are involved in sex trafficking, sex slavery. The federal government then tells us, “If you want to receive funding for your programs, you’re going to have to supply them [the women] with information for abortion, for birth control pills.” And when we refuse, they tell us, “We can’t help you anymore.” And once again, they try to remove us from the public square.

That’s the secularism that is now engulfing our country. That’s the secularism that you are going to be called to fight. Do you have the courage? Do you have the courage?

Let me tell you what will happen to you. As soon as you take a stand—if you take a stand, because some of you will not, some of you will—if you take a stand, you may not be hired by a firm; they find out that you’re pro-life. We’ve had someone in our class that has had that experience already. If you do become a part of a firm, if you are hired, you may never get promoted, you may never become a partner because you stood up for life or you spoke out against same-sex “marriage.” You may be fired from a position with a corporation because you’re telling them things that they don’t want to hear. You’re speaking about justice. And you’re speaking about the dignity of the human person before profit. And you just might not fit their profile. You may not get a raise. You may not have friends in the office. And some of you might decide you want to run for political office. Will you have the courage to say, “I’m pro-life.”? We have a congressman here now who’s had that courage and he’s been re-elected year after year. Do what’s right. Do what’s right.

But you will be tempted. You’ll be tempted to remain silent. You will be tempted to skirt around the issues. You will be tempted by fame. I want to be a famous lawyer. I want to be a judge. Power! I want to be a powerful person! I want money. But didn’t the devil tempt Jesus in exactly the same way? He’ll tempt you: “Change these stones into bread. Jump off the parapet! Kneel down and worship me!” You’ll be tempted. Like Jesus, though, you must have the courage to say, “Be gone, Satan! I will worship the Lord, my God, and Him alone!” That’s what we call “white martyrdom.”

But then there is “red martyrdom.” Red martyrdom means that you might be called to shed your blood for your faith. You say, “Oh Father, that couldn’t happen in America, could it? Now Oh Father Oh, is really going too far.” Let me tell you something:

Not even a hundred years ago, our closest neighbor to the south, Mexico, had a revolution. And godless secularists took over Mexico, a Catholic country. Churches were closed. Schools were closed. Priests, nuns couldn’t wear their habits in the street. Religion couldn’t be taught. But a movement began, the Cristeros movement, because you cannot suppress the truth; you cannot suppress the Word of God. One of the members of this movement was Father, now Blessed, Miguel Pro. (I gave you small cards with Blessed Miguel’s picture on those cards.) People were being rounded up because they didn’t obey the government. They taught religion. They worshiped. They prayed. And many of them were put before kangaroo courts —This is in Mexico, 1927! — and they were executed. Father Pro — he’s been one of my heroes for years — Father Pro knew that these people needed the ministrations of a priest before they died. And he came up with an ingenious plan. He got dressed up like a prison guard and snuck into prison numerous times. And he heard confessions and he gave the Eucharist before people met their fate at the firing squad. Eventually, Father Pro himself was captured, brought to prison, another kangaroo trial, and the next day, he was brought before a firing squad. Father Pro asked the guards a favor: could he pray before he died? Father Pro knelt down and prayed. Then he stretched out his arms, and he shouted the motto of the Cristeros movement, “Viva Cristo Rey! Viva Cristo Rey!” “Long live Christ the King!”

I gave you, attached to that card of Miguel Pro, a small crucifix. Put it in your pocket. And when the world challenges you, when the devil comes after you with all of his enticements, reach into your pocket, take out that crucifix, hold it in your hand, and recite those words, “Viva Cristo Rey! Viva Cristo Rey.” And remember what Jesus said your reward would be: The world will hate you; the world will persecute you; the world will speak every calumny against you; rejoice and be glad, for yours is the Kingdom of Heaven.

Good bye. Good luck. God love you all.

Rev. Michael Orsi is a chaplain and research fellow in law and religion at the Ave Maria School of Law in Naples, Florida.

God Bless

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, do you think the rich man was in Hell?  Well, I personally don’t think so and I’ll tell you why a little further down.

Until Jesus paid the ultimate price giving all of us access to heaven no one went to heaven but they didn’t necessarily deserve to go straight to hell either.  We can know this quite easily by looking at Peter’s declaration that after His death Jesus descended to preach to those in ‘prison’.  The word translated as ‘prison’ in the Revised Standard Version (RSV) is translated as… ‘He descended into hell’ in our Apostles Creed.

What would be the purpose of descending into Hell to preach the good news if the good news can’t benefit anyone (since there is no escaping hell)?  The translation of our Apostles Creed is actually a rather bad translation.  Most translations of the Bible describe Jesus’ descent as a descent to prison, not hell.  This makes more sense since we can understand now why Jesus would preach the Good News to those awaiting entrance into heaven.  They are given the choice to accept Him or to reject Him.

And so we see that before His perfect sacrifice all went to ‘prison’ to wait for the choice of accepting or rejecting Jesus and determine where there final destination would be.  That is, Heaven or Hell.

We can also know that there were many levels of comfort in the afterlife prior to the perfect sacrifice of Jesus.  In the story of Lazarus and the poor man (Luke 16:19-31) we see that the poor man was more faithful to God and had already suffered his share.  And so after his death he rested in Abraham’s bosom while the rich man, after he died, suffered torment.  The rich man suffered but still had love for his still living brothers because he tried to have Abraham warn them of the consequences of their lifestyles.   The fact that he had love for others as opposed to love for self tells us that this man wasn’t in Hell either because Hell is, by definition, a complete separation of self from God and since we know that God is Love means that the rich does indeed have God in his heart.  So, where is he then?  Well, we know with certainty that the rich man is certainly not in Hell since he has love of others but he certainly is not in heaven either since he is suffering torment (Luke 16:24) and there is no suffering in heaven.  Which means that the rich man, as well as Lazarus, are in a ‘holding pattern’ awaiting the Good News.  They’re waiting for the day when their savior, the Christ, comes to preach to them the Good News allowing them to choose or reject Him (1 Pet 3:19).

The same principal occurs after Jesus’ sacrifice, once the gates of heaven have been opened.  Paul describes to us on that Day, our day of judgment.  Paul says: “12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13 the work of each builder will become visible, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each has done. 14 If what has been built on the foundation survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15 If the work is burned up, the builder will suffer loss; the builder will be saved, but only as through fire.”

And so, after we die we are judged and our final destination is known but, even though we are saved, we can suffer loss and yet are saved as Paul describes.  But there is no suffering in heaven and no one is saved in hell.  Therefore, this burning, this suffering is occurring outside of heaven or hell.  This temporary suffering is the state of being that the Church calls Purgatory.

God Bless

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Atheists Can Reach Heaven?

Did Pope Francis say atheists don’t need to believe in God to be saved? (9 things to know)
by Jimmy Akin Sunday, September 15, 2013 9:14 PM Comments (97)

The press is full of accounts that, once again, claim that Pope Francis has said you don’t need to believe in God to go to heaven.

Even atheists can go there, according to these reports.  What’s the real story here? What’s going on? And why can’t the press get this kind of thing right?

Here are 9 things to know and share . . .

1) What is the basis of this story?

In July and August, the Italian newspaper La Repubblica ran a pair of open letters to the pope by Dr. Eugenio Scalfari, an atheist commentator.

In his open letters, Dr. Scalfari asked the pope a number of questions.  Much to everyone’s surprise, though thoroughly in keeping with his way of doing things, Pope Francis wrote a response, which the paper also published.

2) What did Pope Francis say in the letter?

Basically, he attempts to enter into a cordial and constructive dialogue, which is exactly what you’d expect.  He doesn’t go through Scalfari’s previous open letters point by point (presumably, that would make his own reply overly long), but he makes some general points and then attempts to answer some questions Scalfari posed.  One of these concerns the salvation of atheists.

3) How did the press and blogosphere react to what he said?

La Repubblica itself gave the story a quite accurate headline: “Pope Francisco writes to La Repubblica: ‘An open dialogue with non-believers.’”That’s a good summary of what the pope wrote.

In England, however, The Independent headlined it “Pope Francis assures atheists: You don’t have to believe in God to go to heaven.”  This was inaccurate, as we will see.

The matter got further twisted in the blogosphere, when Evangelical blogger Jay Younts did a piece on it headlined “The Pope declares Man can save himself.”  This piece was then quoted by Kirk Cameron, who gave it the same headline and helped it go viral.

4) What did Pope Francis actually say about atheists and salvation?

Here is the passage:

First of all, you ask if the God of the Christians forgives those who do not believe and do not seek faith.   Given that—and this is fundamental—God's mercy has no limits if he who asks for mercy does so in contrition and with a sincere heart, the issue for those who do not believe in God is in obeying their own conscience.

In fact, listening and obeying it, means deciding about what is perceived to be good or to be evil.   The goodness or the wickedness of our behavior depends on this decision.

In this passage, you’ll note that after introducing the topic of salvation, Pope Francis begins by saying God’s mercy has no limits “if he who asks for mercy does so in contrition and with a sincere heart.”  This statement appears to apply to believers—the ones you would expect to ask God for mercy with contrition, etc.

Pope Francis then pivots to discuss “the issue for those who do not believe in God.”  He says that for them “the issue” is following their conscience, which will result in good behavior.  This is what the press, etc., have been interpreting as him saying that they can be saved.

But he doesn’t actually say that.  Believers also need to follow their conscience, and doing so will result in them having right behavior. But if they don’t follow their consciences then they sin and need to ask for mercy with contrition and a sincere heart.


6) What has the Magisterium already said on the subject of atheists and salvation?

In Lumen Gentium 16, the Second Vatican Council addressed the subject of “those who, without blame on their part, have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God and with His grace strive to live a good life.”

This passage, like Pope Francis, stops short of saying that people in this condition can be saved. Instead, it says:  “Whatever good or truth is found amongst them is looked upon by the Church as a preparation for the Gospel.”  She knows that it is given by Him who enlightens all men so that they may finally have life.

This passage speaks of the elements of “good and truth” found among those who have “not yet” arrived at a knowledge of God as “a preparation for the Gospel” so that “they may finally have life.”

Thus when the text says that divine providence does not “deny the helps necessary for salvation” to these people, it may not mean that they can be saved without faith but that God is giving them the helps that they need to come to the point of faith and thus be saved.

The fact that the text is open to both of these interpretations was noted by Cardinal Aloys Grillmeier, who was one of the authors of Lumen Gentium, in his commentary on this part of the document (see Herbert Vorgrimler, ed., Commentary on the Documents of Vatican II, vol. 1, p. 184).


8) Why wouldn’t Pope Francis just settle the matter?

One reason might be that he doesn’t think adequate study has been given to the question yet, and so he didn’t want to go beyond what the Council said.  Then there is the fact that letters to newspapers aren’t the place for doctrinal development to take place.

Another possibility is that he didn’t want to appear to tell Dr. Scalfari and other atheists that they’re fine where they are, and so he spoke in a very measured way that would invite them to consider what they really need to do when they have sinned: ask for mercy “in contrition and with a sincere heart”—in other words, to come to faith.

His intent may have been to engage in a cordial, public dialogue that sidestepped the question of whether atheists can be saved without coming to explicit faith and that implicitly encouraged them to come to faith and ask for mercy.

This also may have been a reason that Vatican II phrased itself the way that it did.

9) So the media and Evangelical blogosphere reaction was wrong?

Contrary to claims otherwise, Pope Francis did not say that atheists can go to heaven without coming to faith, and he most certainly did not say that man can save himself by his own efforts.

Indeed, he speaks of the need for God’s mercy.

God Bless 
Prepared by Nathan, a St.Denis parishioner