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