Thursday, April 24, 2014

Holy Orders

The sacrament of holy orders is conferred in three ranks of clergy: bishops, priests, and deacons.

Bishops (episcopoi) have the care of multiple congregations and appoint, ordain, and discipline priests and deacons. They sometimes appear to be called "evangelists" in the New Testament. Examples of first-century bishops include Timothy and Titus (1 Tim. 5:19–22; 2 Tim. 4:5; Titus 1:5).

Priests (presbuteroi) are also known as "presbyters" or "elders." In fact, the English term "priest" is simply a contraction of the Greek word presbuteros. They have the responsibility of teaching, governing, and providing the sacraments in a given congregation (1 Tim. 5:17; Jas. 5:14–15).

Deacons (diakonoi) are the assistants of the bishops and are responsible for teaching and administering certain Church tasks, such as the distribution of food (Acts 6:1–6).

[In the first centuries] the term for bishop, episcopos ("overseer"), was fluid in meaning. Sometimes it designated the overseer of an individual congregation (the priest), sometimes the person who was the overseer of all the congregations in a city or area (the bishop or evangelist), and sometimes simply the highest-ranking clergyman in the local church—who could be an apostle, if one were staying there at the time.

Although the terms "bishop," "priest," and "deacon" were somewhat fluid in the apostolic age, by the beginning of the second century they had achieved the fixed form in which they are used today to designate the three offices whose functions are clearly distinct in the New Testament.

As the following quotations illustrate, the early Church Fathers recognized all three offices and regarded them as essential to the Church’s structure. Especially significant are the letters of Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, who traveled from his home city to Rome, where he was executed around A.D. 110. On the way he wrote letters to the churches he passed. Each of these churches possessed the same threefold ministry. Without this threefold ministry, Ignatius said, a group cannot be called a church.

Ignatius of Antioch

"Now, therefore, it has been my privilege to see you in the person of your God-inspired bishop, Damas; and in the persons of your worthy presbyters, Bassus and Apollonius; and my fellow-servant, the deacon, Zotion. What a delight is his company! For he is subject to the bishop as to the grace of God, and to the presbytery as to the law of Jesus Christ" (Letter to the Magnesians 2 [A.D. 110]).

"Take care to do all things in harmony with God, with the bishop presiding in the place of God, and with the presbyters in the place of the council of the apostles, and with the deacons, who are most dear to me, entrusted with the business of Jesus Christ, who was with the Father from the beginning and is at last made manifest" (ibid., 6:1).

"Take care, therefore, to be confirmed in the decrees of the Lord and of the apostles, in order that in everything you do, you may prosper in body and in soul, in faith and in love, in Son and in Father and in Spirit, in beginning and in end, together with your most reverend bishop; and with that fittingly woven spiritual crown, the presbytery; and with the deacons, men of God. Be subject to the bishop and to one another as Jesus Christ was subject to the Father, and the apostles were subject to Christ and to the Father; so that there may be unity in both body and spirit" (ibid., 13:1–2).

"Indeed, when you submit to the bishop as you would to Jesus Christ, it is clear to me that you are living not in the manner of men but as Jesus Christ, who died for us, that through faith in his death you might escape dying. It is necessary, therefore—and such is your practice that you do nothing without the bishop, and that you be subject also to the presbytery, as to the apostles of Jesus Christ our hope, in whom we shall be found, if we live in him. It is necessary also that the deacons, the dispensers of the mysteries [sacraments] of Jesus Christ, be in every way pleasing to all men. For they are not the deacons of food and drink, but servants of the Church of God. They must therefore guard against blame as against fire" (Letter to the Trallians 2:1–3 [A.D. 110]).

"In like manner let everyone respect the deacons as they would respect Jesus Christ, and just as they respect the bishop as a type of the Father, and the presbyters as the council of God and college of the apostles. Without these, it cannot be called a church. I am confident that you accept this, for I have received the exemplar of your love and have it with me in the person of your bishop. His very demeanor is a great lesson and his meekness is his strength. I believe that even the godless do respect him" (ibid., 3:1–2).

"He that is within the sanctuary is pure; but he that is outside the sanctuary is not pure. In other words, anyone who acts without the bishop and the presbytery and the deacons does not have a clear conscience" (ibid., 7:2).

"I cried out while I was in your midst, I spoke with a loud voice, the voice of God: ‘Give heed to the bishop and the presbytery and the deacons.’ Some suspect me of saying this because I had previous knowledge of the division certain persons had caused; but he for whom I am in chains is my witness that I had no knowledge of this from any man. It was the Spirit who kept preaching these words, ‘Do nothing without the bishop, keep your body as the temple of God, love unity, flee from divisions, be imitators of Jesus Christ, as he was imitator of the Father’" (Letter to the Philadelphians 7:1–2 [A.D. 110]).



God Bless

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Resurrection

Although the Shroud was dismissed by some as a fake because of the carbon-dating in 1988 of a single specimen (divided into three tiny parts) that was said to date from 1260 to 1390 A.D., Dr. Whanger says that test was not valid. He and his wife Mary (co-authors of the book The Shroud of Turin: An Adventure of Discovery, Franklin, Tenn.: Providence House Publishers, 1998) say that the problem was not with the dating per se. It was with the sample. It was from the very corner of the cloth, from a part rewoven in the Middle Ages. And so he concludes, "the carbon dating was totally invalid and has no scientific merit to it at all."

Furthermore, Dr. Whanger notes, "The Shroud is the most intensely studied single object in existence. There are probably 67 different fields of scientific and academic interests that have looked into the Shroud in one way in another. So, there's been a huge amount of research gone in on it. It is our conviction that the Shroud is, indeed, the burial cloth of Jesus of Nazareth. And we feel that we can date it to the spring of 30 A.D. in the Middle East, and that what we see on the Shroud with the various wounds that this is entirely consistent with the scriptural account of the crucifixion of Jesus. And traditionally, this has been known as the image of Jesus." In other words, observes Dr. Whanger, what we think Jesus looked like is based on the Shroud of Turin and not vice versa.

We know where the Shroud has been since 1357, when it showed up in Lirey, France in the home of a French crusader. Knowing it dates from 1357 or earlier, consider all these details:

•The human anatomy represented on the Shroud is 100% correct. Knowledge about anatomy on the Shroud includes details that weren't known until the 20th century. In contrast, 14th century knowledge of anatomy was quite limited. If the cloth were the work of a medieval forger, he knew things that weren't to be known until centuries later.

•The Shroud was photographed for the first time in 1898, and it was discovered to be a photographic negative---hundreds of years before photography was invented.
•The faint image on the Shroud was not painted on. It was lightly burned on. It's as if at the moment of the resurrection, Christ's body let off a burst of radiation, as His body changed from mortal to immortal. The image on the Shroud is created by some sort of scorching process. Yet it is only lightly scorched. The image is only 5/1000's of an inch thick. Although there are a few traces of pigment on the Shroud (because as a holy relic, they put paintings in contact with it, presumably to receive a blessing or the like), the image is not comprised of pigment or paint.
•The blood on the Shroud is real human blood---with all the wounds corresponding with the passion of Jesus in the Gospels. The blood did not see decay (He was sandwiched inside that cloth for less than 72 hours). Yet the blood was undisturbed, which means He somehow went through the cloth; it was not yanked off Him.
•What we think Jesus looked like is based on the Shroud of Turin. People have a universal picture of how they think Jesus looked. That image is based on the Shroud.
•While leading evangelicals are often silent about the Shroud, and I respect that, I still think people should look into it for themselves because the evidence is there, on yet another front, declaring the Easter message: Jesus is risen.
•In the Middle Ages (and even sometimes today) artistic representations of the crucifixion place the nails in the palms. Yet the Shroud of Turin places the nails in the wrists. It has now been medically proven that nails in the palms would not suffice to hold a crucified man. (The Greek word for "hand" can also mean wrist.)
•The image of the Shroud is three-dimensional. When ordinary photos or paintings are studied through a specific NASA, space-age machine (a "VP 8 Image Analyzer"), the image always becomes distorted. However, the Shroud has been proven to have three-dimensional properties. It could not have been a painting.
•The theories of skeptics put forward to explain away the Shroud pay indirect homage to its awesome properties. For example, one recent book proposed that no less a genius than Leonardo de Vinci produced the Shroud-and that he had to secretly crucify a man in the process. However, Leonardo lived a hundred years after the Shroud appeared. So there goes another theory. Everyone that studies the Shroud of Turin agrees that this is a mystery not easily explained away.

If it's a hoax, this is no ordinary hoax. The greater evidence argues for its authenticity. As some scientists put it, the Shroud is, if you will, a "snapshot of the resurrection." At the very moment Christ rose from the dead, something happened-a burst of radiation perhaps-that left a permanent mark on the front and back of the burial cloth that sandwiched the Man who wouldn't stay buried for long. In short, the best theory is that the Shroud of Turin provides scientific evidence for the resurrection of Christ.

He is risen. He is risen indeed!

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Friday, April 11, 2014

Annointing of the Sick

James 5:14-15: "Is any man sick among you? Let him bring in the priests of the church and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith shall save the sick man. And the Lord shall raise him up: and if he be in sins, they shall be forgiven him."
The Sacrament "Extreme Unction," also called "Last Rites" or "Annointing of the Sick," is the annointing given to those who are gravely bodily ill, especially those in danger of death from bodily illness or from violence already done to the body (i.e., a soldier about to go into battle is not a candidate for the Sacrament; one who has been shot and lies gravely wounded or, especially, dying, is).

The conditions for receiving Unction are that one must:
  • have reached the age of reason (usually considered to be around the age of 7)
  • be in a state of grace (Penance is part of the Rite)
  • be sorrowful for past sins, trust in God and resign himself to His will, whether His positive will is to heal the sick person or His passive will is the person's death
The effects of the Sacrament are the strengthening and comfort of the soul of the annointed one, the remission of sins and some of their temporal punishments, and the possible restoration of bodily health.

The Rite in which the Sacrament is offered includes the Sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist (in that order), followed by the Sacrament of Unction itself. It may be received conditionally up to three or four hours after apparent death (we can't presume to know the moment the soul leaves the body and can only know with moral certainty that death has occured after corruption has begun). If the sick one is unconscious, conditional absolution and Unction are offered, without the Eucharist (known at this time as "Viaticum," meaning "Food for the Journey").

The matter of the Sacrament is the Oil of the Sick ("Oleum Infirmorum"), which is olive oil blessed by the Bishop on Maundy Thursday (the Thursday of Holy Week -- the week before Easter).

The form of the Sacrament are the words:
Through this Holy Unction or oil, and through the great goodness of His mercy, may God pardon thee whatever sins thou hast committed by evil use of sight (sight, hearing, smell, taste and speech, touch, ability to walk).

If death is so imminent that there is no time for the full Rite, the Sacrament may be given with a single annointing on the forehead and the words:
Through this holy unction may the Lord pardon thee whatever sins or faults thou hast committed.
The preparations for Extreme Unction are almost precisely like those for receiving a sick call from a priest, but a few extra items are nice to add: bread, cotton, and lemon or salt.
First, prepare the house: Set up a table near the bed in a place where the sick person can see it easily, such as at the foot of the bed or at the side halfway down the length of the bed. Cover it with a white cloth, and on it place the Crucifix and two lit blessed candles, one on each side of the Crucifix. Near them, place a dish of regular water, a bottle of holy water, a clean linen cloth for the priest's fingers, and a piece of palm the priest can use to spinkle the holy water (if you don't have palm, you can use another type of plant, such as box). The following aren't strictly necessary, but the priest may find them useful: cotton or slices of bread, some lemon slices, a dish of salt, and a small bell (to summon family after the sick one's Confession, if necessary). Lay a linen cloth across the breast of the sick person. If you don't have any of the items at all, everything will be okay; these are just the normal way of doing things and are not totally imperative!

Greet the priest at the door: Women should cover their heads; men should uncover theirs. Meet the priest in silence at the door, bearing a lighted blessed candle (preferably the Baptismal candle of the sick one), and genuflect. Lead him to the sick person's room and remain there with him until Confession is heard. When you leave the room while Confession is being heard, close the door; you may re-enter when the priest opens it again. At all times, the priest will be quiet and somber; don't expect him to socialize before or afterward, as he carries with him the Body of Christ.

God Bless

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


Marriage one man and one woman for nurturing children: Pope Francis’ first encyclical by Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

ROME, July 5, 2013 ( – In his first encyclical letter, released this morning, Pope Francis has reiterated that marriage is a union of one man and one woman for the procreation and nurturing of children.

This lifelong pledge is possible only in the light of a greater plan for marriage, he said: “Promising love for ever is possible when we perceive a plan bigger than our own ideas and undertakings, a plan which sustains us and enables us to surrender our future entirely to the one we love.”

Titled Lumen Fidei (The Light of Faith), the encyclical is known to have been authored mainly by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who was still working on it at the time of his abdication and it strongly reflects the theological style of Francis’ predecessor. In his introduction, Pope Francis wrote that he merely “added a few contributions of my own.”

Section 52, on Faith and the Family, calls the family the “first setting in which faith enlightens the human city.”

“I think first and foremost of the stable union of man and woman in marriage," he said. "This union is born of their love, as a sign and presence of God’s own love, and of the acknowledgment and acceptance of the goodness of sexual differentiation, whereby spouses can become one flesh (cf. Gen 2:24) and are enabled to give birth to a new life, a manifestation of the Creator’s goodness, wisdom and loving plan.

“Grounded in this love, a man and a woman can promise each other mutual love in a gesture which engages their entire lives and mirrors many features of faith. Faith also helps us to grasp in all its depth and richness the begetting of children, as a sign of the love of the Creator who entrusts us with the mystery of a new person.”

Anthony Ozimic, communications manager for the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children told today, “The Pope is linking being pro-life with having a correct understanding of the true nature of marriage. His words will be of great assistance to pro-life organisations who are fighting homosexual ‘marriage’. We know that the homosexual attack on marriage is an attack on the family, which is the best protector of children, both born and unborn.”

Ozimic said that although the section of the encyclical on the subject was short, only a few paragraphs, it is a “significant” aid in the struggle against the global efforts by the homosexualist lobby to dismantle legal definitions of marriage.

“The message from Pope Francis in his first encyclical is that the life-bearing potential of heterosexuality is the prerequisite of marriage,” Ozimic said.

The letter has made clear that “the type of love required for marriage” is not that promoted by the modern media or the sexual revolution, “of sexual desire and personal satisfaction, but a complementarity between the sexes leading to total mutual self-giving and thus openness to the responsibility of parenthood”.

Paragraph 53 says, “In the family, faith accompanies every age of life, beginning with childhood: children learn to trust in the love of their parents.

“This is why it is so important that within their families parents encourage shared expressions of faith which can help children gradually to mature in their own faith.”

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