Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Epiphany of Our Lord

The Epiphany of Our Lord is the Christian feast observed on Jan. 6.   An “epiphany” is an appearance. In today’s readings, with their rising stars, splendorous lights and mysteries revealed, the face of the child born on Christmas day appears.

In honor of this day, I thought I’d bring you a little exchange of the pro-life position to a pro-choice individual using what science has made known to us on when human life actually makes its appearance in this world, ie when life begins…

Pro-lifer: What do you think about abortion?

Pro-choicer: I don’t know. I mean, if a woman already has three kids and can barely feed them, I don’t see why she has to be forced to bring another child into the world.

PL: I agree it would be really tough to not know how you are going to provide for your children. I don’t know how I’d handle that situation. But can I ask you a question?

PC: Sure.

PL: Let’s say this woman knows she can take care of three children and she actually wants a newborn. Should she be allowed to kill one of her other children, such as her two-year-old, so that she can make ends meet?

PC: No! I mean, she could always adopt that one out.

PL: Yeah, but what if she doesn’t want to worry about what will happen to that child after she adopts him out? Maybe she’s worried about him being abused by a stranger. Why would you say she shouldn’t be allowed to kill her two-year-old?

PC: Because the two-year-old is a living, born human being. It’s completely different! Are you saying that a woman should be forced to drop out of school or lose her job just because she’s pregnant?

PL: I don’t think women should be fired just because they are pregnant—that’s definitely unfair. But let’s say a woman gives birth and finds that she can’t finish school or keep her job because her baby demands too much of her. In fact, most moms I know find born babies to be harder to handle than unborn babies. Should women be allowed to kill their newborns if that will help their education or career?

PC: Of course not, but you’re confusing the issue.

PL: How am I doing that?

PC: You’re talking about killing babies, and I’m just talking about women’s choice.

PL: A choice to do what exactly?

PC: To not be a mother if they don’t want to be one.

PL: I agree with you that no woman should be forced to become a mother.

PC: You do?

PL: Of course. We also agree that it’s okay to force a woman to stay a mother by forbidding her from killing her born children. She can put them up for adoption and give up being their legal mother, but she’ll always be a biological mother as long as the children are alive.

PC: But that’s because you can’t kill people.

PL: Ah! So that’s the issue. It’s not really about poverty or choice, since you and I agree those reasons wouldn’t justify killing born people like two-year-olds. But if the unborn are just as human as a two-year-old, then why not treat them like we treat two-year-olds and make it illegal to kill them just because they are unwanted?

(exchange found in Trent Horn’s book “Persuasive Pro-Life” in the chapter named “The Pragmatists”)


God Bless

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Holy Family

December 28, 2014 - Feast of the Holy Family

Our True Home

Sirach 3:2-6,12-14
Psalm 128:1-5
Colossians 3:12-21
Luke 2:41-52


Why did Jesus choose to become a baby born of a mother and father and to spend all but His last years living in an ordinary human family? In part, to reveal God’s plan to make all people live as one “holy family” in His Church (see 2 Corinthians 6:16-18).

In the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, God reveals our true home. We’re to live as His children, “chosen ones, holy and beloved,” as the First Reading puts it.

The family advice we hear in today’s readings - for mothers, fathers and children - is all solid and practical. Happy homes are the fruit of our faithfulness to the Lord, we sing in today’s Psalm. But the Liturgy is inviting us to see more, to see how, through our family obligations and relationships, our families become heralds of the family of God that He wants to create on earth.

Jesus shows us this in today’s Gospel. His obedience to His earthly parents flows directly from His obedience to the will of His heavenly Father. Joseph and Mary aren’t identified by name, but three times are called “his parents” and are referred to separately as his “mother” and “father.” The emphasis is all on their “familial” ties to Jesus. But these ties are emphasized only so that Jesus, in the first words He speaks in Luke’s Gospel, can point us beyond that earthly relationship to the Fatherhood of God.

In what Jesus calls “My Father’s house,” every family finds its true meaning and purpose (see Ephesians 3:15). The Temple we read about in the Gospel today is God’s house, His dwelling (see Luke 19:46). But it’s also an image of the family of God, the Church (see Ephesians 2:19-22; Hebrews 3:3-6; 10:21).

In our families we’re to build up this household, this family, this living temple of God. Until He reveals His new dwelling among us, and says of every person: “I shall be his God and he will be My son” (see Revelation 21:3,7).

Yours in Christ,
Scott Hahn, Ph.D.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Do I Have to Go?

"Mass is boring." "I don't get anything out of Mass — why should I go?" “Why can't I just pray alone?”

These are common feelings, especially among young people but among many adults as well. The great Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, when conducting a retreat for teenagers, once gave a talk on the meaning of the Mass. He said, "If you don't get anything out of Mass, it's because you don't bring the right expectations to it." The Mass is not entertainment, he said. It is worship of the God who made us and saves us. It is an opportunity to praise God and thank Him for all that He has done for us.

If we have a correct understanding of Mass, Bishop Sheen said, it will become more meaningful for us. We will want to go to Mass. We will understand why the Mass is God's precious gift to us, and we wouldn't think of refusing that gift.

The Eucharist is the lynchpin of this argument.  At the institution of the Mass Jesus said to “do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19).  Will you deny Him when He commands you to go and receive Him in the Eucharist.  Will you freely and willingly abstain from eating His Flesh and drinking His Blood as He commanded?

The Church is instituted by Christ (“and on this rock I will build my church” Matt 16:18).  And Christ gave this Church the authority to bind and loose on matters of faith and morals those who would follow Him in the faith (“whatever you [ie, the Apostles] bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven  Matt 18:18).  He told the apostles that those who won’t even listen to the Church that they are to be considered as pagans and tax-collectors (“If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax-collector.Matt 18:16-17), ie outside of the Church.  Therefore, it is a mortal sin to knowingly and freely ignore what the Church has bound.  And the Church has determined to be binding that of receiving Him as He commanded us, on a weekly basis.  At a minimum, to receive on the day of the week that He Rose from the dead, Sunday (or the Vigil Mass the night before).  To knowingly and freely reject or ignore this binding decree is to reject the authority of His Church, a grave sin.

We ought to go to Mass on a weekly basis not simply to avoid removing ourselves from the Body of Christ but for the much better reason to show our gratitude for what He has done for us.  Indeed, the word ‘Eucharist’ comes to us from the Greek. The earliest Christians called it ‘Eucharistia’ which means ‘Thanksgiving’.

The Mass is, in part, a meal.  At the consecration, the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ.  Not just a symbol, but Jesus’ real flesh and real blood, under the appearance of bread and wine.  When we receive Holy Communion, we receive Jesus Himself.  He is real food for our soul.  He told us as much when He said: “I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.  Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.  My flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.  Whoever eats my and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.” (John 6:55-56)

To refuse reception of this greatest gift of Himself is to refuse Him.  Please, please, do not abstain from the greatest gift we can ever receive: The gift of God Himself in the flesh. 


God Bless

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Do Denominations Matter?

Question:  Does the denomination really matter?
Person asks:
I have always believed that “a Christian is a Christian.” If we love Jesus and believe that He died for our sins, we will be saved. Promoting a specific “brand” of Christianity only promotes division. I am a Methodist, but I love Catholics, Lutherans, Baptists, and Pentecostals all the same. We need to learn to live together. What we have in common is more important than our differences.

My reply:
The compromise you’re suggesting doesn’t work in matters of salvation.  Let me explain.  As a Christian, you believe in the Ten Commandments, right?  In the First Commandment, God warns us not to worship false gods.  If we do, we commit the mortal sin of idolatry and condemn ourselves to hell.  Sound about right?

Now, if a pagan comes to your door and shared with you his religion and worship of the Great Tree, you would have a moral duty to explain to him that what he is doing is wrong and to reject this religion, repent of his sins and come to Jesus Christ who is the only way of salvation.  Make sense so far?

Now, here’s your problem.  Catholics worship what appears to be mere bread, which the Church calls the Eucharist.  We worship the Eucharist because we believe that, in the sacrifice of the Mass, the bread becomes the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ and is thus worthy of worship.  Our belief is based on Scripture, history and the entire Christian tradition.

If the Eucharist is not Jesus Christ, but a mere piece of ordinary bread, then Catholics are committing idolatry.  If we are committing idolatry, you have the same moral obligation to us as you had to the pagan.  You are obligated to tell us that we are committing idolatry and must reject our false religion, lest we go to hell.  If Catholics worship bread, then Catholicism must be renounced by all Christians.  In fact, the Catholic religion lives or dies with the Eucharist, for the Eucharist is the source and summit of the Catholic faith.  If the Catholic faith is false, then you must not sit idly by and let us Catholics commit idolatry and die in our sins.

If, however, the Eucharist is truly the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, then the Catholic Church is the one and only true religion.  Jesus said, “I am the way the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except by me.”  As Catholics we are obliged to bring the fullness of the truth to all since we wish all to have the fullness of Christ.  And what could be better than to receive the WHOLE Christ as He intended;  Body, blood, soul and divinity, into your very self both spiritually AND physically?

To recap, if we Catholics are wrong then it is the Christians duty to bring it to our attention so that we would reject this great sin of idolatry of a false god.  But if we are right, then of course we are obliged to bring this truth to all who are unawares.

Inspired by John Slaza’s response on his website:
God Bless

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Biblical Way We Worship

The Biblical Way We Worship

The Mass begins where the Bible leaves off. In God's plan of salvation, the Bible and the Mass were made for each other.
That's probably news to you. In fact, if you're like a lot of people, including many Catholics, you probably haven't given much thought to the relationship between the Bible and the Mass.
In fact, if somebody asked, "What does the Bible have to do with the Mass?" many of us would probably answer, "Not much."

That seems like an obvious answer.

After all, we hear readings from the Old and New Testaments in every Mass and sing a Psalm in between. But aside from that - and maybe the homily which is based on the readings - it doesn't seem like the Bible plays a big part in the Mass.

When you're done with this course, you'll have a much different perspective - and hopefully a far greater love and appreciation for the deep mystery of faith we enter into in each Mass.

Let's jump right in and look at the Mass through a new, "biblical" lens.

Every Mass begins the same way. We make the Sign of the Cross and say, "In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."

We'll get to why we do that later.

For now, just note that the Sign of the Cross started with the Apostles, who "sealed" the newly baptized by tracing this sign on their foreheads (see Ephesians 1:13; Revelation 7:3).

The words we pray as we make this sign come straight from the lips of Jesus. Indeed, they're among the last words He spoke to His Apostles (see Matthew 28:19).

Next in the Mass, the priest greets us. Again he speaks, and we respond, with words from the Bible. We say: "The Lord be with you" (see 2 Timothy 4:22).

In Scripture these words are a pledge of divine presence, protection and help (see Exodus 3:12; Luke 1:28). The priest might opt to use a different greeting, such as "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ . . ." but that greeting too will be drawn from Scripture (see 2 Corinthians 13:13; Ephesians 1:2).

The Mass continues this way - as a "dialogue" between the faithful and God, mediated by the priest. What's striking - and it's something we rarely recognize - is that we carry on this conversation almost entirely in the language of the Bible.

When we beg "Lord, have mercy" - our cry for help and forgiveness is one that runs throughout Scripture (see Psalm 51:1; Baruch 3:2; Luke 18:13,38,39).

When we glorify God, we use the song the angels sang that first Christmas night (see Luke 2:14).

Even the Creed and the Eucharistic prayers are composed of biblical words and phrases.

As we prepare to kneel before the altar, we sing another angelic hymn from the Bible - "Holy, holy, holy . . . " (see Isaiah 6:3; Revelation 4:8). We join that to the triumphant Psalm sung by those who welcomed Jesus to Jerusalem: "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes . . . " (see Mark 11:9-10)

At the heart of the Mass, we hear Jesus' words from the Last Supper (see Mark 14:22-24).

Then we pray to our Father in the words our Savior gave us (see Matthew 6:9-13). We acknowledge Him with a line from John the Baptist: "Behold, the Lamb of God . . ." (see John 1:29,36).

And before receiving Him in communion, we confess our unworthiness - in words once used by a Roman soldier seeking Jesus' help (see Luke 7:7).

What we say and hear in the Mass comes to us from the Bible. And what we "do" in the Mass, we do because it was done in the Bible.

We kneel (see Psalm 95:6; Acts 21:5) and sing hymns (see 2 Maccabees 10:7,38; Acts 16:25); we offer each other a sign of peace (see 1 Samuel 25:6; 1 Thessalonians 5:26).

We gather around an altar (see Genesis 12:7; Exodus 24:4; 2 Samuel 24:25; Revelation 16:7), with incense (see Jeremiah 41:5; Revelation 8:4), served by priests (see Exodus 28:3-4; Revelation 20:6). We offer thanks with bread and wine (see Genesis 14:18; Matthew 26:26-28).
From the first Sign of the Cross to the last "Amen" (see Nehemiah 8:6; 2 Corinthians 1:20), the Mass is an aural and sensual tapestry woven with words and actions, even accessories drawn from the Bible.

We address God in words that He himself has given us through the inspired writers of sacred Scripture. And He in turn comes to us - instructing, exhorting and sanctifying us - again through the living Word of the inspired Scriptures.

Taken from Dr Scott Hahn’s Bible study “A Biblical Introduction to the Mass”  found at:

God Bless