Sunday, December 20, 2015

Question for Catholics - part 5 The Eucharist and John 6

For this section, Mr. Prasch asks about John 6 and the Eucharist and challenges that he has yet to have a priest be able to answer him and "perhaps you can?"  I hope Mr. Prasch did not mean that rhetorically and is actually looking for responses and will acknowledge them. 


But I have yet another question.

In the Gospel of St. John 6 I've heard it quoted, quoted, quoted, and re-quoted as applying to the Eucharist. We read the following, I’m beginning in verse 47…

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life.

Notice St. John, quoting Jesus, says that Jesus said if you believe in Jesus you have eternal life. “He who believes in the Son has eternal life, he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God rests upon him.” – the Gospel of St. John 3:36 in the Roman Catholic Bible. Jesus said, “If a man believes in Me though he die yet shall He live for he’s passed from death to life” – the Gospel of St. John 5:24 according to the Roman Catholic Bible. Belief is the key to eternal life.

A point I like to bring out in response to this argument, Prasch has brought up himself, but glosses over it.  "He who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God rests upon him."  So, if the Son commands you, not once, not twice, not even five or six times, but NINE TIMES in a single context to eat His body and/or drink His blood - you should obey Him, if you want eternal life in you!  Do not try to rationalize your way out of this nine-fold command, just obey it!  What kind of belief do you have if you refuse to obey Him?  Let us continue with Prasch's question(s) and arguments.

Let us continue...

So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me. This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever.”

Unless you eat His flesh and drink His blood you cannot live.  I'm told this is the Eucharist and it is the key to eternal life. That's what I was taught in Catholic school. The context, however, going all the way back to verse 32 is the Exodus. No fewer than three places Jesus says in the same passage that the key – the key – to eternal life is belief.

Again, it is "no fewer than three places," it is actually nine places in this small section.  In John 6, nine times Jesus commands we partake of His body and/or blood stating His flesh is real food and His blood is real drink - not symbolism or parable.


The Hebrew prophet Jeremiah said the following in 15:16…

Your words were found and I ate them…

The Word becomes flesh. You “eat” the Word by believing it. “He who believes has eternal life”. Jesus says in John 6, the flesh profits nothing. How could it possibly be the key to eternal life? You have three problems; that's what I discovered as a Catholic.

Prophetic vision statements of eating "words" are not the same thing as obeying Jesus' nine-fold command to eat/drink His flesh/blood.  So, how could this possibly be the key to eternal life?  Because Jesus said it is!  Jesus did not just issue the commands and then leave everyone to figure it out for themselves.  No, to those who had faith in Him, did not turn and walk away from Him, He provides the means of fulfilling this command in instituting the Eucharist.

Back in John 6, the Jews accepted Jesus' words as literal - and they walked away because they could not believe His words.  Jesus did not chase after them and say, "Hold on guys!  That was symbolic language, I was speaking in parables."  No, He did not, and when He spoke in parables, He explained the meaning of the parables to His Apostles - did He explain away the literal meaning here?  No!  He doubled down and said, "Will you also leave?"  No fluffy rationalizations, He meant what He said and the Jews and many of His own disciples "turned and walked with Him no more" (John 6:66-67).  

  The key IS belief, and part of believing would include obeying our Lord and Savior.  He commanded it, so don't try to use rationalizations to get out of accepting Him, Jesus Christ, at His word.  It's time to come home, Jacob.

God Bless

Monday, December 14, 2015

Questions for Catholics -part 4 The Rock

For this section we will be dealing with Prasch's questions on the "Rock."

The second question I would like to ask is this one: I was always told in Catholic schools and by my mother that Peter was “the rock”. “Upon this rock I will build my church” from Matthew 16. (Mt. 16:18)  I was told that in English and, when I was a little boy, I was taught to read Latin. The Bible was the Vulgate, the only one read ritually; it was not studied.  I’m a Christian, but I’m just asking the question, “Is Peter the rock?”


At Banyas – Caesarea Philippi, there’s a cascade with millions and millions of flat chips of stone washed out of the cascade. The Greek word “petros” – “Peter”, “little Peters”. There is a big boulder on which the temple of the Greek god Pan that had been there at one time had been built and the temple to Caesar Augustus, the deified emperor, had been built that Jesus was referring to where the house would be built. That is called a “petra”. “You are one of these little chips of stone; upon this boulder I will build my church of Me.”

Mr. Prasch makes the mistake, as many Protestant apologists make, of not recognizing that the Greek language has gender specific terms.  When speaking of a man's name, in this case "Peter" - or in the Greek, "Petros," the word is masculine.  However, when speaking of an inanimate object, such as a "rock," the word would indeed be "petra" (or "petras"). 


The Roman Catholic Church claims that its doctrines are not only “apostolic”, but “patristic” – they come from the church fathers. I do not believe in the doctrinal authority of the church fathers. I do not believe the “apostolic” necessarily equals the “patristic”. However, even if I did, of the church fathers the Roman Catholic church looks to as a way to define what the apostles believed, most of the church fathers said that “the rock” was Christ, not Peter. A minority of them said “the rock” was the faith of Peter. Most say “the rock” was Christ, a few said “the rock” was Peter’s faith. None – not even one of their own church fathers – not only one of your church fathers has ever said that “the rock” was Peter,

Really?  First of all, "apostolic" and "patristic" are not equivalent terms and the Church does not teach that they are - red herring. 

Secondly, Prasch claims that "not even one of (our) own church fathers" teach that Peter is the rock. 

St. Cyprian of Carthage
 "The Lord says to Peter: ‘I say to you,’ he says, ‘that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not overcome it. . . . ’ [Matt. 16:18]. On him [Peter] he builds the Church, and to him he gives the command to feed the sheep [John 21:17], and although he assigns a like power to all the apostles, yet he founded a single chair [cathedra], and he established by his own authority a source and an intrinsic reason for that unity. . . . If someone [today] does not hold fast to this unity of Peter, can he imagine that he still holds the faith? If he [should] desert the chair of Peter upon whom the Church was built, can he still be confident that he is in the Church?" (The Unity of the Catholic Church 4; first edition [A.D. 251]).

"You cannot deny that you are aware that in the city of Rome the episcopal chair was given first to Peter; the chair in which Peter sat, the same who was head—that is why he is also called Cephas [‘Rock’]—of all the apostles; the one chair in which unity is maintained by all" (The Schism of the Donatists 2:2 [A.D. 367]). 

Pope Damasus I
 "Likewise it is decreed: . . . [W]e have considered that it ought to be announced that . . . the holy Roman Church has been placed at the forefront not by the conciliar decisions of other churches, but has received the primacy by the evangelic voice of our Lord and Savior, who says: ‘You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it; and I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you shall have bound on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you shall have loosed on earth shall be loosed in heaven’ [Matt. 16:18–19]. The first see [today], therefore, is that of Peter the apostle, that of the Roman Church, which has neither stain nor blemish nor anything like it" (Decree of Damasus 3 [A.D. 382]). 

St. Jerome
"I follow no leader but Christ and join in communion with none but your blessedness [Pope Damasus I], that is, with the chair of Peter. I know that this is the rock on which the Church has been built. Whoever eats the Lamb outside this house is profane. Anyone who is not in the ark of Noah will perish when the flood prevails" (Letters, 15:2).

 "The church here is split into three parts, each eager to seize me for its own. . . . Meanwhile I keep crying, ‘He that is joined to the chair of Peter is accepted by me!’ . . . Therefore, I implore your blessedness [Pope Damasus I] . . . tell me by letter with whom it is that I should communicate in Syria" (ibid., 16:2).

So, while Prasch has asserted that not even ONE Church Father supports Peter as being "the rock" I have presented FOUR and there are more.  Prasch should be a little more careful in making absolute statements such as "not one..." for it makes it extremely easy for anyone to find even ONE to make his statement absolutely false.

God Bless

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Questions for Catholics - Part 3 Purgatory

In this section Prasch challenges the concept of Purgatory and erroneously attributes the Deuterocanonicals (which he, like many other non-Catholics, calls "Apocrypha") to the "Middle Ages," but we'll get to that in a moment.  Let us begin this response where he begins:

Let us begin, please, with my first question. In the first epistle of St. John 1 :7 we read that the blood of Christ cleanses from all sin. The blood of Christ “cleanses” – Greek “katharizo” – takes away all our sins. All sin. We are told in the New Testament we are saved by grace through faith. (Rom. 5:2; Eph. 2:8)The Greek word for “repentance” is “metanoeo” which came in the Middle Ages to be understood as “to do penance”, but the Greek word means “to repent”. The blood of Christ cleanses from all sin when we repent and accept Him. That is what the New Testament teaches. My first question to my Catholic friends is this: If the blood of Christ cleanses from all sin, can you explain why the Roman Catholic catechism imparted by the Roman Church – nihilo obstat from the Vatican – why it says you can atonement in purgatory for you own? Indeed, you must. And why the temporal consequence of sin can in part be negated by indulgences?

First off, we're in "Part Three" now and have already answered several questions, yet Prasch is stating this is his first question?  He sure has an interesting way of counting!  Triviality aside, the Greek word for "repentance" (metanoeo) he has correct, but repentance is not merely lip-service.  To "do penance" is to demonstrate you are/were sincere in your confession.  From the earliest days of the Church we have examples of even public penance for certain sins.  Pope St. Clement wrote to the Corinthians during the First Century:

" a system of penance that was already in operation and needed only to be applied to particular cases, like that of the Corinthians to whom Clement of Rome wrote his First Epistle about A. D. 96, exhorting them: “Be subject in obedience to the priests (presbyteris) and receive discipline [correctionem) unto penance, bending the knees of your hearts” (Ep. I “Ad Cor.”, lvii). [qtd. here].

So we see that the practice was already in place of receiving discipline from the priests, which is what we call "penance."

With that said, let us answer Prasch's "first question:"  "If the blood of Christ cleanses from all sin, can you explain why the Roman Catholic catechism imparted by the Roman Church - nihilo obstat from the Vatican - why it says you can atonement (sic) in purgatory for your own?"  My first objection to this question is that while Prasch cites a source, it is only a vague reference.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church is broken into paragraphs which are numbered.  If you're going to say the CCC says something, please cite the actual paragraph, not the whole volume.  Second, the nihil obstat is not a statement of infallibility, it simply states that the reviewer (which is not "the Vatican" in any case, but might be someone AT the Vatican).  Finally, to the meat of the question, I submit the CCC nowhere says we can atone for our own sins.  Prasch exhibits an ignorance of Catholic teaching on this matter.  Purgatory is not a place of atonement - for every single soul in Purgatory has already had each and every sin atoned for through the blood of Christ.  Purgatory is a place of final purification before entering Heaven, for nothing impure can enter into Heaven (Rev. 21:27).  For example, Johnny broke Mr. Jones' window; Johnny asked for Mr. Jones to forgive him for the offense - which Mr. Jones did, but Mr. Jones still expects Johnny to do whatever is necessary to replace that broken window.  While Johnny is forgiven, all is not good until that window is replaced.  Likewise, if we commit a mortal sin which is a "sin unto death" (1 John 5:17) and confess that sin, the priest may give a discipline, a penance (like we saw earlier reference to in the First Century) and while God may forgive that sin - the stain of that sin is not remitted until the penance is done.

Then his "second question:"  And why the temporal consequence of sin can in part be negated by indulgences?  Well, at least Prasch is seeing the difference between the sin itself and the temporal consequence of the sin (in our previous example, Johnny breaking the window was the sin, replacing the window is the temporal consequence).  Why can or does this happen?  Because the Church has so decreed!  Keep in mind, Matthew 18:18, the subject matter of the discussion is (but not limited to) the forgiveness of sins - and Jesus Christ empowered our first bishops, the Apostles, with the authority to forgive OR retain sins.  Sins they forgive are forgiven, sins they do not forgive are not forgiven.  

That, we all know – the indulgences– were the way the construction of St. Peter’s, the Vatican, was financed. The Dominicans said when a coin into the box rings, a soul in purgatory springs. You can have sex with Mary, the mother of Christ and be forgiven if you have the right price. That's what they said. Catholic scholars have admitted this. (The Dominicans, of course, the perpetrators of the Inquisition.) Again, I’m not attacking, I’m only stating facts that Catholic historians admit.

On to another question:

If the blood of Christ cleanses from all sin, why is it that you have to atonement in purgatory for your own? 

Now, I wasn't going to say anything the first time, but he's done it again.  "Atonement" is not a verb, it is a noun but twice now Prasch has used it as a verb.  I believe he means to use the word "atone" and perhaps English is not Prasch's first language.  We can get what he means, but it makes for an awkward sentence.

To answer Prasch's question directly - we don't atone for our sins - Jesus did that.  Purgatory is a place for saved people (each and every soul in Purgatory is already saved) to be purified from any stain of sin before entering Heaven.

The New Testament says perfect love casts out all fear. (1 Jn. 4:18) All fear. Why should someone die in fear of going to purgatory? In fact the Roman Catholic Church says in the catechism that if you say you're going to heaven and you know you're going you’ve committed the sin of presumption. 

Well again, this is not completely a true statement.  In fact, if you find yourself in Purgatory, REJOICE!  You have been judged to be SAVED ALREADY!  There should be no "fear" of Purgatory, at least not fear as in being afraid - but a healthy fear of respect is a good thing to have and can motivate one to lead a life which may avoid Purgatory altogether - for those, their purgation time has been here on Earth.

Now the New Testament says we can have a confidence we’re going to heaven (1 Jn. 4:17) if His blood has cleansed you from all sin, if you’ve truly repented and accepted Him. Please tell me, my dear friend, and again I'm only asking the question of you I once asked of myself, if His blood cleanses from all sin, why do you have to atone for your own in purgatory? 

And again, there is no "atoning" in Purgatory (and this time you used the verb properly, as opposed to the noun earlier).  Every single sin of those in Purgatory has been atoned for.  Any "sins which are unto death" (mortal sins) have been forgiven.  Any unconfessed "sins which are not unto death" (venial sins) are cleansed away in Purgatory along with any stain of any sin.  The point is, every single soul in Purgatory is already saved!  They are on their way to Heaven with no chance of going to Hell at that point.

And why can you go out and do something or buy something or get something that will give you an indulgence to reduce your sentence? Where is any such thing found or taught in the New Testament? Where did Jesus or the apostles teach it?

The Church teaches it and is given the authority to teach it in Matthew 16:18-19 and Matthew 18:18.

In the Middle Ages the Roman Catholic Church added the Apocrypha, the intratestamental literature to the canon of Scripture because there is one verse in the book of Macabees that says it's good to pray for the dead, which they took to mean getting people out of purgatory. However, the Early Church never held the Apocrypha to be part of the canon of Scripture – even the Roman Church didn't. 

This statement is not true.  Mr. Prasch needs to study the foundations of Scripture more.  The FACT is the Deuterocanonicals (Second Canon) were ALWAYS part of the Septuagint.  There are very good arguments that it was actually a Septuagint copy that Jesus and the Apostles quoted from.  For the first 400 years the Canon of Sacred Scripture was not as solidified as we have it now - in fact that solidification came at the end of the 4th century.  Prior to that there were several books of the New Testament which were not considered canonical - so by Prasch's standard should we reject those too?  And several other books were in earlier canons which were not included in the final canon, should we add those back in?  (Clement's Epistles, the Shepherd of Hermes, the Didache, etc.)

Secondly, it was a Jewish book written in the Greek language to Jewish people. 

Not quite true in that statement either.  The Septuagint was written BY Jewish people FOR Greek speaking Jewish people - keeping in mind that Greek was the lingua franca of the time right up until the time of Christ when Latin began supplanting it.

We’re told the Old Testament saints were in the bosom of Abraham waiting for the Messiah to come. In the context in which it was written that plainly meant praying that the Messiah would come so the Old Testament saints could go to heaven. It doesn’t mention purgatory. 

Agreed!  The Bosom of Abraham is NOT the same as Purgatory.

The term “purgatory” is found no place, even in the Apocrypha or in the church fathers as such. Not the Early Church fathers and not in the New Testament at all.

Agreed!  The English word "purgatory" would come about the 12th Century, the concept, however, predates the Incarnation.

His blood cleanses from all sin. Boldly we can approach the eternal throne the Scripture says. (Heb. 4:16) If we can boldly come before the throne of grace, how is that the sin of presumption? Is the New Testament wrong? 

Yes!  Boldly approach, be confident in your faith!  There's nothing wrong with such!  Proclaiming "I AM saved" before you have been judged is the sin of presumption.  Do not presume that you will not fall from grace and/or exactly how you will be judged.

If His blood cleanses from all sin, why should I believe in a religion, as I once did, that says I have to atone for my own?

Again, you cannot atone for your sins and the Catholic Church does not teach that you can.

St. Paul points out in his epistle to the Galatians if an angel of God comes with another gospel, don't believe it. (Gal. 1:8) If even an angel like Gabriel or Michael, an archangel, came and appeared to you and told you there was another gospel, another way of salvation, another good news of salvation by some other means other than Jesus paying the price for your sin on the cross, don't believe it. His blood cleanses from all sin. But I'm expected to believe it if I were Roman Catholic.

As a Catholic we believe and profess that Faith which was given to the Apostles, our first bishops, and passed down through the bishops in valid apostolic succession.  Catholics do not believe in the innovations of the 16th Century, ala Luther, Calvin and Henry VIII (among others), as I once did.

That is my question. If His blood cleanses from all sin, why should I be part of a religion that says I have to atone for my own in purgatory, when according to the New Testament there’s no such place. It’s never mentioned or named.
And again, it is NOT Catholic teaching that you can atone for your sins - Jesus Christ did that!  Purgatory is NOT a place of atonement!

As for Purgatory not being mentioned by name in Scripture - neither is the word "Trinity" mentioned, but the concept is there and defined later, by the Catholic Church.

Adapted from:

God Bless

Friday, November 20, 2015

Questions for Catholics - Part 2

As a continuation of the "Questions for Catholics" series, which are in response to the Moriel Ministries, Jacob Prasch website this section we will answer to the questions of "Co-" which Moriel/Prasch has put forth.  
We are told in the New Testament there is one intercessor between God and man, Jesus the righteous. (1 Tim. 2:5) One intercessor, only one, Jesus. Man can’t reach God so God had to reach man by becoming one of us. If there is one intercessor, how can I be expected to believe that Mary “co-redeemed” us, “co-saved” us, and she is the “co-mediatrix” if there’s only one Savior? The Hebrew prophets said all along, “Yahweh – God is our Savior; there is no Savior but Me”. (Is. 43:11; Hos. 13:4) Only one Savior, only one intercessor.
We must begin by explaining that "co-" does not mean "another" it means "with."  That being said, the use of such "co-" terms in Catholicism, thus far, are not dogmatically defined.  No Catholic is "bound" to use such terms, but even so - what do they really mean?  Are these terms fundamentally wrong?  Let us take them one at a time in the order Moriel/Prasch has presented them.

Co-Redeemed:  The title used by some (and again, not all) Catholics is actually "Co-Redemptrix." In, what we refer to as "the economy of salvation," the Blessed Virgin most definitely plays a role.  While she is not THE Redeemer, it was through her fiat that the Redeemer came to us.  Had she not consented we can be sure that God would have chosen another vessel/ark to carry the Only Begotten Son of the Father and through the Holy Ghost, but since she gave her fiat such speculations are a bit of a waste of time.  The Blessed Virgin and Mother was with the Christ throughout his mortal life and now in eternity.   So how did she assist with the redemption process?

  1. She said "Yes" (her fiat).  When confronted by the archangel Gabriel, she consented "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word." (Luke 1:38).
  2. At the first public miracle, the Wedding at Cana, she instructed the servants to "do as He told them," even though just previous to that Jesus had shown reluctance to begin the public ministry and miracles but through His mother's prompting and perhaps due to her prompting - the water becomes wine.
  3. She passively followed Him throughout His life and even through the via delorosa, for which she is also known as Our Lady of Sorrows.  Through life, death and then in resurrection and beyond, the Blessed Mother was and is with her Son.
  4. In John 19:25-27 we see with Jesus on the Cross giving His Mother over to St. John to be his Mother and he her son, as a handing on of that relationship to all of us.
  5. During the formation of the Church, the Blessed Mother was there with the Apostles at the Pentecost gathering and post-paschal events.
  6. Our Blessed Mother remains at Jesus' side in Heaven.

Now, is our redemption due to the actions of the Blessed Mother?  Yes!  Is she THE Redeemer?  No!  While not being THE Redeemer, she most definitely played a role - and thus the title of "Co-Redemptrix" is appropriate.  Not only is it appropriate for her, but each of us should work as co-redemptors in bringing more to the One, True Faith.

Co-Saved:  I am not familiar with any Catholic teaching or title for the Blessed Mother co-saving us or her having the title of Co-Savior.  This assertion is nothing more than a red herring argument attempting to draw us off-track from real teachings and/or practices of the Catholic Church.

Co-Mediatrix:  Now here I believe Moriel/Prasch is confusing topics.  While this IS a topic of apologetics for Catholics - this article appears to be equivocating "mediatrix" with "savior" since the author states:  
If there is one intercessor, how can I be expected to believe that Mary “co-redeemed” us, “co-saved” us, and she is the “co-mediatrix” if there’s only one Savior? The Hebrew prophets said all along, “Yahweh – God is our Savior; there is no Savior but Me”. (Is. 43:11; Hos. 13:4) Only one Savior, only one intercessor.
There is a theological difference between one who intercedes and one who saves.  The Blessed Mother (again) is not our Savior, who is Jesus Christ, alone but this author mixes and interchanges the terms as if they are equal.  As Catholics, we believe in, as the Apostles Creed professes, "the communion of saints," which refers to ALL the saints - whether part of the Church Militant (those of us still here on Earth fighting for our Faith), the Church Suffering (those in Purgatory who can surely use our prayers) and the Church Triumphant (those saints who are in Heaven).  We do not believe that the death of the body equates to the death of the person.  The person carries on into eternity either in or on the way to Heaven, or in Hell and eternal damnation.  Those saints who are part of the Church Triumphant are alive in Heaven, and we ask them - through the communion of saints - to pray with and for us.  The Blessed Mother, in her very special role and relationship to her Son makes her a very special one among the Church Triumphant to intercede for and with us.  No Christian is an island, we all rely upon each other for support and the death of the body does not end the life of the soul, so again we turn to those in Heaven and ask them to continue praying for us who still struggle with the trials and temptations of this life.

I would add as well, while the term "Co-Mediatrix" is used by many Catholics, like "Co-Redemptrix" there is no dogma binding all Catholics to accept this terminology.  While, as I have explained above, there is nothing "wrong" with the terms - if they make you feel uncomfortable, do not use them - you don't have to.

Part Three - Purgatory

Copied from:

God Bless

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Questions for Catholics - Part 1

Questions For Catholics Part 1


With a little prompting from my priest, I am beginning a series of responses to Moriel Ministries which has presented "Five Questions for Catholics," however the article title says the number is thirty-three and perhaps through secondary questions they reach the higher number, but the inconsistency is noted upfront.

Who is this?  James Jacob Prasch (Jacob Prasch) was raised in a mixed household of Catholic and Jewish.  He states he was "forced" to attend Catholic school as a youth, but also attending the Jewish Community Center.  This left him agnostic and in college while he was attempting to use science to disprove Christianity but came to the conclusion that it took more faith to reject Jesus and the Bible than to accept it.  Subscribing to Marxism and the "hippee culture" and nearly subcombing to drugs, he hit bottom and "put his faith in Jesus."  He and Moriel (have not found more about Moriel on the site which bares his name) got together in Moriel Ministries, which Prasch is now the director.

Without further ado, let us proceed into the series of questions presented to Catholics.

The first question we come to on Moriel's homepage is "Should I believe Mary or the Vatican?"

Without doubt Mary – her real name was “Miryam” – Mary the mother of Jesus was the greatest woman who ever lived.
The angel Gabriel. the archangel “Gabriy’el”, “the mighty one of God” appeared to her and told her that God Himself would become incarnate inside of her, she would be the mother of the Messiah, the Savior, who would save His people from their sin. This is the greatest woman who ever lived. And the greatest woman who ever lived, who has ever lived, was told she’s going to be the mother of the Savior who would save His people from their sin in the Magnificat in St. Luke’s Gospel. (
Lk. 1:46-55) The only thing that the greatest woman who ever lived could say when she was told she was the greatest woman who ever lived – “Blessed are you among women” (Lk. 1:42) – and she was told she’s going to be the mother of the Savior who would save His people from their sin is, “My spirit rejoices in God my Savior”. (Lk. 1:47)
If the greatest woman who ever lived tells me that she needs to be saved from sin, that she needs a Savior when she's told she's going to be the mother of the Savior who would save people from sin, who am I to argue with the greatest woman who ever lived? Who am I to argue with St. Luke? When God says, “All have sinned, all fall short of the glory of God” (
Rom. 3:23), “None is righteous, no not one”, (Rom. 3:10) Well who am I to argue with God? I believe Mary, but we have Ineffablilis Deus, the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception.
If all have sinned and all full short of the glory of God, and if Mary said she needs to be saved from sin, who do I believe: Mary or the Vatican? Personally, I believe Mary. I'm convinced Mary was right; I'm convinced that Mary told the truth; I'm convinced all have sinned and all fall short of the glory of God.


Well, first off in the passage cited is not the Blessed Mother admitting to have sinned, but only "My spirit rejoices in God my Savior."  Did Mary need a savior?  Yes!  In the definition of the Immaculate Conception (hereafter IC) of the the Blessed Virgin Mary (found here) it says:

We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful.


Note, it says she was preserved from the stain of original sin, not the penalty!  The Blessed Virgin, whom Catholics would agree with Moriel/Prasch, is the "greatest woman who ever lived," did not need to be freed from the stain of any actual sin - but from the penalty of original sin.  The Blessed Virgin therefore too needed the Savior, the Redeemer, the Messiah.  It should also be noted that in the entire document of Ineffabilis Deus, that one sentence is the only "infallible" statement.

The author of the article (whether it be Moriel or Prasch) goes on to say:

The Roman church speculated and then deduced that if that was the case, Jesus would have been born from a sinful vessel. But if Mary had no sin, by the same token that would have to mean that Mary's mother had no sin, and that Mary's grandmother had no sin, and that Mary’s great-grandmother had no sin all the way back to Eve. But we know Eve had sin and we know Mary had sin.

Yes, we know Eve had sin, but Scripture does not tell us that Mary had sin and again the definition of the IC only states she was preserved from the stain, not the penalty.  We also do not need to buy into the slippery slope (invalid) argument that if Mary was without sin, her mother must have been and her grandmother, etc., etc., for the Catholic teaching on the IC is that the Blessed Virgin, alone, was singled out "in the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God."  So not only is the Moriel/Prasch argument a slippery slope, it is a straw man built upon a faulty premise that the author proceeds to knock down.  If we know our Catholic Faith, we are not taken in by such invalid argumentation.

The author goes on to state and ask:

Again, this doctrine was not proclaimed until modern times, until the 20th Century. Do you believe Mary was wrong?

The definition of the IC was proclaimed in 1864, that would make it the 19th Century, which is a minor error here, but nonetheless, an error.  One would think that an author who is based in science would not make such an error and especially publish it. Am I the first to point this out to him?  It will be interesting to see if that statement changes on their website.  The timing of the actual definition is really inconsequential, and that would lead us to question Moriel/Prasch - does the Church have the authority to bind or loose such things?  The answer to that is a resounding YES!  In Matthew 16:18-19, in a singular decree our Blessed Lord bestows that authority on St. Peter, alone and then two chapters later that authority is also given to the Apostles (the Bishoprick) as a group in Matthew 18:18, but that takes us down another (however much more fundamental) path, so, for now, let us not digress.   

Now, to answer the question, "Do you believe Mary was wrong?"  No, as stated earlier, the Blessed Virgin was not wrong, but the premise of the Moriel/Prasch argument is wrong which leaves them with nothing but a house of cards which has just been knocked down.



Monday, October 26, 2015

Lessons from a Blind Man

A blind man was invited to attend a friend’s wedding. The couple were being married in a village church that was well known for its picturesque qualities and its beautiful grounds. The guests commented on all of this at the reception afterwards and again when the photos came back. They were struck by how well the church, the grounds and the setting all looked. When the blind man heard all this talk he thought to himself, ‘But didn’t they hear the bell?’ For him, the bell that pealed to welcome the bride and celebrate their marriage had been magnificent. The air was filled with its vibrating jubilation. He was amazed at the atmosphere of joy and solemnity that the bell created for the occasion. Everyone else seemed to have missed that part of the ceremony. Although he could not see, perhaps because he could not see, his hearing was very alert. He heard the beauty that others missed. The sounds that passed others by touched him very deeply.

This morning’s gospel is the story of a blind man, a blind beggar. Although he was blind, his hearing was very sensitive. The gospel says that he heard that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. Although he could not see Jesus passing by, he made contact with Jesus through his sense of hearing. His finely tuned hearing to the presence of Jesus led him to using another sense to make contact with Jesus, his sense of speech. He cried out, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me.’ Even when people around Jesus, including perhaps some of Jesus’ disciples, told him to keep quiet, he shouted all the louder, ‘Son of David, have pity on me.’ Even though he could not see Jesus, he was determined to make contact with him through his gift of speech, through his urgent prayer from his heart. His prayer was an act of faith on his part. He recognized Jesus as ‘Son of David’ which was one of the titles for the Messiah, and trusting that Jesus could heal his blindness. His making contact through his hearing and his speaking revealed that he had an inner sight. Even though he was blind, he saw Jesus with the eyes of faith. Even when he was rebuked by the crowd for confessing his faith out loud, he refused to be silenced. He had the courage to keep professing his faith, in spite of the hostility and scorn it brought upon him. This man’s courage faith and the quality of hearing, and speaking and seeing it gave rise to may have something to teach us when professing our faith publicly can invite scorn.

This man’s faith literally brought Jesus to a standstill, in spite of the fact that at this point in his ministry he was hurrying from Jericho to Jerusalem. The gospel says simply, ‘Jesus stopped.’ Jesus’ response to the heartfelt prayers of this man was in complete contrast to that of the people around him. Rather than telling him to keep quiet, Jesus told those around him to call him over. Jesus is portrayed as the champion of those not considered worthy enough to come near to God. Again we witness the extraordinary responsiveness of this man to Jesus’ presence, to the call of Jesus. When he heard that Jesus was calling him, he first of all threw off his cloak. His cloak, no doubt, served many purposes. He sheltered him from the weather; it was his bed; it was in a sense his home. Yet, he abandoned it, and having done so, he jumped up and went unerringly to Jesus in his blindness.
Nothing was going to hold him back from connecting with Jesus, not even his precious cloak. He speaks to all of us of our own need to free ourselves of the binds that stifle our faith and keep us from approaching the Lord. The question that Jesus asked him when they came face to face was not the kind of dismissive question that comes from annoyance at being interrupted, ‘What do you want?’ Rather, it was a very personal question ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ It is a question that we can all hear as addressed to each of us personally, and how we answer that question can reveal a great deal about who we are and what we value. In the passage in Mark’s gospel which immediately preceded this one, Jesus asked that same question of two of his own disciples, James and John, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ Their answer revealed a self-cantered ambition, ‘Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory?’ The blind man’s answer to Jesus’ question revealed a very different heart. Aware of his blindness, aware of his disability, he asked simply, ‘Master, let me see again.’ In answering his prayer, Jesus addressed him as a man of faith, ‘your faith has saved you.’ He was already seeing Jesus with the eyes of faith before he received back his physical sight. Once he received back his physical sight, we are told that he followed Jesus along the road. He immediately used his newly restored sight to walk after Jesus as a disciple up to the city of Jerusalem, where Jesus would be crucified. His faith had shaped his hearing and his speaking, and now it shaped the path he would take. In this Year of Faith that Pope Benedict has decreed we could do worse than take this man as a model of faith for the year. Like him we are blind beggars who need to keep on crying out to the Lord who passes by so that we can see him more clearly and follow him more nearly. [Martin Hogan]




God Bless

Friday, October 16, 2015

Willingness to Serve

The theme of the willing servant matches the missionary ideal perfectly. The ideal missionary is so devoted to the good of the people whom s/he is sent to serve that they plan both their activities and their life-style to match the real needs of those people. There is a huge effort of adaptation and enculturation involved, so that the Gospel can integrate into the lives of the local people. This goes well beyond the initial need to learn the local language, and the most effective symbols to use, so that the message of Jesus can be understood and loved.

In our world, where most of the celebrities highlighted in the media seem motivated by self-interest and self-assertion Jesus’ call to total service seems unrealistic, and, one might think, unlikely to succeed. But today’s Gospel offers the ideal of dedication to the service of others as fundamental to Christian discipleship. Jesus came “not to be served, but to serve” and this example must always be a guiding light for his followers. He went about doing good (cf. Acts 10:38), bringing justice, healing, forgiveness and kindness into people’s lives. This is why those who believe in him are challenged to give themselves, their talents and their time, to the service of others without seeking any other reward than knowing that this is supremely worthwhile. The acted parable of the foot-washing at the Last Supper gives out the same message.

In practice what can we learn from our Lord’s life and actions? He clearly said that he came to do the Father’s will, and this thought stayed with him, even when it led to suffering and a cruel death. He was always about the Father’s business, and made it his business. This prompts us too, with an active sense of duty, and a personal dedication to God’s will for us. Normally, we discover our duty and God’s will for us, not in world-changing plans or in heroic ideals but in the ordinary tasks of each day. At home or in the office, or the school or other workplace, or wherever the activity of the moment calls us, we try to be aware of duty and a sense of dedication. Whenever we work in a slipshod manner, of fail to offer the needed helping hand, we fall below our personal call to service. What a change it would make, if there was a widespread return to this spirit, with regard to people’s daily work. We need to be reminded that in rendering to others the service of a job well done we are imitating the serving Christ and being his fellow-workers in building up the kingdom of God on earth.

It is tempting to be selfish with our time and energy. There are so many plausible excuses for excluding ourselves from the work that needs to be done. How easy to join the many who just live for themselves and let society fend for itself. But today’s Scripture calls us to examine our conscience, and to face the question, “What can I do for my community, rather than what can my community do for me?” It is one of the most basic values we have to keep on learning throughout our lives. The approach of James and John, in today’s Gospel, is not unlike the way many of us come to God. We approach him in prayer with the greatest fervour, whenever we want something for ourselves. Jesus responds to their request with a request of his own, thereby showing that what he wants for us must take priority over what we want for ourselves. The only request worth making is that which he taught us to make, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Mt 6:10.) His will, as expressed in today’s Gospel, is that we should share in his cup and in his baptism, that cup which he was to ask the Father to take from him (Mk 14:36), and that baptism of fire which he knew he had to undergo. His death on the cross was but the final expression of that total service which characterised the whole of his life. Everyday he died to himself, because he lived “not to be served, but to serve.” His life was a daily emptying of self (Phil 2:7), a self-emptying which was only complete when he gave his last breath on the cross The complete missionary!




God Bless

Friday, October 2, 2015

Divinity of Christ

Evidence for the Divinity of Jesus Christ in the Early Church Fathers
complied by Marcellino D’Ambrosio, Ph.D.


The DaVinci Code repeats the old claim, by the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Others, that no one believed in the Divinity of Jesus Christ in the early Church, but that this idea was invented and promulgated by the emperor Constantine who gained control of the Roman Empire in 312 AD.  This historical claim in absolute nonsense.  The following texts from Christian writers who lived between New Testament times and the reign of Constantine make abundantly clear that belief in Christ's divinity and equality with God the Father is an indisputable part of the Christian tradition from the beginning.  These quotes demonstrating belief in Jesus' divine as well as human nature are by no means exhaustive – they are just a very limited selection.  Most or all of the direct quotes below come from the collection edited by Cyril Richardson entitled Early Christian Fathers (NY: Macmillan, 1970), abbreviated here as ECF.

A.Ignatius of Antioch, on the Divinity of Christ, calls Jesus God 16x in 7 letters (ca. 110 AD)


1. “Jesus Christ our God” Eph inscr, Eph 15:3, Eph 18:2, Tral 7, Ro inscr 2x, Ro 3:3, Smyr 10:1.

2. He speaks of Christ’s blood as “God's blood” Eph 1:1

3.  He calls Jesus “God incarnate” Eph 7:2

4.  In Jesus “God was revealing himself as a man”  Eph 19:3


B. Epistle to Diognetus (ca. 125 AD) speaking of God the Father, he says:

1. Diognetus 7:2  "he sent the Designer and Maker of the universe himself, by whom he created the heavens and confined the sea within its own bounds" (ca. 125 AD)

2. Diognetus 7:4 “He sent him as God; he sent him as man to men."


C. Saint Justin Martyr on the Divinity of Christ (c. 155 AD)

1.   says that Christians adore and worship the Son as well as the Father.  1st Apology 6.

2.  says Christ, the Word incarnate, is divine 1 Apol 10 & 63


D. Irenaeus on Christ's Divinity (ca. 185) in his work Adversus Haereses (Against Heresies)


1. Of Jesus he says "He is the holy Lord, the Wonderful, the Counselor, the Beautiful in appearance, and the Mighty God, coming on the clouds as the Judge of all men; --all these things did the Scriptures prophesy of Him."  AH III.19.2 (Ante Nicene Fathers 1: 449).

2. "He, therefore who was known, was not a different being from Him who declared, 'No man knoweth the Father,' but one and the same, the Father making all things subject to Him; while He received testimony from all that He was very [true] man, and that He was very [true] God, from the Father, from the Spirit, from angels, from the creation itself, from men, from apostate spirits and demons, from the enemy, and last of all, from death itself."  AH, IV, 6,7 (ANF, 469).



God Bless

Friday, September 18, 2015

Hard Truths

Truths that are hard to hear

We can all struggle at times to listen to someone if what they say arouses painful emotions in us. They might be trying to tell us something about ourselves that we find difficult to hear. That very human tendency is reflected in the disciples in this morning’s gospel. Jesus had something very important to say about what was about to happen to him. In the words of the gospel, he was telling them that he would find himself in the hands of others, who would put him to death. This was something that the disciples found very hard to hear and were not able to take on board. As the gospel says, ‘they did not understand what he said and they were afraid to ask him.’ Already in Mark’s gospel Jesus told them what was likely to happen to him. They were no more open to hearing it the second time than they were the first. They did not understand it and they were reluctant to question him because they were afraid they might not be able to live with the answers he would give them. In some ways that is a very human reaction. We often find ourselves not willing to ask questions because we suspect that we would struggle to live with the answers to our questions.

Yet, in our heart of hearts, we often recognize that there are certain realities we have to face, even if they are painful to face. There are certain illusions we may have to let go of, even if we have come to cherish them. In the second part of this morning’s gospel Jesus worked to disillusion his disciples, in that good sense. He needed to prise them away from the illusions of greatest that they harboured. They seemed to have thought that being part of Jesus’ circle would bring them privilege and status. No sooner had Jesus spoken of himself as someone who would end up as one of the least than the disciples began to argue among themselves as to which of them was the greatest. They wanted power and, it seems, that they wanted power for its own sake. This is the kind of self-centred ambition that James talks about in the second reading when he says, ‘you have an ambition that you cannot satisfy, so you fight to get your way by force.’ In place of that very worldly ambition, Jesus places before his disciples a very different kind of ambition, an ambition that has the quality of what James in that reading refers to as ‘the wisdom that comes down from above.’ This is God’s ambition for their lives and for all our lives. It is the ambition to serve, as Jesus says in the gospel, ‘those who want to be first must make themselves last of all and servant of all.’ This ambition to serve, again in the words of James in that second reading, is something that ‘makes for peace and is kindly and considerate; it is full of compassion and shows itself by doing good.’

Jesus implies that this is to be our primary ambition as his followers. All our other ambitions have to be subservient to that God-inspired ambition. In his teaching of his disciples and of us all, Jesus elaborates on his teaching by performing a very significant action. He takes a little child and sets the child in front of his disciples, puts his arms around the child and declares that whoever welcomes one such child, welcomes him and not only him but God the Father who sent him. Jesus was saying by that action that the ambition to serve must give priority to the most vulnerable members of society, symbolized by the child who is completely dependent on adults for his or her well being. Our ambition is to serve those who, for one reason or another, are not in a position to serve themselves. Jesus goes, assuring his disciples and us that in serving the most vulnerable we are in fact serving him. In the presence of the disciples who seemed consumed with an ambition for power for its own sake Jesus identifies himself with the powerless, those who are most dependent on our care. Over against the ambition of the disciples to serve themselves, Jesus puts the ambition to serve him as he comes to us in and through the weakest members of society. In our gospel Jesus is putting before us what his family of disciples, what the church, is really about. [Martin Hogan]


God Bless