Wednesday, January 11, 2017

What Does Baptism Do

What does baptism do?  We know through Scripture that baptism makes us members of the Body of Christ.   For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.” (1 Cor 12:13)

Baptism brings us in communion with each other by becoming members of the One Body of Christ.

For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

(Gal 3:27)

We are brought into the Body of Christ, the Church.

And he is the head of the body, the church (Col 1:18)


And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. (Eph 1:22-23)

Since we are baptized into the one body of Christ and we now know that Christ’s Body is the Church means that baptism brings us into the Church.  And this is why there is no salvation outside the Church because there is no salvation outside of Christ.

Baptism is the New Covenant fulfillment of the Old Covenant symbol of circumcision.  As the Hebrews circumcised those for entrance into God’s Covenant with Israel, so too does the New Covenant fulfillment of circumcision bring entrance into the New Covenant of God to His Church through baptism.

In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not administered by hand, by stripping off the carnal body, with the circumcision of Christ. You were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God. (Col 2:11-12)

If eight-day old children could enter the Old Covenant through circumcision via the faith of their parents how much more so can infants become adopted children of God through the New Covenant circumcision, baptism?  The New Covenant is much more inclusive than the Old seeing as the New can include the gentiles as opposed to those of the line of Abraham.

We have seen that baptism fulfills the Old Covenant practice of circumcision (Col 2:11-12).  Baptism was prophesied by Ezekiel to bring graces through the sprinkling of water (Ez 36:25-27) and washes away sins (Ez 36:26; Acts 2:38). 

What else is baptism for?  Well, is baptism necessary for salvation?  The answer, very plainly is YES.  …eight in all, were saved through water.  This prefigured baptism, which saves you now.” (1 Pet 3:20-21).  Pretty simple.  As plain as it can get.  Jesus taught this also in the Gospel of John

Jesus answered and said to him, "Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born again." Nicodemus doesn’t understand and so Jesus repeats himself, He says "Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit.

One is born again through baptism, and that through baptism one can enter the kingdom of God, the Church…

And so we see that baptism brings Graces from God (Acts 2:38), washes away sins (Acts 2:38), we enter into a covenant with God through baptism (Col 2:11-12), we become Christians through baptism (1 Cor 12:13) by becoming members of the Church as through a door (Eph 4:4).  And baptism is instituted by Jesus Christ when He sent out the disciples to “Make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Mat 28:19)

Please take the time to read what the Early Church believed about baptism and you’ll find a unanimous consensus on baptismal regeneration and the acceptance of infant baptism. 

God Bless

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Who did God Send to Teach His Followers

I've heard the verse on Romans 10 used a few times to explain that Protestant ministers are sent by God to preach the Gospel, verse 15 says: "How shall they preach unless they be sent?"

My question to those individuals is which Protestant ministers?  Lutherans, Calvinist, Amish, Anglicans, Methodist, Church of God, Church of Christ, Quakers, Episcopalian, Salvation Army, Adventis, Presbytarian, Shakers, Wesleyan, Brethren, Church of Nazarene, or one of hundreds of splinter denominations from these?

The splintering of so many different denominations believing differently on key salvific issues is an important factor in showing the most obvious problems of finding the one who is truly speaking God's Word (Issues like "what kind of faith saves? Is baptism necessary? Needed? Is baptism for infants? Must baptism be by immersion only? Can one lose salvation? How? Can it be gotten back? How? Is the Real Presence true? Are spiritual gifts like tongues and healing for today? For everyone? What about predestination? What about free will?). 

There seems to be two possible solutions to this dilemma, one is to be sent by extraordinary means and the other by ordinary means.  Let's look at the extraordinary means.  This method entails the individual to be sent by God personally.  Seeing as there is a definite possibility that many will be deceived into believing they were sent by God there must be a way to verify their 'pedigree' as  you can appreciate the difficulty in finding someone teaching God's Word amidst a sea of different ideologies and beliefs.  Indeed, we find many instances in the Bible where these individuals sent directly by God performing supernatural signs to prove they were speaking God's Word (Exo 8:16-19; 13:7-16; 1 King 18:36-39; 2 Kings 4:15-17; Acts 13:6-11; Acts 3:5…).  Most notably in John (3:2; 9:16; 11:47; 12:37), even Jesus admitted "Do not believe me, then, if I am not doing the things my Father wants me to do.  But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, you should at least believe my deeds, in order that you may know once and for all that the Father is in me and that I am in the Father." (John 10:37-38).

But what about false teachers?  They too will perform miracles.  There's the problem, how can we discriminate between a true prophet and a false one?  How are you to decide that question?  The person who authenticates that prophet needs to be authenticated himself, and this authenticator needs to be authenticated as well all the way down the line.  So who can decide whether a prophet is true or false?  Well, the answer to that question is pretty straightforward:  It's those who are placed in the ordinary capacity as God's teachers.  To understand how this came to be, we need to look back at John 21:15-17

Three times Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him: "Simon son of John, do you love me?" And a third time Peter answers Him: "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you!" And for the third time Jesus says to him, "Feed my sheep."

"Feed my sheep."  These words are full of profound meaning.  All through His Passion and up to His Ascension, Jesus seems to be acutely concerned of the future of His fragile little flock. On the night of His betrayal we find Jesus "deeply troubled", He lifted His eyes to heaven and called out a great high-priestly prayer for this ragged band of working men: "While I was with them, I kept them in thy name…But now I am coming to thee…Sanctify them in the truth." (John 17:13a, 17)

Sanctify them in the truth.  Jesus has come to give humanity the words of truth given to Him by His Father.  But now that the Son is going back to the Father, how will the world know that He was ever here?  And that He really was sent by God?  How will His work be preserved and continued?  Would He commission His Apostles to write letters and collect them into a book, the Bible?  No.

"I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I will find them a place to rest. I, the Sovereign LORD, have spoken.  "I will look for those that are lost, bring back those that wander off, bandage those that are hurt, and heal those that are sick … I will rescue my sheep and not let them be mistreated any more. I will judge each of my sheep and separate the good from the bad.  I will give them a king like my servant David to be their one shepherd, and he will take care of them. I, the LORD, will be their God, and a king like my servant David will be their ruler. I have spoken."  (Eze 34:15, 16, 22-24)  It was in this context that we find Jesus, the humble carpenter, saying :

"I am the good shepherd, who is willing to die for the sheep.  When the hired man, who is not a shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees a wolf coming, he leaves the sheep and runs away; so the wolf snatches the sheep and scatters them.  … And I am willing to die for them.  There are other sheep which belong to me that are not in this sheep pen. I must bring them, too; they will listen to my voice, and they will become one flock with one shepherd."  (John 10:14-16)

But what happens to the flock once the shepherd returns to the Father? "I did come from the Father, and I came into the world; and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father" (John 16:28).  As we wondered before, how will Christ's work be continued?  If God's sheep starved for truth at the hands of false religious teachers under the Old Covenant, will not His New Testament flock again be defenseless after the Shepherd ascends back "to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God" (John 20:17)

The answer, according to the testimony of the early Church, lies in these words, spoken of the Good Shepherd to Simon Peter, representative of a simple band of Galilean fishermen: "Feed my sheep."

And what about a few years down the road, when there were wolves in sheeps clothing preaching in Jesus' name a different Gospel?  In the years of Peter we find another shepherd tirelessly working among God's lost sheep.  Like Peter, his given name is Simon, Simon Magus, he is the founder of the ancient heresy called Gnosticism, Christianity's oldest and most obstinate rival.  Former disciple of Philip the evangelist, Simon apostatized to become the first person in recorded history to teach falsehood in the holy name of Jesus.  He was in fact, the original fulfillment of one of Christ's darkest warnings: "Be on your guard against false prophets; they come to you looking like sheep on the outside, but on the inside they are really like wild wolves.   You will know them by what they do." (Matt 7:15)

But what about the ordinary believers, how would they have reacted to a second set of "Christian" apostles preaching on their streets?  Would it have been obvious that there was a wolf under the sheepskin?  Yes.  Jesus had said that we would know them by their fruits – but what if the fruits themselves can be counterfeited?  Recall that Simon Magus had many "miracles" to his credit and a large number on converts as well.  The Apostle Paul seems to be addressing this very dilemma when he wrote: "false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.  And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light" (2 Cor 11:15)

The predicament was very real, if the prospective shepherds all look like angels how are they to choose between them?  How on earth does a common Roman laymen in AD 50 – only just hearing of Jesus Himself for the first time – supposed to know which are the true disciples of Christ and which are the false?  Do not underestimate this problem, we may casually imagine that these early believers had only to pull out their pocket New Testament to send these dangerous pretenders packing, tails between their legs.  This was completely impossible; the Church had been preaching the gospel for at least 10 years before a single line of the New Testament was written.  She had been doing these things for over fifty years before the final line was completed.  And even then some may have been introduced to Matthew's Gospel and perhaps one or two letters from Paul – but even these would have been circulating as loose individual works; over 300 years would pass before they ever came to be bound together in one authoritative canon in a book we call our Holy Bible.

The solution is quite simple.  When confronted with two conflicting stories, all one needed to do was find the "…man [that] was with Jesus of Nazareth" (Mat 26:71).  He had simply to ask to traditional question:  Which men had been with Jesus?  That fact alone, once truly established, banished all doubt. 

Jesus Christ appointed twelve apostles to teach His doctrines and exercise His authority once He ascended into heaven (Matt 28:16-20).  He gave them specific authority to speak and teach what He taught (Eph 2:19-20, 1 Thess 4:2, 2 Pet 3:2), and He warned all of His followers of the consequences of private teaching outside of the Church (Matt 18:16-17, 1 Cor 5:5, 1 Tim 2:20, 2 Pet 1:20-21).  Most importantly, however, Jesus promised the Holy Spirit to guide the Apostles in the truth (John 14:16-17), which would distinguish them from the false prophets who would later introduce false doctrines and heresies (2 Pet 2:1).  This is the reason why St Paul described the Church as the 'pillar and foundation of truth' (1 Tim 3:15), and not the bible which can be twisted by the untaught and unstable (2 Pet 3:16).  The only way that any group can claim to have the truth is if they teach what the Apostles taught, either written or oral (2 Thess 2:15).

But this begs the question: what happens after the original Apostles die?  Is the Church not to continue the way Jesus established it in its hierarchical structure?  If Jesus' words were not meant eternally and were to be understood simply in His time, then the authority of the Apostles which Christ instituted would have died with the last Apostle.  This would leave the Church without leadership and in total confusion when serious doctrinal questions and problems occurred, which, inevitably, they did.  (No point in relying on Scripture since many of the heretics used Scripture to defend their positions.)  The other option, the much more likely and divinely consistent one, is that the Apostles would choose successors, passing on to them what they learned from the Lord, and in turn giving them not only the authority to teach but also the divine promise to correctly interpret God's written and inspired word.  We know that this is the way it was done from the beginning by reading some of the Early Church Fathers. 

God Bless

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Why do Apologetics?

Q:     Nothing personal, but I’m really not a big fan of what you do.  All of this apologetics stuff just seems to be filled with so much conflict and tension. How does that evangelize anyone?   Whatever happened to St. Francis’ way of evangelization, “Preach the Gospel always and, when necessary, use words.” 
A:    Well, first of all, and I know this may be difficult for some to read, but St. Francis actually never said that, at least, not that anyone has been able to find in anything his early biographers wrote about him.  Secondly, if you read about St. Francis, he actually used a whole lot of words in his evangelization efforts.  One story in particular, about his meeting with the Sultan of Egypt during one of the Crusades, would probably stun a lot of folks as to how “in your face” he was with the Sultan.

       Anyway, to your point about apologetics being filled with conflict and tension, before I tell you why I disagree with what you’re saying, I want to first address what I believe is a larger societal issue that seems to underlie your contention.  It seems, in my humble opinion, that just about the only mortal sin a person can commit in our society today, is to tell someone else they are wrong about something.  

       We can’t tell the adulterer that he is wrong, so let’s have no-fault divorce.  We can’t tell anyone abortion is wrong, so let’s just respect everyone’s privacy.  We can’t tell homosexuals that same-sex relations are wrong, so let’s just live and let live.  Again, telling someone they are wrong is just about the only sin one can commit in today’s society.  So, in such an environment, debate becomes inherently wrong.  Argument, in the classical sense of the word, becomes inherently wrong.  Disagreeing with someone on issues of faith and morals becomes inherently wrong.

       Thus, engaging in apologetics seems to be inherently wrong under such a prevailing societal attitude.  To tell those who disagree with Catholic teaching they are wrong, becomes a sin, of sorts.  It is viewed as being filled with “conflict and tension,” and as being unnecessarily adversarial.  But, it just isn’t so.  

       First and foremost, apologetics is about seeking the truth.  Jesus said, “Know the truth and the truth shall make you free,” (John 8:32).  Apologetics is not about argument for argument’s sake, but about discovering truth.  In order to help my separated brethren in Christ discover the truth that the Eucharist is indeed the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ, and not merely a symbol, I have to engage in apologetics.  

       Second, and closely related to the above, apologetics is about love.  If I truly love those who are not Catholic - whether they be Baptist, Evangelical, Presbyterian, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, or even atheist - would I not want to do everything...everything! my power to bring them to Jesus Christ in the Sacraments, and, particularly, to bring them to Him in the Eucharist?

        I mean, if I really and truly believe that Jesus is present in the Eucharist, and that a Catholic can receive Him at any given Mass, then why would I not want to do all that I could to bring everyone into the Catholic Church so as to receive Him?  Why would I not want to share the truth with them?  Can I truly be said to love someone if I am unwilling to step out of my comfort zone to share the truths of the Catholic Faith with them?  

       Now, do discussions about faith and morals sometimes involve conflict and tension?  Absolutely.  But, does searching for truth sometimes involve conflict and tension?  Does loving others sometimes involve conflict and tension?  Indeed they do.

       So, apologetics, just like any search for truth and anything that involves love, sometimes involves conflict and tension.  But, do you want to know what can cause more conflict and tension than a Catholic who is versed in apologetics conferring with a non-Catholic on some issue of faith or morals?  A Catholic who is not versed in apologetics conferring with a non-Catholic on some issue of faith or morals.  

       I would be willing to bet that the percentage of Protestant churches in Birmingham that do not have at least one former Catholic in them is very, very low.  There are, in fact, some very large Protestant churches in Birmingham that are made up of 20%, 30%, and even as much as 50% former Catholics.

       Why?  Because those former Catholics were never taught how to defend their faith, so they had no answer when someone came up to them and asked them, “Are you saved?”  Or, “Have you been born again?”  Or, “Why do you Catholics call your priests ‘father’ when the Bible says ‘Call no man father?”’  Or, “Why do you Catholics say Mary was ever virgin when the Bible says Jesus had brothers and sisters?”  

       Any one of those - or dozens of other - leading questions have started many a Catholic down the path that leads straight out of the Catholic Church.  Why?  Because they were defenseless.  They didn’t know apologetics.  And do you know the kind of conflict and tension that is caused in Catholic families when a son or daughter, a brother or sister, a mother or father leaves the Faith?  And, even worse, the tension and conflict caused when these former Catholics come to a Thanksgiving or Christmas gathering of the family and sometimes talk about how Catholics are not “saved” and constantly question the faith of their family members?  

       So, not only can apologetics bring non-Catholics, and fallen-away Catholics, closer to, and even into, the faith, but it can help keep Catholics in the faith and help them to deepen their understanding and love of that faith, while enabling them to defend that faith.  Conflict and tension?  Sometimes.  But is love worth the risk?  Is bringing people to Jesus Christ in the Eucharist worth the risk?  

       I’ll close with a story about something that happened to me a few years ago.  My family and I had just moved to a new parish.  A few weeks after being there, a young lady came up to me and said, “Do you remember me?”  I told her she looked familiar, but that I couldn’t place where I knew her from.  She said, “You spoke at a Theology on Tap meeting a few years ago and I was the one who hit you with a whole bunch of questions.”  Immediately I remembered the exchange I’d had with her.  She continued, “I was Baptist at the time and I was really mad at you that night, and so I started doing a lot of research so that I could prove you wrong.”  

       In other words, my apologetics talk had caused a lot of conflict and tension.  And then she told me where that research born of conflict and tension led an RCIA program and, a few months later, into the Church.  She now receives Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.  

       So, yes, what I did caused conflict and tension.  Should I not, then, have given the talk?  Was it somehow wrong, then, to speak about the truths of the Catholic Faith in an unapologetic manner and thus upset one or more of my listeners?  Was that counterproductive to evangelization?  Well, I’ll just let the young lady who now receives Christ in the Eucharist answer those questions...     

       Here’s the thing, if we are afraid of speaking the truths of the Faith - of proclaiming them, explaining them, and defending them - because of some overblown fear of offending someone, then we will never truly be like Christ.  He spoke the truth - in season and out.  He offended people.  He afflicted people.  He was crucified for it.  And He did it all out of love. 

God Bless

Saturday, November 26, 2016

The Rapture

The Rapture is a term most commonly used to describe an event in certain interpretations of end-time studies where all true Christians are taken from Earth by Jesus Christ at His secret second-coming.  Although almost all forms of Christianity believe that those who are ‘saved’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, the term ‘rapture’ is usually applied specifically to those theories saying the Christians alive before the end of the world will be taken into heaven.  These Christians believe they will be secretly translated, in the blink of an eye, into immortal bodies in the Rapture before the persecutions by the Harlot Church and before the Antichrist.  This period of time is called the Tribulation.  According to this view, the Church has no vital role of witness during this seven-year Tribulation.

This view is a recent addition to end-times interpretations.  In fact it is only about a few hundred years old.  Therefore the burden of proof rests on them.  The dramatic end-time scenario proposed by these pre-tribulation rapture theorists is heavily based on a few verses such as Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians, where he writes: “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout of command, with the voice of an archangel and the trumpet of God.  The dead in Christ will rise first; then we, who are left alive, will be snatched up with them on clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).

“With a shout of command…and the trumpet of God”, kind of goes against a ‘secret’ rapture doesn’t it?  And we can see here that Paul conjures up images of an emperor, a king or a distinguished person visiting a colony or province.  As was the custom at the time, the citizens go out to meet him in open country and then escort him into the city.  Paul’s image of the people “meeting the Lord in the air” should be read with the assumption that the people will immediately turn around and lead the Lord back to the newly remade world.  This verse taken into context is found to show that the ‘saved’ will be taken up for a time and brought back down to Earth.  But when did Paul believe this event takes place, before or after the Tribulation?  We find the answer to that in 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10

“…it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.  These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed…”

For the apostle Paul, the punishment of the wicked and the reward of the righteous are to occur on the same day, immediately following the second coming of Christ.  Are the elect taken before the Tribulation as the Rapture theory says?  Take a look at John 6:40 “For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 

So, those who are saved will be raised up at the last day.  Now look at John 12:48 “There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day.”

As we can see the ‘saved’ will be raised up on the last day and those who reject Him will be condemned on the last day.  Therefore, if the saved are raised on the day before the start of the Tribulation, then those condemned will be sent to Hell on that same day.  It begs the question, who will be left to suffer through the seven-year Tribulation? 

This means that the ‘saved’, the believers in Christ will go through the Tribulation with the unbelievers.  We find support for this in Matt 13:24-30

“Jesus told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. The owner's servants came to him and said, 'Sir, didn't you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?'  'An enemy did this,' he replied. "The servants asked him, 'Do you want us to go and pull them up?' "No, he answered, 'because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.'”

Jesus’ explained what this parable meant at the apostles urgings. Here is His answer a few verses later in Matt 13:36-43

“Then he left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, "Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field." He answered, "The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.

"As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.”

The good seed, which stands for the sons of the kingdom, the ‘saved’, will be living together with the weeds until the harvest where the weeds will be harvested first and thrown into the fiery furnace.  You will find an even clearer picture of this event in

Matt 24:37-41

As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.”

Noah and his family were left behind, those who listened to the word of God were saved, they were left behind.  Those who didn’t believe Noah or knew nothing of the incoming flood were taken, the unbelievers were taken.  As you can see, we find here also that the unbelievers are taken on the same day as the elect and are saved by being left behind.

In conclusion, I personally believe as the Church does that there is a rapture, but it will only come at the end of the world, at Christ’s second coming where the weeds and the wheat will be living together until Christ shall separate the ‘saved’ from the un-‘saved’ on the last day, that is the last day of the known world.

God Bless


Monday, October 31, 2016


Some issues allow for a diversity of opinion, and Catholics are permitted leeway in endorsing or opposing particular policies.  This is the case with the questions of when to go to war and when to apply the death penalty.  Though the Church urges caution regarding both of these issues, it acknowledges that the state has the right to employ them in some circumstances (CCC 2309, 2267).

Pope Benedict XVI, when he was still Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, spoke of this in a document dealing with when Catholics may receive Communion:

Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia.  For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion.  While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment.  There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia” (WRHC 3).

The same is true of many other issues that are the subject of political debate: the best way to help the poor, to manage the economy, to protect the environment, to handle immigration, and to provide education, health care and retirement security.  Catholics may legitimately take different approaches to these issues while the same cannot be said for euthanasia and abortion, two actions which are always wrong no matter the circumstances.  The protection of innocent life always takes precedence to all other issues.  What good are all other rights if one does not have the right to life?

God Bless

Ref: Catholic Answers, Voter’s Guide for Serious Catholics, Catholic Answers Press, 16 pgs, 2016

Sunday, October 9, 2016

The Church on Abortion`

The Catholic Church is pro-life.  She teaches that abortion is always wrong.  Where does this teaching come from?  It all starts “in the beginning.”  In Genesis chapter one – “God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them.”  Every human person, from the moment of their conception, is created in the image and likeness of God.

Interestingly, the teachings on abortion in the  Catechism of the Catholic Church are in the section on the Fifth Commandment – “You shall not kill.”

This is not a new teaching, something that the Church has been trying to figure out for centuries.  Quite the contrary.  In the Catechism paragraph 2271, it says, “Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion.  This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable.”

What about exceptions for things like rape and incest?  Regardless of the circumstances surrounding its conception, the child in the womb is still a child of God.  In paragraph 2270, the Catechism puts it succinctly – “Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception.”

For further study:

CCC 2270-2273;  Genesis 1:26-28;
Exodus 20:13;
  Deuteronomy 5:17

Gus Lloyd,
A Minute in the Church, Vol II,  p.9, 2010

God Bless

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Apostolic Succession

The first Christians had no doubts about how to determine which claimant, among the many contending for the title, was the true Church. The test was simple: Just trace the apostolic succession of the claimants. This simple procedure worked every time. (Why not try it yourself?)


Clement of Rome

"Through countryside and city [the apostles] preached, and they appointed their earliest converts, testing them by the Spirit, to be the bishops and deacons of future believers. Nor was this a novelty, for bishops and deacons had been written about a long time earlier.... Our apostles knew through our Lord Jesus Christ that there would be strife for the office of bishop. For this reason, therefore, having received perfect foreknowledge, they appointed those who have already been mentioned and afterwards added the further provision that, if they should die, other approved men should succeed to their ministry." (Epistle to the Corinthians 42:4-5, 44:1-3 [A.D. 80]).



"It is possible, then, for everyone in every church, who may wish to know the truth, to contemplate the tradition of the apostles which has been made known to us throughout the whole world. And we are in a position to enumerate those who were instituted bishops by the apostles and their successors down to our own times, men who neither knew nor taught anything like what these heretics rave about....Surely they wished all those and their successors, to whom they handed on their authority, to be perfect and without reproach" (Against Heresies 3:3:1 [inter A.D. 180-199]).



"For all these [heretics] are of much later date than are the bishops to whom the apostles handed over the churches, and this fact I pointed out most carefully in the third book. It is of necessity, then, that these aforementioned heretics, because they are blind to the truth, walk in devious paths, and on this account the vestiges of their doctrines are scattered about without agreement or connection. The path of those, however, who belong to the Church goes around the whole world, for it has the firm tradition of the apostles, enabling us to see that the faith of all is one and the same" (Ibid. 5:20:1).



"Polycarp was instructed not only by the apostles and conversed with many who had seen Christ, but was also appointed bishop of the church in Smyrna by the apostles in Asia. I saw him in my early youth, for he tarried a long time and when quite old departed this life in a glorious and most noble martyrdom. He always taught those things which he learned from the apostles and which the Church had handed down and which are true. To these things the churches in Asia bear witness, as do also the successors of Polycarp even to the present time" (Ibid. 3:3:4).



"It is necessary to obey those who are the presbyters in the Church, those who, as we have shown, have succession from the apostles, those who have received, with the succession of the episcopate, the sure charism of truth according to the good pleasure of the Father. But the rest, who have no part in the primitive succession [of bishops] and assemble wheresoever they will, must be held in suspicion....The true gnosis [knowledge] is the doctrine of the apostles, and the ancient organization of the Church throughout the whole world, and the manifestation of the body of Christ according to the succession of bishops, by which succession the bishops have handed down the Church which is found everywhere" (Ibid. 4:26:2, 33:8).



"Far be it from me to speak adversely of any of these clergy who, in succession from the apostles, confect by their sacred word the Body of Christ and through whose efforts also it is that we are Christians" (Epistle to Heliodorus 14:8 [inter A.D. 374-379]).

For more:

God Bless