Sunday, October 30, 2016

What to do when your pastor is wrong.

  With Halloween tomorrow, all kinds of rumours are going around.  One of the most prominent is that Halloween's origins are rooted in "Celtic Paganism".  Read: Druidism.  Now, much ink has been spilled on this, and I'll let you read up on it on yourself.  https://www.osv.com/OSVNewsweekly/InFocus/Article/TabId/721/ArtMID/13629/ArticleID/16247/The-long-twisted-story-of-All-Hallows-Eve.aspx
This morning at Mass, my priest (who is Polish) repeated that myth.  Now, to be sure, he does have reason to be worried, and he did warn against Tarot Cards and Ouija boards, which is fine.  He also told us to "have fun" but "be careful".  And when someone told him "Happy Halloween", he didn't seem too upset.  But why are these myths repeated?  Why do we even have the "Halloween is Pagan" myth still going around?  This belief stems, not from Catholic orthodoxy, but from Fundamentalist Protestantism.  Yet, even Catholics (including priests!) are suckered into it.  I wanted to tell him "Fr., you are wrong!  Have you been reading Chick tracts"?!  To be fair, I don't think they celebrate Halloween in Poland, and he may actually have learned about its "origins" from people who really don't know.  So what did I do after Mass?  I went to the Chapel, and prayed the Divine Mercy Chaplet.  Which is what I suggest you do, when your pastor is wrong.

Friday, August 12, 2016

What should the Catholic response to racism be?

  My own ancestry is a complex mix, but heavily American Indian.  In the United States, tribes are divided into two major groups, State Recognized tribes (which is what much of my family is, apparently) and federally recognized tribes.  So why is this important?  Well, because Indian country is full of racism against state recognized tribes.  Take for instance, any state recognized tribe.  There will always be a federally recognized tribe accusing them of ancestor stealing.  The Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma has a "fraudulent Indian task force", which would be fine, if it's purpose was to identify fraudulent Indians.  But it's not.  It's to enforce discrimination against aboriginal people that, according to the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990, are American Indian.  So, the Cherokee Nation believes that there are only three Cherokee tribes, even though some state recognized tribes are much larger and have not asked for federal recognition.  So why do I bring this up?  Well, I live in an area of the country that is no stranger to racism.  I love where I live,  but it is not perfect by any means, and it does have a tradition of racism.  Recently, we've been seeing a lot of the "black lives matter" on the News and what not, and that's true, all lives matter, including the lives of the unborn.  But how do we solve the issues with racism from the Christian perspective?  Well, a Baptist friend of man who has since married a black male, was told by her sister that the Bible was against racial mixing (mind you, in Biblical times, when the OT translates the word race it is closer to ethnicity), and I said if that were true, why did Ruth (who was not an ethnic Jew) marry into the Jewish people?  Not only that, I mean, scientists are pretty sure the biological concept of race doesn't exist, and I tend to agree.  Pope Pius XI even wrote that there is only one race "the human race".  Maybe the issue is (and I am not saying you shouldn't have a modest amount of pride in your ancestry) that we do still judge by the colour of skin and not by the content of character.  Maybe, one day, when we all decide to live as brothers, this racism will end, and I hope for that day, and I hope you do too. 

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Misplacing the blame (On the Orlando shooting)

On 12 June 2016, an attacker killed 50 and wounded about 53 others.  This man has admitted an allegiance to the Islamic State.  Now, I am not saying all Muslims are terrorist, that's actually quite false.  But I've noticed that many in our political leadership are blaming Christians for an attack a Muslim man committed (including some chapters of the ACLU).  Some folks are blaming gun owners.  It seems we're blaming everyone but the person that committed this atrocity.  In the wake of this, we seem to be missing the point that people (Genesis 1:27), that is, human beings that are created in the image and likeness of God, were killed.  We take down a confederate flag after a mass shooting in a church (which I feel like people blamed on a flag), but we put up rainbow ones and express our sympathies, not with a flag of the City of Orlando or the State of Florida, but a symbol that many (not all) homosexuals co-opted from Christianity, the sign of the covenant God made with Noah. (Genesis 9:17).  So we blame gun-owners. We blame flags.  We blame Christians.  The only people we don't blame it seems, are the ones that did it.  I don't know what would have stopped that.  But I can tell you that calling for more gun control after a tragedy seems to disregard the humanity of the people that were killed.  Saying Christians caused it is a failure to look at what actually happened.  And saying these people were targeted because they were homosexuals, isn't quite accurate either.  They were killed because someone wanted to kill them.   Feel free to have your opinions, but just be sure to know the facts first.  May they all rest in peace.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Incorrect lessons pornography teaches (warning, some graphic descriptions)

Lately, I have been documenting what I have seen in pornography.  Please note, I am doing this for legitimate research.  Take into consideration that I have been sexually active in the past.  What pornography teaches is this: It's okay to have anal sex with a woman and put your hand over her mouth because you don't like the fact she's making a sound (umm, dude, that's not supposed to go there) not to mention you have her legs and arms tied up to her bed post.  That it's perfectly okay for a girl you met on a website (and possibly the first time you met) to perform oral sex on you in Ikea.  Or for that fact, that being sexual in public is a good thing (vans, mall parking lots, parks, buses).  That all women are bisexual, that all women like anal sex, and that all women want you to ejaculate on their faces (with few exceptions), that nearly every woman must have a tattoo, that all men have very large penises, that women like double penetration, and that striking a woman is okay (it's never reciprocal, it's always the man that hits the woman).  That the only older people that you should ever have sex with are your teachers and stepparents.  That, otherwise, all sex should be directed toward 18 years old who have no pubic hair.  That it's perfectly acceptable for a man to try to choke a woman with a certain part of his anatomy.  That women are there to serve men.  That rape is okay, so long as it's fantasy.  Of course, we must make the teens look even younger, put them in pigtails, have them laugh the whole time, and make sure it's group sex, because, who really has sex with only one person in real life?  Many of these women certainly are attractive, and I would imagine are looking for love.  But, they are created in the image and likeness of God, and that is not how they are being treated.  Clearly, these people (not just the women) want to be loved, but they want it the wrong way.  Lust is a form of love, but it is a perverted form of love.    Also, everyone has a tattoo, and all nuns are secretly bisexual, and regularly have sex with each other, as well as with priests. Actually, religious symbols were really heavy there.  Adam and Eve productions, for instance.  It was not uncommon to read about women (especially teens) who specialise in a certain sexual area to be referred to as "angels", and many people have tattoos of crosses or are wearing a cross (which is disturbing, when you think about what's going to happen).  I can tell you the problem with porn.  It's unrealistic.  Yeah, you can argue "it's fantasy", but, let me tell you, as a formerly sexually active now turned to being religious,  sex is not like it is in pornography.  Not even in so called "reality porn" (yeah, because you know, the first woman you offer money to have sex with is REALLY going to go home in a stranger's van).  Sex, no matter how many times you have it, is awkward, and this is a good reason I think you should way until you're married, because your spouse can awkward with you.  Not to mention STIs, depression, drug use, and a few suicides, are not unknown in pornography.  We MUST find a way to stop this.  I don't want my children to be in porn, would you want that for your kids?  Oh, and before I forget, Porn is actually really racist.  Ethnic and racial minorities are supposed to do whatever you want them to because of their differing ethnic or racial background.  The women look incredibly bored and yell at the men to do what, you know, they're already doing.  Hitting is actually quite common, even when it's not, you will find a man that has no problem calling a woman a "slut"...whilst he's having intercourse with her (so what does that make him?).

Thursday, April 28, 2016

The God of the Living

"And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God, 'I am the God of Abraham and  the God of Issac and the God of Jacob?' He is not the God of the dead, but of the living"-Matthew 22:31-32, paralleled in Mark 12:27, paralleled and expanded on in Luke 20:37-38
And my favourite verse as a proof-text  for this topic.
"And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down, with golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints"-Revelation 5:8.
Clearly, if you believe in following scripture, you can deduce several things.   1) Those in heaven are conscious of the saints on earth.  2)If God is the God of the living, those that are with him, must too be alive.  3) Contrary to what some Neo-gnostic sects think, the Old Testament God is the same God as the New Testament God, the text even says as much.  I think that all of these are important,but let's stick with the first two, since we Catholics are constantly accused of idolatry from Protestants.  (Not all) for praying to Saints in Heaven.  They'll say things like, "why do you pray to dead folks".  Well, umm, I don't.  Those in Heaven are not dead.  They are more alive than we are now.  Revelation 5:8 seems to at least indicate some degree of consciousness in Heaven.  Another problem is that some folks think that the word pray is synonymous with worship or adoration.  I think maybe some of these folks should read some Shakespeare.  "I pray thee", means something along the lines of "I ask you", the word pray, simply means "to ask a favour". You may disagree with our religious practices, but please make your objection about what we actually believe and not what you think we believe.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

For an old heretical friend

My dear, you know I love you.  I know we have been romantically linked in the past, and I want what is best for you.  I heard you have a boyfriend now, and y'all have been together for a while.  Well, God bless y'all, because I know your girl needs a dad.   I hope you're doing well.  One problem, do I have,my dear, and it is this.  It is your denial of the apostolic faith of your Iberian fore-bearers.  That faith that was brought to Spain by St. James.  That faith which miraculously made it from Palestine to Spain in a very short (relatively speaking) time.  That faith that James would have had to risk his life to bring to you. Tell me,my dear, how you see the faith of the apostles in John Smyth?How do you not see how you are denying Christ by denying his Church?   Don't you know, the Church is the bride of Christ?  How exactly did you become convinced that Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron qualify as competent theologians?  My  dear, my fear for you is that you will go to hell.  You've already accepted the gospel, you told me that Catholicism was your "true faith".  John 15:4,my dear.  Please read these words carefully.  You claim (but offer no evidence) that Catholicism is "unbiblical".  I seem to recall you being a fan of a certain college (American) football team.  Is that biblical?  "And the Lord said to them, 'Go Dawgs'".  That's certainly not in my Bible.  But here are some things that are in my Bible.  One Faith, One Baptism (not three,my dear) and One Lord. That is Ephesians 4:4-6.  Do you know what else is in the Bible?  The Eucharistic discourse in John 6.  I fail to see how that can be a symbol.  My friend, I fear you will go to Hell.  You have changed your beliefs for your convenience and have failed to believe what is true.  Revelation 21:27 deals with the logical conclusion of purgatory.  For the last seven years (at least) I have been trying to correct your errors (and much of what you say about Catholicism is flat out false).  My friend, I love you, and I want you, much like Our Lord according to Saint Peter, I want you to be saved.  (2 Peter 3:9).  Right now you, you are in the sin of presumption.  You claim "Faith Alone" is how we are saved, but so do millions of other people, some of which approve of things like homosexual acts and abortion, things you would find abhorrent.  Are people who willingly promote those causes, in defiance of what is written in scripture going to be saved, simply because they have faith? (For the record, the only place the Bible mentions Faith Alone, is in the Epistle of James, read the second chapter).  Whether you like this fact or not, there is a reasonable chance that those that believe Faith Alone will go to Hell.  (Matthew 7:21-23, not to mention that St. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13:13 "the most of these is Love" (Agape in Greek, Charitable love).  This is why I write this my friend.  I love you, and with that love, I would die to save you (John 15:13).  I would go to hell just so you could go to heaven.  Luckily, for both of us, that's not how God works.  Please think logically, and come to a conclusion based on HISTORICAL and PHILOSOPHICAL reading of scripture, and don't do what so many Protestants do, and put your own meaning in it.  I love you my dear friend.  But not more than Jesus does.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Why the Pope meeting with a socialist should not concern you

 The Pope met with Democratic Presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, a self-professed socialist.  Of course, Catholics are outraged and confused by this, yet I fail to understand why.  The Pope has met with politicians many time before, so this seems to be nothing new to me.  I think people are under the impression that the Pope is going to support his campaign.  Well, given Sanders views on abortion and socialism (two things the Church is clearly against, (CCC 2270-72, CCC 2322, CCC 2425). I doubt the Pope is going to endorse him (as a general rule, Popes generally don't endorse politicians, but they have been knowing to condemn some of their ideas, Mit Brennender Sorge, by Pius XI, for instance).  No, I don't think this is it at all.  Whether we like this fact or not (I certainly don't) there is a reasonable chance that Sanders may become our nations president.  I think it's good for two countries to start off on the right foot.  By the way, I fail to see why everyone is upset.  Yes, Sanders incorrectly referred to Pope Francis as a Socialist, but Pope Francis knows he's not (he's even said as much).  I think, Sanders and Pope Francis meeting together is a great thing, so Sanders doesn't seem to believe in God.  The Pope I think, would be in a good position to witness Christ to him.  I think the outrage in this situation is really uncalled for.  My advice to you, is stop getting your news from MSM and Radical Catholic Reactionaries, but from news sources that are loyal to the Vatican.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Why we need rural missions

  Okay, so I am Catholic.  I am also Catholic in a very rural area.  The closest Catholic church is about ten miles away from my house.  That doesn't seem that far.  But say you live where I was born, in Davenport, Iowa.  How far away is the closest Catholic church?  Since Davenport has a lot of Catholics, probably pretty close.  In rural South Carolina, I see Baptist churches all over.  Baptist, Methodist, and AME, especially in rural areas.  Do you know why?  Because they evangalised those areas.  They were the only Christians that established churches in those areas and provided spiritual needs.  I feel that, we as Catholics, make excuses, that there is no need for us to build churches and set up parishes in rural areas.  Well, why not?  Of course there's a need.  You want everyone to be Catholic, no?  Well, some of those people have never so much as met a Catholic.  In an area with few Catholics, the benefits could immense.  I know it takes money, but I, for one, like being able to walk to church.  I don't want to leave the rural area I live in at this time though.  If we, as Catholics, are not willing to go to the margins (the rural poor, by the way, are quite common), can we really call ourselves Christians?  Petition your Diocese, and give them compelling reasons why there should be a Catholic community in your area.  This is Father Wilson, he is currently the Pastor of St. Mary Help of Christians in Aiken.  Listen how close the closest Catholic Church to him was when he was growing up.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nqyq7JbbRVU&list=PL9CQlldupc5_steLbpdA1mGXQQSXDD5DZ&index=38
We can't evangelise somewhere if we're not there.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Why I won't be voting for Hilary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, or Donald Trump

  Torture is prohibited by the Catholic Church (CCC 2297).  So Trump is out.  Socialism is prohibited, Socialism is prohibited by the Catechism of the Catholic Church, so Sanders is out.  Abortion is *Obviously* prohibited by the Church, so they're all out.  (CCC 2270-2272).  I choose Christ. CCC 2240 Submission to authority and co-responsibility for the common good make it morally obligatory to pay taxes, to exercise the right to vote, and to defend one's country:

Pay to all of them their dues, taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honour to whom honour is due.45
[Christians] reside in their own nations, but as resident aliens. They participate in all things as citizens and endure all things as foreigners. . . . They obey the established laws and their way of life surpasses the laws. . . . So noble is the position to which God has assigned them that they are not allowed to desert it.46

The Apostle exhorts us to offer prayers and thanksgiving for kings and all who exercise authority, "that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way."47.
Notice it does not give an obligation to vote in a federal election?  By the way, voting in local elections is still voting, but I think like Fr Dwight Longenecker (Patheos.com/blogs/standingonmyhead) calls it the "Amish option".  Jimmy Akin (JimmyAkin.com) said during the election in 2012 that it would be better to sit out of an election in certain circumstances.  Mark Shea (who gets a lot of undeserved hate), at www.ncregister.com/blog/mark-shea/ has given reasons (very good ones) not to vote in presidential elections.  He has done it more than once, so you have to search.  I personally think the two-party system is a problem.  But hey, what do I know?  My grandfather was just a politician, it's not like me and Grandpa didn't talk about this.  

Thursday, March 31, 2016

There's no ambiguity. We are supposed to eat the flesh of Christ and drink his blood.

  "If it's just a symbol, to hell with it"!  Said one of my favourite writers, Flannery O'Connor.  She was of course, referring to the real presence of the Eucharist.  "Take note of those who hold heterodox opinions on the grace of Jesus Christ which has come to us, and see how contrary their opinions are to the mind of God… They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the Flesh of our Saviour Jesus Christ, Flesh which suffered for our sins and which the Father, in his goodness, raised up again. They who deny the gift of God are perishing in their disputes. —Letter to the Smyrnaeans, Ch 6.  I highly doubt that someone that was a disciple of the Apostle John would get something so seriously wrong.  What's that you say?  Some early Christians held views that would be deemed heretical?  Okay, let's go right to the Bible itself.  "Now, as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave to the disciples, and said 'Take eat; this is my body.'  And he took a chalice, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them saying 'Drink  of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins." (Matthew 26:26-28, this verse is paralleled verses, Mark 14:22-25, Luke 22:19-20, though Luke then goes into detail about Jesus's betrayal).  Whoa.  Blood of the covenant?  Now, what is a covenant?  A covenant is an agreement.  Usually, in biblical terms, a covenant is an agreement God makes with his people.  Take for instance, the agreement that God made with Noah (which I learned from Baptist Sunday school, and I am very thankful for)"But I will establish my covenant with you; and you shall come into the ark, your sons, your wife, and your sons' wives with you".  Genesis 6:18.  Now, of course, God tells Noah that the bow is a sign between God and the earth.  (On a different note, I remember that every time I see a rainbow).  One thing that many people do, when we Catholics are clever enough to quote John 6, pretty much the whole thing (the Eucharistic discourse).  Of course, Protestants are quick to point to 6:63.  Now are you saying that Jesus's flesh is of no avail?  That would be blasphemy.  Now, we Catholics use John 6 as a proof text, because 1) Many of his followers left him, (John 6:66)  2) If it were symbolic, Jesus would have made an attempt to explain it, he did not. And in fact, as Our Lord pointed out, "But there are some of you that do not believe".  (John 6:64).  Please think of the term Jesus uses when translated to Greek.  "Trogo".  Which means to "chew" or "gnaw".  This is a pretty graphic term.  He uses this four times in the discourse (his language shifted from the more common "esthio", the the more graphic term).  I don't know if there is a difference between those terms in Aramaic, but the fact that St. John chose to mark the change means that he knew there was a change in shift.  I don't know about you, but when it comes to the Eucharist, I'll take Jesus at his word
Prooftext used from RSV-CE.  Mainly Ignatius study Bible.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Poor Catechesis, it's not just for kids

  A few years ago, I was a sponsor for a man coming into the Church.  He and I are still on good and terms, and we do talk occasionally.  Anyway, after he was received into the Church, I attended classes with him, and the lady in there was talking about the Didache.  She claimed it was written in the 200s (it was written in the first century a.d.). I talked to him about that.  This lady also claimed that "Vatican II taught", and then followed up with heresy (note: Vatican II was an ENTIRELY orthodox council).  While he was being educated on the Faith, and I was standing in on the class, the guy teaching made a statement about not believing in purgatory.  Umm, purgatory is a dogma, that all the faithful must believe.   (I believe it was defined as such at the first council of Lyon, though contrary to Lorraine Boettner's assertion, that does not mean it was not believed before then).  We needn't have heretics teaching religious education classes.  I am in my 20s (I am 28 now, but I was a few years younger then).  These are people much older than me teaching these classes.  I feel as though we should probably avoid teaching heresy when we teach people interested in our Church.  God bless them anyway, but personally I think they need to be educated a little better on the topic they are told to teach.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Christ is risen from the dead

Christ is risen, he is truly risen!
“Today salvation has come to the world, today forgiveness has risen from the grave. Let no one fear death, for the death of our Saviour has set us free.
Christ is risen, and the evil ones are cast down.
Christ is risen and the angels rejoice.”-St. John Chrysostom

Happy Easter, Blessed Pascha.  Christ is risen!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Behold the wood of the Cross on which hung the salvation of the world-Why Good Fridays is Good

  You can find all kinds of works on how the word "Good" is an Old English word for Holy.  This may be true.  But think about this.  No Crucifixion, no resurrection.  Could God have saved us another way?  Well, he's God.  But Jesus died for us the way he did, so God could know our sufferings.  He offered the eternal sacrifice, once and for all (interestingly, the Church does not celebrate Mass on Good Friday).  According to Hebrews 4:14-16, we have a high priest that is not unable to sympathise with our weaknesses.  It is through him, and only him, that we draw near the throne of grace, where we find mercy and grace in our time of need.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

"Catholics hate sex" and other rumours

  There was a newspaper, a national one, I can not remember what it said, or even which newspaper (it was either based in Washington D.C. or New York) and it said "the only thing Catholics hate more than sex is talking about it".  I'm sorry, WHAT?  So, let me see the record straight.  Catholics do not hate sex.  We LOVE sex.  Let me repeat this, we LOVE sex.  When it is done for it's natural intended purpose, procreation.  Does that mean that a woman is going to get pregnant every time a man has sex with her? Probably not.  But the Catholic belief  is that openness to life show always be there.  What we have a problem with is lust (CCC 2351), I feel like those that engage in pornography are prostitutes.  Having sex for money is prostitution.  And CCC 2355 warns against prostitution, and with that, pornography, CCC 2354, would be and should be, and is adultery.  Porn ain't your spouse friend.  Usually associated with this is masturbation, which is forbidden by 2352.  Don't forget what happened to Onan (Genesis 38:8-10).  No, Catholics don't hate sex, we LOVE sex.  Sex can even be HOLY in the context of marriage.  If Catholics hated sex, would there be the stereotype of us having a lot of children?   God said "Be fruitful and multiply", this was the very first command from God.  I am not in a position to question the God of the universe.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

On the Arabic word for God

  It is Allah.  This makes me REALLY frustrated when Christians say "Allah isn't God".  That's not right, because what you just said is "God isn't God", which is blasphemy.  Arabic speaking Christians have been using the term for a couple of thousand years.  It is cognate with Hebrew "El" and Syriac "Ellahu"  This is the equivalent of me saying "Dieu is not God".  Dieu is, of course, the French word for God.  ": Ayyuha-r-Rabbu Yasu ‘al-Masih, Ibnu-L-Lah, irhamni ana-L-Khati. Amen. [Ayha alrb ysw’ almsyh abn allh arhmny ‘ana alkhaty. Amen.].
Consider what the underlined words say.  Before you accuse me of being a closest Muslim (as I am emphatically not), please know that this says "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner", which would be BLASPHEMY for Muslims to say. (Not to mention apostasy)
Please stop using Americanism for your lack of language skills.  Americanism is a heresy.  

Saturday, March 19, 2016

The glory of the Seventh Ecumenical Council




  Since I spoke of the Cross in places of worship in my last post, I thought I would get my Bible ready and talk about two of my favourite things 1) The Holy Bible, and the 2) Seventh Ecumenical Council.  Many Fundamentalist Protestants would be surprised to find out that we Catholics actually DO have a prohibition against idolatry in our Bibles "You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in the earth beneath, or that is the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing mercy to those who love and keep my commandments".  (Exodus 20:4-6).  Clearly, this we have.  All graven images are AN ABOMINATION  UNTO THE LORD.  Well, not quite.  For instance, few verses later we have a COMMAND, to make graven images (Exodus 25).  So what, then is, the prohibition?  Given the context, the prohibition seems to be, not so much against making graven images, but to be worshiping images as though they were gods.  In Exodus 20:3, God clearly states, "you shall have no other gods before me".  We must understand this in context.  Remember what happened when the Israelites were waiting for Moses to come back down from the mountain?  They melted down their jewelry and fashioned a golden calf for the SPECIFIC purpose of worshiping it (Exodus 32).  When Moses came back down, he was indignant, and smashed the tablets. (Exodus 32:19).  I actually remember commenting to an Eastern Orthodox priest professor I had, that Moses was the only person in history to break all Ten Commandments at once.  Again, the prohibition against idolatry is not a prohibition against images.  Solomon, whom did commit a great sin and turned from the Lord (1 Kings 11), was not admonished by anyone for using "graven images" in his construction of the Temple.(1 Kings 7)  God seemed to be quite pleased with Solomon's work, though he did offer Solomon a stern warning about turning from him (1 Kings 9).  So, as you can clearly see, prohibition against worshiping an image does not necessitate that images be totally forbidden.  Now, what about the Seventh Ecumenical Council?   Let's start with some background.
There is a movement, that started in the eighth century, called Iconoclasm.  Iconoclasts claimed that veneration of images in Holy Places was akin to worship of God.
The persecution of those holding to Christian Orthodoxy began with Emperor Leo III.  Leo was suspected of Islamic leanings, but the history on this is unknown.  Leo came to the conclusion that the images were the main reason that Muslims and Jews were not becoming Christian.  In comes  Pope Gregory II.  Now, Gregory did not want a council.  He simply wanted the Emperor to stop meddling in Christian affairs.  Gregory declared himself able to withstand Leo's attacks and claimed that Leo "would not be welcome in Rome".  Actually, the back and forth between this a little funny.  I side with Gregory, and it is clear that Gregory was not intimidated.  Leo's son, Constantine V, increased the persecution of the so-called "image worshipers".  Constantine tried to summon an Ecumenical Council, but many of the Bishops, were not having it.  They did not not believe Constantine had the right to call a council.
Now, eventually the Empress Irene, who was the regent for her son, Constantine VI, worked to undue the work of the Iconoclasts.  The former Patriarch of Constantinople, Paul IV, retired to a monastery as penance of his role in the Iconoclast heresy.  In 787, A.D., the last Ecumenical Council that the Eastern Orthodox and the Catholic Church have in common, this was the ruling

The one who granted us the light of recognizing him, the one who redeemed us from the darkness of idolatrous insanity, Christ our God, when he took for his bride his holy catholic church, having no blemish or wrinkle, promised he would guard her and assured his holy disciples saying, I am with you every day until the consummation of this age. This promise however he made not only to them but also to us, who thanks to them have come to believe in his name. To this gracious offer some people paid no attention, being hoodwinked by the treacherous foe they abandoned the true line of reasoning, and setting themselves against the tradition of the catholic church they faltered in their grasp of the truth. As the proverbial saying puts it, they turned askew the axles of their farm carts and gathered no harvest in their hands. Indeed they had the effrontery to criticise the beauty pleasing to God established in the holy monuments; they were priests in name, but not in reality. They were those of whom God calls out by prophecy, Many pastors have destroyed my vine, they have defiled my portion. For they followed unholy men and trusting to their own frenzies they calumniated the holy church, which Christ our God has espoused to himself, and they failed to distinguish the holy from the profane, asserting that the icons of our Lord and of his saints were no different from the wooden images of satanic idols.
"Therefore the Lord God, not bearing that what was subject to him should be destroyed by such a corruption, has by his good pleasure summoned us together through the divine diligence and decision of Constantine and Irene, our faithful emperor and empress, we who are those responsible for the priesthood everywhere, in order that the divinely inspired tradition of the catholic church should receive confirmation by a public decree. So having made investigation with all accuracy and having taken counsel, setting for our aim the truth, we neither diminish nor augment, but simply guard intact all that pertains to the catholic church."
So why then, may we have images?  Well, think about what the Bible said in Deuteronomy 4:15-19.  They saw no image of God, so they were prohibited from making an image of God.  But when God became man, these prohibitions were no longer necessary.  As God BECAME man.  (John 1).  This is why it is okay to know only have images in the Church, but to have images of the one who is true man, and true God, as we know this is not God himself, but just a representation of Jesus in the flesh, and an artist's idea.  We know the Holy Spirit is God (Acts 2:14-18), yet the Bible itself depicts the Spirit as "descending like a dove".  If we are forbidden from using visual images, why is this very image used?  (Matthew 3:16, Mark 1:10, Luke 3:22, John 1:32).  While the jury is out on when exactly early Christians started using images in places of worship (for instance, there is evidence that Christians used images in the 2nd century, but if I recall correctly, veneration of relics goes back even further.  Remember, this is a time when Christians were persecuted, so to be openly Christian may have meant death)
So what do we make of this?  God, and God alone is to be adored.  But how do we know how God is to be adored?  We know, must fully, through Jesus Christ, who suffered for us.  We know through the Saints, many of which died for love of him.  Veneration of images is not violation of the First Commandment, but worship of images, is.  The Early Christians often died for not worshiping the emperor.  I would gladly die to same way.  But to deny Holy Images, I feel, is to deny the incarnation. 
Sources used (May not be in order)
RSV Catholic Edition Bible 2nd Edition
New Advent
Ignatius Catholic Study Bible New Testament, Second Catholic Edition, RSV

PapalEncyclicals.net

Thursday, March 17, 2016

The Scandal of the Cross

"But we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews, and a folly to Gentiles"-1 Corinthians 1:23
"But if I brethren, still  preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted?  In that case the stumbling block of the cross has been removed"-Galatians 5:11
"For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.  For the word of the Cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God."-1 Corinthians 1:17-18.
Okay, there is much, much more.  But I always like to start with verses that I feel are the easiest and most straight forward.  There are many, out there, to whom hate the Cross.  A good example is the fundamentalist Islamic group, ISIL.  You must understand that Muslims do not believe that Jesus died for our sins.  In fact, they do not believe he died during the crucifixion at all.  (If someone can help me find the exact verse in Islamic scriptures, I'd appreciate it), nor do they believe Jesus is   (al-Ikhlas 112:3) divine .  Of course, some more "moderate" Muslims haven't got a 
problem with Christians using the Cross, though they themselves may disagree with who Jesus is.  What bothers me more than that though, is those that, in some way or the other, may feel themselves Christian, but have a huge problem with the cross in places of worship.  This was not uncommon during the time of the puritans.  They believed that having crosses in their churches could end up being an object of worship.  Mormons, believe, that Christ was crucified on a cross, but that it may be wrong to venerate an item of torture.  Jehovah's Witness take it a step further with bad Greek, and say it's a torture stake.  Let's put this to rest. At least in the third century, Tertullian claimed that the sign of the cross was already in widespread use at the time (there are many variations in the sign of the cross, so it's unclear which version, I use mainly the Latin and Byzantine, but he was likely referring to the small sign).  Obviously, if such an emphasis was put on the power of the cross, not just by the Apostles, but by early Christian witness.  Paul was certainly not against the concept of the Cross.  Now, I can't tell you what Paul allowed for images during liturgies he celebrated.  What we do have, however, is clear evidence that images were allowed in places of worship BEFORE Constantine legalised Christianity (The Dura-Europs church, for instance).  On the next post, we'll talk about why it is perfectly fine to allow images in places of worship (though the objects themselves, CANNOT be worshiped).  The Cross is what saves us from our sin.  What do you believe?

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Are Mormons Christian?

  Well, the short answer is no.  Many Mormon apologists take the words of Iraneus and Athanasius use the phrase "God became man, so men can become god" claim that their beliefs are no different than the traditional orthodox Christian process of Theosis (this is an important belief in Orthodoxy and Catholicism, western Christians rarely use the term, though).   In the this, Iraneus and Athanasius were not referring to man's ability to become gods.  Though Mormons would not tell you up front, Mormons (at least the mainstream ones) believe in something called "the Plurality of the gods".  That is, there are multiple gods, and that God the father was once a mortal man and has a flesh and bone body.  Mormons, believe that one becomes a god through a process called exaltation, that is, through being exalted to godhood by living a strict Mormon life.
Clearly, this conflicts with the traditional Christian view of God.  Not to mention, Jewish and Islamic.  "I am the LORD, and there is no other, besides me, there is no God;" Isaiah 45:5 A
It is not just this.  For instance, Mormons believe that God the Father had CARNAL relations with the Virgin Mary.  Now, of course, since Mormons believe that God the Father was once a mortal man, this would seem to contradict Luke 1:34.  Mormons believe that Jesus was not conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit (they usually use the term Holy Ghost, whom they believe is a disembodied spirit that has not yet received a material body), and emphatically deny it.  (I do not follow sola scriptura, but I do know that authentic Christian teaching can never contradict scripture).  It says in Matthew 1:18 that Mary was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit.  There is much more I can say, but it is past midnight, and I really do have to go to sleep.  I would like to commend Mormons (modern ones at least) for those that hold to strict traditional values.  They may be polytheistic henotheist non-Christians (I know that hurts, trust me, I DO fit the criteria of a Christian, and people tell me I am not a Christian), but they're polytheists with traditional morals.  But that isn't proof a religion is correct.  Just as a religion with a lot of corruption isn't evidence a religion is incorrect.  Many converts to Mormonism feel that their spiritual needs were unfulfilled in their previous tradition, and we Christians (we Catholics especially) need to take responsibility for that.  Mormons may use the same  terms we do (but to them, the mean a different thing), but through them, this is how many people see the love of Christ.  We Catholics actually DO belong to the true Church, and we need to SHOW that we are Christians.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Schismatics aren't Catholic

  The Pope is not a heretic.  Even if the Pope were a heretic, this would be no reason to leave him.  Our Lord promised the the "gates of hell" would not prevail against the Church (Matthew 16:18).  Have there been heretical Popes?  Probably.  Have they taught heresy as official dogma?  Emphatically not.  The Lord promised the gates of hell would not prevail against the Church, not that Popes would not fail in their moral lives.  Have there been wicked Popes? Of course.  But the Church is still here.  A heretical Pope would still be a valid Pope.  Christ promised both chaff and wheat (Matthew 3:12).  This is why there are very Holy Popes, and there have been very wicked Popes. And do you know what I find odd?  Those wicked Popes are still recognised as valid Popes by the Schismatics.  This is, well, confusing.  But if those are valid Popes, what prevents the current Pontiff from being a valid Pope?  I think the Schismatics need to see the bigger picture.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Who can be saved?

  "Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name".  John 20:30-31.
"And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved"- Acts 4:12
 "Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me". John 14:6
 Okay, so the Bible makes it pretty clear that we are only saved through Jesus Christ. Indeed, we Catholics affirm this basic Christian belief,  (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 442).  In fact, we hold the traditional belief, that it is only through the Church that man may be saved.  We Catholics do belong to the true Church. The Church in this world is the sacrament of salvation, the sign and the instrument of the communion of God and men. (CCC 780).  So what does this mean?  Only Catholics will be saved?  Not exactly.  Although the surest way to heaven is through the Church Christ founded, this does not mean only Catholics will be saved.  Indeed, even St. Paul recognised this.  "When Gentiles who have not the law do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law" (Romans 2:14).
So, what about those that do not know about Jesus?  Or those, such as a Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses and Muslims that know about Jesus but have an imperfect understanding of him?  Can they be saved.  Well, since we KNOW that Gentiles had the concept of Natural law, they did have the ability to respond to God's calling but may have never known about the creator whatsoever.  I think this is important because it means that these very people can respond to God's grace without knowing that it is God's grace.  The name "St. Josephine Bakhita"comes to mind.  My understanding about her is that she, when she was a pagan, would look up at the stars and wonder about their creator, as she did not believe they themselves were God.  She eventually became a slave, was forced to convert to Islam, and then was freed (slavery was illegal in Italy, if memory serves proper) and became a Catholic.  She knew God before becoming a Christian, and every time, she got a little closer to the truth.  Now, what does the Catechism say about this?  Well, it says, "Outside the Church, there is no salvation".  Note, however, this does NOT mean non Christians are absolutely damned (nor does it mean they will absolutely be saved), Indeed, the Catechism says the following "
This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church:
"Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience - those too may achieve eternal salvation."  (CCC 847)

So then, who can be saved?  Well, technically speaking everyone CAN be saved (2 Peter 3:9), , but this does NOT mean that everyone will be saved.  Our Lord was quite clear on the reality of Hell, as were the Apostles.    (Matthew 5:22, 5:29, 2 Peter 2:4, Galatians 5:21 and many others).  So who will be saved.  Well, I leave that up to you and God.  

Friday, February 12, 2016

Lent

  Lent is that special time of year where we decide that giving up something, i.e., a sacrifice, to grow closer to Our Lord, Jesus Christ.  Jesus is the Messiah, the anointed one, come to save sinners (which includes you and I) from our sins.  Many people will give up one thing or another, but it only lasts during Lent.  This is sad, for a variety of reasons, one being that if you are going to give up something, then I feel it should be permanent.   Ven. Fulton Sheen said "Pain with Love is sacrifice".  Do you believe this?  Have you ever wanted something (or, if you've ever been a twenty something or teenager, which I am willing to bet most of those reading this have been or are) that it hurts?  But there are times when you let it or them go, because  it would be better off for them.  There are two takes on the secular decision of love, one is "If I can't have her, no one can"! Which is creepy and obsessive, and there's the other side (which is still kind of a middle way, when you get down to it), "I just want my sweetheart to be happy", and this is of course preferable to the first.  It is still, however flawed.  Because she is still your sweetheart, in your mind, she is still yours.  However, both of which are life altering events.  So it is during Lent.  I am not telling you to give up anything, but what I am going to say is that when I say "life changing" I mean "conversion experience".  Volunteer to help the homeless, see Jesus in your neighbour, start a new devotion, read the Bible like you've never read it before, fast every Friday, if you have medical reasons you can't, change your diet to something healthier.  When you do fast, do it in secret.  Give the money you would have spent on the meal to a charity of your choice.  "for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,  I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’  Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink?  And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee? 39 And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me."-Matthew 25:35-40