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

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.