Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Ordination of Deacons

For the first time since I was ordained, I attended ordination today for 4 new Deacons. The setting was the same place I was ordained; the Cathedral-Basilica of St. Louis, King of France in New Orleans. These new Deacons are studying and discerning the Priesthood so they will be considered Transitional Deacons. I'm a Permamnet Deacon. Despite this difference in terms the ordination rite is the same.

The new Deacons are Christian DeLerno and Bryan Howard for the Archdiocese of New Orleans and Raymond Mukoyonzo and Raphael Owor from the Archdiocese of Tororo in Uganda.

Several of my classmates from our ordination class were there for the Mass and Ordination.

The beauty of an ordination is awe inspiring. From the richness of each prayer, the majesty of the music, the promise of the elect to lead a simple life and remain celibate and obedience to the Archbishop and his successors, the beautifully sung litany of Saints, the moment the Archbishop lays hands on the elect, the investiture of the stole and dalmatic; the vestments of the Deacon, the presentation of the Book of the Gospels; so powerful, so awesome; a true movement of the Holy Spirit.

In his homily today Archbishop Gregory Aymond made the clear connection between what we do today and what was done nearly 2,000 years ago as detailed in the Acts of the Apostles with the first Deacons. The Archbishop also took time to carefully describe for all present the ministry of the Deacon; charity, word and sacrament. But at the forefront of the diaconate is charity. It is the Deacon who often brings Christ to the prison, the hospital, into nursing homes and soup kitchens. Archbishop Aymond described the Deacon as the conscious of the Church and the instrument by which the Church goes where it does not look inviting to go.

As a reminder of their ordination, Aymond encouraged the 4 new Deacons to touch the Book of the Gospels everyday as a reminder that the Word of God will encourage them and that they will have the awesome priviledge to proclaim His holy Gospels.

I also remember that moment in my own ordination when all the community of Deacons are invited forward to welcome us with an embrace or kiss of peace. Today was the first time I was able to do this as a Deacon to the newly ordained. In some way, thanks to the Holy Spirit, without really knowing these men personally, I felt the connection as brothers in service to God's Church and His people as Deacons.

My prayer tonight is the same words that the Archbishop uses at ordination rites and the words we heard today: May God who has begun this good work in you now bring it to fulfillment!

Homily for 18th Sunday in Ord. Time; August 1, 2010

The comedian George Carlin had a routine about stuff; all the stuff we accumulate and the hilarious antics we go through to accommodate our stuff. Cable TV has a new show called “Hoarders” about people who hoard possessions to the point of a serious addiction. One of the fastest growing businesses over the past 30 years is self storage units; because all our stuff can’t fit in our homes anymore. And the busiest day of the year in Abita Springs is the day we have our all town garage sale. Yes, we love our possessions.

Probably everybody here has cleaned out the attic. Until my wife and I did this a few months ago I went to bed every night praying that the ceiling would hold. How about cleaning out the garage? One of my friends just announced that after 6 years of living in their new house they can finally park the car in the garage. And probably all of us have made at least a couple of trips to Goodwill with all the old stuff that no longer fits or is no longer in style.

Possessions are sometimes very necessary. Possessions alone are not the problem; the constant need to accumulate possessions is the problem. Sometimes our possessions can prevent us from having right relationships with each other. Possessions may also hinder our personal relationship with Jesus.

As people of faith, what are the possessions we need to rid ourselves of to focus more intimately on Jesus?

The parable we hear today in St. Luke’s Gospel is most commonly referred to as that of the rich fool. The rich man, who has more than enough for himself and his family, is blessed with more. When he takes stock of just how much he has he chooses to tear down barns and buildings and build larger ones so he can keep his excess. And the rich fool then rejoices in his largess by uttering that well known phrase: rest, eat, drink and be merry!

But as with all of the parables Jesus shares, this one too has a larger lesson. In this parable Jesus actually uses the name of His Father as he says that God calls the rich man a fool and explains his life will be taken. This is the classic warning: you can’t take it with you. Jesus instructs in this parable that we are to store our treasures for that which matters to God.

Is God condemning wealth and possessions? Not necessarily. What Jesus is teaching us in this lesson is that our over-worldly desire to acquire more, to have bigger, better, newer is greed; and Jesus tells us guard against all greed. Jesus knows that left to our own designs, greed will choke off our ability to understand what true wealth is: the fullness of life that His Father and our Father too, wants to give us; in this life and eternal life.

Notice what is lacking in the parable of the rich fool. With his bountiful harvest and vast possessions he offers none to his neighbor, none to the poor, and none to those living on the fringes of society. He is not generous. Just last week we heard how generous our Heavenly Father is to those of us he calls His children. God wants us to be generous too; we should share with those who do not have what we may be blessed to have. This is such a profound teaching of the Church that in many of the papal encyclicals the Pope’s have explained about the need for the poor to take from those with abundance, if absolutely necessary for life and survival. And in another encyclical the rights of poorer nations to receive aid and support from richer nations is clearly spelled out.

Two great stories come to mind today about what really matters. In the Acts of the Apostles, as Peter and John are leaving the temple they are asked for money from a poor beggar who could not walk. Peter, with all Christian charity tells the beggar: I have neither silver nor gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus rise and walk. And he was healed. No possession could ever truly give the man real happiness; but the healing love of Jesus most certainly does. And I’m reminded of St. Lawrence, the Deacon of the early church who was persecuted by the emperor. He told Lawrence he could escape death if he gathered up all the riches of the church and brought them to him. Lawrence went and gathered all the people of the church, the poor among them and marched them in front of the emperor and promptly told him: these are the true riches of the church. Things are not valuable; people are. And as people, we are called to take that value into a personal relationship with Jesus and a caring, loving relationship with each other.

Where I minister in prison the men are stripped of possessions. Some take that opportunity to do something with their time in jail. Some pursue their education, others earnestly seek a relationship with God through the many ministries there, and some do both and some don’t care.

How can we, in the week ahead, strip ourselves of those possessions, the stuff George Carlin talked about, the emotional baggage too that may prevent us from deepening our relationship with Jesus and each other? Start this week in prayer. May I suggest we pray with this Gospel, Luke 12: 13-21 and the story from Acts of the Apostles 3: 1-10? Then as our prayer takes hold this week focus on one possession, tangible or not, that dominates us and holds us back from giving more to God and to others. Work on letting that possession go; or at least minimize its impact in our life. And then pick one activity; the food bank, our own St. Vincent de Paul Society, Habitat, the Crisis Pregnancy Center, even our own collection basket when it passes by in the pew, and be generous.

May we rid ourselves of all our physical, emotional and mental stuff and junk; may we clean out our own spiritual attics and garages and replace this stuff with our real inheritance; the fullness of all God offers us.

Yes, we love our possessions; but our life in Christ does not consist of possessions!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Formation activities

As a Deacon in the Archdiocese of New Orleans, for a whole 20 months now, I am very drawn to the continuing formation of those men in various stages of formation. We are blessed here in New Orleans as we have a class of ten men scheduled for ordination in December and another class of twenty approaching the halfway point of their formation journey which may be ordained in 2012. And we also have about fifty plus men beginning an inquiry for a possible class for 2015.

Tonight our 2012 group began an important 3 day retreat at the Benedictine Abbey north of New Orleans. I accompanied our diaconate director and other brother deacons to the Abbey just to be present to our 2012 brothers and their wives before moving into the actual retreat began. This retreat is a silent retreat focused on Ignatian spirituality and using the Examen for prayer life and spiritual direction.

It is always rewarding to be with the candidates and to relive my own experiences in formation. It is indeed a special time when the rigors of formation academics can be balanced with some quiet time, prayer and reflection and deeper spiritual development.

In just a week, our 2010 class and 2012 class begin another semester (a term I hate because it implies school and formation ain't school) and their journey in formation begins another chapter. I ask my family and friends who venture to this site and read this post to pray for these men and their wives who are on the journey and for vocations to ordained life; as permanent deacons and the priesthood.

A summer crop of saints

These last several days of July have brought more than just hot weather and a longing for the cool days of autumn. We have had a bumper crop of saints to celebrate on the church calendar. On July 29th the church gives us St. Martha, the sister of Mary and Lazarus. We've discussed Martha quite a bit a few weeks back as we looked at the Gospel Of Luke when Jesus visited her home. Martha was the one busy with all the work of chores and hospitality while Mary sat at the Lord's feet, listening to Him teach. Martha, Martha, said Jesus, you are worried and anxious about many things. Mary has chosen the better part. I always remind myself that Martha is a saint too; so on the 29th we celebrate her feast.

Also on this day is the feast of brother Lazarus. Mary and Martha's brother, who died and was buried, was risen from the dead by Christ. Many of the traditions of the church report that Lazarus became a bishop of the early church after the ascension of Jesus.

On July 30 we celebrate the feast of St. Peter Chrysologus, a bishop and doctor of the 5th century church. In 424 Peter was elected a bishop and was renowned for his sermons and his writings. He preached about the incarnation of Christ and mysteries of salvation. He died around the year 450.

On July 31st we have the memorial of Ignatius of Loyola. He was born in 1491 and spent his early years as a soldier. He was converted to the faith and studied theology at Paris. He had many followers in France and later in Rome, impressed with his deep faith and spirituality and a keen intellect. He began the Society of Jesus; also known as the Jesuits. His amazing teachings and spiritual writings are credited with the renewal of the Church. He died in 1556.

Many who are trained in spiritual direction use Ignatian spirituality.

His great spiritual saying was Ad Majorium Dei Glorium; For the Greater Glory of God!

And as we transition into August, the 1st will bring us St. Alphonsus Liguori; another bishop and doctor. Born in 1696 he became a great doctor of both canon and civil law. He founded the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer; also known as the Redemptorists. He preached and wrote on moral theology. He died in 1787.

So we celebrate this summer our saints; whose lives and examples can inspire and encourage us today in our own lives and we strive to follow Christ and serve the church and the people of God.

On the home front

On a personal note tonight; life is somewhat getting back to normal. Over the past two weeks I've been living the batchelor life; well kind of. My wife headed west to be with her mom during a serious illness. This occured while our daughter was in England at summer classes. So it was classic home alone for the deacon while work continued and ministry continued and the grass still grows and the clothes need washing.

But last night, in just two short hours I got both my girls home. Wendy arrived back from Texas around 9 p.m. and Elizabeth landed at the airport around 11 p.m. Despite the late hour, I could not be more happy. Well into the early hours of Friday morning Elizabeth entertained us with stories of London and Dublin and Paris and Rome and Barcelona. And Wendy updated us on the improving, yet still serious condition of her mom.

I thought about how amazingly unselfish my wife is; going to the aid of her mom while putting so many things on hold for two weeks. And there was many touch and go moments so it was no easy time for her. By God's will my mother-in-law is improving and I know very grateful for the love and support from Wendy and Wendy's sister too.

I also thought about what an amazing trip my daughter experienced. In so many ways it was a life changing event. I'm so amazed at all the places she traveled, things she saw and experienced all while gaining 6 more hours of college credit.

I am truly blessed by the people in my life.

I've talked before about all the people who also came to help me in my two week aloneness. Some truly amazing friends showed me the meaning of love, serving Him by serving others.

So tonight, I prepare to go to bed, happy that Wendy & Elizabeth are home, safe and sound, and that God is always in control.

Like I always pray to get through all the times in our lives: Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. Hebrews 13:8.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Grand-parents in light of Sts Anne and Joachim

>>>As one who grew up with 3 of 4 grandparents deceased before I could walk or talk; I thought this was great; especially after the feast of Jesus' grandparents yesterday:

"Blest are your eyes because they see and blest are your ears because they hear." –Matthew 13:16
Today we honor Jesus' grandparents and all grandparents. Grandparents can make a special contribution to building God's kingdom.

They have been given the opportunity to see and hear what younger prophets and saints have not experienced (Mt 13:17).

Grandparents have had time to mature in holiness, and God promises that the spiritual wealth of their virtuous lives will remain in

their families (Sir 44:10-11). "This is the covenant with them which I Myself have made, says the Lord" (Is 59:21).

Grandparents, you have something precious to offer your children, grandchildren, families, and God's people. Claim God's promise to you.

Make bold acts of faith. Don't waste your time on the things of this world. Don't pinch your pennies or insure your insurance. You'd better learn

to trust your heavenly Father, because that's all you'll have when death knocks at your door.

Whatever you do, don't give yourself up "to selfish indulgence" and thereby lead "a life of living death" (1 Tm 5:6). "Already you have devoted enough

time to what the pagans enjoy" (1 Pt 4:3). "You are not to spend what remains of your earthly life on human desires but on the will of God" (1 Pt 4:2).

Prove yourselves worthy of your age (2 Mc 6:27). Leave to your children and grandchildren "a noble example of how to" live and die for the Lord (2 Mc 6:28).

Father, may grandparents lead lives of faith and of prophetic witness to the gospel. May grandparents change lifestyles to communicate

Your new life and new values to their families.

"Through God's covenant with them their family endures." –Sir 44:12

Sts. Joachim & Anne were holy examples of godliness as proven by the fruit of their marriage.

A Deacon, a miracle and a Beatification

>>>This is a great story to our Permanent Deacon community and to all Catholics who faithfully believe in the communion of Saints. Cardinal Newman, pray for us!

Deacon Jack Sullivan to proclaim Gospel at Newman Beatification Mass
By: Peter Jennings

Posted: Monday, July 26, 2010 11:01 pm

Deacon Jack Sullivan, from the Archdiocese of Boston Massachusetts, is to proclaim the Gospel at the Cardinal Newman's Beaitifcation Mass to be celebrated by Pope Benedict, at Cofton Park Birmingham, on Sunday 19 September. Rev Sullivan was miraculously cured from a serious spinal disorder on the Feast of the Assumption of Our Lady, 15 August 2001. This cure was accepted by the Church as the miracle necessary for Newman's Beatification.

Deacon Jack Sullivan, now aged 71, and his wife Carol, will be the guests of Archbishop Bernard Longley and the Archdiocese of Birmingham during their six-day visit to England for the occasion.

The healing of Deacon Sullivan, was subjected to rigorous tests by a panel of doctors and then by theologians set-up by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Rome. The Cardinals and Bishops of the Congregation voted unanimously in favour of the cure on 2 June 2009. Pope Benedict XVI approved the Decree announcing the miracle on 3 July that year.

Archbishop Bernard Longley said: "I met Deacon Jack Sullivan recently in New York. I am delighted that he and his wife Carol have accepted an invitation to be my personal guests and those of the Archdiocese of Birmingham at the time of the beatification of Cardinal Newman."

The beatification will be the first to be carried out by Pope Benedict XVI since he was elected Pope in April 2005, a mark of his lifelong interest in and study of Cardinal Newman, the best-known English churchman of the 19th century. The venue chosen by the Holy See for the Papal Mass is situated close to the Oratory Retreat House at Rednal where Cardinal Newman was buried following his death, aged 89, on 11 August 1890.

During a press conference announcing the news, Fr Jan Nowotnik, Parish Priest, Our Lady and St Brigid, Northfield, Deputy, Local Coordinator, Liturgy, said that Cardinal Keith O'Brien and Archbishop Vincent Nichols, and the bishops from England and Wales, and Scotland would be joined by cardinals and more than 100 bishops from throughout the world at the Mass of Beatification at the end of the Pope's historic four-day State Visit to Britain.

Fr Nowotnik said: "Over 1,000 priests, some of whom would help with the distribution of Holy Communion, are expected to concelebrate at the Mass. There will be four deacons of the Mass including two newly ordained deacons who are training to be priests. One of the four deacons is Deacon Jack Sullivan who will proclaim the Gospel."

Fr Nowotnik added: "Deacon Sullivan and his wife Carol along with other representatives will form part of a procession that will immediately follow the Rite of Beatification when the new Blessed John Henry Newman is proclaimed."

Fr Nowotnik said: "The Prayers of the Faithful will be read in the following languages which represent some of the languages of the people of the diocese. They are Welsh, French, German, Punjabi, Irish, Vietnamese." He said: "Latin will be used in the Mass to represent the Universal Nature of the Church."

He said: "People from the Archdiocese of Birmingham and nationally have been chosen to read, carry the offertory gifts and be altar servers. He added: "30 people will be chosen from within the three Oratory parishes in England (Birmingham, London and Oxford) to receive Holy Communion from the Holy Father."

In addition, Fr Nowotnik revealed that the choir will be made up of more than 2,000 people mainly representing the parishes of the Archdiocese of Birmingham.

Canon Patrick Browne, Administrator, St Chad's Cathedral, Local Coordinator of the Papal Visit to the Archdioceses of Birmingham told the press conference that after Mass, Pope Benedict is expected to make a short private pilgrimage to the Oratory House in Edgbaston, opened by Cardinal Newman in 1852, where he spent most of his life as a Catholic and where he died on 11 August 1890.

Pope Benedict XVI will then make a private visit to St Mary's College, Oscott, the diocesan seminary situated on the outskirts of Birmingham where he will address the Catholic bishops of England, Scotland and Wales in the chapel. It was here on 13 July 1852 that Dr Newman gave his famous The Second Spring sermon at the First Synod of the New Province of Westminster held at Oscott College.

About 70,000 people are expected to be in Cofton Park for the Papal Mass, scheduled to start at 10am and last for about two hours.

In answer to questions Canon Browne explained that 65,000 pilgrim invitations are being distributed by the dioceses of England and Wales working with the local deaneries and parish priests and also the Birmingham Oratory.

Canon Browne said: "The pilgrims, who will be representatives from their parishes, will make a contribution of £25 each towards the special official Pilgrim Pack that will contain a special prayer book with the Papal Mass and also a coach ticket to the venue." He said: "Only Pilgrims who receive an official pilgrim invitation will be admitted to Cofton Park for the Papal Mass."

Monday, July 26, 2010

Jesus had grandparents...

The Church gives us the celebration today of the parents of Mary. Now they appear no where in Scripture which probably gives the sola scriptura club fits; you know the argument; no parents in Scripture ergo no parents?

Anyway, tradition and other historical texts give us a little about Mary's parents named Joachim and Ann. It is Mary conceived in the womb of Ann who was exempted, by a particular grace from God, from original sin.

Joachim it is believed withdrew to the desert to fast and pray for a child as the couple were without children for years. An angel appeared to Joachim and told them they indeed would have a child. It is believed that Mary was their only child. Some apocraphal writings claim Joachim died soon after Jesus was born; about the same time he was presented in the temple.

Devotion to St. Ann has been widespread throughout the Church for centuries.

While we can not be sure with total certainty of the life of Mary's parents, this tradition, including their names has been long supported by the Church.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Celebrating the Feast of an Apostle; James the Greater

St. James feast day is today but being a Sunday it may be overlooked. James is one of the 12 Apostles; this is James the son of Zebedee and brother of John. He is often referred to as James the Greater not to be confused with the other Apostle James who was the son of Alpheus.

James and John were but humble fishermen in Galilee when Jesus came along and called to them to follow Him. It is James and John that asked Christ about sitting on either side of Him in glory and assured Jesus they could drink His cup. They are known as Sons of Thunder because they asked Jesus if they should call down fire from heaven to strike the Samaritans. James and John, along with Peter were present at the Transfiguration of the Lord.

After the Resurrection and Ascension James became the Bishop of Jerusalem and was actively involved in the famous Council of Jerusalem as detailed in Acts of the Apostles. Around the year 42, James became the first Apostle to be martyred for his steadfast proclamation of Jesus as Savior when he was beheaded by King Agrippa I.

There is a profound tradition that James traveled to Spain to preach the good news but scholars doubt this was possible. Another tradition claims that his body is buried in Santiago de Compostela in Spain which has become a great pilgrimage location. He is the patron saint of Spain.

His feast day is celebrated today, July 25th.

Although named for a relative it is James the Greater that is the patron birth name of my son.

St. James, Apostle-Bishop-Martyr, pray for us!

yesterday, today and forever...

The theme I adopted for my life as an ordained minister is from Hebrews 13:8:

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.

I became more familiar with this verse of Scripture while watching an amazing story about a family who was caring for their loved one who was injured beyond recognition in a terrible highway accident involving a college ladies sports team. Some of the team were killed; others injured including this young lady who was unrecognizable. Over time the family that stayed at her bedside began to realize that this was not their daughter. Some how in the tragedy and turmoil of this sad event another tragedy was about to be played out. One family, who already grieved the loss of their loved one now had to come to grips with the news that she was alive; critical but alive. And this other family, who patiently and dutifully and prayerfully stayed at the bedside of the young lady they believed was their own now faced the realization that their loved one was dead.

The sister of the dead girl wrote in her diary that day of the tragic circumstances of this whole ordeal and the family needing to begin the grieving process. But she ended with this wonderful verse from Hebrews as her personal testimony that God is still the Lord of their lives, even in this most tragic of circumstances.

For me, Hebrews 13:8 is my reminder to always place Jesus as the center of my life, at all times and in all situations. This has been vivid for me over the past 2 weeks.

My wife and her sister have been at the bedside of their mom for 10 days now after she was hospitalized for pneumonia, lung infection and a seriously irratic heart rythym. My mother-in-law has endured two shock treatments, an angiogram and more on the road we hope leads to recovery.

When a loved one takes seriously ill many miles and hours from home it can be an ordeal on the family. Both my wife and sister-in-law never expected to be gone for anything more than a weekend yet circumstances caused a change in plans. There has been better news these last few days so I am hopeful that a full recovery is soon to be realized. And perhaps somewhat selfishly, I am anxious to have my family back together under one roof.

In the week ahead my daughter returns from 6 weeks studying in Eurpoe. What a blessing it will be if both my girls could be home at the same time.

We all deal with life as it comes to us. I have been so blessed and encouraged by so many people; loved ones and good friends who have prayed for my family and for my mother-in-laws recovery. And other friends have come to my aid, perhaps mindful that I'm alone and still have ministry and work to do while our family deals with this situation, to feed me, help me with the upkeep of my property and just check in with me! It has been so uplifting and reminds me everyday that "Christ-like" is a reality in the people God places in our lives!

So to everyone thank you. Remember the scripture I've taken to heart and use it from time to time. For even in these past few difficult days, I am uplifted when I pray:

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. Heb 13:8

The Archbishop Wore Combat Boots

At the beginning of the month I published a post about the amazing retired Archbishop Hannan and his memoirs, the Archbishop Wore Combat Boots! The book is taking off and is a big hit here in the New Orleans area. Today it was featured on a local television station. Take a look at

The co-author speaking in the piece you are viewing is Peter Finney Jr., the publisher of the Clarion Herald, the Archdiocesan newspaper, and the father of our newest ordain Priest, Fr. Peter Finney III

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Homily for 17th Sunday in O.T. July 25, 2010

Monica was a devout Christian who raised her family in the faith and persisted in prayer. Many times her prayers were for her children; that they would persevere in their faith life. Monica had a son who became quite the playboy. As early as 17, as he left for college, her son became heavily involved in drunkenness, a wild lifestyle and he even had a mistress. Yet Monica persisted in prayers for the young man; for 17 years uninterrupted she prayed for his return to the faith. Her prayers were answered as her son returned home, renounced his former way of living and became a Priest, a doctor of the Church and a great Saint. You see Monica is St. Monica and her son is St. Augustine.  We will celebrate their feast days next month!

Persisting in prayer works. Even when we don’t think God hears us or answers our prayers; persistence pays off. Many of us here this morning can probably relate to St. Monica and maybe St. Augustine too. Perhaps there is a prayer intention that comes to mind right now that has required your persistence.

As people of faith, we need to ask the Lord to teach us how to pray and to be persistent in our prayer life!

St. Luke’s Gospel today focuses on prayer. Responding to a request to teach us to pray, Jesus replies with the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus first teaches us to call God our Father. Jesus teaches us to be in relationship with our Father, to be His children and to recognize that our Father will supply our needs. But we are also called to understand that God will answer our prayer not simply with what we want but with what we truly need.

The Our Father is taught by Jesus because it is orderly. Before anything else, we acknowledge God and give Him glory and reverence. The prayer covers all of life; our present need in our daily bread; our past life filled with our sins and the forgiveness that comes from our Father and our future trials as we ask for assistance with temptation.

The Our Father is taught to us by Jesus because He desires us to pray this prayer in this life and before the Father in Heaven in the life to come.

And Jesus teaches the disciples a lesson in persistence. He gives us the story of the neighbor who goes next door asking for bread at midnight. We all know what would happen these days if we would go knocking at the neighbor’s door at midnight! The point of this teaching is not simply to persist in prayer nor is it about our ability to bargain, compel or negotiate with God. This would imply an unwilling God or a father not wanting to give good gifts to his children. Jesus uses a parable here to draw a contrast. Many times that is what a parable is; a lesson in contrast. And the contrast presented by Jesus is this; if a reluctant neighbor will eventually give his friend what he needs, because of persistence, how much more will our loving Father give us, His children, what we truly need because he loves us?

For us gathered here today, we come together in a spirit of worship and prayer. Our intensity in prayer, our persistence is to take this spirit of worship and prayer out of this church and to our world and the week ahead.  Just this week, at World Youth Day, Pope Francis implored us to not just knock on the door, but walk out of the door and bring Jesus and a life of faith to the street; to our neighbors, friends and family.

  As Jesus gives us the Our Father, we can make that prayer more meaningful this week by making the prayer part of our daily routine. We can start and end our day with a sincere recitation of the Our Father while focusing on the words we hear about this prayer from today’s Gospel. Reading and praying with these first 13 verses of Luke chapter 11 would be a good way to reflect on our prayer life.  Can we reflect this week if our prayer life helps to facilitate a deeper, more personal relationship with our Father?

In our prayer life this week focus on the difference between searching and finding. Is our focus so specific that we are asking God to help us find what we want or can we search more deeply asking God to show us what we need in this life and the life to come?

And finally can we focus this week on that one person in our life that may be far from God now, be it a family member, a friend or a co-worker? Can we persist in our prayer for that person like St. Monica did for her son St. Augustine?

Lord teach us how to pray.

Lord we ask because from you we wish to receive…
Lord we seek because it is you we wish to find…
Lord we knock because it is your door we wish to be opened for us…

St. Monica and St. Augustine pray for us!

Friday, July 23, 2010

More on the Church founded by Christ

12. The true Church ought to be resplendent with miracles:

First, let us define the two types miracles; first class and second class. In this section, when we refer to miracles, we are referring to those of the first class, as explained on our Miracles Page.
First class miracles were obviously left with the Church to confirm Her teaching. No doubt first class miracles were originally used to confirm the word of Moses, that he might be believed. And Our Lord said that if He himself had not done miracles, the Jews would not have been obliged to believe him. And we know by looking at the history of the Catholic Church and Her Saints that they have always been resplendent with first class miracles, of which have never stopped. We know this based on the many authors we have with irreproachable authority century after century. Why then do some Protestants attempt to say miracles have ceased from the Church? Miracles have always been with the Church and therefore they are a property of the Church. If God used miracles to speak to men in Scripture, why would He remove this from the Church He established for all of us?
Consider the verse, "And these signs shall follow them that believe: In my name they shall cast out devils: they shall speak with new tongues. They shall take up serpents; and if they shall drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them: they shall lay their hands upon the sick, and they shall recover." Mark 16:17,18. Our Lord does not say "all" believers would work miracles, and does not say miracles would be limited to just the Apostles or limited just to the years in which they lived, but simply that miracles will follow "those who believe”.
Consider the verse, "Otherwise believe for the very works' sake. Amen, amen I say to you, he that believeth in me, the works that I do, he also shall do; and greater than these shall he do." John 14:12. The part of the verse "he also shall do; and greater than these shall he do" clearly backs up the other verse directly above with respect to the miracles Jesus performed. "Believe for the very works' sake" confirms that miracles are but signs to make us believe.

In a nutshell, "those who believe” are in the church, and those believers are followed by miracles, therefore in the Church there are miracles. There are believers in all times, and believers are followed by miracles, therefore in all times there are miracles.

13. Only the Catholic Church has been shown to be accompanied with repeated first class miracles:

To assure our points below are understood, please see our explanation of first and second class miracles on our Miracles page (if you have not already done so) before reading this section.
There is simply no doubt about the repeated astounding miracles associated with Catholic Church and Her Saints over the centuries, which so many historians describe, and so many persons had a part in, and where so much evidence is left behind, many of which took place in the Church’s early years when the Protestant reformers considered the Catholic Church to be the true Church. Some quick examples are St. Francis of Paula raising the dead to life, St. Francis Xavier raising a man to life and healing the paralyzed, deaf, dumb and blind. There are many, many bodies of Saints discovered incorrupt without embalming even after being centuries under ground, and these bodies spanning nearly 20 centuries are still on display all over Europe. There are also many, many books dedicated to these happenings and others. Yet the Protestant reformers have chosen to play down these happenings and even deny them, we can only assume because these first class miracles have not been found in their churches. To deny such an overwhelming number of occurrences with an abundance of credible witnesses and evidence is simply looking the other way. And to try and claim 2000 years of first class miracles are either all lies, hallucinations, or simply not miracles at all is absurdity. If the writings of repeated first class miracles in the Catholic Church are not miracles, then how can they be explained?
Some Protestant denominations have also attempted to claim that these miracles seen throughout the Church's history are all from Satan. We answer that to collectively claim all of the greatest of Saints throughout 2000 years of Church history all performed miracles via Satan is as absurd as saying Our Lord cast out devils by the devil.
For those Protestants who claim that they have first class miracles in their churches, we ask that you please bring forward proof for your claims as the Catholic Church always has. It is possible second class miracles may be experienced by anyone that God chooses, but second class miracles are always questionable and are of no comparison to the first class miracles experienced repeatedly in the Catholic Church over the centuries. We have yet to see any proof for first class miracles in Protestant churches such as Saints raising others from the dead, Saints incorrupt bodies, the stigmata and SO many other astounding occurrences seen in the Catholic Church over the centuries.
Some Protestants have also tried to claim that there is no longer a need for miracles since the Gospel of Christ has already been preached to all corners of the earth and since Christianity has already been established. If this were true, then miracles would probably have stopped occurring at some point during the first few centuries after Christ at periods when Christianity was quite secured and the persecutions had ceased, but so far were miracles from ceasing in those centuries and in all other centuries since the time of Christ, that this theory is made illogical.
The Protestant reformers have also claimed they made no new church, but simply polished and cleaned up the existing Church which had failed. Since they removed key parts of the faith and Sacraments which were in the true Church in Her early days, the result is not a reformed church but a new one. At the time before the Church was "reformed" it contained the character of first class miracles. We ask all Protestant denominations; show us the character of first class miracles in your church now as it was in the early days of the Church.
The Church has always been accompanied by first class miracles, just as Her founder Jesus Christ was. Therefore She is the true Church. No other society can claim these miracles which the Catholic Church does, so glorious and so continual, unless God was with it! "If you be the children of Abraham, do the works of Abraham." John 8:39.
God cannot be an author or confirmer of a lie, therefore that which is continually confirmed by miracles cannot be a lie, but must be truth. It is true that there are both false miracles and true miracles, and some miracles that are debatable as to the presence of God's power (i.e. second class). True miracles as sent from heaven will be apparent to the elect. "By their fruits you shall know them." Matthew 7:16
There is scarcely any article of our religion which has not been proved by miracles. Where the true miracles are, we know the true Church is. God would never bear witness to a Church which did not have the true faith, and was erring, deceiving and idolatrous. For this reason, and the reason that Protestant Churches do not appear to have first class miracles, we believe the Protestant Reformation was a departing of the true faith.
Why is it that first class miracles are seen so continually throughout the history of the Catholic Church, but not seen outside of it? We answer with this verse from Scripture, "And he wrought not many miracles there, because of their unbelief" Matt 13:58

As with miracles, the Catholic Church at all times has also had prophets, yet some Protestant reformers have also claimed that prophecy has left the true Church along with miracles. Yet there have scarcely been any Saints in the Catholic Church throughout the last 2000 years who have not prophesied. We ask the Protestant denominations, if your church be the true church, please show us the prophets from your church as the Catholic Church can from any given point over the last 2000 years.

The oil is not flowing but the need continues

>>>From the Archdiocese of New Orleans

Our response to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico

In order to serve the fishing communities affected by the oil spill, Catholic Charities and our affiliated ministry Second Harvest Food Bank have partnered with Catholic Church parishes, local governments, state agencies (DSS and DHH), and other area non-profits.

At our five oil spill relief centers, families can receive food vouchers to local grocery stores, case management services, crisis counseling and other emergency supplies.

Through July 21, 2010:

We have provided emergency assistance to 18,541 people (6,983 families).
We have distributed $371,500 in food vouchers to affected families and $78,540 in emergency food boxes from our affiliated ministry Second Harvest Food Bank.
Our affiliated ministry Second Harvest Food Bank has distributed about 296,289 pounds of food (about 230,000 meals) to its member agencies in 11 Louisiana parishes affected by the oil spill.
We have distributed 393 cans of baby formula and 1,051 packages of diapers.
Our mental health crisis counselors have provided crisis counseling to 5,843 people.
We have distributed $180,355 in other direct assistance and baby supplies to families.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

St. Mary Magdalene

The Gospel tells us: When Jesus had risen from the dead on the morning after the sabbath, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. Mk. 16:9.

A disciple of Jesus, Mary is sometimes referred to as the apostle to the Apostles. She was present at the Cross, remaining at his feet until died. And she was present at the Resurrection and is the first person that Jesus spoke with.

Mary, like all of the followers of Jesus, believed at first that his body had been moved. Mary remained at the tomb. Soon thereafter Jesus appears to her and when he calls her by name, she responds rabboni, that is teacher.

Mary gives us two great models to follow; perseverance in our faith in Jesus and respond generously as Jesus calls us each by name.

The church has promoted this devotion to Mary Magdalene on this day for centuries and became universal during the 12th century.

The prayer today said across the world:

Father, your Son first entrusted to Mary Magdalene the joyful news of his resurrection. By her prayers and example may we proclaim Christ as our living Lord and one day see him in glory!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Can permanent deacons remarry?

>>>This is a great article and awesome explanation on a little known fact about the Permanent Diaconate. This is by Deacon Scott Dodge from Utah:

Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Remarriage and the widowed permanent deacon

Recently I have been asked several times about remarriage and the permanent diaconate. In the present state-of-affairs, which may eventually require changes in canon law (a subject I address in my thesis), permanent deacons follow the discipline of clergy of the Eastern Churches, Catholic and Orthodox. This means that if a deacon is to be married, he must marry prior to ordination because, according to canon 1087, "Those in sacred orders invalidly attempt marriage."

In the eventuality that a deacon is widowed, he is not normatively free to remarry under canon law. This seems almost shocking to people. Keep in mind that in the early church being married twice was quite scandalous and frowned upon for anybody! According to canon 1078 §2 1/, a widowed permanent deacon who wishes to remarry must receive a dispensation from the impediment of holy orders. Granting this dispensation is reserved exclusively to the Holy See. It bears noting that requests for this dispensation have not been routinely granted.

In 1997, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, at the behest of Pope John Paul II, set forth three conditions under which a dispensation from the impediment of holy orders for a widowed permanent deacon to remarry would be considered: "1) the great and proven usefulness of the ministry of deacon to the diocese to which he belongs; 2) the fact that he has children of such a tender age as to be in need of motherly care; 3) the fact that he has parents or parents-in-law who are elderly and in need of care" (from New Commentary on the Code of Canon Law, pgs. 358-9).

I cannot imagine a permanent deacon who divorces receiving a dispensation to remarry, even after an annulment had been sought and granted, which would certainly be a prerequisite. I suppose a dispensation could be requested in such a situation, but only if any of three conditions listed above applied. However, I am certainly open to expert feedback on this matter.

The true Church...

11. The true Church of Christ must be one in unity and doctrine:

First, it cannot be that the true Church is divided of belief in opinion, as God would no longer be its author. God, a God of Truth, could not possibly have revealed a plurality of religions, or a multitude of varying Christianities. Our Lord taught one religion and founded one Church, not multiple ones. The Protestant denominations clearly fall into this category with their thousands of denominations, all with beliefs opposing the other. How can we call thousands of opposing denominations a reformation of the Church? Our Lord's threat of damnation for not believing clearly condemns the opposing Protestant denominations that have formed since the Protestant reformation.
Consider the verse, "And Jesus knowing their thoughts, said to them: Every kingdom divided against itself shall be made desolate: and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand." Matthew 12:25. Are not Protestant denominations divided among themselves with little hope to reunite?
Consider the verse, "And let the peace of Christ rejoice in your hearts, wherein also you are called in one body: and be ye thankful." Colossians 3:15. One body is one Church, and cannot possibly be thousands of opposing denominations.
When the Protestant reformers brought forward the belief that each was to interpret Scripture on his own, that made each person on earth equivalent to the next. Under this belief a lay person is equivalent to a priest or minister, therefore it is optional for a lay person to consult them. This situation inevitably leads to conflicts between all of these "equal" people claiming their interpretation is correct, which inevitably leads to different denominations which inevitably leads to multiple doctrines. As already mentioned above, nowhere is it found in Scripture that we are to interpret Scripture on our own, rather Scripture does clearly indicate Our Lord instructed His Apostles to, "Go ye into the whole world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved: but he that believeth not shall be condemned." Matthew 16:15. Clearly we must believe in one religion as taught by the Apostolic successors to be saved, not to believe two unknowns like Luther or Calvin, or any other number of reformers claiming different doctrines.
Looking at all the Catholic Church has been through with respect to heresies and persecution, the same faith remains in Catholics century to century. Looking at any random point in the history of the Catholic Church, if there was ever a difference in opinion relating to faith or morals, a General Council or the Roman See, guided by the Holy Ghost, has always determined what the correct belief should be, and you will see every Catholic has always submitted to their decisions and argued no more. The Protestant denominations do not have this structure, and therefore they will forever be in disagreement and will forever have multiple doctrines. Can one really call this introduction of contradicting doctrines a reformation of the Church? This is not the teaching of Our Lord.
The Protestant reformers such as Luther and Calvin did not even agree on the same canon of Scriptures from the start of the Reformation. They also differ in opinion on things such as number of Sacraments and other beliefs. For example, Protestant denominations are as much divided among themselves regarding Justification than they are divided with the Catholic Church, with no hope of ever coming to an agreement. Scripture cannot be their judge because it is concerning Scripture that they are in disagreement. From the start of the Reformation this was clearly a red flag that this so-called reformation of the Church was not sent from God, as why would God suddenly decide to spin off multiple denominations with opposing doctrines? Why didn't Jesus teach, approve or ever hint of such a thing?
Those who have a diversity of canon, that are divided into thousands of opposing denominations with different beliefs, cannot "add up" to one true Church, and neither can they be called by the name of "Church" like the Catholic Church can who has one same head, the same canon of the Scriptures, and one like rule for interpreting them. "He that is not with me, is against me" Matthew 12:30.
It is very common these days to get a variety of answers when asking Protestants if their denomination holds the truth over other Protestant denominations. We've heard some Protestants claim "Our denomination is not 100% correct". If not, then we ask why are you a part of that denomination? If your denomination is not the true Church as Christ gave to us, which denomination IS the true Church, the pillar of truth? We know it must exist somewhere because Christ promised us it would always exist.
We have also heard some Protestants claim that it is not for them to place judgment on the correctness of any denomination. We ask, why not? Our Lord clearly laid out what the truth is and how we are to be saved, why are you now unsure about it, and most of all why are you indifferent about it? Here we present two points against these illogical claims:

1) For one to claim they are a Lutheran or Presbyterian or some other Protestant, but yet be indifferent and not claim their religion is the true or correct religion is absurdity. How can one be indifferent in what they believe? This is the same as believing truth and error are both acceptable. Are mathematicians indifferent in the outcome of their equations? Are scientists indifferent in their studies? If they were, they would not have the respect of their peers and would not be mathematicians or scientists. Where would we be if every scientist or mathematician or doctor were to be indifferent in their work and always produce uncertain results generation to generation? What you believe in must be the truth from your perspective or you cannot claim you believe in it. The fact of the matter is, if no one is an authority and if everyone is open to their own interpretation of Scripture, this inevitably leads to indifferentism, for who knows who is right! Nowhere else in the world will you see the concept of indifferentism accepted as we see with Protestant denominations. It is just as wrong to deny the faith than it is to be indifferent about searching for it!

2) If one Protestant denomination believes in the real presence in the Holy Eucharist, and another believes it to be a symbol only, these are directly opposing views and only one can be the truth. If the Symbolic point of view were true, then the believers in the real presence would be guilty of idolatry among other things and if the real presence is true, the symbolic believer would be following a false religion. How can Protestants be indifferent about denominations when critical beliefs such as this separate them? How could Protestants be neutral on a belief that would decide whether we are saved or damned? Only one belief is true according to Our Lord. To say one religion is as good as another when such massive differences exist between each of them is to say truth and error are acceptable to Our Lord, which is simply absurd. Our Lord never taught multiple doctrines!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

No guns here please

Louisiana bishops: No guns in Catholic churches
Published: Tuesday, July 20, 2010 The Associated Press

Concealed handguns won't be allowed in Roman Catholic churches, despite a new state law allowing them.

The law allows concealed handguns in churches, synagogues or mosques for those with a valid permit and training. It also says those with authority over a church have the final say in their church.

Bishops discussed the issue when reviewing bills, Loar said.

"The bishops decided that, if the bill became law, the bishops would let their pastors know that this would not be permissible in Catholic churches," Loar said.

The previous law let only law enforcement officials carry concealed weapons into churches.

Loar said he notified Louisiana's bishops by e-mail shortly after Gov. Bobby Jindal signed state Rep. Henry Burns' bill into law on July 6.

The bill triggered controversy and heavy criticism in newspaper editorials but cleared the House 65-26 and the Senate 22-9.

Burns, R-Haughton, said this year's law gives church leaders a new option if security concerns warrant it.

"I don't have a problem with them opting out of it," Burns said of Catholic bishops.

"It is a freedom of choice thing," he added.

Burns said the law has triggered interest among deputy sheriffs in Caddo and Bossier parishes. He said some shooting ranges have called to ask about the requirement for an eight-hour training course for those who want to carry a concealed handgun in a church.

"I just know in this area there has been a lot of interest in it," Burns said.

Whether and which churches in Louisiana plan to take advantage of the law is unclear.

Priests and ministers are supposed to notify the congregation in churches that allow concealed handguns.

Burns' proposal is said to have stemmed from a request from a small congregation in northern Louisiana.

Loar said he told Burns early in the legislative process that the Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops would remain neutral on his bill as long as it was optional.

"That is why we stayed out of the picture," Loar said.

Burns' initial proposal was rejected, but state Sen. Joe McPherson, D-Woodworth, attached similar legislation onto a separate bill dealing with handgun permits in the final days of the nearly three-month session.

"A lot of churches have security already," McPherson said Monday.

"This just allows them to use their members that have concealed carry permits as part of their security," he said.

Burns said his bill has also prompted some needed conversations about the security of doors, locks and parking lots in and around churches.

>>>Sorry piece of legislation! Thank you Bishops of Louisiana

Sola Scriptura Sola Fide; fullness of truth = Catholic Church

9. To those who do not believe in Apostolic tradition, but in Scripture alone (Sola Scriptura):

The Bible was not put under one cover until the Councils of Hippo (393) and 3rd Council of Carthage (397) accepted the official list of books (click here for the actual Council text and scroll down to see the list of books in the Canon at that time, which is the same as used by the Catholic Church today). Not for over 1000 years after these early Councils was the printing press invented (1450), so Bible manuscripts were quite rare and costly before the printing press came about. Between 397 and 1450 then, how did most people learn about the contents of Scripture, and who was the authoritative figure for the early Church during these centuries? The authority clearly could not have been the Bible, but clearly was the Church Herself who preached it to the faithful. So how can Scripture have been our only guide for the centuries before copies of the Bible were readily available, and were the people who lived during those centuries all damned because they did not have access to Scripture?
Consider this verse from Scripture: "Many other signs also did Jesus in the sight of his 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. What else does this tell us than Jesus did and said other things that were not recorded in Scripture? Are we really to think that anything Jesus did or said that didn't make it into the books of Scripture are false or should not be adhered to?
Consider the verse, "But there are also many other things which Jesus did; which, if they were written every one, the world itself, I think, would not be able to contain the books that should be written" John 21:25. Clearly there are many things Jesus said and did that were passed on as tradition (by word of mouth) and did not make it into the books of Scripture.
Nowhere in Scripture do we see references to Jesus writing anything down during His public life, nor does Scripture show that He ever asked His Apostles to write down what He was teaching either. If Scripture were the ONLY resource we should have for our salvation, surely Jesus and His Apostles would have written constantly, but they did not. So while Scripture is essential, tradition is also essential.
Nowhere in Scripture does it say Scripture alone should be accepted as revelation, and it certainly does not say we should condemn Apostolic tradition. Look all through the Gospels and you will see nothing spoken against tradition except for traditions which are human or against Scripture. Why do the Protestant reformers add this to Our Lord's words? It is forbidden to add anything to Scripture, as it is to take anything away from it. Why do the Protestant reformers also take away the traditions which are expressly authorized?
Consider the verse, "Therefore, brethren, stand fast; and hold the traditions which you have learned, whether by word, or by our epistle." 2 Thessalonians 2:14. What else does this tell us than the Apostles spread the word of God not only through Epistles, but also by WORD, and that we should hold to the traditions which we are taught?
Any unwritten Apostolic doctrine we call Tradition. Consider the verse, "If any man be hungry, let him eat at home; that you come not together unto judgment. And the rest I will set in order, when I come." 1 Corinthians 11:34. This clearly shows St. Paul writing important words to the Corinthians, then stating he will "set the rest in order" when he comes, yet we do not have writing about them elsewhere. What he said then, will it be lost to the Church? No, it has come down through tradition.
Consider the verse, "Having more things to write unto you, I would not by paper and ink: for I hope that I shall be with you, and speak face to face: that your joy may be full." 2 John 1:12. St. John had something worthy of being written yet he chose to speak instead. Instead of Scripture, he has made tradition.
Consider the verse, "Hold the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me in faith, and in the love which is in Christ Jesus." 2 Timothy 1:13. This is clearly St. Paul recommending to St. Timothy an unwritten Apostolic word. This is tradition!
Also consider the verse, "And the things which thou hast heard of me by many witnesses, the same commend to faithful men, who shall be fit to teach others also." 2 Timothy 2:2. What is this but the Apostle speaking, the witnesses relating, and St. Timothy teaching, followed by these teaching others? This is clearly tradition.
Consider the verse, "I have yet many things to say to you: but you cannot bear them now" John 16:12. When did He say these things which He had to say? Was it all written? It is also said that He was forty days with them teaching them of the Kingdom of God, but we have neither all of His apparitions nor everything He told them during that time.
Consider the verses, "Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” Matthew 28:20, and “He that heareth you, heareth me" Luke 10:16, etc. This clearly shows the Apostles teaching is true revelation.

10. To those who believe that faith alone (Sola Fide) justifies our salvation:

Nowhere in the bible does it state faith "alone" justifies, and this new doctrine was not heard of before the 16th century. Why did the Protestant reformers propose it and what authority gave it to them?
Consider the verse, "Come, ye blessed of my Father, possess you the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink; I was a stranger, and you took me in. Naked, and you covered me: sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came to me." Matthew 25:34-36. Are these not examples of good works? Why would Our Lord give them so much emphasis if only faith was of importance?
Consider the verses, "And behold one came and said to him: Good master, what good shall I do that I may have life everlasting? Who said to him: Why asketh thou me concerning good? One is good, God. But if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He said to him: Which? And Jesus said: Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness. Honor thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. The young man saith to him: All these I have kept from my youth, what is yet wanting to me? Jesus saith to him: If thou wilt be perfect, go sell what thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come follow me." Matt 19:16-21. Are the above verses not filled with good works? How much more proof from Scripture do we need to show that Our Lord commanded us to do good works for our salvation?
Consider the verse, "For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels: and then will he render to every man according to his works." Matthew 16:27. Again here we have more proof that good works are required of us.
Consider the verse, "And every man shall receive his own reward, according to his own labor." 1 Corinthians 3:8. Again this clearly does NOT refer to faith alone, but to labor, which is works.
Consider the verse, "And if I should have prophecy and should know all mysteries, and all knowledge, and if I should have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing." 1 Corinthians 13:2 (St Paul). What is charity other than helping the needy? Charity is clearly considered among good works. And in the same Chapter we also see the verse, "And now there remain faith, hope, and charity, these three: but the greatest of these is charity." (1 Corinthians 13:13). This clearly puts charity BEFORE faith, so to say "faith alone" is all that is required of us is clearly contrary to Scripture.
Consider the verse, "Do you see that by works a man is justified; and not by faith only?" James 2:24. How much more plain can it be said that faith alone is not enough for our salvation?
Consider the verse, "What shall it profit, my brethren, if a man say he hath faith, but hath not works? Shall faith be able to save him?" James 2:14. And we see several verses later that the answer to this question is NO.
Consider the verse, "So faith also, if it have not works, is dead in itself." James 2:17. No explanation is needed for this verse!
Consider the verse, "But some man will say: Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without works; and I will shew thee, by works, my faith." James 2:18. Another extremely obvious verse that proves our point on the subject.
Consider the verses, "But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, offering up Isaac his son upon the altar? James 2:20-21. No explanation is needed for these verses.
Consider the verse, "For even as the body without the spirit is dead; so also faith without works is dead." James 2:26. How can the Protestant reformers claim faith is sufficient when we read a verse like this with such obvious meaning?
And finally consider the verse, "Wherefore, brethren, labor the more, that by good works you may make sure your calling and election." 2 Peter 1:10
In summary, justification by faith alone has overwhelming opposition in Scripture. Some Protestants have been known to reference other verses from Scripture in an attempt to show that works are NOT required for our salvation. However if one looks at verses that appear to speak negatively about works, they are clearly referring to works that glorify men and not God. Here we agree; works done to please men do not help with attaining our salvation

Monday, July 19, 2010

Catholic faith...2,000 years (continued)

4. To those who say the Catholic Church perished, which brought about the need for a reformation:

To say that the Church perished or went apostate is blasphemous against the Passion of Our Lord. Didn't Jesus undergo His passion and death for us that He could establish His Church for all of us? Of what sense does it make that Our Lord should let go of His Church which cost Him so dear right after He established it? Of what sense would it make that He would take it back from us after giving it to us? How could He have abandoned the Church, which cost Him all of His blood? Do you think that Jesus is weaker than His adversary, the devil, and was overcome by him?
In Scripture Jesus clearly made promises on promises pertaining to the perpetuity of His Church. To say the Church perished is to call Jesus a liar. "and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matt 16:18)
Who gave Luther and Calvin a commission to revoke so many holy and solemn promises which Our Lord made of His Church? Did Our Lord not say of His Church, "and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it"? (Matt 16:18) And didn't He say, "behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world" Matthew 28:20? And didn't Our Lord say "And I will ask the Father, and he shall give you another Paraclete, that he may abide with you for ever" John 14:16? And don't we see repeated mention in the New Testament that Our Lord will be with us? How can all of these promises stand if the Church perished or went apostate? And if the true Church is to last forever as Christ told us, how can it have failed or went apostate for a thousand years as the Protestant reformers claim?
He who thinks himself to be the reformer or resuscitator of the Catholic Church attributes to himself the honor due to Jesus alone, and makes himself greater than the Apostles. The Apostles preserved the Church by their ministry after Our Lord instituted it. He who says that he has found the Church dead and raised it to life himself is the most audacious human alive.
If the Church did perish and the Protestant reformers were the ones to truly resuscitate the Church back to a true state, that would make them greater than the Apostles. But never have they shown any signs or wonders of such greatness in their lives as the Apostles did!
To say that the Church perished sometime after the first five or six centuries as the Protestant reformers say is to imply nothing else than our predecessors for nearly 1000 years before the reformation are damned, for outside of the true Church there is no salvation.
And lastly, there is no doubt there were problems in the Church before the Reformation. The Church has always had problems in every century and has always been persecuted, as Our Lord told us would be the case. We also see in Scripture that Our Lord said He would be with His Church forever and that it would never fail. Looking at the history of the Church, whenever problems had arisen, the Church, guided by the Holy Ghost, always called together General Councils and corrected the problems. If there were problems in the Church before the Reformation, it was not up to unknown men like Luther and Calvin to try and correct them on their own without any authority when it was well known that the Church had always used General Councils to correct problems for the 1500 years prior.

5. To those who say the true Church can err:

The Protestant reformers such as Calvin and Beza claim the Catholic Church to have been the True Church during the early centuries of Christianity (before they claim it fell into error). During those five hundred years the Church had fought and condemned the doctrines of the Protestant reformers. Yet now Calvin and Beza have the audacity to offer the same doctrines again as medicine and holy reformations? If when the True Church in the early centuries of Christianity declared those Protestant beliefs to be error, how can the Protestant reformers now claim them to be truth and to base their new churches on them?
If the Church can err, to whom shall we have recourse in our difficulties? Protestants will say Scripture. We do not doubt that we must believe in and consult Scripture, but what if our difficulty pertains to Scripture itself? How can we find an answer? I cannot go to Luther or Calvin for they have opposing opinions. Do you really think Our Lord went to the trouble to establish His Church just to leave us in anarchy with no recourse on matters which could or could not damn us?
All denominations shout their claims with equal assurance that their interpretation of Scripture is accurate, which would leave all others inaccurate. To say Our Lord has not left us any guides to help us choose the good from the bad in an environment that He knew contained much error, is to say that He wishes us to perish, which we know He does not.
Our Lord said, "And if he will not hear them: tell the church. And if he will not hear the church, let him be to thee as the heathen and publican" (Matt 18:17). How else can this be understood than Our Lord sends us to the Church in our differences?
If the Church can err, and God commands us to go to the Church, then this means God wishes to deceive us. Does it make sense that God would send all of His lambs to the slaughter by commanding them to consult a Church that can contain error?
When St. Paul says, "But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth" (1 Timothy 3:15), why would he call the Church the "pillar and ground of truth" if it could contain error?
If the Church did err and the Protestant reformers started churches of their own as they did, then how can we explain this verse from Scripture: "And he hath subjected all things under his feet, and hath made him head over all the church" (Ephesians 1:22). This verse refers to Jesus being head of ONE church, not multiple churches such as those started by Lutheran, Calvin and subsequent Protestants.
It must be made clear here that when we refer to the Church not erring, we are referring to the Church not misguiding the faithful with respect to faith and morals, which we are required to hear and know for our salvation. The Church at the same time is also a human society because it consists of human members. This is why scandals, heresies, schisms and sins among its members also arise. These sins are expected with human beings and do not indicate a failure of a divinely founded Church that Our Lord promised would never fail! Did the mission of all the Apostles fail or cease to be because Judas turned to betrayal? Of course not. Christ Himself foretold of these type of problems in Scripture when He spoke parables in Matthew 13 regarding the cockle growing together with the wheat and the net containing good fish and bad fish. Consider the verses, "Again the kingdom of heaven is like to a net cast into the sea, and gathering together of all kind of fishes. Which, when it was filled, they drew out, and sitting by the shore, they chose out the good into vessels, but the bad they cast forth. So shall it be at the end of the world. The angels shall go out, and shall separate the wicked from among the just." Matthew 13:47-49.
In summary, Our Lord said His Church would never fail, yet we clearly see members of His Church making mistakes due to their human natures. These mistakes clearly do not indicate failure of the Church. Again, the Church is equivalent to an army with good and bad soldiers, many of which stray or are killed, but this does not affect the army as a whole. The same applies to the true Church of Christ; it continues unscathed over the gates of hell despite the downfalls of its members.

6. The Protestant reformers have violated Holy Scripture:

The Protestant reformers have said the Catholic Church was the true Church in Her early days. It is important to note that it is the Catholic Church who, through Her early Councils, originally confirmed which books of the Bible were considered inspired, and which books were to be included in the Canon of the Bible itself. This was essential to assure copies of Scripture had in those days agreed with the originals, and also to weed out books which contained heretical doctrine in them. The Catholic Church confirmed the books (the Canon) of the Bible in the Councils of Hippo (393) and 3rd Council of Carthage (397) when, according to the Protestant reformers, She was still the true Church (click here for the actual Council text and scroll down to see the list of books in the Canon at that time, which is the same Canon used by the Catholic Church today). The Catholic Church also confirmed the same Canon at the Council of Florence (1441) and Council of Trent centuries later and have used the same Canon ever since the Council of Hippo in 393. How then did the Protestant reformers remove so many books (i.e. Baruch, Tobias, Judith, Machabees, Wisdom etc) from the Old and New Testaments if it was the true Church that ruled they were Canonical? If the Protestant reformers truly thought the Catholic Church was the true Church at one time then later fell into error, why do the reformers not follow the decisions the Church made when She was still supposedly true?
Who told the Protestant reformers that the books they removed from the Bible were not legitimate and by what authority did they remove them? Some Protestant reformers claim some books were rejected because they were not in Hebrew or Chaldaic, though some other books that were kept by the Protestant reformers were not in these languages either, so this excuse cannot be used. And where is it found in Scripture that they should be written in a certain language?
To say that some books were not accepted because they were not accepted by the Jews does not apply to the point at hand either. The Catholic Church holds the books of Machabees and others mentioned above as Canonical, and if she was the true Church when She determined this, then this is what must be believed. Because the Jews did not accept the deutero-canonical books does not effect the fact that the early Christian Church accepted them. Where in Scripture does it say the Christian Church has not as much power to give authority to the Sacred Books as the Mosaic may have had?
Why do the Protestant reformers call parts of Scripture false when the whole of antiquity has held them as articles of faith? We see many writers from the first three centuries including St. Clement of Rome, St. Irenaeus, St. Hippolytus, Tertullian, Cyprian and many others all allude to the deutero-canonical books we mention above. Who gave the reformers the direction to declare these books false? For example, the book of Judith was made authoritative by the Council of Nice, when the Church was never greater or more solemn. Why blatantly defy the decisions of this council?
Of those reformers who claim their decisions to strike books from the Canon are from the Holy Ghost, we ask that you please show proof. Why would the Holy Ghost suddenly give inspirations as to what everyone must believe to unknown men like Luther and Calvin, after they abandoned the Councils and the entire Church? Shall we simply believe the reformers at their word? How then do we believe or not believe the next person who also claims the same inspiration? If the Protestant reformers were inspired, then God would clearly show the world a sign like with others inspired in Scripture, but a sign the reformers have not shown so they are not to be believed.
If God had revealed something a thousand times over to a private person we should not be obliged to believe it unless God gave us such an undeniable sign that we could no longer call it into question. How else are we to separate the false prophet from the true prophet? If we were obliged to believe everyone claiming internal revelations, we would soon be swamped with deceivers and would be completely lost.
Where did the Protestant reformers come up with the exact list of books in the Canon they choose to follow? Who told them which books should be included or removed? It was not the Jews that told them as the Gospels would not be there. It was not from the Council of Laodicea for the Apocalypse would be in it. It was not from the Council of Carthage or Florence for Ecclesiasticus and Machabees would be included. So where did the reformers decide on their specific list of books to include? No such Canon was used before the Protestant reformation as the many Protestant denominations use now. What is the likelihood that the Holy Spirit hid for the first 1400+ years of the Church, then revealed a new Canon to two unknown men, namely Luther and Calvin?
The Protestant reformers have taken away many books from the original Scriptures such as Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, Tobias, Judith, Wisdom and both books of Machabees. In the ancient Church there was originally some doubt about some books being inspired and no doubt about many others, yet the Protestant reformers have accepted some of the doubtful and cast out some that were never doubtful. So why were the specific set of books cut from the Scriptures by the Protestant reformers other than that the doctrine of some were hard for them to accept? The reformers do not give a logical answer for their striking some books from the Canon and it is clear that they were simply contradicting the Church. It just so happens that the contents of the books of Machabees contains doctrine on the intercession of Saints and prayers for the departed and Ecclesiasticus contains doctrine on the honor of relics, which is doctrine that just so happens to be accepted by the Catholic Church and denied by the reformers. Remember, it was the Catholic Church in Her early days (when She was the True Church according to the Protestant reformers) that received the books Machabees as canonical along with the other books of Scripture. So why defy the Church on just Machabees?

7. The translations and interpretations of the Scriptures have been violated by the Protestant reformers:

It is one thing for the Protestant reformers to dare cut off entire books, chapters, sentences and words from Scripture, but even more, the books that they chose not to cut off they have corrupted and violated by their translations. Compare the Vulgate Latin translation from the middle of the second century, (universally received by the Church at that time and declared as authentic by the Council of Trent) to translations of Scripture Protestant churches use today. There is a night and day difference in wording. And even worse, compare translations of Scripture between different Protestant denominations and they also differ!
How can private men (the reformers) so boldly take their hand to the word of God and change it? If one man does such a thing, then what is to stop the next man from doing it to his taste, and the next to his taste? An example:
In Acts 2:27 we see, "thou wilt not leave my soul in hell" while in a version of a Protestant bible we see the verse, "thou shalt not leave my corpse in the tomb". Clearly this is not an accurate translation and the meaning is not at all the same. It is common knowledge that only one word can change the meaning of an entire sentence. We note here that Hieronymus Emser, a literary opponent of Luther, points out 1400 inaccuracies in Luther's translation of Scripture, while Bunsen, a Protestant scholar, points out 3000. If Luther, Calvin and other reformers' translations of a verse in Scripture differ from the original AND from each other, which one is the word of God? Or are all three versions of the verse still the word of God, though their translation may make their meaning completely different from the next? How can so many brains which are so different make so many translations without overthrowing the sincerity of Scripture?
It has always been a practice of the early Church to limit the Scriptures to universal languages such as Greek and Latin since they are not only universal but also not subject to changes like other languages. Most other languages change town to town in accents, phrases, and words (i.e. slang), and vary season to season and age to age and therefore it has never been recommended by the early Christian Church to translate the Bible to other languages that are not fixed languages. Doing so has much more danger than profit as we can see from our example above. Though we note here also that the early Christian Church has never disallowed translation of the Scriptures to non-fixed languages, though She has always insisted that public services of the Church use a fixed language translation to avoid possibly misleading the faithful with verses of possibly incorrect translation and meaning.
In summary, the Protestant reformers not only made major changes to Scripture by poor translations, but also translated Scripture to all the local non-fixed languages of the people where they started their churches, and they use those faulty translations in their church services. Is it not evident why there are so many Protestant interpretations of Scripture all in conflict with one another?

8. To those who claim they can interpret and understand the Scriptures themselves:

The Protestant reformers claim that we simply need to refer to Scripture for our salvation. We agree, but when two people disagree on the interpretation of Scripture, who shall be the judge as to the correct interpretation? Disagreements arise in nearly every verse of Scripture of which could easily lead one of the parties to damnation. It is illogical to think that Our Lord would expect us all to interpret Scripture on our own with no judge to turn to since this will always lead to endless disagreements. There can be countless wrong answers to a question, but only one right answer. All of those interpreting Scripture incorrectly will be lead down the wrong road. It is illogical for us to think God left us in anarchy with respect to interpretation of Scripture, at the mercy of the winds and the tide, with no pilot to help steer the way, as this would mean he wishes our destruction. As with a ship at sea, if everyone attempts to steer in the direction they think is right, we will inevitably wind up lost.
Consider the Constitution of the United States if there were no U.S. Government to rule over it and make decisions over conflicts and offenses that arise with it. The result would be anarchy. Where have you ever seen any great province or organization which has governed itself? Consider any governed country, state, or any organized group throughout the history of the world. All were governed by an earthly leader of some sort or else they would wind up in chaos and confusion. If there were not a king in a kingdom, a foreman in a shop, or a captain of a ship, there would be no order. Why then do the Protestant reformers claim that all of their members do not need an earthly ruler to help guide them? What has this gotten them but thousands of opposing denominations (and growing) which is nothing better than anarchy? Never can a province be well governed by itself, especially when it is large.
If it is true that the Scriptures are so easy to understand, what is the use of the commentaries made by countless Protestant ministers, and what good are so many schools of Theology?
Also consider the verse, "As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are certain things hard to be understood, which the unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, to their own destruction" (2 Peter 3:16). How else can we interpret this than to say Scripture is difficult to understand, and to interpret it incorrectly can lead to our destruction?
And to those who say they must read and understand Scripture themselves, consider the large number of poor ignorant people who cannot read the Scriptures. What is to happen of them? Obviously they can find and seek their salvation through the mouth of a pastor. "How shall they believe him, of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear, without a preacher?" Romans 10:14.
Consider the verse, "And Philip running thither, heard him reading the prophet Isaias. And he said: Thinkest thou that thou understandest what thou readest? Who said: And how can I, unless some man shew me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him." Acts 8:30-31. Obviously interpretation of Scripture is needed!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Our Catholic faith...unbroken for 2,000 years

I have a series of articles, well researched and very thorough, demonstrating the need for the Church from the moment it was established by Jesus. Those who disagree or doubt the Catholic Church will hardly find this as a reason to look to Rome. However, with prayer and research these articles help point to the Catholic Church as the 1st Christian Church and the only possible hope for Christian unity:

1. The Protestant reformers had no legitimate mission from God (or from someone given power by God) to reform the Church:

Jesus Christ instructed His Apostles to preach the Gospel to the whole world, therefore they had an "immediate" mission from God. St. Paul sent Timothy of Ephesus and Titus of Crete as Bishops to help him on his first mission, therefore they had a "mediate" mission from someone given the power by God to send them.
On the other hand, never have we seen any of the Protestant reformers show any mission from God or from anyone else to reform the church. Rather it is readily apparent they wrongfully took it upon themselves to make reforms. "How shall they preach unless they be sent"? Romans 10:15.
No individual has the right to associate himself with the Apostles or attempt to act under their authority; the individual must be sent or commissioned with divine authority. "He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up another way, the same is a thief and a robber" John 10:1. Here we see Martin Luther openly agreeing with this.
Consider verses such as "As the Father hath sent me, I also send you" John 20:21 and "He that receiveth whomsoever I send, receiveth me" John 13:20.
How can people without any authority attempt to make such drastic decisions affecting a divinely founded, global Church? Laity or princes do not have authority or power to start such a mission, rather someone must be sent legitimately, in Apostolic fashion, such as from a Bishop, or their mission is null. "Neither doth any man take the honor to himself but he that is called by God, as Aaron was." Hebrews 5:4
If you say the reformers were given appropriate mission to reform the Catholic Church, then we ask who is the authority that sent them? We know it was not the Catholic Church for the ideas of the Reformation are against Catholic teaching, and it was not the Lutheran and other Protestant churches for they were not yet formed when the reformation was being organized. So on who's authority was the mission of the Reformation?
If the church from which the Protestant reformers came were true, they can only be labeled heretics for having left it. And if the church from which the reformers came were NOT true, then that church could not have given the reformers true mission to reform the Catholic Church.

2. To those who say the Protestant reformers had an immediate mission from God to reform the Catholic Church:

To claim that the Protestant reformers were given direct mission by God to reform the church requires undeniable proof, otherwise people all over the world could easily claim direct mission from God on all sorts of beliefs, then where would we be? Then each time we thought we were following the truth we would be forever interrupted by men claiming an extraordinary vocation. Is that how Jesus intended His Church to be?
Consider the miracles sent by God through Moses so that others would believe his mission. Also consider the miracles performed by Jesus and the Apostles so that the people would believe their word. Yet the Protestant reformers, despite making the most drastic changes to the Catholic Church since its founding, have never shown a miracle or any other sign to prove their mission, as would have occurred elsewhere in Scripture with such a drastic change to the faith. Jesus did not hesitate to show signs when reforming the Church, so what audacity do the Protestant reformers have to propose changes as drastic as Jesus made without showing any signs? "Believe you not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? Otherwise believe for the very works' sake. Amen, amen I say to you, he that believeth in me, the works that I do, he also shall do; and greater than these shall he do." John 14:11,12
Why should we take the Protestant reformers mere word without a sign? He who boasts an extraordinary mission from God without immediately producing undeniable signs cannot be believed.
If there was a true immediate mission from God to reform the church, then we ask which one had the true mission; Luther, Calvin, or another reformer? Each of these men had opposing beliefs from the start which resulted in different denominations so it is quite obvious these men did not have an immediate mission from God.
For those who would like to claim the Protestant reformers were true prophets, why did they act contrary to all other prophets before them by not showing any undeniable signs to prove their words, and by opposing the one true Church which no other true prophet has ever done?
"But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach a gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema" Galatians 1:8.
Consider the repeated vulgarities in the writings of the reformers. Did Our Lord or the Apostles or Saints speak in this manner? Are we really to believe that someone sent from God to reform the Church was to speak in this manner?
Furthermore, why would Luther claim he was not someone holy if he truly had an immediate mission from God to reform the Church?
And lastly, the Protestant reformers such as Luther and Calvin each have openly claimed the Catholic Church to have been the True Church during the early centuries of Christianity. Then later when these men fell into disagreement with the Church, they suddenly claimed it was a false Church. Do you think someone who had an immediate mission from God would teach that something is true, then later recant and teach the exact opposite? Have we ever seen Our Lord or His Apostles teach us something and then later have a change of heart and teach us the exact opposite? It is plainly obvious that hypocritical teaching is not from God.

3. To those who say the true Church is invisible:

Nowhere in Scripture will it ever be found that the Church is invisible. Rather references in Scripture are everywhere which point to a visible Church. How are the following verses to be understood of an invisible Church?

"And if he will not hear them: tell the church. And if he will not hear the church, let him be to thee as the heathen and publican" Matt 18:17.

"Take heed to yourselves, and to the whole flock, wherein the Holy Ghost hath placed you bishops, to rule the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood." Acts 20:28

"But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth" 1 Tim 3:15

"And sending from Miletus to Ephesus, he called the ancients of the church" Acts 20:17

"And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received by the church, and by the apostles and ancients, declaring how great things God had done with them" Acts 15:4

"And when they had ordained to them priests in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, in whom they believed" Acts 14:22

"And when they were come, and had assembled the church, they related what great things God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles" Acts 14:26

"And going down to Caesarea, he went up to Jerusalem, and saluted the church, and so came down to Antioch" Acts 18:22

It is illogical to think that Jesus would establish His Church then make it invisible and inaccessible to us. If that were the case, where would one seek it to rule it, converse with it and lay complaints before it?
When the Church sent St. Paul, and received him, when he confirmed it, ordained priests in it, assembled it, saluted it, wrote to it, and persecuted it, was this just in spirit? These were visible acts on both sides!
The pastors and doctors of the Church are visible, therefore the Church is visible. The pastors and their sheep must know each other. What kind of shepherd cannot see his flock? St. Peter was as to a pastor when Jesus told him, "feed my sheep", and so were the Apostles, and they are all visible.
It is the property of the Church to carry on the preaching of the Word of God, the Sacraments etc. How could this be called invisible?
How do Christians begin their course as people of God? By Baptism, a visible sign. And by whom are they governed? By bishops, which are visible men. And how has the Church been persecuted over the centuries? By visible people. Need we say more?
To put it simply, the body is composed of body and soul, and so is the Church. The Church consists of Her interior soul, which is faith, hope, charity, grace etc (all invisible), and Her exterior, which is her members, preaching, Sacraments, sacrifices etc (all visible).
Some Protestants, in defense of the invisible Church theory, have claimed that there are two Churches; one visible and imperfect Church made of its members (which can err and are called "reprobate"), and one invisible and perfect Church made of the "elect" that only God knows (which cannot err). Not only is this belief not found in Scripture but it is also illogical as we will now explain:

It is well known that all members of the Church must have their sins loosed and retained as Scripture says. Those whose sins are retained are considered reprobate (this includes priests and bishops), though they remain members of the Church until their sins are loosed. It is not until a person is cast from the Church that they are no longer considered members. Judas was reprobate, yet he was Apostle and bishop.
To say only the elect (which Calvin and other reformers say are unknown to us) are members of the true Church is to say we cannot know for sure who our prelates are and who to pay obedience to. This goes to show that not only the elect, but also the reprobate are in the Church. The Church is equivalent to an army with good and bad soldiers, many of which stray or are killed, but the army as a whole still remains victorious over the gates of hell despite downfalls of its members.
In summary, the New Testament frequently refers to the Church as an external, visible society. How then could Our Lord require us to believe under penalty of damnation (Mark 16:18) and to consider the Christian disobedient to the Church's commands "a heathen and a publican" (Matt 18:17) if we could not easily and unmistakably recognize the Church as a visible society?

>>>I will endeavor to post more throughout the week ahead!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Homily for July 18th, 2010 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Slow down you move to fast; you got to make the morning last!
Life I love you; all is groovy.

These lines are from a Simon & Garfunkel song titled “feeling groovy”. Did you expect to hear about feeling groovy at Mass today? Didn’t think so!

I like the old song because it is a simple reminder that we just keep getting busier and busier all the time. Our lives are full of all the things we need to do and we wind up accumulating lots of stuff that clutter our lives.

And with this busyness comes anxiety and worry. Anxiety, we all know, is really not good for us.

As people of faith, are we anxious and worried about many things? Do we miss out on all that Jesus offers because we are too busy? Do we ever just slow down and seek the better part?

The Gospel reading today gives us the well known story of Jesus’ friends, two sisters, Martha and Mary. Scripture tells us the home is that of Martha and it is located in a village along the way of Jesus’ long return to Jerusalem. Over the past many weeks we have been traveling this road with Jesus to Jerusalem as he seeks to fulfill the Father’s will which leads to Calvary. This chance to visit with his good friends and their neighbors along with his disciples must have been a welcome respite from the journey at hand.

What is sometimes overlooked in this Gospel is the simple fact that Jesus is speaking. Jesus once again fulfills the role of a rabbi, a teacher, by sitting in a place of prominence and addressing those gathered. He was sharing with all present his love, his teachings and his wisdom. Both of the sisters were doing their best to offer hospitality; to be kind to their visiting friend. Martha chooses to busy herself with all the domestic chores. Mary chooses to listen intently to the Lord. Martha has no intention of being rude or unwelcoming to Jesus yet he tells her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.” This must have been stinging words to Martha. Yet on further review Jesus was simply saying that He is truly the only one thing needed for a fulfilling, meaningful and fruitful life and we should stay close to Him at all times.

When Jesus utters that well known Martha, Martha he really is saying our names too; in every age and in every place! Jesus asks us in our own lives to examine our busyness and be honest in assessing how much clutter and stuff shuts Him out from our free will to follow Him. Want some signs that this could be happening? How is our prayer life today? Are we able to put aside the busyness, even if it be our non stop serving, and take time to sit at his feet in prayer. That could take on the look of sitting by your bedside in private prayer, reciting a rosary every once in a while or just stopping by church and praying to and with Him in front of the Blessed Sacrament.

When we are working, and all of us work in some way, shape or form, be aware if your work is a hindrance to loving Him. As a Permanent Deacon, I have a secular job too. I’ve been assisting clients and coworkers for almost 16 years at a bank here in the community. Many times, I am aware of my finest ministry just being present with people who all have hopes and dreams and anxiety and worry too.

We have a saying in the diaconate and it applies to all of us; it’s not what you do; it’s who you are. Now this does not mean that service is bad; far from it. But our service to others; even our service in the Church must flow naturally from choosing the better part: our total dependence on and love of Jesus.

In the week ahead we can focus on the better part by concentrating every day on a closer relationship with Jesus. We can be more aware, in the week ahead of our prayers and conversations with Jesus. If possible, take the Bible and read carefully the entire 10th chapter of Luke. It is a great way to reflect on Christ’s journey to the cross; an act of love for you and me! And return this week, with humble hearts and grateful attitude, to the sacraments. Seek his love and mercy in holy confession and then receive him with great joy in the Eucharist. And finally, in the week ahead, we can ask ourselves, as the reality of our busyness begins to filter in; will we focus on who we are as we do what we have to do and will we take the time to choose the better part.

When that anxiety and worry invades our lives this week we can remember our friends, Martha and Mary. And we can sing that silly little tune, which I will paraphrase just a little:

Slow down you move to fast; we got to make our life with Jesus last; Lord I love you; all is groovy!