Wednesday, November 25, 2009

We Interupt this Blogcast.... say Louie Giglio has a powerful message. We played this video during a recent RCIA session for the Catechumens. If you havent seen it, IMO you would benefit surely to do so.

Watch Part 2 on "laminin" as well for the complete message.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Richard Dawkins supports Religion

Its true. Just click on the title and see that Dawkins' recent talk @ TED, a OP-Ed, marking the 150th anniversary of Darwins "Origin..." - spawns more published and credible counter points via believers, than atheists. Even Dr. Scott Hahn has a Dawkins counterpoint book published. Dawkins articulates "the elegance of atheism" as corroding religion as well as calmly stating that militant atheism should keep rocking the boat of religion.

The interesting observation of his efforts is...where are the Dawkins Enthusiasts? I can't hear them and none of their writings are linked or displayed whenever Dawkins comes out with another crafted performance. (Thats a compliment...he really performs well publically) It becomes even more interesting when out of convenience, one reads a linked counterpoint by a Creationist or Intelligent Design proponent and the sad state of Dawkins framework is amplified.

How I feel empathy for Dawkins while reading or listening to him, that his entirety of life satisfaction comes from what he "intellectually understands". He talks directly about feeling that he lived "triumphal by having understood why he was here in the first place."

Thats it. Mere understanding.

What about Dawkins heart, spirit and know...what the Bible describes as our "Soul". Where is Dawkins on a scale of spirit and soul? Sadly those aspects are veiled well out of our (and apparently his) view. When the whole of your life is valued at a measurement of intellectual comprehension, and not much more, it is then that a heart needs touching.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The problem with Prayer

Those hands at the top of this site, bear evidence to the definition..."to pray". The problem with prayer is that its definition according to Webster, (as an intransitive verb), means " to address God or a god with adoration, confession, supplication, or thanksgiving." The problem with this definition is it incorrectly assumes a specific target (God or a god) of the act of praying in order to elaborate its incorrect definition.

The Latin origin...precari, prec- and prex means to ask, entreat, implore...humbly. To elaborate correctly would be to say it is a form of communication without implying a target. By implying a single target such as God or a god defines prayer in the eyes of the student as worship.

Praying is not worship.

As is Mark Shea...I am up to my eye teeth with Protestants who, believe it or not, rely on Websters 20th century definition of Praying as Worship as an attempt to educate me that praying to Mary and the Saints is idolatry.

and now...back to our regularly scheduled life....

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Upcoming Changes to the Mass

The USCCB has confirmed changes to the GIRM, again, and they are anticipated to approve them for use this November. The link in this post title leads you to the USCCB page where all Assembly and Priest Mass Parts Revisions (current and proposed) are shown word for word.

I submit for your consideration that some of the professions we make as revised appear rather serious, if you are one who A) attends an Orthodox Parish and B) have grown fond of every syllable of the current Mass profession and response parts.

I am both.

Take the Assembly Revision to the "Nicene Creed" for example. The current profession begins with "We believe in one God,..." while the revised Roman Missal proposes "I believe in one God,...".

It would appear by simple logic that the latter is now not the Nicene Creed but something other than the Nicene Creed. Think I'm splitting hairs? Check it:

As an RCIA Catechist, I have taught adults from the Catechism that traditionally, historically, and scripturally the Nicene Creed was written starting with the word "We" to amplify, confirm and profess in Liturgical Plurality (IE The Church, The Body) and that is consistent with Christs teaching on Unity. Changing this first word to "I", even when spoken audibly with other fellow Catholics/Christians, is now a singular statement. No Unity, no Community, no Church profession by more than one or two gathered in His name. This is only one example of the possible mental conflicts which may occur to some of us by these changes.

Don't get me wrong, I can adapt and will...the Bishops are our guide (ahem) in Liturgy, however, one hopes they have considered that we who teach or share the Faith might rightly request the intellectual back story to these changes, so we can convince ourselves that they in fact deepen the Mass experience. We will then be better equipped to teach those confused Faithful that don't see this coming at Christmas.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

We Interupt this Blogcast #8 - Jazz Mass

You gotta love this:

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

On Seeking God's Will

I'm really absorbed in Merton's "No Man is an Island"(NMIAI), that's why the superficial and thin posting here lately. The study of one's own conscience and developing an intensely personal prayer life contained in this work, while some of it is well beyond my absolute comprehension, (Merton's language and writing style, not his vocabulary, goes to the heavy side of philosophy and introspection with frequent breaks using normal conversation) there is self-revelation on the first pass through. I have posted in similar ways that doing God's will, obedience, commandment keeping... leads to inner peace and why. From NMIAI Ch. 4 "Pure Intention":

"Our happiness consists of doing the will of God. But the essence of this happiness does not lie merely in an agreement of wills. It consists in a union with God. And the union of wills which makes us happy in God must be ultimately something deeper than an agreement.

Shall I be content to do God's will for my own advantage? It is better to do His will with a weak, but deliberate co-operation than to do His will unconsciously, unwillingly, and in spite of myself. But let me not confine my idea of perfection to the selfish obedience that does God's will merely for the sake of my own profit. True happiness is not found in any other reward than that of being united with God. If I seek some other reward besides God Himself, I may get my reward but I cannot be happy.

The secret of pure intention is not to be sought in the renunciation of all advantage to ourselves. Our intentions are pure when we identify our advantage with God's glory, and see that our happiness consists of doing His will because His will is right and good. In order to make our intentions pure, we do not give up all idea of seeking our own good, we simply seek it where it can really be found, in a good that is above and beyond ourselves...

...When we speak of God's will, we are usually speaking only of some recognizable sign of His is one thing to see a sign and another thing to interpret that sign correctly...Nevertheless there are some signs that everyone must know. They must be easily read and seen and are indeed very simple...

For in the course of each day the duties of our state, the claims made on us by those around us, the demands on our energy, our patience, and our time all make known to us the will of God and show us the way to realize ourselves in Him by losing ourselves in charity. But the pharisee who splits hairs and rationalizes his way out of these chances for self-dedication, although he may theorize and dogmatize about the will of God, never fully does that will for he never really abandons himself to the influence of divine charity."

Sounds like the 2nd Commandment to me. As I have explained here and here, its tough territory for this journeyman. Yet, its yields are infinitely larger than me.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Year for Priests to begin June 19, 2009

From The Vatican : "Pope Benedict XVI has declared a “Year for Priests” beginning with the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on June 19, 2009. The year will conclude in Rome with an international gathering of priests with the Holy Father on June 19, 2010....Precisely to encourage priests in this striving for spiritual perfection on which, above all, the effectiveness of their ministry depends, I have decided to establish a special "Year for Priests" that will begin on 19 June and last until 19 June 2010. In fact, it is the 150th anniversary of the death of the Holy Curé d'Ars, John Mary Vianney, a true example of a pastor at the service of Christ's flock."

The Pope explains the intent behind this emphasis as safeguarding the "legitimate expectations of the faithful" These Men are really and truly living to serve our spiritual hunger. Called by God, discerned by Conscience and delivered by His Church, I am grateful for their service.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Book Review - The Shack

You will find this novel in the Fiction category, which is an ironic indication of how backwards we all have organised "our" world. The Shack succeeds in presenting truth; biblical, relational and theological, wrapped in a fictional delivery that bypasses our "religion" filters and presents a tale that is stunning and deep. Without a spoiler, here is a truth excerpt conveyed during a dialogue, by someone not of this world:

"People are tenacious when it comes to the treasure of their imaginary Independence. They hoard and hold their sickness with a firm grip. They find their identity and worth in their brokenness and guard it with every ounce of strength they have. No wonder grace has such little attraction. In that sense [people] have tried to lock the door of [their] hearts from the inside."

I couldn't agree more.

The story succeeds in compressing a wide spectrum of potentially human manufactured Christian misunderstanding of Scripture, through a lens of no religious predisposition. Instead, Paul Young places the reader in a purely human experience using Mack's personal and family relationships, including tragedy and dynamics as the truth communicating vehicle. If I go beyond that, it would be a spoiler.

*Spoiler Alert*

My exposure to it began with Paul Youngs collaborators and his interview with Sr. Ann Shields on Ave Maria Radio. To see into what we may assume are heretic, anti-institutionalism motives in the author(s), before I got the book, I listened to the God Journey podcast and many interviews with Paul Young.

Fearing its "churchless" undertone and exegeting this book like scripture is pointless. It is an attempt at exposing the centrality of Jesus' new covenant, and exploring how our our feeble human fears, secrets, lies and obstacles can be overcome by relational theology.

There are many highly visible Protestants (Chuck Colson, John MacArthur, Driscoll, etc,) denouncing this book for the obvious motives, it appears to take their well tithing members out of keeping them in the black.

Just like taking a single Bible quote from Romans out of context may lead to Calvinism, my advice is listen and read about the Author and collaborators, their personal religious backstories and one to one, in a human and personal way, read this book in the context of its sources. There is Catholic Truth in it, while it is fictional. One example: Numerous references by Papa to working in and not violating our free-will reinforce the Catholic belief of a "both-and" salvation relationship with The Father, while Protestants reel at this shot at double predestination theory.

Highly recommended.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

We Interupt this Blogcast #7 - Nick

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Cardiac Lenses

Investigating Predisposition lens theory, Is it possible to erase all personal predisposition when studying scripture or modern thought or philosophy and the like? I imagine one would have to first admit one IS predisposed, or angled toward or against a given thought trajectory. So, OK, in my best dressed humility I admit some level of predisposition to Orthodox Christianity, in general (IE. Catholic, Orthodox and a fraction Episcopalian). When I read a given scripture passage, I must be adding an Orthodox advocacy to understanding the intent of the passage or thought. In the cerebral flow of words into comprehension, my precious Roman Catholic Identity strives to bond with the given reading. Here, lets take this on at extreme of predisposition.

"And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church..."
[Matthew 16:18]

This small part of one verse (and its mosaic parallel in Isaiah 22:22) created all of Apostolic Succession Doctrine, the Papacy, Hierarchical authority. That's a tangible lens with a Catholic/Orthodox predisposition. Most often, it is quoted and conveyed to be absorbed in a concrete and sequential way. The language appears physical and direct, a singular path of appointment for a tangible build a Church.

Lets remove that lens, break it down a bit and see what else is there, without losing the literal Orthodox definition:

"And I say to thee: That thou art Peter..."

Christ is communicating to Peter. He is facing Peter and showing trust in Peter. That is one essence of Christs Ministry, it is relational and trust giving. He is also exalting and honoring Peter in a singular and humanly understood way, by giving Peter revealing "Title". What does it say to Peter? I would be confident that Peter is saturated with the heartfelt relationship that this outward proclamation makes visible.

"...and upon this rock I will build my church..."

Christ repeats the Title in 2 ways, Peter (Cephas) and Rock, revealing his ability to not only have a personal relationship, but also to make a decision of responsibility placement, on Peters Heart. What do we imagine Peters comprehension was, at that exact time? Surely it was relational, and penetrating.

We know from further contextual reading that Peter built the Church, through the limited means available and the other Apostles. What drove Peter to carry it out to the ultimate Martyrdom? It had to be more than a simple concrete instruction. The relationship and mutual trust with Christ turned to Love, a Love not of this World. An unconditional Love. A Love of the Heart.

The challenge here is not only to study in a present day context of the writing, but also from the communicants perspective and their environment...inside the heart and mind and outside, and see where that Truth becomes the most real.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Ecumenism, Thomas Merton, The Shack, The God Journey and Universal Truth

I have spent a considerable amount of time recently listening to the "churchless" guys at the God Journey podcast. Before you get ahead of me, these Gents are not anti-church or anti-religion by far. They are having a painfully sincere, funny and honest dialogue about the performance misperceptions that churches & ritual appear to have on a good majority of Christian Religion followers, in the light of following Christ scripturally. Wayne and Brad at the God Journey are exploring Christian Thought on a level of Universality that few outside the Catholic/Orthodox Faith dare to tread visibly. These men advocate certain practices of Catholicism and Orthodoxy without even knowing their findings are explored and documented Catholic territory, at times.

(Wayne and Brad also collaborated on the recent popular novel by William Paul Young called "The Shack", which is gaining momentum in the secular fiction world as an insightful take on discovering God and Christianity.)

Anyway....I digressed...

Wayne and Brad recently had a conversation podcast where they discussed excerpts from Thomas Mertons "No man is an island". There are few spiritual resources as rare as Thomas Merton. That is, in the context of carrying on a life completely dedicated to Catholic spiritual thought and experience.

Many and rich are the Churches ancient and not so ancient Fathers, who's footprints are documented in the Theological Halls of higher learning and Seminaries; IE. Aquinas, Augustine, Ignatius, Iraneus, Cyprian, Origin, etc., etc.. While authentic work has been left to our consumption by numerous Church Fathers, Thomas Merton, a Catholic Trappist cloistered monk and Priest, stands apart due to his ability to put in language the path of the longest spiritual distance known to man, the 18 inches from Heart to Head.

Merton extensively studied many religions including Muslim, Zen Buddhism and Asian philosophy while remaining Catholic. He explored the Faith internally and externally, and was a gifted writer like few others of recent time. It is that combination of his environment and gifted talent that yielded a work called "No man is an island" (Merton, Thomas, 1915-1968.ISBN/ISSN:1590302532).

Merton leads a journey in this book to attempt a language bridge from Head to Heart, or more specifically, he narrates the logic, belief and emotional positions to which we all strive to make more permanent than just factual intellectual understanding. Taking a purely mental understanding and perfecting that belief in the core of our being - actual transformation. This excerpt from "No man is an island" makes the case regarding learning to find love in a relationship with God:

"When we consider that most men want to be loved as if they were Gods, it is hardly surprising that they should despair of receiving the love they think they deserve...and yet our idea of ourselves is so fantastically unreal that we rebel against the lack of love, as though we have been the victims of an injustice. Our whole life is then constructed on the basis of duplicity, we assume others are receiving the kind of appreciation we want for ourselves, and we proceed on the assumption that since we are not loveable as we are, we must become loveable under false pretenses.

As if we were something better than we are.

The real reason why so few men or women believe in God, is that they have ceased to believe that even a God can love them. But their despair is perhaps more respectable than the insincerity of those that think they can trick God into loving them, for something they are not. This kind of duplicity is after all fairly common among so-called believers, who consciously
cling to the hope that God himself, placated by prayer, will support their egotism and their
insincerity and help them achieve their own selfish ends. If we are to love sincerely, and with
simplicity, we are to first overcome the fear of not being loved. This cannot be done by forcing ourselves to believe in some illusion, saying that we are loved when we are not, we must somehow strip ourselves of our greatest illusions about ourselves... and learn to see that we are lovable after all, and in spite of everything... we must accept the fact that we are not what we would like to be...we must find our real self in all our elemental poverty and simple dignity, created to be a child of God." (Merton, No man is an island)

Merton is saying we control our connection to God and not through godly performance or good works. The train of "thought" here is not one of spiritual concepts controlled by those outside of mere human, but relational behaviors we enact with ourselves which are the barriers to receiving Truth.

He takes the saying "to thine own self be true" to an infinitely applicable and productive level.

So, Wayne and Brad are impacted by Merton's rays of light, and so they should be, as I am. But this is not "new" and "emergent" (nor are they advertising such) or "churchless" by any stretch of my experience. The God Journey is exploring Christs teaching of self truth, internal humility in its purest sense and thats valuable to every human. Beyond the obvious singular holiness quest of this dialogue, it is infinitely beneficial as Ecumenism.

The Catholic Church, in spite of its visible man inflicted flaws has reached for this type of dialogue forever. It is also a teaching based in scripture and with my highest language effort I convey:

Ecumenism is not a mere byproduct of this dialogue. This is an Ecumenical reach for Universal Truth.

Catholic Hat Tip to Wayne, Brad and Wm. Paul Young.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Silly Humans are all around Notre Dame is reporting that $13.9 Million in donations is now lost due to Fr. Jenkins weak defenses of his Commencement/Obama decision. Truth is, Fr. Jenkins is on a B.O.D. of a pro-abort/pro-contraception organization and that is just hitting national light today. Truth is, Fr. Jenkins reports to a Trustee Board that exercises whatever secular influence they need on ND Leadership.

Fr. Jenkins is just a symptom. I cant wait for the speech and degree award spectacle, unless there is a last minute pull-out by either Jenkins or Obama, this will reveal just how silly humans under cultural apathy fail in our Church. Picture this, if Jenkins published a mea culpa and went to confession, he still has no fit for running a Catholic Institution based on a long history of degraded compliance with his own ordained Catholic conscience, let alone the Catechism. He is but a silly human.

There are silly humans on all sides of this issue. I don't agree with using a financial loss as a motivator to get Fr. Jenkins attention, if that worked it would just indicate how materially his values are based. But silly humans dont think ahead of their mouth or pen very well.

Fr. Jenkins is ignoring the Catechism, and we are enjoying the fight at the Church's expense.
We are silly humans. The Church is suffering the most here. More later from this silly human.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A Friend in Jesus...Mass Reading for May 17, 2009

Remembering back in the days of my teen youth, after falling away from the Catholic Church, I attended a Non-Denom Bible Church where every Sunday they sang "Oh what a friend we have in Jesus" and I found it to be such empty popcorn. It had no context or reality for me as I didnt study scripture, I was there for the social crowd. How ironic that was. I never tied it together that there was a relational theology happening in front of me to provide an example.

This Sundays Mass Gospel reading, John Ch 15:9-17 quotes Jesus telling his disciples:

"...You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father."

Christ is saying that we are raised to his level enough to be beside Him, not under Him. In a Corporate analogy, He held no secrets where we were unfairly put at a disadvantage. Recalling the explicit detail in Luke where he gave examples of Commandment violations, the path of being "In Him" was made clear. Thats what a friend does, he keeps no secrets to his heart.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Obama: No White House Observance for National Day of Prayer

Obama: No White House Observance for National Day of Prayer

(from 5/5/08)

"Breaking tradition with President George W. Bush, the Obama administration has announced there will not be a White House observance for the National Day of Prayer this year.

“We are disappointed in the lack of participation by the Obama administration," said Mrs. Shirley Dobson, chairman of the National Day of Prayer Task Force. "At this time in our country’s history, we would hope our president would recognize more fully the importance of prayer.”

The White House has indicated it will release a proclamation recognizing the National Day of Prayer on Thursday.

The National Observance will take place from 9 a.m. to noon EDT, as Dr. and Mrs. Dobson, Beth Moore and others gather in Washington, D.C., to pray for America. The event will be broadcast live on GOD TV (Channel 365 on DirecTV), Channel 138 on Sky Angel and online."

This is quite a display of just what we have gotten ouselves into. Being self-evident, it is a beyond me to even begin to comment.


Friday, May 1, 2009

We Interupt this Blogcast # 6 -

It is my privilege, May 1st, 2009 to announce the launch today of the website that I am proud to be a part of.

The Site is a goal setting and mentorship community where "circles" are formed of individuals who share a common goal or achievement pursuit, and receive help from a mentor (I was selected as the "Strengthen Your Catholic Faith" Mentor). Fitness, Knowledge, Arts, Religion, Finances, Psychology and other Circles are in place and anyone has the opportunity to suggest a specialized Circle subject for implementation. Each Circle is formatted with its own Mentor(s), blog, forum and media structure for content creation by its member.

A diversity of cultural exposure on a single site is extremely beneficial, and rare. It will be a significant opportunity to practice ecumenism through mutual respect, observance, interaction and co-existence. Remember my "Coexist" Post and you get where I am coming from.

Yes, you may find hybrid posts from my blog here over there, but if so I will contextualize them accordingly. I will not stop or reduce posting here.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Fr. Fride Interview a must

I caught the first half of an interview with Father Ed Fride on Al Kresta's show yesterday. Fr. Fride's journey from Congregational to Nuclear Physics to Catholicism to Priesthood is stunning, hilarious and profound. Click on the link in the title here and go to 4/28 3rd hour on the left sidebar for his audio/podcast. It will make your commute feel like melted butter.

Yippie...So What.

Hey, I just noticed, I am a toddler blogger this month...over 1 year Old!

yeah, so what.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Notre Dame Thing

I've heard so many skewed judgements about this issue from every angle, its's a variety of official and non-official conclusions published so far:

  • Obama must be cancelled from speaking at Commencement
  • Obama can speak but he cant be given the Honorary Law Degree (that would be Catholics honoring a Heretic)
  • Jenkins needs to be fired for not consulting the Canon Law compatible speakers List
  • Jenkins' Bishop needs to be fired
  • They both need to be fired
  • Obama should take the hint and decline the event, out of respect for the Church
  • The Church has already sinned by inviting Obama, so all 1 Billion of us need to go to confession, including Benedict, with urgency
  • The Pope should pre-emptively anathematize Obama before we are all doomed by the Speech actually occurring at ND

I needn't go on.

The damage to the Worlds "perception" of the Catholic Church was done when Obama was elected by a majority of Catholics. Having him speak at ND is microscopic comparatively. Jenkins did what he did, he cant reverse that intent now.

Having Obama get near any kind of real Catholic flavored institution, let alone inside one, is an unprecedented opportunity for a striking influence of magnitude on Obama...if the right Catholics playbook the event with the power given them.

Lets see what happens.

Just sayin'.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Commandments Framework II

(Continued from here)

The Commandments, while initially easy to read and intellectualize, can be a deal breaker for some of us in the behavior department.

The accumulated emotional baggage of Life, in this World, attribute to our success or struggle with making conscious effort to habitualize putting others first...let alone loving our enemies. Thousands of mental health professionals make a substantial living on just making us aware of our inside-out reality. We are by culture, forced in a cycle of self absorbed maintenance routines and unless we have a natural, inherent motivation to place others first, the "love our neighbors as ourselves" Commandment requires external propulsion.

I gained my first real sense of Gratitude, and giving my time to others voluntarily by counseling Prison Inmates for some years in the 1980's. A team of 4 of us held weekly meetings in a State Prison where I learned how easily I could have been one of the "boys" in there. The taste of "getting out of myself and giving to others" was tangible, but it was overpowered by my weak ego and the feeling of freedom being able to walk out of there every week, while the inmates could not.

That's a good portion of the reason I became a Catechist. While I have done a couple decades of (secular) voluntary counseling, and it clearly benefited others, my motives weren't entirely pure. Since then, after sincerely practicing a Faith for some years, I have enjoyed a gift of valuing others in a deeper sense and what better way to love my neighbor than to hand them what I found to be the highest truth. It becomes effortless, unconditional and therefore infinitely valuable to me. Still it is only a micron of what depth of sacrifice is contained in Christs example of living in harmony, community and unity.

The path is clear, the Church is ready, the people are thirsty and we have the tools to begin obeyance. The price is zero yet the yield is unmeasurable.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

...And here's the Source of that Easter Article

Complete with Upper Pinellas Deanery Head Interview.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Come Home for Easter

I opened the local St. Pete Times today and was surprised to find the following nearly full page Document:

Come Home for Easter
Who are we?

We are your neighbors...We live throughout this area. Across the Country, over 25% of Americans are Catholic, and our international family numbers over 1 billion.

We are Christians...We believe that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God born of the Virgin Mary. We believe that He died to save us from sin and rose so that He might give us eternal life.

We are people of God...who trace our spiritual blood lines through the saints of all centuries back to Jesus, the promised Son of David and the Sacrificial Lamb prophesied by Abraham. Our membership includes Mother Teresa and Al Capone, smart, dull, rich, poor and people of all races and nationalities. One wit defined Catholicism as: "Here comes everybody."

We are the Body of Christ...We believe that the risen Jesus lives in us spiritually through his Holy Spirit and that united with Him in the waters of baptism we form one "mystical body" with Christ as our head.

We are an earthly people...We believe that, since God came to earth, then earth itself is "Christ-alized." The world is good, life is good. people are good. Of course, we know that people sin; but we believe that sin can be forgiven - entirely wiped out, not just overlooked.

We are a sacramental people...Sacraments are signs of God's grace and special presence. Jesus Himself is the most fundamental sign of God's presence for Jesus is God in the Flesh. As Catholics, we believe that through the seven sacraments or sacred signs instituted by Christ, the Lord Jesus still speaks and reveals to us the infinite mystery and presence of God. Through our celebration of the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmations, Reconciliation, Eucharist, Marriage, Holy Orders and Healing, we believe that God is as uniquely present to all whom He met.

We are heavenly people...Along with other Christians, we believe in everlasting life after death. We view heaven as a joyous place, a banquet at which God is our host, Jesus our waiter and a crowd of angels as entertainers. Our celebration includes friends and former enemies. We believe that all creation and all people are called to glory.

We are a people of Tradition...We trace our lineage back to Adam and Eve. We do not start each day as if it were not based on yesterday. We do not face each question as if we had learned nothing from experience. We combine the wisdom of scripture and the experience of our life with God through the centuries. This gives us respect for the past, openness to the future and hope for the present.

We are a people of values...With Paul the Apostle we hold on to all that is true and good. We believe that some values never go out of style, that marriage and family are holy and inviolable than that the ten commandments were not given to us as mere suggestions.

We are a people of life...We are convinced that Jesus came to give us life the the full and that God alone is in charge of life. We believe that human life is sacred from the first moment of conception through natural death. We are absolutely opposed to the destruction of life at either end of its spectrum, and we insist on the right to a certain quality of life in between. We pledge ourselves to fight the life-denying forces in our "culture of death."

We are a patriotic people...We are in love with America - even of America has not always loved us. Catholic immigrants were once excluded by law; the Catholic Church was not allowed to own property; Catholics were not even allowed to vote. Organized gangs, called "know nothings" and "Nativists" burned our Churches and persecuted our people. Nevertheless, while Catholics were only 16% of the population during WWI, we made up 35% of the Armed Forces that fought for America. And we have maintained our commitment to America ever since.

We are a church of the people...Catholicism was started by a poor carpenter and a dozen poor fisherman. We have never lost our bind with working people. We formed the craft guilds in the Middle Ages and helped found labor unions in America. We have a grand tradition of the Catholic social gospel. Eleven of the 12 proposals in our "Social Reconstruction" document became a part of the New Deal over 60 years ago. And we continue to help the poor in hospitals, schools, shelters, food banks, etc.

So - whats wrong with us?...Nothing...God isn't finished working on us yet. If you feel perhaps God isn't finished working on you either, we would like to invite you and your family and friends to join us for our celebration of Christ's Resurrection.

All of our Parishes would love to welcome you home this Easter.

Come to me says the Lord

On the left side of the document are the Church names, addresses, phone numbers and websites for 14 north county Parishes in our Diocese.

The first impression this made on me was the immaculate language approach. It conveys a gentle conversation and yet, does not withold our firm convictions. Second, it is also a sampling but clear outline of USCCB Catechetics for RCIA, which we have followed this year in our Parish teaching.

There are many striking points and the one that has timing for this week is the access we have Liturgically to the Divine Mercy Reconciliation.

"Of course, we know that people sin; but we believe that sin can be forgiven - entirely wiped out, not just overlooked."

Only once a year, for 15 days this particular year, are we granted such complete absolution in the Rite of Penance. While the document didnt spell this point out, I see the alignment.

Exquisite work of writing...whoever put this down...for secular outreach. I dont disagree with any facet of its content, even without a published imprimatur. I pray it will catch the eyes of those who need it.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Commandments Framework

I had the privilege to instruct on the First 3 Commandments recently and my research to outline the discussion revealed a different dimension on them than I had expected. So much so that I am still studying the subject a few weeks later now.

Many seekers struggle with finding a connection to God in their journey to discover Christianity. We (yes I will always be a seeker as well) come under the circumstances of our lives and pray for Guidance, or, in other words, seek "His Will" for us. Our Mass is full of Liturgical prayer seeking Gods Will be done as well. While studying for this presentation, I kept being drawn back to Jesus in Matthew 7:21-23 :

"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven."

If we seek the Will of God we don't have to look very far. God made a series of communications to us in various styles, physical, verbal and written which is shown throughout the OT to reveal his "Will". He demonstrated his Natural-Moral Law through Abraham's obedient Sacrifice of Isaac, through the passover and many other events which all point toward obedience to His Will. God called upon Moses, made a Covenant with Moses, gave Moses a kingdom and judgement power. When Moses tried to argue and debate Gods intention...with God ....God then set him straight with what exactly he wants his children to obey.

Exodus 19:9 :

"The Lord said to him: Lo, now will I come to thee in the darkness of a cloud, that the people may hear me speaking to thee, and may believe thee for ever."

Here is our Father, once again finding even His chosen not getting it right. So in Exodus 20, God writes the 10 Commandments on tablets, with His finger, so we get it right, and he adds the word(s) for ever. This Law is carried over from the OT into the NT, and forever.

Moses doesn't handle it well, Moses later breaks the tablets in utter confusion and frustration and then is given another set, which may or may not be in the Ark. Here we are in only the second book of 73 books of the Word and it was clearly documented what the Will of God is.

Just to be on the safe side, God made another full revelation of His Will. If we couldn't comprehend his teaching from the physical examples (IE. Abraham) or verbal (IE. Orders to Moses) or written (the Tablets), He would just come down and show us how to find and do His Will. He begot Jesus. And Jesus illuminated what it is to obey the Commandments (God's Will). Jesus Christ is the only living human example of complete obedience to all 10 Commandments. Christ also made clear the Law carry-over from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant in Matthew.

Matthew 5:17:

"Do not think I have come to abolish the Law and the Prophets, I have come…to fulfil them."

This is the Natural Law and the Moral Law of His teaching, written in our hearts. It is also known as Forming our Conscience.

While we like to think we can simplify a comprehension of the Commandments, boiling the Ten down into two main concepts ( as Love of God [1-3] and Love of Neighbor[4-10] ), and leave it there, we should not. The first 3 are held as Love of God by literal hermeneutics, the first 3 are also 3 functions of that Love.

  • The first Commandment is the Object of our Worship
  • The second Commandment is the Manner of our Worship
  • The third Commandment is Time for our Worship
Christ expands and amplifies the Commandments with excruciating detail and examples of violation, motive and intent in Matthew 7 and His Sermon on the Mount, its so hyperbolic...its almost embarrassing to read. The fact that he had to spell it out with such detail says so much about how repeatedly foolish and weak we are as children.

What I get from this first level of study, and as a product of obedience is stated by Christ in Matthew 6. We don't need to think that Gods Will is something mysterious and out of our mental reach. Be like Christ, behaviorally, in love and motive, and we have nothing to fear about all other concerns. He will take care of the rest.
(continued here)

Monday, March 9, 2009

Catholics continue to dominate in U.S.

Thats what "RACHEL ZOLL, AP Religion Writer Rachel Zoll, Ap Religion Writer" should have written on Mon Mar 9, 12:14 am ET. Here are excerpts from the study (article link in title):

"Nationally, Catholics remain the largest religious group, with 57 million people saying they belong to the church. The tradition gained 11 million followers since 1990, but its share of the population fell by about a percentage point to 25 percent.

In 2008, Christians comprised 76 percent of U.S. adults, compared to about 77 percent in 2001 and about 86 percent in 1990. Researchers said the dwindling ranks of mainline Protestants, including Methodists, Lutherans and Episcopalians, largely explains the shift. Over the last seven years, mainline Protestants dropped from just over 17 percent to 12.9 percent of the population.

Evangelical or born-again Americans make up 34 percent of all American adults and 45 percent of all Christians and Catholics, the study found. Researchers found that 18 percent of Catholics consider themselves born-again or evangelical, and nearly 39 percent of mainline Protestants prefer those labels. Many mainline Protestant groups are riven by conflict over how they should interpret what the Bible says about gay relationships, salvation and other issues."

Saturday, February 28, 2009

A Concert for Peace

Our Church Choirs combined recently to perform "A Concert for Peace". It contains a variety of Traditional Choir/Organ, Contemporary Lifeteen Band, Soloists and a Harpist performances.

Here is the player:

Here is a link to the songlist/performers and streams for download.

A Concert for Peace.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

We Interupt this Blogcast #5.. say Big Bangist George Smoot would be far more credible as a Papist...then again, notice how many times he uses the word "Creation":

Monday, February 9, 2009

There is one thing I loathe more than Plagiarism

...and that is myself wanting to commit Plagiarism.

I'm sure I am in good company saying while I struggle to develop a writing "voice" that is as dramatic, compelling, hilarious and meaningful as the committee that I hear carrying on in my skull, I run into those who scribe exactly how I feel and perceive a given thing so well...I wish their words were my own. Example thus:

Blogger Civitas Occiduus
said...(On defending any Clergy Sex scandal in the media):

"The Bishops of the Church must defend their flocks -- even to the point of suffering the attacks of civil society.

But I should think that prudence dictates that on such an emotional issue the Bishops should be less on the offensive in public. Rather than attacking the media, the humble thing to do in light of our collective guilt as Catholics on this issue should be to say, "You're absolutly right. I pledge to work tirelessly with civil authorities to bring predators to justice. No child, no adult, no human being deserves this."

For decades, we have all been sinning when we suspected something and did not report it; when we looked the other way because the white collar held some magic aura. Our Holy Father has indicated the proper attitude and posture: humble acceptance and painful sorrow.

Someone else compared this issue to the Holocaust. While the murders of 6 million over 10 years are not the same as the molestations of hundreds of thousands worldwide over decades, the Church is much like Germany on this one: we should never deny, downplay, or object when people become angry over the sexual abuse scandal. Christ Himself told us to turn the other cheek. We have sinned and we add sin to sin when we grow indignant because Justice exacts its price.

Part of the consequences of this kind of horrendous sin are that the wolves of the world -- the lawyers, the atheists, the selfish -- smell blood. Because when one of us falls, all fall, we must be willing, for the Glory of God & the triumph of His cross, to do penance for these terrible crimes.

Bishop Jenky means well, and I give thanks to God for him, but the sooner we accept that victims of sexual abuse are not the enemy, but that the terrible sin that has been commited by those sad clerics is, the sooner everyone will be able to heal."

February 8, 2009 4:31 PM

Bravo, dangit...Bravo.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Messianic Secret – A Catholic Brief Study

Mark 8:30 “And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him.”

There has been a popular revival recently of Christ’s often professed forbidding of anyone broadcasting his Messiahship, no doubt due to the Feb 1st Gospel reading (Mark 1:21-28). This subject is true enigmatic material, and fairly deep exegetical water making it worthy study. It is so magnetic, even Pope Benedict has published a take on the secret this month as well. A few other Catholic Blogs have posted about this and repeated the Pope’s reflection, I won’t reiterate that…I’d like to share the richness of truth to be found and studied in His professed restriction.

Late 19th and early 20th Century study yielded scholarly debate about Jesus’ full, but unspoken motive for this restriction. In particular, William (aka Wilhelm) Wrede published a fairly distracted viewpoint that fell into questioning the historicity level of Mark altogether. Wrede’s trajectory, digressing into a broadform History detour, drew majority angst from like Bibliophiles and by reaction, a dozen or so more opinions from Scholars assailed at Wrede’s work, as if the Inquisition began again suddenly.

While the Historical/Critical debate is a valid one, it loses the teaching in which I grasp a much richer lesson in Christ’s keeping his activity on the “down-low”. Using reason, I hear Jesus’ has much to say with little spoken in this avoidance of becoming a prominent figure by miracle witness word-of-mouth. But let’s take a few other viewpoints and ponder them: (Bart D. Ehrman from Wiki)

1. Literary explanations: a prominent example is proposed by the Exegetic School of Madrid (2007). The conclusion of the philological study is that the messianic secret, more than a theology by the first Church or by Mark, is an invention of modern writers. In fact, in the original Aramaic version Jesus never pronounced those sentences… However, there is no extant copy of this alleged Aramaic original to support this theory.

Nope…the words are there ESM. To say that they are not, while historical forensics reconciled nearly all translations to the contrary is a failure of research and majority of findings.

2. Historical: One possible historical explanation might be that Jesus wished to fulfill the envisaged role of the Jewish messiah only selectively: although he was the 'anointed one', or Christ, he did not appear as a military leader.

No real meat on the “why” in this one although the second half has traction, it should be explored further.

3. Historical: A) It is also reasonable to believe that Christ might want to suppress public fervor about himself until the opportune time.
B) According to the Gospel, he was already a celebrity in Palestine. He might want to retain some measure of anonymity in order to be able to move about Judea without a multitude of followers.

While 3A appears supported by even Christ himself, (speaking to his Mother in the context of performing a miracle at the Wedding Feast of Cana…[John 2: 3-5] "O woman, what is it, to you in me? My time has not yet come.") Christ then reveals publicly his Messiahship, doing the exact opposite of keeping secret his Divinity. But, we are going after the “why” for his profession of secrecy, and “the opportune time” falls short of satisfying this inquiry.

3B however follows reason and even as it is vague, this becomes a significant perspective trail to pursue.

Look at the result of Christ’s admonitions to keep quiet those he healed or touched. They all ran off screaming his abilities using whatever lofty moniker for Him to everyone in earshot.

Can you imagine, God says to you: “Jack, the cancer is gone now, and just so you know, I am God so shut up about it.” (sternly). People are healed from terminal or disabling disease, they cannot stop themselves from broadcasting that fact. Is it reasonable to think they will allow the shut up part to trump the primary victory of being healed? The legal gravity of a Gag Order was not understood back then. So when they attest to their being healed they use any word to describe the healer. They most likely were in such a state of Euphoria that when asked “who did this for you?”, any High Title was sufficient…King, Lord, Master, Prophet, etc. Christ did not say “well, if you have to tell, use only the term ‘Son of Man’”…because he likely knew the person would be so overcome with their purified state, the source character label is of little concern to them.

This also aligns well with the Catholic understanding of “both and” refuting those who believe in the “elect” theory of some Protestant denoms. [We understand that God chooses All, and we are free to choose God or not. No predestination or double predestination. Its both and.] Per Mark: “And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him.” Yet there is no Biblical citation of Him doing anything about violating his order. Check it – He gave Himself to them, and instructed them on its visibility, yet they chose to violate it. The healings were not reversed or retracted as a result of our choosing as well. See the richness in this repeated example of accepting His Mercy and still failing to abide?

The preeminent motive deduction for secrecy is a combination of those that are supported through reason above and applying the reality of Christ’s teaching. Abp. Fulton Sheen explains it precisely and summarily:

"Our Blessed Lord saw thousands passing in the Passover Caravan on their way to Jerusalem. And his heart goes out to them…he proposes to feed them. Andrew the Apostle pointed to a boy who had 5 barley loaves and 2 fishes. These our Blessed Lord took. Notice the way the Gospel describes what our Lord did and notice also the parallel between this description and the last supper. We are quoting the Gospel of Mark 6:41:
“And he took up the 5 loaves and 2 fishes and looked up to heaven and blessed and broke the loaves and gave to His disciples.” With these 5 loaves and 2 fishes our Blessed Lord fed the multitude of thousands….it was indeed a miracle of multiplication…until, the Gospel says, everyone had his fill. Do you suppose that if our Blessed Lord gave out Money instead of Bread, the Gospel would have said… that everyone had his fill?

The effect of this miracle was stupendous, because they saw the bread and fishes increasing. And the people saw the possibility of making our Lord a King that would bring prosperity and plenty. So they sought to make Him King. That’s what people want, Economic Prosperity. Even from God that walks this Earth. The people now wanted to make our Lord King…an economic political King that would fill their gullets and their stomachs, and if he did that He would have Power according to them. And our Lord knowing they wished to make Him King, fled into the mountains alone.

They could not make Him King,
He was born a King.

It could very well have been that this flight from political kingship produced the disillusion in Judas, as he witnessed the flight and could not bear the thought of not being provided for economically by Christ. (Quoting from John 6:25 on) The next morning he is found at Capernaum and asked how he got there. His answer was to reprimand them as they were identifying Religion with Soup Kitchens. And He said
“Believe me, if you are looking for me now it is not because of the miracles you have seen, it is because you are fed with loaves and had your fill.”
By these words our Lord indicated that they had not taken the miracle as a sign of his Divinity. They were looking for him instead of to him. Our Lord continues in John 6:27:
“You should not work to earn food which parishes in the using, work to earn food which affords continually eternal life. Such food as the Son of Man will give you. God the Father has authorized him.”

Our Lord is here setting in contrast 2 kinds of bread, the bread that parishes, and the bread that endures to life everlasting. And He cautioned them against following Him as a donkey following a Master who holds a carrot. To lift their carnal minds to eternal food. He suggested that they seek the food that the Heavenly Father had sealed or authorized."(Abp)

The Consecrated Eucharist has this Seal does it not?

Christ knew his Ministry would be hindered by the forcing of a Kingship of earthly values. The Secrecy was His teaching of lifting the Carnal Mind to the Eternal Mind, which is not of this Economic and Political World.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Pope demands Bishop Recant Holocaust Position

(AP) "The Vatican on Wednesday demanded that a prelate who denied the Holocaust recant his positions before being fully admitted as a bishop into the Roman Catholic Church. It also said Pope Benedict XVI had not known about Bishop Richard Williamson's views when he agreed to lift his excommunication and that of three other ultraconservative bishops Jan. 21."

This appears to at least coincide with, or be a response to pressure from German Leadership, and many other highly visible world figures recently. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called on the pope to clarify that the Vatican does not tolerate any denial of the Holocaust. Pope Benedict is from Germany, where Holocaust denial is a crime punishable with prison terms.

This also comes just a few days after Bishop Williamson apologized to the Pontiff for the "distress and problems" he caused by denying the Holocaust.

Bishop Williamson recently denied that 6 million Jews were murdered during the Holocaust, is calling his remarks "imprudent" as he expresses his regrets in a letter posted on Friday on his personal blog.

The bishop also thanked the Pope for lifting the excommunication that the Vatican had imposed on him 20 years earlier because he had been elevated to bishop's rank by a renegade, ultraconservative prelate.

2/6/09 P.S. (Zenit published the Pope's stated motive on Lifting the excommunication):

the Holy Father made clear today that the lifting of the excommunication is about one thing only: Church unity.

"I have carried out this act of paternal mercy because repeatedly these prelates have manifested their sharp suffering in the situation in which they found themselves."

Furthermore, the Holy Father stated, there is the expectation of further steps from the four newly released bishops.

"I trust that following from this gesture of mine will be the prompt effort on their part to complete final necessary steps to arrive to full communion with the Church," the Bishop of Rome said, "thus giving testimony of true fidelity and true recognition of the magisterium and the authority of the Pope and the Second Vatican Council."

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Catholic Carnival #210

Is Here. Peace through Blogging.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Pray the Song

Taking some inspirational advice from songwriters, I must share it.

"When seeking Him, or inspiration from Him, pray song/hymn lyrics."

At times when its tough to spell out the interior truth I seek in praying, this song says it for me:

I'm finding myself at a loss for words,
and the funny thing is..

it's ok.
The last thing I need,
is to be heard,
but to hear what,
You would say...
Word of God Speak,
would you pour down like rain,
washing my eyes to see,
Your Majesty.
To be still and know,
that You're in this place,
please let me stay and rest,
in Your Holiness...
Word of God speak.

Link to the audio version, on Godtube

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Father, Forgive them, please, because I, the sinner can yet not do so

There I was, reading along on one of the blogs I follow, and happened upon a post by a Protestant blogger, who is challenging the credibility of Catholic Answers in the all too familiar inflammatory fashion. I read the post, and as expected, it contains Contempt prior to Investigation about CA's influence and whether CA is sufficiently "overseen" by the local Bishop.
Catholic commenters, including myself tried in many attempts to keep the argument focused on the point, showing that CA is moderated and has imprimaturs on most publications, and a Priest on staff, but every Protestant (except one and you know who you are, H/T) escalated diversional opinions without fact finding or exercising any level of mutual observancy. One Catholic commenter put the argument well into focus, and then received the following Protestant take:

Protestant poster states:

"CA is engaged in a 'bait & switch' maneuver: in effect they are saying "we have trained apologists and a Dominican on staff, we're authoritative, but not binding; you can trust us." They remind of me of those "Bankruptcy advisors" who for a fee will help you fill out the IRS and legal forms you could have downloaded for free and filled in yourself. It's "magesterial-lite...".

To which I replied a 4th time:

6:28 PM, January 27, 2009
Blogger The Catholic Journeyman said... just lied to try to advance your point
...and its no small deception quoting CA as:

"...we're authoritative, but not binding..."

CA has never claimed such a thing or even implied it. You havent even read their mission, or all the other responses here which are consistent therein.

With that instigative dishonesty, you are not an example of any kind of Christian I would find credible.

The vast majority of Protestant/Evangelical/Fundamentalists that I have direct or face to face contact with, exhibit such wicked hate in defiance of logic, reason, scriptural support and/or a loving approach. Upon repeated encounter, one wonders how not to fall into sinful cynicism about these,.... individuals. Who would follow such a Christian? What Holy example is this person emulating? Not one that I would find as Christ taught.

I would likely pay a cover charge to converse with a Protestant that understood this perspective, and could maintain a dignified conversation.

It happens that we studied Matthew again tonight with the RCIA class and with the CA comments still in my memory...all these passages, teachings from Christ, flashed in front of me like Neon:

Mt 5:44 - "But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven..."

Mt 7:1 - " Judge not, that you be not judged..."

Mt 7:5 - "You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brothers eye."

Mt 7:12 - "So whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them; for this is the law and the prophets."

Mt 12:31 - " Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit wiil not be forgiven."

Mt 12:36,37 - "I tell you, on the day of judgement men will render account for every careless word they utter, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned."

Mt 15:10,11 - "And he called people to him and said to them, "Hear and understand, not what goes into the mouth defiles a man, but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man."(this parable fully explained by Christ in 15:15-20)

While it may appear this is solely aimed at the instigator...these scriptures speak to me as well, and by demonstration, the 3 people who read this blog occasionally can confirm...I have intentionally stopped posting the ongoing" a-C debate" content. I am through casting pearls before swine (thank you Tim Troutman). That approach results only in the same non-productive hate speech and I now deny giving it any platform other than an example of what not to follow.

We all deserve respect, and as Christ struggles to get it through our thick heads over and over again...this respect, this "communication", this reaching out...must be postured in Love, Mercy, non-judgement, or it is not of Christ. Its the way he ministered, personally with respect and dignity even for those who we as cultured humans often find undeserving of it.

Am I alone here? Can anyone dig this?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I am not worthy to wash this Mans feet...either

Heavily impacted by this Mans story, I am compelled to share it.

Jan. 15, 2009
Richard Todd Shireman, a forty-six year old husband, father of two sons, veteran Police Officer , Lutheran Pastor and Social Worker, was laid to rest this day.

Rich Shireman was a social worker partnered with a member of the St. Petersburg Police Department. That policeman’s name is Richard Linkiewicz. The two of them rode the streets working with the homeless, addicts, people in desperate need of shelter, food, medicine, relief from an addiction. The City established several of these “teams of two” who work with all the organizations helping the homeless. “Rich and Rich” as they came to be known developed a bonding not just with each other but with those whom they were called to serve. Many of their “clients” were there to claim that “there but for Rich and Rich, I might be dead or in a ditch.”

Rich Shireman died last Saturday as a result of a motorcycle accident. Michael Johnson, a business man and downtown St. Petersburg resident who is also co-chair of the Homeless Task Force of St. Petersburg, has provided a text which Rich Shireman delivered in January of 2006 (the time of the tent-cutting/homeless persecution in St. Petersburg). It reveals a lot about the man hundreds gathered to honor and remember tonight:

The real question is this: at what point does it become acceptable to blame, drive away, harass, deny services or resources to, or denigrate a homeless person? How are we to separate the victims from the lazy, the malicious, the unmotivated, or the victimizers? And if we could cofidently discriminate between the deserving and undeserving, is a life of poor hygiene, poor nutrition, less than adequate health care, extremely high risk of violent victimization, and extreme exposure to the elements (not to mention all the little things that rob homeless persons of dignity) an appropriate or acceptable sentence or punishment for having made bad decisions or for simply having bad character traits?

Obviously, we cannot protect people from all the consequences of faulty thinking. We cannot even protect people from all the consequences of having been poorly raised or abused as children. We cannot and should not protect people from all the consequences of their criminal behavior. And those who suffer from addictions need to experience many of the negative consequences of their substance abuse in order to be motivated to pursue recovery. Nevertheless, there must be some limit to how much we are willing to let people suffer in our midst. There must be a point at which we say that simply because you are a human being and a member of this society we will not allow you to fall further.
" Richard Todd Shireman in January 2006.

A Commentary on Pontifax during the Octave of Christian Unity

Bishop Robert Lynch of the Diocese of St. Petersburg writes of this Octave of Christian Unity effort:

"Each January, Catholics, Lutherans and Episcopalians gather for a morning of joint/shared prayer and reflection on the subject of Christian Unity. The meeting is called Pontifax which is an English language derivative from the Latin word, “pontifex” which means “bridge builder.” Interestingly it is a normal title used in referring to the successors of St. Peter, the pope, who are called “Pontifex magnus” or “Supreme bridge-builders.” Historically it is understandable that the earliest popes would be referred to in this way as their task was uniquely to build a bridge between the Jewish faith and paganism to Christianity.

Any way, tomorrow we gather for this year’s Pontifax meeting at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Tampa. The theme this year is “That they may become one in your hand” which was suggested by the Christians in Korea who are one people divided into two countries. These annual meetings were established as a result of informal sharing between the Diocesan Council of Catholic Women and the Episcopal Church Women of the Diocese of Southwest Florida. In 1970, their respective bishops gave permissions to form an ecumenical committee for the purpose of creating better mutual understanding and common trust in many areas of church life and community service. In 1989 the Bahamas Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America was invited and accepted to participate in this activity.

My Lutheran and Episcopal brothers in the episcopacy, Bishop Edward Beneway and Bishop Dabney Smith respectively, usually attend and each year one of us delivers the homily. This year it is my turn.

Pray for the continued successes of our mutual dialogues which internationally have not gone so well in recent years but locally have produced wonderful relations and a deeper appreciation and understanding of your variouos traditions."

While I fight urges to be cynical about some Ecumenical efforts, and lose that fight occassionally, this post by the Bishop deserves some expansion, elaboration and discussion.

Bishop Lynch's reference to "Pontifex Magnus" indicates the historical job description of the Pope in building spiritual bridges connecting the Old Covenant followers (Jewish) and New Covenant Followers (Christianity). He tells of "joint/shared prayer and reflection" among the Leadership of Catholics, Lutherans and Episcopalians which in itself can be a significant step, Lord willing his grace, Amen. Now, if I am not mistaken, these are the closest Denominations to Catholicism (in a practicing Doctrinal sense) of the Reformed variety. If correct then, one could take the valid perspective that such an effort by Leadership is non-critical and the immediacy of holding spiritual dialogue with them should be overshadowed by more extreme divisions of the Reformed denominations...Baptist, PCA, Singular Fundamentalist, Congregationalist, etc. Its a fantasy to think, Graham or Osteen would call for a reflective prayer session with any "other" Authority at this point in Christianity...or is it?

Back to the Bishops effort...on the other hand, most Reformed and Fundamentalist Leadership appear to give a healthy dose of Theological gravity to Luther followers, then by example may put their Swords against the misconception of Rome down for a minute and see the benefit of such inter-faith efforts. Ergo, ANY Ecumenical effort would produce a gain if it is made more visible among all its varied membership. Its my opinion that this particular event may bear more fruit, if made more visible to the Reformed. Ecumenism among any Denominations leadership wont be counterpointed with a rally against such efforts and that makes it stand alone unblemished.

This gathering post is only the prelude to the event, and I hope to follow up with what may be revealed of its content and potential to continue this thought further.

Tixeront's "History of Dogmas" Found

I have been scouring the markets for the highly recommended English 3 volume set of Historic Doctrinal Reference by Jospeh Tixeront "History of Dogmas". While out of print (published in 1920) the French Language version is available on ebay, I managed to find Vol. 1 of this set electronically on Free. Now I have to find a way to get this pdf on my PDA for portable reading. (!)
PS. Adobe has a free Reader for those of us still using a Pocket PC, yay.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Vatican secret confession tribunal opens up

ROME – One of the Vatican's most secrecy shrouded tribunals, which handles confessions of sins so grave only the pope can grant absolution, is giving the faithful a peek into its workings for the first time in its 830-year history...(news story link in title)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sacramental Confession...Why let Someone else judge You?

"It was our Lord's idea, Catholics didnt make it up. Our Lord said to his Apostles, 'whos sins you shall forgive they are forgiven , whos sins you shall retain they are retained'".

Our Lord gave this authority to bind and to loose, to Peter and the Apostles. Through the Succession, through Ordination using the imposition of hands (Accipe Spiritum Sanctum), He gave this power to our Priests. The granting of the power to absolve sin is put with unmistakable clearness in St. John's Gospel: "He breathed upon them and said, "Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whose sins ye shall forgive they are forgiven them; and whose sins ye shall retain, they are retained" (20:22-23).

One has to take this power of our Priests seriously. One should recognise that Priests are different from other People because God wants them to be. They are given powers that they could never hope to have on their own. The power they have is not for themselves but for the benefit of the Faithful. A Priest will spend hours in the Confessional litening to peoples sins and giving forgiveness for them (absolution), in a way that is very clear and emphatic...its a one on one ministry.

Its the way our Lord ministered to people.

He wanted His Church to minister to people in a personal and sacramental way. So when a Priest offers this, he is not offiering his forgiveness, it is Christs forgiveness being given."

Source = Fr. Vincent Serpa, C.A.L. 11/19/08: 27:00 to 30:30

A Lutheran Detour Revisited

Joseph @ A Catholic Journey has a nice summary take on Luther here. Check it out.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Carnival #206

Catholic Carnival #206 can be found here. Enjoy the read.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Goodbye to the "Florida Catholic"

The St. Pete edition at least, and say Hello to "Gathered". This Article from Bishop Lynch tells why. A wise economic move IMO.

German Archeology rewriting Roman Conquest timeline

"We have to write the History books new..." says a German Archeologist of the recent battleground finds...not sure what religious historical implications this may have yet...take a look:

Here's the Article at CNN.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

We Interupt this Blogcast #4

to say Hello to Mr. Ross and his 10 fingers....

Friday, January 2, 2009

Luther had no Old Testament Canon

Martin Luther admitted:

"We are obliged to yield many things to the Papists (Catholics) that they possess the Word of God which we received from them otherwise we should have known nothing about it." (Commentary on St. John ch.16) This is Luther, instructing all who hears him that Christians owe their Bible to the efforts of the Catholic Church.

Christians realize that if God has revealed Himself to us, we must be able to know with absolute assurance where that revelation can be found. Since we staking our salvation on the Truth of Gods Word, we need to know exactly and infallibly how the Canon of Scripture came to be. The Canon of Scripture refers to a standard or official list of inspired books that make up the Bible.

The Protestant OT is based upon the Palestinian (Hebrew) canon used by Hebrew-speaking Jews in Palestine. The Catholic OT is based upon the Alexandrian (Greek) canon used by the Greek speaking Jews throughout the Mediterranean region, including Palestine. The city of Alexandria in Egypt had the largest Library in ancient times and during Ptolemy II Philedelphus (285-246 BC) according to history, a translation of the entire Hebrew Bible into Greek was performed by approx 70 Jewish Scholars, about 6 from each of the 12 tribes. It is from this Alexandrian translation that we have the term "Septuagint", which is Latin for 70, the number of translators.

The Greek translation was very popular, the predominate language by the time of Christ, and Hebrew was a dying language by then. (Jews in Palestine spoke Aramaic primarily) So it is fair to surmise that the Septuagint was the translation used by Jesus and the New Testament writers. While the Septuagint contains 46 books the Hebrew canon contains only 39. Why?

The Hebrew canon was established by Rabbi's at the Council of Jamnia (100 AD) in response to the Christian Church which was using the Alexandrian canon. The Jews at Jamnia rejected 7 books from the Hebrew canon (we all know which ones) on the grounds that they could not find any Hebrew versions of these 7 books and portions of Daniel and Esther, which the Septuagint supposedly translated from Hebrew into the Greek language.

At the Councils of Hippo and Carthage (393-397 AD) The Catholic church officially determined which books comprise the canon of the Bible, approving the 46 books of the Alexandrian canon as the Old Testament canon. For 16 Centuries the Alexandrian canon was a matter of uncontested Faith and practice.

In 1529 Luther proposed the Palestinian canon of 39 books in Hebrew as the OT canon, where he justified removing the 7 books from the already uncontested 12 century old Bible using the same concern from Jamnia that the the Greek books had no Hebrew counterparts. However, Dead Sea Scrolls research has yielded ancient Hebrew copies of some of the disputed books, thereby nullifying these rejections.

Whats the point?

Which OT would you rather use...the OT used by Jesus Christ, the New Testament authors and the early Church, or, the OT used by the Jews who rejected Christ and persecuted Christianity?

If your Bible includes the 7 books, then you follow Jesus and the early Church. If your Bible omits the 7 books you follow the non Christians Jews at Jamnia and Martin Luther, who expressed motivation to discard even more Sacred canon (James, Esther and Revelation), who also intentionally added the word "alone" to Sacred Scripture in his German translation of Romans (3:28).

Beyond Luther and even Jamnia, the fairly modern discoveries of Hebrew Sirach documents should shelve that logic of non-canonical altogether and reconfirm the Alexandrian OT once again.

Luther had no canon, and apparently, no historical canon perspective by the time he tossed his Priesthood.