Sunday, January 25, 2015

Smoke of Satan Has Entered the Church

Back in 2006 I had heard this, but researching I could find no sources in English which confirmed this - so I continued my research and I found the statement on the Vatican website!  Yes, it is true, Bl. Pope Paul VI clearly states this in a letter (which to my knowledge officially still only exists in Italian) on June 29, 1972 that "through some small fissure, the smoke of Satan has entered the Church."  Here is the link to my 2006 posting: 

Here is the link to the official letter on the Vatican website:  (again, that document is in Italian).

What is this "smoke of Satan" which Bl. Pope Paul VI spoke of?  I added a comment to my earlier posting, but feel free to comment further here.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Science Has Discovered God!

Science has discovered God?  Is this true?  Can it be true?  Is Atheism debunked by the science they embraced for so long?   Before you just dismiss the notion, I urge you to watch the following and then comment:

Then there's this one...  it's quite a bit longer, and I suspect similar in nature to "The Principle" which was produced by Dr. Robert Sungenis (and is seeing limited release in theaters around the country).  I have not seen "The Principle" yet, so this is pure speculation on my part at this time, but check this one out:

And here's another one, not as long as the one above -

Part 2 of the previous: 

Authority - The Fundamental Issue

We can banter about, back and forth, all we want - but NONE of these arguments are going to come to a true and final outcome when we operate from wholly variant premises.  If we boil it down, we're left with AUTHORITY.


The Catholic position could be summed up to that Latin phrase - which can be translated to "The Church Alone."  Catholics believe that Jesus Christ not only promised to build His Church (Matthew 16:18), but actually DID it - starting at John 21:15-17 (just before He ascended into Heaven).  THAT Church has existed from THAT DAY forward to the present.  Sola ecclesiam does not supplant Scripture - it includes Scripture! 


Much of Protestantism clings to this 16th century innovation (never heard of before that time).  This is Latin for "Scripture Alone."  A fairly accepted definition of sola scriptura is:  "Scripture alone is the sole infallible source of instruction for the Church."  Some take this to the extreme and proclaim, "If it's not in the Bible, don't believe it."  Slightly lesser on the extremist side would be "If it's not in the Bible, you don't have to believe it."  A problem here is that Scripture itself NO WHERE teaches sola scriptura!  So, if it's not in Scripture, the sola scriptura adherent is either a) bound NOT to believe it or b) OK with rejecting it, but then it is reduce to relative insignificance and certainly not a foundational belief.

Another problem with sola scriptura is that it's never truly "alone."  Fundamentally speaking, every Protestant is left to decide for him/herself what Scripture is really saying.  This leaves us more with the third position...


This would be Latin for "Self Alone" where the ego ultimately makes all the decisions.  In reality, though most Protestants would claim sola scriptura - they are really in a position of solus ipse.  They alone decide either a) what Scripture means or b) whose interpretation of Scripture they will adhere to.  Some will say that Catholics adhere to clause b) here - however what I am referring to here is that Protestants will pick and choose which "confession" they will embrace, or which preacher they will listen to - and if they disagree, they move on to the next confession or preacher.  Catholicism, on the other hand, their version of solus ipse is more fundamental as they yield to one core creed.  While Catholics may move from one parish to another, the fundamental credo does not change.  Solus ispe leaves us with dozens, if not hundreds or even thousands (depending on how one denominates) of variant and opposing truths - which is not logically possible.


This matter of authority is where ALL our debates truly begin and end.  Once authority is established - the rest of who you are and profess to be falls in place.  Before you engage one of the above "sola" statements - do you agree with this "bottom line" statement?  Let your 'Yes' be 'Yes' and your 'No' be 'No."

Friday, January 16, 2015

How Should We Read the Bible?

Is the Bible to be read literally or figuratively? 

Before we answer that question, we have to ask another:  Who was the Bible written by?
The Bible, both the Torah of the Jews and the Testament of the Christian Church, was written by Jews.  So, how do Jews read the Bible, literally or figuratively? 

I have enrolled in a class at our local college in Jewish Studies.  We met for the first time last Monday evening.  One of the things which stood out the most for me, thus far, is for the Jews there is no single dogmatic way of looking at just about anything.  So, to answer whether Jews read the Bible, literally or figuratively - the answer is "both/and."  There is no one way to read or interpret Scripture - and to try to force Scripture into a literal only viewpoint extremely limits what Scripture REALLY has to say to EACH of us in EVERY generation.

For example, to insist the Infancy Narratives of Jesus have to be taken literally, every jot and tiddle, limits how we can use the story of Jesus' birth in our life in the twentyfirst century.  A deeper way of looking at the story would be to also incorporate St. John's Gospel, "and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us."  Jesus was born into a world of sin and corruption to be the Deliverer, the Savior, the Redeemer.  His story is told several times throughout the Jewish Torah.  The stories of Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph and even that of Judah Maccabee (Y'hudhah HaMakabi) are stories of deliverers of the Chosen People of I Am.  In the Christian Testament, God Himself becomes flesh - and dwells among us.  He takes upon Himself the sin of the world.  So, whereas in the Torah we have the story of Adam's sin condemning mankind, in the Christian Scriptures we have the Christ who redeems the World.

So, was Jesus born on December 25th of 1 BC or 1 AD (there is no "zero" year)?  Almost assuredly NOT!   There are several theories as to how the Christian Church came to that date - but nowhere does the Church insist that it was THAT date.  Was He born on or prior to 4 BC (the death of King Herod I), or was His birth during the reign of King Herod Archelaus (when the census was taken) in the year 6 AD (or prior, as Archelaus was exiled in 6 AD)?  If we don't get all caught up in attempting to force Scriptures to be absolutely literal, then we're not so worried about precision of the date.

The point is - if we read the Bible understanding the Jewish mindset, we DON'T get caught up in insisting on absolute precision of dates.  Are the Infancy Narrative figurative or literal?  In Jewish thought the answer is "Both/and."


Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Baptism of the Lord

What is baptism? What does the Bible say? Let’s start with Ezekiel 36:25-27 which states:

I will sprinkle clean water upon you to cleanse you from all your impurities, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. …I will put my spirit within you .

“I will sprinkle clean water” and He “will put [His] spirit within you” – And so with this outward sign using water we see that God gives us His spirit and that through this sprinkling we will be cleansed of all our impurities. Is this prophecy truly made alive in the New Testament through the sacrament of Baptism? Let’s compare what God said through Ezekiel to what God said through Peter at Pentecost.

Peter (said) to them, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (Acts 2:38).

Ezekiel said: “I will sprinkle clean water
Peter said: “be baptized

Ezekiel said: “[I will] cleanse you from all your impurities
Peter said: “for the forgiveness of your sins

Ezekiel said: “I will put my spirit within you
Peter said: “you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit

It seems quite undeniable that Ezekiel’s prophecy is perfectly fulfilled in the sacrament of Baptism. Because of His promise from Ezekiel we now know that the Grace of God comes during the sacrament of Baptism but what else does baptism do?

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

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

For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. (Gal 3:27)

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

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

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

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

God Bless

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Do Matthew and Luke Contradict on the Infancy Narrative?

Recently I've been involved in some discussions on "Beliefnet" in the "Discuss Catholicism" forum.  I was invited to answer claims of an anti-Catholic who is under moderation in the Catholic Debate Forum - (his belief is that I could not stand up for myself in a forum I do not run - he is wrong, as usual).  Below is an excerpt from one of the discussions going on there.  As for the forum itself, thus far I cannot recommend it.  It seems to be dominated by those who do not wish to "discuss Catholicism" - rather, they want to "bash Catholicism" - I've even questioned the naming of the forum there on the forum.

"AristolesChild" (aka: LittleLes) wrote:
Perhaps you should review the nativity narratives in Matthew and Luke. (Paul, Mark, and John don't have any).

Matthew claims Jesus was born during the reign of KIng Herod who died about 4 B.C.

Luke, on the other hand reports Jesus was born in 6 AD, when Judea came under direct Roman control, and Quirinius, the new Roman governor, conducted a census of Judea to determine the tax base and Archelaus' holdings  (Herod's son and inheritor) who was exiled by the Romans in 6 A.D.. (This event also recorded in Josephus' History of the Jews).

So there are two contradicatory reports having Jesus born 10 years apart. Luke having Jesus born in 6 AD obviously does not have anything about the Slaughter of the Innocents or any trip to Egypt since Herod had been dead for ten years.

But Luke makes a mistake too. Joseph and Mary were residents of Nazareth in Galilee, not Judea. Herod gave Galilee to another son, Antipas, who remained the ruler until 37 AD collecting taxes, etc. Galileans were not counted in Quirinius's census of Judea.

I challenged him to document his claims, as the above was pure assertion with no substance, he provided the following (one of the few times he's actually answered the challenge to document himself, even if his conclusion is a bit off-base).

Sure. I guess I shouldn't assume that you've read the New Testament or studied the history of that period.

1. Matthew 2:1 "When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod...."

2. Luke 2:2-5  "This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria.3So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town.4And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David,a5to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.


Herod Antipas,  (born 21 bc—died ad 39), son of Herod I the Great who became tetrarch of Galilee and ruled throughout Jesus of Nazareth’s ministry.


Josephus, Antiquities 17.342-344, 355

"In the tenth year of Archelaus’ rule the leading men among the Jews and Samaritans, finding
his cruelty and tyranny intolerable, brought charges against him before Caesar the moment
they learned that Archelaus had disobeyed his instructions to show moderation in dealing
with them. Accordingly, when Caesar heard the charges, he became angry, and summoning
the man who looked after Archelaus’ affairs at Rome. . ., he said to him, “Go, sail at once and
bring him here to us without delay.” . . . And when Archelaus arrived, Caesar gave a hearing
to some of his accusers, and also let him speak, and then sent him into exile. . .

Now the territory subject to Archelaus was added to (the province of) Syria, and Quirinius, a man of consular rank, was sent by Caesar to take a census of property in Syria and to sell the estate of Archelaus."

1 BC – 4 AD Gaius Julius Caesar Vipsanianus
4 – 5 Lucius Volusius Saturninus
6 – 12 ***Publius Sulpicius Quirinius
12 – 17 Quintus Caecilius Metellus Creticus Silanus

Notes:   (no notes found here, I assume this was part of a copy/paste operation)

            Archelaus ruled Judea from the death of Herod in 4 BC until 6 AD when he was exiled by Rome and Judea placed under direct Roman control.

           Antipas ruled Galilee from the death of Herod in 4 BC until about 37 A.D.

           Following the exile of Archelaus in 6 A.D., Judea (but not Galilee) came under direct Romon rule and Quirinius, on becoming governor of Syria, conducted a census (of Judea, now part of Syria). Galilee remained under Antipas and was not involved.

I responded with the following:

The Rule of the Herods
Geographical Areas and Administrative Districts of Palestine Ruled by the Herods
Samaria, Judea, and Idumea
Galilee and Perea
Iturea, Trachonitis, Gaulanitis, Auranitis, Batanea
Herod the Great
37 - 4 BC
4 BC - AD 6
4 BC - AD 39
4 BC - AD 34
Roman Governors
AD 6 - 41
Roman Governors
34 - 37
Agrippa I
39 - 44
Agrippa I
37 - 44
Agrippa I
41 - 44
Roman Governors
44 - 66
Roman Governors
44 - 53
Roman Governors
44 - 56
Agrippa II
53 - 66
Agrippa II
53 - 66
56 - 66
Jewish Rebellion Against Rome
66 - 70
Colonia Aelia Capitolinia

70 - 135
Province of Syria Palaestina
(included the Roman Province of Syria)

after 135

(Note, they are ALL "Herods")

Palestine Under the Herods - New Testament Era

The territory we know as Palestine was divided into different administrative districts at different times under Roman rule and governed by various levels of the Roman political bureaucracy.  Political leadership was granted as a reward for being in favor with Caesar and could be withdrawn just as quickly.  As a result, various parts of Palestine passed back and forth between supervised monarchial rule and total control directly from Rome under Roman procurators or governors. 

Herod the Great died about 4 BC by our calendar, even though Matthew 2:19 tells us that Herod died after the birth of Jesus. Our modern calendar was not developed until the Middle Ages.  Most historians agree that because of different calendars in use before that time that they simply miscalculated the date of Jesus' birth.  After Herod's death Caesar divided the territory he ruled, which included almost all of Palestine, among his three sons Archelaus, Philip, and Antipas. Archelaus quickly gained a reputation for harsh treatment of the people.  It was Archaeleus that precipitated the Holy Family's return to Galilee (Matt. 2:22).  Because of continuing complaints, he was soon removed by Caesar and banished.  His territory was administered by governors.  Philip ruled the far northern area of Palestine and did not play much role in the New Testament events.  Antipas was self-indulgent and ambitious, and eventually fell out of favor with Rome and was also banished.  His territory was briefly under the control of governors until Herod Agrippa I was allowed to rule as king over those areas.  In the New Testament, all of these rulers are generally referred to as Herod, although the one most mentioned in the Gospels was Herod Antipas since he controlled Galilee and Perea during most of the lifetime of Jesus.

Herod Agrippa I was the grandson of Herod the Great who assumed control of the territory of Philip in 37.  After Antipas was banished, he was given control of his territory as well.  In 41 he was given the rest of Palestine and governed almost as much territory as Herod the Great had ruled.  It was Agrippa I who was responsible for the persecution of early Christians (Acts 12:1-3).  At his death in 44, his son was considered too young to rule.  However, after a few years, in 53 Agrippa II was allowed to rule parts of the former territory of Philip, and in 56 was also given most of the territory of Galilee and Perea. This is the Herod before whom Paul presented his defense (Acts 25:13-26-32)

              The Herods
37 - 4 BC Herod the Great Matt 2:1
4 BC -  AD 39 Herod Antipas
Tetrarch of Galilee and Perea
Luke 3:1, Mark 6:17-29, 8:15, etc.
4 BC - AD 6 Herod Archelaus
Ethnarch of Samaria, Judea, and Idumea
Matt 2:22
4 BC - AD 39 Herod Philip
Tertrarch of Iturea and Trachonitis
Luke 3:1
AD 37 - 44 Herod Agrippa I
(see above*)
Acts 12:1-3, 21-23
53 - 93 Herod Agrippa II
Tetrarch of Iturea and Trachonitis; c.  AD 56 also parts of Galilee and Perea
Acts 25:13-26:32

More sources:

Roman Empire Rulers over Judea in New Testament Times

Herodian Dynasty (47 BC–AD 100)

Timeline of Rulers in Jerusalem before and after Jesus, the Christ

Roman Governors of Judea
The procurators may be divided into two series: those preceding and those following the reign of Agrippa I. Those of the first series (6-41 C.E.) ruled over Judea alone, possessing, together with the legate, the power of supervision over the Temple, and the right to appoint and depose the high priest. Those of the second series (44-70) administered Samaria and Galilee, besides Judea. Tacitus' statement ("Annales," xii. 54) that Cumanus was procurator of Galilee only, is not confirmed by Josephus, who was better informed. In this period the supervision over the Temple and the high priests was exercised by Jewish princes of the Herodian dynasty.
The first series of procurators includes the following:
    Coponius (6 or 7-9 C.E.). During his administration the revolt of Judas the Galilean occurred (Josephus, "Ant." xviii. 1, § 1; idem, "B. J." li. 8, § 1).
    Marcus Ambibulus (9-12). Ἀμβίβουλος is the correct reading in "Ant." xviii. 2, § 2, according to ed. Niese; the older editions have Ἀμβίβουχος, which was usually read "Ambivius."
    Annius Rufus (c. 12-15). During his term of office Augustus died (Aug. 19, 14); and this is the only basis on which to compute the tenure of office of the first three procurators, of whose administration Josephus ("Ant." l.c.) reports almost nothing.
    Valerius Gratus (15-26). He was the first procurator who arbitrarily appointed and deposed the high priests (ib.).
    Pontius Pilate 26-36). As Josephus expressly states (ib. 4, § 2), he was deposed before the first appearance of Vitellius in Jerusalem, namely, in the spring of 36 (comp. ib. 4, § 3 with 5, § 3).

So AC, your alleged contradiction here has vanished.




Monday, January 05, 2015

The Twelfth Day of Christmas!

Well, today ends the Christmas Season - sort of.  Today was the Twelfth Day of Christmas and tomorrow starts the Season of Epiphany.  I say "sort of" because as we've mentioned earlier, in some traditions the Christmas Season lasts all the way to February 2nd, Candlemas.  In the traditional readings for Candlemas we have the last mentioning of Christmas for this liturgical year.  So, if you really want to keep your decorations up a bit longer - you can!  Some of your friends might think you're a little crazy (maybe you are!) but you can also use this as an ice-breaker to discuss your faith with them and while the liturgical season switches to Epiphany, Epiphany is still a celebration of the Christ child - so one really could celebrate Christmas all the way until Lent begins!



Monster Drinks Satanic?

Those who see Satanic overtones here are saying the "M" on the can is really "666" in Hebrew.  They show us charts like this one:
However, if you notice - in the "Vahv" (Hebrew "6") the left side swings upward - not straight across.  Subtle changes in any alpha-numeric system can change the whole meaning.  Here's another comparison:
As you can see, a closer look makes the two symbols only slightly similar.  Those who want to see a "6" here are stretching it a bit.

According to a representative at Monster, as reported by Vincent Funaro of the Christian Post, no - nothing satanic intended or implied.

Then there's the "cross" in the name "Monster" -
Now again, with the "cross" highlighted: 
Is it a "cross?"  Well, yes it is, and it's a little troubling to mix a Christian symbol with the word "monster."

OK, so we've got a stretch at 666, a cross how about reference to "the Beast?"  Well, yes, we have that too...
So, is this a reference to "the Beast" from the Book of Revelation?  Or is this "monster" just a "beast?"

In one of their ads, after drinking a can - the person's eyes take on a rather evil, or at least scary, look:

The flurry started from a Youtube video, which has gone viral:

The person in this video, Christine Weick, also brings up that on the can it has three letters, "BFC" and says the "F" is for the "F" word.  She also claims it is written on the side of the can too, so she knows it is the "F" word (I need to see this for myself).  She also brings up that on the box it claims "MILFs dig it, so will you."  Well, again, I need to see this - but assuming she's telling the truth (the Youtube picture is not close enough or clear enough to read it), then we're talking some pretty disgusting things on the box.  The representative from Monster, mentioned earlier, says the "BFC" stands for "Big Fat Can," - well, maybe - but that doesn't get us around the MILF comment.  

I also found another video.  The one going viral of Ms. Weick has nearly 8 million hits, as of the time I'm publishing this article - and that video has been online for about a month.  Another one I found is about 3 years old, with much of the same information, though not all, from Ms. Weick's presentation:

Personally, I shy away from all those "energy drinks" as they are full of sugar and/or caffeine and other ingredients not recommended for those watching their blood pressure and/or weight.  Does this give us even more reason to avoid such drinks and especially "Monster?"  I think too much hype is being made about this, and for a few reasons:
1) Our secular society LIKES things which are evil or scary!  With all the zombie and other horror movies, some of which are blatantly evil and/or demonic - is it any wonder a commercial product would tap into this "monster" mania?
2) People selling product know what they're doing - and there are no "mistakes" in what we've been discussing.
3) The more Christians hype this sort of thing, the more attention is being brought to the products.  The makers of Monster are crying (or laughing) all the way to the bank.  (And I've just added some more "free" advertising for them here too now!) 
The bottom line is, these drinks are NOT good for you!  They should be avoided!  If the counter-Christian message helps you stay away from them, GOOD!

Feel free to add your own comments...

Sunday, January 04, 2015

The Eleventh Day of Christmas

For the Ordinary Form of the Mass, today Epiphany is celebrated - the day the "Three Wise Men" visited the Holy Family.  Traditionally, Epiphany is January 6th - the day after the Twelve Days of Christmas.  On "Twelfth Night" we celebrate with "King's Cake" for we're celebrating the arrival of the "Three Kings."

One of the traditions of the King's Cake is to hide a little baby under or inside the cake, and the person who gets the baby (representative of the Baby Jesus) has added privileges and/or responsibilities - one "responsibility" could be that next year that family provides the King's Cake for Twelfth Night!  Some traditions use a coin or a ring as the "prize" found within the cake.  If you're using a plastic baby - I'd recommend NOT baking it into the cake!  Add it afterward!  (Lift the cake and insert from the bottom).


In the Extra-Ordinary Form of the Mass, today is the Holy Name of Jesus, the Sunday After the Octave of Christmas.

Some things to consider - and perhaps you can help prevent others from committing a mortal sin... (taking the Name of the Lord in vain is a mortal sin!).

When you hear a co-worker or someone use Jesus' name in vain, if you wear a hat - remove your hat and bow your head, then replace your hat.  When others see you doing this, if they don't know already, they may ask why you do that - and you tell them, it is out of respect for the Holy Name of Jesus.  Some may consider you to be a nut, most will likely respect you.

Someone says, "Jesus Christ!" when something goes wrong - you could ask, "What does He have to do with this situation?"

Someone says, "Oh my god!"  You respond, "No, my name is (your name).  While I appreciate the confidence/compliment you have paid me, I'm just (your name)."

Do you have more?  Add your comment(s)!  The more people around us that hear us respond respectfully when others are being disrespectful, the more we might be making them aware that they might be offending us, but more importantly - they are offending God.

Merry Christmas!