Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Who Am I To Judge?

I was presented with this statement:
When Pope Francis was asked what he thought about gay priests, he replied-

“If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”
So- Who am I to judge.
Well, in context, that is NOT what the Pope said.  He was responding to the alleged "gay lobby" at the Vatican, to which he said:
  
There is so much being written about the gay lobby. I haven’t met anyone in the Vatican yet who has “gay” written on their identity cards. There is a distinction between being gay, being this way inclined and lobbying. Lobbies are not good. If a gay person is in eager search of God, who am I to judge them? The Catholic Church teaches that gay people should not be discriminated against; they should be made to feel welcome. Being gay is not the problem, lobbying is the problem and this goes for any type of lobby, business lobbies, political lobbies and Masonic lobbies. 

So, that is a bit different than speaking about gay priests - he's only speaking about gay people and that we should not discriminate against them, make them feel welcome.  If a "gay person" is seeking the Lord, he/she is not actively participating in homosexuality.  The Church does not condemn people for their tendencies - in fact, the Church does not condemn people at all!  The Church condemns SIN.  If someone actively and knowingly participates in the SIN, then they condemn themselves.
Others report that there has been a change in the Church's view toward homosexuality, and that is simply not true!  Pope Francis said we must not discriminate against homosexuals, he did not say we must or that we even could accept the ACT of homosexuality.   There is a difference between the homosexual and homosexuality;  one is a person, the other is a sin.  The Church has not and will not accept the sin, but we welcome sinners of ALL kinds to come to repentance.

A participant on CDF offered these thoughts:

I would say that you had a pretty good instinct if you knew something was wrong with the article you read.  Both the Washington Post and the Huffington Post, as well as many broadcast media outlets, frequently misquote the pope or take his words out of the context in which it was said.  Once he is misquoted, the factual errors just get repeated because they take the media giants' word for it and don't research them at all.

Fr. Jonathan Morris, reports frequently for Fox News.  Here is a good bit of his article on the subject:

[quote] But, unfortunately, if you were reading the headlines from some media outlets, you would have learned just one thing. As the Huffington Post put it: "Breakthrough: Pope OK with Gays."
This is the worst coverage of a religious story I have seen to date.
Let's begin with the fact that the pope has always been "OK" with homosexuals.  In fact, by the demands of his own religion he is required to be much more than just "OK."  The Christian faith teaches that every person is endowed by God with an inviolable dignity and therefore deserves our unconditional respect and love.
A section of an Associated Press report also got the story very wrong.  Summarizing the pope's comments on homosexuals in the priesthood, the AP reported: "Francis was much more conciliatory [than Pope Benedict], saying gay clergymen should be forgiven and their sins forgotten."
Pope Francis didn't say that, and the report is wrong on so many levels.
First of all, it suggests that being gay itself, is a sin. What Pope Francis really said, in response to a reporter's question about homosexual priests who are living a celibate life was this: "If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?" 
Pope Francis simply and compassionately reiterated Biblical teaching. The Bible and the Catholic Church have never taught that it is a "sin" to be homosexual.  They teach it is a sin to have homosexual sex because it goes against the laws of God's nature, specifically his plan for human sexuality.
When Pope Francis says "who am I to judge" he is saying—and I think we need to hear more of this from religious leaders—that active homosexuals deserve the same kindness, love, and mercy that all of us sinners would hope to receive from God and from others.
We don't make judgments about anyone's personal worth—God has already done that when he created us out of love.
I would hope next time Pope Francis offers to meet with the press, they would take to heart his message about fearless service and report to their readers what he actually said, rather than what they wish they had heard. [unquote]
Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2013/07/29/what-pope-francis-really-said-about-gays-and-no-it-not-new/#ixzz2aTkiY0EM
[Bold and large type added for emphasis]

Pope Francis was taken out of context yet again.  He said that gay people deserved the same kindness, love, and mercy as any other sinner would hope to receive from God and us, Christians.  He didn't change Church teaching on the subject, nor did he say it was okay to engage in the homosexual lifestyle.  The media at large is almost 100% anti-Catholic and loves to put "spin" on just about anything the pope says or does.  They are right nearly 0% of the time when reporting on anything having to do with the Catholic Church, especially on Catholic teaching.

Another pretty good article is here: http://www.catholicvote.org/did-pope-francis-say-homosexual-behavior-is-ok/
and here [Jimmy Akin is pretty straight forward]:  http://www.ncregister.com/blog/jimmy-akin/7-things-you-need-to-know-about-what-pope-francis-said-about-gays/
Here's a Church Document on the "Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons" from 1986 if you would like to read it: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_19861001_homosexual-persons_en.html

Friday, July 19, 2013

Redemptive Suffering

The Mass readings for Sunday, July 21st involve some of the most difficult to understand but, at the same time, some of the most encouraging words one could hear in times of suffering.

Why do we suffer? Shouldn’t our faith and prayers shield us from pain? The simple answer is, no. As you know Jesus Christ didn’t suffer and die to save us from suffering, He suffered and died to save us from the loss of Heaven. In fact, Jesus Himself said that If anyone wishes to come after [Him}, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow [Him]”(Luke 9:23). We are to pick it up every day in an ongoing process. What He HAS promised us however is that nothing we experience is beyond our capabilities since He will be with us always, until the end of time (Mat 28:20) and that He would not leave us as orphans (John 14:18). Jesus is our strength, our faith in Him is what strengthens us.

The faithful Christian will suffer, by the cross, no matter how much faith one may have. That faith, though, is what gives an individual the strength to persevere. Paul himself suffered even while he prayed for it to go away. He said: “I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me” (2 Cor 12:7-8). The Lord didn’t grant his prayer because He had better plans. We know this because God spoke to Paul in response to his plea and told him: ““My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor 12:9). Paul rejoiced in his suffering because it had a purpose in his life for the building up of the Church (Col 1:24). Isn’t it wonderful that whatever suffering one is going through we know that it can be redemptive and help build up the Church?

But how can this be? How can our sufferings help ‘build up the Church’? Well we know that the Church includes all the individual members as a whole and so we can infer that our sufferings can help individual members of our community of believers. How we suffer through what God has deemed necessary for our good without complaint can give others strength in persevering in their sufferings. It can also help others who are suffering in Purgatory while they await entrance into heaven.

At Catholic.com a staff member answered the question of anothers need for redemptive suffering by referencing the Colossians passage, Paul said in Colossians 1:24: "Now I [Paul] rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church."

The Catholic.com employee continued: “Paul doesn’t mean that Christ’s death is insufficient for universal redemption. He is simply saying that his own incorporation into the mystical body of Christ (the Church) means that his sufferings can be helpful for other members of the body (the Colossian Christians to whom he is writing). They are helpful only because Paul is united to Christ in his Church and is offering his sufferings to Christ for the sake of the Church.”

In the same way, suffering souls can similarly offer up their sufferings for the benefit of others. That is, we just need to ‘offer it up’ through prayer. It truly is wonderful that whatever suffering we may have, it can be of use in helping others. There is a purpose to our suffering, a purpose for us as well as for others.
 
God BlessNathan
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Thursday, July 18, 2013

What Catholics Believe, The Creed Part 5


[This part covered in parts 1-4: see indices.  Below is part 5]

I believe in one God, the Father almighty,
    maker of heaven and earth,
    of all things visible and invisible.
I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ,
        the Only Begotten Son of God,
        born of the Father before all ages.
    God from God, Light from Light,
        true God from true God,
    begotten, not made, consubstantial
       with the Father;
        Through him all things were made.
    For us men and for our salvation
        he came down from heaven,
        and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate
        of the Virgin Mary,
        and became man.

    For our sake he was crucified
      under Pontius Pilate,
        he suffered death and was buried,
        and rose again on the third day
        in accordance with the Scriptures.
    He ascended into heaven
        and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
    He will come again in glory
        to judge the living and the dead
        and his kingdom will have no end.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
        the Lord, the giver of life,
    who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
    who with the Father and the Son
        is adored and glorified,
        who has spoken through the prophets.
********************************************************PART 5
I believe in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.

I can't say it any better than the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  The Church is one, as Christ intended.  The Church is holy as Christ made it.  The Church is catholic (universal/for all) as Christ commissioned the Apostles to do.  The Church is Apostolic as He entrusted her to them.  Here is the summary of this:

866 The Church is one: she acknowledges one Lord, confesses one faith, is born of one Baptism, forms only one Body, is given life by the one Spirit, for the sake of one hope (cf. Eph 4:3-5), at whose fulfillment all divisions will be overcome.
867 The Church is holy: the Most Holy God is her author; Christ, her bridegroom, gave himself up to make her holy; the Spirit of holiness gives her life. Since she still includes sinners, she is "the sinless one made up of sinners." Her holiness shines in the saints; in Mary she is already all-holy.
868 The Church is catholic: she proclaims the fullness of the faith. She bears in herself and administers the totality of the means of salvation. She is sent out to all peoples. She speaks to all men. She encompasses all times. She is "missionary of her very nature" (AG 2).
869 The Church is apostolic. She is built on a lasting foundation: "the twelve apostles of the Lamb" (Rev 21:14). She is indestructible (cf. Mt 16:18). She is upheld infallibly in the truth: Christ governs her through Peter and the other apostles, who are present in their successors, the Pope and the college of bishops.
870 "The sole Church of Christ which in the Creed we profess to be one, holy, catholic, and apostolic, . . . subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the bishops in communion with him. Nevertheless, many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside its visible confines"(LG 8). 
http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p123a9p3.htm#866
 
    
    I confess one baptism for the forgiveness of sins 

The Sacrament of baptism unites us with Christ and "saves us now."  
For Christ also suffered for sins once, the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous, that he might lead you to God. Put to death in the flesh, he was brought to life in the spirit. In it he also went to preach to the spirits in prison, who had once been disobedient while God patiently waited in the days of Noah during the building of the ark, in which a few persons, eight in all, were saved through water. This prefigured baptism, which saves you now. It is not a removal of dirt from the body but an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers subject to him.  (I Peter 3:18-22)

977 Our Lord tied the forgiveness of sins to faith and Baptism: "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation. He who believes and is baptized will be saved."521 Baptism is the first and chief sacrament of forgiveness of sins because it unites us with Christ, who died for our sins and rose for our justification, so that "we too might walk in newness of life."522
521 Mk 16:15-16.
522 Rom 6:4; Cf. 4:25.
 985 Baptism is the first and chief sacrament of the forgiveness of sins: it unites us to Christ, who died and rose, and gives us the Holy Spirit. 
 
Durer -- 1510
        and I look forward to the resurrection
        of the dead and the life of the world to come.

We believe the promises of Scripture and the teachings of the Church.  We do as Jesus asked us to do and we will see Him face to face.

If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through his Spirit that dwells in you.  (Romans 8:11 NAB)

For if we believe that Jesus died and rose, so too will God, through Jesus, bring with him those who have fallen asleep. (I Thess. 4:14)

1011 In death, God calls man to himself. Therefore the Christian can experience a desire for death like St. Paul's: "My desire is to depart and be with Christ. "579 He can transform his own death into an act of obedience and love towards the Father, after the example of Christ:580
My earthly desire has been crucified; . . . there is living water in me, water that murmurs and says within me: Come to the Father.581 
I want to see God and, in order to see him, I must die.582
I am not dying; I am entering life.583
 
579 Phil 1:23.
580 Cf. Lk 23:46.
581 St. Ignatius of Antioch, Ad Rom.,6,1-2:Apostolic Fathers,II/2,223-224.
582 St. Teresa of Avila, Life, chap. 1.
583 St. Therese of Lisieux, The Last Conversations.

Amen.

Amen is the final word of the Creed.  It means we believe; it's done.  
1061 The Creed, like the last book of the Bible,644 ends with the Hebrew word amen. This word frequently concludes prayers in the New Testament. The Church likewise ends her prayers with "Amen."
1062 In Hebrew, amen comes from the same root as the word "believe." This root expresses solidity, trustworthiness, faithfulness. And so we can understand why "Amen" may express both God's faithfulness towards us and our trust in him. 

1065 Jesus Christ himself is the "Amen."648 He is the definitive "Amen" of the Father's love for us. He takes up and completes our "Amen" to the Father: "For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why we utter the Amen through him, to the glory of God":649
Through him, with him, in him,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
all glory and honor is yours,
almighty Father,
God, for ever and ever.
AMEN.
644 1 Cor 5:28.
648 Cf. Mt 6:2,5,16; Jn 5:19.
649 St. Augustine, Sermo 58,11,13:PL 38,399.
650 Rev 3:14.
651 2 Cor 1:20.
http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p123a12.htm


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

What Catholics Believe, The Creed Part 4

[Covered in What Catholics Believe, The Creed Parts 1-3]

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
        the Lord, the giver of life,
    who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
    who with the Father and the Son
        is adored and glorified,
        who has spoken through the prophets.


I believe in one God, the Father almighty,
    maker of heaven and earth,
    of all things visible and invisible.
I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ,
        the Only Begotten Son of God,
        born of the Father before all ages.
    God from God, Light from Light,
        true God from true God,
    begotten, not made, consubstantial
       with the Father;
        Through him all things were made.
    For us men and for our salvation
        he came down from heaven,
        and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate
        of the Virgin Mary,
        and became man.

    For our sake he was crucified
      under Pontius Pilate,
        he suffered death and was buried,
        and rose again on the third day
        in accordance with the Scriptures.
    He ascended into heaven
        and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
    He will come again in glory
        to judge the living and the dead
        and his kingdom will have no end.

**********************************************************Part 4
Carlo Docci, 1630
I believe in the Holy Spirit, 

The Holy Spirit is, we believe, the third Person of the Blessed Trinity.  He can be seen in Scripture.  He appeared at Jesus' Baptism and at His Transfiguration in the form of  a dove.  At Pentecost, He came in the form of wind and of fire.  He, too, is called Lord, and He, too, is God.  This Person of God is often neglected by believers, but remains forever in the Body of Christ, the Church.

  
      the Lord, the giver of life,

Lord is used in the Old Testament in place of JHWH (Jahweh, Jehovah, the name for God that was not pronounced).  Lord was used to refer to God without using His name.  Jesus was called Lord in the New Testament.  The Holy Spirit makes subtle appearances in the Old Testament, but more overtly in the New Testament.  We call Him Lord because He is God.    


    who proceeds from the Father and the Son, 

The Spirit proceeds from the Father in a special way, in a way similar to the Son.  He, the Holy Spirit, can be seen in all of Salvation history as the work of God.  He inspired the Old Testament writers (in Hebrew and Greek) and made Himself visible to His people.  For example, He came in a form of a pillar of cloud and fire to Israel.

He proceeds from the Son, also.  The Son sent the Spirit to His Apostles.  We see this is Scripture when He said, "For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you.  But if I go, I will send Him to you." (John 16:7; NAB)  and he breathed on the Apostles and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit." (John 20:22; NAB)  The filioque, the phrase "and the Son" was added to the Creed for this very reason--Jesus gave the Spirit to His Apostles and promised Him to His Church.

    
who with the Father and the Son

        is adored and glorified, 

The Holy Spirit is God just as the Father and the Son are God, therefore He is worthy of the same worship, adoration, and glory as the Father and the Son.
 

        who has spoken through the prophets.

We believe that He is the source of inspiration for the prophets.  He spoke through them to His people, then He used men and their talents to write what He willed to be written in the Scriptures.  

*******************************************************End Part 4
I believe in one, holy, catholic,
     and apostolic Church.
    I confess one baptism for the forgiveness of sins
        and I look forward to the resurrection
        of the dead and the life of the world to come.
Amen.


Thursday, July 04, 2013

What Catholics Believe, The Creed Part 3

Icon of the Crucifixion
[This section covered under parts one and two of the series] 
I believe in one God, the Father almighty,
    maker of heaven and earth,
    of all things visible and invisible.
I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ,
        the Only Begotten Son of God,
        born of the Father before all ages.
    God from God, Light from Light,
        true God from true God,
    begotten, not made, consubstantial
       with the Father;
        Through him all things were made.
    For us men and for our salvation
        he came down from heaven,
        and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate
        of the Virgin Mary,
        and became man.
*************************************************Part 3

Ecce Homo by Antonio Ciseri
    For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate,

This is now considered historic fact.  When the creed was first developed and before the Scriptures were canonized (chosen by the Church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit), the belief in Christ's Passion, and Resurrection was already an integral part of Christianity.  The naming of the historic Roman official in charge makes it that much more real.
  

        he suffered death and was buried, 

Jesus was crucified on a cross, the usual punishment for criminals who were to be made an example.  He was tortured for hours before hand, was treated inhumanely, and then nailed painfully to a cross.  Here we see His fully human side.  He was taken down from the cross by disciples before the evening came--when it would be the Sabbath.  Sabbath Law would not allow them to do so, and Jesus' humiliation on the cross would have lasted another day.  He was taken down and put in a new tomb--a tomb that was not used by any one yet.
 

Icon of the Women at the Empty Tomb
        and rose again on the third day

        in accordance with the Scriptures. 

Jesus made reference to both Jonah and the temple when speaking of His body and His bodily Resurrection.  He told the disciples He would rise on the third day.  They didn't understand what He was speaking of until it actually happened.  The women came on the third day, Sunday morning, to wash and prepare His body for the tomb.  They brought oils, herbs, and fresh linens.  Because of the hurry to get Jesus down from the cross and place Him in the tomb, He was hurriedly wrapped in the Shroud.  So, the women went to the tomb to do the job properly.   Of course, once there, they became the first witnesses to the Resurrection--Jesus wasn't there!!  And, unlike Lazarus who would eventually die again, Jesus' body was transformed and would never die.

The Ascension by Benjamin West, 1801
    He ascended into heaven

        and is seated at the right hand of the Father. 

We say he ascended because that is how it seems from here.  He went up into the heavens to Heaven.  He has rejoined His Father in the glory of Heaven.  He has picked up the scepter of His Kingdom and will reign forever. 

    He will come again in glory

        to judge the living and the dead 

The belief of all Christianity is the Second Coming of Christ.  He will be the ultimate judge of who will enjoy eternal life and who will endure eternal punishment.  (CCC 677-679)

        and his kingdom will have no end.

Time does not exist beyond this world.  Once His Kingdom is fully fulfilled, there is no end--it is forever.  In the Catechism it says, "Everyone is called to enter the Kingdom.  First announced to the children of Israel, this messianic kingdom is intended to accept men of all nations.  To enter it, one must first accept Jesus' words:  
The word of the Lord is compared to a seed which is sown in a field; those who hear it with faith and are numbered among the little flock of Christ have truly received the kingdom.  Then, by its own power, the seed sprouts and grows until the harvest." (See Mark 4:14, 26-29; and Lumen Gentium no. 5
For a fuller explanation of the Kingdom, one can read the Catechism numbers 543-560.

*************************************END PART 3

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
        the Lord, the giver of life,
    who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
    who with the Father and the Son
        is adored and glorified,
        who has spoken through the prophets.
I believe in one, holy, catholic,
     and apostolic Church.
    I confess one baptism for the forgiveness of sins
        and I look forward to the resurrection
        of the dead and the life of the world to come.
Amen.