Saturday, September 28, 2013

What Must I Do To Be Saved?

What must one do to be saved?  According to John 3:16 "whosoever believeth in him, may not perish, but may have life everlasting."  But what are we asking to be believed in?  Let's take a pictorial and scriptural walk through salvation history...

Luke 2:6-14 
And it came to pass, that when they were there, her days were accomplished, that she should be delivered.
And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him up in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were in the same country shepherds watching, and keeping the night watches over their flock.
And behold an angel of the Lord stood by them, and the brightness of God shone round about them; and they feared with a great fear.
10 And the angel said to them: Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, that shall be to all the people:
11 For, this day, is born to you a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord, in the city of David.
12 And this shall be a sign unto you. You shall find the infant wrapped in swaddling clothes, and laid in a manger.
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly army, praising God, and saying:
14 Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace to men of good will.

Luke 2:41-52
41 And his parents went every year to Jerusalem, at the solemn day of the pasch,
42 And when he was twelve years old, they going up into Jerusalem, according to the custom of the feast,
43 And having fulfilled the days, when they returned, the child Jesus remained in Jerusalem; and his parents knew it not.
44 And thinking that he was in the company, they came a day's journey, and sought him among their kinsfolks and acquaintance.
45 And not finding him, they returned into Jerusalem, seeking him.
46 And it came to pass, that, after three days, they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, hearing them, and asking them questions.
47 And all that heard him were astonished at his wisdom and his answers.
48 And seeing him, they wondered. And his mother said to him: Son, why hast thou done so to us? behold thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.
49 And he said to them: How is it that you sought me? did you not know, that I must be about my father's business?
50 And they understood not the word that he spoke unto them.
51 And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them. And his mother kept all these words in her heart.
52 And Jesus advanced in wisdom, and age, and grace with God and men.
Jesus, now an adult of about 30 years old, goes out and selects His Disciples, the men who would hold an office called the bishopric (Acts 1:20).  He selects the first of them as they were fishing, Peter, James and John:  
Luke 5:1-11  
 And it came to pass, that when the multitudes pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Genesareth,
And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets.
And going into one of the ships that was Simon's, he desired him to draw back a little from the land. And sitting he taught the multitudes out of the ship.
Now when he had ceased to speak, he said to Simon: Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.
And Simon answering said to him: Master, we have labored all the night, and have taken nothing: but at thy word I will let down the net.
And when they had done this, they enclosed a very great multitude of fishes, and their net broke.
And they beckoned to their partners that were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they were almost sinking.
Which when Simon Peter saw, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying: Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.
For he was wholly astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken.
10 And so were also James and John the sons of Zebedee, who were Simon's partners. And Jesus saith to Simon: Fear not: from henceforth thou shalt catch men.
(Inserting Matthew 4:19) 19 And he saith to them: Come ye after me, and I will make you to be fishers of men.
11 And having brought their ships to land, leaving all things, they followed him.

Next we visit the Wedding at Cana where Jesus performs His first public miracle, launching His ministry into full swing for the next three years.  
John 2:1-11
 And the third day, there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee: and the mother of Jesus was there.
And Jesus also was invited, and his disciples, to the marriage.
And the wine failing, the mother of Jesus saith to him: They have no wine.
And Jesus saith to her: Woman, what is that to me and to thee? my hour is not yet come.
His mother saith to the waiters: Whatsoever he shall say to you, do ye.
Now there were set there six waterpots of stone, according to the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three measures apiece.
Jesus saith to them: Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim.
And Jesus saith to them: Draw out now, and carry to the chief steward of the feast. And they carried it.
And when the chief steward had tasted the water made wine, and knew not whence it was, but the waiters knew who had drawn the water; the chief steward calleth the bridegroom,
10 And saith to him: Every man at first setteth forth good wine, and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse. But thou hast kept the good wine until now.
11 This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee; and manifested his glory, and his disciples believed in him.
Jesus raises the synagogue leader's daughter from the dead:
Mark 5:35-42
35 While he was yet speaking, some come from the ruler of the synagogue's house, saying: Thy daughter is dead: why dost thou trouble the master any further?
36 But Jesus having heard the word that was spoken, saith to the ruler of the synagogue: Fear not, only believe.
37 And he admitted not any man to follow him, but Peter, and James, and John the brother of James.
38 And they come to the house of the ruler of the synagogue; and he seeth a tumult, and people weeping and wailing much.
39 And going in, he saith to them: Why make you this ado, and weep? the damsel is not dead, but sleepeth.
40 And they laughed him to scorn. But he having put them all out, taketh the father and the mother of the damsel, and them that were with him, and entereth in where the damsel was lying.
41 And taking the damsel by the hand, he saith to her: Talitha cumi, which is, being interpreted: Damsel (I say to thee) arise.
42 And immediately the damsel rose up, and walked: and she was twelve years old: and they were astonished with a great astonishment.

Jesus taught in their synagogues and amazed all who heard Him:
Luke 4:14-15
14 And Jesus returned in the power of the spirit, into Galilee, and the fame of him went out through the whole country.
15 And he taught in their synagogues, and was magnified by all.
Passion Week begins...
On what we call Palm Sunday, Jesus rides into Jerusalem on the back of an ass.  
Luke 19:36-37
36 And as he went, they spread their clothes underneath in the way.
37 And when he was now coming near the descent of mount Olivet, the whole multitude of his disciples began with joy to praise God with a loud voice, for all the mighty works they had seen,
38 Saying: Blessed be the king who cometh in the name of the Lord, peace in heaven, and glory on high!
39 And some of the Pharisees, from amongst the multitude, said to him: Master, rebuke thy disciples.
40 To whom he said: I say to you, that if these shall hold their peace, the stones will cry out.
Also Matthew 21:8-9
And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way: and others cut boughs from the trees, and strewed them in the way:
And the multitudes that went before and that followed, cried, saying: Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest.

On His way into Jerusalem, Jesus pauses and weeps for the city:
Luke 19:41-44
41 And when he drew near, seeing the city, he wept over it, saying:
42 If thou also hadst known, and that in this thy day, the things that are to thy peace; but now they are hidden from thy eyes.
43 For the days shall come upon thee, and thy enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and straiten thee on every side,
44 And beat thee flat to the ground, and thy children who are in thee: and they shall not leave in thee a stone upon a stone: because thou hast not known the time of thy visitation.
Jesus, entering into the Temple finds it laden with vendors/moneychangers selling their wares...
Luke 19:45-46
45 And entering into the temple, he began to cast out them that sold therein, and them that bought.
46 Saying to them: It is written: My house is the house of prayer. But you have made it a den of thieves.
Matthew 21:12-13
12 And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money changers, and the chairs of them that sold doves:
13 And he saith to them: It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but you have made it a den of thieves.

Jesus washes the feet of the Apostles:
John 13:3-16
Knowing that the Father had given him all things into his hands, and that he came from God, and goeth to God;
He riseth from supper, and layeth aside his garments, and having taken a towel, girded himself.
After that, he putteth water into a basin, and began to wash the feet of the disciples, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.
He cometh therefore to Simon Peter. And Peter saith to him: Lord, dost thou wash my feet?
Jesus answered, and said to him: What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.
Peter saith to him: Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him: If I wash thee not, thou shalt have no part with me.
Simon Peter saith to him: Lord, not only my feet, but also my hands and my head.
10 Jesus saith to him: He that is washed, needeth not but to wash his feet, but is clean wholly. And you are clean, but not all.
11 For he knew who he was that would betray him; therefore he said: You are not all clean.
12 Then after he had washed their feet, and taken his garments, being set down again, he said to them: Know you what I have done to you?
13 You call me Master, and Lord; and you say well, for so I am.
14 If then I being your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; you also ought to wash one another's feet.
15 For I have given you an example, that as I have done to you, so you do also.
16 Amen, amen I say to you: The servant is not greater than his lord; neither is the apostle greater than he that sent him.


Jesus celebrates the Lord's Supper, the first celebration of the Holy Eucharist.
Matthew 26:26-28
26 And whilst they were at supper, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke: and gave to his disciples, and said: Take ye, and eat. This is my body.
27 And taking the chalice, he gave thanks, and gave to them, saying: Drink ye all of this.
28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which shall be shed for many unto remission of sins.

Jesus prays at the Garden of Gethsemene:
Matthew 26:36-57
36 Then Jesus came with them into a country place which is called Gethsemani; and he said to his disciples: Sit you here, till I go yonder and pray.
37 And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to grow sorrowful and to be sad.
38 Then he saith to them: My soul is sorrowful even unto death: stay you here, and watch with me.
39 And going a little further, he fell upon his face, praying, and saying: My Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from me. Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.
40 And he cometh to his disciples, and findeth them asleep, and he saith to Peter: What? Could you not watch one hour with me?
41 Watch ye, and pray that ye enter not into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh weak.
42 Again the second time, he went and prayed, saying: My Father, if this chalice may not pass away, but I must drink it, thy will be done.
43 And he cometh again and findeth them sleeping: for their eyes were heavy.
44 And leaving them, he went again: and he prayed the third time, saying the selfsame word.
45 Then he cometh to his disciples, and saith to them: Sleep ye now and take your rest; behold the hour is at hand, and the Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of sinners.
46 Rise, let us go: behold he is at hand that will betray me.
47 As he yet spoke, behold Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the ancients of the people.
48 And he that betrayed him, gave them a sign, saying: Whomsoever I shall kiss, that is he, hold him fast.
49 And forthwith coming to Jesus, he said: Hail, Rabbi. And he kissed him.
50 And Jesus said to him: Friend, whereto art thou come? Then they came up, and laid hands on Jesus, and held him.
51 And behold one of them that were with Jesus, stretching forth his hand, drew out his sword: and striking the servant of the high priest, cut off his ear.
52 Then Jesus saith to him: Put up again thy sword into its place: for all that take the sword shall perish with the sword.
53 Thinkest thou that I cannot ask my Father, and he will give me presently more than twelve legions of angels?
54 How then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that so it must be done?
55 In that same hour Jesus said to the multitudes: You are come out as it were to a robber with swords and clubs to apprehend me. I sat daily with you, teaching in the temple, and you laid not hands on me.
56 Now all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then the disciples all leaving him, fled.
57 But they holding Jesus led him to Caiphas the high priest, where the scribes and the ancients were assembled.
Betrayed by one who was chosen by Him, Jesus is tried, convicted and sentenced to death on the cross - but Jesus did nothing wrong!  Jesus died on the cross for your sins, for my sins - for all the sins of the world.
The price is paid, but our salvation story does not end with the cross!  If it did, then sin and death had won the battle, but on the third day, Jesus arose from the grave, victorious over sin and death and according to John 3:16, whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but shall have everlasting life.

John 20:11-18
11 But Mary stood at the sepulchre without, weeping. Now as she was weeping, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre,
12 And she saw two angels in white, sitting, one at the head, and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been laid.
13 They say to her: Woman, why weepest thou? She saith to them: Because they have taken away my Lord; and I know not where they have laid him.
14 When she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing; and she knew not that it was Jesus.
15 Jesus saith to her: Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, thinking it was the gardener, saith to him: Sir, if thou hast taken him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.
16 Jesus saith to her: Mary. She turning, saith to him: Rabboni (which is to say, Master).
17 Jesus saith to her: Do not touch me, for I am not yet ascended to my Father. But go to my brethren, and say to them: I ascend to my Father and to your Father, to my God and your God.
18 Mary Magdalen cometh, and telleth the disciples: I have seen the Lord, and these things he said to me.
For another 40 days the Resurrected Jesus visited His Apostles, our first bishops, to instruct them on the ways of governing His Church.  He did not leave His Church rudderless!  In fact he singled out one of The Twelve to take His place as Shepherd, here on Earth after He had gone.  Earlier in His ministry Jesus told Simon Bar Jonah that he, Simon, would be given the Keys to the Kingdom of Heaven.  Jesus also renames Simon to Kephas or Cephas, a name meaning "rock" and declares "upon this rock I will build My Church and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18).  

Then, we see in John 21:15-18 where Jesus, three times over, commands St. Peter to feed or tend His sheep.  His sheep is His Church, and clearly Jesus is passing on the role of Shepherd to St. Peter here.
He rose into Heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father, until He shall come again to judge the living and the dead.

Do YOU believe in Jesus?  Do YOU believe that Jesus kept His promise to build His Church (a single Church not hundreds, if not thousands of separate schisms who do not agree with each other and even condemn one another)?  Do you believe Jesus left His Church in the charge of the Apostles, our first bishops, to lead His Sheep and keep His Sheep unto salvation?  Certainly you do not believe Jesus waited over 1500 years to form new churches, and again hundreds if not thousands of such "churches" do you?  I compel you to study the true story of the founding of the Christian Church and see which church, singular, that Jesus Himself founded and that One Church to which you should belong to.  It is Jesus' desire that we be one, just as He and the Father are One (John 17:21-22).

Pope Francis appeals to us to preach this "first proclamation" of salvation, and to do THIS in balance with preaching against sin.  We're not to give up on exposing sin and trying to direct our brothers and sisters to the Lord - but we cannot have a constant focus upon that which condemns us.  Let us look at not only what, but WHO saves us.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Purgatory


In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, do you think the rich man was in Hell?  Well, I personally don’t think so and I’ll tell you why a little further down.

Until Jesus paid the ultimate price giving all of us access to heaven no one went to heaven but they didn’t necessarily deserve to go straight to hell either.  We can know this quite easily by looking at Peter’s declaration that after His death Jesus descended to preach to those in ‘prison’.  The word translated as ‘prison’ in the Revised Standard Version (RSV) is translated as… ‘He descended into hell’ in our Apostles Creed.

What would be the purpose of descending into Hell to preach the good news if the good news can’t benefit anyone (since there is no escaping hell)?  The translation of our Apostles Creed is actually a rather bad translation.  Most translations of the Bible describe Jesus’ descent as a descent to prison, not hell.  This makes more sense since we can understand now why Jesus would preach the Good News to those awaiting entrance into heaven.  They are given the choice to accept Him or to reject Him.

And so we see that before His perfect sacrifice all went to ‘prison’ to wait for the choice of accepting or rejecting Jesus and determine where there final destination would be.  That is, Heaven or Hell.

We can also know that there were many levels of comfort in the afterlife prior to the perfect sacrifice of Jesus.  In the story of Lazarus and the poor man (Luke 16:19-31) we see that the poor man was more faithful to God and had already suffered his share.  And so after his death he rested in Abraham’s bosom while the rich man, after he died, suffered torment.  The rich man suffered but still had love for his still living brothers because he tried to have Abraham warn them of the consequences of their lifestyles.   The fact that he had love for others as opposed to love for self tells us that this man wasn’t in Hell either because Hell is, by definition, a complete separation of self from God and since we know that God is Love means that the rich does indeed have God in his heart.  So, where is he then?  Well, we know with certainty that the rich man is certainly not in Hell since he has love of others but he certainly is not in heaven either since he is suffering torment (Luke 16:24) and there is no suffering in heaven.  Which means that the rich man, as well as Lazarus, are in a ‘holding pattern’ awaiting the Good News.  They’re waiting for the day when their savior, the Christ, comes to preach to them the Good News allowing them to choose or reject Him (1 Pet 3:19).

The same principal occurs after Jesus’ sacrifice, once the gates of heaven have been opened.  Paul describes to us on that Day, our day of judgment.  Paul says: “12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13 the work of each builder will become visible, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each has done. 14 If what has been built on the foundation survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15 If the work is burned up, the builder will suffer loss; the builder will be saved, but only as through fire.”

And so, after we die we are judged and our final destination is known but, even though we are saved, we can suffer loss and yet are saved as Paul describes.  But there is no suffering in heaven and no one is saved in hell.  Therefore, this burning, this suffering is occurring outside of heaven or hell.  This temporary suffering is the state of being that the Church calls Purgatory.
God Bless
Nathan

Friday, September 20, 2013

Pope Changing Church Teaching?

The full text of the interview is copyrighted, except for quoting portions.  For the purpose of this article I will be quoting only the section which has been taken out of context by many "reporters" who are trying to make it sound like the Pope is changing her teaching on homosexuality, marriage and contraception.  So, first that quote and then my comments:

The Church as Field Hospital

Pope Benedict XVI, in announcing his resignation, said that the contemporary world is subject to rapid change and is grappling with issues of great importance for the life of faith. Dealing with these issues requires strength of body and soul, Pope Benedict said. I ask Pope Francis: “What does the church need most at this historic moment? Do we need reforms? What are your wishes for the church in the coming years? What kind of church do you dream of?”

Pope Francis begins by showing great affection and immense respect for his predecessor: “Pope Benedict has done an act of holiness, greatness, humility. He is a man of God.
 “I see clearly,” the pope continues, “that the thing the church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity. I see the church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. Heal the wounds, heal the wounds.... And you have to start from the ground up.

“The church sometimes has locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules. The most important thing is the first proclamation: Jesus Christ has saved you. And the ministers of the church must be ministers of mercy above all. The confessor, for example, is always in danger of being either too much of a rigorist or too lax. Neither is merciful, because neither of them really takes responsibility for the person. The rigorist washes his hands so that he leaves it to the commandment. The loose minister washes his hands by simply saying, ‘This is not a sin’ or something like that. In pastoral ministry we must accompany people, and we must heal their wounds.

“How are we treating the people of God? I dream of a church that is a mother and shepherdess. The church’s ministers must be merciful, take responsibility for the people and accompany them like the good Samaritan, who washes, cleans and raises up his neighbor. This is pure Gospel. God is greater than sin. The structural and organizational reforms are secondary—that is, they come afterward. The first reform must be the attitude. The ministers of the Gospel must be people who can warm the hearts of the people, who walk through the dark night with them, who know how to dialogue and to descend themselves into their people’s night, into the darkness, but without getting lost. The people of God want pastors, not clergy acting like bureaucrats or government officials. The bishops, particularly, must be able to support the movements of God among their people with patience, so that no one is left behind. But they must also be able to accompany the flock that has a flair for finding new paths.

“Instead of being just a church that welcomes and receives by keeping the doors open, let us try also to be a church that finds new roads, that is able to step outside itself and go to those who do not attend Mass, to those who have quit or are indifferent. The ones who quit sometimes do it for reasons that, if properly understood and assessed, can lead to a return. But that takes audacity and courage.”
I mention to Pope Francis that there are Christians who live in situations that are irregular for the church or in complex situations that represent open wounds. I mention the divorced and remarried, same-sex couples and other difficult situations. What kind of pastoral work can we do in these cases? What kinds of tools can we use?

“We need to proclaim the Gospel on every street corner,” the pope says, “preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing, even with our preaching, every kind of disease and wound. In Buenos Aires I used to receive letters from homosexual persons who are ‘socially wounded’ because they tell me that they feel like the church has always condemned them. But the church does not want to do this. During the return flight from Rio de Janeiro I said that if a homosexual person is of good will and is in search of God, I am no one to judge. By saying this, I said what the catechism says. Religion has the right to express its opinion in the service of the people, but God in creation has set us free: it is not possible to interfere spiritually in the life of a person.

 “A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality. I replied with another question: ‘Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?’ We must always consider the person. Here we enter into the mystery of the human being. In life, God accompanies persons, and we must accompany them, starting from their situation. It is necessary to accompany them with mercy. When that happens, the Holy Spirit inspires the priest to say the right thing.

“This is also the great benefit of confession as a sacrament: evaluating case by case and discerning what is the best thing to do for a person who seeks God and grace. The confessional is not a torture chamber, but the place in which the Lord’s mercy motivates us to do better. I also consider the situation of a woman with a failed marriage in her past and who also had an abortion. Then this woman remarries, and she is now happy and has five children. That abortion in her past weighs heavily on her conscience and she sincerely regrets it. She would like to move forward in her Christian life. What is the confessor to do?

“We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.

 “The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent. The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently. Proclamation in a missionary style focuses on the essentials, on the necessary things: this is also what fascinates and attracts more, what makes the heart burn, as it did for the disciples at Emmaus. We have to find a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel. The proposal of the Gospel must be more simple, profound, radiant. It is from this proposition that the moral consequences then flow.

“I say this also thinking about the preaching and content of our preaching. A beautiful homily, a genuine sermon must begin with the first proclamation, with the proclamation of salvation. There is nothing more solid, deep and sure than this proclamation. Then you have to do catechesis. Then you can draw even a moral consequence. But the proclamation of the saving love of God comes before moral and religious imperatives. Today sometimes it seems that the opposite order is prevailing. The homily is the touchstone to measure the pastor’s proximity and ability to meet his people, because those who preach must recognize the heart of their community and must be able to see where the desire for God is lively and ardent. The message of the Gospel, therefore, is not to be reduced to some aspects that, although relevant, on their own do not show the heart of the message of Jesus Christ.”

So, first off let us be clear - the Pope is NOT changing the Church's teaching on homosexuality, marriage and contraception!  Allow me to take the "snippet approach" to show a more contextual presentation of this portion of the interview:
 I see the church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. Heal the wounds, heal the wounds.... And you have to start from the ground up.
So, in short, he's NOT saying we change our teaching, but rather - look at the whole person first, heal wounds first - "Then we can talk about everything else."  He still wants to talk about these things, he just doesn't want the initial focus to be on peripheral issues - let's get them "into the hospital" first, then work on these things.  Next snippet:
The church sometimes has locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules.
 The "small things," as Pope Francis calls them, are these individual sins.  Read on...
 The most important thing is the first proclamation: Jesus Christ has saved you.
Note, the "most important thing" is the matter of salvation.  Jesus Christ came to save you.  He has done all that is necessary for your salvation - we need to put more emphasis on saving the sinner instead of focusing on the sin in "the first proclamation."  Again, this is not avoiding the 800 pound gorilla in the room, it's just saying "first things, first."  In speaking about those who minister he says:
The first reform must be the attitude. The ministers of the Gospel must be people who can warm the hearts of the people, who walk through the dark night with them, who know how to dialogue and to descend themselves into their people’s night, into the darkness, but without getting lost. 
The emphasis is on the attitude of how we approach the sinner.  Do you just pronounce judgment upon them and then expect them to follow us?  No!  Pope Francis is telling us to be like Jesus!  Get out there in the trenches with the sinners - but be prepared.  Know how to dialog and descend into their "dark night" without getting lost in it yourself.
“We need to proclaim the Gospel on every street corner,” the pope says, “preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing, even with our preaching, every kind of disease and wound. In Buenos Aires I used to receive letters from homosexual persons who are ‘socially wounded’ because they tell me that they feel like the church has always condemned them. But the church does not want to do this. During the return flight from Rio de Janeiro I said that if a homosexual person is of good will and is in search of God, I am no one to judge. By saying this, I said what the catechism says. Religion has the right to express its opinion in the service of the people, but God in creation has set us free: it is not possible to interfere spiritually in the life of a person. 
This part I have some concern with, but really only with the last part of the last sentence.  It is our responsibility to "interfere spiritually in the life of a person" especially when the spirituality of that person is taking them on a path to hell.  We don't need to present it in such a way that we're threatening them with hell (though sometimes that too is a good method!) but, as Pope Francis said, confront them first with the Gospel message that Jesus came to redeem them.
We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. 
And that is the sentence most taken out of context!  But read it again, even out of context!  It is saying that we cannot insist only on these issues - not that we can't talk about them!  Note as he continues:
But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time. 
Again, not that we cannot talk about these issues, just let's not talk about them all the time.  He even says, "when we speak about these issues..." so he is saying we can talk about them - but keep them in a context.  He goes on to say that "the teaching of the Church, for that matter, is clear" and it is clear and it has not changed, nor has Pope Francis instituted a change in teaching.
We have to find a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel. The proposal of the Gospel must be more simple, profound, radiant. 
Note, he is still emphasizing the Gospel of salvation FIRST and that is the important thing to stress - but not ONLY the Gospel, but what?  A "new balance."  You cannot JUST preach the happy, feel good message anymore than you should just preach fire and brimstone - but preach with a BALANCED approach.  This is made clear when he continues with:
It is from this proposition that the moral consequences then flow. 
Pope Francis is not ignoring the 800 pound gorilla, he's just saying that's not the only animal in the room.  Once someone has accepted the proposition of salvation it is THEN that they can consider the moral consequences of these other aspects which may be in their lives.  Again, get them into the "Field Hospital" first, then work on the tangential (but still important) issues.  Pope Francis drives the point home again when he says:
I say this also thinking about the preaching and content of our preaching. A beautiful homily, a genuine sermon must begin with the first proclamation, with the proclamation of salvation. There is nothing more solid, deep and sure than this proclamation. Then you have to do catechesis. Then you can draw even a moral consequence. But the proclamation of the saving love of God comes before moral and religious imperatives. 
He's not saying we are not to talk about the moral matters, but what he IS saying is that if we begin with "the first proclamation" then after some good catechesis we can draw an even more moral consequence - just put the "proclamation of salvation" at the forefront.   To focus and/or put undo emphasis upon these other matters does not speak to the heart of Christ.  THAT is the message which Pope Francis is putting out.  He's not changing Church teaching and he's not saying we don't speak about these moral issues (upon which, as he stated, "the Church teaching is clear").

So, what most of you are seeing in the media, especially the liberal media which seems to have a homosexual agenda to push, are out of context snippets to make it appear Pope Francis is, as at least one site calls him, "a flaming liberal."  An in context look at what he REALLY said exposes that he's not backing down one iota from the Church's moral position on homosexuality, the sanctity of marriage and the illicitness of contraception - he's only saying that was aren't to make these items the sole focus of our ministries or apostolates.

AMDG,
Scott<<<

(AMDG = ad majorem Dei gloriam - To God, the greater glory)

Fr. Z (Fr. Zuhlsdorf) also commented:
http://wdtprs.com/blog/2013/09/first-thoughts-about-the-francis-interview/

http://wdtprs.com/blog/2013/09/pope-francis-comments-on-homosexuality-in-the-big-interview/

And related, Fr. Z comments:
http://wdtprs.com/blog/2013/09/yesterday-msm-reports-francis-said-church-is-obsessed-about-abortion-today-pope-francis-talks-about-abortion/


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Parents With Young Children In Church

This is a great article:


I don't want to jump through all the copyright hoops to quote it here, so I'll just leave the link (above) and summarize.  
Basically - we NEED your children in church!  Your children, while they may seem disruptive to you - to most of the rest of us, we rejoice to hear the young voices and the pitter-patter of their feet.  We don't mind smiling at them or giving them a wink as they look at us.  They are not so much distractions as they are blessings.  They help make complete "the Body of Christ" in the "Church Militant," for without them, eventually the Church Militant gets old, passes on - and we need the young ones to fill those slots!

We know how hard it is to try and control the babies and toddlers - most of us did it too!  We know what you're going through!  And you know what, we love you!  We love your kids!  We love watching them grow and mature and becoming more and more part of the community which is our Church.  We understand there are times when you feel like you need to step outside, but please don't be ashamed to come back in!  

This is not to say that there aren't some crotchety old timers who may have forgotten how they struggled with their own children - or maybe they didn't struggle enough with their children, and their children figured out how to get out of church by making a big enough stink that eventually they caved in and stopped trying?  Don't be that crotchety old person!  Don't become that crotchety old person!  Care enough for your children to suffer through some tough weeks of getting them to go (or come back).  Care enough for yourself so that when you're that age you can look to those young families struggling and smile with appreciation and even encourage the parents.  Love goes a lot further than sour looks!

Lead by example.  Don't just go there and let them make you feel miserable, go and worship God.  Show them by your actions how important worshiping God in His Community while celebrating His Sacrament.  If they have not yet received their First Holy Communion, bring them up with you anyway!  The minister will often give them a special blessing while you receive. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Truth and Authority for Steve Finnell

Well, I suspect this was another "drive-by" posting from Mr. Finnell, but since he posted - I'll respond.  In fact, in just doing a quick Google search I see that Finnell posted this exact same article to about 20 other sites.  In short, he's trolling in an attempt to draw attention to his own blog and really has no intention of engaging discussion on all 20 or so blogs.  Since he's really not responding to the article on my blog, I'm responding to him in a separate article (and deleted the "comment" he posted elsewhere on this blog).
  
TRUTH AND AUTHORITY?  By Steve Finnell
Where should Christians look for God's authoritative truth? Should it be the Bible? Should it be the church of your choice or the church you belong to by chance?

Truth is found in God's Word, this is true! The Church is also found in God's Word! You should belong to THAT Church, which Jesus Christ Himself declared He would build - and not the "church" of some so-called "reformer" who started a "new church" (or someone else did) in his name and/or after his teachings.

The Bible was completed in 95 A.D. when the apostle John wrote Revelation. Who wrote the Bible? Was it God or was it the church?

The Scriptures were written by men as they were inspired by the Holy Ghost.  Interestingly, Finnell clearly states "when the (A)postle John wrote Revelation" - so he answered his own question, at least in part!  Men wrote the Scriptures as they were inspired by God to do so.  Who was the inspiration of Scripture?  God was, but those who "wrote" Scripture were men.  A better question would be who assembled all the separate books of Scripture into one book we call "The Bible?"  Keep in mind, nowhere in Scripture is there an "inspired table of contents," no, again it was men guided by the Holy Ghost who determined which books would be considered part of the canon and which books would be excluded from that canon.  For the first 300 years the canon was a bit in flux.  Yes, there were some books considered canonical in all lists, but this is not true for all books, even some of those which eventually were included were not part of some of the earlier canon lists.

John 14:24-26 He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father's who sent me. (THE WORDS JESUS SPOKE WERE FROM GOD THE FATHER) 25 "These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all the I said to you.

Right!  The Holy Ghost would come to them - the Apostles, our first bishops, and guide them and teach them all things!  Just as important, Scripture tells us in Matthew 16:18-19 that one of these Apostles/Bishops was singled out with infallible authority.  In Matthew 16:18-19 Jesus is addressing St. Peter, and him alone, when He said to him, "whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven and whatsoever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."  No, unless you believe error can be bound or loosed in heaven, then this authority to bind or loose "whatsoever" St. Peter chooses is infallible authority!  Later, in Matthew 18:18 Jesus is addressing the whole council of bishops and grants to them, as a group, the same authority which He gave to St. Peter alone two chapters earlier.  Back to Matthew 16, it is also here where Jesus Christ, God Himself, declares and promises to build His Church (singular).  

Some of our Protestant challengers will even give us that St. Peter and the Apostles were given infallible authority - but that this authority died with them.  If that is true, then they did not fulfill Jesus' prophecy that even has He was sent, He too sent them.  At least part of what Jesus was sent to do was to choose the Apostles/Bishops so that when He left them, there would be someone left to govern His People, the Church.  So, when Jesus empowers our first bishops - they too are expected to likewise empower successive bishops.  It is in that succession of bishops, united to the Chair of Peter, that we find the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.  ANYTHING ELSE is merely a schism from that One, True Church.

The words of Jesus were from God the Father and He said that The Father would send the apostles the Holy Spirit so they could remember all that He said. The words of the apostles were God's word, their words were Scripture, their words were the Bible.

There are at least a couple problems with this thought/statement.  First off, not even everything Jesus said is contained in Scripture!  St. John even attests to the fact that if everything Jesus said/taught was written down that the world itself could not contain all the volumes! (John 21:25)   Secondly, not everything the Apostles said was "God's Word!"  I'm sure that Peter may have said, many times even, "Let's camp here for the night," yet this is not and would not be considered "Scripture."  It's just plain silly to think that every word they spoke was "God's Word."  Likewise, even in infallible councils and infallible teachings in papal documents, not EVERYTHING in the council or EVERYTHING in the papal teaching is considered infallible, only specific declarations or definitions on faith or morals are considered so.  For example, in Munificentissimus Deus, where the Dogma of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is defined, just one sentence in that document is considered infallible!  Here is that sentence from paragraph 44:
...that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.
That's it!  While we do not discard the rest of the document, it is important to be aware and consider only that sentence to be what was defined infallibly.

In, John 14:24-26, Jesus was not talking to the Pope, John Calvin, Martin Luther, Billy Graham, Joesph Smith Jr, Mary Baker Eddy, cardinals, bishops, elders, so-called modern day apostles, preachers, pastors, nor any one claiming to speak for God. If the church or theses men as individuals, were speaking for God by new revelation, then, we would have added books to the Bible. There would the books of the Popes, the book of John Calvin, the book of Billy Graham, the books of elders, the books of churches, the book of Joesph Smith Jr. etc.

The fact of the matter is, all those books DO exist!  They are just not considered "Scripture!"  Why not?  Who determines "Scripture?"  The Protestant would likely speak out and say, "God determines Scripture!"  I would challenge them then, "Where does God Himself decree what is part of the Canon of Sacred Scripture and what is not?"  The ONLY place this actually DID happen is in councils of the Catholic Church!  Again, there is no "inspired table of contents" within the writings of Scripture!  

THE BIBLE IS THE AUTHORITY IN THE CHURCH. THE CHURCH HAS NOT BEEN GIVEN THE AUTHORITY TO CHANGE OR OVERRULE THE AUTHORITY OF THE BIBLE. THE CHURCH CANNOT ADD TO OR TAKE AWAY FROM SCRIPTURE!

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And again, I honestly ask Mr. Finnell, or any non-Catholic reading along, to tell us how the Bible came to be the books we have as a Bible today?  Why are the Epistles of Pope St. Clement included in nearly all the early canons, yet not part of the final canon?  Why are the epistles of Sts. Peter and James not included in some of the early canons, but are part of the final canon?  Upon what basis do non-Catholics even consider that which is Scripture to be Scripture?  Unless they concede that it was God through the Catholic Church, they truly have no answer to this.  
AMDG,
Scott Windsor<<<
A Truly Christian View