Monday, December 26, 2016

Christmas A Converted Pagan Holiday?

On this, the Second Day of Christmas (Dec. 26th)... the Date of Christmas Discussion is revisited...

This article is in follow-up to one I posted back in 2007:  Calculating Christmas (an article I reposted from Touchstone Magazine, Tighe, 2003).

This topic came up again in a family discussion last night (Christmas Night) after we had Christmas dinner (which, due to lack of planning on our part was at Denny's - hey, "They're always open!").  The discussion was back at my place as we sat around the Christmas tree enjoying some egg nog and other festive beverages.  Someone mentioned the pagan origins of the date of Christmas and when I mentioned that in reality the date had nothing to do with pagan origins - rather it was based upon the date believed to be the Conception of Jesus on March 25th which brought us to December 25th (nine months later).

Dates brought up were for Saternalia (which always ended BY December 23rd - One must ask too, why would the Catholic hierarchy have picked a date TWO DAYS AFTER Saternalia if they wanted to "replace" that celebration with the Christ Mass?) and Sol Invictus, which was celebrated on December 25th - but not until late in the 3rd century - and Catholics had already been celebrating Christmas on December 25th by that time!  In fact the Roman Emperor, Aurelius, who instituted Sol Invictus, is said to have done so to counter the growing popularity of the Catholic holiday of the Christ Mass (Christmas).

Also, at least as early as the second century, the Feast of the Conception of John the Baptist was celebrated on September 9th.  Scripture states that the Annunciation took place in the sixth month of Elizabeth's (John the Baptist's mother) pregnancy.  Go six months out from September and you have March.

Now, considering that ancient belief was that one's death date was the same as their conception date, in Eastern Christianity they went with April 6th as this date for Good Friday while the West settled on March 25th.  One problem we'd have with the Eastern date is "instead of working off of 14 Nisan from the Hebrew calendar they used the 14th of the first spring month (Artemisios) in their Greek calendar–April 6 to us. And April 6 is, of course, exactly 9 months before the eastern date for the birth of Jesus, January 6." (qtd. from Barney. 2006).  The West used 14 Nisan and came up with March 25th.  This is also why Eastern Orthodoxy and Catholic/Western Easter usually falls upon different days.

For more information and discussion, I recommend the following (short) videos too:

Fr. Mitch Pacwa and Dr. Scott Hahn correct a young priest or seminarian:

And from Defeat Modernism (defeatmodernism.com) the commentary goes into more details:



Resources:
Barney, 2006 - April 6th and the Conception of Jesus - https://bycommonconsent.com/2006/12/03/april-sixth-and-the-conception-of-jesus/

Defeating Modernism - video -  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZzjReUVjmcA

EWTN Live - video - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cD79TZCemJ0

Tighe, William J. - Touchstone Magazine - Calculating Christmas - http://www.touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=16-10-012-v


Friday, December 23, 2016

The Real Face of the Blessed Mother?

Working from the Shroud of Turin, digital artist, Dean Packwood demonstrates what the Blessed Mother may have looked like.  The reason he uses the Shroud is that the only human DNA Jesus would have had would have been from Mary, thus their features, theoretically, would be quite similar.  What do you think?


I must recognize Dave Armstrong for pointing me toward this one as he made reference to Mr. Packwood in his digital Christmas card he sent out.

Do We Wish Peace on All?

Do we wish peace on all mankind, even those who would kill and/or otherwise harm us?  We've all seen the "Christmas cards" with the phrase, "Peace on earth, goodwill to men."

But, is that what Scripture REALLY says?  Let's take a look, shall we?  The phrase is taken from Luke 2:14:
Douay-Rheims Bible
Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace to men of good will.

The mis-translation comes to us largely from the Protestant King James Version and a couple other (early) Protestant versions.
King James Bible
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.



Virtually ALL modern translations, both Catholic and Protestant, agree with the Douay-Rheims - that this peace or goodwill is not intended for ALL mankind, only to those of goodwill - or those in whom God is pleased.  In fact, it is not a wish of "goodwill to men" at all, but a wish of PEACE to those who are OF goodwill.

Also, another friendly reminder as this is being posted on December 23rd, it's NOT CHRISTMAS YET!  Christmas officially begins with the first Mass of Christmas, which traditionally is Midnight Mass of Christmas Eve/Christmas Morning.  Until THAT Mass, it's still the Season of Advent!

So, MY wish for those of you reading this - if you are of goodwill, I wish for you a blessed Advent being mindful not only of the Incarnation of Christ and His birth, but also the Second Coming of Christ - which we also emphasize through the readings of Advent.

A Challenge!

The Season of Christmas begins with the First Mass of Christmas and does not end until the Feast of Epiphany (January 6th) or more traditionally at Candlemas (February 2nd).  Leave your Christmas lights and decorations up and on at least until January 6th!  For the more dedicated, until February 2nd!  When people ask you why the decorations are still up and/or lit, you have an opportunity to  share with them that Christmas isn't over yet.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Fourth Sunday in Advent

Today was the Last Sunday in Advent as next Sunday marks the Christ Mass - or as more commonly called, "Christmas."  With Christmas falling on a Sunday this year that also makes this the longest possible Advent Season!  Advent ends with the First Mass of Christmas, often a Midnight Mass.

Readings for the Extraordinary Rite (Traditional Latin Rite)
From:  http://tridentine-mass.blogspot.com/2016/12/fourth-sunday-of-advent-expectation-of.html

EXPECTATION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY
DOUBLE, FIRST CLASS / PURPLE
There is urgency in the readings and prayers of today. We ask the Father to "drop" and to "rain" the Savior upon us, the human race, in order that we may "speedily" be delivered. "Come and tarry not!" is our cry. "Prepare the way of the Lord" for an immediate coming is the Gospel thought. And Mary we hail as the mediatrix of our pressing desire. Great indeed is our need for grace.

But the Savior we seek to possess and love is also our Judge. Not men but God alone can judge our preparedness for grace and for eternity. And God judges us by our love for our neighbors and our impartial zeal for their welfare.

INTROIT Isa. 45:8
Drop down dew, you heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the just one. Let the earth be opened and bud forth a savior.
Ps. 18:2.
The heavens show forth the glory of God, and the firmament proclaims His handiwork.
V.
Glory be . . .

COLLECT
O Lord, show yourself an all-powerful God and come to us. Aid us with Your powerful assistance so that, through Your grace and merciful forgiveness, we may attain salvation, which now is hindered by our sins; who lives and rules with God the Father . . .

Commemoration of the EXPECTATION OF OUR LADY 
O God, Who didst will that at the message of an angel Thy word should take flesh in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary: grant that we, Thy suppliants, who believe her to be truly the Mother of God, may be helped by her intercession with Thee. Through the same Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end.

R.Amen.  

EPISTLE I Cor. 4:1-5
Brethren: Let a man so account of us as of the ministers of Christ and the dispensers of the mysteries of God. Here now it is required among the dispensers that a man be found faithful. But to me it is a very small thing to be judged by you or by man's day. But neither do I judge my own self. For I am not conscious to myself of anything. Yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord. Therefore, judge not before the time: until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts. And then shall every man have praise from God.

GRADUAL Ps. 144:18, 21
The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.
V. My lips shall speak the praise of the Lord; let all men bless His holy name.


Alleluia, alleluia! V.
Come, O Lord; do not delay. Forgive the sins of Israel, Your people.
Alleluia!

GOSPEL Luke 3:1-6
Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and Philip his brother tetrarch of Iturea and the country of Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilina: Under the high priests Anna and Caiphas: the word of the Lord was made unto John, the son of Zachary, in the desert. And he came into all the country about the Jordan, preaching the baptism of penance for the remission of sins. As it was written in the book of the sayings of Isaias the prophet: "A voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be brought low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways plain. And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Third Sunday in Advent

Gaudete Sunday - "Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice!"

All the readings can be found here, but I wanted to focus on St. Paul's words for today...
EPISTLE Philipp. 4:4-7Brethren: Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice. Let your moderation be known to all men. The Lord is near. Have no anxiety, but in every prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your petitions be made known to God. And may the peace of God which surpasses all understanding guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus, our Lord.
When St. Paul was writing to the Philippians, he was in prison.  He had every reason to be down or depressed, but his words to the Church at Philippi are to REJOICE!  The lesson for us here is simple, we are to rejoice in the Lord - not only when things are going well, but even when - and especially when - things are not going so well.  Have no anxiety, but be full of thanksgiving - at ALL times!  

So here is your challenge for the rest of Advent, and hey, for the rest of your life!  Let the world see your moderation, your calm and collective nature - and let them see God working in your life.

Just one additional note... today we did not light the "pink" candle!  The priest is not wearing "pink" vestments, nor are the alter vestments "pink!"  Liturgically speaking, it's "rose!"  Yes, you will find sites, even Catholic sites, calling it "pink," but it is really a subdued "rose" color - to signify "joy" - which is also the name of this Sunday, "Joyful" or "Gaudete" Sunday.  During this season of Advent - which, contrary to commercial propaganda, is a time of penance (like Lent).  However, on the Third Sunday of Advent, we look eagerly for the coming of the Lord and we rejoice in His coming.  Lent too has Laetare Sunday, the Fourth Sunday of Lent (midway through the penitential season of Lent), and Laetare also means "joy," and thus the for the same reason - a break from penance and a turn toward "joy" exists during both seasons.

OK, one final remark...  it's NOT CHRISTMAS YET!  I wish you all reading this a Blessed Advent!  I will reserve the "Merry Christmas" greeting for after the celebration of the Christ Mass.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Second Sunday in Advent

Rev. Fr. Leonard Goffine's
The Church's Year
SECOND SUNDAY IN ADVENT
On this day the Church not only makes mention in the office of the priest, but also in the Mass, of the two different Advents of Christ, that by His first gracious advent may be gladdened, and by His last terrible coming at the day of judgment we may be impressed with salutary fear. With this intention she cries out at the Introit:
INTROIT People of Sion, behold the Lord shall come to save the nations; and the Lord shall make the glory of his voice to be heard in the joy of your heart (Is. 30:30). Give ear, O thou that rulest Israel: thou that leadest Joseph like a sheep (Ps. 79). Glory be to the Father.
COLLECT Stir up our hearts, O Lord, to prepare the ways of Thine only-begotten Son: that through His advent we may be worthy to serve Thee with purified minds; who livest and reignest with God the Father, in union with the Holy Ghost, God for ever and ever. Amen.
EPISTLE (Rom. 15:4‑13). Brethren, what things soever were written, were written for our learning, that through patience and the comfort of the scriptures, we might have hope. Now the God of patience and of comfort grant you to be of one mind one towards another, according to Jesus Christ: that with one mind, and with one mouth, you may glorify God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Wherefore receive one another, as Christ also hath received you unto the honor of God. For I say that Christ Jesus was minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers. But that the Gentiles are to glorify God for his mercy, as it is written: Therefore will I confess to thee, O Lord, among the Gentiles, and will sing to thy name. And again he saith: Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people. And again: Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles, and magnify him, all ye people. And again, Isaias saith: There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise up to rule the Gentiles, in him the Gentiles shall hope. Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope, and in the power of the Holy Ghost.
What does St. Paul teach in this epistle?
The Jews and Gentiles who had been converted to the Christian faith were disputing among themselves at Rome, in regard to abstinence and the use of certain kinds of food, reproaching each other severely; the Jews boasted that the Savior, according to promise, was born of their nation, thus claiming Him from the Gentiles, who, in their turn, reproached the Jews for their ingratitude in having crucified Him. To restore harmony St. Paul shows that each had reason, the Jews and Gentiles alike, to praise God, to whose grace and goodness they owed all; that each had in Him a Redeemer in whom they could hope for salvation; and he warns them not to deprive themselves of that hope by contentions. By these words the Apostle also teaches that we too, have great reason to praise God, and to thank Him for calling us, whose forefathers were heathens, to the Christian faith, and to guard against losing our salvation by pride, envy, impurity, etc.
Why should we read the Scriptures?
That we may know what we are to believe, and do in order to be saved, as all Scripture inspired by God is profitable to teach, to reprove, to correct, to instruct in justice (11 Tim. 3:16); that we may learn from what Christ has done for us, and the saints for Christ, to be patient in our sufferings, and to be consoled and encouraged by their example. To derive this benefit from the Scriptures, the Catholic must read them by the light of that Spirit through whose assistance they came into existence, who lives and remains for ever with the Church: that is, the light of the Holy Ghost must be sought, that their meaning may be
read according to the sense of the Church and not be explained according to the reader's judgment. For he who reads the holy Scriptures by the light of his own private judgment, must, as experience shows, of necessity diverge from the right path, become entangled in manifold doubts, and at last, lose the faith entirely. For this reason the Catholic Church has very properly limited the reading of the Bible, not as has been falsely asserted, unconditionally forbidden it, but she allows the reading of those editions only, which are accompanied by notes and explanations that the unity of faith may not be disturbed, and that among Catholics there may not be the terrible bewilderment of the human intellect which has taken place among the different heretical sects who have even declared murder, bigamy and impurity to be permissible on the authority of the Bible. We are to consider also, that Christ never commanded the Bible to be written or read, and that not the readers but the hearers and the followers of the word of God by which is meant those who hear the word of God in sermons, and keep it, will be saved!
Further instruction in regard to the doctrine of faith on this subject will be found in the "Instruction for Easter Tuesday."
Why is God called a God of patience, of consolation, and of hope?
He is called a God of patience because He awaits our repentance, of consolation, because He gives us grace to be patient in crosses and afflictions, and so consoles us inwardly, that we become not faint‑hearted; of hope, because He gives us the virtue of hope, and because He desires to be Himself the reward we are to expect after this life.
ASPIRATION O God of patience, of consolation and of hope, fill Our hearts with peace and joy, and grant that we may become perfect in all good, and by faith, hope and charity, attain the promised salvation.
GOSPEL  (Mt. 11:2‑10). At that time, when John had heard in prison the works of Christ, sending two of his disciples, he said to him: Art thou he that art to come, or do we look for another? And Jesus making answer, said to them: Go and relate to John what you have heard and seen. The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead rise again, the poor have the gospel preached to them: and blessed is he that shall not be scandalized in me. And when they went their way, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John, What went you out into the desert to see? a reed shaken with the wind? But what went you out to see? a man clothed in soft garments? Behold, they that are clothed in soft garments are in the houses of kings. But what went you out to see? a prophet? yea I tell you, and more than a prophet. For this is he of whom it is written, Behold, I send my Angel before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee.
Why was John in prison?
He was in prison, and lost his life, because he had rebuked king Herod for his adulterous marriage with his brother's wife (Mt. 14:310). Truth, as the proverb says, is certainly a very beautiful mother, but she usually bears a very ugly daughter: Hatred. St. John experienced that speaking the truth very often arouses hatred and enmity against the speaker. Let us learn from him to speak the truth always, when duty requires it, even if it brings upon us the greatest misfortunes, for, if with St. John we patiently bear persecution, with St. John we shall become martyrs for truth.
Why did St. John send his disciples to Christ?
That they should learn from Christ, who had become illustrious by His teachings and miracles, that He was really the promised Messiah, the Savior of the world, whom they should follow.
Why did Christ say to the disciples of St. John: "Go and say to John, the blind see, the lame walk, etc."?
That they should, by His miracles, judge Him to be the Messiah because the prophets had predicted that He would work such miracles (Is. 35:5‑6). "Christ," says St. Cyril, "proved that He was the Messiah by the grandeur as well as by the number of His miracles."
Why does Christ add: "And blessed is he who shall not be scandalized in me"?
Christ used these words in reference to those who would be scandalized by His poverty, humility and ignominious death on the cross, and who for these reasons would doubt and despise Him, and cast Him away; though "man," as St. Gregory says, "owes all the more love to the Lord, his God, the more humiliations He has borne for him."
What was our Lord's object in the questions He asked concerning St. John?
His object was to remove from St. John all suspicion of failing in faith in Him; and to praise the perseverance with which, although imprisoned and threatened with death, he continued to fill his office of preacher, thus constituting him an example to all preachers, confessors and superiors, that they may never be deterred by human respect, or fear of man, or other temporal considerations, from courageously fulfilling their duties. Our Lord commended also rigorous penance, exhibited by St. John's coarse garments and simple food, that we may learn, from his example, penance and mortification.
Why does Christ say that John was "more than a prophet"?
Because St. John was foretold by the prophet Malachias as was no other prophet; because of all the prophets he was the only one who with his own eyes saw Christ and could point Him out, and was the one to baptize Him: and because like an angel, a messenger of God, he announced the coming of the Savior, and prepared the way for the Lord.
How did St. John prepare the way for the Savior?
By his sermons on penance, and by his own penitential life He endeavored to move the hearts of the Jews, that by amending their lives, they might prepare to receive the grace of the Messiah, for God will not come with His grace into our hearts if we do not prepare His way by true repentance.
ASPIRATION O Lord Jesus, by the praise Thou didst accord to Thy forerunner St. John, for his firmness and austerities, inflame our hearts with love to imitate his steadfastness and penance, that we may never do anything to please man which may be displeasing to Thee; grant us also Thy grace that we too, like St. John, may have those who are confided to our care, instructed in the Christian doctrine.

CONSOLATION IN SUFFERING

"The God of patience and of comfort, the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing" (Rom. 15:5,13).
What gives us the greatest consolation in adversities?
The strong and fervent belief that each and every thing that happens to us, comes to us for our own good from God, and that whatever evil befalls us, is by the will or permission of God. Good things and evil, life and death, poverty and riches, are from God (Ecclus. 11:14). If we have received good things at the hand of God (Job 2:10), saith the pious job in his affliction, "why should we not receive evil?"
We should be fully convinced that without the permission of God not a single hair of our head shall perish (Lk. 21:18), much less can any other evil be done to us by man or devil (Job 1); we should have a steadfast confidence that if we ask Him, God can and will assist us in our sufferings, if it be for our salvation. Can a woman forget her infant, so as not to have pity on the son of her womb? And if she should forget, yet will not I forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee in my hands (Is. 49:15‑16); we should hope for abundant reward in the future life, which we will merit by patience in our sufferings, for that which is at present momentary and light of our tribulation, worketh for us above measure exceedingly an eternal weight of glory (II Cor. 4:17); we should remember that all complaints and murmurs against the dispensation of God are useless, and lead only to harm and shame; Who hath resisted Him, and hath had peace? (Job 9:4) we should have a vivid remembrance of our sins, for which we have long since deserved the eternal punishments of hell - hence the well-known saying of St. Augustine: O Lord, here cut, here burn, but spare me in eternity. No other way leads to the kingdom of heaven than the way of the cross, which Christ Himself, His sorrowing mother, and all the saints had to tread. Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and so to enter into His glory? (Lk. 24:26) Through many tribulations we must enter into the kingdom of God (Acts 14:21). And we should not forget that sorrows and adversities are signs of God's love, and manifest proofs of being His chosen ones. Whom the Lord loveth He chastiseth, and He scourgeth every son whom He receiveth (Heb. 12:6. compare 7-11).
PRAYER IN SORROW O almighty, kind and merciful God! who hast said: "Call upon me in the day of trouble, I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me" (Ps. 49:15), behold relying upon Thy word, I take refuge in Thee in my trouble. Give honor to Thy name, therefore, and deliver me, if it be pleasing to Thee and beneficial for me, that all may know, Thou art our only help. Amen.

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Scott Is Back...

Well, for a few weeks anyhow... My first semester in the masters program through ASU is complete and I have a break until January 9th.  This will afford me some time to get back into apologetics and catch up on emails. I look forward to interaction with everyone.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Advent Suggestions

With the beginning of Advent, I wished to post this now as it is a great tradition in our Catholic Faith, one which we should continue and observe and though not practiced until the Octave Before the Christ Mass, I want to give you time to prepare and be ready for December 17th.

The Great O Antiphons

The history of the Great O Antiphons dates back to as early as the third century (1) as an ancient part of our liturgy.  Boethius, who was around in the late 5th to early 6th century, makes reference to them (2).  The actual existence of the O Antiphons may go back to the earliest days of the Church.  They are part of the Vespers Liturgy of Hours during the octave before the Christ Mass (Christmas) which begins on December 17 and goes through the 23rd.  One December 24th the vespers are for Christmas Eve.

December 17 - O Wisdom
December 18 - O Adonai
December 19 - O Root of Jesse
December 20 - O Key of David
December 21 - O Dawn
December 22 - O King of Gentiles
December 23 - O Emmanuel

From Fr. Zuhlsdorf's ("Fr. Z") page on the subject:
Here are two more interesting notes about these O Antiphons.

The first is not apparent in English, but it can be seen clearly in the official language of the Roman Catholic Church: Latin. The Latin versions of each of the titles of the Messiah are: Sapientia (Wisdom), Adonai (Lord), Radix (Root), Clavis (Key), Oriens (Dawn), Rex (King), and Emmanuel (Emmanuel).  Take the first letters of each of the titles, starting with the last and working back to the first. You spell: EROCRAS or "ero cras... I will be (there) tomorrow".

The song "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" is simply a reworking of the seven O Antiphons. When you sing it, you are joining yourself to a vast throng of Christians stretching back across centuries and spanning the whole of the earth who prayed as all Christians do, "Come, Lord Jesus!" (Rev 22:20)  (3)
 Perhaps the "backwards" acrostic can be related to the earlier language of Hebrew, as it is read from right to left?

According to hymology, the English form of the hymn, which most of us know and sing during Advent, comes to us from an Anglican priest who discovered the medieval antiphons, which were chanted in Latin, and he translated them into English in the mid 19th century.  The melody is actually taken from a funeral rite and the words "Bone iesu, dulcis cunctis" were used.  That funeral rite dates back to the 15th century.  It is also possible that the funeral rite borrowed from the Advent rite which had not been recorded/written or perhaps just not discovered yet - which is quite possible since some of what we know of this hymn has come to light as recent as the 1960's. (4) and (5)

Practices / Traditions

1) The Jesse Tree 
A special tree, for Advent, many start with December 1 and have 24-25 ornaments for this tree.  Each ornament speaks of the history of Jesus' roots - in the line of Jesse (the father of King David).  December 17-23 you use ornaments specific to the O Antiphons.  (6)  This is nice, but the O Antiphons may get "lost" in the shuffle of all the other ornaments and not have as significant impact.  There's still the tradition of the Advent Calendar too, typically it has a "window" you open for each day of Advent with a special picture and/or Bible verse for the day.  Some use a shadow box and place a special ornament in each opening for each day of Advent (see examples below).

Personally, I would prefer a tree specific to the O Antiphons...
It's simple, but direct and as we pray and sing as a family the antiphons from O Come, O Come Emmanuel each day - the song and the season has deeper meaning.

2) The O Antiphon House
There are several variations of this one.  One of my favorites is a shadow box frame in the shape of a house with the seven openings, each to contain an ornament or a block with the antiphon of the day on it.

3) Be Creative!  
Perhaps you have an idea of your own or a tradition celebrated in your family.  If so, please feel free to share it here!  Here's another idea, using candles: (7)


Sources:
(1) https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/activities/view.cfm?id=958 
(2) http://www.catholiceducation.org/en/culture/catholic-contributions/what-are-the.html
(3) http://www.wdtprs.com/JTZ/o_antiphons/ 
(4) http://www.newliturgicalmovement.org/2008/12/truth-about-veni-veni-emmanuel.html#.Vn7aJVngRx8
(5) https://www.ccwatershed.org/blog/2015/dec/16/veni-veni-emmanuel-original-setting-two-voices/ 
(6) https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/activities/view.cfm?id=545 
(7) http://familyatthefootofthecross.blogspot.com/2011/12/oantiphon-candles.html 

Other Advent Calendars:




Saturday, November 26, 2016

The Rapture


The Rapture is a term most commonly used to describe an event in certain interpretations of end-time studies where all true Christians are taken from Earth by Jesus Christ at His secret second-coming.  Although almost all forms of Christianity believe that those who are ‘saved’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, the term ‘rapture’ is usually applied specifically to those theories saying the Christians alive before the end of the world will be taken into heaven.  These Christians believe they will be secretly translated, in the blink of an eye, into immortal bodies in the Rapture before the persecutions by the Harlot Church and before the Antichrist.  This period of time is called the Tribulation.  According to this view, the Church has no vital role of witness during this seven-year Tribulation.



This view is a recent addition to end-times interpretations.  In fact it is only about a few hundred years old.  Therefore the burden of proof rests on them.  The dramatic end-time scenario proposed by these pre-tribulation rapture theorists is heavily based on a few verses such as Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians, where he writes: “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout of command, with the voice of an archangel and the trumpet of God.  The dead in Christ will rise first; then we, who are left alive, will be snatched up with them on clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).



“With a shout of command…and the trumpet of God”, kind of goes against a ‘secret’ rapture doesn’t it?  And we can see here that Paul conjures up images of an emperor, a king or a distinguished person visiting a colony or province.  As was the custom at the time, the citizens go out to meet him in open country and then escort him into the city.  Paul’s image of the people “meeting the Lord in the air” should be read with the assumption that the people will immediately turn around and lead the Lord back to the newly remade world.  This verse taken into context is found to show that the ‘saved’ will be taken up for a time and brought back down to Earth.  But when did Paul believe this event takes place, before or after the Tribulation?  We find the answer to that in 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10



“…it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.  These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed…”



For the apostle Paul, the punishment of the wicked and the reward of the righteous are to occur on the same day, immediately following the second coming of Christ.  Are the elect taken before the Tribulation as the Rapture theory says?  Take a look at John 6:40 “For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 


So, those who are saved will be raised up at the last day.  Now look at John 12:48 “There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day.”



As we can see the ‘saved’ will be raised up on the last day and those who reject Him will be condemned on the last day.  Therefore, if the saved are raised on the day before the start of the Tribulation, then those condemned will be sent to Hell on that same day.  It begs the question, who will be left to suffer through the seven-year Tribulation? 



This means that the ‘saved’, the believers in Christ will go through the Tribulation with the unbelievers.  We find support for this in Matt 13:24-30



“Jesus told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. The owner's servants came to him and said, 'Sir, didn't you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?'  'An enemy did this,' he replied. "The servants asked him, 'Do you want us to go and pull them up?' "No, he answered, 'because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.'”



Jesus’ explained what this parable meant at the apostles urgings. Here is His answer a few verses later in Matt 13:36-43



“Then he left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, "Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field." He answered, "The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.

"As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.”



The good seed, which stands for the sons of the kingdom, the ‘saved’, will be living together with the weeds until the harvest where the weeds will be harvested first and thrown into the fiery furnace.  You will find an even clearer picture of this event in

Matt 24:37-41



As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.”



Noah and his family were left behind, those who listened to the word of God were saved, they were left behind.  Those who didn’t believe Noah or knew nothing of the incoming flood were taken, the unbelievers were taken.  As you can see, we find here also that the unbelievers are taken on the same day as the elect and are saved by being left behind.



In conclusion, I personally believe as the Church does that there is a rapture, but it will only come at the end of the world, at Christ’s second coming where the weeds and the wheat will be living together until Christ shall separate the ‘saved’ from the un-‘saved’ on the last day, that is the last day of the known world.



God Bless

Nathan

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

America's First Thankgiving

Well, it was not in Plymouth, MA! 
From NCR:
America’s First Thanksgiving Was in Florida — Seriously. It Was!
COMMENTARY: More than 50 years before the (Calvinist) Puritans landed in Plymouth, Massachusetts, Spanish Catholics gave thanks to God with a Mass and meal in St. Augustine.
See the rest of the NCR article here:
http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/americas-first-thanksgiving-was-in-florida-seriously.-it-was 

 

Sunday, November 13, 2016

True Love is Not Rigid?

So says Pope Francis, according to an interview posted on the Rorate-Caeli Blog:
[Interviewer:] The simplicity of children makes me also think of adults, with a rite that is direct, participated intensely [translator's note: reference to notion of 'actuosa participatio'], of parish masses experienced with so much piety. What comes to mind are proposals that encourage priests to turn their backs to the faithful, to rethink Vatican II, to use Latin. I ask the Pope what he thinks of this. The Pope answers:
[Pope:] "Pope Benedict accomplished a just and magnanimous gesture [translator's note: the motu proprio 'Summorum Pontificum'] to reach out to a certain mindset of some groups and persons who felt nostalgia and were distancing themselves. But it is an exception. That is why one speaks of an 'extraordinary' rite. The ordinary in the Church is not this. It is necessary to approach with magnanimity those attached to a certain form of prayer. But the ordinary is not this. Vatican II and Sacrosanctum Concilium must go on as they are. To speak of a 'reform of the reform' is an error."
[Scott:] While I understand why the term "extraordinary" is used, I actually like it! The fact is, the Mass celebrated in the traditional form, in Latin and ad orientum (facing liturgical east) is, historically speaking, the ordinary way of celebrating the Mass. The Novus Ordo Missae, (New Order of the Mass) has been with us for less than 50 years in our nearly 2000 year history! Still, I appreciate the label of "extraordinary" - for there is nothing "ordinary" in ANY validly celebrated Mass! In the Mass our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ manifests Himself, physically, in the form of bread and wine. THIS is "the mystery of faith" (mysterium fidei) of which we speak of in the Mass. 

Traditionally the mysterium fidei is part of the consecration of the wine into Christ's blood; in the New Order this was moved to just after the consecration leading most modern Catholics to mistakenly believe "the Mystery of Faith" is "Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again" (or some variation of those words). My friends, "the Mystery of Faith" in this context is the Consecration! The bread and wine BECOME Jesus Christ, in His body, blood, soul and divinity while still having the appearance of bread and wine through this divine mystery! Let us remain "rigid" in that belief!

When the priest faces "ad orientum" (liturgical east) he is not "turning his back on the people!" Quite the contrary! Rather, he is facing the SAME WAY as the people, putting all the focus upon the Sacrament of the Altar. The people should never be focused upon the priest, but upon what is going on at the Mass - and again, the primary focus of the Mass is the Eucharist. What's more, "Vatican II" never stated the priest should face the people - this is something which came out AFTER the council.

As for the use of Latin, this too is strongly supported by Vatican II! In the documents of Vatican II, regarding the celebration of the Mass it CLEARLY states:
36. 1. Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites.
2. But since the use of the mother tongue, whether in the Mass, the administration of the sacraments, or other parts of the liturgy, frequently may be of great advantage to the people, the limits of its employment may be extended. This will apply in the first place to the readings and directives, and to some of the prayers and chants, according to the regulations on this matter to be laid down separately in subsequent chapters.SACROSANCTUM CONCILIUM
[Scott:] So, the use of the Latin language is not only recommended, it is DEMANDED by Vatican II. The complete obliteration of Latin, as was "ordinary" after 1969, is CONTRARY to "the spirit of Vatican II." Thankfully, many parishes are putting Latin BACK into the Mass. It should also be noted at this time that nowhere does Vatican II abrogate the use of the Traditional Latin Mass, nor has the Church since then officially abrogated the Traditional Latin Mass, and this fact recent popes have acknowledged and are allowing for and even encouraging freer exercise of the "Extraordinary Rite." 
[Interviewer:] "Other than those who are sincere and ask for this possibility out of habit or devotion, can this desire express something else? Are there dangers?"
[Pope:] "I ask myself about this. For example, I always try to understand what is behind those individuals who are too young to have lived the pre-Conciliar liturgy, and who want it nonetheless. I have at times found myself in front of people who are too rigid, an attitude of rigidity. And I ask myself: how come so much rigidity? You dig, you dig, this rigidity always hides something: insecurity, at times perhaps something else... [sic] The rigidity is defensive. True love is not rigid."
[Scott:] Rigidity, with all due respect, does not "always hide something!" I would also state that true love IS rigid! It is contrary to true love to allow too much free-play with our traditions. As a parent of six (now grown) children, and the eldest of six siblings as well, the more "rigid" the upbringing, the closer to God these children are. The freer you are with them, the less likely they are to follow our Christian roots and practices. Rigid doesn't equate to being mean or overbearing, it means "holding fast to the traditions we were taught." (2 Thes. 2:15).

Consider the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, what if "true love" were not "rigid" there? "Honey, I love you, but do not feel like you're rigidly bound to me." Does that make any sense? How long do you think such a "free" marriage would last? But wait! There's that "rigid" thing called The Sixth Commandment and "Thou shalt not commit adultery" (Exodus 20:14). Should we be less "rigid" there - or in relation to ANY of the Decalogue (Ten Commandments)? 

I conclude this article in saying, I do not wholly oppose the Novus Ordo Missae, in fact, I participate in it frequently. My primary participation is in the "Extraordinary Rite," as I believe this is the highest form of worship we can offer the Lord. While there are some Novus Ordo parishes I would never go back to due to the "abuses" I've witnessed - there are several which I can, have and do go back to. I also would not put a whole lot of weight upon this "interview" with Pope Francis. The interview is not official Church teaching nor is he officially stating faithful Catholics cannot or should not participate in the Extraordinary Rite.

(Yes, I took a little break from my studies to write this).

Monday, October 31, 2016

Non-Negotiables

Not an original work from me but so important that I felt the need to post anyway.

Some issues allow for a diversity of opinion, and Catholics are permitted leeway in endorsing or opposing particular policies.  This is the case with the questions of when to go to war and when to apply the death penalty.  Though the Church urges caution regarding both of these issues, it acknowledges that the state has the right to employ them in some circumstances (CCC 2309, 2267).

Pope Benedict XVI, when he was still Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, spoke of this in a document dealing with when Catholics may receive Communion:

Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia.  For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion.  While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment.  There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia” (WRHC 3).
The same is true of many other issues that are the subject of political debate: the best way to help the poor, to manage the economy, to protect the environment, to handle immigration, and to provide education, health care and retirement security.  Catholics may legitimately take different approaches to these issues while the same cannot be said for euthanasia and abortion, two actions which are always wrong no matter the circumstances.  The protection of innocent life always takes precedence to all other issues.  What good are all other rights if one does not have the right to life?

God Bless
Nathan

Ref: Catholic Answers, Voter’s Guide for Serious Catholics, Catholic Answers Press, 16 pgs, 2016

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Back To School!

There will be a bit of a slow-down of articles from me as I have gone back to school for my masters degree.  I'm not going anywhere, I just won't have the time to devote to articles for a while. I hope my fellow bloggers will help fill that void - and you readers - please jump in and add your comments!

God bless you all, and please pray for me too!

Thanks!

Scott Windsor<<<

Why Pray The Rosary? Pt 2

In Part 2 of this series let us delve into the history of the Holy Rosary.  Most Catholics who know a thing or two will say it started with St. Dominic in the early 13th century, and to a point they would be correct - but the tradition of praying 150 prayers (the full traditional Rosary) and using counting devices goes back much, much further into our Judeo-Christian heritage.  The Psalter of King David goes back to at least the 5th century wherein monks would pray the 150 Psalms.  To keep track, they would use a cord with 150 knots in it, similar to early rosary ropes/beads.  Even prior to Christian use, the Psalms were sung in Jewish ceremonies at the Temple.  Originally, or a very early addition, there were superscriptions to many of the Psalms, indicating the author, the contents and often the melody for that section (Jacobs).


St. Paul of Thebes, Hermit
3rd to 4th Century AD
St. Paul of Thebes was said to carry two bags and 300 pebbles.  As he would say a prayer he would move a pebble from one bag to the other to keep track of his prayers.  St. Clare, the sister of St. Francis of Assisi, also used this method of prayer.  St. Paul was born about 227ad and lived to be 113 years old.  The last 91 years of his life he spent as a hermit, where he also encountered St. Anthony the Great, also an ascetic, who developed a great devotion to the life of St. Paul. (Roman)

The Jewish Tzitzit
The ancient Jewish and biblical use of the prayer shawl or "tzitzit" or "talit" has specific cords tied into knots, similar to rosary cords.  The knots, however, in the tzitzit are not enumerated for prayers - but as a reminder of God's commandments. The total of the cords twists and knots adds up to 613 to represent the Mitzvah, which are the commandments from the Torah beyond the Decalogue (Ten Commandments) most of us know well.  The cords are on the four corners of the prayer shawl, which traditionally was worn all the time, though in modern times it is primarily used ceremonially. In Jewish orthodoxy, the prayer shawl is still worn under ones outer garment. Again, while the knotted cords do not directly refer to prayers - it is on the prayer shawl.

The biblical references to the tzitzit are found in Numbers 15:37-40 and in Deuteronomy 22:12. There is also reference in the New Testament (Luke 8:44) to Jesus wearing such a garment as the woman who suffered from "an issue of blood" for twelve years reached out and touched the tassel (hem or border in some translations) of Jesus' cloak and she was immediately healed.  (Raj, 2013).

St. Dominic
St. Dominic was preaching the Gospel to the heretics embracing Albigensianism (who believed adultery, fornication and suicide were praiseworthy and did not accept there was a heaven or a hell nor a moral code). He was having little success then one day while in deep prayer and penance the Blessed Virgin appeared to him and stated: "Wonder not that you have obtained so little fruit by your labors, you have spent them on barren soil, not yet watered with the dew of Divine grace. When God willed to renew the face of the earth, He began by sending down on it the fertilizing rain of the Angelic Salutation. Therefore preach my Psalter composed of 150 Angelic Salutations and 15 Our Fathers, and you will obtain an abundant harvest" (Feeney). From this St. Dominic produced the fifteen mysteries of the Rosary - each mystery dealing with a significant part of Jesus' life. As he began preaching the Rosary, converts from the Albigenses began and caught fire throughout the land.

As one can clearly see, the use of beads and/or knotted cords is certainly not anti-Christian and is rooted in ancient Jewish tradition. It is a tradition we may proudly embrace.

Resources:
Feeney, Robert, St. Dominic and the Rosaryhttp://www.catholic-pages.com/prayers/rosary_dominic.asp

Jacobs, Rabbi Louis, The Book of Psalmshttp://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/the-book-of-psalms/

Raj, T. V. Antony, September 10, 2013, Are The Tallit and Tzitzit of Jews Equivalent to Prayer Beads Used in Other Religions? https://tvaraj.com/2013/09/10/are-the-tallit-and-tzitzit-of-the-jews-equivalent-to-prayer-beads-used-in-other-religions/

Roman, Dr. Alexander, The Historical Development of the Orthodox Prayer Rope and Its Importance to Our Spiritual Life http://stillstoneandmoss.com/page.php?page=PrayerRopesArticleByAlexanderRoman and also http://www.rosaryworkshop.com/HISTORY-AlexRoman.html


Monday, October 03, 2016

Why Pray The Rosary? Pt 1

The Concluding Prayer
O GOD, Whose only begotten Son, by His life, death and resurrection has purchased for us the rewards of eternal life, grant, we beseech Thee, by meditating upon these mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, that we may imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise, through the same Christ our Lord. Amen. 

Last Sunday, in the Extraordinary Rite, was Holy Rosary Sunday.  The actual feast day is October 7th, but when that date does not fall on a Sunday, it is celebrated on the Sunday before.  In our sermon, Father taught on several points, but one which struck me - which I had not really thought much about, was the Concluding Prayer (above), in particular the last part... "by meditating upon these mysteries... imitate what they contain... and obtain what they promise.

To Meditate
Meditating on the mysteries is more than just thinking about them as you pray each decade, but going into deeper thought about them.  The mysteries are various stages in the life of Jesus Christ.  We meditate on the joyful parts, the sorrowful and the glorious parts.  In the modern version we have added stages which bear light on the life of Christ in the Luminous Mysteries.  To meditate, we take it beyond just the 15 minutes spent in prayer of the Rosary itself.

To Imitate
One cannot really imitate the life of Christ without first meditating on it.  By imitating Christ, we bring Him into us and allow us to become more like Him.  The more we meditate upon Him and His life, the more we can and hopefully will, imitate Him.

To Obtain
Through the Holy Rosary we hope to obtain our share in the Resurrection, that is, eternal life in and with Jesus Christ.  If we imitate His life, and He lives in and through us, then we will be resurrected with Him in Heaven as co-heirs with Him.

Aids and instruction for praying the Holy Rosary may be found here:

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Bugay On Catholicism and the Early Church

I stumbled across this article a few weeks ago which was listed as the current "featured article" on Triablogue.  It's an older article, but seeing as how they wished to "feature" it, (it is no longer the "featured" article) I figured it would be good to answer it.

John Bugay on Catholicism: What was the ancient church in Rome like?

Some time ago, I spent some time summarizing what some of the major commentators have been saying about the people and the network of house churches found in early Rome in the first century. This is the Rome to which Peter supposedly traveled, where it is thought that he may have died (though historically, there is practically no mention of him at all being in Rome; when Irenaeus talks about “…the church that is greatest, most ancient, and known to all, founded and set up by the two most glorious apostles Peter and Paul at Rome …” this is the reality to which he was referring, and it is this reality of which we can say he was not an entirely accurate reporter of history).

There is a reason why I’m going into such detail on this. Recently, I’ve been citing from the James Puglisi work How Can the Petrine Ministry Be a Service to the Unity of the Universal Church? In that work, I’ve quoted Herman Pottmeyer saying that “anyone who wishes to come to an understanding of the papal ministry cannot avoid dealing with the history of this ministry. The historical facts are not disputed...” In an earlier article from that same work, John P. Meier, a leading Catholic Biblical scholar, pointed out, “A papacy that cannot give a credible historical account of its own origins can hardly hope to be a catalyst for unity among divided Christians.” So the implication is that, until this point, the papacy has not given a “credible historical account of its own origins.”
I find it interesting that these Protestant apologists can't see the forest for the trees.  All we need point to is Scripture in this regard.  Jesus gave to St. Peter, alone, the authority to bind and loose whatsoever he chose in Matthew 16:18-19.  In John 21:15-17, just before Jesus ascends - in threefold manner He commands St. Peter to take care of His sheep.  The Good Shepherd was passing the reins to His Vicar.  We must say, Scripture is a "credible historical account of (the papacy) origins."

The recent book The End of Christianity begins (Chapter 1) with this little but bold proclamation:

The end of Christianity is not some far-off dream, nor is it on the verge of occurring. Instead, it happened two thousand years ago—in fact, Christianity never even began; it was stillborn….there is no such thing as the religion of Christianity; at best it is a multitude of related but distinct and often-enough opposed traditions, shifting and swaying with the winds of local culture and passing history … (Dr. David Eller, “Christianity Evolving: On the Origin of Christian Species”, Chapter 1 in Loftus, ed., ©2011“The End of Christianity”: Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, pg. 23.)

There’s no need to fear Eller. With this statement he immediately shows himself to be a hack, given that the life of Christ and the origins of Christianity are extraordinarily well attested in history.

But on the other hand, it is the Roman Catholic church and its constant protestations of its own authority, which are extraordinarily poorly attested in history, which give individuals like Eller the kind of toe-hold they need to bloviate and sell books. Eller’s statement is true about Roman Catholicism. Roman Catholicism was stillborn. That’s what Eller and the others can attack freely; it’s the falseness of Roman Catholicism that gives people like Eller the opportunities they have to attack Christ and Christianity.
Wow!  In reality, the Catholic Faith does not begin with Jesus Christ and the Apostles, for it was born out of Judaism.  If one takes, even a little time, to study Jewish culture and religion, and objectively looks at the culture of Catholicism - he/she would be astounded at how similar the two faiths are in many ways.  We must remember, ALL the Apostles and Jesus Christ Himself were all Jews.  They did not totally abandon Judaism when they became Christians - that would be foolish!  Our foundations are deeply rooted in Judaism.  

My wife and I took a course in Judaism, taught by a rabbi, at our local college.  At one point, after five straight weeks of Torah readings after Passover about how God desired His place of worship to be (the altar, candlesticks on the altar, angels on either side, incense, even the vestments of the priests) and my wife commented, "Wow, that's SO Catholic!"  Rabbi responded, "Where do you think you got it from?!"  It would appear that Eller and Bugay are attacking that which they really know little about.
But again, the historical work that is being done on the earliest church is going to be immensely helpful in sorting out fact from fiction. This historical work is going to be like Trigonometry and Calculus: these things will always be taught, so long as the subject is taught. But the question going forward will be, will anyone care to understand them?
And that is precisely MY point!  I do not believe folks like Bugay really understands what he's attacking.  The Trig and Calc (historicity) of the Christian (Catholic) faith has brought many great anti-Catholics TO the Catholic Faith - not away from it!  John Cardinal Newman, for one, comes to mind who fought against the Catholic Church and was looking for historic justification to remain Protestant - and one of his famous quotes is:  "To be deep in history is to cease to be Protestant."

Introduction and Summary
The nonexistent early papacy
In this article, Bugay links to yet another one where he refers to the papacy as "dishonest."  I find it interesting that one of the "scholars" he cites is none other than "Raymond Brown."  That would be "Fr. Raymond Brown, who was a bit of a dissenter and revisionist - OK, more than just a bit.  Bugay doesn't really demonstrate the "nonexistence" he claims - he pretty much just claims it.  
House Churches in the New Testament
I would not deny that early celebrations of the Mass took place in people's homes.  They also took place in the Catacombs.  Just a brief and objective look at history is all it takes to remind us - for the first 300 years of Christendom, the Church was under near constant persecution (with brief periods of "peace").
Households in Ancient Rome
Part 1: Households in Ancient Rome: An Introduction
Part 2: Christians and Jews in First Century Rome
Part 3: Commerce and Household Communities
Part 4: Household Leadership as Church Leadership
Part 5: Patronage and Leadership

The People of Romans 16
Aquila, Priscilla, Acts 18:2 and the Edict of Claudius
“I commend to you our sister Phoebe, διάκονον and προστάτις” 
Andronikos and Junia, Part 1 
Andronikos and Junia, Part 2
Again, we do not deny that even into the 4th century that the meeting place for Mass was often in people's homes.  As mentioned earlier too - they also met in the catacombs where they buried so many Christian martyrs.  In those catacombs they had places of worship literally carved into the walls.  I've been to one of those sites, the Catacombs of St. Callixtus.  The catacombs became places of worship as early as the 2nd century - long before Rome converted to Christianity in the 4th century.
What the early Catholics had to go through to find places to worship is quite a testimony to their dedication to Christ.  Within those catacombs too there were poisonous gases coming in through the walls, poisonous due to volcanic activity (we're not too far from Pompeii and Mt. Vesuvius) so much so that one could not stay inside the catacombs for much more than an hour.  Even with better ventilation, to this day, they have to monitor and not permit visitors to stay inside for extended periods.  It's actually amazing just how much work they did to create the catacombs and incorporate places of worship within them in light of the fact that they could only stay inside them for short periods of time.  Anyway, this is what the early Church in Rome REALLY looked like - and we can still visit sites like this to this day.
Moving forward, my hope is, Lord willing, to continue to expand on this list and this material, and to make it available in an easy to digest form. In the same way that the printing press aided Martin Luther and helped the Reformation sweep across Europe, the Internet and its ability to make accurate information available immediately around the world, is only going to help to clarify the misunderstandings about Christianity and what it means to have faith in Christ.
While I agree, the printing press helped aid Luther's spread what he was teaching, what he taught was dissent, disrespect and counter to what has preceded him from some 1500 years.  The Internet, while it can be used to make accurate information available - like Luther and the dawning of the printing press, it also makes it easier to spread falsehood and lies.  As folks like Bugay "moves forward" I will continue to present counter-arguments in hopes to shed some light on what they say, and hopefully, one day, bring them home to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Faith.  I do thank Bugay for this opportunity to share how the Early Church did indeed worship.  While undeniable that some of that worship took place in private homes - it also took place semi-publicly in the catacombs.