Category Archives: God

5 benefits from going to Confession (Repost)

1. Give us the moral certitude that your sins are forgiven (John 20:23).

2. It’s a great act of humility and obedience (we are following Christ commendments, 1 John 1:9) that allows us to reflect on our sins and affirm our desire to overcome them.

Note: Repentance is an act of the will, not a feeling. Thereby the act of “going to confession” in itself reflects an inner disposition of the will that seeks forgiveness.

3. Give us an opportunity to make reparations for our sins and help strenghten the Church by doing penance, (James 4:8-10,Daniel 9:3,1 Kings 21:27-29).

4. Give us a bountiful of Graces that helps us grow closer to Christ and weakens our attachments to sin.

5. It opens the door to receive Christ’s body, soul and divinity in the Holy Eucharist (1 Corinthians 11:27).

If you have been away from this awesome sacrament come in! Christ is waiting for you with an open heart, love and forgiveness!

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The Apostasy that Wasn’t Part I… (Repost)

One of the most common historical objections against the Catholic Church goes something like:

“The Catholic Church was founded by the Emperor Constantine forcing the early church to fall away from preaching the simple gospel and into the arms of pagan rituals and traditions like worshiping of idols”.

Historians have repudiated this old canard over and over, but it still manages to make its way into the lips of anti-Catholics who used it as a blunt instrument against the Catholic Church. However, the witness of history firmly disabused many accusations made to discredit the historical and doctrinal claims made by the Catholic Church. As Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman, wrote in his conversion story to the Catholic Church:

“To be deep into history is to cease to be protestant.”

Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman

He wrote these words after a long journey, which he first started as a quest to disprove the historical claims of the Catholic Church in favor of those made by the Church of England.

Today many claim that the simple gospel of Christ was lost in early Christianity and the church that Christ founded fall into apostasy. The problem with such statement is that it is simply false. This is the main point that historian Rod Bennett makes in his new book: “The Apostasy That Wasn’t: The Extraordinary Story of the Unbreakable Early Church”. In it the author traces the events that led to the First Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D and the tumultuous time that ensued it.

the-apostasy

The Apostasy That Wasn’t is a truly riveting story of the heroic early Christian church that defended Christianity against the threats of heresy, schism and court intrigue. It shines a bright light on the unbroken continuity of church teachings and the heroes that defended it.

The “Ghetto Church” and Martyrs

The book highlights the growth of Christianity post-apostolic times and the role that the Jewish diaspora and God fearing people (gentiles that became acquainted and adopted many, if not all elements of the Jewish religion) played in fueling the growth of the early Christian church.

The author does not shy away from what he calls the “ghetto church” which grew at a time of relative peace and acceptance of Christianity that occurred after the major early persecutions of Roman authorities against Christian and prior to the Diocletian persecution of the early 300’s. The “ghetto church” slowly grew out as Christians became indifferent about their faith as evident by the number of scandalous behaviors committed not only by the laity but also by the clergy. The moral state of many churches is very well documented by a number of synods convened by bishops to address their scandalous behavior.

trap-door-into-the-Colosseum

The shallowness of some Christians became self-evident when the Diocletian persecution started in full force. Whole parishes renounce their Christian faith as soon as the persecution was in full swing. One cannot help but to think of today’s stagnant Christians, those who are neither warm nor cold, but just going along with the culture. What would be on them if faced with such persecution? However, this only had the effect to prune the flock. Many more Christians remained faithful. As the author points out soon after the persecution started many in the Empire knew of a Christian who was either tortured or killed by the pagan authorities. Some years later Emperor Constantine witnessed with his own eyes the cruelty committed by his predecessor when he called the Council of Nicaea:

“At this period many individuals were richly endowed with gifts; and many, like the holy apostle, bore in their bodies the marks of the Lord Jesus Christ. James, bishop of Antioch, a city of Mygdonia, which is called Nisibis by the Syrians and Assyrians, raised the dead and restored them to life, and performed many other wonders which it would be superfluous to mention again in detail in this history, as I have already given an account of them in my work, entitled Philotheus. Paul, bishop of Neo-Cæsarea, a fortress situated on the banks of the Euphrates, had suffered from the frantic rage of Licinius. He had been deprived of the use of both hands by the application of a red-hot iron, by which the nerves which give motion to the muscles had been contracted and rendered dead. Some had had the right eye dug out, others had lost the right arm. Among these was Paphnutius of Egypt. In short, the Council looked like an assembled army of martyrs”.

Theodoret
Ecclesiastical History, Chapter 6

Such witness not bore in words, but with their own body cannot only move mountains, but also tear a pagan heart and replace them with a human heart…

St. Athanasius the “black dwarf” and the Dessert Fathers 

Rod Bennett continuously hits high marks in his narrative approach to the story by allowing history to speak for itself. He accomplished this by extensively quoting contemporary sources, such documents from the council or from historians that were fairly close to the events.

One figure that comes to life through the witness of contemporary historians is St. Athanasius of Alexandria a “short and dark priest from Alexandria. He was the assistant to the Bishop of Alexandria named Alexander during the Council of Nicaea and as his successor, he heroically defended orthodoxy in the tumultuous times that followed the council.

St. Athanasius was one of the ascetics from the dessert. A humble Christian community of hermits who renounced all wordily good in favor of a devout life dedicated to prayer, self denial and fasting. It is from this community that emerge the early prototype of monastic life that later would have not only change Europe, but save civilization from the dark ages of the Barbarians that occurred after the fall of the Holy Roman Empire. It was this saintly community who adopted St. Athanasius as a young child in order to provide him a safe haven from the full blunt of the Roman persecution.

336

History tells us that this community was founded by young and rich Christian Roman, named Anthony of Coma, who, after hearing a sermon decided to give up everything to the poor and devoted himself to a secluded and ascetic life of prayer in the dessert. Not long after, many others joined him and formed a community known today as the desert fathers. Many miracles and conversion were attributed to the desert fathers:

“Many sufferers in body who where present did the Lord heal by [Anthony’s hand]; and other he purged from demons….And certainly Anthony did not heal by his own authority, but by praying and calling on Christ; so that it was plain to all that was not he who did it, but the Lord, who through Anthony showed love to men, and healed the sufferers”.

Life of Anthony
Athanasius

(Quoted from The Apostasy that Wasn’t)

This was the community that received young Athanasius and instructed him in the fullness of the gospel of Christ with humility and obedience. His brilliant clarity and orthodoxy were evident in a treaty that he published early in his career titled: “On the Incarnation”. Today it is universally viewed as a theological masterpiece. C.S. Lewis the great 20th Christian apologist wrote:

Link to “On the Incarnation”:

http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/2802.htm

“When I first opened De Incarnatione [On the Incarnation] I soon discovered by a very simple test that I was reading a masterpiece, for only a master mind could have written so deeply on such a subject with such classical simplicity.”

C.S. Lewis

On the Incarnation” gives us yet another window of what Christians believed in the early fourth century. Its clarity and simplicity reflects greatly the integrity of the teachings of the Christian church in the early centuries of Christianity. One key component of the doctrine of the incarnation is the fact that God was made flesh. That is: Jesus was truly man and truly God. In that way as Christ hung from the Cross so did death and corruption, ultimately meeting their demise in the Resurrection:

“The death of all was consummated in the Lord’s body; yet, because the Word was in it, death and corruption were in the same act utterly abolished.”

St. Anthanasious
On the Incarnation

It was this young priest who wasn’t even old enough to vote at the council that stood up with clarity and conviction along with the council fathers against those who denied the divinity of Christ.

 To be continued…

Impromtu: Five Benefits from going to confession.

1. Give us the moral certitude that your sins are forgiven. (John 20:23)
2. It’s a great act of humility and obedience (we are following Christ commendments, 1 John 1:9) that allows us to reflect on our sins and affirm our desire to overcome them.

Note: Repentance is an act of the will, not a feeling. Thereby the act of “going to confession” in itself reflects an inner disposition of the will that seeks forgiveness.

3. Give us an opportunity to make reparations for our sins by doing penance. (James 4:8-10,Daniel 9:3,1 Kings 21:27-29)
4. Give us a bountiful of Graces that helps us grow closer to Christ and weakens our attachments to sin.

5. It opens the door to receive Christ’s body, soul and divinity in the Holy Eucharist (1 Corinthians 11:27).

If you have been away from this awesome sacrament come in! Christ is waiting for you with an open heart!

Apologetic Mondays: Call No Man Father

Objection:
Catholics disobey Christ when they call priests “fathers”.

Argument:
It is an unbiblical practice that Jesus forbade in Matthew 23:9:

“Call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven”

Response:

In Matthew 23:9 Jesus is using rabbinic hyperbole to drive a point. Rabbinic hyperbole is the use of exaggerated terms to make a point. For example, in Matthew 5:29-30, Jesus says if your right hand or eye offends you, cut it off and pluck it out. Certainly, no reasonable person would interpret this passage as Jesus commanding us to cut our hand and pluck our eye. Jesus is emphasizing the severity of sin through the use of hyperbole*.

In the same way in Matthew 23:8-10 Jesus is not prohibiting us to call our teachers, teacher, our fathers, father and our leaders, leader, but rather he is using rabbinic hyperbole to drive the point that the Pharisees have forgotten their proper place in the drama of salvation. The context of Mathew 23 makes this clear. In later verses, Jesus makes a sharp indictment against the hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees:

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You pay tithesof mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier things of the law: judgment and mercy and fidelity. [But] these you should have done, without neglecting the others.

-Matthew 23:23

Proponents of this objection would respond that what Jesus prohibited was to call no man your spiritual father. However, in the light of the scriptures this interpretation of Matthew 23:9 is problematic:

Jesus himself calls Abraham not only as the physical father of the Jews, but also as his spiritual father:

Abraham your father rejoiced to see my day; he saw it and was glad.

-John 8:56

As did Stephen in Act 7:2, The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham. Paul refers to Isaac as our father in Romans 9:10. Moreover, Paul, calls himself a spiritual father:

I am writing you this not to shame you, but to admonish you as my beloved children. Even if you should have countless guides to Christ, yet you do not have many fathers, for I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. Therefore, I urge you, be imitators of me.

-1 Corinthian 4:14-16

Peter, Paul and John all at one point or another framed their relationship with their disciples as that of a parental relationship:

She who is at Babylon, who is likewise chosen, sends you greetings; and so does my son Mark”

-Peter 5:13

“My little children, I am writing this to you so that you may not sin; but if any one does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous”

-1 John 2:1

Conclusion:

Given that these authors were writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit it is hard to presuppose that they were disobeying Christ, when they refer to themselves as fathers. Thus, the biblical evidence and the context of Matthew 23:9 reasonably argues against its literal interpretation. Orthodox, Anglican and Lutheran interpret Matthew 23:9 in the same light as the Catholic Church does and do call their priests fathers with the implied understanding that there is only but one Father that gives life, namely God the Father.

References and Resources:

Catholic Resources:

*Steve Ray

http://www.catholic-convert.com/wp-content/uploads/Documents/CallNoManFather.pdf

Catholic Answers: Call no man Father?

https://www.catholic.com/tract/call-no-man-father

Lutheran resources:

Rev. James P. Peterson

http://lutheranreformission.blogspot.com/2013/10/should-pastors-be-called-father.html

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Today Catholic around the world celebrate the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe “La Morena” to celebrate the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary to  a Mexican peasant named Juan Diego in 1531.

What strikes me as extraordinary about these apparitions is that they occured while hundreds of thousands Europeans were abandoning the faith of their fathers.  Whereas in Europe protestantism was creating disunity and confusion amongst Christians, Our Lady of Guadalupe was pointing millions and millions indigenous people towards Christ.

Coincidence? I think not.

I loved today’s  Bishop Barron reflection about this feast day:

Friends, today we celebrate the great feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. What followed the apparition of Mary at Tepeyac is one of the most astounding chapters in the history of Christian evangelism.

Though Franciscan missionaries had been laboring in Mexico for twenty years, they had made little progress. But within ten years of the appearance of Our Lady of Guadalupe, practically the entire Mexican people, nine million strong, had converted to Christianity. La Morena had proved a more effective evangelist than St. Peter, St. Paul, St. Patrick, and St. Francis Xavier combined! And with that great national conversion, the Aztec practice of human sacrifice came to an end. She had done battle with fallen spirits and had won a culture-changing victory for the God of love.

The challenge for us who honor her today is to join the same fight. We must announce to our culture today the truth of the God of Israel, the God of Jesus Christ, the God of nonviolence and forgiving love. And we ought, like La Morena, to be bearers of Jesus to a world that needs him more than ever.

Bishop Robert Baron

Our Lady of Guadalupe pray for us!

What makes you happy?


This is one of the most important questions there are. Happiness is what every human being seeks. We want to be happy, no matter how young or old, or the color of your skin, level of education, race, or sex, the fact it is that happiness is at the center of the human heart. In the words of philosopher Peter Kreeft:

We don’t want to be happy because we think  it will lead us to something else, we seek other things because we think that they will make us happy”.

Happiness is not a means to an end. Happiness is an end in itself, is what we all ultimately seek, in everything we do: we want to be happy.

What is happiness?

If happiness is an end in itself, then what is happiness? Happiness is not a feeling. Feelings come and go, they can’t be controlled. Otherwise, why not feel happy all the time? True happiness on the other hand, is independent of how you feel.  The “feeling of happiness” is a side effect, not its cause. Happiness is rather something else, something deeper. Happiness is the fulfillment of your inner most longing, which is to love and to be loved.

The saints are great examples, because they are all lovers. They completely empty themselves for the sake of the other.  Look at Mother Theresa, for most of her life she didn’t feel that “feeling of happiness” quite the opposite, she experienced no consolation or “feeling of happiness”, but she was truly happy.  If you see her working with the poor, you can see the joy in her eyes. She was happy, because she was fulfilling her deepest longing: she was a lover of souls.

We are happy, when we fulfill that longing, that tug in our hearts, that calls us towards real and concrete LOVE.  In the Christian anthropology, man was created in the image of God, and through revelation we know that God is Love. Thereby, love is in the fabric of who we are.

How can we be happy?

In one of the most moving and intimate passages in the bible, Jesus, tells us:

As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.

This takes everything that we think about happiness and turns it upside down! We tend to associate happiness with doing whatever we want, however we want it, whenever we want it, but Christ tells us that true happiness can be found by following God’s commandments.  That’s the whole point of the moral law,  the commandments, far from being a restrictive set of rules, that makes us less free, they truly set us free to love each other, by seeking the good. Furthermore, they allow us to remain in His Love and because His Love is Perfect, it is the only thing in the world that is big enough to fill your heart and make you truly happy.

Anything else will simply fall short!

Caleb

Happy Epiphany of the Lord

Hi everyone and Merry Christmas!

I hope everyone had a wonderful New Year! Today we celebrate the Epiphany of the Lord. I will like to share an excerpt from today’s gospel reading along with a quote from St. John Chrysostom, an early Patristic father of the Church, reflecting on the epiphany.

epiphany-of-the-lord-largest

 

A reflection on today’s reading by St. John Chrysostom:

“And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them,
until it came and stopped over the place where the child was.
They were overjoyed at seeing the star,
and on entering the house
they saw the child with Mary his mother.
They prostrated themselves and did him homage.
Then they opened their treasures
and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh”.

Matthew 2:10-12

st-john-chrysostom1

“If the Magi had come in search of an earthly King, they would have been disconcerted at finding that they had taken the trouble to come such a long way for nothing. Consequently they would have neither adored nor offered gifts. But since they sought a heavenly King, though they found in Him no signs of royal pre-eminence, yet, content with the testimony of the star alone, they adored: for they saw a man, and they acknowledged God.”

Saint John Chrysostom

Cheers,

Caleb