Saturday, August 29, 2009
Cardinal Mahony calls Kennedy a champion of the powerless [Updated]
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Friday, August 28, 2009
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Monday, August 17, 2009
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Saturday, August 15, 2009
1. The consensus of the teaching church –
Pope Pius XII asked the Bishops of the world in 1946 -
a. Is the Assumption definable?
b. Do you and your flock desire a definition?
8 million petitions over 95 years wanted this Dogma declared. There was a petition from the Fathers in Vatican I to make this a dogma.
2. Sacred Scripture – Pope Pius XII returns us to Genesis 3:15 and the teachings of St. Paul on sin. Mary shares the same victory over sin and death Jesus does due to their mutual entity with Satan and sin. St. Paul tells us (Romans 5-8, 1 Cor 15, 24, 26) the effects of the seed of Satan are sin and death, therefore Mary had to triumph over sin and death. She triumphs over sin through her Immaculate Conception and triumphs over death in her Assumption.
a. Luke 1:28 – Full of grace: her being full of grace would not be tainted by the effects of sin which would not be bodily death.
b. Psalm 131:8 – Arise O Lord out of your resting place and you and the Ark which you have sanctified.
c. Rev 11:19 – Mary as the Ark of the Heavenly Jerusalem
d. Rev 12:1 – Woman crowned is the woman assumed.
3. Sacred Tradition – First clear reference in the homilies of St. Gregory of Tours (+593) by this time there are established liturgies.
4. Sacred Liturgy – In Egypt and Syria there are liturgies on our Lady by the 5th and 6th centuries. There is a clear and common teaching. By the 7th century, the Assumption is celebrated in Gaul and 8th century it’s celebrated in Rome. 12th century – accepted as doctrinal teaching.
5. Connection between the Assumption and other Marian Dogmas –
a. Theotokos – Mary would be presented from the decay of the grave by a privilege their her divine son could grant her.
b. Immaculate Conception and the Assumption – the Assumption is the natural effect of the Immaculate Conception.
Now arises the question that has been debated for centuries and is still debated today - Did Mary Die? There are two schools that make their respective arguments on this question, the Mortalists and Immortalists.
First, the Mortalists position is that Mary experienced a temporary separation of spirit and body but without body corruption. Her spirit would assume directly into heaven and her body would be on earth for three days like Jesus. She wants to be a disciple. [Stronger position] Pope John Paul II favored this position. The Eastern Church also views this position as the Dormition of Mary (August 14).
Second, the Immortalists position is that Mary with Body and Soul intact was just assumed into heaven. She could not do this on her own power. Her assumption is active.
Personally, after studying this Dogma and reading of I have read about it, I favor the Mortalist view. My favoring of this view is rooted in the Death of Christ. If Jesus had to die, why wouldn't have Mary had to die? Both were perfect and without sin, but I think Our Lord allowed his Mother to see death. Her body did not corrupt as our bodies do at death. Like Jesus, the body of Mary remains here on earth for three days. The Body of Mary is then assumed into heaven where it is united again with her soul.
Then there is the question, Where did Mary die?
1. Jerusalem – She ended her life with the Apostles in Jerusalem.
2. Ephesus – Mary did go with John to Ephesus.
Mary, Assumed Body and Soul into Heaven - Pray for Us!
This information came from notes that I took in Theology 655 - Mary in the Modern World with Dr. Mark Miravalle, Spring 2009.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
I apologize for my absence over the past few days, but I have been dealing with a medical issue and spending some quality time with my family while I am back home in Phoenix. Before we get back to our discussion, I wanted to thank you for sharing with me some personal information about your life. It is good for us to know one another on a personal level. I have B.A in Philosophy and a Masters in Secondary Education. You know already that I am working on a second masters in Theology. I enjoy watching baseball and football. I am a big NY Yankees and NY Giants fan. I also enjoy playing golf when time permits.
Okay...let's return to the Saints. Yes, Jesus did walk the earth and yes he did experience all things that we experience without sin, but that still does not take away from his glory if we ask our fellow humans, who were just like us, to pray for our intercession. The saints in heaven are in the presence of God perpetually. The saints worship God, but they also intercede for us if we request them to do so. Not sure what you meant when you said, "those saints are worshipping God and not interceding for him." The saints are in full communion with God since they are in heaven with him. Having others pray for us should be a good thing. It should not be despised or just thrown aside. It's essential that we ask Christ to pray for us directly in all that we desire (John 14:13-14). This is something that the Catholic Church encourages quite a bit during the highest form of worship and prayer - the Catholic Mass. The Mass is the central form of worship which is directed towards God and Jesus, not the saints. However, this does not mean we should not ask our fellow Christians to pray for us, especially those in heaven, who are in the ever presence of God and Jesus. Those who claim that our fellow Christians in heaven do not hear our prayers are narrow-minded. The Bible points out to us in numerous places that those in heaven (which includes the angels) pray with us and for us. Please see Psalm 103:20-21, 148:1-2, and Revelation 8:3-4.
Furthermore, you bring up the words - "dead saints" a few times in your latest response to me. I imagine you are referring to Deuteronomy 18:10-11 when God commands not to talk to the dead. However, Christ himself speaks to the dead! At the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:3, Mark 9:4, Luke 9:30), Jesus speaks with both Moses and Elijah. Moses represents the Old Law and Elijah is the greatest of the prophets. They appear to attest to the authority of Christ. What God does not allow when speaking with the dead is the practices such as seances that want to contact spirits. God commands us not to contact the dead to gain information - we are to look to the prophets for that. There is clearly a difference between trying to contact the dead for personal gain and asking a fellow Christian who has passed to pray for us on God's behalf. In regards to your point about James 1:5-7 -- you are taking it out of context to fit your argument against me. It does state that we should ask God for wisdom if we lack it, but it says nothing about not praying to others who also have wisdom and have gone before us. You clearly misunderstand what the passage is saying. Also, Jesus does not say that we can't pray to the saints. Prayers that are offered as intercession for others is "good and pleasing to God" (1 Timothy 2:3). I am not sure what you are trying to prove when you say that Jesus gave us the Our Father and that he did not say pray to saints.
I am happy to hear that you have heard of Augustine. He is one of my favorite fathers of the church. His conversion story, Confessions, is a classic. Have you ever read it? His mother, Monica, who is also a canonized saint, prayed for his conversion. Finally after 25 YEARS (can you imagine?) of prayer from his mother, he converted. What other Early Church Fathers have you read or heard about? Please tell me. I love the Early Church Fathers.
Asking for the intercession of the saints is not something the Catholic Church just decided to make up one day. This practice of praying to the saints began in the Early Church. The catacombs throughout Europe, specifically in Rome, clearly show that the Early Christians asked the saints to pray for them. In the catacombs in Rome, there are writings on the walls asking for Paul and Peter to pray for them. The Early Church was persecuted and the Early Christians knowing that both Peter (crucified upside down) and Paul (beheaded) were martyred for the faith prayed for their intercession and guidance since they could be martyred as well.
In regards to Catholics worshipping religious pictures and statues of saints -- this claim has been made for hundreds of years. I still can't believe people bring this up. You think that Catholics are breaking the commandment in Exodus 20:4-5 and 32:31, right? First, it is correct to warn people about idolatry. From the early days of the apostles, the Catholic Church has boldly condemned the sin of idolatry, the early Church Fathers condemned it and so have many Church councils. Someone who calls a Catholic an idol worshipper simply because he or she has a statue of a saint or a picture of Jesus in his home, clearly is ignorant of what the Bible teaches about statues. Second, there are many scripture passages where God clearly commands that statues be made. When giving instructions on how the Ark of the Covenant was to be made, he speaks of the cherubim statues (Exodus 25:18-20). Again, David's plan for the temple which included statues of angels (1 Chronicles 28:18-19). Also, in Ezekiel 41:17-18, the prophet speaks of the images that were to be carved in the inner room and on the nave looking like cherubim. More so, in Numbers 21:8-9, we read about when Moses was told by God to make a statue of a fiery serpent (bronze serpent) and set it on a pole so whoever looks at it would be healed (they were bitten by a plague of serpents for punishment). This passage clearly shows that the statues were not just religious decorations, but could be used within a ritual.
So why do so many faithful and practicing Catholics have statues, paintings and other religious devices in their homes or on their front porch (I imagine you saw that in Steubenville on your mission trip)? Simply: Catholics use statues and religious images to depict or recall the person. By looking at pictures of the saints or Jesus, it helps Catholics to remember that person in a more visual way. Think about this Matthew. As human beings, we come to know the world through our five senses. Having a statue or a picture amplifies us to use our sense of touch and sight more. Catholics DO NOT worship these pictures or statues. We do not bow down to them as the Greeks and Romans did with their gods. They are merely there to help us pray more and to remember more what that person was like here on earth. I have a statue of Saint Joseph, the foster father of Jesus, in my living room. I ask St. Joseph to pray for me so I can be a great role model for other men since he is such a great role model for men. Imagine his vocation, he was to care and protect Mary and Jesus! What a job! I do not worship that statue, but it helps me to remember who he was when he lived on this earth.
Let's put it another way - do you have pictures of your family and friends either in your home, wallet, or your dorm room/apartment at school? Why do you have these pictures? Is it to remember who they are and how important they are to you?? Do you worship these "images"? Do you bow down to these "images"?
Just as you use pictures of your family members, those still alive and those who are deceased, to remember them when you are away from them, so do Catholics use the pictures and statues to remind them of our brothers and sisters in Christ who have gone before us. Catholics also use statues and religious art as tools for teaching. Throughout the history of the Church, there have been periods of illiteracy (illiterate = those who cannot read). The Church would use the religious art to often explain the Biblical stories to the faithful. In Art History, Stain Glass Windows were known as the "Bible of the Poor." [Make sure you click on that link for stain glass windows]. I imagine that your community has images of Jesus and other biblical pictures they use for Sunday school. Catholics also use statues to remember certain people and events, similar to Protestant communities who have three-dimensional nativity scenes during Christmas.
Well...I think that is a good place to stop for now. I have given you a lot to read and think about regarding the saints. Remember, this is just one topic. Wait till we get to Scripture and Tradition, The Last Things, The Blessed Mother, The Sacraments, the Papacy and so much more. If you want to wait and get back to me after you return from your missionary work in Nicaragua on August 21, that is okay too. If you want to write me before you go too, that is fine as well.
You are in my prayers. Pray for me.
Please pray for Matthew's conversion!
Monday, August 10, 2009
After thinking about it for a short time, I replied and below is what I said to him --
A discussion on the Protestant Reformation is a vast topic. We can discuss this later. Plus, it was not in your original email to me and I want to focus on the topics you gave to me there. I will not jump from one topic to another.
Let's start on the saints first -- You are asking why shouldn't we pray to just God the Father or to God the Son Jesus?
Catholics do pray to God directly! Last night I prayed for a friend of mine who is having surgery this week. I went directly to Christ! However, it does not mean that it is not a good thing to ask others to pray for us as well. Catholics believe that there are holy men and women in heaven already that can pray for us, just as if I asked you to pray for me. Do you ask others to pray for you? I know I do.
The saints are our brothers and sisters in the faith that have come before us and are now in the presence of the Holy Trinity. The saints intercede for us when we ask them to do so. Catholics do not omit God the Father from their prayers at all. They simply just ask others (the saints) to pray to God the Father since they are already in his presence in heaven. If we look at Revelation 5:8 - here we see the saints actively interceding for us. As John writes, the incense the saints offer up to God are our prayers. Prayers are not physical and cannot be offered up physically to God. The saints as they intercede for us offer up our prayers to God mentally.
Now does this violate the mediatorship of Christ? Not at all! Christ is the unique mediator between God and man because he is both human and divine. He is the bridge between the two since he is the God-man (John 1:14). The role as mediator is not compromised at all by the fact that others intercede for us. Christ is the mediator of the New Covenant which binds God and man (Hebrews 9:15, 12:24) just as Moses was the mediator of the Old Covenant (Greek - mesitas). Galatians 3:19-20 shows this. The saints in heaven do not violate this mediatorship because what Paul says in 1 Timothy 2:1-4. The intercessory prayers of Christians, which includes the saints in heaven, does not violate Christ's role as mediator, but is "good and pleasing to God." Paul in other places asks for people to pray for him. Please see Romans 15:30-32, Epheisians 6:18-20, Colossions 4:3, 1 Thessolonians 5:25, and 2 Thessolonians 3:1. It is important to note, that Jesus himself required us to pray for others and not those who just asked us to do so (Matthew 5:44).
In conclusion, since the saints are already in heaven and are not distracted with the day to day dealings we face in life, they can help us by interceding for us. They are there to support us in our trials and sufferings since they themselves at one point were here on earth dealing with the same daily activities we face. The saints, since they are in the presence of God, have a greater devotion and confidence to God. Jesus himself supplied for one person based on another person's faith (see Matthew 8:13, 15:28, 17:15-18, Mark 9:17-29, and Luke 8:49-55). Just as the saints intercede for us from heaven, so too must we pray for one another here on earth.
You are in my prayers. In the Peace of Christ, Tom
Matthew responded by saying that he now has a better understanding of this topic. However, this was not good enough for me. During these emails that will go back and forth between us, I am really looking to draw him out to fully understand where he is coming from in this thoughts. I, playing "devils advocate", asked to some more questions about the saints - i.e. statues, relics, religous pictures. He responded by saying -
I believe there is much to be learned from the people God has used for his purposes on this earth, however I don't need to communicate with them for wisdom on how to live even if they have been in my shoes. Jesus has walked this earth and experienced everything they have without sinning so that he is able to help fill that role Heb 4:15-18. In fact he says that if you lack wisdom, ask the Lord (James 1:5-7) not dead saints who have gone to be with him. Those saints are worshipping God and not interceding for him. What could they have to offer that is more valuable than communion with God who came as a man and lived a full life on earth engaging and surrounded by every human experience and temptation. I think much can be learned from the early church fathers and I read about St. Augustine and other influential saints throughout the history of Christianity. However, Jesus never instructs us to pray to them. He said pray like this... Our Father which art in heaven... Never did he say.. sometimes pray to saints in heaven. A concern about the statues of saints would be that they arise to the level of idols. In the old testament the people of Israel made asherah poles and worshipped statues of idols to Baal. God detested this. My question is..what's the difference.
I will answer these questions this week. Please pray for Matthew's conversion.
A Baptist Knocking At My Door - To be continued...
Sunday, August 9, 2009
I am the guy who was reading on my porch that you spoke to yesterday in Steubenville. As I promised, I would email you to have the discussion you wanted to have with me yesterday. I am sorry if I came off as impatient and uncharitable yesterday, but I am taking a 3 week course on the Nature of Love. It's a graduate theology/philosophy course at the Franciscan University of Steubenville - www.franciscan.edu Check out the school when you get the chance. This class is an amazing course in the discussion of love. I am reading some amazing texts and the content is as equally impressive. As Christian men, we really need to fully understand the importance of love and how we are to love others, especially, our beloved wives.
Now I might not be able to answer your questions for another two weeks, but I would like to know what questions you were seeking yesterday on my porch. I have to give you and the other two kids some credit. It takes courage to go out door-to-door and preach the gospel to the world. The genesis of missionary work begin in the Catholic Church, but I have to admit it's something we don't do enough here in this country as much (I mean door-to-door). There are great Catholic missions in the world today, especially in Nigeria, where so many vocations to the priesthood are originating. If you want to have this dialogue with me, that is fine.
I look forward to hearing from you.
P.S. The book I was reading yesterday - A Severe Mercy, by Sheldon Vanauken is fantastic. Read it - it's well worth it!
Six days later on July 28, Matthew wrote back to me. He thanked me for being a man of my word by emailing him like I said I would. He told me again, like he did on my porch, that his "catholic" friends really had no idea what the Church taught. He told me that the bible answers so many of the questions of life in a simple way. His claims were those I had heard many times before - Mary is elevated above Jesus robbing him of his glory, the traditions of the church are false (this is humorous since 2 Thessalonians 2:15 speaks of the traditions taught by the apostles), no one man could have infallible thoughts, the Pope is the Anti-Christ, the teaching of purgatory was invented because of money purposes and the worship of idolatry when speaking of the saints. He also claimed that the Church makes "Christianity a religion and not a relationship with God." Not sure where he is going with this one.
Matthew thinks that it is fate that he and the two others came to my door that day. He thinks that it is his mission to pull me out of the deception of the Catholic Church, which he also claims is a product of Satan. In his own words -
"Tom, I think God sent us to your doorstep that day for a reason, could it possibly be to let you see that many Catholics will be deceived on the day they stand before Christ because they are not putting all of their trust in Christ on the cross. They are putting their hope in Religion, hoping they will be "Good Enough" to enter heaven. It will be a sad day when they see that they are among the "many" Jesus refers to in Matthew 7:21-23."
When I first read his email, honestly, I laughed a bit. I then forwarded it on to two of my professors for them to read it. Dr. John Bergsma responded and said that I had a live one on the line. He also said that it will be good experience for me to talk to him and answer his questions.
In my response, I told him that I thought his email was harsh and uncharitable. I told him that he clearly attacked Catholicism and I never once attacked his faith tradition. I went on and said to him numerous times that whoever gave him this information about the Catholic Church has gravely mislead him. The Church is not some evil organization looking to take over the world. I lovingly, yet forcibly, told him that I would never leave the Catholic Church and that I believe the Church is the one true church established by Christ 2000 years ago. I told Matthew that I would not hold any of his claims against him and that I was looking forward to explaining what Catholics believe and why we believe it. I told him that he is in my prayers and that I would write again soon.
That day I went to Holy Mass and offered up my mass intention for him. Please pray for Matthew's conversion!!
A Baptist Knocking At My Door - To be continued...
Thursday, August 6, 2009
I asked them besides inviting people to dinner, why were they here in Steubenville. The older boy, Matthew (name changed), said to me that they were here to investigate the spiritual formation of Steubenville. I was taken back a bit and sort of chuckled and replied by saying, "Do you have any idea where you are?" Matthew said no. I went on to tell him that Steubenville is home to Franciscan University of Steubenville. It's one of the most orthodox and passionate Catholic universities in the country and maybe even the world. He picked up on the word catholic and informed me that he has "catholic" friends at school, but they don't seem to know what Catholicism teaches. I said well you have come to the right door. I am working on a Masters in Theology from Franciscan. I would enjoy informing you on what the Catholic Church teaches, but that I had to get back to reading my book for class.
Instead of just saying okay, the next question out of his mouth was, "Do you think you are saved?" I thought to myself okay we can talk for a bit. Once I began to engage him he automatically began to quote different scriptures to me. He was jumping from scripture to scripture and not really making much sense at all. I should have gone and got my bible, but since I was so involved in my book, I chose not to get it. We spoke about the scriptures a bit, sacred tradition, and some other topics. He told me that the Catholic Church's view on history has been skewed and is not correct. I found this humorous since many Protestants leave off at St. Paul and pick up again at Martin Luther. They clearly leave out 1500 years of Christian history. Realizing that he is young, I let it go...for now.
His interpretation of scripture was incorrect and he was constantly on the defensive. He thinks that the "Word of God" is only the Scriptures. I informed him that the "Word of God" is both the written word (scriptures) and oral (tradition). I asked him where in the scriptures does it say, sola scriptura - scriptures alone, he kept on referring to the Word of God. He then catapulted into sola fide - faith alone. After that, he then jumped from that subject and asked me, "When you stand before God Almighty, what will you tell him so he lets you into heaven?" He was really all over the place the whole time.
After we danced a bit on a variety of subjects, I asked him to give me his email so I could write him when I was finished with my class. Matthew gave me his email and they left my porch.
A Baptist Knocking At My Door -To Be Continued...