Thursday, September 15, 2005

An Icon of Christ's love for the Church

This is a picture of one of the happiest days of my life. It’s the day I married my wife and made an oath to her, the Church, and to Jesus that I would be faithful to her and be willing to lay down my life for her. Our marriage is not perfect but it is still beautiful and it is an image of the love that Jesus has for the Church. Here is the concept in the Bible:

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her to sanctify her, cleansing her by the bath of water with the word, that he might present to himself the church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. So (also) husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one hates his own flesh but rather nourishes and cherishes it, even as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body....This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the church.(Eph 5:25-32)

For Catholics marriage is a sacrament. It is a sign and instrument - of God's own life.

Here is a prayer that my wife and I made when we went to an engagement encounter.

God of Love
We thank you for the life you give use.
We thank you for the love you show us.
We give praise to you because your love conquers all.

God of Mercy
We ask that you bestow your grace
upon our marriage so that we may fulfill our vocation.
We ask you, oh Lord, to make our lives fruitful.
We ask this in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen

I love you Melissa

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Mary and the Moslems

The following is from Bishop Fulton J. Sheen on how to reach Muslims. This quote is just a tast and to understand what Bishop Sheen is saying you will have to read the entire article. Let me just add that Fatima is the daughter of Mohammed. 'But after the death of Fatima, Mohammed wrote: "Thou shalt be the most blessed of all the women in Paradise, after Mary."'

Missionaries in the future will, more and more, see that their apostolate among the Moslems will be successful in the measure that they preach Our Lady of Fatima. Mary is the advent of Christ, bringing Christ to the people before Christ Himself is born. In an apologetic endeavor, it is always best to start with that which people already accept. Because the Moslems have a devotion to Mary, our missionaries should be satisfied merely to expand and to develop that devotion, with the full realization that Our Blessed Lady will carry the Moslems the rest of the way to her divine Son. She is forever a "traitor," in the sense that she will not accept any devotion for herself, but will always bring anyone who is devoted to her to her divine Son. As those who lose devotion to her lose belief in the divinity of Christ, so those who intensify devotion to her gradually acquire that belief.

Information on Fatima from EWTN

Saturday, September 10, 2005

The sign of the torture stake?

I didn’t know that Aragorn was a Jehovah's Witnesses…but he must be because he makes the sign of the torture stake.

Aragorn if you see this please read this Catholic Answer artical:

A LAST piece of evidence comes from the New Testament: Examine John 20:25, where doubting Thomas speaks. The Witnesses’ New World Translation gives the verse as follows: "Unless I see in his hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe." Even in their own translation John refers to hands (plural) and nails (plural). The inference is simple. (Catholic Answers, Cross or Torture Stake?)

And this is the proper way of making the sign of the cross.

Caesarea Philippi and the Rock

Caesarea Philippi is the location where Jesus’ identity as the Messiah was revealed to the disciples. Caesarea Philippi was a two-day walk into pagan territory so it is odd that Jesus would take his disciples there. By Caesarea Philippi there is a huge rock with a cave that is the source of the Jordan River. The pagans believed that the cave with the water flowing out from under the ground was a gate to hades, the gates of hell.

At this rock, pagans would worship the pagan god Pan. Here is a picture of a couple of niches that probably held a statue of Pan. Pan was the pagan god of shepherds and flocks.

On top of the rock there was a temple for the worship of Caesar (see Josephus Ant. 15).

This backdrop is very significant in relation to what Jesus says in Matthew 16:13-20. Jesus established Peter as the true shepard of his true flock in opposition to Pan the false god of shepherds and flocks. And the true divine king, Christ, is going to build his Church on Peter, the Rock, in opposition to the false god Caesar and his false church on the rock. And the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church that Christ established.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

The Catholic Faith

I would say that the Catholic Faith is very similar to most Christian faiths in that its center is Christ. Blaise Pascal said, “The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing.” And this is why it is hard to explain why I am Catholic. It is not something that can be totally communicated in words. The main reason is because it is true, but this can be expanded upon.

The Catholic faith is intricate and comprehensive. It is earthy but at the same time mystical. It uses the ordinary world and brings out the transcendent through it. It is one unified faith but it is large enough to live free, crazy, and creative within the limits of the faith. It is a personal faith but also a communal, family faith. It is a faith that is both religious and spiritual. It resides not only in the mind or soul but also the body. It is a faith that is in the world but not of the world. It is a faith that has roots in the old and historical but is also ever new and eternal. It is a faith that holds to both scripture and apostolic tradition. It is a faith that is authoritative but also freeing and forgiving. It is a faith that promotes the search for the beautiful, the good, the Truth, and Charity. The Catholic Church is a hospital for great sinners but also a home for great saints. It is a faith that produces a life that can make meaning out of great sorrow but it also has the ability to party it up with great joy. It is a faith that is universal enough to encompass all peoples and the good things in all cultures. It is a faith that is very challenging; it asks things that can only be done by supernatural Grace. It is a faith that requires great oaths through sacraments that helps me make commitments to God but it also gives me God’s grace to fulfill what God is asking of me because I can't do it by myself.

If there was one thing that I could point to that would encompass all that I am trying to say it would be Christ’s real presence: body, soul, and Divinity in the Eucharist. The Eucharist is the source and summit of the Catholic life. It is the “participation in the body of Christ” (1 Cor 10:16) and without it the Catholic Church would have no life (John 6:53). It is crazy that Jesus would give himself to me 2000 years ago on the Cross. But is beyond anything that I could hope for to be able to be physically and spiritually intimate with Jesus in a personally and ongoing way in the sacrament of Holy Communion. What Jesus does for us out of love is mind-blowing.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Shakespeare, Purgatory, and Sola Fide

The following is a quote from Catholic Exchange:

And once ghostly father and human son are alone, the ghost tells Hamlet how he was murdered by his brother Claudius and begs to be avenged. Yet, in doing so, the ghost bemoans his own spiritual state — presenting a version of his afterlife which is nothing short of the Catholic doctrine of Purgatory. In Act I, Scene V, the dead king says:

"I am thy father's spirit,
Doom'd for a certain term to walk the night,
And for the day confin'd to fast in fires,
Till the foul crimes done in my days of nature
Are burnt and purg'd away."

Here Shakespeare is clearly presenting the Catholic doctrine of Purgatory and the need for justification and sanctification to continue after death if they are not completed in this life — a doctrine which Lutherans (and all other Protestants) bitterly denied. Shakespeare also clearly presents this state as a temporary thing, and so he is not speaking about hell, but about Purgatory — that is, the fact that the king died in an ill-prepared condition; that he did not have a chance to properly repent of his sins. Indeed, the ghostly king goes on, recounting his murder by his brother Claudius:

"Thus was I, sleeping, by a brother's hand
Of life, of crown, of queen, at once dispatch'd,
Cut off even in the blossoms of my sin,
Unhous'led, disappointed, unanel'ed,
No reck'ning made, but sent to my account
With all my imperfections on my head."

Clearly, this view of salvation flies in the face of Lutheranism and of the prevailing Protestant faith of England in Shakespeare's own day; and most certainly that of the English crown.

Now, hearing that his father has been murdered and is suffering in such a way, Hamlet is of course quite upset, if not driven to the point of madness by it. But is it merely a matter of fraternal love and wounded family honor that has so shaken Hamlet here? Or rather could it not be something more? If he was a faithful student of the University of Wittenberg — that is, a devoted Protestant intellectual who has been taught that a man is saved by "faith alone," requiring no venerable works and with no need to worry about a period of purgation after death (if not in this life), it becomes quite apparent that this apparition of his departed father has stripped Hamlet of his very religion and plunged him into a world where not only his presumably reliable theology has been ripped apart, but where now his very future (and that of his family and country!) depends on his personal action — that is, on his "works" (in this case, setting things right in the kingdom by avenging his father's murder). Quite a cold-water shock for a "comfortable" and "carefree" Protestant who had always presumed that one could, as Luther put it, "commit mortal sin one thousand times a day and still not lose his justification."

Dramatic and Theological Realities

And this brings us to the line in question — that is, the obvious jab at Luther's supposedly "biblical" doctrine. After the ghost disappears, Hamlet is rejoined with Horatio and the two guards, who pressed him to tell them what the ghost said. Hamlet, however, refuses and says to Horatio — that is, to his fellow-Protestant student from Wittenberg:

"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

In other words, “You Lutherans have it wrong.” Purgatory is a reality, and what they have been taught at Wittenberg (i.e., what Horatio still apparently takes to be sound doctrine) is merely a human "philosophy," and not a true religion (a truth faith) in any realistic sense.

A Baptism Of Imagination

The following is an interview of Peter Kreeft, my favorite apologist.

MHR: You have stated that you see some mysteries or truths better in concrete stories rather than in abstract concepts-in novels rather than in philosophy. How has that been true for you?

PK: It has been true for me in my reading of C.S. Lewis, Chesterton, Tolkien, Charles Williams, Dorothy Sayers. These writers have plugged into the depths of the Christian tradition. Their images and stories have influenced me from below.

MHR: What do you mean by "below"?

PK: Let's use the image of water. A city is surrounded by walls and it is fighting a war. The enemy is trying to knock down the walls, but they can't do it because the walls are too strong. Then a great rainstorm comes. As the rain suddenly gets underneath the walls and softens the ground, the walls fall down and the city is conquered.

Rational arguments are like bullets. They're useful, but if we're going to conquer the city that is the world, we need rain and not just bullets. Images and attractive symbols are like the rain. They soften the ground as they seep into the unconscious. Lewis called it "baptizing the imagination."

MHR: Is the study of literature important for the church?

PK: It is crucial-absolutely crucial. We are still deeply influenced by stories. We learn morality more from stories than from anything else. If we're not good storytellers, and if we're not sensitive to good storytellers, we'll miss out on the most powerful means of enlightening ourselves and transforming our world apart from a living, personal example.

Christianity has always produced great writers. But, unfortunately, I cannot name a single great one who is alive today. Walker Percy and Flannery O'Connor may be the two last great Christian writers. I'm sure there will be more, because it is in our tradition.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

God in the Streets of NYC

This is a very powerful video that shows a Eucharistic procession through New York.

The Catholic Roots of Human Rights

The Catholic Church played a big role in the development of our modern understanding of human rights. This fact has been neglected by historians but this is starting to change do to the work of Brian Tierney. Canon law and the concept of Natural law set the stage for the understanding of human rights. Here is a quote from a article that I found. It's an interesing read.


The evolution of a language of rights is only part of the story of this first "context." By the year 1300, the jurists of the Ius commune had developed a sturdy language of rights and created a number of rights derived from natural law. During the period from 1150 to 1300, they defined the rights of property, self-defense, non-Christians, marriage, and procedure as being rooted in natural, not positive, law. By placing these rights squarely within the framework of natural law, the jurists could and did argue that these rights could not be taken away by the human prince. The prince had no jurisdiction over rights based on natural law; consequently these rights were inalienable.(16)

The History of Rights in Western Thought

It is also Ironic that society is now rejecting natural law when it is the foundation of human rights.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Introducing possibilities that act as Triggers

I was reading a book called The Tipping Point and it gave me an idea. In the book it talks about a study that was done with a pamphlet on tetanus with college students. They found that the students learned the information that was in the pamphlet, and that they believed the information, but despite this only 3% went out and got a tetanus shot. They did a follow-up study and this time they again handed out the same pamphlet but they included practical information of a map of where the campus clinic was and times when the shots were available. They then found that 28% of the students obtained a tetanus shot. The practical information was not anything that the students didn't already know but it acted like a trigger helping them make the first step.

Like the pamphlet we have been giving out good information and a lot of people believe but there is not the trigger that gets them to actively seek entrance into the Catholic Church. So some of my friends at Phatmass and I came up with this link that gives practical and simple steps on how to become Catholic. Please post this link on you websites to introduce people to the possiblity of entering the Catholic Church. May it be a trigger with God's grace.

Want to become Catholic?

It won’t let me place the code within the blog for some reason. So please go HERE for the code.

The Oldest Existing Christian Hymn

The Oxyrhynchus hymn is the oldest existing Christian hymn that we have the notes for, dating from the second or third century AD. We have the words to older hymns but we really do not know how the melody went. It is also interesting that this hymn was found in a old dump near Egypt. Here are the words to the hymn which are beautiful:

...Let it be silent,Let the Luminous stars not shine, Let the winds and all the noisy rivers died down; And as we hymn the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen Let all the powers add "Amen Amen"praise always, and glory to God,Amen Amen The sole giver of good things, Amen Amen.

As for indirect apologetics it is note worthy to point out that it is a hymn to the Trinity.

Here is some links one of which has audio of how the hymn sounded.

Oxyrhynchus hymn Audio
Oxyrhynchus hymn