Monday, November 30, 2009

The Second Advent as a Catholic

When I was a Seventh-day Adventist, I was under the impression that no other denominations were preaching the Second Coming of Jesus Christ (you know, we were the ones who focused on the Sabbath and the great Apocalypse of prophecy). When I left that church I found that the Baptists and Assembly of God as well as many fundamentalist and charismatic churches were very active in looking for signs of the last days and dissecting Revelation's prophecies.

Now that I am a Catholic, I realize that the Bible gives us a command about proclaiming the good news of God's second coming. It isn't having Revelation Seminars. It isn't passing prophecy pamphlets out or writing fictional accounts of what might happen. Let's read what Paul said that Jesus personally told him about how to proclaim God's Second Advent:

I Corinthians 11: 23-26: For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me." In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me." For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.

When we as His Body come together, unified in spirit and in truth, partake of His body and blood, we ARE proclaiming both our Blessed Lord's Sacrifice and Redemption as well as the hope that Jesus is coming again! It is the sign that He is returning. Our love for one another in the unity of the cup and bread is our way of showing the world God's infinite love in the past and that in the future we will once again be with our Lord both in body and spirit.

The Catholic church does indeed preach about the Second Coming of Jesus in doctrines and in occasional sermons, but we also proclaim it every time we partake of the Eucharist each week or every day. It is the way we mark time until His coming again.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Advent Season

Everything I do now that I am a Catholic is tinged with a surreal mystery. Though I have always loved Christmas time, now it is different. When I watch "Bells of St. Mary" and "It's a Wonderful Life" I take to the movies a surprising and new perspective.

There is such a fascinating dance between the ethereal spirituality of Catholic mysticism and their devotion to science and reason. It is a fascinating marriage of the sublime and philosophical that meet in Catholic doctrine. I bring this into the Advent season this year.

God made incarnate. Christ with us. Jesus as baby, Jesus as man, Jesus as God. The stars He created on the breath of His voice, now bow and contemplate the mystery of God becoming His creation.

I love decorating the green tree. I love hearing Bing Crosby sing "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas" and the crisp, invigorating cool air. The delicious and woodsy smells in my home of fresh cut pine and cranberry and clove bring a welling of deep thanksgiving.

What I look forward to most, what has become and instant tradition (another seeming contradictions of Catholicism!) for us is attending midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. This year there will be an organ concert and the choir will lead in carols, then the mass. We will behold the Christ-child in the protective arms of his mommie, coming to us as a vulnerable baby and yet who is Almighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. And He shall reign for EVER and EVER!! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

I am drinking God's Coffee!

Just when I didn't think it could get any better....

Catholic monks perfected Champagne,
Catholic monks were world renown for beer,

And now I am sipping COFFEE made by Carmelite Monks from Wyoming.

My online purchase came to me with greetings in bold letters, "Hello, Praise be Jesus Christ!"

So, here I am. I'm sitting in front of my computer reading the catechism 843 that talks with so much love and hope for our dearest fellow humans who Buddhists and Hindus.... who are "search, among shadows and images, for the God who is unknown yet near since He gives life and breath and all things and wants all men to be saved."

AND sipping my coffee from the monks.... I can see my dearest Mt. Rainier peeking ever so slightly out of the clouds into the mid-afternoon rays. My husband is smiling and all I find joy in knowing that I am in the Kingdom of God, the Catholic church. Where the coffee is very good.

If you are interested in helping the monks make a living at making great coffee, the company is found online and it is called Mystic Monks Coffee (NO I do not make any money from advertising!)

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Archbishop Chaput on Speaker Pelosi

Archbishop Chaput on Speaker Pelosi, Life and Communion
LifeSiteNews (

This is a human rights issue from the point of view of the Church, and not a theological or religious perspective.

Every Catholic, whether you're famous or anonymous ... has a responsibility to be faithful to what our Church believes about human life, and we believe human life is sacred and precious from the moment of conception," said Chaput during the Fox TV interview.
DENVER, Colorado ( - Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver expressed his support - in an interview with Fox News - for Pope Benedict XVI's message last week to pro-abortion "Catholic" House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in which the Pope enjoined the Speaker to protect human life from conception.

"Every Catholic, whether you're famous or anonymous ... has a responsibility to be faithful to what our Church believes about human life, and we believe human life is sacred and precious from the moment of conception," said Chaput during the interview. Chaput also said he was happy that the Pope "took the occasion to remind her of something very important."

Asked to expand on Church teaching on abortion, Chaput said "there's no doubt" that the Church has always taught the sacredness of life from the moment of conception, and that "abortion is always wrong in all circumstances."

In an appearance on Meet the Press last August, Speaker Pelosi had attempted to justify abortion in light of her Catholic faith by citing St. Augustine's discussion of when the soul enters the living human fetus. She concluded that "the doctors of the Church have not been able to make that definition" on when human life begins.

"It's not a fairly black-and-white issue, it's a clearly black-and-white issue," said Chaput. "The Church without doubt believes that human life begins at conception."

Cavuto then pressed the archbishop: "Would you grant her [Pelosi] Communion in your church?"

Chaput responded, "I would like to talk to her if she were coming to a church in the Archdiocese of Denver. I would say to her what I would say to anyone: again, if you don't accept what the Church teaches, you shouldn't present yourself for Communion, because Communion means you're in agreement with what the Church teaches.

"As I said to you earlier, that applies to all of us, and I would expect her to abide by where the Church stands on these important matters."

Chaput rejected the notion that Pelosi's duty as a Catholic to protect life, even within a heavily pro-abortion culture, put her in a "box." "I don't think it's a 'box' to defend the truth and to stand up for what you know to be right, even if others in the community disagree with you," said Chaput, who added that Catholic politicians, as good Americans and good Catholics, have a duty to uphold "basic human rights."

"This is a human rights issue from the point of view of the Church, and not a theological or religious perspective," said Chaput. "Our religious perspective supports that, but that's not the source of our belief about the sacredness of human life."

The archbishop mentioned that he was "very disturbed" by the repeal of the Mexico City Policy, which had barred federal aid to overseas abortion providers, and rejected the notion that such a policy was essentially partisan. "I think that abortion should not be a partisan issue, it's a human rights issue, and it would be nice if people from both parties would take the right position," he said.

Archbishop Chaput is one of the most outspoken advocates for the unborn among U.S. bishops, and is the author of the book Render Unto Caesar, which examines the role of Catholics in political life.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


Does anyone love this station as much as I do?
I would send a Protestant wanting to learn about Catholicism to it in a heartbeat. I cannot get it through cable in my area, but I can get it online.

I love "The Journey Home" and "Mother Angelica Classics." But there is no one as wonderful as Father Groeschel's "Sunday Night Live." I love that they put out a program on G.K. Chesterton and on Saturday night they play the old "Live is Worth Living' with the flamboyant Bishop Sheen.

I don't have as much time to watch as I used to, but I always try and at least watch "The World Over" which is a news format on what is going on in the church--and it is usually the archived version I end up watching.

I think it is a great tool to accompany anyone entering the RCIA. Anyone out there fans of EWTN?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Foul Ball! By Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York

I found this on Joan's Rome blog today, but I can't link to it. Sorry. But you can find it on EWTN's website.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009
As you know I have been in Washington, D.C. since Saturday. Today at noon I will attend a talk by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople at Georgetown University. I have asked to interview him during his time in D.C. and am awaiting a response. At 6 p.m. tonight I will be interviewing Newt and Callista Gingrich about their new documentary on Pope John Paul II entitled “Nine Days That Changed the World.”

For the moment, however, I want to leave you with some serious food for thought.

I have learned that the following article by Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York was submitted in a slightly shorter form to the New York Times as an op-ed article, but the Times declined to publish it. The piece was dated October 29, 2009. I first read about this on the blog by Fr. Christopher George Phillips, the founding pastor of Our Lady of the Atonement Catholic Church, the first Anglican Use parish, established on August 15, 1983.


By Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan, Archbishop of New York

October is the month we relish the highpoint of our national pastime, especially when one of our own New York teams is in the World Series!

Sadly, America has another national pastime, this one not pleasant at all: anti-catholicism. It is not hyperbole to call prejudice against the Catholic Church a national pastime. Scholars such as Arthur Schlesinger Sr. referred to it as “the deepest bias in the history of the American people,” while John Higham described it as “the most luxuriant, tenacious tradition of paranoiac agitation in American history.” “The anti-semitism of the left,” is how Paul Viereck reads it, and Professor Philip Jenkins sub-titles his book on the topic “the last acceptable prejudice.” If you want recent evidence of this unfairness against the Catholic Church, look no further than a few of these following examples of occurrences over the last couple weeks:

On October 14, in the pages of the New York Times, reporter Paul Vitello exposed the sad extent of child sexual abuse in Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jewish community. According to the article, there were forty cases of such abuse in this tiny community last year alone. Yet the Times did not demand what it has called for incessantly when addressing the same kind of abuse by a tiny minority of priests: release of names of abusers, rollback of statute of limitations, external investigations, release of all records, and total transparency. Instead, an attorney is quoted urging law enforcement officials to recognize “religious sensitivities,” and no criticism was offered of the DA’s office for allowing Orthodox rabbis to settle these cases “internally.” Given the Catholic Church’s own recent horrible experience, I am hardly in any position to criticize our Orthodox Jewish neighbors, and have no wish to do so . . . but I can criticize this kind of “selective outrage.”

Of course, this selective outrage probably should not surprise us at all, as we have seen many other examples of the phenomenon in recent years when it comes to the issue of sexual abuse. To cite but two: In 2004, Professor Carol Shakeshaft documented the wide-spread problem of sexual abuse of minors in our nation’s public schools (the study can be found here). In 2007, the Associated Press issued a series of investigative reports that also showed the numerous examples of sexual abuse by educators against public school students. Both the Shakeshaft study and the AP reports were essentially ignored, as papers such as the New York Times only seem to have priests in their crosshairs.

On October 16, Laurie Goodstein of the Times offered a front page, above-the-fold story on the sad episode of a Franciscan priest who had fathered a child. Even taking into account that the relationship with the mother was consensual and between two adults, and that the Franciscans have attempted to deal justly with the errant priest’s responsibilities to his son, this action is still sinful, scandalous, and indefensible. However, one still has to wonder why a quarter-century old story of a sin by a priest is now suddenly more pressing and newsworthy than the war in Afghanistan, health care, and starvation–genocide in Sudan. No other cleric from religions other than Catholic ever seems to merit such attention.

Five days later, October 21, the Times gave its major headline to the decision by the Vatican to welcome Anglicans who had requested union with Rome. Fair enough. Unfair, though, was the article’s observation that the Holy See lured and bid for the Anglicans. Of course, the reality is simply that for years thousands of Anglicans have been asking Rome to be accepted into the Catholic Church with a special sensitivity for their own tradition. As Cardinal Walter Kasper, the Vatican’s chief ecumenist, observed, “We are not fishing in the Anglican pond.” Not enough for the Times; for them, this was another case of the conniving Vatican luring and bidding unsuspecting, good people, greedily capitalizing on the current internal tensions in Anglicanism.

Finally, the most combustible example of all came Sunday with an intemperate and scurrilous piece by Maureen Dowd on the opinion pages of the Times. In a diatribe that rightly never would have passed muster with the editors had it so criticized an Islamic, Jewish, or African-American religious issue, she digs deep into the nativist handbook to use every anti-Catholic caricature possible, from the Inquisition to the Holocaust, condoms, obsession with sex, pedophile priests, and oppression of women, all the while slashing Pope Benedict XVI for his shoes, his forced conscription -- along with every other German teenage boy -- into the German army, his outreach to former Catholics, and his recent welcome to Anglicans.

True enough, the matter that triggered her spasm -- the current visitation of women religious by Vatican representatives -- is well-worth discussing, and hardly exempt from legitimate questioning. But her prejudice, while maybe appropriate for the Know-Nothing newspaper of the 1850’s, the Menace, has no place in a major publication today.

I do not mean to suggest that anti-catholicism is confined to the pages New York Times. Unfortunately, abundant examples can be found in many different venues. I will not even begin to try and list the many cases of anti-catholicism in the so-called entertainment media, as they are so prevalent they sometimes seem almost routine and obligatory. Elsewhere, last week, Representative Patrick Kennedy made some incredibly inaccurate and uncalled-for remarks concerning the Catholic bishops, as mentioned in this blog on Monday . Also, the New York State Legislature has levied a special payroll tax to help the Metropolitan Transportation Authority fund its deficit. This legislation calls for the public schools to be reimbursed the cost of the tax; Catholic schools, and other private schools, will not receive the reimbursement, costing each of the schools thousands – in some cases tens of thousands – of dollars, money that the parents and schools can hardly afford. (Nor can the archdiocese, which already underwrites the schools by $30 million annually.) Is it not an issue of basic fairness for ALL school-children and their parents to be treated equally?

The Catholic Church is not above criticism. We Catholics do a fair amount of it ourselves. We welcome and expect it. All we ask is that such critique be fair, rational, and accurate, what we would expect for anybody. The suspicion and bias against the Church is a national pastime that should be “rained out” for good.

I guess my own background in American history should caution me not to hold my breath.

Then again, yesterday was the Feast of Saint Jude, the patron saint of impossible causes.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Joys of Catholic Paradoxes

I have been so busy lately I have not been able to keep up with this blog, but I have for some time wanted to post about the paradoxes, the enigmas, seeming contradictions I have found within Catholicism and plan yet on doing that. But yesterday, I was again reminded of this when I was walking into St. James Cathedral in Seattle.

There are many homeless people in Seattle and they hang around the cathedral because there they find shelter and food. As we were walking into mass yesterday morning a man, obviously a mentally ill vagrant, was walking in with us. Besides the bags of his earthly wealth carried under his arm, he was wearing jeans with a woman's dress over them. His face was caked with women's makeup, his eyes smeared with eyeliner making him look somewhat like a raccoon.

I was going to mass with a mentally ill, cross dressing, homeless man. Something I had never been exposed to in other churches. He sat down on a wooden chair, and the magnificent organ began the prelude. The choir began its glorious praise to God and I felt so wonderfully small and insignificant amongst the beauty of the sound and the high ceilings full of stained-glass windows and golden pillars.

In the Catholic Cathedral we are reminded that beauty draws us to worship the creator of beauty. We are brought into a building of unparalleled breathtaking magnificence in Washington State. The sounds bouncing off the ceilings so high I have to put on my glasses to see any details way up there. I find a God there who wants to bring us into the opulent, lavish grace of His presence. It is a taste of heaven.

And there also I find the darkest depths of sadness in the eyes of the lonely comic looking man. In one moment heaven and hell stand in the same room. I am reminded by this paradox, this strange scene that in Catholicism we are living in the Kingdom of God and also, not yet.......

Monday, October 12, 2009

Now, About my Mom...

The last post was about my dad, so this one will be about my mother.

We were talking yesterday and she, being a Seventh-day Adventists, decided that it was terrible that the family was being torn apart by different beliefs. So I was amused at her solution:

We all start a new church and call it Cathadventism or Cathventism.....
We would take the doctrines we like out of Adventism and Catholicism and put them together and build a little chapel on their land and we can all worship together. Problem solved, unity achieved. I laughed, only she was serious. She compromised greatly by saying that we could ditch the SDA prophetess Ellen White as long as we attend services on Saturday. The Saturday Sabbath is something she could never give up for anything or anyone. She's okay with Mary, Penance, Confession... so we could include those things.

When I realized that she was being serious, I didn't know what to say. She was, after all, being very sweet and wanting unity between us!

There is truly a great difference in Catholicism and Protestantism. Protestants believe that if you don't agree with others about your beliefs, just start a new denomination! Make everyone happy about what they believe no matter what truth is.

If there is anyone out there who would advise me on what to say to my mother about this, she has an attention span (with religious topics) of about 90 seconds.... I would be so grateful. I am still a baby Catholic and sometimes I feel like I don't really know enough to give authentically "Catholic" answers!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Catholicism, Adventism and the Great Gulf of Thought

My father just visited me from across the country. He is a Seventh-day Adventist. Our visit was wonderful because he is wonderful. He taught me about God's mercy and grace as a child. He was a very good example of a loving God and if God is anything resembling my father, we have very little to worry about as far as justice and mercy.

As an Adventist, though, I wonder how difficult his visit was with us. Adventists have a very anti-Catholic set of prophecies including one that has Catholics leading a civic witch-hunt against them in the last days. We, especially we who have left Adventism, will persecute them with ever more degrees of severity beginning with the dreaded Sunday law. We will insist that they worship on Sunday instead of Saturday "Sabbath." Then we will ratchet up the persecution until, in the very end, many will be martyred at our hands. I grew up hearing this scary stuff in Adventist churches and schools--including their universities.

Most people outside Adventism don't understand that I wasn't raised in a particularly strange sect within Adventism, because they don't see this side of the doctrines with their Adventist colleagues and friends. But it is there, under the surface. Their prophetess, Ellen White, predicted these events with visions that have been recorded in her book entitled, The Great Controversy.

What part of these prophecies were lurking in my dad's subconscious as we took him all around Seattle, to our magnificent St. James Cathedral and Pike's Place Market and Mount Rainier? I do know that he is concerned about us spiritually. It was all over some of his comments, like the worried, "Just promise you won't give up spiritually searching...." He even laughingly joked that one of his best friends think we are crazy for becoming Catholic. But his was a nervous laugh.

It pains me deeply to know there is such a gulf in our beliefs and yet we worship the same God. How is it possible that prejudices within the Body of Christ can leave people so paranoid of each other? I wanted to spend some time defending my faith, yet I know that there are no words that can pierce through the cloud of so deeply ingrained misunderstanding. So I prayed and I leave it up to God as to when is the right time, if ever, for a discussion. I am hoping that love will bridge the gap when words fail. Love, perhaps, will reach into places where prejudices have a stronghold and soften their nasty grip.

Friday, September 11, 2009

9-11 and Catholicism

To me, this 9-11 remembrance just feels different because I am a Catholic. When I had just left the Seventh-day Adventist church and 9-11 occurred, I was thinking, “last day events, the world deserves this for its sins, much more ahead.....”

I didn’t feel a part of anything going on, even when we went and visited the former site of the Twin Towers in NYC. Everything was so distant, so “the world” and as a good Christian, I wasn’t really in “the world.”

Today, things are different. As a Catholic I feel connected with everything. Walking inside the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth, I actually am more at peace and at war. I am safely inside God’s body, yet, as part of God’s body I am expected to be Him for the world. Everything that happens is not distant, it reverberates within God’s body and we weep with those who weep and we laugh with those who laugh. We are to render assistance not as some charitable act of self-righteousness, but because love and unity draws us to it as if the wounds were our own. We are those who died, they were part of us. We, as Christ’s body, ARE those who now suffer and grieve. They are our griefs and our sorrows too.

Catholicism doesn’t allow me to view life from a safe distance. As God’s arms to hold, I am to hold, as God’s heart I must feel, as His eyes I must see, as His ears I must hear. I am called to LIFE, not to comfort. As a Catholic life calls to me, and I must answer.

9-11 Now a sad memory. God be with those who are still suffering with the loss of loved ones. May we reach out as God’s body and comfort them.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Tree of Knowledge

Mankind has gorged upon the Tree of Knowledge.

Yet even through the ages of this greedy banquet, he has failed to perceive which fruit is poisoned, so his tongue has grows numb and tasteless. New generations glut themselves on haute-cuisine enlightenment, yet endlessly remain famished and parched.

Instead of enlightenment, the search for truth has blinded mankind senseless. Desperately groping for keys to let him out of his prison of angst, man discovers Higgs particles and new universes, but does he find anything to quench his thirst and hunger for understanding?


As technology shoots him out amongst the vast and infinite, he has become visionless, starving--- only to indoctrinate his children that it is all vacuous and void.

The university gods’ answer to this cosmic desertion?


WE offer you our paradise, our bread and wine of wisdom.

WE as tribe,

WE as monarchy,

WE as oligarchy,

WE as socialism and communism and totalitarianism and naziism and fascism.

Even when WE as a republic and democracy have been studied and experimented with and lived and died for--in the end, we are thrown prostrate, shocked and suffering to watch our best and most noble ideals deteriorate.

The masses have followed philosophers, scientists and politicians as they have led us from this banquet table of education to a grotesque communal retch.

Daniel’s vision, our idol is smashed.

After the wars created from the kingdoms of WE, the cynical barbaric question becomes “I?”

My conscience, my choice, my ideal, my understanding. I am the rock from which flows the water, the wine, the bread. I hold the keys.

Nietzsche’s Superman and Freud’s id-- God is not, but I am?

Satre suicidally laughs that there is no such thing as bread and wine, the kingdom has only locks with no keys.

Mankind is exhausted with lies and failure, innocence and idealism. We are even tired of the absurdity of randomness. All the questions of truth have been spent and gone unanswered. Striving to be god has left us cynical, empty, lonely and twisted.

Gasping, Mankind reaches up in one final attempt at truth. Creation’s fingertip stretches down from heaven to us in our hellish dust.

He utters the gentle, unimaginable question, “who?”

The Word is not how or even why, but “who?” It is no longer WE or I asking the question, but the answer asking the question. And WE must not find in the question ourselves. WE or I must not rise again to create a new totalitarianism.

Who is left to when Mankind abdicates his reign? Whose vision survives? Who has the keys to the Kingdom, who has the bread and the wine of wisdom?

When our sovereignty is released to His Kingdom, we will be reminded of One who knelt under the ancient Olive trees in chaos and agonizing confusion. Even the ultimate Answer could see no answers. With immortal suffering, The Answer flung His id, his Superman into eternity, with “Not my will but thine.”

Blood flowed from His agonizing brow uniting with His tears. The blood turned to water and the water into wine. From His lips came the prayers that turned into bread. We join Him in that watery death, that we may eat and drink of His life and His kingdom.

Now we courageously lay down the quest for a perfect Utopia where we are masters of the answers and Truth falls from Trees.

Now Faith looks through His perfection and we kneel before His Kingdom and say, “though I do not understand, I will obey.”

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

My Strange, Uncomfortable Church

My daughter, now on the East Coast with a new job, called this morning as we drove into Seattle. She had just gotten back from her new local church and she was missing the beauty and spirit of St. James Cathedral where we attend.

“Mother, enjoy it for me. There is just nothing like it in America,” she lamented. “Because no other church can live up to it, attending St. James is both a blessing and a curse.”

I thought about what she said--a blessing and a curse. Yes, St. James is a place of contrast, even contradiction. St. James is not an easy, comfortable church, it is wonderful because it is strange and uncomfortable.

It is located in Seattle’s downtown where the cool shadows of sky scrapers fall across a throng of avant-garde urbanites talking to their bluetooth headsets. They mindlessly stare like Night of the Living Dead zombies, gone vegetarian.

In contrast, St. James Cathedral’s two tall cream towers emerge to boldly protest the monotonous urban clamor that tries to convince us life is a sad, meaningless existence. The cathedral calls Seattle to gaze upward in hope to a great and gloriously unfathomable God yet who is working through the hands of unexceptional, humble men and women.

After parking, I pondered how the church not only clashes with our godless modernity, it contains opposing forces that would implode any human organization. Every sight and sound and smell reinforces my impression.

Walking towards the cathedral’s entrance, the church’s soup kitchen is bordered with dark, weathered faces, their bodies draped in layer upon layer of soiled clothing. In Spring and summer, the cathedral’s homeless shelter is empty and the residents are lying in the green grass lazily drinking their coffee. Their deep, mournful eyes fix on you with a stare that makes walking to church very uncomfortable.

As you pass between the church’s annex buildings towards the entrance, the stone walkway becomes a porthole in time fusing our culture with ancient Christianity’s. You can hear the choir’s haunting chants wafting out of their practice room into the white-gray corridor. In the courtyard a medieval looking statue of Mary calmly holding the baby Jesus sits in front of a fountain where bronze and silver coins glitter.

The immense entrance does not draw you in to take a comfortable seat. Its sculpted, bronze doors powerfully summon you to an epic adventure, to come in and worship the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

The gray Seattle skies vanish as the door to the foyer shuts behind you and soft candlelight guides your way inside to the sanctuary. What is that smell? In the dark corner, there they are again as always, every day of the week, with their reeking, tattered backpacks sitting staring at you. St. James does not let you close your eyes to the desperate needs of humanity. Some are mentally ill, others are drug addicts. They are in the bathrooms and sitting in the back pews. You feel like you have invaded their home.

In the sanctuary sitting on the ridged hardwood chairs the smells turn delightful. In front of me, near the altar, are huge bouquets of White Oriental Lilies. The fragrance makes me close my eyes and breath in the dreamy perfume. Then an elderly gentleman with a walker shuffles in next to me and regularly propels a gurgling cigarette-cough into the congregation. That odor will be masked with the exotic fragrance swung across the worshippers in an incense burner to bless them.

There is a muffled tap-dance upon the marble floors as people quietly fill up the seats. Some Asian women with lace scarves draped on their heads kneel in prayer. A tall caucasian family in shorts and t-shirts are reverently lighting the candles in the side chapel. Near us is a Mexican family, and some people speaking Russian are directly behind us. For a moment all is silent except a distant echo of a baby crying in the back.

I gaze up to the ceiling as the organ in the East Apse begins its fiery prelude calling us to worship. The morning sun hits the blue and yellow stained-glassed windows and blazes across the gold Corinthian capitals atop the pillars. The organ’s sound soars through the high arches and is joined by a captivating medieval chant by St. James renown choir.

The bible is read, the cantor intones some verses from Psalms and we sing a response. Then the cycle is repeated again, just as the early church did. I feel two millennia of Christians on earth and in heaven all singing in rapturous unity to the King and Creator.

Suddenly my transcendent vision is broken by a mentally ill woman in an old dirty shawl loudly wandering towards the altar, apparently unaware of the service going on, hugging random people. She is stealthily surrounded and escorted to a seat by a group of nuns. The lady smiles broadly, utterly pleased at the attention. I notice that behind her stands a great statue of Christ with His outstretched arms tenderly framing the scene.

The sermon by Father Ryan is short and poignant. You must pay very close attention to hear because of the Cathedral’s reverberations. His kind and gentle manner does not water down the gospel to fit our modern lifestyles. He preaches what St. James himself would have preached. It is our ancient heritage and our responsibility as the church to preserve the authenticity of the spoken and written Word of God.

Catholic worship is active--no sitting comfortably for long. You stand to respond, then kneel to pray, only to stand again to sing and exchange the sign of peace and then kneel once again. There are prayers and prayers and prayers.
Last week a prayed was invoked that seemed to some to be calling us to vote for President O’bama’s Health Care Reform Bill. A congregant near me huffed with disgust, obviously not at all happy the prayer had political overtones. Later, he murmured all the way out about the liberals taking over. All this made me very uncomfortable.

This week that congregant is in the same place. He hands me a little book about the rosary with an insert about being happy in the midst of an unhappy world.

The priests then holds high the Bread of Heaven and as the bells ring out, he breaks the wafer in two as a reminder of Christ breaking His body for us. And yet, as we all stand up to go to the altar to take communion I feel a weirdness pour over me as I look at the people in line.

Liberals, homosexuals, kids with tattoos and lip rings, old people on walkers, Mexicans, Chinese, Russians, Scottish men in a kilts, blacks and whites each with their weaknesses and in different stages of sanctification, this diverse Kingdom of God, all moving towards Christ and drinking from the same communion cup. This can be the moment where a Christian is tested to the breaking point. It is difficult, strange, uncomfortable. I am realizing that church is not a place of refuge from the people of the world, a place one can disappear into a like-minded, well-dressed, sterile spirituality.

Each week I love St. James more, with its burgeoning contrasts of sights, smells, sounds. Medieval meets metropolitan, liberal meets conservative, pauper meet prince and sinner meets saint. Dichotomies which would only break us into comfortable divisions without the gift of Christ’s uncomfortable, strange grace.
Be sure to watch the music video

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

You're Catholic? Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?

You’re Catholic? Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?”

Written by Dave Brokke.

Many people acknowledge that Catholics are Christians and many people know that Catholics believe that Jesus is true God and true man, but still many will question whether or not Catholics have a living and personal relationship with Christ. It is sadly and unfortunately true that a large amount of Catholics have completely missed the mark on this issue, but we were told that there will always be tares among the wheat. They have made Christianity into a program, a system of doctrines, a moral standard of rules and beliefs. But as Pope John Paul II said, Christianity “is not a concept, a doctrine, or a program subject to free interpretation, but it is before all else a person with the face and name of Jesus of Nazareth, the image of the invisible God” (Redemptoris Missio, 18). It is all about Jesus Christ, it is not about this or that and the other, it is not about a belief, it is about a PERSON, the PERSON of Jesus Christ, who has come to seek and save the lost! So many people who look at Catholicism from the outside see saints, rosaries, Mary, smells, bells, the authority of the Pope, sacraments, etc… which is true those are in Catholicism, but many see these things as a hindrance to Christ as something that gets in the way and that Catholicism is about all those things and not about a relationship with Christ. The truth is that those “extras” are not something that hinder us from Christ but are ways to experience MORE of Christ. They bring us to Christ , they bring us Christ. We believe that Christ truly became Incarnate and thus has made His presence in and through the world, especially through the Church. It’s not an either/or “you have to choose Jesus or the saints or the sacraments or the Church” it’s a both/and “you can choose Jesus in Himself as well as in those people and things around you.” Even St. Louis de Montfort, the saint with the highest Mariology in Catholicism admits,

“Jesus, our Savior, true God and true man must be the ultimate end of all our other devotions; otherwise they would be false and misleading. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning, and end of everything. "We labor," says St. Paul, "only to make all men perfect in Jesus Christ.” For in Him alone dwells the entire fullness of the divinity and the complete fullness of grace, virtue, and perfection. In Him alone we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing; He is the only Teacher from Whom we must learn; the only Lord on whom we should depend; the only Head to whom we should be united and the only model that we should imitate. He is the only Physician that can heal us; the only Shepherd that can feed us; the only Way that can lead us; the only Truth that we can believe; the only Life that can animate us. He alone is everything to us and
He alone can satisfy all our desires. We are given no other name under heaven by which we can be saved. God has laid no other foundation for our salvation, perfection, and glory than Jesus. Every one of the faithful who is not united to him is like a branch broken from the stem of the vine. It falls and withers and is fit only to be burnt. If we live in Jesus and Jesus lives in us, we need not fear damnation. Neither angels in heaven nor
men on earth, nor devils in hell, no creature whatever can harm us, for no creature can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus. Through him, with him, and in Him, we can do all things and render all honor and glory to the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit; we can make ourselves perfect and be for our neighbor a fragrance of eternal life. If then we are establishing sound devotion to our Blessed Lady, it is only in
order to establish devotion to our Lord more perfectly, by providing a smooth but certain way of reaching Jesus Christ. If devotion to our Lady distracted us from our Lord, we would have to reject it as an illusion of the devil. But this is far from
being the case. As I have already shown and will show again later on, this devotion is necessary, simply, and solely because it is a way of reaching Jesus perfectly, loving Him tenderly, and serving Him faithfully.” ("True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin" ~ St. Louis de Montfort, paragraph 14, 61-62)

The core, the heart of Catholicism is the Kergyma, which proclaims that:
1) God loves us and has a plan for us (Jer 29:11)
2) Sin destroyed this plan (Rom 6:23)
3) God sent His only Son, Jesus, to save us, He is the only Way (John 3:16, John 14:6)
4) Turn to Jesus by joining the Church, the Body of Christ (Acts 2:37-38)

Catholicism is all about having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life – the Lover of our souls!

(If you are Catholic and are asked if you have a personal relationship with God, I hope and pray that you can emphatically answer, “Yes!” if you cannot, you have missed the mark and I challenge you to re-examine your faith, because if you have missed the heart of it, the very core of it, you have missed it completely!)

"What matters most is that you develop your personal relationship with God." ~ Pope Benedict XVI, April 2008 in New York Address to the Youth

“Our religion effectively establishes with God an authentic and living relationship” ~ (Evangelii Nuntiandi, 53) Pope Paul VI in his Apostolic Exhortation published in 1975

“This conversion must be taken as an initial one, yet sufficient to make a man realize that he has been snatched away from sin and led into the mystery of God's love, who called him to enter into a personal relationship with Him in Christ.” (Ad Gentes, 13) Second Vatican Council's Decree on the Missionary Activity of the Church published in 1965

“The Church as a whole and all her Pastors, like Christ, must set out to lead people out of the desert, towards the place of life, towards friendship with the Son of God, towards the One who gives us life, and life in abundance… There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel, by the encounter with Christ. There is nothing more beautiful than to know Him and to speak to others of our friendship with Him… If we let Christ into our lives, we lose nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful and great. No! Only in this friendship are the doors of life opened wide. Only in this friendship is the great potential of human existence truly revealed. Only in this friendship do we experience beauty and liberation” (Pope Benedict XVI, 24 April 2005).

“Man [has a] right to a more personal encounter with the crucified forgiving Christ” (Redemptoris Hominis, 20) Pope John Paul II in an Encyclical published 1979

“Rather, he [who prays] seeks an encounter with the Father of Jesus Christ, asking God to be present with the consolation of the Spirit to him and his work. A personal relationship with God and an abandonment to his will can prevent man from being demeaned and save him...” (Deus Caritas Est, 37) Pope Benedict XVI in an Encyclical published 2005

“At such times, a living relationship with Christ is decisive if we are to keep on the right path, without falling .... Prayer, as a means of drawing ever new strength from Christ, is concretely and urgently needed.” (Deus Caritas Est, 36) Pope Benedict XVI in an Encyclical published 2005

“Jesus, who said that he had come so that we might have life and have it in its fullness, in abundance (cf. Jn 10:10), has also explained to us what “life” means: “this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (Jn 17:3). Life in its true sense is not something we have exclusively in or from ourselves: it is a relationship. And life in its totality is a relationship with Him who is the source of life. If we are in relation with Him who does not die, who is Life itself and Love itself, then we are in life. Then we “live”.” (Spe Salvi, 27) Pope Benedict XVI in an Encyclical published 2007

“Our relationship with God is established through communion with Jesus—we cannot achieve it alone or from our own resources alone. The relationship with Jesus, however, is a relationship with the one who gave himself as a ransom for all (cf. 1 Tim 2:6). Being in communion with Jesus Christ draws us into His “being for all”; it makes it our own way of being. He commits us to live for others, but only through communion with Him does it become possible truly to be there for others, for the whole.” (Spe Salvi, 28) Pope Benedict XVI in an Encyclical published 2007

“Every responsibility and every commitment spelt out by that doctrine is derived from charity which, according to the teaching of Jesus, is the synthesis of the entire Law (cf. Mt 22:36- 40). It gives real substance to the personal relationship with God and with neighbour” (Caritas In Veritate, 2) Pope Benedict XVI in an Encyclical published 2009

“Only through an encounter with God are we able to see in the other something more than just another creature.” (Caritas in Veritate, 11) Pope Benedict XVI in an Encyclical published 2009

“Accordingly, the definitive aim of catechesis is to put people not only in touch but in communion, in intimacy, with Jesus Christ: only He can lead us to the love of the Father in the Spirit and make us share in the life of the Holy Trinity.” (Catechesi Tradendae, 5) Pope John Paul II in an Apostolic Exhortation published in 1979

“The kingdom will grow insofar as every person learns to turn to God in the intimacy of prayer as to a Father (cf. Lk 11:2; Mt 23:9) and strives to do his will (cf. Mt 7:21)..” (Redemptoris Missio, 13) Pope John Paul II in an Encyclical published 1990

“Missionary cooperation is rooted and lived, above all, in personal union with Christ. Only if we are united to him as the branches to the vine (cf. Jn 15:5) can we produce good fruit.” (Redemptoris Missio, 77) Pope John Paul II in an Encyclical published 1990

“The root reason for human dignity lies in man's call to communion with God. From the very circumstance of his origin man is already invited to converse with God. For man would not exist were he not created by God’s love and constantly preserved by it; and he cannot live fully according to truth unless he freely acknowledges that love and devotes himself to His Creator.” (Gaudium Et Spes, 19) Second Vatican Council’s Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, published in 1965

Catechism of the Catholic Church 299 The universe, created in and by the eternal Word, the "image of the invisible God", is destined for and addressed to man, himself created in the "image of God" and called to a personal relationship with God.

Catechism of the Catholic Church 2558 "Great is the mystery of the faith!" This mystery, then, requires that the faithful believe in it, that they celebrate it, and that they live from it in a vital and personal relationship with the living and true God. This relationship is prayer.

Catechism of the Catholic Church 35 Man's faculties make him capable of coming to a knowledge of the existence of a personal God. But for man to be able to enter into real intimacy with him, God willed both to reveal himself to man and to give him the grace of being able to welcome this revelation in faith.

Catechism of the Catholic Church 2591 God tirelessly calls each person to this mysterious encounter with Himself. Prayer unfolds throughout the whole history of salvation as a reciprocal call between God and man.

Catechism of the Catholic Church 2567 God calls man first. Man may forget his Creator or hide far from his face; he may run after idols or accuse the deity of having abandoned him; yet the living and true God tirelessly calls each person to that mysterious encounter known as prayer. In prayer, the faithful God's initiative of love always comes first; our own first step is always a response. As God gradually reveals himself and reveals man to himself, prayer appears as a reciprocal call, a covenant drama. Through words and actions, this drama engages the heart. It unfolds throughout the whole history of salvation.

Catechism of the Catholic Church 2560 "If you knew the gift of God!" The wonder of prayer is revealed beside the well where we come seeking water: there, Christ comes to meet every human being. It is he who first seeks us and asks us for a drink. Jesus thirsts; his asking arises from the depths of God's desire for us. Whether we realize it or not, prayer is the encounter of God's thirst with ours. God thirsts that we may thirst for him.

Catechism of the Catholic Church 2659 We learn to pray at certain moments by hearing the Word of the Lord and sharing in his Paschal mystery, but his Spirit is offered us at all times, in the events of each day, to make prayer spring up from us. Jesus' teaching about praying to our Father is in the same vein as his teaching about providence: time is in the Father's hands; it is in the present that we encounter him, not yesterday nor tomorrow, but today: "O that today you would hearken to his voice! Harden not your hearts."

Catechism of the Catholic Church 2565 In the New Covenant, prayer is the living relationship of the children of God with their Father who is good beyond measure, with his Son Jesus Christ and with the Holy Spirit. The grace of the Kingdom is "the union of the entire holy and royal Trinity . . . with the whole human spirit." Thus, the life of prayer is the habit of being in the presence of the thrice-holy God and in communion with him

Catechism of the Catholic Church 1101 The Holy Spirit gives a spiritual understanding of the Word of God to those who read or hear it, according to the dispositions of their hearts. By means of the words, actions, and symbols that form the structure of a celebration, the Spirit puts both the faithful and the ministers into a living relationship with Christ, the Word and Image of the Father, so that they can live out the meaning of what they hear, contemplate, and do in the celebration.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Catholic Church As the Fulfillment of the Kingdom

The following was written by this fabulous, brilliant young man, Dave Brokke, who spent years online with me debating Catholicism and winning! And am I so thankful to God for that! He is getting his masters in Theology (I think) at the Franciscan College and is soon to be a full time missionary. He has given me permission to post this here:

Something very important to always keep in mind is the fact that the first Christians were not the same as the Christians of the 20th century but were in fact Messianic Jews, Christ came not to do-away with the law, but to fulfill the law and so Christianity is not the destruction of Judaism but the fulfillment of Judaism. Because the first Christians were Jews including Christ and the Apostles, it is important to look at Scripture through the lens of a Jew.

Catholics believe that from the very beginning, God intended the perfected Church to be the fulfillment of creation. Yet if the Church is what God intended for creation, why was it that when Christ came He only mentioned the “Church” twice, yet mentions the “Kingdom of God” over one hundred times? Why is it that He explains to His Apostles that not the gospel of the Church, but that the “gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, as a testimony to all nations” (Mt 24:14, RSVCE)? The answer is both in the Old and New Testament…

David is the central figure of the Old Testament. It is through David that the kingdom of Israel reaches its climax. David is promised the covenant of the Kingdom that will last forever on which a descendant of his will reign forever.

Moreover the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever. I will be his father, and he shall be my son…And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure for ever before me; your throne shall be established for ever (2 Sam 7:11-14,16).

Because the sons of Solomon had committed sin, the structure of the Davidic kingdom fell and Israel went into Exile, yet the Lord promises through the prophets that He will be true to His promises, He will not go back on His covenant. Therefore a descendent of David, shall reign on his throne forever.

I will not violate my covenant or alter the word that went forth from my lips. Once for all I have sworn by my holiness; I will not lie to David. His line shall endure for ever, his throne as long as the sun before me (Ps 89:20-22,29-36).

Hear then, O house of David...Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel (Is 7:13,14).

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David, and over his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it (Is 9:6-7).

For thus says the Lord: David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel (Jer 33:17-18).

My servant David shall be king over them; and they shall all have one shepherd. They shall follow my ordinances and be careful to observe my statues…and David my servant will be their prince for ever. I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; and I will bless them and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. My dwelling place shall be with them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people (Ezek 37:24,25-27).

The prophets set the stage for a descendent of David to come and fulfill the Lord’s promises that would be fulfilled in Jesus. In order to show how Jesus truly is the fulfillment of the Davidic kingdom as well as the promise to Abraham, the Gospel writers constantly reinforce Jesus’ fulfilling the Davidic lineage in their writings. Observe the passages below.

The angel Gabriel was sent from God to…a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary…And he came to her and said…’And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus…and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end (Lk 1:27,28,31-33).

Blessed be the Lord the God of Israel, for he has visited his people, and has raised up a mighty savior for us in the house of his servant David, as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, that he would save us from our enemies…to perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant, the oath which he swore to our father Abraham (Lk 1:68-73)

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled…And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be enrolled with Mary his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to be delivered. And she gave birth to her first born son (Lk 2:1,4-7).

Brethren, I may say to you confidently of the patriarch David…being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendents upon his throne, he foresaw and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus God raised up… being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this which you see and hear (Acts 2:29,30).

He raised up David to be their king…Of this man’s posterity God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, as he promised (Acts 13:22,23).

In addition to these texts, throughout Jesus’ ministry, Jesus is continually recognized as “Son of David” (cf. Mt 9:37, Mt 12:23, Mt 15:22, Mt 20:23, Mt 20:31, Mt 21: 9, Mt 21:15, Mt 22:42, Mk 10:47, Mk 10:48, Lk 18:35, Lk 18:39). The Gospel writers found it particularly important to stress this fact. So Jesus is the heir and ruler to the throne of David and his kingdom.

The Inauguration of the Kingdom
If Jesus is the king, then He must have a kingdom. It is no wonder than that many Jews thought that Jesus' kingdom would be an earthly kingdom and that the Messiah would set them free through a military victory over the Romans. But Christ came to bear testimony to the truth and His kingdom would not be of this world full of error but a kingdom of truth.

At the institution of the Last Supper, Jesus shares bread and wine with His disciples acting in the order of Melchizedek, as both priest and king. Jesus offers bread and wine to them as His body and His blood and then promises His disciples “I shall not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God” and “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you I shall not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God” (Mk 14:25, Lk 22:15,16). Yet we read later on that while Jesus was on the Cross He received the vinegar (fruit of the vine) placed before His mouth. It is precisely through the Cross then that not only the Kingdom is born but also the Church.

The Church is born primarily of Christ’s total self-giving for our salvation, anticipated in the institution of the Eucharist and fulfilled on the cross. “The origin and growth of the Church are symbolized by the blood and water which flowed from the open side of the crucified Jesus.” “For it was from the side of Christ as he slept the sleep of death upon the cross that there came forth the ‘wondrous sacrament of the whole Church’” As Eve was formed from the sleeping Adam’s side, so the Church was born form the pierced heart of Christ hanging dead on the cross (CCC §766).

After Jesus resurrects from the dead He eats of the meal that He would not eat until it was fulfilled in the Kingdom using the same manner of taking the bread and giving it to them (Jn 21:13, Lk 24:30). The Kingdom of God is then fulfilled in the age of the Church, which is why to make manifest the Kingdom of Jesus Christ the Apostles continued the breaking of the bread (Acts 2:42).
The central theme to the book of Acts is the kingdom. The book of Acts begins with the theme of the Kingdom. “To them [Jesus] presented himself…speaking of the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3). And the Apostles ask at the time of the Ascension, “Lord will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6). Throughout the book of Acts, the Kingdom is being preached (cf. Acts 8:12; 14:22; 19:8; 20:25).
The book of Acts also ends with the theme of Kingdom. “[Paul]…welcomed all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ quite openly and unhindered” (Acts 28:30-31). Yet the book of Acts is continually examining the beginning of the Church. This is precisely because the Church is the fulfillment of the Kingdom. Alfred Loisy commented, “Jesus came preaching the Kingdom, and what arrived was the Church,” as if the promise of the Kingdom was a broken promise or a promise yet to be fulfilled because all that happened was the Church (Loisy 166). Yet the Church is the glorious and mystical fulfillment of that Kingdom.

The Davidic Kingdom and the Catholic Church
You might ask, what does this have to do with the Catholic Church? If we look a little closer at the Davidic kingdom, we begin to understand what it means for the claims of the Catholic Church.

In the Eastern kingdoms, each king has a kingdom, and each king would have a “master of the palace.” The king would delegate the authority and administration of his kingdom to this “master of the palace,” who managed the kingdom, almost to the point of ruling, especially in his absence. The keys were a sign of the authority of the king, and the king would at times delegate the keys to the steward of the kingdom (Ray 266, 268). In the Davidic kingdom, there was the office of the master of the house (1 Kings 4:1,6). This office is more clearly explained through the office of Eli’akim, “who was over the household” (2 Kings 18:18).

And I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David; he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open. And I will fasten him like a peg in a sure place…In that days says the Lord of hosts, the peg that was fastened in a sure place will gave way; and it will be cut down and fall (Is 22:22-23,25).

The office of the master of the house in the Davidic kingdom will thus be renewed in the New Covenant through someone who will be given the keys to open and to shut, to loose and to bind.

Now we will discuss the notion of a Jewish rabbinate. The rabbi was the teacher who had pupils who would follow him. How one became a rabbi was that they joined a rabbinate as a pupil and would follow a rabbi. The rabbi would designate a chief pupil who then would argue with the rabbi. Once the pupil could outwit the rabbi in an argument, the pupil would be worthy to become a rabbi himself. This is extremely important in examining Matthew 16.

Peter is following the traditional model of the rabbinate. He follows Christ and then Christ seemingly designates him as the chief pupil to which Peter assumes that it is his time to argue with Jesus. Jesus says He must go to Jerusalem to die, to which Peter argues. At that Jesus rebukes Peter in order to show Peter that this is not a typical rabbinate. Peter will never outwit Christ and Christ will always be the Teacher and Peter’s job is not to declare anything new but only declare that which is revealed to him by the Father.

This relationship between the structure of the Davidic kingdom and the structure of the Kingdom proposed by Christ continues to have similarities. One such similarity is in the office of the “master of the palace” which is given to Peter.

And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my Church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven (Mt 16:18-19).

Jesus ascended the throne of David, and God gave Him all authority in heaven and on earth. Jesus was in possession of the key of David, yet He delegated the keys to Peter (cf. Rev 3:7, Mt 16:18-19). Peter is designated as the “master of the palace.” This authority given to Peter would not end with his death, but would continue on through his successors.

The office of steward in the old economy is now superseded by the Petrine office with the delegation and handing on of the keys. The office of steward was successive, and so is the Petrine office in the new kingdom (Ray 274).

However, the Petrine office’s authority is not over temporal matters, but rather spiritual matters as Peter was given the keys to the Kingdom of heaven. The Petrine office is given the authority to “bind” and to “loose.” The terms to “bind” and to “loose” are rabbinical terms that designate authority in teaching on matters in faith and morals. Notice how Matthew uses very similar language to that of Isaiah but instead of using “open” and “shut” uses the term “bind” and “loose” in order to show that his authority is not in earthly matters but authority in being able to declare the truth to which not even the gates of hell could prevail against.

This teaching authority based on the Petrine office is found only within the Catholic Church. His teaching authority would be infallible for the gates of hell would not prevail against it.

There is no doubt, and in fact it has been known in all ages, that the holy and most blessed Peter, prince and head of the Apostles, pillar of the faith, and foundation of the Catholic Church, received the keys of the kingdom from our Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of the human race, and that to him was given the power of loosing and binding sins: who down even to today and forever both lives and judges in his successors (Council of Ephesus, 431 AD, qtd. in Ray 235).

St. Cyprian of Carthage wrote in 251 AD…"The Lord says to Peter: ‘I say to you,’ he says, ‘that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church.’ . . . On him he builds the Church, and to him he gives the command to feed the sheep, and although he assigns a like power to all the apostles, yet he founded a single chair, and he established by his own authority a source and an intrinsic reason for that unity. Indeed, the others were that also which Peter was but a primacy is given to Peter, whereby it is made clear that there is but one Church and one chair. So too, all are shepherds, and the flock is shown to be one, fed by all the apostles in single-minded accord. If someone does not hold fast to this unity of Peter, can he imagine that he still holds the faith? If he desert the chair of Peter upon whom the Church was built, can he still be confident that he is in the Church?" (The Unity of the Catholic Church 4; 1st edition [A.D. 251]).

The holy Roman Church has been placed at the forefront…by the evangelic voice of our Lord and Savior, who says: “You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church”…The first see, therefore, is that of Peter the Apostle, that of the Roman Church, which has neither stain nor blemish nor anything like it (Pope Damasus, 382 AD, qtd. in Ray 212).

Christ is the Good Shepherd who gives his flock to Peter, who is the “one shepherd” who is over the one flock who is told, “Feed my lambs,” “Tend my sheep,” “Feed my sheep” (cf. Ezek 37:24, Jn 21:15,16,17).

In addition to the master of the house, the king took counsel with these twelve officers, who would advise him how to answer the people of the kingdom. (1 Kings 7:7,1 Kings 12:6-7).

The twelve officers of the Davidic kingdom managed the household of the king, advised the king, and provided food for the king’s household. This too will play a significant role in the Kingdom that will be established by Christ. Christ too appointed twelve officers who would oversee the people of His Kingdom.

And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every infirmity. The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddeus; Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot…These Twelve Jesus sent out, charging them ‘Go… and preach as you go, saying “The kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Mt 10:1-4).

These twelve were the keepers of the Kingdom who were sent out to preach the Kingdom. These twelve are able to feed the household of the King most directly through the Eucharist.

Christ is the prophet, who was prophesized by Moses (Deut 18:18-19, Acts 3:20-23). Christ, as the Truth, came to bear testimony to the truth (Jn 14:6, 18:37). Jesus spoke with an authority that other rabbis at the time did not (Mt 7:28). He proclaimed the truth as a prophet, preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom. He thus covenants His authority to proclaim the truth to the Apostles and the keys of His Kingdom to Peter, the first of Apostles.

The Apostles were commissioned with Jesus’ authority to teach all nations to observe all that He commanded (Mt 28:18-19). He gave His Holy Spirit to the Apostles that they may be guided into all truth, bringing to their remembrance all that Jesus said (Jn 14:26, 16:13). If anyone received what they taught, they received Jesus; if anyone rejected what they taught, they rejected Christ (Lk 10:16). Thus Christ acts as the promised prophet through the Church, who proclaims the truth. If anyone would not listen to the prophet through His Church, God will require it of him (Deut 18:18-19, Lk 10:16). The Apostles in union with Peter are the shepherds under the one shepherd who care for the faithful. “I will set shepherds over them who will care for them, and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall any be missing, says the Lord” (Jer 23:4). This is why it is particularly interesting that right before Jesus gives the Apostles a similar authority to the authority of Peter, He tells the parable of the lost sheep.

... So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish. If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you…If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the Church; and if he refuses to listen even to the Church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven (Mt 18:14-19).

The Church is seen as the final authority because the Church is “the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus being the cornerstone” (Eph 2:19-20). If one does not listen to the Church they are to be treated as a Gentile. Because of the authority of the Church, built upon the foundation of the apostles, we might know how to act and what to believe, because the Church would declare the truth. “If I am delayed you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the Church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of truth” (1 Tim 3:15). This fullness of faith, fullness of truth is passed down to those whom the Apostles appointed and is protected by the Lord.

This fullness of faith is the deposit of faith which has been guarded, protected, and preserved without error by the Apostles and their successors. "Sacred tradition and Sacred Scripture form one sacred deposit of the word of God, committed to the Church. Holding fast to this deposit the entire holy people united with their shepherds remain always steadfast in the teaching of the Apostles, in the common life, in the breaking of the bread and in prayers (see Acts 2, 42, Greek text), so that holding to, practicing and professing the heritage of the faith, it becomes on the part of the bishops and faithful a single common effort.

But the task of authentically interpreting the word of God, whether written or handed on, has been entrusted exclusively to the living teaching office of the Church, whose authority is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ. This teaching office is not above the word of God, but serves it, teaching only what has been handed on, listening to it devoutly, guarding it scrupulously and explaining it faithfully in accord with a divine commission and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it draws from this one deposit of faith everything which it presents for belief as divinely revealed." (Dei Verbum, 10)

For this gospel I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher…for I know Whom I have believed, and I am sure that He is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me. Follow the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me…guard the truth that has been entrusted to you by the Holy Spirit who dwells within us (2 Tim 1:11-14).

Christ promised that the gates of Hades shall not prevail against the Church fulfilling the Abrahamic promise that Abraham’s descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies (cf. Mt 16:18; Gen 22:16-18). The Church will last forever and will not fall into error.
The scribes and Pharisees sat on Moses’ prophetic seat or cathedra, and therefore the Jews were obligated to practice and observe whatever the Pharisees or scribes taught (cf. Mt 23:2-3). Jesus, however, appoints the twelve Apostles the Kingdom He was given, and gives to the Apostles the thrones or cathedra to teach, to bind and to loose.
As my Father appointed [covenant] a kingdom for me, so do I appoint [covenant] for you that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Lk 22:29-30).

Thus the Apostles speak for Christ as His prophets, teaching with His authority. The offices of the Davidic kingdom were successive, and this is true of the new kingdom in Christ. This is why when Judas died it was necessary to fill his office as seen in the Scripture below.

In those days Peter stood up among the brethren… “Brethren the Scripture had to be fulfilled…concerning Judas… ‘His office let another take.’” …And they prayed and said, “Lord…show which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside, to go to his own place.” And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthi’as; and he was enrolled with the eleven apostles (Acts 1:15,16,20,24,25-26).

This is the meaning of apostolic succession, which is found within the Catholic Church. Apostolic succession is the filling of the seats of the Apostles in order that the prophetic ministry of the Church might continue.
The elders of the Church in union with apostles in union with Peter had the ability to answer questions with authority through the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and the elders about this question…the apostles and the elders were gathered together to consider this matter. And after there had been much debate, Peter rose and [spoke]…and all the assembly kept silence…then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole Church, to choose men from among them and send them… with the following letter: “The brethren, both the apostles and the elders…it has seemed good to us in the assembly…to tell you the same things by words of mouth. For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things” …they delivered the letter. And when they read it, they rejoiced at the exhortation” (Acts 15:2,6-7,12,22,23,25,27,28,30,31).

The elders with the apostles in agreement with Peter were able to speak of what the Holy Spirit wanted for the whole Church. The churches rejoice at the exhortation because now they knew the truth concerning the Gentiles. The elders are the priests who are under the Apostles who are under Peter, the chief of Apostles, who is under Jesus Christ, the King of the Kingdom. This is essentially the hierarchy of the apostolic and prophetic Catholic Church, in which the small mustard seed grew into the greatest of all shrubs (Mk 4:31-32).

Friday, July 31, 2009

Abortion and the Health Care Reform Bill

Health Care Reform Bill

Interview with Representative Chris Smith (NJ) and Kristen Day, Executive Director, Democrats For Life (from The World Over with Raymond Arroyo).

Re: Bill M a n d a t e s ALL insurances both public and private to cover abortion.

“Imagine this, that every healthcare plan in America will be coerced, forced, compelled by the federal government to include abortion as an ESSENTIAL benefit.... This [the Health Care Reform Bill] is the abortion bailout and promotion act of 2009. It is at the core of everything that is in this legislation,” said Congressman Smith.

“This [legislation] is being rushed so that the American public will not know the details and will wake up after it has been signed into law and say, ‘oh my God, this is an unmitigated disaster.’ There is concern about rationing. There is concern about euthanasia.... Abortion, clearly, unmistakably will be a core benefit.” Congressman Smith continues, “This will reinvigorate, expand and again, use the coercive power of the state, to mandate that there be access to this essential benefit called abortion. You will see abortions marketed and promoted, more abortionists hired all over the country, and this decline that we have seen [in abortion rates] will, because very vulnerable women who are now helped by pregnancy care centers and by their families will be marketed for this abortion option and more women will get abortions. It’s very clear.”

Commenting on the fact that Barbara Mikulski, the senator from Maryland, inserted the abortion mandate Senator Smith continued, “The Mikulski language would require that groups like Planned Parenthood... would become the go-to people to provide this so-called service of destroying an unborn child.... What this bill will do will require that in all of these networks [counties that do not have abortion providers]... we will see [Planned Parenthood’s] have a building boom of clinics pursuant to the language in this bill that Mikulski put in... This is all about abortion clinic and abortion industry bailout and expanding abortion. ”

Thursday, July 30, 2009

My Tribute to My Parents

My Dad (our family, coming home from church, when I was a child):

“I don’t think Pastor X understood that text.....” (Taught me not to believe whatever anyone said no matter what his title.)

“The Bible never says we actually have to go to CHURCH on Sabbath.... only rest.” (Taught me to analyze what the Bible actually says compared to additions people incorporate into it.)

“Why did they read Ellen White from the pulpit, she isn’t equal to the Bible, there’s a debate as to whether she is a prophetess or not?” (Taught me that some points are debatable no matter what your seventh-grade Bible teacher says.)

In addition to teaching me, “honey, don’t be spoonfed--use your brain--think about what they say and don’t swallow anything anyone says” my father drilled us with the idea of a very merciful, loving God who judges us on faith with His Grace. But my father not only taught us that with words but with his life and actions. He was merciful, He was loving, He was faithful... so I could easily believe in a God that was too. In fact, I almost am a universalist because I cannot see my father ever, ever rejecting anyone because he is so generous and kind and merciful a person. So I have a hard time not extending that same characteristic to my heavenly father.

So when I began reading the Bible and “thinking for myself,” I found that, if I was honest about what I read and was the child my father brought me up to be, I would have to reject his denomination. It was hard to break his heart, but to turn from what he taught me, how he lovingly spent his life as my dad, would be the greater heartbreak for us both. I always attributed my grit, my stubborn, relentless standing for truth no matter what the consequences and sacrifices, to my father.

But as I get older and really think back, my mother--to her everlasting annoyance and embarrassment-- should get a lot of blame too for my never-giving-in until you get to the bottom of what is really, truly true.


My Mother coming home from church:

(six kids all roaming around in a pre-child-seat-belt-law age, fighting noisily,)

“Mother! Heidi bit me, Heidi bit me!” So James takes his fist and rams it into the side of Heidi’s head. Heidi screams until my mother calms everything down--and spanks James for hitting Heidi.

“Heidi! Why did you hit James?” And my mother’s tenacity to get to the truth of what happened would commence. She would interrogate all parties thoroughly, exhaustingly--listening intently and analyzing every word and gesture for information. When most people would throw their hand up and just tell their kids to shut up and give their poor parents some peace, my mother’s Sherlock Holmes detective work would just kick in. She was thorough, excruciatingly thorough in her quest to find out what exactly happened and why and then administer fair, impartial justice. “I’m sorries MUST be said and healing must occur within the family and no one, NO ONE was going to get away with anything while she was mom.

It would be like a tennis match in our car--James would say Heidi stepped on his toe and then took his Little Friend he got in Sabbath school. (I would sympathize with James and think Heidi needed to get it.) Then Heidi said no that James left his Little Friend on the pew, and she stepped on his toe because he threw himself in front of her to get to the car seat he wanted first. (WOW! Heidi, poor Heidi! My twelve-year-old brain would switch sides with each sentence.) Mother would listen and listen all the way home to this.....

What I learned is that both sides of all stories need to be thoroughly researched and sympathies can swing, depending on who is telling their side, so don’t make a quick judgement. What you have heard for years can completely be rejected in an “ahah!” moment when you discover another side. Propaganda is passed on in all levels of life, so research diligently.

So that is how I went from being raised a Seventh-day Adventist to becoming a Catholic. Very few people are going to believe it. Protestants really believe they understand what Catholics teach. Protestants have told and retold their side of history. There is some truth to it, but there is another side. For most it is much easier to just listen to one side and then not go any further. “AH enough already, give me PEACE” is what I hear when I begin discussing the reasons we became Catholic. It takes enormous tenacity to get to the bottom of it. In the end, we had to give in to the facts. It took years and years of research and listening and not making judgements until ALL the facts were presented. It is hard to find the time to do that, but I just couldn’t give up until I discovered what really was true.

Thanks Dad and Mother! I know you look back and are confused at how your lessons of love of truth, of then standing for truth no matter if the heaven’s fall, has turned on you when your beloved children rejected Adventism. I do well understand your grief for I have grown children too. But I sincerely thank you, bless you and know someday that God will bless you too. The failure you feel now will one day be opened up as the biggest reward for a life well lived. Your children love the Lord and for that you can be proud you taught us the essence of what was important.