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Friday, September 30, 2005

Flashback: Dion DiMucci Comes Home

In 1999, Envoy Magazine featured the conversion story of Dion DiMucci from Dion and the Belmonts. Raised a Catholic, Dion left the Church for a sojourn of several years of grace but also some confusion: 'It seemed to me that each individual believer has to acquire enough knowledge on his own in order to know which church can bring him to eternal life. Instead of accepting the Church on God’s terms, I’d have to choose a church of my liking, a church that agreed with me. In those years, I did come to love God’s Word and met some wonderful pastors. But with a new church opening every week with a little different doctrine, it became increasingly difficult and confusing to know what the truth really was.' In the end, he 'met a Father who took this wanderer in His mighty arms, and led him home. Further Reading:

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Küng and Authority

Found this commentary on Prof. Hans Küng by Hans Urs von Balthasar. Perhaps it is not strange that this reminds me of Martin Luther, for whom a major practical, not doctrinal, difficulty was the authority of the Magisterium. I know that this was not the primary issue, but it certainly was a major one. Being Catholic, I've been called a brainwashed fool by many. How amusing to hear them tell me that I am an unquestioning automaton. But while I have posed questions against holy Mother Church, and will continue to do so as the occasion comes up, I do not dissent. There are many doctrines that I had found difficult to accept, but it has so far been the case that it was I who needed to change, not the doctrines. I would not want to end up like Aaron and his wife, who were trying to rise above their station, later painfully put in their place by the Highest Authority. Our leaders are flawed, but so am I. In fact, I am worse in my flaws. I would not want to be guilty of not putting enough trust in God, who assures the Church of the Spirit of Truth, and who has, from the patriarchs down through the apostles, shown that He never abandons his people to set apart a new one.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Surf and Ye Shall Find: The Defender

Found an interesting online newsletter, The Defender. I've only sampled a few articles so far, and they are both quite good. For example, an article called "Angels and Bells, Candles and Smells," and an article explaining the doctrine of Purgatory.

Reviving the Fiction of Msgr. Robert Hugh Benson

Just like Dr. Phil Blosser, I was recently invited by Michael D. Greaney, Director of Research for the Center for Economic and Social Justice, to look at what they're up to. Unfortunately, I am too far from the action to get involved in a project to revive the fiction of Msgr. Benson, but he suggests looking instead at their project to rebuild the areas affected by Katrina and Rita. Nevertheless, interested readers should take a look at that project concerning Msgr. Benson's fiction. Based on what little I'd read so far, I can assure you that his writing is very good. I invite you also to look at the only complete manuscript I've read of Msgr. Benson so far: his confessions concerning his conversion from being Anglican to Catholic.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Interesting Dialogs

It's a bit dated, but this report on efforts to unite 'the two families of the Orthodox Church' is very interesting. Apparently the Council of Chalcedon, perhaps due to politicized maneuvers, created a split in the late 5th century. The Coptic Orthodox Church, however, maintains that it never believed in Monophysitism. Also found this interesting list of reports about official dialogs with other brethren. The list does not seem to include the Join Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification by the Lutheran World Federation and the Catholic Church.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Senator Tells the Church: Hands-Off

'THE ROLE of the Church is to guide the morality of its flock, not to meddle in politics, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago warned yesterday.' (from INQ7) She has a point. I mean, who wants to live in a country whose politicians have to care about right and wrong? Yes, that was sarcastic.

Chant, Anyone?

Thanks to the Anchoress, I found this link on Gregorian Chant, from the Monastery of Christ in the Desert.

An Invitation to Pray

From The Anchoress, who expects great things, 'not because of I am anyone special, and not because of my puny fast, but because God has promised me - has promised all of us - great things. We know that if we ask for a loaf, we will not be given a stone. He has promised us that a persistant widow can overcome the most heartless and selfish judge. His eye is on the sparrow. He clothes the lillies of the field in splendor, and so much more does he tend to us. And he says that where two or more gather in his name, He is there.' Oremus.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Readings for 15 September 2005 (Our Lady of Sorrows)

First Reading: "Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered; and when he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him, " (Hebrews 5:7 - 9) Psalm: Into your hands I commend my spirit; you will redeem me, LORD, faithful God. (Psalm 31) Gospel: "'Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.'" (Luke 2:33 - 35) Commentary, from DailyGospel.org: St. Bonaventure tells us that the birth pains of our Lady were "felt .. later: she gave birth under the cross. " Today's Saint: St. Catherine of Genoa, an inspiration to self-denial and absolute, loving submission to the holy will of God. Her life and doctrines can be found here.
St. Bonaventure tells us that our Lady suffered her childbirth pains at the foot of the cross "from compassion and love." What was it like for her at the foot of the cross? We shall never know, for we did not give birth to our Lord, nor did we raise him up, knowing Him intimately as only a mother would. But Mary is the archetype of all Christians, she who was the first recipient of grace in Christ, the first to love and serve Christ. It is in such pain as hers that one comprehends the horror of sin -- not just our personal unrighteousness, past or present, but those of others. Then comes an understanding of the great price and love by which our salvation was purchased by Christ. St. Catherine of Genoa tells us that God may purify a soul by imparting upon him:
 'a mind occupied with great suffering; for that makes him know himself, and how abject and vile he is. This vision of his own misery keeps him in great poverty, and deprives him of all things which could afford him any savor of good; thus his self-love is not able to nourish itself, and from lack of nourishment it wastes away until at last man understands that if God did not hold his hand, giving him his being, and removing from him this hateful vision, he could never issue from this hell. And when God is pleased to take away this vision of his utter hopelessness in himself, afterwards he remains in great peace and consolation.'
Perhaps this process takes an instance, perhaps longer, but through suffering and sorrow, a soul may come out at the other end contrite, full of repentance and good resolutions, humble and much more eager to cling to the salvation of the Lord. O happy sorrow!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

St. John Chrysostom: Bishop and Doctor

Today (September 13, 2005) we celebrate the feast day of St. John Chrysostom (349 - 407), who was bishop of Constantinople from 397 until his death. He was given the surname which in Greek means "golden mouth" owing to his eloquent preaching. He was inspired by bishop Meletius of Antioch to first became a lector, then a monk, then ordained first as deacon then as a priest. As unexpected Patriarch of Constantinople, he was an able administrator who immediately proceeded to rid his house of corruption. He was also an able preacher, and many of his writings survive today. He may be the most able preacher every produced by the Church, and his homilies are celebrated even today. Details can be found here. The St. Pachomius online library includes the known writings of St. John Chrysostom.

Steve Ray on the Crucifix

How fortunate that I found Steve Ray blogging about the crucifix, given that he is one of my favorite apologist/writers and has studied this and many other issues better than I. Please have a look!

Monday, September 12, 2005

Lest I Forget .. Lead me to Calvary!

Protestants in general seem to be put off that Catholics are so much into crucifixes: in our churches, at home and even around our necks. Patty Bonds tells us why.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

“I cancelled all that debt of yours when you appealed to me."

Today's Gospel reading comes from Matthew 18:21 - 35 where, in his righteous anger, the king told the unforgiving servant: “I cancelled all that debt of yours when you appealed to me. Were you not bound, then, to have pity on your fellow servant just as I had pity on you?” During the homily today, our priest mentions that 10,000 talents was practically impossible for a servant to repay. So the king's mercy, when he had cancelled the debt earlier, was amazing indeed. But it isn't easy for any of us to forgive transgressions against us, especially the big, serious ones. And yet how could we not, when the Lord Himself is telling us: "forgive or else!" And this is not an unreasonable command. God has acted first by having forgiven us, first. "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!" His Son's mercy and compassion is not merely an example, but a promise: we will not be forgiving from the bottom of our heart only, but from the bottom of His. We will forgive not only by ordinary human love, great as the capacity might be, but by God's own extraordinary love, which He will put in our hearts Himself. Still on the topic of discipline of the Lord (Hebrews 12), when God cancels our debt, through the ransom paid for us by Christ on the cross, it doesn't end there. Forgiving others is one of the crucial messages that Christ wanted to get across to us. This, too, is for our own correction. It will be very painful for us to actually forgive others for their trespasses against us, but through that experience, our hearts are changed. In practicing love, we become more loving. In becoming more loving, we become more and more one with Christ.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

You Take It With You

"The love inside, you take it with you." Yes, it is cheesy to borrow a line from "Ghost" (movie with Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore), but it did get me thinking: if I were to die today, what will I take with me? A Calvinist recently explained holiness to me in terms of positional and personal holiness. Positional holiness is given to the born-again (converted) believer by the merits of Christ. He is positionally holy through the holiness of Christ. Personal holiness is optional to salvation, accordingly. (Note to self: redouble efforts to rid myself of selfishness, pride, pettiness, tendency to slack off when I should be doing something productive. I don't want to bring THOSE with me.) Make no mistake: good works will not earn salvation for us, for the latter is by grace alone, a free gift. However, while good works do not earn salvation, seriously sinful works will cause forfeiture of salvation.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Did the Church Fathers Teach Sola Fide?

I am not well-versed enough to answer this question, so here is a comprehensive response from someone else. As for whether the Bible teaches sola fide, here's another link to deal with that, focusing on the epistle of St. James who says "For even as the body without the spirit is dead: so also faith without works is dead." (James 2:14-26). It is part of a collection of 12 articles dealing with sola fide, justification and salvation can be found here. Me? I tend to think that this legalism might just obscure what really matters: to love God with all our being -- mind, heart and strength (various forms, Matt. 22:34-40, Mark 12:28-31, Luke 10:25-28, Deut. 6:2). Yea, and with my works, also. I realize that this makes a hippocrite of me every day, as I do fail the Lord far too often. But I'm workin' on it. God willing, I will grow in faith and love.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Mark Shea is Back!


Purgatory: Two Views (link to Jimmy Akin's blog)

Jimmy Akin was kind enough to respond to my cry for help via email regarding the quoestions, clarifications and more questions posted in this blog (check the comment boxes) concerning Purgatory, sanctification, temporal punishment, justice, and .. Oh, just read Jimmy's blog and be enlightened. Thanks, Jimmy. :-)

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Assistance for Katrina Victims

Please call your favorite charity and see if you can assist the victims of the Hurricane Katrina via a donation. If you don't have a favorite charity that is pitching in, here's a list of 137 charities listed so far from The Truth Laid Bear, with links to those charities. You can also donate via Catholic Charities, and there is a recent cry for help from the New Orleans branch. This is not an occasion for pointing fingers. There will be ample time for figuring out what went wrong after all has been done to assist those still trapped in New Orleans, or are refugees in neighboring Texas or elsewhere. And always and from anywhere, this is an occasion for prayer.

Thursday, September 01, 2005