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Friday, October 28, 2005

Time for a Song

I have never heard this sung here in Australia during the celebration of the Eucharist (the Mass, the Divine Liturgy), but we used to sing this a lot back in La Salle. One of my favorites, too. "Holy Spirit goosebumps" and all (borrowed that phrase from Gus Lloyd). God grant that I would surrender so much, and more -- and all.

Take and Receive

Take and receive, O Lord, my liberty.
Take all my will, my mind, and memory.
All things I hold, and all I own are thine.
Thine was the gift, to thee, I all resign.
Do thou direct and govern all and sway,
Do what thou wilt command, and I obey.
Only thy grace, thy love on me bestow,
These make me rich, all else will I forego.

(Googled and found at CaptainPineda)

Defending the Catholic Faith

Steve Ray steps up marvelously.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Even Drunk, He Prays

You might have to be Catholic to appreciate the joke. :)

My First Critic

I guess my sermon on Romans Chapter 8 wasn't quite as exciting as I thought it was. :-P

Surfing Around: An Orthodox Critique of English Bibles

Found interesting critique of various English translations of the Bible from an Orthodox perspective.

Jimmy Akin on Identifying Infallible Statements

Here's an old but noteworthy piece by Jimmy Akin from This Rock magazine (2001) about identifying infallible statements. This is important before attacking the Catholic faith on the basis of what might be mistakenly waved about as proof that papal infallibility has fallen flat on its face. What I mean is that something that was not meant to be taken as infallibly defined says nothing about the doctrine of infallibility.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Burning Heretics and the Will of the Spirit

A Reformed Protestant friend continues our discussion: 'I was just reading the papal bull issued to Luther --Exsurge Domine. One of the things the bull condemns and views heretical is item 33. "That heretics be burned is against the will of the Spirit". So I guess the pope *_did _*believe that burning heretics is the will of the Spirit....' I wouldn't be surprised if various clerical authorities, including the pope, were supportive of capital punishment via burning at the stake. I can only be thankful that this is not dogma. Pope Leo X did not go on to state his objections to that item 33 as motivated by some doctrine that burning heretics is indeed the will of the Spirit. He didn't and I can only thank God for that. On the other hand, neither can the Church assent to Luther's assertion about the will of the Spirit because we have no authority to assert that. Scriptures do speak of rebels against God dying in various ways, some quite horrible. True, too, that Scriptures warn those who oppose God of unquenching/eternal flames in Hell. I know you call this equivocation, but, to me, that's exegesis. There are difficult passages like that couple dropping dead when St. Peter exposed them of pulling a fast one on the Church. Did St. Peter will them to die? I don't know, but he didn't act surprised when they did. Was it the power of God that slew them? Sure looks like it. God is a loving Father but also a righteous judge. I think item 33 up there from Luther opens up a point of apparent contradiction with Scriptures which can cause confusion. The proper doctrine is that God as righteous judge has the right to pass sentence over the guilty with severe penalties, but we have constant recourse to "the mercy of almighty God who does not wish the death of a sinner but rather that he be converted and live," as stated in the same papal bull. That item cited by the papal bull is not in itself clear about this complicated relationship between mercy and justice. Hence, I would agree that item 33 should be withdrawn in favor of a more complete explanation. Scriptures are clear about the severe penalties against those who cause scandals that cause the fall of those whose faith is yet weak. It is unpleasant to think about it, but the warnings against those responsible for such scandals are clear and are clearly severe. In that papal bull in question, I think what the Pope is saying is "don't say that" rather than saying "the opposite is true." Note as well that this was a rather violent age (16th century). An assent to such punishment on both sides of the Tiber reflects what is known about that period: tolerance had not yet taken root. Finally, I will again assure you that papal infallibility does not mean impeccability. Several popes were guilty of various villainy, including political maneuvers as well as directly condoning sinful acts, but not as dogma. Infallibility is always about universal doctrine on faith and morals, and is always given and driven by the Holy Spirit, in spite of the unsuitableness of the vessel (the apostles and bishops). When I trust the Magisterium, I am not putting my trust in the persons of the bishops and the pope, but on the Holy Spirit. I would also suggest reading through an informative discussion over at Amy Welborn's blog, Open Book, about torture, papal decrees and other such matters. There are some interesting insights in that discussion from a few months ago.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Devouring the Flesh of the Unborn

Modern day cannibalism. All in the interest of the self.<:-( (Invisible hat tip, Mark Shea).

Because They're Not Irrational Beasts

A doctor in Auckland has decided that Kiwis are capable of restraining themselves after all. Parents should be aware that children can be taught from an early age to appreciate consequences that follow their actions. They won't take responsibility for themselves if you don't give them reason to. Prescribing contraceptives and abortion is tantamount to taking away the need for restraint in sexual matters, as it also takes away the reality of consequences for poor choices they might make. (Invisible hat tip to Mark Shea).

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Humorous Mysteries of the Rosary???

Another Island Joe Franchise shares with us the first of the Humorous Mysteries, which highlight that which might have been hidden in Christ's many words and acts in the Gospels: his mirth. Laugh and ponder.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Cleanliness and Almsgiving

Today's Readings: Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 11,37-41.
 After he had spoken, a Pharisee invited him to dine at his home. He entered and reclined at table to eat. The Pharisee was amazed to see that he did not observe the prescribed washing before the meal. The Lord said to him, "Oh you Pharisees! Although you cleanse the outside of the cup and the dish, inside you are filled with plunder and evil. You fools! Did not the maker of the outside also make the inside? But as to what is within, give alms, and behold, everything will be clean for you.
No, the Lord is not selling his holiness by almsgiving, but he is pointing out something we often neglect (I know I do): the need to give. A life devoted to avoiding sin is not holy in comparison to a life devoted to giving for the sake of the gospel. Christ offers a challenge beyond piety: to give and give generously in LOVE, for love is to be held of the highest esteem. A clean cup is nice, but one that is full of good wine that is ever ready to pour out for others is even better. The cup is of God, the wine comes from God, and the invitation to pour ourselves out comes from God. Let us cling to his grace and acquiesce to holy inspirations.

From Catholic Exchange Focus

This invitation comes through Catholic Exchange Focus:

Jesus, Peter and the Keys: The Papacy in Scripture
Catholic Distance University invites you to embark on a journey to explore the roots of the Papacy in Sacred Scripture, Nov. 7 - Nov. 28, 2005. This online, three-week Continuing Education seminar, entitled Jesus, Peter and the Keys: The Papacy in Scripture presents an in-depth scripture study on the biblical foundations for the papacy in both the Old and New Testaments. After completing this course, you will be able to explain and defend the Catholic interpretation of "You are the Christ," You are the Peter," and "the Keys of the Kingdom" in Matthew 16:18. Learn more about this seminar and Catholic Distance University at www.cdu.edu.

Your gift for housing will transform a family's despair into hope
Throughout the Caribbean and Latin America, a lack of decent housing plagues thousands of families. Shacks made of scraps of wood, metal or cardboard offer little protection from rodents, insects and the elements. Families living in these conditions have little hope of being able to afford a decent home. In response to the overwhelming need for housing, Food For The Poor has set a goal of building 5,000 homes in 2005 for our poorest brothers and sisters. We are calling this project 5,000 Miracles. To make 5,000 Miracles a reality, we need your help. We're praying that you'll be a part of 5,000 Miracles. Read more Help now!

Sunday, October 09, 2005

The Gift of Scripture

Lito, a Reformed over at Extra Nos, blogs about the release of the book "The Gift of Scripture" at this the 40th anniversary of the encyclical Dei Verbum. His blog links off to perhaps what started a new round of condemnation from our Protestant brethren about how the Catholic Church is trashing the inerrancy of Scripture. I repeat here what I posted at Lito's comment boxes: I have not read the book "The Gift of Scripture" nor "Verbum Dei" (should be "Dei Verbum", the encyclical) just yet, so I can't comment, and I'd only comment on the book in question, not the article. I wouldn't, not from reading an obviously biased secular source like Times Online UK. A good reading of the article is a giveaway: secular bias, axe to grind against American right, axe to grind against "Intelligent Design" which is a scientific theory, not a Biblical exegesis, etc. Grain of salt. And don't trust mainstream media too far. They don't know what they're talking about. For the Catholic Church to believe that parts of the Bible are untrue is ridiculous in light of what the Church says (edited from "has said before") about Scriptures, e.g., from the Catechism, calling it inerrant, inspired and revealed. Which part of inerrant needs to be explained? I suggest reading what the book actually says rather than believing a secular writer for mainstream media. They're after Intelligent Design proponents, which includes the Catholic Church. But.. the writer (referring to the Times Online article) obviously didn't know that. :P Luckily, Dei Verbum is available online here.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Confessional Protestantism

A friend of mine sent me this email which I post here so it can be discussed amongst other people (should a few trickle in by chance):
 'To best understand where protestants are coming from, please take time to read their confessions - Augsburg & Concord also Heidelberg Cathechism/ Belgic Confession or the London Baptist/Westminster Confessions of faith. Interacting with modern day evangelical may be fruitless because most evangelicals are non-confessional. I know they are anti-catholic but one of their weakness is that they are non-confessional. I noticed that you a comfortable with evangelical protestants who became RC, however, my observation is that they are mostly non-confessional in background. That is, their upbringing did not include systematic cathechising and their churches did not conform to a confessional standard( by enlarge). As a test, ask a modern evangelical if they know the difference between Law and Gospel. Ask them what is justification and sanctification as understood by Lutheran & Reformed. If they tell you they are born-again that is good, that is the result of the gospel but I am sorry being born again is NOT the gospel we are called to preach. Most non-confessing evangelicals have a lot in common with RC except that they do not have the sacraments and no bells and incenses as well as saints. For example their view of man is the same as RC, man has a free will that can at any moment can turn to God if man so pleases. That free-will according to most evangelicals is sovereign , that is, God will never alter that will and will hold it in respect for the rest of eternity. For them man can create faith at any moment in time, it can decide to believe. This is quite intuitive but confessional protestant view it different that is why for them the preaching of the Law and Gospel is very important because that is how God creates faith.'
One of the realizations I've had in my interaction with Evangelicals was that they operated on a completely different paradigm, with its own ontology. I drew a diagram several months ago shortly after I realized this and came up with four levels : Scriptures > Reformer's Confession > Pastor > Evangelical. Strangely enough, it also applies to Reformed Protestants, except that the latter are more explicit about the confessions they follow. Evangelicals don't necessarily subscribe to this or that confession but are nonetheless heavily influenced by specific Reformers, e.g., Calvin, Luther, Zwingli, etc. Personally, as a Catholic, my faith system also involves four levels: Deposit of Faith > Tradition/Catechism > Bishop/priest > me. Deposit of Faith to a Catholic is the totality of what St. Paul tells us as traditions "by word or letter" which he tells us to hold fast to. Indeed a great mass of such traditions were eventually written down in what is our New Testament, but a great portion was not. As Rev. Henry Graham writes in Where We Got the Bible, the New Testament works were not meant to codify everything. The epistles in particular were written in response to specific situations -- exactly in the same way that dogmas of the Catholic Church are developed as the need arises. You may have seen this money quote before: "the dogma is the drama," apparently written by Dorothy Sayers. I've also seen, I believe, a variation of this as "the drama is in the dogma." I have to end right here, but I do expect some colorful reactions to my impressions on how faith systems of Evangelicals/Protestants and Catholics are layered in similar structures. How dare this Catholic upstart compares his papist faith system with that of the faithful Christians of Reformed/Evangelical confessions? Indeed I do, but I am only being honest in what I perceive.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

God's Troubadour

Today the Catholic Church celebrates the feast of Saint Francis of Assisi. Can anyone deny, granted that the stories about him are true, that the blessed saint was indeed a man in whose life was the undisputable mark of one who lived the life of Jesus Christ? Here's a link to his story. To those so inclined, here's a link of links about the Poverello.

For Very Small Animals Everywhere

So why have I got the cute little animal graphic? Here's why. Found out via Mark Shea.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Opus Dei: Two Reviews

Here's an interesting review by Christopher Howse of John Allen's "Opus Dei: secrets and power inside the Catholic Church". I haven't read the book, but I attended an Opus Dei study center for a few years back in college. I had a spiritual adviser, we had small-group discussions and catechism, and we had meditation and benediction every Saturday. I do recall some personal issues which led me out of the study center after college, but I wasn't actually "feeling damaged." In fact, I'd kept most of my study tools, most especially that tiny book of reflections, The Way. But it would be years before I'd come to realize that it wasn't the message of Opus Dei that bothered me. In fact, their message is uplifting because it is a message of hope and challenge. But in confronting myself as I was challenged to, I was doing so without joy, and that was my fault. I often lock on to certain aspects of things and forget the rest. But there is this simple joy that one should never lose if one is truly aware of one's self and the love that God bears for the least of his children. It's amusing to think that my spiritual director in this supposedly dark and negative organization was laboring at instilling the hope and joy of Christ in me. As it turns out, I did leave, and my "solution" then to lift that oppressive feeling was to avoid confrontating myself. Therein lies the source of my spiritual immaturity. I realize now that I have been letting this fear stunt my spiritual growth. For example, in the middle of reading St. Francis de Sales' Introduction to the Devout Life, I found myself unable to continue at that point where he challenges the reader to confront the sinfulness of his entire life. It was sufficiently daunting that I haven't so far been able to go through the exercise. That was two years ago. Well, one has to grow up sometime.

Who Speaks of Sacrifice and Sinless Living?

Psalm 49 (50) from today's Divine Office: 'Whoever offers up a sacrifice of praise gives me true honour; whoever follows a sinless path in life will be shown the salvation of God.' What sacrifice of praise could this be? Our Lord is our sacrifice, and through Him, our lives can be one of daily praise to the Almighty Father. St. Josemaria Escriva taught more than anything that our daily work sanctifies us, offered up to God through our Lord. Our daily work must be dispensed worthily, like the first fruits of Abel. Living sinlessly with simple joy and working in a worthy manner, we also hope to move people to ponder where it all comes from. God willing, we may get an opening to tell them, and they may connect our behavior with, as the blessed saint said, reading "the life of Jesus Christ."