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Friday, June 30, 2006

Remembering the Martyrs

Today, June 30, we remember the nameless first Christian martyrs in Rome, persecuted and executed by the state. They would be persecuted on and off for the next three centuries in parts of the empire, amidst suspicion and charges of atheism (of all things) and cannibalism (for celebrating the Eucharist). St. Augustine of Hippo explains briefly why Christians ought to remember these holy ones of whom St. John had written, heroes who "washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb":

  Christians celebrate the memory of the martyrs with religious ceremony in order to arouse emulation and in order that they may be associated with their merits and helped by their prayers. But to none of the martyrs do we erect altars as we do to the God of martyrs; we erect altars at their shrines. For what bishop standing at the altars over the bodies of martyrs ever said: We offer to Peter or Paul or Cyprian? Mass is offered to God who crowned the martyrs, at the shrine of the martyrs, so that the very spot may remind us to arouse in ourselves a more fervent charity toward those whom we imitate and toward Him who gives us the power to do so.

"Those who do not gather with me.. "

The Midwest Conservative Journal reports on the ECUSA meltdown. Prayer.. prayer.. Can we now please agree that orthodoxy is not in itself a bad thing -- to say the least? Being anchored is only scary when you're not so sure about the anchor's reliability. But when this anchor is Christ himself.. how can that be a bad thing? It is no coincidence that those who are now scattering are innovators, re-creating Christ in their own image. [Link found via Open Book.]

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Goodbye, Episcopalians; Hello, Methodists?

At least some people think so. For a background, here is Dave Hartline's report on the recent Episcopal convention where the cracks between the ECUSA and the Anglican Communion grow even wider. And somewhere below that, Dave notes certain unorthodox (to say the least) proposals to refer to the Trinity instead as "Mother, Child and Womb" or "Rock, Redeemer and Friend" -- tabled for discussion by Presbyterian national assembly in the US.

Somber lessons from "Battlestar Galactica"

Alex Alexiev discusses the hard questions that TV sci fi "Battlestar Galactica" asks. It's quite insightful and heartily recommended. Here are some gems:

  When President Laura Roslin (Mary McDonnell), who has always supported abortion rights, expresses her support for the young woman’s decision, Admiral Adama (Edward James Olmos) urges her to reconsider. President Roslin is sitting under the whiteboard where she keeps a running count of the usually declining human population which now numbers 49,584.
      Adama: I hate to say this. Because I know that this is a political issue. The fact is that that number doesn't go up very often.
      Roslin: I fought for a woman's right to control her body my entire career. No. No.
      Adama: I'm just remembering what you said. Right after the Cylon attack. That if we really want to save the human race, we'd better start having babies.
  Mark Steyn .. points out at length that the West .. face their disappearance this century not because we will be outfought on the battlefield, but because of the crisis of childlessness.
This particular thought really rang a bell:
  Glenn Harlan Reynolds makes in an article about declining birthrates. He also discusses how parenting has simply become more difficult as overprotectiveness and the need to cart kids to endless activities drains the joy out of raising children. And this increases the pressure to have fewer or no children.
I've always noted differences between my family and what we've heard about the typical Australian family. Apart from the latter having fewer children, and having them later in life, they do seem to have more on their plate in terms of family vacations, overseas trips, school holiday programs, and various extra-curricular activities for their children. We're not well-off enough to get into such a lifestyle, and frankly, I'd rather not work myself to death to provide that. I'd rather raise a few more children -- assuming that all parties agree to that (that leaves my wife and God). Popular rhetoric often cites more love and blessings to go around as a reason to have fewer kids, but my wife and I have noticed something entirely different. Those occasional people who look at us incredulously when we're out with our three kids (the average here is 2.1 kids per family) have expressions that we can only describe as distaste.
A survey by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago asked respondents in 33 countries to react to this statement: "I would rather be a citizen of [my country] than of any other." Among Americans, 75% "strongly" agreed; among Germans, French and Spanish, comparable responses were 21%, 34% and 21%, respectively.
Something else I've noticed is that patriotism or nationalism is not very visible. Not that we're that much better back in the Philippines -- we were outwardly patriotic but I'm not so sure about the substance of that, given how easily we fragment back home. But here in Australia, people have started wondering out loud if the entire "multiculturalism" drive has gone completely wrong. Some neighborhoods have been completely obliterated. There was one featured on TV where the ethnic composition completely changed in one generation. Immigrants were not becoming assimilated into society: it was the other way around. I suspect that the critics are right: pluralism went too far and made the prevailing culture entirely optional. People were told that they needn't become Australians, and that's exactly how things went.

Abortion and Euthanasia, and a 9-Year-Old's Logic

Thought-provoking editorial/op-ed from Nat Hentoff:

 "But," said her son, "that means killing the baby." The mother then explained that there are certain months during which an abortion cannot be performed, with very few exceptions. The 9-year-old shook his head. "But," he said, "it doesn't matter what month. It still means killing the babies."
Amazing how powerful straightforward logic can be when wielded by a child. And below, a startling connection between abortion and euthanasia:
There, I met Derek Humphrey, the founder of the Hemlock Society, and already known internationally as a key proponent of the "death with dignity" movement.
   He told me that for some years in this country, he had considerable difficulty getting his views about assisted suicide and, as he sees it, compassionate euthanasia, into the American press.
 "But then," Mr. Humphrey told me, "a wonderful thing happened. It opened all the doors for me." "What was that wonderful thing?" I asked.
 "Roe v. Wade," he answered.

Story found via Jimmy Akin.

This is so sick

Someone assaulted and murdered a child. Sick, tragic and .. When I think of crimes like these, I have to wonder again how I feel about capital punishment. I agree with the Church magisterium about that, but there's this rage and feeling of despair sometimes. But I can't shake the feeling, though, that capital punishment actually means going easy on the perpetrator.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

St Cyril of Alexandria (370 - 444)

From Universalis.com, about the saint whose feast is celebrated today, 27th June (formerly 28th of January in the Latin Church). Universalis provides this excellent brief on the "doctor of the Incarnation":
   In 428, Nestorius, the new Patriarch of Constantinople (and hence one of the most important bishops in the world) made statements that could be interpreted as denying the divinity of Christ. The dual nature – human and divine – has always been hard for us to accept or understand, and if it seems easy it is only because we have not thought about it properly. Those who dislike problems have had two responses: to deny the human nature of Christ or to deny his divinity: and either leads to disaster, since both deny the Incarnation and hence the divinisation of human nature.
   ... Seen from fifteen centuries later, the proceedings seem melodramatic and absurd: Cyril arriving at the Council of Ephesus accompanied by fifty bishops wielding baseball bats (or the fifth-century equivalent); the Emperor, burdened with a sister who supported Cyril and a wife who supported Nestorius; the ratification of the contradictory decrees of both the council that supported Cyril and the council that supported Nestorius; the imprisonment of both bishops; the bribery...
   To revere Cyril of Alexandria is not to approve the methods he used: he fought according to the conventions of the time, and with its weapons. But he never sought to destroy Nestorius or any of his opponents, only to win the day for the truth of salvation: would that controversies today were fought with such pure motives.
   After the fireworks of the Council, Cyril was moderate and conciliatory, and sought to reconcile to the Church any Nestorians who were willing to engage in dialogue. It is largely through his efforts that we can celebrate (and still fail to understand) the two natures of Christ, and that we can address Mary as “Mother of God”. It is as a theologian rather than as a politician that Cyril is honoured.

Read the whole piece from universalis, or a longer article from the Catholic Encyclopedia.

Monday, June 26, 2006

So they're changing their minds about the Mass

The Christian Reformed Church, that is. I wonder how the other Reformed groups will react to this? In any case, it's a good start. Veni, Sancte Spiritus!

Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq?

Apparently, they've been turning up since 2003. Is this for real?

And what exactly should homosexuals do?

A comment below asks:

 And what exactly should homosexuals do?
Live a life of celibacy?
Join the priesthood?
Date members of the opposite sex?
Waiting for an answer...

I tried to respond, but Dreadnought replies better.

Marriage requires a man and a woman

That's the opinion article on The Age a few weeks back from Dr. Nicholas Tonti-Filippini. Some gems in the article, I think, are the following, which I quote:
  • That marriage is an institution between one man and one woman is a historical claim. The legal orthodoxy is that "marriage" in the constitution has an intrinsic meaning as "a voluntary union of life between one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others".
  • The "for life and to the exclusion of all others" component exists in principle, but often not in practice. ..
  • The proposals to extend the marriage provisions to include people of the same gender prompts the question as to why just those people? Why not include any two people who want their relationship of co-dependency to be socially, legally recognised?
  • .. support for recognition of gay "marriage" is not just about recognising interdependency and commitment. The legal change would confer legitimacy on sexual relations between people of the same sex.
  • There is a prudential difference between marital unions and same-sex unions in that the former may carry the potentiality of generating a child. Thus a sexual relationship between a man and a woman has greater responsibilities.
  • The conventional view, supported by social research, is that men and woman have different, complementary contributions to make in the roles of father and mother and that a child needs both, ...

The point about historicity is interesting. We normally build monuments, write volumes of books and use other means to preserve history as accurately as we can. Why is it that many people today have no qualms about revising the historicity of marriage in extending the scope of the word to include same-sex civil unions? It has "brute force" written all over it. Not only does it involve reinventing what marriage means, it also demands that we revise what begetting children and what parenting means. One must suspend reason to some extent to believe that parenting by same-sex couples is the same as parenting by a father and a mother -- even assuming that both types of families are always completely safe and nurturing. I know, on the face of it, it appears to be compassionate to say that it doesn't really matter, but compassion requires truth. Wouldn't same sex couples feel any regrets when their adopted children one day confide in them that they longed for the parent of the other gender for years but could not speak up for fear of hurting the same sex parents? Obviously, single-parent families are an entirely different matter, as the situation was not entered into willfully, e.g., one parent leaves or passes away. I'm not even saying that anything outside of the traditional family is disastrous, but we've always recognized that those families are disadvantaged. That recognition is so real that it is expressed in legislations to assist such families. Families do not jump into those situations: they fall into them, and we must make the best of things. Same sex parents willfully enter into those situations, naively assuming that things will be fine.

I'm not saying either that children raised in the traditional family is always safer and more secure. But same sex parenting suffers from disadvantages that cannot be willed away. To children yet unborn, it seems to be of the utmost injustice to damn the truth and claim, for reasons of pride, that those disadvantages did not exist. If the same-sex couple truly desired the best interest of the children they wish to raise, they should put the needs of the children ahead of their own. They are children. They should not be used as guinea pigs in a social experiment.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Celebrating the Baptist's Birthday

Specifically, St. John the Baptist. With whom we share a ministry to be prophets:

As for you, little child, you shall be called a prophet of God the Most High.
You shall go ahead of the Lord to prepare his ways before him;
to make known to his people their salvation
through forgiveness of all their sins;
the loving-kindess of the heart of our God
who will visit us like the dawn from on high.
He will give light to those in darkness,
those who dwell in the shadow of death,
and guide us into the way of peace!

(from Luke 1:68-79)

From the Benedictus, Zechariah's canticle which is in the Morning Prayer of the Divine Office. I read that to my sons before bedtime.

It felt very good. :-)

Call for Participation: 2006 ACSA National Conference

2006 Australian Catholic Students Association National Conference
Melbourne, July 7-9

  • Speakers include: Fr. Joseph Fessio SJ, Archbishop Barry Hickey, Associate Professor Tracey Rowland and many more
  • Come and join with hundred's of Catholic students from all around Australia!
  • More information about the conference here

For the full conference programme CLICK HERE

Download the conference brochure here.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Freedom of speech -- unless you're Catholic

Well that appears to be the case for Robert J. Smith who was fired for exercising his right. No, he wasn't charged with some offence -- just fired from his job. (Story found via Mark Shea's blog).

Thursday, June 22, 2006

When Science speaks

When Science speaks, people are expected to sit up and pay attention. The reason is because the Scientific Process (TM) is expected to be a lot of things, generally good things. Logical. Based on facts. Utilizes rigorous tests to prove or disprove. Objective and precise in its conclusions and opinions.

And then we have someone like Hawking who betrays his own reputation by breaking a fundamental rule in the dissemination of scientific knowledge: thou shalt not misrepresent a citation. I don't know which is more disappointing: his hatred for the Catholic Church or his failure to uphold scientific non-prejudice.

As a scientist of sorts, I have absolutely no problem being, on top of that, a Christian. I've come across dozens of pundits attacking the Christian faith and/or the Catholic Church (the two are intertwined) but lacking the willingness to do their homework. That makes it bizarre when they call Christians ignorant zealots who believe without logic. I believe in Christ as much as I do precisely because my reason is sufficiently satisfied with the claims of Christianity. It is logical and based on facts -- with obvious caveats concerning limitations of instruments and data, and other contraints which even Science must accommodate. In particular, with 2000 years of brilliant theology and the empirical evidence of the lives of Christian witnesses, the Catholic Church satisfies the need to utilize or cite rigorous tests to prove the doctrines espoused by Christianity.

An amazing story

that puts a face to the debate.

You have been warned

.. but it only proves that The Truth is greater than any of us who can only speak, and sometimes comprehend, parts of it.

I was thinking this morning that the problem with ridiculing faith is that it is the ignorance of a man who claims to own a piece of land that will not fit into his luggage and will remain long after he has turned to dust. Most everything we know is based on assumptions taken on faith. When we build our grand ideas, we tend to forget that they are built on top of knowledge so vast that it took countless minds and years to discover and verify.

Origin of the Solemnity of Corpus Christi

Great reading.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Contraception and Abortion

Just how does one relate to the other? There seem to be two major schools of thought on that: increased contraception means decreased abortions, or increased contraception means increased abortions.

The first seems reasonable enough: if you don't conceive, you don't have anything to abort. Right? Not necessarily (note: I italicized certain lines for emphasis):

 within particular populations, contraceptive prevalence and the incidence of induced abortion can and, indeed, often do rise in parallel, contrary to what one would expect. .. In societies that have not yet entered the fertility transition, both actual fertility and desired family sizes are high (or, to put it another way, childbearing is not yet considered to be "within the calculus of conscious choice"3). In such societies, couples are at little (or no) risk of unwanted pregnancies. The advent of modern contraception is associated with a destabilization of high (or "fatalistic") fertility preferences. Thus, as contraceptive prevalence rises and fertility starts to fall, an increasing proportion of couples want no more children (or want an appreciable delay before the next child), and exposure to the risk of unintended pregnancy also increases as a result. In the early and middle phases of fertility transition, adoption and sustained use of effective methods of contraception by couples who wish to postpone or limit childbearing is still far from universal. Hence, the growing need for contraception may outstrip use itself;4 thus, the incidence of unintended and unwanted pregnancies rises, fueling increases in unwanted live births and induced abortion. In this scenario, contraceptive use and induced abortion may rise simultaneously.
 Source: C. Marston and J. Cleland, Relationships Between Contraception and Abortion: A Review of the Evidence. International Family Planning Perspectives, 29(1), March 2003.

I note the position that abortion increases along with contraceptive use because more people are getting into the no-more-children mentality, so they may seek abortion when a child is conceived. The culture of contraception takes hold at first, and people's fertility preferences swing towards fewer children. It takes a while for the utilization of contraceptives to catch up. During this phase, the rate of pregnancies remain constant but fewer of them are welcomed. Each case where the pregnancy is not welcome is a potential case of abortion. In the last phase, contraceptive use will catch up with contraception preferences, at which point, the need for abortion, and therefore its occurence, falls. It's a bit technical but at the heart of it, really, is the cultural phenomenon of contraceptives. To the authors of the study, the bottom line is that the path to reducing abortions is in increasing contraceptive use. In my mind, the bottom line is that this is a huge deception. This is not about contraceptives being the silver bullet the reduces abortions. It is the bomb that ushered in a culture that trivializes the gift of having children. It is entirely deliberate that the battleground is in the attitude of people.

I also note that one detail is missing: at the same time that the contraceptive mentality is gaining ground, sexual activity increases.

Read that again: the contraceptive mentality carries with it an increase in sexual activity. The logic is straightforward: people are lulled into a false sense of contraceptive security. There is a problem with the growing demand for contraceptives that compounds the incidents of contraception failure even when the failure rates remain steady. Any form of artificial contraception has a chance to fail. Condoms are only up to 94% effective, assuming proper use. The actual number of potential abortion cases will increase despite the use of contraceptives at every occasion since, for example, the result of 6% failure cases of X goes up as X goes up. 6% of 1,000,000 is 60,000. 6% of 2,000,000 is 120,000. Before the advent of contraception just before the sexual revolution, the number of abortions (illegal) per year in the US ran up to about a hundred thousand. In more recent times, despite the decline in abortions being reported all, the actual number is still close to nine hundred thousand.

This increase in sexual activity carries hidden implications:

  • The likelihood of conception increases. Each sexual act naturally carries that risk, and there is no artificial contraception out there that is guaranteed to block conception every time. When conception happens, and the parents are deeply into the contraceptive mentality, there is a considerable tendency to take it to its logical conclusion: terminate the pregnancy through abortion.
  • STD risks increase. After all, certain STD viruses can pass right through condoms -- up to 10 abreast -- and condoms can have failure rates of up to 12%. And if they're using other means of contraception, e.g., pills, then STD exposure is 100% -- assuming that one of the couple has got STD.
  • Teenagers who are too young to consider all factors, including self-esteem and long-term implications, will be convinced that they get a free pass. The 12% failure rate of condoms is probably not enough to deter most of them. That's like telling them not to go to a casino because their chance of winning the jackpot is only at 88%. And when the contraceptive does fail, what happens next? Deep in the contraceptive culture, they may take this to the logical conclusion and seek abortion. Or they may come away with AIDS.
  • Mental teenagers (adolescents in their 20s, 30s and even 40s) will likewise feel free to fool around. Marital infidelity will skyrocket, divorce rates will go up and so will the devestating costs of divorce settlements, counselling, and most of all, broken hearts and dreams.

Isn't it amazing what details are hiding between the lines?

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Painting Over the Truth

Some truths are basic. They are so basic that they are deeply in-grained, etched consistently and insistently, both within and outside of our beings. Such is the basic truth of marriage and family. Those who oppose this truth bitterly may resort to something we often do: we cover up. We put rugs over marred surfaces of our floors. We spray air freshener to hide bad odors. We use cosmetic surgery to fool the senses about how old we really are. Yet some truths are so obvious that they stand out. Even our children pick them up. There is no need to lecture them in primary school about the nuclear family having a mother and a father. They pick it up because they can see for themselves. Those who seek to club this truth to a pulp claw desperately for their last option: they must paint over it with their own doctrines, and they have to do it very early, in primary school.

God help us.

The trouble with the air freshener mentality is that, no matter how much nicer the air seems to smell, it doesn't get rid of the toxins. No matter how much younger those faces may look, it does not help them live a day longer -- for that you need good food, exercise, lots of water and sleep -- stuff that matter in substance, not appearance. The truth sucks, but it beats a vehemently self-inflicted delusional state any day of the week. People who settle for manufactured truths are settling for crumbs. They should just wake up and work on their problems, not on the cover-up. They deserve better.

A Letter from St. Boniface

St. Boniface, courtesy of Catholic Forums This letter, dating back to the 8th century, really struck a chord. This is, after all, a blog about Christian unity from the perspective of the Catholic Church. It is not a unity formed as of a federation of independent bodies. It is a unity that was instituted from the beginning, to which several who have been away must return. Not for the sake of tranquility with truth watered down. In His gracious love, God wants us to have it all -- Truth, uncompromised -- so we must strive to cooperate with his will and accept his truths, even when they hurt, even when they're hard to accept, and even when they divide. Being the pillar and foundation of truth, what can justify abandoning the ark of salvation? I am convinced more than ever of this: nothing. For this ship is no earthly vessel, and its crew may be errant humans but her captain is not. At journey's end, the world would see one bride, human, bloodied and triumphant, not several brides who have cause to argue vehemently about who the groom really is. There is one bride, the Church. There is one Spirit that dwells in her and brings Truth, unambiguous. We may never abandon this Church, since it was not we who built her.

A Letter from St. Boniface:

In her voyage across the ocean of this world, the Church is like a great ship being pounded by the waves of life’s different stresses. Our duty is not to abandon ship but to keep her on her course. The ancient fathers showed us how we should carry out this duty: Clement, Cornelius and many others in the city of Rome, Cyprian at Carthage, Athanasius at Alexandria. They all lived under emperors who were pagans; they all steered Christ’s ship – or rather his most dear spouse, the Church. This they did by teaching and defending her, by their labours and sufferings, even to the shedding of blood. I am terrified when I think of all this. Fear and trembling came upon me and the darkness of my sins almost covered me. I would gladly give up the task of guiding the Church which I have accepted if I could find such an action warranted by the example of the fathers or by holy Scripture. Since this is the case, and since the truth can be assaulted but never defeated or falsified, with our tired mind let us turn to the words of Solomon: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own prudence. Think on him in all your ways, and he will guide your steps. In another place he says: The name of the Lord is an impregnable tower. The just man seeks refuge in it and he will be saved. Let us stand fast in what is right and prepare our souls for trial. Let us wait upon God’s strengthening aid and say to him: O Lord, you have been our refuge in all generations. Let us trust in him who has placed this burden upon us. What we ourselves cannot bear let us bear with the help of Christ. For he is all-powerful and he tells us: My yoke is easy and my burden is light. Let us continue the fight on the day of the Lord. The days of anguish and of tribulation have overtaken us; if God so wills, let us die for the holy laws of our fathers, so that we may deserve to obtain an eternal inheritance with them. Let us be neither dogs that do not bark nor silent onlookers nor paid servants who run away before the wolf. Instead let us be careful shepherds watching over Christ’s flock. Let us preach the whole of God’s plan to the powerful and to the humble, to rich and to poor, to men of every rank and age, as far as God gives us the strength, in season and out of season, as Saint Gregory writes in his book of Pastoral Instruction.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Veni Sancte Spiritus!

How wonderful! We sang Veni Sancte Spiritus, albeit heavily simplified, singing only that line over and over, at the Pentecost Mass today, during the communion. It was sung with reverence and gusto! I must be getting really old, sentimental as I already am by nature, because I wanted to cry when that was being sung. It didn't matter that we didn't sing the entirety of the song in Latin, Latin rite though we are. Liturgy will always develop, but it's important that we never forget our Latin roots. More importantly, we must worship with all our heart!

Come, o Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Your faithful, and kindle in them the fire of your love! Send forth Your Spirit, and You shall renew the face of the earth! Veni Sancte Spiritus!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

The Martyrdom of St. Justin and His Companions

The Office of Readings (via Universalis) offers us this stunning account of the trial of St. Justin Martyr and several companions, AD 165. The charge: refusal to worship and offer sacrifices to the Roman gods.


From the Acts of the martyrdom of Saint Justin and his companion saints

The saints were seized and brought before the prefect of Rome, whose name was Rusticus. As they stood before the judgement seat, Rusticus the prefect said to Justin: “Above all, have faith in the gods and obey the emperors”. Justin said: “We cannot be accused or condemned for obeying the commands of our Saviour, Jesus Christ”.

Rusticus said: “What system of teaching do you profess?” Justin said: “I have tried to learn about every system, but I have accepted the true doctrines of the Christians, though these are not approved by those who are held fast by error”. The prefect Rusticus said: “Are those doctrines approved by you, wretch that you are?” Justin said: “Yes, for I follow them with their correct teaching”. The prefect Rusticus said: “What sort of teaching is that?” Justin said: “Worship the God of the Christians. We hold him to be from the beginning the one creator and maker of the whole creation, of things seen and things unseen. We worship also the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He was foretold by the prophets as the future herald of salvation for the human race and the teacher of distinguished disciples. For myself, since I am a human being, I consider that what I say is insignificant in comparison with his infinite godhead. I acknowledge the existence of a prophetic power, for the one I have just spoken of as the Son of God was the subject of prophecy. I know that the prophets were inspired from above when they spoke of his coming among men”. Rusticus said: “You are a Christian, then?” Justin said: “Yes, I am a Christian”. The prefect said to Justin: “You are called a learned man and think that you know what is true teaching. Listen: if you were scourged and beheaded, are you convinced that you would go up to heaven?” Justin said: “I hope that I shall enter God’s house if I suffer that way. For I know that God’s favour is stored up until the end of the whole world for all who have lived good lives”.

The prefect Rusticus said: “Do you have an idea that you will go up to heaven to receive some suitable rewards?” Justin said: “It is not an idea that I have; it is something I know well and hold to be most certain”.

The prefect Rusticus said: “Now let us come to the point at issue, which is necessary and urgent. Gather round then and with one accord offer sacrifice to the gods”. Justin said: “No one who is right thinking stoops from true worship to false worship”.

The prefect Rusticus said: “If you do not do as you are commanded you will be tortured without mercy”. Justin said: “We hope to suffer torment for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ, and so be saved. For this will bring us salvation and confidence as we stand before the more terrible and universal judgement-seat of our Lord and Saviour”.

In the same way the other martyrs also said: “Do what you will. We are Christians; we do not offer sacrifice to idols”.

The prefect Rusticus pronounced sentence, saying: “Let those who have refused to sacrifice to the gods and to obey the command of the emperor be scourged and led away to suffer capital punishment according to the ruling of the laws”. Glorifying God, the holy martyrs went out to the accustomed place. They were beheaded, and so fulfilled their witness of martyrdom in confessing their faith in their Saviour.

It is from St. Justin that we have the earliest account of the Eucharist and Christian worship, outside of the Bible. This is from his First Apology, which he addresses to "Emperor Titus Ælius Adrianus Antoninus Pius Augustus Caesar, and to his son Verissimus the Philosopher". Here is the text relevant to Christian worship:


And this food is called among us Eukaristia [the Eucharist], of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins, and unto regeneration, and who is so living as Christ has enjoined. For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh. For the apostles, in the memoirs composed by them, which are called Gospels, have thus delivered unto us what was enjoined upon them; that Jesus took bread, and when He had given thanks, said, "This do ye in remembrance of Me, this is My body;" and that, after the same manner, having taken the cup and given thanks, He said, "This is My blood;" and gave it to them alone. Which the wicked devils have imitated in the mysteries of Mithras, commanding the same thing to be done. For, that bread and a cup of water are placed with certain incantations in the mystic rites of one who is being initiated, you either know or can learn.


And we afterwards continually remind each other of these things. And the wealthy among us help the needy; and we always keep together; and for all things wherewith we are supplied, we bless the Maker of all through His Son Jesus Christ, and through the Holy Ghost. And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons. And they who are well to do, and willing, give what each thinks fit; and what is collected is deposited with the president, who succours the orphans and widows and those who, through sickness or any other cause, are in want, and those who are in bonds and the strangers sojourning among us, and in a word takes care of all who are in need. But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Saviour on the same day rose from the dead. For He was crucified on the day before that of Saturn (Saturday); and on the day after that of Saturn, which is the day of the Sun, having appeared to His apostles and disciples, He taught them these things, which we have submitted to you also for your consideration.

If you're thinking that this sounds like the the Catholic Mass or the Orthodox counterpart, the Divine Liturgy, then you're on the right track. The period for this particular account, prior to AD 150, should at least show that the Catholic and Orthodox Churches are institutionally taking this seriously: "So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter." (2 Thessalonians 2:15)

Que horror!

And yet, how can this be surprising? After all, if society is not willing to label their behavior as objectively disordered, the conclusion is that they're fine, right? In which case that which sets them apart, i.e., their sexual preferences, can not help but be seen, at least by them, as fine, right? Therefore, they dare to ask, how can society not protect their particular appetites through legislation? This is an almost laughable situation where society gives them the right to keep lions as pets, then it is shocked to find that they want to take them out for a walk, too.