Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Infant Baptism Through the Eyes of the Old Covenant

I was reading a debate thread online and the opening question was about why Catholics Baptize babies, even though babies cannot make a profession of faith. It was framed in terms of Baptism having a prerequisite of a profession of faith (no Scripture verse was provided that said a profession of faith is a prerequisite to Baptism...even though I know there ARE verses that show some people being Baptized after professing their faith). It went something like this: "How do infants know to ask God to be members of His Kingdom...?"

Paul, in his writings to Timothy, tells us that "All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness" (2Tim 3:16). He also tells us that "...the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities..." (Hb 10:1) and he makes an explicit connection for us between circumcision and Baptism in Col 2:11-12, "In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of flesh in the circumcision of Christ; and you were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead."

So, I decided to reframe the topic and ask 3 questions. It went like this:


God said that entrance in to the Old Covenant was via circumcision. He also commanded that every infant be circumcised at 8 days old, after all the adult males were circumcized. He also said this applies not just to the Israelites, but to their servants/slaves, and their children as well(Gen 17:11-12). Then God said that if any one among them was NOT circumcized, he was to be cast out...he who has NOT been circumcized has broken the covenant (Gen 17:14).

So, my questions are:
1) How does a baby in those days know to ask God to be a member of His Kingdom...to enter into the covenant with God?
2) How come a baby, who was not able to request circumcision, was guilty of breaking the covenant due to a lck of circumcision?
3) [flip side of #2] How could a baby be brought into God's covenant through an act that the baby could not request, in a faith that the baby could not profess?

(Please support all assertions with Scriptural passages.)

Now, this isn't suppose to come off as some "ace in the hole" for Catholic theology. It turns out that no one answered any of the questions...except a few other Catholics who went on to further explain the Catholic position. But this IS a good example of how to reframe an argument. The original poster was right...babies do not, on their own initiative, make a verbal profession of faith to God and ask to be accepted into His Kingdom. But that's not really the issue here. The real question is, do they *need* to? Scripture doesn't say they do, and it even gives us very strong evidence that the parents can profess that faith on behalf of their children....in fact it requires such in the OT foreshadowing of the NT "good thing to come" (cf. Gn 17:11-12, 14, Hb 10:1, Col 2:11-12).  That's how it worked in the Old Covenant circumcision...and that's how it works with Infant Baptism...and it's in the Bible. 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Does Prayer to Mary Take Away From Christ?

When it comes to praying to the Saints and asking their intercession, Catholics seem to be great at it. So great, in fact, that it is cause for many questions about whether we pray to them MORE than to Jesus. As a matter of fact, some people might even think that we pray to them to the EXCLUSION of Jesus...going to our brothers and sisters in Christ, who have gone to sleep in Christ and are part of His Body in Heaven (cf. Rom 12:4-6, 8:35-39, Mk 12:26-27, etc...) INSTEAD of to Jesus.

One conversation I happened upon consisted of a person asking exactly these types of things: “Why do Catholics pray to Mary more than Jesus”...and “why, when Pope JPII was shot, did he thank Mary for his recovery instead of Jesus?”.

Among the many answers this person received, that eventually led him to see that going to Jesus through Mary actually glorifies Jesus, in part because it honors the means by which Jesus chose to come into the world, there was one that stuck out to me in a particular way. With permission from the author (“Tantum ergo” of CAF), it is with great pleasure that I present it here:

But she is not prayed to 'more than Jesus'.

When Pope John Paul II thanked Mary, it was for her intercession which she only was able to do with the power of Jesus, not 'by herself'.

You see, Mary and the saints are not in opposition to God. They don't do 'their thing' with God doing His, separately.

All that Mary and the saints do is through God. They do nothing without Him.

So any time you are praying to Mary, you are praying to Jesus through Mary, with Mary. . .you are never praying to Mary 'alone', or Mary 'instead of" Jesus.

There is simply no way that Mary or the saints are anything whatsoever without God.

The fact that they are with God and united to Him in Heaven means that they are always 'with' God, never apart from Him. They do nothing, see nothing, hear nothing etc except through Him, always and completely.

As St. Paul says, here we 'see in a glass darkly'. . .in Heaven we 'see face to face'.

So praying to Jesus through or with Mary is always and for ever centered in Jesus.

It's kind of a 'two-fer'. . . We pray to Christ, and Mary prays with us to Christ.

It's as if you were a small child going to ask your father (the head of your family) for a favor, and your mother went with you and added to your request with, 'yes, please let this be granted'.

Your mother couldn't grant you the favor herself, alone. You don't go to her instead of your dad. Your dad and your mother though are so united through marriage that they are indeed 'one flesh', so her request on your behalf is a powerful 'intercession', but ultimately it is your father's decision, even if, for example, you asked for a new baseball bat and he said yes, but he was going off to work and your mother was the one who went to the store with you and picked up the bat. It would still be coming to you through your parents (united as husband and wife), with your mother's 'intercession' but solely by the authority of your father as head of the household.

This is of course a limited example as both your mother and father are creatures and even though your dad is the head of the family, your mother is not his 'creature'. But even so, I think you can understand that Mary, a creature, not a creator, is still united to Christ, and that because she is so united (in a way that we ourselves will not be until we would, God willing, ourselves be in heaven as well) to Him, we can ask her to join her prayers to ours, to God.” (Tantum ergo)

Catholics don't go to Mary instead of to Christ. What we do is accept Christ's offer of Mary, as our Mother, which He made to us at the Cross when He said, “...son, behold, your mother...woman, behold your son...”. And in addition to that, we follow the example of our ancestors who went to one another for prayer, prayed for one another, and spoke of that great cloud of witnesses cheering us on in our race (cf. Rom 15:30, 2Thess 3:1, Tob 12:12, Rev 5:8, 6:9-11, 8:3-4, Heb 12:1, etc...). As a great person once said, (and I paraphrase since I don't have the actual quote handy): “Don't worry about loving Mary too much. You will never be able to love her more that God does.”

Thursday, July 25, 2013

“Sola Scriptura” or “Scripturae iuxta Me”

Do Non-Catholics really believe and practice "sola Scriptura", the belief that the “Bible alone” is the sole, or final, rule of faith?

After a careful look, and asking several non-Catholics to describe what “sola Scriptura” (SS) means (to them, to their faith group, their church…whatever definition they were willing to provide), I don’t think there are ANY Christians who actually believe and practice this…even though they claim to.

For example, a Lutheran friend (a member of the LCMS), quoting the Lutheran Confessions, described SS as Scripture being “the only final norm”. He continued, “Tradition is, as a result, not equal to scripture, but accountable to it.” So I asked what happens when two groups of Lutherans come to a disagreement about what Scriptures are saying or allowing for. The answer was that, ultimately, “an Authority in the Church”, interpreting the Lutheran Confessions’ view of what Scripture is saying, “must decide on the proper meaning of Scripture”. Well, that’s saying that tradition has Authority to interpret the true meaning of Scripture, which naturally subjects Scripture to the Teaching Authority. That’s not “Scripture being the only final norm”…it’s an interpreter of Scripture being the final voice for Scripture. That’s “Scripture + tradition”.

Another person informed me that SS means that, while “we rely on the Holy Spirit for proper understanding of Scriptures…the Scriptures will decide on [matters where disagreements come up]”. So, I asked if he could please demonstrate how the Scriptures decide. I gave the following scenario:

2 Christian groups, both believing and practicing SS, have directly opposing views on a doctrine [not too hard to come up with real life examples here…”once saved always saved”, for example]. Each group uses “Scripture Alone” to defend its view and to rebuke the disagreeing party. Using your definition of sola Scriptura, please resolve the conundrum. How do “the Scriptures decide”?

The person went on to show me verse after verse after verse of how “once saved always saved” (OSAS) was a false doctrine that is contrary to Scripture. But, as I pointed out to him, “I can find Christians who can point out just as many verses to support their view that OSAS is Scriptural. It’s your fallible interpretation vs. theirs”, I said. So, HOW DOES SCRIPTURE DECIDE? By the end of the discussion, Scripture DID’NT decide…it boiled down to the one person claiming that the persons with the opposing view simply had a poor understanding of Scripture. “But by whose standard?” Who determines what the proper understanding of Scripture is? Who is to say, “My understanding/interpretation of Scripture, while fallible as it is, is more correct than your fallible interpretation.”? It boils down to individual interpretation here. And so, this person’s definition of SS is, by its very practice, Scripture as properly understood by “me”…or “Scripture according to me”...which is NOT “sola Scriptura”, but “Scripturae iuxta me”.

So, even though many non-Catholics say they believe in SS, they really don't. They actually practice “S+t”...Scripture as it is understood and interpreted via their faith tradition….that faith tradition having authority to give the “proper” understanding of Scripture.

But that makes sense doesn’t it? After all, don’t most Christian pastors go to Seminary to learn the Bible? If they REALLY believed in SS, why would they need to go to school to learn the Bible? Can school teach them something about the Bible that the Holy Spirit can’t? No, they go to schools to learn the Bible because, in reality, they don’t actually believe they are led to an infallible interpretation of all Scripture…so they go somewhere to learn how to interpret the Bible…and are taught to do it by men…under the direction of their faith tradition.

The fact is, nowhere in Scripture does Scripture claim to be an authority. Nor does it claim to be able to interpret itself, or be able to decide on matters of disagreement. In fact, the Bible says we are to take matters like this to the CHURCH…and that the CHURCH is the upholder and defender of Truth (1Tim3:15). We are told in Scriptures that Scriptures can be “profitable” and can make us “complete...equipped for every good work” (2Tim 3:16-17), but it also says that perseverance makes us “perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:4). No one believes that the Bible teaches “sola perseverance” though...so why would anyone think that it teaches “sola Scriptura”? No, what Scriptures tell us is that Scripture can make us complete...but it doesn't say ONLY Scripture, and it doesn't say such to the exclusion of Tradition. In fact, it says we are to “hold fast to the traditions” and to the oral preaching handed down to us (2Thess 2:15, 2Thess 3:6, 1Cor 11:2, 1Pet 1:25).

I have yet to meet a Christian who actually practices what he/she preaches when it comes to “sola Scriptura”. Every time they demonstrate it, they show conclusively that what they really believe is either 1) Scripture + their faith tradition, or 2) Scripture according to “me”. So I guess the real question is, which “tradition” are we supposed to hold to in trying to understand the Scriptures? Should it be one that has been around since Christ established His Church on earth? Or should it be a new one, that didn't come on the scene until 1,500 years later...or even later still, to the tune of tens of thousands of faith traditions giving tens of thousands of different "correct" understandings of Scripture?

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Gay "Marriage" Won't Affect Me, so What's the Big Deal? (by Father Edwin Palka)

My wife brought home a Church bulletin from her trip to Florida, and showed me an article written by the Priest at the Parish where she attended Mass while she was away (St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church).  Admittedly, Briana and I have a particular fondness for this Priest...he celebrated our Marriage.  But that's not what made me want to post his article.  It is his plain and head-on way of addressing a real problem that every person, Catholic or not, is going to have to come to terms with, one way or another.  Without further ado, I am pleased to reproduce Father Edwin Palka's article.  From the Pastor:




Gay "Marriage" Won't Affect Me, so What's the Big Deal?

     The above question is being asked quite a bit right now by heterosexual people. Those needing to ask have unfortunately by and large embraced the falsehood that God made some people homosexual so they must act on their sexual urges. The rest of the population, whom God made differently but not better, so the erroneous thinking continues, will not be affected in any way, shape or form. But even if that were true about the adults (and it is not) what about the children? Much is and has been written and asserted about the children of homosexual “couples” so I will leave that currently tiny demographic alone for the moment. But very little is being voiced about the the vast majority of children: those who are from households not headed by homosexuals. To be blunt, by normalizing homosexual “marriage” we are going to terribly mess up (physically, mentally and spiritually) our children.

From their earliest days they are going to be bombarded with the lie that homosexual activity is morally good and normal--in the sense of being equal in dignity with opposite sex sexual activity--and, therefore, those who embrace, encourage and engage in homosexual activity are morally good and normal. Those who say otherwise are and will increasingly be portrayed as immoral bigots and hatemongers. What harm will come of this? Go back to your days of growing up. The best friends of boys are generally who? Boys. And who are boys most awkward around? Girls. Girls, too, generally find their best friends among other girls and are most awkward among boys. Those realities always have been and always will remain the norm. Those normal occurrences, though, will soon be taught forcefully, graphically and early--by government mandate--both implicitly and explicitly in schools, many churches, all government and public entities and through marketing, that that is a sign that the children are homosexual. By the time the children enter into puberty they will already be primed by years of brainwashing to think that they are most likely homosexual. Because of the forum of this column I don’t wish to get graphic about puberty and what happens, especially to males, without any seeming rhyme or reason and not necessarily in the presence of anyone who is of sexual interest. But the children won’t believe that all of this is part of the nature of all humans. They will have long been taught that this will be certain proof of “same sex attraction.” They will be greatly praised if they act on this supposed attraction and roundly denounced if they either remain chaste or claim the truth that they are heterosexual. The societal pressure will be intense. They will have been groomed to see black as interchangeable with white, evil as interchangeable with (or even better than) good, and males as interchangeable with females (with preference being given to the same sex).

The easiest “prey” will be targeted first. Every boy who is seen as effeminate in any way, whether due to his blue eyes and blond hair, his lack of athletic skills, his love for beauty (including every boy who picks up a violin, a paintbrush or a book of poetry), or even his speech impediment (should he have a lisp, for example) will be targeted aggressively by the homosexual pushers. (Even those who claim you cannot tell a homosexual by appearance alone already hypocritically do this with boys and men who appear less masculine than average. It will only get worse.) Likewise every girl who shows any of the more masculine traits (is athletic, mechanically gifted, etc.), is large or not too pretty, or who prefers less feminine activities or clothing will be targeted and taught that she must have been “born a lesbian.” The question Jesus asked in Matthew’s Gospel, “Which one of you would hand his son a stone when he asks for a loaf of bread, or a snake when he asks for a fish?” will be more and more answered with a simple, “The active homosexual and the homosexual activist will do this.” God help us, that answer includes all of the Catholic clergy and laity who have voted for and otherwise promoted this very real evil.

With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka

Test Your Knowledge! (by Brock Hammon)

CATHOLIC QUIZ*

Please choose the best response for the following ten questions.


Prayer and Indulgences

 1.         a) The Catholic Church considers praying the Rosary “vain repetition” because meaningful words are repeated throughout the prayer.

b) The Catholic Church considers praying the Rosary “a form of meditation” because by utilizing memorized invocations we can more easily contemplate the mysteries therein.

c) To pray the “Hail Mary” is to quote both the Archangel St. Gabriel and Mary’s cousin Elizabeth directly from the Gospel of St. Luke.

d) All of the above

e) Only b and c
  

2.         a) A mystery is a divine truth the human mind cannot fully understand.

            b) There are 20 mysteries of the Holy Rosary.

            c) The Luminous Mysteries reflect on the public ministry of Jesus Christ.

            d) All of the above

            e) Only b and c

  
3.         a) An indulgence is given to someone with mortal sin on their soul as an alternative to confessing their sin.

            b) An excommunicated or schismatic Catholic can receive an indulgence.
           
c) Indulgences can be applied to oneself or to the souls of the deceased as well as to other persons living on earth.

d) An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions.

e) All of the above


4.         a) The nine days of a novena prayer recall the nine days that the Apostles and the Blessed Virgin Mary spent in prayer between Ascension Thursday and Pentecost Sunday.

            b) Saints are holy men and women whom the Church, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, has declared are now in full communion with God in Heaven.

            c) A novena is a prayer, usually for a particular petition, directed to a saint in heaven; God delights in granting the requests of his special friends the saints who lived holy and exemplary lives, and who now petition God on our behalf that we may one day join the Church Triumphant.

            d)  The Church Militant refers to the Mystical Body of Christ on earth whereas the Church Suffering refers to souls undergoing temporary purification in Purgatory as they await unification with God.

e) All of the above

  
5.         a) The Church Triumphant intercedes for the Church Militant and the Church Suffering.

            b) The Church Suffering is able to intercede for itself.

            c) When Jesus said “Let the dead bury the dead,” he meant we should refrain from praying for the dead; Jesus himself was not buried by his disciples.

            d) The Catholic Church occasionally declares someone an “anti-saint.” This means they declare someone to be in Hell.

            e) All of the above


Historical Highlights

 6.         a) According to Jesus, whenever a baptized Catholic throughout history separates himself or herself from the Body of Christ by committing murder, the Holy Catholic Church that Christ founded is responsible and “must herself be found guilty by civil authorities.”

            b) The Catholic Church founded by Jesus Christ ended when the first pope, St. Peter, was murdered.

            c) No Catholics were killed during the Protestant Reformation.

            d) No Catholics were killed during the French Revolution.
           
            e) None of the above


7.         a) The Crusade announced by Pope Urban II was the answer to an urgent plea from the Eastern Byzantine emperor for assistance against an Islamic invasion from the Seljuk Turks. The Seljuk Turks had overrun Armenia and threatened Constantinople itself.

            b) The Eastern imperial army had been virtually destroyed at the Battle of Manzikert in 1071, and the Empire survived solely on deft diplomacy to neutralize the Seljuk advance.

            c) In 1095, representatives from the East begged for assistance to ward off the Seljuk Turks and to ensure that safe passage would remain to the Holy Land for Western pilgrims.

            d) The Holy Father issued the call for a crusade to rescue eastern Christendom from Islamic invasion.

            e) All of the above



8.   a) The Spanish Inquisition was at its height in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. During that period, there were approximately 2,000 victims, not untold millions. Monks never tortured anyone, as they were forbidden to do so by the laws of the Church.

b) The Spanish Inquisition was aimed primarily at practicing Catholics-families of Jewish heritage that had converted to the faith (many for generations). They called them "conversos," and the charge was that they were practicing the religion of their ancestors secretly. There were few, if any, "Protestant" victims of the Spanish Inquisition simply because there were no Protestants in Spain. Luther’s revolt never took hold anywhere in Spain.

c) The motivating factors for the Spanish Inquisition were primarily greed, jealousy, and racial enmity. The "old Christians" saw these "converso" families having great success. They considered them impure racially-at a time when the reunited Spanish peninsula had defeated Islam-and wanted their money and their influence.

d) Both Pope Sixtus IV (1471-1484) and Pope Innocent VIII (1484-1492) complained about the treatment of the "conversos," but they had no authority over an Inquisition that was controlled by Spanish civil authorities.

e) All of the above


9.         a) Galileo was a particular friend of the reigning Pope at the time of his trial.

            b) In 1623, Cardinal Maffeo Barberini became Pope Urban VIII. He supported Galileo’s ideas. The two discussed Galileo’s theory, and how it affected scripture. Pope Urban VIII, in a fair-minded manner, funded and formally granted Galileo to write about the theory of Copernicanism in the form of a dialogue representing both Heliocentrism and Geocentrism.

            c) Despite the support of the papacy, in Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief Systems of the World, Galileo characterized the pope as the ignorant antagonist. He did this by naming the antagonist the “Simpleton,” and then ascribing direct quotes from actual previous conversations with the pope to the “Simpleton.”

            d) The idea of a heliocentric system belonged to Copernicus, a Catholic cleric. Galileo was never excommunicated, only placed under house arrest. Philosopher Paul Feyerabend said "The Church at the time of Galileo kept much more closely to reason than did Galileo himself, and she took into consideration the ethical and social consequences of Galileo's teaching too. Her verdict against Galileo was rational and just and the revision of this verdict can be justified only on the grounds of what is politically opportune." The ban on Galileo’s work was lifted in 1718 and numerous popes since have, despite the subject’s contempt for the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, on several occasions recognized the significant scientific contributions of Galileo.

            e) All of the above



10.       a) Though without an army or weapon, Pope Pius XII was considered by Hitler a dangerous enemy.

            b) In the aftermath of the war, Jewish sources estimated that as many as 800,000 Jewish lives were saved in Europe by the direct actions of the Church under Pius. Even if that number was wrong by half, the Catholic Church under Pius saved more Jewish lives than any entity, any government, any army, or any international organization that existed in Europe.

            c) The Catholic Church teaches that socialism undermines the doctrine of free will, is materialistic and deterministic, and conflicts with the natural law regarding private property.

            d) The Catholic Church promotes a reasonable regulation of the marketplace and economic initiatives, in keeping with a just hierarchy of values and a view to the common good.

            e) All of the above

*This quiz was put together by Brock Hammon (many thanks!) from various historical reference sources.  Grab some source material and see if you can answer these. :)

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Abortion Kills a Living Human...


...at any stage of the development of the baby...from the moment of conception.

Since these tiny humans cannot speak for or defend themselves, I believe they deserve being defended by others who DO have a voice and who CAN stand up for them. If we don't, who will? Every human, from the moment of conception is a human that has the right to a life. He/she is NOT their mother or their father, they are a unique human with unique DNA and will [can] eventually grow up to be a unique human child, adolescent, adult...

We hear so much about “a woman's right to choose what happens to her own body” when it comes to abortion. The problem is that abortion is not something that happens to the woman's body...it is happening to the baby inside her. If abortion truly “happened” to the woman, the woman would die because she'd be “aborted”...like the infant inside her. The woman having the abortion is not given a caustic saline dip. The woman having the abortion is not sucked through a tube with blades at the end to cut her into small enough pieces to fit through it. The woman having an abortion is not being pulled apart, piece by piece in a late term abortion and being pulled form her mother's womb. No, all these things are happening to the baby inside her. I won't argue against a woman having a choice to do what she wants to her own body...but I WILL argue that she doesn't have the right to do whatever she wants to her unborn infant's body, just like I would argue the same for a post-natal child undergoing such treatment.

Yet some will say, “it's not really a human person until...” and then some random age is given. But let's look at the science of it. At the very moment of conception, a sperm cell enters an egg cell and the instant result is a cell with a complete strand of human DNA. There is the scientific proof of a human. But, is it "living"?

Yes, it is living. "Proof", you ask? The now fertilized egg, if left alone...nothing done to it by any outside intervention, will divide on its own and become a full-grown human being. The only thing it needs is nourishment and a safe place to live...just like everyone one of us reading this post today needs. Nothing more, nothing less

So, from the very instant of conception, there is a living human being, fully capable of growth, and needing only nutrition and safety. Conclusion: Abortion kills a living human being...at any stage of development...from the moment of conception...and we have not even gotten into the religious aspects yet...

I really think that many people don't put much thought into this, and that is one of the many reasons for the support of, or often casual ignoring of, the abortion issue. If more people realized that it's a real human life that is being taken, they'd have some pause over what their opinions may be...I think. Now, when it gets to the religious side of it, that's where I really get confused by Christians who either support or ignore this issue. Their very Christian Faith demands that they support the unborn's right to life.

Let me harp on Christians for a moment, specifically, my fellow Catholics. The Church teaches that the soul is "created immediately by God - it is not 'produced by the parents - and also that it is immortal." (CCC 366) In other words, at the very instant of conception, where the husband and wife have "become one" in the creation of this human life, God immediately creates the immortal soul. The egg, at the instant of fertilization, is both human and a creation of God, a living child of God and an extension of the love of husband and wife...the closest that humans can get to understanding the Holy Trinity (in my opinion).

Looking at the Faith perspective, we really don't have to look too much further. How many verses in Scripture discuss the "blessing" that children are? How many talk about the "curse" of being barren or childless? Thou shall not kill? The sin of Onan? The Bible is chock-full of verse after verse after verse of a pro-life message. All a Christian needs to understand is that we have a duty to help the helpless, to defend those who cannot defend themselves, to know that we have an obligation to speak up for the innocent babies who are murdered in the womb every day.

And just to keep anyone from getting tripped over the “what about all the death in the Bible…wars, cities wiped out, etc…?” Not the same thing. The difference there is that those people who were killed by others in the Bible had the opportunity for life. They were BORN. The people killed by God, well, we are creatures of God and He can do with us as HE pleases. It is God’s sole right to decide our fate, and we have no right to play God’s part in ours or anyone else's life. We are HIS creatures, not the other way around.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Cover the Skin You're In! Modesty in Our Culture


The Church teaches us that modesty is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit...one of the “perfections that the Holy Spirit forms in us as the first fruits of eternal glory.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 1832)

We also learn that “Modesty protects the mystery of persons and their love. It encourages patience and moderation in loving relationships; it requires that the conditions for the definitive giving and commitment of man and woman to one another be fulfilled...It keeps silence or reserve where there is evident risk of unhealthy curiosity. It is discreet." (CCC 2522, emphasis mine) Modesty is directly tied to purity, which “requires modesty” and is “an integral part of temperance”...“refusing to unveil what should remain hidden.” (CCC 2521)

Not to offend any of the ladies...BUT...why is it that MANY women I know or meet feel the need to show off their cleavage, thighs, shape-li-ness, etc...? OR maybe it's not so much they feel like the “need” to...but for some reason they just dress this way. It seems like we live in a "flaunt it if you've got it" culture. And sometimes it feels more like “flaunt it regardless of whether you've got it or not...or even if you've got too much”!

I have even spoken with female friends and family who have noticed this and who are just as uncomfortable with it (from a woman's perspective) as I am (looking at it from a married man's perspective). Our society seems to have lost the sense of secrecy and the desire to avoid temptation. In fact, it seems like the goal is TO TEMPT, to be noticed, to be seen. But I think we have allowed ourselves to get off track here. It's not so much that wanting to look good or be noticed is a bad thing...but when that is achieved by allowing ourselves to be objectified, then it can be. And it can be especially troublesome when we allow aspects of ourselves, those that should be reserved for our spouse (whether present or future), to be flaunted for all the world to see.

I believe that some women don't realize the power they have in determining how men view them. Other women probably do realize this, and some of those use this knowledge to purposefully draw attention to themselves...but it's those who might NOT be aware that I'd like to focus on.

Women, how you present yourself will directly affect how a man views and treats you. It's just as simple as that.

If you present yourself as a sex object, a man will treat you like one. If you present yourself as a daughter of God and a spouse (present or future) then men will treat you accordingly. If you dress in a way that draws attention to your countenance...your face, your smile, your eyes...then men will look at your face, your smile, and your eyes, and the thoughts they have about you will be focused on what they are seeing. If you dress to draw attention to your legs or your chest or your curves...take a wild guess at where men are going to look and what they will be thinking about. Regardless of whose fault it is or which person (the lady dressing a certain way, or the man acting like a pig) is responsible for the thoughts that come about, the fact is that a woman who draws attention to her sex appeal will become a sex object in the eyes of a man (in general). That's human nature, and it isn't about to change. You (the women reading this) might not be responsible for how a man treats or views you, but you DO have power over it and can greatly affect, by your dress, how a man will respond to you.

How many times have you heard a woman say, or how many reading this have said it themselves: “What a pig! Do you know what that guy said/did/etc... to me?” “Stop staring at my chest and look at me eyes!!”

Well, ladies...I hate to put the burden on you, but YOU have control over this...to some degree anyway. YOU can “force” a man to look at your eyes. YOU can have at least SOME control over whether a man squawks out cat-calls or degrading comments, or stares at your eyes instead of your chest, or does a turn-around as you pass by to take a better look at your back-side. If you want to be treated with respect and as a lady, and as a PERSON instead of an object...YOU can affect change here. That's not to let men off the hook...they are responsible for their actions to be sure...but how many men do you know that are going to read this and say to themselves, “Self, you should treat women better and not objectify them.”? Sadly, I only know a handful of guys that think that way, and they do not represent the general male population.

Ladies, if you want to be treated with respect, and not be objectified by men in our modern day culture...you DO have some control over that...you CAN effect change...you CAN force [some] men to see you as a person and not an object. Part of that control might just be as easy as this: cover the skin you're in.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Are we more concerned with earthly happiness and rights, or with eternal destination?


When New York legalized gay “marriage” back around June of 2011, it sparked a large celebration amongst homosexual activists, groups, and their various supporters. My comment was: “What a sad testament to the downturn of our country as people celebrate the legalization of offenses to God and offenses to humanity.” It was indeed sad because there was being celebrated and promoted a lifestyle that is directly opposed to the well-being of souls. I went on to point out the sanctity of Marriage, and the purpose for which God created male and female, etc…

I don’t’ recall who I quoted, but it was worth quoting then, and is worth repeating now: "Gay marriage/homosexuality is a grave offense. It is not a question of respecting people's rights or their feelings...it is a matter of a grave sin against God that could lead to damnation of a soul. We owe it to our brothers and sisters who have homosexual tendencies to tell them the truth and help curb them away from sin. Otherwise, we share in the culpability of their sin."

A friend of mine was in disagreement and expressed: “Have you seen statistics on divorce? Straight people obviously aren't keeping it such the sanctity that you make it out to be… This is a legal issue not religious. Religion has been used over the years for excuses as to why things were bad… Years from now your grandchildren won't know why it was so weird to begin with because it'll be the standard… To sum up, this is a legal issue not a religious one.” There was also mention by another friend about loving all people equally, not judging, God loving all people no matter what, etc…

Let me be clear. I have absolutely nothing against a person who has a same-sex attraction. And I believe every person deserves a life of dignity and should receive the love that God commands us to share. In fact, the Catholic Church even has a doctrine directly related to loving such persons:

The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination…constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2358)

But we must keep in mind that it is the PERSON we are to love and respect, not an ACT. We love the SINNER (and in fact, ALL of us are sinners), but we reject the SIN. The Catechism explains:

Basing itself on Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity (cf. Gen 19:1-29, Rom 1:24-27, 1Cor 6:10, 1Tim 1:10) tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstance can they be approved. (CCC 2357) Homosexual persons are called to chastity. (CCC 2359) [emphasis mine)

God, not man, has made it very clear that homosexual acts are an abomination to His natural law. This is not my opinion, this is God's. And it’s not a legal issue about rights, it’s about the meaning of Marriage and why people, for the past many thousands of years, even prior to any religion, have Married.

My friend is right that my children may grow up in an age where people do not see what is strange about homosexual sex. This is exactly the point I am making. Our political leaders are turning this country into an affront to God. We are allowing our laws to directly contradict God's Law...we are damning ourselves in a sense by sitting by and accepting this (all those who do accept it). And yes, a person is free to do that, God has given us that freedom. But He also gave us clear guidance on what is expected of us, and homosexuality (the act) is contrary to that.

To take it a step further, this applies to heterosexual pre-marital sex as well. This is also a sin, also clearly spelled out for us in the Bible, and also addressed by the Church. Non-married heterosexuals are called to chastity, just like every other person in the world. And it’s also not a legal issue, but a religious one…because laws and rights without God will only lead us to damnation.

I bring these things up because I love my friends and I want them to know the truth. Don't be fooled into believing that just because we have a right to do what we want that we will also be "okay" with God. Unless we put His law first, we put ourselves in danger of eternal Hell. It's that simple, and it’s all in your Bible. We have a duty to share the TRUTH with our friends and loved ones, not out of concern for whether they are happy and fulfilled in THIS current life (on earth), but out of concern for the state of their souls and where they’ll be in the NEXT (eternal) life. And I certainly hope my friends will admonish and help me to see TRUTH as well.

Case in point: I know a person with a same-sex attraction. I absolutely adore this person, but I would never encourage that person to give into the sin of extra-marital and/or same-sex intercourse. On the contrary, I show my love for the person by giving encouragement for growth and change. And I show my hatred for the sin by helping that person in any way possible to avoid the sin. In return, I hope this friend will also help me to avoid sins that I am tempted to commit.

God DOES love everyone...EVERYONE. But, he gave us the freedom to choose Him or to not choose Him. And his message is so clear that we can either choose to sin, or not to sin…and that HE hates SIN, and that no SIN can enter into Heaven. God wants all His children (us) to be with Him in eternity. The question is, do you want what God wants, or do you want something else?

The legal restriction keeping homosexuals from marrying was, in a sense, acting to help protect them from the temptation to commit a grave sin. That may not have been the intention of the original laws, nonetheless it had [to some degree, however small] that consequence. Now that they have a legal right to marry, the law is, in consequence, encouraging and opening the door to the sin.

If we really love homosexuals, we should be telling them the truth about God's law, regardless of human/political law. Human laws won't matter when it comes time for judgment by Christ. Only God's Law will matter at that time.

The best way to show our love for our friends is to encourage them to find happiness in Christ and to embrace chastity. The legalizing of a sinful lifestyle in America really is “a sad testament to the downturn of our country as people celebrate the legalization of offenses to God and offenses to humanity.”

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Prevention, Abortion, and Lifestyle Choices, oh my...

The question went like this: "How do you refute this argument?" It was followed by (I'll address it in its entirety, point by point, so don't feel like you MUST read the initial argument...I provide it here for context in case you come across this arguement in real life) :

PREVENTION IS NOT ABORTION! If there is no conception, there is no fetus or life. Having contraception available to the adults prevents conception and therefore prevents abortion. Irresponsible pro-creation has put many people in misery even using their children to beg on the streets to survive when they could have been in school. We cannot stop people from having sex! So why not give them the tool to plan their family? It's their decision to have sex and when or how many children they can afford to raise. To see people living on the streets with many children is heartbreaking. But it's the kind of life many of them can't run away from because NO ONE CAN PREVENT PEOPLE FROM HAVING SEX! Our politicians and celebrities even flaunt their trophy mistresses and concubines. Therefore, many unwanted children are born into this world only to die from hunger and disease. The RH Bill is not about abortion. It's about contraception, family planning and maternity health care and education. We are the only country that don't allow the distribution of condoms that also prevent sexually transmitted diseases. All other catholic countries like Italy where the Vatican sits allow it. So why don't we? It's obvious that in this country, our lawmakers are influenced by the interference of the church. They are aware of the "poverty" problem we've been having is getting worse and yet, they are still complacent, apathetic and incorrigible in their misguided beliefs. The squatters issue is one of the results of their misguided beliefs. Would they rather see the sufferings of children in slow painful death or prevent the SENSELESS AND IRRESPONSIBLE pro-creation so as to avoid this problem that's caused by too many unplanned and unwanted children? Again, prevention is not abortion!

Let's break it down and address it point by point:

"PREVENTION IS NOT ABORTION! If there is no conception, there is no fetus or life."

No problem there!

"Having contraception available to the adults prevents conception and therefore prevents abortion."

That's not what the stats and history tell us (see below for some sources). Those show that with the increase in availavbe contraceptives, there is a direct increase in abortion rates. So, it seems that having contraception available acts to encourage sex...which then leads to unplanned and unwanted pregnancies...and then to abortion. That's what the stats show.

"Irresponsible pro-creation has put many people in misery even using their children to beg on the streets to survive when they could have been in school."

Re-wording: Irresponsible choices force people into having to deal with the consequences of their actions. I don't see a problem with expecting people to deal with the consequences of their behavior...it's part of learning.

"We cannot stop people from having sex! So why not give them the tool to plan their family? It's their decision to have sex and when or how many children they can afford to raise."

The Catholic Church has a GREAT tool for planning the family!! In fact, it's safer and more effective than ANY contraception on the market. It's called, "abstian from sex if you don't want to make babies". There is also NFP...which kinda follows the same guidelines, and it's FREE.

"To see people living on the streets with many children is heartbreaking. But it's the kind of life many of them can't run away from because NO ONE CAN PREVENT PEOPLE FROM HAVING SEX!"

Heartbreaking as it is, it is the natural consequence of their decision to make a poor choice. We reap what we sow. We can't prevent people from making bad decisions, but we can encourage them to make WISE decisions and allow them to live out the consequences of their decisions so that they can learn from them.

"Our politicians and celebrities even flaunt their trophy mistresses and concubines. Therefore, many unwanted children are born into this world only to die from hunger and disease."

What? What kind of logical fallacy is this, where someone flaunting people as "possessions" makes other people sin or cause the death and disease of someone else in a completely unrelated context? Oh, yeah, it's called a "non sequitur".

"The RH Bill is not about abortion. It's about contraception, family planning and maternity health care and education."

No, it's about abortion and allowing people to skip out on the consequences of their lifestyle choices.

"We are the only country that don't allow the distribution of condoms that also prevent sexually transmitted diseases. All other catholic countries like Italy where the Vatican sits allow it."

Just because others do it makes it right? As our proverbial mothers used to say, "..if Jimmy jumped off a bridge, would you jump off too??"

"So why don't we? It's obvious that in this country, our lawmakers are influenced by the interference of the church."

Or maybe it's because we have higher moral standards and we don't mind letting people live with the consequences of the choices they make? Though, I'm doubting that we really have higher moral standards here anymore...but maybe we used to.

"They are aware of the "poverty" problem we've been having is getting worse and yet, they are still complacent, apathetic and incorrigible in their misguided beliefs. The squatters issue is one of the results of their misguided beliefs."

So, are we assuming that we can solve the entire poverty issue by allowing people to dodge the consequences of their bad choices? I think it's the other way around. I think that if we excuse people from taking responsibility, that they will continue to become more dependent upon others to get them out of jams and we'll have an ever worse poverty issue on our hands.

"Would they rather see the sufferings of children in slow painful death..."

Is the claim here that all unplanned pregnancies result in death and suffering? And is the claim that preventing conception will stop suffering and death? Sounds like an emotional plea absent any objective fact to back it up. The only suffering and death I can see that would apply here would be in regards to abortion, which defintely should be avoided. And the BEST way to prevent that unwanted pregnacy is, as statistics show us, NOT by making contraception available, but by encouraging people to abstain if they don't want children, and allowing people to deal with the consequences of their lifestyle choices.

"...or prevent the SENSELESS AND IRRESPONSIBLE pro-creation so as to avoid this problem that's caused by too many unplanned and unwanted children?"

That's another logical inconsistency and an emotional plea with no fact to back it up. The fact is that unplanned pregnancy is a result of engaging in the act that LEADS to unplanned pregnancies...which is SEX. Yep, having sex can lead to pregnacy...and the best way to avoid an unwanted pregnancy is to avoid the act that can cause it. That's as simple as it gets...and doesn't cost the tax-payers anyhing either...thus helping to alleviate the whole poverty deal.

"Again, prevention is not abortion!"

No problem there! "Prevention" is abstaining from an act that can lead to an undesried effect, as opposed to engaing in that act anyway, and just hoping it turns out well for you.

Some sources: (These show a correlation between contraception and divorce and abortion rates)
http://www.crisismagazine.com/2012/marriages-vanishing-act
http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/sexuality/se0002.html
http://steve.onemoresoul.com/in-my-opinion/does-use-of-contraception-lead-to-divorce.html
http://onemoresoul.com/contraception-abortion/risks-consequences/the-connection-between-contraception-and-abortion.html
http://divorceministry4kids.com/2011/divorce-statistics/
http://www.abort73.com/abortion_facts/us_abortion_statistics/
http://www.cirtl.org/stats.htm

Monday, July 8, 2013

What is the Meaning of Life?

As a young child, and even into early adulthood, this question perplexed me, and the answer seemed so vague as to hardly be capable of any true meaning itself. I don't remember if it was in a movie, or if someone I knew revealed the "answer" to me, but ite was: "this"...as a single finger was held up. The meaning of life is "THIS [ONE THING]" that you find more important that any other thing and you live your life to achieve that [one thing] which can only be known to you, and you alone...only YOU know what is repreented by that finger you hold up.

Well, that sounded fine enough at the time. All I had to do was figure out what was more important to me than anything else in the world...the one thing I'd want to live my life for. But there's a problem with that. What if my "one thing" directly conflicts with someone else's? OR what if my "one thing" necessarily subjects other people to my own will...is THEIR "one thing"...their "meaning of life" subject to mine? The problem that evetually arises from that answer of "this" is that it makes us our own master and places everyone else below us...and one of the problems with that is that chaos must necessarily result...because as I try to subject everyone else to MY one goal in life, someone else is probably doing the same thing at the same time...and now we have a struggle over power, over who is right, over whose "meaning of life" is more important that the other's. What we end up with is a bunch of "gods" who all try to make our own decisions for our own lives based on what we ourselves find to be most important, regardless of others and regardless of each other. And the moment we put a qualifier on "this" to account for all "that", then it's no longer "this" that is the meaning of life, but it is "this, which is subject to that, and that, and that, ad nauseum...". And if MY "this" is subject to something else...then isn't that something else the REAL meaning of life...and now do I need to conform MY meaning in life to THAT one??

Well, it just gets more complicated and confusing from there. It becomes an endless cycle of who gets to decide, and whose goals can be subject to whose, and who has rights and who doesn't...each point and each turn completely dependant upon some subjective opinion that is eventually going to conflict with someone else's. So, IS there a real meaning of life??

Yes, yes there is. And the answer is so simple that the question about the meaning of life should not cause any confusion or any perplexing and complicated thought process. The meaning of life is simply this: to know, love and serve our Creator. That's it. The human race was created, and created for a purpose...for that "meaning of life"...and that purpose is, in most simple terms, "to know, love, and serve God".

That is the meaning of life.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

ECF Short: Baptism of Blood II


What did the Early Christians Believe? Baptism by Blood (Martyrdom)

[On the forms of forgiveness from sins] “First, that is that by which we are baptized unto the forgiveness of sins. A second forgiveness is found in the suffering of martyrdom.” (Origen, Homilies on Leviticus, 2,4 [A.D. 244] )

“If anyone does not receive Baptism, he does not have salvation. The only exception is the martyrs, who, even without water, will receive the kingdom. ...For the Savior calls martyrdom a Baptism, saying, “Can you drink the cup which I drink, and be baptized with the Baptism with which I am to be baptized [Mk 10:38]?” Indeed, the martyrs too confess, by being made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men [1Cor 4:9]. Soon you too will confess: - but it is not yet time for you to hear of these things.” (Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures, 3,10 [A.D. 350] )

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Is contraception addressed in Scripture?

Probably the first thing to answer is, "what's contraception?".  "Contraception" literally translates to "against" + "conception".  It is something that is intended to prevent conception. It is a means by which a couple enjoys the unifying nature of sex, while also working to block (or attempting to) the procreative aspect of sex.  In other words...it's sex while trying to avoid kids...AND *doing* something to the sexual faculty to prevent conception...it is working "against conception". 

Okay, so regardless of what the Church says about it (another time perhaps), some people are under the impression that Scripture does not address this topic AT ALL.  Well, I disagree.  I think Scripture has ALOT to say about it.  I won't go into the Catholic theology on the topic...I'll just let the Bible do the talking.  Here you go:

Gen 1: 27-28…And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. And God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth…

Ps 127: 3-5…Behold, children are a gift of the Lord; the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; they shall not be ashamed, when they speak to their enemies at the gate.

1Chr 25: 5…All these were the sons of Heman the king’s seer to exalt him according to the words of God, for God gave 14 sons and 3 daughters to Heman.

1Chr 26: 4-5…And Obed-edom had sons [8 of them]…God had indeed blessed him.

Hos 9: 10-17…I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness; I saw your forefathers as the earliest fruit on the fig tree in its first season. But they came to Baal-peor and devoted themselves to shame, and they became as detestable as that which they loved. As for Ephraim, their glory will fly away like a bird—no birth, no pregnancy, no conception! Though they bring up their children, yet I will bereave them until not a man is left. Yes, woe to them indeed when I depart from them! Ephraim, as I have seen, is planted in a pleasant meadow like Tyre; but Ephraim will bring out his children for slaughter. Give them, O lord—what wilt Thou give? Give them a miscarrying womb and dry breasts. All their evil is at Gilgal; Indeed I came to hate them there! Because of the wickedness of their deeds I will drive them out of My house! I will love them no more; All their princes are rebels. Ephraim is stricken, their root is dried up, they will bear no fruit. Even though they bear children, I will slay the precious ones of their womb. My God will cast them away because they have not listened to Him. And they will be wandererd among the nations.-Israel is punished with childlessness

Ex 23: 25-26…But you shall serve the Lord your God, and He will bless your bread and water; and I will remove sickness from your midst. There shall be no one miscarrying or barren in your land; I will fulfill the number of your days. – these are blessing that are promised

Dt 7: 13-14…And He will love you and bless you and multiply you; He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground, your grain and your new wine and your oil, the increase of your herd and the young of your flock, in the land which He swore to your forefathers to give you. You shall be blessed above all peoples; there shall be no male or female barren among you or among your cattle.

Gn 38: 9-10…And Onan knew that the offspring would not be his; so it came about that when[ever] he went in to his brother’s wife, he wasted his seed on the ground, in order not to give offspring to his brother. But what he did (not what he didn’t do…) was displeasing in the sight of the Lord; so He took his life also. – Onan killed for spilling his seed on the ground, not just for defying the Levirate law

Dt 25: 5-10… When brothers live together and one of them dies without a son, the widow of the deceased shall not marry anyone outside the family; but her husband’s brother shall come to her, marrying her and performing the duty of a brother-in-law. The firstborn son she bears shall continue the name of the deceased brother, that his name may not be blotted out from Israel. But if a man does not want to marry his brother’s wife, she shall go up to the elders at the gate and say, “My brother-in-law refuses to perpetuate his brother’s name in Israel and does not intend to perform his duty toward me.” Thereupon the elders of his city shall summon him and speak to him. If he persists in saying, “I do not want to marry her,” his sister-in-law, in the presence of the elders, shall go up to him and strip his sandal from his foot and spit in his face, declaring, “This is how one should be treated who will not build up his brother’s family!” And his name shall be called in Israel, “the house of the man stripped of his sandal.” – punishment for defying the Levirate law was not death

Lv 20: 13…If there is a man that lies with another male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death… - put to death for sterile sex/wasted seed

Dt 22: 28-29…If a man finds a girl who is a virgin, who is not engaged, and seizes her and lies with her and they are discovered, then the man who lay with her shall give to the girl’s father 50 shekels of silver, and she shall become his wife because he has violated her; he cannot divorce her all his days. – no death penalty in this case…and no seed has been wasted, nor is it sterile sex

Lv 20 : 15-16…If there is a man who lies with an animal he shall surely be put to death…If there is a woman who approaches any animal to mate with it, you shall kill the woman and the animal… - sterile sex in both these cases

Lv 21: 17-20…Speak to Aaron saying, “No man of your offspring throughout their generations who has a defect shall approach to offer the bread of his God. For no one who has a defect shall approach: a blind man, or a lame man, or he who has a disfigured face, or any deformed limb, or a man who has a broken foot or broken hand, or a hunchback or a dwarf, or one who has a defect in his eye or eczema or scabs or crushed testicles.

Dt 23:1…No one who is emasculated, or has his male organ cut off, shall enter the assembly of the Lord.

Dt 25: 11-12…If two men, a man and his countryman, are struggling together, and the wife of one comes near to deliver her husband from the hand of the one who is striking him, and puts out her hand and seizes his genitals, then you shall cut off her hand; you shall not show pity. – punishment for potential damage to the genitals

Rom 1: 25-27…For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman- the natural function of women is childbearing

1Tim 2: 11-15…Let a woman quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being quite deceived, fell into transgression. But women shall be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint.

Acts 5: 1-11…But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property,  and with his wife’s knowledge, he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles’ feet.  But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land?  While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.”  When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it.  The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him.  After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened.  And Peter said to her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much.” And she said, “Yes, for so much.”  But Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.”  Immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband.  And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things. – they were slain for withholding part of a gift

Gal 6: 7…Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. – contraception is a way for accepting the pleasure while denying the fruit and therefore is contrary to this verse

Mt 21: 19…And seeing a lone fig tree by the road, He came to it, and found nothing on it except leaves only; and He said to it, “No longer shall there ever be an fruit from you.” And at once the fig tree withered. – Jesus cursed the fruitless fig tree…and how often in Scripture are children referred to as “fruit” of the womb…

Mk 11: 14…And He answered and said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again!”…

Gal 5: 20; RV 9: 21; Rev 21:8…the Greek word “pharmakeia” = abortifacient potions

1Cor 6: 19-20…Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.

Monday, July 1, 2013

ECF Short: Authority of Bishops II


What did the Early Christians Believe?
Authority of the Bishop/Presbyters

Now, therefore, it has been my privilege to see you in the person of your God-inspired bishop, Damas; and in the persons of your worthy presbyters, Bassus and Apollonius; and my fellow-servant, the deacon Zotion. What a delight is his company! For he is subject to the bishop as to the grace of God, and to the presbytery as to the law of Jesus.” (Ignatius of Antioch, 110 AD, Letter to the Magnesians, [2] )

“It becomes you not to presume on the youth of the bishop, but to show him all reverence in consideration of the authority of God the Father: just as even the holy presbyters, so I have heard, do not take advantage of his outwardly youthful appearance, but yield to him in their godly prudence: yet not to him, but to the Father of Jesus Christ, the Bishop of all.” (ibid. [3,1] )

“Take care to do all things in harmony with God, with the bishop presiding in the place of God and with the presbyters in the place of the council of the Apostles, and with the deacons, who are most dear to me, entrusted with the business of Jesus Christ, who was with the Father from the beginning and is at last made manifest.” (ibid. [6,1] )

“Indeed, when you submit to the bishop as you would to Jesus Christ, it is clear to me that you are living not in the manner of men but as Jesus Christ, who died for us, that through faith in His death you might escape dying. [2] It is necessary, therefore, – and such is your practice, – that you do nothing without the bishop, and that you be subject also to the presbytery, as to the Apostles of Jesus Christ our hope, in whom we shall be found, if we live in Him. (Ignatius of Antioch, 110 AD, Letter to the Trallians, [2,1-2] )

“In like manner let everyone respect the deacons as they would respect Jesus Christ, and just as they respect the bishop as a type of the Father, and the presbyters as the council of God and college of Apostles. Without these, it cannot be called a Church.” (Ignatius of Antioch, 110 AD, Letter to the Trallians, [3,1] )

“He that is in the sanctuary is pure; but he that is outside the sanctuary is not pure. In other words, anyone who acts without the bishop and the presbytery and the deacons does not have a clean conscience.” (Ignatius of Antioch, 110 AD, Letter to the Trallians, [7,2] )