Saturday, April 30, 2016

More Saints Please


   "A few years ago I had to call in a woman doctor, an exile, who had been in a concentration camp in Germany for refusing to sterilize epileptic children. She was taking care of one of the women in the house. As she left she said, recognizing the apparent hopelessness of our word for the most destitute, 'The only thing you can do for these sick and aged ones is to make them happy.' I have often thought of that since, when people have asked us about the work, what we were trying to do; it seemed very simple to say, 'We are trying to make people happy'...
   We want to be happy, we want others to be happy, we want to see some of this joy of life which children have, we want to see people intoxicated with God, or just filled with the good steady joy of knowing that Christ is King and that we are his flock and he has prepared for us a kingdom, and that God loves us as a father loves his children, as a bridegroom loves his bride, and that eye hath not seen nor ear heard what God hath prepared for us!'...
   Father Henri de Lubac, S.J. wrote recently, 'It is not the proper duty of Christianity to form leaders-that is, builders of the temporal, although a legion of Christian leaders is infinitely desirable. Christianity must generate saints-that is, witnesses to the eternal. The efficacy of the saint is not that of the leader. The saint does not have to bring about great temporal achievements; he is one who succeeds in giving us at least a glimpse of eternity despite the thick opacity of time.'"

--Servant of God Dorothy Day
(Dorothy Day was the founder of the Catholic Worker movement.)

Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Crisis of Civilization


We recommend Hilaire Belloc's book entitled "The Crisis of Civilization". Belloc's sobering analysis of how the historical and social influences of the 16th and 17th centuries have determined what we know accept as "civilization".  He sheds light on how the disruption of Christianity in the Protestant Reformation played a role in what we refer to as the Crisis of The West. A relevant read for American citizens from a deceased Catholic historian.



Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Bad Religion

A quote from Ross Douthat's excellent book, Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics, comes to mind often these days as our nation is once again in a political and cultural morass. "The Kingdom of God, as the Bible envisions it, ought never to be identified with any political or cultural status quo." We highly recommend the book to you.  Bishop Robert Barron has written a review on Douthat's book that you may like to read:



http://www.wordonfire.org/resources/article/the-city-upon-a-hill-and-an-almost-chosen-people/446/


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Quotidian Apologetics--7: Sacred Tradition--Part One


 As former Protestants, the profound experience of reading/studying the Catechism can be described  best as finding the "holy grail" of The Christian Faith. We had only known in part (the parts our denominational movement had built its understanding of its Protestant Christianity upon) the breadth of the authority and integrity of The Christian Faith.  That has manifested in many ways as we journey on in The Faith within The Catholic Church. We have already given attention to worship within The Mass as the Source and Summit of our faith.  The Sacred Scripture forms the worship of The Church when it is anchored within Salvation History as opposed to the fascinations (golden calves) of every culture in every generation. You can refer to our July 2015 posts to learn more about how in the worship of the Triune God within The Catholic Church answered the despair about what has happened within the Protestant Movement.  Suffice it to say, our story is not unusual. There are thousands of Protestant Christians coming home to The Catholic Church every day around the world. Your own Protestant friends may be among the disenchanted Christians leaving the Protestant Movement. You may be in their lives to stand in the gap for them as they find their way to the sure foundation of The Faith. We have previously given attention to the Sacred Authority of the Catholic Church and how you as a Catholic Christian can guide your seeking friends toward the stability and integrity of The Catholic Church.  We now turn our attention to the Sacred Tradition of The Catholic Church. The third of the 3-legged stool we have referred to from time to time.

It is this topic, Sacred Tradition, that we will spend a fair amount of space to in our blogging. The reason for that it is doubtful that your Protestant friends fully appreciate how the Sacred Tradition intact within The Catholic Church has affected their own practice of Christianity. The Sacred Tradition is also where many misperceptions and prejudices against The Church stem from. The misunderstandings range from oversimplification to hideous distortions.  You have heard some of them and you have defended some of them.  Our desire in these essays is to open the window on how our own navigating through the Sacred Tradition eventually led us to a humble acceptance and appreciation for what The Church has passed on through tradition in the Sacraments of The Faith.

We know that Sacred Tradition predates the collection and canonization of Sacred Scriptures. The Sacred Scriptures are the Holy Spirit inspired outcome of Sacred Tradition. The Old Testament and New Testament were passed on to us through oral tradition before it was eventually written and canonized as Sacred Scripture.  We also know that St. John the apostle wrote that the Scriptures could not contain everything that Christ said and did (John 20:30-31). It is the Sacred Tradition and the Sacred Scriptures that are united as the Deposit of Faith. The Catholic Church teaches that the Sacred Scriptures and the Sacred Tradition make up the single Sacred Deposit of the Word of God, which is entrusted to The Church. Christ entrusted Divine Revelation to his apostles, the early Church. The Catechism refers to this transmission of the The Faith in Part One, Chapter Two.  The entire chapter succinctly and authoritatively guides the reader in how the transmission of Divine Revelation unfolded through history. 

If you are interested in investigating for yourself before you talk with your Protestant friend you may access the chapter here:
http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__PE.HTM through http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__PT.HTM

This essay will continue in chapters, so to speak, as we  look at the Sacred Tradition of The Catholic Church.  Our prayer is that it will help you explain to your Protestant friends how what they believe about practicing the Christian Faith grows on the vine of Sacred Tradition that flourishes through each generation to draw our minds and hearts to The Catholic Church.

Is Sola Scriptura a Heresy?

Sola Scriptura, really? Should The Faith be proof-texted by isolated passages? Or should we read the Sacred Scriptures within the interpretive tradition of The Church that Christ ordained to protect the Deposit of The Christian Faith?  Food for thought:

http://www.wordonfire.org/resources/lecture/against-the-youtube-heresies/5095/

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Mercy in Deed

"To comfort the sorrowful is a spiritual work of mercy because it strengthens the human spirit in its weakest moral moment of sadness, just as the Holy Spirit strengthens the whole Church and all her members. To comfort is to fortify the soul: strengthening the intellect to understand the cause of sorrow and the means of its cure, and strenthening the will in order to keep faith in the face of discouragement..."
--Father George William Rutler

We are Mary of Magdala scorned by the crowd--May we reveal Christ who comforts others who suffer the ruthless scorn of those who will not seek to understand their pain.

We are Mary of Magdala rejected because of our position in life--May we  reflect Christ as we come alongside those who idly wander from one distraction to another in search of love, acceptance and forgiveness. 

We are Mary of Magdala bowed low in humiliation by our accusers--May we reveal Christ to the marginalized as an advocate and defender.

We are Mary of Magdala outcast--May we see as Christ who sees beyond the actions of the body into the heart of the accused. 

We are Mary of Magdala misunderstood and stereotyped--May we reflect Christ to the races that are maligned and misunderstood because they are other than our crowd.

We are Mary of Magdala seeking a savior--May we serve Christ the Savior in our touch, our words, our eyes...Mercy, Peace, Long-Suffering in the skin of our humanity.

We are Mary of Magdala forgiven when we thought we were beyond forgiving--May we reach as Christ who bows low to anoint others with our presence in the face their greatest despair. 

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Quotidian Apologetics--6: Cult or Sacred Authority



  In these series of essays on everyday apologetics we have already given attention to the worship of The Mass and its roots in Salvation History.  Your Protestant friends who are curious about knowing more about The Catholic Church may have trouble with some of the small rituals such as ringing of bells, burning of incense, genuflecting, and making the sign of the cross over our bodies.  But an engaged Protestant will readily appreciate the liturgy present in The Mass, they may even be open to considering that the Eucharist is more than a symbol.
  However, when it comes to considering the Sacred Authority present in The Catholic Church you, as we did, will face many questions about your Catholic Faith like--"Where is the evidence for the Sacred Authority in the Bible?".  Others will doubt--"How can a pope be without error (infallible)?" or "The Bible doesn't really say that The Catholic Church is protected by apostolic authority, does it?"; Some very intelligent friends and family may even be ignorant of The Catholic Faith--"How can you worship the pope?!"; Perhaps you've been confronted by alarm or defensiveness; "Have you been forced into believing this?", "Who coerced you into making your decision to believe that The Catholic Church is The Church that Christ established through his apostles?" And then there's the absurd stereotypical declarations of those who fear what they do not know: "The Catholic Church is the 'whore of Babylon!'" and "The Catholic Church is responsible for the evils of the last 2,000 years." And even the inane, "The Catholic Church operates like the Klu Klux Klan, it's a cult!" 
   Now you may think that we will help you come up with packaged answers to any of the above objections to The Catholic Church and her Sacred Authority present in the Pope and the Magisterium. You may want to refer back to our February 2, 2016 post that introduced this series. We follow St. Bernadette's admonition, It is not our job to convince, it is our job to inform. Unfortunately not everyone wants to be informed, they may just want to debate with you.  So we will give you some of our own questions that we have asked our thorough-going Protestants who are on the defense about their Protestant position. And then, of course, we will refer you to what The Catechism of the Catholic Church has to say about The Faith.
   St. Augustine confronted the same heresies of The Christian Faith when he penned, "The Truth is like a lion, you don't have to defend it. Let it loose, it will defend itself."  We could amend his words to say that history is like a lion, you don't have to defend it. Let it loose, it will defend itself. Every age has suffered from division and The Catholic Church has responded through its 21 councils to the threats to the Christian doctrine (22 Councils if you include the Council of Jerusalem in 48 A.D. (See http://www.vatican.va/various/basiliche/san_paolo/en/san_paolo/concilio.htm) The Church is responsible by the empowering of the Holy Spirit and the Apostolic Authority ordained by Christ for keeping The Christian Faith unsullied by the heretical trends of the ages.  With each tide of protest that has threatened to infiltrate and dilute Christian doctrine, The Catholic Church (The popes and the Magisterium) has stood immovable on Christian Doctrine.  One of the most recent councils, The Council of Trent (1545-63 A.D.), protected Christian Doctrine from the cultural tide of protest that caused The Protestant Reformation.  You can read for yourself how The Church's Sacred Authority responded to those heresies that threatened the integrity of The Faith.
See: http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Councils/




   Our guess is that your Protestant friend is more curious than doubtful about the integrity of the Sacred Authority of The Church.  We may even go so far to say that your Protestant friend longs for the integrity and stability of Christian Doctrine since it is something that the Protestant Movement compromised in its rebellion against the Sacred Authority of the Church.
   We will open a window on the underlying frustrations of disenchanted Protestants by sharing a conversation we had over pizza with a Calvinist (John Calvin is one of the early protesters from the 1500's of The Protestant Movement) pastor and his wife.  They were curious about our journey home to The Catholic Church and, in fact, were examining their doubts more closely through investigation of their own denomination's tenets of Christianity.  With one fist our friend pounded the table and declared his belief in "Sola Scriptura!" (Scripture only). In the same breath he declared his longing for the Authority of The Church.  It comes down to this: you cannot have the Sacred Scripture without the integrity of the Sacred Authority of The Catholic Church that has protected The Sacred Scriptures through the Holy Spirit's empowering of the Apostolic Authority Christ ordained (St. Matthew 16:18-19; Isaiah 22:15-24; The Gospel of John 16:13).  So you may pose the question to your friend's inquiry, "Have you ever considered where the Sacred Scriptures come from and how they became the Bible that you read?"
   The same conversation included the frustration that their denomination doesn't have any theological writings older than 500 years and that their denomination's current history theologians are few. And that is a common frustration among Protestant pastors and educators.  It was one of ours, one we eventually could not ignore any longer!  The historical integrity of Christian Doctrine that you may take for granted as a Catholic has been compromised so often during Protestantism's history that it is the very thing your Protestant friend may be longing for, but they aren't sure how to find it. Our job as a cordial Catholic Christian is to guide our friends to the reliable source of The Christian Faith. Christian Doctrine was formulated through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. That guidance, present from the beginning of The Church, manifested in Doctrines of the Faith such as The Trinity; The Virgin Birth; The Incarnation of Chris and more. It was the Catholic Church through its Councils against heresies that threatened right Christian Doctrine that held the integrity of Christian theology together.  History's theologians:  The Apostolic Fathers, the early Church Fathers, the Doctors of the Church, the popes and the Magisterium through the guidance of the Holy Spirit have always been the intrepid defenders of The Faith.  Refer your friends to the writings. Easily accessible online.
Church Fathers: http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/  and 

   If your Protestant friend is truly searching and desiring to dialogue with you about the Catholic Faith you may want to ask them the questions we asked ourselves in our journey away from evangelical Protestantism for answers. Not all Protestant Christians are serious about their Christian faith just as there are Catholic Christians who are not serious about their Christian faith.  Yet there are many that are searching for what we eventually found in The Catholic Church.  These questions led us in our investigation to how The Sacred Authority of the Catholic Church has protected The Christian Faith.

What does it mean to you to be a Christian?
Why do you believe that Christianity is defined by your answer?
Where did you learn about Christianity?
Who explained "salvation" to you?
Where did that church or person come up with what they believe is Christianity?
How old is your church or denomination or movement?
Where are the documents of your church's leadership located?
Have you read them?

   When asked to explain our belief in the authority of the Catholic Church here is what we propose to those who are curious about what we believe and why we believe it:

Have you read The Catechism of the Catholic Church? 

We are Catholic Christians because of the Creed.  
See:

We practice Christianity according to the sacramental order of God's design for the Salvation of his Creation.
See:

Our Christian identity is lived according to the Covenant God made with man and fulfilled in the life of Christ.
See:

As Catholic Christians we profess the Mystery of Faith in the Apostles/Nicene Creed and we celebrate The Faith through sacramental liturgy (the work of the people). We are conformed to the image of God (sanctification) by the Holy Spirit. The relationship we have with God is because of that belief. We celebrate it and we live it in a vital and personal relationship with God by praying life. Everything we do is offered up as a prayer to God.  Our worship, our work, our relationships all begin and end with prayer (communion with God).
See:

   Pope Benedict XVI called The Church to the New Evangelization--we must know what we believe and why we believe it before others will desire to know more about our Christian Faith. Catechisis of adult Catholics has risen to the Pope's call.  There are many excellent resources available to parishes and individuals.  All of the resources have as their foundation The Catechism of the Catholic Church. Why not read it again for yourselves.