Miraculous Spiral Staircase of Lorreto

Snopes says it is "false," but doesn't really lay out a strong case for such a definitive judgment.  While they do raise some cause for concern or doubt, nothing in the Snopes article conclusively disproves the alleged miraculous nature of the spiral staircase at Lorreto, NM.
As the story goes, when the chapel was built it was left with no access to the choir loft.  The nuns were going to just use a ladder to access the loft, but seeking a better solution they did a novena (nine days of prayers) to St. Joseph.  On the ninth day, a man on a donkey with a toolbox showed up looking for work.  He designed and built the spiral staircase, alone, and without the use of nails OR a central support!  The railing was not part of the original staircase.  When the carpenter finished, he left without receiving payment.  It remains a mystery as to who the craftsman was - some surmise it was St. Joseph himself who answered the prayers of the nuns - others say it may have been Jesus who would have acquired the trade from St. Joseph as He was growing up, and prior to His public ministry which didn't start until He was 30. 

Again, even though Snopes says this is "false," there really isn't ANY evidence to disprove the miraculous explanation to this staircase.  Yes, they explain some of the technical aspects, but not who this carpenter was and the fact he did it alone and the matter of no visible means of support (the side support they mention does not give vertical support, only horizontal stability).  The "honest" assessment from Snopes SHOULD be that it is "inconclusive" to prove one way or the other.

Fourth Sunday of Advent

The Fourth Sunday of Advent!  The Christ Mass is almost here!  With the first Mass of Christmas beings the REAL Christmas Season!  Most consider the Advent Season to be the Christmas Season, but in reality Christmas is from that first Mass of Christmas and lasts through Epiphany in many traditions, or through Candlemas in others.  So, don't be in too much of a hurry, to take down your decorations!

Gaude Sunday, Third Sunday of Advent

Similar to the Lenten season's Lautare Sunday, Gaude Sunday is "Joyful" during our Advent time of penance and anticipation.  The joy of the Lord is our strength (Neh. 8:10) and this Sunday and week of Advent we look to that strength and joy with confidence in the coming of our Lord and Savior.  We light the third candle, the pink one, with joy in our hearts.  Again, Advent is a time of preparation for the coming of the Lord.  We celebrate the culmination of Advent in the Christ Mass and at the same time our readings and teachings are about the Second Coming of Christ.  Let us not lose sight of the true meaning of Christ Mass.

Jesus Christ came to us in a manger and just before He died on the Cross for our sins, He gave us the Mass.

Jesus Christ comes to us still, in every valid Mass.

Jesus Christ will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead.

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Person of the Year

Time Magazine names Pope Francis "Person of the Year."

The Principle

Well, Robert Sungenis is Executive Producer of a new documentary...  watch the video, and then I will continue with my thoughts below it...
First of all, I'm rather impressed with the panel of commentators he's assembled for this documentary.  The narrator is Kate Mulgrew (Captain Janeway from "Voyager").
One of the commentators is noted scientist, often seen on The Science Channel, Michio Kaku:
I'm sure some of you will recognize others in the trailer as well.

So, what's this documentary all about?  Geocentricism.  Bob has long been a proponent of geocentrism, which "physically" is a non-science.  The universe does not physically revolve around the Earth, however it seems in this new documentary (slated for release in Spring of 2014) the approach does not seem to be quite so much on the literally physical center of the universe - as in everything revolving around our little Earth; rather it appears they are saying that all things in the universe appear to point toward Earth.  The Earth is in a rather unique spot in all the universe, the only spot which can sustain life.

My first thought?  I'm impressed.  Now, I would really like to see the rest of the documentary.  What are these scientists saying, in context?  What is Bob saying, in context?

Feel free to leave your comments here, I'm sure Bob is watching too.  Bob also has a Facebook page for this documentary:  https://www.facebook.com/theprinciplemovie and he has a website for it too:

ARSH Notation

I don't know if you've seen it yet, but some out there are actively combating the date notation of "CE" (Common Era) and not wishing to stick with "AD" (Anno Domini - the Year of our Lord).  So a different notation is being used, "ARSH" (Anno Reparatae Salutis Humanae - which means "In The Year Of The Reparation Of Human Salvation").

One blogger I found is approaching this as a more "in your face" approach to the pagan "CE" notation, his article can be found here:  http://brass-and-lead.blogspot.com/2013/06/june-6th-arsh-2013.html
Addendum:  I just realized that William (brass-and-lead.blogspot.com) reposted from the following blog  by Ann Barnhardt:   
So, what do you think?  AD or ARSH?  Will or could or should "ARSH" catch on?


December 10, ARSH 2013

Second Sunday in Advent

Preparing the way of the Lord
John the Baptist could be the central figure in today’s homily. He prepared the way for the people of his time to understand the good news of their salvation. That is the way God normally works; He sends the message of salvation to us through each other. As St Paul once put it, how can people know the truth about God if they have never heard it; and how can they hear if nobody is sent to them?
Jesus found his first disciples among those who were influenced by the preaching of John the Baptist. He had showed them the value of self-control and of prayer; he urged them to listen to the inner voice of God, with repentance and a faithful heart. The high point of John’s short ministry was his meeting with Jesus. Not only did he get to baptise Our Lord but he also helped some of his own followers to go with Jesus and become the first Christian disciples. Through him, Andrew and his brother Peter, and Philip and Nathanael became apostles of Jesus.
Clearly, God wishes us Christians also to help help other people to know and love him. If in the first place, we were more committed to our own Christian calling, we would be more effective in influencing others towards religious commitment. Parents have the first opportunity to point their children towards God. But their words will only be effective when backed up by the actual example of their own faith and prayer.
People can influence others, for good or ill, in all sorts of ways. A special kind of influence rests with the journalists and opinion-formers who work in the media, press, radio and television and through the internet. But ordinary people outside the media can also influence the views and values of those with whom they talk and live. When looked at in light of today’s Gospel, does our way of speaking and behaving in any way help others to share our values, or do we confirm their suspicion that this world is a selfish and cynical place?
And what about fostering vocations to the priesthood and religious life, or to some active form of church service? The ability of our Church to go on as a visible, organised community continuing in the prayer-life and values of Jesus is under serious question today. But if enough people open their hearts to God’s work, as did John the Baptist and those first disciples, Andrew and Philip and Peter, then a way will be found to keep the world aware of the saving message of Christ.

Happy Santa Day!

So, is it harmful to let your children grow up believing there is a Santa Claus?  Those who have been following this blog for a number of years know that I do not have a problem with this!  Why?  Because Santa Claus was a REAL person!  No, he was not the commercialized Coca-Cola Santa, or the Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer Santa, but he was the Catholic Bishop of Myra - and he did give gifts!  If we wipe away the commercialism of Santa, the "spirit of giving" or the "Christmas spirit" is the "Spirit of St. Nicholas!"  We keep that spirit going in giving gifts.

Then there's the story of the "Kneeling Santa" - which is an interesting spin on this, you can find that here:  http://www.catholiccompany.com/emails/111009Kneeling%20Santa.html

Patrick Madrid did his "Right Here, Right Now" podcast on December 4, 2013 on this topic too, give it a listen:

And don't forget!  TODAY (Dec. 6th) is the Feast of St. Nicholas!  Bring your children home a gift in honor of St. Nicholas!

TBN Founder, Paul Crouch, Dies

Paul Crouch, along with his wife, Jan, founded TBN back in 1973.  One of their first branches out from their home-base in California was in Phoenix, Arizona.  "Channel 21" on UHF was a favorite channel for me to watch back then (I was a Protestant until 1988).  I liked most of the programming on their channel, though some of the programs were a bit far-fetched, and even seemed fraudulent in their alleged "healing" services.  But watching Praise the Lord with Paul and Jan was always a favorite for me.

As I entered into adulthood in the late 70's and early 80's, I even financially supported their ministry.  After hearing about people like Jim Bakker, etc. who squandered money and lived a lavish life-style - the Crouch family seemed to be a breath of fresh air.  After my conversion to Catholicism in 1988 I rarely watched them anymore and now with Paul's death I am reading about 13 mansions, private jets and even the cover-up of a sexual assault within the family.  I am saddened even more by this.

First Week of Advent

Happy New Year!  It is the liturgical New Year for the Church! 

For Advent we begin the preparation of the season of the Incarnation.  During this season we are reminded that Christ not only came in history, but also comes in mystery - at every validly celebrated Mass - and will come again in majesty.  

We are reminded that the world will end, and Christ - in majesty - will come to judge the living and the dead.  No man knows the hour, or even the day, month or year of this coming - but we know He will come again as He promised.  While we do not know the exact timing of His coming, we were told to watch for the signs - and we may be seeing them.  We are not to be overly anxious for knowing the day, we should live each day as if it is today.  Be prepared, as the 5 wise virgins - and not ill-prepared as the 5 foolish virgins (Matthew 25:1-13).  Keep in mind, the 5 foolish virgins were "believers" but were not ready for the time when the Bridegroom came.  While they were gone to get more oil, the Bridegroom came and they found themselves locked out of the Wedding Feast.

This week we look forward in HOPE of his coming.  The season is in anticipation of both His first and second comings.  I recently posted on Faith, Hope and Charity - and that Hope tends to be the weakest of the three, not getting exercised as much.  In this week of the liturgical year we are especially reminded to have HOPE and exercise that hope!

Happy Thanksgiving!

[Image from Smithsonian.com here]

When we think of Thanksgiving, we usually think of Puritans or Pilgrims and the Indians having a feast in thanksgiving for a good harvest in 1621.  But I read a post by Dr. Taylor Marshall about some things on should know about Thanksgiving.  Here I outline the 6 facts but you can read his full article here.

l.  The actual first American Thanksgiving was celebrated September 8, 1565 in St. Augustine, Florida.  It was the Feast of the birth of the Virgin Mary and the Spanish had Mass and a feast with their native American friends.
From: http://www.texasgopvote.com/tags/thanksgiving
2. The second American Thanksgiving was celebrated April 30, 1598 when the land north of the Rio Grande was claimed by Don Juan de Onate for the king of Spain.

3. The Pilgrims left England because they thought the Church of England was too Catholic.  Being strict Calvinists, who did not celebrate Christmas, did not dance, play music in church or sing hymns.

4. Squanto was a baptized Catholic.

5. The same injustices that caused the Pilgrims to leave England were the same ones that caused the martyrdom of many Catholic saints in England.

6. "Thanksgiving" in Greek is eucharista--Which is the center of the Catholic Mass.

More information on Thanksgiving and its Catholic roots by Dr. Taylor Marshall:
Squanto was Catholic
The Catholic Origins of Thanksgiving

Our view of Thanksgiving became a Puritan American myth long ago, but it is still a time for all of us to remember Our Lord and all He has blessed us with during the year. 

Advent starts Sunday!  We await the joyful coming of the Lord (at Christmas and His Second Coming). 

Where has the year gone?  God Bless.

Happy Anniversary!

To my bride, today we celebrate 32 years!  

May our memories continue in escalation 
As we watch our children mature 
And grandchildren in anticipation.

Our future as one cannot be brighter,
The burdens we share,
Are always lighter.

Another year goes into the books,
The photos and albums,
Get still more looks.

So here's to another year!
With my bride by my side,
I give a loud cheer!
November 27, 2013

Advent 2013: Reflections

Today is the first day of the liturgical season of Advent during which the Church prepares, by prayer, fasting, almsgiving, in the Mass and other forms of expression, for the return of our Savior at His second coming in which the first coming in His incarnation reminds us.

St Charles Borromeo, bishop, once said that “In her concern for our salvation, our loving mother the Church uses this holy season to teach us.  She shows us how grateful we should be for so great a blessing, and how to gain its benefit:  our hearts should be as much prepared for the coming of Christ as if He were still to come into this world.”

Indeed, one of the ways the Church prepares us is through the readings in the Mass.  Each Sunday of Advent has a theme to help us in our journey towards salvation.  Today, the first Sunday of Advent, the Church chose Scriptural passages to accentuate the fact that many of us slumber through life and that we need to wake up.  Jesus said that we must “be watchful!  Be alert!” because no one knows the day or time of His return, His Second-Coming.  And so He councils us to “Wake up!”

This coming Sunday, the second Sunday of Advent the Church chose Scriptures that accentuate our need to be instructed so that we are prepared for this unexpected return.  As was prophesied, Jesus His coming, and as we see in the New Testament Readings He will return.  And so we are instructed by our past through our traditions and Scripture in passages that speak of the voice crying out in the desert proclaiming “Prepare the way of the Lord, and make straight his path” (Mark 1:3)[1] as John the Baptist did.    

But in the third Sunday of Advent the Church changes gears so-to-speak.  Instead of looking at our lack of perfection, or our failures the Church points to the fact that the battle is already won so as to re-invigorate our hope of salvation.  Jesus defeated death and therefore we are to “Be strong and fear not!” (Is 35:4) as the first reading says.   The Gospel reading of that day tells us to rejoice because we are clothed with the garments of salvation as procured by Jesus and proclaimed by John who came “to testify to the light, so that all might believe through Him.”

 In the last Sunday before Christmas, the fourth Sunday of Advent, the Church show us that we are to be assured of the imminent coming of our Lord by giving us a sign, that a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel (which means ‘God with us’).  This coming of the Son of God is found in the incarnation narrative, where He was conceived in her womb and bore a son that she was to name Jesus.  He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father (Luke 1:31-32).  God is indeed ‘with us’.  The Lord God has come, and the Lord God will come again.

So let us begin our preparation of His second coming as we celebrate His first.  For the first week of Advent the Church reminds us to wake up and be alert.  And so we are to work out our salvation by becoming spotless, by being perfect as the heavenly Father is perfect.  This goal is extremely difficult to attain and yet we know that the longest journey begins with a single step.  And so I challenge you to persevere and to do what is good and right.  As a first step of this journey, will you take responsibility for the freedom God gives you?  Will you make a space within each day of Advent to go off with Jesus, listening in the silence for the Word?

God Bless

[1] A quote taken directly from the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the Septuagint.  Which is a collection of Old Testament books that have, together with the 27 books of our New Testement, 73 books in it as opposed to 66 in the popular Protestant Bible.

An Example For All

Regarding the "witness" Catholics give to Muslims...

Pope Benedict XVI praying to a statue of Mary.  Even though Roman Catholics say, "we are not worshipping Mary, we are not giving her Latria, we are only asking her to pray for us and giving her "hyper-dulia" (extra veneration and honor).  Well, it looks like worship to me.  It is wrong; and it has been a bad witness to Muslims for centuries.
The Muslim quotes Surah 5:116-118.  
I left a comment:  
Indeed, this is exactly why Muhammad thought the Trinity was “Father, Son, and Mother”, as Surah 5:116 and 6:101 and 5:72-75 makes clear.
Because of the churches at that time had “left their first love” (Rev. 2:4-5) and they later exalted Mary too much and prayed to her and had icons and statues.
Those practices which included heretical churches and nominal Christians and also later developed into full blown Roman Catholicism and the iconography emphasis in the Eastern Orthodox Church, and other Oriental Orthodox Churches were a terrible witness to the Muslims.
Even to this day, most Muslims don’t even know what the Trinity is.
Since Muhammad and whoever compliled the Qur’an did not accurately know the doctrine of the Trinity, this proves that the Qur’an is not God’s word.
Posted by Ken at 12:30 AM

Well, first off, what Ken "thinks" when he "looks" at something is truly irrelevant when he states, "Well it looks like worship to me.  It is wrong; and it has been a bad witness to Muslims for centuries."  Ken gives an accurate, be it partial, accounting of latria and hyper-dulia.  For the reader who may not know, "latria" is the honor reserved for and given only to God, Almighty; "dulia" is honor given to the Saints who have been officially recognized as such and "hyper-dulia" is an elevated honor given to the Blessed Virgin Mary above the rest of the Saints.  So, while he is "right" in so far as this goes, he is wrong in his prejudicial judgment of Catholic motive and intention.

Now, just because "Ken" sees this ignorant comment on a Muslim blog, Catholicism is wrong and to be shamed?  In reality, Ken, the practice of Pope Benedict XVI is completely in line with Scripture in Luke 1:42 and Luke 1:48.  The Blessed Virgin IS honored above all women and every generation, including this one of Pope Benedict XVI, calls her "Blessed."  The "shame" is upon those who do NOT honor her with the hyper-dulia she deserves and was prophecied she would receive.   

So, what does the Qur'an say in this reference to Surah 5:116?
And [beware the Day] when Allah will say, "O Jesus, Son of Mary, did you say to the people, 'Take me and my mother as deities besides Allah ?'" He will say, "Exalted are You! It was not for me to say that to which I have no right. If I had said it, You would have known it. You know what is within myself, and I do not know what is within Yourself. Indeed, it is You who is Knower of the unseen.
It does not say "Father, Son and Mother," though one can see where Ken concludes this from the Muslim misunderstanding - but again, just because a Muslim believes wrongly does not make the Catholic practice of giving the Blessed Virgin her due honor, wrong.  Actually, what is written here in the Qur'an is correct!  Anyone who would make the Blessed Virgin out to be a deity along side of God is, indeed, wrong in doing so.  Now, the equivocation of Jesus to Mary here, again, it is wrong of anyone to do this - demonstrates the Muslim denial of the divinity of our Lord, Jesus Christ.  I repeat, because they get this wrong does not mean Catholics need to stop giving due honor (hyper-dulia) to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

As for Surah 6:101:
[He is] Originator of the heavens and the earth. How could He have a son when He does not have a companion and He created all things? And He is, of all things, Knowing.
Again, clearly Islam does not understand the Mystery of the Blessed Trinity and in their ignorance they attack what they do not know - it is common for men to fear what they do not know, but to one who has faith, they have confidence in God who surpasses all human understanding.

And Surah 5:72-75:
72 - They have certainly disbelieved who say, " Allah is the Messiah, the son of Mary" while the Messiah has said, "O Children of Israel, worship Allah , my Lord and your Lord." Indeed, he who associates others with Allah - Allah has forbidden him Paradise, and his refuge is the Fire. And there are not for the wrongdoers any helpers. 
73 - They have certainly disbelieved who say, " Allah is the third of three." And there is no god except one God. And if they do not desist from what they are saying, there will surely afflict the disbelievers among them a painful punishment.
74 - So will they not repent to Allah and seek His forgiveness? And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.
75 - The Messiah, son of Mary, was not but a messenger; [other] messengers have passed on before him. And his mother was a supporter of truth. They both used to eat food. Look how We make clear to them the signs; then look how they are deluded. 
Yes, on this Ken and I would agree - Islam does not have the faith necessary to accept the dogma and mystery of the Blessed Trinity - but again, because they do not understand does not mean Catholics need to change their practices!  Ken's argumentation here is a complete non sequitur.  For clarity, since the Qur'an was quoted, God (or "Allah") is not the "third of three," for God is ONE in being, yet THREE in persons.  NO ONE can know EXACTLY how this mystery works - but we BELIEVE it because Scripture implies it and THE Church which Jesus Christ Himself built has dogmatically defined the nature of the Blessed Trinity.


The Noahs Ark Debate

Before I begin here, let me begin with another topic, and that being the age of the world and how do the myths of the Old Testament "fit?"  Yes, I said "myths."  Now before all the Fundamentalists get up in arms, a "myth" does not mean something is not true!  It simply means it is not verifiable.

This article stems from an on-going discussion on the Catholic Debate Forum (CDF), I encourage your comments either here on the blog or in CDF.

What is a Myth?

Full Definition of MYTH
1a :  a usually traditional story of ostensibly historical events that serves to unfold part of the world view of a people or explain a practice, belief, or natural phenomenon
b :  parable, allegory
2a :  a popular belief or tradition that has grown up around something or someone; especially :  one embodying the ideals and institutions of a society or segment of society <seduced by the American myth of individualism — Orde Coombs>
b :  an unfounded or false notion
3:  a person or thing having only an imaginary or unverifiable existence
4:  the whole body of myths


Tradition has it that Moses wrote the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, sometime after the exodus from Egypt.  Secular history from Moses forward can pretty much vouch for the "history" found in the Bible, but prior to Moses putting the Torah to writing, it was an oral tradition among "God's Chosen People."  Outside of Moses' writings we have very little "proof" to base these stories on, therefore they can rightly be referred to as "myths."  Again I must stress, just because it is a "myth" does not mean it is not true!

The Myth of Noah's Ark

So, did Noah's Ark float approximately 4600 years ago (as Bible literalists believe), or was this only possible tens of thousands if not millions of years ago?  Keeping in mind, the Torah was strictly an oral tradition prior to Moses - so "time" is not so much the important factor here - but the underlying or ultimate truth of God's Word is.  So, just because scientists (not even all of whom are in 100% agreement here, many supporting the "Young Earth" view too) have logical arguments for how old things are and how long ago any such flood(s) may have taken place doesn't mean the Biblical stories from Moses are false.

Who Borrowed from Whom?

Some would argue that Moses "borrowed" from other myths going around, like the Epic of Gilgamesh where in "Tablet 11" we find a story remarkably similar to the Noah's Ark story (see link below).

In WRITING, the Epic of Gilgamesh predates Moses' writing of the Torah - but one must keep in mind, the story of the Torah is strictly related to the "Chosen People of God," those who would become to be known as the Children of Israel.  The problem in stating the Epic of Gilgamesh must have come first ignores the fact that the Children of Israel were without a written language when the stories of Gilgamesh were first recorded.  It is just as logical to argue that the Sumarians "borrowed" from the Children of Israel to write their myths of Gilgamesh.  Just because the skeptic (be he Agnostic, Atheist or otherwise) would more easily accept the Sumarian story predates the stories from the Torah doesn't mean they are right.  Even if a majority of researchers believed this to be so, logically speaking it is just as possible for the minority to be correct.  Truth doesn't play the odds, truth just is.

Old Earth v. Young Earth

In this debate we find some who will argue that the alleged 6000 year old Earth is not possible.  When asked about seashells found on mountain tops, one answer is "plate tectonics" caused this.  The argument being that at one point the tall mountains were at the bottom of the sea, where seashells were deposited and through plate tectonics (continental plates colliding with each other) that which was once at the bottom of the sea is "lifted up" into the high mountains.  What this doesn't explain is how we find relatively YOUNG fossils along side those OLDER ones we would expect to find due to the theory of plate tectonics.

We must also consider 2Peter 3:8 as well where we are told that for the Lord a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years is like a day.  Keep in mind for the Apostle Peter, 1000 years would seem as huge to him as a billion years would seem to a modern scientist.  In a sense, St. Peter is lending an explanation for just how Scripture, written a couple thousand years before him, can be applied to science, which would be a couple thousand years after him.

So, could it be a relatively young Earth?  Well, it could be - but if it is a relatively old Earth, we're alright with that too.  The important factor is not the literal amount of time - but that the scriptural stories are true. 

From A Creationist Perspective

Consider this possibility... God created Adam as a man, not as a fetus or a child, but a mature man.  In the same manner, God could have created a "mature Earth" that while it may have only been 6000-7000 years ago, "maturity" was created along with it so that this Earth would have things like dinosaurs, fossils, etc. and organic materials from ancient "pre-historic" days so that the modern age would have things like coal and oil.  Others would argue (see "Arguments for a Young Earth" link below) that it is impossible to have something like oil kept under pressure for more than 10,000 years as under such pressure the porousness of the rocks would absorb any such oil deposits.

Can The Myth of Noah's Ark Be Verified?

Well, not yet!  And of course, once it were to be verified then we could no longer refer to it as a myth, but rather a fact.   Do we have evidence of an artifact that just might be Noah's Ark?  Well, many believe such evidence does indeed exist!  According to Gen. 8:4 - the Ark came to rest on the mountains Ararat. (The Douay-Rheims says "mountains of Armenia" and Mt. Ararat is in Turkey near the borders of Iran and Armenia). 

Frozen and Preserved or Dry and Petrified?

In the pictures below you can see "something" which, in the first, has been broken in half and part of it lies higher up in the glacier than the other part.  This photographic evidence I first saw many years ago.

The following video alleges Noah's Ark found in the glacial ice of Mt. Ararat:

Recently, however, I came across this second set of photos - which are not in the glacial part of Mt. Ararat, in fact are found about 4300 ft. above sea level.  In this second set of photos we find "something" which is not in the glacier at all, but has the shape and size of a huge boat/ship!  In Photo "B" we see "something" which resembles huge apparently man-made "ribs" which could very well be the ribs of the hull of a huge ship!  Not only that, the dimensions of the artifact found below correspond precisely to the dimensions found in Gen. 6:15. 

So, is this evidence enough to "convince" the skeptic?  Probably not - but it IS evidence which supports the "myth" of Noah's Ark.  This article is not intended to be the end-all or an exhaustive accounting, but moreso a starting point.  Keep looking, keep searching for our Lord and the mysteries of Sacred Scripture.  Seek honestly and objectively and I truly believe you will find Him.

Young Fossils on Mountain Tops:

Arguments for Young Earth:

Epic of Gilgamesh Tablet Eleven:

The Passover Lamb

Is there a connection between the original Passover lamb and the Lamb of God (Jesus)?


Yes, there is a very strong connection between the two lambs.  First, let us go back to the begining.  It all started on that fateful night when the Angel of Death came to kill the first-born son of every family whether Egyptian or Hebrew.  The Hebrew people were to sacrifice an unblemished lamb and mark the posts of their door so that the Angel of Death should ‘pass over’ their household. That night marked the birth of the nation of Israel but it also was a picture of a greater birth and a greater sacrifice to come many centuries later; the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ and his sacrificial death upon the cross as the true Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.  But before going on let’s see what John wrote about the circumstances of Jesus’ death, the death of the Lamb of God (John 1:29).


John is at the foot of the Cross holding Mary, suffering a mothers grief at losing ones son.  John tells us in his account of Jesus’ death that although they broke the legs of the other two being crucified they didn’t break those of Jesus “so that the scripture passage might be fulfilled: ‘Not a bone of it will be broken.’” Here John is referencing the requirement that the bones of the Passover lamb were not to be broken as found in Exodus 12:46 “You shall not break any of its bones.”


We can confidently say that John wants us to link the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross to the first Passover because not only does John mentions ‘not breaking any bones’ but even before that statement John still points to this night of the first Passover when he mentions how Jesus was given wine to quench His thirst by using a sprig of hyssop, the same type of plant used to mark the doorframes with the blood of the sacrificial lambs on that fateful night (Exo 12:22).


So what happened at the first Passover that John would bring us back to this point in time while Jesus is being crucified?  Maybe so we see the connection between the sacrificial lamb (John 1:29) who saved us from the bondage of sin with the lamb who saved the Israelites from the bondage of the Pharaoh in Egypt.  Maybe because he believed the same as Paul did when he wrote to Timothy that “All scripture is…useful for teaching… and for training in righteousness” (2 Tim 3:16).  So we know that the sacrificial system of the Jewish liturgy of the Passover celebration teaches us, trains us in righteousness.  We also see in Malachi that this liturgy will be changed and fulfilled or brought to fruition through his prophecy that: “For from the rising of the sun, even to its setting, my name is great among the nations; And everywhere they bring sacrifice to my name, and a pure offering; For great is my name among the nations, says the LORD of hosts.” (Malachi 1:11)


First, we see that at the time the book of Malachi was written, God’s name was NOT great among the nations, therefore this is a prophecy of things to come.  Second, at the mention of “a pure offering”, what is the only pure offering ever brought to His name?  Jesus.  Third, we see that at that same event incense is also brought.  This rules out most Evangelical and Fundamentalist groups as they cannot and do not fulfill this part of the prophecy because they don’t use incense in their worship/liturgical ceremonies. And finally, “from the rising of the sun to its setting”.  All day long in other words.  Which worship ceremony uses incense and brings a pure offering all day long (from rising to setting of the sun) all around the world?  The Catholic Church is the only church which can claim this. 


But what about the pure offering?  What are we to do with it when we offer it to God?  Well, just look at what John was pointing to when Jesus was dying on the Cross.  Look at what the Israelites had to do at the first Passover sacrifice – they had to kill the lamb and then eat it (Exo 12:7-8 or Exo 12:43-47).  It wasn’t enough to sacrifice the lamb and to put its blood on the door frames.  To save the first-born sons of each household, they also had to eat the lamb as well.  How can we be sure of this?  By listening to Jesus’ own words of John 6 which states I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world(verse 51).  And to confirm this suspicion, the account of the Last Supper as described by Matthew, Mark, Luke and Paul all say the same when holding the unleavened bread once it was blessed.  Jesus says “This IS my body…this IS my blood”.


God Bless


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Pope Francis and Traditionalism

In the Catholic Debate Forum we've recently been discussing Pope Francis and Traditional Catholics vs. Rad-Trads (Radical Traditionalists) and one of the non-Catholic participants asked a question to which I responded and wish to share here as well...

On Sat, Nov 2, 2013 at 7:22 AM, Peter S. wrote:

ps: Is blasting the pope even up for debate within Catholic circles?!

sw:  In THIS forum, the Catholic Debate Forum, it is permissible for proclaimed Catholics to be challengers - though I will admit, I do watch such challengers a bit more carefully as there can be a fine line between healthy debate and scandal.  Is it appropriate to challenge even a pope?  Certainly!  There have been many examples in our past of popes who not only should have been challenged, but actually were challenged.  I do host two other forums of debate, "ACTS and BattleACTS" which do not allow for Catholics to be the challengers.  

ps: As far as I can tell, Pope Francis seems to follow the "What would Jesus do?" brand of theology, which I support.

sw: Well, I have read through John Vennari's article as I promised I would and am reporting back now.  Vennari is a staunch supporter of SSPX (the Society of St. Pius X) which maintains, in Pope Francis' words, "the Vetus Ordo" (Old Order) and upholds all pre-Vatican II teachings and only supports anything post-Vatican II which are in line with pre-Vatican II.  SSPX, understandably, clings to their namesake, Pope St. Pius X, who was staunchly against Modernism - which was attempting to get into the Church with a vengeance even in his day.  Mr. Vennari, along with Bishop Fellay (Superior General of SSPX) see Pope Francis as "a genuine Modernist."   
sw: As for ME (speaking only for myself now) I believe that the original Novus Ordo Missae (New Order of the Mass, hereafter "NOM") was severely lacking in several points.  The manner in which Pope Paul VI promulgated the NOM initially was fine - "I hope you'll use it" but in reality it became the unofficial replacement of the TLM (Traditional Latin Mass).  I will also say that the NOM was not "in the spirit of Vatican II," since in Vatican II it is clearly stated "36. 1. Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites." and parts 2,3 and 4 of that same section explain how certain PARTS of the liturgy MAY be translated from the Latin into the vernacular, "as they pertain to the people," NOWHERE in Vatican II does it promote the ENTIRE liturgy should be in the vernacular!  Thus, a completely vernacular liturgy is CONTRARY to "the spirit of Vatican II!"  Under Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI we have seen a return of some Latin in some places in the Mass to be encouraged, but the official promulgation of even the latest rendition of the NOM does not dictate Latin must be used anywhere in the liturgy, and thus we still have some/many if not most parishes using wholly vernacular renditions.  I would venture to guess that many, again, if not most Catholics (not, for the most part those here, who tend to be better educated in the Faith) do not realize that the TLM also includes a hold-over from the Greek liturgy, which is all but lost in a vernacular only Mass.  I speak of the Kyrie, which even when recited or sang within the NOM in Greek does not adhere to the form of the Greek liturgy, as the TLM maintains.
sw: Continuing to speak for MYSELF here... The loss of the universal missal within the Universal Church was tragic.  Prior to 1971 (or 1969 when Pope Paul VI first introduced the NOM, but it was 1971 when it was first officially promulgated) one could go to Mass literally ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD and so long as they had their English/Latin missal (or French/Latin, etc.) you could follow the Mass just like you did in your mother country/home language!  The exception being that often (not always) the Epistle and Gospel are repeated in the vernacular and the sermon would be in the vernacular - but the Canon of the Mass would ALWAYS be in Latin and thus THE REASON we go to Mass could ALWAYS be followed by EVERYONE regardless of their language.  It is not simply a matter of clinging to the past - but clinging to our HERITAGE that the true Traditionalist (not the "Rad-Trad" - a term I helped to coin - see research here) embraces.  
sw:  Where do I stand on the matter of the NOM v. the TLM?  Well, since the TLM was NEVER abrogated, it remains a TRUE and VALID order of the Mass where ever it is celebrated.  The NOM is a VALID and LICIT form of the Mass where ever it is celebrated under the auspices of a TRUE and VALID bishop.  To fulfill one's "Sunday Obligation" one may attend Mass at ANY VALID celebration of the Mass.  That being said, there are some limitations of those not in full communion with their local ordinary (local bishop).  Since the rites of Holy Matrimony and Reconciliation (Confession) are wholly under the auspices of the local ordinary, if the local priest does not have explicit permission from the local ordinary/bishop then these sacraments are not VALID under these circumstances.  An exception being that ANY valid priest may validly hear the confession of anyone in the state of emergency which would be death or dying.  Some, like SSPX, would argue that the Church is in a state of emergency and thus these sacraments are indeed valid through their priests.  As for me, I would say this is a matter of conscience (as Pope Francis would say) and if in good conscience you agree with SSPX then sobeit, but if in your conscience you believe SSPX priests should not be regularly hearing confessions and/or celebrating marriages - then you should not go to them for these things.  So, while I can go to virtually any TLM in good conscience - there are limits to what I can do with such independent chapels and with SSPX.  Keep in mind, it is permissible for faithful Catholics to go to the Greek Orthodox Divine Liturgy to satisfy their "Sunday obligation" - but likewise, we cannot go to them for confession or marriage.
sw:  Now, as I originally stated, I believe the jury is still out on just how supportive Pope Francis will be of Traditional Catholics.  It is my humble opinion that those who have been responding to the recent "interviews" of Pope Francis and using these interviews as evidence he's "changing Catholic teaching" or is somehow an Anti-Trad - are not only premature, but mistaken.  I've already blogged on the topic of Pope Francis on the CathApol Blog, if you're interested in following that.

Accendat in nobis Dominus ignem sui amoris, et flammam aeternae caritatis. Amen.

Assurance of Salvation

“From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me.” 
(1 Tim 4:8)

Paul seems to be certain of his final destiny in this passage but is he claiming that once one becomes Christian that heaven is a guarantee upon our deaths?  

The context of this passage tells us that Paul was writing this letter on the eve of his announced execution.  The study notes from the Ignatius Study Bile explains this passage thussly:

“The reward of everlasting righteousness (Gal 5:5) that awaits the saints, who have persevered in the grace of God (James 1:12; 1 Pet 5:4).  The image alludes to the garland or victory wreath used to crown winning athletes in the ancient Olympics (1 Cor 9:25).  Paul’s confidence that such a reward awaits him rests on his sense of accomplishment, since after 30 years of ministry, toil and suffering, he has remained firm in the faith without straying from the course set for him by Christ (2 Tim 4:7; Acts 20:24).”

Does this mean though that even though we have persevered up to now that we are guaranteed heaven?  If we died today possibly, if we have no unforgivien mortal sin on our souls at the time of death but how do we know that we will persevere until the end since we are not imminently clear that we are on the threshold of death at the moment?  Earlier in his ministry Paul himself wasn’t so sure of his final destiny because he didn’t presume to know the future while the race was still in progress.  He said: “If I proclaim the gospel, this gives me no ground for boasting, for an obligation is laid on me, and woe to me if I do not proclaim the gospel!” (1 Cor 9:16) or even more clearly, also early on in his ministry.  He says: “I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me.” ( 1 Cor 4:4)

No, it is quite clear that our final destiny, our salvation is not necessarily assured once we’ve truly accepted Jesus into our hearts as our Lord and Savior.  There are many Scripture passages describing this reality.  Jesus Himself said that even those who call on Jesus as their Lord shall not necessarily enter the kingdom of heaven (Mat 7:21).

Don’t be discouraged because we have a just and loving God.  He does indeed promise us eternal salvation if we persevere and that no trial shall be too great to bear with Him at our side for our trust in Him lightens our burden.  Jesus explains: “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Mat 11:29-30).

Lay your burdens at the cross and pick up your own and do it daily (Luke 9:23) knowing that whatever burdens may come He will give you whatever strength you need once you put your confidence in Him (Sir 52:23,26).

God Bless

Purgatory Question

Hello! I am a Protestant, but I just have a clarifying question. I appreciate your explanation of purgatory, but I confess that I still am not so clear on its necessity. I understand that nothing unclean can enter heaven...but what is the necessity of putting forth a doctrine about the mechanism by which God purifies? Is that just for information purposes or is there some other need being met for the believer to be taught this mechanism?

In Christ,

First off, thank you for the question, I am answering here in a new post instead of in the one you asked in, since that one is two and a half years old at this point.  Your comment is linked above and I have linked this article back in the original spot of your comment.

Secondly, what we believe is that Scripture has laid out the "mechanism" by which God purifies.  We see it as "necessary" because it is truth - and we must put forth the truth of God.  Nathan recently posted an article here with scriptural references for Purgatory (click here).  For the Church to withhold truth simply because it doesn't fit with Protestant theology would not be honest nor beneficial to the sincere believer who is seeking the fullness of truth, which, of course, we believe can only be found in the Catholic Church.  The fact that virtually all of Protestantism either ignores or flat out denies this truth is quite telling, would you not agree?

Again, I urge you to read Nathan's article and if you have further comments or questions, feel free to post here under this article (which will not be moderated until 4 weeks after posting).


Time To Change the Holy Water

Austrian researchers have discovered that church fonts contain very high levels of bacteria and a majority of water samples from holy sources contain fecal matter.
Experts from the Institute of Hygiene and Applied Immunology at the Medical University of Vienna analyzed the water in 21 holy springs in Austria and in 18 fonts in Vienna at various times during the year, the Daily Mail reported.
They found that 86 percent of water samples from holy sources contain fecal matter, and every milliliter of holy water contained up to 62 million bacteria, none of it safe to drink.
Not surprisingly, the busier the church, the more bacteria it had in its font from people’s hands.
In addition to E. coli bacteria and enterococci, the holy springs contained Campylobacter, which can cause inflammatory diarrhea, the Mail reported. Nitrates from agriculture also made the water unsafe for drinking.
“We need to warn people against drinking from these sources,” said Alexander Kirschner, a microbiologist at the Medical University of Vienna.
He recommends changing the holy water often and adding salt to the fonts to reduce the chance of bacteria thriving, the Mail reported.

Wow!  Time to talk to our priests about how often the Holy Water is changed!  I know for a fact that at the chapel where I assisted the sacristine, only enough Holy Water was put out for each day's Mass.  What was left would evaporate before the next day so each day was "fresh" Holy Water.  Maybe this is a European cultural problem?  Note, the study was from the University of Vienna, and may not apply globally.  

I cannot speak beyond my own experiences at the moment - have any of you been a sacristine or assisted?  What was the practice at your parish?  I also know for a fact that salt is used during the initial blessing of Holy Water too, maybe those sampled did not use enough salt during that consecration?


Faith, Hope and Charity

Faith, Hope and Charity - you're heard, I'm sure "the greatest of these is charity" (1 Cor. 13:13) but which is the "weakest?"  We often find opportunities to strengthen Faith and Charity, but what of Hope?  In a French parable I was told by a French priest and as you can see in the Eastern icon to the right, Faith and Charity are portrayed as mature, and queenly - yet Hope is portrayed as a little girl.  Why is that?  Because Hope does not get exercised as much, and doesn't mature.  What does this mean to us as Christians?  Seeing that you're reading this now, you're likely somewhat interested in apologetics, which allows you to flex your "Faith muscles" or at least give them some exercise.  One would hope too that this exercising is done with Charity too, so both are getting strengthened and built up (when apologetics are done appropriately, per 1 Peter 3:15).

As Christians we are also called to do acts of charity, giving to the poor, spending time with the lonely, etc.  So if one is living their Faith, then Charity grows naturally from that Faith.  So, this is why we see these two portrayed as more mature adults.  Hope is still a child because she is not put to the test except, typically speaking, in times of great need - and for most of us, we don't see such times very often.

When we find ourselves on our deathbed, Faith and Charity may only take us so far - but Hope is what we're going to need the most in that hour when Satan attacks us and tries to bring us into the sin of despair.  In reality this is the "unforgiveable sin" for when one is in despair at that final hour they have given up on Faith and Charity - so THAT is where Satan will focus his attacks!  Despair is not only the loss of Hope, but also a loss of Faith.  

What is the difference between St. Peter and Judas Iscariot?  Both were Apostles, and both betrayed our Lord, yet one is exalted while the other shamed and condemned.  The difference is Judas went into despair, he did not believe Jesus would forgive him of his betrayal and went off and hanged himself.   St. Peter, on the other hand, after flatly denying our Lord was forgiven and Peter accepted His Grace!  The contrast between these two is stark - but their similarities are startling as well.

The point is Hope needs to be strengthened and matured so that we are more able to endure the attacks of Satan who would like nothing more than to get us to fall into despair, like Judas, and he "wins" another soul away from eternal salvation.  Having Hope gives us the ability to persevere through the darkness which can just about be guaranteed that each of us will go through.  So long as we have Hope, we can persevere - and those who persevere to the Last Day shall see eternal salvation (Matthew 10:22) see also: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11711a.htm.


Romans 8:24-25

Romans 12:12

Romans 15:13

Jeremiah 29:11

Psalm 39:7

Proverbs 23:18

1 Peter 3:15

Romans 5:4

Zechariah 9:12

Titus 3:7

Feast of the Assumption

 The Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary - another example of "not-so-ordinary" days! These are COUNTING days - and...