Sexagesima Sunday

Sexagesima Sunday, though not officially recognized by the modern Church, is still traditionally observed in the Extraordinary Rite (Traditional Latin Mass).  It has the literal meaning of 60, as in 60 days before Easter - but it's actually 56 days.  This is the second Sunday before Lent begins.  The traditional Gospel for the day is the Parable of the Sower, one of my favorites.  
EPISTLE:      (2 Corinthians XI: 19-33; XII: 1-9) Brethren, you gladly suffer the foolish; whereas yourselves are wise. For you suffer if a man bring you into bondage, if a man devour you, if a man take from you, if a man be lifted up, if a man strike you on the face. I speak according to dishonor, as if we had been weak in this part. Wherein if any man dare (I speak foolishly), I dare also. Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I. Are they the ministers of Christ (I speak as one less wise,) I am more: in many more labors, in prisons more frequently, in stripes above measure, in deaths often. Of the Jews five times did I receive forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods; once was I stoned; thrice I suffered shipwreck; a night and a day I was in the depth of the sea. In journeying often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils from my own nation, in perils from the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils from false brethren. In labor and painfulness, in much watchings, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness; besides those things which are without, my daily instance, the solicitude for all the Churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is scandalized, and I am not on fire? If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things that concern my infirmity. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is blessed forever, knoweth that I lie not. At Damascus the governor of the nation under Aretas the king, guarded the city of the Damascenes to apprehend me; and through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and so escaped his hands. If I must glory (it is not expedient indeed); but I will come to the visions and revelations of the Lord. I know a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in, the body I know not, or out of the body, I know not, God knoweth): such an one rapt even to the third heaven. And I know such a man (whether in the body or out of the body, I cannot tell, God knoweth) : that he was caught up into paradise; and heard secret words, which it is not granted to man to utter. For such an one I will glory; but for myself I will glory nothing, but in my infirmities. For though I should have a mind to glory, I shall not be foolish; for I will say the truth. But I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth in me, or anything he heareth from me. And lest the greatness of the revelations should exalt me, there was given me a sting of my flesh, an angel of Satan, to buffet me. For, which thing thrice I besought the Lord, that it might depart from me. And he said to me: My grace is sufficient for thee; for power is made perfect in infirmity. Gladly therefore will I glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 
In the Epistle, St. Paul speaks of a man whom he "knows" - not "knew" - who was taken up into the "Third Heaven."  He knows another man who was "caught up into Paradise, and heard secret words..." again, he speaks in present tense.  It would appear that St. Paul is quite confident in these men he knows as being alive in Heaven - and shares a communion with them, just as we confess in our creeds - "the communion of saints."  Physical death does not separate us from this communion - for we are confident in the fact that the Saints are alive in Heaven.  (I'm preparing another article on "Prayer to Saints" which more directly deals with this topic.   When that is posted, I'll link it here).
GOSPEL:      (Luke viii: 4-15) At that time, when very great multitude was gathered together and hastened out of the cities unto Him, He spoke by a similitude: "The sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell by the wayside; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. And other some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. And other some fell among thorns; and the thorns growing up with it, choked it. And other some fell upon good ground; and being sprung up, yielded fruit a hundredfold. Saying these things, he cried out: He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. And his disciples asked him what this parable might be. To whom he said: To you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God, but to the rest in parables; that seeing, they may not see, and hearing, they may not understand. Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. And they by the way-side are they that hear: then the devil cometh, and taketh the word out of their heart, lest believing they should be saved. Now they upon the rock are they who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no roots, for they believe for a while, and in time of temptation they fall away. And that which fell among thorns are they who have heard, and going their way, are choked with the cares and riches, and pleasures of this life, and yield no fruit. But that on the good ground are they who, in a good and perfect heart, hearing the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit in patience."
Laus tibi, Christe.
Again, how can the apologist not point out these facts!   This is another lesson against Calvinism!  Scripture clearly teaches that some of the seed fell among the rocks - and withered away because they had no roots.  Jesus compares the rocks to those who believe for a while, then in a time of temptation they fall away.  So again we see the refutation of OSAS (Once Saved, Always Saved) explicitly delineated in Scripture.

I believe one can also see that these Sundays are also "counting" Sundays, in preparation for Lent, which goes along with my preference of referring to the Sundays after Epiphany as "ordinal" not "ordinary."  This period of time is ANYTHING BUT ordinary!  

May God richly bless those who come this way.


Septuagesima Sunday 2013

Septuagesima Sunday - 3 Sundays before Lent - 9 Sundays before Easter.  The Pre-Lenten Season has begun!  It is time to begin preparing for Lent.  What will your penance be this year?  

Septuagesima is representative of "70" in Latin, however Easter is really 63 days away.  It is thought that both Septuagesima and Sexagesima (60 days) both relate to Quinquagesima Sunday (50 days) as that is closer to the number of days, but even there - it's 49 days.

The Mass readings for today in the Extraordinary Rite (Traditional Latin Mass) are also very related to recent topics of discussion here on the CathApol Blog!  The Epistle: 
EPISTLE I Cor. 9:24-27; 10:1-5Brethren: Know you not that they that run in the race, all run indeed, but one receiveth the prize. So run that you may obtain. And every one that striveth for the mastery refraineth himself from all things. And they indeed that they may receive a corruptible crown: but we an incorruptible one. I therefore so run, not as at an uncertainty: I so fight, not as one beating the air. But I chastise my body and bring it into subjection: lest perhaps, when I have preached to others, I myself should become a castaway. For I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud: and all passed through the sea. And all in Moses were baptized, in the cloud and in the sea: And did all eat the same spiritual food: And all drank the same spiritual drink: (And they drank of the spiritual rock that followed them: and the rock was Christ.) But with most of them God was not well pleased.

Actually, it's a recurring theme here on this blog - note - "all" run in the race, but only "one" receives the prize.  But more importantly here, St. Paul expresses the concern that even he could be "a castaway" - if even St. Paul is concerned for his salvation - how can OSAS (Once Saved, Always Saved) be anything but a fiction?

And the Gospel:

GOSPEL Matt. 20:1-16At that time, Jesus spoke to His disciples this parable:"The kingdom of heaven is like to an householder, who went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard. And having agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And going out about the third hour, he saw others standing in the marketplace idle. And he said to them: 'Go you also into my vineyard, and I will give you what shall be just.' And they went their way. And again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did in like manner. But about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing, and he saith to them: 'Why stand you here all the day idle?' They say to him: 'Because no man hath hired us.' He saith to them: 'Go ye also into my vineyard.' And when evening was come, the lord of the vineyard saith to his steward: 'Call the labourers and pay them their hire, beginning from the last even to the first.' When therefore they were come that came about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny. But when the first also came, they thought that they should receive more: And they also received every man a penny. And receiving it they murmured against the master of the house, Saying: 'These last have worked but one hour. and thou hast made them equal to us, that have borne the burden of the day and the heats.' But he answering said to one of them: 'friend, I do thee no wrong: didst thou not agree with me for a penny? Take what is thine, and go thy way: I will also give to this last even as to thee. Or, is it not lawful for me to do what I will? Is thy eye evil, because I am good?' So shall the last be first and the first last. For many are called but few chosen."
The last sentence is the key here - "For many are called but few are chosen."  Let us ask our Calvinist friends if God has failed in the calling of the many - since only a few of those end up being "chosen?"

Why go to Confession?

Why must I go to Confession?  Can’t I go directly to God?

There are three main reasons why we ought to go to Confession for the forgiveness of our sins.  The first is because it has been set up this way since the very early years of our children in the faith.  The Jewish people have been giving sin offerings for the atonement of their sins through the priest for centuries.  Jesus taught this same idea of the forgiveness of sins through those He appointed and gave such necessary authority that the Jewish people never had.

Secondly, both John and James mention the need to confess our sins to each other.  These men tell us to confess our sins to each other but more specifically James says that certain men have this power to forgive the sins of others (James 5:14-15).  We find in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 9, verse 6 Jesus forgiving the sins of a paralytic man and saying: “your sins are forgiven” and Matthew goes on to say in verse 8 that these powers are given to men (plural).

Thirdly, we know that Jesus has the authority on earth to forgive sins (Matt 9:6) and that Jesus sends His apostles with the words: “As the Father sent me, even so I now send you.” (John 20:21).  Therefore it is clear that Scripture teaches us that Jesus gave His apostles the authority to forgive sins.  These have been given this same authority as well as the authority to pass this authority on to their successors all the way through history to our bishops and priests of today.

To recap, true sacramental forgiveness of sins is a fulfillment of the sacrificial system of the forgiveness of sins of the Jewish people.  It is also the power of God working through men (bishops and priests) and is instituted by Jesus Himself and passed on through apostolic succession to the bishops and priests of today.

If you were dying of cancer and you prayed everyday for God to heal you, God could easily heal you instantly.  But before that happens you will no doubt constantly visit the doctor to help you.  Now say you are healed by the doctors help.  It is not the doctor that healed you, it was God.  The doctor was just the intermediary for God.  God used the doctor to perform His miracle.  This is the same way that God uses a priest to administer the sacrament of confession to us.  Sin is like a cancer and we need to go to the doctor (priest) to be healed.

So why go to confession?  Because Jesus Christ set it up this way.  Yes, if you ask forgiveness with a repentant heart, you will be forgiven but this only for venial sins.  If you’ve completely cut yourself off from His communion by performing mortal sin then you must go to confession so as to reconcile yourself to Him and His Church.

If Jesus truly set it up this way then who are we to assume we that we don’t need to go?  Don’t delay in going to Confession.

Catholic Position on Homosexuality

Recently Nathan blogged on this topic, more directly on Homosexuality and Marriage, and a few years ago I also blogged more generally expressing the Catholic position on this subject, citing my sources fairly thoroughly from (Catholic) primary sources.  You can see both of those articles (along with this one) if you use the following link:

I bring the topic up again, especially as it relates to Nathan's article because I was asked by someone offline regarding the hardlined approach by the Catholic Church on the matter of "marriage" since it is becoming, more and more, accepted by society.  He asked if the Catholic Church is not giving itself a "black eye" over this by not accepting it.  My response was (and remains) the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, which is marriage is Church terminology!  Now, if "society" wants to "approve" something like "civil unions" so that homosexual couples can have the same legal rights as heterosexual couples, well, sobeit, but we do not need to relinquish our approximately 6000 years of defining what "marriage" means.  

God's Law strictly forbids participation in homosexual acts.  This does not mean that people who have homosexual thoughts or even desires are "homosexuals."  The terminology of "homosexual" implies actual participation in the illicit act(s).  For example, one who is a married heterosexual is one who participates in "the marriage act" with their spouse.  On the other hand, an unmarried heterosexual is one who participates in "the marriage act" with someone who is not (or not yet) their spouse.  An unmarried heterosexual, in the view of God's Law would be a fornicator and/or an adulterer.  The there is the third possibility, the celibate.  A celibate person, regardless of their thoughts, desires or tendencies is one who does not act upon these things.   A Catholic priest, for example, if he faithfully adheres to his vow before God is not "sexual" at all, he's celibate.

The problem we have is when the lines are blurred, definitions skewed and people are left with fuzzy, "feel-good" definitions (those that may make them feel better about themselves or others).  The redefining of words like "gay" (which used to primarily mean "happy" or "joyous") and avoiding more precise or accurate terminology, like "homosexuality," is part of what has brought us to the confused state many are in today.  

We need to stand firm in our convictions and our faith.  Some have tried to argue that the Bible is only against homosexuality in the Old Testament and that the New Testament is a more "loving" approach, but is that true?  Let's look at a few passages from the New Testament, shall we?
Romans 1:26-27 - "For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is shameful, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was fitting." 
1 Corinthians 6:9 - "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders."
1 Timothy 1:10 - "and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching,"
Jesus specifically upholds the traditional view of the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony:
Matthew 19:4-6 - "4“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ 5and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’6So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”
It is undeniable that the New Testament is just as opposed to homosexual acts as the Old Testament is.

Now, to get a bit more controversial, I wish to express my own opinions - and would entertain comments and/or criticisms of them.

Let's face it, sexual "desire" is the bottom line here.  One may have "desire" for either hetero or homosexual acts - but there really is not sin until they act and/or seriously entertain such acts.  Ones sexual preference is just that, a preference.  Now I'm not saying that a male might get to a point of being very "turned off" by considering a heterosexual relationship - but that does not make acting upon homosexual desires "right."

I also believe that many Christians struggle with such desires, but maintain either a celibate or heterosexual lifestyle.  These Christians balance their faith with their desires and, again in my humble opinion, they gain grace in succeeding at keeping such desires within God's clearly expressed Law.  Those who succumb to the temptations have indeed sinned, and sinned gravely against God, and if they remain unrepentant and/or lack true contrition for their sin, then they are separated from God's grace.

There can be no such thing as a Christian homosexual, for again, to be "homosexual" implies actual participation in a sinful lifestyle.  Now one could be a Christian celibate with homosexual thoughts/desires.  Once one crosses the line into acting upon these thoughts/desires, they have abandoned God's Law. 

Can one who has been married for years but has been suppressing homosexual thoughts/desires all that time and even prior to taking the vow of Holy Matrimony remain married?  Well, not only can they, but yes - they ARE married still!  What they need to do is be honest with their spouse about these feelings, but also remain true to their vows.  Remember that your body truly is not your own, but belongs to your spouse - and you should continue to honor their needs and desires.  1 Corinthians 7:4 makes this quite clear:
The wife's body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband's body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. (NIV)
Now, as I said, I am expressing my own opinions here, but I believe they are well-founded in Church teaching and Scripture.  That being said, I repeat, I would be happy to entertain respectful comments and challenges to what I have posted.

I found it interesting that even some homosexuals have rejected the concept of "Gay Marriage" as "unnatural."  See article.

Quoted from the National Catholic Bioethics Center:  
On this point, we agree with same sex marriage advocate Professor John Corvino: 'The fact is that there are plenty of genetically influenced traits that are nevertheless undesirable. Alcoholism may have a genetic basis, but it doesn't follow that alcoholics ought to drink excessively. Some people may have a genetic predisposition to violence, but they have no more right to attack their neighbors than anyone else. Persons with such tendencies cannot say 'God made me this way' as an excuse for acting on their dispositions.'" 
While those who promote the normalization of SSA (same sex attraction) may argue in public that people are ‘born that way,’ there is no scientific evidence to support the view that SSA is genetically or biologically predetermined. The few studies which have been mis-reported in the media as offering support for such predetermination either have been discredited or were not supported in subsequent, higher quality research. Even the American Psychological Association has publicly declared that “there is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay, or lesbian orientation...Many think that nature and nurture both play complex roles; most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation.”
The Catechism of the Catholic Church:
Chastity and homosexuality
2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,141 tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered."142 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 circumstances can they be approved.
2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, 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. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.
2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.  
2360 Sexuality is ordered to the conjugal love of man and woman. In marriage the physical intimacy of the spouses becomes a sign and pledge of spiritual communion. Marriage bonds between baptized persons are sanctified by the sacrament.
2361 "Sexuality, by means of which man and woman give themselves to one another through the acts which are proper and exclusive to spouses, is not something simply biological, but concerns the innermost being of the human person as such. It is realized in a truly human way only if it is an integral part of the love by which a man and woman commit themselves totally to one another until death."143
2392 "Love is the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being" (FC 11).
2393 By creating the human being man and woman, God gives personal dignity equally to the one and the other. Each of them, man and woman, should acknowledge and accept his sexual identity.
2394 Christ is the model of chastity. Every baptized person is called to lead a chaste life, each according to his particular state of life.
2395 Chastity means the integration of sexuality within the person. It includes an apprenticeship in self-mastery.
2396 Among the sins gravely contrary to chastity are masturbation, fornication, pornography, and homosexual practices.
2397 The covenant which spouses have freely entered into entails faithful love. It imposes on them the obligation to keep their marriage indissoluble.
2398 Fecundity is a good, a gift and an end of marriage. By giving life, spouses participate in God's fatherhood.
141 Cf. Gen 191-29; Rom 124-27; 1 Cor 6:10; 1 Tim 1:10.
142 CDF, Persona humana 8.
143 FC 11.

May God bless and guide you.

The Five Solas (Petillo)

The Five Solas
A Response to Petillo
By Scott Windsor

I am responding to Petillo's blog, currently located here:

The Five Biblical Solas of the Reformation

In order to be a true Christian one must believe the five solas of the reformation; that is, sola scriptura, sola fide, sola gratia, solo Christus and Sola Deo Gloria.  Is anyone ready to lay down their life for these divine truths because they honestly love them before God and man?
sw: We are to love nothing before God!  So I would urge anyone reading this to NOT lay down their life based upon this reason.
  Do you strongly believe these doctrinal truths?  
sw: No, because while some of them have some truth to them, others are actually contrary to Scripture, namely "sola scriptura" and "sola fide."
Are they divine truth to you and from His holy and written Word?
sw: No, for the same reason cited above.


Sola Scriptura refers to the Bible as the sole God-inspired, infallible and inerrant written Word of God; however, we acknowledge that the Bible did not fall out of heaven or was not literally written with the hand of God; that is, it is God-breathed or the all-sufficient Word of God.  It is sufficient enough for life, faith and morals. 
sw: Being "sufficient" cannot be equated to being "sola."  This is the fatal flaw of most, if not all, who claim this doctrine.  They take references of sufficiency and equate that to sola.
Here are some Scriptures that teach the infallibility of the Word of God:

2 Timothy 3:15-17 NIV
 15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
sw: This is the primary scriptural citation sola scriptura adherents refer to - and as I noted previously, this passage does NOT speak to a "sola" nature, only a "sufficient" nature.  The concept of "sola" is imported or imputed into this verse through eisegetical arguments - such as we're responding to now.  Yes, all Scripture is God-breathed and (and here's the key) USEFUL for teaching, etc. so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work, but this passage does NOT say that Scripture is the ONLY (or "sola") source ability to thoroughly equip someone.  James White likes (or liked, not sure if he's still using this bad argument) making an analogy to his bike shop being able to thoroughly equip him to ride his bicycle.  The point that argument overlooks is that there's any number of equally able bike shops which could "thoroughly equip" him!
John 10:35 KJV
If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken;
sw:  The context of this verse is Jesus challenging the Jews because they were about to stone Him because He refers to Himself as God's Son.  Jesus cites Scripture stating, "ye are gods" (Psalms 82:6), and that passage from Psalms says that we are "all sons of the Most High."  So yes, while He does say "Scripture cannot be broken," what He's NOT saying is Scripture is the sole (or sola) source for the Christian.  Again, this verse does NOT support sola scriptura!
John 17:17 KJV
Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
sw: Sounds good, and IS good, His word IS truth!  Again, this does not say that ONLY His word is truth!  This is NOT supportive of sola scriptura!  Petillo has (as has all others before him) missed the mark in this feeble attempt to defend sola scriptura.
Sola Fide refers to faith alone; that is, it is the sole instrument for how someone is declared justified by faith alone; that is, faith is the alone instrument for being right before God.  In Reformed theology, there is no "faith plus good works" but faith alone but a faith alone is never alone because it is a working faith.  
sw:  The fact of the matter is that the ONLY place in Scripture where the words "faith" and "alone" are used together in Scripture is in James 2:24 which is blatantly a statement DENYING and of course that verse is:  "You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone" (NASB, emphasis added).  When Scripture itself explicitly states "not by faith alone," how does one justify (no pun intended) a doctrine based upon faith alone?

sw: Another thing we see here is Petillo using the double-speak we have seen others use.  I've already prepared a fuller response on this double-speak as used by others, so I won't belabor it too much in this response (see the link) - suffice it to say that saying "faith alone, but not a faith which is alone" is double-speak.  If a saving/working faith is never alone, then faith alone (aka sola fide) is a lie.


Justification by faith alone is a declaration by God in legal terms where a sinner is declared righteous on the basis of Christ alone; that is, it is a once-and-for all declaration by God and in justification we are not "made" right with God but declared right with God through Jesus His Son. 
sw:  Here Petillo has actually changed topics from sola fide to solo christus, which is a truism if properly taught and understood and once saved, always saved (OSAS), which is a false teaching!  Solo christus is discussed later, so I'll wait on that one, but OSAS is yet another fatal flaw in Protestant thinking which I will address now.  Ironically those who adhere to OSAS look to St. Paul's writings to find, what they think, is support for the teaching but in the context of all that St. Paul wrote one would have to reject OSAS if they are reading him objectively.  Why do I say that?  Simply put, St. Paul puts forth the possibility of he himself losing salvation!  Yes, he teaches that he must continue to discipline himself so that even after preaching the Gospel to others, that he himself would not be disqualified or cast out from the prize (1 Cor. 9:27).  From the same context he teaches that we must all run as to win the prize (1 Cor. 9:24) to not be complacent.
Here are some Scripture references to help us understand sola fide:

Romans 4 KJV

What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?  2 For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.  4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.  5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.  6 Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works,  7 Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered  8 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.
sw:  Interestingly, Protestants like Petillo like to use this passage from Romans 4 where it speaks of Abraham's faith - but in the greater context of the whole of Scripture we cannot ignore James 2:24 which also speaks of Abraham's faith AND explicitly states that Abraham was "justified by works and not by faith alone."
Ephesians 2 KJV
But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)  And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:  That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:  Not of works, lest any man should boast.  10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
 sw:  Another mistake folks like Petillo makes is to take St. Paul out of context, as he has done above.  The "works" which St. Paul speaks against here is "works of the law," and specifically in this context he is speaking about circumcision (see verses 11-18).  Yes, the context makes it clear that St. Paul is saying that one does not absolutely need to follow "the Law" of circumcision - this is not a denial of the need for works to accompany faith in order for that faith to be a saving faith.
Titus 3:5 KJV
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
sw: Again, if we look to context, specifically verse 9, we see the "law" is part of what is being spoken of in this context.  If we look at verse 8 we see that the context is actually encouraging the faithful to good works!


Sola Gratia teaches that grace is unmerited favor or a free grace through the unified merit of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  It means that God comes to save the poor sinner; that is, God takes the initiative to save a lost sinner and gives him a new heart and a new unified merit of Christ alone through the spiritual application of the Holy Spirit.
sw: Properly understood, sola gratia is truth!  We have done nothing and can do nothing to merit God's Grace - it is something He freely gave to the world (John 3:16) but even that gift requires something of us in order to receive it - we must believe in Him - which leads us to Petillo's next point. 
Sola Gratia is a denial of synergism; that is, the soul remains passive and there can be no cooperation with God and man until the sinner is spiritual quickened unto eternal life or life everlasting because there is no good in the flesh of men.  It is His unified imputed or account merit that is the centrality of the Gospel; that is, it alone is all-sufficient not the personal merits of the saints.  There is a merit that is not a merit that merits hell; however, there is no merit that merits heaven.
sw: This is where Protestants like Petillo go totally off-track.  Scripture clearly states that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son - and here's the synergism - that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.  It almost seems that in their desire to fight anything "Catholic" they are willing to overlook such an obvious truth.  To deny that there has to be cooperation with God is devoid of the truth of Scripture.  Sure, we don't merit His Grace, but those who do nothing will not experience it.  At the very minimum we must believe in Him as our Lord and Savior.


Solo Christus refers to the saving and unified merit of Christ alone in His active and passive obedience; that is, His active obedience is His sinless life that He used to earn heaven for us because we could not merit heaven ourselves, and second, is His passive obedience where He bore the sins of His people in His body upon the tree where He took all our filth, sin, defilement and total rebellion and idolatry at the Cross so we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
sw: Again, there IS truth in solo Christus.  It IS Jesus Christ who merits our salvation, not us.  We don't "earn" Heaven, but it is also not merely a passive hearing of His Word which saves us - for we must also be doers of His Word.
"for it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified."  Romans 2:13"But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves." James 1:22
sw: Now to the verses Petillo puts forth:

Galatians 2 KJV
16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
17 But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid.
18 For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.
19 For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.
20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain 
sw: Make note of the context again - it is "works of the Law" which do not justify!  True faith or saving faith is not an alone faith.  If you believe in Jesus Christ, you DO what is commanded in His Word.
Romans 3 KJV
21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;
22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:
23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
sw: Again, "works of the Law" is the context!
Romans 4 KJV
What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?
For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.
For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.
Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.
But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
sw:  In order for Petillo's thesis to be true here we'd have to say this is a direct conflict with James 2.  Since I do not believe in Scripture contradicting itself, and I do not believe Petillo does either, then we must believe Petillo is misrepresenting the context of Scripture here, especially when the EXACT SAME EXAMPLE is used in James 2 to show that it was "by works a man is justified, and NOT BY FAITH ALONE."


Sola Deo Gloria teaches that all glory goes to God alone;
sw:  Catholics believe it this too!  But let us continue...
that is, all of spiritual salvation goes to God alone. 
sw:  Agreed!
That is, He is the object of our worship that gets the most glory. 
sw:  Agreed!
We indeed praise Him and glorify Him because He chose to save; that is, He is glorified in the eternal preservation of the saints and He is glorified in the eternal destruction of the damned.  He is glorified unto holiness by eternal mercy and He is glorified unto sin by His eternal justice.
sw:  God is not glorified in the damned.  God's justice is demonstrated and His glory is in the mercy He shows to those whom He has saved FROM damnation.  
Psalm 29:1 KJV
Give unto the LORD, O ye mighty, give unto the LORD glory and strength. 
Psalm 29:2 KJV
Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.
 Psalm 64:10 KJV
The righteous shall be glad in the LORD, and shall trust in him; and all the upright in heart shall glory.
sw:  These are nice passages, but none of them proclaim SOLA deo gloria!   Yes, we give unto the Lord, unto His mightiness, glory and strength, and while it IS theologically sound to only give glory in the highest to God, the passages Petillo cites here do not proclaim "sola."
May we learn these sacred and divine truths!  May we plan to live a godly and holy new year!  We must mediate on these divine truths and by His Spirit apply it to our lives!
sw:  Those things which Petillo has professed which are truths should be learned and help us to lead godly and holy lives - those things we have identified as falsehoods must be utterly rejected and denied by all faithful Christians.  

sw:  The "Five Solas" are mostly fictions invented by protesting rebels who LEFT the One, True Church and desperately sought to establish a new foundation, a new authority and most definitely a "different gospel" from that which was preached by their forefathers - and which we are explicitly warned against:
I wonder that you are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ, unto another gospel.  Which is not another, only there are some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.   But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach a gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema.  As we said before, so now I say again: If any one preach to you a gospel, besides that which you have received, let him be anathema.  Galations 1:6-9
But I fear lest, as the serpent seduced Eve by his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted, and fall from the simplicity that is in Christ.  For if he that cometh preacheth another Christ, whom we have not preached; or if you receive another Spirit, whom you have not received; or another gospel which you have not received; you might well bear with him.  For I suppose that I have done nothing less than the great apostles  2 Corinthians 11:3-5
sw:  In this passage, St. Paul, while warning against a false gospel also fears that those to whom he has preached may, like Eve, be led astray by the Serpent.  He that cometh, be it 1500 some years later, preaching another Christ, whom they did not preach, or another Spirit, etc. is to be avoided, rejected and anathema.  If "OSAS" were a truth, a true gospel, then why would St. Paul fear his followers would be able to be led astray?  Heed St. Paul's warning, my friends!  Flee the false Christ of Calvinism!  Embrace the One, True Christ who did indeed build His One, True Church - and didn't wait until the 16th century to do so!  Come home to that One, True Church - that we might be one, just as the Son and the Father are One.
That they all may be one, as thou, Father, in me, and I in thee; that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.  John 17:21

Scripture Alone?

Today’s readings reminded me of one of the major problems that most non-Catholic Christians have with their idea that Scripture is to be our final authority in right-Christian living as well as finding out what is to be believed as doctrinally true.

Let’s set aside the fact that this rule can nowhere be found in our Scriptures (the Bible) and therefore defeats its own rule.  What I mean by that is if our final authority in determining what is doctrinally true is the Bible then this rule ought to be found in our Bible.  And it isn’t.  What I found in today’s readings that reminded me of this was the fact that not only is this rule of ‘Sola Scriptura’ not found in Scripture but Scripture itself teaches something that is opposite of this premise.

In the first reading from today we find Ezra the priest lift up the Scriptures of the time to the people and begins reading it to them.  As we can see, Scriptures are indeed very important since they are the written Word of God but Ezra not only “read plainly from the book of the law of God” he also interpreted it “so that all could understand what was read.” (Neh 8:8)

Even in the Old Testament times we see a need for some in authority to interpret the Scriptures so that we all may understand it properly.  Before the time of Jesus these interpreters ended up misapplying the Scriptures and erred on matters of faith and morals when interpreting the written Word of God.  Since Jesus came to ‘fix’ the problems of the times, does this mean that we shouldn’t have an authority to help us understand Scripture properly?  By no means!  Jesus came to ‘fix’ the problems, that is he came to fulfill, not to destroy the old system.

The reason that the Jews veered off course in understanding the written Word of God is because they hadn’t receive the promise of God that they would be guided into all truth as the leaders of the new Kingdom, that is His Church (John 16:13).  When Jesus instituted His Church here on earth, he fulfilled what was lacking previously.  He promised them that whatever they bound on earth would be bound in heaven (Mat 18:18).  Since nothing untrue can be bound in heaven, we understand Jesus’ statement that the Holy Spirit will guide the Church into binding and loosing the faithful in an infallible manner on matters of faith and morals.

Jesus tells His followers that the last authority in guiding fellow Christians to the truth is the Church (Mat 18:15-17) and so when a major disagreement arose between Paul and some judaizers, those judaizers and Paul were sent to the Church to settle the matter which we now call the council of Jerusalem (Acts 15:2).  Their decision in settling the matter was guided by the Holy Spirit (Acts 15:28) and was binding not only for the local congregation but to all the faithful (Acts 16:4).  We see examples of these councils throughout history all the way up to the Second Vatican Council of the 1960’s.  Since the Church is the final authority, Paul describes the Church, not the Scriptures, as being the upholder and standard of the truth (1 Tim 3:15).  Therefore the doctrine of Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone) is not only nowhere found in our Bible, it is actually contrary to what the Bible teaches.

Missed past week’s leaflets?  Questions?  Comments?  Come visit our Blog at

Euthanasia of Twin Brothers

Euthanasia in the Catechism
2276 Those whose lives are diminished or weakened deserve special respect. Sick or handicapped persons should be helped to lead lives as normal as possible.
2277 Whatever its motives and means, direct euthanasia consists in putting an end to the lives of handicapped, sick, or dying persons. It is morally unacceptable.
Thus an act or omission which, of itself or by intention, causes death in order to eliminate suffering constitutes a murder gravely contrary to the dignity of the human person and to the respect due to the living God, his Creator. The error of judgment into which one can fall in good faith does not change the nature of this murderous act, which must always be forbidden and excluded.
2278 Discontinuing medical procedures that are burdensome, dangerous, extraordinary, or disproportionate to the expected outcome can be legitimate; it is the refusal of "over-zealous" treatment. Here one does not will to cause death; one's inability to impede it is merely accepted. The decisions should be made by the patient if he is competent and able or, if not, by those legally entitled to act for the patient, whose reasonable will and legitimate interests must always be respected.
2279 Even if death is thought imminent, the ordinary care owed to a sick person cannot be legitimately interrupted. The use of painkillers to alleviate the sufferings of the dying, even at the risk of shortening their days, can be morally in conformity with human dignity if death is not willed as either an end or a means, but only foreseen and tolerated as inevitable Palliative care is a special form of disinterested charity. As such it should be encouraged.

Twin brothers who have been deaf since birth found out they were both going blind.  The have lived together all their lives, and reportedly the thought of not being able to see each other anymore was too much for them so they arranged for assisted suicide, which is legal in Belgium (where they lived).  Bear in mind, there was no physical pain, only emotional.  Unwilling to face what may lie before them, they opted for lethal injection.  It is reported that just before their untimely deaths, they had coffee together and spoke with their parents.  

Sad, truly sad.

USA Today article

Catholic Online article

Faith vs Works

Let’s look at verses that many Protestants use to make their case of Sola Fide, the doctrine of salvation through faith alone as compared to passages that seem to suggest that salvation is found through works alone.
Galatians 3:11 “Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith.”
Romans 3:28 “For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.”
Acts 16:30-31 “He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.””
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
1 John 5:13 “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.”


Eph 2:8-9 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—  not by works, so that no one can boast.”
It seems pretty obvious that we are justified, that is saved, by faith alone right?  Not so fast, let’s compare the case for salvation through faith alone with the many passages in the Bible on the need of doing good works in regards to our salvation.

Rom 2:13 “For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.”
James 2:24 “You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.”

James 2:20 “You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless?
Mat 7:21 ““Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

Mat 19:16-17 “ Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”
Eph 2:10 “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Therefore, by virtue of not having a single verse directly stating that one is saved through faith alone along with the fact that our Bible does say that one is saved by what we do, we see a need to marry all these verses together without contradictions.  Paul does exactly that in his letter to the Galatians where he says that “the only thing that counts is faith working through love.”  And so we can see that it’s not exactly what we do but with what intention that we do these things because of our faith.  If we do these things out of love then that makes it pleasing to God and useful for our salvation (James 2:20-26).

Ordinal Time

Should we really call it "Ordinary Time?"  This coming Sunday will mark the "First Sunday After Epiphany" according to the Traditional (Extraordinary) lectionary, but most will call it "The First Sunday in Ordinary Time."  I ask, what is so "ordinary" about this time?  Why do we call this "Ordinary Time?"

Well, first off the title of "Ordinary Time" is misleading, as it comes from "Ordinal Time" - which means "counting time."  The main point I'd like to bring out is that in "counting" we're constantly reminded of the weeks after a given holy day, in this case it is Epiphany (later in the year it is Pentecost).  Let us continue to remember the holy day and that it is the "Season after Epiphany."  This is not an "ordinary" season in the way most English speaking people understand the terminology of "ordinary."  Yes, both come from the same root word, but "ordinal" implies the true nature of the season as counting days after a given holy day.  For the next several weeks I urge you to continue to remember the coming of the Three Wise Men from the East - and why they sought out our Lord and Savior over the birth of anyone else born in a royal heritage.  There are so many reasons for us to remember this day of their arrival, the homage they paid and the fact that they were given a sign in a vision to leave by another route, and not go back to King Herod.  As Bp. Sheen once said, "all who visit our Lord leave differently."

This is also an opportune time to remind everyone that in certain traditions Christmas itself is not "over" yet, and lasts until Candlemas in which it is the last time that the Nativity of Our Lord is mentioned in the readings of the Mass.  Candlemas falls on February 2nd.

12th Night (Twelfth Night)

Tonight marks the end of the 12 Days of Christmas, tonight is "Twelfth Night."  Tomorrow begins the Season of Epiphany which directly precedes the Season of Lent.  In many traditions the celebration of 12th Night symbolizes the close of the Christmas Season.  Decorations were taken down and the wreath which hung upon most Christian doors would be removed and any edible parts of it were eaten.  There is also the tradition of the "King's Cake" - which would be prepared and eaten on 12th Night.  The King's Cake is a round/ring cake (sometimes with a crown in the middle).

Epiphany marks the day the Wise Men arrived to visit the Infant Jesus, and they came bearing gifts.  This is one of the reasons we give gifts in the Christmas Season, though most have moved this celebration of gift giving to Christmas morning.  One tradition, as the song of the Twelve Days of Christmas portrays, is to give a gift on each day of the 12 days.

What will you do to celebrate this evening?  Bake a King's Cake?  Exchange gifts?  If you've never marked this holy day (holiday) then perhaps this year is a good year to start!

Blessings and Merry Christmas!  (Yes, today is STILL part of the Christmas Season!)

Feast of the Circumcison of Our Lord

Greetings and Merry Christmas on this, the Ninth Day of Christmas!  I am out of town and today is the first day I've booted my computer up since last year (OK, last year was just 2 days ago!) and I missed posting on the Circumcision of our Lord, Jesus Christ.  Since 1969, for some reason which I cannot fathom, January 1st has been celebrated as the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God.  I am not one to detract from celebrating the Mother of God, but according to Jewish tradition circumcision takes place on the eighth day after the birth of the male child.  Yesterday, being the Eighth Day of Christmas, has been (and remains in the Extraordinary/Latin Rite and in Eastern Tradition) the celebration of the Solemnity of the Circumcision of our Lord.  The Gospel reading for January 1st (as CathMom5 posted yesterday) still includes the circumcision.  So while the Church has recently (relatively speaking) changed this feast day, let us also take a moment to reflect upon our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who was submitted to the Law in order that all things might be fulfilled - and was circumcised on the eighth day after His Nativity.

Other readings:
Circumcision of Our Lord - Catholic Encyclopedia
Circumcision of Our Lord - Fisheaters site
Circumcision of Our Lord - Byzantine Catholic site
Circumcision of Our Lord - Orthodox site
Cuts Like A Knife - Article by Fr. Gunow, Asst. Director of Word On Fire Ministries (Fr. Barron's site)

Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God

Today is a Holy Day of Obligation.  All practicing Catholics must attend Mass today.  The one person we honor above all others, except Jesus Christ Our Lord, is the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Today is the day that we honor her motherhood of the Divine person. 

"What the Catholic faith believes about Mary is based on what it believes about Christ, and what it teaches about Mary illumines in turn its faith in Christ."  (CCC 487)

To most Catholics, this statement seems pretty clear.  Some may have heard this logic statement: If Jesus is God, and Mary is the mother of Jesus, then Mary is the Mother of God.  Everything we believe about St. Mary comes directly from what we believe about Our Lord Jesus.  Since we believe Jesus Christ to be God Incarnate, it is right to call His mother, Mother of God.  Either He is God or He isn't.  Today we celebrate the fact that Jesus was "Incarnate of the Virgin Mary and became man."  (Nicene Creed)

Today's readings are:  Numbers 6:22-27; Psalm 67:2-3,5,6,8; and Galatians 4:4-7.

Today's Gospel is from Luke 2: 16-21:

The shepherds went in haste to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph,
and the infant lying in the manger.
When they saw this,
they made known the message
that had been told them about this Child.
All who heard it were amazed
by what had been told them by the shepherds.
And Mary kept all these things,
reflecting on them in her heart
Then the shepherds returned,
glorifying and praising God
for all they had heard and seen,
just as it had been told to them.

When eight days were completed for His circumcision,
He was named Jesus, the name given Him by the angel
before He was conceived in the womb.
One thing that many of the first "reformers" did agree on with the Catholic Church was honoring Mary.  These beliefs were later dropped by most of their followers.
"She is rightly called not only the mother of the man, but also the Mother of God ... It is certain that Mary is the Mother of the real and true God."  --Martin Luther
"Elizabeth called Mary Mother of the Lord, because the unity of the person in the two natures of Christ was such that she could have said that the mortal man engendered in the womb of Mary was at the same time the eternal God."  --John Calvin
"I esteem immensely the Mother of God, the ever chaste, immaculate Virgin Mary." --Ulrich Zwingli

There is quite a lot of evidence that the early Church called St. Mary the Mother of God and honored her as such.  Below is just a small sampling.

"After this, we receive the doctrine of the resurrection from the dead, of which Jesus Christ our Lord became the first-fruits; Who bore a Body, in truth, not in semblance, derived from Mary the mother of God in the fullness of time sojourning among the race, for the remission of sins: who was crucified and died, yet for all this suffered no diminution of His Godhead."
--Alexander of Alexandria, Epistle to Alexander, 12 (A.D. 324).

"Many, my beloved, are the true testimonies concerning Christ. The Father bears witness from heaven of His Son: the Holy Ghost bears witness, descending bodily in likeness of a dove: the Archangel Gabriel bears witness, bringing good tidings to Mary: the Virgin Mother of God bears witness: the blessed place of the manger bears witness."
--Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures, X:19 (c. A.D. 350).
"And the Angel on his appearance, himself confesses that he has been sent by his Lord; as Gabriel confessed in the case of Zacharias, and also in the case of Mary, bearer of God."
--Athanasius, Orations III, 14 (A.D. 362).

"To the question: 'Is Mary the bearer of Man, or the bearer of God?' we must answer: 'Of Both.'"
--Theodore of Mopsuestia, The Incarnation, 15 (ante A.D. 428).

Today we honor Mary, the Mother of God.  I close with one last quote:

"Whoever honors the Lord also honors the holy [vessel]; who instead dishonors the holy vessel also dishonors his Master. Mary herself is that holy Virgin, that is, the holy vessel"
--Epiphanius, Panarion, 78:21 (A.D. 377).

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...