Holding Hands

Today I would like to talk about our posture and gestures during the celebration of the Mass.   The General Instruction of the Roman Missal directs us on what we should be doing during the different parts of the Mass.  This document is important for the simple fact that we can truly worship in unison throughout the entire world.

What is the GIRM?

The GIRM is an acronym for the General Instruction of the Roman Missal. It is the handbook for how to celebrate the Mass. While it’s not the only resource, most questions about the Mass can be answered by the GIRM.

It covers such things like the structure of the Mass, its elements and parts; postures, processions and gestures; silence and singing; liturgical furnishings; the role of the deacon, liturgical ministers, and laity, and much more.

The GIRM provides instruction for how to celebrate the Mass throughout the world. That’s why you can walk into Mass anywhere in the world and recognize certain elements . . . no matter the language, no matter the cultural norms.

Why is the GIRM important?

This sums it up: “Liturgy is a prayer like no other. It is the source and summit of our life as Catholic Christians. So let our words and actions, our prayers and music, our worship spaces and liturgical furnishings and art, be worthy of the profound mystery we celebrate.”(http://www.archdiocesesantafe.org/Offices/Worship/GIRM/English/GIRM.pdf)

Now, what does the manual directs us to do when we pray the Our Father during Mass?  Well, we are to stand, but nowhere is it explained that we are to hold hands.  Hence, the proper posture that we ought to hold is to stand and pray.  Since there is no direct explanation that we are not to hold hands, it is generally accepted to allow individual church traditions to be continued in regards to holding hands while we pray the ‘Our Father’.  It is not condemned but neither is it condoned.

While holding hands is allowed please don’t go doing acrobatics just so you can hold the hand of the gentleman in the other pew or to go on tapping the lady’s shoulder that’s standing next to you when she doesn’t extend her hand to hold yours.

Personally, I would like us to refrain from doing extraneous gestures that are not specifically spelled out for us to do in our official Manual on how to properly celebrate Mass.

God Bless

Onanism v. Homosexuality

After a bit of a discussion on Triablogue, (TB), the comparison of Onanism (Gen. 38:8-10) to homosexuality (Lev. 18:22) came up.  The original presenter of the article (Steve Hays, who remained silent during the comments, at least thus far) presented a link to a PDF, which for the most part the Catholic could agree to - however, when it came to points of artificial birth control (ABC) the author left objectivity behind and took a stance which has only been made somewhat popular (in non-Catholic sects) for less than 100 years - and really didn't pick up much popularity amongst such groups until the last 50 years or so.  There have been a couple more responses on TB since I started writing this article, but they (like I) are just repeating themselves which is why I decided to make a fuller response here with more detail and documentation.

Prior to the Anglicans relaxing SOME restrictions on ABC methods (1930) one would be hard pressed to find ANY Christian resources supporting ABC.  It would not be until the 1960's and 1970's during what is commonly called "The Sexual Revolution" - that ABC methods would become widely accepted in non-Catholic circles (and even some dissident Catholic circles too).

So what happened in 1930? 
Lambeth Conference of 1930 - Resolution 15
The Life and Witness of the Christian Community - Marriage and Sex
Where there is clearly felt moral obligation to limit or avoid parenthood, the method must be decided on Christian principles. The primary and obvious method is complete abstinence from intercourse (as far as may be necessary) in a life of discipline and self-control lived in the power of the Holy Spirit. Nevertheless in those cases where there is such a clearly felt moral obligation to limit or avoid parenthood, and where there is a morally sound reason for avoiding complete abstinence, the Conference agrees that other methods may be used, provided that this is done in the light of the same Christian principles. The Conference records its strong condemnation of the use of any methods of conception control from motives of selfishness, luxury, or mere convenience.
Voting: For 193; Against 67.
It was here that for the first time a major Protestant communion opted for some limited use of contraception, so long as the motives were not selfish, based in luxury or mere convenience.  Now, honestly ask yourself, for what other reason, outside of a personal health issue, would have been considered acceptable by such limitations?  Not many, if any!  Yet less than 100 years later it is precisely for selfish, luxury or mere convenience reasons that contraception is practiced!  Today's practices by most who participate in contraception would be condemned by the 1930 Lambeth Conference!  It should be noted as well, than more than a third of the voting members of this conference voted against acceptance of the resolution.

So what happened in the 1960's and 1970's?

To be clear, the 1960's and 1970's didn't just pop out of a vacuum!  Ever since the 1930's the use of ABC's amongst Anglicans increased so that by the 1958 Lambeth Conference, most Anglicans were using various forms of ABC.  In less than 30 years the practice went from outright condemnation to commonplace.  And so that you don't think I'm just putting my Catholic bias on this, the following comes from "thechurchofengland.org" - an official Anglican website:
By the time of the 1958 Lambeth Conference, contraception was a way of life among most Anglicans, and a resolution was passed to the effect that the responsibility for deciding upon the number and frequency of children was laid by God upon the consciences of parents 'in such ways as are acceptable to husband and wife'.  http://www.churchofengland.org/our-views/medical-ethics-health-social-care-policy/contraception.aspx
If this weren't the reality, an objective reader might think I was using a slippery slope argument, but this IS the reality!  By the time of the 1960's and 1970's the rest of Protestantism was catching up to Anglicanism and the age of "free love" was born and songs like "Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight" by James Taylor (1972), and "We've Got Tonight" by Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band (1978), just to name a couple, were climbing the charts and promoting sexual relationships without the committed relationship of marriage.

Now, while sexual promiscuity was in epidemic proportions and use of contraception was widely accepted, not everyone used contraception and even when they did, it was not always successful, so another phenomena was developing - more and more children were being born out of wedlock.  To prevent this, the crime of contraception turned even more sinister - abortion.  In 1973 the landmark case of Roe V. Wade decided that it was okay to kill the innocent victim of the sexual choices of the "parents" and made it, what we Catholics consider to be murder, just another "choice" in "planned parenthood" decisions.

What are many Evangelical Christians doing now?

Well, as an article in Salon puts forth, the anti-contraception movement (primarily Catholic) had not caught hold among Evangelicals, but that all changed in 2011.  The "HHS Mandate" was passed on July 19, 2011 and according to Richard Land, head of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, on July 20 said: “HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has recommended mandatory coverage for ‘emergency contraception,’ which is a euphemism for the morning-after pill, which often kills a newly conceived child by not allowing the embryo to implant on the wall of the mother’s womb.”  In September of 2012 the founder of Hobby Lobby sued Kathleen Sebelius and based on the fact that his company was founded upon Christian principles, they should be exempted from the mandate.

The New York Times echoes the story that where once, 50 years ago, Catholics were essentially alone in the anti-contraception movement, today more and more Evangelicals are joining in.  Adding to that Kathryn Joyce of the Quiverfull movement argues that Christians who forgo contraception  "add children to the Lord’s army."

It seems that many Evangelicals are starting to realize the error of the slippery slope which Anglicanism began (officially) in 1930 (again, not in a vacuum, as the movement was gaining steam in the 1920's among Anglicans).

Which Church has officially not changed its stance on this matter?

While recognizing the abhorrent sins here, the Catholic Church has recognized, perhaps moreso recently than previously, that we must recognize the sinner and the sin are not the same.  While the Church has more openly embraced sinners - she has not changed her position on the sinful acts and/or lifestyles.  While the cliche may be a bit overused, it does ring true - "Love the sinner; hate the sin."  Pope Francis relates the Church to a "field hospital," and you really can't treat those who need you if you don't first bring them into the hospital!

So what happened on Triablogue?

Well, you can read the exchange yourself and see - but essentially, I can only assume here, that those respondents are supporters of ABC and/or participants in it - and thus have a vested interest in arguing for such methods, but do they realize they are so, so much in the minority of the historic Christian viewpoint?  Even among their own fore-fathers (for which they can only go back about 500 years, at best) ABC was by and large condemned.  In their relatively short history, only the last (less than) 20% of their existence as protesting (Protestant) Christians can be seen as supportive of the modern (or Modernist) views on ABC.  One would think this SHOULD cause them at least SOME concern!

Again, while this pro-contraception movement has only been part of Protestantism for the last (less than) 100 years of their (less than) 500 year existence - even there, the pendulum is beginning to swing back in the other direction.  More and more Evangelicals are coming back to the position that contraception is wrong and, like Quiverfull founder says, "children add to the Lord's army."

Go To Confession!

Pope Francis encouraging everyone to go to the Sacrament of Penance (Confession).  It is the gift of Grace to God's People.

The Holy Father spoke of the healing available in the sacrament of reconciliation at his Feb. 19 audience:

Dear Brothers and Sisters: Through the Sacraments of Initiation, we receive new life in Christ. This life we carry in earthen vessels, however, and we still experience temptations, suffering, and death. Because of sin, we can even lose this new life. Jesus therefore willed that the Church continue his works of salvation for her members, in particular through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, which flows from the Paschal Mystery. The forgiveness we receive is not the result of our own efforts, but is the gift of the Holy Spirit reconciling us to God and to each other. While the celebration of the Sacrament is personal, it is rooted in the community of the Church, in which the Holy Spirit is present, uniting us all in Jesus Christ. When confessing our sins then, we confess to the priest who represents not only God but also the community of the Church that accompanies us on the path of conversion. Though this Sacrament is a great treasure, we may be tempted to dismiss it, perhaps due to laziness or embarrassment, or because of a diminishing sense of sin and its effects. Too often, we see ourselves as the center and measure of all things, and our lives can go adrift. The Sacrament of Reconciliation calls us back to God, and embraces us with his infinite mercy and joy. May we allow his love to renew us as his children and to reconcile us with him, with ourselves, and with one another.
Confession restores our soul to the state of Grace, in communion and harmony with the Spirit of God.  Do not fear the confessional - for even though you may feel some shame in approaching it, the feeling of having the slate wiped clean again more than compensates for any apprehension.  If it has been a while for you since you've been to confession - don't wait any longer!  Seek out your confessor, or any priest.  Call your local parish and ask to meet with him, no priest will turn down a soul eager for repentance!   What ever your rationalizations have been which have kept you from going - put them aside!  Come home!

Ellen Page Comes Out

So, "news" presents us with 26 year old actress, Ellen Page "coming out" as a homosexual.  Why is this "newsworthy?"  I do not condemn Ms. Page - and I hope she does not condemn me for being Catholic, not that she knows me from Adam.  Why do homosexuals feel such a need to "come out?"  It's almost like they want our blessing for their participation in what is something we can never condone.  Why else is it a "coming out" and not just an acceptance of a person's chosen lifestyle?

When it comes to this subject, I am wondering why approximately 3.5% of the population gets so much attention?  I mean, really!  If 96.5% of the population is heterosexual, then why does it seem like there's so much attention on the homosexual community?  How many television sitcoms now have an openly homosexual character in them?  The law of averages would hold that less than 1 in 10 shows would have person portrayed as a homosexual.  But do we really see that?  I'm no expert on television sitcoms, I rarely watch anything like that anymore.  I liked the days of the Dick Van Dyke Show and the Andy Griffith Show, etc.  Now I suppose someone will bring up the character of Floyd the Barber due to his effeminate personality - and say he was a homosexual - however, there is not even one instance of  Floyd "coming out" or even hinting upon an interest in same sex attraction.  Floyd was just an effeminate character, and that does not ipso facto mean he was homosexual.  That being said, let's not make this about me, the point is there is no real need to portray people with same sex attraction as prevalently as we see them today.  Again, even if we went with the odds, less than one show in ten would have such a portrayal. 

In reality, about 4.4% of actors are or will be portraying homosexual characters in television this year.  That's still about 1% greater than the actual population.  My point, however, is not in the number of actors, but in the number of television shows disproportionately portraying actively homosexual couples. 

Here is a list of shows scheduled to air this year which have homosexual characters:
Getting On (HBO)
Brooklyn 99 (Fox)
Please Like Me (ABC)
Sean Saves The World (NBC ends in 2014)
The Girl's Guide to Depravity (Cinemax)
House Husbands (Nine-Network)
Anger Management (FX)
House of Lies (Showtime)
Suburgatory (ABC)
Awkward (MTV)
Nurse Jackie (Showtime)
Glee (Fox)
Modern Family (ABC)
Benidorm (ITV)
Two and a Half Men (Fox)
Arrested Development (was Fox, now Netflix)
My Family (BBC1)

These are just the ones still in production and does not count many, many more which have gone into re-runs and are still airing. And don't even get me started in talking about shows which portray extra-marital relationships among heterosexuals, and do so in a positive light!  That's another whole subject in itself!

Now again I must state, I do not "judge" those who have chosen this lifestyle.  This is a "free country" and people have the "right" to choose how they will pursue happiness, or what they perceive as such.  Likewise, it is the right of a Catholic to express his/her views on the matter.  The thing of it is, those who are homosexual and/or proponents of that lifestyle already know that faithful Catholics cannot give their blessing to such a lifestyle - and no one who claims the title of "Christian" can, for the Scripture is quite clear on this matter in both the Old and New Testament.

What Does Scripture Say About Homosexuality?
1 Corinthians 6:9-10
Leviticus 18:22
Leviticus 20:13
Romans 1:26-27
1 Timothy 1:10 
And there are several other verses where homosexuality is implied (like references to sodomy).  The point is, Scripture, both Old and New Testament, clearly speak out against homosexuality as an abomination to the Lord and those who remain in this lifestyle and remain unrepentant will perish.  This is not my judgment, but the real representation of what Scripture teaches.  Therefore again I state, no Catholic/Christian can be supportive of the lifestyle.  Does this mean we "hate the sinner?"  No, we are still called to "love the sinner, but hate the sin."

We may have friends and co-workers who are engaged in homosexual relationships.  This does not mean we cannot be friendly toward them as persons and/or work with them on a professional basis - and likewise, they too can (and most often do) share the same feelings toward us and even respect our choice of lifestyle.  If the discussion comes to head, well, the workplace is not really the right place for such a discussion, especially between people on the opposite sides of this debate.  Even after-hours, when we might be seeing each other out on dates, etc.  It is not our place to "judge" them - and if they know who we are at all, they already know our stance on the matter.  If they come to us honestly seeking our counsel - and are not merely attempting to bait us into a debate which can be hurtful to each other, then we can discuss the matter with them, but again - outside the workplace would be better.

In summary, don't ask us to support homosexual marriages and don't expect us to accept as moral ANY sexual relationship which is outside the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony between a man and a woman.  While we, Catholics, accept the validity of a civil marriage between a man and a woman, we cannot give our blessing to such civil unions between persons of the same sex.  And please, accept and understand our reticence to even using the same terminology of our Sacrament of Holy Matrimony/Marriage.  Perhaps you can also be understanding of our frustration at seeing this lifestyle portrayed so prevalently in the media when better than 96 in 100 persons in this country do not live that lifestyle. 

Judge Not?

When we hear someone say, "Judge not, lest ye be judged," it is often in the context of a Christian pointing out sin or the sinful acts of others and someone coming to the defense of the "others" and/or the other person him/herself.  To "discern" good from evil is not the type of "judgment" which Jesus condemns in Matt. 7:1.  We are not called (yet) to judge persons (see 1 Cor. 6:2-3) but we are most definitely called to "discern" good from evil - and to warn our brethren when they are in sin, a near occasion of sin or living in such a way which may lead others to sin.  In fact, for us to turn our backs or say nothing when we witness the sin in others is not a form of love for them - for if they were to remain unrepentant in that sin and/or lifestyle then what we would really be implying is that we're OK with their condemnation; that we're OK with never seeing them again in all eternity because they chose a lifestyle here in this temporal condition which will have eternal consequences.  

I don't know about you, but I would rather be somewhat blunt with such a friend and/or family member than just try to "get along" in "comfort" in this life.  If somehow the Holy Spirit moves in their heart and brings them around, well James 5:19-20 speaks loud and clearly on this matter!   "My brethren, if any of you err from the truth, and one convert him: he must know that he who causeth a sinner to be converted from the error of his way, shall save his soul from death, and shall cover a multitude of sins."  Not all sins are "Deadly Sins" but when we are aware of someone who is either in such a sin or is living in a near occasion of sin, we cannot remain silent.  Ask yourself, HOW can you "convert" one if you're not discerning and HONEST with your friend/family member and point out their sin to them?  Who would "convert" if everyone around them are "making happy" and never talking about the 600 pound gorilla in the room? We HAVE to be discerning between that which is moral and immoral. 

Does this mean we condemn our friend or family member who is living in sin?  NO!  We still love them in all Christian charity.  They are still our friend/family member - but they have to know that we're not approving of such a lifestyle - and can never be approving of such.  They should know you're concerned and praying for them and their conversion - but you don't have to beat them over the head with it.  As our motto in the ACTS Family of Forums goes, "But sanctify the Lord Christ in your hearts, being ready always to satisfy every one that asketh you a reason of that hope which is in you.  But with modesty and fear, having a good conscience: that whereas they speak evil of you, they may be ashamed who falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ." 1 Peter 3:15-16.  In other words, always be prepared to give an answer, but do so in charity so that you do so in good conscience.  

I have been asked by a friend of mine to look into several articles regarding homosexual marriage.  Anyone who knows me must know that I will take the Catholic position on this matter - but I will look at these articles and will respond here in future postings.  As I said above, I do not judge homosexual persons - but I cannot possibly give my blessing to homosexual acts, but again - more on that in upcoming postings. 

Here are some excellent Scripture verses on judging compiled at Catholic Bible 101:
Leviticus 19:15:  "You shall do no injustice in judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor.
Proverbs 31:9: Open your mouth, judge righteously; maintain the rights of the poor and needy.
Matthew 7:2: For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get.
Luke 6:37: "Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven;
(**NOTE—Here we see the link between judging and condemning)
Matthew 18:15: "If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.
(**NOTE – Here is a prime case of Jesus telling us all to admonish the sinner).
Luke 7:40-43:  And Jesus answering said to him, "Simon, I have something to say to you." And he answered, "What is it, Teacher?"  "A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.  When they could not pay, he forgave them both. Now which of them will love him more?"  Simon answered, "The one, I suppose, to whom he forgave more." And he said to him, "You have judged rightly."
(**NOTE – Here we see the use of the term “judged” in the context of judging someone’s actions, rather than personal condemnation).
Luke 12:57: "And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right?
(**NOTE – Once again, we see the use of the term “judge” in the context of judging actions, not condemning people and passing judgment).
John 7:24: Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment."

(**NOTE – Here Jesus commands us to judge people’s actions and deeds with “right judgment”.)
Acts 4:19: But Peter and John answered them, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge;
(**NOTE – Another case of judging people’s actions, rather than the person).
1 Corinthians 2:15: The spiritual man judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one.
1 Corinthians 6:2-3: Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases?   Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, matters pertaining to this life!
(**Note – No wonder satan hates Christians so much – we will be judging him one day!)
Hebrews 10:30: For we know him who said, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay." And again, "The Lord will judge his people."
(**NOTE – Here we see that the Lord judges people. That in no way precludes us from judging whether or not people’s actions are sinful or not.)
James 4:12: There is one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you that you judge your neighbor?
(**NOTE – James says that we should not judge our neighbor.  Once again, this does not stop us from judging whether or not our neighbor’s actions (killing his wife, stealing money, etc.) is sinful. Note how this differs from James 5:20 above, where James talks about bringing a sinner back from the error of his ways (sinfulness)).

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Did Matthew Write the Gospel of Matthew?

A continuing discussion going on in the Catholic Debate Forum, I thought I'd share here too.  Feel free to add your comments...

> Mike (to Ferde): JohnR doesn't need to answer your challenge.
sw: "Need" is not the right word...  but JohnR makes an assertion, which Ferde asked for some evidence. 

> Mike: If he believes as he says, all he need do to prove it is tack "no one knows who wrote the gospels" at the end of his emails as a signature line, and then, if people think he is not proving anything, they are just working for the devil.

sw: It's one thing to post a tagline to the end of one posts, it's another to make an unsupported assertion.
Mike:  Incorrect, Ferde has worded his tagline for the express purpose of engaging in the juvenile act of provoking others to argue.  It would be like an atheist saying "If Hitler taught it, it must be true".  No seriousness whatsoever, mere provocation.
sw: Incorrect?  By which standard?  Taglines are not intended to be complete arguments - they are, at best, a statement of ones personal opinion.  That being said, it would be quite incorrect to compare Atheists to Hitler - Hitler was not an Atheist!  Now, if your statement was "It would be like an Arian Skinhead saying 'If Hitler taught it, it must be true,'"  well, then you have a valid comparison.  Ferde believes if the Catholic Church teaches it, it must be true.  It's his opinion and he's entitled to it.  You're entitled to the opinion that it is rational to doubt the Mattian authorship of the Gospel According to St. Matthew.  MY challenge would be, upon what grounds do you base your opinion?  Do you base it upon modernist revisionists?  Back to the point, I seriously accept Ferde's opinion to be his as much as I accept your opinion to be yours.  If you wish to engage the statement, then do so validly, that's all I ask.

sw:  To then refer to a known modernist/revisionist "scholar" - and only one - hardly makes a case for "no one knows..."  much less "all scholars know this is true."  What JohnR has done is present an invalid argument, and one which cannot possibly be proven - it is a non-argument.

Mike: the average laymen does, quite often, refer to consensus on biblical authorship issues as "all scholars". 

sw:  The average ignorant person might make such claims, but anyone who has at least a high school education, and especially if they have even a LITTLE college education, would not make such an over generalization.  There is simply NOTHING upon which "all scholars" agree.  NOTHING!  Name a subject and a scholarly position and I'll bet you a cup of coffee that I can find another scholar and/or group of scholars who disagrees.
Mike:  If you think you are gaining ground because there are some scholars in the world who believe apostle John wrote John, you aren't. 

sw:  Gaining ground?  No, I've merely destroyed JohnR's false assertion.  Such hyperbole has no place in debate.
Mike: You've picked up on an unguarded statement by somebody and acted like it's incorrect nature is some terrible evil that must be uprooted from the nursery school.  I could just as easily say that everybody loves Jesus, without intending to say that every individual loves Jesus.  There IS such a thing as generalization.

sw: There is such a thing as generalization and there's also such a thing as over-generalization.  JohnR's position is, at best, the latter and is quite false.  If ANYONE comes in here and starts off (JohnR is just getting started here) with such over-generalized hyperbole, then such arguments will be slapped down hard.  If we let him get away with that nonsense, then it would be much harder to pin him down in further debate.  So, his arguments are put in their place - he can choose to start over with valid statements, or accept the defeat of his arguments.  Your defense of his hyperbole has not helped his arguments, not in the least.
sw: Can you "know" that Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence?  Are you "sure" about that?  Did you see him write it, or do you have some "faith" in those who preserve American history who state he did?  Perhaps there is also evidence that Jefferson did not write the Declaration alone?  Maybe you've heard he wrote it after there was a committee of Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Roger Sherman, Robert Livingston and Thomas Jefferson?  After he wrote it, Franklin and Adams made revisions, then it was presented to the Continental Congress on July 1, 1776 - and more revisions were made, and the final draft was written, presented and signed on July 4, 1776.  How much of this do you "know?"  And again, how do you "know" this?  Because you have "faith" in historians. 
Mike: agreed, but not the kind of faith says the issues are beyond debate.  That's where secular faith in secular historical consensus differs from Christian faith in a few fundamentalist scholars who find Eusebius and Papias credible.  I also don't go around saying those who disagree with my theories on authorship of the DOI secretly know that I'm right, but by reason of irrationality, try to pretend that the case for Jefferson authorship is weak.  Contrast this with fundies who say unbelievers know the evidence for Jesus' resurrection is compelling but try to excuse it away anyway.

sw:  First off, keep in mind - this forum is not a "Fundie" forum.  We are Catholics, most of whom are quite orthodox in our perspective of the Catholic Church.  We are not swayed by each wind which comes our way, and especially not the wind which blew through the world (not just the Catholic Church) in the 1960's through 1970's and even into the 80's.  We view the Catholic Church in the "big picture" throughout ALL of history, not just bits and pieces of history and we're not limited to the last 500 years of history either.
sw: Secondly, you seem to miss my point.  Jefferson did NOT write the Declaration of Independence.  At first it was a committee of five, then it was re-written again after the committee of the Continental Congress looked at it.  It can be quite scholarly argued that Jefferson did not write the Declaration of Independence.

sw:  All this was just over 200 years ago, and you're debating who wrote the Book of Matthew almost 2000 years ago! 

Mike: I wouldn't be debating it were it not for fundie Christians...

sw: Again, this is not a Fundie Christian forum.
Mike ...who incorrectly assert that the resurrection of Jesus is a solidly established historical fact that unbelievers secretly know is true, but who by reason of sin try to pretend that its not persuasive. 

sw: Well, for Christians it is solidly established truth that Jesus rose from the dead.  It was not widely accepted throughout the known world at the time of the first Catholics - but eventually it did become a worldwide phenomena.  It is an absolute truth that no other man has affected the entire world as much as Jesus, the One whom we call the Christ, did.
Mike: I attack those who insult my intelligence. 

sw: Don't attack persons, attack their arguments if you feel as though you should, but don't go down the path of invalidity in ad hominem arguments.
Mike: My comments on Papias have demonstrated that exactly how much canonical Greek Matthew goes back to apostle Matthew is actually not known, logically diminishing whatever this particular form of the gospel contributes to resurrection evidence.  The issue is not whether Matthew was an eyewitness, but doubts about his authorship of canonical Greek Matthew can be rationally justified. 

sw: And ironically, it is one of the same sources you refer to which we often refer to pointing to the fact that Matthew was not originally written in Greek, but "in the Aramaic language."
Papias, bishop of Hieropolis in Asia Minor, wrote, "Matthew compiled the sayings [of the Lord] in the Aramaic language, and everyone translated them as well as he could" (Explanation of the Sayings of the Lord [cited by Eusebius in History of the Church 3:39]).

Eusebius himself declared that "Matthew had begun by preaching to the Hebrews, and when he made up his mind to go to others too, he committed his own Gospel to writing in his native tongue [Aramaic], so that for those with whom he was no longer present the gap left by his departure was filled by what he wrote" (History of the Church 3:24 [inter 300-325]). [1]
sw: So, those of us who look back to Papias and Eusebius are not really trying to prove St. Matthew the Apostle wrote the Gospel of Matthew, but we're showing that not only did he write this Gospel, but he wrote it in Aramaic. 
Mike: They can.  Attacking the credibility of the church fathers saying Matthew wrote Matthew is rather elementary for one versed in the proper rules of historiography.  I don't prove Matthew didn't write it.  I prove instead that it is reasonable to doubt Matthian authorship of canonical Greek Matthew.

sw: There are more references too:
Sometime after 244 the Scripture scholar Origen wrote, "Among the four Gospels, which are the only indisputable ones in the Church of God under heaven, I have learned by tradition that the first was written by Matthew, who was once a publican, but afterwards an apostle of Jesus Christ, and it was prepared for the converts from Judaism and published in the Hebrew language" (Commentaries on Matthew [cited by Eusebius in History of the Church 6:25]). [2]

“Matthew also issued a written Gospel among the Hebrews in their own dialect, while Peter and Paul were preaching at Rome, and laying the foundations of the Church. (Ireneus, 170 CE, Against Heresies 3.1.1) [3]

“These, then, are the parallel passages of the four; let us try to see as clearly as we can what is the purport of each and wherein they differ from each other. And we will begin with Matthew, who is reported by tradition to have published his Gospel before the others, to the Hebrews, those, namely, of the circumcision who believed.”  (Origen, Commentary on John 6.17). [4]
sw:  There are many, many scholars who agree with these testimonies - so again, certainly not "all scholars agree" with "JohnR."

sw:  Why do you not trust the historians who say it was St. Matthew, the Apostle, who wrote it? 

Mike: For the same reason you don't trust the historians like Hegesippus, Clement, Jerome and Epiphanius who say James became a Jewish High Priest.

sw: I am not familiar with this argument about James, I've never argued for or against it - so how are you saying I don't trust it?
 sw: Now, that being said - why do you challenge the authorship of the Book of Matthew?
Mike: I don't.  It was obviously authored by somebody.  I challenge instead the theory that apostle Matthew was the author of canonical Greek Matthew.  He very well could be.  My only purpose is to show that reasonable people could reasonably disagree over how persuasive the evidence in favor of Matthian authorship really is.

sw:  Certainly people can disagree, but I have not seen a "reasonable" argument against Matthew's authorship.
 sw: What difference does it really make? 

Mike: if it is unlikely that apostle Matthew wrote canonical Greek Matthew, then this gospel's specific contribution to the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus is effectively discounted.  Unless you think anonymous testimony is good evidence?

sw: That's a big "if" there - and I do not believe you've proven any such unlikeliness.  You've presented your opinion, and again, you're certainly entitled to it.  I'm still inclined to disagree and support Matthian authorship.
sw:   What if it were written by Peter? 

Mike: then I'd tell the jury about Peter's alleged fickle nature for denying Christ, and later giving in to the Judaizers, and tell them that how much Peter's previous problems with truth-telling bear on his truth claims in a gospel, is for they and they alone to subjectively decide.

sw:  Well, it wasn't written by St. Peter, and that wasn't the point - I just used that name, I could have used "Sam the Barber" for the sake of that question.  The point of that question was to get us to the next question...
sw:  Does that make it less "God's Word?" 

Mike: the issue is not whether Matthew's gospel is god's word, but whether it was authored by Matthew.

sw:  I know, I asked why does it matter - and your response was a big "if" statement.
sw:  Upon what authority would you deny it is God's Word? 

Mike: the authority of needing coherence in language.  The concept of "God" is incoherent as described in the bible.  If you've got a being who can see without eyes, hear without ears, and can influence physical objects by non-physical forces, then I've got Alice in Wonderland, since in both cases, making sense is optional, not mandatory.

sw:  Again, I do not believe you've made a case for a lack of coherence.  I happen to agree with you though, God doesn't HAVE to make sense, fortunately, He does.
sw:  If you're not denying it is God's Word, then what's the point of this argument?

Mike: Fundie Christians...

sw:  Again, this is NOT a "Fundie Christian" forum.
Mike:  ...loudmouth about how obviously true the resurrection of Jesus is and thus insult the intelligence of skeptics and atheists. 

sw:  I am not saying the evidence for the Resurrection is "obvious" nor that there is absolute proof.  I believe that the Resurrection is part of what we call "The Mystery of Faith."  If it were proven, one would not need faith.  Christianity is a religion of faith, not proof.
Mike:  They are thus saying the evidence in favor of their hypothesis is persuasive. 

sw: I am not saying that.  Again, I am not a Fundie.
Mike:  They are thus saying Matthew, an alleged eyewitness of the resurrection, gave credible testimony that survives to us today. 

sw: I have no doubt that St. Matthew was an eyewitness to the life, death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  I accept the testimony which is recorded not only in St. Matthew's writing, but St. Luke's, St. Mark's and St. John's too - and let's not forget St. Paul, St. Peter and St. James' works too.  Keep in mind, for the first 400 years of the Catholic Church there was no "Bible" - those were SEPARATE books, and SEPARATE testimonies of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  We are not solely dependent upon Eusebius.  You've discounted the fact that these separate books pre-existed Eusebius.
Mike:  That evidence requires resolution of credibility issues with Papias and Eusebius and any other church father that said Matthew wrote Matthew. 

sw:  Sorry, but I don't agree that we are so dependent upon Eusebius.  Josephus, the Jewish historian, acknowledges the existence of Jesus Christ and the writings of His followers too.  If you are truly being objective about this - you'll consider the evidence, ALL of it, and not be so convinced that Matthew didn't write the Gospel which bears his name.
Mike:  I disagree with these fundies that Papias and Eusebius should be presumed credible.  If fundies cannot defend the credibility of such church fathers, then Matthew's alleged particular contribution to resurrection evidence is discounted.  The point of the argument is that the resurrection of Jesus is far less convincing than fundies say it is.  

sw: Whether or not a "Fundie" can prove the credibility of Papias and Eusebius does not prove they are not credible.  Your position is a non sequitur. 
Mike:  There ARE historical and credibility issues for this matter unlikely capable of definitive resolution, and therefore, reasonable people could reasonably disagree whether Matthew counts as resurrection evidence at all.

sw:  Again, I await some "reasonable evidence" to the contrary, but again, I accept your right to your opinion too.  I just don't have to agree with you.  You're coming across as dogmatic as the "Fundie Christians" you're condemning for their presumptuous arguments.
Mike:  I have no problems with Christians believing Jesus rose from the dead and citing evidence in support thereof.  I have serious problems with fundie Christians who insist that all disagreement with the resurrection hypothesis is irrational.

sw:  Again, we're not "Fundie Christians" here - at least not the Catholic apologists here.  We may have some of those whom you call "Fundie Christians," (though they might not appreciate your label of "Fundie"), but they are among the challengers here, like yourself.  In that respect, we don't see you as much different from them, especially when you come across as you have thus far.
[4] ibid.

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

Visibility of the Church

Jesus came here to build His Church when He said: “…and on this rock I shall build my Church.” (Matt 16:18).  But what kind of Church did He come here to build?  Is it visible?  Is it authoritative?  Or is it simply the conglomeration of all Christian believers no matter what one ultimately believes is doctrinally true?

In concert with His Redemptive act, Jesus did three things that established the framework of His Church.  First, He chose humans to carry out His work.  The Evangelists represent Christ as gathering numerous disciples, but as selecting twelve from their number to be His companions in a special manner.  To them He reveals the more hidden parts of His doctrine (Matt 13:11 “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given). 

Second, He sends them as His deputies to preach the kingdom, and bestows on them the power to work miracles.  These men, these leaders in the Church, were given the promise of being lead into all truth when determining what is eternally True, ie doctrines (John 16:13 “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth.)  In effect, Jesus gave Peter and the Apostles the power and authority to carry out His work (Matt 18:18 “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”)  We know this because we know that nothing in heaven can bound that which is untrue, therefore whatever the Apostles bind on earth must be guided by the Holy Spirit that whatever they bind must be true in heaven as well.

And so, if a disagreement arises between believers on what is true, we are to go to the Church to settle the matter.  In fact, it is quite plain this is the case when we look a little closer at the context of this latest passage.   Jesus teaches us that when one believer sins against another that we are to go to him alone and tell him his fault, if he won’t listen to you then bring two or three brothers so that witnesses can testify to this so that every word may be confirmed by two or three others.  But if he won’t listen to all of you then you are to go to the Church.   Tell the church, but which church?  The Church must be visible if we are to GO TO THE CHURCH.

You see, Jesus did not build an abstract and invisible Church.

- John 17: 20,21,23 “"I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me. 

The world has to see, but the world does not see with spiritual eyes; therefore, it must be visible.  Matthew 5:14 makes the visibility of the Church quite clear as well.  He says: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden

Since an invisible church of all believers would include people from every denomination, either doctrine does not matter or conflicting doctrine is okay.  So does doctrine matter?

Third, Jesus established one church, which is visible and united in mind and doctrine.

-Acts 4:32 “The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common.

Believers were of one heart and one soul


- 1 Cor 1:10 “I urge you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and in the same purpose.

No dissensions, same mind and judgment

- Philippians 1:27 “conduct yourselves in a way worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that, whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear news of you, that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind struggling together for the faith of the gospel”

One mind, one spirit

-John 17:22-23 “And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me.

Christians should be one as Jesus and the Father are one.  We are to be one as He and the Father are one SO THAT THE WORLD MAY KNOW.  The world doesn’t see with spiritual eyes.  The world sees us on what we believe, those who believe as one are as a city set on hill.  This city is the Church and this Church has authority.  We know this because the church is the pillar, or protector, and foundation of truth (1 Tim 3:15). 

But which church do we go to get the fullness of truth?  Which one do we choose: the Catholic Church, the 10 or 12 Orthodox Churches or the 25,000 plus Protestant denominations?  We need to go to the one which has been visible and settling disputes between believers in councils for 2000 plus years.  The only church which can claim this to be true is the Catholic Church.


God Bless

MercyMe - Kyrie Eleison!

Bart Millard from MercyMe has been getting "attacked" for stating the Bruno Mars halftime show at the Super Bowl was "awesome."  Here's his response posted on Facebook:

Seriously I love you guys. I really do, but you've got to find a bigger cross to die on. If me saying Bruno's performance was awesome can instantly tear down my 20 years of ministry, then I've been doing something terribly wrong! Oh wait I have been doing something terribly wrong! I've lived most of my life as a legalistic, judgmental, religious person. Not anymore folks. I'm a huge fan of music regardless whether Bruno misuses it or not. I'm a huge fan of sex, so is my wife...so is God by the way, regardless if the world abuses it. I'm also a fan of the word of God REGARDLESS if some of you people twist it to make a point. In other words, I'm no longer living my life based on what people say or think about me. My plate's already pretty full adoring my wife and kids and relishing in the truth that there's nothing I can do great enough to make Christ love me more than he already does and I can't be bad enough to separate myself from the spirit that dwells inside. So I'm gonna live life like I can't screw it up. I can screw "stuff" up...sure. And maybe some of you think I've screwed this post all up. Ha. But that's ok cuz grace works for even me. And as far as all of us being judged by our maker one day? That does not exist for the believer. There is and will never be any condemnation from Christ. When James talks about ministers or lead singers of christian bands being judged more harshly. He ain't talking about in heaven. He's talking about being judged by the Jesus police who prowl Facebook waiting to pounce. Ha. So what do I mean when I say find a bigger cross to die on? Live life doing stuff that matters like finding rest knowing Christ has done the work for you! I'm telling you, when you truly taste grace, life is a freaking blast! To know a perfect messiah came so we can have imperfect moments, like my Bruno worship apparently, and still be ok may be the greatest news of all! Heck if I'd known all of this was gonna come out of what I posted, I would've posted "BRUNO MARS FOR PRESIDENT!"

I really appreciate you guys. I would not have spent 9 yrs writing this if I didn't.

Welcome To the New

Annnnd here's a sample of some lyrics from our upcoming release


No matter the bumps
No matter the bruises
No mater the scars
Still the truth is
The cross has made you flawless

 Well, first off - I like to reserve the word "awesome" to God, and to God alone.  He alone is worthy of our "awe."  I would compare "awesome" to the Latin word for the worship due to God alone, "latria."  Certainly we can have appreciation for the talent of Mr. Mars, but the way he used that talent was for the Devil's purpose.  Seriously Bart, would you like your daughters to hear what Bruno was singing?  Or, worse, would you like to hear them singing "stick it in, stick it in" over and over again?  Come on, Bart - admit it, while not denying the "talent" of Mars and maybe even the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the "message" was about as anti-moral as it could be, and "Christians" should not be supporting that in any way, shape or form.

Lord have mercy!

Christmas Is Over

Yesterday, February 2, 2014, marked the end of the 2013-2014 Christmas Season with the celebration of Candlemas.  Candlemas is the celebration of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple.  It is also the traditional day for the blessing of candles.  Now begins the preparation for Lent.

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...