Questions for Catholics - Part 3 - Purgatory

In this section Prasch challenges the concept of Purgatory and erroneously attributes the Deuterocanonicals (which he, like many other non-Catholics, calls "Apocrypha") to the "Middle Ages," but we'll get to that in a moment.  Let us begin this response where he begins:
Let us begin, please, with my first question. In the first epistle of St. John 1 :7 we read that the blood of Christ cleanses from all sin. The blood of Christ “cleanses” – Greek “katharizo” – takes away all our sins. All sin. We are told in the New Testament we are saved by grace through faith. (Rom. 5:2; Eph. 2:8)The Greek word for “repentance” is “metanoeo” which came in the Middle Ages to be understood as “to do penance”, but the Greek word means “to repent”. The blood of Christ cleanses from all sin when we repent and accept Him. That is what the New Testament teaches. My first question to my Catholic friends is this: If the blood of Christ cleanses from all sin, can you explain why the Roman Catholic catechism imparted by the Roman Church – nihilo obstat from the Vatican – why it says you can atonement in purgatory for you own? Indeed, you must. And why the temporal consequence of sin can in part be negated by indulgences?
First off, we're in "Part Three" now and have already answered several questions, yet Prasch is stating this is his first question?  He sure has an interesting way of counting!  Triviality aside, the Greek word for "repentance" (metanoeo) he has correct, but repentance is not merely lip-service.  To "do penance" is to demonstrate you are/were sincere in your confession.  From the earliest days of the Church we have examples of even public penance for certain sins.  Pope St. Clement wrote to the Corinthians during the First Century:
" a system of penance that was already in operation and needed only to be applied to particular cases, like that of the Corinthians to whom Clement of Rome wrote his First Epistle about A. D. 96, exhorting them: “Be subject in obedience to the priests (presbyteris) and receive discipline [correctionem) unto penance, bending the knees of your hearts” (Ep. I “Ad Cor.”, lvii). [qtd. here].
So we see that the practice was already in place of receiving discipline from the priests, which is what we call "penance."
With that said, let us answer Prasch's "first question:"  "If the blood of Christ cleanses from all sin, can you explain why the Roman Catholic catechism imparted by the Roman Church - nihilo obstat from the Vatican - why it says you can atonement (sic) in purgatory for your own?"  My first objection to this question is that while Prasch cites a source, it is only a vague reference.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church is broken into paragraphs which are numbered.  If you're going to say the CCC says something, please cite the actual paragraph, not the whole volume.  Second, the nihil obstat is not a statement of infallibility, it simply states that the reviewer (which is not "the Vatican" in any case, but might be someone AT the Vatican).  Finally, to the meat of the question, I submit the CCC nowhere says we can atone for our own sins.  Prasch exhibits an ignorance of Catholic teaching on this matter.  Purgatory is not a place of atonement - for every single soul in Purgatory has already had each and every sin atoned for through the blood of Christ.  Purgatory is a place of final purification before entering Heaven, for nothing impure can enter into Heaven (Rev. 21:27).  For example, Johnny broke Mr. Jones' window; Johnny asked for Mr. Jones to forgive him for the offense - which Mr. Jones did, but Mr. Jones still expects Johnny to do whatever is necessary to replace that broken window.  While Johnny is forgiven, all is not good until that window is replaced.  Likewise, if we commit a mortal sin which is a "sin unto death" (1 John 5:17) and confess that sin, the priest may give a discipline, a penance (like we saw earlier reference to in the First Century) and while God may forgive that sin - the stain of that sin is not remitted until the penance is done.

Then his "second question:"  And why the temporal consequence of sin can in part be negated by indulgences?  Well, at least Prasch is seeing the difference between the sin itself and the temporal consequence of the sin (in our previous example, Johnny breaking the window was the sin, replacing the window is the temporal consequence).  Why can or does this happen?  Because the Church has so decreed!  Keep in mind, Matthew 18:18, the subject matter of the discussion is (but not limited to) the forgiveness of sins - and Jesus Christ empowered our first bishops, the Apostles, with the authority to forgive OR retain sins.  Sins they forgive are forgiven, sins they do not forgive are not forgiven.  
That, we all know – the indulgences– were the way the construction of St. Peter’s, the Vatican, was financed. The Dominicans said when a coin into the box rings, a soul in purgatory springs. You can have sex with Mary, the mother of Christ and be forgiven if you have the right price. That's what they said. Catholic scholars have admitted this. (The Dominicans, of course, the perpetrators of the Inquisition.) Again, I’m not attacking, I’m only stating facts that Catholic historians admit.
On to another question:
If the blood of Christ cleanses from all sin, why is it that you have to atonement in purgatory for your own? 
Now, I wasn't going to say anything the first time, but he's done it again.  "Atonement" is not a verb, it is a noun but twice now Prasch has used it as a verb.  I believe he means to use the word "atone" and perhaps English is not Prasch's first language.  We can get what he means, but it makes for an awkward sentence.

To answer Prasch's question directly - we don't atone for our sins - Jesus did that.  Purgatory is a place for saved people (each and every soul in Purgatory is already saved) to be purified from any stain of sin before entering Heaven.
The New Testament says perfect love casts out all fear. (1 Jn. 4:18) All fear. Why should someone die in fear of going to purgatory? In fact the Roman Catholic Church says in the catechism that if you say you're going to heaven and you know you're going you’ve committed the sin of presumption. 
Well again, this is not completely a true statement.  In fact, if you find yourself in Purgatory, REJOICE!  You have been judged to be SAVED ALREADY!  There should be no "fear" of Purgatory, at least not fear as in being afraid - but a healthy fear of respect is a good thing to have and can motivate one to lead a life which may avoid Purgatory altogether - for those, their purgation time has been here on Earth.
Now the New Testament says we can have a confidence we’re going to heaven (1 Jn. 4:17) if His blood has cleansed you from all sin, if you’ve truly repented and accepted Him. Please tell me, my dear friend, and again I'm only asking the question of you I once asked of myself, if His blood cleanses from all sin, why do you have to atone for your own in purgatory? 
And again, there is no "atoning" in Purgatory (and this time you used the verb properly, as opposed to the noun earlier).  Every single sin of those in Purgatory has been atoned for.  Any "sins which are unto death" (mortal sins) have been forgiven.  Any unconfessed "sins which are not unto death" (venial sins) are cleansed away in Purgatory along with any stain of any sin.  The point is, every single soul in Purgatory is already saved!  They are on their way to Heaven with no chance of going to Hell at that point.
And why can you go out and do something or buy something or get something that will give you an indulgence to reduce your sentence? Where is any such thing found or taught in the New Testament? Where did Jesus or the apostles teach it?
The Church teaches it and is given the authority to teach it in Matthew 16:18-19 and Matthew 18:18.
In the Middle Ages the Roman Catholic Church added the Apocrypha, the intratestamental literature to the canon of Scripture because there is one verse in the book of Macabees that says it's good to pray for the dead, which they took to mean getting people out of purgatory. However, the Early Church never held the Apocrypha to be part of the canon of Scripture – even the Roman Church didn't. 
This statement is not true.  Mr. Prasch needs to study the foundations of Scripture more.  The FACT is the Deuterocanonicals (Second Canon) were ALWAYS part of the Septuagint.  There are very good arguments that it was actually a Septuagint copy that Jesus and the Apostles quoted from.  For the first 400 years the Canon of Sacred Scripture was not as solidified as we have it now - in fact that solidification came at the end of the 4th century.  Prior to that there were several books of the New Testament which were not considered canonical - so by Prasch's standard should we reject those too?  And several other books were in earlier canons which were not included in the final canon, should we add those back in?  (Clement's Epistles, the Shepherd of Hermes, the Didache, etc.)
Secondly, it was a Jewish book written in the Greek language to Jewish people. 
Not quite true in that statement either.  The Septuagint was written BY Jewish people FOR Greek speaking Jewish people - keeping in mind that Greek was the lingua franca of the time right up until the time of Christ when Latin began supplanting it.
We’re told the Old Testament saints were in the bosom of Abraham waiting for the Messiah to come. In the context in which it was written that plainly meant praying that the Messiah would come so the Old Testament saints could go to heaven. It doesn’t mention purgatory. 
Agreed!  The Bosom of Abraham is NOT the same as Purgatory.
The term “purgatory” is found no place, even in the Apocrypha or in the church fathers as such. Not the Early Church fathers and not in the New Testament at all.
Agreed!  The English word "purgatory" would come about the 12th Century, the concept, however, predates the Incarnation.
His blood cleanses from all sin. Boldly we can approach the eternal throne the Scripture says. (Heb. 4:16) If we can boldly come before the throne of grace, how is that the sin of presumption? Is the New Testament wrong? 
Yes!  Boldly approach, be confident in your faith!  There's nothing wrong with such!  Proclaiming "I AM saved" before you have been judged is the sin of presumption.  Do not presume that you will not fall from grace and/or exactly how you will be judged.
If His blood cleanses from all sin, why should I believe in a religion, as I once did, that says I have to atone for my own?
Again, you cannot atone for your sins and the Catholic Church does not teach that you can.
St. Paul points out in his epistle to the Galatians if an angel of God comes with another gospel, don't believe it. (Gal. 1:8) If even an angel like Gabriel or Michael, an archangel, came and appeared to you and told you there was another gospel, another way of salvation, another good news of salvation by some other means other than Jesus paying the price for your sin on the cross, don't believe it. His blood cleanses from all sin. But I'm expected to believe it if I were Roman Catholic.
As a Catholic we believe and profess that Faith which was given to the Apostles, our first bishops, and passed down through the bishops in valid apostolic succession.  Catholics do not believe in the innovations of the 16th Century, ala Luther, Calvin and Henry VIII (among others), as I once did.
That is my question. If His blood cleanses from all sin, why should I be part of a religion that says I have to atone for my own in purgatory, when according to the New Testament there’s no such place. It’s never mentioned or named.
And again, it is NOT Catholic teaching that you can atone for your sins - Jesus Christ did that!  Purgatory is NOT a place of atonement!

As for Purgatory not being mentioned by name in Scripture - neither is the word "Trinity" mentioned, but the concept is there and defined later, by the Catholic Church.

Questions for Catholics Index

PART TWO - Questions of Co-

PART FOUR - Peter and The Rock 

Questions for Catholics - Part 2 - Questions of Co-

As a continuation of the "Questions for Catholics" series, which are in response to the Moriel Ministries, Jacob Prasch website this section we will answer to the questions of "Co-" which Moriel/Prasch has put forth.  
We are told in the New Testament there is one intercessor between God and man, Jesus the righteous. (1 Tim. 2:5) One intercessor, only one, Jesus. Man can’t reach God so God had to reach man by becoming one of us. If there is one intercessor, how can I be expected to believe that Mary “co-redeemed” us, “co-saved” us, and she is the “co-mediatrix” if there’s only one Savior? The Hebrew prophets said all along, “Yahweh – God is our Savior; there is no Savior but Me”. (Is. 43:11; Hos. 13:4) Only one Savior, only one intercessor.
We must begin by explaining that "co-" does not mean "another" it means "with."  That being said, the use of such "co-" terms in Catholicism, thus far, are not dogmatically defined.  No Catholic is "bound" to use such terms, but even so - what do they really mean?  Are these terms fundamentally wrong?  Let us take them one at a time in the order Moriel/Prasch has presented them.

Co-Redeemer:  The title used by some (and again, not all) Catholics is actually "Co-Redemptrix." In, what we refer to as "the economy of salvation," the Blessed Virgin most definitely plays a role.  While she is not THE Redeemer, it was through her fiat that the Redeemer came to us.  Had she not consented we can be sure that God would have chosen another vessel/ark to carry the Only Begotten Son of the Father and through the Holy Ghost, but since she gave her fiat such speculations are a bit of a waste of time.  The Blessed Virgin and Mother was with the Christ throughout his mortal life and now in eternity.   So how did she assist with the redemption process?

  1. She said "Yes" (her fiat).  When confronted by the archangel Gabriel, she consented "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word." (Luke 1:38).
  2. At the first public miracle, the Wedding at Cana, she instructed the servants to "do as He told them," even though just previous to that Jesus had shown reluctance to begin the public ministry and miracles but through His mother's prompting and perhaps due to this prompting - the water becomes wine.
  3. She passively followed Him throughout His life and even through the via delorosa, for which she is also known as Our Lady of Sorrows.  Through life, death and then in resurrection and beyond, the Blessed Mother was and is with her Son.
  4. In John 19:25-27 we see with Jesus on the Cross giving His Mother over to St. John to be his Mother and he her son, as a handing on of that relationship to all of us.
  5. During the formation of the Church, the Blessed Mother was there with the Apostles at the Pentecost gathering and post-paschal events.
  6. Our Blessed Mother remains at Jesus' side in Heaven.

Now, is our redemption due to the actions of the Blessed Mother?  Yes!  Is she THE Redeemer?  No!  While not being THE Redeemer, she most definitely played a role - and thus the title of "Co-Redemptrix" is appropriate.  Not only is it appropriate for her, but each of us should work as co-redemptors in bringing more to the One, True Faith.

Co-Saved:  I am not familiar with any Catholic teaching or title for the Blessed Mother co-saving us or her having the title of Co-Savior.  This assertion is nothing more than a red herring argument attempting to draw us off-track from real teachings and/or practices of the Catholic Church.

Co-Mediatrix:  Now here I believe Moriel/Prasch is confusing topics.  While this IS a topic of apologetics for Catholics - this article appears to be equivocating "mediatrix" with "savior" since the author states:  
If there is one intercessor, how can I be expected to believe that Mary “co-redeemed” us, “co-saved” us, and she is the “co-mediatrix” if there’s only one Savior? The Hebrew prophets said all along, “Yahweh – God is our Savior; there is no Savior but Me”. (Is. 43:11; Hos. 13:4) Only one Savior, only one intercessor.
There is a theological difference between one who intercedes and one who saves.  The Blessed Mother (again) is not our Savior, who is Jesus Christ, alone but this author mixes and interchanges the terms as if they are equal.  As Catholics, we believe in, as the Apostles Creed professes, "the communion of saints," which refers to ALL the saints - whether part of the Church Militant (those of us still here on Earth fighting for our Faith), the Church Suffering (those in Purgatory who can surely use our prayers) and the Church Triumphant (those saints who are in Heaven).  We do not believe that the death of the body equates to the death of the person.  The person carries on into eternity either in or on the way to Heaven, or in Hell and eternal damnation.  Those saints who are part of the Church Triumphant are alive in Heaven, and we ask them - through the communion of saints - to pray with and for us.  The Blessed Mother, in her very special role and relationship to her Son makes her a very special one among the Church Triumphant to intercede for and with us.  No Christian is an island, we all rely upon each other for support and the death of the body does not end the life of the soul, so again we turn to those in Heaven and ask them to continue praying for us who still struggle with the trials and temptations of this life.

I would add as well, while the term "Co-Mediatrix" is used by many Catholics, like "Co-Redemptrix" there is no dogma binding all Catholics to accept this terminology.  While, as I have explained above, there is nothing "wrong" with the terms - if they make you feel uncomfortable, do not use them - you don't have to.

Part One - Mary

Part Three - Purgatory

Questions For Catholics Part 1

With a little prompting from my priest, I am beginning a series of responses to Moriel Ministries which has presented "Five Questions for Catholics," however the article title says the number is thirty-three and perhaps through secondary questions they reach the higher number, but the inconsistency is noted upfront.

Who is this?  James Jacob Prasch (Jacob Prasch) was raised in a mixed household of Catholic and Jewish.  He states he was "forced" to attend Catholic school as a youth, but also attending the Jewish Community Center.  This left him agnostic and in college while he was attempting to use science to disprove Christianity but came to the conclusion that it took more faith to reject Jesus and the Bible than to accept it.  Subscribing to Marxism and the "hippee culture" and nearly subcombing to drugs, he hit bottom and "put his faith in Jesus."  He and Moriel (have not found more about Moriel on the site which bares his name) got together in Moriel Ministries, which Prasch is now the director.

Without further ado, let us proceed into the series of questions presented to Catholics.

The first question we come to on Moriel's homepage is "Should I believe Mary or the Vatican?"
Without doubt Mary – her real name was “Miryam” – Mary the mother of Jesus was the greatest woman who ever lived.
The angel Gabriel. the archangel “Gabriy’el”, “the mighty one of God” appeared to her and told her that God Himself would become incarnate inside of her, she would be the mother of the Messiah, the Savior, who would save His people from their sin. This is the greatest woman who ever lived. And the greatest woman who ever lived, who has ever lived, was told she’s going to be the mother of the Savior who would save His people from their sin in the Magnificat in St. Luke’s Gospel. (Lk. 1:46-55) The only thing that the greatest woman who ever lived could say when she was told she was the greatest woman who ever lived – “Blessed are you among women” (Lk. 1:42) – and she was told she’s going to be the mother of the Savior who would save His people from their sin is, “My spirit rejoices in God my Savior”. (Lk. 1:47)
If the greatest woman who ever lived tells me that she needs to be saved from sin, that she needs a Savior when she's told she's going to be the mother of the Savior who would save people from sin, who am I to argue with the greatest woman who ever lived? Who am I to argue with St. Luke? When God says, “All have sinned, all fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23), “None is righteous, no not one”, (Rom. 3:10) Well who am I to argue with God? I believe Mary, but we have Ineffablilis Deus, the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception.
If all have sinned and all full short of the glory of God, and if Mary said she needs to be saved from sin, who do I believe: Mary or the Vatican? Personally, I believe Mary. I'm convinced Mary was right; I'm convinced that Mary told the truth; I'm convinced all have sinned and all fall short of the glory of God.
Well, first off in the passage cited is not the Blessed Mother admitting to have sinned, but only "My spirit rejoices in God my Savior."  Did Mary need a savior?  Yes!  In the definition of the Immaculate Conception (hereafter IC) of the the Blessed Virgin Mary (found here) it says:
We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful.
Note, it says she was preserved from the stain of original sin, not the penalty!  The Blessed Virgin, whom Catholics would agree with Moriel/Prasch, is the "greatest woman who ever lived," did not need to be freed from the stain of any actual sin - but from the penalty of original sin.  The Blessed Virgin therefore too needed the Savior, the Redeemer, the Messiah.  It should also be noted that in the entire document of Ineffabilis Deus, that one sentence is the only "infallible" statement.  

The author of the article (whether it be Moriel or Prasch) goes on to say:
The Roman church speculated and then deduced that if that was the case, Jesus would have been born from a sinful vessel. But if Mary had no sin, by the same token that would have to mean that Mary's mother had no sin, and that Mary's grandmother had no sin, and that Mary’s great-grandmother had no sin all the way back to Eve. But we know Eve had sin and we know Mary had sin.
Yes, we know Eve had sin, but Scripture does not tell us that Mary had sin and again the definition of the IC only states she was preserved from the stain, not the penalty.  We also do not need to buy into the slippery slope (invalid) argument that if Mary was without sin, her mother must have been and her grandmother, etc., etc., for the Catholic teaching on the IC is that the Blessed Virgin, alone, was singled out "in the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God."  So not only is the Moriel/Prasch argument a slippery slope, it is a straw man built upon a faulty premise that the author proceeds to knock down.  If we know our Catholic Faith, we are not taken in by such invalid argumentation.

The author goes on to state and ask:
Again, this doctrine was not proclaimed until modern times, until the 20th Century. Do you believe Mary was wrong?
The definition of the IC was proclaimed in 1864, that would make it the 19th Century, which is a minor error here, but nonetheless, an error.  One would think that an author who is based in science would not make such an error and especially publish it. Am I the first to point this out to him?  It will be interesting to see if that statement changes on their website.  The timing of the actual definition is really inconsequential, and that would lead us to question Moriel/Prasch - does the Church have the authority to bind or loose such things?  The answer to that is a resounding YES!  In Matthew 16:18-19, in a singular decree our Blessed Lord bestows that authority on St. Peter, alone and then two chapters later that authority is also given to the Apostles (the Bishoprick) as a group in Matthew 18:18, but that takes us down another (however much more fundamental) path, so, for now, let us not digress.    

Now, to answer the question, "Do you believe Mary was wrong?"  No, as stated earlier, the Blessed Virgin was not wrong, but the premise of the Moriel/Prasch argument is wrong which leaves them with nothing but a house of cards which has just been knocked down.

Part Two - Questions of "Co-"

Addendum 9/27/2015:
In searching around the Moriel website I also have found out that Prasch is currently in ICU fighting an extremely bad infection.  My prayers go out to him and I pray for his recovery and that we might directly engage in discussion/debate but at this time I am not expecting a response from him.  The picture above is from the article I'm responding to, here's a better one from his Facebook page:

Traditional Latin Mass in Pictures

My wife ran across these pictures, so I made a slideshow and added Gregorian chant, I hope you like and share with your friends!

Click one or more of the "share" buttons!

St Pauls Three Encounters with Christ

Dr. Taylor Marshall has presented an interesting article, which I echo here in its entirety, links and all...

Paul’s Three Encounters with Christ Jesus in Acts

By Dr. Taylor Marshall
The Acts of the Apostles record that Paul received three apparitions of the Lord Jesus Christ:
1) Paul’s Vision on the Road to Damascus (described in Acts 9, 22, and 26). Paul is walking on the road to Damascus in order to arrest Christians in Damascus.
To read my theory that Saul/Paul had Herodian connections to accomplish this political task, click here.
caravaggio_stpaul (1)A bright light surrounds Saul and he hears a voice claiming: “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” Saul loses his sight but gains it again through the laying on of hands by Ananias who then baptizes Saul/Paul.
2) Paul’s Trance in the Temple (Acts 22:17-21). After his conversion, Paul returns to Jerusalem and while he is praying in the Temple, he enters into a trance. In Greek, the word for trance is ἐκστάσει {ecstasei} or “ecstasy.”
17 “When I had returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, I fell into a trance {ἐκστάσει} 18 and saw him saying to me, ‘Make haste and get quickly out of Jerusalem, because they will not accept your testimony about me.’ 19 And I said, ‘Lord, they themselves know that in every synagogue I imprisoned and beat those who believed in thee. 20 And when the blood of Stephen thy witness was shed, I also was standing by and approving, and keeping the garments of those who killed him.’ 21 And he said to me, ‘Depart; for I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’”
We learn something more about Saul here. Although he did not capture Christians in Damascus, he did previously and personally “imprison and and beat” Christians in Jerusalem – “in every synagogue.” Saul was the chief of Anti-Christian police in Jerusalem. Saul would have had to have authority from the High Priest and Herod Antipas to accomplish this.
3) Paul’s Vision in Prison (Acts 23:11). This is the big “Roman Catholic” passage that I stress in my book on Saint Paul as Roman and in my book on Rome as the Capital of Christianity. Here Jesus Christ connects the Apostolic ministry from Jerusalem…to Rome. Romanism is a mandate delivered to Paul from the resurrected mouth of Jesus Christ:
“The following night the Lord stood by him and said: Take courage, for as you have testified about me at Jerusalem, so you must bear witness also at Rome.” (Acts 23:11)
Christ connects the Great Commission as a line drawn from Jerusalem to Rome. We see this in the thematic structure of the four Gospels (the Jerusalem/Pilate struggle) and also in the narrative structure of the Acts of the Apostles (Acts starts in Jerusalem and ends in Rome). The Book of Revelation, rightly interpreted is a vision about the unholy adultery between Whore of Babylon (Jerusalem) and the Beast (Rome).
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In Your Face

Allegedly, the White House plans an "in your face" guest list for Pope Francis' upcoming visit to the USA.  Supposedly a transvestite, a pro-abortion nun and a pro-homosexual marriage priest will be among the guests.  Also, it is said the Vatican is not pleased.  Comments?  Confirmations?  (Sent from my iPhone, more later from me).


I have found several websites which confirm this "guest list" for Pope Francis' upcoming visit to the White House this week...

The UK Daily Mail reports:
Pope Francis's first visit to the White House next week is shaping up to be a doozy, as President Obama has arranged for several opponents of traditional Catholic teaching to be among those greeting the pontiff.
Francis is known for his tolerance, having urged Catholics against condemning those with non-traditional lifestyles such as homosexuals and pro-choice advocates.
But this may test even Francis's famous papal patience. reports:

In a stunning show of political indecorum, Obama has invited a series of individuals who publicly flout Catholic teaching, including a pro-abortion religious sister, a transgender woman and the first openly gay Episcopal bishop, along with at least two Catholic gay activists.

The Wall Street Journal reports:
On the eve of Pope Francis’s arrival in the U.S., the Vatican has taken offense at the Obama administration’s decision to invite to the pope’s welcome ceremony transgender activists, the first openly gay Episcopal bishop and an activist nun who leads a group criticized by the Vatican for its silence on abortion and euthanasia.

Catholic Vote comments:
This is beyond President Obama’s typical Chicago-style politics.  This is beyond the more vile tenets of the Alinsky catechism.  Hell, this is beyond the bozo Soviet nonsense that John Paul II had to put up with.
No, what we have here is special.  We haven’t seen such a raw, naked attempt by a secular head of state to manipulate a pope in centuries.

I, for one, hope that Pope Francis does not take this sitting down and uses the situation as an opportunity to (tactfully) put President Obama in his place.  President Obama would not (and has not) deliberately invited guests who would be offensive to Islamic leaders who have visited, why this blatant show of disrespect to Catholics?  I would even favor Pope Francis deciding to skip the White House visit and comment to reschedule at a time and under a host who would be more respectful of the Catholic Head of State (the Vatican, afterall, is a nation-state). 

Hard Truths

Truths that are hard to hear

We can all struggle at times to listen to someone if what they say arouses painful emotions in us. They might be trying to tell us something about ourselves that we find difficult to hear. That very human tendency is reflected in the disciples in this morning’s gospel. Jesus had something very important to say about what was about to happen to him. In the words of the gospel, he was telling them that he would find himself in the hands of others, who would put him to death. This was something that the disciples found very hard to hear and were not able to take on board. As the gospel says, ‘they did not understand what he said and they were afraid to ask him.’ Already in Mark’s gospel Jesus told them what was likely to happen to him. They were no more open to hearing it the second time than they were the first. They did not understand it and they were reluctant to question him because they were afraid they might not be able to live with the answers he would give them. In some ways that is a very human reaction. We often find ourselves not willing to ask questions because we suspect that we would struggle to live with the answers to our questions.

Yet, in our heart of hearts, we often recognize that there are certain realities we have to face, even if they are painful to face. There are certain illusions we may have to let go of, even if we have come to cherish them. In the second part of this morning’s gospel Jesus worked to disillusion his disciples, in that good sense. He needed to prise them away from the illusions of greatest that they harboured. They seemed to have thought that being part of Jesus’ circle would bring them privilege and status. No sooner had Jesus spoken of himself as someone who would end up as one of the least than the disciples began to argue among themselves as to which of them was the greatest. They wanted power and, it seems, that they wanted power for its own sake. This is the kind of self-centred ambition that James talks about in the second reading when he says, ‘you have an ambition that you cannot satisfy, so you fight to get your way by force.’ In place of that very worldly ambition, Jesus places before his disciples a very different kind of ambition, an ambition that has the quality of what James in that reading refers to as ‘the wisdom that comes down from above.’ This is God’s ambition for their lives and for all our lives. It is the ambition to serve, as Jesus says in the gospel, ‘those who want to be first must make themselves last of all and servant of all.’ This ambition to serve, again in the words of James in that second reading, is something that ‘makes for peace and is kindly and considerate; it is full of compassion and shows itself by doing good.’

Jesus implies that this is to be our primary ambition as his followers. All our other ambitions have to be subservient to that God-inspired ambition. In his teaching of his disciples and of us all, Jesus elaborates on his teaching by performing a very significant action. He takes a little child and sets the child in front of his disciples, puts his arms around the child and declares that whoever welcomes one such child, welcomes him and not only him but God the Father who sent him. Jesus was saying by that action that the ambition to serve must give priority to the most vulnerable members of society, symbolized by the child who is completely dependent on adults for his or her well being. Our ambition is to serve those who, for one reason or another, are not in a position to serve themselves. Jesus goes, assuring his disciples and us that in serving the most vulnerable we are in fact serving him. In the presence of the disciples who seemed consumed with an ambition for power for its own sake Jesus identifies himself with the powerless, those who are most dependent on our care. Over against the ambition of the disciples to serve themselves, Jesus puts the ambition to serve him as he comes to us in and through the weakest members of society. In our gospel Jesus is putting before us what his family of disciples, what the church, is really about. [Martin Hogan]

God Bless

Missed it by That Much - Dollar on Holy Communion

I happened to be listening to TBN this morning and Creflo Dollar came on with a show on how to read the Bible properly.  I wasn't overly interested in hearing a Protestant minister telling me how to read the Bible, but I left it on while I got up to do the dishes I left in the sink the night before.  Then I overheard him talking about 1 Cor. 11:23-34

23 For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread.
24 And giving thanks, broke, and said: Take ye, and eat: this is my body, which shall be delivered for you: this do for the commemoration of me.
25 In like manner also the chalice, after he had supped, saying: This chalice is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as often as you shall drink, for the commemoration of me.
26 For as often as you shall eat this bread, and drink the chalice, you shall shew the death of the Lord, until he come.
27 Therefore whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord.
28 But let a man prove himself: and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of the chalice.
29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord.
30 Therefore are there many infirm and weak among you, and many sleep.
31 But if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.
32 But whilst we are judged, we are chastised by the Lord, that we be not condemned with this world.
33 Wherefore, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another.
34 If any man be hungry, let him eat at home; that you come not together unto judgment. And the rest I will set in order, when I come.
Now, what struck me is that when Dollar came to verse 34, he spoke of the necessity to eat at home so as to not bring the judgment of the Lord upon us.  He stressed this is not due to sin, but due to not understanding what you are receiving in Holy Communion.  OK, at this point I had to pause from the dishes for a moment and give him more of a listen.  He repeated, you don't partake in Holy Communion because you are hungry, physically, and if you do - you are not perceiving the significance and meaning behind Holy Communion!  Yes, Dollar, you have this much right - but (quoting Maxwell Smart/Don Adams from the 1960's TV show, Get Smart) you "Missed it by that much!"  

You, Mr. Dollar, were SO close, but you didn't testify to the reality of what St. Paul was getting to in this passage.  What is it that St. Paul states you would be guilty of?  Verses 27 and 29 makes it clear that one would be unworthy if they did not recognize or discern the body of the Lord.  Not that Holy Communion is symbolic of the body of the Lord - but IS the body of the Lord - and if you do not discern THIS then you are guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord.  The Eucharist is not just symbolism - but reality.  St. Paul uses the same words of consecration as do the earlier apostolic references - recording (again) Christ's own words testifying this IS the body of Christ and this IS the blood of Christ given to us so that the sins of the many may be forgiven.  Come to the reality of the fullness of the Truth - which you're not receiving from any Protestant reading of Scripture.  Yes, many of you come close - but "you missed it by that much" and the part which should scare you and convince you is what you touched upon in 1 Cor. 11:29 - that Holy Communion is not just a symbol, it IS the body and blood of our Lord.  You need to join with us in that proper discernment and flee from those who do not properly perceive and those who lack the faith to believe that Jesus Christ gave to us this ceremony of the Mass which consecrates mere bread and wine to become His body and blood.

Faith Without Works

So what good is it if one has faith but has no works?  Now, we can all agree that faith is an indispensable ingredient to attain salvation, to be saved, but is faith alone for salvation the teaching of Scripture and the Church?

Today’s second reading gives us a strong clue of the answer to that question.  James says that “faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” Seems pretty clear but then you’ll have those who tell you that one can have a dead faith or a living faith and because they have at least one type of faith then they are ‘saved’.
Can a dead faith save you?  Some say yes because they have believe that one is saved through faith alone.  And yet we find Scripture teaching very different things.  In the same chapter of James, just a few lines following today's passage we see that James also emphatically states that “ the body apart from the spirit is dead, so faith apart from works is dead.  We see here that James has made the ‘body’ analogous to ‘faith’ and ‘the spirit’ analogous to ‘works’.  Now how useful or life inducing is it if the body is without the spirit?  In the same way, faith, if it has no works is useless, that is, lifeless.
Lifeless…  Kinda points to not saved right?  But let’s see what Jesus has to say on ones works and how it relates to salvation.  Jesus teaches throughout the Gospels that one is judged by ones works.  In the story about Judgement Day in Matthew 25, we see Jesus separates the sheep from the goats on the simple criteria of whether one has ‘clothed the naked’, ‘fed the hungry’ and gave drank ‘the to the thirsty’, and so forth.  Something that one DOES.  If one does NOT do those things that the Father Wills us to do then we are sent to eternal punishment (Mat 25:46).
The Catholic website ( puts it succinctly when it states that:
The Church teaches that it's God's grace from beginning to end which justifies, sanctifies, and saves us. As Paul explains in Philippians 2:13, "God is the one, who, for his good purpose, works in you both to desire and to work."
Notice that Paul's words presuppose that the faithful Christian is not just desiring to be righteous, but is actively working toward it. This is the second half of the justification equation, and Protestants either miss or ignore it. (
And finally, if one tries to convince you that one is saved by faith alone just point out James 2:24 which states directly that “…a man is justified [ie saved] by works and not by faith alone.
God Bless

SSPX Confessions Valid and Licit!

For the Jubilee Year, absolutions given by the priests of SSPX are not only valid, but licit too!  The Vatican Radio website reports:
“The Pope assures them: those who come near to celebrate the sacrament of reconciliation with the priests of the Fraternity of St. Pius X will have to be certain that they were absolved from their sins,” Archbishop Fisichella told Vatican Radio.
This is not to say that SSPX is back in full communion, but the Radio Vatican article also goes on to say:
In addition to allowing the faithful to licitly receive absolution from the Fraternity, Pope Francis said he has been told by several bishops of the “good faith and sacramental practice” of those attending the Fraternity’s churches, and said he trusts “that in the near future solutions may be found to recover full communion with the priests and superiors of the Fraternity.”
This is encouraging news for those whose only opportunity for the traditional Latin Mass is through SSPX. 

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