Mother Angelica - May She Rest in Peace

I recall my early days as a Catholic and when we moved to the Prescott area, no regular TV, however we had a 10 foot satellite dish in the backyard, but no descrambler - one of the few things we could tune in was EWTN.  We spent many hours watching Mother Angelica and other EWTN programming.  She will be remembered with great fondness in my family.

Eternal rest, grant unto her oh Lord.  May her soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, rest in peace.


Taking White to Task

In an "All Roman" edition of James White's Dividing Line program, as you can probably guess, White makes a number of faux pas comments.

1) White starts with making note of the controversy between Pope Francis and Donald Trump.  In this case it wasn't really a faux pas, as he actually stood up for the fact that Pope Francis was mistranslated (you can see my response to that incident here).  Look for the context, etc. "but that's not The Donald's way."  Then White criticizes Pope Francis for the statement about borders.  Has not White just done what he accused "The Donald" of doing?  Go back to what Pope Francis actually said AND his clarifications on the matter. However, White does go back to defending the pope's ability to make a statement about an individual person's faith...  reminding the listeners that it's really the responsibility for a religious leader to make such judgments.

2)  "Super Confessors - with super powers - where if you walk through certain doors - your sins will be forgiven."

Over 1100 priests were hand-picked to forgive sins normally reserved to being forgiven by the pope himself.  Let me start by quoting White:
So obviously medieval, so obviously unbiblical, I mean no one is going to honestly look at the New Testament and say, 'yah, that's what the Apostles were doing, the Apostles were, you know, opening doors and saying if you walk through this door you'll get forgiveness of sins.  And yah, that sacramental stuff, it developed over time, and you know, it's like Cardinal Newman said, the acorn to the tree and... and this is why Rome has to deny sola scriptura, of course, because if you limit yourself to what is theopneustos (God breathed) then you're never going to come up with this silly stuff.  You're not going to have super confessors, well first of all you're not going to have priests to begin with, ah, you're going to have one High Priest, Jesus, and everybody in the Body of Christ is a priest in one sense, I mean, there's no such thing as a sacramental priesthood (as) in Roman Catholicism.
Let's pause here as White himself pauses at a "squirrel" moment of someone posting a picture of Pope Francis, looking sternly, with the caption of "I'm watching you, James" (posted on Twitter).
a) What's this comment about gaining forgiveness of sins by walking through certain doors?  First off, we must correct White's misunderstanding (again) of Catholic teaching and tradition.  The "Holy Doors" (which traditionally were just four doors on four of Rome's basilicas) have been extended to include all the cathedrals in the world.  What is sought by those passing through them is not forgiveness of sins, but an indulgence.  Big difference here!  An indulgence is NOT the forgiving of a sin!  Indulgences relieve all or some of the temporal punishments which may remain after a sin is already forgiven.  There is no indulgence for a sin not yet forgiven.  That being said, if Matthew 16:18-19 be true, then St. Peter (and those who were "sent out" as his successors, more on that in a bit) has the authority not only to bind on Earth, which also binds in Heaven, but to loose on Earth which also looses in Heaven.  That which he looses is infallibly loosed - as an erroneous (or fallible) loosing cannot be loosed in Heaven.  Thus, when a pope decrees the temporal punishments are loosed (an indulgence) it MUST be so and has scriptural foundation.  White is simply wrong here (again) and misrepresents Catholicism (again) on this matter.
b) No such thing as a sacramental priesthood?  Let us remind the reader, and especially White, the definition of a a sacrament.  A sacrament is an outward sign, instituted by Christ, to give/gain grace (grace = God's life in us).  So, with that in mind let us look at the sacramental initiation of the priesthood as it relates to the forgiveness of sins (we could also mention the sacramental initiation of the Eucharist, but this topic is on forgiveness, so let's stick with that example.  The "outward sign" is the actual forgiving of the sins.  Forgiving of sins is a means of grace.  In John 20:21-23, Jesus breathes upon them, The 12, and says to them:
21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” (NIV)
So, this 1) sending and 2) receiving the Holy Spirit and 3) authority to forgive sins - was "instituted by Christ."  So, this "priesthood" (we also call Holy Orders) most definitely fits the definition of a sacrament - and quite clearly contains the authority to forgive sins.  Keep in mind, as He (Jesus) was sent out, He was sending them out - therefore they too, necessarily, needed to send others out with that same authority with which they were sent out.  White is simply wrong, again, in saying this is "unbiblical."

Back to the program...

3) "You didn't have venial v. mortal sins."  Really?  Again, White is wrong because this is clearly a scriptural teaching in 1 John 5:16-17 - 
16 If you see any brother or sister commit a sin that does not lead to death, you should pray and God will give them life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that you should pray about that. 17 All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death.
So there is a sin which leads to death (aka: mortal) and a sin which does not lead to death (aka: venial).  It cannot be more clear that White is again wrong in his statement on this.  

4) "What has this to do with Christianity?  Absolutely, positively, nothing at all.  It's as far removed from the Christian faith as can be.  See, once you abandon the standard which Jesus gave us, to test human traditions by what is written in Scripture, once you're convinced that doesn't work."  Really?  Even though the "Christian Scriptures" precisely teach that which White precisely rejects?  I have already demonstrated the scriptural foundation of these traditions.   The objective reader can surely see who is not presenting Christianity here!

5) Minutes 10-12 - Apostolic succession - too many vague, uncited allegations to answer to at this time, but virtually all, if not all, have been answering in the past.

6) I want to thank a Roman Catholic apologist.  Scott Eric Alt published an article on February 9, 2016, stating we (Catholic apologists) need to stop saying there are 33,000 denominations.  Alt goes on to say, "there are not, not even close to, 33,000 denominations.  Well, OK, but White represents this as if no other Catholic apologist has said this, to him or elsewhere, in the past.  This, again, is simply not true!  In 2011 I responded to White's attack on the Vortex - dispelling the myth of the 33,000.  In 2010 I presented the actual source of the 33,000 number - from Barrett's World Christian Encyclopedia, 2001.  That 2010 article was actually a reposting of an article I had posted in 2007 on the Locutus Webboard (that webboard was taken down due to security issues it posed on our web server, fortunately, I had snagged the article before it was taken down).  I will repost the pertinent facts from the 2007 article:

Mega-bloc.......... | Denominations in 1995.. | Countries

Roman Catholic...| 239 ...............................| 234 (dividing it out, that's a statistical "1")

Orthodox............| 764 ..................................|133  (statistical = 6)

Protestant ..........| 8848 ...............................| 231  (statistical = 38)

Anglicans ...........| 168 .................................| 162 (statistical = 1)

Marginal ............| 1488 ................................| 215 (statistical = 7)

Independent ......| 21,582 ............................| 220 (statistical = 98)

Total .................| 33,089 ..............................| 237  (statistical = 140)

(David A. Barrett, World Christian Encyclopedia, 2001, p 12)
(The "statistical" statements in parentheses were added by me, and I used Barrett's math.)
So, that's where the "33,000" figure came from.  It INCLUDES Catholics in the numbering of Christians, but using the editor's own math, Catholicism is a statistical "1" whereas Protestants are "38" groups, then add in the "98" independents then the Anglicans and Marginal and you can see the dividing of the Body of Christ - which is contrary to His Will.  That's 144 "denominattions" yet it is His Will is that we are to be One, just as He and the Father are One - and we WERE One, for over 1000 years when Orthodoxy split with Catholicism, and it would be another 500 years later that Protestantism would be born and further splits would be made from the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Who else has corrected White on this faux pas? 

2004:  Dave Armstrong (in this Dave refers to a response he and Al Kresta wrote back in 2000, but that link is no longer valid:

2005: We had a similar discussion in CDF (Catholic Debate Forum) with no relation to White and Co. (you have to follow the thread, but Barrett's "facts" come in too). (Yahoo Groups no longer exist).

2007:  Phil Vaz (no longer exists)

White's original article, in 2007, to which my article was a response: 

2007: Steve Ray responds to White's article:

2007: Scott Windsor responds to White on Locutus Webboard and while that link is no longer available, that same article was posted here in 2010:  Here (in 2007), I reference that (again, no longer available) article from Locutus:

2011:  Scott Windsor responds:

2014:  Benjamin Baxter:

2016:  Scott Eric Alt:

2016:  Dave Armstrong, recalling his 2004 response to White on the subject:

Well, there are others, but this list should suffice to say that White has been shown, by several other Catholic apologists that a) the 33,000 number is not a lie; and b) many times before Alt's article from earlier this year. The bottom line is Barrett's numbers "denominate" by country, which is not the way most, if any, of us look at denominations.  Barrett says there are 239 Catholic "denominations" - but counts 234 countries - I'm not sure where he gets the other 5, but dividing it out - that's 1 denomination.  Protestants, on the other hand, are up to 144 - and ANY number greater than ONE is outside of God's Will for His Church - for HE desires that we be ONE, just as He and the Father are One (John 17:21).

7) Infallibility?  Well, he (like John Bugay) misrepresents or at best ridicules papal infallibility at a level indicating he really doesn't "get it" and since I just wrote a whole article on that (click here) I'll not repeat myself again just now.

8) Caller "Luke," whom he claims Catholic apologists are aggressively pursuing, calls in and basically takes up the rest of the show.  Well, THIS Catholic apologist is not actively pursuing Luke so I will not belabor those points here and now.  If Luke wishes to have a discussion with me, public or private, he can contact me.  Here's my email:

If you would like to listen to or watch the Dividing Line webcast, in its entirety, on Youtube:

Catholic Priest Crucified and Easter Bombing

Fr. Thomas Uzhunnalil crucified by ISIS on Good Friday?  NOT CONFIRMED!

Kidnapped on March 4th, ISIS reportedly stated that they planned to crucify him on Good Friday.  Such a horrible death, but does ISIS not realize they have made a martyr of Fr. Uzhunnali?

Addendum, 4/1/2016
Not only has this crucifixion not been confirmed - there is at least one report of officials attempting to secure the release of Fr. Uzhunnalil - so it is hopeful he is still alive.  Continued prayers!

Easter Sunday Bombing:
In a related story, the Taliban has claimed responsibility for a bombing in Pakistan of Christian celebrating Easter at a park.  The suicide bomber killed mostly women and children.  At least 65 killed, 67 by another report, and the count could go higher.

Let us pray for the conversion of Islam.  I know that not all Muslims are terrorists, but so many of these atrocities are stemming from radical forms of Islam.  The bottom line here is they are following a false religion created by one who claimed to be a prophet.  The reality is, their religion was made up 600 years after Jesus Christ and from a combination of Judaism and Christianity - but without the reliance upon the Holy Word of God OR the Church He founded while He was here and have a system which has drifted from the Truth.

Communion of Saints, pt2

What would be the point of asking for intercessory prayers if the people we are asking are not aware of us or of our prayers?  Well we can find that they ARE aware of us in:

Heb 12:1         “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

Mt 17:3           Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.

(If Jesus didn’t want any contact between saints on earth and saints in heaven, why did our Lord make a special point of appearing to Peter, James, and John on the Mount of Transfiguration in the company of Moses and Elijah, two ‘dead’ saints? (Patrick Madrid))

Rev 6:9-10      When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. They called out in a loud voice, How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?

Luke 15:10      …There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.

We have just learned that the ‘dead saints’ are indeed aware of earthly doings, but can they do anything about it?  Are there intercessory prayers effective?  Of course there are.  Prayers of the righteous availeth much (Jas 5:16).  Who are more righteous than those in heaven?

I feel I must make clear that Jesus alone is our mediator, John Henry Cardinal Newman pointed out:

The Catholic Church allows no…Saint, not even the Blessed Virgin herself, to come between the soul and its Creator…The devotions then to angels and saints as little interfered with the incommunicable glory of the Eternal, as the love which we bear our friends and relations, our tender human sympathies, are inconsistent with that supreme homage of the heart to the Unseen.  (Newman, Apologia Pro Vita Sua, p.284-285)

We can therefore see that asking saints to pray for us (whether they are ‘living’ or ‘dead’) is acceptable, approved by God, and availeth much.  The communion of the Saints is nothing more that the recognition that saints after death (and angels) are more alive than us, aware of happenings on earth, desirous of aiding us, and able to be asked for help and to assist us with their prayers of intercessions, always through Jesus, just as saints who are still ‘alive’ are able to do for us.

Can this practice be found in the 2,000 year history of the Christian faith?  We’ll answer that next week.

God Bless


What Is Different About This Night?

That is the question traditionally asked by the youngest child in a Jewish family as they prepare for the Seder.  What is the Seder?  It is a remembrance mandated by God that His People remember the Passover - which brought about the freeing of the Israelites from Egypt.  It was that same Seder which Jesus was celebrating with His Apostles on what we now call Holy Thursday - or more traditionally: Maundy Thursday.  Maundy comes to us from the Latin word mandatum, which is also the root for the English word "mandate." 

The New Mandate
When Jesus Christ celebrated the First Eucharist - it was not to be a one-time deal.  He commanded, or mandated, that they were to "do this" whenever they partook in what we now call the Eucharist.  He essentially ordains the Apostles to carry on this tradition and as they were sent out in the same manner Jesus was sent by the Father - they too, in turn, were to ordain others to perpetuate this New Mandate. 

Therefore, the new mandate is to continue to celebrate the Eucharist, which, as He declares IS His body and blood given for the many so that sins would be forgiven.

Good Friday
Today is the day we remember that Jesus Christ offered Himself wholly, body and spirit, to redeem us from our sins.  This is why EVERY Friday we are mandated to offer up meat, or something equivalent (meat is still preferred by many) on EVERY Friday throughout the year, not just Good Friday.  Why?  Because EVERY Friday is like a little Good Friday and EVERY Sunday is like a little Easter Sunday.  EVERY Friday is a special time to offer up a small penance to recall Jesus' passion and death just as EVERY Sunday is a special time to recall His resurrection and victory over death. 

Is Sterilization Acceptable?

I had a nice exchange with 2 of my co-workers last the other day.  Someway or another our conversation turned to pregnancies and what people can do to avoid them.  One co-worker is a non-practicing, nominal Catholic and the other was a non-denominational Christian.  

After I told them that I didn't agree with having a vasectomy.  The nominal Catholic laughed and said: “Wait, wait, lets see what the extremist has to say about this.”  When I told them that we shouldn’t ‘mutilate’ our bodies for our convenience he started giggling.  The purpose of medicine is to return our bodies to a natural state.  I said that it wasn't a natural thing to do to your body and so we shouldn't do anything to disrupt the natural functioning of our organs.   He (the nominal Catholic) just started laughing.  He thought that I'd disagree with removing a kidney stone since that was a natural thing.

My answer to that though was kinda simple.   I told him, and the other non-denominational Christian that medicine is suppose to repair or return the organs and body in general to its original purpose which is why wearing glasses is ok since it improves the functioning of the eyes and the same for the kidney stone.  The stone impedes the kidney from functioning properly hence it is ok to remove it.  The only thing he had left was to turn around and he kept smirking but he gave up the argument.  Hopefully I was able to plant a seed to both of them.  I have great hope that the other individual listening will chew on this for a while.  At least he seemed  to be receptive of this idea of the true role of medicine.  I just thought I'd share with you.  I hope they'll be more of those moments, I just hope I have a ready response when/if they do and please do not shy away from defending the Catholic position on moral issues.  Her reasons that the Church holds these positions are on very solid ground, we just need to go look them up and share them when the opportunities arise.

God Bless

Infallibility - A Challenge?

Recently, on Triablogue, John Bugay posted a query using Hans Küng as his primary source for challenging infallibility - as if a dissident "theologian" is a good place to start from.  I guess from a Protestant perspective, a dissident Catholic is "better" than an orthodox one, but even Bugay refers to Küng as a "renegade Roman Catholic theologian."

According to Bugay,
"Küng says he is not writing to destroy, but if ever there was a need for destruction, it is here. Wrong-headed from the start, both “papal infallibility” and “the papacy” both need to be headed toward “the ash-heap of history”. If anyone can muddy the waters right now (further than they have been muddied), it will be “Pope Francis”."
In short, Küng is writing to destroy.  The link there takes you to another Triablogue article on Papal Infallibility, also written by Bugay and while using another source, Küng wrote the introduction to that source - already opening it to the question of its orthodoxy.  That article opens with a discussion of the "Johannine Comma" and goes into a discussion about later popes overturning decisions by earlier popes.

It is apparent that Bugay (and perhaps his sources) is oblivious to the fact that not EVERYTHING decreed by a pope is infallible!  The fact of the matter is, VERY FEW decrees are actually considered to be infallible.  Yes, such a decree is binding upon all faithful Catholics - but again, a non-infallible decree can be (and several have been) overturned.

My response to the first article I cited is quite simple and straightforward:
Something which is bound in heaven, by its very nature, is then infallible - for nothing fallible could be "bound" in heaven.  If Peter, and thus his successors, has this authority, then Bugay's point is moot.  If Peter has not this authority, then Matthew 16:18-19 is a lie.  You can't have it both ways.
That response, if it is approved, was also posted to the original article on Triablogue (slightly paraphrased here because I did not copy it before I submitted it).  The bottom line is, if the Bible is the true and final authority for Bugay, then his objections to infallibility are pure folly and even scandalous in opposing the Word of God.

Communion of Saints pt1

The word in the Bible for “saint” or “saints” in the Greek texts can also be translated as “sanctified, consecrated” or “holy ones”.  It’s Paul who calls all his fellow believers “saints,” and not just the notably holy ones.  We see an example of this in Phillipians 4, verse 21 and 22.  It says: “Salute ye every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren who are with me salute you. All the saints salute you: especially they that are of Caesar's household.  Paul also uses the term for both those who are living and for those who are dead. We find this very clearly in 2 Thess 1:9-10 and also in Jude 14-15:

2 Thess 1says:

“These (who do not acknowledge God nor heed the good news) will pay the penalty of eternal ruin, separated from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his power, when he comes to be glorified among his holy ones and to be marveled at on that day among all who have believed, for our testimony to you was believed.”

And Jude 14-15 says:

“Enoch, of the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied also about them when he said, ‘Behold, the Lord has come with his countless holy ones to execute judgment on all and to convict everyone for all the godless deeds that they committed…”

This practice of Paul corresponds to one of the earliest creedal statements of Christian faith: The Apostles Creed: “I believe in the communion of saints.”  Communion of saints refers to the bond of unity among all believers, both living and dead, who are or have been committed followers of Jesus Christ.  In the eyes of God, in eternity, the distinction between His People who are ‘living’ or who are ‘dead’ is not at all important.  This statement can be supported by the following Scripture verses:

Mk 9:4            “Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses, and they were conversing with Jesus.”

Mk 12:26-27   “As for the dead being raised, have you not read in the Book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God told him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, (the) God of Isaac, and (the) God of Jacob’?  He is not God of the dead but of the living.  You are greatly misled.”
Rom 12:5        …so we, though many, are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another.

Rom 8:38-9     For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

This one body in Christ is called by the Catholic Church as The Mystical Body of Christ.  This concept, as seen in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, is explained as: “The life of each of God’s children is joined in Christ and through Christ in a wonderful way to the life of all the other Christian brethren in the supernatural unity of the Mystical Body of Christ, as in a single mystical person.” (par. 1474)

Since we are “members one of another,” we can, in Christ and only in Christ, seek the prayers and help of fellow members of the Body, both here and in Heaven.  Seeing as all believers as a whole make up the one body in Christ, we are all connected to each other with Christ at the head.

Luke 15:7 points to the fact that those in heaven (the saints and angels) are aware of the happenings here on earth since they would rejoice over one sinner who repents.  James Cardinal Gibbons explains it this way:

“ The angels [and saints] are glad whenever you repent of your sins.  Now, what is repentance?  It is a change of heart.  It is an interior operation of the will.  The saints, therefore, are acquainted –we know not how – not only with your actions and words, but even with your very thoughts.”  (Gibbons, The Faith of our Fathers, p.127)

Text adapted from:

But can they hear us?  More on this next week.

God Bless


Passion Sunday

What is Passion Sunday?  
Prior to the 1970 Mass, often referred to as the Novus Ordo Missae, the liturgical year included Passion Sunday.  This was the day all the statues and holy images were veiled in purple.  The tradition is not prohibited today - but not nearly as widely practiced as it used to be.  The readings for Mass became more focused on the discord between Jesus and the Jews and upon the Passion of our Lord.

The Epistle:

Hebrews 9:11-15  Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition (DRA)
11 But Christ, being come an high priest of the good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hand, that is, not of this creation:
12 Neither by the blood of goats, or of calves, but by his own blood, entered once into the holies, having obtained eternal redemption.
13 For if the blood of goats and of oxen, and the ashes of an heifer being sprinkled, sanctify such as are defiled, to the cleansing of the flesh:
14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who by the Holy Ghost offered himself unspotted unto God, cleanse our conscience from dead works, to serve the living God?
15 And therefore he is the mediator of the new testament: that by means of his death, for the redemption of those transgressions, which were under the former testament, they that are called may receive the promise of eternal inheritance.

 The Gospel:

John 8:46-59 Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition (DRA)
46 Which of you shall convince me of sin? If I say the truth to you, why do you not believe me?
47 He that is of God, heareth the words of God. Therefore you hear them not, because you are not of God.
48 The Jews therefore answered, and said to him: Do not we say well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?
49 Jesus answered: I have not a devil: but I honour my Father, and you have dishonoured me.
50 But I seek not my own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth.
51 Amen, amen I say to you: If any man keep my word, he shall not see death for ever.
52 The Jews therefore said: Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest: If any man keep my word, he shall not taste death for ever.
53 Art thou greater than our father Abraham, who is dead? and the prophets are dead. Whom dost thou make thyself?
54 Jesus answered: If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father that glorifieth me, of whom you say that he is your God.
55 And you have not known him, but I know him. And if I shall say that I know him not, I shall be like to you, a liar. But I do know him, and do keep his word.
56 Abraham your father rejoiced that he might see my day: he saw it, and was glad.
57 The Jews therefore said to him: Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?
58 Jesus said to them: Amen, amen I say to you, before Abraham was made, I am.
59 They took up stones therefore to cast at him. But Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple.

In the Novus Ordo, or Ordinary Rite, Passion Sunday is combined with Palm Sunday.  In a way, this is a bit tragic, as Palm Sunday, though the start of Passion Week, is a day of celebration and praising the Messiah's entrance into Jerusalem.

As for me and my family, we adhere to the tradition of covering all statues and pictures of Jesus and the Saints on Passion Sunday - and they are removed after the First Mass of Easter Sunday (the removal of the veils is actually part of the Easter Vigil - which takes us into the First Mass of Easter).

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...