Category Archives: Scripture

PALM SUNDAY, HOSANNA – BEING PEOPLE OF PRAISE by Deacon Marty McIndoe

               It is hard to believe but Holy Week is about to begin.  This is my favorite liturgical time of the year.  This week we are able to relive the last few days of Jesus’ life on earth.  Through the liturgy we can join Jesus in living out each of these days.  It is Holy Week that shows us the Salvation given to us by God and all of the gifts that surround that, especially the Eucharist.  It is in this week that we can truly feel the LOVE that God pours out to us in Jesus.  This week begins with Palm Sunday.  On Palm Sunday we celebrate the King of Kings, the beggar King, the King of Peace, who triumphantly rides in to the Holy City of Jerusalem on a borrowed donkey.  The people are elated to see Him.  They had just heard of how He had raised Lazarus from the dead, even though Lazarus had been dead for four days.  This miracle worker was coming in to the City of God and the people were singing His praise.   This was the One who would finally set them free.  They waved palms and proclaimed from Psalm 118, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord! Blessed is the King of Israel.”  They sang songs of praise.

               Praise is a very important part of the Church’s liturgy.  All bishops, priests and deacons and brothers and nuns are required to pray the Liturgy of Hours each day, several times a day.  Many lay people also join in with them in this prayer form.  This prayer consists of a large number of prayers of praise.  If you look at our mass, we are constantly offering prayers of praise.  We even say, “It is right to give you thanks and praise”.  My initial entrance in to the Church life began back in 1972 when I began attending a Catholic Charismatic prayer meeting.  These prayer meetings are filled with praise and I have naturally adapted that in to my every day prayer life.  I begin each morning praising God and do so many times throughout the day.  Praise of God lifts me up and gives me strength and peace.  I love to Praise God.  It seems the natural thing to do.  I think about when Jesus was told by the Pharisees to tell the people to stop singing their praises.  He replied to them, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”  All of nature gives praise to God.  Isaiah 55:12 says, “For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.”  You only have to stop for a few moments and observe nature to see how it praises God.  I remember going on retreat for a week to the city of Assisi, the home of St. Francis, and waking up in the morning to the chirping of a multitude of birds.  What a beautiful song of praise they sing.

               We too, the highpoint of God’s creation, are especially called to give Praise to God.  Psalm 117:1 says, “Praise the LORD, all you nations. Praise him, all you people of the earth.”  When we praise God we are drawn closer to Him.  We are then more open to allowing Him to perform miracles in our lives.  Praising Him helps bring us humility.  It also causes our enemies to flee.  Praise is such an important prayer form, and so easy to do.  It can be used from the very beginning of the day until the very end.  It can be as simple as, “I praise you Lord.”   The people of Jerusalem gave praise to Jesus on His triumphal entry in to the City of God.  Unfortunately this praise was short lived.  It was only a few days later that many of these same people were crying out, “crucify Him, crucify Him”.  Our songs of praise cannot be like that.  Our prayers of praise must also be part of our acceptance of who Jesus was and is today.  We must study Him in the scriptures and hear about Him in homilies and receive Him in the Eucharist.  That way our prayer of praise can be lasting and true.  To encourage praise, I have included the following scriptures.  I also highly recommend listening closely to the words at mass, and the songs at mass, and try praying the Liturgy of the Hours.  God bless you in your songs of praise.  Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ, King of Endless Glory.

SCRIPTURES CALLING US TO PRAISE GOD:

Psalm 150:1-6 Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals!

Exodus 15:2 The LORD is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father’s God, and I will exalt him.

Judges 5:3 Hear, O you kings; give ear, O you princes; I, even I, will sing to the LORD; I will sing praise to the LORD God of Israel.

2 Samuel 22:4 I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies …

2 Samuel 22:50 Therefore I will give thanks to you, O LORD, among the heathen, and I will sing praises to your name.

Psalms 35:18 I will give you thanks in the great congregation: I will praise you among much people.

Psalms 35:28 And my tongue shall speak of your righteousness and of your praise all the day long.

Psalms 43:4 Then will I go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy: yes, on the harp will I praise you, O God my God.

Psalms 138:1 I will praise you with my whole heart: before the gods will I sing praise to you.

Daniel 2:23 I thank you, and praise you, O you God of my fathers, who have given me wisdom and might, and have made known to me now what we desired of you: for you have now made known to us the king’s matter.

Jeremiah 17:14 Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved: for you are my praise.

Hebrews 13:15 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.

1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light;

 

              

One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church – Interesting Facts About Our Uninterrupted History – by Deacon Marty McIndoe

Looking in to the Tomb of St. Peter underneath the main Altar at St. Peter’s in Rome.

 

A friend of mine posted this on Face Book.  There is no author noted.  I found it interesting enough to share with you on my blog site.  I have actually visited several of the places mentioned here and have found the visits to be a very moving experience.  Our Church is so filled with an uninterrupted history, right back to the time of Jesus and the apostles.  We are truly One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.  God is good!

Historical Evidences of the True Church

The Catholic Church gave us the Gregorian calendar which we all use today.
The Catholic Church gave us the date for Easter.
The Catholic Church gave us the date for Christmas which means Christ-Mass.
The Catholic Church compiled the Bible.

The remains of all of the Apostles are in Catholic Churches, and so are all of the Gospel writers. Note! Some relics are divided between Catholic Churches.

St. Peter is in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
St. Paul is in St. Paul’s Church in Rome.
St. Matthew is in the Cathedral of St. Matthew in Messina, Sicily.
St. James the Greater is in St. James Church in Compostela Spain.
St. James the Less (the Just) is in the Basilica of the Holy Apostles in Rome.
St. Bartholomew is in St. Bartholomew-in-the-island Church in Rome.
St. Andrew is in the Cathedral of Amalfi in Italy.
St. Philip is in the Church of the Dodici Apostoli in Rome, Basilica of the Holy Apostles.
St. Simon is in the Vatican, under the Altar of the Crucifixion.
St. Jude is in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
St. Thomas is in the Cathedral of Saint Thomas in Mylapore, India.
St. Matthias is in St. Matthews Abbey in Trier Germany, and in St. Mary Major Basilica in Rome.
St. John is in the ruins of the Basilica of St. John in Ephesus Turkey.


“You are built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets with Jesus Christ Himself as the Chief Corner Stone.”
Ephesians 2:20.


Even though he was not an Apostle, he did write the Gospel of Mark.
St. Mark is in St. Mark’s Church in Venice, Italy.


Even though he was not an Apostle, he did write the Gospel of Luke.
St. Luke is in the Basilica of Santa Giustina in Padua, Italy.
The first Christian Martyr. Acts 7:60


St. Stephen is in Rome in the Basilica of St. Lawrence Outside the Walls.


The first person to arrive at the tomb of the Risen Christ. John 20:1
St. Mary Magdalene is in the Basilica of St. Maximin in Villalata, France.


He produced the first Bible containing both the Old and New Testaments, the Latin Vulgate. St. Jerome is in St. Mary Major Basilica in Rome.

We know from the many authentic Relics that the Catholic Church has in its possession. Among them are:

The Relic of the True Cross on which Jesus Christ was crucified. John 19:17-18
The “INRI” inscription from the True Cross, called “Titulus Crucis”. John 19-19
The Nails which held Jesus to the cross. John 20:25
The Lance Point of Saint Longinus which pierced the side of Jesus. John 19:34
The Crown of Thorns and the individual thorns from it. John 19:2
The Table used at the Last Supper is in St. John Lateran Basilica in Rome. Matthew 26:20
The Scala Santa, the steps which Jesus Christ ascended on His way to meet Pontius Pilate.
The Chains of Saint Peter, in the Church of St. Peter in Chains in Rome.

..thanks to the one who did the research

 

THE BENEFITS OF DAILY MASS by Deacon Marty McIndoe

               Attending daily mass is so important to me, and I have been reaping the benefits of it for several decades.  I am retired now and it is easy for me to attend the 9:00am mass, right after I am finished with the gym.  When I was working, I had to attend the 7:00am mass and then go to the gym and then to work.  Either way, I made the decision to go to daily mass and to go to the gym.  I figured I needed to be healthy both spiritually and physically.  It is hard to separate the two.  I would like to share with you some of the benefits I have seen by going to daily mass in hopes that you too will try to attend daily mass or that if you already do, you may find support for what you are doing.

1 – Being in the Presence of the Lord.  I try to get to mass about 20 minutes early so that I can just sit in His presence.  I offer Him praise and sit quietly listening for any Word he may give me.  So often I have grown in my love of Him and grown in my ability to learn to trust Him in all things.  Our God is an awesome God and His love for us knows no limits.  It is so good to be in His presence.  It is unbelievable how a short time alone before the Lord in the tabernacle can improve your prayer life all day long.

2 – Listening to His Word.  Every day at mass we have two readings and a responsorial psalm.  The first reading is usually from the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) and the second reading is from the Gospels.  The Church does a wonderful job of presenting cycles of readings so that you basically go through all of the important parts of the whole bible in three years.  Sundays are set on a three year cycle and weekday readings are set on a two year cycle.  If you only attend Sunday mass, you do not get the fullness of the readings cycle.  Beginning each day listening to God’s Word and the homily about it can really impact you all day long.  The Church also follows different Liturgical Seasons such as Advent, Lent, Easter, Pentecost and Ordinary time.  The weekday readings emphasize the importance of these Seasons on a daily basis.  Immersing yourself in God’s Word is power giving.

3 – Receiving the Body and Blood of Jesus.  Jesus made it extremely clear that if we want to be filled with the fullness of life, we need to eat His body and drink His blood (Read John Chapter 6).  I would have to say that His Body and His Blood fill me with graces constantly.   Sometimes there is a reason that I cannot attend the morning mass (snow, Doctor, etc) and when that happens, I feel such a loss.  We are used to taking daily multi-vitamins and daily coffee etc. to pick us up, but to me, nothing picks me up better that receiving Him at daily mass.  The strength given to me by that lasts all day and affects every part of the person that I am.  I believe that I have an abundant life because I receive my Lord every day in the Eucharist.

4 – Experiencing Community.   Daily mass has less people in it than does Sunday mass.  Because of this, you get to meet these people and share your lives with them.  I know this can be true of Sunday mass, but daily mass emphasizes it.  You learn of your fellow parishioners ups and downs and you share a better level of community.  In our parish, every Wednesday we go over to our parish center and share with each other what the readings of the day have meant to us.  We usually have about 20 attend and it is a wonderful experience.  Also, at daily mass you get to know the things that are happening as they happen, not one week later like at Sunday mass.  We always have people who are struggling with health and life issues and daily mass allows us to be more supportive, especially on the days that they need it the most.  Community is a very important gift.

5 – Know your Priests and Deacons.  Daily mass gives us more of an opportunity to know the clergy that support our parishes.  They also get to know you better.  There is usually more time for meeting with the clergy.  You can also get to appreciate the homilies that they give.  You can bring support to them, and they can bring support to you.

               In closing, I cannot emphasize enough how important daily mass is to me.  I feel that I am a much stronger Christian because of it.  I know that I am closer to the Lord, and hear His voice better because of it.  It is also wonderful to know that people all over the world are hearing the same scriptures and receiving the same Lord at the same time I do.  You certainly get a fuller appreciation of the gift that the Church is to the world.  There are so many great books on the mass, but one that really touched me is Scott Hahn’s “The Lamb’s Supper: The Mass as Heaven on Earth”.  In it we see that we are really sharing in a little bit of heaven every time we attend mass.  I personally want to do that every day.

               I will end with some quotes that Dr. Taylor Marshall found about the Eucharist.  They say so much.  He says: These quotes remind me of the hidden mystery of the Holy Mass. I plan to review them before Mass during Lent. I’d encourage you to do the same if you also struggle with distractions. I may print them out on a card and put them in my missal:

  1. When the Eucharist is being celebrated, the sanctuary is filled with countless angels who adore the divine victim immolated on the altar. ~ St. John Chrysostom
  2. The angels surround and help the priest when he is celebrating Mass. ~ St. Augustine
  3. If we really understood the Mass, we would die of joy. ~ Saint Jean Vianney
  4. The celebration of Holy Mass is as valuable as the death of Jesus on the cross. ~ Saint Thomas Aquinas
  5. Once, St. Teresa was overwhelmed with God’s Goodness and asked Our Lord “How can I thank you?” Our Lord replied, “ATTEND ONE MASS.”
  6. “My Son so loves those who assist at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass that, if it were necessary He would die for them as many times as they’ve heard Masses.” Our Lady to Blessed Alan.
  7. When we receive Holy Communion, we experience something extraordinary – a joy, a fragrance, a well-being that thrills the whole body and causes it to exalt. ~ Saint Jean Vianney
  8. There is nothing so great as the Eucharist. If God had something more precious, He would have given it to us. ~ Saint Jean Vianney
  9. When we have been to Holy Communion, the balm of love envelops the soul as the flower envelops the bee. ~ Saint Jean Vianney
  10. It would be easier for the world to survive without the sun than to do without Holy Mass. ~ St. Pio of Pietrelcina

That last quote from Saint Pio is profound. The entire cosmos is sustained by the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass…

 

 

Teach as Jesus Taught – in 12 Easy Steps by Deacon Marty McIndoe

TO TEACH AS JESUS TAUGHT – IN 12 STEPS

Jesus was a fantastic teacher.  We can learn from His example, and from the scriptures, how we too can be a great teacher.  Whether we are a professional teacher, home school teacher, religious education teacher, parent or grandparent, Bishop, Priest or Deacon, layperson, we can follow 12 easy steps to teach as Jesus taught.   

The first six are about you; the last six are about your teaching 

1 – Keep growing in your own personal relationship with Jesus

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

 

2 – Dig in to the Scriptures

“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness” 2 Timothy 3:16

 

3 – Stay in touch with the Holy Spirit

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you”  John 14:26

 

4 – Be a person of service/ministry

“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace” 1 Peter 4:10

 

5 – Take time for focused learning

“Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” 1 Timothy 4: 7,8

 

6 – Take time to rest and pray

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”  Matthew 11: 28-30

 

7 – Know your students

“Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind” 1Peter 3:8

 

8 – Teach in stories

“Jesus told them a story to teach them that they should keep on talking with God and not give up.” Luke 18:1

 

9 – Seize teachable moments

Read any of the more than 50 parables of Jesus

 

10 – Engage other viewpoints

““You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?  And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?” Matthew 5: 43-47

 

11 – Keep up with dialogue

There are many bible verses that present stories of people in dialogue with each other.  Good teachers also dialogue with their students.

 

12 – Teach by example

“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15

 

Final thoughts:

 “Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.”  Titus 2:7-8

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

“A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.”  Luke 6:40

 “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19

 

And finally, “What we need is a cup of understanding, a barrel of love, and an ocean of patience.”  Saint Francis de Sales

Prayer, the Bible and Presidential Inaugurations by Deacon Marty McIndoe

               President George Washington started the tradition of being sworn in with his hand on the bible and most Presidents have followed that.  However, President John Quincy Adams used a Law book and President Theodore Roosevelt used nothing at all.   President Trump used the same bible that Abraham Lincoln used in 1861, as well as one given to him by his mother.  President Trump’s wife, Melania, our new First Lady, held both bibles.

               Although President Washington had a prayer session after his inauguration, the use of prayer at the inauguration didn’t begin until 1933 when President Franklyn Roosevelt had a minister give a benediction.  At his second inauguration in 1933 he had both an invocation and benediction done.  Since then, there have usually been one or two ministers of various religions adding prayers.  In today’s inauguration ceremony of President Donald Trump we had six clergy deliver six different prayers or scriptures.  This is the largest number in any Presidential Inauguration.  President Trump had one Catholic, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York; one Jewish, Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder of the SIMON WIESENTHAL CENTER and its MUSEUM OF TOLERANCE in Los Angeles;  and four evangelical Protestants, Rev. Samuel Rodriques president of the NATIONAL HISPANIC CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE, Pastor Paula White of NEW DESTINY CHRISTIAN CENTER in Florida, Rev. Franklyn Graham president of BILLY GRAHAM EVANGELISTIC ASSOCIATION, and Bishop Wayne T. Jackson of GREAT FAITH MINISTRIES INTERNATIONAL in Detroit.  None of the ministers were from President Trump’s Presbyterian denomination.  I thought that all of the prayers and scriptures were right on target.  The President himself mentioned God several times in his speech.  I do believe that we are off to a great start.  However, we the people need to continue on in lifting our new administration up in prayer.   We need to ask that they be guided by the Holy Spirit and that they govern us using Gospel values.

               Today at mass my Pastor, Fr. Steve Hannafin, did a great job of tying in today’s reading of Jesus choosing the twelve apostles and comparing that to our starting a new administration.  He pointed out that all of the twelve had flaws and weaknesses, and none were perfect, but Jesus chose them and empowered them to build His Church.  Our new administration is made up of people, like us, who have flaws and weaknesses.  It is important to pray for them.  Fr. Hannafin ended our prayer of intercessions with a prayer that comes from the Book of Blessings but was based upon a prayer that was composed by Archbishop John Carroll on the occasion of President George Washington’s inauguration in 1789.  I include it here so that we may all pray for our new administration and pray the God will bless America.

Almighty and eternal God,
you have revealed your glory to all nations.
God of power and might, wisdom and justice,
through you authority is rightly administered,
laws are enacted, and judgment is decreed….
:
Assist with your spirit of counsel and fortitude
the President of these United States,
that his administration may be conducted in righteousness,
and be eminently useful to your people over whom he/she presides.
May he encourage due respect for virtue and religion.
May he execute the laws with justice and mercy.
May he/ seek to restrain crime, vice, and immorality.

We likewise commend to your unbounded mercy
all citizens of the United States,
that we be blessed in the knowledge and sanctified in the observance of your holy law.
May we be preserved in union and that peace which the world cannot give;
and, after enjoying the blessings of this life,
be admitted to those which are eternal.

We pray to you, who are Lord and God,
for ever and ever.

AMEN

St. John the Apostle and Evangelist by Deacon Marty McIndoe

Today we celebrate St. John, the Apostle and Evangelist.  He is the man referred to in the Gospels as “the beloved disciple”.  He is also the one who stood at the foot of the cross with Mary and to whom Jesus said to Mary, “here is your son”.  Jesus then said to John, “here is your mother”.  There is no doubt that there is something very special about John and his relationship to Jesus and Mary.   When you compare the four Gospels, the Gospel of St. John stands out for his deep theological wonders.   John starts his Gospel by saying:   “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”  John reveals the true nature of Jesus, long before the incarnation.  I thought that since we have just celebrated Christmas, God becoming man, we could look at St. John’s reflection on the Word made flesh.  To do this please read over 1 John 1:1-2:3 and then read the following written by St. Augustine.

A treatise by St Augustine on the epistle of John – The flesh revealed Life itself

 

We announce what existed from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our own eyes, what we have touched with our own hands. Who could touch the Word with his hands unless the Word was made flesh and lived among us?

Now this Word, whose flesh was so real that he could be touched by human hands, began to be flesh in the Virgin Mary’s womb; but he did not begin to exist at that moment. We know this from what John says: What existed from the beginning. Notice how John’s letter bears witness to his Gospel, which you just heard a moment ago: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God.

Someone might interpret the phrase the Word of life to mean a word about Christ, rather than Christ’s body itself which was touched by human hands. But consider what comes next: and life itself was revealed. Christ therefore is himself the Word of life.

And how was this life revealed? It existed from the beginning, but was not revealed to men, only to angels, who looked upon it and feasted upon it as their own spiritual bread. But what does Scripture say? Mankind ate the bread of angels.

Life itself was therefore revealed in the flesh. In this way what was visible to the heart alone could become visible also to the eye, and so heal men’s hearts. For the Word is visible to the heart alone, while flesh is visible to bodily eyes as well. We already possessed the means to see the flesh, but we had no means of seeing the Word. The Word was made flesh so that we could see it, to heal the part of us by which we could see the Word.

John continues: And we are witnesses and we proclaim to you that eternal life which was with the Father and has been revealed among us – one might say more simply “revealed to us.”

We proclaim to you what we have heard and seen. Make sure that you grasp the meaning of these words. The disciples saw our Lord in the flesh, face to face; they heard the words he spoke, and in turn they proclaimed the message to us. So we also have heard, although we have not seen.

Are we then less favoured than those who both saw and heard? If that were so, why should John add: so that you too may have fellowship with us? They saw, and we have not seen; yet we have fellowship with them, because we and they share the same faith.

And our fellowship is with God the Father and Jesus Christ his Son. And we write this to you to make your joy complete – complete in that fellowship, in that love and in that unity.

 

Lord Jesus, thank you for giving us the gift of St. John.  May we always read his Gospel in wonder and awe.  May we also be as fervent in spreading the Good News, as he was.

 

Lord of the Dead by Deacon Marty McIndoe

cemetery

Death is something that we don’t usually think about or talk about.  We do know that people die, but somehow most of us feel that we won’t.  Intellectually, we know that we will, but we still we do not embrace death as something that we are heading to.  Yet we are.  You could say that we are all born to die.  None of us know when, or how, it will happen, but unless the Lord comes again while we are still alive, we will experience death.  Our faith, based on the death and resurrection of Jesus, tells us that death is not the end.  Surely the body stops, but who we are as a person continues.  The Church celebrates the Resurrection in all that we do.  In November, the first two days really call this to mind.

In his letter to the Romans, St. Paul said, “To this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living”.   Matthew, Mark and Luke all say that “He is not the God of the dead, but of the living”.  In looking at these two statements, at first they seem at odds with each other, but in essence they are saying the same thing.  Death no longer exists.  God is Lord of us in our death and our life.  When our bodies fail, we know that our soul continues on.  As Catholics we believe that we go to Heaven, Purgatory (preparation time for Heaven), or to Hell (quite permanent).  We also believe that someday, at the coming of the fullness of the Kingdom, our souls and our bodies will come together in the Resurrected body.  Until that day, the “dead” in Heaven and Purgatory still exist in communion with the living Church.  We are all the Living Church.

While we Christians are alive here on earth, we are known as the Church Militant.  We are soldiers of Christ who still struggle with sin and evil.  We have been redeemed by Jesus, and filled with the Spirit and can raise ourselves to great Spiritual heights, but we still fight darkness within ourselves and throughout the world.   We continue to work for the transformation of the world by preaching and living out the Gospel.  We do hope to receive God’s grace and go straight to heaven at the moment of our death.  We look forward to being a Saint.  Sometimes we make it, sometimes we don’t.

Often when we die we are not quite prepared for heaven.  We are definitely on the way, but we need a time of purification.  We call this time Purgatory.  The souls in Purgatory are known as the Church Penitent (or Suffering or Expectant).  It is a time when we know that we will see God in Heaven, but we must first come to grips with what keeps us from fully coming face to face with God.  Do not think of Purgatory as a mini or temporary hell.  It is more like a waiting room or antechamber for heaven where we get ready in order to enter.

For those who go straight to Heaven and for those who go there after their purgatory process, the souls in Heaven are known as the Church Triumphant.  We will be face to face with God and with His angels and Saints.  The Church here is Triumphant, but still awaits the coming of the fullness of the Kingdom at the end of time when all will be one in praise of God.  All things will be made new.

This all brings us to the two days we celebrate this week, All Saints Day and All Souls Day.  All Saints Day commemorates ALL of the Saints in Heaven.  Even though it includes everyone in Heaven, the main focus is on the Saints who have been named by the Church.  All Saints’ Day was formally started by Pope Boniface IV, who consecrated the Pantheon (originally used by the Romans to honor their gods) at Rome to the Virgin Mary and all the Martyrs on May 13 in 609 AD. Boniface IV also established All Souls’ Day, which follows All Saints.  All Saints Day is a Holy Day of Obligation. 

The day after All Saints Day, we celebrate All Souls Day which commemorates all those souls who have died, but have not gone to Heaven yet.  These souls are in Purgatory.  They are being prepared for heaven.  They enjoy the knowledge that Heaven is theirs, but they need some time to remove the stains of venial sins.  They are a very important part of the Church.  In our Catholic wake service we start by saying that “all of the ties of friendship and affection which knit us together as one throughout our lives do not unravel with death”.  Our loved ones, whether in Heaven or in Purgatory still have connections with us.  We can turn to them to help us in prayer.  We are not sure of their status, but whether they are in Heaven, or in Purgatory, they are still connected to us and can pray for us.

Truly our God is a God of the Living.  The scriptures are filled with story after story and parable after parable and teaching after teaching that points this out.  Because of the death and resurrection of Jesus, Death no longer has a hold on us.  We were all born to die.  It is a natural part of God’s plan for our salvation.  We should not fear death, for in death we find LIFE.  Those who have gone on before us, whether they are in Heaven or in Purgatory, are still a part of us as the Church.  They still care for us and love us and pray for us.  These first two days of November are a time for us to see that our God is God of the living and the dead.  We, as a Church, are all alive in Him.  Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies” (John 11:25).

 

 

Listening to God’s WORD by Deacon Marty McIndoe

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God’s WORD in the scriptures is active and alive.   It is a real source of strength and direction for all of us.  It is so important to read and study God’s WORD in our everyday life.  We are really called to be immersed in the WORD.  We hear God’s WORD at every mass we attend and every Catholic service that we attend.  Listening to God’s WORD is so important.   Sometimes we can get so much more from listening to it than from reading it.  Thanks to modern technology, we can now listen to God’s WORD anywhere, in our homes, our cars, wherever we are.   Mike Stark, of Truth and Life Audio Bible brings us the bible in dramatized audio form.  Not only do you hear the WORD, but you experience it along with music and sound effects that add to the listening experience.  Noted actors read the WORD and you can not only listen, but follow along the written WORD as it is displayed on your computer or cell phone screen.  It is available in all the normal formats and you can get a free version (limited) to try.  The full version is very reasonable.  I would certainly recommend it to anyone.  Here is a description from their website:

Dramatized Audio Bible

The Truth & Life Dramatized audio Bible New Testament is endorsed with an Imprimatur from the Vatican and includes a foreword by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. Voiced by award winning internationally-renowned actors including: Neal McDonough, Kristen Bell, Sean Astin, Michael York, Blair Underwood, Malcolm McDowell, Stacy Keach, Brian Cox, Julia Ormond, John Rhys-Davies and many more. The Truth & Life audio New Testament is a first of its kind dramatized audio Bible from the RSV-CE.

check it out at their website by clicking here: Truth and Life Audio Bible

Saint Jerome, Our Bible Hero by Deacon Marty McIndoe

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Inside the Cave in Bethlehem , next to where Jesus was born, where Saint Jerome lived and translated the Bible.

Saint Jerome was a very learned man who loved the scriptures.  He is the one who said, “Ignorance of the scriptures is ignorance of Christ”.  We celebrate his memorial on September 30th every year.  Let us take a look at this very interesting man.

St. Jerome, was born Eusebius Hieronymous Sophronius in the year 342, in the small town of Stridonius at the head of the Adriatic Sea.  His father was a Christian and made sure that Jerome received the best education possible, both in classical studies and in religion.  His father eventually sent him to Rome to study under some of the best teachers available.  Jerome became fluent in Latin and Greek.  Initially he was overtaken with the hedonistic pleasures offered by the city, but in the year 360 he was baptized by Pope Liberius.  Saint Jerome said, “it was my custom on Sundays to visit, with friends of my own age and tastes, the tombs of the martyrs and Apostles, going down into those subterranean galleries whose walls on both sides preserve the relics of the dead.” Here he enjoyed deciphering the inscriptions that were found on the walls.

Jerome spent about three years in Rome and then set out to see other parts of the world.  He continued to be an avid reader and intellectual and lover of scripture.  There really were no uniform selections of the scriptures then.  During his travels Jerome made a whole hearted decision to dedicate himself to God.  Because of his intellect, and love of reading, he started assembling a library of Christian writings.  After several years of scholarly study, Jerome decided to head to Syria for solitude and prayer.  Even in this solitude and prayer, his hedonistic desires that were set off in Rome began to surface again.  He said, “In the remotest part of a wild and stony desert, burnt up with the heat of the sun, so scorching that it frightens even the monks who live there, I seemed to myself to be in the midst of the delights and crowds of Rome…. In this exile and prison to which through fear of Hell I had voluntarily condemned myself, with no other company but scorpions and wild beasts, I many times imagined myself watching the dancing of Roman maidens as if I had been in the midst of them. My face was pallid with fasting, yet my will felt the assaults of desire. In my cold body and my parched flesh, which seemed dead before its death, passion was still able to live. Alone with the enemy, I threw myself in spirit at the feet of Jesus, watering them with my tears, and tamed my flesh by fasting whole weeks. I am not ashamed to disclose my temptations, though I grieve that I am not now what I then was.”

To help with his growth away from passion and towards Jesus, Jerome began to study Hebrew.  He said, “When my soul was on fire with wicked thoughts, as a last resort, I became a pupil to a monk who had been a Jew, in order to learn the Hebrew alphabet.  What labor it cost me, what difficulties I went through, how often I despaired and abandoned it.  I thank our Lord that I now gather such sweet fruit from the bitter sowing of those studies.”  This new knowledge of Hebrew allowed him to later translate the Hebrew Scriptures.

Jerome moved to Bethlehem where he opened a free school and also a hospice for pilgrims.  Now Jerome had some years of peaceful activity. He describes Bethlehem as a place of peace where travelers come from all over the world.  He said, “They come in throngs and set us examples of every virtue. The languages differ but the religion is the same; as many different choirs chant the psalms as there are nations…. Here bread and herbs, planted with our own hands, and milk, all country fare, furnish us plain and healthy food. In summer the trees give us shade. In autumn the air is cool and the falling leaves restful. In spring our psalmody is sweeter for the singing of the birds. We have plenty of wood when winter snow and cold are upon us. Let Rome keep its crowds, let its arenas run with blood, its circuses go mad, its theaters wallow in sensuality….”

While in Bethlehem, living in a cave right next to where Jesus was born, Jerome began translating the Hebrew Scriptures in to Latin.  He also had to learn a new language, Chaldaic, because parts of the Old Testament were written in that.  He strived to have the most authentic translation that was possible.  He also worked with many Church leaders and scholars to put together the full text of the Bible as we have it today.  It should be noted that in the sixteenth century, the Council of Trent, affirmed St. Jerome’s Vulgate Bible as the most authentic and authoritative Latin text of the Church.  Besides his translation of the Bible, St. Jerome produced many biblical commentaries.  He was a great preacher and fought many heresies that were springing up.  St. Jerome’s love for scripture has given all of us a gift that we must give thanks to God for.  He did so much to bring the Word of God to Life, so that people could read and understand it.  May he always help us to love and devour God’s Word.
 

 

Is The Bible Alone The ‘Word Of God’? by Matt Nelson

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When it comes to Christian doctrine the word “alone” is a very heavy word; for it comes with the burden of proving an absolute statement. Words matter—especially divinely revealed words; and correct interpretation of those words matter most of all.

We have to be especially careful with biblical phrases or passages that we hear and pray often. These can become so cliché that we fail to think about what they really mean and glaze over them without thinking about them. Remember: we are to love God with all our mind (Lk 10:27) and therefore we should never stop allowing the written Word of God to penetrate deeper into our intellect, the site of understanding. As Frank Sheed often reminded his readers, every new thing we learn about God is a new thing to love about God.

Furthermore, grasping the true teaching of Christ and the apostles aids us in our own growth in holiness and assists us in becoming the most effective evangelists we can be. St. Paul writes:

“Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.” (1 Tim 4:16, KJV)

So is the Bible the Word of God? Yes.

Is the Bible alone the Word of God? Not according to the Bible.

For one, Jesus himself is the Word of God made flesh (Jn 1:1). But the Scriptures also reveal God’s Word to be something both spoken and written, something passed on by word of mouth and by letter (see 2 Thess 2:15).

All Christians can agree that the Bible is the inspired Word of God; for the Scriptures are theopneustos (God-breathed) according to Paul (2 Tim 3:16). But as I’ve mentioned above, God’s Word does not come to us merely by the Bible alone.

Sometimes the divine word travels directly from God’s mouth to man’s ear, such as it did to Abram in the Book of Genesis:

“After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” (Gen 15:1)

These words are in the Scriptures now but at the time they were not; instead God’s holy Word was spoken directly to Abram in a vision.

The risen Christ appears to St. Paul and speaks to him after his conversion; but there is no direct transcript of this encounter between Paul and the Lord in the Scriptures. Surely, however, the words spoken by Christ directly to Paul can be considered “God-breathed.” Consider also when God speaks to Jesus—his beloved Son in whom he is well-pleased—at his baptism in the Jordan (Mt 3:17; Mk 1:11).

Here’s what I’m getting at: God’s inerrant Word comes to man in different ways than merely in writing. That the Bible is the sole rule of faith was never the view of the early Christians for, just like St. Paul and the apostles, the early Church writers held that tradition was to be revered and upheld for the sake of orthodoxy (or correct belief).

St. Ireneaus, and a disciple of Polycarp who was a disciple of John the apostle, affirmed tradition on many occasions—especially when addressing the heresies of his time. He writes:

“With this church, because of its superior origin, all churches must agree—that is, all the faithful in the whole world—and it is in her that the faithful everywhere have maintained the apostolic tradition.” (Against Heresies, 3:3:1–2)

Now let’s get this straight: when Jesus gets after the Pharisees for their “traditions of men” he is not condemning all traditions; he is condemning religious traditions that directly contradict the Word of God and the Christian way of love.

Apostolic tradition is a whole different ball game.

Protestants might be tempted to respond by saying, “Fine! But what Ireneaus means by “apostolic tradition” is the Scriptures.” But that’s a groundless assertion. No early Church writer ever affirmed this notion of sola scriptura. No passage in the Bible affirms that only the Bible is to be considered apostolic tradition (in fact, the Bible directly contradicts this as you’ll see). And finally, most of the early Christians had no access to the Gospels and epistles of the apostles (or copies of them), and the New Testament Scriptures were not even formally determined to be inspired until the fourth century. The gospel of Jesus Christ was primarily communicated to the earliest Christians by preaching!

Often Catholics are criticized by Protestants because they put sacred tradition on the same footing as sacred Scripture. Catholics assert that Scripture and tradition “flow from the same divine wellspring.” But this insight into the status of tradition has its roots in the Bible. In fact, tradition is something that comes to man from God in both written and oral form—the Bible itself is a tradition, for its contents are not declared in Scripture but rather have been discerned by the Church itself with the inspiration and guidance of the Holy Spirit. It is an interesting (and often overlooked fact) that both Catholics and Protestants put their trust in the discernment of the Catholic Church in this matter of the “inspired” contents of the Bible.

St. Paul explicitly refers to oral and written tradition in his second letter to the Thessalonians:

“So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter.” (2 Thess 2:15)

And in his first letter to the Thessalonians, Paul refers to the word of God as something passed on by word of mouth (and not just by letter):

“And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.” (1 Thess 2:13)

And HERE Paul refers to the oral tradition passed on as the Word of God. Similarly in 1 Peter, apostolic preaching is referred to as inspired by God:

“‘[T]he word of the Lord abides for ever.’

That word is the good news which was preached to you.” (1 Pet 1:25)

Again, the point is that God’s inerrant Word (his divine and errorless revelation) comes to man in several ways and this is evident in the Bible, especially through the writings of St. Paul.

The Word of God is always perfect and without error; but it is not always in writing.

God can speak his Word directly to man interiorly. He can speak through visions or miraculous encounters. God speaks to man through the Scriptures. And God speaks to man through the sacred oral tradition of the Church (the foremost example being the “tradition of the New Testament books.”

G.K Chesterton saw the practicality of tradition, both in religious belief and in society. He wrote famously:

“Tradition means giving a vote to most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead.”

In other words, the voices of those who have died before us matter; and especially the voices of the apostles. Christians thus have a duty to interpret the Scriptures in unison with the tradition of the apostles, for they have looked him in the eyes and heard him speak; they have watched God move among man. It was the apostles, and them alone, that could say:

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life.” (1 Jn 1:1)

Check out Matt’s website at: http://www.reasonablecatholic.com

 

The Church, from the very Beginning…was Catholic! By Kenneth Henderson – Part 2 of 3

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The Synagogue in Capernaum where Jesus and His disciples visited many times.

We can see by the year A.D. 110, in the writings of Saint Ignatius of Antioch, a disciple of Saint John, yes “that” John, that the Church had bishops that had authority. That they were to obey the clergy and deacons, just as they would the apostles. They were also supposed to regard the bishop as a “type” of the Father. (…hmmm, sound familiar?) Also note that the Eucharist was only valid if the bishop or by a person authorized by the bishop were to celebrate it. They had a council and a college of apostles and without these it could not be called a church. Why? Because Jesus provided an authoritative teaching body in the Church to maintain the Truth, guided by the Holy Spirit. Ignatius even calls the Church, the Catholic Church! Sounds like what we refer to today as the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. Read for yourself.

Ignatius of Antioch

Follow your bishop, every one of you, as obediently as Jesus Christ followed the Father. Obey your clergy too as you would the apostles; give your deacons the same reverence that you would to a command of God. Make sure that no step affecting the Church is ever taken by anyone without the bishop’s sanction. The sole Eucharist you should consider valid is one that is celebrated by the bishop himself, or by some person authorized by him. Where the bishop is to be seen, there let all his people be; just as, wherever Jesus Christ is present, there is the Catholic Church (Letter to the Smyrneans 8:2 [A.D. 110]). –> Read online in its entirety here

For, since you are subject to the bishop as to Jesus Christ, you appear to me to live not after the manner of men, but according to Jesus Christ, who died for us, in order, by believing in His death, you may escape from death. It is therefore necessary that, as you indeed do, so without the bishop you should do nothing, but should also be subject to the presbytery 1, as to the apostle of Jesus Christ, who is our hope, in whom, if we live, we shall [at last] be found. It is fitting also that the deacons, as being [the ministers] of the mysteries 2 of Jesus Christ, should in every respect be pleasing to all. For they are not ministers of meat and drink, but servants of the Church of God. They are bound, therefore, to avoid all grounds of accusation [against them], as they would do fire.

Be you subject to the bishop as to the Lord, for “he watches for your souls, as one that shall give account to God.” (Heb 13:17) Wherefore also, you appear to me to live not after the manner of men, but according to Jesus Christ, who died for us, in order that, by believing in His death, you may by baptism be made partakers of His resurrection. It is therefore necessary, whatsoever things you do, to do nothing without the bishop. And be you subject also to the presbytery, as to the apostles of Jesus Christ, who is our hope, in whom, if we live, we shall be found in Him. It behooves you also, in every way, to please the deacons, who are [ministers] of the mysteries of Christ Jesus; for they are not ministers of meat and drink, but servants of the Church of God. They are bound, therefore, to avoid all grounds of accusation [against them], as they would a burning fire. Let them, then, prove themselves to be such. (Letter to the Trallians 2:1-2 [A. D. 110]). –> Read online in its entirety here

1- presbytery translates in English as priest, ministers.
2- Mysteries of Christ, also translated as Sacraments 

In like manner let everyone respect the deacons as they would respect Jesus Christ, and just as they respect the bishop as a type of the Father, and the presbyters as the council of God and college of the apostles. Without these, it cannot be called a Church. I am confident that you accept this, for I have received the exemplar of your love and have it with me in the person of your bishop. His very demeanor is a great lesson and his meekness is his strength. I believe that even the godless do respect him (Letter to the Trallians 3:1-2 [A. D. 110]). –> Read online in its entirety here

The early church was NOT an unorganized band of Christian followers, but a very organized group, even though they were most of the time practicing their faith “underground” due to persecution. There were no factions or splinter groups that were allowed to stay in operation, but as Ignatius points out, if you were not in union with and under the authority of the bishops, then you were not following the Church that Jesus Christ established.

In the Martyrdom of Saint Polycarp, also a disciple of John the Apostle, written around A.D. 160 we can see that the Church at the time was Catholic and shows that the church was seen as a unified Church.

The Martyrdom of Polycarp

When finally he concluded his prayer, after remembering all who had at any time come his way – small folk and great folk, distinguished and undistinguished, and the whole Catholic Church throughout the world – the time for departure came. So they placed him on an ass, and brought him into the city on a great Sabbath (The Martyrdom of Polycarp 8 [A.D. 160]). –> Read online in its entirety here

We also see in the writings of Saint Irenaeus in A.D. 189 that he refers to a unified Church. Of important note, this writing comes from his Letter Against Heresies. He is pointing out in the letter that any who teach a gospel outside of the unity of the Catholic Church are teaching heresy.

Irenaeus

The Catholic Church possesses one and the same faith throughout the whole world, as we have already said (Against Heresies 1:10 [A.D. 189]). –> Read online in its entirety here

Since therefore we have such proofs, it is not necessary to seek the truth among others which it is easy to obtain from the Church; since the apostles, like a rich man [depositing his money] in a bank, lodged in her hands most copiously all things pertaining to the truth: so that every man, whosoever will, can draw from her the water of life. For she is the entrance to life; all others are thieves and robbers. On this account we are bound to avoid them, but to make choice of the things pertaining to the Church with the utmost diligence, and to lay hold of the tradition of the truth. For how stands the case? Suppose there should arise a dispute relative to some important question among us. Should we not have recourse to the most ancient churches with which the apostles held constant intercourse, and learn from them what is certain and clear in regard to the present question? For how should it be if the apostles themselves had not left us writings? Would it not be necessary [in that case] to follow the course of the tradition which they handed down to those to whom they did commit the church? (ibid. 3:4). –> Read online in its entirety here

Did he say that we are to lay hold of the tradition of the truth? Yes, he did. And how did he say we should solve disputes and questions about what we should believe? We should have recourse to the ancient churches, which at this point in history were only around 200 years old. Still, that is a long time. Yet, here we are 2000 years later, and yet those outside of the Catholic Church, do not follow his advice.

 

LOOK FOR PART 3 ON WEDNESDAY

The Church, from the very Beginning…was Catholic! By Kenneth Henderson – Part 1 of 3

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Ruins of a Roman Temple in Ephesus that was turned in to an Early Christian Church.  See the crosses etched in to the outside wall.  Ephesus was a thriving Christian city in the first days of the Church.

They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers. ~ Acts 2:42

Many “Bible Alone” Christians will say that the Church of the Bible looks nothing like the Catholic Church. If that were true, then we would expect to find evidence of the first few hundred years of Christianity to support this claim. However, what we do find is evidence to show that the Early Church was indeed Catholic in every way! Many Protestants claim that the Church of the first three centuries was a “pure” Church and base that on a modern reading of Acts 2:42, ignoring that writings of the earliest Christians. They will also claim that it was only after the legalization of Christianity by Roman Emperor Constantine (313 AD) did the Church become “Catholic” and corrupt. However, the doctrines of Post-Constantine Catholicism are the same doctrines that were held by Christians for the preceding three centuries. In fact, the evidence below clearly shows that the beliefs of the Early Church are the same as those of the Catholic Church today in the 3rd millennium.

Again, The Early Church Fathers are so important because: 1) their testimonies prove that the Early Church was Catholic; 2) the councils of Trent and Vatican I declared that no-one may interpret Scripture in a manner contrary to the unanimous consent of the Fathers; 3) all the Fathers were convinced that the original texts of the Bible were absolutely immune from all error. IF, Catholic doctrine had changed “many times” from that of the earliest writings, then the record should reflect this. However, the record shows that the writings of the Early Church Fathers are consistent with the teachings of the modern Catholic Church. Nothing has changed! This is why the councils of Trent and Vatican I attest that the writings of the Early Church are to be regarded as authoritative in respect to the interpretation of scripture. Any interpretation of scripture cannot be in conflict of the testament of the unanimous teachings of Early Church on doctrine. Again, let me clarify…doctrines are those teachings from scripture that deal with items of Faith and Morals, not practices, customs and disciplines which so many anti-Catholics try to say are doctrines. Example, Baptism by sprinkling vs immersion, this is a practice.

The early Church was the Catholic Church. It taught infallibly, gave us the New Testament and was made up of three ranks of clergy, bishop, priest and deacon. The idea of “Scripture Alone” didn’t exist nor could it have as the printing press would not be invented for more than a thousand years. The earliest Christians didn’t even have a New Testament yet. It was a NEW Church. They had to rely upon verbal teaching that was passed down from the Apostles as Paul says in 2 Thessalonians 2:15.

Stand firm, then, brothers, and keep the traditions that we taught you, whether by word of mouth or by letter. (2 Thessalonians 2:15)

Before there was a Bible, there was a Church…

To make sure that the apostolic tradition would be passed down after the deaths of the apostles, Paul also told Timothy, “What you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also (2 Tim. 2:2). In other words, he was telling Timothy that it was necessary to keep the traditions and teachings alive. Yes, he was writing letters, but every place a church had been established did not instantly get a copy of those letters. It would take many, many years before they all would be compiled into what we now know as the New Testament. No written Bibles as we know them today existed. This is important to understand.

In the first four centuries of the Church many books, such as the seven letters of Ignatius, the Letter of Clement [the fourth pope] to the Corinthians, the Didache, and The Shepherd were revered by many Christians as inspired but were later shown to be non-inspired. Keep in mind, non-inspired does not imply not important or not authoritative, it just means that they did not see that those writings to be on level with the inspired writings of the Apostles.

The Bible as we know it today didn’t come into being until the Councils of Hippo and Carthage. That is when the Catholic Church defined which books made it into the New Testament and which didn’t. There were many letters and writings that were floating around and they saw a need to settle which were to be considered as inspired, which were important but not inspired, and which were even heretical. The council fathers studied many documents, including, of course, the writings of the Apostles themselves, but it was not until these councils that the Church officially settled the issue of what should be included in the Canon of Scripture.

What did the Early Church look like?

That being said, what did the early Church really look like? Let’s look at the writings of the Early Church Fathers to see the Church that they knew. I bet all the Catholic Christians reading this will recognize their Church, and I’m guessing that most Protestants will not see theirs. But, let’s find out.

In the year A.D 80, we see Saint Clement of Rome, the fourth in line of succession from Peter, who was also a disciple of Peter and Paul, sending a letter to Corinth. Exhorting them to get it together or they would have severe repercussions. Those Corinthians had been causing the Church fits since Saint Paul. Now why was a bishop in Rome telling the Church in Corinth what to do? Because he had authority to do so and that authority was recognized. He is recognized as the fourth Bishop of Rome, the fourth Pope!

Clement of Rome

If anyone disobey the things which have been said by Him through us, let them know that they will involve themselves in transgression and in no small danger. We, however, shall be innocent of this sin, and will pray with earnest entreaty and supplication that the Creator of all may keep unharmed the number of His elect, which have been counted up in the whole world, through His beloved child Jesus Christ, through whom He has called us from darkness to light, and from ignorance to the full knowledge of the glory of His name.(Letter to the Corinthians 28a [A.D. 80]). –> Read online in its entirety here

LOOK FOR PART 2 ON MONDAY

 

THE PASSION OF ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST – by Deacon Marty McIndoe

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The Church calendar is filled with many celebrations of the Saints and Holy Ones who went before us.  Usually the celebration date is scheduled on the day that person died.  We do that to recognize that the death day is the day the Holy One entered in to heaven.  In the Church calendar we celebrate the birthday and the death day of only three people.  The first is Our Lord Jesus Christ.   The second is the Blessed Virgin Mary.  The third is St. John the Baptist.  It certainly doesn’t surprise us that we celebrate Our Lord’s birthday or Our Blessed Mother’s birthday.   The fact that we celebrate ONLY one other’s birthday and death day tells us how important St. John the Baptist is to the Church.  On June 24th we celebrate the feast day (birthday) of St. John the Baptist, and on August 29th we celebrate his Passion (death day).

Jesus himself says this about St. John the Baptist, “among those born of women, there has risen no one greater that John the Baptist”.  So who then is this very special person?  John is recognized by the Church to be the Last of the Old Testament Prophets, and the first of the New Testament.  His own birth was quite miraculous, like many of the prophets that preceded him.  His parents were well beyond the normal child bearing years.  An angel, Gabriel, appeared to John’s father, the priest Zechariah, and foretold his miraculous birth.  Gabriel told Zechariah that John would be “great before the Lord” and would be “filled with the Holy Spirit, even from within his mother’s womb”.  Even his name, John, was divinely inspired.  It means, “The Lord is Gracious’.  When the Blessed Virgin Mary was pregnant with Jesus, she went to visit her cousin Elizabeth, who was pregnant with John.  As soon as Mary spoke, John the Baptist leaped within his mother’s womb.   The word translated “leaped” is the same word the Old Testament used when telling us that David danced before the Ark of the Covenant.  David leaped and danced before the Ark of the Old Covenant and St. John the Baptist leaped before the Ark of the New Covenant (Mary).  Truly, as the angel said, John was filled with the Holy Spirit even from within his mother’s womb.

John was certainly a man who was quite different from most.  Scripture says that as a child he grew and became strong and then lived in the wilderness until the day of his manifestation to Israel.  St. Mark tells us that he was clothed in camel’s hair and ate locust and wild honey.  This was the same as Elijah the prophet.  St. Mark also tells us that the appearance of St. John the Baptist was connected with Isaiah; he says, “As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, “Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who shall prepare the way; the voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight”.  When John made his appearance, the people recognized him as a prophet and they came out to him in large numbers.  He had numerous disciples who followed him.  He proclaimed that the Kingdom of God was at hand and the people had to repent.              He baptized people as a sign of repentance.  Jesus came to John to be baptized and John protested saying that it is He who should be baptizing.  Jesus convinced John to baptize him, and he did and we have the beautiful  Trinitarian theophany where the Holy Spirit is seen and God the Father’s voice is heard saying, “This is my beloved son”.

John was quick to say that he must decrease while the Lord must increase.  He told his disciples to follow Jesus.  John was the one who called Jesus, “The Lamb of God”.    John was known for speaking out the TRUTH, no matter what the consequences were.  This is what finally brought about his passion.  John had publically rebuked Herod the Antipas telling him that his marriage to Herodias, his brother Phillip’s wife, was unlawful.  Herod threw him in prison but did not want to kill him because Herod knew that John was a Holy prophet and that the people loved John.  Herodias hated John and, through some trickery with her daughter, was able to have the king behead (if you don’t know the story, read Matthew 14: 1-12).  John’s disciples came quickly to claim his body and then immediately went to tell Jesus.  It is interesting to note that Amiens Cathedral in France claims to have the skull itself.  The history of it appears to make it quite probable.  In 2010, archeological digs in a fifth century Cathedral of St. John, found parts of a body buried in a marble box under the main altar.  Carbon dating shows these bones to be of a first century Middle Eastern man.  They may very well belong to St. John the Baptist.  In 2012, National Geographic covered this.

So why is St. John the Baptist so important to us?  Personally, especially for today, the example he set in always standing for the truth, no matter what the consequences, is extremely important.  Also, the fact that he did everything he could to try to prepare people for the coming of the Lord should resound within us.  We too, are called to prepare people to be ready for the coming of the Lord, either by their first encounter with Him, their many encounters with Him, their encounter with him at death, or his second coming in glory.

I would like to share a prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours for Aug 29th.  “God our Father, you called John the Baptist to be a herald of your Son’s birth and death.  As He gave His life in witness to truth and justice, so may we strive to profess our faith in your Gospel.  Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one god, for ever and ever.”

 

Mount of the Transfiguration: In Pictures by Deacon Marty McIndoe

A few years ago my wife and I had the honor of visiting the Mount of the Transfiguration  (Mt. Tabor) in the Holy Lands.  It is a fairly large mountain that has at the top the Church of the Transfiguration.   This is where Jesus was transfigured in glory in front of Peter, James and John as well as Moses and Elijah.  It is a very beautiful, and holy place.  I would like to share some of the pictures that we took.  God bless.

Israel 317Ruins of earlier monastery greet you on the way to the Church.

Israel 314The Church of the Transfiguration.  Note the three towers reflecting Peter’s call to build a shelter for Jesus, Moses and Elijah.

Israel 318Note the beautiful stonework of the entrance.

Israel 319When we first came in the chapel was being used for mass by several priests.

Israel 328Note the details in the back of the altar.  Everything inside was beautiful and filled with light.

Israel 333The main mosaic of the Transfiguration.  It is brighter and more beautiful in person.  The camera did not do it justice.

Israel 334The three windows, one each for Jesus, Moses and Elijah shine in on the mosaic.  On the Feast of the Transfiguration, Aug 6th, each year, the sun lines up to shine through all three windows to focus on Jesus in the mosaic.   They say it is breathtaking to see.

Israel 339Outside of the Church you can see the fairly modern monastery and retreat center on the left, as well as the ruins of older ones on the right.  This site has been venerated since the first century.  My good friend, Msgr. James McNamara told me that he has spent a week on retreat in the monastery.  What a Holy place to spend a retreat.

Israel 335Looking down from the Mount of the Transfiguration  So much beauty.

We were not there to see the Glory of Jesus in the transfiguration, but someday we hope to see Him in Glory.  God is good.

St. Mary Magdalene, Pope Francis and the Dignity of Women – by Deacon Marty McIndoe

St-Mary-MagdaleneImage from www.catholicfaithstore.com

On June 10th of this year (2016), Pope Francis issued a decree elevating the June 22nd Memorial of St. Mary Magdalene to a Feast Day in the Roman Calendar.  Feast Days are reserved for Saints of particular significance, such as the Apostles.  In doing this elevation Pope Francis stated that because St. Mary Magdalene was the first witness to Jesus’ resurrection and then told the Apostles, she was a “true and authentic evangelist”.  He entitled his decree and the article about it “Apostle of the Apostles”.  The Congregation of Divine Worship’s Secretary, Archbishop Arthur Roche, wrote that in celebrating “an evangelist who proclaims the central joyous message of Easter,” St. Mary Magdalene’s feast day is a call for all Christians to “reflect more deeply on the dignity of women, the new evangelization and the greatness of the mystery of divine mercy.”  He further stated, “Pope Francis has taken this decision precisely in the context of the Jubilee of Mercy to highlight the relevance of this woman who showed great love for Christ and was much loved by Christ.”  Archbishop Roche added that St. Mary Magdalene, who “proclaimed life from the tomb, a place of death,” is a lesson for all Christians to trust in Christ who is “alive and risen.”   “It is right that the liturgical celebration of this woman has the same level of feast given to the celebration of the apostles in the general Roman calendar and highlights the special mission of this woman who is an example and model for every woman in the church.”

St. Mary Magdalene has often been seen as the unnamed sinner woman who anointed the feet of Jesus.   However, most scripture scholars indicate that this is not indicated in scripture.  She is the woman from whom Jesus cast out seven demons.  Father Wilfrid J. Harrington, O.P., writing in the New Catholic Commentary, says that “seven demons” “does not mean that Mary had lived an immoral life—a conclusion reached only by means of a mistaken identification with the anonymous woman of Luke 7:36.” Father Edward Mally, S.J., writing in the Jerome Biblical Commentary, agrees that she “is not…the same as the sinner of Luke 7:37, despite the later Western romantic tradition about her.”   There is no doubt that she has been slandered for many years.  We do know that she was a follower of Jesus and loved by Jesus and even helped to support His ministry.  She stood by the cross of Jesus with the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Her most glorious story is of her visiting the tomb of Jesus while it was still dark.

The Gospel tells us that she peaked in to the tomb and saw two angels there.  She then sees Jesus but does not recognize Him until He speaks her name.  Pope Francis said that her tears at Christ’s empty tomb are a reminder that “sometimes in our lives, tears are the lenses we need to see Jesus”.

Even though St. Mary Magdalene has been slandered for many years, she would probably say that it didn’t matter.  She saw herself as a sinner in need of God’s MERCY.  So should we.   As we celebrate Her feast, let us remember that we too are called to love Jesus with all that we are and to tell others about the God who died for us and rose again so we might have LIFE.

 

 

 

 

The Mass Is Profoundly Biblical by Karlo Broussard

Israel 481A photo I took inside the cave of St. Jerome.  This is located beneath the Church of the Nativity.  Beginning in 386, St. Jerome spent 30 years putting together the first full Bible, the Vulgate.  He lived in this cave to be as close to where Jesus was born as possible while working on the Sacred Scriptures.  His version was used up until the 20th Century.

 

Are Catholics Bible Christians? A Catholic who ponders this question may think, “Well, I know that Protestants call themselves Bible Christians, and Catholics don’t really use that terminology; so I guess I would have to answer ‘No.’” However, Catholics should respond to such a question with an immediate “Yes.”

As Catholics, we are 100 percent Bible Christians—that is to say, the Catholic Church believes that the Bible is the inspired word of God and, as such, according to the Second Vatican Council, the Bible “stands as the support and energy of the Church, the strength of faith for her sons, the food of the soul, the pure and everlasting source of spiritual life” (Dei Verbum 21). Therefore, Catholics are indeed Bible Christians—and there is perhaps no other aspect of the Catholic faith that exemplifies this more than the holy sacrifice of the Mass.

Familiarity with God’s word leads one to conclude that the Catholic Mass is not a foreign experience from the Bible. In fact, its structure, its words and gestures, and even its built-in theology are embedded in the pages of sacred Scripture. An examination of this “Bible blueprint” leads to the discovery that Catholic worship is truly a biblical style of worship.

The introductory rite

The Christian can recognize the biblical nature of Catholic worship in the first prayer of the Mass, the sign of the cross. The language of the prayer comes directly from Matthew 28:19, where Jesus commands his apostles to go out into all nations and baptize them “in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.” The gesture, a cross over the body, is implicitly found in the book of Ezekiel when the prophet receives the following instruction: “Go through the city, through Jerusalem, and put a mark upon the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations that are committed in it” (Ezek. 9:4). The mark given was meant to label those among the faithful remnant of God’s people who abhorred the abominations to the Lord and spare them from God’s wrath and judgment.

The significance for the gesture of the cross is that the word for mark in Hebrew is simply the Hebrew letter, taw, which is shaped like an X or plus sign. The Greek version is the letter tau, which is T-shaped, like the Franciscan cross. So the Catholic practice of making the sign of the cross not only reminds the Christian of the cross of Christ, which won the gift of salvation, but in light of the biblical tradition it also serves to be a visible expression of fidelity to the New Covenant in Jesus Christ and separation from the evil ways of the world.

Another part of the introductory rite that parallels the biblical blueprint is the greeting. The priest says, “The Lord be with you,” and the congregation responds, “And with your spirit.” The first thing to note is the biblical origin of the language. It comes from 2 Timothy 4:22: “The Lord be with your spirit.” Like the sign of the cross, the theological significance of the phrase “the Lord be with you” lies in the Old Testament. Throughout salvation history such language is never used for ordinary people in ordinary circumstances. It always signifies a unique vocation and mission that will impact the whole history of Israel and ensure God’s protection and help in carrying out that mission.

For example, when an angel calls Gideon to defend God’s people from a foreign invasion, the angel says, “The Lord is with you” (Judg. 6:12). The angel Gabriel greets Mary with the same phrase (Luke 1:28). When applied to our liturgical experience, this greeting signifies that the laity has access to the power of God to carry out its unique vocation in the Father’s plan of salvation: to be “witnesses to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8) and to “make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19). Similarly, when the congregation responds, “And with your spirit,” it acknowledges that the priest too has a unique vocation within the Father’s plan of salvation: to make the cross of Christ present on the altar.

The Confiteor, which is the prayer that begins “I confess to almighty God,” is also rooted in biblical tradition. An examination of the biblical texts in the Old Testament reveals that the act of verbal confession was an essential part of public worship for ancient Israel. When the Israelites renewed their covenant with Yahweh through the priest Ezra after returning to Jerusalem from the Babylonian exile, they “stood and confessed their sins” (Neh. 9:2). Leviticus 5:5 states that the penitent must verbally confess his sins as a part of the ritual for the guilt offering.

A final prayer of the introductory rite that can be seen as constructed from the biblical blueprint is the Gloria. The very first line is a direct quote from the Bible: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to people of good will.” These are the same words the angel addresses the shepherds with to announce the birth of the Messiah (see Luke 2:14, Douay Rheims Version). The titles that the prayer ascribes to God are also found in the Sacred Page, such as “almighty” (cf. Ps. 68:14, 91:1) and “heavenly king” (cf. Ps. 98:6, 99:4; Is. 43:15). In reference to Jesus, the language of “only begotten Son” comes from John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten [Greek, monogene] Son” (NAB). The title “Lamb of God” comes from John 1:29; “Holy One” is found in Revelation 3:7 and 16:5; and “the Lord” in 1 Corinthians 8:5 and Philippians 2:11.

The Liturgy of the Word

The next part of the Mass is the Liturgy of the Word, many of whose parts are embedded in Scripture. First of all, the very act of proclaiming the Word of God within the context of liturgy goes back to the book of Exodus. In the liturgical ceremony for the ratification of the Sinaitic covenant Moses “took the book of the covenant, and read it in the hearing of the people…” (Ex. 24:7). The Israelites then responded in faith by saying, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient” (Ex. 24:7).

This corresponds to the liturgical practice of responding to the biblical readings with the words, “Thanks be to God.” It is a form of the New Israel’s response of faith to the New Covenant. Therefore, the liturgy, as the natural habitat for the proclamation of the God’s word, is an essential element of the blueprint for the worship that Israel, both old and new, must offer to God.

A few of the prayers and gestures surrounding the gospel reading also have biblical precedence. One such prayer is the alleluia (Hebrew, “God be praised”) and finds its roots in the Jewish Hallel Psalms (Ps. 113-118), which are prayed in the Jewish Passover liturgy to give praise to Yahweh for deliverance from Egypt in the Exodus.

The alleluia is also found in John’s heavenly vision of the wedding supper of the Lamb at which the angels praise God for his work of salvation through Jesus and announce the coming of the Lamb for his wedding feast (cf. Rev. 19:1-9). Therefore, the Catholic prayer of alleluia prior to the Gospel reading signals the celebration of a new Passover and a participation in the heavenly marriage feast of the Lamb.

While praying the alleluia, one will notice that the congregation stands for the reading of the Gospel. This calls to mind Nehemiah 8:5, where the whole assembly stands when Ezra, the priest, begins to read from the book of the covenant as they renew the covenant with Yahweh after returning to Jerusalem from exile. Just as the assembly of Israel stood for the reading of the old Law of Moses, Christians stand for the reading of the new Law of Jesus as found in the Gospels.

Another detail worthy of mention is the priest’s private prayer before the altar as he approaches the ambo: “Cleanse my heart and my lips, almighty God, that I may worthily proclaim your Gospel.” This request calls to mind the cleansing of Isaiah’s lips in Isaiah 6:6-7, which takes place prior to his prophetical proclamation of the word of the Lord to Israel. The priest, like Isaiah, requests the cleansing of his lips before proclaiming the word of the Lord to the New Israel, the Church.

The Liturgy of the Eucharist

As the Mass moves into the Liturgy of the Eucharist, one continues to recognize a construct of prayers, gestures, and practices that allude to the Bible. For example, the bread and wine calls to mind the sacrifice of thanksgiving offered by the priest-king Melchizedek in Genesis 14:14-16. It is against this Old Testament backdrop that Jesus, whom the author of Hebrews identifies as a priest according to the order of Melchizedek (Heb. 5:10), offers bread and wine at the Last Supper.

Therefore, the offering of bread and wine in the Catholic Mass signifies that the sacrifice soon to take place is one like Melchizedek, namely a sacrifice of thanksgiving (Greek, eucharistia), and is offered by a priest of the order of Melchizedek, i.e., the priest who acts in persona Christi.

Another Bible passage that may come to mind during the offertory prayers is Daniel 3:39-40 (NAB), where Azariah prays while standing in the midst of the fiery furnace, “But with contrite heart and humble spirit let us be received; As though it were holocausts of rams and bullocks, or thousands of fat lambs, So let our sacrifice be in your presence today as we follow you unreservedly.”

This passage serves as a possible background for the prayer for acceptance of sacrifice, which reads, “With humble spirit and contrite heart may we be accepted by you, O Lord, and may our sacrifice in your sight this day be pleasing to you.”

Along with the prayers of offertory, the priestly act of washing hands models the biblical tradition. According to Leviticus 30:18-21, Moses instructs the Levitical priests to wash their hands in the bronze basin located next to the altar of sacrifice outside the tabernacle before entering to perform their priestly duties. The Catholic priest washes his hands because he is about to enter the heavenly tabernacle that is made present in time and space when he confects the Eucharist.

An additional ritual worthy of highlight is the priestly offering of incense. For any Jew, this calls to mind the altar of incense located in the Holy Place of the wilderness tabernacle and in Solomon’s Temple at which the Levitical priest would minister. Furthermore, St. John describes in the Book of Revelation presbyters, i.e., priests, offering golden bowls of incense in the heavenly sanctuary (cf. Rev. 5:8). Therefore, the offering of incense in the Catholic Mass is one of common practice among the people of God throughout salvation history and signifies that the Catholic faithful mystically participate in the worship of the heavenly Temple.

The next major prayer that contains elements directly derived from the Bible is the Sanctus. The threefold acclamation of God’s holiness—holy, holy, holy—is found in both the Old and New Testaments. In the Old Testament, the prophet Isaiah describes his vision of the heavenly throne room and how within it he sees and hears the angels singing, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts” (Is. 6:3). Similarly, St. John sees the same thing when he is given access to the heavenly throne room of the Lamb. He writes in Revelation 4:8, “And the four living creatures . . . day and night . . . never cease to sing, ‘Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!’” Perhaps this makes sense out of the preface before the prayer of the Sanctus:

“And so, with angels and archangels, with thrones and dominions, and with all the hosts and powers of heaven, we sing the hymn of your glory, as without end we acclaim.”

The Sanctus is thus a sign to the Catholic faithful that they are sacramentally entering into the heavenly sanctuary to join their voices with the heavenly beings.

The words of institution

Next in the lineup are the words of institution, which unfortunately cannot be given a full exegesis due to the limited scope of this article. However, a few points cannot go without mentioning.

First, the words “This is my body . . . this is my blood” find their origin in the Last Supper narratives of the Synoptic Gospels and St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians (see Matt. 26:26-28, Mark 14:22-24, Luke 22:19-20, 1 Cor. 11:24-25).

Secondly, the phrase “the blood of the new and eternal covenant” is a combination of Luke’s account, in which he records Jesus to say “the new covenant in my blood” (Luke 22:20) and Matthew’s version, in which Jesus is recorded saying, “For this is my blood of the covenant” (Matt. 26:28).

It is Matthew’s Gospel that most explicitly makes the connection to the Old Testament tradition. If a Jew heard the words “the blood of the covenant,” he would immediately call to mind the ratification ceremony of the Sinaitic covenant in Exodus 24, where Moses says, “Behold the blood of the covenant which the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words” (Ex. 24:8). Therefore, Jesus’ words at the Last Supper signify that it is the ratification ceremony for the New Covenant. It is this New Covenant ceremony that Catholics mystically share in and are present at in the celebration of the Eucharist.

A final prayer that is necessary to establish as part of the Bible blueprint is the anamnesis of Eucharistic Prayer IV, which reads, in part, “we offer you his body and blood, the sacrifice acceptable to you which brings salvation to the whole world.” This offering of Jesus in sacrifice rings a sound of horror to the Protestant ear, considering that Hebrews 7:27 states, “He [Jesus] has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily; . . . he did this once for all when he offered up himself.”

Is the Catholic Church re-crucifying Jesus and consequently among those that the letter of Hebrews speaks of in 6:6: “they then commit apostasy, since they crucify the Son of God on their own account and hold him up to contempt.” The key to answering this question lies in the Catholic doctrine that the Eucharist makes present the one and same sacrifice of Christ in the here and now behind the signs of bread and wine (cf. CCC 1366-1367). Therefore, the sacrifice of the Mass is not a re-crucifixion of Jesus.

But the question remains: Is this theological construct biblical? The answer is yes! The author of Hebrews describes Jesus as “a minister in the sanctuary and the true tent which is set up not by man but by the Lord” (Heb. 8:2). In other words, Jesus’ priestly ministry continues forever in the heavenly realm (cf. Heb. 7:25). Now, because “every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices” (Heb. 8:3a) “it is necessary for this priest also to have something to offer” (Heb. 8:3b).

What does Christ offer to the Father in the heavenly sanctuary as high priest? The offering cannot be anything less than his sacrifice on the cross, since that was his definitive priestly act. Therefore, the Bible blueprint reveals the one and same sacrifice of Christ on the cross being made present in the heavenly sanctuary in an unbloody manner. Such a conclusion is also supported by the fact that St. John describes Jesus appearing in the heavenly sanctuary as a slain lamb (cf. Rev. 5:6).

Thus the crucifixion of Jesus Christ is forever made present before the Father and is not restricted to time and space. Consequently, that same sacrifice can be made substantially present in the here and now in an unbloody manner every time the faithful liturgically remember the sacrifice of Christ in the anamnesis.

So, in conclusion, embedded in the sacred pages of God’s divine word is a blueprint with which God’s holy people, the Church, can construct a form of worship that is truly pleasing to the Lord. The Mass and the Bible are inseparable, and together they orient the Catholic faithful toward the destiny to which all humans are called: heaven.

Karlo Broussard

Apologetics Speaker

Karlo Broussard, a native of Crowley, Louisiana, left a promising musical career to devote himself full-time to the work of Catholic apologetics. For more than a decade he has traveled the country teaching apologetics, biblical studies, theology, and philosophy. Karlo has published articles on a variety of subjects in Catholic Answers Magazine, is a regular guest on Catholic Answers Live, and is an active blogger at \http://www.catholic.com

Karlo holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in theology from Catholic Distance University and the Augustine Institute, and is currently working on his masters in philosophy with Holy Apostles College and Seminary. He also worked for several years in an apprenticeship with nationally known author and theologian Fr. Robert J. Spitzer at the Magis Center of Reason and Faith.

Karlo is one of the most dynamic and gifted Catholic speakers on the circuit today, communicating with precision of thought, a genuine love for God, and an enthusiasm that inspires.

Karlo resides in Murrieta, CA with his wife and four children. You can view Karlo’s online videos at KarloBroussard.com. You can also book Karlo for a speaking event by contacting Catholic Answers at 619-387-7200.

 

Praying for Healing – by Deacon Marty McIndoe

Israel 600The Pool of Bethesda (with the five porticoes) where Jesus healed a man who had been infirm for 38 years.  It is interesting that the Romans built their own temple right next to it that was for their god of healing, Aesculapius.

I believe very strongly in the power of prayer.  When anyone asks me to pray for them, or for a loved one, I immediately tell them that I will.  So often these prayers are for some kind of healing to take place.  Since my own real conversion to the Lord in 1972, I have seen so many of these prayers answered; but I have also seen so many that seem to be unanswered.  It often appears to be quite a confusing process.  If we pray for someone, and they are healed, it is fantastic.  If we pray for someone and they are not healed, it seems so sad.  A big question to ask is, do we give someone false hope in saying that they may receive a healing?  Another question is what do they think of God who sometimes seems to heal people and sometimes seems to ignore them?  The Church tells us that God wants us to pray to Him for help in every situation.  Scriptures are full of examples of miraculous healings at the hands of Jesus and at the hands of the Apostles and other members of the early Church.  Throughout the ages we have had so many accounts of Saints who have brought healings to people.  It seems that every place where there has been a Marian Apparition, healings abound.  There is no doubt that miraculous healings do occur, but certainly not apparently in every case.

In my own life I have seen miraculous healing occur in me, as a result of prayer.   Around 1980, I went for an annual checkup.  This was done in a clinic where they did all of the body fluid tests, and X-rays and then sent a report to my personal physician.  A few days after the tests, my physician called me and told me he wanted to see me in his office as soon as possible.  I went in and he told me that the chest X-ray that they took showed a mass growing between my heart and my lung.  He also told me that since this report came from a clinic where a lot of people were treated at the same time, a mistake could have been made.  He had me go for a new chest X-ray.  The new X-ray confirmed that there was a sizeable mass growing between my heart and my lung.  My doctor then referred me to a thoracic surgeon.  By now I was quite concerned and I asked my local parish charismatic prayer group to pray for me.  They all gathered around me and laid hands upon me and prayed for a healing.  I went to the thoracic surgeon and he did another X-ray, this time in his own office.  He examined the X-ray and confirmed again the mass being there and said he wanted to schedule me for surgery.  I asked him if it was cancerous and he told me that he really wouldn’t know until a biopsy was done on the removed mass.  I was scheduled for surgery about two weeks away.  I again went to the weekly Charismatic prayer meeting and again they laid hands on me and prayed over me.  A few days before the surgery was scheduled, the surgeon sent me to an X-ray facility for what they called a triangulation X-ray.  He said he needed this to determine the exact depth and location of the mass so he could operate properly.  This was before MRI’s.  After that X-ray was taken, he called me back to his office and told me that somehow the mass had totally disappeared.  He was dumbfounded as to why, but I told him that I had been prayed over for a healing.  He said that was the only explanation he could offer.  He scheduled me for follow up X-rays (I figured that all these X-rays would cause cancer, but I had to do it) and none of the follow ups, to this very day, have shown the mass re-appearing.  I felt very strongly that it was the Lord who had healed me because of the prayers I went through.  God is so good.   I have had other healings in my life too, but this was the most dramatic, and best documented.

I have also witnessed many miraculous healings of others.  In 1982, I was attending a Priest’s and Deacon’s Conference at the Franciscan University of Steubenville.  Although this was open only to Priests and Deacons and Seminarians, on Thursday evening they had a Healing Mass and opened it to the general public.  Several priests, known for healing ministries, were there and concelebrated the mass.  Fr. Ralph DiOrio was one of those priests and he came down walking among the people sprinkling them with Holy Water while prayers for healing were being said.  I was sitting in a row with several priests and deacons and some laypeople.  One nearby man, who came in with sunglasses and a red tipped walking cane, was helped to his seat by his wife.  It was obvious that he was totally blind.  When the Holy Water landed upon him, he let out a large cry and immediately took off his glasses and started looking around.  He kept exclaiming, “I can see, I can see”.  He and his wife were overjoyed and their eyes were filled with tears of joy.  Throughout the rest of the evening the man kept looking all around in wonder.  I especially remember him looking through his wife’s pocketbook and looking at various items and pictures.  I am not sure if he had ever seen during his lifetime.  He acted as if this was the first time he had vision.  It was a very wonderful evening with many healings being attested to.

Another time my wife and I were on a retreat at Mount Saint Augustine in Staten Island.  Fr. Francis MacNutt was leading the weekend.  He was known for the many healings that occurred when he prayed with people.  There was a young woman in her early twenties that was there who had difficulty in walking.  She had one normal shoe and one shoe that had about a six inch lift on it.  She shared that she had been in a bad auto accident and that her leg bone was so damaged that they had to remove six inches from it.  She also suffered from some hip injuries.  She walked on her own with the lift shoe, but not very well.  Fr. MacNutt prayed over her and as hard as it is to believe, her leg started extending. By the time the prayers were over, she had to remove the lift and her regular shoe and walk around barefoot.  She not only walked, she ran around leaping and jumping for joy.  I remember that for the rest of the weekend she had to go around barefoot because her legs were now the same length.  At the end of the weekend, her mom came to pick her up and the minute she saw her daughter leaping and running around in bare feet, she completely broke down in pure joy.  If I hadn’t been there to see the whole thing, I probably wouldn’t have believed it.  But it HAPPENED!  God is good.

I have worked on many healing prayer teams over the last 40 plus years and I have seen many other healings.  I have visited Marian Shrines and have seen healings and the evidence of healings.  I have been at other conventions and retreats and seen healings.  I know, without any doubt, that they do exist.  BUT, I have also prayed with many people who have not been healed.  I find it so difficult to understand why.  Shortly after the healing of the woman with the shortened leg, I came home and went to pray with the teenage son of a member of our prayer group.  This young boy had advanced bone cancer.  I felt for sure that if we kept praying over him, he would be healed.  Unfortunately, he never was, and he died at seventeen.  I kept asking the big WHY?   I don’t pretend to have the answer to that.   Why does healing occur in some people, and not in others?    I really dislike it when people say that it is because they do not have enough faith.  In my experience, this is not true.  Many people with very strong faith have not been healed.  We can only answer the question by stating the obvious….we cannot understand the plans of God.  We can only trust in Him.   We also limit ourselves to what we experience.  Our experience is the limited life span that we as humans normally have.  However, our God has given us the gift of unlimited life for all of eternity.  A child, who dies young, even though we see it as very tragic, is going to live forever.  Our own lifespan now, whether it is only a few hours or over one hundred years, is miniscule compared to all of eternity.  That person who is “taken away” from us will be reunited with us for all eternity.  That is what the Good News is all about.  We have LIFE now, so we can LIVE forever.

So where does that leave us when we need healing or when we are asked to pray for healing?  First of all, we should depend upon the medical profession to help us.  God has given many gifts to the doctors and nurses and others who care for us.  Secondly, when there is serious illness, we should go to our local priest and ask to be given the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick.   In addition to these we should pray and ask others to pray for us.   One of the people that we should ask to pray for us is the Blessed Virgin Mary.  She loves her children so very much and wants the best for them.  Her prayers for us are so powerful.   We should also realize that when we don’t see an apparent miracle, God, through our prayers, has been at work in the situation.  Sometimes the healing is more on the spiritual side then on the physical side.  Our prayers work, but not always the way we think that they should.

I believe that we are always called to be filled with the HOPE of a MIRACLE and always continue on in praying for those who need it.  We should pray for the fullness of life and pray for the best of life.  But, we should also know that God has a plan that is much better than we can imagine.  We need to be able to say, “Jesus, I trust in you”.   His plan for us is for all of us to live together with Him forever and forever and forever.  God is good!

The Visitation of the Ark of the New Covenant – by Deacon Marty McIndoe

Israel 369Statue of Mary and Elizabeth at Ein Karem in Israel, the place of the Visitation.  Plaques of the Magnificat, in various languages, are on the wall behind them.

I know, the title of today’s Feast is The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  But in all actuality, scripture and the Church see the Blessed Virgin Mary as the Ark of the New Covenant.  You have to really appreciate the links between the New Testament and the Old Testament (Hebrew Scriptures) to fully understand this.   I won’t go in to the full explanation of TYPOLOGY, but suffice it to say that many things in the New Testament point to the Old Testament.  Many things in the Old Testament are better understood because of the New Testament.  Saint Augustine said that “the Old Testament is the New concealed, but the New Testament is the Old revealed” (Catechizing of the Uninstructed 4:8).  One easy example of TYPOLOGY is when Jesus himself refers to the bronze serpent of Moses (that was hung on a pole to bring life to the Israelites) as a type of his own crucifixion.

If you remember the stories from the Old Testament, the Ark of the Covenant was seen as God’s own presence to his people.  It was carried forth in battle to assure victory and was kept in the Holy Temple to be worshipped.  It was so holy that no one could touch it.  When Uzzah, the son of Abinadad touched it, he immediately died.  The Ark of the Covenant contained three items; the tablets on which God wrote the ten commandments, a piece of manna from when God fed the Israelites in the desert, and the rod of Aaron, the symbol of priesthood of the first priest of Israel.  This ark was prominent in the life of David and Solomon and many others until it was hidden when invaders came in to Israel.  It was never found and is still hidden somewhere in Israel.  Just in case you are wondering, Indiana Jones did not find the Ark of the Covenant; that was just fiction.

So why do we consider the Blessed Virgin Mary as the Ark of the New Covenant?  There are many reasons, but I will list a few.  First of all, when Mary was told that she would give birth to Jesus, the angel told her that the Holy Spirit would overshadow her.  This word overshadow is the same word that the Old Testament used for God’s Spirit overshadowing the Ark of the Covenant.  The only place this word is used in the New Testament is here, overshadowing Mary.  This shows the parallel of the Holy Spirit overshadowing the Ark of the Covenant and that same Holy Spirit overshadowing Mary, the New Ark of the Covenant.  Today’s Feast shows another very good example of TYPOLOGY.  Mary comes to visit Elizabeth when both of them are carrying child.  Mary is pregnant with Jesus and Elizabeth is pregnant with John the Baptist.  As soon as Mary greets Elizabeth, we are told that John the Baptist leapt for joy in the womb of Elizabeth.  This makes us look back to King David when he danced before the Ark of the Covenant and leapt for joy.  The words, “cried out for joy” here for both Mary and the King David before the Ark of the Covenant are the words used for liturgical dance and joy.   The readers of that day would have understood this.

Another interesting thing is that when King David was able to retrieve the Ark of the Covenant he said, “How can the Ark of the Covenant come to me?”  Elizabeth said to Mary, “How is it that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”  See how close these are.  Luke also tells us that Mary stayed with Elizabeth for three months in the hill country.  The Old Testament tells us that David kept the Ark in the hill country for three months.  There are other parallels, but I would like to end with one final thought.  Let us compare what the Old Testament Ark of the Covenant contained and what the New Testament Ark of the Covenant (Mary) contained.

The Old Testament Ark of the Covenant had within it the very Word of God, written on stone.  The New Testament Ark of the Covenant had within it the Work of God, made flesh.   The Old Testament Ark of the Covenant had within it the Manna that God sent to feed the Israelites.  The New Testament Ark of the Covenant contained the Bread of Life, Jesus, who feeds His people with the Eucharist.  Finally, the Old Testament Ark of the Covenant had within it the rod of Aaron, the first high priest of Israel.  The New Testament Ark of the Covenant had within it the New High Priest, Jesus.  Isn’t God AWESOME?

Goodness – Language of Evangelization by Patrick Sullivan

Israel 185Church of the Beatitudes on the Sea of Galilee in the Holy Lands

What is goodness if not the human struggle to be like God? Not in some demonic usurpation or mutiny among men bent on overthrowing our most loving and benevolent Creator, but to actually try with all that we have to be perfect, as our heavenly Father is perfect. To speak the way Jesus has spoken. To love who Jesus loves. To recognize Jesus in our day to day in order to be recognized by our Lord as we pass from this world to the next.

You know, before the new and everlasting covenant in Jesus Christ, it was the Torah (the Law) given to Moses that lifted humanity out of the mire and the inconsistencies of the pagan world; but today the law will no longer do.

To quote the law to someone with the aim of bringing them to God, whether the Mosaic or canonical, or even what the philosophers have called the natural law, seems to shut down rather than open up a dialogue on what we were all meant to be. We have to understand that to many, trying to teach goodness through the law is like teaching them that music is only as profound as the notes on the page; never to be played. To try to teach the ethic and not the ethos, it is like we have been trying to convince the world of a brilliant theatrical performance by showing them the program with its lovely cast of performers.

No, no, goodness is caught when it is found in a person and not a checklist. When it reveals rather than reflects.

What I mean is, if you are trying to evangelize a person, and all they can see is someone who is just as good as they are; just as generous; just as patient; just as forgiving; if it seems like you  have checked off the same boxes as they have; you will not win them over in the least.

But if they look at you and rather than reflect their own level of moral achievements; you reveal a greater generosity; a greater patience; a greater willingness to forgive; in short if you show them real, concrete examples of one striving to be like God, what happens?

It poses a question. And while the question in their minds may take many forms, essentially what they want to know is this: why are you so good?

So, If you are evangelizing someone and their language is goodness, your job is a straightforward one. Stop quoting the law, and begin surpassing the day to day sacrifices and social programs of the unbeliever. Our God can do better, it’s time to show them.

Patrick Sullivan is a Catholic Lay Evangelist, author and speaker.  He has written two books, Dare to Be an Evangelist and Four Monks Walk in to a Pub and has many you-tube videos.  Check out his website at http://evango.net

What is the Big Deal about the Holy Spirit by Deacon Marty McIndoe

HolySpirtFlames

The last four articles I posted were about the Holy Spirit and Pentecost.  So many other bloggers have spent a great deal of time talking about the Holy Spirit at this time of Pentecost.  There is good reason for that.  Pentecost itself is a Feast of the Church that is of major importance (along with Easter and Christmas), and the day the Church celebrates as its “birthday”.  Pentecost is all about the Holy Spirit coming down upon the Apostles, Mary and other disciples.  It brought a dramatic change to them, and should also bring a dramatic change to us.  St. Cyril of Alexandria (born 376), in his Commentary on John says, “The Spirit changes those in whom he comes to dwell; he so transforms them that they begin to live a completely new kind of life”.  This was definitely seen in the lives of the disciples.  How about your life?  Has the Holy Spirit caused you to live a new life?

First and foremost I believe that the Holy Spirit EMPOWERS us to be the person that God has called us to be.  Both the Scriptures and the Church have tried to put words to what the Spirit does.  We hear about the Fruits of the Holy Spirit, the Gifts of the Holy Spirit as well as the Spiritual Gifts of the Holy Spirit.  I would like to briefly take a look at these to help us all better understand the role of the Spirit in our lives.  Jesus himself told us that it would be better for us for Him to leave so that the Holy Spirit would come to us.  That tells us how important the Spirit should be in our lives.  Frankly, we don’t always think about the Holy Spirit.  It should be thought about and called upon in our normal living, not just at Pentecost.

All of the gifts of the Holy Spirit are given to us in Baptism and later strengthened and sealed in the Sacrament of Confirmation.  The gifts are given to us to build us up as well as to build up the Church.  The Church (and Isaiah 11: 1-2) tells us that there are seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.  They are Wisdom, Understanding, Right Judgment (or Counsel), Courage (or Fortitude), Knowledge, Reverence (or Piety) and Wonder (or Awe).   When we use these gifts, there is a definite change in our attitude and in our very being that manifests itself as the Fruits of the Holy Spirit.  The scriptures (Galatians 5: 22-23) and the Church tell us that these Fruits are Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Generosity, Gentleness, Faithfulness, Modesty, Self-control, and Chastity.  It is no coincidence that these Fruits are the very attributes of God himself.  It only makes sense that as His children, we are like him.

In 1st Corinthians 12: 1-11 we find listed the Spiritual Gifts of the Holy Spirit.  These are sometimes referred to as the Charismatic Gifts.  These gifts are given for the building up of the Church.  St. Paul makes it very clear that there are a variety of Gifts that are given.  He says that some Gifts are given to some people and not all receive or use the same Gifts.  He makes it very clear though that all of the Gifts are given by the One Spirit for the building up of the One Church.  Throughout the ages, these Spiritual Gifts have manifested themselves in various ways.  You only need to read some of the lives of the Saints to see how these gifts have come forth in various times.  In today’s Church, the Charismatic Renewal in the Catholic Church has brought in a new emphasis on these gifts.  St. Paul lists these Gifts as, Speaking in Tongues for private prayer (Romans 8:26), Tongues and Interpretation for the Community (1 Cor 14: 1-17), Prophecy (1 Cor 14:32), Word of Knowledge, Word of Wisdom, Discerning of Spirits, Faith, Healing, and Miracles.  For more information about these gifts, go to the National Catholic Charismatic website at http://www.nsc-chariscenter.org .

So how can we grow in our openness to the Holy Spirit and its Gifts?  First of all, ask.  It is so important that in our daily prayer life we ask to be open to the Spirit and the gifts It has to give us.  Secondly, it is the Eucharist that can help us to be more open and to reflect the Fruits of the Spirit and the Gifts of the Spirit.  Receive the Eucharist as often as you can.  Thirdly, study the scriptures.  It is the Holy Spirit that inspired the scriptures.  Start by looking up and praying those scriptures I have mentioned in the article.  Fourth, read the lives of the Saints.  They lived out a real openness to the Spirit and its Gifts.  Fifth, put yourself in to a small community of believers that are also trying to grow in their relationship to the Lord and His Spirit.  If you haven’t already done so, try attending a Catholic Charismatic Prayer meeting.  I would suggest one associated with your Parish, or a nearby Parish.  It might seem a little different to you at first, but try it out a few times to see the real source of growth that can be found there.

God’s Gift to us of His Holy Spirit is so very precious and so important to our spiritual growth.  It gives us life and helps us to grow into the child of God that He wants us to be.  God bless you in your journey.