Archives for April 2011

Baltimore Catechism: on creation

Baltimore Catechism

Lesson 4

This lesson treats of God bringing everything into existence. The chief things created may be classed as follows: (1) The things that simply exist, as rocks, and minerals – gold, silver, iron, etc. (2) Things that exist, grow, and live like plants and trees. (3) Things that grow, live, and feel, like animals. (4) Things that grow, live, feel, and understand, like men. Besides these we have the sun, moon, stars, etc.; all things too that we can see, and also Heaven, Purgatory, Hell, and good and bad angels. All these are the works of God’s creation. All these He has called into existence by merely wishing for them.

*32 Q. Who created Heaven and earth, and all things?
A. God created Heaven and earth, and all things.

“Heaven,” where God is and will always be. It means, too, everything we see in the sky above us. “Earth,” the globe on which we live.

*33 Q. How did God create Heaven and earth?
A. God created Heaven and earth from nothing, by His word only; that is, by a single act of His all-powerful will.

34 Q. Which are the chief creatures of God?
A. The chief creatures of God are angels and men.

35 Q. What are angels?
A. Angels are pure spirits without a body, created to adore and enjoy God in Heaven.

“Angels” are not the same as saints. Saints are those who at one time lived upon the earth as we do, and who on account of their very good lives are now in Heaven. They had bodies as we have. The angels, on the contrary, never lived visibly upon the earth. In the beginning God was alone. We take great pleasure in looking at beautiful things. God, seeing His own beauty, and knowing that others would have very great pleasure and happiness in seeing Him, determined to create some beings who could enjoy this happiness; and thus He wished to share with them the happiness which He Himself derived from seeing His own beauty. Therefore He created angels who were to be in Heaven with Him, singing His praises and worshipping before His throne.

The angels are not all equal in dignity, but are divided into nine classes, or choirs, according to their rank or office, and, as theologians tell us, arranged from the lowest to the highest and named as follows; angels, archangels, virtues, powers, principalities, dominations, thrones, cherubim, and seraphim. Archangels are higher than angels and are so called because sent to do the most important works. It was the Archangel Michael who drove Lucifer from Heaven and the Archangel Gabriel who announced to the Blessed Virgin that she was to be the Mother of God. The angels receive their names from the duties they perform. The word angel signifies messenger.

*36 Q. Were the angels created for any other purpose?
A. The angels were also created to assist before the throne of God and to minister unto Him; they have often been sent as messengers from God to man; and are also appointed our guardians.

The duties of the angels are many. Some remain always in Heaven with God; some are sent to earth to be our guardians and to remain with us. Each of us has an angel to take care of us. He is with us night and day, and offers our prayers and good works to God. He prays for us, exhorts us to do good and avoid evil; and he protects us from dangers spiritual and temporal. How unfortunate then must one be to cause him to return to Heaven with sad complaints to God; such as: “The one whom I have in charge will not obey Thy laws or use the grace Thou sendest him: with all my efforts to save him, he continues to do wrong.” He will be doubly sad when he sees other angels returning with good reports and receiving new graces for those whom God has committed to their care. If you love your guardian angel, never impose on him the painful duty of bringing to God the report of your evil doings.

Now, how do we know that the angels offer our prayers and good works to God? We know it from the beautiful story of Tobias, told in the Holy Scripture. (Tobias). This holy man loved and feared God. He lived at a time when his people were persecuted by a most cruel king, who wished to force them to give up the true God and worship idols, but many of these good people suffered death rather than deny God and obey the wicked king. When they were put to death, their bodies were left lying on the ground, to be devoured by birds of prey or wild animals. Anyone caught burying them was to be put to death by the king’s servants. Tobias used to carry the dead bodies of these holy martyrs into his house and bury them at night.

One day when he returned very tired he lay down by the wall of his house to rest, and, while lying there, some dirt fell into his eyes and he became blind. This Tobias had a young son whose name was also Tobias; and as he himself was now blind and poor, he wished to send his son into a certain city, at a good distance off, to collect some money that he had formerly loaned to a friend. As the young man did not know the way, his father sent him out to look for a guide. Young Tobias went out and found a beautiful young man to be his guide and he consented, and he brought Tobias to the distant city. As they were on their way they sat down by the bank of a river. Tobias went into the water near the edge, and soon a great fish rushed at him. Tobias called to his guide. The guide told him to take hold of the fish and drag it out upon the shore. There they killed it, and kept part of its flesh for food and part for medicine. Then they went on to the city, got the money and returned. The guide told young Tobias to rub the part of the fish he had taken for medicine upon his father’s eyes. He did so, and immediately his father’s eyes were cured and he saw. Then both the father and son were so delighted with this young guide, that they offered to give him half of all they had. He refused to take it and then told them he was the angel Raphael sent from God to be the guide of this good man’s son. He told the old Tobias how he (the angel) had carried up to God his prayers and good works while he was burying the dead. When they heard he was an angel they fell down and reverenced him, being very much afraid. From this beautiful history we know that the angels carry our prayers and good works to God. Again we learn from the Holy Scripture (Gen. 28) in the history of another good man almost the same thing. The patriarch Jacob was on a journey, and being tired, he lay down to rest with his head upon a stone. As he lay there he had a vision in which he saw a great ladder reaching up from earth to Heaven. At the top he saw Almighty God standing, and on the ladder itself angels ascending and descending. Now the holy Fathers of the Church tell us this is what is really taking place; the angels are always going down and up from God to man, though not on a ladder and not visibly as they appeared to Jacob. Besides the guardian angel for each person, there are also guardian angels for each city and for each nation.

Again (Gen. 19) angels appeared to Lot to warn him about the destruction of the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrha. Angels appeared also to the shepherds on the night Our Lord was born (Luke 2). The catechism says angels have no bodies – how, then, could they appear? They took bodies made of some very light substance which would make them visible, and appeared just like beautiful young men, clad in flowing garments, as you frequently see them represented in pictures. Angels were sometimes sent to punish men for their sins, as the angel who killed in one night 185,000 men in the army of the wicked king, Sennacherib, who blasphemed God, and was endeavoring to destroy Jerusalem, God’s city. (4 Kgs. 19).

But here is a difficulty. If God Himself watches over us and sees all things, why should the angels guard us? It is on account of God’s goodness to us; though it is not necessary. He does not wish us to have any excuse for being bad, so He gives us each a special heavenly servant to watch and assist us by his prayers. If a friend received us into his house and did all he could for us himself, we should certainly be satisfied, but if he gave us a special servant, though it would not be necessary, he would show us great respect and kindness. Moreover whatever the angels do for us, we might say God Himself does, for the angels are only obeying His commands.

*37 Q. Were the angels, as God created them, good and happy?
A. The angels as God created them were good and happy.

*38 Q. Did all the angels remain good and happy?
A. All the angels did not remain good and happy; many of them sinned and were cast into Hell; and these are called devils or bad angels.

God did not admit the angels into His presence at once. He placed them for awhile on probation, as He did our first parents.

One of these angels was most beautiful, and was named Lucifer, which means light-bearer. He was so perfect that he seems to have forgotten that he received all his beauty and intelligence from God, and not content with what he had, became sinfully proud and wished to be equal to God Himself. For his sin he and all his followers were driven out of Heaven, and God then created Hell, in which they were to suffer for all eternity. This same Lucifer is now called Satan, and more commonly the devil, and those who accompanied him in his fall, devils, or fallen angels.

7 Quick Takes Friday (set #27)

7 Quick Takes Friday

This week: A failed abortion yields life, pro-aborts say pro-lifers are “hateful” and “extremists” – you judge, not all governments align themselves with the culture of death, a glimpse into the folks we encounter in public, elementary school principal has determined that Jesus name is “offensive,” kids and the technology you used.

— 1 —

An abortion that missed one. This is a powerful story:

Thanks for this one go to Jen Fulwiler. I don’t usually use items I found in Jen’s 7QTF as part of my 7QTF traffic comes from there, but I just had to include this one for everyone else.

— 2 —

Pro-abort’s and their media allies say pro-lifers are “hateful” and “extremists.” They are half-right. In this battle of the moral and immoral, one side may fit that description. Which one? You decide:

— 3 —

Not all governments are firmly in the clutches of the culture of death as our is (hopefully not too much longer). At least one government produces and broadcasts pro-life ads!

Another great find from Marcel.

— 4 —

Keep to yourself, don’t look at other people and whatever you do – don’t talk to them. That seems to be the rule for big city survival. Instead of trying to ignore them, this video sought to learn a little about random people on the NYC subway:

The only sad note in this otherwise uplifting video are the answers to the question “what is the meaning of life?” Only one person (a Jehovah’s Witness) saw a bigger picture not centered on self or being a “good person.”

— 5 —

Jesus name is “offensive” and a violation of the (imagined) separation of church and state doctrine according to the Superior Street Elementary School principal in Chatsworth, CA. She objected to a talent show song chosen by a disabled 5th grader because it made reference to Jesus. She backed-down only after a lawsuit AND national coverage. I bet there would have been absolutely no issue if the name were Muhammad.

— 6 —

You are old (probably). At least, you are old compared with these kids. Watch as they explore the technology you used a few years ago and attempt to deduce its purpose:

(This video is no longer available.)

— 7 —

Saturday Evening Blog Post

Elizabeth Esther kindly hosts a feature she calls The Saturday Evening Blog Post. Published monthly every first Saturday, it features the best post in the preceding month on each of a few dozen Christian blogs. The “best” entries are chosen by the authors themselves (so they should know!).

It is a great way to discover new blogs. Be sure to check-it out. My entry for last month was Only prayer.

Some random thoughts or bits of information are worthy of sharing but don’t warrant their own full post. This idea was started by Jennifer Fulwiler at Conversion Diary to address this blogging need. So, some Fridays I too participate when I have accumulated 7 worthy items. Thank you Jen for hosting this project!

Review: Mega church pastor

Mega Church Pastor

For many different reasons, some non-Catholics are interested in exploring our faith. They might be engaged to a Catholic or are married to one for decades. They may have joined many churches but never found their true home. Their church might be interesting, engaging and even fun – but somehow leaves them spiritually unfed. Their church might be embracing secular beliefs, man’s will, theological relativism, political correctness and “tolerance,” “non-discrimination,” and “non-judgmental acceptance” of sinful acts. There are many reasons.

Yet, in this early stage of their inquiry – the amount of time people are willing to invest in learning the Catholic faith is limited. That is not unreasonable. Except in rare cases, they have heard all sorts of myths – not to mention the mainstream media’s relentless anti-Catholic message. It is amazing that people overcome all that and look anyway!

What can interested, but as yet uncommitted, folks read that would advance their journey to deeper study? The Catechism is great, but too big for this job. Pamphlets summarizing our beliefs, without explaining why, could do more harm than good.

I believe that conversion stories uniquely fill this role. In them, people can follow the journeys of others just like themselves who have already traveled this path. They can relate to the internal and external struggles, the questions and even the doubts. The stories also give a glimpse of the joy of discovery and peace of finally coming home.

One such story is presented in Allen Hunt’s new book Confessions of a Mega Church Pastor. Allen is no typical convert (is there really such a thing?). He was a United Methodist pastor here in Atlanta. Not just any pastor, but the senior pastor – the force behind Mount Pisgah. It is one of the largest Methodist congregations in the world with 15,000 members. Academically, Allen’s credentials include a Yale Ph.D. in New Testament and Ancient Christian Origins.

What motivates such a successful, educated, highly respected, deeply loved Protestant pastor at the peek of his career to leave it all behind and become a Catholic layperson? Without giving away the story, it is basically the same reason many Protestant clergy before him have given…   so succinctly summarized:

To be deep in history is to cease to be Protestant.

Blessed John Henry Newman
Cardinal and Catholic Convert

At the time (January, 2008) Allen wrote the following to his friend, Methodist bishop Lindsey Davis:

I am relinquishing my status as an ordained United Methodist pastor in the North Georgia Conference. This deeply personal decision reflects my sense that God has called me to serve in a new mission role. Moreover, I believe that God has led me to a new spiritual home in the Catholic Church, so I have made provision to be received as a member into that Church.

Allen subtitles the book with “How I Discovered the Hidden Treasures of the Catholic Church.” In it, he uses the metaphor of rooms in a house and the words of owner and builder to his son – “this house will take care of you.”

Allen’s background and situation is much different than mine, but I was struck by the many conclusions we shared. I guess that while every story is unique, there remains much that will resonate with interested readers.

The book ends with a series of 3 option suggestions in several areas. Allen does not say if he personally did all of them, but I was surprised by how many I had. Even some of the unusual ones (e.g. visiting other parishes in your diocese for Mass – I am up to 33 so far). Good stuff!

I recommend the book as a wonderful introduction to the one Church Jesus founded, the fullness of our faith and where Protestantism falls short of that fullness. It is very readable, interesting and personal.

For those who would like a “sneak peak” at Allen’s story, you will find it over at Why I am Catholic (my story is there too!).

These days, Allen has a widely syndicated daily talk radio show. His motto is “it’s not about right or left, it’s about right or wrong.” How Catholic is that?! The show has been recognized as one of the country’s top 100 (#37) talk radio shows. See Allen’s website for more information.

7 Quick Takes Friday (set #26)

7 Quick Takes Friday

This week: Students for Life – hope through our youth, respect life at every age, Abby Johnson exposes PP motives, PP tries to hide an ambulance (after a botched abortion), PP claims they do mammograms – really?, “bipolar” baby (scared then laughing) and the unicorns’ memo to Noah on the mix-up.

— 1 —

This is an uplifting video from Students for Life. There is hope. The good guys can win…

— 2 —

The Spanish bishops’ national conference produced this beautiful video in support of life for their 2011 Campaign for Life:

— 3 —

Another informative video. Abby Johnson reveals the truth about Planned Parenthood:

— 4 —

Pp Botched Ambulance

It is hard to hide an ambulance. This one is taking another Planned Parenthood victim (this time the mother) to the hospital after a botched abortion. It wasn’t raining, the umbrellas and poster boards were meant to hide what was happening from the public. Abortion is anything but safe (especially for the child and sometimes the mother).

— 5 —

Planned Parenthood claims that they must be funded or women will lose access to basic health services such as mammograms. That $350M of taxpayer funds is crucial (try not to think of the $104M they spend on lobbying and fundraising). Lila Rose at Live Action checked the facts (the mainstream media sure won’t):

— 6 —

How can something so scary (mommy blowing her nose) one moment, also be so hilarious the next?

— 7 —

Ark Leaving At 5


Some random thoughts or bits of information are worthy of sharing but don’t warrant their own full post. This idea was started by Jennifer Fulwiler at Conversion Diary to address this blogging need. So, some Fridays I too participate when I have accumulated 7 worthy items. Thank you Jen for hosting this project!