Archives for March 2014

7 Quick Takes Friday (set #133)

7 Quick Takes Friday

This week: Another excellent video from Chris Stefanick, this time looking at The Separation of Church and State. Bishop Morlino (Madison) reflects on Pope Francis’ first year and reality vs. media twisted sound-bytes. Cardinal Burke explains that doctrine will not be changed (duh, but many are being led otherwise). If you are carrying a downs baby, thinking about his/her quality of life, and struggling with your “choice..”. watch this. Hospitals in the UK have a green solution for aborted and miscarried babies. A short documentary on St. Peter’s (Omaha) restoration. Stephen Colbert making inroads where few others have.

— 1 —

Chris Stefanick continues his series of excellent videos. While it has been said many times before, the fact remains that many people (people YOU know and love) simply do not understand State vs. Church. They assume something that was never the understanding until very recent times, something that is very wrong, something whose fruits will be very poor.

— 2 —

Bishop Robert C. Morlino briefly reflects on Pope Francis’ first year. He does a great job explaining the substance of our Holy Father vs. the media’s agenda with out-of-context sound-bytes. Bishop Morlino is an excellent shepherd, here and in general.

Spotted by Fr. Z

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Changing doctrine is something no pope can do. Nor can they do it just in practice via word games, if not officially. Moreover, Pope Francis is a faithful Catholic so it simply will not happen. These facts do not slow liberals, even a stray bishop or two, from suggesting otherwise. Many have corrected the notion. Here is Cardinal Raymond Burke (Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura) on the topic:

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You are devastated, hearing your unborn child will have down syndrome. Doctors, friends and even relatives have advised you to “terminate” “it.” You are scared and don’t want your child to suffer. Dear Mom…

— 5 —

The radical left is all about reducing man’s footprint on the planet, especially by reducing the existence of man. They too are all about green initiatives – again the primacy of what is good for the planet. News this week is about a new win/win on both counts. Step (1) abort babies in volume then step (2) use their bodies as fuel to heat hospitals.

The Telegraph reports that the remains of thousands of aborted and miscarried babies were used in this most inhuman plan. Words fail. Read about it in Aborted babies incinerated to heat UK hospitals. This is no joke.

— 6 —

I previously covered the rebuilding and restoration of St. Peter’s in Omaha (here). It is a wonderful story. EWTN will soon broadcast a new half-hour special on their efforts, or you can watch it right here:

— 7 —

Speaking regularly to, and apparently loved by, a young demographic – Stephen Colbert connects to people where they are. Often they are anti-religion, especially Catholicism, and receptive toward atheist and secular viewpoints.

Somehow he still reaches them while making a lot of good points. I can’t think of anyone else like him. Here he actually *mocks atheism*, they listen and love it!

Spotted by Matt Fradd

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!

Salvation is from the Jews

Salvation Is From The Jews

In last week’s Gospel reading we heard about Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:5-42). It is packed with several important themes. Jesus meets the woman “where she is” and brings her to truth. Jesus does not avoid an encounter with this lost lamb, loves her, but does not accept her sinfulness. (At this point I could easily go “off the rails” about sin not being a matter of opinion or tolerance thereof not a good thing!) Through her conversion and witness, many others are brought to the truth.

If you are Catholic, your priest probably spoke of this at length in his Sunday homily. You may have read one of the many good reflections on it. I would like to briefly reflect on something Jesus said almost in passing (verse 22): “You people worship what you do not understand; we worship what we understand, because salvation is from the Jews.”

The Samaritans (shamerim meaning “observant”) were not ungodly people. They were in fact, schismatic Jews. They followed the law of Moses (in some ways even more strictly) and accepted the Torah as dogmatic but believed their Jewish bretheren had become apostate. Yet, compared to other religions of the day, you could say Samaritans and Jews both believed the same “important stuff.”

Being separate from the Jews meant divergence. The Samaritans no longer had the true temple in Jerusalem but their own on Mount Gerazim which they were convinced was the true one. Intermarrying with pagans, they incorporated their beliefs through compromise. Truth was not unchanging.

While imperfect, this strikes me as analogous to today’s schism of Protestantism from Catholicism. We have much in common, but by schism much is lost or imperfectly understood. New beliefs evolve continuously among our separated Protestant brethren (e.g. on contraception, divorce, abortion, understanding homosexuality, roles of men and women, and much more). Having separated themselves from the “temple” of Sacred Tradition and Magisterium, a replacement was needed and found in the invention of sola scriptura (Protestant “Mount Gerazim”).

The Samaritans were not necessarily destined for damnation, only that being separated from the fullness of truth, their path was more problematic, difficult and uncertain. Missing parts of the faith handed-on by the prophets, and the introduction of error, hampered their journey. So it is with Protestantism, in all its diverse and contradictory forms.

In Jesus, we have a new and everlasting covenant. Neither the Samaritan nor Jewish temples are important as Jesus said in verse 21: “Believe me, woman, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.”

God’s path until that time however was not vague, multiple paths, or even one of “similar beliefs.” While it was certainly imperfect (is that ever an understatement), none-the-less God’s path was Judaism as Jesus continued “You people worship what you do not understand; we worship what we understand, because salvation is from the Jews.”

Judaism is now fulfilled in Christ and His Church. It is one, visible, and the full faith handed-on by the Apostles. Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus — outside the Church there is no salvation. As the Samaritans were Jews, but imperfectly – Protestants too are in Christ’s Church.

Truth matters. It does not change nor is it relative. “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth; and indeed the Father seeks such people to worship him. God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship in Spirit and truth.” (verses 23 and 24)

So, where can we find the truth? Is it in the Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist, Reformed, Pentecostal, Evangelical, Adventist, “non-denominational” or other denomination from Catholicism? They are not the same, with core beliefs that differ significantly (such as understanding what Christ taught, how to be saved or knowing God’s will). Maybe the truth is a private matter, one you discern exclusively from reading the Bible for yourself. In that case your understanding will be personal, private, unique to yourself — and contain a lot of error. On the plus side, it will say what you want it to say. Perhaps you are one of those folks who do not need “organized religion.” You have a “personal relationship with Jesus” and that is all you need. In that case, you are half right (the first half).

Is truth really important? Jesus seems to think so (and says so over and over and over again). Maybe that is just His opinion.

7 Quick Takes Friday (set #132)

7 Quick Takes Friday

This week: How we will one day view Planned Parenthood. A tough, but honest look at the nature of abortion. One man’s remarkable accomplishment to advance women’s health. A young boy honors the memory of his dad. A 90 second video gives a glimpse of war’s nightmare for children. Father Barron presents a brief overview of the Council of Trent. A warning from the ’50s which we paid no attention to (one of many).

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No words are necessary.

Planned Parenthood Abortion Holocaust
(Found online but not credited.)

— 2 —

The truth about abortion is offensive because abortion is offensive. Many women today bear the indelible scars of their abortion. Younger women, filled with pride and radical feminist zeal, too often have not learned this hard, life changing lesson. This film is for them.

— 3 —

Real women’s health issues are not about “reproductive rights” (a direct euphemism for abortion) but actually about women’s health. Outside of the affluent West, one of the many serious issues is the lack of access not to abortion but to sanitary pads. This is the fascinating story of an Indian man who has done something about it:

Arunachalam Muruganantham also gave this talk and was featured aspect in a documentary entitled: Menstrual Man.

— 4 —

An Ohio boy “pays it forward” by a kind act honoring his father:

— 5 —

Save the Children UK has a video showing what war does to children. The setting is here, not some far away place, to make the point more present.

Spotted by Marcel

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Father Barron gives a very nice overview on the 450th anniversary, of the Council of Trent. If you don’t know what it is or much about it, this will help.

— 7 —

In the 50’s, we received this warning. I am sure many thought “this could never happen here!” Only 60 years later, look where we are. People were warned, but they did not listen. Now they are waking up, but time is short. Non-negotiable priorities in upcoming elections: (1) stop abortion, (2) restore religious freedom, (3) fix this:

Here is a more in-depth piece.

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!

Believer or follower?

Believer Or Follower

I know someone you may know. He is no atheist or agnostic, but rather a firm believer in the existence of God. He knows Jesus and fears the Lord! (Hold that “Hallelujah!” for a moment.)

Not only that, this individual also knows and understands scripture very well. He quotes it with ease from memory. (Not so fast on that “Praise God!” response.)

Many people would say that such an individual is saved. He is not. In fact, he is evil and will spend eternity in hell, a fate he richly deserves.

He is an extremely dangerous stalker but there can be no relief from the police or a court. He prowls around like a roaring lion, tenacious in his pursuit, looking for someone to devour. He is self-centered – an idolater of himself – and a notorious liar. No dummy he, but rather one who uses his God given high intellect to the detriment of others. I’ll just come out and say it — I hate him.

When I told my wife about him recently, at this point I quickly got a firm lecture on judgment and Christian charity! You may be inclined to agree. Putting aside the issue of judgment, how could anyone who (1) believes in God and (2) is even a Bible scholar be destined for damnation?

It is of course, Satan of whom I speak.

We recently read from Matthew chapter 4 (1-11):

At that time Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was hungry. The tempter approached and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread.”

He said in reply, “It is written: One does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.

Then the devil took him to the holy city, and made him stand on the parapet of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down. For it is written: He will command his angels concerning you and with their hands they will support you, lest you dash your foot against a stone.

Jesus answered him, “Again it is written, You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.

Then the devil took him up to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in their magnificence, and he said to him, “All these I shall give to you, if you will prostrate yourself and worship me.”

At this, Jesus said to him, “Get away, Satan! It is written: The Lord, your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve.

Then the devil left him and, behold, angels came and ministered to him.

Satan is a scripture quoting believer. In no way does this mean that scripture quoting believers are (necessarily) like Satan. Rather, being a believer is but a first step to becoming a true follower. Being only a believer is NOT ENOUGH. We must actually, in our own heart…   in our personal thoughts and actions, FOLLOW Christ in order to be saved. Unlike Satan, we must put God and His will before our own.

Satan fears the Lord too, as James 2:19 tells us: “You believe that God is one. You do well. Even the demons believe that and tremble.” His fear is rooted in God’s almighty power not God’s love. Accepting God’s love and mercy means following His will – not just selective parts of it (those parts which we “agree with”). In Jesus final words, the Great Commission, He commanded the Apostles to teach us to “observe ALL that I have commanded you” (my emphasis; Matthew 28:20). One last verse (again, my emphasis):

While he was still speaking to the crowds, his mother and his brothers appeared outside, wishing to speak with him. [Someone told him, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, asking to speak with you.”] But he said in reply to the one who told him, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?? And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother.

Take up your cross and follow Christ (Matthew 16:24). “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

Follow, do not just believe.

As for Satan…

St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou,
O Prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God,
cast into hell Satan, and all the evil spirits,
who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

Baltimore Catechism: 2nd and 3rd commandments

Baltimore Catechism

Lesson 32

345 Q. What is the Second Commandment?
A. The Second Commandment is: Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.

“In vain” – that is, without necessity.

346 Q. What are we commanded by the Second Commandment?
A. We are commanded by the Second Commandment to speak with reverence of God and of the saints, and of all holy things, and to keep our lawful oaths and vows.

A very common sin against this Commandment is to use the words and sayings of Holy Scripture in a worldly or bad sense. The Church forbids us to use the words and sayings of Holy Scripture to convey any meaning but the one God intended them to convey, or at least to use them in any but a sacred sense.

347 Q. What is an oath?
A. An oath is the calling upon God to witness the truth of what we say.

We declare a thing to be so or not, and call God to be our witness that we are speaking truly. This is one of the most solemn acts that men can perform in the presence of their fellowman. All the nations of the earth regard an oath as a most sacred thing, and one who swears falsely is the vilest of men – a perjurer. God is infinite truth and hates lies. What a frightful thing then to call Him to sanction a lie!

*348 Q. When may we take an oath?
A. We may take an oath when it is ordered by lawful authority or required for God’s honor or for our own or our neighbor’s good.

An oath is generally taken in a court of law when the judge wishes to find out the truth of the case. We may be a witness against one who is guilty, or in defense of an innocent person, and in such cases a lie would have most evil consequences. The judge has a right, therefore, to make us take an oath that we will testify truly. Officers of the law, magistrates, judges, etc., take an oath when entering upon their duties that they will perform them faithfully.

*349 Q. What is necessary to make an oath lawful?
A. To make an oath lawful it is necessary that what we swear be true, and that there be a sufficient cause for taking an oath.

350 Q. What is a vow?
A. A vow is a deliberate promise made to God to do something that is pleasing to Him.

“Deliberate” – that is, with full consent and freedom. If we are forced to make it, it is not valid. “To God,” not to another; though we may vow to God that we will do something in honor of the Blessed Virgin, or of the saints, or for another. “Something pleasing,” because if we promise something that is forbidden by God or displeasing to Him, it is not a vow. A solemn promise, for instance, to kill your neighbor or steal his goods could not be a vow. You would commit a sin by making such a vow, and another by keeping it, for if you promise something you cannot do without committing sin then you must not keep that promise. We have an example in the life of St. John the Baptist. King Herod was leading a sinful life, and St. John rebuked him for it. The wife of the king’s brother – Herodias was her name – hated St. John for this, and she sought to have him killed. Once when the king had a great feast and all his notables were assembled, this woman’s daughter danced before them, and the king was so pleased with her that he vowed to give her whatever she asked. He should have said, if it is something pleasing to God, but he did not. Her mother made her ask for the head of John the Baptist. The king was sad, but because he had made the vow or promise he thought he had to keep it, and ordered St. John to be beheaded and his head brought to her. (Matt. 14). He was not bound to keep any such vow, and sinned by doing so.

Again, they also commit sin who become members of such secret societies as the freemasons or similar organizations, promising to do whatever they are ordered without knowing what may be ordered; for they sin not only by obeying sinful commands, but by the very fact of being in a society in which they are exposed to the danger of being forced to sin. Such secret societies are forbidden by the Church because they strive to undermine its authority, and make their rules superior to its teaching. They also influence those in authority to persecute the Church and its ministers, and do not hesitate to recommend even assassination at times for the accomplishment of their ends. Therefore the Church forbids Catholics to join societies of which (1) the objects are unlawful, (2) where the means used are sinful, or (3) where the rights of our conscience and liberty are violated by rash or dangerous oaths.

The Church does not oppose associations founded on law and justice; but on the contrary, has always encouraged and still encourages every organization that tends to benefit its members spiritually and temporally, and opposes only societies that have not a legitimate end. Therefore you may understand that labor unions and benefit societies in which persons are leagued together for their own protection or the protection of their interests are not secret societies, though they may conduct their meetings in secret.

351 Q. Is it a sin not to fulfill our vows?
A. Not to fulfill our vows is a sin, mortal or venial according to the nature of the vow and the intention we had in making it.

“Vows” – that is, lawful vows. When a man who is in the habit of getting intoxicated vows not to take liquor for a certain time, he generally intends to bind himself only under venial sin; that is, if he breaks that pledge or promise it will be a venial and not a mortal sin; but he can make it a mortal sin by intending, when he takes the pledge, that if he breaks it he will be guilty of mortal sin.

352 Q. What is forbidden by the Second Commandment?
A. The Second Commandment forbids all false, rash, unjust, and unnecessary oaths, blasphemy, cursing, and profane words.

“Rash” – swearing a thing is true or false without knowing for certain whether it is or not. “Blasphemy” is not the same as cursing or taking God’s name in vain. It is worse. It is to say or do something very disrespectful to God. To say that He is unjust, cruel or the like, is to blaspheme. We can blaspheme also by actions. To defy God by a sign or action, to dare Him to strike us dead, etc., would be blasphemy. We have a terrible example of blasphemy related in the life of Julian the Apostate. An apostate is one who renounces and gives up his religion, not one who merely neglects it. Julian was a Roman emperor and had been a Catholic, but apostatized. Then in his great hatred for Our Lord he wished to falsify His prophecies and prove them untrue. Our Lord had said that of the temple of Jerusalem there would not be left a stone upon a stone. To make this false Julian began to rebuild the temple. In making the preparation he cleared away the ruins of the old building, not leaving a single stone upon a stone, and thus was instrumental himself in verifying the words of Our Lord; for while the ruins remained there were stones upon stones. He wished to defy God, but when he began to build, fire came forth from the earth and drove back the workmen, and a strong wind scattered the materials. Afterwards Julian was wounded in battle, an arrow having pierced his breast. He drew it out, and throwing a handful of his blood toward heaven, said: “Thou hast conquered, O Galilean,” meaning Our Lord. This was a horrible blasphemy – throwing his blood in defiance, and calling the Son of God a name which he thought would be insulting (see Fredet’s Modern History, Life of Julian). Therefore we can blaspheme by actions or words, doing or saying things intended to insult Almighty God. “Profane words” – that is, bad, but especially irreverent and irreligious words.

353 Q. What is the Third Commandment?
A. The Third Commandment is: Remember thou keep holy the Sabbath day.

*354 Q. What are we commanded by the Third Commandment?
A. By the Third Commandment we are commanded to keep holy the Lord’s Day and the holy days of obligation, on which we are to give our time to the service and worship of God.

“Holy days” we are bound to keep holy just in the same manner we do Sundays – that is, by hearing Mass and refraining from servile works. Those who after hearing Mass must attend to business or work on those days should make this known to their confessor, that he may judge if they have a sufficient excuse for engaging in servile works, and thus they will avoid the danger of sinfully violating an important law. There must always be a good reason for working on a holy day. Those who are so situated that they can readily refrain from servile work on holy days must do so. And, where it is possible, the same opportunity must be afforded to their servants.

“Of obligation,” because there are some holy days not of obligation. We celebrate them, but we are not bound under pain of mortal sin to hear Mass or keep from servile works on such days. For example, St. Patrick’s Day is not a holy day of obligation. The great feast of Corpus Christi is not a holy day of obligation. Not satisfied with doing only what the Church obliges us to do on Sundays and holy days, those who really love God will endeavor to do more than the bare works commanded. Sunday is a day of rest and prayer. While we may take innocent and useful amusement, we should not join in any public or noisy entertainments. We may rest and recreate ourselves, but we should avoid every place where vulgar and sometimes sinful amusements, scenes, or plays are presented. Even in taking lawful recreation we may serve God and please Him if we take it to strengthen our bodies that we may be enabled to do the work He has assigned to us in this world.

Sunday is well spent by those who, after hearing Mass, devote some part of the day to good works, such as pious reading, teaching in Sunday school, bringing relief to the poor and sick, visiting the Blessed Sacrament, attending Vespers, Rosary, etc. Not that I mean they should do nothing but pray on Sundays; but they should not give the whole day to useless enjoyment or idleness, and forget God. Some begrudge God even the half-hour they are obliged to give to Mass on Sundays: they stand near the door, ready to be the first out, and perhaps were the last in; or they come late, and do not give the full time necessary to hear the entire Mass. Others spend the whole day in reading newspapers, magazines, or useless – I will not say sinful – books. It is not a sin to read newspapers, etc., on Sunday; but to give the whole time to them, and never read anything good and instructive, is a willful waste of time – and waste of time is sinful. There should be in every family, according to its means, one or more good Catholic newspapers or magazines. Not all papers that bear the name of Catholic are worthy of it. A truly Catholic paper is one that teaches or defends Catholic truth, and warns us against its enemies, their snares, deceptions, etc.; one, too, that tells us what is being done in the interests of religion, education, etc. Besides such a paper there should be a few standard good books in every family such as the New Testament, the Imitation of Christ, a large and full catechism of Christian doctrine, etc. On the other hand, all the books in your house need not be books treating of religion or piety. Any book that is not against faith or morals may be kept and read. A book may not be bad in itself, but it may be bad for you, either because it is suggestive of evil, or you misunderstand it, and take evil out of it. In such a case you should not read it. At the present time there are so many bad books that persons should be very careful as to what they read.

Not only should we keep Sunday well ourselves, but we should endeavor to have it so kept by others. We must be careful, however, not to fall into the mistake of some who wish the Sunday to be kept as the Pharisees of old kept the Sabbath, telling us we must not walk, ride, sail, or take any exercise or enjoyment on that day. This is not true, for Our Lord rebuked the Pharisees for such excessive rigor; God made the Sunday for our benefit, and if we had to keep it as they say we must, it would be more of a punishment than a benefit.

355 Q. How are we to worship God on Sundays and holy days of obligation?
A. We are to worship God on Sundays and holy days of obligation by hearing Mass, by prayer, and by other good works.

*356 Q. Are the Sabbath day and the Sunday the same?
A. The Sabbath day and the Sunday are not the same. The Sabbath is the seventh day of the week, and is the day which was kept holy in the Old Law; the Sunday is the first day of the week, and is the day which is kept holy in the New Law.

“Old Law” means the law that God gave to the Jews, the New Law, the law that Our Lord gave to Christians.

*357 Q. Why does the Church command us to keep the Sunday holy instead of the Sabbath?
A. The Church commands us to keep the Sunday holy instead of the Sabbath because on Sunday Christ rose from the dead, and on Sunday He sent the Holy Ghost upon the Apostles.

We keep Sunday instead of Saturday also to teach that the Old Law is not now binding upon us, but that we must keep the New Law, which takes its place.

358 Q. What is forbidden by the Third Commandment?
A. The Third Commandment forbids all unnecessary servile work and whatever else may hinder the due observance of the Lord’s day.

359 Q. What are servile works?
A. Servile works are those which require labor rather of body than of mind.

“Servile” – that is, work which was formerly done by the slaves. Therefore writing, reading, studying, etc., are not servile, because they were not the works of slaves.

360 Q. Are servile works on Sunday ever lawful?
A. Servile works are lawful on Sunday when the honor of God, the good of our neighbor, or necessity requires them.

“Honor of God”; for example, erecting an altar that could not be erected at another time, so that the people may hear Mass on that day.

“Good of our neighbor” – such as reconstructing a broken bridge that must be used every day; or clearing away obstacles after a railroad accident, that trains may not be delayed. “Necessity” – firemen endeavoring to extinguish a fire, sailors working on a ship at sea, etc.