31 January 2008

Onward to Lent

Am I strange because I look forward to Lent every year? A productive Lent takes planning. I just finished ordering my books for the season. This year it's "Come Be My Light" by Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

Here's a list of selections from previous years:
"The Everything Mary Book" by Fr. John & Jenny Schroedel
"Moby Dick" by Herman Melville
"Way of the Pilgrim"
"Franny & Zooey" by J.D. Salinger
"Life of Moses" by St. Gregory of Nyssa
"The Christians Secret to a Happy Life" Hannah Whithall Smith

Some were recommended by my father confessor at the time, while others were prompted by the Holy Spirit. The goal behind Lenten Reading is transformation--that's why you see such odd inclusions as Moby Dick and Franny & Zooey.

I also ordered "Sacred Space for Lent 2008" which includes readings, reflection questions, and prayer starters for each day of the Lenten season. It's put out by the Jesuits in Ireland who make the Sacred Space prayer website possible. Having a guide like this allows me to keep focus.

30 January 2008

Three Hierarchs

Today's Feast on the Eastern Calendar (Byzantine Catholic/Eastern Orthodox) is an interesting one in light of Christian unity. The Synaxis of The Three Hierarchs: Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, & John Chrysostom was instituted a little before the year 1100 because of a dispute and strife that arose at the time. Some theologians in the East preferred Basil, while others preferred Gregory, and yet others preferred John Chrysostom. Each party, in order to distinguish itself from the others, assumed the name of its preferred Saint; Basilians, Gregorians, or Johannites. When the three saints appeared together to a bishop in Asia Minor they declared that they were equal in glory and honor. Argument over.

Dark Nights and Deserts

I commented a while back about the consistent renewal of the Holy Spirit in the Catholic Church, contrasting it to the hot/cold ups and downs of Evangelical revivals. There is always some new trend in the Protestant world to jump on then it fizzles out until the next new thing shows up to "revive" the faithful. Apostolic teaching, on the other hand, guided by annointed leadership prevents the Catholic Church from being tossed to and fro from every wind of doctrine (Ephesians 4).

What I didn't mention in that post was that I meant the worldwide Catholic Church and the billion plus Christians under her care. She is the largest Charismatic church with more Spirit-filled, tongue-talking, miracle working Christians than any denomination (including the Assemblies of God).

Now, on the individual level we do see ups and downs in our spiritual life. This is natural, like the tides or the seasons. We will go through the desert and we will feast by the river. All great mystics talk about the "dark night of the soul" where suddenly they don't hear or feel God. Mother Teresa's latest book "Come Be My Light" is one such example--she went from daily conversations with God to a desolate place in her heart.

Just because we pass through the valley of the shadow of death does not mean that the Shepherd has abandoned us. Nor does it mean that we have lost something our aren't "sheepish" enough. It just means that this is where God wants you, keep following and the scenery will change.
Next week is the beginning of Lent--no we aren't jumping on the current prayer and fasting bandwagon with the Evangelicals, it was already on the Church calendar. This 40-day spiritual adventure is a time for renewal through sacrifice. Pope Benedict XVI describes it like this:

"(Lent) offers us a providential opportunity to deepen the meaning and value of our Christian lives, and it stimulates us to rediscover the mercy of God so that we, in turn, become more merciful toward our brothers and sisters. In the Lenten period, the Church makes it her duty to propose some specific tasks that accompany the faithful concretely in this process of interior renewal: these are prayer, fasting and almsgiving." (Lenten Message 2008)

Many Catholic and Orthodox bloggers suspend activity during Lent as a discipline. I intend to continue operation during the fast and will offer a daily meditation and updates about my journey.

29 January 2008

Air Head--Recovering, but Dizzy

Sinus Surgery went smooth. Polyps were plentiful, but have been removed. Septum is now straighter.

Thanks for all the prayers--I had no shortage of intercessors. Catholics, Pentecostals, Mormons, and others all offered their petitions on my behalf.

I have several ideas for posts, just need the time to put them online, so stay tuned.

27 January 2008

The Harmony of the Lectionary

Something I love about liturgical Christianity is the Lectionary. Every congregation around the world unites in the same Bible readings each day at Mass. Not only that, but the different readings present an inner harmony that ties them together. This is especially apparent in the readings for today's Mass:

Reading 1 Is 8:23—9:3
"The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone."

Psalm Ps 27:1, 4, 13-14
"The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom should I fear?"

Gospel Mt 4:12-23
"Jesus left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum by the sea,in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali, that what had been said through Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled: Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,the way to the sea, beyond the Jordan,Galilee of the Gentiles,the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light,on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death light has arisen."

26 January 2008

The Spiritual Life

What is distinctive about the spiritual life today? Basically, the spiritual life is the same as it ever was. It means now what is meant in the time of Saint Paul, namely, a responsiveness to the Spirit of God. Those who are more responsive are more holy. Those who are less responsive are less holy. Those who are unresponsive are unholy.

~ Father John A. Hardon, S.J.

25 January 2008

How Far Will You Go?

If you were a wee little man,
would you climb a tree
like Zaccheus to see Christ?

Would you push through the crowd
to touch the hem of His garment,
trusting that you would be healed?

Would you spend the day on a desert plain
to hear Him speak, unsure of where
dinner was coming from?

Would you sell what you have,
give to the poor, and
take up your cross
to follow Christ?

What is God asking you to do?
How can you get closer to Christ?
Do you have this kind of faith?
Listen for the Holy Spirit and
He will tell you what's next.
But you must be open and obedient--
even if it doeasn't make sense.
Fear not.

24 January 2008

Surgery Today at Noon (MST)

Please pray for me as I go in for nasal polyp removal today at Noon (2pm EST).
Maybe after I get all the crud out of my head I won't be so dense!

~ David

23 January 2008

Adoration of Christ

One devotion of the Catholic Church that is very meaningful to me is the adoration of Christ in the Eucharist. We believe in the real presence of Christ under the disguise of bread and wine. It ain't just crackers and grape juice--Christ is in our midst.

Many parishes have special chapels for 24-hour adoration where the Eucharist is displayed in a special holder called a monstrance, and people come to pray and worship Jesus continually throughout the day and often the night. Others have special times set aside for adoration.

What a joy to spend an hour with Jesus.

Every Sunday afternoon our parish here in Denver has an Adoration hour for children. My ten year-old daughter (who has felt a calling to be a nun since she was 4) heard God's voice. Afterward she asked the other kids around her if they heard anything and none of them did.

My favorite place for Adoration is Holy Ghost Catholic Church in downtown Denver. Built in 1924 it is a beautiful place to spend time with Jesus.

Here is an example of Holy Hour guidelines from the Adoration Chapel at Christ the King, a Charismatic Catholic parish in Ann Arbor.

Online Adoration

More info about Eucharistic Adoration:
Apostolate for Eucharistic Life (Ann Arbor, MI)
Real Presence Eucharistic Education & Adoration Ass'n
Apostolate for Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration

The History of Eucharistic Adoration by Fr. John A. Hardon (pdf)
The Book of Perpetual Adoration by Henri Marie Boudon
Legends of the Blessed Sacrament by Emily Mary Shapcote
The Priest of the Eucharist (St. Peter Eymard)

Holy Orders dedicated to Adoration
Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration
Holy Spirit Adoration Sisters (The Pink Nuns)
Maronite Monks of Adoration
Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration
Sisters of Perpetual Adoration

22 January 2008

Calm Down?

I know that I'm guilty. Sometimes I get so excited by what God is doing in my life that I want everyone else to catch up to where I am. The Holy Spirit shows me something and I want to pass it on. Maybe I can drag others up to the High Places! Gee, this suddenly sounds prideful. Am I implying that I'm better than someone else because of my experiences?

Kyrie Elieson!

It is not anything amazing to have our minds constantly turned toward God, but to consider ourselves the worst sinners takes courage.

We should encourage other believers to live fully for God, to seek after Christ with all their heart, and to be filled with the Holy Spirit. But what if that seeminly "weak" Christian is exactly where God wants them at this time? I shouldn't expect someone to be where I am after 38 years when they are 23.
I will continue to rejoice in the greatness of God, but in my personal encounters, be patient with those who are on the path of salvation.
"BRETHREN, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For each one shall bear his own load." (Gal 6:1-5 NKJV)

21 January 2008

The EWTN Challenge

Attention non-Catholics:

A major factor in helping me understand the modern Roman Catholic Church was wacthing EWTN for a month. The devotion to God, the clarity of teaching, the consistencey of the message all testified to a vibrant worldwide community of Faith.

This next week will be especially interesting due to extensive coverage of the Walk for Life and various pro-life programming.

For those of us with an Anglo-Catholic interest check out "Walsingham: England's Nazareth"

Wednesday 1/23 at 10pm EST & 2/2 @ 5am EST visit the ruins of the seven churches that St. John addressed Revelation to.

The kid's shows in the afternoon and Saturday morning are awesome, especially "Knights of St. Michael", "We are Catholic", "Truth in the Heart", and former Evangelical "The Donut Man".

"The Choices We Face" on Tuesdays @ 6pm EST and Friday at 6:30am EST is a great program from the Charismatic folks at Renewal Ministries in Ann Arbor.

Also check out "Crash Course in Catholocism" Saturday @ 4pm EST & Thursday @ 5am EST

These are all worth recording via TiVo or DVR and watching at your convenience. Tune in anytime with and open mind, asking the Holy Spirit to lead you into all truth.

Check your local listings, try it for a week. At least you will go away with a good idea of what the Church founded by Jesus christ on the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets is doing today.

20 January 2008

Behold the Lamb of God

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world,
have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world,
have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world,
grant us peace.

19 January 2008

Speak, Lord

"SPEAK, Lord, for Thy servant heareth." (1 Kings 3:9)
"I am Thy servant. Give me understanding that I may know Thine ordinances..." (Ps. 118:125)
"Incline my heart to Thine ordinances..." (Ps. 118:36)
"Let Thy speech distil as the dew." (Deut. 32:2)

The children of Israel once said to Moses: "Speak thou to us and we will hear thee: let not the Lord speak to us, lest we die." (Exod. 20:19)

Not so, Lord, not so do I pray. Rather with Samuel the prophet I entreat humbly and earnestly: "Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth." Do not let Moses or any of the prophets speak to me; but You speak, O Lord God, Who inspired and enlightened all the prophets; for You alone, without them, can instruct me perfectly, whereas they, without You, can do nothing. They, indeed, utter fine words, but they cannot impart the spirit. They do indeed speak beautifully, but if You remain silent they cannot inflame the heart. They deliver the message; You lay bare the sense. They place before us mysteries, but You unlock their meaning. They proclaim commandments; You help us to keep them. They point out the way; You give strength for the journey. They work only outwardly; You instruct and enlighten our hearts. They water on the outside; You give the increase. They cry out words; You give understanding to the hearer.

Let not Moses speak to me, therefore, but You, the Lord my God, everlasting truth, speak lest I die and prove barren if I am merely given outward advice and am not inflamed within; lest the word heard and not kept, known and not loved, believed and not obeyed, rise up in judgment against me.

Speak, therefore, Lord, for Your servant listens. "Thou hast the words of eternal life." (John 6:69) Speak to me for the comfort of my soul and for the amendment of my life, for Your praise, Your glory, and Your everlasting honor.

~ Thomas a'Kempis, Imitation of Christ

18 January 2008

January Prayer Intentions: Unity & Africa

Since 1844 popes have asked the Apostleship of Prayer to pray for specific intentions. They receive two prayer intentions each month from the Holy Father, and pledge themselves to pray for them every day. In 2000 it was estimated that over 40 million people belonged to this ministry.

This month's intentions:

Christian Unity--That the Church work for full visible unity that better manifests a community of love which reflects the Blessed Trinity.

Church in Africa--That the Church in Africa, preparing for a special Synod, may be an instrument of reconciliation and justice.

On the subject of christian unity I offer this thought from St. John Chrysostom:

If therefore we desire to have the benefit of that Spirit which is from the Head, let us cleave one to another. For there are two kinds of separation from the body of the Church; the one, when we wax cold in love, the other, when we dare commit things unworthy of our belonging to that body; for in either way we cut ourselves off from the "fullness of Christ." But if we are appointed to build up others also, what shall not be done to them who are first to make division? Nothing will so avail to divide the Church as love of power. Nothing so provokes God's anger as the division of the Church. Yea, though we have achieved ten thousand glorious acts, yet shall we, if we cut to pieces the fullness of the Church, suffer punishment no less sore than they who mangled His body.

~ Homily XI, Ephesians 4:4-16

17 January 2008

Let Christ Into your Life!

If we let Christ into our lives, we lose nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful and great. No! Only in this friendship are the doors of life opened wide... I say to you, dear young people: Do not be afraid of Christ! He takes nothing away, and he gives you everything. When we give ourselves to him, we receive a hundredfold in return. Yes, open, open wide the doors to Christ and you will find true life. Amen.

~Pope Benedict XVI

16 January 2008

His Mother as a Helper

Love purely, and persistently venerate and invoke the most sweet Mother of Christ, the Virgin Mary, who is the most benign consoler and advocate not only of the perfect but also of the imperfect; for she repels no one, but is ready to listen to all. She gently receives, cherishes, and protects sinners who piously and humbly have recourse to her, and with motherly confidence reconciles them to her Son. Sooner would heaven and earth perish, than would she deprive of her help any one earnestly imploring her aid. Give thanks to the Lord, who has given her to you for a Mother and a helper.

+ + +

Hail Mary, the theme of prophets, and glory of apostles, martyrs, confessors, and virgins. You are the most lovely palm of righteousness. You are the most fragrant spikenard of modesty. You are the blooming garden full of heavenly delights. You are the ark of the covenant, containing that sweetest manna. You are that blessed soil which brings forth a blessed fruit. You are the spiritual rock gushing forth with plenteous streams. You are that sacred fountain, swelling into the largest river. O Mary, how holy you are; how sinful am I! how humble you are; how proud am I! how sublime you are; how unworthy am I! O undefiled one, how vast a distance is there between your angelic purity and my intolerable uncleanness. Purify, I beseech you, my heart from the filth of sin: take from me whatever is displeasing to your virgin eyes. Separate my heart from earthly desires, and establish it in the love of heavenly things, to the everlasting praise and honour of your Son.

~ Ludovicus Blosius (16th c.)

15 January 2008

Feel Free to Comment

I guess I didn't have this thing set up to receive comments, so if you tried to make one in the past unsuccessfully try again. I encourage your input and look forward to audience participation especially if you disagree or have a different take on what I present.

Renewal vs. Revival

I recently read about a 21 day fast initiated by some Charismatic group to pray for revival, purity, integrity, leadership, and evangelism.

Why is there a constant need for revival among Evangelicals? Why do they constantly need shaking up? Why can't they keep the fire burning?

Renewal should be a constant movement toward the heart of Jesus through the Holy Spirit. Salvation is a process, the soul is a garden that must be cultivated. Take up the cross DAILY! Work out your salvation with fear and trembling.

The Sacraments, devotions, fasts and feasts of the Church help the Catholic do just that. They were inspired by the Holy Spirit but are useless ritual if not practiced in Spirit and in Truth.

I would attribute these factors as the strength of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. We know it is a work of the Holy Spirit to strengthen the Church, and in fourty years He has done just that--CONSISTENTLY. Sometimes slower than we want, but it's all in God's time. No hot/cold roller coaster, just a gradual warming as God's Fire spreads throughout the Church.

The Prince of the Apostles, our first Pope, explained it this way:

Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.

For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. (2 Peter 1:2-9)

14 January 2008

Sinning Against the Faith

It's important to know what you believe. It is equally important that we teach what we know. Christians and churches have often been lazy when it comes to learning and teaching. How can we be obedient to the faith if we don't know or understand it? I am grateful for the commission of Vatican 2 and Pope John Paul the Great to evangelize and catechize.

With that in mind, here's a tidbit from the Catechism of the Catholic Church (#2087-2089):

Our moral life has its source in faith in God who reveals his love to us. St. Paul speaks of the "obedience of faith" (Rom 1:5; 16:26) as our first obligation. He shows that "ignorance of God" is the principle and explanation of all moral deviations. (Rom 1:18-32) Our duty toward God is to believe in him and to bear witness to him.

The first commandment requires us to nourish and protect our faith with prudence and vigilance, and to reject everything that is opposed to it. There are various ways of sinning against faith:

Voluntary doubt about the faith disregards or refuses to hold as true what God has revealed and the Church proposes for belief. Involuntary doubt refers to hesitation in believing, difficulty in overcoming objections connected with the faith, or also anxiety aroused by its obscurity. If deliberately cultivated doubt can lead to spiritual blindness.
Incredulity is the neglect of revealed truth or the willful refusal to assent to it.
Heresy is the obstinate post-baptismal denial of some truth which must be believed with divine and catholic faith, or it is likewise an obstinate doubt concerning the same;
Apostasy is the total repudiation of the Christian faith;
Schism is the refusal of submission to the Roman Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him.

13 January 2008

The House of His Glory

Let the minds of the faithful rejoice, that throughout the world One God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, is praised by the confession of all tongues, and that that sign of His Presence, which appeared in the likeness of fire, is still perpetuated in His work and gift. For the Spirit of Truth Himself makes the house of His glory shine with the brightness of His light, and will have nothing dark nor lukewarm in His temple.
~St. Leo the Great, Sermon 75

12 January 2008

Sola Scriptura

I've been enjoying the materials provided by the Bible Christian Society and John Martignoni in Alabama. They offer free CD's & Tapes (a small fee for postage) but even better free mp3 downloads and study guides in Word or text format. Be sure to check it out. Here is a sample of one study outline (listen to the mp3 lecture to get the commentary by Mr. Martignoni):

Is Sola Scriptura scriptural?

Protestant Response: Yes.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work."

John 20:31 "but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name."

Catholic Response: No.

1 Timothy 3:15 "I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
(The Church, not the Bible only, is the pillar and ground of truth.)

2 Timothy 3:15 "from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus."
(The "Holy Scriptures" are the books of the Old Testament. No New Testament existed when St. Timothy was a boy.)

John 20:30 "And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book;"

Sacred Tradition is Scriptural

2 Thessalonians 2:15 "Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle."

2 Timothy 2:2 "And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also."

1 Corinthians 11:2 "keep the traditions just as I delivered them to you."

1 Thessalonians 2:13 "For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe."

Acts 2:42 "And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers." (But it doesn't mention that they read the Epistles, or the Gospels. Why? Because they weren't written yet.)

Where did the Bible Come from?
The Catholic Church!
Council of Rome 382 A.D.— Canon approved by Pope
Council of Hippo 393 A.D.— Canon of Scripture was ratified.
Council of Carthage 397 A.D.— Canon of Scripture was ratified.

According to a saying of the Fathers, Sacred Scripture is written principally in the Church's heart rather than in documents and records, for the Church carries in her tradition the living memorial of God's Word, and it is the Holy Spirit who gives her the spiritual interpretation of the Scripture. (Catechism of the Catholic Church #113)

The Authority of the Church

Principle #1: Jesus founded one Church.

Matthew 16:18 "And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it."

Principle #2: The Church is authoritative.

1 Timothy 3:15 "I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."

Matthew 18:15-17 "And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector."

Principle #3: The Church is called to show a visible unity.

John 17:11 "Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are."

John 10:16 "And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd."

Ephesians 4:4-5 "There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism;"

John 17:21 "that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me."

John 17:23 "I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me."

Principle #4: The authority of the Church is Apostolic.

Matthew 28:18-19 "And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, 'All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,'"

John 20:21 "So Jesus said to them again, 'Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.'"

Luke 10:16 "He who hears you hears Me, he who rejects you rejects Me, and he who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me."

Acts 1:15-26 (Matthias was chosen by the Apostles cooperating with the Holy Spirit to take the place of Judas)

1 Timothy 1:3 "As I urged you when I went into Macedonia--remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine,"

1 Timothy 4:11-13 "These things command and teach. Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine."

1 Timothy 5:22 "Do not lay hands on anyone hastily, nor share in other people's sins; keep yourself pure."

2 Timothy 1:13-14 "Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us."

2 Timothy 2:2 "And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also."

Titus 1:5-7 "For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you..."

Martin Luther & the Bible

Martin Luther removed 7 books from the Old Testament: Sirach, Tobit, Wisdom, 1 & 2 Maccabees, Baruch & Judith. (Consider Revelation 22:18-19)

Did the Catholic Church Burn Bibles?
Yes! Bibles that were published with errors were burned by Catholics and Protestants alike.
For instance the “Murderer's Bible” where Mark 7:27 says “Let t he children be killed first” when it should say "filled".

Did the Catholic Church Chain Bibles?
Yes! In earlier centuries each Bible was copied by hand and therefore cost large sums of money. Bibles were chained so that they would not be stolen from the Church and would therefore, be available for ALL to read, not just the rich.

1. Not all Christian Beliefs are found directly in Scripture. Example: “Trinity” is not in Scripture

2. The Bible is NOT the sole rule of Faith. Example: 1 Timothy 3:15

Remember: The Bible is a Catholic book. There is not a single article of the Catholic faith that is opposed to anything in the Bible!

The Bible Christian Society
Copyright 2000, John Martignoni

11 January 2008

Work together with the Spirit

In the work of teaching and applying Christian morality, the Church needs the dedication of pastors, the knowledge of theologians, and the contribution of all Christians and men of good will. Faith and the practice of the Gospel provide each person with an experience of life "in Christ," who enlightens him and makes him able to evaluate the divine and human realities according to the Spirit of God. Thus the Holy Spirit can use the humblest to enlighten the learned and those in the highest positions.
(Catechism of the Catholic Church #2038)
What are you doing to contribute to the work of God? Don't just let those in "the ministry" do it. All people who live in Christ can be used by the Holy Spirit. God's strength is made perfect in weakness (2 Cor. 12:9)

10 January 2008

In Touch with the Holy Ghost

The Holy Ghost
is called by fasting,
is stirred up by prayer,
is invited by vigils,
is moved by silence,
is retained by almsgiving;
contemplation or meditation bring Him,
repentance introduces Him,
continence receives Him,
charity ministers to Him,
peace sweetens His gifts.

~ Petrus Cellensis, Bishop of Chartres (12th c.)

09 January 2008

Build Up & Shut Up

I was reading an article* about the gift of Tongues from Presentation Ministries in Cincinnati, Ohio and came across this:

“One time while praying the rosary, I felt so exhausted I prayed in tongues while the others answered with the second half of the prayers. I didn't know what I was saying, but I experienced an immediate burst of energy. God promised: "He who speaks in a tongue builds up himself" (1 Cor 14:4).”

I’ve read 1 Corinthians 14:4 so many times, but it never hit me that to edify yourself, or build yourself up by praying in tongues is a GOOD thing. It brings refreshment and empowerment to continue in prayer and praise during your personal devotions. Prophecy, on the other hand, does the same thing in a group setting.

“Although praying and singing in tongues is a quantum-leap forward in our praise-power, it is still limited. Finally, our praise in tongues turns to silence (Zeph 1:7; Rv 8:1). We are so aware of God's glory that we are rendered speechless. This type of profound silence after praise in tongues is the ultimate praise of God by a person on earth.”

Sometimes the best way to praise God is to SHUT UP!

As a “worship leader” in my Assembly of God days (was it really 16 years ago?), the Holy Spirit taught me about the power of silence. It seemed that quiet and silence were missing from our Pentecostal worship. We could shout and clap, but some folks seemed afraid of silence. How often do we pray, “Lord, I want to hear your voice,” but never stop to listen for it?

I set out on a quest to find out about Holy Silence, but it wasn’t in any of the Charismatic or Evangelical books on praise and worship (much has changed since then). Then I came across Thomas Merton, Thomas a’ Kempis, Brother Lawrence, and other Catholic writers. I learned to be still and reap the “Fructis Silentium” (Fruit of Silence).

My ten year-old daughter learned of sacred silence when she went on a retreat with the girls from church. Sophia never shuts up, but these young girls were instructed to spend most of their time in silence thinking about what they were learning and listening for the Holy Spirit. Most Catholic retreats are like this. The amazing thing is that these active, giggling pre-teen girls had such a desire for God that they managed to remain silent for the duration of the instructed time.

Try it when you are engaged in a time of intense worship. Stop. Don’t say a word. Just bask in the Glory of God. Rest in the arms of the Father. Soak in the Spirit. Curl up in the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Hide in the wounds of Christ.

He’s not in the whirlwind or the earthquake but in the stillness.

*The whole article can be found HERE

08 January 2008

Good News Magazine Online

Good News Magazine is published by the Catholic Charismatic Renewal in the UK. The January/February 2008 issue is now online, so check it out...

One awesome article discusses the operation of Charisms during the dark ages.
"In the midst of this disorder we have many examples of the Lord moving powerfully among his people, leading them to missionary activity, helping them form strong loving Christian communities, and encouraging and guiding them with signs and wonders. During this era, missionaries began to walk boldly into areas which had been taken over by pagan tribes and brought them back to the Lord. They converted tens of thousands to Christ in North Germany, Scandinavia and Poland where the Gospel had never been preached before. This is the Rome of Pope Gregory the Great, and it is also the era of some remarkable charismatic activity which he recorded."

Another article asks, "what is needed to ensure that the Renewal is truly prophetic and does not become tamed or domesticated?" One of the points made is that, "Renewal has to be concerned with fullness: with all the gifts, all the ministries, all the equipment of the Spirit for building up the whole body. This requires the work of the Holy Spirit in every Christian body."

I highly recommend reading this issue and checking out the archives.

07 January 2008

Are UK Catholic Schools too religious?

"It seems to me that faith education works all right as long as people are not that serious about their faith." ~Barry Sheerman, UK lawmaker

Huh? Isn't that about the stupidest quote you've ever heard? Now for the context...

Barry Sheerman, chairman of the UK's parliamentary cross-party committee on children, schools and families is worried that Catholic schools are too influenced by Church doctrine. What he calls "fundementalist" Bishops are encouraging Catholic schools to put crosses in every classroom, drop "safe sex" in health classes in favor of abstinence, and other "narrow minded" views.

If you don't want your kids to be taught Catholic teachings, then why send them to a Catholic school? Why are Catholic Bishops in the UK being brought in front of a parliamentary committee for questioning?

It's a little more complicated than first glance. Religious schools in the UK get government funding. They are like sub-contractors to the state supported with taxpayer's money. So, if the government doesn't like the way a school is being run or what it teaches, then look out!

For the whole story, go HERE...

But I live in the USA, so who cares? Well, keep this in mind when it comes to the issue of charter schools and vouchers. Will the government control what is taught and how in private schools that get government money? And even if you aren't publicly funded, you still must follow government guidelines.

We homeschool all of our kids (five of eight are currently schools age). In Ohio we had so many hoops to jump through. Fortunately here in Colorado we have so much freedom. They can even take the proficiency test at home. Yet, the local school districts either don't know the laws, or they think we don't know them so they still try to get away with stuff.

06 January 2008

The Catechism on Faith

By His Revelation, "the invisible God, from the fullness of His love, addresses men as His friends, and moves among them, in order to invite and receive them into His own company." The adequate response to this invitation is faith.

By faith, man completely submits his intellect and his will to God. With his whole being man gives his assent to God the revealer. Sacred Scripture calls this human response to God, the author of revelation, "the obedience of faith".

In faith, the human intellect and will cooperate with divine grace: "Believing is an act of the intellect assenting to the divine truth by command of the will moved by God through grace." (St. Thomas Aquinas)

"Faith seeks understanding" (St. Anselm): it is intrinsic to faith that a believer desires to know better the One in whom he has put his faith, and to understand better what He has revealed; a more penetrating knowledge will in turn call forth a greater faith, increasingly set afire by love. The grace of faith opens "the eyes of your hearts"(Eph 1:18) to a lively understanding of the contents of Revelation: that is, of the totality of God's plan and the mysteries of faith, of their connection with each other and with Christ, the center of the revealed mystery. "The same Holy Spirit constantly perfects faith by His gifts, so that Revelation may be more and more profoundly understood." In the words of St. Augustine, "I believe, in order to understand; and I understand, the better to believe."

The disciple of Christ must not only keep the faith and live on it, but also profess it, confidently bear witness to it, and spread it: "All however must be prepared to confess Christ before men and to follow him along the way of the Cross, amidst the persecutions which the Church never lacks." Service of and witness to the faith are necessary for salvation: "So every one who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven; but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven." (mT. 10:32-33)
The Catechism of the Catholic Church is available online...

05 January 2008

Lukewarm or Burning?

Behold, even we who have heard of Your many miracles and teachings are still lukewarm; what would happen if we did not have such light by which to follow you?
~ Thomas A' Kempis, Imitation of Christ

Did you ever stop to think about the teachings and miracles of Christ? Wow! How could someone not want to follow Him. Then ask yourself: does my heart burn for Christ, or am I lukewarm?

I find it even more amazing when people who have witnessed miracles today remain lukewarm. Christ heals you of cancer and you don't use your restored life to serve Him. Why is that?

And they said to one another, "Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?" (Luke 24:32)

04 January 2008

"Real" Christianity

Who is the "real" Christian?

The Lone Wolf: To some it is a de-centralized independent faith where one just needs a "relationship" with Jesus and a Bible to find their way. The flaw? This is where all heresies begin. It makes each Christian their own infallible pope.

The Activist:
To others it is a life of community action and social justice. The Christian life is seen as one of service to the sick, the poor, and the exploited. The flaw? Good works are the result of our faith, not the basis of our salvation. Christians should be involved, but social action alone does not make one a "real" Christian.

The Mystic: "Working out your salvation" is another idea. A life spent in contemplation and prayer, reading Scriptures and seeking after God. This person can be found at a prayer meeting but rarely helping out at the soup kitchen.

The Holy Roller: Signs and wonders follow this person everywhere. Car won't start? Lay hands on the hood and rebuke Satan. Shando! Move out of the way mountain! Without sound doctrine and accountability it is easy to be deluded and deceived. Miracles do not validate doctrine.

The Apologist: Then there is the intellectual who can defend the faith and eloquently explain the Scriptures. Just knowing about the space shuttle and the history of the space program doesn't make you an astronaut. The head and the heart must be in synch.

Un Cœur simple: Finally, there's the Christian who just lives their life loving Jesus, reading a daily devotional, praying, and going to Church. This is the simple soul who is satisfied with their life in Christ the way it is. They never long for anything more than what they have. Some might call them lukewarm. I've met hundreds of these Christians and they're probably the most common type.

So what is a "Real" Christian? That's not for me to judge. It probably involves a little mix of everything mentioned above. I've met many with an authentic faith from all the categories. What I do know from Scripture and History is that those who became disciples of Jesus recognized Him as the Son of God, they were baptized into Christ, they followed the Apostolic teaching, they gave what they had to help the less fortunate, and they met frequently for Holy Communion and prayer. The Body of Christ was made up of many different parts, each with its own purpose and personality.

As much as I hate to admit it, not even being in the true Church made someone a real Christian. But, on the flip side, there were no real Christians outside the Church. With just three legs a stool is made stable: the Bible, the Church Doctrine, and the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit wasn't just given to individuals at Pentecost, He filled the new nation called by the Name of Christ.

03 January 2008

Most Holy Name of Jesus

Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phil. 2:9-11 NKJV)

One of the many things I love about being Catholic are the feast days. I love celebrating the holy men and women of history and the events in the life of Jesus and Mary. There's even a feast devoted to the Most Holy Name of Jesus (January 3). In honor of the Name above all names, here is the Litany of the Most Holy Name of Jesus:

Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
Jesus, hear us.
Jesus, graciously hear us.
God the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God, the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God, have mercy on us.
Jesus, Son of the living God, have mercy on us.
Jesus, Splendor of the Father, have mercy on us.
Jesus, Brightness of eternal Light, have mercy on us.
Jesus, King of Glory, have mercy on us.
Jesus, Sun of Justice, have mercy on us.
Jesus, Son of the Virgin Mary, have mercy on us.
Jesus, most amiable, have mercy on us.
Jesus, most admirable, have mercy on us.
Jesus, the mighty God, have mercy on us.
Jesus, Father of the world to come, have mercy on us.
Jesus, Angel of Great Council, have mercy on us.
Jesus, most powerful, have mercy on us.
Jesus, most patient, have mercy on us.
Jesus, most obedient, have mercy on us.
Jesus, meek and humble of heart, have mercy on us.
Jesus, Lover of Chastity, have mercy on us.
Jesus, our Lover, have mercy on us.
Jesus, God of Peace, have mercy on us.
Jesus, Author of Life, have mercy on us.
Jesus, Model of Virtue, have mercy on us.
Jesus, zealous for souls, have mercy on us.
Jesus, our God, have mercy on us.
Jesus, our Refuge, have mercy on us.
Jesus, Father of the Poor, have mercy on us.
Jesus, Treasure of the Faithful, have mercy on us.
Jesus, good Shepherd, have mercy on us.
Jesus, true Light, have mercy on us.
Jesus, eternal Wisdom, have mercy on us.
Jesus, infinite Goodness, have mercy on us.
Jesus, our Way and our Life, have mercy on us.
Jesus, joy of the Angels, have mercy on us.
Jesus, King of the Patriarchs, have mercy on us.
Jesus, Master of the Apostles, have mercy on us.
Jesus, Teacher of the Evangelists, have mercy on us.
Jesus, Strength of Martyrs, have mercy on us.
Jesus, Light of Confessors, have mercy on us.
Jesus, Purity of Virgins, have mercy on us.
Jesus, Crown of all Saints, have mercy on us.
Be merciful, spare us O Jesus.
Be merciful, graciously hear us, O Jesus.
From all evil, deliver us, O Jesus.
From all sin, deliver us, O Jesus.
From Thy wrath, deliver us, O Jesus.
From the snares of the devil, deliver us, O Jesus.
From the spirit of fornication, deliver us, O Jesus.
From everlasting death, deliver us, O Jesus.
From the neglect of Thy inspirations, deliver us, O Jesus.
Through the mystery of Thy holy Incarnation, deliver us, O Jesus.
Through Thy Nativity, deliver us, O Jesus.
Through Thy Infancy, deliver us, O Jesus.
Through Thy most divine Life, deliver us, O Jesus.
Through Thy Labors, deliver us, O Jesus.
Through Thy Agony and Passion, deliver us, O Jesus.
Through Thy Cross and Dereliction, deliver us, O Jesus.
Through Thy Sufferings, deliver us, O Jesus.
Through Thy Death and Burial, deliver us, O Jesus.
Through Thy Resurrection, deliver us, O Jesus.
Through Thy Ascension, deliver us, O Jesus.
Through Thy Institution of the Most Holy Eucharist, deliver us, O Jesus.
Through Thy Joys, deliver us, O Jesus.
Through Thy Glory, deliver us, O Jesus.
Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world, spare us, O Jesus.
Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world, graciously hear us, O Jesus.
Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world, have mercy on us, O Jesus.
Jesus hear us.
Jesus, graciously hear us.
Let us pray: O Lord Jesus Christ, Thou hast said, "Ask and you shall receive; seek and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you"; mercifully attend to our supplications, and grant us the grace of Thy most divine love, that we may love Thee with all our hearts, and in all our words and actions, and never cease to praise Thee. Make us, O Lord, to have a perpetual fear and love of Thy holy name, for Thou never failest to govern those who Thou dost solidly establish in Thy love. Amen.

“Glorious name, gracious name, name of love and of power! Through you sins are forgiven, through you enemies are vanquished, through you the sick are freed from their illness, through you those suffering in trials are made strong and cheerful. You bring honor to those who believe, you teach those who preach, you give strength to the toiler, you sustain the weary” ~St. Bernardine of Siena

02 January 2008

Basil again, and his friend Gregory Nazianzen

January 1 was the feast of St. Basil the Great on the Eastern calendar, but January 2 is his feast on the Western. He shares the day with his school buddy Gregory Nazianzen. Since I talked about St. Basil yesterday, I'll give you something St. Gregory said regarding the Holy Spirit:
This Spirit, for He is most wise and most loving, if He takes possession of a shepherd makes him a Psalmist, subduing evil spirits by his song, and proclaims him King; if he possess a goatherd and scraper of sycamore fruit, He makes him a Prophet. Call to mind David and Amos. If He possess a goodly youth, He makes him a Judge of Elders, even beyond his years, as Daniel testifies, who conquered the lions in their den. If He takes possession of Fishermen, He makes them catch the whole world in the nets of Christ, taking them up in the meshes of the Word. Look at Peter and Andrew and the Sons of Thunder, thundering the things of the Spirit. If of Publicans, He makes gain of them for discipleship, and makes them merchants of souls; witness Matthew, yesterday a Publican, today an Evangelist. If of zealous persecutors, He changes the current of their zeal, and makes them Pauls instead of Sauls, and as full of piety as He found them of wickedness. (Oration on Pentecost)

01 January 2008

Happy New Year, etc.

Father, Source of light in every age, the virgin conceived and bore Your Son who is called Wonderful God, Prince of Peace. May her prayer, the gift of a mother's love, be Your people's joy through all ages. May her response, born of a humble heart, draw Your Spirit to rest on Your people. Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

January 1 in the Western Rite of the Catholic Church is the Solemnity of Mary. This is the oldest Marian feast and celebrates her title of "Theotokos" (God-bearer) or "Mother of God". The Byzantine Rite celebrated this feast the day after Christmas. Today we don't just celebrate the existence of a Biblical character named Mary who happened to be the mother of Jesus--we celebrate Mary who made it possible for us to be children of God.

In the Byzantine Rite (and the Anglican Church), January 1 is the Circumsion of Christ. As per Jewish custom Our Lord became a child of the Covenant through this outward sign. This would be the first time Jesus spilled His blood. In addition it was His official naming.

Almighty God, who made thy blessed Son to be circumcised and obedient to the law for man; Grant us the true circumcision of the Spirit; that, our hearts and all our members being mortified from all worldly and carnal lusts, we may in all things obey Thy holy will; through the same Thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen (Collect for the Feast)

Saint Basil the Great is commemorated on January 1 too. He and his five siblings all became priests, nuns, and bishops in the fourth century; all became saints along with their parents. He established a monastic rule and formulated the Divine Liturgy used on 42 Sundays in the Byzantine Rite.

Working of miracles and gifts of healing are through the Holy Spirit. Demons were driven out by the Spirit of God. The devil was brought to naught by the presence of the Spirit. (St. Basil, De Spiritu Sancto 19:49)

As the art is potentially in the artist, but only in operation when he is working in accordance with it, so also the Spirit is ever present with those that are worthy, but works, as need requires, in prophecies, or in healings, or in some other actual carrying into effect of His potential action. (DSS 26:61)