Sunday, April 12, 2015

Faulty Anti-Catholic List


In searching for information to explain Catholicism to non-Catholic Christians, I came across a ridiculous webpage that tried to equate Mormonism to Catholicism. The absurd claim that Mormonism and Catholicism are equally bad or evil or not Christian is on the rise again. The author made a list of supposed points of similarity between "Mormonism" and "Roman Catholicism." While I cannot speak to the veracity of the Mormon list, I can sift through the truths, half-truths, and innuendo on the Catholic list. The anti-Catholic's statements are in italics.

The Good Shepherd and His Sheep (the Church) #
Claims itself to uniquely be "the Church."

While the Catholic Church does claim to be "the Church," this is "claim" is well founded.  It can be traced back from the present time to Jesus Christ Himself. He is the one who wished His followers to be one in Him, just as He said, "Holy Father, keep in thy name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one even as we are" (John 17: 11). During the first couple of centuries of the Church, Christians followed the teachings of the Apostles and their disciples, and those appointed by them.  For the most part communities of Christians did not meet in the open, lest they suffer persecution or death.  St. Ignatius is the one who first called the Christian Church Catholic.  Catholic means universal.  Since that time the name has stuck.  The early Church  was one and called Catholic.  That is why we "claim" to be "the Church." Our history and heritage indicate that we are descended from the original Church founded by Christ. This is not the same claim as the Mormon Church; their claim is founded on a very different foundation, a man other than Christ and a book outside the bible, more than eighteen centuries after Christ.

Christ and Sheep (Priest and Laity) #
Claims a unique and authoritative priesthood, thereby denying the priesthood of all Christians.

Yes, the Church does claim a unique and authoritative priesthood, but she does not deny the priesthood of all believers.  These are two priesthoods are not mutually exclusive.  The priest in the Church brings us Christ in person; he consecrates the Holy Eucharist. He takes care of the day to day running of the church, and is the earthy shepherd of Christ's flock. The layman has a share in Christ's priesthood by virtue of being the "Body of Christ." We are there at the altar. We bring our children and other to Christ. We participate in the Mass and consume communion in "remembrance of Him".

Accepts multiple Satanic visions as being from God.

I am not sure what the author meant here.  Is he saying that all visions are "Satanic"? Is he saying all ("multiple") visions that are Catholic are therefore "Satanic"?  Because I am 100% certain that the Church does not accept any "Satanic visions as being from God." Visions accepted by Church authority are not satanic. Accepted visions tell us something about God, or how we can head off tragedies through prayer, or how to bring certain communities to Christ. Not a single vision accepted as worthy of belief by Church authority honors or glorifies Satan, and no accepted vision is contrary to the Gospel. But let us get one thing straight and out there--ALL visions are considered by the Church to be private revelation. Visions are not doctrine. Many visions may have changed our view of some doctrines, but none have changed the central doctrines of the Church.

Undermines the power of Jesus' blood by its view of personal suffering for the expiation of sins.

This statement shows a complete lack of understanding of the Church's teaching on suffering.  The Church never undermines the "power of Jesus' blood." The only thing of equal value is Christ's Resurrection.  Suffering on the other hand has value in helping us make up for sins. We caused Christ to suffer for our sins. Our sufferings help us take a tiny sliver of that suffering on ourselves. Suffering makes us closer to Christ and helps us understand His suffering. Our suffering neither replaces His suffering nor does it expiate sin on its own. We do not, despite silly men like this author would have people believe, advocate our own suffering as a replacement of Christ's suffering.


The Annunciation #
Sings praise songs about Mary.

I'm not really sure why this is a bad thing but what the author fails to understand that songs and music in church are appropriate for the season.  My point being that songs in praise of Mary are sung only a few days during the entire year.  That doesn't mean the songs in worship of God, Christ, or other Christian doctrines aren't also sung and are sung exclusively at the vast majority of other Masses during the year.  I fail to see the offense in this now, though I could have at one time. The thing is that Catholics honor Christ's mother for her part in salvation history. It is not any different than singing about Noah's Arky or the B-i-b-l-e.  If it is wrong to sing about the Mother of the Son of God, it would be wrong to sing about the Bible or David or Noah also.

Has strange doctrines regarding marriage (celibacy still practiced among its clergy).

The author fails to connect the twoThe vow of celibacy for the majority of Catholic priests (there actually are married priests in at least one Eastern rite in the Catholic Church) has very little to do with the doctrines regarding marriage.  Since these celibate priests don't marry, their unmarried state has nothing to do with marriage doctrines.  Marriage doctrines have been developed from Christ's blessing on marriage.  It is a Sacrament of the Church, instituted by Christ. Holy Orders (priesthood) is a completely separate Sacrament. Celibacy is a discipline developed over time for the benefit of both the Church and the priest. Christ was not married and could devote his whole life to teaching, preaching, and taking care of others. That is the priest's whole life as well--teaching, preaching, and taking care of others. Many are the times I've seen preachers kids (any one seen a show to this affect?) growing up to become absolutely awful people. Their dad was not around; there are certain expectations of a minister and they always come before his own family.

Diego Valazquez, Queen of Heaven @
Although both Sacraments involve solemn vows before God, they are separate doctrines and neither cancel each other out nor replace each other. They are both important to the Church. Both provide life to the Church.

Believes in the mother of God (who is the sinless queen of Heaven).

Of course, we "believe" in the mother of God.  She exists; we believe in her. Mary is the mother of Jesus Christ, God the Son. If her Son is God, she is His mother.  Christ is universally regarded as the King of Heaven and Earth.  His mother, therefore, would be queen mother.  We call her queen just as Bathsheba was the queen in Solomon's court. She IS sinless; she's in Heaven. Even protestants believe that people can no longer sin in Heaven. It is as simple as that.

Christ gave St. Peter charge of His Church #
Claims the head of their group speaks infallibly at times.

The "head of [our] group" is the pope. He is the vicar (ambassador) of Christ. He is like the viceroy, the representative of the king, in the old testament.  The viceroy was given the keys of the kingdom as a symbol of his authority; his authority was second only to the king. In the same way, the pope (papa) is the king's (Jesus') second in command. Yes, we claim that he "speaks infallibly at times." Not only are these "times" extremely rare, but they have happened. The conditions for infallibility are that the pope is speaking on a matter of doctrine, it is a matter for the whole church, and the he speaks of it from the authority of the See of Peter. One such infallible statement is contained in the document Ineffabilis Deus (The Immaculate Conception) issued by Pope Pius IX in 1854.  The infallible statement's prologue begins,
"Accordingly, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, for the honor of the Holy and undivided Trinity, for the glory and adornment of the Virgin Mother of God, for the exaltation of the Catholic Faith, and for the furtherance of the Catholic religion, by the authority of Jesus Christ our Lord, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own:"
The actual infallible statement is this part:
"We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful."
It seems not matter how many times you explain this, however, there are people out there who either don't want to listen or wish to remain ignorant of the facts.

Rev. 5:8 "...the prayers of the people" @
Redefines "saint" to mean a physically dead Catholic who was afterwords "canonized," instead of a Bible-defined child of God.

The Church has not "redefined" the word saint.  Saint means what it always has: someone holy. Whether alive or dead--a saint is a saint.  This is not only quite biblical but traditional. Canonization is only a declaration that the Church believes that person to be in Heaven and to be a saint. A person whose life and example is such an example of holiness that it is necessary to add them to the list (canon) of people we know to be in Heaven. Now are there others in Heaven that are not canonized (listed) by the Church? Of course. We don't know the names of everyone in Heaven, only God knows that, but we can be sure certain people are there. The Church does not deny that their are other, unnamed saints in Heaven which is why there is a celebration of All Souls' Day the day after All Saints' Day. All Souls' Day is for all the dead in Christ.

"Accepts and spreads "another gospel" (Gal 1:8.9)--good works, the sacraments, Mary and church membership.

There is only one Gospel ("Good News") and that is that Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, was sent by God out of extreme, divine love for us to die for our sins and that if we believe in Him and follow in His footsteps, we will be in Heaven with Him someday. The Gospel taught by Jesus and His Apostles is the only one the Church preaches. The other things listed are not the "gospel."

Good works are how we show God, ourselves, and the world that we believe in and follow Christ's example. "Faith without works is dead."

Seven Sacraments of Christ @
The Sacraments are visible signs of invisible grace. All of them, each and every one of them was instituted by Christ.

Baptism: Matthew 3:16; Matthew 28:19; Mark 1:8; Mark 16:16; John 3:5; Acts 1:4-5; Acts 2:38; Acts 8:16; Acts 8:36-38; Acts 11:16; Acts 16:15; Acts 16:33; Acts 18:8; Acts 19:3-6; Acts 22:16; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Cor. 12:13; Eph. 5:25-26; Col. 2:12; 1 Peter 3:20-21, and many others.

Confirmation: In Acts 19:3-6, especially, it is clear that John's baptism, Christian baptism and Confirmation are all distinct realities. Also, in Hebrews 6:2 baptizing and laying on of hands are distinguished. Isaiah 44:3; Ezekiel 39:29; Joel 2:28; John 14:16; Acts 2:4; Acts 8:14-17; Acts 19:3-6; Hebrews 6:2.

 Confession: Matthew 16:19; John 20:21-23; Rev. 1:18.

Eucharist: Matthew 26:26-29; Luke 24:35; Acts 2:42; 1 Cor. 11:24-27

Marriage:  Mt. 19:10-11; Eph. 5:31-32.

Holy Orders, Acts 6:3-6; Acts 13:2-3; 1 Tim. 3:1; 1 Tim. 3:8-9; 1 Tim. 4:14; 1 Tim. 4:16; 1 Tim. 5:17-19; 1 Tim. 5:22.

anointing of the sick. James  5:14-15.

Mary is Christ's mother and honored as such. Do some Catholics go overboard in their expression of devotion to Mary? Of course some do. But one can say something similar about others claiming to be Christians.  I watched a Protestant service on tv once in which they chanted a saying about the Bible and their devotion to it. I'd say that was just as idolatrous as anything they have accused Catholics of doing.

I'm not sure what church membership has to do with "another gospel." As I've said, the Church has always preached one and the same Gospel for the last two millenia. Belonging to Christ's Church is extremely important. We are after all the Body of Christ. It is the belief of several Church theologians and reiterated by the Vatican II Council that Protestants do peripherally belong to the same church.

Prophetic Basis for the Claims of Jesus as Son of God #
Professes itself as Christian; Jesus as God, Savior, Lord and Son of God; Jesus' atoning death and resurrection.

To this "accusation", I would say we could plead guilty. But, I am extremely confused on this one. In my 36 years as a Protestant (Regular Baptist to be precise), I believed in every one of these things, also. The Baptists I know profess themselves as Christian.  They profess Jesus as God, Savior, Lord and Son of God. They profess Jesus' atoning death and resurrection. It makes me wonder at the truth of the author's claim to be a Christian.  What is his definition of Christian? Some of the anti-Catholic rhetoric I've seen lately leads me to wonder what the current definition of Christian could actually be.

Doctrines are sending hundreds of millions to Hell and they need to be openly refuted with Scripture.

This is not so much an accusation as an opinion, an erroneous opinion, but an opinion nonetheless. Since every one of the doctrines of the Church can be "openly" supported with Scripture, refuting Catholics with Scripture would be a pointless endeavor. Catholics are the original evangelicals. No other Christian Church would exist without her.

Teaches and practices bowing before and kissing statues.

"Teaches and practices"? I understand the author has a negative agenda here but the reality is not quite what he implies here. We honor our (God's) family members by having pictures and statues around us, just as people have pictures of their family members (alive and dead) around their house. I am not aware of anyone "teaching" people to kiss a statue. True, some people do but that is out of the love a person has for that family member. Bowing is done as a way to honor our loved ones; kissing is something done out of personal feeling. The only thing I've ever actually seen "taught" about kissing is kissing a crucifix or Cross on the feast of Corpus Cristi or on Good Friday. This is a way for us to kiss Christ and honor His sacrifice for us.

"This is My Body..." @
WORSHIPS the consecrated communion wafer as God.

He is close on this one. We do worship God in the Eucharist. Remember He said, "THIS IS MY BODY". We believe His words. So, if that is His Body, as He plainly said in so, so many places in Scripture, we can worship the actual Christ. However, when we kneel to the Eucharist (or "consecrated communion wafer") we are kneeling before Christ, not a piece of bread or an idol.  We worship Christ, period.

Claims Mary is their life, sweetness, hope, and most gracious advocate (as revealed in the Rosary).

And? Mary is not only the example but is everything we hope for and hope to be. She is alive in Christ. She was not only a sweet person but shares in the sweetness of Heaven. She lives the hope of Salvation with her Savior, just as we hope to do someday.

She is a gracious advocate. This takes nothing away from Christ. If you pray for a friend, you are their advocate. If your pastor, minister, priest prays for you, they are your advocate. Mary prays for us, children of God, she is our advocate.

Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal-dispensing graces @
Claims Mary was raised bodily into Heaven.

Yes, we do claim that. There is biblical precedent both for such a thing. Elijah was taken into Heaven on a chariot; Mary was carried by angels. It is not only entirely plausible from a pragmatic view of Scripture but also probable.  I'd like to ask the author of this statement and any others who despise our belief that St. Mary received this honor, "why wouldn't He?" Why wouldn't Jesus Christ want His mother not to suffer the indignity of the corruption of the grave? Why wouldn't He wanted to honor the mother that He loves and cherishes? Why wouldn't He use His power as God to honor the woman who bore Him, God, in her womb? To me is it silly not to believe He would do that for her.


Claims they get to Jesus by first going to Mary.

Actually the Church claims that we can go to Mary first not that we have to go to Mary first.  The difference is subtle but very important. Why would you go to your minister about Jesus? You say you don't need to go to anyone "first." We don't have to go through Mary. It is just that we can. Have you never, ever been ashamed of your actions, you know you must apologize, but were too ashamed? What if you could explain yourself to some one kind and gentle and loving? Then she could go the king for you and explain. Yes, He already knows what you've done, and, yes, you could go directly to Him. But, there is another avenue available to us--His mother. His mother is gentle and kind and loving and will listen to us.

#Pictures with this symbol are from the book online My Catholic Faith: A Manual of Religion by the Most Reverend Louis Laravoire Morrow, STD. Kenosha, New York, 1949. http://www.catholicbook.com/AgredaCD/MyCatholicFaith/MyCatholicFaith.htm
@Public Domain
****
Anti-Catholics such as the author of this list have been taught so much prejudicial nonsense that they cannot see past it. If they would actually listen to what the Church teaches and not what they've been carefully taught over the years, all Christianity might actually have a chance of putting up a unified front against the snares of the evil one. We, Catholics, are Christians. We do love Christ and follow His teaching. We do love other Christians and pray for them to go to Heaven. We also pray that the blinders of prejudice should come off and that they might see the truth in the real Gospel message.

Tea Party

One of my favorite shows is "Bones" on Fox. However, the writers are very anti-Catholic specifically and anti-Christian in general. The main character, Dr. Brennan ("Bones") is an atheistic scientist and believes anything her now husband, FBI agent Seeley Booth, a Catholic, is silly. In the latest episode of Bones, she says her husband's belief in transubstantiation is equivalent to her daughter feeding cake to her stuffed rabbit. Booth does not engage in discussion about it, as the phone rings. That is how they always leave these kinds of discussions on the show. No rebuttal, no explanation. The writers have an agenda and are obviously not interested in presenting truth.

I remember a previous episode in which Booth and Brennan were in trouble and Booth wanted their daughter baptized. He finally convinced Brennan to allow him to have her "christened"--a word not used for Catholic baptism--to make him feel better. She believed it only made the baby wet. They show a scene with a priest, Booth, and Brennan's father at a baptismal font. Brennan shows up at the last minute, not because she believes in Baptism now but that it may be the last time she sees her husband for quite some time. At this point she runs away with the baby for several months.

Number one, baptism is a very serious matter in the Catholic Church. It is not normally done frivolously. I say, not normally, because their are priests that are much more liberal about the Sacraments. Baptism is a sacrament that gives God's life of grace to the soul. It washes away Original Sin.

Number two, most parishes of which I am aware, require parents and godparents to attend either a class on the Sacrament or counseling with the priest or deacon who will be doing the baptism. The Church does not take this lightly.

Number three, "godparent" is not an honorary title in the Church. Godparents are supposed to be the adults designated to see that the child is brought up in the faith if something happens to the parents. In that scene on the show, there were no godparents present. There must be at least one at a Catholic Baptism.  

My point is that the writers don't even try to make an effort to understand Catholic beliefs. It seems as if that the assigning of the Catholic faith to one character on the show was for the sole purpose of making fun of the Church and a person's faith in Christianity. They have a Muslim character, but treat his faith, when they treat it, with respect."Bones"doesn't make fun of the mythology and falsity of his religion ever. In point of fact, his Arabic poetry was praised on the show.

This is now our culture. Where we aren't allowed to say that English should be our national language. Just because every other immigrant who came here had to learn English, doesn't mean we should hurt illegals' feelings by requiring them to learn it. We aren't allowed to refuse service to immoral people, because they are now a protected class. We aren't allowed to state that Islam is certainly not a religion of peace but one founded on violence. But, it is okay to make fun of Christians. It is okay to twist, lie about, and make fun of Catholics' beliefs. It is open season on Christians in other countries but we don't say or do anything about it.  Why is that?

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Good Bye, Son

St. Peter, Piers' Patron
(Monday, the 9th) I have spent most of the day not thinking.  I did many last minute errands for my son, not thinking about it.  I talked to my mother on the phone about nothing, not thinking about it.  I thought about all the things I was upset about, or stressed about, or wanted to do that I couldn't right now, not thinking about it.

I am sitting here eating chocolate chip cookies and drinking milk and it is finally hitting me. My son, Piers, is gone.  Tomorrow, he'll be in San Antonio, Texas, Lackland Air Force Base to be specific.  My son aspires to be an Air Force Para rescue airman. I know he can do well.  I know his guardian angel and his patron saint (St. Peter himself) and his confirmation saint (St. Ignatius) will be around him and protect him.  I'll be praying a Rosary everyday of basic training for his well being.

St. Ignatius, his confirmation Patron
I think about that tiny red-headed baby.  That baby was early.  His skin was a little yellow, so we had to lay him in the sun. We put a mattress in our living room, within the semi-circle of the bay windows/doors.  He would roll around, coo, and nap on that mattress.  Soon, his pale skin became rosy and beautiful.  He was one of the most beautiful babies in the world.  His only equal: his 20 month old brother with the milk chocolate hair and huge black eyes (they were actually brown but so dark they almost looked black). The two boys were fast friends. His older brother tried to share his favorite snack: Cracklin' Oat Bran. Yes, I fished that out of the baby's mouth real quick.

St. Walburga, mom's patroness

Those two were thick as thieves after that.  Piers taught his older brother how to fill those terrible empty spaces on the walls with crayon modern art.  He also showed him how the crayons fit in the VCR and the grate under the fire place.  Unfortunately, he also tested his poor brother's patience. Only parents of a biter understand what I mean when I say, he was a biter.  There is no sound like the blood curdling scream of a toddler being bitten in the middle of his back by his baby brother.  I knew that pain.  There was many an occasion that my baby son bit me during feeding.  It always came as a surprise, and always painful.  He'd wait until I was lulled into a false sense of security and wham! he'd bite me again.  Unfortunately, he bit his older brother quite a few times, but his brother never bit him back or hit him in revenge.

(written the morning he left March 10th) As he grew, his bubbly, fun, friendly personality came through.  Oh, yes, he did have the "red head temper" but it was usually a flash and then gone.  He was a respectful and fun kid. The homeschool family that we lived near lost out. He so, so much desired to be the friend of their daughter of the same age.  At 7, 8, 9, he wanted friends besides his brothers and sister.  How do you explain other people's eccentricities about with whom their children will play and study.  You can't explain to an 8 year olds other family's snobbery or rejection. I've been hurt so many times by other homeschooling moms that I am used to feeling and being alone, but it is not easy to explain to a sweet, caring, fun-loving kid that the "friend" is not rejecting you, it is the mom that is the problem.

Immaculate Conception, Patroness of America
He thrived socially in his one year of Catholic school.  He was happy to be in with the other kids.  He did well in school, but his brothers (grades 6 and 1) did not.  Not only did it cost too much but the kids education was lacking.  So, we decided to homeschool them again--after all if I'm going to be doing over three hours of homework with the kids, I might as well homeschool them.  Piers did well at home, too, but he longed for adventure.

After stubbornly refusing to send him to the public high school, I gave in in the middle of his sophomore year.  Since he could pass the school's tests (for reasons that were not his fault) except biology (he got credit for passing biology), he actually complete the four years of requirements in the two and a half years at high school.  He was on the wrestling team, in ROTC, CAP, and did well in his classes.  He grew into a caring, loving, considerate, kind adult.

St. Brendan, brother's patron
He graduated high school last year and decided to join the Air Force.  However, he didn't want just any job; he wanted adventure.  He joined the Air Force last Summer for pararescue.  In the meantime he worked at a Boy Scout camp for several weeks and got a job at an adventure park in Oklahoma City.  He really enjoyed being outdoors.  The adventure park had zip lines, rock climbing, and other physical challenges.  It was a perfect fit for him.  Unfortunately, once it got too cold the park closed for the winter.  Now, all he had to do was wait for his Air Force slot.  For reasons I don't want to get into here, he was told that he could not go to pararescue training.  He was deeply hurt and disappointed.  He had looked forward to it for a few months and then found out the Air Force didn't want him in that field. He tried to deal with it.  However, as things go in the military, they changed their policy.  He was in again!  He was so excited and happy!  He worked hard, going to Crossfit every weekday morning at 6am. He built up his muscles and his mind.  He was so delighted that he was willing to get his ducks in a row. He took college classes in the interim and waited for April to come.  He got news of the Air Force policy changing back and a chance they would take his dream away from him again.  His recruiter acted fast and got him in a slot a month earlier--before the rules could be changed again.
St. Florian, brother's confirmation patron

Today, he left.  His father, his sister, his youngest brother, and I spent time with him at the MEPS station--the processing center.  He is at the airport right now awaiting his flight to San Antonio.  He is a man now, but mom can't help remembering the tiny adorable toddler.  My heart hurts, my soul aches, but I put him in the Father's hands.  Your children leaving home is an inevitability, but it is wrenching all the same.  I pray for him to be surrounded by saints and that Christ will strengthen him.

I love you, son.  You are my heart and you are always welcome to call, email, write, fb, visit, stay for a while.  I wish I could keep you young, but I am proud of the man you have become.

St. Michael, patron of the military, pray for him and protect him.

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Immaculate Conception

Have a great Advent.  Don't forget today is a Holy Day of Obligation--The Feast of the Immaculate Conception.  All practicing Catholics should be going to Mass today.  God bless.


Here is a copy of the article I wrote for the Cathapol blog for the series on what Catholics believe: The Immaculate Conception.  I thought it appropriate to publish today.

"We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful."   [Pope Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus (or Apostolic Constitution on the Immaculate Conception)]
While the Immaculate Conception is a Catholic Dogma, most people, Catholic and non-Catholic, have no idea what it means.  For someone who has studied Catholic theology, the above statement is a pretty good description of the dogma.  Mary was given special grace because of her Son.  I really like the way Bishop Venerable Fulton Sheen said:
“Just suppose that you could have pre-existed your own mother, in much the same way that an artist pre-exists his painting....Would you have made her exteriorly and interiorly of such a character as to make you ashamed of her? Or would you have made her, so far as human beauty goes; the most beautiful woman in the world; and so far as beauty of the soul goes, one who would radiate every virtue, every manner of kindness and charity and loveliness; one who by the purity of her life and her mind and her heart would be an inspiration not only to you but even to your fellow men, so that all would look up to her as the very incarnation of what is best in motherhood?

"Now if you who are an imperfect being and who have not the most delicate conception of all that is fine in life would have wished for the loveliest of mothers, do you think that our Blessed Lord, who not only pre-existed His own mother but who had an infinite power to make her just what He chose, would in virtue of all the infinite delicacy of His spirit make her any less pure and loving and beautiful than you would have made your own mother?... Do you think that the Son of God, who hates sin, would have made His own mother sinless and He who hates moral ugliness would have made her immaculately beautiful?"  [Quote from here.  Likely from Venerable Fulton Sheen's book Mary, the Woman the World Loves, the blog does not cite the source]
This is the special gift God gave to Mary.  He created her as the perfect specimen of a woman and mother.  Mary was created as the person He meant Adam and Eve to be, but they disappointed Him.  Mary would be the pride in contrast to His disappointment.

To hopefully make it a little easier to understand here are ten facts on the Immaculate Conception:

1)  The Immaculate Conception refers to the special grace given by God to Mary at her conception.  It does not refer to the Virgin Birth of Jesus Christ.  However, this grace was given to her because of and for her Son, Jesus Christ.

2) The Church does not teach that Mary's Immaculate Conception was necessary to ensure that Original sin would not be passed on to Christ.  This was never a part of the teaching on the Immaculate Conception (despite what some sites on the internet purporting to explain the Immaculate Conception).  The Immaculate Conception was an unmerited gift given to Mary in anticipation of Jesus' redemption of man and God's knowledge of Mary's "yes" to His plan. 

In the Immaculate Conception, therefore, God made a fitting or suitable dwelling place for His Son, Jesus, not out of necessity but out of love.
For it was certainly not fitting that this vessel of election should be wounded by the common injuries, since she, differing so much from the others, had only nature in common with them, not sin.  In fact, it was quite fitting that, as the Only-Begotten has a Father in heaven, whom the Seraphim extol as thrice holy, so he should have a Mother on earth who would never be without the splendor of holiness. (Pope Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus)

3) Gabriel addressed Mary: "Hail, Full of Grace, the Lord is with thee." (Luke 1:28).  She was filled with grace.  In Catholic parlance, this means that Mary was filled up with God's very life.  If she is filled with God's life or the Holy Spirit, there was no room for sin of any kind.

4) Mary's Immaculate Conception does not mean that she was divinely conceived.  St. Anna and St. Joachim are, traditionally, the names of Mary's parents; her conception was a human one.  She was, however, untouched by Original Sin.  Therefore, Mary remained sinless.

5) The Immaculate Conception is symbolic of the Immaculate bride of Christ (His Church) awaiting her Bridegroom.

"...the faithful, living in the liturgy the spirit of Advent, by thinking about the inexpressible love with which the Virgin Mother awaited her Son, are invited to take her as a model and to prepare themselves to meet the Savior who is to come. They must be "vigilant in prayer and joyful in...praise."(15) We would also remark that the Advent liturgy, by linking the awaiting of the Messiah and the awaiting of the glorious return of Christ with the admirable commemoration of His Mother, presents a happy balance in worship. This balance can be taken as a norm for preventing any tendency (as has happened at times in certain forms of popular piety) to separate devotion to the Blessed Virgin from its necessary point of reference-Christ."  [Marialus Cultus, 4]

6) The Immaculate Mary was prefigured by immaculate Eve.  Eve was created immaculate--without Original Sin.  Mary was conceived without sin.  Eve fell from grace and brought sin into the world.  Mary remained "Full of grace" and brought salvation, her Son Jesus Christ, to the world.
"As St. Irenaeus says, "Being obedient she became the cause of salvaton for herself and for the whole human race." Hence not a few of the early Fathers gladly assert..."The knot of Eve's disobedience was untied by Mary's obedience: what the virgin Eve bound through her disbelief, Mary loosened by her faith." Comparing her with Eve, they call Mary "the Mother of the living" and frequently claim: "Death through Eve, life through Mary."  (CCC 494)
So, Mary is called the new Eve and the mother of us all because her Son would be the new Adam and save the world from the sin of Adam.


7) Mary is the Immaculate Ark (and queen) seen in John's vision.  "Then God's temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of His covenant could be seen in the temple." (Revelation 11:19)



The Ark in the Old Testament
The New Ark -- Mary
Immaculate vessel made to God’s specifications (Ex. 25:10-22)
Immaculate vessel conceived to God’s  specifications (Luke 1:28)
Contained the Rod of Aaron (Num. 17:25; Heb. 9:4)
Bore the Rod of Jesse—Jesus (Isa 11:1;
Contained the manna from Heaven (Ex. 16: 32-33; Heb. 9:4)
Bore the manna from heaven (John 6:32, 48-51, 58)
Contained the Ten Commandments made of stone (Ex. 25: 21; Heb. 9:4)
Bore the Law made flesh (John 1:1-5)
Watched over by angels (Ex. 25:18-20)
Watched over by angels (Luke 1:26)
Covered by the Holy Spirit (Ex. 40:34-38;  Num. 9: 18-23)
Overshadowed by the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35)
Used in the battle (Josh. 6:3,4)
Used in the heavenly battle (Rev. 11:19)


8) The original "Immaculate Conception", the Holy Spirit, is her heavenly Spouse.  Joseph became her worldly spouse and protector on earth.
 "Among creatures made in God's image, the union brought about by married love is the most intimate of all. In a much more precise, more interior, more essential manner, the Holy Spirit lives in the soul of the Immaculata, in the depths of her very being." (St. Maximilian Kolbe, Final Sketch, source)
"...the Holy Spirit manifests his share in the work of Redemption through the Immaculate Virgin who, although she is a person entirely distinct from him, is so intimately associated with him that our minds cannot understand it. So, while their union is not of the same order as the hypostatic union linking the human and divine natures in Christ, it remains true to say that Mary's action is the very action of the Holy Spirit. For Mary as the spouse of the Holy Spirit is raised to such a height of perfection above all other creatures that she accomplishes in everything the will of the Holy Spirit who dwelt in her from the first instant of her conception. " (St. Maximilian Kolbe, Final Sketch, source)

9) The most well known Protestant "reformer", Martin Luther, believed in Mary's Immaculate Conception.  Even after he split from the Church and many of her centuries old doctrines, he did not waiver on this one:
"... so that while the soul was being infused, she would at the same time be cleansed from original sin ... And thus, in the very moment in which she began to live, she was without all sin." (Martin Luther's Works, vol 4, pg 694)

"God has formed the soul and body of the Virgin Mary full of the Holy Spirit, so that she is without all sins, " (ibid. vol 52, pg 39)
". . . she is full of grace, proclaimed to be entirely without sin. . . . God's grace fills her with everything good and makes her devoid of all evil. . . . God is with her, meaning that all she did or left undone is divine and the action of God in her. Moreover, God guarded and protected her from all that might be hurtful to her." (Ref: Luther's Works, American edition, vol. 43, p. 40, ed. H. Lehmann, Fortress, 1968)  [Source of quotes here]
10) The Feast of the Immaculate Conception is celebrated on December 8th.  It is a holy day of obligation.  This means that it is the duty of every Catholic to attend Mass on that day.  We remember what Christ did for His mother and how His mother was a willing participant in God's plan of salvation.  In this way, we honor Christ through Mary. 


“Just suppose that you could have pre-existed your own mother, in much the same way that an artist pre-exists his painting. Furthermore, suppose that you had the infinite power to make your mother anything that you pleased, just as a great artist like Raphael has the power of realizing his artistic ideas. Suppose you had this double power, what kind of mother would you have made for yourself? Would you have made her of such a type that would make you blush because of her unwomanly and un-mother-like actions? Would you have made her exteriorly and interiorly of such a character as to make you ashamed of her? Or would you have made her, so far as human beauty goes; the most beautiful woman in the world; and so far as beauty of the soul goes, one who would radiate every virtue, every manner of kindness and charity and loveliness; one who by the purity of her life and her mind and her heart would be an inspiration not only to you but even to your fellow men, so that all would look up to her as the very incarnation of what is best in motherhood?
Now if you who are an imperfect being and who have not the most delicate conception of all that is fine in life would have wished for the loveliest of mothers, do you think that our Blessed Lord, who not only pre-existed His own mother but who had an infinite power to make her just what He chose, would in virtue of all the infinite delicacy of His spirit make her any less pure and loving and beautiful than you would have made your own mother? If you who hate selfishness would have made her selfless and you who hate ugliness would have made her beautiful, do you not think that the Son of God, who hates sin, would have made His own mother sinless and He who hates moral ugliness would have made her immaculately beautiful?”
- See more at: http://fallibleblogma.com/index.php/quote-of-the-day-immaculate-conception-fulton-sheen/#sthash.137WfvUI.dpuf
“Just suppose that you could have pre-existed your own mother, in much the same way that an artist pre-exists his painting. Furthermore, suppose that you had the infinite power to make your mother anything that you pleased, just as a great artist like Raphael has the power of realizing his artistic ideas. Suppose you had this double power, what kind of mother would you have made for yourself? Would you have made her of such a type that would make you blush because of her unwomanly and un-mother-like actions? Would you have made her exteriorly and interiorly of such a character as to make you ashamed of her? Or would you have made her, so far as human beauty goes; the most beautiful woman in the world; and so far as beauty of the soul goes, one who would radiate every virtue, every manner of kindness and charity and loveliness; one who by the purity of her life and her mind and her heart would be an inspiration not only to you but even to your fellow men, so that all would look up to her as the very incarnation of what is best in motherhood?
Now if you who are an imperfect being and who have not the most delicate conception of all that is fine in life would have wished for the loveliest of mothers, do you think that our Blessed Lord, who not only pre-existed His own mother but who had an infinite power to make her just what He chose, would in virtue of all the infinite delicacy of His spirit make her any less pure and loving and beautiful than you would have made your own mother? If you who hate selfishness would have made her selfless and you who hate ugliness would have made her beautiful, do you not think that the Son of God, who hates sin, would have made His own mother sinless and He who hates moral ugliness would have made her immaculately beautiful?”
- See more at: http://fallibleblogma.com/index.php/quote-of-the-day-immaculate-conception-fulton-sheen/#sthash.137WfvUI.dpuf
More reading:
Pope Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus, December 8, 1854.
Pope Saint John Paul II, Marialis Cultus, February 2, 1972.
Catholic Church, Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Advent--Happy New Year to the Church

http://jesuitinstitute.org/Pictures/AdventAnimWreath1.gif




Today is the first Sunday of Advent.  This marks the first day of the Church's liturgical year.  It is both exciting and a little terrifying.  It is a wonderful, joyful time of the year in anticipation of Christ's coming (and coming again).  However, it means that once again I am way behind the eight ball in planning for Christmas.  But, I always have a good time this time of the year because of my five kids.  They are really the joys of my life.

We mark each Sunday before Christmas with a candle.  The color purple symbolizes prayer, penance, and doing good works in the time of preparation. Pink or Rose is for Gaudette (or joyful) Sunday.  Two weeks of Advent are already complete and Christ's arrival is imminent.  The evergreen wreath is a symbol of everlasting life (the evergreen boughs) and eternity (the circle).

This week's readings:

You, Lord, are our Father,
our redeemer You are named forever.
Why do You let us wander, O Lord, from Your ways
and harden our hearts so that we fear You not?
Return for the sake of Your servants,
the tribes of Your heritage.
Oh, that You would rend the heavens and come down,
with the mountains quaking before You,
while You wrought awesome deeds we could not hope for,
such as they had not heard of from of old.
No ear has ever heard, no eye ever seen, any God but You
doing such deeds for those who wait for him.
Would that You might meet us doing right,
that we were mindful of You in our ways!
Behold, You are angry, and we are sinful
all of us have become like unclean people,
all our good deeds are like polluted rags,
we have all withered like leaves,
and our guilt carries us away like the wind.
There is none who calls upon Your Name,
who rouses himself to cling to You,
for You have hidden Your face from us
and have delivered us up in our guilt.
Yet, O Lord, You are our Father'
we are the clay and You the Potter:
we are all the work of Your hands.
(Isaiah 63:16b-17, 19b; 64:2-7)

Lord, make us turn to You; let us see Your face and we shall be saved.

O shepherd of Israel, hearken,
From Your throne upon the cherubim, shine forth.
Rouse Your power, and come to save us.

Lord, make us turn to You; let us see Your face and we shall be saved.

Once again, O Lord of Hosts,
look down from heaven and see;
take care of this vine,
and protect what Your right hand has planted,
the son of man whom You Yourself made strong.

Lord, make us turn to You; let us see Your face and we shall be saved.

May your help be with the man of Your right hand,
with the son of man whom You Yourself made strong.
Then we will no more withdraw from You;
give us new life, and we will call upon Your Name.

Lord, make us turn to You; let us see Your face and we shall be saved.
(Psalm 80:2-3; 15-16, 18-19)

Brothers and Sisters:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I give thanks to my God always on Your account for the grace of God bestowed on you in Christ Jesus, that in Him you were enriched in every way, with all discourse and all knowledge, as the testimony to Christ was confirmed among you, so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.
He will keep you firm to the end, irreproachable on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
God is faithful, and by Him you were called to fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
(I Corinthians 1:3-9)

Jesus said to His disciples:  "Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come.  It is like a man traveling abroad.  He leaves home and places his servants in charge, each with his own work, and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch.

"Watch, therefore, you do not know when the lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning.  May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping.  What I say to you, I say to all:  Watch!"
(Mark 13:33-37)

May the Lord find us waiting and watching.  God bless you all at Advent.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Halloween is a Catholic Holiday

All Hallow's Eve, now called Halloween, is the eve of All Saints' Day, a day formerly a holy day of obligation.  Like all holy days the eve or vigil Mass became a celebration in itself.  So, Halloween grew into parties and celebrations, and eventually trick or treating, bobbing for apples, pumpkin carving, and lots of punch and candy.  Halloween was never a pagan holiday.  Though the trappings are there, the costumes, the tricks, the candy, the haunted houses are just that--trappings.  They are mostly harmless and make fun of things we think we should be scared of.  However, it really is supposed to be a celebration of the lives of the saints.  Don't let any overly sensitive "Christian" or delusional pseudo-pagan talk you or your kids out of having fun.  Play with your kids, dress up like a kid, have fun like a kid--just for one night enjoy and celebrate.

Further reading and ideas:
http://catholicism.about.com/od/thecatholicfamily/p/Halloween.htm
http://www.americancatholic.org/features/default.aspx?id=23
http://www.ewtn.com/library/mary/hallween.htm
http://www.catholiceducation.org/en/culture/catholic-contributions/all-hallow-s-eve.html

Monday, October 27, 2014

Anti-Catholic Political Ads are Back in Style

In Washington state, the state I hesitate to say is where I was born and lived in until I was 24, the elections are being tainted by anti-Catholic bigotry.


I don't know anything about Mark Miloscia or his politics.  Obviously, from the above he must be Catholic.  But really, "he has best represented the people of The Vatican."  What is this the 17th century, when Catholics were not only not welcome in the Colonies but were actively blocked from participating in any type of politics and had few rights under the "law?."  Is this the 18th century, when the only state were there was actual freedom of religion-Maryland, which was founded by Catholics-was taken over by protestants and it became illegal to practice Catholicism in the open?  Is this the 19th, were Irish Catholic immigrants were indentured servants with no rights and no freedoms as citizens?  Is it the 20th century where the public was told a Catholic candidate (including John F. Kennedy) would mean the U.S.A. would become a vassal of the Vatican?  To think that our country had not evolved past such prejudices is almost unthinkable and bodes no good for the future of our country.

The website listed at the top of the cartoon goes to a webpage that lists all of Mr. Miloscia's "sins."  From what I can gather from this list, Mr. Miloscia voted his conscience.  For instance, he voted against forcing Catholic Charities to pay for voluntary abortions and forcing all insurance carriers to cover contraception.  He voted against same sex "marriage" and "domestic partner" "rights".  He voted for a tax on adult entertainment materials which the web page author calls a "sin tax" on "playboys and marital aids."  He voted against the "Death with Dignity Act" (which unfortunately passed) which gives terminally ill and elderly people the right to "choose their time of death" in other words, giving people the right to kill themselves if they are suffering.  All of these issues are morally repugnant and against Catholic teaching.  Instead of berating him for voting "Catholic" they should be applauding him for voting his conscience.  After all, that is what the other side says there doing.

The irony is that Mr. Miloscia was a Democrat but left the party over these very issues.   He became a Republican candidate to put forward a more conservative agenda than the Democrats are willing to hear.  Washington state has become a liberal bastion and an embarrassment to all moral thinking and acting voters.  If I still lived in Washington state, I'd feel very ashamed at this campaign.  Portraying a Catholic as a nut case and a vassal of the Vatican because he votes his conscience is barbaric and the epitome of the smear campaign.  None of the things listed in the anti-Catholic smear ad seem to be "sins" at all, let alone deal breakers as far as a politician should be concerned.  I pray that Mark Miloscia stands his ground and votes his conscience despite the smear campaign, despite pressure, and despite election.

Also ironic are all the inconsistencies on the website.  The website says that Miloscia voted against forcing pharmacies to provide emergency contraceptives, voted against forcing employers to carry insurance for contraception and abortions but then accuses him of lobbying for large pharmaceutical companies, because of campaign contributions.  Says he "lobbies for the Vatican" yet sets up a page pitting his alleged record against out-of-context quotes by the pope which appear to oppose Miloscia stand on the pet legislation.

Go here to read Miloscia's side of the campaign.

While Catholics are only about 7% of the population in the state in which I now reside, at least this type of campaign hasn't happened here--yet.  However, much of the nation saw the "Black Mass" debacle in Oklahoma City on the news.  At least only 42 people (reportedly) attended the performance (in an 80 seat auditorium)  that was pointedly done to ridicule a true Mass and the Catholic Church.  Our Archbishop stood up for Christ and got an legal injunction for the return of the supposedly blessed Host that was to be used that night.
 
One of the few prejudices that are still politically okay--Catholic bashing. But while I can understand why people who hold completely morally opposite views might attack a candidate like Mr. Miloscia, I don't understand why other Christians wouldn't speak out.   Catholic entities such as Catholic Charities and abbeys that refuse to pay for contraception and abortions on moral grounds are being attacked.  Many other Christian organizations don't believe that affects them.  How about the pastors in Texas?  Does the fact that the new, openly gay attorney general is ordering pastors, under threat of criminal prosecution, to turn over copies of all sermons that speak out against homosexuals in general or her in particular get anyone's attention?  Our country is slowly but surely turning into a country that no longer believes in freedom of religion or a right of any Christian to have his beliefs affect his public life and decisions.

[Note: The above cartoon, although it can be found elsewhere online, has been taken off the original website by the anonymous author at the request of the Democratic opposition]

Sources:
http://markmiloscia.info/?61c7072da23a83a1edcb624bae192ead
http://blog.seattlepi.com/seattlepolitics/2014/10/27/anti-catholic-mockery-directed-at-miloscia-in-state-senate-race/


http://dailycaller.com/2014/10/25/republican-candidate-attacked-for-being-catholic/

This article is strictly the opinion of the post author--Cathmom5.