Thursday, January 27, 2011

I Pray Thee

Richard III
Today reading Richard III by Shakespeare, of all things, reminded me of the protestant misunderstanding of the word pray.  Catholics are constantly accused of worshipping the saints in Heaven because we pray to them.  Well, I ask you, was Clarence worshipping the assassin (Act I, scene 4) when he said "Pray tell me"  who asked the man to kill him (Clarence)?  I think not.  And, if a protestant was honest with us and themselves, they would admit that 'pray' in English has more than one meaning (the act of worshipping God).
Merriam-Webster says:  "Definition of PRAY
transitive verb
1: entreat, implore —often used as a function word in introducing a question, request, or plea
[pray be careful]
2: to get or bring by praying

intransitive verb
1: to make a request in a humble manner
2: to address God or a god with adoration, confession, supplication, or thanksgiving

When Catholics or Catholic writings talk about praying to the saints, can't protestants even entertain the possibility that Catholics mean #1 of either the transitive or intransitive forms of this verb?  #2 "to address God" is not the only meaning.  Are they so entrenched in their anti-Catholic bigotry that they can't even make this concession to logic? 

When we pray to a saint we are making a request in a humble manner that they, as our brothers and sisters in Christ, pray to God for us.  Can't we ask God what we need on our own?  Of course we can!  However, you tell me whether or not protestants ask each other to pray for them.  I know my Baptist Church (the church I grew up in) members did it all the time.  We had prayer meetings every Wednesday evening in which we prayed to God for each other's needs.  Our prayers to the saints are the exact same thing.  Even if you don't see it that way, can't you see that we DO see it that way, and give us a tiny bit of the doubt here?  We do not worship saints.  Period.

Christ the King

Are Catholics idolaters?  No, we don't worship idols.  The statues, paintings, and stained glass windows are portraits of our friends and family, just exactly like that picture of your dead Grandmother on your piano or uncle Joe in Texas.  Do we pray to saints as if they we gods?  No, we ask our friends to pray for us, just like protestants do. 

I pray all who are reading, pray for peace in Jesus Christ's Church--His One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

My January Rant

Wow!  Being on some of these "discussion" groups where protestants and Catholics are debating, can be so tiresome.  Them repeating the same anti-Catholic propaganda, day after day, forum after forum.  When do they ever listen?  When will it stop?  Even the Scriptures and doctrines that aren't just Catholic are now being denied.  Here is a sampling:

1.  The Body of Jesus is not a miracle.  His body is human like every one else's; only his conception was a miracle.

A:  Really?  So there was NOTHING different about Jesus' body?  Nothing, say, like housing God's soul, right?  Nothing like everything He endured, beating, whipping, torture for hours on end before He was forced to carry His own cross, before He died, nailed to that same cross.  Any body could have done that?

2.  Manna, bread from Heaven, was not the type of Jesus' Body but the type of our faith in Him.

A:  Really?  So, when Jesus talks about manna as the bread from Heaven, then calls Himself the Bread from Heaven, He does not actually mean that comparison.  He's just joking.  He says, "You must eat My Flesh...Drink My enter Heaven."  But, He didn't really mean what He said.  One (manna actually eaten in the desert) has nothing to do with the other (Bread from Heaven, His Body, is to be eaten).  Wow!  Are you blind if you can't see that!

3.  Physical baptism isn't "technically necessary."

A:  Really?  So, He didn't really mean it when He told His disciples to "Go, preach and make disciples of all people, BAPTIZING them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."  Guess He was just kidding about that, too?  And there really was no reason, at all, that He was baptized Himself by His cousin St. John.  And they call them selves Bible believers, and/or sola scripturists (Bible alone)?  But when push comes to shove they just completely ignore Christ's own words--His commands--and make up their own doctrine.  "Baptism saves us now."  Obviously that line in the Bible MUST be ignored!

4.  Repetitious prayer is a sin.  Catholics always repeat prayers so they are sinning.

A:  For one thing St. Paul was talking about PAGAN prayers to PAGAN gods.  He was not talking about heartfelt prayer to God.  Isn't Jesus the One Who said the one who asks and asks and asks will be answered?  I do believe it was.  Funny thing is, when I was a protestant we repeated the "Doxology" every Sunday.  That is not repetitious prayer?  Many prot churches repeat The Lord's Prayer.  That is not repetition?  Memorized prayer is for the faithful, especially the young and immature in the faith, to have a way to pray from the heart especially when one cannot find your own words or your own expressions to God.  God wants to hear from us, no matter what the form. 

5.  Praying to saints is a sin.

A:  Number one, Catholics (BTW, Orthodox and other churches pray to saints also) ask the saints to pray for them;  we all know they cannot do anything on their own.  One is erroneous in thinking Catholics do anything but ask a member of the family--God's family--to pray for them.  If you object to this, then you better NOT be asking ANYONE to pray for you--your mother, wife, pastor, friend--ANYONE--because you are doing the EXACT SAME THING you are accusing us of--asking someone else to do your praying for you. 

Number two, Catholics do not worship any but the true God.  Never have, never will.  Have there been Catholics and other Christians who have done this wrong?  Of course, there have.  There has never been a Protestant who has had his "flock" kill themselves, follow them out into the desert to wait for Christ on a certain day, follow him to hell?  Of course, there has.  But all Catholics, at all times, must be perfect or the Church is blamed.

Number three, saints are our family.  Statues, paintings, icons, stained glass windows are the EXACT SAME THING as your FAMILY PORTRAITS--EXACTLY THE SAME.  I know that a lot of prots don't want to see it that way.  That is their problem and their error.  If you have a picture of your grandmother on a shelf, stop by it and think of her, you are just as much an idol worship as a Catholic who stops in front of a statue of Our Lady and thinks of her and asks for her prayers.  It is the same thing.

I really get so sick and tired of prots who say, "Show us where it says that in the Bible."  We do.  Then they do their little prot dance, close their eyes, plug their ears, and say, "La, la, la, la, it's not there, it's not there, it's not there."  All Catholic doctrine was developed in the Early Church long before the NT Scriptures were collected by the Church and put into a Bible.  All the beliefs, all traditions,  and all practiced can be seen in the Scriptures and in the writings of the early Church.  We still believe and practice what the 1st century Church did.  Those who cannot and will not believe that, deceive themselves.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Sin--moving away from God

I have been very busy lately.  I had a brilliant idea for my blog this morning over tea, but like a wonderful dream it faded away over the course of my crazy day.  Oh well...I thought I'd share a less brilliant thought.

by W. Bouguereau (1897)
 Yesterday, my second grade class learned about the Sacrament of Penance.  I mean the actual mechanics of it, so to speak.  We went inside the little room where they will meet Jesus in the person of our priest, Father F.  I have to admit, I find Fr. F rather intimidating myself at times.  We are almost the same age, he is very military (he is in the Air Force reserves) so he reminds me of the officers I worked under in the military, and he is a little of  a perfectionist from what I can see.  I think I am always afraid of disappointing him.  Anyway, I am doing my best to make sure the children are not afraid of him when he goes into the confessional.  Afterwards, all but one of my students said they were less scared to enter that little room.  They all behaved well and seemed to take it seriously.

Well, after our brief tour in the tiny room, I decided to help them understand what is sin.  I had them line up shoulder to shoulder facing the crucifix on the wall of the Our Lady of Fatima chapel.  I had them take one step backwards for a venial sin, of which we tried to think up examples, and two steps back for mortal sins, also with examples.  Once they had traveled to nearly the back of the room, I explained to them that that is what sin does; it causes us to move away from God (illustrated by God the Son on the crucifix).  He doesn't move.  God never changes.  We are the ones who change because of sin. 

Then we talked about contrition.  Imperfect contrition--saying we're sorry because we're supposed to do so--brings us part of the way back to God.  We illustrated this be taking a couple of steps forward.  However, when we have perfect contrition--in other words, we are truly sorry for our sins from our hearts--we come all the way back to God.  The children came all the way back to the front of the room. 

Sin moves us away from God.  God never moves, changes, or turns away from us.  He waits for our confession and our perfect contrition and welcomes us back to Himself with open arms.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

It the Epiphany

Christkindl Markt, Cologne, Germany
1 When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, 2 "Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage."

3 When King Herod heard this, he was greatly troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 They said to him, "In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it has been written through the prophet: 6 'And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; since from you shall come a ruler, who is to shepherd my people Israel.'"

Three Kings Reliquary, Cologne Cathedral
 7 Then Herod called the magi secretly and ascertained from them the time of the star's appearance.
8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and search diligently for the child. When you have found him, bring me word, that I too may go and do him homage."  9 After their audience with the king they set out. And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was.

10 They were overjoyed at seeing the star, 11 and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Detail-Three Kings Reliquary, Cologne, Germany
 12 And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their country by another way. 13  When they had departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt,  and stay there until I tell you. Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him."

14 Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt. 15 He stayed there until the death of Herod, that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled, "Out of Egypt I called my son." 16 When Herod realized that he had been deceived by the magi, he became furious. He ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had ascertained from the magi. 17 Then was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah the prophet:  18 "A voice was heard in Ramah, sobbing and loud lamentation; Rachel weeping for her children, and she would not be consoled, since they were no more."

The Three Magi
 19 When Herod had died, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt 20 and said, "Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child's life are dead."  21 He rose, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel.
22 But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go back there. And because he had been warned in a dream, he departed for the region of Galilee.
23 He went and dwelt in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, "He shall be called a Nazorean."   [Matthew 2]

The number of kings comes from the gifts they brought--gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  The traditional names, Bathasar, Melchior, and Gaspar, also came much later.  The gold was representative of the royalty of the new born king.  Frankincense for honor of kingship and sweet smelling incense offered up to God.  Myrrh was a traditional spice used for religious ceremonies and for burial (perhaps a fore sign of things to come).  In all actuality, it may be these gifts that kept the family from starving in Egypt.  It is a significant and beautiful part of the story of Christmas.  It is an indication of the fact that Christ came for the whole world--gentiles as well as Jews.  The Magi offered the best gifts they could think of for the King of the world, they rightly believed Jesus to be.  God Bless them.