Sunday, March 30, 2008

Are You Saved?

29 And he called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas, 30 and after he brought them out, he said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" 31 They said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household." Acts 16:31

“Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ,” as Paul and Silas noted above, is a brief and practical response to the question, “What must I do to be saved?”

For the serious and anxious enquirer, who seeks a fuller answer to this question for the good of his/her eternal soul, please refer to this summary.

For professing Christians, we recognize the Holy Scriptures have more to say than simply the words of Acts 16:31—and the evidence is plain that not all Christians have agreed with the Catholic Church in its presentation of the truth regarding salvation.

Evangelical Christians have done an exceedingly effective job in forcing Catholics—many nominal, some not—to ask themselves whether such terminology applies to them. Often, Catholics will ask, “How should I respond to someone who asks me if I've been saved, or born again?”

It is hoped that Catholics might be ready to reply with a resounding, "Yes!" to those who ask them such a question.

Tell them that it is through Baptism that you were saved, just as the Bible says in 1 Peter 3:20-21 and that it is through Baptism, water and the Spirit, that you are "born again," just as the Bible says in John 3:5.

You see, many Protestants believe that they are saved by making one single act of faith at one single point in time in their lives. Nowhere does Scripture say such a thing. As Catholics, however, we believe that salvation is a process which begins with our Baptism and continues throughout our lifetimes, just as the Bible teaches us.

There are so many places in Scripture, which talk about how one is "saved", but not one of them says we are saved by one act of faith at just one point in time. As I just mentioned, 1 Peter 3:20 says we are saved by baptism. In Hebrews 12:14 it says that we will not see the Lord unless we are holy, and that we have to strive for this holiness. In Matthew 6:14-15, it says we must forgive others or we will not be forgiven. Can you attain salvation if God hasn't forgiven you? No! So, our forgiving others is necessary for our salvation.

1 Tim 2:15 says that woman will be saved through bearing children, if she continues in faith and love and holiness with modesty. John 6:54 says we will have eternal life by doing something...eating the flesh and drinking the blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In Matthew 19, verses 16 and 17, Jesus is asked directly what one must do to have eternal life. Did He say, Accept me into your heart once and that’s it? No! Jesus said to keep the commandments and you will have life.

Yes, as Catholics we are born again. And, as Catholics we believe that we were saved, as Paul says in Rom 8:24; that we are being saved, as Paul says in 1 Cor 1:18; and that we will be saved, as Paul says in Rom 5:9-10, provided we persevere and keep our eyes on the prize. Salvation is a process, just as Catholics believe, and just as the Bible clearly teaches.

John Martignoni of Christian Bible Society

There’s more on this subject in one of my former posts, found here.

The Renewal of Baptismal Promises

At Easter time in the Catholic Church, new Christians are baptized and received into the Church and the faithful renew their baptismal vows.

The vows are words which carry tremendous weight and serve as a powerful testimony of a heart turned (turning) to Christ. It is a formula leading to new life in Christ.

If you are outside the fold of Christ, the Good Shepherd, these are words which, when spoken—even silently—from the heart, will start you on a journey to Jesus, the God-Man and Saviour of the world.

I, [your name], who through the tender mercy of the Eternal Father was privileged to be baptized "in the name of the Lord Jesus" (Acts 19, 5) and thus to share in the dignity of his divine Sonship, wish now in the presence of this same loving Father and of his only-begotten Son to renew in all sincerity the promises I solemnly made at the time of my holy Baptism.

I, therefore, now do once again renounce Satan; I renounce all his works; I renounce all his allurements.

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was born into this world and who suffered and died for my sins and rose again. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting.

Having been buried with Christ unto death and raised up with him unto a new life, I promise to live no longer for myself or for that world which is the enemy of God but for him who died for me and rose again, serving God, my heavenly Father, faithfully and unto death in the holy Catholic Church.

Taught by our Savior's command and formed by the word of God, I now dare to say:

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

Amen.

If you prayed this prayer for the first time and would like to follow the Lord Jesus Christ in baptism, please visit a Catholic Church and meet with the priest who will guide you further.

May God bless you and keep you faithful to our Lord Jesus Christ for ever and ever.

Amen

P.S. Why not follow up this important posting with another?

4MYC Urges Canadians to Push Hard on Bills C-10 and C-484

A very important bit of work which the people at 4MYCanada are asking all Canadians to undertake has to do with two current bills before parliament.

1. CLEANING UP MORAL FILTH IN CANADA'S FILM INDUSTRY: C-10

2. CONTINUING TO WORK AT SEEING C-484 (Unborn Victims of Crime Bill) PASSED!

Please click through on this link to their latest ACTION email and do everything you possibly can in support of these urgent initiatives which will make Canada a safer, more just society for us and our children.

Ottawa Archbishop to Meet with Clergy and Laity in St. John’s, Newfoundland

For the benefit of fellow Catholics in the Archdiocese of St. John's
Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prendergast has made the news recently with some bold comments. On April 15, the Archbishop will be meeting with clergy and laity in St. John’s, Newfoundland.
(St. John’s, NL) Archbishop Terrence Prendergast of Archdiocese of Ottawa will be meeting with the clergy and laity of the Archdiocese of St. John’s in April to discuss the Catholic concept of Stewardship.
[snip]
Rene Estrada who is responsible for developing the Stewardship process in the Archdiocese of St. John’s described stewardship as “involving a spiritual relationship with God. “He continued Stewardship is not a program, but a way-of-life, based in Scripture. The four pillars of stewardship are hospitality, prayer, formation and service.

The one day presentation by Archbishop Prendergast is seen as an opportunity to invite and encourage clergy and parishioners to experience, witness and live the stewardship way of life in response to their baptismal call to discipleship.

Muslim Scholar Denounces Vatican Baptism as Deliberate and Provocative

UPDATE: see below

Deliberate? Apparently so. Provocative? Not if you know anything about Benedict XVI.

It was big news just a week ago when Benedict XVI baptized a prominent convert from Islam during Easter. There has been some fallout though, as predicted.

VATICAN CITY (AP) - A Muslim scholar who participated in recent Vatican talks to improve Catholic-Muslim relations criticized Pope Benedict XVI's Easter baptism of a prominent convert from Islam as a "provocative" act.

Magdi Allam, an Egyptian-born TV and newspaper commentator who has denounced Islam as inherently violently, was baptized by the pope in a vigil service Saturday night in St. Peter's Basilica.

Aref Ali Nayed, director of the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center in Amman, Jordan, criticized what he called "the Vatican's deliberate and provocative act of baptizing Allam on such a special occasion and in such a spectacular way."

I thought it was very telling indeed that the Vatican newspaper admitted to the Pope’s desire to make an important statement about religious freedom, something which I had immediately pointed out.

The Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano denied that the baptism had been played up, saying it was kept secret until just before the ceremony. It described the baptism as a papal "gesture" to stress "in a gentle and clear way, religious freedom."

Not so gentle perhaps, but unequivocally clear.

UPDATE: Cautious Vatican response to Muslim critics on conversion

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Are Catholic Beliefs Found in the Bible?

Catholics are often asked tough questions about their Catholic faith and its relationship to the Bible. Here are the ten most-asked questions and the answers, in admittedly brief format, which should help to satisfy the questioner.

Adapted from a pamphlet available from Our Sunday Visitor entitled “Top Ten Questions Catholics Are Asked” and written by Dave Armstrong, the ten most asked questions are as follows:

1. Are Catholic beliefs found in the Bible?
2. Why do you obey the Pope?
3. Why do you call your priest "Father"?
4. Why do you pray for the dead?
5. Why do you pray to idols (statues)?
6. Why do you confess your sins to a priest?
7. Why do you worship Mary?
8. Why do you worship wafers?
9. If you died tonight, would you go to heaven?
10. Are you saved?

In this posting, I will deal with question #1. I will post on the other questions over the next few weeks.

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Are Catholic beliefs found in the Bible?

All Catholic beliefs can be found in the Bible in some form, whether plainly or by indirect indication. It is not necessary for everything to be absolutely clear in Scripture alone, because this is not the teaching of Scripture itself. Scripture also points to an authoritative Church and Tradition, as St. Paul points out in his Second Letter to the Thessalonians: "Stand firm and hold to the traditions you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter" (2 Thess 2:15 -- See also 1 Cor 11:2; 2 Thess 3:6; 2 Tim 1:13-14; 2:2).

When the first Christians had a significant disagreement they didn't simply open their Bibles (they didn't even exist at that point) to decide who was right; they held a council, which made binding decrees (Acts 15:1-29). The very books of the Bible had to be determined by the Church, and that didn't happen until the late fourth century. Therefore, human tradition and authority were necessary for us to even have a Bible today. If you believe that the Bible is infallible then you should also believe that the Church that decided which books should be in the Bible is the Church that has the Truth and has kept it complete and whole for 2000 years (1 Tim 3:15).

[This pamphlet is also available online.]

Thursday, March 27, 2008

C484: A Bill about Justice, Not Abortion

Published today in the editorial section of The Telegram, Newfoundland & Labrador's daily provincial paper.

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C484: A Bill about Justice, Not Abortion

by Eric Alcock

Lane Jr. was 27 weeks old, still in the womb, when his mother Olivia Talbot was fatally shot twice in the head in 2005 by a childhood friend. Baby Lane perished too. Olivia had been shot three times in the abdomen as well. No charges could be laid in Baby Lane’s death.

When Aysun Sesen, 25 and seven months pregnant, was brought to hospital in October 2007 with multiple and fatal stab wounds to her abdomen, her fetus still had a faint heartbeat but died shortly thereafter. Her husband was charged with her slaying. No charges could be laid in the unborn child’s death.

Five pregnant women have been murdered in Canada in the past three years. Unquestionably, the torment of the grieving families of the victims due to their double loss is compounded by the impossibility of securing justice for their newest family member. They say society refuses to recognize their loss. How profound their pain!

Bill C-484 brings justice to these unborn children and their families. C-484 is titled “Unborn Victims of Crime Act,” and will amend the Criminal Code to prosecute attackers who injure or kill an unborn child during the commission of a crime against the mother.

Thus far, the word “abortion” is as distant from the discussion as green cheese. Why? Because C-484 has nothing to do with abortion. The bill explicitly excludes abortion. Clear headed and fair minded Canadians obviously agree. An Angus-Reid poll showed 70% of Canadians support this legislation, with only 19% of women suspecting the government of a sneak attack on abortion rights.

Joyce Hancock of the Newfoundland and Labrador Feminist Coalition recently captured the attention of The Telegram by claiming the federal conservatives were using C-484 as a back door attack to outlaw abortion. Ask Hancock what she sees in the bill and she’ll tell you abortion.

But I’ll let you in on the secret here. What she really sees is a law that recognizes the fetus as a distinct entity, separate from the mother and worth something. And that scares her because radical feminists and abortion advocates have unceasingly drummed into Canadians that, in effect, the fetus does not exist until it’s born. That’s their justification for abortion, which, incidentally, happens to kill the fetus every time. But it’s no excuse for fear mongering and misrepresentation over C-484.

They’ll tell you the bill grants a “form of personhood” or legal status to the fetus. It plainly doesn’t. They’ll try to sidestep the fetus by saying the “real issue” is domestic violence, not losing an unborn child, or that it does nothing to stop violence against women. Perhaps they should check the title of the bill. It’s not a domestic violence bill. We have those already and if they’re ineffective, let them put their energies into improving them.

They’ll tell you the bill blunders through a loophole in favour of perpetrators of domestic violence or that double charges won’t change anything because criminals serve concurrent sentences anyway. False—they’re grasping at straws.

Liberal MP’s in our province voted against this bill. Provincial Opposition Leader Yvonne Jones immediately pledged support for Hancock but admitted she hasn’t even read the bill! How telling. Shame on them all!

Get fully informed about C-484. Visit MP Ken Epp’s website where you can examine the bill from every possible angle. Contact your own MP as soon as possible and urge support for this bill which corrects a serious flaw in our justice system.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Strictly Links in This Posting—For Better Than Average Reading

Here are some interesting, better than average stories and links farmed from my surfing. I don’t have time to blog about them but they’re worth passing along to you.

Help yourself.

A cafeteria Catholic’s confessions MAGGIE MARWAH

Canada orders ministry by Christians shut down

Into the Font, Into the Fold
Posting by Rocco Palmo on Easter baptisms and conversions to the Catholic Church

The Church needs priests who live authentic obedience, says Peruvian bishop

Staggering changes taking place in religion in Ontario's Bible belt

Immigrants fuelling church revival in London Ontario
But is it really a “revival” or is it simply an influx? This one I’d really like to look into deeper and put together a post—if only I had the time. Lots of good stats in this story.

How comic books ruined the nation
Comic Books Ruined Our Nation Too? In addition to contraception, of course. :)

Missionaries from Canada a dying breed

Pure Fashion is an outgrowth of Challenge Clubs, groups for girls in Catholic churches

Shocker: Pope urges students to have personal relationship with Christ
Just kidding. It’s not really so shocking at all. It’s authentic Catholicism at work.

Bush to Welcome Benedict XVI at Airport

Seventeen Percent of Americans have Never Heard of the Pope

This seems like a surprisingly high figure. I might have guessed 5% or something like that. I wonder what the figures would be for Canadians?

But the good news is that in the lead up to the Pope's visit to the US, most Americans are at least warm towards the Pope.

The survey results show that Americans have a generally positive opinion of the Pope and the Catholic Church. Most hope that during his visit Pope Benedict will address the place of spiritual values in ordinary life.

Fifty-eight percent of the United States residents polled have a “favorable” or “very favorable” opinion of Benedict XVI, while 13 percent have an “unfavorable” or “very unfavorable” opinion of the Pope.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Void at the Center of the Church's Activity

A particularly pointed posting from Uncle Di at the CWN website summarizing the last five years worth of postings, all 4600 to be exact. I could be wrong but perhaps Diogenes has finally figured out himself the real reason for all those posts and now he’s officially gone on the record [pun intended] with it. It seems he is positively dumbstruck and in awe over the stark absence in ecclesiastical circles of a true concern for souls who stand in jeopardy of hellfire.

Imagine a mother whose toddlers crawl past her legs under the kitchen sink, open various bottles marked with the skull-and-crossbones, pour the contents into sippy-cups, and then trot off drinking the contents while she shakes her head in bemused resignation. Either the woman is criminally negligent, or she doesn't believe the marked bottles really contain poison. There is no third possibility.

The eerie but incontestable fact is that most Catholic pastors behave like this unnaturally nonchalant mother. The Church still labels certain bottles with the skull-and-crossbones -- i.e., she still professes a belief in mortal (soul-destroying) sins, but even those of her clergy who give verbal assent to Church doctrine seldom conduct their office in a way that is intelligible if the doctrine were true.

I think what Uncle Di says is not surprising—but admittedly rare to see it put so succinctly in print—but I suspect his observations would be lost on the majority of Catholics.

I think this is why Evangelical Christians have such a difficult time believing that the Catholic faith emphasizes conversion of the soul. The “born again” experience of Evangelicals is tied strongly to a solid belief in the spiritual realities of salvation, heaven and hell and for the most part helps the Evangelical to stay focused on a concern for his/her own soul as well as the souls of others.

This is why I believe they’ve been labeled “Bible thumpers.” It’s not that they “thump” with the Bible per se but they do believe the Bible warns a man of the dangers facing his soul and urges a right relationship with God through faith. This is pretty basic stuff and it’s why, generally, they engage in evangelism and why they are called “Evangelicals.”

What Uncle Di observes explains precisely why the rank and file Catholic is not likewise seen to be very cognizant of their spiritual need. Their spiritual leaders—with shockingly few exceptions—are insensitive or oblivious to spiritual dangers. There might be many angles to this phenomenon and therefore many explanations but I think a significant factor relates to the nature of Catholic teaching on the formation of conscience.

Put simply and briefly, I think the Catholic has little leeway with picking and choosing what he/she believes. That kind of attitude in itself is fatal to the faith and when it becomes an entrenched attitude in Bishops the result is what we see in our own Canadian society.

Stefan’s website is full of this kind of subject. Here’s a basic article with which to start. He’s a great fan of Uncle Di, by the way.

P.S. What I said about Evangelicals doesn’t place them on a level above Catholics. It may make some of them better practicing Christians and it likely means that shocking numbers of Catholics are unwittingly living in peril of their souls. But ALL Christians must return to the fold if they are to fulfill the will of Christ and impact the world as the visible Body of Christ, which is what Christ prayed in the Garden. (John 17:20-23)

The problem, in short, is not with the Catholic faith, which remains a true witness of Christ and His Truth. The problem is with unfaithful pastors.

P.P.S. One Evangelical blogger's current discussions on her journey into the Catholic Church.

A Blog Dedicated to the Reunion of all Christians

Have you heard of it? PrincipiumUnitatis.

A blog dedicated to the reunion of all Christians.

Now back up and running.

Let unity, the greatest good of all goods, be your preoccupation.
St. Ignatius of Antioch (Letter to Polycarp)


Autism and "The Many Shapes of Personhood"

I refer you to an extraordinary You Tube video produced by Amanda Baggs, a 27 year old autistic woman, and which is embedded in an article by Wired magazine. It’s entitled The Truth About Autism: Scientists Reconsider What They Think They Know.

The article is excellent background for the video. It’ll definitely make you think about the concept of personhood, which I think is Amanda’s goal.

h/t Mirror of Justice

Moral Arguments in Defense of the Unborn Too Rare

Posted on the Vote Life, Canada! blog under the same title.


Today is International Day of the Unborn Child 2008. For more blog postings related to this event please visit Big Blue Wave for reports.

I’ve chosen to post an article by Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason. In this short article Greg shares his grave concern for the pro-life movement because of fairly recent trends which focus too much on the woman in the debate over abortion. He claims, and I believe rightly, that we are becoming more and more reluctant—and losing our ability—to advance moral arguments in the defense of the Unborn.

If our actions and our behaviour in general are not expected to be informed by sound reason or principles (did I hear someone mention “absolute truth?”) then on what will we base our lifestyle decisions?

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Abortion: If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em?

Gregory Koukl

The last few years have witnessed a stunning development in the pro-life movement, one worth considering.

The problem: More and more pro-lifers refuse to discuss abortion. A new wave of pro-life leaders insist that victory will not be gained if the debate centers principally on the morality of killing the unborn.

Paul Swope calls it “a failure to communicate” when right-to-lifers focus primarily on the unborn instead of on the felt needs of women. “The pro-life movement must show that abortion is actually not in a woman’s own self-interest,” he says. Reframing the debate will enable the movement to “regain the moral high ground in the mind of the American public.” The message is clear: Focus on the life of the mother, not the death of the child.

But it’s hard to imagine how appealing to self-interest could be an effective general strategy. Here’s why: It’s almost always in a woman’s short-term self-interest to abort. This is precisely why the pro-abortion side has been effective. A focus on felt needs favors death, not life.

How can we “regain the moral high ground in the mind of the public” if we retreat from the moral debate? The whole point of an ethical argument is to turn people from selfish interests to what is right. Felt needs are the problem, not the solution.

This approach completely sabotages the pro-life position. Crisis pregnancy centers do not exist to handle pregnancy (hospitals and clinics do that). They handle crisis pregnancies, those that will likely end in abortion. They don’t exist for the woman, strictly speaking, but for the child whose life is in danger. Women should not have abortions precisely because abortion is a moral tragedy. If not, then why oppose it?

By contrast, this new tactic implicitly promotes the vice of selfishness instead of the virtue of sacrificial motherhood. Ideas have consequences, and this one may have, as Frank Beckwith observes, “the unfortunate consequence of increasing the number of people who think that unless their needs are pacified they are perfectly justified in performing homicide on the most vulnerable of our population.”

Shifting the focus away from the unborn is morally disastrous, undermining the legitimacy of the entire pro-life case. Our position just is a moral one, period. Abandoning the ethical foundation for a trendier message means the pro-life movement no longer has any reason to exist. Instead, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

Our growing reluctance to advance moral arguments and instead focus on the self-interest of the mother is a tacit admission we either don’t have a moral case to offer or that it simply doesn’t matter because it’s irrelevant. In either instance, pro-lifers have not just abandoned the moral argument, they’ve abandoned the fight altogether. This we cannot do.

[Source]


Sunday, March 23, 2008

Pope Benedict Baptizes Prominent Muslim Magdi Allam

UPDATED: see below

Expect fallout.

One can only assume from this that the Pope means what he says when he constantly reiterates that all peoples—including Muslims—must have the freedom to pursue truth and the religion which their conscience dictates.
But the price will be high. It was for the Christians in Rome. Obviously the Pope knows this.
The mass came some 12 hours after an Easter vigil service on Saturday night where, in a surprise move, the pope baptized Muslim-born convert Magdi Allam, 55, an outspoken journalist and fierce critic of Islamic extremism.
At the morning Mass, the pope read a prayer saying that after Christ's resurrection some 2,000 years ago "thousands and thousands of people converted to the Christian faith" and he added: "This is a miracle that still renews itself today."
The Egyptian-born Allam's conversion to Christianity -- he took the name "Christian" for his baptism -- was kept secret until the Vatican disclosed it in a statement less than an hour before the Saturday night service began.
 Slideshow here.
UPDATE: This is the sort of injustice which Benedict XVI has protested as a grave violation of religious freedom.
Also see this very amazing story reported today on Joel Rosenberg's blog.

Confession Makes the News in Canada’s National Post

Don’t expect to come away with any sense of understanding the Catholic sacrament of Confession from reading this article in the National Post. Misrepresentation runs from subtle to blatant.

For the sake of balance, try one of the summaries below:

The short (and scriptural) version on why Catholics confess their sins to a priest.

Protestants have a long list of objections to Catholic teaching regarding confession.

Here’s a very brief guide for the Catholic on the practice of confession.

Perhaps I Was Wrong About Michael Coren

A few days ago I lumped Michael Coren together with “conservative colleagues” and accused him of being a moral relativist.

It has been brought to my attention that I might be wrong about Coren. After considering the matter, I admit I need to at least substantiate my claim—or my suspicions. I would like to think otherwise about Coren, who, as I admitted in my posting, writes brilliantly and once again illustrated that fact over the last couple of days.

Perhaps I was too quick to pin the label on Coren but I did so at the time because of some existing impressions pertaining to Coren’s positions on sodomy, divorce and contraception. Also, I must now confess to a careless misreading of the quote [from the article by Coren] which appeared in my posting. At the time I thought Coren’s comment about perversion related to his views on homosexuality but upon closer examination it is clear he was speaking of polygamy.

In any case, I apologize for prematurely criticizing Coren without offering a reasonable case for the claim. I will look further into the matter and in the very near future post the results of my inquiry. I will also try to present a more detailed description of what I believe constitutes the label "moral relativist."

It would be a very pleasant outcome indeed to discover that I was wrong about Michael Coren.

Please stay tuned.

Alleluia! He is Risen! Alleluia!


Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:

Romans 6:4-5


[Image source]

Friday, March 21, 2008

By Whose Stripes Ye Were Healed

Who, by his own self bore our sins in his own body on the tree, that we being dead to sins should live unto righteousness; by whose stripes ye were healed.
I Peter 2:24

Artwork above:
Matthias Grunewald, "The Crucifixion", 1515 (140 Kb); Panel from the Isenheim altarpiece: oil on wood 269 x 307 cm (105 7/8 x 120 7/8 in); Musee d'Unterlinden, Colmar

Thursday, March 20, 2008

In Persona Christi: Holy Thursday, The Priest and Contraception

From Father Tom’s Spirit & Life Column at Human Life International.

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In Persona Christi: Holy Thursday, The Priest and Contraception

By John Mallon

In Persona Christi, the priest stands for the Bridegroom in ministering to His Bride, the Church. In bringing new life to the Bride in the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, he acts in a husbanding role and as a father. He cultivates.

The marriage bed is the altar of the domestic Church. Just as the priest brings new life spiritually, (zoe), to the Bride on the altar, the husband brings new biological life, (bios), to his wife on the marriage bed. In confecting and administering the Eucharist the priest brings new life to the family of Heaven, and the husband brings new life to the family on earth. In each case God is directly involved. Only through the Holy Spirit at the hands of the priest can bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ; and in human intercourse, only God can create a soul through the union of husband and wife.

The more one meditates on this Bridal mysticism the more staggering and beautiful it becomes, and the more the horror of contraception comes into relief.

In Genesis, when God set about to create man He said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness," (Gen 1:26a). He spoke in plural. God is not a lone male figure, but a family: the Trinity. He went on to say, "Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and the cattle, and over all the wild animals and all the creatures that crawl on the ground," (Gen 1:26b), here also indicating man as family. Man as species, man complete as one flesh. He also shares His dominion with man.

In the image of God, man not only images what God the Holy Trinity is, a family, but also images what God does: love and give life.

Feminist ideology, which often counters our message, doesn't get this. It thinks in term of separateness, not unity. It is an ideology of despair, especially despairing of love; despair issuing from a failure of love - sin - the despair that comes from being sinned against, and taking refuge in more sin. It is despair buried under generational layers of abuse, exploitation and sin. Whereas, the Church holds up loving union; with love as its path.

Human sexuality and reproduction, as one of God's greatest gifts, was wrapped by Him in pleasure and love, but too many in our time merely play with the wrappings and throw away the gift, soon finding only emptiness among the shreds.

The priest is a soldier of love, a soldier of beauty, a soldier of truth - a soldier of life. Sin divides. Sin kills. Contraception divides sperm from egg, husband from wife and man from God. Abortifacient contraception divides the embryo from the womb and, in destroying it, divides the newly minted soul from its tiny body.

The priest is tasked with restoring all things in Christ. This is not easy, but soldiers are men who fight wars, get wounded, maimed and even killed in a cause greater than themselves. Those fallen in this war we call martyrs. In fighting this war you may be killed. Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI have both called for a willingness to be martyred on the part of clergy - and all Christians - in these hostile days.

One may not be physically killed, but standing with Christ on the truth of life and contraception may earn him the smaller deaths of ridicule, mockery, and ostracism - even from his brother priests, who may still be under the misapprehension that priesthood is a nice, comfortable and respectable life where they will be well-liked and popular.

It is plausible that on the first Holy Thursday, in Gethsemane, Jesus underwent another kind of death, or perhaps the beginning of the death He would suffer the next day: heartbreak. It is plausible that in that heartbreak he died for the sins of His friends, the Church throughout history, the betrayals and abandonment beginning that very night with Peter's denial and the slumber of His sleepy friends who could not stay awake and watch with Him.

It is He whom you serve. It is He in Whose place you stand. To be bland and uncontroversial is a very poor way to imitate Christ. They don't put you on the cross for mediocrity.

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This article can also be found at Humanae Vitae Priests.Org and on John Mallon's personal website http://johnmallon.net

More Relativism from Canada’s Culture Warriors

Yesterday, from recommended links at No Apologies

STD’s and Liberalism

There were some startling new stats released in the US last week on the rate of incidence of sexually transmitted diseases among teenagers, especially teenaged girls. The numbers are shocking. Today, we link to two columns which both essentially argue that the numbers are a direct result of liberal attitudes about sex education, and about sex in general. Great ammunition if you need to convince some of your liberal friends of the error of their ways.

My question?

Why single out liberals for the error of their ways over sex education when conservatives have been defending contraception—which is the root cause of our present crisis of deformed "safe-sex" mentality—for at least an entire generation?

When will I stop my alarmist rhetoric on this subject?

When would you stop yelling for help if you were drowning?

Furthermore, when will the moral relativists stop harping about homosex and Islam and start focussing on a strategy that will actually make a difference? We all know the problem is precisely the birthrate so why are we dragging our heels?

Timely Links from Catholic Culture for Holy Week

Received yesterday in an email from Dr. Mirus.

…take advantage of our extensive liturgical year materials on Holy Week.

Please note also the Spiritual Reading for the Sacred Triduum and Easter
recommended there. In addition, two new items in our library may prove useful:

The Pope's homily on Palm Sunday to 50,000 pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square: Purifying Our Hearts in Order to Recognize God.

A convert psychologist's advice on formation of conscience: Conscience and the Obedience of Faith.

Michael Coren and the Progression of Conservative Thought

In Saturday’s Toronto Sun, Michael Coren makes his prediction “that polygamy will be legal and accepted in this country within five years.” In a column subtitled “On the heels of gay marriage, polygamy knocks on Canada's door,” Coren argued that the redefinition of the institution of marriage to include people of the same gender has invariably led us to this point.

But he wonders why we find polygamy to be so frightening.

It is certainly jarring, but less so than the notion of people of the same gender, incapable of procreation without the abuse of science, parading as husbands and husbands or wives and wives. It is a perversion of the norm rather than a perversion in itself.

Well, at least he got to call it what it is…a perversion. More could be said but that’s not where I’m going with my posting.

Am I the only one who wonders whether today’s conservatives are really only yesterday’s liberals dressed up in today’s clothes? Don’t you have your own secret suspicions? [No? Give it some thought. Think Stephen Harper for just a moment.]

Today’s conservatives—and understandably a great percentage of them are Christians—have been aghast at the attack on the institution of marriage advanced by the sodomists. They can see clearly that “gay marriage” will logically lead to polygamy and they warn society accordingly. But having lost the ground of biblical marriage and having suffered a humiliating retreat, they are about ready to put their loss behind them. In a few years, as Coren notes, one major step closer to being cornered in the box, they will be busy trying to hold the ground against the polygamists. Fast forward a few more years and they will be the very ones defending, if not practicing, the latest liberal victory of yesterday, “gay marriage.”

Unconvinced? Ask yourself how often today’s conservatives tackle the subject of divorce—once upon a time an unheard-of option for the Christian—which today claims about half of all marriages across the board. For that matter, how many pastors will press two people who cohabitate to live apart until marriage, even when they are in the midst of planning their wedding day?

Ask yourself how often today’s conservatives hearken back to the days when Canadian society was protected from sodomists through legal sanction. Even the great majority of Christians are incredulous and distressed by any suggestion to criminalize the disgusting sex acts engaged in by sodomists yet it wasn’t that long ago when they got sick to their stomach to think such perversion might be de-criminalized.

But for the crowning illustration let’s go back to the first half of the 20th Century when Christians (and conservatives) were issuing the strongest possible warnings about a very pernicious and fundamental perversion of God’s sexual gift which was wooing society at the time. The Anglicans, who were in complete agreement with all other Christian bodies at the time, in response to much pressure, warned all members “against the use of unnatural means of avoiding conception.”

Yes, dear reader, less than one hundred years ago, Christians began to break away in great numbers from the constant teaching tradition of Christendom which prohibited birth control. Conservatives ever since have been defending that hard fought libertine (read “liberal”) success of yesteryear. I’ve posted recently and frequently on the same subject. But since I believe this to be the decisive fulcrum of today’s culture wars I hope readers will forgive me for singing the same old tune. I could use some accompaniment.

If we don’t address that fatal flaw—it will require doing business with God on our knees—the descent into chaos will continue unabated.

I respect Michael Coren and his oft-brilliant columns and he has huge appeal among pro-lifers and the more traditional minded Canadian populace. But unfortunately, like his conservative colleagues, I fear he’s a moral relativist. It’s time for all of them to decide whether they are first Christians or first Conservatives.

Let me put it another way. If two thousand years of constant Christian teaching tradition can’t be trusted to reflect the absolute truth of God’s or man’s nature [on birth control, divorce, and sodomy, as well as marriage and abortion], then there’s nothing left but moral relativity and the inevitable collapse of our once great society. And it can have only one end—the pit of hell. Otherwise God is made out to be a prudish fool for nineteen centuries.

Conservatives, I maintain, are like night caretakers at a construction site, ensuring the framing erected by the day shift remains intact until the grand project is finally complete. And the project foreman is a Liberal.

An even bigger question is whether Conservatives can ever be more than the caretakers and cronies of the Liberals. I say yes but that all depends on whether the national pool of Christian thought can recover its integrity—it’s faithful adherence to God’s revelation.

And that, in turn, depends on whether Canada’s Christian leaders, particularly the Catholic Bishops, can recover their integrity. I highlight the Catholic Bishops because on the matter of contraception the Catholic Church seems to be standing alone, at least in its official teachings, in the defense of this age old Christian doctrine. That should make a turnabout less traumatic.

In the meantime, the question remains: Christian first—or Conservative first? And if Christian, then which kind—the fifty year old kind or the two thousand year old kind?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Michael O’Brien on Moral Anarchy and Signs of Contradiction

Looks like another must read from Michael O’Brien.

From No Apologies website today:

Moral Anarchy

Michael O’Brien is a Catholic author and apologist. You may have heard of one of his first pieces; a little book he wrote more than 10 years ago called “A Landscape With Dragons“, which was basically a defence of the use of the fantasy genre in children’s literature as a teaching tool in Christian households. O’ Brien has turned into more of a cultural apologist these days, and he has a new essay on his website this month dealing with the notion of “moral anarchy”.

New Publications from the Catholic Bishops of Canada

Announcement today from the CCCB (Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops) on the availability of the following publications:

Parents: You, Your Children and their Catholic Faith (DVD)
Series of 7 talks said to be ideal for parents and educators bringing children to the Sacraments.

Anybody know anything about this material? I was able to find a little info and video trailer on this series here. It’s not much but more feedback on this series’ faithfulness to the Magisterium would be very much appreciated.

As some may know, serious questions have been raised previously—even by other Catholic Bishops—about some of the catechetical materials used by the Canadian Bishops.


Directory 2008
A yearly publication with loads of information on The Holy Father, the Apostolic Nunciature, the CCCB, the dioceses of Canada and other organizations of the Church.


Lexicon: Debatable and Ethical Questions Regarding Family Life

Published by Pontifical Council for the Family, Rome. According to the CCCB website,
The Lexicon clarifies terms regarding family life and ethical questions that tend to change meanings depending on context and ideology. A clear understanding of terms is presented by more than 80 international experts from various fields in this compendium of articles.

Looks like a helpful resource—and a very comprehensive one—and it should be sound doctrinally considering its source. Thank you, dear Bishops.

Delayed Reaction to Popular Movie Juno Looks Deeper into Cultural Morass

Remember when “Juno” was all the rage with pro-lifers and conservatives in general? Why, even the pro-aborts were condemning and lamenting it. So it must have belonged to our side, right?

Perhaps we just needed some time for the movie magic of Ellen Page to wear thin before we came to our senses. This week Phyllis Schlafly and Jean Strauss go a little deeper.

Thanks Hollywood. Keep us enthralled and entranced—even while we go down for the third time.

Face it. We're being fooled and the vast majority of the time we haven't a clue as to how. We think as long as we can see an enemy we must be on the right side of things and we've just got to keep on fighting.

But there's only one enemy...and he's not visible.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Ottawa Archbishop Prendergast and Phony Catholics

Timothy Bloedow, Canadian author, culture warrior and guest columnist over at No Apologies, is peeved at phony Catholics.
What I can’t understand is why people who have rejected Catholicism still want to be considered a “Catholic”? The same goes for anybody, regardless of what classification we’re talking about. You have Evangelical Christians and people of other religions trying to pull the same stunt.

Timothy is chiming in on a news report centering on Ottawa Archbishop Terrance Prendergast—and to which I linked in an earlier posting. 

Bloedow is peeved at the response by certain “Catholic politicians” to the Archbishop’s recent comments about denying Holy Communion to pro-abortion Catholics.
So, what brings on this criticism of phony religion? It’s the responses of various Catholic Members of Parliament to Ottawa Catholic Archbishop Terence Prendergast’s recent statement that he would deny communion to pro-abortion MPs.

Some real Catholic MPs like Tom Wappel, Pierre Lemieux and Andrew Scheer answered like Catholics. But a number of Liberal MPs made it clear in their answers that they are Fundamentalist Secular Humanists, not Catholics.
Bloedow is not afraid to speak his mind and he regularly wages a strong campaign against what he believes are the evils threatening Canadian society. I agree with him on a good number of points.

Like Tristan Emmanuel, he is an Evangelical Christian taking on the huge task of trying to engage Christians in the public square. I admire their enthusiasm and tenacity. 

However, Stefan Jetchick recently took on Bloedow and his book “State vs. Church: What Christians Can Do to Save Canada from Liberal Tyranny” in this series of email exchanges, where he raised a number of concerns about Bloedow’s approach. Read the exchanges and see what you think. 

But at least these guys are trying hard to fix some of the monsters let loose in Canadian society due to the neglect of authentic Christian teaching by Catholic Bishops in Canada. Unfortunately, I’m of the opinion that only the Bishops themselves, after due repentance and reparation, are truly able to return Canada to a sound footing and future. After all, Bloedow and his colleagues seem to have tunnel vision in the matter of runaway sterile sex among Christians and political “conservatives,” a handicap that virtually cripples them in getting to the root of Canada’s present woes. 

I do think that Archbishop Prendergast has planted some rare and hopeful signs of change in his recent outline of Catholic teaching concerning pro-abortion politicians who call themselves “Catholic” but he will have to quite literally move some of the gates of hell which have been positioned in Canadian society over the last forty or fifty years. 

Is he up to it? I really don’t know but I have complete confidence that if he moves forward step by step, does not waver in his responsibilities as Bishop, and if he holds complete fidelity to the Magisterium of the Church, God Himself will move those gates. I think it’s very important for Christians, especially Catholics, to do whatever they can to encourage the Archbishop in the monumental task which he seems to be considering. 

Consider emailing the Archbishop right now and commending him for his statements so far. Then encourage him to keep moving this agenda forward. Remember that the Archbishop’s initiatives could trigger the very reformation that we so desperately need here in Canada to stem the tide of our demographic demise as well as the very culture of death which is daily smothering truth and our freedoms. 

Most Rev. Terrence Prendergast, D.D.
Archbishop of Ottawa
1247 Kilborn Place
Ottawa, Ontario K1H 6K9

Phone: (613) 738-5025 ext. 233 Fax: (613) 738-0130
email: archbishop@ecclesia-ottawa.org
Website: http://www.ecclesia-ottawa.org 

And finally, to get a sense of the frustration and cynicism that currently exists among Catholics on the subject of Canadian Bishops defending Catholic truth, take a look at Paul Gordon’s comments on Archbishop Prendergast’s “idle chatter.”


Reading and Reflecting on Holy Week and Easter

Well done and very appropriate article for Holy Week by Carl E. Olson

The Easter Triduum: Entering into the Paschal Mystery
A guide to the Easter Triduum, which holds a special place in the liturgical year because it marks the culmination of the yearly celebration in proclaiming the Passion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

And if you’re an Evangelical, here’s a bonus article from the same writer.

Lent: Some Catholics deface it while some Evangelicals embrace it
When Catholics embrace faddish falsehoods they usually manage to look both dull and dated. Case in point: "The Ecological Stations of the Cross" used in a prominent parish in North Carolina.

Benedict XVI on the Sacrament of Confession

In a posting I made yesterday, I stated how rare it was to find a mention of the subject of conversion—let alone an elaboration or a homily—from priests or Bishops in the Catholic Church in Canada. It is even rarer, in my experience at least, to find any mention of confession, otherwise officially known as the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Pope Benedict recently summed up the relationship between the two extremely well in a March 7 address on matters of conscience.

It must be a commitment of pastors and especially of confessors to highlight the close connection that exists between the Sacrament of Reconciliation and a life oriented decisively to conversion.

The entire address, entitled “Benedict XVI on the Sacrament of Confession” was published in the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano and is found online through Zenit News service. It’s shorter than you expect so why not take a moment to read it through.

Jesus said to the shepherds, “Feed my sheep.” Catholics need to be fed and deserve to be fed by their priests and Bishops.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Benedict XVI Fed Up With the Hatred and Violence in Iraq

In an unusual posting today by Rocco Palmo detailing the newest—and only—Christian Church in Qatar, we hear the cry of a distressed Pope Benedict XVI.

After praising the "beautiful witness" of Chaldean Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho of Mosul, whose body was discovered Thursday after having been abducted by local militants, the pontiff took up his "loud and anguished" cry, saying "Enough with the massacres, enough with the violence, enough with hatred in Iraq!" Noting Wednesday's fifth anniversary of the first strikes on Baghdad, Benedict called on "the Iraqi people, who for five years have been bearing the consequences of war that has provoked the disintegration of its civil and social life: dear Iraqi people, lift up your heads and be yourselves, in the first place, the rebuilders of your national life!"

Changing the Contraceptive Mentality

Suzanne, at Big Blue Wave, shared a few of her thoughts on my recent article which appeared on the Vote Life, Canada! blog and which was entitled “It’s Not the Homosex, Stupid.” That posting also appeared on Contra|Diction!

Eric at Vote Life, Canada! says that the root of our culture war is the acceptance of the contraceptive mentality. Conservatives, by accepting sterile sex, are complicit in fueling those very things they oppose.

I do agree. However, I think that moralism will only go so far on this point. I think that we are so compromised, we, as a culture don't get it-- at all.

Click through on the link and read the rest of her posting, which is only a couple of paragraphs. I’d like to see much more discussion on this critical subject.

Another superb example of the tunnel vision of conservatives in this area was seen in Saturday’s column by Marsha West, entitled “Sexually transmitted diseases are a result of liberalism.”

Make no mistake about it though: Marsha did an outstanding job of surveying the vast landscape of liberal deception surrounding modern “sexuality” which has so devastated our society. However, as I argued in my article, most Christians today and certainly conservatives like Marsha, seem entirely blind to the most devastating deception ever launched by liberals—the normalization of sterile sex.

When may we expect to hear Marsha tackle the subject of that "most unnatural wickedness?"

And one last reference to the matter of contraception: John Pacheco has posted Retract the Winnipeg Statement wherein he publishes a draft of
the letter to be sent out to all Latin Rite bishops of the Catholic Church on March 31. It calls for the retraction of the Winnipeg Statement, among other measures.

It covers a lot of ground and my signature is in there somewhere with the other 999 signatures on the petition.