Thursday, May 31, 2007

Jesus and the Victory of God

This is an entry to the Christian Reconciliation Carnival in response to the topic:

Have you read articles, essays, or books by a Christian of a denomination other than yours -- and found yourself agreeing with much of what he or she wrote? How has this changed your understanding of the divisions in Christianity?
My favorite (contemporary) Protestant author is probably NT Wright. (I'm not terribly well read to begin with though) I've just (well almost) finished Jesus and the Victory of God and I was really impressed. My friend is an elder at a PCA Church nearby and he's one of the most well studied men I know... scratch that he is the most well studied person I know on a first name basis. Wright came highly recommended from him and I finally got around to reading his book on the historicity of Jesus Christ. (As a side note, I understand that Wright is causing quite a fuss in Presbyterian circles because of his work on Paul).

Wright attempts and succeeds and painting a historically accurate portrait of Jesus Christ. His work, I think, has done volumes for Christianity as a whole in an age where even the scholarship of many so called "Christians" sets itself above patristic witness and even Scripture. In this age of 'historic critical' methodology where we are deceived into thinking we have somehow discovered new secrets of antiquity that the neanderthals in the first few centuries were too dense to understand, it is refreshing to see such a well studied and respected scholar put all of these secular fantasies firmly to rest.

He points out certain facts that had never even crossed my mind... Secular opinion dates the synoptic gospels no earlier than 67 AD (at the very conservative end of the spectrum) beginning with Mark. Most secular scholars would probable place even Mark at or around 70 AD and depending on how far into 'fringe scholarship' you want to go, some (like Crossan) will place obvious Gnostic forgeries (like Thomas) earlier than that. Though his work is not apologetic in nature, it certainly has apologetic implications. Wright argues that by this time, it is well known (mainly from Paul's writings) that orthodox Christology had already been developing and Jesus was widely considered God by the Christians. Though much of the synoptic tradition would be inconceivable as Christian-interjected theology rather than actual history given this background. Why would any Christian forge Jesus saying "No one knows of that hour not the angels in heaven nor the Son but only the Father"? (This is but one example of course)

And how about the apostles? Their 'royal' (for lack of a better word) status in the very early Church as irrefutably attested to by Paul and later by Luke stands in stark contrast to the bone-head portrait painted by the synoptics. One final example from his book would be Jesus' eschatological warning for the Christians to flee Jerusalem by running to the hills found in Mark chapter 13. If this had been invented by the early Church (as of course, secularism demands that it must be since a fulfilled prophecy would be clear vindication for Christ) then no one would have ever claimed that Jesus said such a thing since 1. Titus' legions occupied the hills surrounding Jerusalem in the actual battle in 70 AD and 2. It hardly coincides with the tradition of the Christians fleeing to Pella before the destruction as recorded by Eusebius.

Wright's historical method of double similarity / dissimilarity is an ingenious proof in favor of the authenticity of the gospels and of orthodox Christianity. Since he is an Anglican, I think he fits the criteria for the carnival's post. Along the same lines, I'm also a big William Lane Craig fan. His apologetics have done a lot of good for Christianity.

The Masters of the Faith

Yesterday, Pope Benedict made the following comment in his address on Tertullian:

we continue to talk about the great personalities of the ancient Church: They are masters of the faith for us even today
I also commented recently on the fact that nearly all converts (it seems to me) are converted not by clever rhetoric from learned theologians coming out of the liberal Jesuit-run universities, but by the traditional wisdom from the Church fathers. (I don't know if we can call Tertullian a Church father since he did of course apostatize to the Montanist sect but his orthodox period certainly produced some good stuff).

So next time you're in the book store, pick Chrysostom instead of Sobrino, Augustine instead of Kung and Irenaeus instead of Brown.

Catholic World News reports:
Pope Benedict concluded that even great thinkers must be mindful of their own limitations, or risk losing the perspective that makes their ideas influential. He said: "The essential characteristic of great theologians is the humility to remain with the Church, to accept her weaknesses and their own, because only God is truly holy."
How very true. I hope a lot of Jesuits were listening to that.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Tridentine Mass

Via PhatCatholic - YouTube Summer Project.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Bill Maher Mocks the Catholic Church

This certainly isn't the first time that Bill Maher has slandered Christianity. I wonder if that coward would have enough guts to slander Islam in the same way? How about Judaism? VIA A Catholic Life - Bill Maher Makes Imus Look Like a Saint. It's time not only to boycott HBO and the hypocrites who allow this stuff to go on, but to boycott Hollywood and the secular media as much as possible. Especially those networks that lean hardest to the left like HBO, CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC etc... Vote with your money since our politicians don't seem to care.

Where's the liberal outrage on this?

Friday, May 25, 2007

Happy Birthday to My Blog

My first post on this blog was on May 24, 2006, almost one year ago to the date. I started this blog after seeing a post slandering the Catholic Church on a conservative blog that I had recently picked up interest in. I followed the thread and posted several messages aiming to defend the Church on a couple different blogs that it spilled over into. (I was in the conversion process at that time). Then I decided to start my own blog.

I had already been working on a paper to collect my thoughts as to why I was converting. The paper required a good deal of research so that helped me learn a lot about the faith during the process. My 100th post on this blog was my conclusion: The Probability of the Catholic Church's Authority. And ever since then I've just been rambling. So thanks to all my loyal readers... oh who am I kidding thanks mom! (Actually my mom doesnt read my blog).

Thursday, May 24, 2007

St. Mark as the Young Man in Gethsemane

Is it possible for a theory to be so orthodox that it becomes 'un-orthodox'? Here's my theory on St. Mark as the young man in Gethsemane who flees naked.

St. Mark was a young man at the time of Christ[1]. He was the cousin of Barnabas[2] and presumably became a disciple (whether direct or indirect) through the testimony of Barnabas before Christ’s crucifixion. His mother’s name was Mary, a widow[3].

Since Barnabas was one of the seventy (according to Eusebius), it is not unlikely that Mark heard about Jesus shortly after that occurrence. My guess is that Mark was 13 or 14 at this time (but of course, we have no evidence so that is complete speculation).

Since his mother’s house was a known gathering place in the very earliest Christian Church, a couple things can be reasonably assumed. 1. They knew and were followers of Christ before His death 2. They knew the other apostles 3. They had at least some wealth since the house was apparently fitting for a meeting place. Mark was educated in the Greek language and it seems apparent from his gospel that he had an interest in linguistics. He takes time to write words in the original tongue and then translate them for his readers[4].

Thus, my theory is this: Mark learns of Jesus through his cousin Barnabas in the second or third year of Jesus’ ministry. Mark (still just a teenager and living in Jerusalem) is unable to follow this great prophet (perhaps the Messiah) but when he hears that Jesus has come to Jerusalem for the Passover feast in 30 AD, he is ecstatic. Perhaps even against the direction of his mother, he looks on from a distance as much as possible during Jesus’ week long stay in and around Jerusalem and Bethany.

On Holy Thursday, Mark somehow learns of the location of the upper room. Maybe his house was near the one which held the upper room (or as has been suggested by some, it actually was the house of the upper room[5]). He must have known somehow (as others apparently did) that something big was about to take place or perhaps he really understood just how great of a prophet was among them and didn’t want to miss a thing.

Whatever the reason, he follows the disciples from a distance to the Mount of Olives and then later to Gethsemane[6]. He stays the entire time and possibly even gets close enough to hear some of Jesus’ prayer. When Judas Iscariot arrives with the armed men[7], Mark finds himself in harm’s way and remains motionless, fearing for his life.

They are only focused on arresting Jesus at first, but after the arrest and the struggle that followed, chaos ensues. The disciples scatter off[8]. Some of the armed men try to capture the fleeing disciples as witnesses – especially those who seem to be within grasp.

There must not have been any full-fledged man hunt for the disciples since none of them were caught and Peter even stays close enough to follow the mob back to Jerusalem[9]. But one of the disciples (maybe still dazed) takes off in a random direction which happens to be very close to Mark’s hiding place and a guard follows close behind. Seeing that his cover is blown, Mark springs to his feet and turns to run after the disciple. He just barely makes it; and in fact – perhaps he really did sneak out of his house because he is only wearing a linen cloth[10]. The guard actually lunges, seizing Mark but his grip isn’t firm. Mark manages to wiggle free and flees naked – leaving his garments behind[11]. Imagine him explaining that one when he comes home to his mother!

[1] In 1 Peter 5:13, Peter calls Mark his son. This would imply that Peter is older and probably significantly older than him.

[2] Colossians 4:10

[3] She is assumed to be a widow since she is named as the owner of the house in Acts 12:12

[4] For example: Mark 7:34

[5] Oxford Annotated New Revised Standard Version suggests this. Some have also suggested that Judas Iscariot first led the mob back to the house of (John) Mark where they had the last supper and Mark ran off to warn Jesus of the betrayal.

[6] Mark 14:26, 32

[7] Mark 14:43

[8] Mark 14:46-50

[9] Mark 14:54

[10] This is odd because we know the temperature is chilly since Peter soon warms himself by the fire. (Mark 14:54, 67)

[11] Perhaps this story seems a bit fabricated, as if I don’t have any solid evidence to base my assumptions about Mark. But I think the details must be very similar to what I have suggested if such an event occurred. (Even from a secular “historical” perspective, the event is highly plausible. The early Christian Church would have no real reason to invent such an event except for the possible, albeit unlikely, reference to Amos 2:16 and Genesis 39:12. Still, the ‘embarrassment’ of the story and no apparent prophetic fulfillment makes it highly unlikely to have been invented by the early Christians). The man was ‘following Jesus’, he was wearing nothing but a linen garment, and he was young. We must assume it is someone who knew of Jesus – a follower (not merely in a literal sense). It could be one of the 70 (and indeed Mark is said by some relatively late patristic sources to be one of the seventy) however, I believe that Mark was very young and that he was not one of the 70. These notions along with the fact that St. Mark is the only one of the gospel writers to mention the incident, lead me to believe that he was, in fact, the young man mentioned in Mark 14:51-52. Whether it actually was Mark, at least some of these extra-biblical details, I think, must be true of some young man.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

PCA Members Converting by the Truckload!

It seems like PCA (Presbyterian Church of America) members are converting to the Catholic Church by the truckload. Here is another recent convert from the PCA (hat tip Evangelical Catholicism). For those of you who don't know, the PCA is a very small conservative Presbyterian denomination with more evangelical tendencies than their counterpart (the OPC - Orthodox Presbyterian Church).

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The GodFearin' Redneck? Who Would Have Guessed?

My friend and I had a contest to see who could find the worst t-shirt to wear to the Nextel Allstar race.... I won...

Monday, May 21, 2007

Catholicism in the Philippines

It is a common charge against Catholicism that in America Catholicism is relatively 'kosher' (if I can use that term) but in other countries where Catholicism is the powerhouse, devotion to the blessed Virgin and to the saints and other 'superstitions' overshadow the true gospel. But how true is that? How different is Catholicism in America from other countries? Well I can only speak of the Philippines but out of all the countries in the world that might have a corrupted version of Catholicism I would think it would be the Philippines (and I have heard that charge against them as well). But is it really true?

About 85% of the Philippines are Catholic so Catholicism dominates the religion scene there. But maybe these are just Catholics by birth like some countries in Europe that claim high Catholic populations with empty parishes...

I visited the beautiful Baclaran Church (Our Lady of Perpetual Help) on a Wednesday afternoon for a novena. The Church seats 2,000 but there were easily 5,000 there or more. Apparently as many as 11,000 pack that place for masses. I was present for 2 different Novenas (waiting for the English Novena which never actually came for whatever reason) and saw the massive hall fill up wall to wall standing room only twice! It was very impressive. So much for the "just Catholic by birth" theory... these Catholics are devoted!

But what about superstition, does it overshadow the gospel like anti-Catholics often charge of Catholicism in developing nations and or thoroughly Catholic ones? I didn't see any indication of that whatsoever. ( I visited 4 different parishes celebrating mass in 2 of them). I was looking at a Catholic Bible in Tagalog and after I was through skimming the pages out of curiosity, I set it down where I got it from somewhat roughly (I dropped it from a foot or so) and there was a 7 year old boy (Catholic) sitting next to me and he said "Hey! That book is from Jesus and you just .." he didn't know the proper English but he was clearly indicating his disapproval at my apparent lack of respect for the Holy Bible. Wisdom from the mouth of babes. But what really struck me about the encounter was the deep respect all Catholics have for the Bible (not that Protestants don't by any means but that it is a false perception that Catholics don't regard the Scriptures just as high as any other Christians). I can speak for myself and say that joining the Catholic Church has done nothing but increase my respect and reverence for the Bible.

The only negative thing I can say about Catholicism in the Philippines is that they did, unfortunately, hold hands during the Our Father (at least in one parish I visited) and in the same parish they stood up well before they were supposed to during the consecration.

There are other Christians there, but Protestants are a minority there (the Catholics call them "born agains" - my Protestant friend said "I've been called worse") The church building on the right is the "central temple" of the Iglesia Ni Cristo (Tagalog for Church of Christ if you didn't already guess) not to be confused with the American counterpart. I dont know much about them except for they don't believe in the Trinity and they apparently have some significant political influence in the (already corrupt) Philippine government. Other than Catholic Churches, I saw more of the Iglesia Ni Cristo churches than anything else.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Email to a PCA Minister - Defending the Church

On my plane from Detroit to Nagoya, Japan a month or so ago, I had the pleasure of sitting beside a (retired) PCA minister and his wife who were on their way to do mission work in Japan. During our conversation, I remember the confused / surprised look on his face when I told him that I grew up PCA but had since converted to the Catholic Church. His expression said "Why on earth would you do that?!" I can't blame him, 2 years ago I would have had the same reaction.

We then had a lively discussion which (thankfully) passed the remaining 3 hours of the 13 hour flight quickly. We hit all the typical points of discussion. Even with such a long flight though, there's only so much ground you can cover. So I promised him an email to follow up and back up my claims. Here is that email:

Now as for our conversation, I promised you a response by email to back up my claims and here it is (again sorry for the delay). There are three main things that you said that I want to clearly demonstrate are entirely false:

1. 70% of Catholic Cardinals are in favor of making the virgin Mary part of the Trinity.
2. The early Church Fathers (by in large) did not believe in the Real Presence.
3. The Church's refusal to liberalize on the issue of contraception has caused many abortions.

1. You stated that this was originally posted in a Newsweek article. I don't know what the Newsweek article said but here's what I found while googling for it. (My own personal website mentioning this incident two weeks ago showed up in the top 10 on Google with the keywords "newsweek mary trinity" which should tell you right off the bat that the article was probably misunderstood). Of course, you and I both know that Newsweek is hardly a pro-Catholic source. Here is a previous post of mine responding to a clearly anti-Catholic article run in Newsweek around Christmas. But even coming from an anti-Catholic source, there is no possible way Newsweek would have reported something so preposterous. It would be like the New York Times reporting that orthodox Jews were going to start eating pork and praying to statues or that Islam was going to reduce Mohammed's status to "just a good guy". Its something so far off reality that even the National Enquirer wouldn't risk its credibility by posting something like that.

I found this link which I think can help clear up the confusion. The petition you were talking about was an international one signed by 4 million Catholics (perhaps even many cardinals and perhaps 70% of cardinals; the article doesn't say) to petition Pope JPII to grant Mary the official title of 'co-redemptrix'. Some critics of the petition argued that doing so would elevate her to divine status thus making the Trinity a quartet. Whether that's true or not is irrelevant. The Pope said plainly we're not going to do it.

Like I said, if that ever happens (her being elevated to the Trinity) I'll fly to Houston, buy you lunch and convert to the PCA or whatever the young conservative Protestant denomination is at the time. I can say this with confidence because I know beyond any doubt whatsoever, that this would never in a million years happen.

2. As for the Real Presence, this one is very easy. This message is already getting lengthy so I'll try to limit my quotes. In fact I'll just give one from St. Ignatius and give you plenty of links so you can research for yourself.

St. Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans (107 AD):

They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they confess not the Eucharist to be the flesh of our Saviour Jesus Christ,
The heresy of denying the real presence dates back to the early second century and probably earlier. It was a hard teaching then, it's a hard one now. But the Church has always taught this and the vast majority of Christianity still believes it. But don't just take my word for it, here's my post on St. Ignatius' writings concerning the Real Presence.

Here is a link with about 20 quotes from the 4 century and earlier that shows with no ambiguity the Fathers unanimously agreed on this. Here is one from Dave Armstrong where he reports on 9 different Protestant scholars who admit that the Early Church taught this doctrine. I could post more as there are tons - but I've given you enough to read already. The early Christians speak for themselves. Like I said - the early Church fathers are not unanimous on all subjects but there are 2 'controversial' ones that they are unanimous on. 1. The regenerative nature of and the necessity of baptism and 2. The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. You won't find any early Christian denying either of these two doctrines. The first prominent Christian that I know of who denied the Real Presence was Wycliffe some 1300 years after the founding of the Church. I don't know when Christians started denying the regenerative nature of Baptism.

It was this issue (the Real Presence) that made me realize how 'Catholic' (in the modern sense of the word) the Early Church was. I'm sure you're aware of the recent 'high profile' conversion of Dr. Beckwith (president of the Evangelical Theological Society) to the Catholic Church. Like him and almost all other conversions that I know of, it wasn't the writings of modern scholars or even apologists that won us over to the Church, but the writings of those Christians who laid the foundations for her.

3. Finally, when you said that the PCA & OPC are going to eventually liberalize I agreed with you. That is the nature of man-made institutions. Which is why it is so utterly phenomenal and inconceivable that the Catholic Church has lasted this long without liberalizing (unless the Holy Spirit was protecting her from doing so). That was another selling point for me. If the Reformers were right and the visible Church had become corrupted, then it must have been a man made institution. But if so, how did it last for 2000 years and maintain not some but all of her teachings? There is no doctrine that the Church ever taught that she now rejects.

Now contraception is not a new issue as you know, and up until 1930 every single Christian denomination prohibited its use. Quote:
Prior to the 1930s all Christian denominations were united in their firm rejection of contraceptives. The Lambeth Conference of the Church of England (1930) marks the first departure from this unanimous prohibition, by advocating the use of artificial contraception when abstinence was deemed impracticable. The Federal Council of Churches (1931) equally adopted a policy of conservative advocation for artificial birth control methods. Most major Protestant traditions followed suit, and by 1961, the National Council of Churches declared a liberal policy on contraceptive use, subject to mutual consent between couples.(1)
Now maybe all the Christians were wrong until 1930 and the Catholic Church is just the only one too stubborn to admit it. I dont want to get into the details of discussing it but here are three short videos from Father Tom Euteneuer on the subject which are very good in my opinion. One, Two & Three. And here is Kimberly Hahn's mp3 on the subject which I'm sure is great though I haven't heard it. Finally, here is an apologetic article with a number of quotes from the Church fathers. So I'll leave you to listen and read that material and decide for yourself.

But let me address the logical fallacy of the argument that the Church, by failing to liberalize on this issue has caused many abortions. The problem is this, if someone is going to be obedient behind closed doors, why would they be disobedient in public on a much graver issue? Or to be more direct, why would someone obey the Church and refuse to wear a condom but then if she got pregnant would turn around and murder her child? It simply doesn't make sense. Anyone who is willing and prepared to hire someone to murder the living child inside her is certainly not going to be above using contraception. (The fact that many contraceptives are, in fact, abortive is another discussion). Furthermore, the videos from Father Euteneuer above also address the false idea that prohibition of contraception increases abortion. One of the key stats quoted in the above videos on that subject is the fact that some 60+% of abortions are performed on women because of contraception failure.

Contraception and its permission breeds an attitude of selfishness and promiscuity which inevitably lead to more abortion certainly not less. The videos do a much better job than I could on the subject so I hope you'll take the time to view them.

In conclusion, I don't expect to convince you to change your mind on any of the topics we discussed. But as a Catholic, it is simply my duty to respond to these allegations against my mother (the Church) which are entirely false. I do not in any way intend to question your integrity or sincerity so forgive any thing I said which is too blunt. I know that you love our Lord Jesus Christ and are serving Him with sincerity of heart. We are brothers in Christ though not in full communion and I look forward to the day where all Christians who have been redeemed by Christ will share one banquet table in heaven.

God bless.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Catholic Priest Invites Gang of 18 to Leave the Church

I've been real busy lately and have been neglecting my blog but should return shortly. In the meantime here's another update from HLI. Go Father Euteneuer!

FRONT ROYAL, VA — The Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuer, STL, president of Human Life International, (HLI) today said “Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro (CT-3) and seventeen other members of Congress who describe themselves as Catholic not only are ignorant of their faith but also need a civics lesson.”

Father Euteneuer was responding to their rebuke of Pope Benedict XVI in a press release from DeLauro’s office which stated that the Pope’s recent comments that Catholic politicians risk excommunication and should not receive Communion by saying, “Such notions offend the very nature of the American experiment and do a great disservice to the centuries of good work the church has done.”

Father Euteneuer said, “It is an embarrassment that a Catholic, much less a member of Congress should make such an absurd statement. Even if this statement were true, the Holy Father answers to a Higher Power than Rep. DeLauro and the Gang of 18.”

“The truth is,” Father Euteneuer said, “nothing threatens the American experiment more than the legal but unjust killing of human beings by abortion which stands in stark contrast to the very first right enumerated by our Declaration of Independence: The Right to Life. The humanity of the unborn child is no longer even debated. It is a scientific fact. Abortion is murder, and murder is against the law. Like Dred Scott before it, which violated certain citizens’ Right to Liberty, Roe v. Wade is bad, dishonest law and will eventually fall.”

“Excommunication is a pastoral and medicinal penalty, not a political one. The Pope is well within his free expression of religion guaranteed by the US Constitution—and his pastoral duty—to warn any Catholic when their eternal salvation is jeopardized by their actions” Father Euteneuer said. “This is what the Catholic Church teaches and what Catholics believe. If the Gang of 18 believes otherwise, honesty and integrity requires they find another church that tells them what they want to hear. If they have that much of a problem being Catholic, no one is forcing them to stay. We certainly don’t need their hypocrisy.”

Friday, May 11, 2007

Evangelizing the Culture of Death

From HLI, Father Eutenueuer's final video lecture on contraception, does contraception really reduce abortion?

Forward to a friend

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Are You a Liberal Weenie?

Many 'Catholics' that I've run across lately seem to be just religious versions of the left wing nut jobs you can find readily available in the secular world. But the funny thing is, many of these Catholics don't even seem to know that they are liberal. It's also interesting that no conservative ever denies or doesn't know that he or she is a conservative. Yet liberals so often think that they are moderate or 'progressive' even when they're a flaming left winger. So I came up with a little test (especially for Catholics) to know if you're a 'liberal weenie'. Feel free to add your own if I forgot some.

If you've ever said "im neither conservative or liberal" or "it doenst matter if you're conservative or liberal"...

ya might be a liberal weenie.

If you think that Jesus' ministry was focused mainly on social equality of all classes, races and genders...

ya might be a liberal weenie.

If you've ever protested or publically denounced the war in Iraq yet suprisingly didnt seem to have any problems with the Kosovo war...

ya might be a liberal weenie.

If you think that a strict rejection of the death penalty in every case is an infallible dogma of the Catholic Church but prohibitions against contraception and women ordination are up for discussion...

ya might be a liberal weenie.

If you make fun of Christians in the Intelligent Design movement and defend the integrity of Kung, Sobrino, Ray Brown etc...

ya might be a liberal weenie.

If you read the early Church fathers and Scripture by testing them with modern scholarship instead of the other way around...

ya might be .... scratch that, you ARE a liberal weenie.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Curious About the Catholic Church

This is a response to an email from Shawn who is 'courting' the idea of becoming Catholic. Here is an excerpt from the original email:

I must say that I admire and greatly respect the Pope Benedict. If I were to describe my theology it would be Wesleyan, and I can voice with catholcs a contempt for the monstorous doctrine of Calvanism. I discovered this year I don't believe in scriptura alone, and as egalitarian as this doctrine sounds it destroys itself.

However, I am not without reservations. Mariology (not to be confused with Mario-ology), and though I affirm astleast the eucharistic doctrine of Luther (it's really bread, and it's really Christ), I am hesitant to say we are sacrificing Christ every day. Lastly, I have greatly studied missiology; where are the catholics? I would appriciate it if you could reslove these issues perhaps in your blog. Or not. Thanks.

Shawn, I'd say you're about 90% Catholic already but the remaining 10% can be tough (at least it was for me). I'll take a stab at offering some help in these areas but just know that these are not simple doctrines and it takes prayer and study to grasp them (when you come from a background that rejects them). It's like a Muslim coming to Christianity - he has to learn to accept God as a personal - loving Father which is an alien concept to Islam and this is a difficult task. In the same way, we Protestants and former Protestants had (have) some obstacles to overcome that are difficult to accept.

Mariology is usually (not always) first and foremost as the most difficult one. It certainly was for me and took me well over a year after my final decision to convert to really come to grips with this doctrine. First, let me say this about Mariology, it's a difficult doctrine and not the type of thing that you can discuss with a non-Catholic with much success unless they are already on the same page on other issues. It would be like discussing whether Jesus could really have walked on water with an atheist. Its a useless discussion as the atheist will never agree that it's possible because of his / her world view. So with Mariology, unless you first affirm the authority of the Catholic Church, it's impossible (I think) to gain any real ground studying this doctrine. Even though there is (as Catholics would say) implicit support for the doctrines of Mariology in Scripture, there are easy ways around those supporting passages if you don't believe in Church authority. (And I mean real Church authority not Calvin's idea of church authority).

For me, I just couldn't come to grips with Mariology at first. It was extremely offensive to me. I struggled with it a lot in the beginning but I knew from the strength of the Catholic Church's apologetics on other areas that the Church was right. So even though I had not fully come to terms with the issue, I put it on the back burner (so to speak) until later on. I can't tell you exactly what it was that made me finally understand but here are a few points that I think might help:

1. Mariology is inherently and inseparably linked with Christology. The first step to understanding Mariology I believe is to understand the Church's teachings on Christology. Jesus' body is truly the body of God, and therefore Mary can truly be called the mother of God as she was literally God's mother. She is the Theotokos. Mariology (when in its proper context) ultimately only points to Christ.

2. As high of a role as Mary holds in creation, it also helps to remember that the Church affirms with no ambiguity that she is a creature and infinitely less than God. That being said she is no ordinary creature, she is God's masterpiece. Again, when we honor the masterpiece we are ultimately giving the glory to the Master Artist.

3. If there is still concern about Mary's veneration overshadowing Christ, you can easily put those concerns to rest by attending mass on a regular basis for any period of time. You will notice the very obvious truth - Christ is the center of the mass. Mary is mentioned 2 or 3 times in mass (once during the creed once during the Eucharistic prayer and maybe one other time) and is by no means the focus of the mass. Again, even when we do venerate Mary it ultimately points back to Christ.

4. Understanding Mary as the new Eve and as the fulfillment of the Ark of the Covenant will help a great deal in understanding Mariology. It would be beyond the scope of this post and beyond my level of expertise to go into any detail on these topics but I suggest the links above.

Finally, you may find my post on why Mariology is so Offensive to Protestants of some use.

The Sacrifice of the Mass
As for whether we are sacrificing Christ again every time at the mass, I am a little unqualified to go into too much detail on this topic but as Catholics, we of course affirm the Jesus died once and never again. The salvific act at Calvary is a historical event that happened once in the history of the world. At the mass we represent a non-bloody sacrifice in commemoration of the event (but not merely a commemoration) and Christ is mysteriously made present. We do not believe that we are sacrificing Christ again (that is - He is not dying on the cross again) we are representing the sacrifice (as I understand it). The 'sacrifice' of the mass is 1. a commemoration of Christ's ultimate sacrifice (again with Christ truly present) & 2. an offering of the gifts - bread wine and tithes to God. Here is a link for more on that topic.

I assume by this you mean evangelism? Or maybe I'm mistaken. If so, I also had the impression that Catholics aren't "evangelical". But if you'll take a step back and survey the world on a larger scale, I'll think you'll find just the opposite is true. Catholicism has evangelized the world far more than any other branch of Christianity. Aside from there being the Catholic Chuch readily available on every corner of the globe, it is also the largest branch of Christianity (by far). It is also one of the only growing branches of Christianity (in ratio to other branches - and I call it a branch only for lack of a better word since Catholicism is the only non-branch sect of Christianity. It is the trunk!)

Now some of the perceived lack of evangelism is a true reflection of a real problem in the Church that (like many others) became inflamed after Vatican II. The spirit of ecumenism has sometimes lead to spiritual complacency and even relativism. That is not at all the spirit of ecumenism which the Church intends. So there is work to do in this department (and others) but overall I think you will find the Church is extremely evangelical historically. If I misunderstood, please let me know.

Hope this is of some marginal help. Let me know if there's anything else I can help with and if anyone else has something to add to what I said feel free to chime in.

Should Planned Parenthood Be Forced to Disclose Abortion Info to Parents?

No way! Thats bad for their 810 million dollar a year business. It also flies in the face of the left wing abortion manifesto - every woman regardless of age has an inherent right to an uneducated, completely anonymous and consequence free abortion if the child presents even an inkling of inconvenience. In order to uphold this twisted manifesto, Planned Parenthood has been known to go to extremes. Right now in Ohio, there is a lawsuit underway in which Planned Parenthood is being sued by Life Legal Defense Foundation for the deliberate cover up of the rape of a young teenage girl who was forced by her rapist to have an abortion.

Here's information about that case and other cases they are processing. If you're not actively supporting a pro-life charity, this one is a good candidate I think. But if you don't support this one, please support one somewhere.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Spanish Woman Fired for Refusing Abortion?

I wonder where the women's rights advocates are on this one...

Madrid, May 3, 2007 / 01:25 pm (CNA).- The civil organization E-Cristians has denounced Spanish officials for refusing to investigate the firing of a waitress at a restaurant in Gerona after she refused to comply with her manager’s wish that she undergo an abortion.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Interview With an Abortion Advocate

Sometimes I'm not sure if the issue is primarily one of sin, stupidity or maybe a combination of both.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

HLI Applauds Stand by St. Louis Archbishop

From John Mallon at HLI:

FRONT ROYAL, VA — The Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuer, STL, president of Human Life International, (HLI) applauded the stand taken by Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis in his resignation from the Board of Directors and his chairmanship of the Cardinal Glennon Children’s Foundation. The Archbishop resigned over the Foundation’s decision to have pop-singer Sheryl Crow perform at a fundraiser for the Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center.

Crow is an outspoken promoter of abortion on demand and has used her celebrity to promote Missouri’s Amendment 2 that creates legal protection for human cloning and the destruction of human embryos. She does not deserve a platform in a Catholic institution which gives the impression that she is in good standing with the Catholic Faith. She is, in fact, an enemy of the Church and should be regarded as such.

“While Sheryl Crow wants to save the planet one sheet of toilet paper at a time,” Father Euteneuer said, “she cares little for the tiny human lives that are flushed by those she supports.”

Father Euteneuer said, “Here we have an archbishop who speaks openly about the salvation of souls, including his own, in the conduct of his office as bishop. It is very refreshing. He understands the disconnect between supporting a Catholic children’s hospital and promoting abortion and human embryo destruction. He will also be ridiculed by those who don’t see the glaring irony. Thank God for this bishop who is not cowed by human respect or criticism in defense of the souls and lives of his flock.”

Archbishop Burke was the recipient of HLI’s Cardinal von Galen Award of February 2007, which is given primarily to Catholic prelates who stand up and defend the innocent and the Church.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Sad State of the Constitution State

This is reposted (with permission) from a friend (NMO for those of you who know him) who is moving to CT at the end of the month. This is his reply to the post from Bridgeport's bishop - bishop William Lori. Here is the original post.

The good bishop is misinterpreting Catholic teaching in his post. Read it all,
it is very misleading. But the most disappointing part of the entry is the
following line:

"The Church, which opposes contraception under normal
circumstances, allows it in the tragic and gravely unjust case of a sexual
assault." I don't know which "Church" he's talking about, but it ain't the
Catholic Church. He says this in support of Catholic hospitals handing out "Plan
B" to women who have been sexually assaulted. Umm... Plan B isn't a
contraception, it's an abortifacient. It actually aborts a fertilized egg. It
always worries me when clergy start trying to use medical terms to describe a
newly created human soul and body.

His post is very misleading, for
example he says this:

"Our Catholic hospitals in Connecticut also
administer (in one and the same procedure) an ovulation test. In the case of a
just-fertilized ovum, the Plan B medication functions not as a contraceptive but
as an abortifacient by preventing the implantation of the fertilized ovum in the
wall of the uterus. In other words, our Catholic hospitals, because of their
respect for all human life, will not risk inducing an early abortion."

Sounds good?

Then he says this (emphasis my own):

"To my knowledge, no Catholic hospital in Connecticut has ever denied an assault victim Plan B – a medication that can be readily obtained over-the-counter. In addition to providing this medication, Catholic hospitals reach out to assault victims and their families with counseling, spiritual guidance, and many other forms of assistance."

I responded to him to ask him to clarify where the Church
teaches what he claimed. Of course, I didn't hear back.