Saturday, September 29, 2007

Teens Need More Than Rock Music to Experience Christ?

This letter by a 16 year old regarding the Motu Proprio is freakin' awesome. It's been circulating on the blogosphere for a while now. I, for one, was completely shocked that a decade and a half of bad parenting isn't instantly solved by wearing jeans to mass and singing 'Wind Beneath My Wings' (or her churchly equivalent).

Posts on the letter:

Crescat's Post

The Cross Reference

Friday, September 28, 2007

An Anglo-Catholic Decides to Drop the "Anglo"

Read about this Episcopalian's difficult decision to turn to Rome. (Also notice the others in the comments who have already made the jump and are encouraging him on his journey). H/T - NotMyOpinion.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Good-bye Miller Lite

I will be joining in the national boycott of Miller Brewing Company for sponsoring a blatantly anti-Christian festival in San Fransisco. (And yes, until reading this I was a Miller lite drinker).

Anyone got a Bud-lite?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Clement of Alexandria on the Order of the Gospels

Here is Eusebius summarizing Clement's views on the order of the gospels (which flies directly in the face of the modern consensus):

The Gospels containing the genealogies, he says, were written first. The Gospel according to Mark had this occasion. As Peter had preached the Word publicly at Rome, and declared the Gospel by the Spirit, many who were present requested that Mark, who had followed him for a long time and remembered his sayings, should write them out. And having composed the Gospel he gave it to those who had requested it.

When Peter learned of this, he neither directly forbade nor encouraged it. But, last of all, John, perceiving that the external facts had been made plain in the Gospel, being urged by his friends, and inspired by the Spirit, composed a spiritual Gospel." This is the account of Clement.
Also see my previous post on the subject.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Priest Blasts ‘Usual Suspects’ For Votes Against Pro-Life Policy

FRONT ROYAL, VA — The Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuer, STL, president of Human Life International, (HLI) today blasted a gang of 16 Catholic senators for their votes on an amendment to HR 2764 to overturn the Mexico City Policy instituted by President Reagan to prevent U.S. taxpayer dollars from funding overseas abortions.

“For the most part it’s the usual suspects who claim to be Catholic while their consistent pro-abortion votes amount to a betrayal of the Catholic faith. We expect treachery from them,” Fr. Euteneuer said. “But the great disappointment here is Robert Casey, Jr., whose late father courageously stood against the tide for life in his political party. It is disgusting to think that Casey Junior ran as a ‘pro-life’ candidate. He has betrayed those who voted for him on those grounds.”

“At a time when these same politicians bewail America’s standing in the world they vote to export death to nations that don’t want it, in violation of those nations’ religious traditions. They are the new ‘ugly Americans’ practicing imperialism at its worst,” Father Euteneuer said.

The gang of 16 includes: Robert Casey, Jr. (D-PA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Ted Kennedy (D-MA), John Kerry (D-MA), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Susan Collins (R-ME), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Ken Salazar (D-CO), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Patty Murray (D-WA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Christopher Dodd (CT-D), Claire McCaskill (D-MO).

Monday, September 24, 2007

A Bishop Makes His Way to Rome

Albuquerque, Sep 24, 2007 / 08:28 am (CNA).- Yet another Episcopal bishop has announced his intention to resign from the Episcopal Church and become a Roman Catholic.
Over the last 40 years Catholic soccer-moms and those hungry for the living room liturgy have been crossing the Tiber in the opposite direction, it's good to know that the theologians, the bishops and the scholars are still crossing in the right one.

Why NFP Is Not Just Catholic Birth Control

These two arguments against the oft repeated ‘NFP is just Catholic Birth Control’ cliché occurred to me other day.

First (and the weaker of the two) if we strip away the excess, the bare-bones argument we’re left with is little more than the sort of Platonist influenced – neo-Gnosticism our heavily Protestant influenced culture is all too comfortable with. What I mean to say is this: (Yea, I know clever word games don’t prove anything) while it is certainly true to say that in many cases the true intention of an act can override the specifics of what was actually done, we are guilty of taking this premise one step too far when we try to focus only on a supposed “intention” and thereby feel we are justified in completely ignoring the real act.

To put this in perspective – one may say “that Baptism in sand was a valid Baptism because the intention was right – forget that we didn’t use the correct element” or “that Eucharistic celebration using milk and cookies was valid because all those present had the right intention”. On the other end of the extreme is the case where a man makes a mistake and kills another – we then look solely at his intention and not at his action. Justly, he is pronounced innocent of this act since it was not his intention to kill. The point being that there is an instant at which it crosses from being a mere formality of details to a substantive act or material which cannot be justified regardless of intention.

To further illustrate this point, I would take another example from a stand point which any reasonable proponent of contraception would agree on – abortion is intrinsically evil. While that is true, a certain would-be mother living in impoverished conditions, barely able to feed herself and having the noble intention of reducing the poverty level would not be justified in her act of abortion regardless of how pure and true her intention might have been. (This is not at all to say that the level of her moral ignorance couldn’t reduce her culpability).

The reader has probably already guessed – I am bringing this point around to another well worn truth – the ends do not justify the means. But the conclusion of the point is this: it is impossible to say that intentions comprise the only meaningful substance of any action. One would be forced to say such a thing in order to justify contraception on the grounds that the Church allows for Natural Family Planning. In both scenarios, the intentioned ends are the same – prevent pregnancy. However, the means are substantially different. While this point alone certainly does not prove that contraception is evil, it does prove that one must at least allow for the possibility that contraception is evil while NFP is morally acceptable.

The second point against the argument is this: since we have determined that the two can not necessarily be grouped together based on intention alone – we must examine the actual substance of each act. NFP works by temporary abstinence whereas contraception works by poison and or intentional harm/disruption of natural bodily functions (I am excluding from discussion any contraceptive that is abortifacient in nature which is obviously immoral by any standard).

Immediately we know that abstinence (temporary or permanent) needn’t be justified by intentions (it is intrinsically a perfectly acceptable act and even praised by the Scriptures). Conversely, intentional harm and or disruption of natural bodily functions can hardly be justified by any intention. (Notice I say – hardly for there certainly are instances which would justify bodily harm).

There was a man trapped in the woods by a tree he fell with a chain saw. After some time – he knew he would die if he couldn’t free himself and had to cut off his own leg (intentional disruption / destruction of one’s body) and lived because of it. Self-preservation became the justifying intention in this scenario (and others like it) but contraception has no such noble intention. A godly intention would be one compatible with a culture of life – and love and of truth. The intention of preventing pregnancy doesn’t fall into that category and therefore cannot justify this intrinsically disordered act. (Don’t forget that cutting off one’s own leg is also intrinsically and objectively disordered).

But as we proved in the previous point, the two acts (NFP & Contraception) cannot necessarily be lumped into one moral category based on the intention. The intention of preventing and or avoiding pregnancy is not in itself an evil one but it certainly isn’t intrinsically a holy one either.

It seems reasonable to assume that the underlying objection to NFP is refusal to exercise self control. Whether married or single, Christians are called to a life of temperance, modesty and self control. This is a proverbial slap in the face to the world’s idea of morality. So to anyone struggling with the question of how NFP is morally acceptable while contraception is not, I hope this has been of some minimal use.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

B16 Coming to the US!

Pope Benedict XVI will be coming to the US in April 2008! Hooray! I remember scoffing at Catholics who went to see the Pope when he came to the US before I was Catholic, now I'm planning my trip to NY / DC wherever he ends up going.

Diocese of Charlotte

I found this new blog on the Diocese of Charlotte, NC managed by an anonymous author. I have experienced similar issues to the ones listed there in my parish. Lots of work needs to be done.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Domitian & The Imperial Cult

I found a very interesting article [excerpt] on the Imperial Cult under Domitian on Cafe Apocalpysis - a fairly new blog focusing mostly on scholarly studies of Revelation.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Saint Potamiaena & The Communion of Saints

This early Christian (now the patron saint of rape victims) was very interesting to read about in Eusebius' church history:

Thereupon she received sentence immediately, and Basilides, one of the officers of the army, led her to death. But as the people attempted to annoy and insult her with abusive words, he drove back her insulters, showing her much pity and kindness. And perceiving the man's sympathy for her, she exhorted him to be of good courage, for she would supplicate her Lord for him after her departure, and he would soon receive a reward for the kindness he had shown her.

Having said this, she nobly sustained the issue, burning pitch being poured little by little, over various parts of her body, from the sole of her feet to the crown of her head. Such was the conflict endured by this famous maiden.
And as has already been demonstrated by the martyrdom of Ignatius of Antioch, the very early Christian belief in the life of saints after death (i.e. the communion of saints - i.e. their ability to pray for us) continues on well into the second century. In fact it would be the Reformers who rejected this Christian doctrine (which had existed from the beginning). So again we find ourselves in a tough spot - if the Protestants were right - the early Church and the doctrines they received from the apostles were wrong.

Protestants may not believe in the saints' ability to pray for us after an earthly death - but hey, I bet ole' Basilides does!
Not long after this Basilides, being asked by his fellow-soldiers to swear for a certain reason, declared that it was not lawful for him to swear at all, for he was a Christian, and he confessed this openly. At first they thought that he was jesting, but when he continued to affirm it, he was led to the judge, and, acknowledging his conviction before him, he was imprisoned. But the brethren in God coming to him and inquiring the reason of this sudden and remarkable resolution, he is reported to have said that Potamiæna, for three days after her martyrdom, stood beside him by night and placed a crown on his head and said that she had besought the Lord for him and had obtained what she asked, and that soon she would take him with her.

Thereupon the brethren gave him the seal of the Lord; and on the next day, after giving glorious testimony for the Lord, he was beheaded. And many others in Alexandria are recorded to have accepted speedily the word of Christ in those times.

For Potamiæna appeared to them in their dreams and exhorted them. But let this suffice in regard to this matter.
Silly martyrs. What do they know? Apparently they never read the WCF! Oh who knows... maybe I'm just reading Catholicism into these early documents. (Eyes rolling)

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Nothing New Under the Sun

Listen as Eusebius quotes from the writings of an unknown Christian author (see if you notice any similarities between the heretics of the early Church and the heretics of the Reformation):

"For they say that all the early teachers and the apostles received and taught what they now declare, and that the truth of the Gospel was preserved until the times of Victor, who was the thirteenth bishop of Rome from Peter, but that from his successor, Zephyrinus, the truth had been corrupted.
Also notice how he (unknown second century author) pins orthodoxy on the bishop of Rome. He clearly takes for granted that the faithfulness of the Church's doctrine is centered on the bishop of Rome (specifically because he is succeeded from Peter). The heretics are teaching a false doctrine (the heresy of Artemon - Jesus was an ordinary man) and to give credence to their doctrine, they try to show that the ancient Church found in the New Testament preserved this doctrine even up until very recently (Pope Victor).

It's interesting to note that they hinge the teaching authority of the Church on the pope (surprise surprise) but the point of interest which grabs my attention is that they are trying to validate their claims by pretending they are ancient. This is precisely what Protestants tend to do by trying to show that the early fathers were Protestants or that Paul was a semi-rebellious apostle - forging his new brand of gentile-friendly, faith-alone Christianity. They claim that the Church preserved this faithfulness for a while, but eventually went astray. (Exactly what the heretics in the second century were claiming). If we forget the fact that all currently known written history contradicts this, we still have another big problem. I love what Eusebius says next:
And what they say might be plausible, if first of all the Divine Scriptures did not contradict them.
Bingo. I started thinking about this the other day. Many Protestants say they reject the Catholic Church (at least in part) because the Catholic Church contradicts Scripture. Now, if in my estimation, I came across a 'church' that contradicted Scripture, I too would reject it. But the Church doesn't. And even if I thought it did, here's the problem again; who decides who's contradicting Scripture? It's really only my own personal interpretation of Scripture that they reject. So what if I'm wrong? It is an objective fact and not even worth arguing that universally-accepted Protestant readings of certain Scriptures are more contradictory than any Catholic interpretation of any verse.

James 2:24 - NIV - "You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone."

Protestants: "A person is justified by faith alone"

Mark 12:26-27 - NIV - "Now about the dead rising—have you not read in the book of Moses, in the account of the bush, how God said to him, 'I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. You are badly mistaken!"

Protestants: "Asking dead saints to pray for you is wrong because it amounts to necromancy"

Just two quick examples to which Protestants have no good answer for. And the verses that they allege the Catholic Church to be in contradiction with can be and have been easily refuted.

When I studied the Scriptures on my own, I came up with some real problems with what I read in Scripture and what my Protestant leaders had taught me. Their interpretations simply didn't fit with the text. When I found that the Catholic Church answered all of these problems seamlessly - it was a no-brainer. But what if I had some really dumb ways of interpreting Scripture and by this defect painlessly came to agree with the 2000 year old Church? Perhaps the Protestants got it right - the Church did contradict Scripture and I'm just not able to see it...Not likely... In fact, the very opposite is true. Those who hold to "Scripture alone" consistently contradict Scripture.

So I again need to point out - it's not about contradicting Scripture - never has been never will be. Protestants do not have a higher view of Scripture than Catholics (if anything a lower) but use the "Bible alone" card to justify their personal authoritative interpretation on doctrinal issues over the bishop of Rome.

Even if some newly re-worked version of 'sola scriptura' was true, the Catholic Church would be the only body with legitimate claim on authoritative interpretation - certainly not myself.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Chrysostom - East's Greatest Saint Points West

I'm a day late on this, I meant to get around to it yesterday (his feast day). First, if you haven't read any Chrysostom.. You are an IDIOT. Just kidding. But seriously, if you haven't - quit reading my blog right now and go read some.

John "Golden mouth" the bishop of Constantinople was/is the East's greatest patriarch. Ironically, he was a Roman Catholic in the strictest sense of the title - fiercely loyal to the pope. I recommend this article on Chrysostom's view of the papacy and you can read for yourself a very pertinent letter on the subject from his own pen to Pope Innocent which starts out:

To my lord, the most reverend and divinely beloved bishop Innocent, John sends greeting in the Lord.
Our body it is true is settled in one place, but the pinion of love wings its way round every part of the world. Even so we also although we be separated by a journey of such great extent are nigh to your Piety, and in daily communion with you, beholding with the eyes of love the courage of your soul, the sterling nature of your disposition, your firmness and inflexibility, the great consolation, constant and abiding, which you bestow upon us. For in proportion as the billows mount higher, and concealed reefs increase, and the hurricanes are many does your vigilance wax stronger: and neither the great length of the journey between us, nor the large amount of time consumed, nor the difficulty in dealing with events has disposed you to become supine: but ye continue to imitate the best class of pilots who are on the alert at those times most especially when they see the waves crested, the sea swelling, the water dashing vehemently, and the deepest darkness in day-time.
Good stuff. I also highly recommend his homilies on Matthew.

Update- for a brief bio and outline of his life, check out Mike Aquillina's recent post.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Revisiting Old Posts IV

This post, entitled A Calvinist Pre-Destined to Become Catholic touches briefly on my journey from a 'Reformed Presbyterian' to the ancient traditions Catholic faith.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Left Wing Fight For Uneducated "Choice" Continues

A huge number of liberals say they are personally against abortion but do not believe it should be legislated. Yet their actions do not reflect their dishonest statements.

NEWARK, N.J. - A doctor has no duty to tell a woman considering an abortion that her embryo is an "existing human being," a unanimous New Jersey Supreme Court ruled Wednesday, averting a trial over when human life begins.
They not only want 'choice' but 'uneducated choice'. They want more abortion - plain and simple.

Helping People Be True to Their Selves

PARIS -- Looking to get away for a weekend fling without getting caught? A new French company provides would-be adulterers with custom-made excuses that help take the danger of discovery out of cheating.
Mourizard said her service is aimed at protecting couples and families by allowing adulterers to live their flings undetected.
Uhh...?? The former private detective says:
"For 20 years, I worked to keep people from doing what they wanted to do. And I then thought, 'what if I help them do it, in a safe way?'"
Unfortunately folks, this is not a parody.

Kurzweil For Sale

A bit of shameless self promotion - I'm selling my K2600 on Ebay:

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

On Patristics

Phil Snider recently posted an excellent essay regarding patristics in contrast with modern historical-critical methodology etc... and secular study of early Christian history.

Theology and patrology represent an inversion of the common academic approach. That is, its stance is within a living faith tradition in which the contributions of one's predecessors are developed and amplified in order to increase one's understanding of a worldview which differs substantially from the tradition behind modern academe. The concern of a patrologist is to ask questions about how the Fathers thought in order to provide resources to evaluate and re-evaluate our theology within the Christian church today. It is not to add to the database of some kind of abstract history-as-it-was database whose purpose is both unclear and, hence, represents, at best, a body of interesting reading and, at worst, unconnected (and, hence, trivial) antiquarian lore.
Check the whole thing out if you get a chance.

Monday, September 10, 2007

A Southern Baptist Dips Her Toes in the Tiber

Found this blog> Is Catholicism For Me? By a Southern Baptist who recently married a Catholic and is participating in RCIA. Swing on over and check it out.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Revisiting Old Posts III

It's funny how the tone of my posts have evolved over the last year & a half. Here's an early post discussing whether or not Christianity borrowed from the pagan religion of sun god worship.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Revisiting Old Posts II

This post regarding the geographical accuracy of Mark's gospel was one of the first posts that sort of put my blog on the map. An Islamic forum linked to it. (I don't know what they said about it since I can't read Arabic) but it got me some good google rankings and a lot of traffic.

Although my views on Mark's gospel have been adjusted in the last year to a more orthodox opinion (regarding the date and order etc...see this post for details) I still think it has some good arguments in it.

Call No Man Father?

Dave Armstrong has yet another great refutation of yet another of James Whites' points. In Whites' recent challenge (top 10 questions) to potential Catholic converts, he poked at the idea of calling a man on earth the "holy father". Armstrong demonstrates by the Scriptures how ridiculous this objection is. Check it out if you get a chance.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Re-Visiting Old Posts

Until things slow down at home for me, I thought I'd re-post some older posts of mine from back when my blog didn't enjoy as much readership - so most of you probably haven't read them.

This post from about a year ago dealt with the seriousness of sin.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Officially Hitched

The little guy in the first picture is my 7 year old step son Miguel. Yes - I'm a husband and a step-father all at once. Well if blogging is a little slow for a while... at least I have a good excuse.