Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween

I'm more concerned with the horror/gore aspect of Halloween than with kids dressing up as spiderman.... But I'm not going to have time to post on this today like I wanted to. Here are my previous two posts on the subject:

Parents Shouldn't Let Kids Watch Horror Movies

The Distortion of Horror Movies

Enjoy.

Update: The Mexican Bishops Agree With Me - Dont Celebrate Halloween.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Transubstantiation and Its Historical Significance

This is a response to Dave, continuing our discussion from this post.

On prayers for the dead - it's in our Scriptures, not yours but it is a Jewish tradition.

I think the doctrine of Transubstantiation is absolutely critical. It affects how we treat the species (come to a mass you'll see what I mean). The Eucharist is the center of our liturgy.

In the PCA where I grew up, after communion the leftover grape juice and crackers would just be chucked in the trash or consumed by kids. This isn't uncommon. But if we were to believe that by taking it unworthily we were profaning the body of Christ as Paul said, what does throwing it in the trash do? How can we profane the body of Christ by unworthily eating a cracker? I do that all the time!

As for the Aristotle argument, I'm pretty ignorant on Greek philosophy but I have heard that sort of a charge too. First, just because a pagan says something doesn't make it false. Pagan philosophers can easily be right about things. (Aristotle was just talking about the nature of the universe or existence - not of the body of Christ obviously). In fact, part of the apologetic task of some of the early Church fathers (Origen comes to mind) was to explain to their accusers how the Greek philosophers had gotten so much right without Christ - if Christ was indeed the Truth incarnate.

So if our explanation of the Eucharistic species sounds similar to his or is even wholly reliant upon it, I dont see how that would discredit it one bit. We call it a mystery - not an easily fathomable event. We may use whatever human-level conventions we have to attempt and comprehend it or to explain it in a way that is accessible to us ignorant men on earth - but it doesn't detract (or add to) the truthfulness of the doctrine). The doctrine gets its truth from Christ Himself.

In the John 6 discourse we see that a literal interpretation versus symbolic does make quite a
difference. You say that a 'non-literal' reading is the obvious. I have to take issue here. I think the only objective measure one could possibly use to decide what is an "obvious" interpretation of a passage and what is not "obvious" would be this - if the majority of readers understand it in way X then we could objectively say (at some level) that way X is the obvious reading (right or wrong).

Immediately from the first teaching (presumably John chapter 6) we see that historically, it was taken very literally. Jesus lost many disciples that day. It is appropriate here to remind ourselves that Jesus did not correct those who left Him because of a literal interpretation. How could they accept this hard teaching? How could it literally be true "this is My Body" and not be a violation against the Law of God? - cannibalism - eating blood etc... The Eucharist is precisely the way in which it can satisfy both conditions. This is the great mystery we celebrate.

Furthermore, as I have mentioned, outside the NT we see that the early Christians unanimously read this literally. St. Ignatius does mention some who did not - and criticizes them sharply for it. St. Ambrose, the mentor of St. Augustine, gives a discourse on Transubstantiation that would be exactly as a 21st century Catholic would speak of it - in case there were any charge of Transubstantiation being different than merely "Real Presence".

This was the issue for me that ultimately led me to accept the Catholic Church. I am thoroughly convinced of the centrality of this doctrine to Christianity. St. Ignatius called the Eucharist 'the medicine of immortality'. The early Christian Church was a sacramental one - centered around the Lord's table. Thats why Church history matters and thats why I stand behind my original criticism of the aforementioned Protestant church history lecture because it glossed over the doctrines of the early Church.

Monday, October 29, 2007

St. Melito and The OT Canon

St. Melito, the bishop of Sardis, was regarded as a prophet in his day according to Eusebius. Unfortunately, most of his voluminous work has disappeared. From what remains extant, we can tell he was a gifted writer. Like most of the Eastern bishops, he held to the tradition of celebrating Easter on whichever day of the week it fell on (as opposed to the Western tradition which celebrated it only on Sunday). He is mentioned specifically as a source when Polycrates writes to Pope Victor on the subject. Clearly, Melito was one of the great heroes of the East.

St. Melito gives us the first known Christian canon of the Old Testament. Here it is:

I accordingly proceeded to the East, and went to the very spot where the things in question were preached and took place; and, having made myself accurately acquainted with the books of the Old Testament, I have set them down below, and herewith send you the list. Their names are as follows:-

The five books of Moses-Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy; Joshua,76 Judges, Ruth, the four books of Kings, the two of Chronicles, the book of the Psalms of David, the Proverbs of Solomon, also called the Book of Wisdom, Ecclesiastes, the Song of Songs, Job, the books of the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, of the twelve contained in a single book, Daniel, Ezekiel, Esdras. From these I have made my extracts, dividing them into six books.
Esdras contains both Ezra & Nehemiah. Since Melito was an Eastern Patriarch, what he refers too probably contained what Protestants now call 1 Esdras - known to St. Jerome as 3 Esdras (1 & 2 corresponding respectively to Ezra & Nehemiah). While Catholics and Protestants both reject 3 Esdras (or 1 Esdras) the Eastern Orthodox accept it as Scriptural. That is our first discrepancy between Melito's canon and ours; the second is the fact that his canon doesn't have Esther. In short, no one today would accept his canon.

He doesn't list the deutero-canonical books. St. Athanasius would later list his full canon including six of the deutero canonical books as 'good but not Scripture'. However, he did list Baruch as canonical which still leaves us with a canon no-one accepts today. Contrary to Protestant attempts to dodge the question of 'who has the authority to declare Scripture?' by such poorly thought out answers as 'the books are self evident' we see very clearly that the books were only self evident to 16th century Protestants and not to the early Christians. (This is to mention nothing of the early uncertainty regarding several NT books).

The Church Fathers opinions on the canon are fairly consistent, but do have significant discrepancies between each other. Jerome's Latin Vulgate would come to reject the 3rd book of Esdras as well as include the book of Esther and the Deutero-canonical books adhering to the authority of the Church. This is another short piece of history that shows the importance of an infallible Church authority and its role in the selection of the canon.

Irenaeus on the Valentinian Heresy Regarding Mary

From Pelikan's book - Mary Through the Centuries -

Irenaeus, to whom we owe the first large-scale exposition of the parallel between Eve and Mary, is likewise one of the sources from whom we learn that such a hesitancy among the followers of the Gnostic teacher Valentinus had led them to assert that Jesus had not been "born" of the Virgin Mary in the usual sense at all, but had "passed through Mary as water runs through a tube," not only without birth pangs but without the involvement of the mother except in a purely passive sense.
His source is Irenaeus Against Heresies 1.7.2:
There are also some who maintain that he also produced Christ as his own proper son, but of an animal nature, and that mention was made of him by the prophets. This Christ passed through Mary just as water flows through a tube; and there descended upon him in the form of a dove at the time of his baptism, that Saviour who belonged to the Pleroma, and was formed by the combined efforts of all its inhabitants.
It would be necessary to remind ourselves again that Mariology arose to refute heresies such as these - not as some arbitrary invention of the Church. One cannot truly understand Christ without understanding His relation to Mary - that is - the Incarnation.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Patristic Carnival V - Reminder

Just a reminder, yours truly is hosting the Patristic Carnival V. The deadline for submissions will be this coming Wednesday, October 31st. You can offer submissions at the carnival site or they can be e-mailed to patristics-carnival@hotmail.com.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Athenagoras & The Bodily Resurrection

In his defense ‘On the Resurrection of the Dead’, Athenagoras argues against the sensibilities of his time for a bodily resurrection. The objections then are not far from the objections we would still expect to encounter today – such a thing seems to be a physical impossibility. At this point, a brief clarification on the difference between a bodily resurrection and merely a ‘resurrection’ is in order.

The difficulty we have is when we end up making too great a distinction between the soul and the body. Indeed, they are two different entities but as Athenagoras points out, they are inseparable in the resurrection. (We will return to this later.) There is a tendency today, especially in Protestant circles, to view the soul-body relationship as a spirit trapped inside of a robot. We go too far when reiterating “it’s only a shell” at a funeral to reassure ourselves of the apparent uselessness of the body. But the sanctity of the body is derived from the fact that it was created in God’s image, and indeed when talking of ourselves we instinctively (and rightly so) refer to ourselves whether we mean the body or soul. I am thirsty (my body thirsts) I love you (my soul loves you) my hair is too long (not the hair of my body by my hair).

The Gnostic heresy of Docetism is not far from our error when we try to distinguish too sharply between our soul and our body. The Docetists viewed Christ as having a human body but merely inhabiting it or possessing it – it was not truly His. It merely appeared to be His. If there were two ends, one believing in the inseparability of the body and soul at least in so far as I’ve described here and the other end being the ‘ghost in a shell’ theory, I think Athenagoras would prove to be a little closer to the ‘ghost in a shell’ theory than he ought to be. He at least does not admit a sexual distinction: “the difference of male and female does not exist in them [souls]” but I think he errs on this point. I do not believe that the resurrection (even if not in the body) would leave us with of a pool of neutered souls. Part of a person’s identity is inseparably linked with their masculinity or femininity.

It would be necessary for us to remind ourselves now that God is masculine and to say that Scripture refers to Him as such out of cultural bias and petty-worldly reasons would be nothing short of blasphemy. Indeed, the very nature of the cosmos is only adequately symbolized and actualized through the concept of male and female or more properly – masculinity and femininity. Therefore souls, being the essence of a person, are also either masculine or feminine. You don’t cease being masculine or feminine in heaven – these aren’t merely questions of sexual organs. So on that point I take disagreement with Athenagoras.

His defense begins engaging in the question of how a body could actually be raised from the dead if they had been scattered by wild animals for example. This shows us the nature of the resurrection which we are dealing with. This isn’t merely an intangible idea but a real – indeed … bodily resurrection. The creeds do not say it lightly. The original and truest resurrection is of course Christ’s. We must never forget that His was a bodily one – His body is no longer here on earth. Earlier in the second century, some of the Churches in France had seen terrible persecution. After the Christians were martyred, their aggressors were reported to have burned the bodies in order to prove that they could never be resurrected – their hopes were in vain. This shows us what their hopes were – not merely for an invisible, spiritual sort of resurrection of the mind and will but also of the body. It comes as no surprise then that the early Christians continued to hold the body as sacred even after death – believing that it would one day live again. This is all to say that the resurrection is not merely your soul appearing in heaven but the body disappearing from earth.

Athenagoras argues as much; in order for divine justice to be fulfilled, the body and soul must be reunited on judgment day. For it would not be right to judge the soul alone for what the body had influenced. The weakness of the flesh must be taken into account. It would likewise be unjust to judge the body alone for what the soul was responsible for. I think his separation here of the two concepts shows the incoherency in the very concept that they are completely separable.

He also argues that man’s very nature was intended to be eternal – not merely the soul but also the body. The resurrection is a restoration to how things ought to have been in the first place. In the garden, it was not merely Adam and Eve’s souls which were meant to be immortal, but their bodies as well. To restore only the soul to immortality by resurrection would have to be called a ‘rip off’. This would lessen the effect of Christ’s sacrifice and its power to restore nature to her proper order.

Athenagoras: Marriage is for Procreation

I was listening to another lecture by Peter Kreeft yesterday in which he said he, as a Calvinist, took a course on Church history. The professor warned the class that they all needed to be able to give a defense when Catholics claimed that the early Church was Catholic and that Protestants broke off. He said the Catholic Church had gone astray and the Reformers restored the Church to her primitive roots ... you know the story... So Dr. Kreeft (not Dr. at the time of course) asked "so you mean to tell me that if I, as a Calvinist, used a time machine and went back to worship with the early Church I'd feel more at home than a Catholic would?" The professor said "yes". Dr. Kreeft thought, "Great. All I have to do is read the early Church fathers and see what they had to say". Of course he did read the fathers and now he's a Catholic. It's hard to see how some people can be so willingly self deceived.

At any rate, I say all this to lead up to the point of my post. Around 175 AD, Athenagoras gives us further evidence (though relatively insignificant in comparison to other more important issues) that the early Church was Catholic (in the modern sense of the word). Listen to this quote on marriage:

Therefore, having the hope of eternal life, we despise the things of this life, even to the pleasures of the soul, each of us reckoning her his wife whom he has married according to the laws laid down by us, and that only for the purpose of having children. For as the husbandman throwing the seed into the ground awaits the harvest, not sowing more upon it, so to us the procreation of children is the measure of our indulgence in appetite. Nay, you would find many among us, both men and women, growing old unmarried, in hope of living in closer communion with God.
First, marriage is principally for procreation - not personal fulfillment. If you're not married to a member of the opposite sex, then you should be married to the Church as a priest, monk or nun. Furthermore he praises celibacy as Christ & Paul did and as the early Church obviously did.

Celibacy not only has a place but the highest place in the Catholic Church. To be married is good but to be celibate is better (see St. Paul on the subject). I would get excommunicated from the Presbyterian ecclesial community for saying such a thing (I'm exaggerating). But anyone who would deny that the Catholic Church values celibacy more than the Protestant communities is a liar. Furthermore, it is impossible to honestly say that the Catholic Church does not more closely resemble the early Church (at least in so far as Athenagoras paints her here) on this issue (yet one more in the litany). Other irrefutable issues where the Catholic Church is unequivocally closer to the early Church include the Eucharist, the doctrines of Baptism, the communion of saints - praying for the dead etc, the liturgical order (see Justin Martyr 1st apology) apostolic succession, justification (see Justin Matryr and others - also see Ignatius of Antioch calling the Eucharist the 'medicine of immortality') and the list goes on.

300 Anglicans to be Received into the Catholic Church

Read the whole article here. H/T NotMyOpinion

UP to 300 Irish Anglicans could soon be joining the Roman Catholic Church to the traditional hymn tune 'Faith of Our Fathers'.

A report in today's 'Irish Catholic' newspaper claims that three Church of Ireland parishes are Romeward-bound, and may soon be received by Pope Benedict into full communion with the Catholic Church.

This change of denominational allegiance is part of a long-standing doctrinal feud over the ordination of women.
It's nice to have some good news every now and then.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Spiritual Contraception

This is a reply to Phil from the previous post regarding the Latin Mass.

If confronted with the choice of a Latin Mass or a High mass - Novus Ordo, I'd rather have a high Novus Ordo to be honest. I've never even been to a Latin Mass. But the reason for the Motu Proprio wasn't because the TLM was inherently better but because the Novus Ordo has been so abused that there needs to be some remedies. I think the pope is hoping that the manifest reverence of the ancient Latin Mass would shed light on the shortfalls caused by recent liturgical abuse.

The Catholic Church is (hopefully) coming out of a 'liturgical holocaust'. I don't know how the Anglican church is, but it wouldn't surprise me in the least if their average liturgy was at least as reverent as the average Catholic Novus Ordo.

The Eastern Orthodox Churches have done a much better job at retaining the beauty of their ancient liturgy.

We've ditched Mozart for Brittany Spears, Bach for Beyonce, Filet mignon for chicken McNuggets and fine wine for spoiled milk.

And if the people don't like the Latin mass - fine dont go to it. But can't they just toss the orthodox Catholics a bone? (This really isn't a conversation to be held with an Anglican but I unfortunately suspect your ears would be more sympathetic than those of my pastor).

They say they're afraid to do this or that because they might offend someone. They're afraid to speak about contraception or abortion in homilies because they're afraid to offend someone in the congregation. Well how come no one's worried about offending the orthodox? Those who simply want a more reverent mass? We're not asking them to be more reverent - just let us be more reverent. We're not asking you to change your worship style - just let us worship how we feel God would have us to worship Him.

Let us each be judged according to our own ignorance. I don't judge anyone - even myself just like Paul said. I assume you worship God in good conscience - even if at a folk mass.

I'm sure I'd be just as happy with high mass novus ordo as with a Latin mass.

My problem is just with these guys who want to deny the Latin mass for trivial reasons or look for any excuse they can to deny it. This repulsive act is called, in the brilliant words of Peter Kreeft, 'spiritual contraception'.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Liberals Deny The Latin Mass - Rejecting A Petition

Could liberals be any more transparent? What the hell do you have against the Latin Mass? What could you possibly have against it? The University of Steubenville, Ohio has rejected a petition by students to allow the Latin Mass - standing in defiance of the pope's Motu Proprio. Our parish has already told us no for the same liberal reasons - we want the McMass not the real thing. We want our dinner to be microwaved instead of grilled. We want the living room liturgy - we want ugly bare walls and estrogen-driven music that even the women don't truly like. We want children's choirs and powerless homilies. We want politically correct 'prayers of the faithful' and catechesis that would make Veggie Tales seem like a papal encyclical. We can't dare subject our poor parishioners to anything beautiful or ancient and for God sake nothing solemn. You know what it sounds like we want? A Protestant eccelsial community.

Why Children's Choirs Suck

"Jesus said, 'Let the little Children come unto Me and do not hinder them - for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these'" - This is the anticipated response from the emotion-driven powers that be if I were to try and explain the sound reasons why children shouldn't be singing during mass.

Since I needn't waste my breath on them, let me waste it on you...

Children's choirs are fine for developmental reasons so long as their performance is held outside of mass. They would do just fine at some churchly special event not related to the liturgy. Indeed, with children it could only be a 'performance' and that is the problem. I don't mean with the children- it wouldn't be their fault. They're just going to do what they're told to do. The adults would be the problem. The adults would be oohing and awwing and taking pictures and giggling (as they always do) at how cute little Bobby and Cindy are up there singing their little hearts out.. how precious. {shudder} I hate even using that word.

So I think the reader has already guessed my beef. What we have is absolutely nothing less than an orchestrated distraction from the Eucharist. Unfortunately our new music director is starting a children's choir. Not surprising. Nothing further needs to be said. Keep kids out of the liturgy!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Peter Kreeft on Women in the Priesthood

I found this lecture from Peter Kreeft on women in the priesthood today. He is such an excellent speaker/writer. His lecture is oriented towards the Catholic Church but most of it would apply to Protestants as well. Visit this page for other audio lectures from him. I can't recommend it enough.

Back to the God Fearin' Forum

Sign the Catholics Against Rudy Petition

Here's the petition. H-T Pro Ecclesia.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

St. Luke & the Infancy Narrative

What is most interesting about St. Luke's infancy narrative, is that out of the New Testament writers, Luke seems to have the best handle on the Greek language – writing in something close to ‘Attic’ Greek (Classical Greek) instead of Koine Greek. Tradition also has Luke as the interpreter for Paul when he wrote the book of Hebrews (the three - Luke, Acts & Hebrews are considered the best linguistically of the NT as far as I understand).

The one exception to this skillful use of language seems to be the infancy narrative found in his gospel. The early Church attributed Luke’s source to the blessed Virgin herself (as she was almost certainly alive at the time he wrote the gospel). Although tradition has the end of her earthly life in Ephesus with St. John, there is no reason to believe she couldn’t have dictated something herself in Aramaic (which Luke based his infancy narrative off of). This would account for the difference in writing style when comparing his infancy narrative to the rest of his work. (For more on this, see Pelikan - "Mary Through the Centuries" pg 18)

Tradition also has St. Luke as the original icon painter.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

St. Ignatius of Antioch

Some time ago I wrote several posts on St. Ignatius' writings. On his feast day, I thought I'd re-visit those. Here they are:



Monday, October 15, 2007

Father Euteneuer Applauds Bishop McManus For Defense of the Church

FRONT ROYAL, VA — The Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuer, STL, president of Human Life International, (HLI) today thanked Bishop Robert J. McManus of Worcester, Mass. for his strong stand over Holy Cross College renting space for a conference sponsored by the Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy featuring workshops presented by members of Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts.

Father Euteneuer said, “In a time when far too many scandals go unaddressed in our Catholic institutions it is very encouraging to see a bishop take a bold stand in defense of his people and the integrity of the Church.”

Bishop McManus, saying he received numerous complaints about the upcoming conference, issued a statement on his diocesan website saying, “As Bishop of Worcester, it is my pastoral and canonical responsibility to determine what institutions can properly call themselves ‘Catholic.’ … The moral teaching of the Catholic Church on respect for life at all stages of its development is manifestly clear. Life is a fundamental good that must be protected and respected from the moment of fertilization to natural death.”

The bishop continued, “Both Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice are notorious for their policies and practices that directly reject the Church’s teaching on artificial contraception and abortion. The College of the Holy Cross should recognize that any association with these groups can create the situation of offering scandal understood in its proper theological sense, i.e., an attitude or behavior which leads another to do evil.”

The Bishop expressed his wish that “the college can continue to be recognized as a Catholic institution committed to promoting the moral teaching of the Roman Catholic Church.”

Father Euteneuer said, “We can expect assaults on human life, Catholic faith and teaching to increase, especially as the national elections approach. I thank God and take courage from the stand taken by Bishop McManus, who heard the cry of his people. Thank you, Bishop McManus.”

Patristic Carnival V

I'm honored to be accepted as the host for Patristic Carnival V started by patristic-fanatic Phil over at Hyperekperissou (his blog should be a regular stop for any student of patristics if it isn't already).

Read the rules here.

The last day of submission will be October 31st and the postings will be up later in the week of November 5th.

Remember you can offer submissions on the carnival site or the dedicated e-mail (patristics-carnival@hotmail.com)
Happy blogging, let's get some good entries! I'd like to especially challenge anyone who doesn't normally blog on the fathers to give it a shot.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Mary Foreshadowed in the Old Testament

As the early Church began to deal with questions of the canon, she ran into a bit of a problem with the Old Testament. Taken at face value, it was the Scriptures of the Jews (the ones who had been putting Christians to death) and the ones who practiced an entirely different sort of religion. But without the OT, the NT didn't make sense. Although the extremities of the Gnostics and Marcionites ultimately threw the OT books out of the canon or even worse - labeled the God of the OT the evil "demiurge" it became apparent to orthodox Christians that "the New Testament lies hidden in the Old and the Old Testament is unveiled in the New".

The Old Testament was found most appropriate for the Christian faith not by a strict codex of laws on how to practice your faith and not by a collection of stories that taught moral lessons (essentially functioning like Aesop's fables - which is how most Protestants seem to treat the OT) but rather, they saw the New Testament in the Old.

The OT foreshadowed the NT. Adam was but a foreshadow of Christ; Eve was but a foreshadow of Mary. The Passover Lamb was a foreshadowing of the sacrifice Christ would become on the behalf of all mankind. The Jews eating the sacrificed Lamb was a foreshadowing of the Eucharist. And of course, why would the OT foreshadow something less than itself? Therefore, all things foreshadowed were superior to their OT prefigurements. The new Adam was greater than the old Adam and the new Eve was greater than the old Eve.

But just how important was the foreshadowing of Mary in the Old Testament to the early Church? Listen to Jaroslav Pelikan on the subject (mind you, he was still a Protestant when he wrote this):

The authors of the volume cited earlier, Mary in the New Testament, could content themselves with the reminder that "In some Roman Catholic Mariology, there is a study of how Mary's role was foreshadowed in certain OT [Old Testament] passages, on the principle that, just as God prepared the way for His Son in the history of Israel, so too He prepared the way for the mother of His Son." As the history of the development of biblical interpretation in the early Church makes evident, moreover, it was not only, as this comment suggest, "some Roman Catholic Mariology" but the entire patristic tradition East and West, that carried on such study of the foreshadowing of Mary in the Old Testament.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Drop In Abortion & Maternal Deaths Linked to Increased Birth Control?

So many errors.. So little time.

LONDON (Reuters) - Two studies published on Friday show abortions are declining worldwide due to wider use of birth control practices and that the rate of pregnancy-related deaths is not shrinking quickly enough to meet global targets.
...

Wait a minute.. Is it a good thing that abortions are declining?
The number of abortions fell most in developed countries where it is legal compared to poorer countries where it is largely banned and considered unsafe, the researchers said.
Oh I see... I see.. We should legalize abortion in order to reduce it. Gotta get back to work...

Nobel Peace Prize

Well, the Nobel Peace Prize just completely lost, in my mind, any credibility or value I might have once attributed to it.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Origen & Mariology

From his commentary on the gospel of John comes the following:

No one can apprehend the meaning of it [the gospel of John] except he have lain on Jesus' breast and received from Jesus Mary to be his mother also.
He touches with uncanny foresight on what the Church would soon begin to understand - Christology can never be fully and authentically embraced without embracing Mariology. The Nestorian heresy was yet to come and no other heresy challenged orthodox Christology in such a way as to force the Church into her precise definitions on the subject which could lead to nothing other than what we now call Mariology.

So if you think you have embraced Christ without receiving His mother as your own, take some advice from this third century Church father - think again.

Monday, October 08, 2007

The Didache on Baptism

Quoting from: http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/didache-lightfoot.html

Here is what the Didache (circa 100 AD) says about baptism:

7:1 But concerning baptism, thus shall ye baptize.
7:2 Having first recited all these things, baptize {in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit} in living (running) water.
7:3 But if thou hast not living water, then baptize in other water;
7:4 and if thou art not able in cold, then in warm.
7:5 But if thou hast neither, then pour water on the head thrice in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
7:6 But before the baptism let him that baptizeth and him that is baptized fast, and any others also who are able;
7:7 and thou shalt order him that is baptized to fast a day or two before.

It seems to be saying that immersion is preferred since the pouring is a secondary option. However, the point needs to be made that it explicitly allows for pouring if the other options are not available or practical. The Greek word for “baptism” can mean immersion or carry undertones of immersion but don’t necessarily.

Also of note is the fact that regardless of the method, we see explicitly that the first century considered the act - “baptism”. Therefore we can not link the word ‘baptism’ solely with ‘immersion’. The baptism was performed whether by pouring or (presumably) by immersion. Consequently any denomination that rejects non-immersion baptism is decidedly disconnected with the early roots of Christianity.

Regarding the Didache, my personal opinion is that this document and the epistle of Barnabas were both composed in the late 1st century and share a common source: a no longer extant document which compiled the findings of the council of Jerusalem from Acts 15. Here is an excellent source on Barnabas & the Didache.

Friday, October 05, 2007

HLI On the Errors of the CT Bishops

From Human Life International:

On September 28th the Connecticut bishops issued an unfortunate statement allowing the Plan B abortion-causing drug to be used in cases of rape in Catholic hospitals. I have written respectfully and urgently to the Connecticut Catholic Conference (CCC) and to each bishop individually to ask them to withdraw this potentially precedent-setting statement, and I pray that they do so. I am extremely concerned that this statement will begin to have a domino effect on other Catholic hospitals and healthcare institutions, and I write to you today to ask your ongoing partnership in this concern.

First, let me be clear about our obligations as Catholics. While our bishops operate in union with the Vicar of Christ, no individual bishop or conference of bishops, however wise or holy, has the charism of infallibility. Our respect for our bishops is sometimes exercised in presenting them with the clear facts that their advisors may have missed. It is an expression of our filial cooperation in their ministry. In this case, we have no option but to humbly ask them to reverse their decision due to some extremely egregious errors contained in the statement.

Errors of fact
Error number 1: “The administration of Plan B pills in this instance cannot be judged to be the commission of an abortion because of such doubt about how Plan B pills and similar drugs work.”

The truth is that there is absolutely no doubt about how the Plan B pills work. Just ask the manufacturer, Barr Pharmaceuticals, whose product insert states: “This product works mainly by preventing ovulation (egg release). It may also prevent fertilization of a released egg (joining of sperm and egg) or attachment of a fertilized egg to the uterus (implantation).” (My italics.) It’s that third item that makes Plan B an abortion-causing drug. The same can be said for every chemical contraceptive.

Error number 2: “…the teaching authority of the Church has not definitively resolved this matter….” Here, regretfully, Catholics are led to believe that Rome has not unambiguously addressed the issue of Plan B (a.k.a., the “morning after pill”) already.

The truth of this matter is evident by a simple recourse to a statement of the Pontifical Academy for Life on the Vatican’s website. The Academy stated in a document issued in October of 2001 that “from the ethical standpoint the same absolute unlawfulness of abortifacient procedures also applies to distributing, prescribing and taking the morning-after pill. All who, whether sharing the intention or not, directly co-operate with this procedure, are also morally responsible for it.” The Vatican did not need to invent any new teaching on the Plan B pills because these pills fall into the category of abortifacient contraception, pure and simple. The consistent teaching of our Church on abortion applies here.

Errors of judgment
There were other errors in judgment in the bishops’ statement that confuse the issue from a moral point of view. The bishops state that “to administer Plan B pills without an ovulation test is not an intrinsically evil act.” This type of language just confuses the issue. It would indeed be a seriously irresponsible act to administer a killing drug not knowing whether or not ovulation has occurred and a new life is present. It would be like a hunter shooting at something moving in a forest if he were not really sure that what he saw was an animal or a human being. To use the language of “intrinsically evil” would make us think—legalistically—that it would be okay to take an action if it were only possibly evil. Hair-splitting language like this does not give us guidance when our moral obligation is to err on the side of life whenever there is a doubt. Furthermore, Dr. Chris Kahlenborn has shown that Plan B only works to halt ovulation half the time. Thus fertilization may occur even after the pill is administered, and a chemical abortion would result.

The core of the matter
What we are faced with here is the long arm of the culture of death reaching into our Catholic institutions and coercing us to comply with its totalitarian dictates. The Connecticut state legislature, with the complicity of the governor, passed a law that forbad the use of ovulation tests in cases of rape—why? This unwarranted government intrusion into a purely medical decision was totally unnecessary and would not likely have affected any other institutions than Catholic ones. It is, in my opinion, a law that was drafted deliberately to coerce Catholic hospitals to comply with the contraceptive dictates of the abortion providers. Remember this same state was the origin of the 1965 Griswold v. Connecticut Supreme Court case which legalized contraception! It is no wonder that Connecticut is reaping the rotten fruit of the seeds that it sowed over forty years ago.

The bishops were forced into a “reluctant compliance” with this law, according to Bishop Lori of Bridgeport, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. Acts of blatant coercion of Catholic consciences are already far advanced and will only continue unless the Church is willing to stand up and rebuke the arrogance of these coercive measures and carve out strict realms of conscience which are unreachable by activist courts and corrupt politicians. That will require Church leaders to be willing to fight ferocious battles against the dictators of relativism in order to assert our rights of conscience and faith. All Catholics, but especially our leaders, will have to be clear-headed and uncompromising in the face of the temptations to put our Catholic institutions in league with the liars and manipulators of the culture of death.

I envision a day in which Catholic leaders may have to resign from lucrative positions in business and shut down Catholic healthcare institutions rather than cooperate in the arrogant and coercive programs of the culture of death. Actually, I think that day has already arrived.

What we can do
Our greatest weapon in this battle against the culture of death is prayer. I ask you to pray for the bishops, above all, who are usually the target of attack by the culture of death and are often surrounded by compromisers. We need their strong moral leadership unfettered by lawyers and “ethicists” who prevent them from taking up arms in the culture wars. We are at a point in our Church’s history where bishops and priests are being called to martyrdom for the sake of the Faith, and only prayer will give them that courage to embrace their vocations to the last drop of blood.

Secondly, we all need to make a firm decision to never be silent in the face of any form of chemical killing. Abortifacient contraception is a back-door plague which enters into lives, institutions and societies in the guise of the birth control “savior,” but it is just one more way to kill, and with greater frequency at that.

Finally, stay tuned for more battles in more states with more Catholic healthcare institutions. One phone call I had with the legislative advisor of the Connecticut Catholic Conference gave me the impression that the domino effect is already happening in other episcopal conferences, and that concerns me deeply. The vigilance of many great pro-life forces, coupled with prayer and massive protests from people of conscience will undoubtedly give our Church leaders the courage to imitate the Good Shepherd, who laid down His life for His sheep.

Sincerely Yours in Christ,

Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuer,
President, Human Life International
Also of interest are these links:

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Deistic Evolution

Now there's a more appropriate title for the viewpoint/belief/rationale whatever you want to call it. The so called concept of "theistic evolution" bears more features in striking resemblance to classical deism than to the 'revealed' theism.

Theism (at least Judaism/Christianity/Islam) are 'revealed religions'- so labeled by deists. The labels are true enough - we didn't discover God by scientific experiments and or by rationale but rather God sought us out according to the very core beliefs of our religion.

I've often wondered how a diehard theistic-ahem deistic-evolutionist would explain the creation story to their child. Would they say God created the world in seven days? Something tells me they'd modify the story. Something tells me they'd keep it simple enough for a child to understand and be interested in, but modify the language so that there was obvious room for the possibility that the accounts in Genesis were thoroughly metaphoric.

But the question would be, why? Why do you need to modify the language of the story? If you don't read Genesis literally, the only possible explanation of why God chose such misleading words could be that He needed to use language and literary conventions accessible to the people of that time (unlearned cavemen that they were).

But by anyone's estimation, the adults in 2,000 BC were still much smarter than the children of today. So why would anyone feel the need to modify the language? I'm sure I could catch someone in the act (though I haven't seen it). I'm sure liberal children story books have a very Darwinian friendly account.

It just leaves me wondering why God didn't just explain that He created the world and let nature take her course when He revealed the Word to Moses. Then again, I suppose it would be a bit paradoxical for God to 'reveal' that Deism is basically true.

Abortion Seen as the Best Predictor for Breast Cancer

Why do I have the sneaking suspicion that this study linking breast cancer with abortion won't make the headlines of MSNBC?

London, Oct. 3, 2007 (CWNews.com) - A British statistician has found that abortion rates accurately predict the incidence of breast cancer in several countries.

In a study published in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, Patrick Carroll of London's Pension and Population Research Institute reports that the rate of abortion was the "best predictor of breast cancer" among several included in his study. Fertility rates also proved useful in predicting the incidence of breast cancer.


Split The Republican Party?

Now leaders are vocalizing what could hardly be any more obvious: "value voters" will not vote for Giuliani and if he is nominated - the Republican party would be split between those who have moral convictions and those who just want to make sure that no one in third world countries benefits from our prosperity (leaving less for us).

Salt Lake City, Oct 3, 2007 / 10:42 am (CNA).- Social conservatives have threatened to abandon the Republican Party and support a third party presidential bid if their concerns are marginalized by a pro-choice presidential candidate.

A break-away group of influential activists issued this warning at the Saturday meeting of the Council for National Policy in Salt Lake City. The group included Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family and Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.
The Republican party better get a clue soon if they want to have any chance whatsoever.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Pelikan On Mary Throughout History

I just got a new book: "Mary Through the Centuries" by Jaroslav Pelikan. (Written while he was still a Lutheran, 2 years before he was received into the Orthodox Church).

Here's a nice quote from the first chapter (the first of a few I'd like to share as I get the time):

When, several chapters after the solemn prologue, "And the Word was God," the Gospel of John had Jesus say of himself, "My Father is greater than I," Augustine had to bring his heaviest weapons into action. If the Protestant Reformers and their descendants were willing to hold still for such a manipulation of New Testament passages in the interest of upholding a doctrinal development that had come only in later centuries-and they were-what stood in the way of such manipulation when the passage in question was "This is my body" or "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church"?
I can already tell I'm going to like this book.