Friday, January 25, 2008

Perhaps The Most Philosophically Significant Video of the Decade

Or maybe not. It's Friday, time to have a little fun. No one else seems to think this video is funny but I literally cannot stop laughing to the point of physical pain when I watch it. Am I just weird? Isn't this monkey funny? Can I get some back up? (Can't get the video to embed for some reason. Blogger keeps saying my tag isn't closed.. Anyone know why?)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Mary - Mediatrix of All Graces in Catholic Dogma

I found this quote from Pope Leo XIII's encyclical "Octobri mense" (1891) to be appropriate to Thos' recent discussion on the subject:

The Eternal Son of God, about to take upon Him our nature for the saving and ennobling of man, and about to consummate thus a mystical union between Himself and all mankind, did not accomplish His design without adding there the free consent of the elect Mother, who represented in some sort all human kind, according to the illustrious and just opinion of St. Thomas, who says that the Annunciation was effected with the consent of the Virgin standing in the place of humanity. With equal truth may it be also affirmed that, by the will of God, Mary is the intermediary through whom is distributed unto us this immense treasure of mercies gathered by God, for mercy and truth were created by Jesus Christ. Thus as no man goeth to the Father but by the Son, so no man goeth to Christ but by His Mother.
And also this one from his encyclical "Fidentem" (1896):
For no single individual can even be imagined who has ever contributed or ever will contribute so much towards reconciling man with God. She offered to mankind, hastening to eternal ruin, a Saviour, at that moment when she received the announcement of the mystery of peace brought to this earth by the Angel, with that admirable act of consent in the name of the whole human race (Summa. p. III, q. xxx., art. She it is from whom is born Jesus; she is therefore truly His mother, and for this reason a worthy and acceptable "Mediatrix to the Mediator."
(Emphasis added) So I think the Catholic Church has clarified (even dogmatically) in what sense she is called the Mediatrix. But perhaps most important and clearly written is this one from Pope St. Pius X in his encyclical "Ad diem" (1904):
We are then, it will be seen, very far from attributing to the Mother of God a productive power of grace - a power which belongs to God alone. Yet, since Mary carries it over all in holiness and union with Jesus Christ, and has been associated by Jesus Christ in the work of redemption, she merits for us de congruo, in the language of theologians, what Jesus Christ merits for us de condigno, and she is the supreme Minister of the distribution of graces. Jesus "sitteth on the right hand of the majesty on high"
How wonderful God's plan is. I've said it before, all our fictions merely imitate the greatest story ever told - the Redemption of mankind. So if we are to look at one of the greatest stories ever told by men, I think the Lord of the Rings has to be up there around the top whoever you are. Mary is Frodo in the Lord of the Rings. (Of course there is no direct allegory according to Tolkein but if there were...)

Don't you see, Gandalf understood it. Only the simple unassuming Hobbit in his innocence could deliver the ring to mount doom. Only the "Yes" from Mary, immaculately conceived, could bring the ring (evil/satan) to the power of Mt. Doom (calvary). Or in the words of St. Irenaeus we could remind ourselves that virginal disobedience could only be undone by virginal obedience.

Here we have the lowest and humblest of creatures, a simple Jewish woman devoted to God in chastity delivering the Christ in the lowest of places and living a simple life with her husband the carpenter. And this narrative illustrates the climax of human history. And the simple, lowest creature becomes the greatest hero (heroine) of mankind.

Frodo is not the author of the power that destroyed the ring and neither is Mary the author of grace. And we could ask ourselves, "could the ring have been destroyed without Frodo"? or "could Christ have been born without Mary"? yet both of these questions are futile - the second more than the first. It WAS by Frodo's hands that the ring was destroyed. Salvation for middle earth came because of the innocence of the Hobbit. Salvation/grace for man did come through the obedience of Mary. I think the parallel is valid. What do you think?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Priest Threatens Pro-Life Activists With Arrest

I sure hope there's something not fully reported in this story but it wouldn't surprise me too much. If there's even an inkling of truth in it, shame on you Father Tottle.

ST PETERSBURG, Florida, Jan. 20 /Standard Newswire/ -- "Today's events confirm to me why abortion continues in America: Thousands of Pastors and Priests not only fail in their duty to protect innocent children from abortion, but they rebuke and discourage young us when we try to live out our faith." -- Joseph Landry, Age 26 (Graduate of Franciscan University of Stuebenville)

At St. Jude's Cathedral in St. Petersburg Florida at approximately 11:30 A.M. this Sunday morning (1/20/08) 3 pro-life Catholic interns were peacefully putting pro-life voting material on car windshields of parishioners (names: Joseph Landry, Francisco Gonzalez, and Steve Pokorny) This is completely legal, and happens across the nation at churches during election cycles.

The practice only becomes a problem when an authorized person from the church demands that the leafleting cease, and orders the leafleters to leave the parking lot.

A Priest from the Cathedral, Father Gregg Tottle, Rector, summoned the police, and between Masses came out with the Police present to demand that his fellow Catholics cease distributing the pro-life fliers. He threatened to have them arrested if they continued. Fr. Tottle told Mr. Landry that he knew they were distributing pro-life material. This makes his actions all the more deplorable.

New Convert Blog From a Former Evangelical Pastor

Dr. David Hall recently appeared on EWTN's "The Journey Home". He came into the Church last Summer and now has his own blog. Give him a warm welcome - H/T Tiber Jumper.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Uta Heinemann - Liberal Stupidity Personified

This article was interesting. H/T NotMyOpinion. Heinemann shows (albeit from an antagonist's perspective) why the Roman Pontiff as the head of the Church is so vital.

From a practical perspective, the simple conclusion is - it worked. The simple fact that no other organization has ever done it (or even come close) is significant.

Anyway, listen to what she says:

On a number of key issues, he [Lehmann] has one truth for the pope and the simple-minded, and another for theology professors such as Karl Rahner.
Notice how she lumps the pope in with "the simple-minded"... And this is coming from a woman who makes fun of people who take Christianity seriously (which would be fine except that she professes to be a Christian).
Which reforms do you think the Catholic Church needs most?

The pope should not be infallible. But I'm pessimistic. This will never happen. Nothing will change. Anyone who doubts the anti-abortion and anti-condom stance, for example, will simply never be allowed to become a bishop.
The pope either is or isn't infallible (rather has the power to exorcise the charism of infallibility) it is never a question of "should" he be or "shouldn't" he be..That is, well in a nutshell, retarded.

Why is the Catholic Church incapable of changing?

As an entity, the Catholic Church has taken 2000 years to achieve a theocratic concentration of power. The pope doesn't just want to rule the Vatican, he wants to rule the world.
MUHAHAHAHAHAHA. Soon we will rule even the stars themselves and bind them all to the power of the holy father. Then we will force them to worship Mary and the saints.

Seriously, this woman lost all credibility by not converting to another religion. Why stay Catholic if she feels that Catholicism is false? Hey Heinemann - newsflash: Protestant denominations don't have the pope - and all of them are fine with condoms and a number of them accept abortion and women priestesses. Why don't you join them?

Well I Know Which Parish to Attend On My Next Visit to the Philippines

From The News Today Online, h/t Father Z:

A solemn high mass in Latin will highlight the fiesta of Mandurriao parish on January 23, 2008. Rev. Fr. Esperidion Celis, parish priest of Mandurriao, said he wrote Pope Benedict XVI to seek his blessing of the significant religious undertaking.

Celis said the idea of holding the solemn high mass in Latin is in support of the Holy Father’s decision to bring back and give wider use of the Latin mass according to the 1962 Rite approved by the Papal Moto Proprio "Summorum Pontificum."

Celis said it would be the first time since the 1960s that the Latin mass will be conducted in the Archdiocese of Jaro and even in the entire country.

The Latin mass will be held after the 2:00 p.m. procession around the plaza on January 23.

The mass, which will be officiated by Msgr. Juanito Tuvilla, will have a Gregorian Chant and traditional Christian hymns like Mozart’s "Ave Verum" and Franck’s "Panis Angelicus", as well as a polyphonic rendition of the "Messe Solenelle de Ste. Cecile" by Charles Francois Gounod.

Celis said they have invited parishioners from as far as the province of Capiz and Antique to witness the holding of the Latin mass. They have also invited students of Catholic schools in the city to attend the celebration to give them the chance to experience the 1962 Rite in Latin.

Macmillan: Liturgy Isn't Our Only Problem, But It's a Great Starting Point

The following is an excerpt from this article from James Macmillan(renowned composer) and is worth a read. Hat tip: The New Liturgical Movement.

"It is not just in the liturgical sphere that we see a new impatience with the comfy laxness of the previous generation. For many years successful professional Christians have sought to ingratiate themselves with their liberal secular associates by playing down the parts of the Church’s teaching that caused most offence. Nevertheless there was more at stake here than just their incorporation into trendy sophisticated company.

Secular liberals have gladly gobbled up all these concessions and now want more – the complete obliteration of religion from public life. In the process liberal Christians have lost the respect of their secular peers. They gave no indication of intellectual rigour or ethical integrity in their eagerness to ditch bits and pieces of the faith. Their faith has been caught in a cruel light – their Christianity is bland, sentimental and anaemic.

History will look back unkindly on the generation of Vatican II Catholics who were handed such a precious pentecostal gift of grace – a unique opportunity to purify the Church, only to squander it disastrously. They bent over backwards to accommodate the zeitgeist, rather than open a generational heart to the Heilige Geist...

We can begin with the liturgy. Nothing signals the weakened state of the modern Church more than the contemporary practice of Catholic liturgy in hundreds of churches throughout the land. A breath of fresh air is wafting through St Peter’s, and in his own gentle way Pope Benedict is inviting the universal Church to taste the beauties and spiritual sustenance of true Catholic worship. I am convinced that from the liturgy everything else will flow."

Thursday, January 17, 2008

One More Question for Protestants

Following Bryan Cross' 10 (12) questions for Protestants, I'd like to ask one more (and this one, I'm unable to come up with a bad answer like I did for Bryan's).

To start with, step back for a second and just look at the history of the Christian religion as a whole (step out of your current mindset for a second and just look at Christianity objectively with no leaning towards any particular denomination or way of seeing Christianity in so far as you are able).

Now I would like to know which Christian world view would allow for a Church (be it invisible or just the collective body of Christians) that was almost completely in grave error for her entire existence? (Let's assume one could prove such a thing...for the sake of the argument). Put another way, if we were to find that nearly all of Christianity had been wrong about extremely important theological issues, what kind of Christian world view would allow for such a thing? If yours does, then how? That is my question, how/why did God let almost all of Christianity - the new chosen people to reveal Himself to the world - get everything so terribly wrong?

Would God have allowed Noah to build a faulty ark? Now how about Israel? We all know they were many times a poor representation of what God intended for them. But we see they went astray and were corrected - they returned to orthodoxy. As many times as they strayed, God disciplined and brought them back. Now isn't this the model for the Church? But the Protestant model is that the Church went astray and God did not correct them but rather raised up 'Spirit filled' leaders to start a new one (or however you want to re-word it).

At this point, I'll concede a bit. I will assume for the sake of the argument that the "Church" somehow isn't specifically the visible Catholic Church. We will just say that it is the invisible collective body of all true Christians everywhere. We are still left with the above problem. If we assume (and remember we already have) that one could demonstrate the vast majority of Christianity to be in grave theological error over the centuries, how can we make sense of such a scenario? Doesn't it strike you as theologically incoherent? If not, explain how this makes sense.

In such a scenario, I think we would be forced to view the "Church" as the tiny minority of Christians throughout the ages. Sure the "Church" existed in the first few centuries even as the majority of Christians were starting to gradually fall for 'popery'. But we're talking a small handful of people and even today - even conceding such a scenario I'd be unwilling to accept the "Church" being anything other than a tiny fraction of Christianity.

Now I would like to hear Protestant answers GIVEN those assumptions. (Remember we must assume that the vast majority of Christians were in serious theological error throughout the ages) now I want to hear the answer to that question.

But we are making some rather hefty assumptions aren't we? So let me back them up. For 1500 years, the entirety (100%) of Christianity believed in Transubstantiation. This is simply an objective fact. For the last 500 years, Catholics and Orthodox maintain it (and they make up by far the majority of Christianity) So if we were to just look at all of history objectively, we can see that the huge majority of Christianity believed in something that, if wrong, is gravely wrong. This is but one (albeit most likely the strongest) proof for the above assumptions.

We should also be aware that there are several other issues we could bring up as well - apostolic succession, rejection of sola scriptura & sola fide, infant baptism (certain Protestant denominations accept this, only making the remaining denominations even smaller fractions of Christian majority on this issue) and several other issues.

So let's assume for the sake that one particular Protestant denomination is correct about everything. Let's pick one and see- I'll use PCA since that's what I come from. If the PCA theology is correct, that makes mainline Protestants wrong on several very important moral issues. It makes most Baptists wrong on salvation (at least mostly wrong), it makes Methodists wrong on "Perseverance of the Saints" and it sure as hell makes Catholics & Orthodox wrong about a number of things (we needn't go down the list but we could list out very serious errors of all other types of Christianity such as the ones we already have).

In this scenario, we have a tiny fraction of modern Christianity being right and the huge huge majority of it being wrong on a large number of very serious theological issues. Sure, lots of Christian denominations would be close enough not to be called Pagans, but the vast majority of Christianity still holds one or more serious theological errors including (but not limited to): falsely worshiping the created as the Creator, illicitly communing with the dead, rejecting infant baptism, rejecting the Total Depravity of man or one of the other five points of Calvinism, rejecting sola scriptura and or sola fide as taught by the WCF etc... Now ask yourself, is this scenario plausible? Ok so you're not comfortable with using the PCA. Replace it with any denomination you choose. Is it a plausible scenario? The answer is no. We all know it's not. But, if you disagree, then by all means, explain why that scenario is plausible.

But suppose we used the same scenario and replaced PCA with the Catholic Church. Is that scenario plausible? I think the only reasonable answer is yes. It is a plausible scenario (forget the details for now, don't start objecting because of the pope or Mary or something else) the scenario itself is quite plausible. If not, then I want you to explain why it's not (without talking about any specific doctrinal disagreements, remember we're not getting into specifics of who's right and wrong on any certain issue - we're just looking at which scenarios are plausible and then we can weigh our options). As a footnote, I would also agree that the scenario would also be plausible by replacing the PCA with any one of the Orthodox Churches.

I think it is utterly logical that Christ would establish the Catholic Church (which alone constitutes the majority of Christianity at any point in history even up to this very day and for the first half of Christian history constituted 100%) as the true and full heir to the nation of Israel. I think it quite reasonable that He would act towards her in a similar manner as He did with Israel (that is, never abandon her, always correct her when she goes wrong and brings her back). I don't think it's hard to believe at all that instead of the Catholic Church being wrong it is the fraction of Christianity which by doctrinal novelty disagrees with her that is. So again, I don't know of any way to say such a scenario is implausible. If you think the scenario is implausible, then explain to me why.

So my conclusion with the above assumptions (given that these arguments are true) we are left with an outlook on Christian history where it would be implausible to say any given Protestant theology is correct and only the Catholic or one of the Orthodox Churches could possibly hold true.

So if you want to contradict me, let me summarize. The only way to deny the above conclusion is to show that either A) it would be plausible for the Holy Spirit to leave the huge majority of Christianity throughout the centuries to their own devices (and watch almost all of them be wrong about serious issues) or B) prove that the majority of Christianity has not been in serious error over important theological issues. (And to avoid the "its possible to be wrong on some but right on others" argument, just start with Transubstantiation).

Allen Hunt to Convert to the Catholic Church

H/T Tiber Jumper:

Allen Hunt, a pastor of the third largest Methodist Church in the USA, has announced his upcoming river crossing. He also has a successful AM radio talk show here.
From Hunt's blog (it's a shame to see all the negative comments there):
"After much prayer and meditation over the past six months, I have shared with Bishop Lindsey Davis that I am relinquishing my status as an ordained United Methodist pastor in the North Georgia Conference. This deeply personal decision reflects my sense that God has called me to serve in a new mission role. Moreover, I believe that God has led me to a new spiritual home in the Catholic Church, so I have made provision to be received as a member into that Church."

Double Standard For Christians

This kind of discrimination is an unspoken - accepted norm in America already and it could get much worse sooner than we expect (particularly if someone like Obama is elected).

LONDON, January 16, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A court ruling last week concluded that British Airways (BA) did not engage in unlawful discrimination when it suspended an employee for refusing to hide a cross necklace while at work, even though symbols of other religions are permitted.
I have a friend who works at a major corporation who told me the same thing - crosses are not allowed to be displayed at his workplace (forget a crucifix) yet their cafeteria is routinely decorated with symbolism from other religions (this is company sponsored decoration). At school, my 8 year old only learns about Kwanza, Hannukah and global warming. He's had probably a dozen different math assignments where the 'fun' objects they're counting are religious symbols from various religions. One was a menorah counting the candles etc... This is in regular public school. I wonder when they're planning to count the rosary beads?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Prayer Before Meals

Below is my family prayer which I pieced together from parts of the mass, my own rewording of Scripture and the traditional blessing:

Father, all powerful and ever living God,
We do well everywhere and always to give you thanks and praise for all things and so we give You Thanks for this food which You have provided.

It is written that man shall not live on bread alone but on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God and so let this food be but an image of our true sustenance which is from Thee.

Bless us and bless this food which we are about to receive from Thy bounty through Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Video & News Coverage of the Tridentine High Mass at Greensboro

Here's a video of some clips of the recent high mass I attended in Greensboro. You can hear our schola chanting and the picture of the Asian man receiving the Body towards the end was one of the schola members.

Here's the news coverage from Greensboro's paper and here's Father Z's comments on that story.

Here's another attendees' blog post on the mass (she is also a convert).

Exciting stuff. Thanks to all the priests who made this happen and long live Pope Benedict XVI!

Two Anglican Priestesses to be Received into Full Communion With Rome

Hat's off to these women for such a courageous and humble move. H/T Curt Jester. Interestingly, they cite being "treated like dirt" as one of (if not the) primary reason for the conversion.

Liturgy and the Song of the Cosmos

It's sad that 'religion' has become a dirty word in our society but it's worse that it has even become so among the religious! I'm sure the majority of those who adhere to the Christian religion would categorize (at least subconsciously) the word 'religion' as a negative one.

Religion has come to symbolize and embody the opposite of what we feel is the proper way of understanding our relationship with God. Religion, ritual and liturgy strike our culture as useless and even harmful distractions to our spirituality. On the contrary, they are aides. We must not go so far down the Platonic path that we end up looking more like a Gnostic than an orthodox Christian.

It should come as no surprise that if we are to examine liturgy as it should be, we ought to look at our relationship to God as it should be. Let me be a little abstract now:

Last night in schola rehearsal, we talked about the 7th note of a scale and how when played, it always wants to go back to the first. It's called a lead note. Do you know one of the common musicians' tricks for quickly determining the key which a song is played in is? They listen for the last note. Songs almost always end on the first note of the scale. They must return to their origin. I find parallels in the cosmos - it is the natural order of things to return to their origin and or come to the perfect resolution which the entire song/story/conflict has been yearning for.

In a good song, we find a beginning (mostly begins on the first and if not almost always quickly establishes the first note) and we find that the first part builds up to a certain climax, we don't quite know what it is yet. It keeps building and though the signs are pointing us in the right direction and giving us clues, when the climax comes we are surprised at it. (We didn't guess the melody but looking back it makes perfect sense). The song doesn't usually end at the climax though. It continues on - there is work yet to be done - there is more to say. We will never return to the grandeur of that climax but in the end we will finish on a perfect note (back to the first). The song has been resolved - the story is over. This is the perfect resolution of the song. Every note has been waiting for this final resolve.

How many songs fit that model? I know a good one played on the Chinese traditional - "erhu". It's called "Moonlight Reflected on the Er Quan Spring". How many fictional narratives fit this model? Why is history more interesting than fiction? We might expect it to be the other way around (of course Chesterton reminded us that we made fiction for ourselves and therefore in some sense it does make sense that it is less interesting than reality). And I think the truth is, all fiction merely imitates the ultimate narrative penned by the greatest Author. All of our fictions are pale imitations of redemptive history.

So what does this have to do with liturgy? On a very broad scale, how does Christianity fit into the creative model outlined above? I only spoke of three parts - the beginning the climax and the end. The first two are quite easy. The beginning is creation, the climax is the crucifixion but what is the end? We don't quite know so we look to the book of Revelation.

Let's start from the beginning. We see that creation started on the first note of the scale - perfection in the garden. But immediately, the song begins to shift... It's going somewhere. Now who was the first priest? Melchizidek? Noah? Enoch? Perhaps Able since he offered a sacrifice... In fact, the first priest was Adam. He communed with God but we have no reason to believe that it wasn't liturgical. The Eastern theologians are quite adept on expounding this concept. We know that the Jewish temple was decorated inside with a garden motif. The ritualistic temple worship aimed at returning to the perfect union with God found in the garden. It should only be fitting that the rubrics of worship would imitate the true communion which we were designed for (especially since God Himself strictly required the precise rubrics). How much sense would it make to worship in a completely different way than we were originally intended to? So the point here is that liturgy imitates and points to perfect communion (it certainly doesn't detract from it or pull us in the wrong direction). These are notes of the song pointing to the final resolution we are all expecting.

The resolution should not be hard to guess - we will return to perfection but having played the most beautiful song ever imagined and participated in the greatest story ever told. And if we are to look at the prediction for the end of time what do we find in Revelation? A return to a simple buddy-pal relationship with God? Strolling hand in hand casually through the garden? On the contrary, we find the highest and most solemn liturgy ever described. Catholic and Orthodox theologians have seen the book of Revelation as much in terms of liturgical symbolism as in apocalyptic prophesy. Scott Hahn is among the best modern scholars I know of in expounding on this insight. I would point the reader to his commentaries on Revelation from a Catholic perspective in order to fully grasp how true and complete this point really is. However, for our purposes let us just note that we began on a perfect note in the garden with the first priest Adam communing in perfect liturgical worship with God and we end on the same note with all the choirs of angels in heaven, the white robed army of martyrs, His beautiful bride and the true High Priest, Jesus Christ all in the unity of the Holy Spirit. This is the final note of resolution. Good musicians have already guessed the final resolve of the piece, good theologians the same (divine revelation also helps in this case).

Now what of the climax? How does the death and resurrection of Christ relate to liturgy? It is the climactic liturgy of all humanity! Jesus began the passover with His disciples drinking only three of the four cups of wine (blood). He performed the first Christian mass in the upper room and told the disciples that He would not drink wine again until that day when He drank it anew in the kingdom of God. The gospels told us that He drank bitter wine (wine-vinegar) on the cross!! Immediately following this He said "It is finished". But what is "It"? The redemptive work is not finished, He has not yet descended into Hades nor has He risen from the dead - conquering death by death. The liturgical sacrifice is finished. This is the climax of all history.
(See Scott Hahn's - 'the fourth cup' for a much more detailed analysis of this point).

I heard an audience member ask Peter Kreeft during a lecture, "why is music played in a minor key more beautiful than music played in a major key?" I thought to myself "Yes! What a great question! I've wanted to know that answer for the longest time..." It seems so contrary - why is sad, minor music more beautiful than music played in a major key? I waited impatiently for the answer - I thought, "if anyone knows the answer, Peter Kreeft does". Oh how my heart sank when I heard "I don't know"... but then in passing as he began to move on to the next question I think he nailed it on the head "but it has something to do with calvary". That's it! That's the reason why minor chords and keys are more beautiful than major! Art imitates life.

The climax in the aforementioned song is the saddest part of the entire piece. Although there are many parts of the song which sound quite happy, it is all played in the same key. Likewise, the climax of the narrative which we are living out is God incarnating Himself in the person Jesus Christ and offering Himself as a sacrifice for us. It was the saddest and yet most beautiful event in all of history. And still we mustn't forget that it was played in the same key as the beginning and the end - a liturgical one.

There was nothing casual about the cross, there is nothing casual about the heavenly liturgy and there wasn't anything casual about Eden. And for God's sake, there shouldn't be anything casual about our liturgy. Our liturgies point to what we hope to attain in perfection. What perfection does a "flip flop service" point towards? A heavenly living room where we sit around and shoot the breeze with Jesus? What does it say about our expectations of heaven and of return to full communion when we try to add every little thing we can to detract from the centrality of the Eucharistic sacrifice in our liturgy? What does it say of our expectations when the sacrifice is not even present?

Do you think it is merely man's doing that has destroyed the liturgy? Do you think it's just man being lazy? Satan was behind the destruction of the first liturgy and he's behind the destruction of the liturgy now.

It might be of man if at least some of what they (the detractors from the liturgy) say were true. But since we find out that even the most believable arguments they have are actually lies, we know it is ultimately from the father of lies. They say we have dumbed down the liturgy to encourage participation. We have less participation than ever! They say we play embarrassing contemporary music because that's the only way to be relevant to the teenagers and yet we have three teenagers in a crowd of 1,000 attending and we're more irrelevant now than we've ever been. And at my parish, the folk mass has the least participation out of all the masses! They sing the most "relevant" contemporary crap they can find and no one sings it and no one truly enjoys it. So why do it? They won't allow Latin or traditional music in the parish because they say people won't sing.... People aren't singing anyway! (Ironically the Latin mass I attended recently had full participation with each member of the congregation singing their hearts out on every instance where they were supposed to). Unfortunately, my parish is not an anomaly.

They try to compromise the liturgy and become like a Protestant faith community. They end up losing the tradition, reverence and solemnity of the real Catholic mass and not even doing a good job at being Protestant. If I wanted congregational music, I'd go to a Baptist faith community certainly not a watered down liturgy at a Catholic parish.

But the tide of the song is changing I believe. Pope Benedict XVI is truly implementing solutions that will (and are) reversing the downward spiral caused by the liturgical holocaust. Not the least of which was the Motu Proprio released last year which liberalized the Tridentine mass. The Catholic Church is proving Christ's words to be true "the gates of hell will not prevail".

This is not to say that the Novus Ordo can't be properly reverent and vertical - it can...but it just usually isn't. Well to all the faithful - keep up the good fight and keep looking for that final note when this great song will be perfectly resolved. Oh and, quit playing dissonant notes (living room liturgies).

Monday, January 14, 2008

High Tridentine Mass

Yesterday I had the great privilege of attending a High Tridentine mass on the feast of the Holy Family. I attended a Novus Ordo in the morning at my usual parish (my wife had to work so I had to make sure she got there).

Talk about freakin' night and day... First, I would say that the Tridentine mass was the most beautiful thing this side of Heaven except it would be lacking of a description. In fact, the mass is the meeting of Heaven and earth and the Tridentine mass is living proof of it.

I arrived with my brother and cousin about an hour and a half early and met with a group of eight other men who were singing in the schola. We worked through the Rossini propers and the Aspereges Me. (They were going to chant the full propers of the mass but were unable to put it together in time so they/we resorted to the easier Rossini versions). I must say for a group of guys who (mostly) just met each other I think we did pretty good. So my first Tridentine mass was spent in the balcony chanting with the schola (I could see some of it but not most of it).

The choir was freakin awesome and they had an excellent violinist playing. They sung mass ordinaries by Mozart and Hayden (including Mozarts last piece the Ave Verum Corpus).

I have more to say when I get the time. I told my friend after mass sarcastically - you know the only thing I missed was having a guitar at the ambo...

Anyway, guys if you have the opportunity to go to a Latin mass - do it! And if you don't have the opportunity in your diocese, start a petition and get some support. It's worth it.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Protestant Charges Round 3

Jim has disappeared but he's tagged another contender before leaving. Grifman posted the following comments (again my replies in red)

First off, where does Clement claim to be the pope, with all that this position implies today? I agree that he orders obedience to his letter, but he doesn't say "Obey because I am the pope". Is it because everyone already knew that he was the pope? Perhaps, but you can't really prove he's the pope by this letter if you are already assuming that.

Replace pope with "Roman Pontiff" or "Bishop of Rome". I can't prove he was the bishop of Rome I suppose.. but the earliest sources unanimously confirm he was (take Irenaeus for the strongest and clearest early example). Their testimony is far more persuasive than any other. Here's some background on the word "Pope" that you might find useful. (Note, its roots are Latin not Greek which was the language they used at the time. So it would have been more than just a bit anachronistic for Clement to claim to be 'Pope')

Going further, in Chapter 63 where he urges obedience he states that they should do it so that they should achieve their goal and be blameless. His letter nowhere says on what authority his call to obedience is based unless I've missed something - and I could have - it's a long letter.

His authority seems to be taken for granted.

Secondly, the letter on the face does not appear to be from Clement personally, but from the church at Rome, as it say in the opening greeting.

The earliest ecclesiology of the fathers held the primacy of the Roman pontiff to be based on both the martyrdoms of Peter and Paul (as you will notice in his letter) and also the letter of Irenaeus Against Heresies. Irenaeus says nothing about a Pope but he does talk about the Roman Church and says that it is necessary for all other Churches to agree with her. See this post for details. This early ecclesiology is absolutely no problem for Catholic theology. (See the parable of the mustard seed). However, it does pose quite a problem for Protestant theology.

Indeed, Clement also uses the term "we" thoughout, instead of "I" if, which would seem to indicate he's speaking for the church at Rome.

Popes still use that language today in many of their letters. They are not the king of the Church speaking for themselves. They speak on behalf of the magisterial voice of the Church. Also see my previous reply.

The letter also states in Chapter 1 an apology for being tardy in responding to the question the Corinthians "consulted" the church at Rome on. It looks like they asked for assistance from the church at Rome in this matter, not that the pope was unilaterally intervening.

Yes, they did ask for it. But the question we have to answer is why would they ask for help from Rome (especially when one of the apostles is still living much closer to them in Asia minor).

It looks like St. John didn't intervene because he wasn't asked or maybe didn't even know of the problem.

Again the point is WHY didn't/wouldn't they ask him..

Or it is entirely possible that he also wrote a letter that we don't know about. I don't think we know enough to say what John did or didn't do. All we can say is that the church at Rome did intervene.

Lastly, the letter does talk about church structure/authority. But it seems to paint a bit of a different picture than what exists today.

In Chapter 44 he talks about the apostles appointing men to replace them, and that after those die, others should be appointed. But this subsequent appointment seems to be bit different. It seems that further successors are appointed by "eminent men" and then ratified by the church. It also appears to imply that these successors can be dismissed by the church.

The Catholic Church still affirms apostolic succession. I'm not sure what your point is here.

Clement in hie letter seems to be arguing, not against the Corinthian churches right to dismiss a "bad" minister, but he rebukes them for dismissing those

"who have blamelessly served the flock of Christ, in a humble, peaceable, and disinterested spirit, and have for a long time possessed the good opinion of all".

Clement seems to be implying that those who haven't served blamelessly can be removed by the church at Corinth.

Sure, bishops have that power.

He only rebukes the Corinthian church for "unjustly" removing these men, which seems to imply that men could be "justly" removed with cause. It's just that the Corinthian church is wrong in dismissing these men because they were just and upright.

Those practices seem a bit at odds with those of the Catholic Church today.

How?

(second post)

I've owned several versions of the NIV, and everyone has had this line as a footnote, not in the text itself.

Well I must have had a special one. Not sure if I still have it or not but it's a non issue anyway.

In fact this is the big reason that the KJV only fanatics hate the NIV - it doesn't have variants like this in the text. So I don't see where you say it's there with an asterik. Just go look at the onine version of the NIV - it's a footnote.

Secondly, we don't know that the line is "spurious".

Beyond reasonable doubt we do.

It is in some texts, mostly later ones. The odds are that it is an interpolation, but to say that you know it is 100% spurious is more than can possibly be said by the experts. You claim to know more than can actually be known, then use it as a club against Protestants.

Ugh, The Message is awful, on that we can agree :) I can't speak for a lot of these versions just the ones I have but the RSV like the NIV, has it in a footnote. The NAS includes it in brackets but footnotes the text as not being in the oldest manuscripts.

I'm also looking that New Century online and I don't see this verse. And while it's in Holman, it's in brackets, indicating it's a variant. And the NKJV also shows it's a variant. So without checking all the sources you noted above, I'm 3 for 3 here in showing that all of these show that it is a variant. How more honest do they have to be to make you happy? :)

"But the bottom line for me is: Protestants say the Lord's prayer with the line tacked on... Catholic's don't. That was a selling point for me (albeit a very small one). But it did clue me in on a reality that I would discover in my Catholic studies - those who reject Scripture as the sole authority ironically revere it more than those who say they trust only in Scripture."

That's just plain silly.

To reject my point is plain silly. :P

I could just as well argue that Protestants are more concerned because they include this textual variant in the chance that it is correct, while Catholics don't care enough to show this possibility. But I won't because that kind of argument accomplishes nothing. It's the equivalent of arguing that Protestants love God more because we don't have to waste time with the saints. You should really be better than this.

The ad hominem attack is not appreciated but if you'll go back and look, you've missed the point of what I said :

(albeit a very small one). But it did clue me in on a reality that I would discover in my Catholic studies

It wasn't this point that showed me that Catholics revere Scripture more than Protestants, this merely gave me a clue. I would later discover it in my studies over the last couple of years. The argument you were attacking was a bad one, fortunately it wasn't mine.

Most Protestant English Bibles seem to openly disclose that this is a variant. To make it some point of Catholic superiority that your Bible doesn't include this variant is putting more weight on this point than it can bear, IMO.

It shouldn't be in the text if we have very good reason to doubt its authenticity (even with an asterisk). Just leave the thing out, or at most put it in with the asterisk in the footnotes only. I'd have no problem with that.

Again, it's not "spurious". It's a variant - there's a difference. There's nothing wrong that I know of in showing variants. I don't know of anyone but you and KJV only people who make an issue of this :)

I mentioned it in passing, you're the one who's making a huge issue of it.

As for common knowledge, I think we can both agree that there are a lot of things about the Christian faith that both Catholics/Protestant should know but don't. But we don't ignore them or throw them out because laymen aren't up on them. Right? :)

But we don't make it easy for the lay people to be misled either.

"As for the Texus Receptus, there's no doubt that our resources for ancient manuscripts and getting closer to the original text is better today than it has been anytime since the days of the early Church Fathers. However, the line simply isn't in our bibles - not even old Catholic versions like the Douay-Rheims."

Uh, but it is in Catholic versions. All the ancient versions that have it are by definition "Catholic" versions. That's what I find so wrong about your argument. The Douay-Rheims is not an "old" version, it's a relatively modern version compared with the 2,000 years of church history and versions of the Bible that came before it. Many of your older "catholic" versions have this text in them. Your newer versions omit it, but many of your older versions include it :)

Like which one? To my knowledge, before the Douay Rheims the only liturgically approved version was the Vulgate.

"So I'm not blaming the KJV translators for putting the lines in there and I'm not blaming the Texus Receptus for having it in the first place. I don't know where it originated. What I do know is that modern Protestant translators know its not legit yet they keep putting it in there."

Again, you claim far more than textual scholars would claim. It's a variant, most likely not original, but we can't be sure. Nothing more, nothing less.

"That was my point. Hope this clears it up."

I just think it's an unnecessary polemic that serves little purpose.

Then why did you make such a big deal of it?


Friday, January 11, 2008

Gregorian Chant Schola in Charlotte

My Gregorian chant schola has launched their own website (I used blogger to keep the maintenance to a minimum). Now the rogue schola (kicked out of our parish) we are under the patronage of Saint John the Beloved, hence the name - "St. John's Sacred Ensemble".

If you're in the Charlotte diocese and want to learn how to chant, get in contact with us! We need male and female voices. If you have myspace, then add us as a friend.

Even if you're not in the Charlotte area, you may still be interested to check the site out. I have some pretty good chant resources including links to various audio sites. More to come in the future as I have time and we'll eventually have our own stuff up their too.. Peace

Bad Answers

Brian at Principium Unitatis posted 10 great questions for Protestants.

1. Whose determination of the canon of Scripture is authoritative?

2. Whose interpretation of Scripture is authoritative?

3. Whose determination of the identity and extension of the Body of Christ is authoritative?

4. Whose determination of which councils are authoritative is authoritative?

5. Whose determination of the nature and existence of schism is authoritative?

6. Whose determination of the nature and extension of Holy Orders is authoritative?

7. Whose determination of orthodoxy and heresy is authoritative?

8. If your answer to questions 1-7 is "the Holy Spirit", then whose determination of what the Holy Spirit is saying is authoritative?

9. Given your answers to the above questions, how does your position avoid individualism and the perpetual fragmentation that accompanies it?

10. Does not even nature teach you that a visible body needs a visible head? Does grace therefore destroy nature, or does grace build upon nature?
Now here are my not-so-great answers (consistent with the best Protestant apologetics I've heard to date).

1. The Scriptures testify of their own canonicity. It is their apostolicity that makes them authoritative.

2. Scripture must interpret Scripture. We must read Scripture in the light of other Scripture with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

3. No one on earth can point to the body of Christ since it is the collective body of all true Christians everywhere.

4. All councils may err and many have. Therefore councils are only authoritative in so far as they line up with the Bible (see point 2 on how to interpret it and point 1 on how to know what it is)

5. The only meaningful schism is spiritual. Though not to be taken lightly, if a church begins to teach doctrines incompatible with the bible (again see 1 & 2) we are spiritually obligated to "schism" (if you want to use that word). The Reformers taught us that the true church is constantly reforming since her members are fallible men.

6. Holy Orders aren't in the bible.

7. The early church described in the New Testament is the litmus test by which to measure orthodoxy.

8. N/A

9. The divisions in the body of Christ are caused by man's sinful nature and are not part of God's plan. While various denominations have different styles of worship and worship preference - the important thing is that we all agree on the fundamentals of the faith which we find in the Bible alone. All true Christian churches adhere to biblical doctrine.

10. Well that's only IF you agree that the body is visible. As Luther & Calvin taught us, the church is all true Christians regardless of denomination. We only have one head: Jesus Christ.
-----------------

Those were ten answers that absolutely don't work (but surprisingly the very ones you will hear time and time again from the top Protestant theologians and apologists). How anyone can fail to see how terrible these answers are is beyond me.

Now it's time to sit back and wait to hear "that's not my answer".

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Protestant Charges Round 2

Here's the second go round of comments from Jim. First post here. My replies will be in red. First, Jim thanks for being open and level headed (not that you weren't last time) it makes discussion much more fruitful. I'm going to try to answer these charges and or at least give you resources with great answers. I hope you will take the time with an open mind to look at the evidence and make a good decision.

I can promise without batting an eye that every charge you leveled can be objectively refuted. Additionally, you have several historical facts that are objectively confused which I will attempt to clarify.

Tim,
It's Jim again.I didn't really mean to come across in an attack mode. In reading some of your comments ,I guess that's how it was taken. But having said that I admit that I totally disagree with the Catholic Faith. You seem to stess authority quite a lot.

God-given authority is not a man-made idea. It is Scriptural. When God gave us the Law in the OT, He did not merely give us a book and say each man for himself. Rather He gave us the commandments and an interpreter/judge (Moses). If you read the account, you will clearly see that Moses was authoritative in interpreting the Scriptures and the Law. The Book didn't speak for itself in other words.

Take the incident where an Israelite was found working on the Sabbath. The people brought him to Moses and asked what they should do to him. Why didn't they just interpret the commandments themselves and do with him as they saw fit? Because Moses (and likewise Aaron and all the priests) were not arbitrarily elected by the people. They were appointed by God. Jesus confirms this in Matthew 23:2-3:

"The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach"

So we have clearly and objectively seen that God given authority to interpret Scripture is itself Scriptural and binding on all Christians. Now the question is, who has the authority? The apostles were appointed by God and given authority (especially Peter to whom He said):


"And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.
I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." - Matthew 16:18-19 NIV

The Catholic Church teaches that the apostles and their successors in union with the successor of Peter have authority. This authority is not of man but from God. The early Church taught this. It could not possibly be more clear and explicit from the early Christian writings. One of the earliest extra-biblical documents out there is the letter of Pope St. Clement to the Corinthians in which he not only demands obedience (while St. John is still alive) but also spells out clearly and more thoroughly the doctrine of apostolic succession which I just outlined. You can read it for yourself here.

As in the Churches authority to interpret scripture. That's one of those exclusively Catholic things. I don't see other churches saying things like that.

Jesus Christ only founded one Church - the Catholic Church. Anything else called a 'church' is done so only illicitly. The interesting thing is that the Catholic Church actually claims far less authority for herself than your ecclesial community does. The Catholic Church claims the least authority of any branch of Christianity. We do not pretend to have the authority to change what God has established with His apostles and their doctrine. That is why we have maintained the apostolic faith.

Especially to the point of altering the Bible.

On the contrary, one of the things that first attracted me to the Catholic Church was the fact that they have so much respect for the Bible that they dare not alter it (unlike almost all Protestant translations). Case in point - adding the lines "For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever" to the Lord's prayer and certain othertext manipulations - many of which were doctrinally motivated. This is not to mention the Protestants literally throwing out 7 books of the Bible. So, as a brotherly admonition, don't throw rocks if you live in a glass house.

For instance the way they change the ten commandments to allow for images to be adored if not worshiped. And split up the last commandment so there will still be ten.Now I know that's in the catholic catachism but it's still taught that way.

Well to start with, worshiping images is definitely evil and we both know this. The Law teaches this clearly so I have no issue with you on this and neither does the Catholic Church. The truth is we don't worship images but can and do use images as catechesis and tools to aid in liturgical worship of God. Icons and the like elevate the mind and assist in worship - not detract from it. Think of the ark of the covenant, did the graven images which God commanded be built on top of it detract from or aid the liturgical worship? Is God guilty of breaking His own commandment?

Now as for the commandments, to be technical about it, there is no such thing as the "ten commandments". That is, there is no clear cut way to define which ones belong where. There aren't just 10 there are actually something like 13 or 14 imperative statements. If you're going to call them "the ten", then you have to break them up somewhere. Jews and Protestants break them up like you're accustomed to - the first 4 on loving God and the last 6 on loving man. Catholics break it up 3 and 7.
Either way you group the commandments though, the same thing is being said. The text isn't altered and all imperative statements are still present.

When the rich man asked Jesus how to be saved Jesus replied "say the sinner's prayer" - just kidding... Here's what He said:


"Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother." Mark 10:19


It's interesting to me that Jesus leaves out the commandments dealing with loving God (which are obviously the most important ones see Mark 12:28-31) and when He mentions the remaining, He clearly gives us six not seven. But the other interesting thing is "do not defraud" is used instead of "do not covet". I say all this to prove that it's a quite tricky subject regardless of how you look at it.
This essay from "This Rock" magazine should suffice for further reading. It helps explain why Catholics, following the early Christians and notably Augustine, group it 3-7 instead of 4-6.

Regarding Sunday worship I recall reading a Catholic document in which it was stated that Protestants didn't have a right to keep Sunday since it was changed by the Catholic church because they had the authority.

Until I see such a document I will assume it doesn't exist as I'm sure that's not nearly the type of thing the Catholic Church would say.

I would like to see one statement that advised the church to switch to Sunday. Jesus said the Sabbath was made for man. I wonder why He didn't take that opportunity to clarify that sunday was the new Sabbath.

Jim, I don't think you know how incredibly slippery that slope is. To use that kind of reasoning, we could much easier say - "when Jesus spoke with the Greek woman in Tyre, why didn't He address racism?" or "when Paul wrote the letter of Philemon, why didn't he condemn slavery?" (And these two are among the most reasonable ones we could ask, far more reasonable than your question I'm afraid) but going further we could ask "If the Trinity is true, then why didn't Paul ever mention it? Why does he greet the audience in the name of the Father and the Son only (in every single epistle)?" You can see how dangerous this erroneous method can be.

As a Protestant, one thing you need to understand is that the Bible is not a book of Church order. It was not written to initiate people into the faith and teach them the rubrics of the liturgy but the letters of the NT were written to Christians who were already practicing. By the time even the first book of the NT was written, Christians had been worshiping on Sunday for at least a decade. Why would the Bible say "switch to Sunday" when they were already doing it? That wouldn't make a whole lot of sense I'm afraid. Did you read the essay I linked to in the previous discussion? I don't think you did or this question would be rather decisively answered.


Regarding Christmas ,Jesus never made any declarations about celebrating His birth and I doubt He would have chosen the day that many cultures celebrated the sun god and Mitra,and any number of false gods.

Ok... again, did you read the post I sent you to or are you just determined not to learn anything about this? To be honest, I think you're afraid to learn the truth about it. The Romans added Dec 25th as a pagan holiday in 275 AD, about 50 years before the council of Nicaea which solidified it as a Christian holiday. However, we have in writing proof that Hippolytus had mentioned it as Christ's birthday some 75 years earlier! We do not know exactly how far back into the second (and quite possibly the first) century this Christian tradition goes or where exactly it came from. We do not know for sure that Jesus was born on that date. However, the actual evidence that we have tells us that the Christians were using this date long before the pagans were.

Concerning the Popes there is no proof whatsoever that Peter was the first Pope

I'm assuming that you mean there is no evidence that Peter was ever in Rome. (If he was in Rome, he would be by default, the first pope since pope merely means the Roman pontiff and if he was there...well he'd be the pontiff). I'd be curious to know why you think that. I have heard charges like that even from a Protestant seminary and was shocked to hear such revisionist history. In fact, we do have lots of evidence that Peter was in Rome, even as early as 42 AD. We can be quite certain of it (although the Bible doesn't mention it explicitly.. but Peter does seem to refer to Rome metaphorically as Babylon:

"She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you her greetings, and so does my son Mark." 1 Peter 5:13

And we also know from wide patristic tradition that Mark was also in Rome with Peter when he wrote the gospel bearing his name). Again, this wouldn't prove beyond reasonable doubt that Peter was in Rome but our strongest evidence comes in the absolutely unanimous testimony of all early Christians everywhere. There is simply no other competing history - the Church fathers repeatedly tell us that Peter was in Rome and suffered martyrdom there along with Paul (probably about the same time). This tradition is even present in the first century with Pope Clement's authoritative letter mentioned above. Other early fathers like Papias and Irenaeus give us strong testimony in the second century as well. Eusebius even gives us a date saying:

"But this did not last long. For immediately, during the reign of Claudius, the all-good and gracious Providence, which watches over all things, led Peter, that strongest and greatest of the apostles, and the one who on account of his virtue was the speaker for all the others, to Rome against this great corrupter of life. He like a noble commander of God, clad in divine armor, carried the costly merchandise of the light of the understanding from the East to those who dwelt in the West, proclaiming the light itself, and the word which brings salvation to souls, and preaching the kingdom of heaven."

"Peter appears to have preached in Pontus, Galatia, Bithynia, Cappadocia, and Asia to the Jews of the dispersion. And at last, having come to Rome, he was crucified head-downwards; for he had requested that he might suffer in this way."

Claudius reigned from 41 AD to 54 AD which means Peter could have been in Rome quite early. We know for sure that he did in fact go there and to say he died anywhere else would be stretching historical speculation far beyond the breaking point.

nor was many of the Bishops of Rome hat died martrys deaths rather than submit to Roman paganry.

I'm not sure what you're saying here. Can you clarify?

Just like the Catholic church does with many things in history they where adopted into the church through the rewriting of history.

You're starting to sound like Dan Brown. I don't mean this as an insult but as a very serious challenge. If your opinions of the early Church prove anything, they prove too much. If the early Church history is untrustworthy because the big bad Catholic Church manipulated the evidence, then our entire faith is suspect. The doctrine of the Trinity, the divinity of Christ, the Eucharist, Church authority, apostolic succession, the canon, all of these issues and many more were hashed out by the early Church. If the leadership the apostles chose as their own successors were dishonest as you seem to imply, then we can't trust anything about our faith.

For further reading on the trustworthiness of the early Church, I would simply point you to any essay or book debunking "The Da Vinci Code" nonsense. Their defense will be quite applicable to the charges you're leveling now.

These where the same thought police that controlled the thinking or the lack thereof of millions of people for hundreds of years, it's called the dark ages. Priest spoke in latin and a commoner could not read the Bible with out fear of punishment.

This is simply untrue in the worst possible way. The earliest Christians spoke mostly Greek and continued reading the Greek NT along with the Septuaginat Greek version of the Old testament. Saint Jerome translated the bible into Latin which was at the time the common language. It is called the Vulgate (from which we derive the word - vulgar.. it was the vulgar tongue... of the people not a high lofty language only usable by priests).

There simply never was any law forbidding anyone to read the Bible that's absurd. I challenge to cite one example to the contrary.

How many people where burned at the stake just for trying to translate the Bible into a readable text.

Zero.

Do you think that the same people that did this would not alter history to show the Papal line going back to Peter.

I wouldn't know but like I said, they didn't do it. If you have a single example to the contrary I'd be willing to take a second look though.

I would say that The Catholic Church at first was just a group of Christian churches that organized.

Yes. All orthodox Churches everywhere on the planet - hence the name "Catholic" or "universal". "Catholic" was a term used by the early Church to separate the true Christian Churches from the heretical ecclesial communities.

Probably at the time of the canonization of the Scripture it was in no form like the Church we see today,

Protestant Church historian Bruce Shelley admits with great regret that the Catholic Church had "evolved" into the modern day structure of bishop-priest-deacon by the end of the first century at the latest. The textual evidence of which (most notably from Saint Ignatius of Antioch) is utterly irrefutable. See this post series. So by the canonization of the New Testament (hundreds of years later) it most certainly was in form like we see today complete with full "popery".

but by the time Constantine came on the scene the the mixture with the pagan influince was complete.

Ok two things - 1. Constantine came on the scene long before the Scripture was canonized so you have those two reversed chronologically. 2. Once again you are showing that you did not read my post on pagan influence. Please do so and you will have a much clearer understanding of the early Church and her pagan influence (or rather lack thereof). You may also find this post on pagan practices or this one on Constantine's Chi-rho symbol helpful as well.

Therefore you have the things like the Vestal virgins

This is not an exclusively Catholic tradition or idea. Dedicating virgins to the Lord happened long before Jesus came. See Jephthah's dedication of his daughter in Judges 11 and the subsequent traditions of the virgins of Israel.
*EDIT - I was confused about the term "Vestal Virgins" thanks to Theo's clarification - he's right, the Church does not and never has had such a thing. We don't even have female priests and never will. END EDIT*
or nuns

See the above passage and also 1 Corinthians 7:34:

"An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord's affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit."

and you the Worship of the Mother and infant son that came from pagan queen of heaven and her infant son.

Are you denying the Incarnation? This is yet one more baseless accusation already answered in my previous post. If you had read it, we could have saved a lot of time.

If I had time I could list many things that point to an mixing of pagan and holy that became the Catholic Church.

I've heard them all and they're all just as ludicrous as the one's you've listed here. So pleas don't waste my time with it. If I can answer these charges (and I have shown that I can) surely I can answer the other ones. These are the best ones you have (we tend to start with our best) and these have been objectively refuted with minimal effort. How will your weaker ones fair? Not well.

I know this sounds like I really attacking your beliefs and to a point I am But mainly I trying stand up for the truth.

I am fully confident that you are earnest about this but I am much more confident that you fully wrong. Being wrong isn't that bad in itself - as long as you're correctable. I have given you ample evidence that your entire viewpoint in Christianity is badly mistaken and this is merely the tip of the iceberg. If you want more, there's plenty more where that came from.

And the truth isn't relative. It's either right or wrong.

I think we just found the one thing that we agree on.

Anybody that has an attitude like Rodney King's" can't we all get along"
is denying God's truth.Not that I advocate offending people with our beliefs. It's just that we are not doing people a favor if we let the continue in a false beliefe system without at least trying to tell them.Of course you probably feel the same way in regards to your church but we aren't both right one of us is decieved.

I have given you objective measurements and specific sources which can be readily verified. I'd advise you to think long and hard about which one of us is deceived.

How is that for arrogant.I realize that I haven't really backed anything up with quotes from scripture or other means and without that my argument is at best weak. If you care to put up with my comments any more matbe one of these days I'll take the time to back up some of my points. Hope no offense is taken,God Bless,Jim
I've encountered these sorts of claims before. They are never backed up because the simple truth is that there isn't any 'backing up' to be done. They are completely baseless. Case in point being the silly charges of Christianity's similarities to Mithraism. These claims are ENTIRELY based on a book written around the beginning of the 20th century if my memory serves me (and I know it doesn't on the author's name) but the funny thing about the book is, he doesn't have any original Mithraic documents to quote from, he quotes almost entirely from Christian sources to prove that Christianity borrowed from Mithraism!!!

Almost all of what we know about Mithraism is relayed to us by the early Church fathers... (you know ... the ones who went to their death defending the Catholic faith which you are now bashing. ) Most notably you can read the First apology of Justin Martyr who wrote to the emperor on the similarities between Mithraism and Christianity and refuted the charges. So unfortunately your argument is about 1850 years behind the times.

You could point to a few secular encyclopedias that may say some similar things but these same ones say damaging things to the very nature of Christ our God. So if we can't trust them on one, how can we trust them on another? If someone illegitimately slanders the groom can we trust their slander on the bride? Probably not. If they slander Christ then we shouldn't be surprised that they slander His bride - the Catholic Church.

Ok, how's that for hoping he learns something!

Monday, January 07, 2008

Patristic Carnival VII

Patristic Carnival VII is Up At Phil Snider's blog. Check it out.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Charges From a Protestant

In response to my old post on the book of Acts (as the beginning of the Catholic Church) Jim, a Protestant, wrote the following (my response in red):

You remind me of an Evolutionist who takes 150 years of thoery and a vocabulary that was built around evolution and then expects a creationist to debate using that same dialogue.

Ok.

The Catholic Church has 1800 years of tradition

Make that 2000.

and a language that is totally distinct from the teaching, concepts and language of the Bible.

That seems odd that we would canonize a Bible with teachings that were not compatible with our own.

When I look at a Catholic Catachism I feel like I've gone into the twilight zone.

Only fringe Protestant denominations would have more than 2 or 3% disagreement with the Catholic Catechism. Have you not actually read the catechism or do you belong to one of these fringe denominations?

It's so far removed from the
language of the bible,it's hard to believe they have a common link.For instance "The Immaculate heart of our blessed mother mary,
eucharist,transubstantiation,devotion to the saints,prayers to the saints,purgatory, Papal infallability, Celibacy of the Priest,

I'm not going to answer these points because I'd be wasting my breath but if you want each one dealt with see www.catholic.com.

Sunday worship,

That's explicitly in Scripture. Acts 20:7 Also see this post to clear up this issue and probably a few other errors you believe in.


Christmas"

See this post.

The list could go on forever. Where did this come from? It wasn't from the Bible.I know you are agaist "solo scripturo" so I guess your not bothered by any of this.It's like once you do away with the Bible as the sole authority then it's whoevers got the loudest voice or the sharpest sword,which,by the way, was well used in the inquisition.

The Bible was never "done away with" as sole authority, it never was to begin with. That was Luther's heretical idea in the 16th century. The Catholic Church is older than the canon. How can the Bible be the sole authority before it exists?

Jesus said I am the way the truth and the life ,no man comes to the Father but by me. There is no mention of popes and priest and
saints or the mother mary.

Am I detecting a bit of a false dichotomy here??? But no mention of priests, saints or Mary in the Bible? What version are you reading exactly?

There is no mention of penance or fasting.



...

You take the Mass and make it into something dark and mysterious ,

Why do you care? You don't even celebrate mass.

when all Jesus said was do this in rememberence of me.

Is that all? I seem to remember something like "My body is real food" and something like "unless you eat My flesh and drink My blood you have no life in you". Does that strange version you're working with have John chapter 6 in it?

I've never been to a Catholic service and I'm sure you could point out a lot of good points
about the church

Well I would just point you to the Scriptures to see what Christ said about His Church rather than tell you myself. You could start with Matthew 16:18

but it could never outway the obvious conflict with the Bible. Thank you, Jim
Now I find it strange (but strangely predictable) that Jim didn't respond to even a single one of my points in the post. Rather, he just regurgitated the typical Protestant objections to Catholicism (plus a few cultish ones).

We could really boil it all down to one objection (which is the principal objection we all have at some level) and that is - authority. Did Christ establish authority on earth? If that answer is yes, then the only candidate is the Catholic Church. Furthermore, if Christ established authority on Earth, then we must subject ourselves to it regardless of our personal opinions on the subject.

Now many great Christian minds have come to nearly all of the conclusions that the Catholic Church has with the help of the Scriptures, the writings of the Church fathers and the guiding call of the Holy Spirit. But we needn't be smart enough to understand all the doctrines and theology of the Christian faith - we can accept the teachings of the Church based on our faith in Christ and the authority He Himself established on Earth. We can also take comfort in our faith that the Holy Spirit would simply not allow His Church to be so incredibly misleading to the vast majority of all Christians since Christ.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Subjectivity

I often wonder about where the line between subjectivity and objectivity can be drawn. I remember attending a seminar for work one time where the host was trying to make the point that people think differently and you need all different types of people at an organization (and no one way of thinking is superior).

By a quick survey, he divided the room into groups of people who thought objectively and subjectively. He then asked "which group is right?" His answer was that we were both right. Well, I know which group he belonged to.

But back to my original statement, I think of music and how we can objectively call one song better than another. We would all say the superiority of one song or one type of music exemplifies subjective opinion but I can't help but wonder how exhaustively true that concept really is. If I were to randomly mash a bunch of keys on the piano is it merely a subjective opinion that it is less of a musical masterpiece than say.... Claire de Lune? It almost seems reasonable to me to say that Claire de Lune is objectively better than my random notes which were arrayed in complete dissonance.

Well suppose we took it a step further. Is it totally subjective to say that Mozarts' "O Fortuna" is better than the microwaved pop-song that Kerry Underwood is singing? I'm even inclined to ask if that is subjective, how can anything be objective?

The funny thing is that we (most of us... well all of us who are sane) would say morality is an objective thing and good music is subjective. Yet we have much more agreement on what is good music than on what is right and what is wrong.

In music, certain chords go together, and certain notes in a scale, if played in a particular sequence, always sound good. Musicians constantly return to these standards over the years. If you asked 100 people which bass line sounds better (after playing one with alternating 1 & 4 and a 1 & 5) 100 of them will say the latter. Is it merely subjective that 1&5 makes a better bass line than 1&4?

Anyway, I don't know the answer - just pondering.