Sunday, August 21, 2011

The making of a rock.

The Gospel today sets forth the biblical basis for the Office of the Papacy. We hear about the great gift and extraordinary responsibility God has given to Simon Peter. 

"Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.
For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.
And so I say to you, you are Peter,
and upon this rock I will build my church,
and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven.
Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven;

and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."
What a wonderful affirmation of our Catholic Faith! And from the lips of Our Blessed Lord no less! 

The Papacy. This we believe.
Viva il Papa!

And why shouldn't we believe this? After all, we are only taking Jesus at His word when he says, "Blessed are you... you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it."

This may very well be the most controversial Bible verses in all of Sacred Scripture. But that just means some people don't want to accept  any final authority outside of themselves as observes Walker Percy
"It's not that we Catholics are the only religion with a Pope. Every person, every religion, has a 'pope.' It's just that, for a Catholic, the 'pope' is not me. For a Catholic, I am not the definitive voice in faith; someone else is, and we call him 'our Holy Father.'"

Hey Pete. Nice to meet ya.

 Now this is especially clear when we hear what the Super-Pope Martin Luther has to say about Peter's keys:
"It is true that the keys were given to St. Peter; but not to him personally, but rather to the person of the Christian church."
Interesting interpretation bro. But I am sorry. We just cannot accept as self-evident that this is right, and 1500 years of previous Catholic Apostolic Tradition is wrong. Remember that stuff about the gates of hell not prevailing? St Francis de Sales has this to say about Martin Luther's fallacious commentary:

 "And therefore they have bethought them of saying that S. Peter had received this promise of Our Lord in the name of the whole Church, without having received any particular privilege in his own person. But if this is not violating Scripture, never did man violate it. For was it not to S. Peter that he was speaking? and how could he better express his intention than by saying: And I say to thee. . .. I will give to thee? Put with this his having just spoken of the Church, and said: The gates of hell shall not prevail against it, which would have prevented him from saying: And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom, if he had wished to give hem to the whole Church immediately. For he does not say to it, but, to thee, will I give."
"I didn't even break a sweat."

Even our Eastern Orthodox pals miss the mark on this one. They think that Christ gave the keys to the kingdom of heaven to each of His Apostles. That way they can get away with saying that all bishops are equal in power and jurisdiction. I can understand some confusion since Christ talks about giving Peter the power to bind and loose, and then later extending this power to the rest of the Apostles. But notice that no one gets the keys except Peter! 

That's Mr. Peter to you bub!

 This is why in 251 AD, St. Cyprian writes, "Indeed, the others were also what Peter was [i.e., apostles], but a primacy is given to Peter, whereby it is made clear that there is but one Church and one chair. So too, all [the apostles] are shepherds, and the flock is shown to be one, fed by all the apostles in single-minded accord."

 Cyprian continues with: "If someone does not hold fast to this unity of Peter, can he imagine that he still holds the faith? If he [should] desert the chair of Peter upon whom the Church was built, can he still be confident that he is in the Church?"

For some reason, when I read about Peter being singled out like this by Jesus, I always think of this memorable scene:


"You're a wizard Harry." To no one else did Hagrid speak. It was Harry alone who was the wizard. (Yes I know there was a whole school of wizards later on. 3 schools in fact... no analogy is perfect.)

But in the end it is a great consolation to belong to this Beautiful Church headed by the Successor of St. Peter, the Bishop of Rome, Pope Benedict XVI.

Yer a wizard Benny.
 But don't take my word for it, just see was Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuck has to say about all of this:

And don't forget to always pray for the Pope!
*Fun Fact* The 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time, today, falls on August 21st.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Divine Mercy

Pope John Paul II died on April 2, 2005, yet there area number of interesting things to consider about the time of his death. I am just straight copying from the link here:
"John Paul managed to go to his reward in the one sliver of time which tied together Easter, Fatima and the Divine Mercy Feast which he himself had established (he died on Saturday evening, the Vigil of the Feast of Divine Mercy, which falls in the Octave of Easter). Given the movable nature of the Easter Feast (not to mention the moveable nature of First Saturdays, a devotion associated with the apparitions of our Lady of Fatima), this is as impressive a bit of chance, if chance it was, as you could ask for."
 While that was not my original idea, there are some other neat things that on can notice on the date of his beatification. As Pope Benedict XVI says in his homily:
"Today is the Second Sunday of Easter, which Blessed John Paul II entitled Divine Mercy Sunday. The date was chosen for today’s celebration because, in God’s providence, my predecessor died on the vigil of this feast. Today is also the first day of May, Mary’s month, and the liturgical memorial of Saint Joseph the Worker. All these elements serve to enrich our prayer, they help us in our pilgrimage through time and space; but in heaven a very different celebration is taking place among the angels and saints!"
Pope Benedict praying at the coffin of John Paul II

Now back to this Divine Mercy stuff. This blog post is probably my least original one to date:
The Polish pope was a champion of Faustina’s “Divine Mercy” devotions and, during a 1997 pilgrimage to her tomb, he testified: “The message of Divine Mercy has always been near and dear to me.” In a sense, he said, it “forms the image of this pontificate.” On April 30, 2000, John Paul II canonized her as St. Faustina.

As if these spiritual bonds were not enough, students of St. Faustina’s writings found one other possible link between the mysterious nun and the pope.

It was in 1937, a year before she died of tuberculosis, that the 32-year-old nun had another apocalyptic vision of Jesus. She wrote:

“As I was praying for Poland, I heard the words: I bear a special love for Poland, and if she will be obedient to My will, I will exalt her in might and holiness. From her will come forth the spark that will prepare the world for My final coming.
I am just bringin gsome interesting things to your attention before I share the original thing that I noticed. While I am 100% American, I do have Polish blood running through my veins. I am happy to have lived during the reign of a Polish Pontiff, and it is especially nice to see this same man beatified today.
John Paul II. We love you.

Poland has been favoured with many great saints throughout her history. She is priviledged to house the miraculous image of Czestochowa, and she has been vital in the fall of Communism. God shows a special favor to Poland, especially with the Divine Mercy Devotion. I am not just talking about how St. Faustina Kowalska was a Polish nun, I am talking about the image itself. In Jesus' own words:
"The two rays denote Blood and Water. The pale ray stands for the Water which makes souls righteous. The red ray stands for the Blood which is the life of souls." (Diary 299)

 Now let us look at the original Painting of this Image:
O Blood and Water that gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fountain of mercy for us, I trust in You.

First we put the image on its side like so:

See anything yet? I'll add a little black rectangle:

It's getting more recognizable no? Here comes the eagle!

All we have to do now is zoom in just a bit. And what do we get?

That's right! A perfectly formed Polish flag! Jesus Represents!

Blessed John Paul II, pray for us!

*Fun Fact* Poland will never die.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Getting coal from Santa is the least of your worries!

Saint Nicholas, the 4th century bishop of Myra, was an interesting man.

He is called the Wonderworker in the East.

We know him in the West as Santa Claus.

But he should be known as Golden Gloves.

He was born into a wealthy family who raised him as a devout Christian. The Greek name for St. Nicholas is Agios Nikolaos which means "victory of the people" or "the people's champion." And boy did he ever live up to that name. He was a helpful guy. Super holy. The people thought it was a good idea to make him a bishop, so they did.

Bishop Nicholas continued to do much good. Giving money to poor and stuff. One famous story is about a man in Nicholas' city who was too poor to marry off his three daughters. They would probably have to turn to prostitution to just to be able to take care of themselves. Nicholas waited until night had fallen and threw a sack of gold into the mans window. The next morning the man found the gold, and was happy that he now had some dowry money. Nicholas did this the next two nights for the other daughters.  And they all lived happily ever after.

Examples like this from the life of Nicholas is probably why we have the Santa Claus Tradition of today.

So far so good. But then comes the reign of Diocletian; the spread of pagan worship increased. He arrested many believers and he heard about this saintly man Nicholas. Diocletian had him imprisoned and tortured for many years. Saint Nicholas wrote to his congregation from prison until Constantine came into power. Now that Christianity was tolerated, Nicholas was free to return to his city. Persecutions stopped (for the most part), but now there were problems inside the Church.

Arius is his name, and confusing the bishops is his game. He was a bishop with great influence, and was teaching something about Christ's divine nature that was quite contrary to what was believed up to this point. Quite simply, he taught that Christ didn't have a divine nature. Jesus may have been a great man, but he was not God.
That's correct. Arius was the spiritual ancestor to today's Jehovah's Witnesses. The problem was that Arius had convinced many people of his erroneous doctrine. It is said that there were more Arians at that time than there were orthodox believers.

But when the going gets tough the tough get going.

The First Council of Nicea is called. Constantine is there. A couple papal lieutenants are there. 318 bishops, along with thousands of priests are there. Bishop Arius is there, and so is Bishop Nicholas(no, he did not ride a sleigh to get there).

After listening to Arius give a long winded defense of his false teaching, the good bishop Nicholas has just one question.
"What did the five fingers say to the face?!"

This shocked everybody that was present. Even Constantine. I don't really know what Constantine's problem was since his conversion story involves slaughtering an enemy army under a symbol of Christ.
"Killing is OK, but punching somebody is out of the question."

Bishop Nicholas was stripped of his office, kicked out, and thrown in prison to cool off. He was forced to give up his personal copy of the gospels, and his pallium which were the symbols associated with his office.

Later that night, our Lord Jesus Christ and His holy mother Mary visited Nicholas.

"Why are you here," Jesus asked

Nicholas responed "Because I love you, my Lord and my God."

Jesus then gave him back his copy of the gospels

Mary then put his pallium back on.

That's why you see Jesus and Mary in many icons of Saint Nicholas.

So that's the story. Nicholas was reinstated, and Arius was...well no one knows what really happened to Arius. Some say that he died of a broken heart. Others say that he gathered up his treasures and sailed away into the sunset and was never heard from again. I like to think that after the Council ended, Nicholas hunted down Arius and finished the job.

"You Arius-hole!"

Just kidding. The above picture is actually of Nicholas saving a man from being executed. Saint Nicholas really was a good guy who spent all the years of his life (about 80) just trying to rid the world of evils. I hope everybody enjoys themselves today on his feast day, but please don't punch anybody in the face.

On second thought, maybe someone should 'Saint Nick' the geniuses behind this advertisement:

Saint Nicholas pray for us!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Aren't you Gladvent it's finally Advent?

Speaking of venting....
I have been tagging along at my younger brothers' youth group for the past few weeks, and let me tell ya that they should be calling it Fail formation instead of faith formation.

If youth ministry is a sham, then what is to stop these kids from thinking that Catholicism is a sham as well?

The first day I stopped in, the teacher had everyone take a little test to see how well they knew their stuff. Tests. So far we are on the right track. That is, until you read the questions.

Where was Jesus born?
Who gave birth to Jesus?
What are Jesus' followers called?

Talk about a waste of time. What do these questions profit us? There was no mention of how sin is divided. Nothing was said of what the precepts of the Church are. Death, judgement, heaven, and hell were not spoken of. What are the marks of the Church? Just how infallible is the pope? What are indulgences all about? How is excommunication incurred? What's the deal with the sacraments? Angels?

I understand the other questions might help us understand the life of Jesus better, but we're not kindergartners anymore. In fact, I can whip up a quick test that will be just as applicable to us guaranteed:

Who is the wife of Zeus?

What is the Greek god of the sea?

Why does Thor say thee nay?

I'm not trying to relate the life and death of Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ to mere pagan myths, yet there hardly seems to be any point to knowing the answers to all of these questions. The next couple of weeks the teacher made up for this by putting the class in groups so that they could do arts and crafts, and play icebreaker games.

I overheard one of the students say that other churches (Baptist, Presbyterian, Pentecostal, etc.) are more funner. (good luck keeping that kid Catholic).

In the early centuries of the church, it was said of the false sects and heretical groups that "they are nothing but thieves and wolves." This is obviously still true today. We should not compete to be fun. We should instead boldly proclaim the truth. Give us what we want. 

Give us this:

...not this:

We want body to our faith. Something strong. Something with foundation. We want our faith to be an unmovable, unshakable rock. We want something to chew on. Why would anyone look for empty spirituality? How long would the Marines last if they went soft on their recruits? If they can live up to their motto of The Few and the Proud, then why can we not live up to our name of The Church Militant?

Where is the faith that strengthened so many holy men and women? Where is the faith that gave us such cool people like:

 Santa Claus

"And I'm not afraid to beat you
with this crosier either"
Along with Athanasius, Saint Nicholas forcefully argued for the doctrine of the Holy Trinity at the Council of Nicaea. And he did it by punching the Archheritic Arius square in the face. How dare he deny the divinity of Jesus Christ, and spread such great confusion.

Count Claus von Stauffenberg

"A good German if there ever was one."
He was born into one of the oldest and most influential families of Catholic nobility in the south of Germany. He was going to Mass daily. When hanging out with the Nazis, he soon grew uneasy with Hitler's regime, and decided to do something about it. He may have failed, but he got pretty darn close and  remains a hero in my book.

Christopher Columbus

"I will live up to my name"
Columbus was looking for a new trade route, and won the support of the royalty when he said that his goal was "to carry the Name and doctrine of Jesus Christ into regions so distant." He and his crew recited the Angelus 3 times daily. He named the first island he landed on "San Salvador" which means Holy Savior. He came upon a group of island which he called the Virgin islands in honor of the virgins martyred with Saint Ursula in 383 AD. Another body of land was called the Trinidad (Trinity). He just never quit. He was also a third order Fransiscan.

Michelangelo Buonarroti

"Not a self-portrait."
Michelangelo was a great artist who argued plenty with the pope. He might not have gotten along with Julius II, but he did respect his office. Julius II was known as the Warrior Pope, so Michelangelo wasn't fighting with just any old man.

Saint Fidelis: Who was surrounded outside of a church after he had finished saying mass by a crowd led by the preachers who offered to save his life if he would apostatize. Fidelis replied: "I came to extirpate heresy, not to embrace it"  Powerful words. They were understandably his last.

Saint Jerome: While he might have lost his temper plenty of times, he was always harshest on himself. He kept a human skull on his desk as a reminder of deah, and would frequently beat his chest with a rock.

G.K. Chesterton, Hilaire Belloc, J.R.R. Tolkien, Therese of Lisieux, Dietrich von Hildebrand, Blaise Pascal: They are genuises

Faustina Kowalska: Her diary is more exhilarating than any Stephen King novel you will ever read.

"The Dominicans are better!" "Says who? Franciscans are where its at!"

The Fraciscans, Benedictines, Carmelites, Dominicans, Jesuits, Cistercians, Carthusians, etc: They live such amazing lives. Check out some of their vows.

The Crusaders: Who else could have stood up to the threats of the Jihad? There were many Crusader Orders; Teutonic Knights, Templar Knights, Knights of Saint John (known also as the Knights of Malta). The Firefighters insignia actually is a hat tip to the Maltese Cross because of a battle the Knights of Malta had. The enemies they were fighting were throwing Molotov cocktail things. The Knights still bravely fought the enemy and rescued their brothers in arms.

Advent season is a period of preperation, so let's hope this dumb class can get on track and prepare these kids for a life in the Church.

for the lolz

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Happy All Souls Day!

Angels pouring our golden cups of mercy of the suffering souls in Purgatory.

Today we pray for the souls in Purgatory. These poor souls are part of the communion of saints as they belong to the Church Suffering. It is our job as the Church Militant to help them out.

Contrary to popular belief, it is very unlikely for someone to be directly admitted into heaven after their death. We must be perfect to be in heaven. If we die with even the smallest attraction to sin on our soul, we cannot attain heaven.

-That bites!

The good news is that we don't necessarily go to hell either. We go to Purgatory instead, where we are cleansed from all sins and impurities.

-That's nice.

But it hurts like hell.

-That bites again.

Maybe it would be wrong to say that purgatory is analogous to hell, although the sufferings of purgatory are said to surpass any sufferings of earth.

-This doesn't sound like a nice place.

Look on the bright side, the joys of purgatory far surpass any joys experienced while on earth.

-Right. Because being roasted in a purging fire for an undisclosed amount of time that causes greater sufferings than those experienced on earth sounds like a really joyful time.

....Well you are closer to Eternal Bliss every second you spend there. It's like saving up for a new pair of sneakers. Plus, you have absolute assurance you won't suffer eternal damnation. You are being purified by the love of God.

Not only that, but we can also pray for those souls and speed up the process of getting them into heaven. As it is written in Maccabees: "It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins."
Heliodorus Driven from the Temple---2 Maccabees 22-40

The theme of Maccabees, as you can see, is that if there are no dead to pray for, then make some!

But seriously folks, scratch their back and they will scratch yours. It is our duty to ease their pains and hasten them on their journey to heaven.

A final story to help you feel more guilty:
Padre Pio was met by a soul who asked for his prayers.

The poor soul made his plea, "I am still in Purgatory. Now, God, with his endless goodness, sent me here so that you may quicken the time I will enjoy Paradise. Take care of me." 

Padre Pio, thinking himself to be generous, said in reply, "you will be in Paradise tomorrow morning, when I will celebrate Holy Mass."

The soul cried: “Cruel!” Then he wept and disappeared.

So you see, it is good to be devoted to our faithful departed that they will be helped as soon as possible.

*Fun fact* The word 'macabre' comes from Maccabees.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Happy All Saints Day!

"...on whose constant intercession we rely for help."

   Today we honor all of the known and unknown saints of the Church. Think about the many Crusaders who died defending Christianity, or the nameless martyrs from the early days of the Church. Ask the intercession of the unidentified nuns and monks who lived holy lives of prayer and mortification while on earth. And don't forget the old women who would clean churches and scold priests.

They all belong to the Church Triumphant. They made it through the trials of earth (and maybe had to suffer a bit more in puratory); now they behold the face of God. They are our great cloud of witnesses, erupting with joy when just one sinner repents. Let's put on a good show for them and give thanks for all their help.

"Trick or Treat!"---Sixtus IV
Mankind has always had a habit of remembering the dead. Catholics used to honor those who were martyred for the true faith on May 13. When the year 615 rolled around, Pope Boniface IV named that day 'The Feast of All Martyrs'... Boniface was obviously not known for his originality.  In 741 AD, the feast was now celebrating all saints in heaven. In another great example of thinking outside the box, Gregory IV changed the name to 'The Feast of All Saints' in the year 840. Four years later, he changed the date to November 1 to baptize the pagan remembrance for the dead. Finally in 1484. Pope Sixtus IV made November 1 a Holy Day of Obligation and gave it a vigil which we know and love as Halloween.

So we know that the first of November is the big day we should be concerned with. It is as they say: you can't have New Year's Eve without New Years Day, or Christmas Eve without Christmas, but dressing up in costumes and recieving free candy always seems to overshadow any celebration you would have the next day.

*Fun fact* All of the above mentioned popes are the fourth with that name.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Judge not lest ye be judged

I was making jokes about Mormons the other day when I had nothing better to do. They are called Mormons. Joseph Smith claims that he was visited by an angel named Moroni. Just take out the 2nd 'm' in Mormon and you have moron. And agian, you can take the 'i' out from Moroni and you have moron again.

If a Mormon was writing a story about his life and got to the part about his religion, he could make a simple spelling mistake, and nobody would care to correct him.

but then I remembered the same thing could happen to me as a Catholic.

I could be harmlessly writing my autobiography one day, and all it takes is a simple slip of the pen and I could turn this

into this

and nobody wants that.