Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Discernment...


I would just like to let my readers know that I have begun discerning a vocation in the diaconate. I believe God is calling me to become a deacon.


Please pray for me as I undergo this discernment process.


Thank you and God bless.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I Knelt Down on Both Knees Before My Lord...


At Mass on Sunday, July 25, for the first time I received Holy Communion on my knees and straight on to my tongue. 

Until that evening, I had always been one for receiving Communion in the hand. That is the way I had been taught since making my own first Holy Communion 21 years ago; that is the way I had always received Our Lord.

For the last month or so I have been grappling with the thought of receiving Holy Communion on bended knees and straight on to the tongue, and last night I only realised that the only thing stopping me from receiving Our Lord this way was pride. It actually got to the point where I prayed that the Holy Spirit would physically force my down from my shoulders on to the ground so that I would receive Holy Communion this way. I knelt down on both knees before the priest; I allowed myself to be fed because I know that spiritually I am still a child needing to be nourished by Him, the Bread of Life. 

After receiving Holy Communion I returned back to the pew which I had been sitting at and for the first time in my life I gave a complete and humble prayer of thanks.

For the first time I believe I felt the fullness of the graces received with the Eucharist invigorate my soul.

Lord, on bended knees I will greet you in Heaven, and on bended knees this is how I shall receive you on earth.

Friday, July 23, 2010

My Reply to an Objection to Mary's Intercession at the Wedding at Cana



This evening as I was doing some of my apologetics work on The Catholic Forum, I came across this statement by a gentlemen questioning (objecting) to Mary's intercession at the Wedding at Cana (John 2:11). Here's what this gentleman said:


"Christ performed the miracle - under no ones direction :/ Mary simply stated 'they have no wine'. It could have merely been an appeal to fix an embarrassing situation, or an appeal that He reveals Himself in glory. It was not a direction or an order. His reply was hardly intimate, as He made it clear He will act according to Gods timetable in Gods way (CF: Luke 2:49)."


And here's how I responded:


If I could also make a comment about the Wedding at Cana miracle, I think what you're missing, Allen, is that there would not have been a miracle had Mary not pointed out the problem to Jesus. Also consider the fact that Mary knew her Son could do something about it, so did she really need to explicitly make such a request? My older brother is an I.T. specialist and whenever I have a computer related problem, all that is required is a quick text message (e.g. "My router isn't working") and he's on his way to assist. My brother knows by pointing out the problem to him that I want him to fix it for me because he is qualified to rectify the issue.


Jesus did respond to his mother by saying, "Woman, what is that to me and to thee? my hour is not yet come" (John 2:4) but what's important to note is what Mary said to the servants in the next very verse: "Do whatever he tells you to do".


There is no indication to us in scripture that Mary made an explicit request of her Son, but that's not to say that such a request may not have ever happened at all. Don't forget that John points out that not all of what even Jesus said or did is contained in scripture (John 21:25) and so needless to say there's a lot we're missing out on there. There very well could have been an explicit request made to Jesus by his mother, Mary.


There is the implicit request made in the pointing out of a problem as I pointed out earlier, but make note of Jesus' change of heart: whether there was an explicit request made or not, Jesus acknowledged the problem pointed out to him by his mother and she knew he could do something about it. Implicit or explicit, Jesus honoured the "request" and by doing so honoured his mother; he was a commandment-keeping Jew after all.


Amen.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Why is the Pope called the "Holy Father"?



The word "pope" is a derivative of the Greek word "pappas" ("papa" in Italian) which means "father" or "daddy". The Pope is called the "Holy Father" not because he is necessarily holier than anyone else, but because his role is a mission of spiritual fatherhood over the Church.


Protestants object to the title as they believe they we should "call no man father" (Matthew 23:9) as we read in scripture. But we find in other instances in scripture that there is nothing wrong with calling someone "father". What Christ referred to in Matthew 23:9 was the hypocrisy of the Pharisees for their pride in not looking humbly to God as the source of authority, fatherhood and teaching, but instead setting themselves up as ultimate authorities, father figures and teachers. Jesus used the "call no man father" hyperbole to highlight this. If we were to take his word on face value, then we could not even call our biological and earthly fathers "father", and there's no sense in that!


Matthew 3:9 - Jesus calls Abraham "father"
Acts 7:2 - St. Stephen calls Jewish leaders "fathers"
Acts 21:40, 22:1 - St. Paul calls Jerusalem Jews "fathers"
Romans 4:16-17 - Abraham called "the father of us all"
1 Corinthians 4:14-15 - "I become your father in Christ through the gospel..."
1 Timothy 1:2 - St. Paul refers to Timothy as his son (that would make St. Paul a father figure of sorts)
Hebrews 12:7-9 - we have earthly fathers to discipline us
1 John 2:13, 14 - "I write to you, fathers, because you know him..."

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

What are 'The Seven Deadly Sins'?



Below is a response I offered to a member of thecatholicforum.org when they inquired about the Seven Deadly Sins. It is a blend of how I have addressed the same questions when asked by my students in class and how the Church defines the matter.


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The term "deadly sins" is really a misnomer for what the seven of these "sins" actually are. They are also commonly referred to as "the cardinal sins" or "the capital vices".


"1866 Vices can be classified according to the virtues they oppose, or also be linked to the capital sins which Christian experience has distinguished, following St. John Cassian and St. Gregory the Great. They are called "capital" because they engender other sins, other vices. They are pride, avarice, envy, wrath, lust, gluttony, and sloth or acedia." - CCC, par. 1866


They are based on a couple of things:


1.) The six things the Lord hates as according to Proverbs 6:16-25


"Six things there are, which the Lord hateth, and the seventh his soul detesteth: Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that deviseth wicked plots, feet that are swift to run into mischief, A deceitful witness that uttereth lies, and him that soweth discord among brethren. My son, keep the commandments of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother.


Bind them in thy heart continually, and put them about thy neck. When thou walkest, let them go with thee: when thou sleepest, let them keep thee; and when thou awakest, talk with them. Because the commandment is a lamp, and the law a light, and reproofs of instruction are the way of life: That they may keep thee from the evil woman, and from the flattering tongue of the stranger. Let not thy heart covet her beauty, be not caught with her winks." - Proverbs 6:16-25


2.) A list of "bad things" outlined by the apostle Paul in his epistle to the Galatians (Gal. 5:19-21)


"Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are fornication, uncleanness, immodesty, luxury, Idolatry, witchcrafts, enmities, contentions, emulations, wraths, quarrels, dissensions, sects,


Envies, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like. Of the which I foretell you, as I have foretold to you, that they who do such things shall not obtain the kingdom of God." - Galatians 5:19-21


But are the seven "sins" deadly? Feelings such as anger may be perfectly normal human reactions to certain human experiences, but a sin? No. It is, however, and can be an inclination to sin. That is the anger may manifest in some way, shape or form that would be sinful, e.g. wanton violence, saying hurtful things, inflicting harm on the people we love, etc. One would be sinning, for instance, if they entertained a lustful thought or deliberately "pictured" someone else or other people in sexual scenarios.


The seven deadly sins are not so called because they are necessarily worse than other sins but because they are the bases of other sins. In any case, if you feel lust, anger, slothful, etc., it's important to first recognise that you're feeling this way and make an attempt to deal with the feeling in a way that does no harm to yourself or others (i.e. do not allow the sin to manifest).

Friday, July 09, 2010

On Steve Ray's visit to Perth...


It's not often that a speaker and apologist of Steve Ray's calibre comes to Australia, let alone to arguably the most isolated capital city in the world: Perth. Last year Perth missed out on hearing Tim Staples speak, and this year it was unfortunate that Fr. Mitch Pacwa and Deacon Alex Jones could not come to our humble abode as part of The Fullness of Truth tour presented by The Catholic Forum and Parousia Media. So as you could probably understand, we were overjoyed to hear that Steve Ray was willing to cross Australia's less than flattering waistline from the east and spend a couple of days here in the west.


Last night at Our Lady of the Mission Church in Whitfords, Steve spoke about his journey from a firebrand Baptist converter of Catholics to an on fire convert to the Catholic faith. Steve Ray is a lover of truth, as all Christians should be. But as Steve indicated in his talk it's quite evident that non-Catholic Christians are given a "truth" (i.e. a fabrication of it) especially where the Catholic Church is concerned. This sentiment is summed up by one of my heroes of the Catholic faith, Bishop Fulton J. Sheen:


"There are not 100 people in the United States who hate the Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they wrongly perceive the Catholic Church to be."


Things are relatively different when it comes to relations between the Catholic Church and Protestant denominations - there is an explicit conflict of sorts over there - and things, as Steve Ray observes, here in Australia appear to be a bit more relaxed and laid back. Perhaps this is simply due to our Aussie lifestyle and Aussie humility (is it "unAustralian" to tell someone they're wrong?), but this is a trend that is changing. In the classrooms I teach in I have students that have a perception of the Catholic Church and this is being fed to them by friends and family members of a particular non-Catholic Christian background, and from what Pentecostal/Evangelical type churches are preaching to them from their pulpits on weekends.


Steve Ray (and converts to the faith like him) is living proof that the truth is irresistible. As a cradle Catholic this is something I very much have taken for granted because, well, I guess I've always lived in that truth but never appreciated until I've seen friends leave the faith for something else (and sometimes leave for simply nothing) and heard stories like Steve Ray's. The truth is something to never take for granted and we should never feel ashamed, embarrassed, or apprehensive about sharing it. I mean, we're about as quick to tell our mates where to get free beer but get all shy when it comes to telling them how to share in the gift of eternal life!


There was then Steve's talks today at Trinity College where he spoke about some major differences between Catholics and Protestants, and the Eucharist. This was all familiar territory for me because I've heard Steve speak on these topics before (through Catholic Answers Live) but in a world filled with perception and not enough reality (as alluded to earlier), Ecumenism, evangelisation, apologetics, and dialogue with our non-Catholic Christian brethren is about clearing up misconceptions, tearing the fabric from fabrications, and turning perceptions into reality. The world believed the earth was flat until someone sailed over "the edge". If you want truth, you have to go out there and look for it. Ignorance is not bliss; truth is bliss! It hurts at first, as they say, but it's short term pain in return for eternal fulfilment.


So what did I gain from Steve Ray's visit to Perth? For starters, I am pleased that there are other Catholics in Perth that care about sharing the truth with those wearing rose tinted glasses and being fed misinformation about the church that Jesus Christ himself founded. Secondly, these talks by Steve Ray renewed the energy (well, think of it as adding a nitrous oxide tank to a super charged V8) I and my SCTA colleague, Renato Bonasera, have for the work we're doing both in and outside of the classroom. There's no reason why Perth (let alone Australia) can produce a Steve Ray of its own and set hearts on fire for Christ and His Church.Why settle for being a luke warm Catholic? Why settle for just fulfilling your Sunday and sacramental obligations? Why settle for just coasting through life thinking there are more important things to be doing than spending time with Our Lord and renewing our hearts and minds?


Be ready, people of Perth, hearts will be set on fire; what we've experienced here in Perth over the last couple of days with Steve and Janet Ray is merely the flint before bonfire.


"But Peter said to them: Do penance, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of your sins: and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." - Acts 2:38


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To learn more about Steve Ray you can visit his [excellent] website: http://www.catholic-convert.com/


... Or you can catch him on Catholic Answers Live once a month during the "Open Forum for Non-Catholics". Simply go here to see when Steve will be on and listen to the show live via streaming broadcast or download the show on mp3 or Podcast (via iTunes).

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Quick Question: Built on Peter and not on Paul?



"Why is it that the Catholic Church was founded on Peter and not Paul?"


There is a little caveat to note before answering this question. The Catholic Church was founded by Jesus Christ since he is the foundation for our faith. What Jesus Christ did do, however, was entrust the Church into the hands of men so that his message would be taught and people be baptised through all nations and generations (Matthew 28:19-20). Jesus built the Church on men. The man who would lead the Church after its establishment would be St. Peter. How do we know this? Scripture tells us this; Jesus hand picks St. Peter himself:


"And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." - Matthew 16:18 (D-R)


St. Paul's work for the Church was certainly monumental and he helped establish Christian communities throughout parts he travelled to in his time through his missionary work, but he was not the one hand picked by Christ to lead the Church, to shepherd the earthly flock (John 21:15-17). In a sense the Catholic Church is built on the work of the apostles and the Early Church Fathers, but Christ chose a man to lead his Church. This is not to say that St. Paul's work was not important; he certainly lead to an extent but not in the same manner that St. Peter was charged to.


Another point to keep in mind was that Paul's conversion took place some time after Christ appointed St. Peter to his role. Scholars suggest Paul's conversion between 33 to 36AD (after the death and resurrection of Christ; Acts 9) where as Peter was with Jesus throughout his ministry up until his death and resurrection. Suffice to say that event that is accounted in Matthew 16:18 took place between 30 to 33AD (the years of Christ's ministry). Paul was was Pharisee and persecuting Christians before his conversion.


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In summary: Jesus is the foundation of Christianity (there is no Christianity without Christ), but Christ entrusted the growth and mission of the church to men and appointed one man to be a shepherd to the flock in his name John 21:15-17. St. Peter is this man but this is not to say that the work of the other Christians during this time was any less important.


To have a read of what some of the Early Church Father thought about St. Peter, go here: http://www.staycatholic.com/ecf_primacy_of_rome.htm