Monday, December 10, 2007
Praise God for his blessing on this event! People were so generous and it was quite an emotional time for our family. I know that some people stretched themselves in their giving and this was more than we expected.
In addition to this amount, another blessing happened Thanksgiving weekend. Their social worker in their adoption case, decided to drop a few bucks into a slot machine (Nevadans!) with the intention (she prayed about it) that anything she won, she would give to April and Tim. Well, she won $450!!! We couldn't believe it! She gave them every penny of it!
Tim also got a higher paying job with a company he previously worked for. THEY approached him about the job!
God is truly moving things and making them happen. I know that all the prayers are being answered and God has a huge plan in their lives and the lives of the child (or children) destined to be theirs.
April has decided to also start a blog. Once she puts her first post up, I'll share the link with you all! Thank you to all those who are praying for them! They are thankful and appreciative beyond words!
Friday, December 07, 2007
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Objection 1: It seems that God does not exist; because if one of two contraries be infinite, the other would be altogether destroyed. But the word "God" means that He is infinite goodness. If, therefore, God existed, there would be no evil discoverable; but there is evil in the world. Therefore God does not exist.
Objection 2: Further, it is superfluous to suppose that what can be accounted for by a few principles has been produced by many. But it seems that everything we see in the world can be accounted for by other principles, supposing God did not exist. For all natural things can be reduced to one principle which is nature; and all voluntary things can be reduced to one principle which is human reason, or will. Therefore there is no need to suppose God's existence.
On the contrary, It is said in the person of God: "I am Who am." (Ex. 3:14)
I answer that, The existence of God can be proved in five ways.
The first and more manifest way is the argument from motion. It is certain, and evident to our senses, that in the world some things are in motion. Now whatever is in motion is put in motion by another, for nothing can be in motion except it is in potentiality to that towards which it is in motion; whereas a thing moves inasmuch as it is in act. For motion is nothing else than the reduction of something from potentiality to actuality. But nothing can be reduced from potentiality to actuality, except by something in a state of actuality. Thus that which is actually hot, as fire, makes wood, which is potentially hot, to be actually hot, and thereby moves and changes it. Now it is not possible that the same thing should be at once in actuality and potentiality in the same respect, but only in different respects. For what is actually hot cannot simultaneously be potentially hot; but it is simultaneously potentially cold. It is therefore impossible that in the same respect and in the same way a thing should be both mover and moved, i.e. that it should move itself. Therefore, whatever is in motion must be put in motion by another. If that by which it is put in motion be itself put in motion, then this also must needs be put in motion by another, and that by another again. But this cannot go on to infinity, because then there would be no first mover, and, consequently, no other mover; seeing that subsequent movers move only inasmuch as they are put in motion by the first mover; as the staff moves only because it is put in motion by the hand. Therefore it is necessary to arrive at a first mover, put in motion by no other; and this everyone understands to be God.
The second way is from the nature of the efficient cause. In the world of sense we find there is an order of efficient causes. There is no case known (neither is it, indeed, possible) in which a thing is found to be the efficient cause of itself; for so it would be prior to itself, which is impossible. Now in efficient causes it is not possible to go on to infinity, because in all efficient causes following in order, the first is the cause of the intermediate cause, and the intermediate is the cause of the ultimate cause, whether the intermediate cause be several, or only one. Now to take away the cause is to take away the effect. Therefore, if there be no first cause among efficient causes, there will be no ultimate, nor any intermediate cause. But if in efficient causes it is possible to go on to infinity, there will be no first efficient cause, neither will there be an ultimate effect, nor any intermediate efficient causes; all of which is plainly false. Therefore it is necessary to admit a first efficient cause, to which everyone gives the name of God.
The third way is taken from possibility and necessity, and runs thus. We find in nature things that are possible to be and not to be, since they are found to be generated, and to corrupt, and consequently, they are possible to be and not to be. But it is impossible for these always to exist, for that which is possible not to be at some time is not. Therefore, if everything is possible not to be, then at one time there could have been nothing in existence. Now if this were true, even now there would be nothing in existence, because that which does not exist only begins to exist by something already existing. Therefore, if at one time nothing was in existence, it would have been impossible for anything to have begun to exist; and thus even now nothing would be in existence---which is absurd. Therefore, not all beings are merely possible, but there must exist something the existence of which is necessary. But every necessary thing either has its necessity caused by another, or not. Now it is impossible to go on to infinity in necessary things which have their necessity caused by another, as has been already proved in regard to efficient causes. Therefore we cannot but postulate the existence of some being having of itself its own necessity, and not receiving it from another, but rather causing in others their necessity. This all men speak of as God.
The fourth way is taken from the gradation to be found in things. Among beings there are some more and some less good, true, noble and the like. But "more" and "less" are predicated of different things, according as they resemble in their different ways something which is the maximum, as a thing is said to be hotter according as it more nearly resembles that which is hottest; so that there is something which is truest, something best, something noblest and, consequently, something which is uttermost being; for those things that are greatest in truth are greatest in being, as it is written in Metaph. ii. Now the maximum in any genus is the cause of all in that genus; as fire, which is the maximum heat, is the cause of all hot things. Therefore there must also be something which is to all beings the cause of their being, goodness, and every other perfection; and this we call God.
The fifth way is taken from the governance of the world. We see that things which lack intelligence, such as natural bodies, act for an end, and this is evident from their acting always, or nearly always, in the same way, so as to obtain the best result. Hence it is plain that not fortuitously, but designedly, do they achieve their end. Now whatever lacks intelligence cannot move towards an end, unless it be directed by some being endowed with knowledge and intelligence; as the arrow is shot to its mark by the archer. Therefore some intelligent being exists by whom all natural things are directed to their end; and this being we call God.
Reply to Objection 1: As Augustine says (Enchiridion xi): "Since God is the highest good, He would not allow any evil to exist in His works, unless His omnipotence and goodness were such as to bring good even out of evil." This is part of the infinite goodness of God, that He should allow evil to exist, and out of it produce good.
Reply to Objection 2: Since nature works for a determinate end under the direction of a higher agent, whatever is done by nature must needs be traced back to God, as to its first cause. So also whatever is done voluntarily must also be traced back to some higher cause other than human reason or will, since these can change or fail; for all things that are changeable and capable of defect must be traced back to an immovable and self-necessary first principle, as was shown in the body of the Article.
Objection 1: It seems that the existence of God cannot be demonstrated. For it is an article of faith that God exists. But what is of faith cannot be demonstrated, because a demonstration produces scientific knowledge; whereas faith is of the unseen (Heb. 11:1). Therefore it cannot be demonstrated that God exists.
Objection 2: Further, the essence is the middle term of demonstration. But we cannot know in what God's essence consists, but solely in what it does not consist; as Damascene says (De Fide Orth. i, 4). Therefore we cannot demonstrate that God exists.
Objection 3: Further, if the existence of God were demonstrated, this could only be from His effects. But His effects are not proportionate to Him, since He is infinite and His effects are finite; and between the finite and infinite there is no proportion. Therefore, since a cause cannot be demonstrated by an effect not proportionate to it, it seems that the existence of God cannot be demonstrated.
On the contrary, The Apostle says: "The invisible things of Him are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made" (Rom. 1:20). But this would not be unless the existence of God could be demonstrated through the things that are made; for the first thing we must know of anything is whether it exists.
I answer that, Demonstration can be made in two ways: One is through the cause, and is called "a priori," and this is to argue from what is prior absolutely. The other is through the effect, and is called a demonstration "a posteriori"; this is to argue from what is prior relatively only to us. When an effect is better known to us than its cause, from the effect we proceed to the knowledge of the cause. And from every effect the existence of its proper cause can be demonstrated, so long as its effects are better known to us; because since every effect depends upon its cause, if the effect exists, the cause must pre-exist. Hence the existence of God, in so far as it is not self-evident to us, can be demonstrated from those of His effects which are known to us.
Reply to Objection 1: The existence of God and other like truths about God, which can be known by natural reason, are not articles of faith, but are preambles to the articles; for faith presupposes natural knowledge, even as grace presupposes nature, and perfection supposes something that can be perfected. Nevertheless, there is nothing to prevent a man, who cannot grasp a proof, accepting, as a matter of faith, something which in itself is capable of being scientifically known and demonstrated.
Reply to Objection 2: When the existence of a cause is demonstrated from an effect, this effect takes the place of the definition of the cause in proof of the cause's existence. This is especially the case in regard to God, because, in order to prove the existence of anything, it is necessary to accept as a middle term the meaning of the word, and not its essence, for the question of its essence follows on the question of its existence. Now the names given to God are derived from His effects; consequently, in demonstrating the existence of God from His effects, we may take for the middle term the meaning of the word "God".
Reply to Objection 3: From effects not proportionate to the cause no perfect knowledge of that cause can be obtained. Yet from every effect the existence of the cause can be clearly demonstrated, and so we can demonstrate the existence of God from His effects; though from them we cannot perfectly know God as He is in His essence.
Next up: Whether God exists?
Friday, November 16, 2007
*EDIT* Stupid me... the fix was so obvious, I can't believe I ever tried to use mysitefeed.com in the first place. If you subscribed to my blog through mysitefeed.com, please resubscribe using the link here... Thanks!
I wish I had this kind of insight at the age of 13!
Thursday, November 15, 2007
“I'd just like to make a few comments on this particular post. First, I pretty much agree with you on the "One Mediator" point. But there is a difference between praying "for" someone and praying "to" them. We pray TO Jesus (and ONLY to Him / God) because of His role as Mediator in paying the full price for sin on our behalf. But nowhere in Scripture are we allowed to pray TO anyone else. It is not the same thing as praying FOR other people, e.g., for health, blessings, guidance, etc.”
When Catholics “pray to” Mary and the saints, we are asking them to pray FOR us… this is no different than you asking me to pray for you, except that it’s done mentally, instead of vocally because they are in heaven. Mary and the saints then pray TO Jesus FOR us, just as I would pray for you. We do not pray TO them as if they have the power to answer our prayers or in a sense of worshipping them. Again, we are merely asking them to pray (or intercede) for us. This IS in Scripture. (1 Tim 2:1-4) This might be better understood if we remove the word “pray” and the meaning you are applying to it. Catholics ASK Mary and the saints to pray for us. We are not praying in the sense of worship but praying in a historical meaning of the word, which is “to ask or beg”.
“Concerning those in Heaven, yes, they are very much alive. But the two passages you offered in Revelation simply tell us that the angels and elders "offered" the prayers of the saints to God. It never says that the prayers were first directed to the angels, or anyone else in Heaven.”
How can they offer our prayers if they don’t know what our prayers are? How do our prayers, not a physical item, get to them in order for them to be able to offer them? Do we not need to tell them what those prayers are first? Clearly, they must know of our prayers by mentally ask them to pray for us, since we cannot ask them vocally. I see no issue here. We are asking them to pray for us and those prayers are offered by them, indicating they must know what those prayers are… There is nothing in scripture that tells us we cannot ask those in heaven (also Christians) to pray for us. If we cannot ask them to pray for us, then we should not be asking each other either. But THAT would contradict Scripture.
“The verses you quoted in Psalms are not directing us to PRAY TO the angels, but are simply exhorting ALL (even the Heavenly hosts) to praise and exalt God, because He is worthy. You didn't mention the next verse (103:22), which encourages His "works" (not just living creatures) to also praise Him. Does that mean that we pray to all His "works" also? What about when PEOPLE are admonished to praise Him? Are we praying to THEM too?”
This again boils down to the meaning you are applying to “pray”. The angels are addressed and a request for joint praise is offered. But if we were not to address those in heaven at all, then this concept would not be tolerated. This is the point I was making with this passage. Catholics do the same when we address Mary or the saints… asking them to intercede TO God FOR us or maybe even just asking them to join us in praising God!
“It is perfectly fine to pray FOR someone here on earth. But we find no precedent in the Bible where anyone obediently prays to ANYONE ELSE but God.”
Again, Mary and the saints pray FOR us. No one is praying TO anyone else. We simply pass our intentions along to them “mentally” instead of vocally, which we call “praying” (to ask). Nothing in scripture speaks against this and nothing in scripture limits “praying for each other” to those on earth alone.
Furthermore, to deny the saints’ ability to fully act as members of the body of Christ (which includes praying for each other), or to deny that they are necessary, is to go against Scripture:
1 Corinthians 12:20-21
As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, "I don't need you!" And the head cannot say to the feet, "I don't need you!"
Our view of the body of Christ is limited by our humanity on earth but once we are in heaven, we see the full picture. Why is it impossible to believe that the body of Christ that is in heaven wouldn’t have a full picture or understanding of the body of Christ? And, in having this full picture, that they would not be able to see or hear (solely by the power of God, of course) what is going on with the rest of the body here on earth? Can they say, “I do not need you”?
1 Corinthians 13:12
Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And then we see that the prayers of the righteous are powerful and effective. Who is more righteous than those who are in heaven?
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
I hope this helps to shed some light on the Catholic position. Christians are called to pray for each other. Those in heaven are also Christians, a part of the body of Christ and just as “necessary” as the rest of the body. They are the most righteous, making their prayers powerful and effective. To ask them to pray FOR us is not only encouraged in Scripture, but is logically a very good idea! The passages in Revelation (5:8, 8:3-4) clearly show that those in heaven offer our prayers TO God on our behalf. To do this, they must first receive the prayers FROM us… “The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of the saints, went up before God from the angel's hand.”.
Thanks for stopping by, Russell. It’s good to hear from you again.
Peace be with you!
Friday, November 09, 2007
The newsletters will be varied and will not come at regular intervals at this time. They'll contain apologetic stuff, words of encouragement, updates, etc. and sometimes, they will be used to announce book contests, new rosaries for sale or specials.
I apologize that my writing has been nearly non-existent lately but the efforts we're making to help my sister raise money for her adoption costs, plus school, work, kids and Church, are all taking up a considerable amount of my energy. Even when I have the time to write, I simply don't have the brain power to do so!
God bless anyone who is keeping me and my family in their prayers! And, a thank you to anyone who has already purchased a rosary!
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
Recently, I was informed that there is "one mediator" between God and man. Of course, I absolutely believe this. It's straight from scripture. What I don't agree with is a very hard-lined, literal, out-of-context interpretation of this. Of course Christ is the one mediator. Only He, through his death, is able to reconcile us to God. And only He is fully God and fully man: the bridge between God and man.
But, we are all mediators in a smaller sense when we pray for one another. This role, in no way, diminishes Christ's role as the one mediator.
I think it's important, instead of taking ONE verse, to look at the entire passage in context:
1 Timothy 2:1-6
I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men—the testimony given in its proper time.
Clearly we see that praying for others on their behalf is good and pleasing to God. It does not take away his role as the one mediator in any way.
If one is going to say that Christ is the only mediator and we should "pray only to Jesus", then one should also not ask others to pray for them... lest they be contradicting themselves. One must understand what it means for Christ to be the one mediator before they throw the argument on the table. Of course, we should also pray to Jesus but even Jesus himself encouraged us to pray for others (Matt. 5:44).
What follows this explanation is usually, "Well, those in heaven are dead. They can't hear us."
Is this true?
Revelation 5:8 says, "And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints." (See also, Rev. 8:3-4)
Here we see 24 elders (humans) in heaven offering the prayers of the saints. In order for them to offer the prayers of the saints, they must know what these prayers are. Prayers are not physical elements and must be offered mentally.... And, on another note, those in heaven, are only dead in earthly body. Their souls remain alive in Christ. There is only ONE body of Christ (Ephesians 4:4) and those who pass on to heaven do not cease being a member of that body. In fact, they are perfectly united to Christ! They are made righteous and the prayers of the righteous are "powerful and effective" (James 5:16). Would God not permit those in heaven to pray for us when their prayers for others are pleasing, powerful and effective?
In addition to Rev 5:8, we see prayers to angels in Psalms 103...
20 Praise the LORD, you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his bidding,
who obey his word.
21 Praise the LORD, all his heavenly hosts,
you his servants who do his will.
Clearly, the Bible directs us to pray to those in heaven through this passage and ones like it.
The bottom line is, we must take all of Scripture into account when we discern what a passage means. Christ as the one mediator does not mean that others cannot pray for us, including those in heaven. Scripture tells us that those in heaven can hear our prayers and that they offer them to God for us. This is part of the beauty of the Christian faith: that we are not disconnected from other parts of the body of Christ but that, through the power of God, they are able to intercede for us! This does not limit God's role but magnifies it! It is only by His awesome power that we are able to remain in communion with ALL the members of His Body. He IS, indeed, the One Mediator between God and man. This role is specifically what allows us to intercede for one another and for those in heaven to intercede for us!
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
I'm very thankful that this relationship has taken it's time to grow properly in the last two years and that we haven't rushed anything. I feel confident that Damion and I will have a great future together and I'm really looking forward to beginning the next stage of our lives and relationship... :)
Thank you for the prayers and the thoughtful comments!
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Please pray that God will show us any areas that we need to work out and that his grace will be upon us to communicate effectively and make the most of the weekend.
God is answering their prayer in other ways as well. Out of the blue, one of her husband's former employers, called and offered him a job. This job would pay SIGNIFICANTLY more money annually and it will put them closer to their goal SO much sooner! Please pray for God's will where this new job is concerned!
Also, my sister, my mom and I have been working a lot making jewelry and some other items. We're going to have an open house before Christmas to sell our items to raise money for the adoption.
I will be making and selling rosaries as well... keep an eye out because I may give first dibs to my readers!
Monday, October 22, 2007
So, this weekend, while at my parents' house, I received a letter from the tribunal. Strange that this would show up at my parents' house because I didn't use their address when I went through the process. So, curiosity forces me to open the letter immediately.
It's a letter stating that the Tribunal in the Diocese of Orlando is seeking permission to being an annulment procedure at the request of my first spouse! So, this means that my first spouse is either becoming Catholic or seeking the blessing of his fourth and current marriage. I have to say that either scenario comes as a complete surprise because he wasn't religious by any stretch of the imagination, and I can't see him submitting to any authority... This guy was a real piece of work: a liar, a con, a cheater... and that's being nice!
I can only hope that this is an indication that he has changed his ways and is seeking God and the truth of the Catholic faith. I always hoped for vindication against the way he treated me, but this is a much more forgiving and merciful outcome.
What good news it will be for he and his wife to know that this case has already been determined as invalid by the Church and they can quickly move forward!
*EDIT* It turns out that they want to have their marriage blessed because she wants to be able to receive communion. It appears that he has developed some sort of Protestant faith. I'm guessing Baptist. Anyway, I call the diocese and gave them the information. Hopefully, that will be the last I hear of the whole thing!
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Faith is easy. Living out faith is just as difficult as being a mom and right now I'm struggling. Sin so often gets in the way of growth.
I don't want my Catholic faith to just be "what I believe". I want it to be the WAY that I live. But, truth be told, it's like bringing an entirely different culture into the household and it's not always clear to me how to do so...
So, I'm still around... reading... but I'm just not sure what to write at this time. This post alone took me nearly a half hour...
Thursday, October 04, 2007
There are three other ways to help out my sister and her husband with the adoption costs. And I'm asking everyone to choose one:
One (and the most important): Pray, pray, pray. Please pray for God's will... that if they should be parents, God will provide the means. Also, pray for peace and comfort in this process since, at times, it seems so hopeless for them.
Two: You can visit their Cafepress.com shop, The Baby Hope Shop, and purchase something. We will be adding some new designs in the next couple of weeks.
Three: You can go to any Bank of America and make a deposit to their account:
Bank of America Acct No: *REMOVED*
I know there were some people interested in donating... and I thank you in advance for doing so. May God bless you for your generosity!
Also, thank you Ma Beck for your heartfelt post and purchase from the Baby Hope Shop! My sister and her husband are very grateful.
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
"Mathetes is the Greek word for disciple, and the role of the disciple (per the Great Commission) it to make more disciples. I'd like to take the opportunity to award five other bloggers with this award and badge for acting in the role of a disciple of Christ. These five all share the message in their own creative ways, and I admire them all for what they do.
In the spirit of this award, the rules are simple. Winners of this award must pick five other "disciples" to pass it on to. As you pass it on, I just ask that you mention and provide links for (1)this post as the originator of the award (Dan King of management by God), (2) the person that awarded it to you, and then (3) name and sites of the five that you believe are fulfilling the role of a disciple of Christ. If you know of other deserving recipients of this award, and would like to start a new string, then please post a link to where you've started in in the comments to this post. I would love for many deserving bloggers to be blessed with this recognition."
So, now I have the honor of giving this award to five others. I easily would have given this award to the same two who gave it to me... and it's highly likely that those I give the award to have already been given one, but here goes:
1. Tim at a word on The Word who, each week, takes a deep look at a passage of Scripture and offers a lot of food for thought. He always write something I can relate with. He and his wife were one of the first people I became acquainted with in the Catholic blogging world.
2. Russ at Crossed the Tiber who, together with his wife, are a tremendous discipling team. They work hard to get the message out there and their love for God shines through with humility and passion.
3. TheGodFearinFiddler at The God Fearin' Forum... This guy has some amazing apologetic insight and he gets "The Word" out there!
4. Japhy at The Cross Reference who, along with others, encouraged me in my journey.
5. Ruth at Wheelie Catholic who has a unique approach to things as she educates others about the issues facing individuals with disabilities and the need for full inclusion of these individuals in Catholic communities and beyond.
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
RobK, author of the blog Kyrie Eleison! He has won a signed copy of Jimmy Akin's book, "The Salvation Controversy".
Thank you to the five of you who took the time to share a passage with me! There are times when certain passages seem to pierce our hearts and souls... when God seems to speak specifically to us through His written word. All of the passages mentioned were familiar to me and have spoken to me at some point as well...
If you didn't win this time around, don't lose heart! I'll have another contest in a month or two and I have another terrific book to give away that has been signed by the author as well!
Monday, October 01, 2007
Thursday, September 27, 2007
The winner will receive a signed copy of "The Salvation Controversy" by Jimmy Akin, courtesy of my dear friend, Cindy and her hubby!
The contest begins Friday and ends at midnight on Monday! (Please remember that you must be willing to privately share a mailing address in order to receive the book.)
Better is open rebuke
Than love that is concealed.
Faithful are the wounds of a friend,
But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.
This was always one of my favorite passages and it helped me deal with a situation I had with a friend. My honesty with her caused her to be angry with me and we didn't speak for a very long time, years in fact. Throughout the years, it has always remained one of my favorites and I refer to it often when I am faced with similar situations.
So, I set up a store at Cafepress.com. I know that, if it God's will for them, He will provide... but I'm being pro-active in the meantime. If anyone would like to purchase something for the cause, please check out the store at http://www.cafepress.com/babyhope. There is also a link at the top of the left-hand column.
I will be setting up a PayPal Donations account soon as well, if anyone would be so inclined to donate that way, the advantage being that they would benefit from the full amount given.
Of course, any prayers you can offer will also be VERY MUCH appreciated...
Thanks in advance to anyone to helps us fulfill the dream they have to parent a child.
I simply don't have much time to write lately and there's not much to say anyway. There is a lot of work I need to do spiritually and I feel lazy... blah.
SO, instead of writing, a new book contest will begin tomorrow and end on Monday at midnight. Tuesday morning, I will randomly select a winner. Tonight or tomorrow morning, I'll announce the book and the requirement for entering the contest.
You won't want to miss it!
*You must be willing to privately (via e-mail) share an address I can ship the book to in order to enter. This address will be kept confidential.
Monday, September 24, 2007
I wonder, if we were at the foot of the cross, would we be swaying, singing and clapping in joy? Is there a reason why people insist on taking the sacred solemnity out of the Mass? Am I the only one who sees the serious problem with this?
What is one to do?
Saturday, September 15, 2007
Friday, September 14, 2007
They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
There was a time, when I was just getting "soft" on Catholicism, when my mom asked, "Is the Catholic Church the church in Acts 2:42?" At the time, I really didn't know. I was just beginning to set aside my misconceptions about the Church so I could learn what they actually teach instead of what I'd been led to believe my whole life. This question, of course, nagged at me for quite some time.
Is the Catholic Church the church in Acts 2:42?
Well, let's take a look...
They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship...
For one, it's interesting to point out that this does not say they devoted themselves to Scripture. The apostles at this time weren't necessarily writing down everything they were teaching. They didn't say, "Hey, you can't believe this until it's written in Scripture!" The passed on the teachings orally and the early church devoted themselves to these oral teachings. Today, the Catholic Church devotes themselves to Scripture AND Tradition (the teachings passed on by the apostles')... the word of God comes to us through both means. We see this in other passages like 2 Thess 2:15 where it says, "So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter."
One cannot sit through Mass and not hear the word of God throughout! The entire Mass is a prayer of thanksgiving! More Scripture is read in Mass than in any other church I've attended... In fact, the entire Mass is based in Scripture. How could anyone say we're not devoting ourselves to the apostles' teachings? They simply cannot!
Fellowship is an association of people who share common beliefs or activities. Catholics gather together every day of the week throughout the entire world. There isn't a time when a Mass is not being said. It's like one continuous prayer making it's way to heaven without ceasing. This was prophesied in Malachi 1:11: "My name will be great among the nations, from the rising to the setting of the sun. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to my name, because my name will be great among the nations," says the LORD Almighty." At the time this was written, God's name was not great among the nations. What other church today has incense and a pure offering (the representation of Christ's sacrifice) in EVERY place, from the rising to the setting of the sun?
...to the breaking of bread...
Every Mass includes the breaking of bread! Holy Communion is offered at every Mass throughout the world. Malachi 1:11 also applies here. This is the pure offering as we continuously remember Christ's sacrifice... It isn't once a month or once a week on a Wednesday... It's EVERY day throughout the entire world! We're definitely not leaving out the breaking of bread in Acts 2:42!
...and to prayer.
The Mass IS a prayer. And within that prayer we say more prayers! Prayers of thanksgiving, prayers of repentance, prayers of praise, prayers of song!
Growing up, I'd have a symbol only communion once a month or so. We'd usually have an opening prayer and a closing prayer for each service. We'd sing a few songs and then a pastor would discuss a topic, read a few verses and give us his interpretation of them, which I generally accepted without question. But how could I know that his interpretation was correct? or that it matched what was taught by the apostles and the earliest of Christians? I often wonder why it never occurred to me to find out if what I was being taught was historically understood the same way.
So, is the Catholic Church the church of Acts 2:42? Without a doubt! In fact, it fits this description more fully than any other. I am so thankful to be Catholic!
Thank you, Jesus, for bringing me into the church of Acts 2:42 in all it's fullness! Amen.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Monday, September 10, 2007
Every good thing I believed as a Protestant came with me into my Catholic faith, including the most central message of the gospel. I didn't give up my relationship with Christ; it was strengthened. I didn't have to deny who Christ is as the Son of God; I grew closer to Him. In the process, I felt (and still do) a beautiful connection to the Church of history, to the saints in heaven, and to the body of Christ. I feel like I'm a part of something bigger and more beautiful than I ever imagined as a Protestant.
Conversion was a painful process. Not only did I bring into question the theology I'd held as truth my whole life, but I slowing began to realize that the theology on the other side of the fence made more logical sense... that it put the supernatural back into play and that Christianity was NOT just as simple as "Jesus and me". These ideas rocked me to the core and I honestly began to question Christianity entirely. I begged God to show me truth because I had suddenly realize how relativistic Christianity was... all these Christian churches teaching opposing truths and only ONE truth to believe. I couldn't accept the idea that Christ would leave us with such opposing truths to decide for ourselves what to believe while my own church implies, "we know the truth better than the 'other guy'", "agreeing on the essentials" while "disagreeing on the non-essentials"... all using the Bible as their sole infallible rule of faith, yet coming to completely different interpretations as to what we, as Christians, are supposed to believe.
I spent many nights anguishing over truth... God was speaking to me and I was arguing. Why in the world would He want me to be Catholic? Would that mean I'd have to give up Jesus for some sort of legalistic religion? "Religion" was always a bad word growing up... it was a bunch of "man-made" rules and regulations. In short, I found I did not have to give up Jesus at all... and the rules? Jesus, by His authority, established a Church with the authority to bind and lose. It was right there in black and white in the pages of my own Bible. I only had to find the church that has that same authority today. An accurate look at history revealed that the Catholic Church was and is the longest-standing Christian church in history. It was founded by Christ himself! That's not man-made!
Jesus was waiting for me in the Catholic Church, arms open. I remember my anti-Catholic days when I criticized Catholics for keeping Christ on the cross because "he's alive". True that He is, but without His death, we would not be alive in Christ and Paul says to "preach Christ crucified". So, there He was, frozen in time, a reminder of what my sin did to Him. And He was there with open arms to greet me into the same Church he established 2000 years ago when He rose from the dead!
It was a long and difficult journey that still comes with many challenges but each moment with Him at Mass brings me that much closer to Him. I followed Him there in obedience when He was all I had left to cling to in my despair over Christian disunity. I love Him... and though many have tried to argue with that, the fact remains that, even as a Catholic, I still have Jesus... without Him, I'd be lost.
Friday, September 07, 2007
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
Maybe I could pose a question or two.
How does one seek out a spiritual director? What exactly is the role of a spiritual director?
And for Bill... Where have you been? Email me or something!
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Also, last week I decided to move my daughter over to the public all-day Kindergarten program because she and the boys were approved for a variance. Our move one mile from our other apartment put them in another school about four blocks from the one they'd already been attending. Thinking it best that they have the stability of the same school and friends, I sought the variance. In addition, a variance would mean I could actually have ALL three kids in the same school. The new school they were zoned for didn't have all-day Kindergarten and that meant another year of driving all over town and paying more than $200 extra per month! So, I pulled my daughter from her former school not knowing that Kindergarten starts one week later than everyone else. Then I had to wonder what in the world I was going to do with her for an entire week!
On Saturday night, my daughter came down with a fever that spiked as high as 103.8 in the middle of the night on Sunday. Monday morning, I took the boys to their first day of school for the year and briefly met their new teachers. Just as I was leaving, I ran into a parent who I am acquainted with and she mentioned to me that strep throat has been going around. What timing! My daughter had the symptoms so I called the doctor and got right in. Sure enough, she was diagnosed with strep throat. Well, that's two days of the week I didn't have to worry about childcare and how I was going to make it to work. AND it gave me time to come up with another plan. I managed to find a wonderful lady who does licensed in-home childcare. She was willing to take my daughter from Wednesday through Thursday this week! An answer to prayer...
The fever lasted longer than expected and last night was the first night she made it through without her fever spiking up. Thank goodness...
I'm out three days of pay, which is a little worrisome but I still have my job so I'm not complaining! I am just very much looking forward to this week being over!
So, my blog took a backseat for a few days... and it may have to on occasion in the future months as well. I signed up for another class this semester. It's only one so it won't be too much of a deal but it might keep me busier than usual. I took all last year off from school so that I could attend RCIA and focus on learning all I could about the Catholic faith. I knew I'd need all the time I could get and I couldn't see how I would manage it with a school schedule. But, now it's time to get back into the swing of things!
People to pray for:
Damion and kids
April and Tim
KC and husband
Diane and family
Dragan and mother
Johan and family
Friday, August 17, 2007
My aunt was only 49 years old. She was a fan of NASCAR racing and the Rolling Stones. Among some of her heroes were her own children. She was passionate about her job and loved to help others and make people laugh. She will be remembered fondly by friends and family.
Please pray for the repose of her soul and for the comfort of my uncle and cousins.
Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord. And let perpetual light shine upon her. May her soul, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
The LORD said to Joshua,
"Today I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel,
that they may know I am with you, as I was with Moses.
Now command the priests carrying the ark of the covenant
to come to a halt in the Jordan
when you reach the edge of the waters."
So Joshua said to the children of Israel,
"Come here and listen to the words of the LORD, your God.
This is how you will know that there is a living God in your midst,
who at your approach will dispossess the Canaanites.
The ark of the covenant of the LORD of the whole earth
will precede you into the Jordan.
When the soles of the feet of the priests carrying the ark of the LORD,
the Lord of the whole earth,
touch the water of the Jordan, it will cease to flow;
for the water flowing down from upstream will halt in a solid bank."
The people struck their tents to cross the Jordan,
with the priests carrying the ark of the covenant ahead of them.
No sooner had these priestly bearers of the ark
waded into the waters at the edge of the Jordan,
which overflows all its banks
during the entire season of the harvest,
than the waters flowing from upstream halted,
backing up in a solid mass for a very great distance indeed,
from Adam, a city in the direction of Zarethan;
while those flowing downstream toward the Salt Sea of the Arabah
Thus the people crossed over opposite Jericho.
While all Israel crossed over on dry ground,
the priests carrying the ark of the covenant of the LORD
remained motionless on dry ground in the bed of the Jordan
until the whole nation had completed the passage.
~Joshua 3:7-10a, 11, 13-17~
This passage is one I had never heard before today. When I heard it, I just thought, "How amazing is that?" These people had to have a tremendous amount of faith and trust in God… I can see the priests standing there motionless and holding the ark of the covenant while all of Israel passed through and a wall of water was collecting upstream… the Jordan river going dry beyond this solid mass of water! Incredible! And what a privilege to carry the Ark and yet how scary to be standing there solidly holding the Ark and waiting for all to cross. Were they afraid? Or did they keep their focus on God?
Sometimes I feel as if I am facing that wall of water… as if it could break and take me over at any given moment. But I must keep my focus on God. He wants to see me safely through to his kingdom. I must learn to trust Him to lead me where He wants me. I can’t keep my focus on my problems but instead must remember that He is in control and that He is passionately pursuing my attention despite my problems. He wants to forgive me, love me, comfort me and draw me nearer. If I keep my eyes fixed on Jesus, though I am undeserving, He will faithfully keep his promises. His love NEVER fails!
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Then the Saviour said: Let it be according to your opinion. And He ordered the archangel Michael to bring the soul of St. Mary. And, behold, the archangel Michael rolled back the stone from the door of the tomb; and the Lord said: Arise, my beloved and my nearest relation; you who hast not put on corruption by intercourse with man, suffer not destruction of the body in the sepulchre. And immediately Mary rose from the tomb, and blessed the Lord, and falling forward at the feet of the Lord, adored Him, saying: I cannot render sufficient thanks to You, O Lord, for Your boundless benefits which You have deigned to bestow upon me Thine handmaiden. May Your name, O Redeemer of the world, God of Israel, be blessed for ever.
And kissing her, the Lord went back, and delivered her soul to the angels, that they should carry it into paradise. And He said to the apostles: Come up to me. And when they had come up He kissed them, and said: Peace be to you! as I have always been with you, so will I be even to the end of the world. And immediately, when the Lord had said this, He was lifted up on a cloud, and taken back into heaven, and the angels along with Him, carrying the blessed Mary into the paradise of God. And the apostles being taken up in the clouds, returned each into the place allotted for his preaching, telling the great things of God, and praising our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, in perfect unity, and in one substance of Godhead, for ever and ever. Amen.
Thank you Jesus for the Blessed Mother! May we all grow closer to Christ through her prayerful intercession!
Sunday, August 12, 2007
Please head over and give him a warm welcome!
On the Banks of the Tiber
Welcome home, Johan!
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Matthew 14: 22-36
Jesus made the disciples get into a boat
and precede him to the other side of the sea,
while he dismissed the crowds.
After doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray.
When it was evening he was there alone.
Meanwhile the boat, already a few miles offshore,
was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it.
During the fourth watch of the night,
he came toward them, walking on the sea.
When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified.
"It is a ghost," they said, and they cried out in fear.
At once Jesus spoke to them, "Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid."
Peter said to him in reply,
"Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water."
He said, "Come."
Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus.
But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened;
and, beginning to sink, he cried out, "Lord, save me!"
Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught him,
and said to him, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?"
After they got into the boat, the wind died down.
Those who were in the boat did him homage, saying,
"Truly, you are the Son of God."
After making the crossing, they came to land at Gennesaret.
When the men of that place recognized him,
they sent word to all the surrounding country.
People brought to him all those who were sick
and begged him that they might touch only the tassel on his cloak,
and as many as touched it were healed.
It's interesting that this takes place during the "fourth watch of the night". This is the time of day just before dawn and is usually the darkest time of the night. I believe this is something I should ponder... Dawn comes only after the darkest hours. Christ is calling out to us to take courage in this hour of darkness and to not be afraid because He is with us. But, with this is an underlying promise that the morning will come and the darkness will fade away!
Another part of this reading that struck me was Peter and how faithful he had to have been initially to get out of that boat. And I see myself when he suddenly realizes how strong the wind is and begins to sink. How often in my own life do I doubt God? How often to I begin to follow his will and then decide it's too difficult, become afraid or think I know a better way?
"Why did you doubt?"
Can you imagine what Peter must have been thinking when Jesus asked him this? He had just walked on WATER and Christ was right there before him. He had just seen Jesus feed thousands of people with five loaves of bread and two fish. If it was difficult for him to have faith in this moment, how much more difficult might it be for those of us who have not witnessed such things with our own eyes? Our doubts are part of the human condition, but Christ is asking us, "Why do you doubt?" I realize that I must start trusting Jesus more no matter where He is leading me. What do I have to fear in following Him? Will he not keep me from sinking?
In the darkest hours, our faith is most difficult... but hope comes in knowing that the sun will rise and Christ is always present, urging us to take courage.
Lord, help me learn to trust in you. Do not allow me to doubt you in the darkest hours of my life. Remind me that you are with me always and let nothing keep me from following you. Amen.
Friday, August 03, 2007
Thank you to EVERYONE who commented. This was so much fun that I think I may do this every few months or so...
I just want to let everyone know how much this Catholic blogging community has helped me on my journey. I have felt your prayers and encouragement. God is truly using all of us to help spread the truth about God and His Church. Though I don't know any of you personally, I do feel the connection we have as members of the body of Christ. You are my family and I'm thankful for each one of you!
Ma Beck, keep an eye out for an email from me... and congratulations!!!
In response to the "Anniversary" post comments:
Wow... I'm truly blessed by the comments here.
Ma Beck - YOU are also an inspiration and your blog is one of my favorites. My goal is to visit St. John Cantius at least ONCE in my life!
Chad Toney - keep up the good work... your blog is great! Watch out for the trolls!
RobK - I love your perspective as a life-long Catholic... and your prayers and insight have always meant so much!
Tim - Another awesome blog full of things that inspire me to be a better Christian and to look deeper at my faith beyond the intellect. Thank you!
Angela Messenger - Each journey is so different... I spent YEARS in the wrong direction under the false concept of faith "alone". I was deeply broken at the beginning of this year and God smacked me with a brick and gave me sight. It's ALL in His time. Look at how God is using you now!
Therese - thanks for the comment! I'm going to check out your blog today! Peace be with you!
Damion - my love.... I never would have imagined it either! But I always knew God had a purpose for us and I knew we were meant to be united in ONE faith. The best words you EVER said were, "Just follow God wherever He takes you." The next best were, "I love you." Thank you for being patient with me along the way... Love you!
Thursday, August 02, 2007
I still fall short of making God a priority in my life so I'm making some small adjustments to change that. If I try to uproot everything and make a drastic change, I'll get overwhelmed and slip right back into old patterns. I've realized this past year that these things take time and patience and it's important to make changes with baby steps if I want the changes to stick.
I just started a six week study on being a disciple of Christ and I realize that before I can be "sent", I must know him better. I must be more firmly rooted beyond my intellectual understanding. This is where those small adjustments come in as I try to focus more on God's role in my life personally and as I strive to make Him the priority above all else.
Damion and kids
Joby - comfort and financial struggles (Matt 6:25-33)
Johan - as he crosses the Tiber
Dragan and his mother
All others who have no one to pray for them
Thursday, July 26, 2007
The rules are simple... Each player lists 8 facts/habits about themselves. The rules of the game are posted at the beginning before those facts/habits are listed. At the end of the post, the player then tags 8 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged and asking them to read your blog.
Here are my 8:
1. I cannot drink milk anywhere but at home (and maybe my parents' house). Most people do not keep milk cold enough for me. Also, it MUST come from a paper carton. I will not drink milk from a jug. It just doesn’t taste right.
2. I must have socks on when I sleep or I will toss and turn all night.
3. I am fluent in sign language and interpreted for deaf children for 5 years. God put it on my heart to learn sign language when I was nine but I didn’t learn it until high school. Sadly, I have very few local deaf friends today so I rarely get to use it.
4. I lived in Alaska for a year. I loved the seasonal extremes and the northern lights.
5. I have a former stepdaughter who I still have a very close relationship with. In fact, I believe she is the reason I met her dad in the first place. I was her maid of honor in her wedding a year ago.
6. I hate to touch chalk.
7. I don’t like going to the beach because I don’t like the feel of sand on my feet.
8. I want to learn to ride a motorcycle... (but not a Harley). I have the helmet, gloves, jacket and the boots. I just need the license and the motorcycle!
And now I tag the following fellow bloggers:
Pax In Anima
a word on The Word
Chad Is Not Enough
Resigning the Game
Friday, July 20, 2007
Pax In Anima
Welcome, friend! May God continue to lead you and strengthen you!
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
I love the Sacrament of Baptism... and I love that it's more than a mere symbol. The misconception is that Catholics think the water is "magical". In reality, we know the water is a symbol of the grace of the Holy Spirit and the means by which the Holy Spirit pours out His grace. It isn't the water itself, but the act of baptism, by which the Holy Spirit causes one to be born again (John 3).
CCC 694 Water. The symbolism of water signifies the Holy Spirit's action in Baptism, since after the invocation of the Holy Spirit it becomes the efficacious sacramental sign of new birth: just as the gestation of our first birth took place in water, so the water of Baptism truly signifies that our birth into the divine life is given to us in the Holy Spirit. As "by one Spirit we were all baptized," so we are also "made to drink of one Spirit." Thus the Spirit is also personally the living water welling up from Christ crucified as its source and welling up in us to eternal life.
All three of my children are now united to the body of Christ through baptism.
Thank you, Holy Spirit, for pouring your grace upon my children.
"For everything must die - to rise again."
I find it quite interesting that this guy can call his 25 years as a Catholic a "wasted experience". Never, in a million years, would I regard my experience as a non-denominational Christian a "wasted experience". This only proves how little he knows about the Catholic faith... about the history of Christianity and about the ACTUAL teachings of the Catholic Church. I find it ridiculous that he blames the Catholic Church for his ignorance of Scripture, as if his parents had no responsibility at all... nor did he himself.
And what exactly does he think the Mass is? Prayers from Scripture, readings from Scripture, hymns from Scripture, Holy Communion from Scripture.... the crucifix hanging in the center of the church to show him exactly what Christ did for him - but it's the Church's fault He couldn't see it?
I wish people like this would take the time to actually learn about the role of the Pope (or the Catholic Church) before they start publicly speaking against it. He's utterly clueless and it shows.
Friday, July 13, 2007
I suppose we can only attribute these things to the guidance of the same Holy Spirit and as my friend put it, "...it has nothing to do with either your religious or social or educational background... We're all the same before the Lord."
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve,
was not with them when Jesus came.
So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.”
But Thomas said to them,
“Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands
and put my finger into the nailmarks
and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
Now a week later his disciples were again inside
and Thomas was with them.
Jesus came, although the doors were locked,
and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.”
Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands,
and bring your hand and put it into my side,
and do not be unbelieving, but believe.”
Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me?
Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”
I can recall moments in my life when I begged to feel the presence of God... moments when He felt so distant, I began to wonder if He were really there at all. It is in looking back that I know that God was there all along, perhaps even closer than I realized... but, for whatever reason, God did not permit me to feel his presence at that time.
I love this gospel reading... I love how Jesus just appears before them, the doors locked, and addresses Thomas right away by telling him to do the very things Thomas said he would have to do in order to believe. Jesus wasn't present when Thomas said those words. Can you imagine being Thomas? I love that, in this short passage, the rest of us were also addressed: "Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed."
When I struggle in my faith and I feel God is far, I can think of this passage. Jesus didn't condemn Thomas for his unbelief. Instead, He helped him believe. Even while Thomas was doubting, Jesus knew Thomas' heart and mind. Jesus knew that believing without seeing would be a struggle for many... So, when I doubt also, Jesus knows my unbelief and He does not condemn me. Instead, He helps me believe!
"Peace be with you." I love these words spoken by Jesus. Can you imagine? Thomas... in his unbelief, hearing Christ say "peace be with you" and then having his eyes opened to see that the Lord was standing right there in front of him?! Each week, we say to each other during Mass "peace be with you". I wonder how many people feel touched by this simple exchange of words. The words of Christ spoken to one another: to the hurting and the joyful, the doubting and the believing, the loved and unloved, the weak and the strong, the rich and the poor. For that one moment, we are all in that room, Jesus reaching out to us and helping us believe!
Jesus, thank you for your peace and for helping us in our unbelief. Thank you for your patience and unconditional love. Amen.
Monday, July 02, 2007
Though it's often difficult being Catholic where the rest of my family is not, I have to say I feel very blessed that God chose to open my eyes to the truths of Catholicism. It has strengthened me in so many ways and it has brought my relationship with Jesus to a deeper level. I'm still far from where I want to be in that relationship but I know that each day is a day I grow closer to Christ and His Church.
A year ago, I sat in a row of chairs with my family at church. Now I sit in a pew in another church, obedient to God's call to bring me into the Catholic faith, yet separated from my family... the picture of disunity that brought me to the state of brokenness to begin with. One day, I want to sit in a pew with my family in church, fully united as the body of Christ in ONE faith... the way God intended.
According to my great aunt Sue, my mom's family comes from a long line of Catholics. I hope, one day, that our Catholic roots will be restored... may God use me for this purpose if He so wills it.
Thank you, Lord, for bringing me into the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church. I was lost, but now I'm found... I was blind, but now I see. It is only by Your grace that I am where I am. Please pass this grace on to my family and allow them to experience the fullness of faith you desire for them as well. Amen.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
What is it about Church teaching and authority that women such as Jane Via do not understand? This is not an issue of female oppression...
New York Times - A Place at the Altar
"For an analogy in the secular sphere you might imagine that I could get a friend to swear me in as governor of New York," said Cardinal Avery Dulles, a professor at Fordham University in New York City. "Would that make me governor?"
Monday, June 25, 2007
When I arrived to sign the papers, I was informed that they were giving me another unit. This news was quite upsetting considering I had verified I'd be moving into that unit before I spent hours on the phone last week, working to have all my utilities switched over at just the right time. I was not too happy about this but what choice did I have? SO, because I refuse to sign papers before I actually SEE the unit, they hand me a key and send me on my way to take a look. I locate the building and climb the stairs to the third floor and when I arrive, I find there is furniture on the balcony... Free furniture? So, I give a little knock because I'm a bit nervous at this point... no response. Put the key in the door, give it a little turn and open it to find a coat hanging on the wall and more furniture! Close the door! Lock the door! Run down the stairs!
I returned to the office and told the girl, "Well, that unit is occupied! What is wrong with the unit I was supposed to move into?" She said, "Well, I don't know but I can't find they key anyway." (I had seen the key sitting on the desk when I came into the office.) I said, "I saw the key sitting right here when first came in." She located the key and freed me to check out the apartment. Everything in the apartment was fine except for some carpet damage that would have to be taken care of but which could be handled after I moved in. SO, I signed the papers for the original apartment and proceeded to move in.
Sunday, the day of the baptism, Clay woke up vomiting... I got all three kids ready anyway and after a lot of rushing around through my maze of boxes and newspaper, Damion, the kids, and I made our way to the church (barf-bags in hand). Clay decided he wasn't up for being baptized the way he was feeling and I definitely couldn't blame him, so I talked to Father Bob about rescheduling when he returned from Lourdes. No problem. Clay missed the whole baptism while he took a snooze in the pew!
But, despite the rough start, I was very pleased because my parents showed up! I'm not sure what got them there but I didn't care. It was wonderful that they came to share this day with the kids and that's all that mattered. My brother-in-law, a former Catholic, also attended. This is just as big as my parents showing up! In addition, Damion's dad came too! We also had a few from my work, some from my RCIA class and some other old friends. I'm truly blessed to know so many wonderful people and to have them share the special event with us. Thank you, also, to all those who were there in prayer!
Christian and Trinity are now baptized! Despite the oil in their hair, I couldn't bring myself to have them shower last night. I love the smell of the chrism oil and wanted it to linger on them today in remembrance.
After the baptism, I decided it was best to get Clay back home and in bed so we weren't able to celebrate properly. Perhaps, after Clay's baptism, we'll celebrate all three!
Until then, I'll be wading through boxes and newspaper...
Friday, June 22, 2007
On Wednesday, a physical therapist went in to assess her. After being helped to a position in which she was sitting on the side of the bed, my aunt was able to sit on her own without falling over. At one point, she started to fall back a little and the physical therapist told her to move her shoulders forward and my aunt did so and brought herself back into an upright position. She did everything the therapist asked her to do, moving her left leg, right leg, touching her chin, etc.
My aunt's friends have quite the sense of humor. At one point, my aunt was asked a question and they said, "If the answer to this question is 'yes', flip me off!" And so, my aunt flipped her off. She definitely hasn't lost her sense of humor!
My uncle was trying to get my aunt to open her eyes the other day and she brought her hand up to her brow as if trying to push her eyelids open.
SO, my uncle requested a second opinion from the head of neurology at the hospital. The doctor initially came in with this attitude and said, "Look, we've already told you what to expect... Haven't the doctors already explained everything to you already?" My uncle explained that my aunt was doing things that the doctors said she would NEVER do. The doctor's response was, "Yes, well, family members often SEE things that aren't really happening because they want to believe their loved one is going to get better." My uncle said, "Yes, but it's NOT just family. It's friends, nurses, and even the physical therapist!"
So, the doctor decided to actually take a look at MY AUNT, instead of a picture of her brain. My uncle said the doctor was very surprised to see that my aunt's personality and ability to understand remained in tact... her ability to communicate with nods and squeezes was also surprising to him, not to mention the amount of movement upon request she is able to carry out. Then he put a light in her eyes and expressed that he was seeing what he did not expect to see. He then ordered another MRI. My uncle wants her transferred to a rehab facility but the insurance, at this point, has turned it down because her diagnosis is "brain dead". People with no brain function don't need therapy. Hopefully, the new MRI and the evidence that she is not completely brain dead, will allow the doctors to change the diagnosis so that she can get the rehab she needs to improve even more.
My uncle told me yesterday that each success, while it brings him joy, also makes him realize how much more difficult it would be to lose her after all this... or to decide to "let her go". That phrase was a bit scary to me... I hope he never takes away any normal means of caring for her and I hope he never consideres euthanasia.
A HUGE thank you to all of you who have prayed and who continue to pray! Your prayers are being heard!
On a completely different note, I sent a Catholic Answers tract on infant baptism to my parents and urged them to attend my kids' baptism. I pray their hearts are open... and I pray they will set aside their opinions for the sake of the kids.
We're all getting excited about the baptism but have a HUGE day of moving ahead of us tomorrow. Hopefully, that will go as smoothly as possible...
Eventually, I'd like to get back to some normal blogging!
Monday, June 18, 2007
My aunt was taken off her respirator on Friday and has been breathing on her own. This is another big step in recovery...
However, I received word yesterday that her system is shutting down. Her kidneys are failing and every fourth heartbeat is irregular. The doctors did another scan and believe that if she "recovered", she may only have the mentality of a 2-year-old.
This is very sad news for us... At the same time, one must wonder if it isn't more merciful if her body does, in fact, fail and allow her to move on. My hope is to have a few moments alone with her if this is the case.
May God's will be done and may He bring peace to the family regardless of the outcome.
Friday, June 15, 2007
Yesterday, they gave my aunt a tracheotomy. The tubes down her throat were causing a lot of gag reflex and making her very uncomfortable and the tape used to keep the tubes in her mouth was causing severe chapping (or an allergic reaction). I'm sure she's relieved to have those tubes out of her mouth. She was able to smile yesterday and she opened her eyes half way for 3-4 minutes. This is a tremendous step... one which the doctors told us not to expect.
Praise be to God!
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
It's difficult to see her lying there in such a state... knowing she can hear and understand but has such a limited ability to communicate... trapped in a broken body.
Please continue saying prayers for our family. We are really feeling them and they have given a lot of peace and strength we may not otherwise have.
On another note, the baptism of my children has finally been scheduled. It is set for June 24, 2007 at 1:00 pm. I'd like to have a BBQ or something afterwards but I'm not sure I can swing the cost... I have to figure something out soon, however, because it's just 11 days away! The kids and I are really excited about it... Please pray that my parents will be open to come. They will truly be missing out if they choose not to attend.
Friday, June 08, 2007
My new responses are in blue. Russell's words are in black and he quotes me in red.
I want to thank you for responding to my comments. Although I will disagree with you on some things, I look forward to friendly dialogue with you. Again, I appreciate the chance to clarify some misunderstandings that Catholics have with Sola Scriptura, Bible interpretation, etc.
You had said:
"But, it doesn't make sense to have an infallible book without an infallible authority to interpret it."
OK, let's follow through on that logic. So what happens when you receive an infallible interpretation by the Catholic Church? You, being fallible, still have to interpret that infallible data. You see, at SOME point, the fallible has to be able to interpret that which is infallible. Otherwise, it is an infinite regress: "A" is infallible, and therefore needs to be interpreted by infallible "B". But since "B" is also infallible, we (again) need to use an infallible source to interpret "B", so we must press into service infallible "C", etc., etc.
Not necessarily. The main point I was making here is that, if we allow each individual to interpret Scripture on our own, what we have is a mess of people interpreting everything very differently. We all go around interpreting Scripture on our own authority, claiming our interpretation is better than the next guy's. Did God truly leave us with no authority to interpret Scripture? Are we all just supposed to figure it out ourselves? Is truth relative, based on our interpretation and our experience?
Take for example our own Constitution and law. What would happen if each individual were free to interpret the Constitution as he saw fit? What would happen if there were no hierarchy in place, with checks and balances, to ensure that the Constitution was properly interpreted so that we all maintained our proper rights and freedoms? We both know that without the established government, our society would be a chaotic mess.
Scripture tells us that we need an authority to help us understand what is meant in Scripture. Take, for example, the Ethiopian eunuch.
Acts 8:26-31 (NIV)
Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, "Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from
Notice here that the eunuch was an educated man. He was an important official in charge of the treasury of a queen. Despite his education, he could not understand what he was reading without someone to explain it to him.
Then, look at 2 Peter 3:15-16:
Bear in mind that our Lord's patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.
Scripture tells us that Paul's letters contain things hard to understand. I don't think it's prudent to think that we, as individuals, are not ignorant of Scripture in at least some way. And I also think that ignorance of Scripture is quite apparent due to the many, many different interpretations which everyone claims to be the "correct" one. How do we know what interpretation is correct and which is a distortion?
"If the Bible is infallible, but there's no infallible authority, how do we know which interpretation is accurate?"
Amber, one does not have to be infallible to be accurate.
Catholics often present this false dichotomy: Either, 1) an interpretation is infallible, or 2) it must be wrong. The middle ground seems to be ignored.
I've never heard a Catholic present this... but there is some truth to this. I don't think you're seeing this the right way. When we read Scripture there is only one truth. You can't apply different or opposing truths to one passage. So, either something is interpreted correctly or it is wrong. But, in some way you're right... not everything has to be interpreted "infallibly" to be correct... and the Catholic Church makes no such claim. But, if fallible interpretations were correct, we wouldn't have churches all teaching something different. Truth is not relative.
It is certainly possible for a person to read a particular Bible passage and get it right without the help of the Catholic Church (or any denomination). I'm not saying that all Scripture is equally clear to everyone, but the main things are clear enough for us to understand, and to use as a foundation upon which the "harder" things can be understood. And we have examples in the Bible where the COMMON people were able (and expected) to understand Scripture (Acts 17:11-12; Luke 16:27-29; Mark 13:14). Remember Jesus' words, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear." (Mark 4:9)
I don't entirely disagree with this... Catholics are encouraged to read the Bible and to apply new understandings to Scripture based on our walk with God. But, what about passages that are difficult to understand, such as what the Ethiopian eunuch encountered and what Paul writes (as quoted above)? What about aspects of Scripture that deal with doctrine? Where doctrine is concerned, there is only one truth. Christians are not to be divided over doctrine and are to be in unity with one another. We do not find this in Christianity today. Doctrines differ from one church to the next, so how are we to KNOW which church has it right and which does not?
We can know if an interpretation is correct by first looking at the immediate context, then the overall context (i.e., how it fits in with all of Scripture), and by using good old common sense. These, along with a prayerful and humble attitude, and an honest and good heart (Luke 8:15) will go a long way in correct interpretation of Scripture.
If it were really this simple, why do Protestants even go to seminary to study Scripture? I agree this might be a good rule for trying to understand Scripture. But if you do this while ignoring other factors surrounding what is written, like history, culture, and early understandings of these passages, it is not always clear what is to be believed and practiced. While some Scripture may be simple to understand, some simply is not in and of itself. As an example, I've encountered MANY Protestants who accept Romans 3:28 and ignore (or grossly twist) James 2:24. They don't try to understand them TOGETHER in their overall context because it doesn't fit in with their doctrine of sola fide. Catholic theology allows for both passages to be taken into account for an overall understanding, while Protestant theology does not. If this is how the Bible is supposed to be understood, then why don't more Protestants put this into practice?
"Also, there is nothing that does NOT suggest infallibility but we do know that we were promised that the Holy Spirit would guide us into ALL truth."
Yes, we were promised that the Holy Spirit would guide us into all truth. But that does not imply infallibility. This simply means that God will give us all the truth we need to live for Him. That says nothing of church leaders possessing some special immunity from error in official (ex-cathedra) statements. No person (or group) has ALL the truth in an absolute sense.
Is the Holy Spirit not infallible? If it is true that no person or group has ALL the truth, then what is the point of being a Christian at all? Are you saying that God gave us a faith in which we cannot know ALL the truth? Pardon me, but this is simply nonsense. (More about the authority of church/leadership below)
Matthew 16:18-19 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."
Would Jesus establish a Church with the keys to the kingdom of heaven and the authority to bind and loose without some measure of infallibility? If the gates of hell are not going to prevail against it, it seems to me that some sort of protection or immunity from teaching error would be in place to ensure that false doctrines did not sneak into the Church. This is a pretty strong case for something infallible outside of Scripture...
I had said in my last e-mail that the church is to hold up, support, preach and proclaim the truth, and that truth is Scripture. And you responded:
"Can you tell me where in the Bible this passage says that this truth is Scripture? How do you know that this "truth" is Scripture?"
Amber, what is it that we are supposed to preach? Jesus said to the Father, "Thy Word is truth." (John 17:17) What else is there which is available to us today that is inspired / God-breathed, but Scripture (II Timothy 3:16-17)?
Interesting... so the passage SHOULD have said, "...you should know how to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of Scripture." I see no indication at all that this passage should be interpreted this way and I believe it's a stretch to do so. By what authority are you able to say that this is the correct interpretation of this Scripture... that truth = Scripture? I'm much more apt to accept that truth=God's Word... but I don't believe God's word is limited to the Bible alone.
By your definition, the word "Scripture" should replace the word truth.
John 14:6 Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (He is the way and the Scriptures and the life?)
John 8:31-32 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (The Scriptures will set us free?)
John 18:37 "You are a king, then!" said Pilate. Jesus answered, "You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me." (He came to testify to the Scriptures?)
These passages do not make sense interpreted this way. Wouldn't you agree?
But, let's just say for a moment that Scripture IS the meaning applied to 1 Timothy 3:15. It does not negate the fact that the church is the upholder and defense of "scripture". The church! And it again brings me to say, which church? If they all teach something different and they all claim to have the correct interpretation, how do I know what is true and what is not? If I want to know whether or not we should baptize babies, an issue that Scripture does not address explicitly, how do I find out when no one can agree? Where can I look in order to find an answer?
You also said:
"And let's not forget that the entire canon was not decided at the time this was written. So, by your definition, we can only assume that the OT is that truth."
The fact that the canon was not yet fully developed does not negate the fact the the New Testament is certainly also part of God's inspired revelation for the church.
Indeed... but it has to be understood in light of the passage we're talking about that it was only the OT they would be referring to, since the NT did not exist as it does today. They may not have even anticipated any Scripture in the future at that time. The point being, applying the word Scripture in place of "truth" does not make for a logical interpretation.
I also think it's important to remember that there was no Bible until the late 4th century and that, without Tradition, you wouldn't have a Bible. How would you know that Mark wrote Mark, if not for Tradition? How would you know which books should be considered inspired and which should not, if not for Tradition?
For Catholics, Tradition is essential for understanding Scripture and vice versa. We believe that the entire Word of God is the sole rule of faith. This includes, but is not limited to Scripture alone.
John 21:25 Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.
What the Catholic Church calls "Tradition" covers a very wide range of teachings, practices, historical events, interpretations, and doctrinal developments throughout history. Because of this, it is hard to pinpoint exactly what this Tradition is. It is a very loose and vague term that can mean almost anything. To apply infallibility to such an entity is dangerous (I'm assuming that you believe that "Tradition" is an INFALLIBLE part of the Catholic rule of faith - correct me if I am wrong).
This is not and accurate understanding of Tradition. Tradition is the teachings of the apostles which were passed on through their preaching. These teachings overlap and do not contradict Scripture. It is the part of the Word of God, which was not written but which early Christians used to practice their faith (before the Bible came to be). Most of this, however, is found in written form today. There is nothing vague about it when its meaning and purpose are properly understood. It's important to remember that the Bible is a book of the Church and not that we are a church of the Bible. The Gospel was not only handed down in writing, but orally as well. We see evidence of this even in Scripture:
Acts 2:42 They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. (The devoted themselves to the Scriptures?)
1 Corinthians 11:2 Now I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold firmly to the traditions, just as I delivered them to you. (Hold firmly to the Scriptures?)
2 Thess 2:15 So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us. (Hmmm.... by word of mouth or by letter... both appear to be of importance)
2 Thess 3:6 Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us. (According to the Scriptures?)
2 Tim 2:2 The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. (The things written in Scripture?)
1 Cor 15:1-2 Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. (Hold fast to the Scriptures?)
These traditions passed on by the apostles are what are know as Tradition and these apostolic teachings are considered infallible, since they were also inspired by the Holy Spirit and protected in order to lead Christians into all truth. It seems quite logical to me to examine Scripture in light of what the earliest Christians believed, practiced and taught since they were receiving these things from the apostles and those who learned from the apostles... I believe that even Scripture makes it clear that we are to stand firm and hold to something outside of Scripture itself.
John 14:16 "I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever;
We were promised that the Holy Spirit would be with us forever, to guide the Church into all truth. Am I to believe that the Catholic Church got it wrong for 1500 years only to be corrected by Martin Luther? Then the Holy Spirit didn't do his job and Christ didn't protect his church as promised in Matthew 16:18!
Concerning the canon and how we know which books are inspired, yes, there were some in the early church who correctly recognized (not determined) the inspiration of certain books. And we are thankful for that. But that does not mean that they were infallible.
This causes me to wonder... by what authority were they able to recognize this? How do we know they didn't leave something out? How were they able to come to a decision that allowed them to discern this, especially being fallible? Were they guided by the Holy Spirit or was it by their own authority? Is the Holy Spirit infallible? I very much believe that they were guided by the infallible Holy Spirit, who enabled them to make an infallible recognition of what was inspired and what was not. They were not infallible, in and of themselves... apart from the Holy Spirit... the Holy Spirit led them to an infallible decision. This is what Catholics believe... not that the individual or group, of themselves, is infallible... but that the Holy Spirit guides them to teach infallibly to the Church on matters of faith and morals. There is a huge amount of checks and balances and everything is tested against Scripture and Tradition (what early Christians taught, practiced and believed). It's not as if they can just throw out anything into the wind and claim it to be infallible.
Concerning the verse in John, above, and the fact that we don't have every single thing that Jesus did, written down; that does not disprove Sola Scriptura. This is another common mis-representation that Catholics very often use. Sola Scriptura does not mean that Scripture is an encyclopedia of every religious detail, or of every thing that Jesus or the Father ever spoke. Once again, Sola Scriptura simply means that Scripture is the only infallible rule of faith for the church today.
Doesn't it? Matthew 4:4 says, "But He answered and said, "It is written, 'MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.'" If all of God's word is not written down in Scripture, but we are to live on EVERY WORD, then how do we know what EVERY WORD is?
Where does the Bible itself make the claim to be the sole infallible rule of faith for the church today? (Please give Book, Chapter and Verse.) If it is, and God wants us to follow this "rule", then don't you think he would have ensured that the Bible told us this? And why, then, are we told that the early church devoted themselves to the apostles teachings rather than to the Scriptures?
Can you imagine learning to be a doctor from a book alone without someone showing you what is meant by the book? Without someone in a place of authority, who can define the words and show you what all the tools are or how to use those tools?
I agree that there is teaching authority in the church. But the church derives its authority from those very Scriptures. That's what every church leader should be studying in order for him to grow, and to equip others, as well, so they too, can all go out and spread the gospel of Jesus Christ.
I must disagree here. The Bible came from the church. If you took the Bible and tried to put together a church based solely on what was written, you wouldn't be able to do it. Much of the NT is a collection of letters of correction for the newly forming church. Can you build a church in the full likeness that God would have desired based on letters of correction? Apply this concept elsewhere. Could we build a smooth, fully functioning company if we compiled all the memos of corrective action and a few memos of praise? No way! The Bible did not form the church. The church formed the Bible.
The church derives it's authority from God, not from Scripture... but Scripture makes the Church's authority clear to us.
Matt 28:18-20 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.
"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
Jesus takes his authority and sends the apostles to make disciples, baptize and teach, saying he would be with them always, to the end of the age... Does this say, "I am with you until all the apostles die?" No, so the apostle's authority (from Christ) clearly had to have been passed on to the end of the age...
John 20:21 So Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you."
And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit.
"If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained."
Again, we see that Jesus sends them, just as He was sent and even gave them the authority to forgive and retain sins!
Luke 10:16 The one who listens to you listens to Me, and the one who rejects you rejects Me; and he who rejects Me rejects the One who sent Me."
Matthew 18:17-18 "If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.
"Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.
Here, Christ tells us to listen to the church and gives the church the authority to bind and loose... None of these passages tell us that authority comes from Scripture. The authority comes from God himself and is given to the apostles to be passed on, just as it was given to Christ.
In summary, the idea that all Christians should look only to the Bible as the infallible rule of faith, allows for the acceptance of contradictory doctrines and breaks up the unity of the body of Christ. Each church or individual claims to know the truth based on their own, non-authoritative, fallible interpretation of Scripture. Does God want this? Did he really leave us all to figure it out on our own and to disagree on doctrines? Should we ignore what the early Christians believed, practiced and taught and believe that they all got it wrong only be to corrected 1500 years later by looking at the Bible ALONE? The bible is inerrant... the inspired Word of God... but left without anything outside of itself to aid in interpretation leads to division and chaos...
OK, Amber, I'll step aside now and let you respond. Thanks again for the interaction on these vital topics.
I'm sorry I couldn't get back to you sooner but a tragedy in the family has not allowed me a lot of free time. May I recommend a book? It's called By What Authority? by Mark Shea. It's a wonderful examination of this topic. We all want to believe only the truth that God wants us to believe. No Christian I've ever met wants a faith based on partial truth. I don't believe God left us to figure it all out on our own. I believe there is ONE truth and that God wants us to know that truth in all its fullness. Doctrinal truth is no more relative than the truth that Jesus is the Son of God. Doctrine DOES matter. So we must ask ourselves. What is true? Where can I find it? The Bible says it's found in the church... this church must be the one started by the apostles. It must be thinking in one mind and thought about all doctrines and from 2000 years ago to present:
1 Corinthians 1:10 I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.
Phil 1:27 Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel
May we seek God in ALL truth, even if it means He takes us where we least expect. Always say YES to Jesus... Hold to ALL of Christ's teachings and we shall know the truth and the truth shall set us free!
I appreciate this discussion with you and thank you for your thoughts...
Peace be with you!