Sunday, April 26, 2009

Upcoming Bible Seminars!

I don't live anywhere near any of these seminars, but if you do (or know someone who does) here's the announcement:

Scripture in the Life and Mission of the Church
June 26 & 27, 2009
St. Thomas More Catholic Church, Denver, CO

The National Catholic Bible Conference has been designed to equip all Catholics with the skills needed to read, understand, and proclaim Sacred Scripture. This annual event allows you to spend time with, and learn from, some of the most effective biblical scholars today as they share the keys to unlocking the riches of the Bible.

The National Catholic Bible Conference will help you grow in your love for Scripture, and give you the necessary tools and knowledge to make the Word of God an integral part of your life. This integration provides a way for you to deepen your faith on a personal level, as well as to share it confidently with others.

Speakers include: Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, Jeff Cavins, Dr. Tim Gray, Dr. Edward Sri, Dr. Mary HealyDr., Brant Pitre, Dr. Peter Williamson, Curtis Martin, Thomas Smith, Sarah Christmyer, Deb Holiday.

Take it from me, there are some TOP NOTCH speakers on that list. For more information about this seminar and others coming up in other places, follow this link:

Did Jesus "Become Sin" For Us?

A friend of mine asked the following question:

I have a question for you…
One of my Born Again friends sent a facebook message out saying Jesus was sin… I answered with Jesus is NOT sin. She answered with read 2 Corinth. 5:21. I am confused: could you explain? She also said that’s why we do not need reconciliation or we would be slapping Jesus across the face…..

Your friend sounds like she has been taught to interpret this verse in an over-literalistic manner (as opposed to the proper literal sense, by which we mean we interpret it in the manner in which the original writer -- in this case St. Paul -- intended it).

In context (verses 5:17 to 6:2), Paul is urging the Corinthians to turn away from their sins and be reconciled to God (more on this later). Here is the verse in question, 2 Corinthians 5:21:

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God

If this were the only passage in the New Testament that talks about Christ and sin, she might have a point. However, we can't take passages or verses in isolation (this is called "proof texting"); we have to compare what Paul says here with what he says in similar passages. For example, if we look at Romans 8:3, we find this:

For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh,

This clarifies the issue quite a bit, since we see that St. Paul's thought on this is, not that Jesus actually became sin or sinful but that he took on the likeness of our sinful flesh, in everything BUT sin. To see how ludicrous the very idea of Jesus literally "being sin" we can also look at Hebrews 4:15, 1 Peter 2:22 and 1 John 3:5 and see that Jesus had nothing to do with sin.

Her second point your friend makes has kind of an irony to it, since the passges immediately preceding the verse she cited are all about being reconciled to God. Keep in mind these are Christians Paul is talking to. He is descibing himself as a "minister of reconciliation" and begs the the Corinthians to "be reconciled to God." How are they going to do this if they do not confess their sins? And what does it mean for Paul to be "a minister of reconciliation"? Could it not possibly mean that he would be the one to hear these confessions? (This last point is probably too much for your fundamentalist friend to handle at this point, but this and other biblical arguments for the Sacrament of Reconciliation are very strong). For more information about Reconciliation and Confession, here are some links:

Where she might be coming from is the place that many biblical fundamentalists come from and that is the unbiblical notion that Jesus has forgiven our sins -- not only past, but present, and future. That being the case, there would be no reason for us to confess our sins, the argument goes, because these sins are already forgiven.

But again go back to the fact that the New Testament was addressed to practicing and "saved" Christians. That being the case, then why do the New Testament writers frequently command them to confess their sins?? Here is but one example, from James 5:14-16:

Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects.

Anyway, I hope that's helpful. :)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Bible Study for this Sunday's Mass Readings

Once again, here are some resources for getting a deeper understanding of the readings we'll hear at this Sunday's Mass. The readings, from the website of the U.S Catholic Bishop (USCCB):

And a study/meditation from my website:

Charitible comments and discussion are always welcome! Have a blessed Lord's Day.

Cardinal George: "Obama On Wrong Side of History."

By Peter Finney Jr.Catholic News ServiceKENNER, La. (CNS) --

President Barack Obama is a "very gracious and obviously a very smart man" but he is on the "wrong side of history" when it comes to his fervent support of abortion rights, Chicago Cardinal Francis E. George told the 2009 Louisiana Priests Convention April 21.

The Cardinal probably could have added that Mr. Obama is also on the wrong side of logic, morality, goodness, common sense, decency and a host of other categories when it comes to abortion, but perhaps he thought those too obvious to mention.

"I think on the life issue he's on the wrong side of history," the cardinal said. "I think he has his political debts to pay, and so he's paying them."

Cardinal George said his conversation with the president was polite but substantive."It's hard to disagree with him because he'll always tell you he agrees with you," he said. "Maybe that's political. I think he sincerely wants to agree with you. You have to say, again and again, 'No, Mr. President, we don't agree (on abortion).'

How common is this today -- people telling you whatever (they think) you want to hear just so they can mollify you and shut you up?

"He said we weren't exporting abortion," the cardinal said. "I said, 'Yes we are.' He would say, 'I know I have to do certain things here. ... But be patient and you'll see the pattern will change.' I said, 'Mr. President, you've given us nothing but the wrong signals on this issue.' So, we'll see, but I'm not as hopeful now as I was when he was first elected."

I'm with the Cardinal--except I was never that hopeful to begin with. The only thing Mr. Obama ran before he was elected was his mouth, and the only thing he did successfully was promote legislation to make it easy to kill the unborn. So far this first 100 days I haven't seen much evidence of change on his part to inspire any hope in his empty words at all. How "patient" do we have to be?
More on this from the Ignatius Insight blog:

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Scripture Study For Divine Mercy Sunday

This Sunday, the 2nd Sunday of Easter, is also Divine Mercy Sunday:

The Great Mercy Pope
Pope John Paul II, both in his teaching and personal life, strove to live and teach the message of Divine Mercy. As the great Mercy Pope, he wrote an encyclical on Divine Mercy:

"The Message of Divine Mercy has always been near and dear to me… which I took with me to the See of Peter and which it in a sense forms the image of this Pontificate."

In his writings and homilies, he has described Divine Mercy as the answer to the world’s problems and the message of the third millennium. He beatified and canonized Sr. Maria Faustina Kowalska, the nun associated with the message, and he did it in Rome and not in Poland to underscore that Divine Mercy is for the whole world.

Establishing Divine Mercy Sunday for the Entire Church
When Pope John Paul canonized Sr. Faustina (making her St. Faustina), he also, on the same day [April 18, 1993], surprised the entire world by establishing Divine Mercy Sunday (the feast day associated with the message) as a feast day for the entire Church. The feast day falls on the Second Sunday of the Easter season. On that day, Pope John Paul II declared, "This is the happiest day of my life."

Here are the Mass readings, from the website of the U.S Catholic Bishops (USCCB):

And a study/meditation from my website:
Charitible comments and discussion are always welcome! Have a blessed, holy and joyful Easter season.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Evidence for the Resurrection

Why should we believe in the historical fact of the Resurrection of Jesus on Easter? What are the histroical and logical facts surrounding this momentous event?

Here is the classic defense of the Resurrection of Jesus by Josh McDowell, one of the most popular Christian apologists in the world. His books, including "Evidence That Demands a Verdict" have provided satisfying answers to millions of sincere seekers of truth regarding the claims of Christianity:

For centuries many of the world's distinguished philosophers have assaulted Christianity as being irrational, superstitious and absurd. Many have chosen simply to ignore the central issue of the resurrection. Others have tried to explain it away through various theories. But the historical evidence just can't be discounted.
A student at the University of Uruguay said to me. "Professor McDowell, why can't you refute Christianity?"
"For a very simple reason," I answered. "I am not able to explain away an event in history--the resurrection of Jesus Christ."
How can we explain the empty tomb? Can it possibly be accounted for by any natural cause?

See the whole explanation:

Sunday, April 12, 2009

What Difference Does Easter Make?

Happy Easter! (or Pascha, the Greek term used in the Eastern Church and one that I like because it gives anti-Catholics one less thing to be misinformed about). This is the day that the Christian world celebrates the Resurrection of the crucified Lord from the dead. But what does it mean for each of us personally?

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:


988 The Christian Creed - the profession of our faith in God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and in God's creative, saving, and sanctifying action - culminates in the proclamation of the resurrection of the dead on the last day and in life everlasting.

989 We firmly believe, and hence we hope that, just as Christ is truly risen from the dead and lives for ever, so after death the righteous will live for ever with the risen Christ and he will raise them up on the last day (Cf. Jn 6:39-40). Our resurrection, like his own, will be the work of the Most Holy Trinity:

If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit who dwells in you. (Rom 8:11; cf. 1 Thess 4:14; 1 Cor 6:14; 2 Cor 4:14; Phil 3:10-11)

990 The term "flesh" refers to man in his state of weakness and mortality (Cf. Gen 6:3; Ps 56:5; Isa 40:6). The "resurrection of the flesh" (the literal formulation of the Apostles' Creed) means not only that the immortal soul will live on after death, but that even our "mortal body" will come to life again (Rom 8:11).

991 Belief in the resurrection of the dead has been an essential element of the Christian faith from its beginnings. "The confidence of Christians is the resurrection of the dead; believing this we live." (Tertullian, De res. 1,1:PL 2,841)

How can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. . . . But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep (1 Cor 15:12-14).

The progressive revelation of the Resurrection

992 God revealed the resurrection of the dead to his people progressively. Hope in the bodily resurrection of the dead established itself as a consequence intrinsic to faith in God as creator of the whole man, soul and body. The creator of heaven and earth is also the one who faithfully maintains his covenant with Abraham and his posterity. It was in this double perspective that faith in the resurrection came to be expressed. In their trials, the Maccabean martyrs confessed:

The King of the universe will raise us up to an everlasting renewal of life, because we have died for his laws (2 Macc 7:9). One cannot but choose to die at the hands of men and to cherish the hope that God gives of being raised again by him (2 Macc 7:14; cf. 7:29; Dan 12:1-13).

993 The Pharisees and many of the Lord's contemporaries hoped for the resurrection. Jesus teaches it firmly. To the Sadducees who deny it he answers, "Is not this why you are wrong, that you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God?" (Mk 12:24; cf. Jn 11:24; Acts 23:6) Faith in the resurrection rests on faith in God who "is not God of the dead, but of the living." (Mk 12:27)

994 But there is more. Jesus links faith in the resurrection to his own person: "I am the Resurrection and the life." (Jn 11:25) It is Jesus himself who on the last day will raise up those who have believed in him, who have eaten his body and drunk his blood (Cf. Jn 5:24-25; 6:40,54). Already now in this present life he gives a sign and pledge of this by restoring some of the dead to life (Cf. Mk 5:21-42; Lk 7:11-17; Jn 11), announcing thereby his own Resurrection, though it was to be of another order. He speaks of this unique event as the "sign of Jonah," (Mt 12:39) the sign of the temple: he announces that he will be put to death but rise thereafter on the third day (Cf. Mk 10:34; Jn 2:19-22).

995 To be a witness to Christ is to be a "witness to his Resurrection," to "[have eaten and drunk] with him after he rose from the dead." (Acts 1:22; 10:41; cf. 4:33) Encounters with the risen Christ characterize the Christian hope of resurrection. We shall rise like Christ, with him, and through him.

When the Lord had clothed himself with humanity, and had suffered for the sake of the sufferer, and had been bound for the sake of the imprisoned, and had been judged for the sake of the condemned, and buried for the sake of the one who was buried, he rose from the dead, and cried aloud with this voice: "Who is the one who contends with me? Let him stand in opposition to me. I have set the condemned man free; I have given the dead man life; I have raised up the one who had been entombed. Who is my opponent? ‘I', he says, ‘am the Christ'. I am the one who destroyed death, and triumphed over the enemy, and trampled Hades under foot, and bound the strong one, and carried off man to the heights of heaven'. ‘I', he says, ‘am the Christ'.
(from an Easter sermon by Melito of Sardis, 2nd century)

Friday, April 10, 2009

Catholics Come Home

I can't say enough good things about this organization. Started by former Gilbert, AZ resident (and friend of mine) Tom Peterson, the Catholics Come Home outreach, in just a couple of years, has brought hundreds of Catholics back home to the Church. After a pilot campaign in Phoenix last year, some parishes had a 22% increase in new registrations.

Check out the videos, pass it on to others, and consider supporting this wonderful ministry.

Tom has done scores of interviews about his apostolate on radio and TV, including on network news. Give a listen to his appearance on Catholic Answers Live:

Scripture Study for Easter Sunday

This Sunday is Easter Sunday, the holiest day on the Church calendar (Christmas is close, but so commercialized one almost has to bust a gut to keep the sacredness in view).

Here are the Mass readings, from the website of the U.S Catholic Bishops (USCCB):

And a study/meditation from my website:

Charitible comments and discussion are always welcome! Have a blessed, holy and joyful Easter.

Alleluia, He has risen indeed!

Divine Mercy Novena Starts Today

The Divine Mercy novena, starts today (Good Friday) and ends next Sunday, which was designated Divine Mercy Sunday by the late Pope John Paul II.

A novena is nine days of prayer for a special intention. The first novena was prayed by the apostles in the upper room between the time of Jesus' ascencion into heaven and Pentecost (Acts 1:12-14).

The message of mercy is that God loves us — all of us —no matter how great our sins. He wants us to recognize that His mercy is greater than our sins, so that we will call upon Him with trust, receive His mercy, and let it flow through us to others. Thus, all will come to share His joy.

Here is a link to info about the devotion and how to pray the novena, which can be prayed on ordinary Rosary beads:

Also, here is a downloadable audio podcast that you can pray along with:

"For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world."

Friday, April 3, 2009

Scripture Study for Palm Sunday, April 5

As we prepare to enter into the holiest week of the year, here are some resources for getting a deeper understanding of the readings we'll be hearing at this Sunday's Mass. This Sunday is Palm (Passion) Sunday, the day of the triumphal entry of Our Lord into Jerusalem.

The readings, from the website of the U.S Catholic Bishops (USCCB):

And a study/meditation from my website:

Charitible comments and discussion are always welcome! Have a blessed Lord's Day, and a holy Holy Week.

Wonder In What Level of Hell Dante Would Place These Guys?

Ever wonder how the Kennedy's (and other Catholic politicians) became avowedly pro-abortion? You can thank a group of dissenting Catholic "theologians" back in the summer of 1964.

Read the whole sordid story here, in the Wall Street Journal:

These "theologians" are going to have a lot to answer for when they stand before the Lord they were supposed to be serving.

For decades the Kennedy's (and other Democrats) have duped the uninformed by wrapping themselves in the mantle of the iconic John F. Kennedy. Speaking of Caroline Kennedy's failed and bumbling bid to secure Hillary Clinton's vacated NY Senate seat, however, the article notes:

Caroline Kennedy knows that any Kennedy desiring higher office in the Democratic Party must now carry the torch of abortion rights throughout any race. But this was not always the case. Despite Ms. Kennedy's description of Barack Obama, in a New York Times op-ed, as a "man like my father," there is no evidence that JFK was pro-choice like Mr. Obama. Abortion-rights issues were in the fledgling stage at the state level in New York and California in the early 1960s. They were not a national concern.

People who still fall for this "personally opposed to abortion but..." smoke and mirror show need to get a brain cell to rub against the one they (may) have now.

Hat-tip to Patrick Madrid on whose blog the link to this story appeared.

How To Make a Palm Cross for Palm Sunday

Ever been at Palm Sunday Mass and found yourself coveting those neat little crosses that everyone but you know how to craft out of their palm branches?

Well, covet no more! Here are simple step-by-step instructions, pictures and even a video on how to make a nifty palm cross.

This Sunday, you too can be the envy of your pew!