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Archive for May, 2010

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:(Ephesians 4:11-12)

Pope Benedict XVI leads a consistory to canonize five new saints

 Most non-Catholics  wonder why the Catholic Church is structured the way it is, as they question the clergy’s authority or whether priests and bishops are necessary at all.  Obviously, this is not the view of the majority of traditional Catholics, but it would be foolish to assume that all Catholics understand what are the basis for how the Church is organized. Some people are not sure about the diferences between the structural model adopted by most Protestant Churches and the Catholic Church.     

The Catholic Church has preserved what is called the Fidei Depositum, or the ‘Deposit of Faith’ ( 1 Timothy 2:5-7 and 2 Tim 1:14, NAB) that Jesus passed on orally to his Apostles – as was his command to perpetuate the liturgical ritual brought about this supernatural wonder. Along with his instructions, Jesus imparte to the Twelve his own authority to teach and preach:    

“All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:18-19).   

Therefore, Apostolic bishops such as Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch and Polycarp of Smyrna were all successors of the chosen Twelve through the laying of hands (1 Tim 4:14). They inherited this same authority to proclaim the Gospel and guard the authentic repository of doctrine after the Apostles had died and which has been passed on to the present days.    

 11Command and teach these things. 12Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. 13Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. 14Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you (1 Tim 4:10-14).   

Below are some additional Scriptural references that might shed some light onto these questions, and help us understand why the Catholic Church  keeps the tradition of  the Apostolic Succession:     

20“For,” said Peter, “it is written in the book of Psalms, ” ‘May his place be deserted; let there be no one to dwell in it,’[b] and,” ‘May another take his place of leadership.[c] 21Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.”     

 23So they proposed two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. 24Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen 25to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.” 26Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles. (Acts 1:20-26)     

The above is a reference to the appointment a new apostle to  succeed Judas, who, as we know,  died after he had betrayed Jesus. Then we also have references as to the role of the apostles as careers of the Christian community:     

6We were not looking for praise from men, not from you or anyone else. As apostles of Christ we could have been a burden to you, 7but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. (1Thessalonians 2:6-7)     

Or     

28Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers.[a] Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. ( Acts 20:28)     

 1Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer,[a] he desires a noble task. 2Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. 5(If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) 6He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. 7He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap. 8Deacons, likewise, are to be men worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. (1 Timothy 3:1-8)     

10He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) 11It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.  (Ephesians 4:10-12)     

[a] The word overseers is a translation of the lexic Episcopos, the Greek root for Bishops.

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I accidentally came across a website the other day with some very disturbing opinions, to say the least, on the Catholic teachings, or what they believed to be the Church’s teachings,  about the Blessed Mary and the Pope. The author, who claims to be a prophet and to be able to cast out demons and to make spiritual trips to places, writes: 

As I was researching and reading last night, I stumbled on some more false teachings of the catholic doctrines. They call it Mariology. They are claiming she is free of sin, mother Mary. It is a very disturbing dogma, and is not true.
Only one is free from sin, and he was nailed to the cross. Mary was chosen is what she was. Everyone is chosen for different things by God. I respect and love the mother of Christ, but she is not free of sin. I mean she is not like JESUS as they are claiming. 

  

Obviously, the statement above is based on some very inaccurate information and does not reflect what the Catholic Church teaches on the Virgin Mary.  Unfortunately, this sort of misconceived ideas spread like a pest these days, in a world made of Twitters and Bloggers, we might feel a bit hopeless and even discouraged to say something in defense of our own faith… I am afraid I am too stuburn to turn a blind eye and pretend it didn’t offend me. 

Since I could not find a place to leave a comment on the website so I thought I should write a  little note to clarify the issue.  

The Official Catholic Catechism teaches that Mary was preserved from all ’original sin’ and that she was wholly united with her Son . “The Virgin Mary . . . is acknowledged and honoured as being truly the Mother of God and of the redeemer…. She is ‘clearly the mother of the members of Christ’ . . . since she has by her charity joined in bringing about the birth of believers in the Church, who are members of its head it is made manifest above all at the hour of his Passion: 

Thus the Blessed Virgin advanced in her pilgrimage of faith, and faithfully persevered in her union with her Son unto the cross. There she stood, in keeping with the divine plan, enduring with her only begotten Son the intensity of his suffering, joining herself with his sacrifice in her mother’s heart, and lovingly consenting to the immolation of this victim, born of her: to be given, by the same Christ Jesus dying on the cross, as a mother to his disciple, with these words: “Woman, behold your son.”503 

By her complete adherence to the Father’s will, to his Son’s redemptive work, and to every prompting of the Holy Spirit, the Virgin Mary is the Church’s model of faith and charity. Thus she is a “pre-eminent and . . . wholly unique member of the Church”; indeed, she is the “exemplary realization” (typus)508 of the Church. 

968 Her role in relation to the Church and to all humanity goes still further. “In a wholly singular way she cooperated by her obedience, faith, hope, and burning charity in the Saviour’s work of restoring supernatural life to souls. For this reason she is a mother to us in the order of grace.”509   

969 “This motherhood of Mary in the order of grace continues uninterruptedly from the consent which she loyally gave at the Annunciation and which she sustained without wavering beneath the cross, until the eternal fulfilment of all the elect. Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside this saving office but by her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation …. Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix.”510 

Nowhere in the official documents of the Church you will find anything that states that Mary is equal to Jesus. The same applies to the Pope, who is for the Church the Vicar of Jesus on earth, but not equal to Jesus. 

  

   

 

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Firstly, I would like to state that most of the thoughts and references posted in this entry,  are either based on or refer to the writings of a former Protestant Minister and author, Paul Whitcomb, who after several years of Bible Study and spiritual ‘search’ converted to Catholicism.

Mr. Whitcomb is a profound studious of the Holy Scriptures and his insights on Catholicism can be very valuable to those looking to understand the Psyche of a Catholic, but most of all they provide an incredible understanding of the Catholic Faith. I believe also that his work can provide very plausible answers to many, if not all, of the most common misunderstandings and prejudice against the Catholic Church.

Yes, we Catholics have to deal with a lot of questioning and criticism. I do not intent to ‘convert’ anyone, rather my goal with this section of the blog is to explain my Faith as best as I can. I realize that some of the issues I intend to write about in this space are controversial and sensitive.  However, I hope that anyone reading these posts will not be tempted to ‘draw hasty conclusions, but read on’ before they can sincerely make an opinion, which hopefully will be based on facts and not in preconceived ideas.

(more…)

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True Presence in the Most Blessed Sacrament. Jesus is with us!

I thought I’d write a short post on this wonderful gift of our Faith that is the Holy Eucharist and the Real Presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. I have recently started to attend my local Adoration Chapel, and I am truly amazed with  how this has helped me to get closer to God,  to want to  honour Our Lord Jesus Christ and spend time with Him.

I am still not a regular adorer – I try to go to  adoration as a visitor every day, for at least for 30 minutes, if I cannot do a full hour – but I am confident that slowly, as I grow closer to Him and more fervent in my belief in the Real presence, Jesus will start pouring His blessings upon me and my loved ones.

I started out just occasionally going into the Chapel,  and I  confess that I didn’t know very well what to do, or even what to pray while I was there. Gently, I begun to feel more confortable in the presence of our Eucharistic Lord and praying was just a natural consequence of my visits.  Gradualy, I decided to increase the lenght of  my adoration, and to visit more0 often. This is probably why I began to feel that I needed to  ‘structure’ my visits to Jesus a bit more, so that I could make the most of my time with Him.

Since then, I generally start out by kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament and just gazing at Him for a moment. Then, I say a little spontaneous prayer and thank Him for allowing me to be in His Presence.  After saying a thanksgiving prayer, I prostrate before the Blessed Sacrament as I say to Jesus that I love Him and that I am happy to be there. After that, I may just sit down for a moment and pray.

If I have a special request for Our Lord, I sometimes recite the  rosary or  meditate on a particular passage of the Bible or spirtitual book.  Often I find myself asking for forgiveness for my sins, for guidance on my personal life and help with my spiritual growth. Sometimes I may also pray for the reparation of all the sins committed against Our Lord and for his protection for Catholic Church. I find it very beneficial reading spiritual texts, and devotions by various Saints. This structure seem to be working fine for me for the time being, but it might change as I grow more mature or committed to the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

Anyhow, I feel really blessed that we have a Perpetual Adoration Chapel where I live and I encourage any-one who is considering becoming an adorer but haven’t been blessed with a local Chapel, that they get organized with other people in their Parish, and that they talk to their local priest and suggest to them starting of an Adoration Hour in their local Church, at least on a weekly basis… If that is not possible, I encourage all Catholics to vist Jesus in the Tabernacle in the Church, and just spend some quiet time with Him, meditating on this wonderful mystery of the True Presence!

Here I post a link to a Catholic website with some information and testimonials of various recent miracles related to the Most Blessed Sacrament

 

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Ave Maria!
Maiden mild!
Oh, listen to a maiden’s prayer
For thou can’t hear amid the wild
This thou, this thou can’t save amid, despair
We slumbers safely tear the Mother
Though we be man outcast relived
Oh, Mainden, hear a maiden’s sorrow
Oh, Mother, hear a suppliant child!
Ave Maria

Ave Maria, gracia plena
Maria, gratia plena
Maria, gratia plena
Ave, ave dominus
Dominus tecum

The murky cavern’s air so heavy
Shall breath of balm if thou hast smiled
Oh, Maiden, hear a maiden pleadin’
Oh, Mother, hear a suppliant child
Ave Maria
Ave Maria

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O Jesus, through the immaculate heart of Mary, I offer you the prayers, deeds, joys, and sufferings of this day for all the intentions of your Sacred Heart in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world, in reparation for my sins, and in the intensions of the Holy Father. Amen

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7When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do. For they think that they will be heard because of their many words. 8Do not be like them, for your Father know what you need before you ask him.’ (Mt 6:7)

The passage above is clear about how we should not pray, and at the same time that  it reminds us of our lowliness before God, even as we address Him to ask for His intervention, ‘for your Father know what you need before you ask Him’.

 7“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. (Mt. 7:7-8) (more…)

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