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Archive for the ‘For Protestants’ Category

Ever tried to explain the importance of the Sacraments to a protestant friend? Are they really necessary for Salvation, if  Salvation is a Gift of God? If yes,  are those who die without baptism, for example, condemned to eternal death? Cardinal Arinze answers these questions in the video below.

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 By Msgr. Charles Pope

Oh Lord, I’m running….Trying to make a 100. Ninety-nine and a half won’t do! These are the words of an old African American spiritual. And ultimately they are rooted in a promise of God that we will one day be perfect.

Well, I’ll tell you, God’s been good to me and he’s brought me a mighty long way, but I’m not at 100, not even close. Because this “100″ is not graded on some human curve or scale. The 100 is God’s 100! Jesus says, Be therefore perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect (Matt 5:48).

How about you? Are you there yet?

If we’re honest we all fall short, way short. But what then of God’s promise, if on the day we die, we haven’t reached God’s 100? Have you ever really known anyone who had God’s perfection? Really? We often speak of how holy some people are, and some have reached great heights, by God’s grace. But how many have you or I really known that had, not just human perfection, but the very perfection of God?

So what if we die unfinished? And most of us will.

Some say, oh well, God will just overlook all that and let us in anyway, “God loves me just the way I am.” But again then we must ask, “What of God’s promise that we would be perfect as the heavenly Father is perfect?”

And further, what of the descriptions of the just in heaven and the promises of perfection assigned to us? For example:

  1. But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect (Heb 12:22-23)
  2. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband…..Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life (Rev 21:2,27).
  3. You know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, and lacking in nothing. (James 1:3-4)
  4. For now, we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away (1 Cor 13:9-10).
  5. God who has begun a good work in you, will bring it to perfection. (Phil 1:6)

So the promise and the need of perfection stand clear in Scripture. And God will not just overlook his promise and “love me just the way I am.”

What a callous and cruel thing to consign us to ultimate imperfection. The very thought of living in my present unseemly state forever would be awful. As I have said, God has been good to me, but for all of us, there are still too many disordered and competitive drives at work, too many unruly passions, and too many spiritual, emotional and physical irritants of many unknown and deep sources, for you and me to say we’d be happy to stay in this condition. Spiritual progress is the normal Christian state.  But we are heading to a high and wondrous state beyond all imagining. This is the promise and I won’t be satisfied with anything less that the full promise of the Lord to make me perfect as the heavenly Father is perfect.

GK Chesterton, responding to a Critic of Purgatory said,

Purgatory may exist whether he likes it or not…..It may be obvious to us that [a person] is already utterly sinless, at one with the saints. It may be evident to us that [he] is already utterly selfless, filled only with God and forgetful of the very meaning of gain. But if the cosmic power holds that there are still some strange finishing touches, beyond our fancy, to put to his perfection, then certainly there will be some cosmic provision for that mysterious completion of the seemingly complete. The stars are not clean in His sight and His angels He chargeth with folly; and if [God] should decide….there is room for improvement, we can but admit that omniscience can heal the defect that we cannot even see. (G.K’s Weekly 4/11/1925)

Yes, even if we were to engage in the folly of thinking we ourselves, or someone else had reached perfection, the truth is we don’t really know what true, God-like perfection is. All I know is, that if I were to die today, God would have to bring to completion the good work he has begun in me.

The Protestants largely dismiss Purgatory because their first founders (Luther, Calvin et al.) tended to reduce salvation and justification to a legal act. The sinner was “declared” righteous, was “covered” in the blood of the Lamb. But this justice was a justitia aliena (an alien justice), a justice imputed, declared, or said of the sinner, but not intrinsic to them. They did not actually become righteous, they were merely said to be righteous and the Father overlooked their sin. They were, to use Luther’s supposed analogy, a dung hill covered with snow (but still a dung hill underneath).

But here too is a sad loss of the promise of the Lord who did not merely promise we would be considered perfect, but that we would actually BE perfect, by his grace. And in all the promises of scripture listed above, there is no notion of a mere declaration of perfection but, rather, an actual experience of real perfection, an actual and real transformation. And this experience, this transformation, begins now. But surely some finishing work is required for most all of us after death, if we take the scope of Godlike perfection seriously.

Purgatory just makes sense when we focus on the promises of God rather than merely to see it as a punitive place where we make up for our sins. Purgatory must also be a place of healing and of promise keeping. Likely there is suffering there, since to let go and be purged of things to which we have been clinging is probably not easy. But Oh, the healing too and weight that must be lifted and we finally shed years of accumulated “issues and baggage.”

Of those made fit for heaven the Scripture says that Jesus “Will wipe every tear from their eyes” (Rev 21:3). I, like you, have surely said goodbye to family, friends and parishioners who still had some tears in their eyes. And we know that they, like we, had things they could not bring to heaven: tears, sorrows, regrets, painful memories, unhealed hurts, and sins. But God, who is good, and a promise keeper, will not leave anything undone. He will wipe every tear from our eyes, every tear.

Purgatory has to be. God loves us too much to leave us in our present unseemly state.

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The debate on justification between Protestants and Catholics have for a long time been concentrated on the definitions of Works of the law, as taught in scriptures by St Paul in Romans 3:28, as well as on the ‘biblicity’ of the Lutheran doctrine of ‘Faith Alone’. Now, some would argue that the sentence in Romans 3:28 “A man is justified by faith a part from the works of the law” is equivalent to say “A man is justified by faith alone”, but ‘justified by faith a part from the works of the law’ ONLY excludes works of law from faith, NOT such things as love, hope, charity or other virtuous quality. Moreover, as we study Scriptures we see that in fact, nowhere in the Bible has Paul associated the word alone with the word faith to explain justification. On the other hand, St. James, guided by the same Holy Spirit who inspired St Paul, asserts that Faith without Works is dead and writes: You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone (James 2:24).

Therefore, in the face of this controversy Catholics continue to be accused by their protestant counterpart of not relying on the Redemptive Sacrifice of Jesus for their salvation as they try to ‘earn’ their salvation through good works. So what is the real Catholic stand on Justification?

The Catholic teaching on justification is and has been the same as St Paul’s teachings, as we can verify it in the writings of the Council of Trent.

COUNCIL OF TRENT ON JUSTIFICATION – Canons On Justification – Session VI, (Jan. 13, 1547)

See also the Catholic definition of Anathemas

Canon 1. If anyone shall say that man can be justified before God by his own works which are done either by his own natural powers, or through the teaching of the Law, and without divine grace through Christ Jesus: let him be anathema.

Canon 2. If anyone shall say that divine grace through Christ Jesus is given for this only, that man may more easily be able to live justly and merit eternal life, as if by free will without grace he were able to do both, though with difficulty and hardship: let him be anathema.

Canon 3. If anyone shall say that without the anticipatory inspiration of the Holy Spirit and without His assistance man can believe, hope, and love or be repentant, as he ought, so that the grace of justification may be conferred upon him: let him be anathema.

Canon 4. If anyone shall say that man’s free will moved and aroused by God does not cooperate by assenting to God who rouses and calls, whereby it disposes and prepares itself to obtain the grace of justification, and that it cannot dissent, if it wishes, but that like something inanimate it does nothing at all and is merely in a passive state: let him be anathema.

Canon 5. If anyone shall say that after the sin of Adam man’s free will was lost and destroyed, or that it is a thing in name only, indeed a title without a reality, a fiction, moreover, brought into the Church by Satan: let him be anathema.

Canon 6. If anyone shall say that it is not in the power of man to make his ways evil, but that God produces the evil as well as the good works, not only by permission, but also properly and of Himself, so that the betrayal of Judas is no less His own proper work than the vocation of Paul: let him be anathema.

Canon 7.- If anyone shall say that all works that are done before justification, in whatever manner they have been done, are truly sins or deserving of the hatred of God, or that the more earnestly anyone strives to dispose himself for grace, so much the more grievously does he sin: let him anathema.

Can. 8. If anyone shall say that the fear of hell, whereby by grieving for sins we flee the mercy of God or refrain from sinning, is a sin or makes sinners worse: let him be anathema.

Canon 9. If anyone shall say that by faith alone the sinner is justified, so as to understand that nothing else is required to cooperate in the attainment of the grace of justification, and that it is in no way necessary that he be prepared and disposed by the action of his own will: let him be anathema.

Canon 10. If anyone shall say that men are justified without the justice of Christ by which He merited for us, or that by that justice itself they are formally just: let him be anathema.

Canon 11. If anyone shall say that men are justified either by the sole imputation of the justice of Christ, or by the sole remission of sins, to the exclusion of grace and charity, which is poured forth in their hearts by the Holy Spirit and remains in them, or even that the grace by which we are justified is only the favor of God: let him be anathema.

Canon 12. If anyone shall say that justifying faith is nothing else than confidence in the divine mercy which remits sins for Christ’s sake, or that it is this confidence alone by which we are justified: let him be anathema.

Canon 13. If anyone shall say that it is necessary for every man in order to obtain the remission of sins to believe for certain and without any hesitation due to his own weakness and indisposition that his sins are forgiven him: let him be anathema.

Canon 14. If anyone shall say that man is absolved from his sins and justified, because he believes for certain that he is absolved and justified, or that no one is truly justified but he who believes himself justified, and that by this faith alone absolution and justification are perfected: let him be anathema.

Canon 15. If anyone shall say that a man who is born again and justified is bound by faith to believe that he is assuredly in the number of the predestined: let him be anathema.

Canon 16. If anyone shall say that he will for certain with an absolute and infallible certainty have that great gift of perseverance up to the end, unless he shall have learned this by a special revelation: let him be anathema.

Canon 17. If anyone shall say that the grace of justification is attained by those only who are predestined unto life, but that all others, who are called, are called indeed, but do not receive grace, as if they are by divine power predestined to evil: let him be anathema.

Canon 18. If anyone shall say that the commandments of God are even for a man who is justified and confirmed in grace impossible to observe: let him be anathema.

Canon 19. If anyone shall say that nothing except faith is commanded in the Gospel, that other things are indifferent, neither commanded nor prohibited, but free, or that the ten commandments in no way pertain to Christians: let him be anathema. Canon 20. If anyone shall say that a man who is justified and ever so perfect is not bound to observe the commandments of God and the Church, but only to believe, as if indeed the Gospel were a mere absolute promise of eternal life, without the condition of observation of the commandments: let him be anathema.

Canon 21. If anyone shall say that Christ Jesus has been given by God to men as a Redeemer in whom they should trust, and not also as a legislator, whom they should obey: let him be anathema.

Canon 22. If anyone shall say that he who is justified can either persevere in the justice received without the special assistance of God, or that with that [assistance] he cannot: let him be anathema.

Canon 23. If anyone shall say that a man once justified can sin no more, nor lose grace, and that therefore he who falls and sins was never truly justified; or, on the contrary, that throughout his whole life he can avoid all sins even venial sins, except by a special privilege of God, as the Church holds in regard to the Blessed Virgin: let him be anathema.

Canon 24. If anyone shall say, that justice received is not preserved and also not increased in the sight of God through good works but that those same works are only the fruits and signs of justification received, but not a cause of its increase: let him be anathema.

Canon 25. If anyone shall say that in every good work the just one sins at least venially, or (what is more intolerable) mortally, and therefore deserves eternal punishments, and that it is only because God does not impute those works unto damnation that he is not damned, let him be anathema.

Canon 26. If anyone shall say that the just ought not to expect and hope for an eternal recompense from God and the merit of Jesus Christ for the good works which have been performed in God, if by doing well and in keeping the divine commandments they persevere even to the end: let him be anathema.

Canon 27. If anyone shall say that there is no mortal sin except that of infidelity, or that grace once received is not lost by any other sin however grievous and enormous, except the sin of infidelity: let him be anathema.

Can. 28. If anyone shall say that together with the loss of grace by sin faith also is always lost, or that the faith that remains is not a true faith, though it be not a living one, or that he, who has faith without charity, is not a Christian: let him be anathema.

Canon 29. If anyone shall say that he who has fallen after baptism cannot by the grace of God rise again; or that he can indeed recover lost justice, but by faith alone without the sacrament of penance, contrary to what the holy Roman and universal Church, taught by Christ the Lord and His apostles, has hitherto professed, observed, and taught: let him be anathema.

Canon 30. If anyone shall say that after the reception of the grace of justification, to every penitent sinner the guilt is so remitted and the penalty of eternal punishment so blotted out that no penalty of temporal punishment remains to be discharged either in this world or in the world to come in purgatory before the entrance to the kingdom of heaven can be opened: let him be anathema.

Canon 31. If anyone shall say that the one justified sins, when he performs good works with a view to an eternal reward: let him be anathema.

Canon 32. If anyone shall say that the good works of the man justified are in such a way the gifts of God that they are not also the good merits of him who is justified, or that the one justified by the good works, which are done by him through the grace of God and the merit of Jesus Christ (whose living member he is), does not truly merit increase of grace, eternal life, and the attainment of that eternal life (if he should die in grace), and also an increase of glory; let him be anathema.

Canon 33. If anyone shall say that because of this Catholic doctrine of justification as set forth by the holy Synod in this present decree, there is in some degree a detraction from the glory of God or from the merits of Jesus Christ our Lord, and that the truth of our faith, and in fact the glory of God and of Jesus Christ are not rather rendered illustrious: let be anathema

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We praise you O God, we acknowledge you to be the Lord; all the earth now worships you, the Father everlasting. To you all angels cry aloud, the heavens and all the powers therein; to you cherubim and seraphim continually do cry: Holy, holy, holy. Holy Lord, God of Sabaoth, heaven and earth are full of the majesty of your glory.

The glorious company of the apostles praise you, the goodly fellowship of the prophets praise you, the noble army of martyrs praise you, the holy Church throughout all the world does acknowledge you: the Father of an infinite majesty, your adorable, true, and only Son, also the Holy Spirit, the counselor.

You are the King of glory, O Christ. You are the everlasting Son of the Father.When you took upon yourself to deliver man, you humbled yourself to be born of a virgin. When you had overcome the sharpness of death, you opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers. You sit at the right hand of God in the glory of the Father.

We believe that you will come to be our judge.We therefore pray you help your servants, whom you have redeemed with your precious blood. Make them to be numbered with your saints in glory everlasting. O Lord save your people and bless your heritage.

Govern them and lift them up forever. Day by day we magnify you, and we worship your name, world without end.Vouchsafe, O Lord, to keep us this day without sin. O Lord have mercy upon us, have mercy upon us.

O Lord, let your mercy be upon us, as our trust is in you. O Lord, in you have I trusted, let me never be confounded.

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As an Evangelical said to me once: “It is as if what Christ did on the cross to purify us of our sins (forgving us and cleansing us through His shed blood and sacrifice) is not enough and we must suffer ourselves to somehow earn a purification that we do not receive simply by believing in Christ alone so here”

Along the same lines Catholics could ask a fundamentalist Christian “why are we asked to keep the commandments, to be holy, to carry our cross, feed the hungry and clothe the naked,  if  faith in Christ is enough to take us to Heaven?  Didn’t his Sacrifice make up for every omission or wrongdoing that we could possibly do?  If we believe, but  fail to do all those things the Lord is asking of us, what happens, what are the consequences?”

Nevertheless, how should Catholics explain the position of the Church on Purgatory and Salvation to a protestant friend?

1030 – All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven ( Catechism of the Catholic Church)

First we have to clarify that  Catholics believe that only God is perfectly good and holy. However, God is just and fair, therefore he would not ask his children “to be Holy because he is Holy” (Cf Lev 11:44) if that was something impossible for any-one to achieve. Neither would Peter echoed these words in 1 Peter 1:15-16.

 Having said that, even the great saints in the Bible, such as David and the apostle Peter, sinned against God; didn’t they? So how can it be that without holiness no one will see God (Cf Heb 12: 14)?

I suppose the Catholic answer to this would be: Contrition, Expiation and Remission of Sins.

The Bible plainly says that “the soul that sinneth, it shall die”, Ezek. 18:4. It also says that, “Without shedding of blood is no remission” of sin (Heb.9:22).  Christ said before He went back to Heaven “that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Luke 24:47). Therefore, blood redemption in Christ means nothing to the individual until he first repents.

Contrition –  Repentance for one’s sins. Perfect Contrition, on the other hand is repentance for the LOVE of GOD rather than for fear of Hell.

Isaiah speaks of it in these words,“For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones” (Isa. 57:15).

Expiation – “The idea of expiation has to do with reparation for a wrong, the satisfaction of the demands of justice through paying a penalty.” To make expiation or satisfaction for a sin is to make amends or reparation for it. When someone makes reparations, he tries to repair the situation caused by his sin. This is a very clear concept that  I’ve seen in the lives of the of all Catholic saints that I’ve read.

I found this catholic explanation on Catholic Answers Website:

 Certainly when it comes to the eternal effects of our sins, only Christ can make amends or reparation. Only he was able to pay the infinite price necessary to cover our sins. We are completely unable to do so not only because we are finite creatures incapable of making an infinite satisfaction (or an infinite anything), but because everything we have been given to us by God. For us to try to satisfy God’s eternal justice would be like using money we had borrowed from someone to repay what we had stolen from him. No actual satisfaction would be made (cf. Ps. 49:7-9, Job 41:11, Rom. 11:35). This does not mean we can’t make amends or reparation for the temporal effects of our sins. The claim that only Christ can atone for or expiate our sins arises from a confusion about whether the temporal or the eternal dimension of our sins is being discussed. Only Christ can provide eternal satisfaction for our sins, but we can make temporal amends or reparations for them.

Proverbs 16:6 states, “By kindness and piety guilt is expiated, and by the fear of the LORD man avoids evil” Also on expiation, Exodus 30:15-16; Leviticus 17:11; Numbers 31:50

We could put it like this, in our earthly relationships whenever we hurt someone it is good to say sorry, but it is even better if we try to put things right whenever we can, because we are called to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. This can be done at all levels. Say that I break my neighbor’s window while playing ball, I can say sorry and apologize, but the right thing to do is to say sorry AND replace the window or pay for the damage. This would please my neighbor; wouldn’t it? The same thing with God. 

With true contrition comes the desire to put things right. With repentance comes remission of sins.

Remission of Sins –  A completely free and undeserved gift, a newness of life which we could never earn. God grants it to us out of his mercy. As Saint Paul wrote: “It is all God’s work. It was God who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the work of handing on this reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5, 18).

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Can a Bible-Alone Christian Biblically answer this question without  pointing out the verses that discuss the efficacy, inerrancy, or inspiration of scripture such as 2 Tim 3:16?   

Obviously, Catholics agree and accept all what is said in  2 Tim 3:16. However, I’m looking for a verse that says it MUST be written in Scripture before it should be believed. Where is that verse?

On the other hand, Catholics can readily provide a number of passages that emphatically debunk the notion of Bible Alone as the sole rule of faith, and attest to the ancient practice of  oral transmission of our faith:

2 Thessalonians 2:[15] So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter.

2 Timothy 2: [1] You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus, [2] and what you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

Luke 10: [16] “He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me.”

Romans 10: [17] So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ.

1 Peter 1:[25] but the word of the Lord abides for ever.” That word is the good news which was preached to you.

2 John 1:[12] Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink, but I hope to come to see you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete.

Clearly Scripture IS inspired and infallible. Catholics and Protestant don’t disagree on that point! But, nowhere in Scripture will you find a verse that says it MUST be written in Scripture for it to be believed by the faithful.  The 1st century Church taught the faith and handed its TRADITIONS on by preaching,  oral teaching and eventually by letter preserving the witness of the Apostles.  Therefore, the Catholic position to hold both Scripture & Tradition as rule of faith is inline with what is witnessed in both Scripture & TRADITION.

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“Blasphemy and false worship”, so is the Catholic relationship with Mary most commonly described by many non-Catholic Christians.   

Not so; the Catholic Catechism states:

II. “HIM ONLY SHALL YOU SERVE”

Adoration

2096 – Adoration is the first act of the virtue of religion. To adore God is to acknowledge him as God, as the Creator and Saviour, the Lord and Master of everything that exists, as infinite and merciful Love. “You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve,” says Jesus, citing Deuteronomy.13

III. “YOU SHALL HAVE NO OTHER GODS BEFORE ME”

2110 –  The first commandment forbids honouring gods other than the one Lord who has revealed himself to his people. It proscribes superstition and irreligion. Superstition in some sense represents a perverse excess of religion; irreligion is the vice contrary by defect to the virtue of religion.

The Catholic Church honours Mary not only for her gift of Mothering Jesus, our Saviour, but because she was his first and most loyal disciple and because in the Old Testament she is prefigured as the New Ark of the Covenant and The New Eve.

Here is an excellent video with Biblical support of this assertion: Mary the New Eve

The Holy Spirit has guided the Church throughout its history in the understanding of the faith that has been revealed in Jesus. Therefore, the knowledge of the Christian faith did not come to us in one instalment, but through the deepening of the understanding of God’s Revelation to mankind. In the Bible itself we see how the  Apostles, lead by Peter, established the matter of circumcision among believers. As promised by Jesus, the Holy Spirit played a crucial role in this process as the Guide for the Truth.

Mother of God – A Pagan title for a Christian Figure?

Title “Son of God” was used by Pagan leaders long before Jesus. History tells us that according to Near Eastern theology of kingship in Pagan Rome, Caesar Augustus and other Caesars declared themselves as Son of Divine Cesar, the Son of God (CF P. W. v. Martitz, TDNT, Vlll, pp. 334-340 esp. p. 336) … This does not take away from Jesus’ True Divine Sonship. Therefore, the protestant objection against Mary’s title falls short of support.

Unfortunately, many protestants don’t realize that the objection against Mary’s title as Mother of God was the very argument of some serious heresies of the 1st centuries of Christianity which  denied Jesus “Oness” with God the Father. Because of such heresies, the Church Fathers again, guided by the Holy Spirit, determined that Jesus is not divisible. He is TRUE Man And TRUE God. Therefore, to state that Mary is only Mother of Jesus Man, and not of His entire nature is a heresy in itself.

The mother of the King – A Biblical Perspective

In order to understand Mary’s queenship it is crucial to consider that in the OT the Queen was not the King’s wife, but his mother. Thus Mary’s intercessory influence is prefigured in the persons of the queens of the OT, such as in 1 Kgs 2:19-20:

‘Make your request, my mother; for I will not refuse you.’ (1 kgs 2:19-20)

Still on Mary’s Queenship and her prefiguration in the OT, we have to remember that the Scriptural exegesis of the  Church’s Fathers proves that they did realize that the 12 stars on the Woman’s crown takes us to the 12 tribes of Israel. However, they also understood that Our Lord presented himself throughout the Gospels in the light of the O.T, where He had been prefigured in many ways before being fully revealed in the NT. For this reason we should also understand the references used in the Book of revelation, not literally, but as fulfilment of the OT.

Jesus, the New Moses, brought the God of Israel to the world in fulfilment to what had been prophesied in Scriptures, making Israel the light house of the world. Through Jesus’ sacrifice the uncircumcised became adopted children of God. Thus, He established a New Israel, The Bride of the Lamb or His Church on earth.

Furthermore there are 3 points to consider:

  • The woman in Revelation gave birth to the King of the Israelites (Jesus) – who will rule the nations from Heaven.
  • The devil is very interested in destroying her but she is safe.
  • Her *children are all faithful Christians (the Church) who “follow the lamb” (Rev 12:17)

*Many fundamentalist Christians understand the ‘Woman’  in the book of Revelation to be Israel, not Mary. However Rev 12:17 confirms the Catholic understanding that Mary, not the nation of Israel, is the ‘Woman’ and the  Mother of the Church. 

For Catholics all honour given to Mary has the sole aim of coming closer to Jesus, which is Mary’s own purpose:

“His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” (2 Jn 1-5)

Catholics also believe that not only Mary, but all the just and Saints departed, are in heaven –  and not asleep waiting for the second coming of Jesus – from where they  pray for us in a way that we could not do ourselves.  St. James tells us that the prayer of the just (the saints) are powerful and effective.

Fundamentalists will argue that no-one has ascended to Heaven except for Jesus (Jn 3:13), so Mary could not be in Heaven as Catholics claim. But in the Gospel of John we see how the good thief on the cross obtained mercy and was promised heaven that day. Therefore, we should not assume that in John 3:13  Jesus was referring to those who lived before as well as after him.  Personally, I think  Jesus simply meant  that  no-one had gone or could ever go to heaven  by their own means or merit, except he Himself.

As I have discussed on other posts, Catholics believe that Salvation is attained by grace alone, because even the gift of faith comes from God’s grace. Salvation is a “free gift” given by God and only by Him, there is nothing we can do to “earn it”, so to speak. However, those who have already attained the crown of victory never stop  interceding on our behalf, so that we too can enter the glory of God.  As we see in the Lord’s prayer, ALL those in heaven do the will of God, and it is the will of God that all men shall be saved. The souls in heaven sympathise with our sufferings and trials, such as we are told by St Paul to bear  one another suffering and struggles  while here on earth. This applies to Mary, who constantly prays for us.

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Catholics have grown used to being questioned about their faith and beliefs. We hear all sorts of pre-conceived ideas posed on to us in question format, such as ‘Do you worship statues?’  or ‘Why confess to a priest?’ and so on…  And as many of us know, should one fail to reply to any such questions convincently enough, one better be prepared to be bombarded with bible verses and rhetoric that ‘prove’ our ‘errors’…

Below is a challenged designed for bible Christians that every Catholic should be familiar with:

Please for more of similar material visit The Catholic Knight

Where did the Bible come from? When was it codified? What books were first listed as belonging in the Christian canon? How has the canon changed over time in various groups? What books were included in the first edition of the King James Bible? When did the Council of Jamnia take place, who were its members, and what did it do?

Before the Books of the Bible were canonized, how was the Gospel spread? Before the printing press was invented some one-thousand and five hundred years after Christ, how was the Gospel spread? How do the answers to these questions apply to the concept of “sola scriptura,” or the “Bible alone” as the rule of faith? What does 2 Peter 3:16 warn against? 2 Peter 1:20-21 says Scripture is of ___ ____________ _____________? What does the word “profitable” mean? In 2 Timothy 3:16-17, what does the word “profitable” mean? Does “profitable” mean “is sufficient for” in any dictionary? Was there a New Testament canon at the time Paul wrote that verse? If not, then what Scripture was he referring to?

What do 2 Thessalonians 2:15, 2 Thessalonians 3:6 and 1 Corinthians 11:2 say about Tradition? When did this Tradition stop being in effect? What did Jesus mean when He told his followers to heed those who sat on the Chair of Moses in Matthew 23:2? What does that say about Jesus’ expectations for his followers to obey earthly authority?

What does 1 Timothy 3:15 indicate is the rule of faith? What do you believe is the rule of faith, and why?

The man to whom Jesus is speaking in Matthew 16:18-19: what was his name before those verses? What was his name after those verses? What does that name mean? What language did Jesus speak? What is the name given to this man in Jesus’ original language? What does that word mean? What other people in the Bible were given name changes? What did name changes signify in Hebrew life? What metaphoric object does Jesus give the man in Matthew 16:18-19? What does this symbolize? What did they symbolize in Isaiah 22? What are “binding and loosing”?

If Christ is a High Priest, and we are members of His royal priesthood, what are the offerings of each? If Christ is a High Priest forever, can his offerings have stopped? Did the fact that the Israelites were members of the royal priesthood negate the ordained Levite priesthood? Did the New Testament Church have bishops, elders (presbyteros, priests), and deacons or was it non-hierarchical? What is the rebellion of Korah mentioned in Jude 1:11? (hint: see Numbers 16:3) What does it mean that Jesus is a “High Priest after the order of Melchizedek”? In John 6:52-58, what is the meaning of the word “is”? In I Corinthians 11:23-30, why does Paul say some people become sick — and what does that indicate to you? Since Messiah has come, where today are the incense and “pure offering” offered up as predicted in Malachi 1:10-11? What is the root word of the word “priest”? What is the root word of the word “presbyter”?

How does Paul refer to himself in 1 Corinthians 4:14-15? In what way do the Apostles treat new Christians according to 1 Thessalonians 2:11? How does Paul refer to Isaac in Romans 9:10? How does John address his audience in 1 John 2:13?

What does I Peter 3:18-21 say baptism does? Whom does Acts 2:38-39 say that baptism is for? Whom does it indicate the promise of baptism is for? What does Colossians 2:11-12 compare baptism with? When were people circumcised to enter into the Old Covenant (i.e., at what age)? Did or did not Paul baptize entire households? In John 3:1-7, it says we are to be baptized in the Spirit and _______? In Whose name are we to be baptized according to Matthew 28:19? Do you believe something different about Baptism than what these verses teach? If so, why? How did the earliest Christians baptize according to the non-canonical writings of the earliest Christians (e.g., the Didache, written in about 50 AD)?

According to Acts 8:14-17 and Acts 19:5-6, what did Peter, Paul and John do in addition to baptizing? Do you believe that what they did is unimportant? If so, why?

What do Proverbs 28:13 and 1 John 1:9 say we should do with our sins? What authority was given to the twelve who were with Jesus in the Upper Room in John 20:21-23? What power was given specifically to Simon Peter in Matthew 16:19? What sort of ministry is described in 2 Corinthians 5:18? Do you believe something different than what these verses teach? If so, why?

How does James 5:14 describe how the elders (presbyters, priests) dealt with the sick? What did they use to help the sick? Does the faith community you’re involved with do this? If not, why not?

What does Matthew 19:6 say about marriages that are put together by God? Does your faith community teach something different? If so, why?

Mark 12:26-27 says that God is the God of what three people? What does it say about these three people (i.e., what condition are they in)? Is God the God of Abraham? Is God the God of the dead? How can he be both the God of Abraham but not the God of the dead but the living? What does Revelation 6:9-10 say about what the “souls of them that were slain” are doing? Where are those souls? What does Hebrews 12:1 say we are surrounded by? Who are they? What does this say about those who die in Christ? Does your faith community teach something different? If so, why?

What woman in Scripture gave birth to the man who was to rule all nations? Where does Revelation 12 say this woman is? What does the word “magnify” mean? In Luke 1:46-49, what does “magnify” mean? Who is the “Queen in Gold” of Psalm 45:10-17? In what ways does this Psalm make Luke 1:48 clear?

If Christ is the New Adam Christ (Romans 5:14-15, 1 Corinthians 15:22, 1 Corinthians 15:45), who is the New Eve? Who are the only two people in the Old Testament to have been without original sin from their first moments?

What three things did the Ark of the Covenant have within it (hint: see Hebrews 9:4)? What did Mary carry within her and in what ways are the contents of the Ark similar? Compare Luke 1:39-56 and 2 Samuel 6:2-16: in what ways are the Ark of the Covenant and Mary similar?

What is the Jewish “Mourner’s Kaddish” (or “Quaddish”) and why is it prayed? What is the meaning of 1 Corinthians 3:13-15? What does Revelation 21:27 say about the unclean? If you were to die right now, today, would you be clean enough to stand before Almighty God? For whom was Paul praying in 2 Timothy 1:16-18 and what was his condition at that time?

What does James 2:24 say about how we are justified? What kind of faith is mentioned in Galatians 5:6? Whom does Jesus say will enter the Kingdom of Heaven in Matthew 7:21? What does Ephesians 2:8-9 say about the possibility of saving ourselves through works? What does that verse say we are saved by? Does your faith community teach either salvation by faith alone or by works alone? If so, why?

What does Hebrews 3:12-14 indicate about the possibility of departing from God? Under what conditions does it say we can be “partakers of Christ”? In what way does Philippians 2:12 say we should approach salvation? Do you approach salvation in this way? If not, why not? Are babies saved? Are 5 year olds saved? 19 year olds? At what point, if any, do the conditions for salvation change and how do your answers affect the concept of “once saved, always saved”?

What does Acts 7:51 say about the ability to resist the Holy Spirit? What does this mean in terms of the existence of free will? Does your faith community teach something different about free will? If so, why?

What does Luke 23:34 indicate about those who act in ignorance? What does Romans 9:15 indicate about the ultimate sovereignty of God?

Revelation 17:15-18 speaks of a whore which is “that great city.” What is this city according to Revelation 11:8? Where was Christ crucified?

How did the Jewish historian, Josephus, describe the Temple in Jerusalem that was destroyed in A.D. 70?

Why does Jesus say He came according to John 12:25-27? What is the nature of the Kingdom according to John 18:36? How long has this been the nature of the Kingdom according to Matthew 25:34? What do those three verses say to those who might believe Jesus came (and will come again) to set up an earthly kingdom? Does Galatians 3:7-29 differentiate between the “seed of Abraham” and the Church? Who is a Jew according to Romans 2:28-29? With whom is the New Covenant made according to Jeremiah 31:31-34? Are there people who say they are Jews but are not according to Revelation 2:9 and 3:9? Given these verses, are people properly referred to as “Gentiles” when they enter the New Covenant? Did God keep His promises to the ancient Israelites concerning the Holy Land according to Joshua 21: 43-45, 1 Kings 8: 56, Nehemiah 9: 7-8? Why did they lose their rights to the Holy Land according to Deuteronomy 28: 58-68?

What are the Talmud and Kabbalah? What does the Talmud say about Jesus Christ and Mary? How is modern Judaism different from the religion of the Old Testament?

What objects are described in 1 Kings 6:29? What about in Ezekiel 41:17-19? What does this mean in light of Exodus 20:4?

Did the religion of the Old Testament have a sense of sacred time, sacred space, and sacred objects? Is there anything in the New Testament that indicates the concept of consecrated things/places/times has changed? What media does God use to effect miracles in:

Joshua 3:15; 1 Samuel 4-6; and 2 Samuel 11-1?______________

Numbers 21:9?______________

2nd Kings 13:21?______________

Mark 5:25?______________

Acts 5:15?______________

Acts 19:12?______________

What is the true relationship of the people described as “brothers” in: Genesis 11:26-28 and Genesis 14:14? In Genesis 29:15? In 1 Chronicles 23:21-22? In 2 Kings 10:13-14? In Deuteronomy 23:7 and Jeremiah 34:9? In Matthew 23:8? In John 20:17-18 and Matthew 12:49? In 1 Corinthians 15:6? Who is the real mother of “James, the brother of Jesus” according to your view of these verses: Matthew 27: 55-56, Mark 3:18, Mark 15:40, John 19:25, and Jude 1? What does “firstborn” mean (hint: see Exodus 13:2, Exodus 13:14-15, Numbers 18:15)?

What is “Easter” called in Latin? In Italy, France and Spain, Portugal or Brazil? What is it called in Germany, Sweden, and Denmark? What do Byzantine Catholics call it? What is the common root word for all these names? What does that root word indicate about the origins of the holy day known in English speaking countries as “Easter”?

Everyone wants to be part of a “New Testament-style Church” — but few are the people who read what the earliest Christians wrote! If worshipping and believing like the Apostles did are, indeed, what you want, then why haven’t you read thoroughly Sacred Scripture, the Didache (the first century “Teachings of the Twelve Apostles”), Ignatius of Antioch, Clement of Rome, Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, John Chrysostom, Augustine (all of him, not just the parts that, pulled out of context, seem to support various modern positions!), Hippolytus, etc. Even Origen and Tertullian give witness to what the early Christians believed… How can you know what the earliest Church was like if you don’t look? What is holding you back? If you read these Early Christian Writings, ask yourself: what Church today is like the Church they described? What Church today teaches Bible-based answers to the questions above?

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When it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, President Barack Obama has received much flack for his recent policy stand. The president effectively “reversed” U.S. policy on the matter, siding with the Palestinians on return to the pre-1967 borders, much to the chagrin of Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who met with Obama shortly after, and conservative ideologues across the United States. For decades, Israel has been considered America’s closest ally in the Middle East, in spite of occasional clashes between the CIA and the Mussad, along with Israeli spies apprehended in the United States. This close relationship between our two governments has led to the sharing of vital intelligence information and untold billions of dollars in American foreign aid to the Israeli government. The alliance has been more than political. At times it has taken on a religious fervor. American Evangelicals have for decades supported Israel unconditionally. This is because of the purely Evangelical Protestant belief system called Dispensational Theology.

To summarize, Dispensationalism is the doctrine that God has two “chosen peoples” not one. His first chosen people are the Jews and this relationship to them is codified in the Old Testament. Therefore the Jewish people should have their home in the promised land of the Old Testament and should be permitted to occupy all of it (because God wills it) and rebuild their ancient civilization, including their religious temple for sacrificial purposes. God’s second chosen people are the Christians, which is codified by the New Testament, who live within the spiritual entity called “the church” and this is entirely separate to the nation-state of Israel. The job of the church in these latter times, according to Dispensationalism, is to peach the gospel and support the nation-state of Israel. Since preaching the gospel and supporting the nation-state of Israel are virtually synonymous, according to Dispensationalism, they are really one in the same purpose. So as far as Evangelical Protestants are concerned, a good Jew migrates to Israel, while a good Christian supports him. This is God’s plan for the latter times, as far as contemporary Evangelical Protestantism teaches today. For Christians, the motive is to await the “rapture” and Second Coming of Christ. For Dispensationalism teaches that once all the Jews have finally migrated back to the nation-state of Israel, settled all the land, and rebuilt their temple, then Jesus Christ will return to “rapture” the church and usher in the End Times. This is why Evangelical televangelists can be seen every Sunday morning expressing their unwavering support for the Zionist state and proclaiming that failure to do so is tantamount to a lack of Christian faith. 

The Evangelical position on many doctrines clash with Catholic teaching, and in this case, the Evangelical doctrine of Dispensationalism is so much at odds with the teachings of the Catholic Church that no Catholic can subscribe to it in good faith, and any political belief that might even remotely relate to it must be questioned. To build political policy based on a religious heresy is to set nations up for war, and it looks like that is exactly what has happened with America’s unwavering support of Israel to the point of virtually giving them a blank check to do whatever they want.

Two political entities are at work here.

The first political entity is Zionism, and the second is the Republican Party. Neither has the best interest of Evangelical Christians in mind, but both use the Evangelical doctrine of Dispensationalism to their advantage. Zionism is a worldwide political movement. Zionism and Judaism are not the same. Judaism is just a religion. While as Zionism is the political mindset that Jews (both religious and non-religious) should have the right to retake their ancestral homeland and rebuild the glory that once was Zion (ancient Israel). Zionists have been at work to accomplish this goal for about a hundred years, and initially this was against the teachings of their most prominent Jewish rabbis, who had always previously taught that the promised Messiah must come first. The bulk of their dreams were realized in 1948 when Israel was declared a “Jewish nation.” Prior to that, Jews living in the region, were at peace with their Arab neighbors. Conflicts between Jews and Muslims were minimal and insignificant. After the creation of the State of Israel, immediate war followed. Israel has been in a state of perpetual war ever since with no end in sight. A few Jewish rabbis have remained faithful to their ancient teachings regarding the Messiah and their ancestral homeland, and they say the reason why Israel is in a state of perpetual war is because Zionists have thwarted the will of God. They say God does not want the Jewish people to retake their ancestral homeland until AFTER the Messiah comes, and that the Messiah will lead them back to their ancestral homeland without conflict and strife. These Jewish rabbis say the reason why the nation-state of Israel suffers so much conflict today is because it does not have the blessing of God and that Jews in the region should work toward dismantling the “Jewish state” in favor of creating a secular state that is more hospitable to Jews, Muslims and Christians. Of course these few remaining faithful rabbis are virtually ignored by the Zionists, who rely heavily on American support in the Republican Party.

The second political entity of the Republican Party is heavily supported by the oil industry, freemasons and Western globalists. To understand this relationship we need to understand just a bit about “peak oil.” When it comes to the Republican Party it all comes back to money. You see “peak oil” is defined as the time when consumption of oil matches and surpasses the amount of oil that can be extracted from oil reserves. This is not to say the oil reserves are exhausted — far from it. In fact, there is evidence to suggest that these oil reserves are not “fossil fuels” but are in actuality a byproduct of continental plate tectonics. Thus oil may very well be a renewable energy. However, in spite of that, it can only be extracted from the earth so fast, due to limitations in technology. That being said, the United States hit it’s “peak oil” production for American soil back in the 1970s. This is when we heavily shifted to foreign oil consumption, and it is also why we refuse to explore new oil reserves in Alaska. We are saving Alaskan oil reserves for when we hit the worldwide “peak oil” production. When that happens, gasoline will quickly jump to $10/gallon and our politicians hope our Alaskan oil reserves will keep our military operational while the world seeks another source of energy. In the mean time, we hope to exhaust everyone else’s oil reserves. The only problem here is that Russia, Europe and China are competing with us on this. Our close alliance with Europe causes us to help each other in opposition to Russia and China. This explains our foreign policy in the Middle East. It really is all about oil. You see, our corporations in the United States and Europe try to make business deals with Middle Eastern regimes. If they cooperate with us, we make them rich. If they decide to do business with Russia or China instead, we send in CIA operatives to stir up a revolution against that regime. If it works, we deal with the new regime that takes over. If it doesn’t work, then we send in our military under the pretense of “fighting terrorism” and “defending democracy.” We erect a new regime using our military and then cut oil deals with them. It really has little to do with either terrorism or democracy. But it does have everything to do with positioning ourselves for the coming worldwide “peak oil” economy. Now don’t blame the Republicans for this entirely. The Democratic Party plays this game too, as is evidenced by the actions of President Bill Clinton in the 1990s and President Barack Obama today. However, the Republicans are the architects to be sure, as they are mostly aligned with the oil companies. The Bush father-son presidential duo is a perfect example of this. Now if you want to understand American foreign policy in the Middle East, you only need to look at the list of nations we have intervened in either covertly or militarily. For example; Syria is now guilty of all the same human rights violations as Libya, yet it is Libya we bomb with our NATO partners. Why is this? The answer is simple. Syria produces almost nothing in regards to oil, but Libya supplies large quantities of oil to Europe. So the United States helps Europe secure it’s oil supply by helping to orchestrate regime change in Libya, meanwhile Syria slaughters it’s own people left and right, for the exact same reasons as Libya, while the United States does nothing. Again, oil is the reason. Syria doesn’t produce hardly any oil and doesn’t sell a drop to Europe or America anyway. So strategically speaking, it’s useless. Now, all that being said, where does Israel fit into all of this. For nearly four decades Israeli geologists have been telling the United States that a vast oil reserve lies somewhere deep beneath Israeli soil. The massive level of geologic activity in this region seems to confirm this. We know for certain there are large deposits of natural gas in Israel, based on historical accounts of “fireballs” erupting from the Temple Mount when the Jews tried to rebuild the Temple under the reign of Caesar Julian (the apostate) back in the 4th century AD. Where there is natural gas, oil usually follows. Likewise, the Israeli geologists swear it’s there, but getting to it is the trick. We are told Israel may actually have the largest oil reserve in the entire Middle East, and so you can begin to see why American politicians, particularly the Republican Party, back Israel unconditionally. However, when it comes to politics, oil is the last thing American politicians want to talk about. It doesn’t look good you see, when certain groups of Muslim and Christian Arabs are being forced out of their homeland so Israeli Zionists can plunder their land and potential oil reserves. So both the Zionists and the Republican Party turn to religious fervor among Evangelicals, promoting their Dispensationalist theology for the purpose of supporting the Israeli government unconditionally.

The Zionists in Israel know the cat is out of the bag as far as the international community is concerned. They’ve lost the support of the world a long time ago. Only the United States remains as the sole stalwart of Israeli supremacy in the region. The Israeli government has played the race card for decades now, claiming that were it not for the Israeli government, the Jews in the Holy Land would have been driven into the sea. Historical analysis tells a completely different story though. Because Jews lived in peace with their Arab neighbors in the Holy Land for decades prior to 1948. It was only after 1948, when Israel declared independence as a “Jewish state” that Arab forces sought to drive them into the sea. It’s a classic example of cause and effect. The cause was Israeli Zionist independence, the effect was Arab rage against the Israeli Zionists. It was not the other way around. Now, thanks to decades if Israeli actions against Palestinian Arabs, what they say may actually be true. If the Arab Muslims ever do get the upper hand again, they may very well drive the Jews into the sea. This is not because Arabs inherently hate Jews, as many Zionists would like us to believe, but because they have for decades been rallied against the Israeli government and everything the Zionist state represents. Prior to 1948 the Arabs were relatively pacified in the Middle East. After 1948 extremists have been able to rally Arab Muslims into a frenzy that threatens to become a regional caliphate.

So now what?

We know what the Zionists and the Republican Party want. The Republican Party believes there is oil beneath Israel, and they will support Israel unconditionally so long as they believe that. We know the Zionists just want to rebuild their ancestral homeland for idealogical reasons. What we don’t know is if the Israeli Zionists are lying to the Republicans by giving them bogus geological data. We don’t know if oil really exists there or not. Even if it does exist, we have to ask ourselves if our unconditional support of Israel justifies the Israeli mistreatment of Palestinian Arabs (both Muslims and Christians). The United States government has already demonstrated that it doesn’t give a rat’s tail about Christians in the Middle East, and would gladly sacrifice them for access to Arab oil. This is evidenced by the plight of Christians in Iraq and Egypt right now. America caused the regime change in Iraq under G.W. Bush, while it supported the regime change in Egypt under Barack Obama. In both cases, Christians are now being subjected to a bloodbath, while American and European corporations are securing their oil deals.

The position of the Vatican has consistently been one of Christian charity. Regardless of the “peak oil” situation, Western nations should act according to their Christian heritage, by dealing with the Israel-Palestinian problem with fairness and objectivity. This is why the Vatican supports the two-state solution. While it was initially supported by Bill Clinton and George W. Bush (to their credit), the only point of contention has been the borders of this proposed division. The question remains as to whether the CIA had been working with terrorists in Israel to insure this agreement never really took place, and thus give the Zionists reason to take more land away from the Palestinian Arabs. That would be consistent with CIA actions in Egypt, Libya, and other Arab nations. We know that the United States would throw Israel under the bus just as soon as they cut an oil deal with the Palestinian Arabs. Maybe this explains Obama’s recent actions of “switching sides” to favor the Palestinians’ call for a return to the pre-1967 borders. There is no way to know what is really going on in the Whitehouse on this. I suspect the Whitehouse is growing impatient, however, on Israel’s claim to a massive oil production that has not yet materialized.

What we as Catholic Americans should know is that we absolutely cannot trust our own government on this issue. Case in point, we were assured by the G.W. Bush administration that Christians would be safe in Iraq under American occupation and an Iraqi democracy. The opposite has proved to be true. We were given the same assurances by the Obama administration in regards to Egypt. Again, we were lied to. So when it comes to foreign policy in the Middle East, about the only thing Catholics (indeed all Christians) can really trust is the policy of the Vatican.

The Vatican’s position is that in the name of Christian charity to both parties, there must be a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and this solution must be brokered soon. The issue of the borders will be settled by the parties involved, but naturally there is going to have to be some Israeli concession on illegal Jewish settlements. I’m not sure Obama’s call to the pre-1967 borders is the right solution, but I do think he is trying to swing the pendulum in the other direction to compensate for previous American policy favoring Israel. One thing this does signal is that the Whitehouse will support whatever land for peace deal the disputing parties can agree on. That, ironically, puts the Whitehouse more in line with the Vatican’s position than anything previously seen over the last four decades. Now readers of this blog know ‘The Catholic Knight’ is no fan of Obama, but regular readers should also know I always try to give credit where credit is due. On this one, I think Obama is leaning in the right direction, though his proposed pre-1967 solution is probably unrealistic.

This article was originally published here by the Catholic Knight.

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Faint they may be one by one, but at least they are various, and are drawn from many times and countries, and thereby serve to illustrate each other, and form a body of proof. Thus St. Clement, in the name of the Church of Rome, writes a letter to the Corinthians, when they were without a bishop; St. Ignatius of Antioch addresses the Roman Church, and it only out of the Churches to which he writes, as “the Church which has the first seat in the place of the country of the Romans;” St. Polycarp of Smyrna betakes himself to the Bishop of Rome on the question of Easter; the heretic Marcion, excommunicated in Pontus, betakes himself to Rome; Soter, Bishop of Rome, sends alms, according to the custom of his Church, to the Churches throughout the empire, and, in the words of Eusebius, “affectionately exhorted those who came to Rome, as a father his children;” the Montanists from Phrygia come to Rome to gain the countenance of its Bishop; Praxeas, from Africa, attempts the like, and for a while is successful; St. Victor, Bishop of Rome, threatens to excommunicate the Asian Churches; St. Irenaeus speaks of Rome as “the greatest Church, the most ancient, the most consplicuous, and founded and established by Peter and Paul,” appeals to its tradition, not in contrast indeed, but in preference to that of other Churches, and declares that  “in this Church, every Church, that is, the faithful from every side must meet” or ” agree together, propter potiorem principalitatem.”

“O Church, happy in its position,” says Tertullian, “into which the Apostles poured out, together with their blood, their whole doctrine.” The presbyters of St. Dionysius, Bishop of Alexandria, complain of his doctrine to St. Dionysius of Rome; the latter expostulates with him, and he explains.

The Emperor Aurelian leaves  “to the Bishops of Italy and of Rome” the decision, whether or not Paul of Samosata shall be dispossessed of the see-house at Antioch; St. Cyprian speaks of Rome as  “the See of Peter and the principal Church, whence the unity of the priesthood took its rise, . . whose faith has been commended by the Apostles, to whom faithlessness can have no access;”

St. Stephen refuses to receive St. Cyprian’s deputation, and separates himself from various Churches of the East; Fortunatus and Felix, deposed by St. Cyprian, have recourse to Rome; Basilides, deposed in Spain, betakes himself to Rome, and gains the ear of St. Stephen. Whatever objections may be made to this or that particular fact, and I do not think any valid ones can be raised, still, on the whole, I consider that a cumulative argument…that the writers of the fourth and fifth centuries fearlessly assert, or frankly allow, that the prerogatives of Roman were derived from apostolic times, and that because it was the See of Saint Peter.

St Augustine: “Many Things Keep Me in the Catholic Church”

For in the Catholic Church, not to speak of the purest wisdom, to the knowledge of which a few spiritual, men attain in this life, so as to know it, in the scantiest measure, indeed, because they are but men, still without any uncertainty (since the rest of the multitude derive their entire security not from acuteness of intellect, but from simplicity of faith) – not to speak of this wisdom, which you do not believe to be in the Catholic Church, there are many other things which most justly keep me in her bosom. The consent of peoples and nations keeps me in the Church; so does her authority, inaugurated by miracles, nourished by hope, enlarged by love, established by age. The succession of priests keeps me, beginning from the very seat of the Apostle Peter, to whom the Lord, after His resurrection, gave it in charge to feed His sheep, down to the present episcopate. And so, lastly, does the name itself of Catholic, which, not without reason, amid so many heresies, the Church has thus retained; so that, though all heretics wish to be called Catholics, yet when a stranger asks where the Catholic Church meets, no heretic will venture to point to his own chapel or house. Such then in number and importance are the precious ties belonging to the Christian name which keep a believer in the Catholic Church, as it is right they should, though from the slowness of our understanding, or the small attainment of our life, the truth may not yet fully disclose itself. But with you, where there is none of these things to attract or keep me, the promise of truth is the only thing that comes into play. Now if the truth is so clearly proved as to leave no possibility of doubt, it must be set before all the things that keep me in the Catholic Church; but if there is only a promise without any fulfillment, no one shall move me from the faith which binds my mind with ties so many and so strong to the Christian religion.

St. Augustine [A.D. 354-430]

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