Archive for January 1, 2011

January 2, 2011 – Feast of Epiphany

Posted: January 1, 2011 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

SUNDAY BIBLE REFLECTIONS BY DR. SCOTT HAHN

A King to Behold

Readings:
Isaiah 60:1-6
Psalm 72:-12,7-8, 10-13
Ephesians 3:2-3,5-6
Matthew 2:1-12

An “epiphany” is an appearance. In today’s readings, with their rising stars, splendorous lights and mysteries revealed, the face of the child born on Christmas day appears.
Herod, in today’s Gospel, asks the chief priests and scribes where the Messiah is to be born. The answer Matthew puts on their lips says much more, combining two strands of Old Testament promise – one revealing the Messiah to be from the line of David (see 2 Samuel 2:5), the other predicting “a ruler of Israel” who will “shepherd his flock” and whose “greatness shall reach to the ends of the earth” (see Micah 5:1-3).
Those promises of Israel’s king ruling the nations resound also in today’s Psalm. The psalm celebrates David’s son, Solomon. His kingdom, we sing, will stretch “to the ends of the earth,” and the world’s kings will pay Him homage. That’s the scene too in today’s First Reading, as nations stream from the East, bearing “gold and frankincense” for Israel’s king.

The Magi’s pilgrimage in today’s Gospel marks the fulfillment of God’s promises. The Magi, probably Persian astrologers, are following the star that Balaam predicted would rise along with the ruler’s staff over the house of Jacob (see Numbers 24:17).
Laden with gold and spices, their journey evokes those made to Solomon by the Queen of Sheba and the “kings of the earth” (see 1 Kings 10:2,25; 2 Chronicles 9:24). Interestingly, the only other places where frankincense and myrrh are mentioned together are in songs about Solomon (see Song of Songs 3:6, 4:6,14).

One greater than Solomon is here (see Luke 11:31). He has come to reveal that all peoples are “co-heirs” of the royal family of Israel, as today’s Epistle teaches.
His manifestation forces us to choose: Will we follow the signs that lead to Him as the wise Magi did? Or will we be like those priests and the scribes who let God’s words of promise become dead letters on an ancient page?

The Word Took Our Nature From Mary

Posted: January 1, 2011 by CatholicJules in Memory Book

From a letter by Saint Athanasius, bishop

The Apostle tells us: The Word took to himself the sons of Abraham, and so had to be like his brothers in all things. He had then to take a body like ours. This explains the fact of Mary’s presence: she is to provide him with a body of his own, to be offered for our sake. Scripture records her giving birth, and says: She wrapped him in swaddling clothes. Her breasts, which fed him, were called blessed. Sacrifice was offered because the child was her firstborn. Gabriel used careful and prudent language when he announced his birth. He did not speak of “what will be born in you” to avoid the impression that a body would be introduced into her womb from outside; he spoke of “what will be born from you” so that we might know by faith that her child originated within her and from her.

By taking our nature and offering it in sacrifice, the Word was to destroy it completely and then invest it with his own nature, and so prompt the Apostle to say: This corruptible body must put on incorruption; this mortal body must put on immortality. This was not done in outward show only, as some have imagined. This is not so. Our Savior truly became man, and from this has followed the salvation of man as a whole. Our salvation is in no way fictitious, nor does it apply only to the body. The salvation of the whole man, that is, of soul and body, has really been achieved in the Word himself.

What was born of Mary was therefore human by nature, in accordance with the inspired Scriptures, and the body of the Lord was a true body: It was a true body because it was the same as ours. Mary, you see, is our sister, for we are all born from Adam.

The words of Saint John: the Word was made flesh, bear the same meaning, as we may see from a similar turn of phrase in Saint Paul: Christ was made a curse for our sake. Man’s body has acquired something great through its communion and union with the Word. From being mortal it has been made immortal; though it was a living body it has become a spiritual one; though it was made from the earth it has passed through the gates of heaven.

Even when the Word takes a body from Mary, the Trinity remains a Trinity, with neither increase nor decrease. It is for ever perfect. In the Trinity we acknowledge one Godhead, and thus one God, the Father of the Word, is proclaimed in the Church.

(Apologetics) John Vs Mike – 8

Posted: January 1, 2011 by CatholicJules in Apologetics

From the website: http://www.pro-gospel.org, by Mike Gendron.

Biblical Support for Purgatory
There is absolutely none! In fact, neither the word nor the concept of sin-purifying fire is found in Scripture. The Vatican was confronted with this in the 16th century when the Reformers protested its practice of buying and selling of God’s grace through indulgences. Backed into a corner, the  Council of Trent added the apocryphal books to its canon of Scripture. Rome now declares there is scriptural support for purgatory in the apocryphal book of Second Maccabees. The council ignored the fact that the Jewish scribes never recognized the apocryphal books as inspired or part of the Hebrew Scriptures. They were never included because of their many historical, theological and geographical errors. Since God is not the author of error, He obviously did not inspire the writers of the Apocrypha. This is why the Apocrypha was never included in the original canon of 66 books.

The apocryphal verses Rome uses to defend its doctrine of Purgatory refer to Jewish soldiers who died wearing pagan amulets around their necks. Judas Maccabees “sent twelve thousand drachmas of silver to Jerusalem for sacrifice to be offered for the sins of the dead…Judas hoped that these men who died fighting for the cause of God and religion, might find mercy: either because they might be excused from mortal sin by ignorance; or might have repented of their sin, at least at their death. It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins” (2 Maccabees 12:43-46). Rome argues that since Judas Maccabees prayed for the dead, there must be hope for those who die in sin. This of course, goes directly against God’s Word which declares, “It is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment” (Heb. 9:22). Rome’s attempt to give credence to Purgatory by using this ungodly practice of the Jews, who had a history of disobeying God, is pathetic.

In another attempt to find support for Purgatory, many Catholics point to this verse: “If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire” (1 Cor. 3:15). Clearly, the context of this verse is the testing of a man’s works by fire. The works that survive are the ones done for the glory of Christ and are called gold, silver and precious stones (Eph. 2:10). All the other superfluous works are burned in fire and are called wood, hay and stubble. It is not man’s sins that are being purged, it is man’s spurious works that are being burned and destroyed.

———————————————————————————————————–

Mike Gendron:

Biblical Support for Purgatory
There is absolutely none! In fact, neither the word nor the concept of sin-purifying fire is found in Scripture. The Vatican was confronted with this in the 16th century when the Reformers protested its practice of buying and selling of God’s grace through indulgences. Backed into a corner, the  Council of Trent added the apocryphal books to its canon of Scripture. Rome now declares there is scriptural support for purgatory in the apocryphal book of Second Maccabees. The council ignored the fact that the Jewish scribes never recognized the apocryphal books as inspired or part of the Hebrew Scriptures. They were never included because of their many historical, theological and geographical errors. Since God is not the author of error, He obviously did not inspire the writers of the Apocrypha. This is why the Apocrypha was never included in the original canon of 66 books.

John Martignoni:

First, he states that there is “absolutely” no biblical support for Purgatory, but then in the next two paragraphs he goes on to give a couple of biblical passages that support Purgatory.  How can he say there is no biblical support for Purgatory when he himself cites biblical passages that Catholics believe support the teaching on Purgatory?  Would it not be more honest to say that there are a number of biblical passages that Catholics cite in support of the teaching on Purgatory, but that his biased fallible interpretation of those passages disagrees with the Catholic interpretation of those passages?  That is the more accurate and honest way to describe the situation.

We’ll look at some of those passages below, including the ones cited by Mr. Gendron, and see if there is indeed “absolutely” no biblical support for Purgatory whatsoever.  But, before we get to that, let’s look at Gendron’s claim that Rome “added” the “apocryphal books” (the deuterocanon – Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Sirach, Baruch, 1st & 2nd Maccabees) to the Bible at the Council of Trent, in order to be able to claim biblical support for Purgatory (2nd Macc 12:42-45).  Gendron claimed: “This is why the Apocrypha was never included in the original canon of 66 books.” His revisionist view of history is that the Catholic Church added those 7 books of the Old Testament to the Catholic bible only after Martin Luther confronted Rome with its lack of biblical evidence for indulgences (Purgatory).  Well, let’s look at the historical documents and see if that is indeed the case.

From the “Faith of the Early Fathers, Vol I,” edited by Jurgens, we see the “Decree of Damasus” (Pope St. Damasus I) from the Council of Rome, in 382 A.D. (1200 years before the Council of Trent supposedly added the deuterocanon to the Catholic bible).  In the Decree of Damasus, the 7 books of the Old Testament that Gendron claimed were not “added” until the Council of Trent, are listed as part of the canon (note: Baruch was initially included as part of Jeremias, as Baruch was Jeremiah’s scribe).  Hmmm.  And, if Gendron had bothered to look, he would have found, without too much trouble, that the Latin Vulgate – the official bible of the Catholic Church – which was translated by St. Jerome in the late 4th century, included those 7 books as part of its canon.  And, the Bible Martin Luther used while still a Catholic priest, had those 7 books in it as part of the canon.  And, Martin Luther admitted to throwing out those books from the bible as part of his rebellion against the Church.  So, Gendron’s claim that, “This is why the Apocrypha was never included in the original canon of 66 books,” is absolutely false.  And he is absolutely wrong in his claim that the Council of Trent added those books to the Bible.  I call on him to correct this falsehood on his website.  But, he won’t, because he doesn’t seem to be interested in the truth, he is only interested in making the Catholic Church look bad, and if it means having to not be as honest as he could be, well, so be it….

Furthermore, he states that the “Jewish scribes never recognized the apocryphal books as inspired or part of the Hebrew Scriptures.”  This, again, is a false claim.  How does he explain, for example, the Septuagint – the Greek language version of the Old Testament – which was put together by “Jewish scribes” and which contains the deuterocanonical books, and from which two-thirds of the Old Testament quotes in the New Testament come?  Plus, the Septuagint was indeed accepted by most of the Jews of the Diaspora (outside of Israel) as their Scriptures.  Besides, the fact that the deuterocanon was not accepted by “Jewish scribes,” according to Mr. Gendron, is not a very good argument for a Christian to make.  After all, the “Jewish scribes” did not accept any of the books of the New Testament as part of their Scripture either.  Does Mr. Gendron, to be consistent in his reasoning, then reject the New Testament books?

So, since 2 Maccabees was indeed part of the “original canon” of 73 books of the bible, we can indeed claim that it provides biblical support for the Catholic doctrine of Purgatory. After all, if there is only Heaven or Hell, then it is completely useless to pray for the dead.  Prayer is not needed for those in Heaven.  Prayer does nothing for those in Hell. Prayers for the dead imply that there is a place, or state of being, other than Heaven or Hell.

Mike Gendron:

The apocryphal verses Rome uses to defend its doctrine of Purgatory refer to Jewish soldiers who died wearing pagan amulets around their necks. Judas Maccabees “sent twelve thousand drachmas of silver to Jerusalem for sacrifice to be offered for the sins of the dead…Judas hoped that these men who died fighting for the cause of God and religion, might find mercy: either because they might be excused from mortal sin by ignorance; or might have repented of their sin, at least at their death. It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins” (2 Maccabees 12:43-46). Rome argues that since Judas Maccabees prayed for the dead, there must be hope for those who die in sin. This of course, goes directly against God’s Word which declares, “It is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment” (Heb. 9:22). Rome’s attempt to give credence to Purgatory by using this ungodly practice of the Jews, who had a history of disobeying God, is pathetic.

John Martignoni:

This is a perfect example of either Mike Gendron’s complete and total ignorance of Catholic teaching on Purgatory or his deliberate and willful distortion of Catholic teaching on Purgatory.  Do you see what he says in this paragraph that betrays him?  He uses Heb 9:22 to try and say the practice of praying for the dead is contrary to Scripture.  But, what exactly is it in Heb 9:22 that actually contradicts the doctrine of Purgatory or the practice of praying for the dead?  Answer: NOTHING!  Hebrews 9:22 states that after death, comes judgment.  Catholics believe and teach that.  When a person dies, they receive their particular judgment – either they are headed to Heaven or to Hell.  Purgatory has absolutely nothing to do with judgment, however.  Purgatory has to do with the final purification of a soul AFTER it has already been judged as being just.  So, Heb 9:22 in no way, shape, or form contradicts the doctrine of Purgatory.  Mike Gendron’s use of this verse to deny Purgatory is ignorant at best, malicious at worst.

Let’s re-visit the doctrine of Purgatory as taught by the Catholic Church: 1) “All who die in God’s grace [the just] 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, #1030.)  2) Purgatory (Lat., “purgare”, to make clean, to purify) in accordance with Catholic teaching is a place or condition of temporal punishment for those who, departing this life in God’s grace are, not entirely free from venial faults, or have not fully paid the satisfaction due to their transgressions.  (Catholic Encyclopedia, article on Purgatory, http://www.newadvent.org.)  In other words, Purgatory has nothing to do with judgment, it pertains to a final purification of a just soul after it has received judgment.

Mike Gendron has read the Catechism and he has read the article on Purgatory found in the Catholic Encyclopedia, yet he still apparently does not “get it.”  Or, rather, he “gets it,” but accurately portraying Catholic teaching on Purgatory does not suit his purposes, so he chooses not to do it.

And, addressing 2 Maccabees 12 again, we see that it does, with its teaching on prayer for the dead, in fact provide biblical support for the doctrine of Purgatory.

Mike Gendron:

In another attempt to find support for Purgatory, many Catholics point to this verse: “If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire” (1 Cor. 3:15). Clearly, the context of this verse is the testing of a man’s works by fire. The works that survive are the ones done for the glory of Christ and are called gold, silver and precious stones (Eph. 2:10). All the other superfluous works are burned in fire and are called wood, hay and stubble. It is not man’s sins that are being purged, it is man’s spurious works that are being burned and destroyed.

John Martignoni:

First of all, let’s note that Mike Gendron is apparently making an infallible pronouncement on what the passage from 1 Cor 3:10-15 means.  A fallible man making an infallible pronouncement.  Sorry, Mike, but not only do you not have the authority to make an infallible pronouncement as to what any particular passage of Scripture means, but your interpretation is: 1) fairly ridiculous upon examination; and, 2) doesn’t actually respond to the Catholic argument regarding this verse.

1) Ridiculous interpretation: According to Gendron, “It is not man’s sins that are being purged, it is man’s spurious works that are being burned and destroyed.”  What does “spurious” mean?  It means false, or bogus.  Well, what else could we call a spurious or false or bogus work?  I think the word “sin” would fit most appropriately, don’t you?  After all, I think we could all agree that a “spurious” work is definitely not a good work, right?  So, if it’s not a good work, then it must be a bad work – it must be a morally bad work.  Why else is it being burned up and why else does man “suffer” because of it?

Does man suffer for morally good works?  No.  Does he suffer for morally neutral works?  No.  Does he suffer for morally bad works?  Indeed he does.  What is another name for a morally bad work?  Sin.  So, Gendron’s classification of these works as being “spurious” works vs. being sins, is a distinction without a difference.  It’s a distraction from the fact that he has no real answer to this passage, so he makes up “spurious” distinctions.  Can Gendron give us some examples of these “spurious” works that are “burned in fire?”

Plus, isn’t Gendron himself essentially admitting that this “burning in fire” of man’s spurious works is purifying man from his “spurious” works?  What else would you call the process described here if not a purification?  What is going on in Purgatory?  Purification.  Which leads to my second point…

2) Not answering the Catholic argument: So, Mr. Gendron, exactly where is it that man’s work is “burned in fire” and they suffer loss, yet are still saved?  Where exactly does this purification take place?  Heaven?  No, no purification is necessary once you reach Heaven.  Hell?  No, no purification is possible once you enter Hell.  Where then is this purification of man taking place, Mr. Gendron?

Furthermore, if Gendron’s once saved always saved sola fide theology is true, then where exactly does what is happening in 1 Cor 3:10-15, fit into that theology?  He admits that this purification is taking place, but he doesn’t tell us why it is taking place.  Why does there need to be this purification at all?  Isn’t the atoning death of Jesus Christ on the cross enough?  What is this purification by fire of a man’s “spurious” works all about?  I mean, if a man has accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior, thus entering the rank of the “saved,” and he’s going to Heaven no matter what, then why does he have to later be purified of his spurious works?  I’m really confused…

Okay, now let’s look at some of the “Catholic” verses of Scripture that support the Church’s teaching on Purgatory:

2 Sam 12:13-18, “David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the Lord.’  And Nathan said to David, ‘the Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die.  Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord, the child that is born to you shall die.’  And the Lord struck the child that Uriah’s wife bore to David, and it became sick…On the seventh day the child died.”  Principle #1 – there is punishment for sin even after one has received forgiveness. See also Numbers 20:12 (Moses and Aaron being denied entrance into the Promised Land); Gen 3:16-19 (woman has increased pain in childbirth; man eats by the sweat of his brow)

Rev 21:27, “But nothing unclean shall enter it…”  The New Jerusalem – Heaven.  Principle #2 – nothing unclean, nothing with the stain of sin, will enter Heaven.  Mt 5:48, “You, therefore, must be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  That’s because of Principle #2 – nothing unclean will get into Heaven.

Heb 12:22-23, “But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living god, the heavenly Jerusalem…and to the spirits of just men made perfect.”  The spirits of just men, made perfect.  Principle #3 – there is a way, a process, through which the spirits of the “just” are “made perfect”.

1 Cor 3:13-15, “…each man’s work will become manifest; for the Day [judgment day] will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done.  If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward.  If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.”  Where is this place that a man, after he dies, suffers loss, as through fire, but is still saved.  Hell – once you’re in Hell, you don’t get out.  Heaven – you don’t suffer loss in Heaven.  Hmmm…must be somewhere else.  Principle #4 – there is a place other than Heaven or Hell.

Mt 12:32, “And whoever says a word against the Son of man will be forgiven; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.”  Implies forgiveness in the age to come.  Where can you go to be forgiven in the age to come?  Heaven?  You don’t need forgiveness.  Hell?  There is no forgivenss.

Mt 18:32-35, “Then his lord summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant!  I forgave you all that debt because you besought me; and should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’  And in anger his lord delivered him to the jailers, till he should pay all his debt.  So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”  Where can you go, that is like jail, until you have paid your debt?  Heaven?  Hell?

Rev 20:13-14, “And the sea gave up the dead in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead in them…[Hades? We know Hades isn’t Hell because of the next verse]…Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire.”  The lake of fire is Hell.  So, Hades is some place besides Heaven and Hell.  Again, Principle #4 – there is a place besides Heaven and Hell.

So, let’s summarize these four principles: There is punishment for sin even after one has received forgiveness.  We have to be perfect as the Father is perfect, because nothing unclean will enter Heaven.  There is some way, or process, by which the spirits of the just are made perfect.  There is a place besides Heaven or Hell where you can suffer loss, yet be saved, but only as through fire; and where you can be forgiven of sins from a previous age; and where you will not get out until you have paid your entire debt.  Hmmm.

Principle #5 – there are several Scripture passages that simply make no sense in a Heaven and Hell only theology.  For instance, James 5:20, “Let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.”  Cover a multitude of sins?   1 Ptr 4:8, “Above all hold unfailing your love for one another, since love covers a multitude of sins.”  There it is again.  Something that we do, that covers a multitude of sins.  Wait a minute.  If Jesus did all there is to do in terms of payment for sin, then how can we do something that covers a multitude of sins?  Unless…unless, there is a penalty for sin, even after we have been forgiven, as we saw with King David, and if we cooperate with Jesus in our redemption, we can “cover” the penalty for our sins by bringing sinners back to the truth and by loving others.

Col 1:24, “I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of His body, that is, the Church…”  How can Paul suffer for our sake?  And, how in the world can he complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions?  Is there something lacking in Christ’s afflictions?  Like the previous two verses, this verse makes no sense in a Heaven and Hell only theological system.

Finally, Heb 12:14, “Strive for peace with all men and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.”  We have to be holy in order to see the Lord (be ye perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect), and if we are not perfectly holy at the moment we die – and most people will admit that they are not perfectly holy at the present moment – then there must be some way that those who are in a state of grace (saved), but not yet perfected, can be perfected.  As Catholics, we call that process of being perfected after death – Purgatory.