Category Archives: Sacred Scripture

Dust thou art, and into dust thou shalt return. (Gn 3: 19)

About three years ago, my husband and I began to read the Gospels, (out loud) two chapters at a time, on Ash Wednesday.  We found that by doing so we could read all four Gospels by Holy Saturday.  The first time, we continued after Easter and read until the end of the NT.  Then we began the New Testament again and read it through 2 chapters a night.  Then, we began to read the Old Testament, the same way.  We are only to the end of Wisdom, so we have set it aside and began the Gospels again tonight.

Everyone else reads other books for their spiritual reading during Lent.  We just stick with the Gospels.  Doing so, we have had great Lents for the past three years.

So after dinner tonight, we began.  Matthew Chapters 1 and 2.  What is Jesus’ ancestry and where was He born?  I especially like the verses about St. Joseph dreaming of angels.  He was such a man of faith!  That we would have just a bit of his faith and humility, we too could dream of angels.

Finally, today’s liturgy is an invitation to penance.  The predominant thought of the day should be that while physical penance is okay, we need spiritual penance–humility, recognition of our faults, a steadfast heart, and the reformation of our lives.  The Lord wants us to be converted to Him with all our hearts, in fasting, and in weeping, and in mourning.  He wants us to “rend our hearts; not just our garments.”

Lord, protect us in our struggle against evil.  As we begin the discipline of Lent, make this day holy by our self-denial.  Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  (Liturgy of the Hours for Ash Wednesday-Evening Prayer)

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A Reasonable Hope?

Just finished watching Wolf Hall and am contemplating the eternal fate of Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell. This is in light of the Reverend Robert Barron’s, now famous, statement that we can “have a reasonable hope that all are saved (no one goes to hell.)”

Henry was an adulterer, a murderer, and an apostate.   Historians say he wanted to be Catholic just not a Papist. However, whether or not he intended to do so, he founded the Church of England on divorce and murder. Thomas Cromwell, the King’s trusted adviser, who was partial to Protestantism, most notably Lutheranism, carried out Henry’s nefarious plans. These included the murder of Anne Boleyn, her brother, and two of her household servants, because Henry “wanted” Jane Seymour and Cromwell wanted more power. He was also responsible for the deaths of John Fisher and Thomas More because they were “Papists.” Thomas Cromwell deeply despised the Catholic Church and Sts. John Fisher and Thomas More were his way at getting back at that Church. According to 1 John 3: 14-15, “no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.”

I think it’s pretty unreasonable that people like Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell were saved if that means they are not in hell with Judas. (Jesus, Scriptures-both old and new- the Apostles, and the early Church fathers all tell us that Judas is in hell.) I know. I know. I shouldn’t judge individual souls. However, the only people that we can be sure are in heaven are those that the Church has officially called Saints.

In order for someone to go to hell, it is necessary to willfully turn away from God and be unrepentant and persistent in sin until the end. In light of scriptures and Jesus’ teachings about the existence of hell, why would we ever have a reasonable hope that hell is empty, except for Satan, his minions, and Judas?

I would also think it unreasonable that anyone who rejects God, denies Jesus as the Way, the Truth, and the Life can get into heaven. Of course, when the Apostles asked Jesus, “then who can be saved?” He responded that with God all things are possible. Do Satanists, witches, pagans, people who sin against the Holy Spirit ( a sin that can’t be forgiven in this world or the next, according to Jesus,) and those who despair and have no hope, reasonable or unreasonable; do they all go to heaven?

It would appear that I have so many questions and so few answers that my head is about to explode. I guess I’ll have to heed St. Paul and work out my salvation with fear and trembling and hope in the promises of my Savior. And that is the only hope that I feel is  very, very reasonable!

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What’s the Difference?

There was a little dust-up about a Michael Voris video that I shared called “Do Non-Catholics Go to Heaven?” I thought it was an interesting take on the question especially since we have been hearing so many unorthodox things from priests like the good Reverend R. Barron that we can have a reasonable hope that no one goes to hell.

In my immediate family that includes brothers, sister, their children, and grandchildren and my children and grandchildren—all who were baptized in the Catholic faith—there are only a handful that still attend Mass and believe in their faith and this handful includes my husband and myself.

This hurts me in my soul, because, as we believe, and that video pointed out, in order to get into heaven one has to be in the state of grace (no unrepentant, un-forgiven mortal sins) when one dies. Of course, there is an act of perfect contrition but I am going to say that an act of perfect contrition is probably beyond my feeble attempts because of pride so I need the Sacrament of Reconciliation or as those of us, who aren’t PC, call it, Confession; Just like I need all the sacraments that Jesus gave us as a means to sanctifying grace which we all need to get into heaven. Only the Catholic Church has these sacraments instituted by Christ to give grace. To me, it’s simple to say that I want everything I can have in my arsenal to get to heaven when I die.

I also believe that with God all things are possible so I pray each day for all of my family to return to the faith of their baptism and for some of my grandchildren to actually be baptized. Do I say anything to them personally about my fears? Do I tell them that I cry tears over their apostasy? No, I just love them where they are and pray for their reversion. Of course, I make no apologies for my Catholic Faith and don’t compromise my faith for their sake, so, of course, there are liable to be a few “dust-ups” when I post something that is hard for them to read or hear.

So, a good Protestant friend asked “what is the difference between a faithful Catholic and a faithful Christian?” I’m not sure she is serious about it or if it was meant as a “gotcha” question, so I’m not sure if I will answer it or not. I’ll probably find out first why she asked the question. However, there are some things that I will say.

We believe in Purgatory. We believe that there is a place where we have to be refined like gold in order to enter heaven and be in a Holy God’s presence. Now, no one can judge the individual soul just like I don’t judge my family’s individual souls, however I have a real problem with assuming that all my Protestant brothers and sisters are automatically with Jesus when they die. Sorry, we can only know who is in heaven when the Church has declared them saints. So I continue to pray for them as if they weren’t and are in Purgatory instead. My husband always kids me about how much I pray for the Holy Souls in Purgatory. I tell him that I am building an army of saints in heaven to pray for me so that I might avoid Purgatory all together.

We believe in the Real Presence in the Eucharist. We believe that it isn’t only Scripture (Sola Scriptura) but Scripture and Apostolic Tradition passed down from the Apostles to the Catholic Church. We believe that faith without works is dead. No Sola Fides for us. We take to heart Matthew 25 and the Sermon on the Mount. We want to be numbered among those who gave our Lord drink when He was thirsty, food when He was hungry, visited Him when He was in prison. . .you know the rest. No, our works don’t “save us.”   We boast in Christ and Him crucified just like Paul but we also believe like James, show me your works and I will show you your faith.

These are just some of the differences between a Protestant Christian and a Catholic Christian.

However with great blessings come great responsibilities! I believe that it will go worse for Catholics who had the faith and fell from it than those who never had the faith to begin with. That is why I pray for all my family to return to the One True Faith before they die.

Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.

May all the Faithful Departed through the Mercy of God, rest in peace!

 

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Faith and Theology

(First, I want to say that I am glad to be back among the living again, after two weeks of allergies, infections, and sore throats and coughs!  I have a plan to finish up Lumen Fidei in a short time.  So let us begin with the final paragraph of chapter two.)

36.  Christian theology is born of the desire to explore more fully the light of faith to seek a deeper understanding of God which ends in a deeper relationship with Christ.

Theology is not to be reduced to analyzing because God cannot be reduced to an object.  Rather God speaks to us about Himself and allows us to enter this dialogue.

Theology demands humility.  Theology must be at the service of the faith of ordinary believers.  The Magisterium (the Pope and the bishops) is an internal dimension of theology.  The Magisterium “provides the certainty of attaining to the word of Christ in all its integrity” so it is never to be considered extrinsic to Christ.

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We Have Believed In Love–Lumen Fidei–Chapter 1

Abraham, our father in faith

8.  Faith must be witnessed in the Old Testament if we want to understand it.  God reveals Himself to Abraham by speaking to him and calling his name.  Thus, faith takes on a very personal aspect.

9.  God speaks to Abraham a call and a promise.  Abraham’s faith is linked to his steps toward an unforeseen future.  Abraham’s faith is a response to God’s word.  Faith remembers the promise and is therefore bound up with hope.  Abraham doesn’t “see;” he hopes and believes.

10.  God is fidelity; so faith becomes “absolutely certain and unshakeable.”  God’s Word becomes a solid rock and a straight highway.  As St. Augustine explains: “Man is faithful when he believes in God and His promises; God is faithful when He grants to man what He has promised.”

11.  The God Who asks Abraham for complete trust reveals Himself to be the source of all life.  “Sarah your wife shall bear you a son and you shall name him Isaac” (Gen 17:19).  Faith in God helps Abraham realize that his life is NOT a chance happening.  Abraham is the fruit of the Creator; the Origin of all that is.  The Word could raise up a son to one who was barren.  And, so, the Word is a promise of a future beyond death.

Next time:  The faith of Israel

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Putting the Word into Practice: James 1: 19-27

Memory Verse

James 1: 22  “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”

Notes on Content

1: 19-25:  Two kinds of hearing are distinguished.  In conversation, listening is more important than speaking.  In responding to the Gospel, obeying is more important than merely listening.

1:20  the anger of men:  When one reads the Wisdom literature it is apparent that anger is vented by the foolish.  Meekness is the virtue of gentleness and the inner strength to restrain anger.

1:21 implanted word:  The Gospel is likened to a seed planted in the soul that sprouts for the salvation of our soul.  This may be an allusion to the parable of the Sower and the Seed in Matthew 13: 1-9; 23.

1:23 a mirror:  If one hears the word only, she is like someone who glances at her reflection in the mirror and soon forgets what she has seen.  On the other hand, one who hears and obeys the Gospel is one who gazes into the law of Jesus and sees there the path to blessing and the life she desires to live.

1:26 bridle his tongue:  This is a warning that will be treated in detail in 3: 1-12.

1:27 Religion:  The Greek term is thresheia which generally denotes religious acts of worship.  For James, proper service to God is not reduced to a set of beliefs or liturgical rites.  It also includes prudent speech as well as practical service to others: visit orphans and widows.

CCC 2208:  “The family should live in such a way that its members learn to care and take responsibility for the young, the old, the sick, the handicapped, and the poor.  There are many families who are at times incapable of providing this help.  It devolves then on other persons, other families, and in a subsidiary way, society to provide for their needs: ‘Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained from the world.'”

Sermon on the Mount References

1.  Hearing and Doing  Matthew 7:24-27

2.  Anger and Wrath  Matthew 5: 22

3.  The Perfect Law of Freedom  Matthew 5: 17-19

4.  Religious deception  Matthew 7: 21-23

St. James

St. James

Next time:  Pastoral Wisdom from St. James

@Home Work:  Have you ever:

  • been so angry that you said something you instantly wanted to take back?
  • struck by a point in a homily only to go home and forget it?
  • found yourself laughing at an inappropriate joke and afterward feeling badly inside?

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Answers From My Heart

Memory Verse

James 1: 2-4  “Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

Let’s Talk About It

1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.  God is faithful and He will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”  What does this text say about God’s knowledge of you?

God must know me pretty well.  I always feel that even during my “Job” or “Jeremiah” moments that He has His arms wrapped around me and that as long as I cling to Him, things will be all right.  He knows my strengths and weaknesses way beyond my resume and I have come through some things that looking back seemed insurmountable challenges.  Now, I just KNOW that there is nothing that Jesus has not given me the strength to overcome–no trial or temptation is too big.

James describes sin as having a sort of gestation and maturation period.  He writes, “each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.  Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin; and sin when it is full-grown brings forth death.”  everybody has “nursed” sin at some point in their lives.  How do we cut off that process of gestation, birth and maturity for sin in our lives?

The easy answer to this is to avoid the occasions of sin whatever they are.  Focus on the positive aspects of being a Catholic–the Mass, the Eucharist and especially the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  Keeps the venial from becoming the mortal.

James tell us if we lack wisdom, “ask God, who gives to all men generously and without reproaching, and it will be given him.”  What resources has God freely handed us by which we can gain wisdom?  How might we make those resources a part of our lives?  What obstacles stand in the way of gaining that wisdom?  How might they be overcome?

(See the last answer.)  Also, He has given us His Word to read and study to get to know Him.  Time is one of my biggest obstacles.  Someone asked a question last week on FB.  Do we spend more time on the computer than with God?  If we do then our priorities are really messed up.  That is one of the reasons I have been trying to limit my social media time to an hour each day. 

James tells us, “Every good endowment and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”  However, our lives are in continual states of change.  How do we take the “heavenly perspective” and see our constantly changing lives through the eyes of Him Who does not change?

It seems that my perspective has become more “heavenly” the older that I have gotten.  I judge everything now by will it get me to heaven or not.  This can drive some people crazy; especially those in my life who do not have the same outlook.  This question, though, can make decisions very easy to make.

When Israel conquered Canaan under the leadership of Joshua, Canaanites still remained in the land.  God said in Judges 2: 21-23 that He did not drive out all the Canaanites but left some in the land that He might test Israel, whether they would walk in the ways of the Lord.  With this in mind, and in light of your current trials, what might God be trying to do in your life in terms of walking in His ways?

I think I am tested a lot because of my Catholicism.  I work with all Protestants and find myself (not defending) but explaining things to people in a way that I hope will be “salt and light” to them.  Also, many of my children have fallen away from the Church that they were baptized in and while some of them continue to go to a church, it is not the same.  This and my granddaughter wanting to get involved with occult practices like crystal reading are my two main trials right now.  I am trying to live an authentic Catholic life as an example; however it is hard to do that when they live so far away from us.   I’m not sure what God is trying to do in my life over this; but I’m determined to walk in His ways to holiness.

So, now, what about you?  Do you have any comments?  I’d love to hear from you.

St. James

St. James

Next Time:  James–Study Two

@HomeWork:  During our study of James 1: 1-8 what did you learn that you have to “sweep” out of your life” (Spring Cleaning)  What do you think you should add? (New Additions)

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