Unpracticed Faith is Functional Atheism REGIS NICOLL: re-blogged

I pondered and prayerd before sharing this; there is much work to be done by all of us in our Lord’s vineyard {Patrick}

Unpracticed Faith is Functional Atheism

REGIS NICOLL

In “Is Grace Amazing or Appalling,” some readers felt I was advocating the cheap grace of faith without works. Although I should have been more clear, it was not my intent to suggest that human effort has no role in coming to Grace, and afterward. Rather, my point was that our works do not merit us grace or obligate God toward us.

So, then, what is the role and purpose of works in justification and our response to Grace?

Works and “Works”
Although the oft-quoted Pauline verse, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith,” discounts salvific works—that is, human projects motivated and directed to move Heaven—it presumes a requisite “work.” Our Lord stands at the door and knocks, but we must open the door and bid him in to receive the sacramental grace of his Presence.

In the verse immediately following, St. Paul teaches that while we are not saved byworks, we are saved for works: “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

The works he is referring to are not machinations to gain Divine favor, but responses to it, done in service of Christ to build up his Body with members who are undergoing a lifelong process of transformation into his image.

When Paul teaches that “righteousness is from faith to faith,” he is inferring that the Christian life, which begins with the “work” of opening the door and receiving our Guest, is a life of obedience (“works”) to all Christ commands as revealed in Scripture and passed down through Sacred Tradition. Fittingly, he instructed the church in Philippi, “to work out your salvation in fear and trembling.”

Functional Unbelief
Unpracticed faith—that is, faith without works—St. James writes, is dead. It has no transformative or sanctifying power; it is intellectual assent that descends into paralyzing doubt (or worse), which is no faith at all. That’s because faith is revealed, confirmed, and made perfect by our actions not affirmations (for by their fruits you will know them).

Consider a child, standing nervously at the edge of the pool, coaxed by his father to dive into the water. He has a choice: plunge headlong into the pool where the able arms of dad are ready to receive him, or remain at water’s edge frozen in fear, dithering in doubt. He may sincerely believe that his father won’t let harm come to him, but until he jumps, fear holds him captive in functional unbelief, revealing that his faith is in a danger that his father cannot save him from.

When the “rubber” of belief meets the “road” of decision, a choice has to be made. There is no middle road other than doubt, which defaults to unbelief and tosses us to and fro on the agnostic waves of uncertainty. Indeed, we will never walk on the troubled waters of life until faith moves us to get out of the boat!

Functional Atheists
Behavioral studies by various pollsters suggest that the vast majority of Americans who self-identify as Christian are functional non-Christians, if not atheists, with rates of divorce, sexual promiscuity, substance abuse, and other behaviors on par with those of their non-Christian neighbors. (By their fruits you will know them.)

In his 2001 book Growing True Disciples, George Barna reported, “To the naked eye, the thoughts and deeds (and even many of the religious beliefs) of Christians are virtually indistinguishable from those of nonbelievers.” Six years later he similarly reported, “born again Christians are statistically indistinguishable from non-born again adults on most of the behaviors studied.” The studied behaviors included lying, substance abuse, and extra-marital sex. (By their fruits you will know them.)

For example, although the Church teaches that sex is reserved within the marital bond of one man and one woman, 94 percent of adults admit to having had non—marital sex. Considering that roughly 70 percent of the U.S. populace is Christian, it is safe to say that a lot of Christians—very likely, the majority—are guilty of sexual sin. (By their fruits you will know them.)

A Christian I’ll call “Kurt” is a case in point.

Over breakfast one morning, as Kurt was telling me about his girlfriend, I was taken aback when he breezily insinuated the sexual nature of their relationship. When I asked how he squared that with Church teaching, his jaw went slack as if I’d asked about the burial rites of the Inuit.

After an awkward pregnant pause, he replied, “I’m committed to her!” as if that would resolve any biblical difficulty I might bring up. I brought up a few. He was unmoved. A few months later I heard that he was in another “committed” relationship.

On the issue of abortion, the pro-choice Guttmacher Institute found that in 2014, 54 percent of women who chose abortion were Christian (24 percent Catholic and 30 percent Protestant) compared to 46 percent who were non-Christian. That finding led the Jesuit publication, America, to report that Catholics are just as likely to get an abortion as anyone else. What’s more, although the Catholic Church stands resolutely against abortion, more Catholics favor its legality than oppose it. Every Sunday morning at the Catholic church I attend, I’ve noticed a car in the parking lot with a bumper sticker stating, “STOP the GOP war on women!”

Many of these people most likely would consider themselves good Christians. They are active in church, perhaps theologically conservative, even espousing conventional Church teaching. Yet, when it comes to the way they actually live they have cultivated, what Mary Eberstadt has called, the “will to disbelieve” what the Church plainly teaches.

By their words, they profess faith in Christ, but by their actions they reveal that their faith is in their instincts, urges, feelings, and the secular sirens of culture: Dear Abby, Oprah, Joel Osteen. (By their fruits you will know them.)

Barna’s research suggests some underlying causes here.

From surveys taken between 2005 to 2010, Barna found that less than 20 percent of Christians are committed to spiritual formation. What’s more, says Barna, “less than one out of ten have talked about their faith with a non-Christian, fasted for religious purposes, and had an extended time of spiritual reflection during the past week.”

He goes on to report that among self-identified Christians, less than 3 percent “have surrendered control of their life to God, submitted to His will for their life, and devoted themselves to loving and serving God and other people.”

Just think—70 percent of Americans profess to be Christians, and yet as few as 3 percent could be called disciples—that is, believers who have dedicated their lives to become more like Jesus by learning to do the things he commanded us to do. The rest are people of unpracticed faith who, if church members, are in effect “belonging-non-believers.”

In result, we have Christians who are exuding more the stench of death than the aroma of life and a Church that is losing its social and moral capital in an ever-increasingly secularized world. Lord have mercy!

By Regis Nicoll

Regis Nicoll is a retired nuclear engineer and a fellow of the Colson Center who writes commentary on faith and culture. His new book is titled Why There Is a God: And Why It Matters.

 

Advertisements

How do you justify transubstantiation? Another I AM a Catholic lesson by Patrick Miron

How do you justify transubstantiation? 

[quote]Is the bread and wine actually changed into the body and blood of Christ? I don’t believe it has changed at all. It is still molecules of what goes into making bread and wine. There has been nothing added and nothing taken away. We would need to rewrite the laws of physics if it had changed.

It is a ritual which goes back well before the Catholic church was ever invented. A combined celebration of Ceres, goddess of the corn, and Bacchus or Dionysus, god of wine and intoxication.  

If there actually was a change into body and blood, that would be a form of cannibalization.[/quote]

Thank you for asking

Obviously I’m not going to agree with your positions and here’s why,

1 this is profound so please pay close attention and read the entire reply

2 Our God {I’m unsure if you a Christian?} can be briefly but accurately described as “ALL GOOD THING PERFECTED” {Keep this in mind as you read on.} This means that God is the source of ALL “good things”; that God can only CAUSE “good things”; and that God permits evil {another discussion} but cannot cause it.

Isaiah 55: 8-10 “ [8] For my thoughts are not your thoughts: nor your ways my ways, saith the Lord. [9] For as the heavens are exalted above the earth, so are my ways exalted above your ways, and my thoughts above your thoughts  [10] And as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and return no more thither, but soak the earth, and water it, and make it to spring, and give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:

Attributes of GOD {From Father Hardon’s Catholic Dictionary {*}

{*} Fr. Hardon was one the most esteemed theologians of the 20th. Century; my mentor and occasional teacher. You Can GOOGLE his name: Father John A. Hardon S.J.

OMNIPOTENCE. The almighty power of God. He can do whatever does not deny his nature or that is not self-contradictory. Since God is infinite in being, he must also be infinite in power. (Etym. Latin omnis, all + potentia, power: omnipotens, all-powerful.

OMNIPRESENCEGod being simultaneously wherever he is, since he is present everywhere. The divine omnipresence is two-fold, by nature and by grace.

By nature God is present in all things by essence, knowledge, and power. This is the presence of a cause in the things that share in God’s goodness. By his essence, he is substantially in all things, including the created spiritual essences (angels, demons, human souls ) as the immediate origin of their existence. By his knowledge, he exercises his wisdom directly in all creation down to the least details. By his power, he operates with divine activity as the First Cause of everything that creatures do.

By grace, God is further present in the souls in whom he dwells as in a temple. Hence the creature is joined, as it were, to God’s substance, through the activity of mind and heart, by faith cleaving to the First Truth, and by charity to the First Good. He is therefore present by grace as the known is to the knower and the beloved is to the lover. This presence is more than a cause in an effect. It is the possession of God on earth similar to his being possessed by the angels and saints in heaven.

OMNISCIENCE. God’s knowledge of all things. Revelation discloses that the wisdom of God is without measure (Psalm 146:5). And the Church teaches that his knowledge is infinite.

The primary object of divine cognition is God himself, whom he knows immediately, that is, without any medium by which he apprehends his nature. He knows himself through himself.

The secondary objects of divine knowledge are everything else, namely the purely possible, the real, and the conditionally future. He knows all that is merely possible by what is called the knowledge of simple intelligence. This means that, in comprehending his infinite imitability and his omnipotence, God knows therein the whole sphere of the possible.

He knows all real things in the past, present, and the future by his knowledge of vision. When God, in his self-consciousness, beholds his infinite operative power, he knows therein all that he, as the main effective cause, actually comprehends, i.e., all reality. The difference between past, present, and future does not exist for the divine knowledge, since for God all is simultaneously present.

By the same knowledge of vision, God also foresees the future free acts of the rational creatures with infallible certainty. As taught by the Church, “All things are naked and open to His eyes, even those things that will happen through the free actions of creatures” (Denzinger 3003). The future free actions foreseen by God follow infallibly not because God substitutes his will for the free wills of his creatures but because he does not interfere with the freedom that he foresees creatures will exercise. (Etym. Latin omnis, all + scire, to know.)

3 In Traunsbstanuation we are dealing with not one, but two consecutive MIRACLES

MIRACLE. A sensibly perceptible effect, surpassing at least the powers of visible nature, produced by God to witness to some truth or testify to someone’s sanctity. (Etym. Latin miraculum, miracle, marvel; from mirari, to wonder.) {Fr. Hardon}

DICTIONARY:

Miracle

[quote=an effect or extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all known human or natural powers and is ascribed to a supernatural cause.

such an effect or event manifesting or considered as a work of God.

a wonder; marvel.

a wonderful or surpassing example of some quality:

a miracle of modern acoustics.[/quote]

TRANSUBSTANTIATION. The complete change of the substance of bread and wine into the substance of Christ’s body and blood by a validly ordained priest during the consecration at Mass, so that only the accidents of bread and wine remain. While the faith behind the term was already believed in apostolic times, the term itself was a later development. With the Eastern Fathers before the sixth century, the favored expression was meta-ousiosis “change of being”; the Latin tradition coined the word transubstantiatio, “change of substance,” which was incorporated into the creed of the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215. The Council of Trent, in defining the “wonderful and singular conversion of the whole substance of the bread into the body, and the whole substance of the wine into the blood” of Christ, added “which conversion the Catholic Church calls transubstantiation” (Denzinger 1652). After transubstantiation, the accidents of bread and wine do not inhere in any subject or substance whatever. Yet they are not make-believe; they are sustained in existence by divine power. (Etym. Latin trans-, so as to change + substantia, substance: transubstantiatio, change of substance.)

4 How it is accomplished

Douay Catholic Bible

Matthew 10: 1-8 1] And having called his twelve disciples together, he gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of diseases, and all manner of infirmities. [2] And the names of the twelve apostles are these: The first, Simon who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, [3] James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, Philip and Bartholomew, Thomas and Matthew the publican, and James the son of Alpheus, and Thaddeus, [4] Simon the Cananean, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him. [5] These twelve Jesus sent: commanding them, saying: Go ye not into the way of the Gentiles, and into the city of the Samaritans enter ye not. [6] But go ye rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. [7] And going, preach, saying: The kingdom of heaven is at hand. [8] Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out devils: freely have you received, freely give.

Matthew 28:18-20 {with a Douay explanation of verse #18} “ [18] And Jesus coming, spoke to them, saying: All power is given to me in heaven and in earth. [19] Going therefore, teach YOU ALL nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. [20] Teaching them to observe ALL THINGS WHATSOEVER I HAVE COMMANDED {&TAUGHT} YOU: and behold I am with YOU all days, even to the consummation of the world.

[quote=[18] “All power”: See here the warrant and commission of the apostles and their successors, the bishops and pastors of Christ’s church. He received from his Father all power in heaven and in earth: and in virtue of this power, he sends them (even as his Father sent him, St. John 20. 21) to teach and disciple, not one, but all nations; and instruct them in all truths: and that he may assist them effectually in the execution of this commission, he promises to be with them, not for three or four hundred years only, but all days, even to the consummation of the world. How then could the Catholic Church ever go astray; having always with her pastors, as is here promised, Christ himself, who is the way, the truth, and the life. St. John 14.[/quote]

THIS IS TESTIFIED TO BY FIVE DIFFERENT AUTHORS OF THE NEW TESTEMENT {SIX IF WE COUNT JESUS HIMSELF.} Five of whom gave there very life’s in Martyrdom

Mt. 26: 26-28

Mk. 14: 22-24

Lk 22: 17:20

John Chapter six which we shall get into shorty

Paul: 1st Cor. 11 which we shall use as our example

 

1st Cor. 11: 23-30  [23] For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread. [24] And giving thanks, broke, and said: Take ye, and eat: this is my body, which shall be delivered for you: this do for the commemoration of me. [25] In like manner also the chalice, after he had supped, saying: This chalice is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as often as you shall drink, for the commemoration of me.

[26] For as often as you shall eat this bread, and drink the chalice, you shall shew the death of the Lord, until he come. [27] Therefore whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord. [28] But let a man prove himself: and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of the chalice[29] For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord. [30] Therefore are there many infirm and weak among you, and many sleep. {”sleep in this context means spiritual eternal death: HELL!}

John 17: 17-19 “[17] Sanctify them in truth. Thy word is truth. [18] As thou hast sent me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. [19] And for them do I sanctify myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth. “{This is to be understood as being literal: as The Father sent Jesus as God; not Jesus sends His Apostles with similar but more limited powers and authority. & Todays RCC is the only Church, only Christian Faith that HAS Jesus HIMSELF as our Personal warranty of teaching without error His Truths {verse #19}

Pre-summary:

So we see in Mt 10: that Jesus choose to share HIS Heavenly / Godly Powers with His 12 Apostles to who He Commands YOU go only to the house of Israel

Then in Mt 28: 18-20 we see Again Jesus transferring His Godly Powers {verse 18} to the Apostles and THROUGH THEM to their successors by absolute necessity to fulfill His New Command to go to the ENTIRE WORLD.

5 the cannibalism charge:

This makes me think that your likely not a Christian because in Catholic Holy Communion it is the GLORIFIED and Risen Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity that are received; not His Mortal body. The Glorified Body has many attributes incomprehensible to mere human logic.

The TWO consecutive Miracles:

Catholic Holy Communion is:

FROM the Father

OF the Son

BY the Holy Spirit {God}

At the Instant of the Consecration {Traunsbstanuation} the Priest is miraculously for the INSTANTS of the miracles “made” into “alter Christi” {another Christ}; so it IS God the Holy Spirit THROUGH His Catholic Priest that makes Jesus Really, Truly and Substanually Present in both the form of Bread and wine.

What remains is theologically termed the “Accidents.” What looks like unleavened bread and ordinary wine HAVE miraculously BECOME Jesus Christ in Person in His Glorified Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.

Going back to the definition we shared on GOD. If as we Catholics Profess {and even science has PROVEN} {**} God CAN do only “good things”. Because Catholic Holy Communion is the GREATEST of all and any “good thing”; Jesus Himself in person; this then is the GREATEST possible Good thing.

6 As to your witchcraft myth. This was made up to try to logically explain Miracles which can’t be logically explained. It is a meager attempt to slander the Catholic Church. Even Science has PROVEN the validity of our Claim.

The ACTUAL precedent is the Manna that Yahweh God fed hundreds of thousands of Jews in the Desert with for 40 years along with providing them FLEASH to eat and water to drink.

Exodus 16: “Then said the LORD to Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no. And it shall come to pass, that on the sixth day they shall prepare that which they bring in; and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily. And Moses and Aaron said to all the children of Israel, At even, then you shall know that the LORD has brought you out from the land of Egypt: And in the morning, then you shall see the glory of the LORD; for that he hears your murmurings against the LORD: and what are we, that you murmur against us?

And Moses said, This shall be, when the LORD shall give you in the evening flesh to eat, and in the morning bread to the full; for that the LORD hears your murmurings which you murmur against him: and what are we? your murmurings are not against us, but against the LORD.

And Moses spoke to Aaron, Say to all the congregation of the children of Israel, Come near before the LORD: for he has heard your murmurings. And it came to pass, as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the children of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness, and, behold, the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud. And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel: speak to them, saying, At evening you shall eat flesh, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread; and you shall know that I am the LORD your God.

And it came to pass, that at even the quails came up, and covered the camp: and in the morning the dew lay round about the host. And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, on the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing, as small as the hoar frost on the ground. And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna: for they knew not what it was. And Moses said to them, This is the bread which the LORD has given you to eat. This is the thing which the LORD has commanded, Gather of it every man according to his eating, an omer for every man, according to the number of your persons; take you every man for them which are in his tents. And the children of Israel did so, and gathered, some more, some less. ….”

{**} Scientific Evidence: CHECK OUT THIS SITE; EUCHARISTIC MIRACLES PROVEN BY INDEPENDENT SCIENCE:  http://www.therealpresence.org/eucharst/mir/a3.html

John 6: 47-57 {with Douay explanation}  [47] Amen, amen I say unto you: He that believeth in me, hath everlasting life. [48] I am the bread of life. [49] Your fathers did eat manna in the desert, and are dead. [50] This is the bread which cometh down from heaven; that if any man eat of it, he may not die.

[51] I am the living bread which came down from heaven. [52] If any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever; and the bread that I will give, is my flesh, for the life of the world. [53] The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying: How can this man give us his flesh to eat? [54] Then Jesus said to them: Amen, amen I say unto you: Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you. [55] He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day.

[54] “Eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood”: To receive the body and blood of Christ, is a divine precept, insinuated in this text; which the faithful fulfil, though they receive but in one kind; because in one kind they receive both body and blood, which cannot be separated from each other. Hence, life eternal is here promised to the worthy receiving, though but in one kind. Ver. 52. If any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever; and the bread that I will give, is my flesh for the life of the world. Ver. 58. He that eateth me, the same also shall live by me. Ver. 59. He that eateth this bread, shall live for ever.

[56] For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed[57] He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, abideth in me, and I in him. {WHICH MY FRIEND IS PRECIESLY WHAT TAKES PLACE IN CATHOLIC HOLY COMMUNION} [58] As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, the same also shall live by me.[/quote]

As to the Laws pf physics: GOD wrote them; I reckon He can make changes if He so desires to do so.

In closing my friend; the universal practice of religions is termed “Faith”; precisely because that is to be an expectation of what will at times be required. When one is discussing Devine Matters; one ought not to expect that there will always be simplistic and logical answers.

Matthew 28:19-20 [19] Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost[20] Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.”

The Catholic Church was not “invented” 2,000 years ago; it was Founded; ESTABLISHED by Jesus Christ Himself in Person.

Easter Blessings,

Patrick

Some things never change: This is how early Christians celebrated Mass  Philip Kosloski : re-blogged

Some things never change: This is how early Christians celebrated Mass

 Philip Kosloski | Ap

A brief comparison of liturgy from the 2nd century and liturgy today.

While there exist many different liturgical rites within the Catholic Church, each with their own unique traditions, the basic structure of the Mass across all these rites is the same as it it was in the 2nd century. When compared side-by-side, surprisingly little has changed since the early Christians celebrated the Eucharist in the catacombs and homes of ancient Rome.

The most striking evidence of this that we have exists in a document called “The First Apology,” written by St. Justin Martyr, a Christian philosopher defending the Catholic faith. In it we discover how the early Christians celebrated Mass and how similar it is to Mass in the 21st century.

Below is a brief comparison of the Mass as described by St. Justin and the structure of the Mass as detailed in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM).

Read more: How well do you know the liturgical objects used at Mass?

The Introductory Rites

“The rites that precede the Liturgy of the Word … have the character of a beginning, an introduction, and a preparation. Their purpose is to ensure that the faithful, who come together as one, establish communion and dispose themselves properly to listen to the Word of God and to celebrate the Eucharist worthily.” (GIRM, 46)

And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place. (The First Apology, 67)

Read more: This fascinating model of Rome “wasn’t built in a day”

The Liturgy of the Word

“In the readings, the table of God’s Word is spread before the faithful, and the treasures of the Bible are opened to them. Hence, it is preferable that the arrangement of the biblical readings be maintained, for by them the unity of both Testaments and of salvation history is brought out … The Homily is part of the Liturgy and is highly recommended, for it is necessary for the nurturing of the Christian life. It should be an explanation of some aspect of the readings from Sacred Scripture or of another text from the Ordinary or the Proper of the Mass of the day and should take into account both the mystery being celebrated and the particular needs of the listeners.” (GIRM, 57, 63)

[T]he memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. (The First Apology, 67)

The Profession of Faith and Universal Prayer

“The Creed is to be sung or said by the Priest together with the people … In the Universal Prayer or Prayer of the Faithful, the people respond in some sense to the Word of God which they have received in faith and, exercising the office of their baptismal Priesthood, offer prayers to God for the salvation of all” (GIRM, 67, 69)

Then we all rise together and pray … in order that we may offer hearty prayers in common for ourselves and for the baptized person, and for all others in every place, that we may be counted worthy, now that we have learned the truth, by our works also to be found good citizens and keepers of the commandments, so that we may be saved with an everlasting salvation. (The First Apology, 67, 65)

Read more: Saints Timothy and Maura, newlyweds martyred together

The Liturgy of the Eucharist

“At the beginning of the Liturgy of the Eucharist the gifts which will become Christ’s Body and Blood are brought to the altar … Once the offerings have been placed on the altar and the accompanying rites completed, by means of the invitation to pray with the Priest and by means of the Prayer over the Offerings, the Preparation of the Gifts is concluded and preparation made for the Eucharistic Prayer … Since the celebration of the Eucharist is the Paschal Banquet, it is desirable that in accordance with the Lord’s command his Body and Blood should be received as spiritual food by those of the faithful who are properly disposed.” (GIRM, 73, 77, 80)

[W]hen our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen … when the president has given thanks, and all the people have expressed their assent, those who are called by us deacons give to each of those present to partake of the bread and wine mixed with water over which the thanksgiving was pronounced. (The First Apology, 67, 65)

While externally much has changed since the early celebration of the Mass, the basic structure has not changed and remains the fundamental basis for the Eucharistic liturgy.  end quotes

 

What Pope Benedict XVI taught me about the last words of Christ  Tod Worner: re-blogged |

 

What Pope Benedict XVI taught me about the last words of Christ

 Tod Worner

There is brilliance in His quoting of Psalm 22 that I had entirely missed.

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

– Matthew 27:46

It was a crushing cry. These nine words were emitted between choking gasps from a bruised and bleeding God-made-man nailed to an executioner’s tree. From those weeping over or taunting him, there was confusion. Whether it was in Hebrew or Aramaic, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? was misinterpreted by some as Christ calling upon Elijah. With dark glee, as if wagering over a carnival game, some observed, “Wait, let us see if Elijah comes to save him.” (Matthew 27:49) But then there were others present who understood the translation of his words. They were the words King David wrote in Psalm 22. They knew the words from their upbringing in the synagogue. But at this very moment, they didn’t understand what they signified.

For years, I thought these words represented the blackest depths that Christ reached before death. It was a moment of God despairing of God. It was the Faithful One arriving at the desperate point of faithlessness. Perhaps the hell on earth that savaged Jesus led the suffering human in Jesus to momentarily eclipse the Eternal God. Even my hero, G.K. Chesterton, may not have completely understood what was happening when he wrote,

In this indeed I approach a matter more dark and awful than it is easy to discuss; and I apologise in advance if any of my phrases fall wrong or seem irreverent touching a matter which the greatest saints and thinkers have justly feared to approach. But in that terrific tale of the Passion there is a distinct emotional suggestion that the author of all things (in some unthinkable way) went not only through agony, but through doubt …When the world shook and the sun was wiped out of heaven, it was not at the crucifixion, but at the cry from the cross: the cry which confessed that God was forsaken of God. And now let the revolutionists choose a creed from all the creeds and a god from all the gods of the world, carefully weighing all the gods of inevitable recurrence and of unalterable power. They will not find another god who has himself been in revolt. Nay (the matter grows too difficult for human speech), but let the atheists themselves choose a god. They will find only one divinity who ever uttered their isolation; only one religion in which God seemed for an instant to be an atheist.

But then I read Pope Benedict XVI’s Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week (from the entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection). Pope Benedict XVI reminds us that Jesus is the “new David.” And in reciting the Psalms, Jesus is taking full ownership of words spoken by the great Old Testament King which were truly and timelessly Christ’s words. Benedict would write,

In the Passion — on the Mount of Olives and on the Cross — Jesus uses passages from the Psalms to speak of himself and to address the Father. Yet these quotations have become fully personal; they have become the intimate words of Jesus himself in his agony. It is he who truly prays these Psalms; he is their real subject. Jesus’ utterly personal prayer and his praying in the words of faithful, suffering Israel are here seamlessly united. (p. 153)

In uttering the opening words of Psalm 22, Christ is owning the horrors of his Passion as originally articulated by King David. But here is the brilliance I missed.

The great “Passion Psalm” (Psalm 22), which begins with the words: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”, ends with a promise that anticipates the granting of the prayer: “From you comes my praise in the great congregation; my vows I will pay before those who fear him. The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the Lord.” (Psalm 22: 25-26) In truth, these words are fulfilled now: “the afflicted shall eat”. What they receive is more than earthly food; they receive the true manna: communion with God in the risen Christ. (p. 140-141)

To be sure, the Psalms are deeply personal prayers, formed while wrestling with God, yet at the same time they are uttered in union with all who suffer unjustly, with the whole of Israel, indeed with the whole of struggling humanity, and so these Psalms always span past, present, and future. They are prayed in the presence of suffering, and yet they already contain within themselves the gift of an answer to prayer, the gift of transformation. (p. 215)

In his agonizing cry, Jesus is not despairing of God. He is enduring the crushing weight of the world’s blackest sin. He is the unblemished Paschal Lamb standing in for us to receive the justice we deserve (which he doesn’t). Christ owns the horrors of his Passion by reciting Psalm 22, but he simultaneously points a hopeful finger toward the inevitable end of the same Psalm. He endures Justice (the beginning of Psalm 22) while he dispenses Grace (the end of Psalm 22). His act clears our debt and grants us Eternal Life. He is transformed through death and resurrection. And, in Him, we are transformed as well.

So do not forget, Psalm 22 begins,

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? 

and ends,

The generation to come will be told of the Lord, that they may proclaim to a people yet unborn, the deliverance you have brought.

Good Friday anticipates Easter. And so did Jesus.

Suffering ends in Glory.
Death is swallowed by Resurrection.
Justice gives way to Mercy.

How glorious. And brilliant.

May we proclaim to a people yet unborn the deliverance God has brought

END QUOTES

Is Grace Amazing or Appalling? REGIS NICOLL: re-blogged

Is Grace Amazing or Appalling?

REGIS NICOLL

The religion professor asked the students, “Why do you think Jesus was persecuted by the religious establishment of his day?” Their answers: “He healed on the Sabbath,” “He dissed the Jewish leaders,” “He hung out with sinners and tax collectors.” Finally, the daughter of a personal friend replied,

It was because of grace. The Jews believed that God’s favor was a matter of ethnicity and works. But Jesus came along offering salvation not as a Jewish entitlement or divine obligation, but as a gift to anyone who would receive him.

The good news of Jesus was bad news for the religious establishment. Grace nullified their merit-based religiosity and self-serving exclusivity. The Gate to the Kingdom was not the Law or the keepers of the Law, but the Author of the Law whose grace extends to all regardless of race, ethnicity, or social standing.

No message could have been more appalling to the Jewish elite. Grace was a threat to their sociopolitical leverage. If left to feed the human imagination, it could trigger a leadership vacuum that the erstwhile, hands-off Roman occupiers would step in to fill with the iron fist. What should have been received as a gift leading to eternal life was rejected as a danger that could lead to ethnic persecution. Thus, in a closed-door meeting the Sanhedrin ruled it better “for one man to die than for the whole nation to perish.”

But despite their efforts to suppress the gospel and save their nation, they accomplished neither. After the Resurrection, the spread of the gospel led to explosive growth in the Church. And within forty years of the Sanhedrin ruling, Jerusalem was destroyed, the temple was razed, and the Jewish state was dissolved with the Israelites driven out of the home they had inhibited for over a millennium. It was the consequence of attitudes formed centuries earlier, as reflected in the story of a prophet who was similarly appalled by grace.

The Reluctant Missionary
Discussions about the Book of Jonah often gravitate on whether it is a “tale of a whale” or “whale of a tail.” That is regrettable, because the important lessons from the story have more to do with Jonah’s attitudes and motivations than with his giant fish encounter.

Of all the prophets in Israel, Jonah was directed by God to go to Nineveh—a great city in the heart of the Assyrian empire—and “preach against it.” Yet no sooner does he receive his commission, than he turns tail and boards a ship going the opposite direction.

Was this an act of cowardice? Could be—after all, the Assyrians, notorious for their brutality, would be expected to have little tolerance for a tongue-wagging by a foreign, unknown Elmer Gantry archetype. More likely, Jonah was incensed that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob would withhold the rod of punishment from a people who were not only wicked, but thoroughly pagan.

Nevertheless, a storm at sea and a three-day stint in the belly of a whale gave the runaway missionary a much-needed attitude adjustment. When God re-issues his command, the reeking, freshly beached prophet obeys, delivering the terse warning to the Ninevites: “Forty days more and Nineveh will be destroyed.”

Curiously, the warning included nothing about Yahweh, his commandments, or the Jewish faith. Nevertheless, it was astonishingly effective, sparking a city-wide, perhaps nation-wide, repentance that moved God to spare the city from destruction. But just when Jonah should have been praising God for mission-accomplished, he becomes absolutely livid at God’s response.

Presumably, Jonah expected his message to be roundly ignored or ridiculed, and the Ninevites wiped out—a chastisement that would serve as a warning to his own country that had fallen into pagan idolatry and apostasy.

Never did he imagine that these intransigent and hopelessly lost heathens would actually respond in repentance. When they do and God relents, Jonah fumes at the extravagance of God’s grace. Jonah is so galled that he desires death. A world in which a pagan nation (one that had been the neighborhood bully for years) could escape God’s punishment is, in Jonah’s way of thinking, a world turned upside down.

The sparing of Nineveh should have inspired Israel to its own great awakening. Instead, Israel continued its moral decline until the Assyrians sacked the northern kingdom and took its inhabitants captive, forty years after Jonah’s ministry. The Diaspora would continue until it was completed with the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, forty years after Jesus’ ministry.

So Unfair
Like Jonah, we tend to find grace unsettling because it’s so unfair. We humans, it will be noted, have a thing about fairness. A few minutes at playground are sufficient to convince any skeptic that the concept of fair play is intrinsic to our nature. Just look for the child who spends too long on a swing, or cuts in line for the slide, and listen for howls of “That’s not fair” from those patiently waiting their turn.

Fair is about what is due me, either by my merit or another’s obligation. Grace, on the other hand, is not about what I deserve; it’s about what I need. And what I need, what I really need, I have no rightful claim to, nor can I earn; it is a gift I can either accept or reject. That’s a hard message made all the harder in the realization that St. Theresa of Calcutta was no more deserving of grace than was Jeffery Dahmer. For some, that’s downright appalling.

We imagine grace as a heavenly life-line that follows a “grace-plus-works-equals-eternal life” formula. Against that notion Paul wrote, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Eph. 2:8-9). And if that doesn’t settle the matter, Paul wrote elsewhere that if God’s favor could be earned by human effort, “Christ died for nothing” (Gal. 2:21).

In the divine economy, there is no grace-works formula, only a Cross extending the full span to earth, not for us to climb, but for God to descend and meet us at its foot. It is there, in that holy meeting, that we gain what we cannot earn, including the sacramental grace we need to partner with him in the kingdom-building work of his Church. Can there be anything more amazing? END QUOTES

By Regis Nicoll

Regis Nicoll is a retired nuclear engineer and a fellow of the Colson Center who writes commentary on faith and culture. His new book is titled Why There Is a God: And Why It Matters.

Is Jesus the ONLY way to be saved? by Dr. Italy: re-blogged

Marcellino D’Ambrosio (Dr. Italy)

The image of Jesus as the Good shepherd is a comforting one in the minds of many.  But many of those who first heard Jesus describe himself in this way were deeply disturbed.  For it seems that Jesus is setting himself up as the only true Shepherd and savior.  People still find this claim disturbing.  “What about other religions?,” they ask.

It’s not politically incorrect to believe in God. Just so long as you acknowledge that all are God’s children, and that there are many, equally honorable paths to the Most High.  After all, that’s only fair. How conceited it would be to claim that your way is the only way?

CLOSE-MINDED?

There is nothing really new about this attitude. In the days of the Roman Emperors, no one had any problems with people worshiping some carpenter from Galilee who they believed to be God’s son.  As long as they’d be broad-minded enough to worship the emperor and Jupiter, and the rest of the Pantheon as well. But instead, Christians believed what Peter proclaimed in Acts 4: 8-12 –  that there is no other name given under heaven by which we can be saved. Not Caesar, or Jupiter, or Mohammed, or Buddha. For such arrogant closed-mindedness they were thrown to the lions.

WHAT ABOUT OTHER RELIGIONS?

Does this mean that other creeds have nothing to offer but damnable lies? Not in the least. St. Justin Martyr (d. 165) said that there were “seeds of truth” scattered about in the teaching of the great philosophers. St. Paul honored the Athenians for their pious worship of the “unknown” God (Acts 17:23).

But we are not talking here about bits and pieces of truth, but about eternal salvation. Redemption required more than some good lectures or inspiring quotes–namely, a perfect sacrifice of a perfect life, a life of infinite value. Buddha did not lay down his life for his followers. Neither did Mohammed. And even if they had, they weren’t “savior” qualified in terms of possessing a sinless life of infinite (read divine) value.

THE GOOD SHEPHERD’S OTHER SHEEP

Only the Word made flesh was qualified, and only he dared do it. He is, as Sunday’s gospel teaches us, the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep. But he is not an exclusive elitist–his sheep include anyone wants to be one of his sheep, even those who formerly drove the nails into his sacred hands. One sacrifice for all people, for all time.

Does this mean that if people haven’t heard of Him and continue to follow Mohammed or Buddha that they are certainly hell bound?

Not exactly. For we are told that there are “other sheep” who do not yet travel with the flock but who do belong to the Shepherd. Responding to the hidden grace of the Holy Spirit, they’ve opened their heart to the truth, wherever it may be found, and seek to do what their conscience tells them is their duty. They may be devotees of Mohammed or Buddha because their hearts have recognized some sparks of truth and goodness in the teaching of those men, and they are hungry for truth and righteousness. If they die good Muslims or Buddhists and are saved, they are saved not by Mohammed or Buddha, but by the only savior, the one who died for them, the unknown God that they secretly sought as they eagerly read the Koran or contemplated the bliss of nirvana.

THE GOOD SHEPHERD FEEDS THE SHEEP

So we should just leave them alone since they’ll be saved anyway, right?

That’s not what the gospel says. The fact that it is possible they’ll be saved doesn’t mean it’s a sure thing. The Shepherd wants to feed his sheep with rich fare, with nourishment adequate for the long and arduous journey home. And he wants to protect them from the thieves and robbers waiting to ambush the sheep as they make their way down the road. He can only do this if he can gather them into one flock that he can lead to the green pastures of the Scriptures, the Sacraments, and the rich Tradition of the Catholic Church, the nourishment that makes for not just survival, but an abundant life (John 10:10). So it’s our duty to do what we can to introduce them to the Shepherd and let them know where the best food is to be found.

This post focuses on Jesus as the Good Shepherd and only savior and the value of other world religions.  It reflects on Acts 4:8-12; Psalm 118; I John 3:1-2; & John 10:11-18, the Mass readings for the fourth (4th) Sunday of Easter, year B.

Originally posted on Apr 09 2018

Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio

From a colorful and varied background as a professor of theology, a father of five, business owner, and professional performer Marcellino D’Ambrosio (aka “Dr. Italy”) crafts talks, blog posts, books, and videos that are always fascinating, practical, and easy to understand.  He is a popular speaker, TV and radio personality, New York Times best-selling author, and pilgrimage host who has been leading people on a journey of discovery for over thirty years.  For a fuller bio and video, visit the Dr. Italy page. For a full Curriculum Vitae (CV) of Dr. Italy, click here.

Unpracticed Faith is Functional Atheism REGIS NICOLL: re-blogged

I pondered and prayers before sharing this; there is much work to be done by all of us in our Lord’s vineyard {Patrick}

Unpracticed Faith is Functional Atheism

REGIS NICOLL

In “Is Grace Amazing or Appalling,” some readers felt I was advocating the cheap grace of faith without works. Although I should have been more clear, it was not my intent to suggest that human effort has no role in coming to Grace, and afterward. Rather, my point was that our works do not merit us grace or obligate God toward us.

So, then, what is the role and purpose of works in justification and our response to Grace?

Works and “Works”
Although the oft-quoted Pauline verse, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith,” discounts salvific works—that is, human projects motivated and directed to move Heaven—it presumes a requisite “work.” Our Lord stands at the door and knocks, but we must open the door and bid him in to receive the sacramental grace of his Presence.

In the verse immediately following, St. Paul teaches that while we are not saved byworks, we are saved for works: “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

The works he is referring to are not machinations to gain Divine favor, but responses to it, done in service of Christ to build up his Body with members who are undergoing a lifelong process of transformation into his image.

When Paul teaches that “righteousness is from faith to faith,” he is inferring that the Christian life, which begins with the “work” of opening the door and receiving our Guest, is a life of obedience (“works”) to all Christ commands as revealed in Scripture and passed down through Sacred Tradition. Fittingly, he instructed the church in Philippi, “to work out your salvation in fear and trembling.”

Functional Unbelief
Unpracticed faith—that is, faith without works—St. James writes, is dead. It has no transformative or sanctifying power; it is intellectual assent that descends into paralyzing doubt (or worse), which is no faith at all. That’s because faith is revealed, confirmed, and made perfect by our actions not affirmations (for by their fruits you will know them).

Consider a child, standing nervously at the edge of the pool, coaxed by his father to dive into the water. He has a choice: plunge headlong into the pool where the able arms of dad are ready to receive him, or remain at water’s edge frozen in fear, dithering in doubt. He may sincerely believe that his father won’t let harm come to him, but until he jumps, fear holds him captive in functional unbelief, revealing that his faith is in a danger that his father cannot save him from.

When the “rubber” of belief meets the “road” of decision, a choice has to be made. There is no middle road other than doubt, which defaults to unbelief and tosses us to and fro on the agnostic waves of uncertainty. Indeed, we will never walk on the troubled waters of life until faith moves us to get out of the boat!

Functional Atheists
Behavioral studies by various pollsters suggest that the vast majority of Americans who self-identify as Christian are functional non-Christians, if not atheists, with rates of divorce, sexual promiscuity, substance abuse, and other behaviors on par with those of their non-Christian neighbors. (By their fruits you will know them.)

In his 2001 book Growing True Disciples, George Barna reported, “To the naked eye, the thoughts and deeds (and even many of the religious beliefs) of Christians are virtually indistinguishable from those of nonbelievers.” Six years later he similarly reported, “born again Christians are statistically indistinguishable from non-born again adults on most of the behaviors studied.” The studied behaviors included lying, substance abuse, and extra-marital sex. (By their fruits you will know them.)

For example, although the Church teaches that sex is reserved within the marital bond of one man and one woman, 94 percent of adults admit to having had non—marital sex. Considering that roughly 70 percent of the U.S. populace is Christian, it is safe to say that a lot of Christians—very likely, the majority—are guilty of sexual sin. (By their fruits you will know them.)

A Christian I’ll call “Kurt” is a case in point.

Over breakfast one morning, as Kurt was telling me about his girlfriend, I was taken aback when he breezily insinuated the sexual nature of their relationship. When I asked how he squared that with Church teaching, his jaw went slack as if I’d asked about the burial rites of the Inuit.

After an awkward pregnant pause, he replied, “I’m committed to her!” as if that would resolve any biblical difficulty I might bring up. I brought up a few. He was unmoved. A few months later I heard that he was in another “committed” relationship.

On the issue of abortion, the pro-choice Guttmacher Institute found that in 2014, 54 percent of women who chose abortion were Christian (24 percent Catholic and 30 percent Protestant) compared to 46 percent who were non-Christian. That finding led the Jesuit publication, America, to report that Catholics are just as likely to get an abortion as anyone else. What’s more, although the Catholic Church stands resolutely against abortion, more Catholics favor its legality than oppose it. Every Sunday morning at the Catholic church I attend, I’ve noticed a car in the parking lot with a bumper sticker stating, “STOP the GOP war on women!”

Many of these people most likely would consider themselves good Christians. They are active in church, perhaps theologically conservative, even espousing conventional Church teaching. Yet, when it comes to the way they actually live they have cultivated, what Mary Eberstadt has called, the “will to disbelieve” what the Church plainly teaches.

By their words, they profess faith in Christ, but by their actions they reveal that their faith is in their instincts, urges, feelings, and the secular sirens of culture: Dear Abby, Oprah, Joel Osteen. (By their fruits you will know them.)

Barna’s research suggests some underlying causes here.

From surveys taken between 2005 to 2010, Barna found that less than 20 percent of Christians are committed to spiritual formation. What’s more, says Barna, “less than one out of ten have talked about their faith with a non-Christian, fasted for religious purposes, and had an extended time of spiritual reflection during the past week.”

He goes on to report that among self-identified Christians, less than 3 percent “have surrendered control of their life to God, submitted to His will for their life, and devoted themselves to loving and serving God and other people.”

Just think—70 percent of Americans profess to be Christians, and yet as few as 3 percent could be called disciples—that is, believers who have dedicated their lives to become more like Jesus by learning to do the things he commanded us to do. The rest are people of unpracticed faith who, if church members, are in effect “belonging-non-believers.”

In result, we have Christians who are exuding more the stench of death than the aroma of life and a Church that is losing its social and moral capital in an ever-increasingly secularized world. Lord have mercy! END QUOTES

By Regis Nicoll

Regis Nicoll is a retired nuclear engineer and a fellow of the Colson Center who writes commentary on faith and culture. His new book is titled Why There Is a God: And Why It Matters.